Monthly Archives: February 2016

Finding Walking Dead’s Rick’s Sheriff Hat

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Screen-Shot-2015-05-18-at-11.49.13-PMThe Prop: Rick’s Sheriff Hat:

Daryl and Michonne may have their share of fans, but The Walking Dead is Rick Grimes’ world. He’s the everyman, the fearless leader, the tragic hero, and the struggling widowed father and, most of all, the butt-kicking zombie slayer.

Rick Grimes, portrayed by Andrew Lincoln who won a Saturn Award for the role, was a small-town police officer before the “event” occurred. In the original comic, he was a Deputy Sheriff in Cynthiana, Kentucky, but since the television series is set in Georgia, his television version is a deputy for rickcosplay-261x300King County, Georgia. Cynthiana is real place, but King County was invented for the show.

Rick is the longest-living survivor in the comics, and still the worthy leader, as much as one can be, in the show. He has been through not only every imaginable situation with marauding walkers, he has faced all-too-human conflicts like betrayal from his best friend, fear of losing his children, the death of his wife, the inner struggle of what is still right and wrong, and more than a few bouts with, as Walking Dead ally Glen put it, “walking the streets of Crazy Town.” Yet Rick Grimes endures, and gets more complicated  and awesome as the story unfolds.

This includes his coming to terms with the established law not being the case in the world anymore, and his initial look of the Western Sheriff Deputy has since been replaced with practical civilian attire.

When Rick shed himself of his uniform, he eventually bequeathed the hat to his son Carl, who now wears it as a sort of symbol of his “coming of age” in the post-apocalyptic world.

Where to Find It:

Finding the hat is one thing, but if you’re looking for good King County Sheriff’s adornments, there is one thing of utmost importance every hard-core collector and detail-oriented cosplayer need to know: it is illegal to impersonate a police officer (and for good reason, too). This is why, when people see police costumes in party and Halloween stores, they are usually over-the-top unbelievable. They are either too sexy, too stupid, or the badges are just not impressive.

Cosplayers should heed the law when getting dolled up. Those wanting to do a great Rick Grimes impersonation, however, shouldn’t dismay. According to Federal Law (and yes, there is one that has been in effect for 15 years), shipping, possession and use of police badges — even well-crafted replicas for fictional places, apparently — is a crime unless they are used for the following purposes ONLY: in a collection as  a memento or decoration, for a dramatic presentation or recreation purpose (this includes cosplay at a convention).

rickhat-300x269One reason it is important to know this is because there is an authentic, beautifully done Walking Dead hat inspired by Rick…and later Carl’s…hat available for $325 from Baron Hats. This hat is so well-done, they won’t sell it with its badge to anyone with intention on using it for purposes other than listed above. It is, however, available without the badge for those who just love the hat.

If this is just too steep, a good-quality classic brown cowboy hat can be found on several western apparel sites like A.A. Callisters or Sheplers  for $25 and up. Cheap costume hats can run from $5 to $20, depending on the size and quality of the product, a well as the dealer. Baseball hats with the King County Sheriff’s Department patch are also available.

There is a full officially-licensed Rick Grimes costume available. The good news is, there will be no fear of worrying about impersonating an actual officer of the law in this thing. The bad news, it’s not very attractive. This can be found on Spirit Halloween for $59.99, and it does come with a hat and badge.

A better way of getting a more authentic full costume is hitting the second hand stores for some brown slacks and a khaki shirt, then sewing on your own insignia. There is a nice set of Georgia Sheriff’s Department patches and a badge available on Amazon. Again, if this appears too authentic, please follow the law. These are not guidelines, they are laws. Costume and collector purposes only.rickcarlfigures-300x293

Think Geek has a glass-incased officially licensed badge replica made by Gentle Giant for $99.99, for collectors who just want it for display. It can be removed from the glass and also comes with a replica of Andrew Lincoln’s signature.

There are actually not many figures of Rick Grimes with his hat (there are actually more figures featuring Carl in it from both the comic and television worlds). There are plush and Funko Rick versions available, though, most of these can be found from Entertainment Earth.

There are always Rick-centric posters, t-shirt and more. The official AMC Walking Dead Shop has a Rick Bundle (shirt, mug and Funko figure) for $39.99.

For those who just want to bring Rick Grimes home, there is a great sans-hat figure available from Entertainment Earth for $32.99 that is just begging to be displayed. Those little 10-inch walkers will think twice before invading this home.

