Thursday, June 30, 2011

One Month Novel-Writing Challenge: Camp NaNoWriMo

I've participated in NaNoWriMo's 30-day novel-writing challenge for 3 three years now.  Every November it's a madcap sprint of words to reach the lofty goal of writing a 50,000 word rough draft in a month's time.

This summer NaNoWriMo introduces Camp NaNoWriMo.  While this is not a literal camp with cabins, critters, and a lake, creating a virtual camp atmosphere might make it more interesting.  Taking the laptop out to the deck and sitting under the lofty pines to write might just be the most inspirational writing setting available.  Even if it's a bedsheet tent in the livingroom, it's all a perfectly legitimate camp experience as far as the writers are concerned.

Interested?  This camp costs absolutely nothing, unless you want to donate a little to the organization, and boasts forums and other ways to support your noveling efforts.  November NaNo includes events such as write-ins.  If you are local, your local NaNo Municipal Liason may host such events for the summer.  Even so, the NaNoWriMo forums have ample opportunity for socialization, help with burning questions about plot, setting, character development, etc..  Consider signing up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Know You're a Geek When...

Elvish Elvis
You know you're a geek when you are in a coffee shop, Willie Nelson's "You're Always On My Mind" starts playing, and your husband says to you, "I always liked the Elvis version" but you heard: "I always liked the Elvish version."

Now I can't think of Elvis without imagining him being anything but Elvish.  Elvish Elvis, Elvish Elvis...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Geek Love: RPG Comes to Life

A geek relationship is a funny thing.  My husband and I have been together for over 20 years and married for slightly less.  At first, I think we were kind of obsessed with each other--it's a geek thing.  We emerged into adulthood together and started dating while attending college.

We tended to intellectualize a lot of relationship concepts.  Again, this is common with geeks.  We weren't particularly smart about what we wanted or expected from each other and ourselves initially.  While we discussed social politics from time to time, we didn't turn everything into some psychological exposition of motives and backstory, or create formulas to determine our compatibility.  If we had, we would have crashed and burned.  Finding our common goals is something that happened over time.

We were not drawn together and repelled in the cycle of dramatic upheavals that I often see in young relationships.  Co-geeks tend to converge their interests, rather than combat each other.  That's for the MMORPG, thanks.  Sure, there were a few times, at first, when we each dug in our heels as we tested the waters.  We'd both been in previous relationships where a certain amount of manipulation had been at play and were both armed with some sense of self-preservation.  Before long, we realized that it was pretty stupid to always be on the defensive.  We loved each other and we enjoyed each other.  It was just a matter of wants and needs--something our generation grew up being told were the same thing, but which were not.  Once clarified, we found that our needs were identical and our wants were compatible.

The fact that we both gravitate toward those things which are absurd or silly, means we have fun having fun.  We especially like having fun together.  We agree politically and spiritually on most things and would not begrudge the other a contrary opinion.

Today, our relationship is about keeping things steady and sure, not testing each other or checking boundaries.  After all, there are no saving throws.  Like a boss fight, we are "all in"; there is no other way.  The emotional connectedness isn't the only--or even the primary--thing going on.  It's about teamwork.  We can't always be in 100% agreement so there are compromises to be made.  We share a lot of likes but we also share very similar dislikes which means the compromises have been relatively small.  We protect each other from their own pet peeves wherever possible, rather than focusing exclusively on ourselves.  If we both want the very best for the other person, our own backs are covered in a very non-self-centered way.  The foremost priority is the relationship.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Star Trek Love Song

My husband wrote me this Star Trek Love Song about ten years ago...

Across the convention, our eyes met and locked.
In the starbase of your love my heart was docked.
Your full, pouty lips, your green, pointy ears;
There's no love like ours for a million light years.
To my Worf, you're a Dax; to my Riker, a Troi.
My scanners are reading anomalous joy.
My phasers are ready, my probe is deployed;
I know what you're feeling--I'm your love-slave Betazoid.

It's a Star Trek love song,
It's Warp Love.2.
Across this galaxy,
I Pon-Farr for you.

Your globular clusters are both class 6 types.
Like a Bolian plumber, you clear out my pipes.
Your love leaves me feelin' all spacesick and woozy;
I'm warm for your form like a holodeck floozy.


And each time we kiss, it's like the Great Link.
Like a Vulcan mind-meld, you know what I think.
I hope this is more than a 5 year love mission;
My deflector collects all the love that you're dishin'.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Captain Picard Day!

Captain Picard Day was declared on Stardate 47457.1.  Since this translates to approximately June 16th, today the geek community celebrates it.  Enjoy some French wine today but be sure to do so with an English accent.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Geek Cupcakes: The Cupcake is Not a Lie (Portal) and Beholder Cupcakes

Sometimes an ordinary cupcake just won't do.  My family of gaming geeks needed cupcakes that reflected their interests.  So I created two elaborate geek styles to suit them.  For one of these cupcakes, I made small cakes inspired by the black forest cake from Portal.  The cake was a lie but the cupcake is not a lie!  It's more like a half-truth.  I also felt that I needed to pay homage to D&D and Magic The Gathering so I created Beholder Cupcakes  These can be any flavor but are decorated with carefully created faces and eyestalks.

The little Portal cupcakes were baked in 5 oz tins--washed and repurposed evaporated milk cans.  The tiny cherries are cherry jelly beans, sliced in half.  White birthday cake candles are the perfect center decoration.

The beholder cupcakes sport eerie fondant eyes painted with food color and black piping gel.  Notice the discolored teeth and whites of the eyes.  Each has just four eyestalks--enough to give the idea of the beholder eyes.  The full amount would just clutter the little cakes. 

Check out my step-by-step instructions for each of these, including photos, on Instructables:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

An Open Letter of Thanks to JK Rowling

Twelve years ago I received an email from my mother-in-law asking permission to get my oldest daughter a Harry Potter book.  I hadn't heard of Harry Potter but I couldn't imagine my daughter, who was an avid reader, turning down a children's book or why she would need permission to read one.  In her email, my mother-in-law said that the reason she was asking was because the book had generated some controversy.  Controversy?  From a children's book?  Bring it on!  Without batting an eye, I replied that, yes, she should definitely get the book.

After reading it, we learned of the issue to which my mother-in-law had been referring: objections to the presence of magic in Harry's world.  I simply saw Harry as a protagonist to whom my kids could relate.  The idea that his world included magic seemed much less important than that Harry had to find his strength in working to defeat a terrible and relentless enemy.  Best of all, the characters and situations in the books created relevant parallels with the non-fiction world in which my children were living.

The Potter books not only became instant classics in our house but they provided fuel for conversations with our children--points of understanding around which much learning about life occurred.  We referred to the books when helping them wrestle with social quandaries or considering the politics of life.  It became a standing joke that "All I Need to Know in Life I Learned From Harry Potter." The Potter books joined the ranks of other epic stories that were also analogs to real life.

When the first Harry Potter movie came out, we saw it.  It wasn't as close to the book as we had hoped but we didn't mind because it brought the characters and world to life and that was the point.  I refined my meager sewing skills as I copied the costumes from this movie, making school uniforms and Quidditch costumes.  These were worn to book release parties where my kids delightedly won contests: one for her amazing recall of Harry Potter trivia and the other for her appearances as characters from the books.  Our wizard costume collection grew over time as the kids got older and their parents wanted in on the action.

What we are faced with, in the release of the final movie, is not only the bittersweet end of an era but what feels like the end of childhood for my kids who are now at university and secondary school.  It is the closure of a very distinct and well-remembered chapter in our collective lives.

Thank you, JK Rowling, for bringing together my family, giving us something to talk about, and creating a world in which we will always dwell together.  It was amazing to discover the elements of Harry's magical world but it was even more amazing to refer to this world and it's populace while helping our children explore the realities of the one in which we must all dwell.  Your books gave us a means to really connect with our children that has been incredibly helpful and fantastically fun.  You gave us more dinner conversations and "ride home from school" conversations than I can count and, in so doing, kept our kids talking to and confiding in us for the last dozen years.  You are amazing and we owe you so much!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Geeking Out on Facebook

I decided to play around on Facebook and pay homage to my favorite schools of geek learning.  It turns out that I have classmates who also list these as their alma mater!  Each of these schools already existed in the school lists.  Here is how it looks from my profile: