The Edmonton Nerdery Continues!

Last Friday I posted about nerd events happening around our fair city.  Since then, several other events have come to my attention, and now I am bringing them to yours.  So much nerdery, people; there really is no excuse to stay cooped up in your house.  Get on out and let your geek flag fly!

Sci-Fi Movie Night

Happening Saturday, October 1 at Happy Harbor (12226 Jasper Avenue), Sci-fi Movie Night is going to feature two sci-fi classics…well, one classic and one “classic”.  Get your geek-on with a double bill of Disney’s dark sci-fi thriller The Black Hole (1979) and the scaly horror of SSSSSSS (1973).  Beverages and snacks will be available, with proceeds split between the Pure Spec Festival and Crystal Kids.  There will be door prizes as well, so get there early and support some great causes with some great sci-fi!

Lloyd the Conquerer

Making its Edmonton debut at the Edmonton International Film Festival is a Canadian indie film shot right here in Alberta.  How nerdy could it be?  I’ll let the site itself describe it:

Lloyd and his two best friends need to pass their Medieval Literature class in order to keep their financial aid. In desperation, they beg their teacher for extra credit work. He concedes, but only on one condition: they must join his deteriorating LARPing league, to do battle against him in a game of Demons & Dwarves.

Geeky enough for you?  Lloyd the Conquerer screens Saturday, October 1, 5:30pm at The Garneau.  Come out and show your nerdiest support for Canadian and Albertan film!

Book Launch – with Pie!

Be at Happy Harbor (12226 Jasper Avenue) Thursday, October 6th at 6:30 for the launch of award-winning author Minister Faust’s new book, The Alchemists of Kush.  About the book: “The struggle of two Sudanese “lost boys” for manhood. One lives today in E-Town: He’s Raphael, son of Araweelo. The other lived 7,000 years ago along the Nile. He’s Horus, son of Isis.”  Join the Minister Faust and your fellow geeks for a reading, book signing, and delicious desserts for sample and sale.  Not to be missed; support local authors!

24 Hour Comics Day

Happy Harbor presents its 8th Annual 24Hr Comics Day, in support of Literacy Alberta.  This is a fantastic event in which each local artist participating writes, draws and inks a 24 page comic in 24 hours!  You are encouraged to come on down, donate and cheer on the artists.  As well as supporting a worthy cause, your donation puts you in the draw for a complete set of DC’s New 52 #1 issues.  24Hr Comics Day will start at 10am on Saturday, October 8, finishing at 10am Sunday, October 9, at the HH1 location (12226 Jasper Ave).  Join Happy Harbor in showcasing talented local artists, as well as supporting Literacy Alberta!

Tesseracts 15 Launch

Join Edge Publishing at Greenwood’s Bookshoppe (7925 104 street) on Saturday, October 15 for the Edmonton launch of Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales.  This anthology is co-edited by Julie Czerneda and Susan MacGregor, and features local Edmonton writers Nicole Luiken, Cat McDonald, and Kate Boorman.  Readings from the anthology will start at 3pm, and there will be coffee and refreshments served.  There is no cost to attend, but you should get there early to grab a copy of the book; they may go fast!  Come on out and support great SF literature!

There you are, Edmonton, get out and get your nerd on!  And if you know of any other upcoming nerd events, drop me line here so I can post them for my tens of dedicated readers.

PS: I love you, tens of dedicated readers!


Humpday Links for September 28

Oh, the links I have for you today!  Yes, much linkage, a veritable cornucopia of linking pleasure…yeah, I got nothing. To the links!

– As a DM, when a player behaves badly it is always nice to get an apology.  And it sounds like this guy had a lot to apologize for

– Want some cute fun?  All you have to do to start is draw a stickman.

– Some guy went a little overboard when he sent some stuff to be signed by Simon Pegg.  This was Simon Pegg’s reply.

– Okay, Christmas is coming and I would take any of these.  But if you get me the Silmarillion one, me love you long time…

– Want a hardcore nerd ring-tone? Ditch the movie/anime themes, and grab one of these NASA soundbites instead.

– So you picked up one of those life-size plastic skeletons for Halloween, but now you want to jazz it up? Let this guy show you how to make a convincing corpse.

– Staying with Halloween, here is a cheap and easy way to make a Stormtrooper/sci-fi helmet, using just a milk jug.

– It’s no secret I love Doctor Who.  So does this guy, and he gives some pretty good reasons why

– For the hardcore role-player: can you truly become your character, if you don’t smell like your character?

