Category Archives: Geekiness
The tone of this post ended up varying dramatically between informational and increadibly personal, so get what you can out of it?
The first ever Geek Girl Con was this weekend and, let me just say, I count myself fortunate to have been able to attend.
First off, my first con experience was PAX2011 earlier this year and it was more than a little overwhelming. You always hear about amazing “coming home” experiences people have at PAX, feelings of belonging and so on, but, for me, it was so big and loud and, honestly, intimidating, that I think the warm fuzzies I’d been hoping for were just not in the stars. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my time at PAX, but it just wasn’t as… accessible? as I thought it would be. I think that, maybe, a lot of the warm stories of PAX awesomeness that I’ve heard are from people that went when it was smaller and more intimate. What I saw was huge crowds, long lines, big vendors and glimpses of awesomeness. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m not a big fan of huge crowds or waiting, but having to show up an hour early or more for some of the events just to get in (and earlier for decent seating) kept us from spending our time more enjoyably. We did get to meet some nice people, but there was a sense of transience to those interactions since, with so many people in attendance, it wasn’t likely you would see anyone more than once. It may also be that my own enjoyment of PAX was soured by the sadness of my husband leaving for Texas immediately afterward. One of my fonder moments, and one that still makes me tear up, was sitting on the floor of the main theater during the first night’s concerts, leaning against Aaron and crying as the Video Game Orchestra played a medley of songs from Final Fantasy. (Final Fantasy was one of the reasons we hit it off when we first met.) Highlights for me included seeing Felicia Day “in the wild” of the show floor, the Wil Wheaton panel, the concerts, the cosplay (always love!) and this:
On the other hand, this weekend, Geek Girl Con (henceforth to be referred to as “GGC”) proved to be everything I had hoped PAX would be, and more. As would be expected for a first year con, GGC was small. At first I was a bit leery of its smallness, as I was concerned that I would run out of things to do (HA!) but I think the smallness of it was exactly what I needed. As you would know if I was a good blogger and updated every now and then, I’ve been in a kind of personal limbo and this weekend really gave me a shove in the right direction. I feel like this weekend really was the beginning of a very personal journey that I’ve been too scared to start. But more on that later.
Right. Small con.
The first and most mundane benefit of GGC’s smallness was the shortness of the lines. As I’ve mentioned, I hate waiting. But, it seems, nerds love a good queue, so lines it is. I suppose it probably has something to do with some of us, myself included, having a penchant for being early to things or something, but I digress. To paraphrase a fellow con-goer (Hi Emily!): at GGC going to the wrong place for a panel may cost you five or six spots in line, whereas at PAX, it would be hundreds. Plus, since it was such a small con, you did get to keep seeing line buddies and it was a much better opportunity to really get to know people. AND! The small venue meant you got to see most of the cosplayers at least once.
But really, the beauty of GGC was its heart. Organizers, sponsors, volunteers, guests, vendors and attendees alike really believed in the con and it showed. To take something the lovely Bonnie Burton said and use it completely out of context, “You don’t put geek girls in a corner.” and to me, that seemed to be what this whole weekend was about. I know that like many other female geeks, I’ve personally experienced that kind of “but you’re a girl” discrimination from a very young age and GGC seemed to be thumbing its nose at that idea. Just as many of us have had to “prove” our geek cred or we’re not taken seriously, that seemed to be the spirit of the whole weekend. There was kind of a feeling of “Fine. You don’t want to include us in your oh-so-wonderful-and-exclusive [blank]? We’ll make our own and we’ll make it better.”
I missed out on a lot on the first day because I planned poorly. I hadn’t really given that much thought to the panels I wanted to go to as most of the programming I was interested was happening on Day Two. As a result, I had large gaps in my schedule that found me kind of just staying in the same room by default because the panels seemed like they might be interesting, but I think I missed out on some stuff I really would have really enjoyed if I had planned better. It also didn’t help that I had been up since 5AM to be there by 7AM (I was the first attendee at Geek Girl Con! Ever!) because they were giving away 50 tickets to the sold-out Whedonesque Burlesque and I was determined to go. Needless to say, I was a little foggy most of the day.
Boobies and Blasters: The Women of Star Wars was a lot of fun and I did get to go to the Character Studies panel with Amy Berg, Sarah Kuhn, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Jessica Mills and Stephanie Thorpe, all of whom have, in various media outlets, created and/or portrayed strong nerdy/geeky female characters. I think everyone on the panel agreed that much of what they put into these characters comes from their own experiences of being a slightly odd (or not so slightly, in some cases), misunderstood or marginalized person and building characters based on the fact that they never saw those kinds of characters portrayed in any kind of meaningful way in the media. Just like I kept hearing all weekend, everything that they discussed really focused around the idea of working to fill in those gaps in the media that bother us. Again, if you can’t find examples of what you want to see, do it yourself.
