Nerdiness Afoot in YEG

Ahoy, nerdlings!  Winter seems to have passed us by and it is time to shake off our hibernation and get out into the world.  Conveniently, your fellow geeks are running events  firmly in your wheelhouse.  So give yourself a shake, put on your best pop-culture t-shirt, and hit up one of these upcoming events:

50,000 tweets, a fundraiser, and a (fake) birthday celebration

No one can deny Brittney Le Blanc’s status as YEG geek royalty (minor royalty, like a duchess or something. Don’t get cocky, Brit!).  Her work with YEG Girl Geek, coupled with her tireless promotion of all things Edmonton have certainly earned that for her.  And she is generous to a fault.  So generous, she has turned the celebration of her new column and her (fake) birthday into a fundraiser for the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation.  Join her and a gajillion of your fellow nerds at  Brittany’s Lounge (10225 – 97 Street) on Friday, March 30 for cake, drinks and merry-making!  And as an added bonus, for just $2 you can enter the raffle for Brittney’s 50,000th Tweet!  That’s right, for one brief 140-character moment, this member of geek royalty could be your mouthpiece.  So come on out and celebrate for a great cause!  Click on the heading for more details and to register.

Brass and Brew IV

Join the Edmonton Steampunk crew for another merry event on Saturday April 7, starting at 5pm.  Put on your steampunk finest (or don’t, no one will judge) and enjoy some fine company and libations.  This is an all-ages event, though minors do need to leave before 9pm.  This event occurs inside City Center Mall in the Elephant and Castle restaurant and pub located on the third floor of the mall, next to the Cineplex movie theatre.  So fire up the steam velocipede and head on down!

Robert J. Sawyer TRIGGERS Launch in Edmonton

Join Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Robert J. Sawyer as he launches his 21st novel TRIGGERS.  The reading takes place at Audrey’s (10702 Jasper Avenue) on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30pm, and there will be signings afterwards.

A thriller’s pacing and a chilling near-future world. Sawyer delivers here.” — Booklist
A turbo-charged techno-thriller. A combination of classic and contemporary science fiction.” — Publishers Weekly
A tense, race-against-the-clock adventure with a surprise ending.” — Library Journal

Avengers Movie Marathon

With all the upcoming events such as the Calgary Expo (April 27th to April 29th), The Avengers Movie (May 4th) and Free Comic Book Day (May 5th), what better way to kick it off than an Avengers Movie Marathon at Happy Harbor (10729 104 Ave).  Spend all day Sunday, April 15th watching all the movies that will lead up to what we all have been waiting for since 2008.  Starting at 10am, here is the chronological movie schedule:

Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Thor
Captain America: The First Avenger

So pack some snacks, bring the family and spend the day reliving the stories of the Avengers and anticipating the movie that will bring them all together!  Admission is a donation to the Edmonton Food Bank. That’s all. Please make sure to support the cause while you enjoy your day!

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That’s all for now!  Get on out there and get your geek on!  And as always, if you have a nerd event and you want to get the word out, drop me a line here.

Humpday Links for March 21

Having survived both the Ides of March (et tu, Dorkus?) and Drunken Irish Stereotype Day, I have a pretty spiffy batch of links for your enjoyment.  So let us spring forward and get to it!

– Some people take their cosplay to a whole new level.  This is one of those people.

– Apparently Ender’s Game is pornographic.  Apparently I didn’t read the same book they did.

– Presented without comment: Darth Vader on a unicycle playing bagpipes.

– So the American Family Association is just about as close-minded and bigoted as one would expect.  So of course they object to a gay character in Archie comics

– We are less than two weeks away from the Season 2 of Game of Thrones!

– Courtesy of Stargazer: Gamers, you need to show your love for the D6 system.

– Anne R. Allen with some great advice on hiring an editor for your work.  You know, like me

– Courtesy of The Lovecraftsman: I would watch the hell out of this movie!

– Speaking of movies I’ll watch the hell out of, more stop-motion fun with the upcoming ParaNorman.