Remember, “The New World’s Gonna Need Rick Grimes.”

—Lisa Kay Tate, post originally ran May 20, 2015

Three Easy Party Games for Anytime

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geekygames1Originally posted on GeekMom on Jan. 1, 2016.

There’s always the need at parties or get togethers to fill in those awkward gaps with something other than just small talk, but sometime there’s not a board game or set of dice in sight.

Other times, there’s a need to change the subject from some heated political differences, or calm down the frustrated “how much looonnngers?” on a car trip.

Been there, done that, created some anywhere party games to remedy it.

Just in time for those end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year celebrations, I’m passing them along to anyone in need of an ice breaker or a subject changer.

Each of these three games can be played pretty much anywhere (including cars) and need no more than a notepad and pencil.

Karaoke Roulette

This is fun, a capella version of a Karaoke bar, without an actual karaoke machine. The intent is the try and stump or embarrass, your friends with popular songs. Every player writes down five to ten songs on little scraps of paper and places them in a bowl, hat or just a pile in the center of a table, charades style.

Choose any genre or artist, as long as it isn’t instrumental. The first player grabs a song from the pile, and has to sing it from memory. If they can, they get one point, and can discard the song. If not, the song goes back in the pile for the next player to find. First player to successfully sing three songs wins.

Make this as easy or hard as the crowd allows. Just sing the opening line, or sing the first verse or chorus. Singing the whole song may not be realistic with every crowd.

Yes, this can be played in a car easily. If you have satellite radio like XM or Sirius, turn the volume down, and ask the next “singer” to pick a station. Whatever song you see first on that station is the one they have to sing. Of course, this doesn’t work with every pre-Sirius-era, and it’s best to avoid classical or jazz stations on this game. This is a lyric-based game, and as pleasant as Gioachino Rossini’s “Thieving Magpie” may be, it won’t work for this game. Don’t even try.

You gotta know this one...

You gotta know this one…

“I’ve Never Been To…”

Here’s our family-friendly version of “I Never,” where you don’t have to reveal that one thing about your Spring Break of ’94 you’d rather forget.

The key is to make this a travel and geography game, in “I Never” form. Place a chair in the center of the room, and have the first player sit in it to start the game. That player says “I’ve never been to..New York.” Everyone who has been to New York (or wherever the first player said) gets up and heads to the chair, the first one who sits, leads the next round. You can play for points (first one to make it to the chair five times wins), or just for fun.

You can even specialize this a bit, to narrow things down. Choose a category. Countries. Cities. Events. Stores. Theme Park Attractions. Restaurants.

“What? You’ve never been on Space Mountain?”

For the car version, players who have been to a designate place need to be the first to yell. ME! Pretty simple.

“Pinky, Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?”

Saving our favorite for last, this is the simple premise where people have to make up a response to one of our favorite running gags, Pinky and The Brain’s famous “Pinky, Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?” running gag.

Go around the room and try to come up with your own answer, preferably in Pinky’s accent), of “I think so, Brain, but…” until someone is stumped. Keep going until the a “Last Pinky Standing. “

I think so, Brain, but:
“How do we get the Spice Girls in the paella?”
“But me and Pippi Longstocking? What would the children look like?
“Don’t you think shipping Eli and Peyton romantically is a bit inappropriate?”

If you want to keep going, try these variations:

Monty Python’s Flying Circus’s “Now for something, completely different,”
… a man with three buttocks
…a bird who sings Adele’s “Hello”
….ten pieces of solid gold Wombat poop.

Some say….” From Top Gear, before the response… “We only know, he’s called The Stig!”
…he only has one nostril, and it’s on the back of his head
…he owns a DVD of every single Justin Beiber concert
…he is the world’s tallest Ewok.

Star Trek’s “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a…”
….Proctologist
…Wedding Planner
…Rave Deejay
…happy camper.

Be prepared to laugh again on game night.

Be prepared to laugh again on game night.

Remember, make up your own, and you don’t even have to have any knowledge of the actual shows. Once this makes its ways around the crowd, even those who don’t watch or know about these shows will be in on the object of the game.

This is also great couple’s game to keep each other awake on late night car trips, which is why we came up with it in the first place.

Next time things get uncomfortably silent, or icily on edge, lighten it up with pure nonsense, everyone can enjoy.