Also, something Javi said really struck home with me and kind of pushed me down a path of introspection that I’ve been avoiding for a long time. He basically said that everyone has a crappy childhood and suffers their own kinds of pain, even the people that claim theirs didn’t suck and maybe especially them. And then the panel went on to not judging people based on appearances and all that lovely stuff, but I kind of got stuck there, amidst my own musings. I’ve always felt a little guilty that I was never really bullied by my peers, which, looking back, I have absolutely no explanation for. Over and over I’ve heard stories of people being picked on, beat up and things like that, but I’ve never been able to relate to that kind of torment and, so, even among “my people”, I’ve felt a little odd. It was almost as if I felt like I had missed out on a very important initiation that left me outside of really belonging to this group that I love so much. But when Javi said what he said, I asked myself a horrible and revealing question: What were my pains? Wow. It was all I could do to not burst into tears, sitting there on the third row. So, yeah, I’ve done my time. I have suffered to say “no” to being what people want me to be and just to be who I am. I’m not going to go into details here, because this is way too public of an arena than I’m comfortable with for something that personal, so we’ll just move along.
The evening had it’s own kind of reveals, if you know what I mean. Needless to say, Wheadonesque Burlesque was really fun! It’s kind of amazing that the acts ranged from so vastly hilarious to incredibly sexy, but they pulled it off. I was also sitting on the middle aisle so I got to see Wash’s dino tail up close and personal.
I think I’ll stop there for now as I’m sure I could probably churn out another 1500 words about Sunday. I just have to say that it seems to me that the sentiment among a lot of geek women is rather similar to the “It gets better” campaign and it also seems that it is up to us to make it so.
As a little reminder, I am currently an English teacher. I have a bachelor’s in English and I write a mean literary paper. My grammar (when I’m paying attention) is usually pretty spot on. Also, linguistics was one of my favorite things to study in college. Proceed if you dare.
I love the English language. It’s fascinating to me. It’s complicated and ridiculous at times, but that just adds to its charm. (I have a love for languages in general. They all rock pretty hard and I wish that I knew more of them.) That being said, one of my favorite things about English is its propensity for being butchered. I say this in all love and good will. Some of the grammar rules are downright silly and when you try to justify them to an English language learner, you’re left shrugging and replying with the dumbfounded teacher’s standard retort: “Because that’s the rule.” I hate when that’s the only answer I have to give, but it happens sometimes. I do the best I can to offer clear and reasonable explanations for grammar rules but some are just odd and incomprehensible. (Don’t ask me for examples, jerk! I can’t think of any right now! It’s been a long week!!)
And getting back on topic: I love broken English! It makes me happy in ways that I can’t explain. One of the happiest moments of my life was poring over a version of the New Testament of the Bible that had been translated into Hawaiian pidgin called Da Jesus Book. I could have just died from sheer wonder at how the way the words fit together and the beauty of them when you read them aloud. For example, instead of:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
King James Version (KJV)
Jesus say, “God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da kine life dat stay to da max foeva.”
(John Tell Bout Jesus 3:16)
Is that not wonderful?! I’m dying! I love it!! And it’s a love born out of appreciation for the spoken word and the differences between languages. Linguistics is incredibly fascinating and I would throw out some examples but I have a tendency to gush and I’m sure not everyone finds these things as interesting as I do, so we’ll move on.
(But just a quick little example anyway for anyone that cares: Native Spanish speakers have a hard time differentiating between the /s/ phoneme “SSSSS” and the /z/ phoneme “ZZZZZ”. When quizzed, they will usually identify both of them as /s/ because there is no /z/ sound in Spanish. For some, (usually bilingual from a young age) they can’t recognize the difference when it’s subtle but for others it is impossible for their ear to pick up on /z/ at all because their ear was never trained to decipher it as a child. Craziness!! So cool!! I could gush for a few more paragraphs, but I won’t. You’re welcome!)
All that being said, with native English speakers and educated people, I can be a bit less forgiving… Fine. I can be downright judgmental, depending on the situation. But I am aware of it and I try to curb my tendency to
bash people over the head with their keyboards correct people. I’m mostly successful, because I know that no one likes the grammar police and no one likes to feel stupid or to think that someone else thinks that they are stupid. I do find myself, however, getting a little judgy when people who should know better, repeatedly use the same incorrect grammar. It irks me. I understand lazy writing and lax proofreading –I’m guilty of it more often than not– but some things REALLY get to me. But again, we won’t go into that.
In spite of being a stickler for good grammar in some situations, I often find myself being “creative” when it comes to my own writing. I get no end of eye-rolls from my husband when I make up non-existent words that fit grammatical rules of prefix/root/suffix and that can actually be deciphered using the same rules. It amuses me. And, hey, if Shakespeare can do it, why can’t I? The problem is that I sometimes find myself forgetting if words are “real” or not. But, again, I don’t really mind. People can roll their eyes at me and get judgy, but I’m having a grand old time over here in my little corner of the internet.
