Sunday, April 22, 2012

Geek and Sundry, Felicia Day and Gaming

I thought I would share where I have been spending a lot of my time lately. There's a new Youtube channel called Geek and Sundry, and it has a few different streams on it that are all totally amazing!  My favourite of course is the web series called the Guild, written by Felicia Day.  It's inspired by Felicia Day's experience in gaming.  The gist of it is that Felicia Day, aka Cyd or Codex (her gaming name) is obsessed with online gaming and belongs to a guild.  Her psychiatrist has been working with her to try to get her to reach out and make relationships with people in 'real' life.  In the first episode, Codex ends up meeting her guild, and the series builds on their relationships that come out of gaming. The show is hilarious and I highly recommend it.

There are other streams on Geek and Sundry that I like, like Table Top, where Wil Wheaton gets different stars together (who are usually involved in some sort of geekery) and teaches them how to play a board game.  So far they have played Small World, and Settlers of Catan, both games that I have been dieing to play.  Felecia Day also hosts her own stream called The Flog (like the Vlog), and in it she recommends things in her Fav Five, and films hilarious things like learning to blacksmith so she can bring that skill to her character in Skyrim.  And then there's Sword and Laser, a stream that one fan labelled 'the Reading Rainbow for grown ups.' 

Anyway, Felicia Day has pretty much become my new hero!  I want her as my bff.  I've joined her book club on Goodreads called The Vaginal Fantasy, where you can be involved in their monthly picks and then shoot some questions during a live chat. The genre, like the club name suggests, is hot and heavy fantasy, sci-fi, or urban fantasy. 

What I love about all of this, is that it is a female's take on being a 'geek.'  It's bringing female gaming to the masses.  Felicia Day has inspired me to play more games (hello SWTOR), to indulge in fun fantasy reads, and to embrace (even more!) all things deemed geek that I am interested in.  Lastly, despite geeks being viewed as introverts, all of the Geek and Sundry channel and Vaginal Fantasy group is based on a community!  So, if this is new to you-definitely check it out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kim Phuc: 'The Girl in the Picture'

I have been intrigued by the story of Kim Phuc ever since I was a young teen and first saw this image.  When I was in high school, I went through a phase where I was obsessed with the 1960's and early 70's.  I attempted to glean everything that involved fashion, music, politics, war, and rebellion.  I watched a ton of movies, documentaries, and read books that concerned this era.  When I came across this photo, I was flipping through a photography book about the Vietnam war looking for images for my OAC art class.  It's one of those images that will never leave you.

If you have never seen this image before, I will give you a quick synopsis of the situation.  In 1972 Kim Phuc and her family lived in the village of Trang Bang in Vietnam.  The South Vietnamese suspected that the village was occupied by the North, and sent a flurry of Napalm bombs in killing and seriously injuring innocent people.  As Kim Phuc ran through the Napalm and smoke, which burnt her clothes off and sent her skin to peel off her body, Nic Ut from the Associated Press encapsulated this horrific scene.

I had later watched a documentary on the painful rehabilitation of Kim's burnt skin, and it was a miracle she had lived through the bombing.  Another unbelievable thing I found out, was that she now lives less than an hour from me!  In 1992 she arrived in Newfoundland with her husband, where they asked for political asylum.  Since then they have moved to Ontario and started a family.

This Saturday April 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm Kim Phuc will be at Redeemer College in Ancaster going a talk about her personal story, while sharing historical footage, and discussing strength and forgiveness.  The talk is free, with the opportunity to donate money that will go to an organization that will help children at need.

I highly suggest that if you live in the area you go see her talk!

Redeemer College Talk

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Betrayed By Beatrice Sparks

When I was a young teen, I spent a lot of time at the library.  One summer when I was 13, I signed up for the Teen Book Club at my local library and I read 43 books in less than 2 months.  One of them was Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks.  This book blew me away.  It felt like I came across an antique gem, something that should be placed in a museum.  I wondered why more people didn't know about this book, and while part of me wanted me to share it, I also wanted to keep it to myself.   It seemed groundbreaking to me, because other than The Diary of Anne Frank, I did not know of any other published teenage diaries, and this one spoke to me. 

