Going Out? How To Transition Conservative To Chic

Here’s the bottom line – many of us are fast-paced in today’s society. You might not have the time to run home and change your work outfit before hitting the night. It can be difficult to change from work attire to casual or date attire; when you’re always on the go, the last thing you need is your wardrobe slowing you down.

What you might not know is that office staples like pencil skirts, blouses, and blazers can function effectively at the office, and on a night out. Here’s some tips how to transform from desk to dinner.

Layers, Layers, Layers!

Layers are everything when it comes to switching up an outfit, they will become your best friend when you are trying to swap the desk look for a chic look. There are a myriad of ways to build an outfit, between clothing styles, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories…the list goes on.

Think of your outfit as nail polish, you want to start of with the first coat, in other words, your base piece. This article of clothing could be a dress, pants and a blouse, or a skirt and a top. Serving as your base, this item will not change during the transition, so make sure you are comfortable wearing this piece out on the town!

The next step is to paint your second coat, or add additional pieces, to create a look that is appropriate for work. This consists of picking shoes, stockings, a blazer, sweater, jacket: whichever is needed to amplify the office look.

The final step is your top coat, the pieces that will add the final touch to your outfit. This could be a necklace, earrings, belt, or any other accessories that you would wear to the office. Now that your outfit (and manicure) are complete, you can start your work day.

Once the work day ends, it’s time to discard some of those layers! A blazer, belt, stockings, or even your work bun can be removed to reveal a casual and chic outfit that doesn’t scream “I just ran out of work.” Voila!

 

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Removing layers (themuse.com)

Ditch and Switch

There isn’t one solution for everything, and simply removing some pieces of clothing might not work for your night out. In this case, grab your bag, it’s time to start packing!

Depending on your work attire or the activity you’ll be attending after work, you may need to pack one item or multiple items. You decide what works for you.

One reason you may pack an item or two is because of comfort. If you’re wearing heels to work, you may want to swap those out if you’ll be walking around a city, or if you just prefer to wear a different shoe style.

You might also want to change your shoes if you want to spice up your outfit. Swapping nude pumps for red pumps will add a pop of color (and fun!) to your outfit.

 

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Swapping shoes (Pinterest)

Another item that you may want to change is your blazer or sweater. A solid colored blazer can be switched for a printed, shimmery, or studded blazer or jacket. A printed or decorated blazer can provide various looks, such as vibrant, edgy, or girly, plus add contrast to your outfit!

Jeans are universal and match with anything, so why not pack a pair of jeans? Jeans can easily be folded and stored in a big bag. If you’re going out, you might as well be comfortable!

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Ditching skirt for jeans (extrapetite.com)

 

Jewelry is an easy piece to pack, since most jewelery is small and can easily fit inside of a purse. An extra pair of earrings, bracelets, hair clips, rings, you name it, can be stored in your purse. Once your work shift is over, simply switch your jewelry with your packed jewelry.

Another piece of jewelry that is handy to have is a statement necklace. I own multiple statement necklaces and I will swear by them, they can really make a shirt pop or an outfit sparkle! Statement necklaces come in numerous styles, varying in size, color, gem shape, and sparkle. A big, sparkly statement necklace can really add shine and pizazz to an outfit!

Switching a bag is also common, especially if you carry a huge tote-like bag to work. A bag can be swapped out for a crossbody, or a clutch, making your load lighter and portraying a more casual look. Clutches especially are small and compact, and come in a myriad of styles.

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Clutch style bag (thespottedfashion.com)

Ready To Paint The Town!

Now that your outfit is prepared, you are ready to warp from the office to your night out! Just don’t forget to freshen up, such as touching up makeup, and spritzing some perfume on.

I will leave you with one of the biggest tips I can suggest: choose some of your favorite pieces and style a “work” outfit, and a “night” outfit with that piece. Planning in advance will reduce stress when you are in a rush, and help you avoid purchasing multiple outfits for work and going out. Good luck ladies!

‘Video Games Live’ Review

Gamers of every variety flocked to the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, N.J., on Saturday, July 23, for a performance by Video Games Live (VGL), an orchestra that performs music from hit video games. Unlike most orchestras, screams, roars and claps were heard throughout the show as the audience cheered on their favorite video games. Synchronized lighting, solo singers and electronic percussionists also accompanied the standard orchestra.

A myriad of video game hits were included in the tour, such as music from “Mario,” “The Legend of Zelda” and “Kingdom Hearts.” While the orchestra played the music, the concert venue’s screens displayed scenes from the respective video games. Other segments incorporated video game characters between songs and during intermission, which helped the show retain its whimsical, geeky vibe.

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Orchestra plays music from “The Legend of Zelda” displaying Toon Link on the monitor

Some of the musical arrangements were exclusive to Video Games Live, such as a performance by Triforce Quartet, a string quartet that created its own medleys from video game music. The Triforce Quartet appeared onstage twice during the show, once to play a “Mario” medley and the second time to play a composition of the boss battle themes from multiple “Final Fantasy” games. The audience went wild for a twist on some of their favorite classic games.