Getting to the meat of the issue, I did a little poll on Twitter and Facebook yesterday about a word that has been part of my vocabulary since I was very young. This is the question I posed: “ya’ll or y’all”. The results surprised me. As I was expecting, people from northern states or from other countries chose “y’all” because of the grammatical “correctness” of it. (And let’s just ignore the fact that contracting “you all” at all is grammatically incorrect.) It was people from southern states that surprised me. I was expecting more to say “ya’ll”, but quite a few did not. (I love that my former roommate threw me a curve ball with her “Not a contraction.” theory and “yall” entered the running. Fantastic! Isn’t language great?) What I found interesting is that almost all of the southern people that chose “y’all” told me WHY. (Contraction. “You all” minus “ou”, apostrophe goes here, etc.) I’m thinking that, perhaps, many of them grew up with “ya’ll” like I did and after learning grammar rules applied them to the apparently much contested word. I can’t be sure, but that’s my theory.
Anywho, the reason the question occurred to me at all was that I was reading a snarky website that was making fun of people with horrible grammar. For anyone without the desire to click on said link, some examples include things like a little knick-knack for teachers that says: “YOUR THE BEST!” ::shudder:: The thing that got me thinking was a greeting card that said: “HEY YA’LL!” In the comments, someone brought up the point that, as someone from the South, they had always seen it written that way (ya’ll). Of course, there was a snide “In case your not joking…” kind of reply to the comment that explained contractions in a condescending way. I get it. Contractions, “you all” should be “y’all”, blah, blah, blah. But when it came right down to it, I actually prefer “ya’ll”.
That’s right. I prefer the “wrong” version.
But I’ll tell you why. Firstly, since I grew up seeing it written as ya’ll, to me, it looks “right”. But my second reason is (slightly) less visceral than that. Pronunciation. When I look at “y’all”, in my mind, it would be pronounced with a slight yuh (i.e. yuh-all) and that’s not correct at all. I can’t help it. “Y’all” reads yuh-all to me. It could be that my mind is just trying to justify my preconceptions and I’m okay with that. But don’t think I’ll ever be able to get behind “y’all”. Yuh-all. Give me a break! ;)
So, in short, if you see me writing “ya’ll”, it is not out of ignorance. It is a deliberate action of defiance against grammar rules. Or not. But I do so knowingly. And I will continue to do so, in spite of what anyone has to say!
Ya’ll come back now, y’hear?
I had two ideas for two completely different types of posts on Thursday. One was thoughtful and personal, kind of like a lot of what I’ve been writing here lately. The other, nerdy and silly. So, since I’ve been really, really introspective lately, I thought I’d give you a dose of nerdtasticness. It didn’t quite turn out that way, though. I inadvertently turned my nerdy post into something introspective… But it’s all good in the end, right?
WARNING: This is a really long and opinionated post that was written over several days, so continue at your own peril! Here’s a kitty:
If you don’t know by now that I am a nerd, or geek, if you prefer, then either you haven’t been here long or you just haven’t been paying attention. I am proud of being one of the “tip-tops of think-thunk” to quote MC Frontalot. It may make me a bit of a hipster, but it’s kind of cool to belong to a group that not that many people would willingly be a part of. (Don’t get me wrong! There’s plenty of “out” nerds, and we’re growing constantly, but I think we’ve all been in a situation that made us a little hesitant to speak up.) I’ve had very well-meaning people declare “You’re not a nerd!” when I refer to myself as such, but what they miss is the fact that I’m damn proud to be a nerd. We are the internet. We are teh hotness. We are amazing and we’re stepping out!
Aherm… Stepping off soapbox… ::Straightens shirt and pushes up glasses:: Sorry about that. I can be a tad bit overzealous if I’m not careful… (Remind me to avoid cults.)
Back to the original reason for this post: Lots of nerdy things happening!
Firstly, I must trumpet from the rooftops that we bought tickets for PAX Prime!!! What is PAX, you ask? PAX is (in a nutshell) a gaming convention, run by the guys over at Penny Arcade that is unlike anything that has ever been before. PAX is place where nerds from around the states congregate for three glorious days of gaming, music and other random nerdiness. For mor information (also, in a nutshell) click here. We have been wanting to go since the beginning, but we finally took the plunge and bought tickets! I’m so excited!! From what previous attendees have gushed, it’s kind of like coming home to a place where everyone “gets” you and it sounds FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!
In other nerdy news, last weekend saw the beginning of the HBO interpretation of George R. R. Martin’s (unfinished) series A Song of Ice and Fire. The new show, Game of Thrones, named after the first book in the series A Game of Thrones, premiered on Sunday, but the real drama (I’m a sucker for web intrigue, so sue me.) occurred when a New York Times reviewer, Ginia Bellafante, published her “review“. In my opinion, she fairly dismissive of the whole thing (obviously not her cup of tea) and doesn’t do much reviewing of the show. Instead, she makes a bunch of tongue-in-cheek comparisons to other shows before sticking her foot straight into her mouth with the following:
The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.
From The New York Times, April 15, 2011. (Emphasis mine.)
The internet EXPLODED in outrage with self-proclaimed “Geek Girls” rushing to defend their love for Martin, and I’ll admit that I was one of the offended.
Now, let me just say that, yes, I have read all of the A Song of Ice and Fire books to date. But when I first picked up A Game of Thrones, I was appalled at all of the sex. It was not what kept me reading. I did not feel that it added to my enjoyment of the book and was often gratuitous, though, in the context of the story, fitting. I finished it, because that’s what I do, and I threw it away. Which is something I never do. I felt that the story and characters were very well written, but I didn’t care for all the sex.
And then, of course, since I had unprecedentedly thrown away a book, my future husband just had to read it! He devoured the first one and went on the read the next two. This, of course, made me curious as to what was so intriguing that he, a reluctant reader, would plow through it so heartily. I reevaluated my snobbery and finished them.
SO! Getting back to the topic at hand, I was furious for several reasons:
First, I resent the fact that she makes the assumption that all women lurve smut to such a degree that they would sit through something so horribly intolerable (in the mind of said stereotypical woman) just to get some. I may be the exception to the rule, I don’t claim that I know the mind of all women, but I can’t be the only one that’s not a fan.
Secondly, while she doesn’t come out and say it, she implies that all the women she knows would prefer regular fiction over fantasy. However, I doubt that she knows the reading habits of every single woman she’s ever met. It’s more than likely that somewhere hidden amongst all of the women she’s met, there are a few that read fantasy.
Thirdly, BOY FICTION?! The very connotation of such a term is… GAH!! I have no words! There’s just a throbbing, red blotch in the center of my vision at the thought! I would expect someone who writes for The New York Times to have a bit more professionalism. Hooray for sexism from within my own sex…
She did, of course, publish a response piece to all the criticism that was blasted her way, but she doesn’t do anything more than make excuses for herself. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with the extremities that people go to when they disagree with someone. Threatening someone or their family/friends/pets/etc, name-calling and personal attacks are all out-of-bounds when discussing opinion people. I mean, come on! Don’t give the woman more ammunition against nerd-kind. You’re not doing anyone any favors by acting that way.
And this is where I was planning to go on to talk about Portal 2 and the new season of Doctor Who, but I think I’ve gone on enough. Thanks for reading! :)
A book related meme that I stole from Elizabeth over at Falling From Prams. How could I resist? :)
1. Favourite childhood book?
Oh, Lord! I read so much as a kid. I mean at one point we lived behind a library! I was there every day!! I don’t think I could pick a single book, but my favorite author was Dick King Smith of Babe the Sheep Pig fame. I mean come on! There was a scene in The Fox-busters when the chickens dive bombed the foxes with eggs! Little me was enthralled!
2. What are you reading right now?
It by Stephen King. I’m listening to the audiobook. Pennywise is a jerk!
3. What books do you have on request at the library?
None. I haven’t had time to go to a library in a long time.
4. Bad book habit?
Skimming when things are getting exciting. I have to go back and reread something I missed more often than not.
5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?
Nothing. See #3.
6. Do you have an e-reader?
Yep, I got a Kindle for my birthday! :D
7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?
I’m usually “reading” at least three at a time. One audiobook for my commute and when I’m doing housework and stuff, one ebook and one real book.
8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No. I don’t see why they would have.
9. Least favorite book you read this year (so far?)
That’s a hard one. I don’t think I’ve read anything I didn’t like so far.
10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?
Bone by Jeff Smith. I’m trying to read more graphic novels this year.
11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
More now than I used to. I’m trying out some horror, romance (fantasy based) and reading more graphic novels.
12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Science fiction and fantasy are my go to genres. The longer, the better! :)
13. Can you read on the bus?
I would if we had a bus system.
14. Favorite place to read?
lying on my bed
15. What is your policy on book lending?
There’s really only one person I lend books to and that’s not often. If I “lend” a book anymore I usually just give it to them. I know I probably wouldn’t see it again anyway.
16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
18. Not even with text books?
Not really. I am more apt to make notes in a notebook with page # references.
19. What is your favorite language to read in?
English. I’m not fluent enough in Spanish to read it and that’s the only language I have more than a smattering of knowledge of.
20. What makes you love a book?
21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
I’ve been burned by giving recommendations too much to count so I’m a bit leery. I might consider it if I know the person liked a similar book. Most of the people I know don’t really read, though. :-/
22. Favorite genre?
Sci fi and fantasy. I can’t pick between the two.
23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)
Non fiction. I usually enjoy it when I read it, but I don’t think about picking them up.
24. Favorite biography?
I don’t think I’ve really ever read a true biography. Maus (graphic novel) by Art Spiegelman is my favorite biographical-ish story, though it probably doesn’t count.
25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
Not that I can recall.
26. Favorite cookbook?
I don’t really have any. I get most of my recipes from the internet. :)
27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
The year is young and I haven’t read anything inspirational. Plus, I don’t read many inspirational stories to begin with… I probably should. I might be less cynical.
28. Favorite reading snack?
When I read, I’m dead to the world… No snacking here.
29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
The only thing I can think of is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and I’m not sure if the hype ruined it, or if it was just a bad book!
30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don’t really pay any attention of what’s going on in the world of literary criticism so, I really don’t know!
31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
It depends on why I didn’t like the book. If the fault lies with bad writing, then I’ll give it a bad review. If it’s just me being picky, then no.
32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
Probably Japanese, but not for books, I think. I play a lot of games and I think it would be cool to be able to play the original, untranslated versions.
33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian. Anything having to do with war affects me too deeply for words and I knew this book would be painful. I still loved it.
34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Anything by Tolstoy. He’s one of “those” authors that you’re “supposed” to read and I don’t know why, but that kind of terrifies me.
35. Favorite Poet?
Wilfred Owen. His stark imagery of war really gets to me.
36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
Back in the day? As many as I could carry.
37. How often have you returned book to the library unread?
38. Favorite fictional character?
Ever? Are you freaking kidding me? How can you pick? I don’t think I could even pick my favorite from any one series… And I’ll just assume you mean in a book. If not, that’s a whole other can of worms.
39. Favorite fictional villain?
Same as above. It would take far too much effort to sort through all of the villains that I’ve liked. :-/
40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
Whatever I happen to be reading at the time. It always varies.
41. The longest I’ve gone without reading.
A month or two right after a reading binge.
42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.
I couldn’t finish David Copperfield. I tried reading it when I was a teenager and I got halfway before my brain just turned to mush and I went cross-eyed.
43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading?
It depends. If it’s a really engrossing book, it’s like the real world doesn’t exist. My vision narrows, my ears shut down and I am in the book. If not, my husband, the cats and even just random noises are distracting.
44. Favorite film adaptation of a novel?
Usually when they adapt a book that I love, I hate the movie and then there are the movies that I see first and then read the book… So, I really don’t know. I liked LotR, but I had soooo many nitpicks!
45. Most disappointing film adaptation?
I agree with Elizabeth, The Golden Compass was pretty awful! Oh and Percy Jackson!! Blech!!
46. The most money I’ve ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
$80+ not including textbooks. Let’s just not think about that, shall we?
47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Not very often. I’m pretty capricious when it comes to picking books. I do sometimes pick a book by its cover! :)
48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?
I would have to be REALLY bad. I have a hard time not finishing books.
49. Do you like to keep your books organized?
Used to be alphabetized. Now I don’t have enough shelf space so they’re loosely arranged by genre in stacks and layers on the same shelves. Plus, the “need to read” shelf.
50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you’ve read them?
I usually keep them. Like I said, I don’t know enough readers to give them away.
51. Are there any books you’ve been avoiding?
Can’t think of any.
52. Name a book that made you angry.
Almost anything by Stephen King or George R R Martin. They treat their characters so roughly, it gets me upset sometimes. I don’t handle the brutalization of beloved characters very well, but then that’s what makes them so dramatic and appealing.
53. A book you didn’t expect to like but did?
The Harry Potter series. I dragged my feet about reading it, but finally caved when Aaron started reading and liked it. I picked it up on a whim and I was hooked.
54. A book that you expected to like but didn’t?
The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi. The premise sounded so interesting, but I wasn’t impressed. Same thing with The Passage by Justin Cronin. It turned out being boring.
55. Favorite guilt-free, pleasure reading?
All of it! I love to read, so it’s all good! :D
For those of you that don’t play WoW (World of Warcraft), the remainder of this post will probably fly right over your head. Hopefully it will be enlightening, if not entertaining. And if not, here is a cute picture of one of our kitties. Don’t like kitties? Tough.
ENJOY THE KITTY!
For those of us in the WoWing community, the last month or so has been… for lack of a better word: turbulent. Mid November saw the breaking of Azeroth and the restructuring of class/race systems in a way that made the game exciting and new for veteran players and friendlier to noobs. At the same time, the
quest-based game dynamics and storytelling that always lure us back when we stray have remained the same, making it the same comforting game we are addicted to all know and love.
Not only did the breaking serve as a way to make a stale game new(ish) again, it was also a reminder of things to come… Things that dropped at midnight last night… Things that I’m counting down the last few minutes of work to join in…
In a word: EXPANSION
For anyone who has never played a game, reached the end and wanted more, the idea of a game expansion may be hard to explain. As I heard a non-gaming friend say this weekend, in an exasperated attempt to understand (paraphrased, of course): You mean, your reward for all those hours of work is more work?
Essentially? Yes. When you look at it that way. But, if the “work” is fun/entertaining/distracting, it’s well worth the “cost”. Let me see if I can break it down. Think about it like movie sequels… Or better yet, a TV series. That don’t suck. Hopefully. You really enjoy the first season so you can’t wait for the second. If the second doesn’t suck, doesn’t change everything you loved, and doesn’t add too much that you hated, then you look forward to the third. That’s kind of how an expansion works. It’s just another “season” of content for you to enjoy. I mean, sure you could just watch the reruns over and over again, but new content means the potential for new enjoyment.
And hopefully, if they get it just right, the new stuff is even better than the old. Here’s hoping!
See you at 85! (^_^)
I don’t know who’s bright idea it was to have NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) coincide, but they are not on my list of favorite people right now. My Reader was already backed up and now? Forget it!
*Note: I apologize for the low quality of the photos in this post. We were pretty far back from the stage and flash wasn’t allowed (of course). Motion capture drive 4TW!
So, if you haven’t gathered by now, we went up to Austin last week to attend w00tstock and, let me just say again, it was fantastic! The self-description of “Geek Vaudeville” is totally apt. Seriously, if you have a geeky bone in your body and there is a w00tstock happening close to you, ever, you are under direct orders to go. From me. For all that’s worth.
Let me just sum it up for you: imagine an event so awesome that with each passing moment of awesome/hilarity, you keep thinking “I need to remember this.” or “This is the best moment ever!” A week later and I’m still randomly chuckling about things that I remember. So much awesome!
We started off the evening with Adam Savage coming out onto the stage to apologize for replacement Wil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman being delayed. There had been some trouble with his flight so at show time, he was on his way from the airport. Paul and Storm took the stage, noting the ASL translators with the quip “We’re so not gonna break that toy by the end of the night” and launched into their go-to set starter “Opening Band”, always a crowd pleaser, especially the final note that seems to go on for ever. As Aaron put it, “Damn trained singers. ::grumble::”
During one of their songs, Paul moved over to where the translators were seated, sat on the male translator’s lap and serenaded the female, who was translating at the time. They really were great sports all night and I COULD NOT STOP WATCHING THEM!
Somewhere in the middle of their set, they announced that in lieu of Wil, they had a facsimile prepared and a poster on wheels of “recursive Wil Wheaton” was wheeled out by none other than Neil Gaiman! It took some of us a moment to realize it was him, as the poster was funny and awesome and no one really notices the stage hands, but once he was spotted, applause and cheers abounded! Squee! (For the remainder of the post, I will probably refer to him as Neil himself in homage to his twitter handle and because I think it sounds awesome.) He said hello and then left the stage after a dramatic head shot was featured on the overhead.
Up next, after a video break from Wil Wheaton (from here on out, I won’t mention all of the video breaks, which were plentiful and hilarious), was Bill Amend who writes the comic strip Fox Trot.
I’ve always appreciated his nods to geekdom, ranging anywhere from characters playing Dungeons and Dragons to quips about computers. He was understated and didn’t seem to know what was expected of him, but he came prepared with a slide show of what he called his 2% comic strips. e.g. the strips that only two percent of readers would really get. They brought down the house! Funny, funny stuff! My favorite was a nod to the horror that is the impending “Star Wars 3D”. Everyone booed at the right time and it was great!
Next Neil himself took the stage and we were treated to not one, but two short stories:
Let me just say that if you’ve never heard Neil Gaiman read, go buy one of his audiobooks, find a reading of one of his short stories or something. I could listen to him talk for hours… But that’s beside the point… Moving on…
The first story was a “scientific” experiment to examine the effects of alcohol on creative writing. It was witty and, as the drinks flowed in the story, progressively more incoherent and crass. Perfectly appropriate for this crowd! About half way through the bottle, he started talking about a program he had seen on TV about elephants and mused that a single ::ahem:: dose, shall we say, of “elephant spunk” could feed an ant colony for a year and proceeded to provide a dialogue between an ant child and mother which ended with the mother telling the child to “finish your elephant cum” Needless to say, all eyes turned to the translators at the choicer moments and “elephant spunk” became the joke of the night.
The second story was a noir murder mystery set in a fairytale world focusing on the death of Humpty Dumpty. Great story including many a nursery rhyme character, though the first story was a bit more memorable for obvious reasons.
After intermission, it was Stephen Toulous (or Stepto), who is XBOX Live’s Director of Policy and Enforcement. With Paul and Storm chanting the Halo theme randomly, he read from a big bible-looking book about a player (p00nhun+er) that fooled the system and ruined lots of people’s fun. And lo, the banhammer did fall upon him and there was silence in the land. And it was good!
Then, I think it was Mary Jo Pehl (who was on Mystery Science Theater, apparently) who came onto stage in an emotional tizzy and apologized. She said that she had just read “the latest” issue of a comic book in which Super Girl (I think?) was killed in some elaborate, out of this world, way. She stopped for a moment, hand to face, then concluded with “which is exactly how my grandmother died.” and walked off the stage.
More video, including a Red vs. Blue PSA especially made for w00tstock, after which the creators came out, drinks in hand, said they didn’t have anything to say and walked back off stage.