– Ever had trouble finding the perfect insult?  Why not use something from Martin Luther?

– A look at the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.  So…when does he die?

I think I could manage this at conventions

– For fans of Dirk Gently, here’s a trailer from BBC Four.  I’d love to watch this back-to-back with Sherlock, but my geek heart might explode…

– I’ve often seen things like this, late at night, when I’m strung out on the coffee.  Also, this would be tons better than whatever Michael Bay is cooking up.

– I love watching Bill Murray in serious roles, and I think Hyde Park on the Hudson will be no exception.

– And finally, if anyone has the right combination of patience and skill to build an elevator into space, its the Japanese.

That’s all for now!  If you have a link of your own to share, drop it in the comments below!

Geek & Sundry

As a geek in the Age of Geeks, every day there is some new nerdy thing offered up for my amusement.  Links, images, movies, tv shows; the dork train is pulling out of the station and everyone is trying to get on board.  A lot of it is bad, no denying.  A small portion is good, and an even smaller portion of that is excellent, obviously created by one of us, a nerd with talent.

My fellow dorks, I predict Geek & Sundry will be excellent with a bullet!

Announced officially at this past weekend’s Wondercon, Geek & Sundry is a premium YouTube channel founded and Executive Produced by Felicia Day (yes, she of The Guild and Dragon Age: Redemption).  When it launches on April 2, it will feature a variety of weekly and bi-weekly programming aimed at just about every facet of geekdom: motion comics presented by Dark Horse; Tabletop (“Think “Celebrity Poker” meets “Dinner for Five”…“*) hosted by Wil Wheaton; Written by a Kid, with sf&f/horror stories by real kids brought to the screen as shorts by talented directors and artists;  and Sword & Laser, a look at the world of sci-fi/fantasy literature and hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt.  The channel will also feature season five of The Guild, as well as The Flog (“Join Geek Goddess Felicia Day in a whimsical vlog show, as she explores quirky new hobbies and shares experiences that connect her with her favorite people – her fans – in person as well as across the web.“*)  And then later in the fall will see the launch of Learning Town, a show starring the nerd-music duo of Paul & Storm.

I’m not sure I can tell you how excited I am about this.  It would be enough for me that Geek & Sundry packs a lot of what I want to watch in one neat little bundle.  As geeks, we have lived in a sort of “hunter/gatherer” phase when it comes to our internet viewing; the geek shows are definitely out there, but you had to forage for them.  I think Geek & Sundry represents the next stage, the “agricultural” stage of our geekdom.  We are cultivating our nerdiness, and we won’t have to travel as far afield to find it any more.

I also find the creation of this channel a bit of a validation for my long-held belief that the internet is the future of television viewing.  The nature of television, how it is viewed and how it is packaged and presented to us, is changing.  The portal by which many people experience small screen viewing is no longer the television receiver, but the computer.  I know people who don’t have, in the strictest sense, a television in their home; what they have is a 52″ monitor for their computer/game console.  And why not?  The computer is (legally or illegally) often the fastest way to access television content, and ease of use has played a big role in the changes to this medium.  And the major networks are slowly acknowledging this fact, if the number of television programs that can be viewed on websites is any indication.

But I never believed that the big push towards on-line programming was going to come from the networks.  I always new it was going to come from an Alpha Nerd among us.  Because on-line programming is inherently creator-friendly, in a way that the current network system can never be.  Simply put, it cuts out the middleman, allowing the creator to bring his/her creation directly to the viewers.  Thanks to the internet, if you have a camera, a website and an idea, you can put a show out.  Sometimes, as noted earlier, this results in bad (in all the many facets of that word) stuff getting in front of our eyes.  But the trade off is a wider range of shows to look at, and a greater chance that you’ll find the shows you want.

This puts some responsibility back on us, because we can’t afford to be as passive about what we support.  We have no networks to blame if a show doesn’t do well, because on-line our support (or lack of it) is direct.  If you love something on-line and want it to succeed, you need to get the word out.  You really have no excuse not to; if you dwell in the internet sea enough to watch programming here, I’d find it hard to believe you didn’t also have some form of Twitter, G+, Tumblr, Reddit, Facebook et al at your disposal.

Geek & Sundry launches its programming on April 2, 2012.  Mark that date, folks.  That date is when television changes forever.

(It should be noted that Chris Hardwick also announced the launch of his geek-centric YouTube channel, The Nerdist Channel, also launching on April 2nd.  I’ll write about them next week, but since I heard about Geek & Sundry first they got first billing.)

Opinions?  Thoughts?  Amusing tribble anecdotes?  Comments are just below…

*From the official press release on the Geek & Sundry site.

And We’re Back!

The last several weeks have seen me shuck off the last of my Seasonal Affective Disorder.  With the coming of spring I make my transformation back to a being capable of maintaining focus and actually caring about things, and I look forward to the long period of productivity ahead of me.  Especially on my beloved Renaissance Dork.

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Right up front I’m going to say I haven’t played any of the Mass Effect games.  Despite not only living in the city Bioware calls home, but having several friends that work at the company, I have somehow managed to hide in the eye of the ME storm, avoiding its time-draining effects.  I am neither happy nor sad about this fact; I will play it at some point but that time has not yet been ordained.

So I have listened to the Mass Effect 3 news/uproar/whining of the masses with some detachment.  I don’t really have a zurg in this fight, so people loving/hating the game does not touch me in any way.  Actually, the game’s effect on me came long before its release; it kept two of my friends from making it to our weekly Pathfinder game for a while, which I felt was an unconscionable lack of etiquette on the part of Bioware.  But I am a forgiving man, and we are all good now.

But when I cast my gaze upon the internets today, I came across this little gem of an article.  It seems some gamer by the nom de web El_Spiko has decided that the failure of Bioware to live up to certain “promises” (especially concerning the end of the game) is enough justification to log a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.  Um, yeah.

I’m not entirely certain what that is supposed to accomplish; several responses to the post seem to back me up on that question.  Video games, after a fair bit of struggle, now fall in the “art” camp, not commodity.  And the FTC, just looking at their website momentarily, does not seem in the business of adjudicating art.  So I don’t think for a second the FTC is going to do more than respond with a form email to El_Spiko et al, of the PFO variety.  And if I’m wrong about this, well…that will be an interesting day.

But what caught my eye in all this, is the overweening sense of entitlement that video gamers seem to have.  Guys and dolls of the video gaming world, Bioware owes you nothing.  Let me say that again: Bioware owes you nothing. Despite owing you the square root of eff all, they have still maintained a very good record of acknowledging consumer feedback.  This has resulted in both huge headaches for the company and amazingly good games.  But because they choose to listen to you, does not mean they are required to satisfy your whims.

You didn’t like the end of ME3?  Get over it!  I have lost count of the movies, books television shows and games that have disappointed me over the last three decades.  You know how you deal with that?  You don’t watch, read or play the offending item again.  If you were truly offended/disappointed, you might send a letter to the authors or producers explaining your disappointment.  But you don’t go crying to a third-party organization (and the wrong one at that) because you didn’t get the artistic result you wanted.

I mean, what is El_Spiko’s best-case scenario result here?  Say the FTC does step in and bitch-slap EA/Bioware over ME3.  Now we have the precedent set that any creator can be held responsible for the lack of satisfaction of their engagers.  And around about that point you will see many creative types stop putting their creations out in the public eye.  Why should they; if too many people don’t “get it”, they could face sanction.  And the stuff that does come out is going to have the emotional consistency of warm porridge, so that no one is offended or disappointed.

Disappointment is the risk you take when you engage with any artistic medium.  Sometimes you don’t get the ending you want, and you have to accept that.  The trade-off is, sometimes you get to experience something amazing, that transforms the way you think or feel.  And I think that is a fair trade.

But what do you think? Comments section is just below…

Update: My pal James Leask wrote a much more in depth piece along similar lines over at Comics! The Blog, and you should read it.