Geek My Life is moving!

In my continuing quest to build my own place on the Internet, I have decided to self-host my blog and get a domain name.  Now I'll be able to make my own layouts and install awesome widgets and lots of other techie things that make my little geek heart all a-flutter.

What this means for you is that I need all of you to do me a favor, if you like my writing or me (or both, hopefully) enough to do so:

Follow Geek My Life at its new location - http://www.geekmylife.net.

That's it.  You go to that address, type your email into the "Subscribe" area on the right side of the screen under the picture, and you're done.  You'll continue to get email updates just like you do now (or don't, if you only follow my blog via Blogger feed).  Alternatively, if you are already on Wordpress.com or .org, you can log into your account before you visit my site, and choose to follow me that way via the little "Follow" button on the bottom corner of the site.


I will start posting on my new site starting tomorrow.  Though I'll keep this Blogger site up for a while yet, I will NOT be posting new content here, nor will I be approving comments.  Everything must go through geekmylife.net!  Also, note that if you go to geekmylife.COM, you're in the wrong place - the guy hasn't updated in over two years, and I know I'm not always consistent at updating but I'm better than that. :)

I look forward to seeing you there!


My Thoughts on Lucasfilm/Disney Merger

I got on Twitter today to announce something that I thought was pretty important, and immediately my feed was flooded with news that Disney had bought out Lucasfilm for over $4 billion.

Suddenly my announcement wasn't that dire anymore.

Brain = exploded.

My first reaction was to say, "What the hell?  Really?!  Does Disney really need the money/power/renown/whatever else from Lucasfilm?  This is so... weird."  I took as calm a breath I possibly could and decided to just see other peoples' reactions.  I am eternally grateful that I did - it's surprising what we all could learn about ourselves if we just decided to be offensive instead of defensive (though the majority of the Internet doesn't function like this... ever).

Geek-lee-tist's new shirt for a new era!*
What I quickly noticed was that most people were excited about the prospect of Disney directing future Lucasfilm endeavors, especially the officially announced Star Wars 7.  These people pointed out that since Disney took over Pixar and Marvel, for example, nothing but high-quality products have been released from those companies.

Many people were also glad that Lucas was backing out of the company and retiring, and honestly I agree that he probably did more harm to Star Wars franchise the last several years than some fans want to admit.  Did you feel the same way?  Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter!

Of course, there were the other people who thought that Lucasfilm and all future Star Wars creations would be tainted with the evil that is known as Disney, but honestly I had to ultimately side with the fans who think that this combination of two of the greatest entertainment companies in the world will result in positive direction for all involved.  And maybe it's just me having lived through the crappy prequels during my lifetime instead of the iconic originals, but I'd love for my future kids to experience new (not re-released!) Star Wars films during their and my lifetime!

Then again...

I don't want to say I'm not hesitant at all, though.  Of course I'm cautious about how Disney will handle the characters, themes, stories, etc. we've all grown to love.  I don't think I'd be a true Star Wars fan if I wasn't at least 1% unsure.  But as with most things, I tend to keep space available in my mind and future for the opposite of what I've prepared for.  Should Disney fail to meet expectations, it will be difficult to deal with, but at least I've not pushed the possibility out of my mind entirely and risked suffering a geek heart attack.

Really, this blog post is my meager attempt at summarizing my reaction to the buy-out news.  I have not said everything about this topic that I was thinking during the span of several hours today, and I am positive I will have more thoughts on this in the days to come.  I will do my very best to write these as they come to me (which I have more time for now, because of my announcement that never happened, which will happen at some point...).

Until then, what were your reactions to this news?  Share your thoughts below or on Twitter!

* The shirt in my post can be bought from the Geek-lee-tist site.


Costume Shop Ad Says Halloween Is the Only Time of Year to Dress Up

Halloween costume store front window - courtesy of BostonZest.com
As I was driving to my friend's apartment today for our work-out date, an ad interrupted my music to bring me nothing but bilge.  And by bilge, I don't mean that the content wasn't worth the listen; in fact, I was glad to hear it was for a local costume shop discussing what it could offer shoppers for Halloween.  So what was bilge-y about the ad?

Because it started out by claiming Halloween was the only time of year you could dress up to be someone else.

Um... excuse me?  Where do I even begin?


Confession & Revamp

You know when you've been lazy or stupid or something else ridiculous entirely and you are eventually forced to grudgingly or shamefully confess that to people around you?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's my confession time.

What did you do this time, Bree?

I've been avoiding posting on here for two reasons.  First of all, I know I am one very small voice in a once-small but now vast world of online geek blogging, and I have not felt like it was worth putting in my two cents into the Bank of Geekdom.  Call it a lack of confidence in my ability to uniquely articulate and separate my thoughts from the herd.

Second, I haven't posted in a while because I've been focusing on developing my freelance career.  Since I quit my teaching job, I've been figuring how to work for myself and actually make a living off of it.  It's time-consuming and often when I'm done researching about writing I'd rather not sit down to actually write.  Mass Effect or Halo seem like better options for stress-release.

Have any of you ever felt the same?  Comment below and let me know!

So what about this site?

Geek My Life has been instrumental in getting me writing again and consistently interacting with new people and experiences.  I also talked to a few friends (kudos to Erin of Geek Girl, Nerd Boy and Eric of iGeektrooper) who advised me to write what I feel like writing.  As such, I've decided to keep this site going but with some new approaches, starting with a revamp of content.  From hereon out, posts will be related to and organized by one of these topics:

  1. Geek Gigs - I've adored conducting interviews with industry professionals in media, tech, entertainment, and gaming.  I'll continue to post any interviews I conduct here (assuming that I am not pitching the interview to a paying market, of course).
  2. Nerd Networking - This is a new interest of mine: the geek situations IRL (in real life).  How do you explain to your mom why you want to be a game designer?  Why is it important to note your social media knowledge on a résumé?  I want to address these types of questions in an advice column format.
  3. Media Musings - I wanted to do movie and television reviews since high school, but never thought there was a reason to since so many others already do that.  I don't care anymore - I will write my observations here, except I will try to focus on the themes, morals, foreshadowing, etc. that most sites ignore in favor of the "his acting was fantastic" commentary.
  4. Geek My Life - I'll still write about all my geek discoveries and experiments, the reason I opened this blog in the first place.  If you find my reactions to new material too much to handle, I apologize in advance but you have been warned.
  5. Spotty Speculations - Anything seemingly random will go here, such as my frustration with gender in the geek world, or pictures of awesome stuff I simply can't pass up.  Or whatever.  That's what "spotty" means.  

More interviews (not just with Amy) to come!

I may add more content categories at some point, but I'm not going to push it now.  Additionally, I'm looking into more clean, sleek layouts.  I'm also considering moving the site to Wordpress because I adore the way they utilize both categories and tags.  

Sound good?  Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter, or through my contact page!


Time to Catch Up, GGN Style

So I've been... busy.

Quitting your job would seem like it'd free up more time for you to write, wouldn't it?  So far, that hasn't been the case.  I keep finding lots of house chores, freelance writing decisions, and geek websites to distract me from posting on here.  However, I realized that part of why I've been busy is because I'm writing two articles per week for Geek Girls Network (GGN).  Did I ever reveal that before on this blog?  No?  Shame on me.

As a writing intern for GGN, I get to wax eloquent every Thursday and Friday over anything I get opinionated about in the geek world.  It's a great way to get my raging and raving rants out of my head, and also to meet new people who may or may not agree with me.

In case you haven't been following my articles over there, I've collected all of them for you (this is obviously not a humble brag post), because there's no one link I can send you to over at GGN to see my articles listed on their own.  Feel free to pick and choose, read them all, or disregard, though that last option may make you the unfortunate subject of my next article.

I won't keep posting these on Geek My Life every week; I'm only doing so now because I know some of my followers are email-only friends and family who may not be aware of how to find my articles.  So, yes, you can stop calling me vain.

"Tauriel, Shmauriel: Does 'The Hobbit' NEED a Female Character?" - posted August 2

"Christian Bale: Indisputably Incredible" - posted August 2

"The Next Top Role Model: Ashley Eckstein" - posted August 3

"Xbox Live Clans Are The Devil." - posted August 3

"Megan Fox: Certified Bimbo" - posted August 9

"Cosplay Critics Have Their Own Issues" - posted August 10

"Stop Inviting Me to Klout, or Why Klout Has Crossed a Line" - posted August 16

"Wedding Wares For The Geeky Couple!" - posted August 17

"I Don't Wear Geek, Therefore I Am Not Geek" - posted August 23

"Dream Job: Rooster Teeth FTW!" - posted August 24

"Why I Despise Not Having TV" - posted August 30

"I Love Not Having TV" - posted August 31

"Shadow and Bone: Let's See What Book 2 Brings" - posted September 6

"Who's Really at Fault for the Sexualization of Women in Geek Culture?" - posted September 7

"Felicia Day Gave Me Her Number (In My Dream, and Not Like That)" - posted September 13

"On Occasion, Being a Geek Stresses Me Out" - posted September 14


Star Wars Helps Improve Children's Literacy

What do literacy and Star Wars have in common?  A lot, apparently.

EUCantina.net devotes itself to the expanded universe (EU) of Star Wars.  This summer, EUCantina.net decided to focus on the issue of illiteracy in the United States, because as the site's current tagline says, "44 million adults in the U.S. can't read well enough to read a simple story to a child."

EUCantina teamed with Reading is Fundamental (RIF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy in children across the U.S, to try to generate in children a deeper appreciation, and hopefully a love, of the page and words.  Austin Blankenship, one of EUCantina's administrators, described the impetus for this collaboration.

"When I found RIF, I started looking closely at the startling statistics on children's literacy. I realized that this was an area that desperately needed our help," said Blankenship.  "Children's literacy is a major issue, but I think that it is being overlooked as a real problem. Most people would agree that kids need to be able to read, but they probably don't realize the true impact that literate children will have on a society. I also worry that in general the public doesn't truly understand the poor position that children's literacy is currently in."

And a poor situation it really is.  According to RIF, two-thirds of impoverished U.S. children do not have books at home, annearly 40 percent of U.S. 4th graders cannot read at the most basic proficiency level (RIF.org).  Blankenship realized EUCantina had a wonderful opportunity to aid in RIF's endeavor because of it was an area that his website could relate to because it reviews Star Wars books and comics.

"A big first step to helping these kids is to get them interested in reading. That's where Star Wars comes in," explained Blankenship.  "So many young girls and boys are fascinated by Star Wars. If we can provide them with an easy-to-read Star Wars book, that will instantly grab their attention."

EUCantina went the extra mile and contacted authors of Star Wars books to see if they would participate, and participate they did.  Readers participating in the program this summer have a chance to win several signed copies of Star Wars books, including The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia which has been signed by all seven of its authors.  Blankenship said that EUCantina had connections with these authors already and he knew that the program would easily appeal to them.

Blankenship said the literacy endeavor has been going well, and he hoped that the program will continue to benefit children throughout their lives.  "They'll start with Star Wars, and realize that reading is something that can be fun and interesting.  It's a great way to make that first step have a lasting impression."

It's not too late to join the Rebels in the fight against illiteracy of Death Star proportions.  Through September 12, you can donate directly to RIF through EUCantina's main page, or you can choose to purchase a wicked Yoda-themed "A Force for Childhood Literacy" tshirt!  The shirts cost about $16 each; $4 from each purchase goes directly to RIF and the rest covers the cost of the shirt (EUCantina makes no profit on them).  

Of course, you can also make a difference by grabbing one of your old Star Wars books and donating it to a young relative or your local shelter, thus perpetuating the love for Star Wars and reading for generations to come.

All photos courtesy of EUCantina.net.


The Geek Gig: Amy Ratcliffe

When I think about how much effort I've put into this blog thus far, I almost start to pat myself on the back.  Then I remember Miss Amy Ratcliffe, and how she has been doing the same thing for far longer, has built a reputation from it, and continues to provide quality geek content for all her readers on a regular basis.  I need to pull my arm away from my back at this point.

Amy Ratcliffe
An operations/logistics worker by day and blogger by night, Amy Ratcliffe blogs over at Geek with Curves, which boasts over 600 readers.  This is nothing in comparison to her Twitter handle where an impressive 12,000+ followers await her every 140 characters.  "Being a geek is such a big part of my life that it was only natural to write about it," she says in an email interview.  "It's fun to share my experiences and meet like-minded people."

The geekery all started for Amy when she caught an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  "I was instantly hooked, partially due to Wil Wheaton, but mostly because it was an awesome show and unlike anything I'd seen before," she says.  "TNG was on the downward slope by the time I caught that episode, and I remember watching a few of 'best of' marathons before the series finale aired. Those were some perfect weekend afternoons." 

Despite her success with geek blogging, this direction for her life was not clear from the start.  "I'm sort of a late bloomer," Amy admits.  She mentions that her interests in careers varied from marine biologist, to psychologist, and eventually to forensic anthropology.  Realizing these degrees took too much effort for her taste, Amy quit college and only eventually returned to get a degree in business administration.

"I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up until five or so years ago," she explains.  "I always enjoyed writing though.  I wrote short stories and essays and occasionally contributed to newsletters I stumbled across... but I couldn't make it click.  Finally, two years ago after a few false starts with blogs focusing on food and travel and various things, I found my niche: I decided to write about geeky stuff.  I put in all my effort and it's worked out."  Amy blogs about geek crafting, conventions she attends, her thoughts on the latest Game of Thrones episode, and even the occasional sci-fi parody video.

Amy on a speeder bike
In addition to her own blog, Amy writes for such sites as Fashionably Geek, IGN, and The Mary Sue.  Her writing has provided her many geek-out moments of meeting people she admires.  In particular, she remembers talking to supervising director Dave Filoni at the premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars as she covered the event for Newsarama.  "I asked him a question about whether certain characters in the The Clone Wars were at all inspired by the Bene Gesserit in Dune. There was a connection and he elaborated on it. I mean, I got to talk about Dune and Star Wars with Dave Filoni and I was getting paid to do it. It was definitely a 'pinch myself' sort of moment."

Amy continues to write and publish her work across the Internet.  She provides some solid advice and encouragement for geek writers when she says, "If you'd like to get involved in blogging, geeky or otherwise, you've got to dive in and realize that it takes hard work and time.  A friend of mine constantly says, 'Don't tell me how bad you want it, show me.'  If you're starting with the intent of showing your writing chops, building a brand, or wanting to get paid for your writing later, you've got to take it seriously.  Write every day and understand that it is rare to get paid for content right away."

"Most importantly though, writing about the topics you're passionate about makes writing about a bajillion times more fun (and easy) and that travels through the words to your readers."

For more of Amy Ratcliffe's geek wisdom and writings, visit her blog Geek with Curves and follow her on Twitter @amy_geek!

Star Wars heels made by Amy
When not writing, Amy can often be found crafting geeky
items, like these Star Wars heels.


How the Gaming Industry Could Learn from Hollywood

Welcome one and all to the very first guest post for Geek My Life!  Today we are honored to hear from Sechin Tower, a male writer who wants to comment on the way females are portrayed in science fiction, gaming, and entertainment.  I like it when the men speak up.  Enjoy!

Woman Warriors in Film and Games
Recently, feminist pop-culture analyst Anita Sarkeesian drew both an avalanche of animosity and a tsunami of support when she announced plans for a documentary about female video game characters. Speaking as a guy and a gamer, it got me thinking that game companies could—and should—do a lot more to court female players, not only out of a lofty concern for gender equality but also for the down-to-earth reason that it would broaden their own market. You won’t catch me saying this often, but I think Hollywood has a lesson to teach about this.

Rise of the Woman Warrior
Male heroes have been slaying monsters for as long as humans have been telling stories, but we may be experiencing a historic shift in that pattern. A quick rundown of the history of women warriors shows not only an increase in frequency, but also a change in attitude. Here are a few of the high (and low) points:
Amazons. Contrary to contemporary depictions, the ancient Greeks considered tales of women warriors to represent a shocking threat that needed to be subdued and dominated by strong men.
Wonder Woman. Fast forwarding to the 20th century, Wonder Woman gave her sisters of Themyscira a PR makeover, but not right away. The original comic book was little more than a BDSM fantasy. Fortunately, the character evolved over the years, most memorably with Linda Carter’s portrayal of a hero who secretly defended the status quo (patriarchal as it was).
Sigourney Weaver. James Cameron’s 1986 masterpiece Aliens not only inspired a host of less-than-awesome franchises but also established the tough-but-vulnerable Weaver as the First Lady of Science Fiction.
Warrior Princesses to Vampire Slayers. The 1990s opened a floodgate of action-grrrls, starting with the neuvo-Amazon Xena, then the unrealistically buxom Lara Croft, and, of course, Buffy Summers, created by Joss Whedon to flip all the horror movie clichés upside down.
Some say these depictions are anti-feminist because they show women abandoning their femininity or objectifying themselves, but you’ve got to admit that the modern plethora of femme fatales are widely loved by both genders (and has sure enhanced cosplay options).

Hollywood Today
Today, science fiction and fantasy is more popular than ever with both men and women. This year alone, several box-office blockbusters feature female action heroes, most notably the fearless archers Merida of Brave and Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. Even classic stories are being retold with stronger roles for women, such as Snow White and the Huntsman, which begins to reverse the usual gender roles so that the female protagonist does most of the heavy lifting (or, in this case, heavy sword-swinging). Oh, and let’s not forget Charlize Theron’s role as the queen: she might be evil, but nobody would dare to question her ability or authority.
We have come a long way, but there’s plenty more room for improvement. For all the successful super hero movies, we still lack an iconic female cape-jockey who can keep up with the boys in her ability to sell tickets (if not to inflict gratuitous collateral damage during fights).
Still, Hollywood has been making great strides to appeal to female viewers, and not just by adding female characters, but also by increasing character depth. The result: better movies for all, more tickets sold, and more people discovering how great it is to be a geek.

Game Publishers Take Note
Video game publishers have not been as successful at appealing to women for a variety of reasons. Women represent half the potential market, so it would benefit them to explore more about what these customers might want. Doing this would be good for us, too, because it might lead to new types of games and new ways of gaming.
Not all gamer guys want big guns and big boobs, either; some of us want to share games with the women in our lives. It’s easy to get my wife to go see a big Hollywood blockbuster because she knows that even if the hero isn’t female, there will still be plenty of other elements to appeal to her. It’s much harder to convince her to co-op the latest zombie-slaughtering XBox release, because experience has shown that games don’t carry the same promise.
Hollywood has learned to produce good, geeky products that appeal to both genders without missing out on the action, suspense, and imaginative ideas. If Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo could figure out how to do the same, I think all of our lives would be geeked for the better.

Sechin Tower (SechinTower.com) is the author of Mad Science Institute, a sci-fi novel which features (among other things) a strong female protagonist and plenty of adventure.


The Geek Gig: Consetta Parker (Part 2)

Last week, Consetta Parker dazzled us with her publicity know-how and showed us some Star Wars enthusiasm that could rival that of a poor college student finding out about Ikea.  Today, I'm finishing up this interview by focusing on this talented lady on a more personal level.  Did you know Consetta is married to a Stormtrooper?  You will soon.