If you haven't heard of Beatrice Sparks or her first novel Go Ask Alice,  the concept is simple, Beatrice Sparks is a youth counselor who share the stories of her clients by publishing their anonymous diaries.  Go Ask Alice was published in 1971, and is about a teenage girl who becomes addicted to drugs, and reveals how she  is used in all of her sexual relations.  Like the first three of Beatrice Sparks books, the diarists end up dead through the fault of others.  I think what made the diaries seem so real to me, was also the fact that they appeared dated.  Go Ask Alice was published in the 70's, so when the writer mentions using cans to curl her hair, moving to San Francisco to work at a jewelry boutique, and getting messed up with LSD and drugs, it fits the era of the 60's! 


Source: via Raegan on Pinterest

After Go Ask Alice, I came across a used copy of Jay's Journal.  Again, it is a diary of a troubled teenage boy who gets involved in drugs, and cults.  Beatrice Sparks is still only listed as the editor of the book, not the author.  At the time I read these books, the internet barely existent and I didn't own a computer until 10 years later, so googling the authenticity of the books was a no-go.  I doubt they would have had any articles about her in the library archives at the time, and if they did, I don't even know if they would reveal the fact that these books were not written by anonymous teens-that in fact, Beatrice Sparks was the author. 

If you take a few moments to google Sparks now, you can find numerous articles about how she owns the copyright to the diaries, and because of conflicting views on the authenticity of her works, the publishers list them as Fiction, despite the fact that the covers depict her as the editor only and that they are written by anonymous dead teens.  There has even been inquiries into Sparks Phd, and whether she even has one.  The only fact that remains true, is that she was a Mormon youth counselor.  Of course, as soon as I see 'Mormon,' I immediately think of religion, and right wing conservatism.  Sigh. 

I had only read three of Sparks so-called edited works as a young teen, all of them touched me in different ways.  But the main point I want to get across now, is that I am totally perturbed that Sparks and the publishers are allowed to get away with such deceit!  As a reader, it does make a difference in whether or not the work is fictional or not!  And to deceive such a young audience just to get a point across is appalling.  I am sure I am not the only one who felt like they had a connection with the diarists, and felt remorse at the loss of their lives.  Their now FICTIONAL lives.  It's not to say I would not have enjoyed the books knowing they were fictional, I am sure I still would have read them, but I would have felt differently about the works. 

Shame on you!  Stop the false advertising and be truthful to your young readers. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Toronto Comic Con-Wizard World (and other nerdliness)

It just so happened that I won a pair of weekend passes for Toronto Comic Con!  Thank you Sexy Nerd Girl and Guy.  This happened on Saturday morning, so our weekend plans quickly changed.  I've only been to a Comic Con once before, and I walked away from it feeling a little cynical.  However, a part of me really wanted to enjoy it!  There was one moment at my first Comic Con, where we were waiting in line for tickets, and someone who was also waiting was yelling, "These are MY people!  These are My people!"  Of course, I totally understood. 

The problem with Comic Con for a newby, is that you don't really know what to expect.  When I first went, I was blown away by the vendors!  I couldn't understand why I had to pay money to get in, to pay more money to buy things, and then even more money to pay people for their autographs.  There was so many people there that I felt suffocated and anxious, and I didn't know what to do.  I had seen Linda Hamilton (my hero), but was shocked to discover I had to pay her money to get an autograph (and also pay money to buy a head shot).  I'm a little bummed I did not get it.  So, after this Comic Con, I have yet to return to another.  But after winning tickets-I couldn't pass up the opportunity. 

How To Have A Successful Day At Comic Con

  1. Arrive early.  This way you can see the schedule and see if there are any panels you would like to attend.  I ended up missing the Vampire Diaries and Doctor Who panels this weekend-but I know for next time that I will in fact get there early in case there's something amazing I would like to see.
  2. Have a basic agenda.  I knew before I went that I wanted to visit Sexy Nerd Girl to thank her for the tickets.  I also wanted to see the model of the Cabin, from 'Cabin in the Woods,' try to catch a of glimpse of Paul Wesley, and find the Doctor Who Fanclub.  
  3.  Be prepared to spend money!  If you want that autograph-you gotta pay.  
  4. Try to socialize with strangers, as uncomfortable that may be for us introverts.  I made it my goal to talk to Sexy Nerd Girl, because I love her youtube videos and wanted to meet her.  Also, I happened to meet a lovely vendor who could talk for hours about fandoms, and specifically Supernatural.  We also located the Doctor Who Society, and I chatted them up about their club.  
  5. Represent your fandom!  I wore my Doctor Who t-shirt, and people recognized what the image was!  Whereas I have worn it countless times before, and people give me a funny look and ask me why I have a gas mask on my shirt.  But, if you're willing to dress up-go for it!  It is the place to do it.  I'm hoping to have my Doctor Who Scarf ready for August for Comic Con Fan Expo.  
It's pretty cool to go to a place where you are bound to run into someone who has the same interests as you and shares your enthusiasm. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vintage Bicycles

For the past 3 years, every spring and summertime I develop a bicycle fever.  I start drooling over pictures of vintage bikes, and romanticizing over riding to the library on my 70's schwinn, with its basket filled with flowers and pannier topped with books.  Seriously, I can look at these bikes forever!   About 3 years ago, I made two purchases fairly close to one another.  I bought an olive green 1950's English 3-speed off of Kijiji (an online selling site), and then not too long after that, I bought a vintage 1970's Red Schwinn.  Both are not perfect and need tune ups.  They came with minor rust, bad brakes, and leaky tires.  But, in the summer of 2009 I put in an attempt to ride my English 3 Speed.

However, let me outline the problems I encountered with biking. 

  1. Vintage bikes are not easy rides.  Their steel frames are heavy, and my bikes in particular were hard to get up to speed, scary to brake, and changed gears awkwardly.  If you're bringing your bike inside your house because you don't have a garage, you better develop some muscles.
  2. You know that phrase, 'It's just like riding a bike!'  Well, because I hadn't been on a bike in like 15 years, I lost my cool.  Gone were the days where I would ride off the sidewalk, and ride down the street without feeling totally anxious about cars.  I used to scoff at wearing a helmet, and now I want to be covered in bubble wrap!
So I admit, the summer of 2009 was short lived and the bikes remained in the basement ever since.  

  (this is not my bike, but a similar replica)

Let's fast forward to now.  Since then, I have moved out of the city and in to a quieter town.  I live much closer to work, to the library and my favourite shops.  There's even a noticeable bike culture in my town!  There's a coffee shop dedicated to bikes, where there are wheels and bike paraphernalia on the walls and people meet up there after they have gone for a ride.  These guys are serious cyclists.  So, here I am again.  Unemployed (oh, the things unemployment will inspire you to do), and it's springtime, and the fever overcame me.  I bought a third bike!

The Trek Navigator WSD 3!

Again, I bought this off Kijiji for I saved a couple hundred dollars because they retail for 650.  I was a bit apprehensive when I bought it though, because I am really fussy about my things being perfect, and I found a few nicks on the frame and such, but I tried to work it out in my head.  I thought perhaps it was better to have a less than perfect looking bike and save some money, rather than buying a new bike because who knows, maybe this bike will end up like my other two.  Basement bound.  However-I'm thinking positive and named this summer, 'The Summer of Biking.'  I am going to hit the trails and work my legs!  Also, if it turns out I really like biking, I can always sell this one down the road and upgrade to something else.

Why the Trek Navigator suits me?

I fell in love with the Trek Navigator for a few reasons.  The aluminum frame is number one!  The bike is lighter, easier to lift, easy to pick up speed.  It is designed for women, and I love the low step frame.  The wheels are thicker, so it kind of reminds me of my mountain bike.  It has front suspension, and the seat is mega cushioney and also has suspension.  It has 8 speeds, which is just enough for me.  It also brakes and changes gears like a charm.  The bike I bought is also set up with a pannier, water bottle holder, front panneier/basket thingey, and a bell.  It is a light steely blue colour.  I highly recommend this bike if you want to look stylish and retro, and have a smooth easy ride.  There are actually lots of modern bikes out there now that look vintage, but have wonderful specs that make riding fun and easy.  Both Opus and Trek have hybrids and recreational bikes that are vintage designs, and some are women specific.  Check them out!  (and maybe start saving because they cost a pretty penny!)

I hope I've inspired you to get your bike out! I'm always so in awe when I see how bikes are utilized in places like Finland or Amsterdam, or when I see people braving the way in downtown Toronto through the city streets. Wow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kicking and Screaming

I can't believe I haven't watched this '90's movie until now.  Kicking and Screaming, has some classic 90's actors and actresses, like Eric Stoltz (love him!), Parker Posey (who plays the perfect bitch), Olivia D'Abo (remember Kevin's sister in the Wonder Years?), and Josh Hamilton.

If you're not familiar with the writer/director Noah Baumbach, well, he is the writer of some of these fine movies; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I just discovered that he was married to Jennifer Jason Leigh (another one of my favs).  

Source: via Averi on Pinterest

In a nutshell, this movie is about a group of friends who have just graduated from university and have no idea what to do next.  It is highly nostalgic for me, and it is so real that it may be uncomfortable for people to watch.  I empathize with all the characters, because I had the same fears when I had graduated, and I know these anxieties never leave students.  To be real with you, I have never actually left the university campus.  I have been there for over a decade now, because I was one of the '"lucky" ones to get a job right away after I graduated.  I put lucky in quotation marks, because I am actually envious of those who left and started a career.  I am even jealous of those who left, jobless, and struggled with finding work, who lived at home, maybe traveled, and took their time getting to where they are now.  In many ways I feel like Eric Stoltz's character, I am destined to never leave the campus.  Academia is my career.  It is sometimes hard to relate, or communicate with students who are getting close to entering the 'real world.'  They're excited, hopeful of getting a top notch job with their prestigious education.  I mean, what else can you have when you leave university?  I suppose there are people who are grounded in reality, who recognize that a degree is a dime a dozen, and that they will be working a crappy retail or office job making just over minimum wage.  But if you're not a tiny bit positive when you're handed over that piece of paper, that is worth 40,000 in student loans, what will happen to you?

Of course this isn't always the case.  I have friends who have their PHD's, who are teachers, nurses, tradesmen, lawyers even.  But on the opposite side of the spectrum, I also have friends who work in grocery stores, or don't work at all.  This movie balances on those moments in life where responsibility and one's duty to maturity have not quite taken hold yet.  I adore the scenes with Olivia D'Abo, sitting in her small English seminars, dissecting works of literature.  I had those exact feelings when I was in my final year of school, wouldn't it be grand if I could spend the rest of my life analyzing literature and researching themes with like minded individuals.  Sadly, we know that it's a dream, and only a very small population of academics actually play this out. 

Kicking and Screaming, is what the title implies.  It's ones fight against accepting the progression of life.  If you are one of the smart ones, you will have realized already that change is inevitable. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Are You A Nerdfighter?

Are you a Nerdfighter?  Do you know what Nerdfighting is?   If you are new to the concept, no, we are not searching the streets, looking for pastey white gamers, kids with thick glasses, starchy clothes and pocket protectors.  Nerdfighting is fighting with and for all people who have ever been labelled a nerd.  It's a movement that says that Nerds are proud of who and what they are.  As people identify themselves with Nerdfighteria-they also want to address issues and raise awareness (and sometimes money) for causes.