VGL also featured a choir to lend vocals to a few of the music arrangements. For the encore, the orchestra and choir collaborated to perform the famous track “One Winged Angel” from the worldwide hit game “Final Fantasy VII.” As soon as the first note sounded, the crowd rose from their seats and screamed in excitement. The fans loudly sang along throughout the song, proudly proclaiming their love for the game. The blaring shouts of “Sephiroth” — one of the game’s villains — in the theater were so loud they could probably be heard from outside the theater.

Fans cheered in delight when the show’s creator, Tommy Tallarico, announced that footage from Disney movies would play in place of video game footage for the “Kingdom Hearts” piece. Combining Square Enix with Disney, “Kingdom Hearts” has become one of the most popular and successful video game series in the world.  The audience hummed and clapped along to the “Kingdom Hearts” segment that featured a beautiful rendition of “Opening.”

In addition to hand-held and system video games, performances of multiple arcade game songs were executed during the show. Songs from fan favorites, like “Donkey Kong,” “Pong” and “Tetris,” were introduced with original footage from the games playing on the monitors. These segments reminded the audience not only of these beloved classic games, but also how far video games have come.

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Tommy Tallarico rocking out on stage.

Video Games Live premiered at the world-renowned Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles in July 2005. Since then, its fan base has grown rapidly and it has continued to tour for the past 11 years. The concert was created and is still led by video game composer Tallarico and Jack Wall, who have both traveled with the tour worldwide to cities including London, England; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Shanghai, China.

Gamers, geeks and fans alike enjoyed the progression of beeps and boops from arcade video games to the powerful orchestra music from recent games. Video Games Live allowed the audience to hear nostalgic songs while they remembered their favorite games and the memories associated with them.

Revival of Video Game Classics

Everywhere you look, remakes are appearing left and right, from the X Files to Fuller House, to The Powerpuff Girls. Television shows across the networks are being given new life and the chance to attract more fans. However, television shows aren’t the only ones receiving reboots – classic video games are also being resurrected for today’s generation.

For years, fans have begged Square Enix to remake Final Fantasy VII, a game acknowledged for having boosting the sales of PlayStation consoles and popularizing Japanese role-playing video games outside of Japan, according to Giantbomb.com.

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Trailer screenshot from Final Fantasy VII (Square Enix)

“I feel that there are several reasons why older games have become popular again, but the main one is probably the fact that most older games are quite easy to pick-up and play,” said Stephen Frost, a video game producer who previously worked at SEGA.

Older games don’t require complex controls or for the player to read an instruction manual in order to understand the game’s basic features, Frost says. Anyone of all ages can quickly and easily jump in and get enjoyment out of them.

“Not gonna lie, I definitely tear up a little when I watch the FFVII remaster trailers, but I know that in my case, that’s nostalgia, not excitement,” said Kate Welch, a video game UX/UI designer at Amazon Game Studios.

Another remake comes from Nintendo, after celebrating Pokemon’s 20th anniversary in 2016. Pokémon announced that two new versions would be releasing in later 2016, Pokémon Sun, and Pokémon Moon. These will be the first Pokémon games with new storylines and Pokémon characters since 2013’s Pokémon X and Pokémon Y.

“Pokemon is one of those rare franchises that’s managed to capture new gamers with each round of releases,” said John Bardinelli, a script, and dialogue writer for video games. “I was a fan when they first released in North America, yet I know people half my age who are fans as well.”

 

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Logos for Pokemon Sun and Moon (Nintendo)

Frost says that Pokemon’s simple story and controls help maintain its popularity in the video game industry.

“Modern games tend to focus on the long term experience can players can often need to spend hours learning the basics of gameplay before the true experience begins,” Frost said. “They just want something simple, fun and engaging to pass a bit of time with, and the classical game experience delivers upon that.”

Bardinelli feels the series has perfectly walked the line between preserving the old and updating the new, and Sun and Moon grasped his attention when they were announced.

One gaming series that continues to be remade on newer consoles is The Legend of Zelda. The newest game, title The Legend of Zelda, will be the nineteenth main installment in The Legend of Zelda series. It will also be the first original Zelda game developed with high-definition (HD) graphics.

“I feel that the goal of remakes is mainly to try and expose past experiences with those that may not have been able to try them out for one reason or another while simultaneously (hopefully) providing some fan service to all the loyal fans who have supported the title(s) in the past,” Frost said.

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The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo)

 

“Games are often made based upon the interest and beliefs of the game makers and the sensibility of consumers and general society during the period of time in which they are developed,” Frost said. “And as the years go by, these things can change and either become controversial, outdated or simply no longer enjoyable.”

However, Frost also feels that there are times when games need to be updated or tweaked in order to better match the interests, desires and expectations of today’s audiences.

“In most cases, I feel that (changes) tend to help improve the overall experience,” Frost said. “And that’s probably the goal the developers had in mind when making the changes in the first place.”

Interactive entertainment creates a deeper bond between product and player than other forms of media, largely because of the immersion factor, says Bardinelli. His analogy of playing a classic game is like visiting the house you grew up in, complete with all the creaking floorboards and drafty doors.

“Nostalgia is a very powerful thing, especially when it comes to video games,” Bardinelli said.

