Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-12-12 And I'm still here!

So much for religious nuttery. At least Krispy Kreme has a coupon for free doughnuts.

I'm going in for surgery tomorrow, for the second time this year. I feel like I just got back to being myself a few weeks ago so this is pretty nerve wracking for me. This is most definitely not going to be my merriest Christmas. I'm still hoping against hope that I'll be up for some traditional rum balls by next week.

I update really irregularly as it is, and it's probably not going to get any better anytime soon. There's always the new year! Of course, by next year I have the next round of major surgery. Yay.

If I'm not up for posting again soon, Happy Holidays, eat something tasty and good luck dealing with your relatives.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's Looking Like Games-mas at my House

I've blogged about Geek&Sundry before (Subscribe, seriously, do it!) and I love almost everything, I have even enjoyed some of the motion comics although that's really not my thing but the shining stars are

The Flog:

Yay! Dragon*Con!
Could also be known as Felicia Day does awesome, funny things.


Amber Benson tells the most amazing story in this episode. I really want friends now so that I can play games with them.

Written by a Kid:
Which is my son's favorite show.

The best part of Geek & Sundry? It's the new home of The Guild:

It's so worth spending all your hours looking at the funny, amazing and fantastical things that are there.

I've been a gamer since forever, but mostly RPG's or video games, but now I've gotten into the joy of TableTop games and I blame Wil Wheaton. It's so much fun watching the groups of great people he gathers together play these games that I had to try a few. In the last six months my husband and I have gone on a table top game buying spree:

Ticket to Ride

To name a few from the show, but I've also been snapping up stuff that I normally wouldn't buy but they haven't played, yet (and may not ever). 

Munchkin Bites
Lost Puppies (this game is fantastic for small children, I love cooperative games)
Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame
Monty Python Fluxx

Family game night may be cliche by now but it's still so much fun. I'm putting lots of games on my wishlist for this end of year spending spree season. It's going to be a Happy Games-mas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Season of Giving

And Receiving, we can't forget receiving.

I have a really soft spot in my heart for Christmas, it's a lot like a squishy rotten spot on a piece of fruit you were saving for a special treat. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I hate Christmas or have joined up in some sort of ridiculous war against Christmas, I just have a fairly even mix of sweet and sour memories of the most expensive holiday season of the year.

I enjoy Christmas far more now than I did as a child. My brothers and I don't fight or tease each other anymore even if that does mean we only have a list of five subjects that we can talk about. My Mother is far less frazzled since she turned over the reigns of Christmas hosting over to other family members, so she has more time for making fudge instead of threatening to turn crying children into fudge. It's a wonderful time of the year, especially when you have children.

For more bang for your buck I personally recommend small children. You can get a paper towel tube and an old coffee can, wrap it in news paper and watch them go nuts with excitement. Once they get old enough to have preferences or just recognize stuff, that's when you're in trouble.

I have a toddler and a teenager.  Christmas day will be great, but every day leading up to that is going to be a flurry of toddler tears because I can't make toys appear magically and my daughter totally unable to settle on a single thing she wants which is almost more frustrating. That is if my projections from last year are correct.

Christmas day on the other hand, is one of the most special times of year.  We visit my Mother, I spend a fair amount of time making delicious things that I don't have to clean up after and I usually get at least one thing right for my kids that makes them ecstatically happy for at least the next 24 hours. That's really my goal, 24 blissful hours with the toy, game, book, etc. that makes them happy. After that it's pretty much back to the status quo.

My husband and I gave up on gift giving a few years ago, well, we say we gave up on it but there is almost always something for the other one to unwrap, even if it is fuzzy socks. We just get things when we can afford it and usually the other one is happy enough with this. Personally, I hate surprises. Specifically the surprises you get in little wrapped boxes. I hate it. There's too much tension, too much chance that you have to put on the pretend happy face and say "Oh, it's wonderful, thank you so much!" instead of "Have you met me? Hi, I'm the person who doesn't like neon blouses."

Surprises are for little kids. The choices really are just, toy, toy or another kind of toy with the occasional shirt or socks thrown in for good measure. If you put the shirt in a box? That counts as a toy. I'm a little worried about my daughter because there is no way I can afford even a quarter of the things she wants unless I can get myself adopted by Bill Gates, real quick. I'm not really worried about her getting expensive stuff because that isn't the point. I just don't want her to open a box or a bag full of things that she has no interest in and shows that the people that love her don't understand her at all.

I hated that growing up. I was nerdy and geeky to my core all through my life but back in the day, geeks were boys, nerds were boys and girls weren't. It took forever for my parents to catch on that I was stealing my brother's Star Wars figures for a reason. There were times that my parents got me, but for the most part my mother was just confused by my playing with "boy" toys and my father couldn't understand why I was playing with Gem and Holograms if I liked Star Wars. It's call diverse interests Dad! C'mon!

That's why I watch the occasional Anime, I read some of the books my daughter likes and play some of her games, I want to know what she likes and therefore, know more about her. So far my son is easy, if it's got wheels, pink, blue, green or purple, he loves it.  Someday, he'll grow up and I'll get to find out what sort of things he likes and I'll check those out too. I probably wouldn't have learned about several of the things I thoroughly enjoy now, without my daughter's influence.

I hope that everyone gets something that makes them ridiculously happy for a least one day this end of year Holiday Season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

It is 2012 not 1812, right?

I'm not going to pussy-foot around, I'm very pleased with the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election. I'm also very pleased that women and people of color were able to largely, vote unimpeded, because this is what the election map would have looked like if we only let white men vote:

Which is why at least one person is saying that women voting is a bad idea. I disagree. That women and people of color have had such an impact on the United States can only mean that things are getting better and that women are finally in a place where they will be treated with respect, no more virgin/whore dichotomies, no more being treated as though our appearances are more important than our ideas. I was about to start dancing in the streets:

Then this happens: Tony Harris Comic Artist Goes Off
Which comes directly on the heels of another comic book creator reposting a meme about women cosplayers. The Whole Shebang for anyone who might be interested. So my subculture just had to fly in the face of the idea that women are more than slabs of meat. It feels like this is coming up over and over again that somehow women have to be called out for not being 'real' fans of gaming, comic books, anime, science or even science fiction. Now they come for the cosplayers.

This is getting really fucking ridiculous.

1. The idea that a person would spend hundreds of dollars going to a convention and creating (most times) a custom costume to wear while there, isn't at the very least a fan of Cosplay, which is a legitimate geek/nerd interest, and should somehow be treated as unworthy because they haven't studied for their tests is just unreasonable.

2. That specifically women who dress up as characters from Comic Books are somehow being awful sluts for dressing in the exact way that comic book creators represent them. So either practically every woman character is a whore or there is some sort of serious disconnect going on.

3. That anyone would ever get to decide who is or is not a Poseur to Geekdom.

4. That anyone gets to be the gatekeeper to the sexuality of anyone other than themselves.  The slurs Slut and Whore are just a way to put women in their place of submissiveness to a man's sexual needs.
5. That attractiveness really is the key to everything. Hot women aren't counted in Tony Harris' rants only 'Con-hot,' whatever the hell that means. That somehow going into commentary on a group of people's breasts is the best way to prove a point on their validness as a group. That somehow being less than perfectly beautiful makes you less of a person, you know, if you're a woman.

Women are people. Not property, not objects or  an attractiveness rating, people who make up 50% of the population. You'd think after we got the vote, job having and education getting situations handled that we could be trusted to know how to watch a movie or read a book and enjoy it.   Might I suggest the the reasons any woman might not talk to a man outside of a convention might be less to do with assumed haughtiness and instead be related to not wanting to deal with some jerk hitting on her inappropriately, something that is all too common.

I personally would love to have a million delighted cosplayers who only know the names of the characters they dress up as, than have even a handful of hardcore members determined to keep the culture pure by sowing hatred and spewing slurs. What else was the point of Tony Harris' Facebook post or Dirk Manning's? Those posts were meant to encourage us to despise women who only 'claim' to be nerds or who dress up in costumes to get attention (because that's a more precious resource than  diamonds, oil or clean water). The posts were also very clear in naming women the perpetrators of the con artistry and men the poor dupes.  Both men also went on to explain that no, really, they aren't sexist. Apparently saying sexist shit doesn't count as being sexist.

Another point to throw out there, my husband is a dyed in the wool comic fan, I like them, he LOVES them. He owns what I consider to be a lot of them and used to spend at least $200.00 a month on them, and he doesn't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every character or even every comic book he owned. He has never been challenged on his knowledge, not one person has ever thrown down a comic book quiz and required him to get perfect scores to cross the bridge of death to enter the fandom.  He holds a comic book and he is automatically assumed to be a fan. I own a lot of comics (for me) but apparently I don't like the right ones as whenever I mention my comics, I hear "figures." As if no 'real' comic book fan would ever own The Guild, Sandman, smatterings of Thor, Spider Girl and a few others but instead would have a massive 200k+ library of every half dressed woman and spandex wearing dude since 1938 at least.

I'm probably not going to do fandom right according to these men, so to hell with 'em. I'm just so tired of this bullshit coming up all the time.

On the other hand watching Wil Wheaton go off on the subject for the fifth time this year was hilarious.

Fuck Yeah!

UPDATE: I updated and edited the hell outta this post. There were entire paragraphs I wrote with my mind that my fingers didn't get the memo for and I added extra Wil Wheaton, because everything needs extra Wil Wheaton. I should never be allowed to write past midnight sort of like a Mogwai shouldn't be fed. However, if water is spilled on me, I will not clone numerous ugly creatures from my back, I will in fact merely get wet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ponies...Ponies everywhere.

 My sixteen year old daughter caught the wave of pony love just after it hit the airwaves. I was really skeptical as the My Little Pony animated series from my childhood was so bad, even 6 year old me couldn't watch it. I loved the toys, what little girl doesn't want a pony, I got over asking for one when I realized I couldn't get one in purple, so fairly early.

She watched it a few times on youtube, because we were staunch anti-advertisement entertainment people. Eventually it landed on Netflix and we all watched it. Soon the toddler was hooked. I admit it's a pretty good show, it's got a really good balance of music, adventure and funny. From and adult point of view it's totally watchable.

Netflix does have a few disadvantages and Hulu has numerous so we caved and got cable TV service, my only requirement a DVR so I couldn't be chained to a TV schedule. We wrestled with the set up but got things up in running in a day. We tested the recording and the TV schedule forced the little one to watch more learning shows than he would have normally wanted to and he started to get real benefit out of that. Even if his clearest words are now WORD GIRL and SUPER WHY PUPPY.

We all got to sit around the TV and watch the Season 3 Premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, my husband and son watched it twice as my daughter and I couldn't make ourselves get up before 10AM.  We all had a good time, talked about the ponies, Ali shouted out his favorites and zoomed around his little pink car that his tiny Pinkie Pie rides in.

It may seem silly but I'm really glad for shows like that. Mythbusters is another one for the whole family (no really, my toddler runs around yelling fire in the hole and setting up experiments) we all get into it, talk about science and make predictions. Watching a TV show or even a movie by yourself can be a good way to pass the time but I've always been happier sharing the experience with someone else.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Artists, They are My People

There is an awesome little coffeehouse a neighborhood away, name of Hodgepodge and it's absolutely FAN-tastic. It's more than just coffee and cafe food, it's a Gallery, a Zine Library and the lovely ladies who own this eclectic haven have created a home away from home for us artsy types.

I found out about the writing group a month ago but going out in public and meeting people is like trying to climb Everest without a rope or shoes for me.  I can do one on one conversations or even perform for huge massive crowds, but a group of people much more than one and not enough to get lost in, normally would require at least a glass of wine to stave off the shakes, three if I want to say anything. Hodgepodge is too good a place to pass up, though and when my daughter found out about the Knitting Group (her passion), I figured that I should take the nudge from the Universe and just go with it.

I talked to David Hernquist on a personal day out (it's pretty much like when they let the institutionalized people out on a day trip or it feels that way, at least) that landed me at Hodgepodge. I wonder if I come off as awkward and bumbling and tongue trippy (or just trippy) as I feel. He gave me the details about the group and I got excited.  I joined the meetup and started running scenarios in my head for small talk just in case and by Tuesday, forgot all of my plans to be socially perfect.

I came to the meeting on Tuesday and wrote in my notebook that was left over from my ill fated last days in College. All the while my Son who normally is quiet and reserved at his favorite Coffee Shop, ran around in wild abandon because he had found a friend. He got a lot of looks and there were lots of comments on how loud things were, I admitted it was my kid expecting a few dirty looks  but everyone was very kind. I internally resolved to make my husband stay home with him from now on. Maybe I can get away with it for as long as I can spell things and it go over his head but that probably won't be very long. In any case it was a productive hour and a half, I got a lot written and enjoyed the process, motivated by the need to have something for someone to read.

That Tuesday I found out about the event this Friday. I agreed to come and I even clicked the appropriate RSVP button on the Meetup site. I did not expect that it would be (in my terms) a HUGE deal. My husband and I got there early and hung out. I'm pretty good at that, my entire time in High School was spent hanging out, add a few years of College I'm practically an expert. I was getting pretty nervous about the whole thing, the toys normally laid out for any visiting child's enjoyment had been moved to make space and they still moved a few tables over just so that there would be enough seating. In the end it wasn't enough.

Sitting there playing with my smartphone trying to make sure that my butterflies didn't morph into rampaging elephants, a sparkling woman holding a guitar walked over to our side and asked if it was okay if she worked out a few songs. I said sure, no problem and went back to playing with my phone. She started playing and then she started singing. It was then I knew, I was going to be okay. Even if nothing else happened, I was going to listen to beautiful music that made me feel like I was home.

We talked and chatted until I felt bad for keeping Margo from her practice. Eventually, people filed in and the crowd started forming, most people knew each other and cliques found tables to gather around. People hugged and sat down, a few people even talked to me, I was terrible at holding the conversations though and they slid away to chat with other people. Eventually, it was crowded enough that someone had to sit at my table and I forced myself to be sociable to make sure that I was welcoming and didn't alienate people (I never mean too but introversion can also seem like coldness) and ended up having a lovely conversation about art with a gorgeous woman whose name I wish I could remember but my nervousness erased it from my brain. I told her I envied her boots and really I envied everything about her, I really hope I get to hear more about her poetry.

I made it through the night and made sure I told Margo that I wanted to see her play again and if she had a website I'd be happy to comb through it. She gave me her card and I gave her my email, I really really hope that I'm brave enough to send her the link to this blog tomorrow. I had a brilliant time talking to her and her friend about art and artists and our compulsions to be vulnerable and push back into the world. I was so excited to talk to her and to be around real people who were Artists that I think I started to blank out and repeat myself or just babble too much in general. One day I'll figure out how to be cool but that day was not today.

For all the artists in that room, other than the soulful Margo, in some ways I connected more with the lovely people behind the counter and joked with them through the night. I really hope that the beast of anxiety has taken a mortal blow and I won't be seeing it again. Alas, I'm too much of a pessimist to really believe it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fan Hate Always Throws Me

As a Nerd/Geek I know that Star Wars Fandom  is a huge indicator of nerdiness or geekiness. I very much understand why so many people identify with the movies and how much fun they are to watch. George Lucas created something so many people love, his Star Wars franchise is wildly popular, even the hated prequels have been box office successes, so I admit to just not understanding the tremendous hard on so many people have to just despise the man who created one of their favorite movies. What the hell people?

We kids of babyboomers seem to be way too attached to our childhoods. I don't know if we were all just very lucky to have been born right as or before all the really cool stuff happened or if somehow we are collectively trapped at 13 years old, but it is really odd just how enduring and vehement the attachment has been. I went back and watched the cartoons I loved as a kid and I can't even get past the animation screw ups and just straight up awful dialogue that nostalgia just won't gloss over. My three year old son, on the other hand, loves them. Those things were made for 5-13 year old me. After watching the old Rainbow Brite movie, I called my Mom to apologize for making her sit through it 6 times in a single weekend.

My parents liked Star Wars. Sometimes I think my Dad liked it more than I  did, if that was possible. As much as we loved it when special effects started getting really amazing in the late 90's we both wished and I'm sure a few other people did that the special effects could have been updated on our favorite movie, Star Wars. I was first in line for the first two Special Edition Star Wars installments. Some of the CGI scenes felt long and no CGI was and still isn't perfect, but it was a lot of fun to see what could have been.

I really think that George Lucas is probably just a great goofy guy who loves telling stories and making movies. That's what he shows in just about every single interview I've ever seen. He's a writer at heart and editing film is just his rewrite process.

Dislike things, criticize them if you want, but don't think that any fan has the right to dictate what a person creates or how they do it. And hate mail, threats and vile commentary should really be right out too.