Apparently Google is working on Google Drive again. For reals.

– Animaniacs was not only fun, but educational.  Remember this?

– I love sushi, so there is no question at all that I want to go to here!

– This one comes steaming hot from the “Are You $#@%ing Kidding Me!?” file: a musical chairs reality show.

– I’m giving you fair warning: when Star Trek: Infinite Space releases, the blog may experience…a lapse.  Of indeterminate duration.

Okay, that should hold you for now.  Back to the nerdery bright and early tomorrow!

Odds and Sods

I have a few things that have caught me eye recently, that I find interesting but don’t really warrant a post all their own.  So today I offer you a bowl of my brain candies!

…that didn’t sound nearly as creepy in my head, I swear…

** So @Kiala wrote a piece over at Nerd Puddle about the Gamewave parody video that I thought was spot on (except that I disagree with her stance on the Geek and Gamer Girl video, but that is okay, we are allowed to disagree).  I don’t really find the video in question offensive in any way.  My best description of it would be “tired”;  Oh. I get it. Nerds don’t get to touch ladyparts. Ha. Ahaha. Next!  The real problem that I see is that it allows for only two possible reactions, really: either you ignore it because it is a tired trope that needs to be put down like an ailing pet, or you let the nerd denial fly (“Squirrel, please!  Man, I get so much tail you don’t even know!  I’m going over to see my girl, and we’re playing “co-op”, you feel me!?“)  And the internet has never really been a place where people ignore the things that bother them, so there has been the usual trollstorm.  All I want to say about it is this: it isn’t funny, because it lacks truth.  With the exception of nerds that have honest-to-god social anxiety issues, most geeks do just fine with the opposite sex.  So stop being lazy, and find something actually funny to parody.

** Science continues to blow my %$#@ing mind!  Especially when scientists are doing things like this and this.  When I was a strippling geek I would have punched you in the taint for a liar if you told me about cell phones and teh internets.  And now we are close to making gasoline out of garbage and recharging batteries with rock and roll!? (Okay, I might be stretching the scope of those articles a bit, but as Shakespeare always said, “Suck it!”)  And if that whole FTL hullabaloo wasn’t a measuring error and actually pans out, my Heavy Metal inspired dreams of flying through space in a garbage-powered starship blasting classic rock tunes may just come true! And really, isn’t that what science is for?

** I’m largely enjoying the new TV offerings this season, as well as the return of old favourites.  My favs so far are Unforgettable, 2 Broke Girls and Prime Suspect, but talk to me again in six episodes and those might change.  Easily discarded was Ringer, which is a shame because I wanted to like it.  I enjoy Sarah Michelle Gellar as an actor, but the writing and some technical issues have turned me off.  I don’t care about anyone and I don’t believe the situations, and those two things will kill a show for me.  Of the returning shows, Castle is like a charming old friend, and NCIS (sorry, Devon) is like the curmudgeonly grandpa that tells good stories.

**  This (below) has become my new Life Rule:

** Since I hung out my shingle as a freelance editor, a few people have asked me why I won’t do some free jobs for them, just to gain experience/exposure.  And I have a few good answers for that.  First, I’m already doing some volunteer editing for experience, with a publication I love and respect.  So I’m getting enough on-the-job training, thanks.  As for exposure…that will come.  If I work for free now, the exposure I’ll get will be, “Hey, here is a guy who will work for free.” And since I’d like to make some sort of living from this, that exposure would be counter-productive.

But here’s my big reason for charging: because I think it engenders respect.  As an editor, I am essentially giving you (the writer) my opinion.  I can’t force you to accept my edits; it’s your work, you can ignore everything I tell you.  If I’m working for free, you can just say to yourself, “Well what does he know?” and dismiss me.  But if you are paying me, you are forced to at least consider what I am saying.  And if you are my client, I am giving your work the attention it deserves because that is my job.  You will get my best work because that is part of our client/employee relationship.

At least that’s how I look at it.  So no, beyond work I have already agreed to do I won’t work for free.  But I can and will work for “negotiable”, so drop me a line and we’ll talk.

*     *     *

Okay, that’s all the brain candy I have for today.  Want to share some candy below?