Anime/Pop Culture Events in 2016

As an avid cosplayer and event goer, I always love exploring new events and meeting new people! Below I have listed some fun and exciting pop culture and geeky events located on the East Coast.

East Coast Comic Con (Secaucus, NJ)

East Coast Comic Con (ECCC) is all about comics, with various vendors that sell classic and newer comics. ECCC moved to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey, a space that is 50,000 square feet!

Over 300 exhibitors set up at ECCC, and more than 60 comic guests can be found at ECCC. Media guests also are featured, such as Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek, Sam Jones from Flash Gordan, and Jeremy Bulloch from Star Wars. ECCC also holds a costume contest, so be prepared with your best cosplay!

When: April 16 and 17, 2016

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ECCC at Meadowlands Exposition Center

Anime Fan Fest (Somerset, NJ)

2016 will be the first year for Anime Fan Fest (AFF), and although this in only the first year, AFF has an amazing guest lineup!

Cosplay guests include Ashely Chantilly, a cosplayer and pin-up Jersey girl, YuffieBunny, a professional model, clothing designer, and cosplay artist, and MostFlogged, a talented seamstress and cosplayer.

Voice actor guests include Vic Mignogna, best known for voicing Edward Elric in the hit anime Fullmetal Alchemist, Bonnie Gordon, the voice of Mika in Street Fighter V, and Mike McFarland, the director for Fullmetal Alchemist and Attack on Titan

When: May 6 – 8, 2016

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AFF banner

Anime Next (Atlantic City, NJ)

Formerly located in Somerset, New Jersey, 2016 will be the first year that Anime Next will be hosted at The Atlantic City Convention Center. Some activities at the event will be game shows, a cosplay contest, karaoke, and panels.

Located right in Atlantic City, you can make a weekend trip out of the convention, and either attend all three days, or hit the beach and casino on the other days!

When: June 10 – 12, 2016

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Atlantic City Convention Center

Heroes and Villains Fan Fest (Secaucus, NJ)

Heroes and Villains Fan Fest (HVFF) will be returning to NY/NJ after the event was cancelled for one of its days in January due to winter storm Jonas. HVFF has had successful events in San Jose, CA and Chicago, IL.

HVFF features autograph sessions, panels, and photo ops with actors from hit shows such as Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham. Guests so far are Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, and Willa Holland.

If you are a fan of superheroes and comic, HVFF is the place for you!

When: July 2-3, 2016

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Stephen Amell, first guest announced for HVFF

Otakon (Baltimore, MD)

Otakon is one of the longest-running Anime conventions in the United States and was previously the 2nd largest North American anime convention, until falling to 5th as of 2015. Still, Otakon is a very large convention!
Otakon will be featuring a maid cafe, panels, workshops, and other fun events! Otakon started in a tiny little convention in State College Pennsylvania, and has
This will be Otakon’s last year in Baltimore, next year they will be moving to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. If you want to catch Otakon in its last year in Baltimore, definitely head to Maryland this summer!
When: August 12 – August 14, 2016
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Otakon, one of the most popular conventions

New York Comic Con (NY)

New York Comic Con (NYCC) drew in more than 151,000 guests over the past two years, making it the East Coast’s biggest and most exciting popular culture convention! NYCC is held at the Jacob Javits Center, which offers a total area space of 1,800,000 square feet and has 840,000 square feet of total exhibit space.

The guest list and panels are not announced yet for the 2016 dates, but stay updates on Comic Con’s Facebook page! NYCC is always a huge, fun, and crazy event, definitely an experience that you won’t want to miss!

When: October 6 – 9, 2016

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NYCC at the Javits Center

 

Most of the tickets for these events are on sale now, so make sure to head over to their respective websites for more details! Happy convention season!

A Profile of Gerard Marino

I recently had the tremendous opportunity to interview Gerard Marino, a BAFTA nominated film and video game composer. Below is my written profile of Marino.

 

It is morning at his studio, and a coffee-fueled Gerard Marino immerses himself in new material. A script, art designs, or just a concept could be filling Marino’s head, waiting to be brought to life by music. Depending on the material, Marino will be composing music that fits acinematic experience, or that occurs in a temporal plane. Marino waits until the last possible minute, until fear gets him going.

This is where Marino wants to be, 24-48 hours behind of his production schedule.

Marino, an accomplished music composer, has composed music for film and video games, most notably for the highly regarded God of War games series, which earned him a BAFTA (British Academy Film Award) nomination for best original score in 2007. Marino is also known for his music in films, such as The Matrix Reloaded and Swordfish.

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Currently, Marino is finishing boss battle music for a Mexican side scrolling shooter game with bugs.

“It’s like a contra game, an old NES game series. It’s not the regular Gerard Marino type stuff, dramatic and all of that,” Marino says.

Marino has conducted all over the world and loves to perform. It reminds Marino of his high school days and his youthful dreams.

“I was gonna be a rock star, I played in band in high school, so the fact I get to perform music is great,” said Marino.

Marino became interested in music long before high school. Marino recalls that he became interested in a career in music when he was in fourth grade.

