GeekyNerdy Book Club: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Welcome back to the GNCB, a bi-monthly book club hosted by Geeky Musings from a Nerdy Girl.  We’re switching it up this month with some nonfiction: the memoir of Felicia Day, geek girl extraordinaire.

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So, imagine you’re at some fancy Hollywood party.  You come upon a cute redhead talking a mile a minute and making everyone laugh.

“Oh hey, you’re Felicia Day,” you say.  “How did you come to ever make The Guild/”Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”/your YouTube channel Geek and Sundry/etc.?”

“Well, when I was a kid…” and she launches into her life story for the next five hours.

And reading this book is what that conversation would be like.  It’s one part fact, one part emotion, and two parts awkward hilarity.  Genuine Felicia Day.

I’ve been a fan of Day since I first saw her webseries The Guild circa 2008 (in fact one of my first posts on this blog was about her launching Geek and Sundry).  From her acting roles and YouTube channel I was able to learn a few things about her, such as that she plays the violin and has a brother.  But this book covers so much of her life: her homeschooled childhood, starting her dual math/music major at 16, her struggle to make it in Hollywood, which sort of led to her World of Warcraft gaming, which sort of led to her creation of The Guild, and then even up to relatively current events like her sale of Geek and Sundry and being doxxed as collateral damage in Gamergate.

I think the part of the book that impacted me the most was how she talks throughout about her mental health issues.  She speaks pretty candidly about the fact that she was actually addicted to WOW and was using it to fill a void in her life.  She talks about sitting in the car feeling like she’s going to throw up before a big meeting.  Clearly Felicia Day and I are soul sisters, firstly because we have red hair, second because we’re nerds and geeks, and third, because I know exactly what she’s talking about when she describes her anxiety, risk-aversion, obsessiveness, depression, perfectionism, and desire to avoid confrontation at all costs.

For this reason, my favorite part of the book was the middle section where she talks about turning around her WOW addiction, and about the female support group that helped motivate her to start writing The Guild, and then helped her actually create the web series (by filming it on a super tiny budget, mostly in Day’s house over a few days).  This story was seriously inspirational to me, who is staring down 30 and trying to write the same “practice” novel I’ve been working on for, like, three years now.  There were a lot of funny “coffee mug slogans” in the book, but I think my favorite is from this section:

You Can Attempt Anything

Yup, it sounds Hallmark-Card-trite, but I’m definitely understanding her meaning that you should let your desires and dreams guide and motivate you.

Another thing I related to in this book was Day’s search for her fellow geeks and how the Internet made that possible.  I myself have found “my people” on the Internet, just as much as in real life.  It started in high school when I was writing fan fiction and interacting with other writers on fanfiction.net.  And then to a lesser degree when I started playing SWTOR, the Star Wars MMO (at first I was absolutely paralyzed by the idea of even briefly grouping with any other players I didn’t know; I’m better now).  Now my blog is a major source of socialization for me.  It’s been a wonderful outlet for my geeky thoughts (which is why I started blogging), and I love being able to talk Star Wars, anime, comics, writing, gaming, etc. with a diverse group of bloggers I follow (which has been a wonderful bonus).

PHEW! Ok, this was a long review, but as you can see I really enjoyed the book, and I would highly recommend it (but maybe only if you know who Felicia Day actually is?  Don’t confuse her with Emily Blunt, haha).  If you want to check out GeekyNerdyGirl’s original book club post, head here.

Our next selection will be Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.  I’ve already read this one and loved it (I’m currently in the middle of the 3rd book in the series), so I’m excited to revisit it…and I’m trying to get my husband to read it also. Feel free to join in if you are interested!

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International Tabletop Day

What comes to your mind when I say “board games?”  Maybe something like Clue, Risk, or the dreaded Monopoly.  These are the games that Americans of my generation grew up with.

But that only scratches the surface of the current state of board games.  For the past 5-10 years, a little sub-culture of gamers has been popped up, in conjunction with the rise of “Eurogames,” like Settlers of Catan, which tend to have relatively short playtimes, simple economy-style mechanics, and emphasize strategy a little more than luck or chance.

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Playing Mysterium

I am not a competitive person, and I won’t say that I enjoy all board games (I am TERRIBLE at bluffing games and intimidated by heavy strategy/wargames).  But there are such a variety of fun games out there, it is easy to find something you like to play with your spouse, grandmother, or a group of friends.

Today is International Tabletop Day, and I’d encourage you to check out some of my favorite tabletop games: Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Dominion, Mysterium, Splendor, Codenames, and 7 Wonders.  They have all different fun themes, and some are for groups, some are cooperative, some are card-drafting, etc.  Something for everyone!

If you want more info about different board games, check out Jaysen’s Now It’s Your Turn series on his blog for detailed descriptions with some humor.

If you want to find a meet-up in your area for Tabletop Day, go to Geek and Sundry’s Community Event locator.  If you’re in Northeast Ohio, the Board Gamers of Greater Akron (BOGA) meet at the Quirk Cultural Center in Cuyahoga Falls.  Board gamers tend to be very friendly people, so go meet some and have some fun!

Taking Flight with Captain Marvel

cptmarvel1Captain Marvel doesn’t really seem like the hand-holding type.  She’s sassy, not too patient, and when she gets upset, she just wants to hit something.

Yet somehow she was the one beside me, coaxing me as I took my first step into a larger world.  Because I finally read my first real superhero comic, and it was Kelly Sue Deconnick’s 2012 Captain Marvel series.

I know plenty about superheroes, because I’ve watched a lot of DC and Marvel animated series.  That’s actually how I first heard of Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel: I knew that somehow she was responsible for Rogue’s powers of flight and super-strength in the 90s X-men cartoon.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the rise of comic-book movies to the mainstream in recent years, but now I’m thinking that if I enjoy them so much, maybe I should actually, you know, read comic books?

I do read plenty of manga and “graphic novels,” so it’s not such a stretch for me to read comics.  I wanted to start with something current and modern that would help me dig deeper into the superhero world.  I also wanted to not have to shell out tons of money to read a bunch of issues.

Captain Marvel was a perfect intro; I’d heard lots of good stuff about it, and my library has the first 2 compilation volumes (up to issue #12).  In the first story arc, Danvers is shedding her Ms. Marvel mantle and re-inventing herself as Captain Marvel with a kick-ass new costume.  The story line is pretty crazy, but I really liked that it touches on the character’s “original” origin story with Mar-Vell and the explosion of the Kree weapon that gave Carol her powers.  It was a great way to clue new readers like me into the history of the character while still moving her story forward.

Carol is a really great character, and fun to read.  She reminds me so much of Starbuck from the new BSG; this cover is my favorite because she even looks a little like Starbuck:

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The only real issue I had with this series was the jarring artist switch in issue #9.  I really, really like Filipe Daniel Moreno De Andrade’s style, but I did not think it fit as well with the writing, and it was such a change that it was distracting.  It probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if I were just reading separate issues and not the compilation volume with no real breaks between the different story arcs.

I also enjoyed seeing appearances by other current Avengers–maybe I will branch off into reading some of those comics as well.  I’m also looking forward to trying the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn, about whom so much has been made.

Any other reading suggestions for a comic n00b?

 

 

Diversity in the Nerd Mythos

Everyone and their mother has an opinion on the recently-announced casting of Star Wars Episode VII.  We nerds are masters of over-analysis, aren’t we!

Naturally I have an opinion, as well…many opinions, many hopes and fears for the next step in my favorite fandom.  I couldn’t help but comment yesterday…only one new female main role has been cast (with another supporting role potentially on the way).  Annalee Newitz of io9 has offered her opinion on this here.

We all know that scifi and fantasy tend to over-represent white men as characters.  The Hobbit had to *make up a new character* to get some estrogen on-screen, for heaven’s sake.  So as I pondered this issue today, I asked myself: What am I doing to address this problem?

I thought about my own writing and the statements I make with my own (unpublished) words.  After all, I am a woman and I typically write female main characters.  I have 4 fantasy novels floating around in my head at the moment:

    1. Male and female duo of main characters, with another female narrator; Native American influences–not bad so far
    2. Male and female duo of main characters, but set in an alternate Roman Empire, so pretty Caucasian
    3. Female main character, race unspecified, but the setting is medieval Europe-style war, so not much room for other female characters–definitely needs some work in the diversity area
    4. And here’s the kicker: X-men-style cast of young magic-users, consisting of 3 males, 1 female, plus the main character (also male) and their teacher (also male).  And while I hadn’t thought about race, they must all be the same, and one has red hair and another has white hair.  Sooooo they probably are not black, Asian etc.

Oh my.  In my own stories, from my own feminist brain, I have a cast a group of white superhumans with a 5:1 m:f ratio.  And to think, just last night I was laughing at how the new Justice League has added Cyborg just to get some real-world diversity.

This is a problem.  We writers of the next generation of nerds need to lead by example, and I am not pulling my weight.

I ran through my cast to see which characters had potential for some changes.  I had made 3 purposefully male to begin with.  The other two?  But but but…that would change the group dynamic!  Teenage hormones are so messy and complicated to write.

I can’t believe I’m still fighting myself on this.  I’m proving myself a hypocrite and a lazy writer to boot.

In the end, I’ve at least decided to genderswap the white-haired character, Starbuck-style.  So this character is now a girl…she can keep the short, white hairstyle.  She can keep the rough-and-tumble with her brothers.  Maybe she’ll have a romantic interest, and maybe she won’t.  This character had literally no reason to be male, except as a default.

And I refuse to let my default be exclusionary.  The more people that can also find themselves in the things I love, the better.

This is clearly going to be an on-going process in my writing.  But I know that in the end, my stories will be the better for it.

 

Introvert Challenge: Getting a Haircut

I got a long-overdue haircut this morning—a great way to start the weekend.

It wasn’t until after college that I discovered the joys of a good, salon-quality haircut.  The whole experience is so relaxing: warm towels, scalp massage, nice smells, and that feeling of lightness when you shake your head afterward.  And knowing you look good is a great confidence boost.  It’s just an hour or so of blissful “me” time (and it doesn’t involve calories in any way!).

Then believe me when I say: as an introvert, I hate getting haircuts.

It begins with making the appointment.  I have a nice salon in a nearby (kinda upper-class) suburb that I’ve been going to for a few years now, and they’re open on Saturdays, so at least there’s no big decisions involved.  So once I’ve said to myself “I could use a haircut,” all that’s left to do is…pick up the phone.

Yeah.  The phone.  My least favorite method of communication.  Below pigeons, YouTube comments, and semaphore.  I don’t even know semaphore.  Phone calls are quick conversations, so there’s not enough time to think before I have to react, and I also can’t get cues from the other person’s facial/body expressions.  I try to practice what I’m going to say in my head before I call.  Sometimes it helps.

The appointment itself is another challenge.  Think about your stereotypical hair salon: it’s like a social center, a buzzing hive of feminine gossip and laughter.  People’s hobbies, kids, love lives all in the air for anyone to hear as the stylists and customers go back and forth.  As an observer, it’s pretty fascinating.

As a participant, it’s horrifying.

I don’t really want to chat about anything very personal with a person I only see 3-4 times a year.  And while there’s plenty of time to get into an in-depth conversation as introvert prefer, I don’t think my stylist is interested in the minutia of heart disease research.  Or anime, or YA fantasy novels.  I don’t have kids to talk about, either.

I am not bad at making small talk; it’s an important skill everyone should learn.  I learned it well as a campus tour guide in college.  But it is still an effort, and 30 minutes straight (minimum) of small talk is pretty exhausting for many introverts.  I do my best not to be awkward, but it’s a relief when she starts the noisy hair dryer and I’m spared the effort of conversation-making.

At first, I jumped around to different stylists, trying to find someone I could connect to.  I felt so awkward that I was sure the stylists were like “Oh, not that girl again” if I went back to them repeatedly.  But I think this actually made the experience harder because I was starting over every time.  And it certainly didn’t help the stylists get used to my very thick hair with waves in weird places, which would probably make for a better haircut.

I do think it’s important to stretch my “extrovert muscle” from time to time—I hope it will make me a stronger person as I learn from these experiences.  Already I’m thinking about what I can do better next time.  We all know that fear is the mind killer, and for me preparation can help soothe anxiety.

Luckily, I go to a no-tipping salon, so at least that social quandary is eliminated 🙂