5 Resources Every GM Needs

I have been playing RPGs for a very long time, compared to many of my peers.  It is likely, though I haven’t conducted a poll, that I have been gaming longer than many of my players have been alive (first person to call me Grandpa GM gets shanked).  And while I do sometimes get to play RPGs, I am more often than not in the game master seat.  As I write this, of the four campaigns with which I am currently involved I GM two of them.  And 50% is pretty much the lowest that number has been in a while; it usually hovers around 75% and has hit 100% on occasion.

All of that is to say, I am a very busy game master.  Whether it’s coming up with the next campaign plot, statting out an NPC or just creating interesting encounters, I rely a great deal on outside resources to help.  It is much faster and easier for me to re-purpose an idea from another source than create something new from scratch for every session.

I have had a number of resources come and go over the years, but for this post I’m going to focus on my Big 5, my go-to resources for all my GM needs.  None of these are system specific, and all of them offer resources that make my busy GMing life easier.

Role-playing Tips

I’ve posted links to Role-playing Tips before, but it is definitely worth mentioning again.  I have been receiving Johnn Four’s gaming e-newsletter for years, and I have archived them all.  Every issues contains some idea I can use, some GM tip I can put to work for me.  I cannot recommend subscribing to the newsletter enough, you won’t be sorry.  As well, the site’s About page has several useful links and generators, useful for GMs of all games.  And if you’ve ever had trouble filling some empty seats at your gaming table, why not pick up a copy of his book Filling the Empty Chair?

The Labyrinth

I found this gaming blog through the RPG Blog Alliance, and I’m really glad I did.  It features some really good articles on gaming as well as game reviews.  But as a busy GM, what makes me love this site if the copious free maps he posts.  These are beautiful looking maps, presented with not writing on them at all.  As a GM on the go, this makes them perfect for dropping into a campaign as a treasure map (just add directions), or for use as inspiration for my next campaign.  And they are pretty enough to make excellent player handouts.  So come to The Labyrinth for the maps, stay for the excellent gaming blog.

Obsidian Portal

You have likely heard of Obsidian Portal, but if you are a busy GM you owe it to yourself to check it out.  This is the perfect wiki site for GMs that want a fast, convenient way to disseminate game information to their players.  But more than that, OP is a great group organizational tool, with messaging options, a group calendar and a widget that allows you to post character information on the group’s page.  If you have ever tried to struggle through a session missing a player and his character sheet, this last feature in invaluable.  And if you like Obsidian Portal, give their podcast a listen.  Haste promises to update you on gaming news in less time than it takes you to set up for your game, and it is a fun, entertaining 15-20 minutes.

Game Geeks

I don’t have as much time these days to sift through and keep abreast of the gaming books and supplements available out there.  Game Geeks, hosted by Kurt Wiegel, has provided useful and informative reviews of gaming material for years.  Each episode gives a great capsule review of a particular product or products, and because Kurt is a GM himself, he is able to offer a useful perspective on each book.  He is not without bias (he has gaming systems he likes/dislikes) he is open about this bias, and it generally does not interfere with the balance of his reviews.  If you want to know about a gaming supplement before you buy, check to see if the Game Geek has reviewed it first.

Gnome Stew

Another of my go-to sites for GM help, Gnome Stew provides a wide range of services and articles for GMs and players alike.  You can find useful GM tools, reviews of RPGs and supplements, great articles for newbie GMs, and so much more.  I have used the tools and articles on Gnome Stew more often than any other resource, and if I am looking for something specific I haven’t seen yet, I always start my search there.  If you are a GM, busy or otherwise, I think you should dedicate some time to explore the site.  You won’t be sorry.

So what are your go-to resources as a GM?  Let us know in the Comments below!

Nerd Events Around Edmonton

You might think, with summer winding down and the leaves turning, that geek-friendly events would dwindle as well.  Well, my friend, you couldn’t be more wrong.  There is plenty of geekery happening in our fair city, if you know where to look.  Luckily, I’m the nerd version of the kid from Sixth Sense: I see dork people!  Want to get your nerd-on?  Then you need to check out these fine events:

Master of Devils Reading and Signing

Come on down to Audrey’s Books (10702 Jasper Ave) from 3-6pm and hear author Dave Gross read from Master of Devils, his latest novel for Pathfinder Tales.  He’ll be signing that book, as well as copies of Prince of Wolves and Winter Witch (co-written with NYT Bestselling author Elaine Cunningham).  If you loved this book like I did, this is the perfect chance to let Dave know that.  If you haven’t read it yet, now is the time to get your copy!

Social Media Breakfast

Whether you are a social media pro or a complete newbie, the Social Media Breakfasts are the place for you!  Held the last Friday morning of every month, @SMBYEG provides Edmontonians a chance to meet, eat and discuss social media all in a relaxed atmosphere.  September’s SMBYEG is happening on Friday, Sept. 30 from 8:30am-10:30am, at CBC Centre Stage (123 Edmonton City Centre Mall East) D’lish Urban Kitchen & Winebar (10418 124 Street).  The events are sponsored by McQ Design Strategies and organized by the SMBYEG Committee members.  There is no cost to attend, so come on out and swap social media stories over breakfast.

Pure Spec BBQ and Tri-Game Nerdament Sign-up

Happening down at Coronation Park (behind Telus World of Science) on October 1, don’t miss this fun, relaxed fund-raising event for the Pure Speculation Festival.  From 5-8pm, join Pure Spec for hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, pop, hot chocolate, and other treats.  Relax with your fellow nerds, enjoy the great conversations, and if the skies are clear there may be a trip to the Observatory to look at the moon and stars.  As well, sign up for the Tri-Game Nerdament, a multi-game team event that will take place over the next couple of months, with the final showdown at Pure Spec.  The BBQ costs just $12, paid in cash on-site; the conversation and stargazing are free!

Board Game Night

The first Tuesday of every month, The Edmonton Science Fiction Appreciation Society holds their Board Game Night.  Join them Tuesday, October 4th at 6:30pm at 10575 114 Street (Edmonton New Technology Society) for a fun night of games and conversation.  Try out games you’ve never played and meet some new gaming buddies.  Bring snacks to share, and if there is enough interest (ie, $5 placed in the kitty) pizza will be ordered.  I’ve been, and it is a relaxed good time!

Zombie Walk: Zombies in Space!

The River City Zombie Commitee has set their next zombie walk for October 7 at 7:00 PM.  This time the theme is Zombies in Space!  The walk will start off in Gazebo Park around 7:30, and head towards the Legislature Grounds.  It will take off again from the Legislature grounds at 9:00, ending up at Churchill Square.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a themed costume, all zombies will be welcomed!  And if you don’t want to be a zombie, then bring your camera, take some pictures and protect your brains!  No cost to take part.

*     *     *

So there you are, five nerdy events for you to enjoy with your fellow geeks.  What are you waiting for, get on out there and nerd it up!  Maybe I’ll see you there…

Did I miss any events?  Let me know below and I’ll slip it into the post!

How I’m Keeping Busy

When I was laid-off back in April, I had mixed feelings.  At first there was a moment of “I HAVE NO JOB! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!”, which luckily soon passed (sustained screaming makes my throat bad-tingle).  Once that moment was gone, I realized that my old job had made me…not miserable, that’s too strong.  It made me enervated; I would start the day with ideas of the things I would do once I finished work that day, but by the time I got home I was drained.  Not that the job (shipping/receiving) was hard, it wasn’t.  I was really good at it, which was the only reason I had survived through two prior rounds of lay-offs.

But being good at a job and loving your job are two different things.  So while I certainly miss having a job, I don’t miss that job.  Because of this, I made the decision to stay on EI for a while, and try my hand at some things I do love.  So here is a quick rundown of some of the things I’m working on at the moment:

Freelancing:  I officially hung out my shingle today as a “white collar mercenary”, providing editing, data entry and research services on a freelance basis.  You can check out my Rate Sheet, hidden under the About Renaissance Dork button above.  I think there is a “freelance office worker” niche to be filled for self-publishing authors, small press houses and small businesses that can’t afford a staffing agency.  And since I both enjoy and am good at editing and research, and am willing to perform data entry (can anyone be said to enjoy it?), I might as well fit myself into that niche.  I am excited about this, and curious what will come of it.

Volunteering for On Spec:  I have been a fan of short SF fiction for a real long time, and a fan of On Spec for almost as long (as I talk about here).  Shortly after Aluma gave me my walking papers, I contacted Diane and asked if I could help out, maybe read some slushpile stuff that was piling up.  She was gracious enough to allow me to do some copy-editing, as well as putting me in charge of the @OnSpecMagazine Twitter feed (which you should follow if you love Canadian SF and cool stuff like that).  I’m loving both, but the copy-editing has been the best fun so far.  I’m currently editing two stories, and one of them is in my favourite (though somewhat scary) stage, working with the writer.  I won’t say any more, other than you will love these stories when they come out!

RPG Writing:  Oddly, while this is the one I was most excited to get to work on, it is the one that has stalled the most for me.  I’m still working out for myself why that might be, though I know the fault lies with me and not any outside source.  But in the meantime I have worked up the second draft of a Pathfinder Society scenario submission, started the second draft of an article to be submitted to Wayfinder Magazine (a fan published/created magazine on Pathfinder), and am picking out three article proposals to send in to Kobold Quarterly.  I did complete a paid assignment for a game product coming out soonish, but I don’t know how much I can talk about it prior to it being announced.  So let us say I am cautiously optimistic about my future as an RPG writer, and leave it there for now.

The Blog: Well, you’re here, so I don’t really need to explain what this is.  I’ve wanted to focus on writing for a while, and the blog is a big part of that.  Not only does it give me a chance to sound-off about the geeky things I love so much, it has also helped me form relationships with other bloggers/writers.  And as part of my daily writing process, it does two things. First, I can use it to clear out the cobwebs at the start of the day, by banging out a blog entry, freeform (which I later edit and re-write; don’t worry, only the best for you guys!)  Second, if I’m stuck on something else I’m writing I just pull up the blog and work on that.  At some point that unsticks me, and I can go back to what I was working on.  So whatever else happens, the blog is too important for me to give up.

The Sorta Secret Project: Used to be Super Secret, but I couldn’t contain my excitement and told a few people.  I’m not going to give away too much…oh, all right.  Here are three clues: I’ll still be talking about geeky stuff; I’ll be working with a fellow geek I’m rather fond of; and it will start (as far as you are concerned) in February.  Beyond that, my lips are sealed GABBO!

And that is what fills the days and sometimes nights of the Renaissance Dork, padded out with role-playing games, television and the occasional movie.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life, and hey, tell all your friends about the white collar mercenary thing, eh?

Comments, in perpetuity, below.


Humpday Links for September 21

Good morrow, fair gentles!  Wednesday has arrived, and we needs must get through it to enjoy the slide into the weekend.  Please partake of these links which, if not enjoyable, should at least fill a few long minutes of the day:

– Let us start with some crazy!  According to this gentleman, when Lucas messes with the Star Wars movies he is not just upsetting fans, he is thwarting the will of extra-terrestrial visitors!

– From crazy we go to awesome, and read a letter from a gamer to his as-yet-to-be-born daughter.  My favourite quote? “If at age 30 you are little more than the currency that fools have paid you, spend yourself.” I actually fist-pumped.

– Speaking of fist-pumps: Brian Patterson over at D20Monkey has a new shirt inspired by the latest news surrounding Monte Cook and WotC.  Pre-order now, and get your Sharpie ready to check a box…

– Like Wil Wheaton?  Love animals?  Then follow this link and donate to help Wil and Anne Wheaton raise funds for the Pasadena Humane Society.  And then maybe donate time/money to your local humane society.  Just saying…

– This is geeky, inasmuch as it helps stave off the global food apocalypse.  Eat Local First is a site I discovered through a friend, that provides groceries grown/produced right here in Alberta.  And I’m sure if you nosed around you could find one in your area.

– Ever wonder what exactly goes into fantasy and sci-fi editing?  Here is an interview with Ellen Datlow, esteemed SF editor, that should answer some of those burning questions.

– Though I haven’t discussed it with my Thursday night gaming group yet, I think the idea behind Play a New RPG Month is a good one.  I’m going to give it a whirl, and you should too!

– Another gaming nerd event, this time proposed by The Escapist: Read an RPG Book in Public Week. Or RARPGBIPW, as it is lovingly known.  It’s almost Welsh…

– For those tens of you that, like me, are huge Babylon 5 fans, Pat Tallman’s new book will be of some interest…

Steve Jackson Games is running a new contest; seems they have a game coming out in 2012 and they need help naming it.  To help you along, “Kiss My Buttress!” has already been submitted.

– For those that can’t wait until Christmas to unwrap their Doctor Who news, here are some Christmas episode updates from Bleeding Cool.

– Continuing the Whovering, this has made the rounds a lot lately, but is really damn cool so listen to it again!

– And finally: This ought to shut up every loud mouth who ever said you were wasting your time playing video games (that’s right Mom, I called you a loud mouth. What are you gonna-ow!  Not the ear, ow ow ow!)

Enjoy your Wednesday, and join me tomorrow for something far more serious…though probably not.  As always, share your comments below!