I feel like kind of a failure today, but I can’t come up with anyone specific for this prompt. I’m sure there are plenty of awesome, well-known geeks out there doing amazing things, but I’m just not up on this sort of thing enough to think of any. My wife brought up some names like John Oliver or Kevin Smith, and while I like them, I can’t say they really inspire in any way. I suppose this sort of thing was bound to happen eventually. Why not check out who the creator of this challenge chose instead?
Day Five of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge is one of dark revelations. It asks me to share the geekiest thing I’ve ever done.
Do I really have to do this publicly? Oh my, ok. My gut answer on this is probably as a kid filling a notebook with the specs and roster of an imaginary Star Wars fleet, We’re talking ship names, armaments, speed, starfighter squadrons, you name it. Yeah, I was really into Star Wars and kind of just ran with what I got out of playing the X-Wing computer game, reading EU books, and supplemented it all with information contained within a book called The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. If I had access to Excel at the time I probably could have made it all into one epic spreadsheet (or at least learned something applicable later on in life). I suppose access to a game like Sins of a Solar Empire would have been nice too. Both options would probably have saved a tree, or at least given one a slightly more glorious send off.
The only runner up answer to this that can even come close is the time college a small group of friends and I realized we’d spent upwards of an hour discussing Babylon 5 and that for some reason our group had cleared out of the room. They obviously missed out.
Here we go, marching right into Day Four of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge! Today’s topic is again the inverse of the previous day’s, and asks us to look back on our worst convention experience.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been to a number of cons over the years but fortunately I cannot think of any particular event that stands out in my mind as “a worst experience” for me. As such, I am going to come at this topic from a slightly different angle.
Upon looking back at all the cons that I’ve been to, I think the biggest factor that distinguishes them from each other is how I approached them going in. I’ve attended events in a variety of roles over the years (consumer, socializer, supporting the booth of a friend, etc.) and without a doubt my best and most memorable experiences all come from the times I was there purely to hang out with friends (most of whom know a lot of people in the scene) and just wander about.
On the other side of that, my most forgettable cons are the ones that I went to mainly as a consumer. This occurred mostly during my teenage years, when I was more into having stuff and didn’t have any friends interested in going. I spent a ton of money on stuff I loved at the time, but ultimately didn’t have much staying power. The vast majority of that stuff I’ve either gotten rid of (out of both want and necessity) or relegated to a lonely shelf or box in the attic.
I’m not saying that I regret my actions (I have no doubts I would have spent the money on something else), but I do feel that as I’ve gotten older, and debatably wiser, I have distanced myself from a consumer-centric view and couldn’t be happier about it. It’s not always easy, especially in this age of cool, shiny toys expertly marketed at the geek scene and the desire to show them off, but at this stage in my life I far prefer the experience.
The topic for Day Three in the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge, presented by A Geeky Gal, prompts me to write about my best convention experience.
To start, let me just say that I had a lot of fun brainstorming this post and thinking back on some of the awesome times I’ve had a cons over the years. While it was really hard to rate just one as my “best” experience, I am giving that honor to the Super Mega Fest I attended four years ago in Framingham, MA. In all honesty this wasn’t the biggest or coolest con I’ve ever attended (I can’t even recall any of the guests), but the fun group of people we were with more than made up for that.
What pushed it over the top, though, were our costumes. Most noteworthy on this front was my wife, whose Steampunk-inspired Poison Ivy costume won her a costume contest! It was (in my humble opinion) very much deserved as it looked great and she spent a ton of time making it and putting it all together. She started out with a corset and from there the hunt was on to make, acquire, and/or assemble the rest of the accessories needed to complete the outfit. The most challenging part of all was easily the hoop skirt frame we painstakingly adorned with plastic ivy that (somehow) survived the weekend. The end result was pretty darn impressive and she looked quite good in it if may say so! This was her first time wearing something like this to a convention and while she wasn’t quite expecting all the attention it brought (she far prefers the other side of the camera), she did have a lot of fun with the experience.
As for my outfit, it wasn’t nearly as impressive but I did a good time wearing it as well. I donned a Mega Man hoodie acquired from Etsy and attached a stuffed Rush dog to my shoulder (kind of like a pirate’s parrot). The people in our immediate group weren’t really familiar with the character, but other convention goers certainly were to the point that they started to feel like they had been missing out on something (they were). The most memorable reaction I got was easily from the rather large dog one of the celebrity guests brought with them. It would fixate on Rush while we all were chatting and I could in it’s eyes that it was trying to decide if it had found a new friend, a chew toy, or just another strange human. Good times.
Now that I’ve gotten going, I can’t help but also quickly relate two of the runners up. The first of these was the Steampunk World’s Fair we attended with our New Jersey crew. Highlights of that weekend include debuting my Steampunk Flavor-Flav outfit, an all day long beer share, and an epic night time fire show at which we politely declined the bag of homemade wine someone offered our group. I’ll be forever curious about that last point but feel like it was the right choice. Second runner up was one of the years we went to Rock and Shock in Worcester, MA. While our friends closed down their booth, my wife and I played Cards Against Humanity (still a new thing at the time) with the con staff before hitting up the Gwar show that headlined the event and enjoying beverages with some of the guests. I’m closing this out here, but I’d like to point out to my readers that these events all occurred in those crazy days before we had a child. Because we’re responsible like that.
Geek Out Challenge – Day Two: What is your most recent fandom?
The next prompt in the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge is the flip side of yesterday’s and asks me to look at my most recent fandom.
I honestly had to think about this one a bit as fandom has a bit of a different meaning for me now than it has in the past. Things like having a child, a mortgage, and a demanding full time job place limitations on the amount of time and resources I have available to pursue and invest in things to the extent I have previously.
That most certainly does not mean that life, and geekiness, stop though. And in that spirit my latest fandom is Stranger Things, the popular Netflix series that recently enjoyed an immensely successful third season. While I haven’t necessarily invested as much of myself or been as avid a consumer of this fandom compared to ones in the past, I do nonetheless count myself a big fan of the series. I love it’s smart, fun blend of 1980s pop/geek culture, sci-fi, and horror and the ongoing adventure a whole lot of fun! And if that wasn’t enough, how can you not love heroes like these:
While I’m not all that involved with the franchise beyond watching the show, the one thing related to it that I also highly recommend for those so inclined is the amazingly well done mobile game that came out during the buildup to season two.
And so we begin my participation in the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge! This first day, appropriately enough, asks me to recall my first fandom.
I remember going through a lot of phases as a kid, but the first fandom I could truly say I got involved with was probably Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Growing up in the late 80s/early 90s TMNT was huge. It started (for us kids at least) with an amazing cartoon show and quickly spread into a wide variety of video games, toys, live-action movies, and just about everything else you can imagine. It also may have inspired me to try peanut butter on pizza (not recommended).
Like many other kids I knew, I had a pretty substantial amount of Turtles paraphernalia. I have fond memories of playing both the various NES games (though I missed out on Tournament Fighter) as well as the arcade game which my friends and I would team up for whenever we had the chance. I also had a rather large collection of toys and action figures back in the day but got rid of them in 2000-2001 or so since neither my mom or I had much interest in moving the giant box of them from Massachusetts to Fargo, ND. I hope whoever has them now enjoyed them! The one thing that I think really seals the deal on this being my first fandom, though, was convincing my mom to sign me up for the mail-order fan club. This was pre-internet, so it wasn’t like I could just go online and find everything I ever wanted and more about the show. Nope you had to work, and pay, for it on those days but I do remember looking forward to the monthly magazines and cool swag that came with it.
I don’t remember how or why I fell out of this fandom, but I imagine the lovely experience of growing from an elementary schooler to a preteen had quite a bit to do with it, but rest assured that transformation in no way halted my geeky tendencies! Getting back to Turtles, although I have many fond memories of this I am probably done with the franchise as an active fan. I haven’t seen any of the recent movies and the new cartoon, which I have caught pieces of, was really not me (and that’s OK!). Doesn’t mean I’m beyond picking up a controller to play an old favorite every now and then, though:
Hello and welcome to a little experiment I’m trying out for the next month or so. While perusing my WordPress feed the other day when I saw that Megan over at A Geeky Gal has issued a “30 Day Geek Out Challenge” prompting her fellow bloggers to explore and celebrate some of the geeky things we’re into. I got maybe halfway through reading her opening post about before declaring the challenge accepted!
Of course life, as it often does, almost immediately chose to get solidly in the way of my blogging aspirations so I am now about a week and a half behind the “live” event. Fortunately for me though, the challenge is intended to be taken at your own pace so joining on a bit later shouldn’t be an issue. I’m currently undecided as to whether or not I want to do this 30 days in a row or take an occasional break for my regular content, but look for this to feature to appear often in the month ahead. Either way, this feels like a fun way to recharge my blogging batteries over the busy summer months.
After experiencing the dreaded False Friday yesterday, aka a Thursday that me and a few of my coworkers thought was a Friday, here we are at the real thing! This last week was a really rough one for a variety of reasons, so my grand plans at posting didn’t really work out so well. To make it up to you, I offer this classic video game encounter I had the other day as a metaphor for the week.
Monday – Feeling somewhat ambushed:
Friday – I (barely) survived!:
After a major traffic jam led us to make a last minute change of plans on Saturday, we ended up grabbing an impromptu lunch at one of our old spots in Arlington Center. The lunch was good, however, a nearby event ended up being the thing that made the entire ordeal worthwhile. Right across the street from us we happened upon Aeronaut Arlington, a family-friendly pop up beer garden hosted by Somerville-based Aeronaut Brewing Company. With no other plans for the day, we obviously decided that we decided to check it out. With the highlights including live music, other children (and their toy cars) for our son to play with, and beer for the adults I think it’s pretty safe to say we made the right choice.
As mentioned above, the event was located in Arlington Center in a small square that included, among other things, an abandoned bit of train tracks and a rock commemorating one Samuel Whittemore who somewhere in the immediate vicinity killed three British soldiers on April 13, 1776. While the tracks certainly provided endless entertainment for the younger visitors, it was the historical marker that interested me. I love that kind of thing and somehow, despite having been in that very area many times over the years I’d never noticed it. Anyway, the grounds also boasted a stage for various local bands to play and a food tent set up by a nearby Argentinian restaurant.
As cool as all that was, I’m sure why most of you are here is for the beer, so let’s get down to it. Upon presenting our IDs on entry, my wife and I were given free wristbands bearing two tickets for purchasing beer. By the terms of their permit, the brewery was only allowed to serve two adult beverages per person and, honestly, that was really all we were interested in and thoroughly in line with the family/community oriented vibe of the event. This did mean, however, that I had to make choices. My first beer of the afternoon was a 4.6% IPA named Citra Session (pictured below on the right). It poured to a cloudy golden body with a fluffy white head and had a pleasant aroma of citrus rind and sticky hops. Taste-wise, it featured crisp pale malt backbone, supported by sweet fruit upfront, followed by citrus rind notes blending into a moderately bitter finish. Although I wish the blending of flavors was a bit more cohesive, the beer did have a nice soft mouthfeel that made it a very good option for outdoor drinking.
My second beer was a full-on 6.2% IPA called A Year with Dr. Nandu (pictured left). It had a translucent amber body topped with a slightly off-white foam coating the top. Distinctly malt forward, it opened with a moderate amount of sweet malt that were joined mid-sip by mild tropical notes and a moderate earthy/floral bitterness. I liked it fine enough, but really think it was particularly noteworthy. I’m fine with malt in my IPAs but wish (again) that this had a better blending of component flavors.
So there you have it. My wife, toddler, and I all had a great time here and since it will be running on weekends through the end of September, I do recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. I know I was a bit critical of the brews, but stepping out of my reviewer shoes for a moment they all went down just fine and it was great to sit around outside and listen to music in a relaxed setting. I’ll also add here that this brewery does have a pretty dedicated local following, so perhaps it’s best you go and taste for yourself!