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My name is Wayne Chamberlain and I'm a geek daddy who is into Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, books, movies, video games and talking to creative people about their work in these mediums. And that's what you'll find here, along with news, previews and reviews. I'm a journalist, an editor and co-host of the Star Wars Book Report podcast. So come on in and feel free to geek out in a fun, friendly environment.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last-minute geeky gift ideas for your Valentine

Valentine’s Day, of course, brings with it the traditional gift ideas of flowers, chocolates, lingerie, fancy dinners … blah, blah, blah.
Let’s face it, if you’ve got a geek in your life, traditional gifts aren’t exactly going to carry the day. Romance is a state of mind and a gift from the heart means more than just another box of chocolates.
Here are a few geek-friendly ideas for you last-minute shoppers to consider:
* Tooks: Hats You Can Hear: This is my favourite little gadget of 2012 so far. Being a Canadian who has a shaved head, I can appreciate the warmth of a great touque. But you don’t need to be folicley challenged or living in the Great White North to dig this.
Tooks come in eight different styles and what makes them cool is that they have slits cut into them that you can slide the little speakers that come with them.
Yep, now you can have a warm head and listen to tunes in a stylish way. Just turn the Took inside out, insert the speakers into the slots, slip the rest of the cord into the slit at the back of the touque and plug into your MP3 player.
The speakers put out 40 mW and the cord is 48 inches long, so you’ve got plenty of give to get active in the great outdoors, making this a great idea for any snowboarding geeks out there.
The Tooks come in a variety of colours and styles, for both men and women. And there’s even a simple black band for those of you with enough hair to keep your head warm … or if you just really want to look cool.
Check these sweet lids out at www.TooksHats.com.
* Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: This Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC role-playing game is dripping with geek cred.
The culmination of the minds of writer R. A. Salvatore, Spawn creator Todd McFarlane and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion lead designer Ken Rolston, this sprawling RPG (published by Electronic Arts) boasts dozens and dozens of hours of questing through a fully-fleshed out fantasy world.

You play as one of four races, a creature brought back to life by gnomes who rescued your soul from the ether and fashioned you a new body, all in the hope of creating a warrior who could help free the world of Amalur from a warrior race bent on wiping out all other forms of life.
Fate is a huge part of the citizens of Amalur’s belief system, for they believe you cannot alter destiny. But as one reborn from death, you have no pre-ordained destiny, and so the future is yours to fashion in whatever manner you see fit.
Like many traditional RPGs, there are main quests, secondary adventures and little odd jobs and tasks you can choose to tackle or ignore, depending on how deeply ingrained you wish to become in Salvatore’s fantasy realm.
Combat, skills, spells, character classes … everything is customizable depending on how you like to attack the problems facing Amalur.
Rated M.
Check it out at www.Reckoning.com.
* Anonymous: I love a good movie that makes you think and this bit of fanciful ‘What if?’ conjecture from acclaimed director Roland Emmerich and writer John Orloff certainly does that.
The duo deliver a drama that dares audiences to question whether or not William Shakespeare, the greatest playwright in human history, was a fraud. And there is actually scholarly debate about whether Shakespeare did author the plays and sonnets that have made him a legend.
Rhys Ifans stars as an earl, a member of the royal court who many believe was the actual author of the plays and sonnets. This is based on his education and travels, which, when contrasted against the historical record that shows Shakespeare was an uneducated, illiterate man who never once left England, makes one wonder whether there’s more than meets the eye to this fascinating political drama.
Ifans is simply brilliant in the role, surprising considering I knew him mainly for his role as Hugh Grant’s slovenly roomie in the rom-com Notting Hill. He plays the Earl of Oxford with style, grace and a sense of devious purpose that is mesmerizing.
Vanessa Redgrave is outstanding as Queen Elizabeth I, a woman slowly descending into madness and paranoid about losing power, unafraid to dispatch anyone who threatens her reign.
David Thewlis co-stars as William Cecil, while Edward Hogg is phenomenal as Cecil’s son, Robert, a hunchback. The duo are largely responsible for doing Elizabeth’s dirty work and scheming to manipulate events and people for their own gain, since they enjoy tremendous power by serving at the pleasure of the monarch.
Anonymous is a brilliant film, not at all what you’d expect from the guy who brought the world 2012, Godzilla, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 10,000 BC.
* Nintendo 3DS Circle Pad Pro: This little peripheral is a slick add-on that serious handheld gamers are going to appreciate.
The 3DS slips into the pad, which features an additional circle pad on the far right of the unit to give gamers more control, making the handheld feel and play more like a console gamepad, which features two stick controllers.
As well, there are additional shoulder buttons built into the pad.
* Resident Evil: Revelations: This Nintendo 3DS game, from Capcom, is the latest chapter in the zombie franchise.
Set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, the action unfolds on an abandoned cruise ship, giving gamers more of the creepy atmosphere they have come to love from this series.
The game features two-player online and offline co-op, as well as a single player campaign.
Rated M.
* Star Wars: Darth Plagueis: This latest novel, from writer James Luceno, is garnering heady praise from fans of the Expanded Universe, thanks to a detailed plot that explores the relationship between Darth Sidious, the evil Emperor of the Star Wars films, and his master, Darth Plagueis.
Plagueis was alluded to in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, used by Sidious to further draw Anakin Skywalker to the dark side because it was said Plagueis could use the Force to prevent those he loved from dying.
But there’s a lot more to this novel than that. Luceno weaves a broad, decades-spanning tale which fits neatly into many of the gaps in the timeline and more fully explores how a young man named Palpatine was recruited to become a Sith apprentice and eventually became a master and ruler of the galaxy.
* Good old reliable gift cards: Whether it’s iTunes, Chapters/Indigo, Future Shop or Best Buy, or any other establishment of your choice, these are always a solid idea. Not really romantic, but if you don’t know what geeky novel, album, piece of hardware, DVD or video game is on his/her most-wanted list, this is better than nothing.

Wayne Chamberlain is an editor at The Sudbury Star, who has covered the gaming industry and reviewed games since 2003, as well as a film school graduate who majored in writing and directing. He is also the co-host of Star Wars Book Report, a bi-weekly podcast available on iTunes. You can follow him on Twitter.com @ChamberlainW or @JediAragorn. Join his blog at jediaragorn.blogspot.com. 

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