My recent engagement with the Nerdfighting community has been a result out of watching lots and lots of Youtube videos.  Specifically, the Vlogbrothers.  In 2007, Hank and John Green decided to do an experiment, where they would only communicate to one another through video format.  So they opened a Youtube channel and would post to one another through that medium.  Their videos address anything and everything, from the government, music, literature, science, pop culture, video games... And they are usually presented in a fast paced, sometimes 'ranty' style.  To be honest, I find all of their vlogs entertaining.  It doesn't matter what the content is, it's about how they convey the content.  What also helps, is that I could see myself hanging out with these guys and being friends!  They definitely remind me of a lot of friends and people that I have associated with over the years. 

The Vlogbrothers have a huge following, and the followers pride themselves on being 'Nerds.'  Yes-Nerds!  The slogan, or initialism, DFTBA stands for 'Don't Forget To Be Awesome.'  A positive statement to embrace and share.  Keep your eyes open, because one day you may come across these initials and you will recognize the posi movement for Nerds.

Just this week I joined the Nerdfighters community online.  The website allows you to join various groups, such as Doctor Who Nerds, or Introvert Nerds.  Like most forums, it allows you to comment and communicate with others with similar interests.  One thing that I have noticed thus far, is that there hasn't been any negative slamming of one another on the forums.

John Green, is also the author of this book:

The Fault In Our Stars is currently on the New York Times Best Seller's List!  I have never read any of his works, but I plan on picking up a copy of this and giving it a shot.  I love YA novels, so I think this will be down my alley. 

I am only really touching the surface with what these fellows have done.  The Vlogbrothers also have an online record store (DFTBA Records) that promotes Youtubers and their music.  I've actually just purchased a cd last week from them by the Chameleon Circuit- a band from the UK that sings songs about Doctor Who.  Two years ago they formed the popular conference VidCon, which is a convention for Youtubers and online video makers.  VidCon has gone from 1400 people registering to 5000 in three years.

Like I mentioned, these are only some of the things the Vlogbrothers have accomplished.  With this post, I wanted to start spreading the word of Nerdfighters to anyone who may glance at my blog.  I really like promoting people who don't like a conventional life.  People that take risks, that speak out, that do things that most people would want to avoid. 

Let's join forces to increase awesome and decrease suck. 


I'll leave you with my favourite music video of the week.  It's called, "I'm The One That's Cool.'

Monday, April 9, 2012

What To Look Forward to This Week

This week is going to be filled with lots of excitement!  I start my new pole dancing class tomorrow, and then I have ukulele after that.  On Wednesday I am going to see this performance:

It's Potter Potter! It has been getting great reviews.  If you haven't heard of it-it's a two man show that breaks down all of the 7 Harry Potter books in under two hours.  Mega geekdom will be had-and I will definitely be wearing some HP gear.  Either my Ravenclaw scarf, butterbeer necklace, raddish earrings, I Believe in Nargles t-shirt... I have a lot to choose from.

I also have yoga to teach on Thursday, and will probably make it to some more classes during the day time.  On Friday, this movie comes out:

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy horror movies?  Well, I do.  And this comes out on Friday the 13th! 

Although, I have also been geeking out about going to see the 3d version of Titanic.  I know... it's sappy.  There's lots of Titanic haters out there, but I kind of like it. Especially those big panaramic shots of the ship, and seeing how big the  machinery was. 

The weekend went by fast. We had two Easter dinners to attend-both that had wonderful vegan options for me.  We took the dogs out on some long walks in the sun, and had pancakes for breakfast this morning.  I am currently debating whether I should read, watch the Titanic television special, or play SWTOR. 

Enjoy your week!  What are you getting up to?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Teeth Bonding and Cosmetic Doubting

So today I did something that I still feel unsure of.  I went and had my upper teeth bonded.  If you don't know what bonding is, it's taking a white putty material and hardening it on the teeth.  In my case, I used it to close the spaces in the upper teeth.  But it can also do other minor cosmetic repairs on your teeth. Right now I'm sitting in limbo-thinking, 'what did I do?'  Was this the right decision?  My previous teeth didn't look too bad?  At least they didn't have some weird synthetic material adhered to them?  My teeth feel a little weird right now, but I think I like how they look.  The entire procedure took about 45 minutes, and didn't involve any needles or anything.  I keep telling myself, 'They're only teeth-it's not like I had something stupid done, like a boob job!  Anyway-here are my before and after pictures.