“Somewhere around fourth grade, a combination of a plastic recorder, and Star Wars,” Marino explained. “Star Wars was a life changing movie for me, as a young lad it was the coolest thing to ever happen. I bought the soundtrack, it was the first thing bought with allowance money.”

Marino would imagine himself playing the trumpet, and all of the other instruments in the orchestra, daydreaming of being able to play every instrument.

“Before I knew it, I was giving myself orchestration lessons,” Marino laughed.

Marino’s first job was flipping burgers when he was 16, saying he had “a million” jobs that weren’t music-related. Marino paid his way through music school, working as a strip club dj for five years.

“You can’t just run out and start making money in music, unless you’re Beethoven,” Marino says. “I had to squeeze every amount of talent that I was born with out of me.”

The five years of hosting a show every night as a dj not only supported Marino through college, but also prepared him to host the Orlando Nerd Fest in 2014, an annual celebration of nerd music and culture.

“They asked me and I said yes,” Marino said. “That was fun, I had a good time. I had no idea the level of nerd culture with music. There were 50-60 bands, rock and heavy metal, dedicated to their favorite sci-fi and video game characters. I really seriously considered putting a band together after seeing it.”

Marino says he isn’t a stranger to nerd culture, he’s been to San Diego Comic Con “a million times”. Marino has even done a few cosplays, dressing up as a character from a movie, video game, or pop culture.

“I did Nick Fury at Comic Con once. I signed autographs, did interviews, and took pictures as Nick Fury (Avengers), it was hilarious,” Marino laughs. “I also cosplayed as Kratos (protagonist in God of War) for the Video Games Live show in San Bernadino.”

“I think my best work is the God of War 2 score, I felt I really accomplished something special, personally,” Marino explains. I really pushed my own boundaries, it was definitely the most intense of all the God of War music.”

 

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As for being awarded for a BAFTA, Marino says, “It was pretty cool. I always wanted to visit London, then I was nominated for the BAFTA, so I thought now is the time.”

While Marino did not win the BAFTA, Marino has had other major accomplishments in his life. In 2005, The Los Angeles Philharmonic performed Marino’s God of War soundtrack at the Video Games Live, a live orchestra concert that performs music from video games, at the Hollywood Bowl.

“These 2 famous game composers, Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, put together Video Games Live, and it almost died but they managed to put it back together with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra,” said Marino. It’s been on tour for 11 years, and it has been quite a blessing being a part of it.”

Marino enjoys that concerts bring the music out, instead of having gamers listen to it on their televisions.

“Concerts and orchestras bring people out of their living rooms and dark rooms, and they get out in public and don’t have to listen to the music alone,” Marino said.

Marino feels that his biggest artistic achievement was God of War 2, while he listed other major achievements over the years.

“As far as professionally, to have music performed at the Hollywood Bowl and Kennedy Center was a huge achievement, I feel like I’m part of the artistic conversation of western music in the U.S and the world”, Marino reminisces. “I feel like I’m part of the team, and there are really heartwarming moments for me, all that hard work and sacrifice paid off.”

Marino not only recalls the shows that he has conducted for, but the fans he has encountered at worldwide concerts.

“I’ve conducted all over the world, and the fans are great, like in Brazil when they love something they love it, and they love God of War,” Marino said. “Everybody stood up and screamed like I was Mick Jagger. I couldn’t believe it.”

Marino also recalls some of his other achievements, such as teaching Masters classes and occasional private lessons. When a young person tells Marino they became interested in music because of his work, Marino feels very humbled.

“It’s rewarding to teach, it makes me feel like I want to be responsible, to make sure I’m not ever faking, I’m pouring everyone into it,” Marino said. “Whether it’s God of War or a cute bug commando type game, if people are looking up to me I should set a good example.”

Marino has not only scored for video games, but film and television as well, composing trailers for movies, and scores for the hit CW show Supernatural. He says that there are different challenges in each of those mediums.

“Video games are going for a cinematic experience, same experience and effects that you get as film or tv show,” Marino said. “Film and TV happen in a temporal plane, precisely at the same time, so music can be written to do exactly that. Video games have essentially the same music, but you don’t know when player will get close enough to trip the enemy. The music depends on what the player does.”

As for the future, Marino says that Cecil Kim, a concept artist, and his team recently reached out to him and he will score a game for them.

“We’ve been wanting to work together for years, so its finally happening,” Marino said. “We met at an award show for God of War 3. He told me he listens to my music when he is creating story boards, and I said no, I look at your story boards when I make my music!”

Marino says he will continue to put his best effort into his work and aiming high.

“There is shallow music out there and sometimes good enough is good enough, but I want to make sure everything I put out has substance, underneath all the flash and cool sounds,” Marino said.

The Science Behind Pixar – Review

Debuting at Boston’s Museum of Science in June of 2015, “The Science Behind Pixar” explores the technology, engineering, and science that creates Disney and Pixar animated films. Included in the exhibit are popular films, such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc., A Bug’s Life, WALL-E, and Finding Nemo, to name a few.

This interactive exhibit is 10,000-square-foot, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and was developed by the Museum of Science and Pixar Animation Studios, with support from NSF). With more than 40 interactive features, the exhibit isn’t lacking in hands-on experience and visitor interactivity.

The exhibit is currently at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, opening to the public on Saturday, March 12, and staying until September. I visited the exhibit the following day after it premiered, and as an avid Disney lover, I was very satisfied.

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Exhibit banner in The Franklin Institute

Upon entering the exhibit, you are greeted by Mike and Sully, the main characters in Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully are in their Monster’s University attire and propped on a Monster’s University set, complete with scream canisters. On a screen next to the models, there is a video that shows Sully walking, while his technological makeup changes.

 

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Mike and Sully life-size models

Continuing through the exhibit, many other models and sculptures can be seen. Characters such as Eve (WALL-E), Anger (Inside Out), and Remy (Ratatouille) are on display in small models.

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One of the Brave twins, human and bear form models

Another life-size model can be seen close to the entrance, and it’s none other than Star Command’s finest space ranger, Buzz Lightyear! Buzz is perched on a wooden stage, and also has a screen next to him showing his computer makeup. Make sure to strike a pose with Buzz and yell “to infinity and beyond!”

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Life-size Buzz Lightyear model (Toy Story)
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Buzz Lightyear computer model

In addition, other props can be found from Pixar classics. The large tapestry of Merida’s family in Brave can be found hanging on one of the walls.

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Brave family tapestry (Brave)

A large WALL-E model can be found in front of a backdrop of WALL-E’s truck. There is a camera that is aimed at WALL-E, so you can view a video of the person posing with WALL-E on a separate screen. The kids got a kick out of viewing their mom or sibling on live video.

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WALL-E model (WALL-E)

Let your kids travel under the ocean with a large Dory model. There are buttons on a control panel in front of Dory, which allows the lights behind Dory to change from red, to blue, and a few other colors. With a beautiful ocean backdrop, this is a prime photography spot!

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Dory model (Finding Nemo)

Many activities are on display for visitors to try out, such as adjusting light and seeing the differences between direct light, shadow lighting, and indirect light. You can push buttons for different types of light, and see the result behind a glass case of round objects.

Another activity allows the user to choose a Pixar character from Woody, Mrs. Incredible, and Eve and see how their rigging motion works. After picking a character, you can pick how their arm moves, and see how many different ways are required to move a characters arm in different positions.

Many interesting facts are displayed throughout the exhibit, related to the process and time required to complete certain objectives.

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An Inside Out fact

In addition, a few areas featured solely Inside Out. The main area is in the shape of a circle, and displayed the different stages of creating Inside Out. This area included stations, and each station had a TV screen above a board with information and pictures on that stage. The stages included modeling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting, and rendering.

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How Joy was brought to life with different stages (Inside Out)

Concept art for various films could be found in the last room of the exhibit. These drawings are crucial, they help build the idea and appearance of the characters, and aid the animators in creating the character.

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Brave concept art
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Inside Out concept art

 

There are many more and activities, art, models, and videos in the exhibit, but I won’t spoil all the fun. Whether you’re a fan of Disney, science, engineering, art, math, or technology, you will find something that interests you at the exhibit. With more than 40 interactive exhibit features based upon beloved Disney and Pixar films, the Science Behind Pixar provides a unique look into classic movies that are loved by all.

Going Out? How To Transition Conservative To Chic

Here’s the bottom line – many of us are fast-paced in today’s society. You might not have the time to run home and change your work outfit before hitting the night. It can be difficult to change from work attire to casual or date attire; when you’re always on the go, the last thing you need is your wardrobe slowing you down.

What you might not know is that office staples like pencil skirts, blouses, and blazers can function effectively at the office, and on a night out. Here’s some tips how to transform from desk to dinner.

Layers, Layers, Layers!

Layers are everything when it comes to switching up an outfit, they will become your best friend when you are trying to swap the desk look for a chic look. There are a myriad of ways to build an outfit, between clothing styles, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories…the list goes on.

Think of your outfit as nail polish, you want to start of with the first coat, in other words, your base piece. This article of clothing could be a dress, pants and a blouse, or a skirt and a top. Serving as your base, this item will not change during the transition, so make sure you are comfortable wearing this piece out on the town!

The next step is to paint your second coat, or add additional pieces, to create a look that is appropriate for work. This consists of picking shoes, stockings, a blazer, sweater, jacket: whichever is needed to amplify the office look.

The final step is your top coat, the pieces that will add the final touch to your outfit. This could be a necklace, earrings, belt, or any other accessories that you would wear to the office. Now that your outfit (and manicure) are complete, you can start your work day.

Once the work day ends, it’s time to discard some of those layers! A blazer, belt, stockings, or even your work bun can be removed to reveal a casual and chic outfit that doesn’t scream “I just ran out of work.” Voila!

 

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Removing layers (themuse.com)

Ditch and Switch

There isn’t one solution for everything, and simply removing some pieces of clothing might not work for your night out. In this case, grab your bag, it’s time to start packing!

Depending on your work attire or the activity you’ll be attending after work, you may need to pack one item or multiple items. You decide what works for you.

One reason you may pack an item or two is because of comfort. If you’re wearing heels to work, you may want to swap those out if you’ll be walking around a city, or if you just prefer to wear a different shoe style.

You might also want to change your shoes if you want to spice up your outfit. Swapping nude pumps for red pumps will add a pop of color (and fun!) to your outfit.

 

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Swapping shoes (pinterest)

 

 

Another item that you may want to change is your blazer or sweater. A solid colored blazer can be switched for a printed, shimmery, or studded blazer or jacket. A printed or decorated blazer can provide various looks, such as vibrant, edgy, or girly, plus add contrast to your outfit!

Jeans are universal and match with anything, so why not pack a pair of jeans? Jeans can easily be folded and stored in a big bag. If you’re going out, you might as well be comfortable!

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Ditching the skirt for jeans (extrapetite.com)

Jewelry is an easy piece to pack, since most jewelery is small and can easily fit inside of a purse. An extra pair of earrings, bracelets, hair clips, rings, you name it, can be stored in your purse. Once your work shift is over, simply switch your jewelry with your packed jewelry.

Another piece of jewelry that is handy to have is a statement necklace. I own multiple statement necklaces and I will swear by them, they can really make a shirt pop or an outfit sparkle! Statement necklaces come in numerous styles, varying in size, color, gem shape, and sparkle. A big, sparkly statement necklace can really add shine and pizazz to an outfit!

Switching a bag is also common, especially if you carry a huge tote-like bag to work. A bag can be swapped out for a crossbody, or a clutch, making your load lighter and portraying a more casual look. Clutches especially are small and compact, and come in a myriad of styles.

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Clutch style bag (thespottedfashion.com)

Ready To Paint The Town!

Now that your outfit is prepared, you are ready to warp from the office to your night out! Just don’t forget to freshen up, such as touching up makeup, and spritzing some perfume on.

I will leave you with one of the biggest tips I can suggest: choose some of your favorite pieces and style a “work” outfit, and a “night” outfit with that piece. Planning in advance will reduce stress when you are in a rush, and help you avoid purchasing multiple outfits for work and going out. Good luck ladies!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Video Games of 2015

A myriad of video games were released in 2015 on various platforms such as Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii U. Gamers had a wide variety of exciting and spectacular games to choose from. While numerous games had successful releases, five games truly raised the bar.

  1. Batman Arkham Knight (released June 2015)

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Batman Arkham Knight

 

Succeeding the 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins, Arkham Knight is the end of the award-winning Arkham trilogy, based off of Batman, one of DC Comics’ most popular superheroes. In addition to Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Nightwing, Oracle and a few new characters assist Batman and offer cunning support throughout the game. The collection of DC characters from the original Batman comic adds a nostalgic touch to the game.

Playable in a third-person perspective, Arkham Knight delivers a wider open-world atmosphere, offering the player more freedom rather than sticking to a set storyline. Batman’s stealth skills, combat ability, gadgets, and detective artistry are put on display and highlighted in Arkham Knight. Batman needs all the help he can find to defeat his foes, Penguin, Riddler, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy, just some of the villains who make an appearance. Chelsea Stark, writer for Mashable, states that one aspect she loves in Arkham Knight is that “it was fresh but also still true to the Batman series”.

 

Bottom Line: Sharp graphics, fun gameplay, comic nostalgia, and story all aid in creating a fun and exciting game.

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows

 

  1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (released September 2015)

 

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Big Boss in The Phantom Pain

Phantom Pain is the fifth installment of the Metal Gear saga, an action, espionage stealth games series. Phantom Pain begins in a hospital, with the main character, Big Boss, awakening from a nine-year coma. Shortly after waking up, Big Boss is attacked, and unsure of whom is trying to kill him. Big Boss made his first appearance in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the prequel to the Metal Gear series.

Gameplay is similar to previous Metal Gear games, with the fulton recovery system re-entering the game from Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker. Phantom Pain takes place after Metal gear Ground Zeroes, and before the original Metal Gear. Snake travels through Afghanistan, during the same time as the Soviet-Afghan War, using his stealth and close quarter combat skills. Fans of Metal Gear will appreciate the similar gameplay, fighting techniques, and recurring characters involved in Phantom Pain.

Bottom Line: Realistic story, acute graphics, and sticking to Metal Gear roots create another successful Metal Gear game full of action, stealth and suspense.

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows

 

  1. Super Mario Maker (released September 2015)

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An example of a level in Super Mario Maker

 

Super Mario Maker allows the player to customize his or her own Mario levels, choosing the music, structures, and enemies in the level. Customizable items are pulled from a variety of Mario games, including Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Gamers can play through their own levels, as well as share their levels online and play other levels created by gamers.

Super Mario Maker has been positively received since its release; Mashable’s Chelsea Stark conveys that Super Mario Maker’s success is because of its ability to “give people creative freedom”. With boundless building blocks to create levels, Super Mario Maker offers gamers their own unique gaming experience.

Bottom Line: Characters and other elements from older Mario games add nostalgia for Mario fans, while customizations offer a personalized and fun experience.

Platform: Wii U

 

  1. Bloodborne (released in March 2015)

 

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Screencap from Bloodborne

Bloodborne follows the Hunter, the playable character, in third-person perspective gameplay through the fictional city of Yharnam. Gameplay is targeted towards exploration and weapon-based combat, while uncovering the mysteries of the world in detailed environments. Sam Prell, writer for GamesRadar.com, explains the appeal of the game. “Everything feels finely tuned and crafted, the combat is difficult but rewarding”.

An action role-playing game, Bloodborne allows the player to not only discover new areas, but also to find various new weapons, outfits, dangerous beasts, and rewards. With the city of Yharnam cursed with an unknown illness, death is hiding in every section of the game. In order to survive, the player needs to find the truth behind the secrets and darkness. When playing Bloodborne, Prell states that the game “drives me to constantly be on my toes and constantly be improving my tactics”.

Bottom Line: Intriguing story, fresh graphics, and a challenging yet rewarding game.

Platform: PlayStation 4

 

 

  1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (released May 2015)

 

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Gameplay from The Witcher 3

Another action role-playing game, The Witcher 3 involves a high level of fantasy in an open-world atmosphere. Based on a series of fantasy novels, by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, CD Projekt RED advanced The Witcher past paper print. The game was an instant success, selling over 6 million copies in six weeks.

The gameplay is controlled in third-person perspective, utilizing magic and swords to fight. The gamer plays as Geralt of Rivia, a man who hunts monsters, known as a witcher. Numerous locations are playable in the game, including the swamps of Velen, the Free City of Novigrad, Nilfgaardian Empire’s territories, and the Royal Castle in Vizima. Many of the player’s actions affect the world, creating different side quests and story lines. The Witcher 3 in the conclusion of Rivia’s story.

Bottom Line: Strong mix of reality and fantasy, and gameplay is more than 30 times larger than past Witcher games.

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows

The Flash S2 Ep. 11 “The Reverse-Flash Returns” Thoughts

Another Tuesday has passed, which means another Flash episode has aired. Numerous emotional moments took place on last night’s episode, and I am more than ready to share my thoughts on episode 11!

First of all, that runaway truck with hazardous chemical materials on the loose with no driver?? Barry didn’t seem too worried about it after he stopped the truck. I would have been more questionable about it, maybe one of Barry’s enemy’s, a new meta-human, or Zoom had something to do with it? But Barry has a lot on his mind, so I can give him a pass on this.

Caitlin and Cisco discover that Turtle is dead (Wells killed him at the end of last week’s episode), and Jay automatically places the blame on Wells. I would do the same if I was Jay, even though this is a different Wells without Thawne inside his body, I don’t fully trust him. And we know he is helping Zoom to get his daughter freed and hasn’t told Barry and company everything. Interesting to see what Wells will do with the serum/cells he received from Turtle’s brain.

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R.I.P Turtle

We also learn that Thawne has a Gideon (there is also a Gideon on Legend’s of Tomorrow, Gideon sure does get around). Thawne will soon learn that this is the time period The Flash is from, though he does not yet know the identity of The Flash. Barry better steer far away from him, this guy has been nothing but trouble on Earth 1 and Earth 2.

Back at Barry’s lab in the Central City police station, Barry and Patty are exchanging reports for a case, and Barry is acting distant and mellow. Patty asks Barry if this is the way it’s going to be (well duh, you broke up with him Patty). It is sad seeing Barry noticeably hurt, and Patty seems a bit down, but hey, every rose has it’s thorn. I still think it was safe not to tell Patty that Barry was The Flash. Let her go and live her life without added dangers of The Flash’s enemies.

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Patty confronting Barry in his lab

We then discover from Joe that Francine (Iris’ mother) is clinging on to her last bit of life. Joe and Iris then visit Francine in the hospital, who does not look good. Iris has a harder time than she thought saying goodbye to Francine, telling her she doesn’t know her well yet she is having a rough time. Iris also forgives Francine for leaving her and Joe, and tells Francine she wish she would have re-entered their lives sooner.

Iris breaks down in tears and rushes out of Francine’s room. Iris is in a tough position. She hasn’t had her mother present in her life, and now she is back in her life, but only for a short stay. It is also difficult for her knowing she has a brother, and all of them could have been a family all these years. I would not want to be Iris right now.

Back at Star Labs, Cisco and Wells are trying to figure out what causes Cisco’s vibes. Wells has a revelation, and meet Cisco in the time vault. Wells sneaks up on Cisco as the Reverse-Flash, which frightens Cisco and causes him to vibe (I’d be scared too being spooked by the Reverse-Flash). Wells discovered that adrenaline causes Cisco to vibe. When Cisco vibes this time, he sees the real Reverse-Flash in the current time period, and immediately tells Barry and the rest of Team Flash.

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Wells and Cisco trying to figure out the cause of vibes

Cisco discovered the Reverse-Flash was at Mercury Labs, but when Barry goes to confront him, Thawne punches Barry, kidnaps Professor McGee and leaves. The Reverse-Flash is glad because now he knows what time period The Flash is from.

Wells tells the crew at Star Labs that Thawne is from a timeline remnant — this is actually his previous version, before he murdered Barry’s mom. Thawne was protected from his “death” by being in the speed force at the time that his timeline was erased.

In another lab, Thawne asks McGee to fix some tachyon hardware for him, the reason, to return to his time period. He threatens to kill her if she doesn’t, and McGee complies.

Meanwhile, Caitlin and Barry are trying to find Jay’s doppelganger on Earth 1. In order to save Jay, Caitlin believes she can replace his dying cells with newer, healthy cells from his doppelganger. Only problem is, the two can’t seem to find the other Jay Garrick. Hmm, something tells me Jay knows something about this, and my hunch was right. Jay’s doppelganger cannot use his cells to help Jay, because Jay’s cells were mutated when he became The Flash. The only way to save Jay is to destroy Zoom.

As if Barry needed more emotional issues, Patty visits him in his CSI lab. Patty still is confused with Barry’s distance, and he tells her he is used to everyone he loves leaving him (aww). Patty acts suprised, stating that Barry never told her he loved her (slick move Patty). Barry tries to play it off, saying he is sorry, Patty also says she is sorry, and leaves. And cue more guilt on Barry’s shoulders.

Wells fixes a pair of goggles to trigger Cisco’s fear centers so he can vibe easier. Not sure if I would fully trust something Wells gave me, but Cisco puts on the goggles, and lo and behold, Cisco vibes. By concentrating on The Reverse-Flash, Cisco sees him and McGee in a lab, where Reverse-Flash kills McGee when she finishes helping him. What Cisco doesn’t realize, is that he just witnessed the future (whoa).

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Thawne and McGee in Mercury Labs

Back to Patty, we learn that she has been reading up Barry’s old police reports and files. She notices Barry is involved in every case with The Flash, put two and two together, and realizes Barry is The Flash (oh boy). Patty tells Joe her revelation, and Joe laughs it off, but Patty knows Joe is a terrible liar. Looks like Patty put her cop skills to use, too bad Barry or Joe didn’t realize Patty was snooping around, they could have tried to hide some of the files.

Was I the only one confused that Wally didn’t want to say goodbye to his mom? It was never stated that they had a negative relationship, and he told Joe and Iris the reason he was street racing was to pay for her hospital bills. Come on Wally, Iris forgave Francine and said goodbye to her even though she abandoned her. After Iris has a talk with Wally and tells him he should visit Francine, Wally decides to go to the hospital, as long as Iris goes with him. I’m so glad to see Iris and Wally bonding, in this hard time, they need each other for support.

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Iris and Wally

In the next few scenes, Joe warns Barry that Patty knows he is The Flash, Barry saves McGee, Barry loses his temper with Thawne and punches him almost to the death, and then Barry captures The Reverse-Flash. Barry ends up confronting The Reverse-Flash in the pipeline why he hates Barry, and Thawne tells Barry that he was obsessed with him. He re-created Barry’s lightning accident, and gained Barry’s identical powers. Once Thawne learned he could time travel, he realized that he wasn’t Barry, he was now Barry’s enemy. Sounds to me like Syndrome and Mr. Incredible’s story.

Patty, yet again, confronts Barry, this time telling him she knows he is The Flash. Patty says that if Barry tells her he is The Flash, she will stay in Central City. Barry laughs and plays off that he isn’t The Flash, but Patty doesn’t buy it. Patty leaves the room in tears, and we learn Patty truly cared about Barry and still does. Oh love.

Throughout the episode, Cisco has been getting nosebleeds, which were making me nervous. I love Cisco, and would be devastated if something happened to him. Cisco end up having an uncontrolled seizure; Wells figured out that since The Reverse-Flash is in the wrong time period, Cisco and his vibe ability are being affected by it. The only way to save Cisco is to send the Reverse-Flash back to the future, an idea that greatly upsets Barry.

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Barry comes to the tough decision to release Thawne

The Reverse-Flash killed Barry’s mother, sent his father to jail for 13+ years, and has been the biggest weight on Barry’s shoulders. It kills Barry to know that he finally captured him, but now has to release him. Worse yet, Barry has to use his speed to help Reverse-Flash get home. Having to free and help your enemy, yeesh that has to go down in the books for worst feeling ever. On the bright side, Cisco’s seizure subsided and he is now healthy and doesn’t look like Casper the friendly ghost.

I really like Patty, as a person and in a relationship with Barry, but my thoughts about her did change after the next stunt she pulled. Patty was on the train leaving Central City; she calls Barry to tell him that someone has a gun on her train. Barry rushes over as The Flash, and Patty stands up and tells him “false alarm”. Ok, I understand Patty is hurt, but she is the one who broke up with Barry, and decided to leave Central City. Being The Flash is a huge secret and responsibility, Barry is entitled to tell or not tell anyone his secret (especially when the two were only dating 3-6 months).

In my opinion, jerk-move by Patty. Patty’s action came off as a “hah, I got you” and “you’re a liar”. Not what Barry needs or deserves, especially after the Reverse-Flash encounter, and Cisco’s health trauma. Barry is best of staying single for awhile, until Zoom is destroyed and he can clearly focus on what he needs and wants (which is probably Iris).

Overall, I enjoyed tonight’s episode, some rough trials for Barry, but they only prove how strong and responsible Barry is. Feel free to comment with any thoughts or critiques!