Then it was Molly Lewis, with her ukulele:
She started with “An open letter to Stephen Fry” in which she offers her womb as a surrogate since his genes should clearly continue to grace the earth after he’s gone. Sweet! Then a song about Wikipedia. She closed with “Our American Cousin”, a song about Abraham Lincoln that is simultaneously awesome, thought provoking and heart tugging. I’ve already listened to it several times since we got home and I love, love, love it!
Last, but not least, was Adam Savage (for real this time):
He started with a funny story about Jamie Hynemen and then went on to share about the porn talk he had to have with one of his eleven year old sons (he has twins) during which we got to learn the sign for c**k-sucker (which is pretty much what you would expect it to be). It was kind of cool that he would share such an important and private thing with us and I think the way that he handled it was admirable. He didn’t shame his son but he did stress the fact that the internet can be scary and dangerous if you’re not careful and that there are a lot of people out in the vastness of the internet that hate women. He told him, “Savage men respect women. We are not those men.” Seriously, mad props, Mr. Savage! We could use more dads like you!
Finally, like all w00tstocks, the four hosts, Neil (as Wil Wheaton), Paul, Storm, and Adam took the stage:
And so began “The Captain’s Wife’s Lament”, a song about pirates with full audience participation (ARRRRR!) that Paul and Storm always do at the end of their shows. The song can be stretched to fill any amount of time, as there is a lot of banter and randomness that usually goes something like this (complete with pirate-y accent):
Storm: “Give us an ARR!”
Storm: “What’s that spell?”
Storm: “Pirate S.A.T. You all pass!”
And so on for a very long time. But no one really minds. It’s great fun! There was a gag in which they made Neil himself put on a monkey hat (which you can see in The Bloggess’ post about w00tstock and interviewing Neil) and giving us a small polite “arr”. And elephant spunk was said a multitudinous amount of times, much to everyone’s delight. The song ended, after a very long time, the way it always does, with a rousing verse about sea men (har, har) that’s loads (snerk!) of fun.
Once the show ended, we queued up to get autographs. An hour later, we reached the end, getting autographs from (in order) Bill Amend, Stepto and Molly Lewis. Aaron chatted with them while I stood mute as mud, struck by social awkwardness. Then we went around the bend:
My heart got all fluttery, lump in my throat, as Paul, Storm and Adam defaced each other’s little likenesses on the poster, while they signed. I kicked myself, yet again, for forgetting to bring a book to get signed, and then we were there. After Neil signed our poster, I swallowed my anxiety and told him it was an honor to meet him… And HE HELD OUT HIS HAND! My breath caught and I reached to shake his hand. I said some more stuff that, for the life of me, I can’t remember. I don’t know why (WHY FOR THE LOVE OF GOD?!?! No one cares!) or how I mentioned being a teacher and he said that he found teachers inspiring. I’m sure I grinned and muttered something else no one cares about and that was it.
Aaron shouted a final “Farewell Nerds! And thank you!” to which our hosts replied with a hearty “Thank YOU!” and we were outside. As we walked back to the car, what had just happened sunk in. We entered the building were we had parked and as we approached the garage elevator, I started getting all squealy just as a trio of girls entered from the other door equally squealy. In the elevator we had a little Neil Gaiman fangirl party of squeals and OMGs before going our separate ways and heading back to the hotel.
I think, aside from meeting Neil himself, the best thing about w00tstock and other such things, is the feeling that you are surrounded by people that “get” you. As someone that often feels like the odd one out, the feeling of belonging is priceless. It was truly fantastic.
…Well, not really, but I have to say that at an event were some ::cough:: interesting words were being bandied about, those interpreters put on a very brave face!
Tired, but content, we return from Austin and w00tstock! It was a blast and I will definitely write more about it later, but for now my NaNoWriMo novel needs working on, if I don’t want to get behind.
I will leave you with this: I shook Neil Gaiman’s hand! ::sigh::
What can you do when life gets hectic? Yeesh!
So, today, after work, Aaron and I will be driving up to Austin for w00tstock! Haven’t heard of it? Check it out. Hosted by Wil Wheaton (Actor/Nerd icon), Adam Savage (Mythbusters) and Paul and Storm (Musical Comedy Duo), w00tstock is a multimedia event that celebrates the nerd! If you like Mythbusters, w00tstock is for you! If you can accurately answer the question, “What was Han Solo encased in?” w00tstock is for you! If you have any interest in anything nerdy/geeky, w00tstock is for you!
Though I am dissappointed that, due to a scheduling conflict, Wil Wheaton will not be at w00tstock Austin (I heart Wil Wheaton), we’re getting and equally squee-worthy Wil Wheaton stand-in: Neil Gaiman! Ever since reading Good Omens (which he coauthored with Sir Terry Pratchett), Gaiman has been one of my favorite fiction writers. I especially love his children’s lit (Coraline and The Graveyard Book) and short story collections.
And on top of the w00tstock excitement, I have decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) again this year. I have a kind of ambitious sci fi/fantasy idea. It remains to be seen if I will, indeed, achieve NaNoWriMo success again this year!
Wish me luck! (definatly not lick… ew… gross typo!)
“Die wanna wanga?”
As Aaron was sick and my back was being twinge-y, we spent a lot of time this weekend hitting our Netflix instant streaming queue. We’ve been catching Aaron up on Doctor Who so we can watch season four together (since I watched one-three over the summer when I had a bunch of alone time) and season six of The Office just became available for streaming so we were kind of bouncing between The Doctor, The Office and re-watching Fullmetal Alchemist*.
Apparently, this stimuli was enough to insert itself into my dreams. First, I had a weird, Doctor Who inspired (I seem to recall David Tennant making an appearance, at least, even if he [The Doctor] wasn’t part of the main plot**) action-esque dream in which I was a waif-like blond girl (huh?) that was afraid of escalators (you only wish I was joking) seeking the answer to some problem that I can’t recall,
On top of that, my strange and twisted psyche also inserted random Star Wars characters into The Office…
I seem to recall something about Micheal hiring Jabba the Hutt and his crew to do some kind of consulting job. My favorite scene/line*** was Bib Fortuna blocking Pam’s way as she tried to go into Micheal’s office to complain about something. I believe the line was something along the lines of: “Ah Micheal no bother.”
Seriously… When are they going to invent dream recorders so I can cash in on this stuff? ::sigh:: Oh, well. For now I’ll just keep dreaming and living my boring life. Too bad I don’t get more sleep…
I find my lack of sleep disturbing…
Sorry! I couldn’t resist!
*But not too much Fullmetal… I love the show, but with my moodiness lately, I don’t think the emotional poignancy of some of the episodes would be beneficial in large doses.
**Yes, my dreams have plots. Yours don’t? ;-P
***And, yes, they have “lines” too! Wanna fight about it?
First of all, I’d just like to say that getting away, even for a weekend, can do wonders for an overwrought psyche. Especially if said weekend involves taking a half day from work!
Hi! How are you? Me? I’m all kinds of fantastic.
Our “weekend” started off with taking a half day from work on Thursday. We were going to be driving up to Austin for a concert Thursday night but Aaron had classes, so we decided to wait to leave until the afternoon so he wouldn’t miss too much. I don’t know what it is about leaving work in the middle of the day but I have to say that I love it! Not that I can get in the habit of it or anything, but it is nice every once in a while.
Anygerbil, Thursday afternoon was spent driving up to Austin and trying not to be terribly nervous about finally getting to see/meet MC Frontalot (AKA Damian Hess). My little fangirl heart had been skipping beats for almost a week at the thought. I’m less than confident when it comes to meeting people (though I think I hide it well) and I’ve always been terrified that if I ever met anyone (be it author, actor, musician, etc) that I really admire, that I would make a complete fool of myself. The dark fantasies in my head range from being frozen with anxiety and coming off as a jerk to drooling, idiotic fawning. Both of these extremes and many of the in betweens would be mortifying.
So, there we were in Austin, heading out to the venue (The Highball) and I could feel the anxiety bubbling up out of every pore. We weren’t sure when the show started due to conflicting reports and that alone was making me a little crazy so we got there early and realized we were hungry. The dining area (of the Highball) had a 45 minute wait so we decided to see what else we could find nearby. Nothing. We ended up at McDonald’s (ick) and I was in a wretched mood. Poor Aaron. After a bit of yammering on my part, Aaron calmed me down and back we went!
There was, apparently, an 8o’s dance party before the concert which turned out to be a lot of fun (and even more so once the free shots of tequila started flowing ::cough::). We were goofy. We danced. My little fangirl heart did a little jump when Frontalot walked by us during the hullabaloo. Then, finally, it was time. The concert was fantastic! Short, but energetic. And we were really close to the stage. (Very small venue, but still!) I had a blast! Afterward, we bought swag, took pictures and got CDs signed. And yes, I talked to him without making a complete fool of myself (the alcohol probably helped with the nerves a little) and Aaron tried to get him to come do a show in the RGV. Somehow I doubt that’s gonna happen but you can’t blame a guy for trying!
Here’s a little taste of Frontalot (gotta love the vocabulary!):
We didn’t get back to the hotel until almost two (the concert didn’t start until after midnight) and pretty promptly zonked out. Breakfast in the lobby, check-out, a bit off mall walking and a delicious iced vanilla latte from Kick Butt Coffee led to our exodus from Austin. Who’d have thought there’d be nothing to do at 11AM on a Friday. Plus, I was experiencing a serious crash thanks to the anticipation and excitement being gone. That was not fun. We lunched in San Antonio and headed home.
The key feature of the rest of our weekend seemed to be loafing around the house and getting Aaron caught up on Doctor Who. I love it! A totally nerdy way to spend and nerdtastic weekend.
How was your weekend?