Don’t forget to eat and drink sparingly during these games, as laughter-induced spit takes can get messy.

Taking Virtual Field Trips with Google Cardboard

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Google Cardboard and a smart phone, a package for VR trips. All Images: Rick Tate

The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program has been visiting classrooms nationwide to help students and teachers learn more about incorporating the immersive learning opportunities of the “virtual field trip”

The program utilizes the Google Cardboard viewers to help students bring abstract concepts to live and give them a deeper, more personal understanding of the world beyond the four walls of the classroom.

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Human geography teacher Chris Kapuscik leads his students on a virtual field trip.

This includes a sort of virtual travel kits, with a tablet for the teacher and cardboard viewers and phones for reach students. My husband, Rick, requested to be part this program when we first purchased our own Google Cardboard device earlier this year. His high school was one of a handful of schools in the West Texas area chosen to receive a visit from program’s representatives, and get a hands-on test drive of Google Expeditions’ educational options.

These “field trips” come in the form of 360° photo spheres, 3D images and video,  and ambient sounds. These are annotated with points of interest, and other details that make these virtual trips easy to incorporate into the curriculum already being used in schools.

To make the experience even more memorable, entities like The Wildlife Conservation Society, PBS, the American Museum of Natural History, the Planetary Society, and the Palace of Versailles helped contribute to the program’s curriculum development.

One of the things that have made Google Expeditions so popular is the enthusiasm not just in the classroom, but also from the parents.

Google product manager Jen Holland said the feedback from parents for this program has been “stellar,” and may parents have signed up for the program hoping their son or daughter’s school would be selected.

“Many parents are volunteering on the day of the visit and after the visit are looking for ways to incorporate Expeditions further,” Holland explained. “Many PTA boards have also asked our team to run Expeditions at their monthly meetings so parents can check Expeditions out.”

In many communities, including my own border region, the multicultural landscape in schools is growing more visible, and Holland feels the immersive Expeditions experience gives students a better way to share their own cultural backgrounds with each other, not to mention learning more about their own nation’s history.

“Expeditions allows students to get a deeper and more personal understanding of cultures and historical events,” Holland said. “With Expeditions, students can immerse themselves in the 360 degree panoramas and explore in a totally new format.”

This is an experience, she said, that just isn’t obtained via other learning resources alone.

“Videos and textbooks don’t have the same immersiveness that Expeditions provides; students get the opportunity to ‘walk in someone’s shoes,’ and can get a glimpse into the various rich cultures that are out there,” Holland said. “They can explore museums, parks, city centers all from the confines of the classroom.”

One of Rick’s colleagues, geography teacher Chris Kapuscik, said the students’ response to the experience was phenomenal.

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Physics teacher Austin Campbell gives his students a look at the Hadron Collider in Switzerland, via Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.

“I was fortunate enough to bring two of my classes to the Google cardboard simulations, and the students reactions were priceless when they first put on the Google Cardboard glasses,” he said. “The room instantly filled with positive noises as the students were visually transported to another world.”

He said one of the ways he knew the demonstration was successful, was the student were still talking about what they saw and experienced when they left the presentation.

“As a teacher what I really like about it is the capabilities of bringing something to life for the students,” Kapuscik said. “I saw students for the first time this year seem to be really into the class, and students that didn’t normally talk were talking. The interactions that they had with each other were unique.”

What Kapuscik personally liked about using the Google Cardboard is teachers of several different subjects can be able to use these visualization techniques to supplement a lesson. This ability extends to students’ ability to use this program in their own homes. Even if students or school districts, don’t have the means to physically travel to other places in their country or around the globe, this program can help bring the world to them.

“In the home, kids can learn about new places and gain a sense of curiosity that would reflect on their education,” he said. “It would kind of be like they are learning without knowing they’re learning. I could already think of several ways I would use this in my class if I had my own set.”

Kapuscik said he hopes to see immersive visual experiences like this become a more frequent tool in the classroom.

“If they don’t become more common, then we need to find a way to make it more common because technology like this is only going to benefit the whole educational experiences,” he said. “As a teacher, not only would I be able to teach about a place but if I can bring them there it would help students internalize their learning.”

To learn more about GeekMom Lisa’s family’s experience with this program, see her post How Does Google’s Cardboard Hold Up?

Story originally ran in GeekMom on Dec. 20, 2015.