Is it weird that I miss my old teeth? 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alternative to Starbucks

So, I'm sure I am in the same boat as many of you out there.  I love my Starbucks Chair Lattes, but I don't love the price.  I try to limit myself to purchasing one Starbucks drink a week.  Lately, I was also buying the Tazo Chai latte mix at the grocery store and making my own at home... until their supply was cleaned out (probably by me).  So I started to think the other day... how else can I satisfy my craving?

I don't think I have ever mentioned on here that I have an obscene tea collection!  I probably have about 6 different types of Chai alone in my cupboard.  So, I'll show you what I came up with.

1.  Soy milk, loose leaf chai, agave syrup.

(you can choose your own milk substitute and Chai tea)

2.  Pot, mug, tea ball.

3.  First I pour my soy milk in my mug to get desired amount, and I added a touch of water to it.  Then I pour it in the pot.  I keep the temperature at  medium because I don't want to boil the milk.

4.  Once it's pretty hot, I add my chai tea and let it simmer for about 5 minutes (I taste test while it's in the pot).  After a few minutes I add my sweetener, the agave syrup.

5.  When it's ready, I pour it into my cup while it's sitting in the sink and I add some cinnamon to the top!.

6.  Mmmm enjoy!!

I have to say, I am very please with the results.  Using actual tea, rather than the Tazo gives a milder flavour, it's not as sweet,  and tastes more legit.  It also doesn't leave a funny film in your mouth like the Tazo.  I recommend you trying this method!  It'll save money-and it tastes good.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Calling Female Bloggers/Vloggers!

Wanna collaborate?

So, lately I have been obsessed with both blogging and vlogging.  I enjoy working on my own blog posts and also reading others.  I like being inspired, and finding similarities with other people.   I happen to be the same with vlogging. Although, I am really new to vlogging.  But, I really enjoy watching lots of youtube channels.  I tend to lean towards vloggers who are 21+ in age, and who enjoy music, theatre, pop culture and who share bits of their lives on camera.  Yesterday I thought that it would be fun to collaborate with other bloggers/vloggers!?  Why not get a few females together, set up a channel and go with it!  The only problem is that I don't have anyone in my real life that would understand this idea or want to attempt it.

What I am proposing is that we get together a small group of females, probably a maximum of 7 to set up a collaborative youtube channel.  Everyone would be responsible for posting a weekly vlog.  We could each have our own day to post on if we wanted to.  We could also have weekly themes to discuss, challenges amongst each other, tutorials to share... whatever we think of!  Originally I was thinking it would be fun to have an all Canadian Female channel, just because I haven't come across hardly any female Canadian youtubers.  But, I am open to other suggestions as well.  If you are interested, even in the slightest-please leave a note in the comments!

Here Are Some Examples:

Also-here's a small list of some of the youtubers I enjoy!

Sexy Nerd Girl
kristina horner

Monday, April 2, 2012

Harold and Maude Re- Release-FYI

"Oh Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves.
Don't let the world judge you too much" -Maude

Originally released in 1971, Harold and Maude is one of those movies that I say, "You haven't lived until you've watched..."  The premise of the movie is that there is a young man named Harold who is frustrated with life.  He's obsessed with his own death, staging various suicides and accidents, he drives a hearse and attends funerals.  It's at a funeral that he meets 79 year old, eccentric Maude.  Maude opens his eyes to the world, sharing her love for singing, music, nature and seeing individuality amongst crowds of sameness.  I want to be Maude when I'm in my 70's!  Cat Stevens performs most of the soundtrack-it is fabulous!  I don't think you can buy the soundtrack on its own (if you find it-you are one lucky duck!).  But a lot of the songs are on his album Footsteps in the Dark. My favourites are 'If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out' and 'Don't Be Shy.'  I really want to learn these on the uke.  

So, my song to you is that if you haven't seen it-keep your eye out because it's coming out in dvd version in a few months!

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest