Crafts with Pizzazz: Moana!

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Hello from Bee!

A while ago, I posted about my love of Disney and shared with you my crocheted Mary Poppins and Bert. This week, I would like to show you some crochet from a more recent Disney movie: “Moana!”

I love “Moana.” I am a huge fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, and his music for the film is absolutely incredible. That, coupled with great characters, plot, and animation, make it one of my favorite contemporary Disney movies.

To crochet Moana, I followed my basic “people pattern,” adding a couple rows of colored yarn for her wrap top. For the skirt, I used the same surface slip-stitch technique that I did for Mary Poppins; however, to make the side slit, after a few rows, I stopped going all the way around and just crocheted back and forth. I then slip-knotted beige embroidery thread over the slit and all around the hemline, giving it the grass skirt look. I also used surface slip-stitch to chain a row of colored yarn across the top of the skirt for her belt.

As for her necklace, I tied knots of white and blue embroidery thread around a piece of brown embroidery thread. I then rolled these knots in a little tacky glue to keep them in place.

Do you have a favorite Disney princess? Leave a comment below!

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Crafts with Pizzazz: Drax!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, as part of my Guardians of the Galaxy crochet, I’ve shown you Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora, so this week is all about Drax!

Drax was definitely one of the easier Guardians to make. As with Gamora, I was able to use my “people pattern,” just without adding hair or changing yarn colors for a shirt.

As for Drax’s tattoos, I ultimately used pieces of colored felt. In the movie, the tattoos are fairly elaborate; however, I decided to base my crocheted version on the simpler design on the comic/TV Drax.

And here they all are: the Guardians of the Galaxy! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Gamora!

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Hello from Bee!

Next up in my series of Guardians of the Galaxy crochet is Gamora.

Fortunately, I did not have to make up a new pattern for her as I did with her teammates, Rocket and Groot. I followed my regular “people pattern,” using the same format I did for Wonder Woman with a bit of added embroidery to create a halter-top look.

The fun part about making Gamora was figuring out her multicolored hair. In the movie, she has dark hair with magenta tips. As I didn’t have any multicolored yarn, I tried wrapping magenta embroidery thread around the ends of the black yarn I used for her hair, but it looked too bulky. I ended up taking pieces of the thread and using slip-knots to attach them underneath the black yarn, which, when brushed back, showed through just enough to give that highlighted look.

Do you have a favorite Guardian? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Reviews with Pizzazz: Transformers: the Last Knight

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Transformers the Last Knight Review, by Boss-Bot

To be fair, this movie needs to be seen multiple times.  It’s a ride the first showing, but as you see it more it improves like a fine wine.  It’s not the best Transformers movie, but it’s far from the worst.  It’s actually pretty similar to Revenge of the Fallen in plot, but done a lot better.  It’d rank behind Age of Extinction for me, right in front of the original.  At the first showing, I ranked it behind the first, but upon later viewings I really have grown to appreciate all that this fifth installment does, whether it succeeds or not.  As a fan of the series, it mostly succeeds.

The Good:

As usual, the visual effects are stunning.  To me, the best looking Transformer is actually the newest: Sqweeks.  He’s a cute competition to BB8 and the cool part is that he actually had a practical stand in on set, unlike the other larger robots.  The planet Cybertron scenes are also pretty cool, the vine structures are something we haven’t seen before.  The underwater portion was also visually good, the only other underwater scene we’ve seen being Megtron’s revival in Revenge of the Fallen.  The characters in this film are actually great, too.  The female characters, Izzy and Vivian, do a lot in the film.  Izzy is actually crucial since Sqweeks ends up saving the day.  Vivian is actually just as important as Cade, if not more crucial to the plot.  Since she is the only one who can take the staff from Quintessa, Cybertron would have destroyed the planet without her.  Cade’s character is a good jump off point from the last movie.  The Tessa phone call showed the more emotional side to his character, which isn’t fully developed.  To be fair, he’s written as more of a tough guy in this movie, so it makes sense that he hides his feelings around the newer characters.  Wahlberg’s acting is actually a step up from the last movie.  Jimmy J is actually a fun character and his comic relief tends to feel organic.  He’s not useless and is genuinely funny.  The robots’ characters and the robots’ character designs are very cool as well.  Megatron looks terrifyingly badass.  The new Decepticons are really fun and it’s a shame that they don’t have much screen time.  Hot Rod is a really fun new character.  Grimlock is comic relief, but he feels like his character.  It’s fun seeing Wheelie again. The plot is pretty interesting and while it’s complex, it feels like a lot more work is put into it than the past sequels.  They really do their best to tie everything together and for the most part it works.  Is it goofy that Harriet Tubman could have been friends with Jazz?  Sure, but remember you’re seeing a movie about alien robot that turn into cars, planes, and vending machines.  The fifth movie about alien robots that turn into cars, planes, and vending machines.  So don’t go in expecting something that will defy what the franchise has already made.  Not to mention, the use of lore is incredible.  Considering the franchise typically references characters rather than borrowing anything directly from other incarnations, this movie does defy that expectation.  We finally get Unicron in a really cool way; they follow his character from Transformers Prime.  Rather than being a planet eater, Unicron is Earth.  A cool twist a lot of critics have been claiming Bay has changed Unicron, but in reality not being aware that Unicron was Earth way before this movie.  We see a version of Primus vs. Unicron and a Quintesson.  The junkyard hideout is definitely based off of the newest show, Robots in Disguise.  Finally, the best part of the movie are two of the new characters: Sir Edmond Burton and Cogman.  Burton, played by Anthony Hopkins, is nothing short of the single best human character in the franchise.  Hopkins nails the dialogue, which can be iffy, but he pulls it off.  The humor he brings into the movie feels funny.  It’s not forced like some of the other characters make it out to be.  Hopkins has some of the best lines in the movie and you do feel bad for the guy when Megatron kills him.  Despite his quirky personality, he’s completing something that his entire life has led up to and on the submarine when he mentions his, you can tell that he is quite emotional.  His butler, Cogman, is also hysterical.  Cogman brings a lot of humor into the film as well, despite his dialogue feeling more forced at points.  But overall, when they are together they truly make the movie.  Not to mention, Stanley Tucci as Merlin is just great.

The Cons:

Get it.  Cons.  Decepticons? Anways, here’s what I would improve.  The editing is my major complaint.  A few weeks before release a rumor stating the movie was three hours and ten minutes spread around.  This generated both positive and negative reactions, but soon Bay dismissed this rumor and the movie was confirmed to be two and a half hours.  Now rumors are surfacing that the DVD release will feature an extended cut and scenes from it will be shown at HasCon.  My guess is that it could have went a few different ways.  A: The movie was planned to be three hours, but the negative feedback worried the studio so they trimmed it down to be the shortest sequel in the series.  B: They’re pulling WB and making an extended cut which could either be planned in advance to be DVD only.  This would mean higher DVD sales since it would offer exclusive content, a la Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.  This would make sense considering how it would be difficult to edit half an hour from a movie in such a short distance before its release.  C: There is no three hour ten minute cut and it’s nothing more than a rumor.  I hope we get an extended cut and it would explain the choppy editing.  It would also hopefully fix some loose ends, including how Megatron became Megatron after being Galvatron, how Bumblebee became magnetic, and other things.  The dialogue is a hit or miss and while a lot of the jokes land, some don’t.  There were complaints that the Decepticons are racist, which I don’t see at all, so not a negative for me.  The only other thing is that the film is a blur.  It moves fast, and then slow, and fast again.  Multiple showings really improve it.  If you’ve only seen it once and either didn’t like it or you’re on the fence, see it again.

Overall, Transformers the Last Knight is just a fun movie.  Go with an open mind.  I give it a solid 4/5.  Definitely see it multiple times and don’t forget to stay after the credits!!

Crafts with Pizzazz: Groot!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, I’ve posted about Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon; now, I’d like to show you Groot!

Although I’ve made several baby Groots before, as I’ve shared in my previous posts, it took a while to figure out proportions for a full-sized Groot, especially because he is considerably taller than the other Guardians. The head is relatively similar to the one I use for my baby Groot, but after I finished it, I went back and worked a few rows into the top for the square branches. I also increased around the top of the body to give Groot a more broad-shouldered look and worked in a few extra rounds for Groot’s feet, which added to his height.

For the vines, I just took some pieces of the brown yarn I was using and sewed them around Groot. I also tied on a few pieces of green yarn for leaves like I had done for Pickett.

Looking good, guys! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Rocket Raccoon!

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Hello from Bee!

I apologize for the long delay between posts, but I am excited to share some new crafts I’ve been doing!

For our “blogiversary” last summer, I posted about my crocheted Star-Lord. Now, I’d like to share the second in my Guardians of the Galaxy series: Rocket Raccoon!

Of course, I wanted to make my Guardians as close to scale as possible. As Rocket is much smaller than the others, that meant I couldn’t use my “people pattern” for him. Fortunately, I had worked out a smaller pattern for Yoda that I was able to reference. All I had to do was modify the legs to make them a little longer, shorten the ears, and add a snout and tail. I used brown and black felt to add the details to his face and clothes.

Who’s your favorite Guardian? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Pickett the Bowtruckle!

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Hello from Bee!

I apologize for the long delay since my last post back in August; what with new work schedules, I haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog. However, now that things are starting to settle down, Boss-Bot and I are hoping to get “Nerds with Pizzazz” back up and running again!

I’m going to start with something that I just made this weekend after seeing J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” I’m a big Harry Potter fan – I’ve grown up reading the books – and I must say, this latest addition to the Wizarding World is excellent! As one of my friends pointed out, it was made all the better by having Rowling herself as the screenwriter (as opposed to the studios adapting her work from books). I loved seeing the wizarding community in America, the historical setting, and of course, the adorable Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne was amazing!) and his creatures.

With regard to the fantastic beasts, I was particularly taken with Pickett, the cute little Bowtruckle Newt kept in his coat, and I wanted to figure out how to crochet him.

Having crocheted many Dancing Baby Groots at this point, I knew that in order to make Pickett stand up, I would have to use some kind of support structure. For Groot’s stem, I use a piece of stiff plastic straw; however, due to the way Pickett’s body curves, that wouldn’t work this time. I remembered I had a coil of craft wire I had previously used for Dr. Banner’s glasses, and so I decided to give that a try.

After playing around with proportions, I crocheted very thin in-the-round cylinders for his body, arms, and legs. Then, I cut pieces of the craft wire and inserted them into the body and three legs. I used the support given by the wire to bend the body into a curvy “L” shape. Having cut the wire longer for the legs, I inserted the exposed wire into the bent body for stronger support before sewing on the legs. The arms did not need wire, but for the fingers, I ended up using single rows of chain stitch that curled nicely when I wove in the yarn tails.

For the decorations, I crocheted two green leaves and sewed them very loosely onto the top. I then wrapped pieces of brown yarn around the loose base attachment to look like stems. I made the face with small pieces of felt. The little “roots” on his arms were made by tying on pieces of beige yarn and wrapping green yarn pieces around them in the same way I made the leaf stems.

I’m so excited to see more of the Wizarding World! 🙂

Crafts with Pizzazz: Star-Lord!

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Hello from Bee!

Well, WordPress recently notified us that Nerds with Pizzazz has been officially up and running for a year! Boss-Bot and I would like to take a moment and thank all of you, our followers and viewers, for your generous support. We look forward to continuing to share all things geeky with you!

When we started our blog last year, I inaugurated the ‘Crafts with Pizzazz’ section with a post discussing my first crochet project: a Dancing Baby Groot that, when I posted the picture on Twitter, gained a ‘like’ from “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn himself! Since then, I have made a variety of beloved Marvel characters, and in honor of our ‘blogiversary,’ I would like to return to the theme of my very first post and present to you my crocheted “Guardians of the Galaxy” Peter Quill, (somewhat) also known as the great Star-Lord!

I’ve wanted to crochet the Guardians for a while, especially Star-Lord, but I first needed a way to revise my jacket pattern to make his awesome space-pirate coat. My first two attempts at making removable coats for Mary Poppins and Bert yielded decent results, but I wasn’t overly pleased about the garments’ bulkiness, and kept trying to figure out a way to work around it.

After figuring out vertical stripes for Spiderman, however, I realized that taking away the removable aspect was the way to go. I crocheted Star-Lord’s body in the maroon coat color, using my vertical stripe technique to add in a block of light blue for his shirt. To make it look like the shirt was underneath the jacket, I used maroon when crocheting his arms/sleeves and added rows of maroon surface slip-stitch crochet on either side of the vertical color change. I also went back in and crocheted three-quarters of the way around the bottom of the jacket in the same manner that I made Luke Skywalker’s tunic to give the coat its full-length appearance.

Star-Lord’s messenger bag is a piece of folded flat single crochet attached to some chained brown yarn. His beloved cassette player is also a flat piece of crochet with felt accents. The headphones are two in-the-round orange circles attached to the same type of black craft wire I used for Dr. Bruce Banner’s glasses, and the headphone cord is a single piece of embroidery thread.

Happy blogiversary! 🙂

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Reviews with Pizzazz: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”

Boss-Bot is back! Please enjoy his newest post in “Reviews with Pizzazz”! 🙂

 

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” Review

Wow.  In a good way, though.  All that needs to be said about this movie is that if you like the Turtles, the certain aspects of the movie at the very least will put a smile on your face.  If you don’t like the Turtles, you won’t like the movie.  It’s as simple as that.  This movie is truly fan service at its best.  I’ve been a Turtles fan since the ’03 4Kids series and have loved the heroes in a half shell ever since.  That being said, the movie isn’t perfect, so here are the good and bad.

Good:

Compared to the 2014 predecessor this film really nails the characters; all of them.  We really see the Turtles struggle and eventually grow as a team throughout the picture.  Their goofy personalities are still there, while the crude humor is toned down from the 2014 movie; which no one is complaining about.  Rather than the cliché Leo vs. Raph drama which has been really overdone at this point, the turmoil between the brothers does not seem forced and it works.  That’s what is important: it works.  Turtles aside, Splinter has a much smaller, more fatherly role which worked for his character.  Rather than being a major player, he’s in the shadows and gives advice and wisdom when necessary, as a sensei should.  The human protagonists are not as heavily pushed as the last film.  As much as I loved the 2014 reboot, at times it felt more like the adventures of April O’Neil than a movie dedicated to the Turtles.  That being said, I did like Fox’s April and loved Will Arnett’s new character of Vern Fenwick during the 2014 film.  I had the same feelings towards their roles in “Out of the Shadows”.  While we saw less of them, they were used much more wisely.  April seemed much less of the focus character, but did important detective work with the Turtles.  Vern was still a great comic relief and his “Falcon Breath” scene was one of the funniest moments in the picture.  Onto the villains, we have an array of fan favorites including Baxter Stockman, Shredder, Krang, and even Bebop and Rocksteady.  Shredder was more of a traditional ninja rather than the last film’s Iron Man suit, which I liked, but I digress.  He was silent, intimidating, and seemed like a convincing Shredder.  Tyler Perry was surprisingly great as Dr. Stockman.  He was quirky, funny, and nailed the character, which seemed based off of the 2012 show’s incarnation of Stockman.  Krang was done well, too.  While not as memorable as the last villains that will be discussed, he was eerily humorous and again, most importantly, it worked.  Last but certainly not least, the best characters done in the film were Bebop and Rocksteady.  Sheamus and Gary Anthony Williams nailed the duo.  They were hilarious throughout the film and took the goofiness of the characters so seriously that you would truly believe the two were Bebop and Rocksteady.  The film’s tone and plot was much lighter and more cartoony than the 2014 film.  The Turtles are goofy and not meant to be taken seriously, so the light, comedic tone of the film was perfect for the franchise.  Most importantly, it was fun.  The script was corny, but it should be.  It’s a Turtles movie.  Call it a popcorn movie or just a fun movie, but for what the Turtles are it worked.  Not to forget, the film truly had heart.  The moral of one accepting who they are against what society believes is powerful to the casual viewer, fan, and incredibly important for the young viewers to understand.  This movie was for the fans of the franchise, to put it simply.  Not to mention, if you looked really closely when Shredder was frozen in the Technodrome, there was a frozen Triceraton next to him.  #BattleNexus

The Bad:

Well, there isn’t much bad for me to say.  I’m biased as I loved the film, but for general audience goers there could be some issues.  One could find the script too cartoonish, but as a nonfan it would make sense how not everyone will appreciate the film’s script.  The only other negative would be bathroom humor, but there was not much.  There was only one fart joke, which was not as cringe worthy as it could have been.  Other than that, I really did not find that many faults with the movie.  Before watching, one must remember “Out of the Shadows” is meant to be a fun, summer popcorn film.  It’s not meant to be taken seriously and torn apart.  It’s meant to simply be an enjoyable way to spend a few hours during a summer day.

Overall:

Out of a star rating, I would definitely give it a 5/5.  This rating is coming from a fan.  The good outweighed all of the bad for me and it was a fun movie.  It succeeded at its purpose: being an enjoyable film.  Coming from a more critical perspective, I would give it a 4/5.  The humor and plot may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that changes from person to person.  While some really hate this movie, all I can say is it’s at the very least, better than the last one.

Crafts with Pizzazz: Ant-Man!

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Hello from Bee!

Have you noticed how the warm weather tends to bring out the ants? And of course, Marvel fans know that where there are ants, there is also Ant-Man!

I really loved “Ant-Man” last summer. It was definitely one of the funniest Marvel films, especially with Paul Rudd and Michael Peña, and it was great to see Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym. Of course, I was incredibly excited to see Paul Rudd back as Scott Lang in “Captain America 3: Civil War” a few months ago, and of course, I had to add him to my Avengers team.

While Ant-Man did not prove incredibly challenging to make – my usual “people pattern” accented with red felt and gray yarn decorations – the best part about it was that it gave me an opportunity to reuse my Batman cowl pattern. As I wanted to make an open version of the Ant-Man helmet to showcase his face, I eliminated the eye and chin straps from my cowl pattern and simply crocheted the piece that covers the head. I also crocheted two thin in-the-round cylinders and sewed them on for antennae.

Welcome to the team, Scott! 🙂