How did you become a geek or develop what geekiness was already there?  Summarize your geek conversion/growing-up story.  
I believe I was pre-disposed to follow the path of a geek and my family sensed it, too. ;)  I remember overhearing my grandma telling my mom she was “worried” about me when I was about three years old.  It may have had something to do with the fact she had bought me a really expensive baby doll as a gift and I was terrified of it (not the reaction she was hoping for).  As soon as the adults looked away I ran outside and buried it in the field behind our house so it wouldn’t “get me” while I was sleeping. I adored my grandma more than anything but she always tried to get me to play with dolls and “girl” stuff.  She finally gave up this attempt by the time I was 10 and began giving me stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes for me to “rescue” and toys like Nerf Guns and trading cards. :)
Our family didn’t have a lot of money so we didn’t go on vacations or out much… but we were happy and that’s all that mattered!  I had an aunt and uncle that used to offer to take us all to the movies once in a while as a treat and it was a really BIG deal for us to get to go out and do something -- and I loved the movies.  But one summer day in 1977 my mom yelled out to me as I played in the field behind our house and said, “Would you like to go see that Star Wars movie with Aunt Lucille and Uncle Clifford?!” – That was a true turning point for me.  I was 6 years old and my life forever changed as I sat mesmerized for two hours watching Star Wars.  My true inner geek began to blossom and my love for Star Wars grew stronger the entire time I was growing up.  By the time I was about 10 years old I had some major goals set for myself: 1) work in movies somehow so I could learn how Star Wars Magic was made, 2) work in radio so I could be a DJ and run my own Star Wars soundtrack-only radio station, 3) someday meet Han Solo, 4) save as many animals as I could, 5) find a boy who loved Star Wars as much as I did.  These goals set me on a journey that guided me my entire life and into adulthood and I never lost hope that dreams do come true. :)
How did you meet your husband and how were you proposed to?
Consetta and Garet
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)
My trooper and I met on May 4, 2005, at 9 a.m. on the back porch of the main house at Skywalker Ranch.  Over the course of our first year together we had often talked about that morning and had discussed the fact that we should re-enact that morning each May 4. One year later, on the morning of on May 4, 2006, Garet asked me to meet him outside on the back porch of our house at 9 a.m.  He also suggested I wear the same clothes I had worn the morning in 2005. I remembered exactly what I had worn so it didn’t take me long to get dressed and memories washed over me as I did. It had been a cold, rainy morning in 2005 and I was having total “chick” moments that day trying to figure out what to wear knowing I was going to get all wet and most likely look like a wet rat all day -- ha!  As I walked outside on that beautiful sunny day in 2006 (total opposite of the rainy May 4 the year before), I looked down and saw a small piece of carpet on the concrete.  I then heard a familiar sound…the clanking of Stormtrooper armor walking towards me (exactly what I had heard the year before).  I looked to my right and saw my trooper, in his full armor, walk around the corner of our house and towards me. He then got down on one knee, using the piece of carpet I had seen on the concrete to protect his knee and armor.  As tears swelled up in my eyes, I saw him hold up a ring box.  He opened it up and I saw a big, beautiful, silver Stormtrooper head ring as I heard the words, “Consetta, will you marry me?”  Without hesitation “yes” sprung from my lips, he slipped the giant stormtrooper ring on my finger (it didn’t come in my size and it didn’t matter -- it was perfect), and I embraced my trooper.  A knowing washed over me that I’ll never forget.  I knew I was exactly where I should be and I was truly happy. I had never been so sure of anything in my entire life.
Besides Star Wars, what are some of your other geeky obsessions or hobbies? 
I adore E.T., I’m a huge Buffy fan, and Spike was and always will be my favorite!  It’s funny because when I was little I was quite the loyalist to Star Wars!  I felt I was doing something wrong if I watched any other sci-fi movie or show so I remained pure to Star Wars (ha!), so now in my so-called adulthood I’ve discovered and embraced many things and enjoy them all… such as BSGStar TrekTrue BloodWolverine, and I love HALLOWEEN so I love scary movies!  I’m a Michael Myers girl though.  Jason is ok, but was just never my thing.  ;)  I also run a stuffed animal rescue (and a Star Wars toy rescue) -- it’s kind of like the island of misfit plush toys.  I’ve always loved animals so when I was little I used to get really upset when I’d see another kid looking at stuffed animals then throw them back on the shelf or worse just drop them on the floor.  So now, if I witness this happening or find a stuffed animal on the floor of any store I immediately want to give it a good home (I realize I have issues but I’m ok with that-ha!).  I can’t stand the thought of homeless animals... real or plush!  I also love & collect Hello Kitty… a lot (see that whole animal theme continuing here?!).
How can you integrate nerdiness into everyday life without people thinking it's "lame?"
The answer is simple yet not easy.  You can’t worry about it.  Everyone is different.  You won’t always agree or like every single person you meet and vice versa, but we can all learn from each other and be more accepting. If you get consumed with what everyone else is thinking you’ll go crazy.  Take the blinders off and see the whole view.  It’s amazing what you can see without losing sight of who you are. 
Consetta with an Athena Studios Vader.
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)

Thank you, Consetta, for sharing a peek into the Star Wars working world and your geeky personal life, as well!


CCI Christian Protests = Nothing Accomplished

In case you missed it, I wrote a post this past weekend for The Grizzly Bomb about how the Christian protests at Comic-Con are essentially pointless.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Enjoy!

Christians never cease to baffle me.

When I read about the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest of Comic-Con International, I had to make sure that I did not turn around and punch a hole in the wall.  Then I had to laugh maniacally at their antics.  Then I just had to shake my head.


The Geek Gig: Consetta Parker (Part 1)

Over the last few months, I've connected with some phenomenal people on Twitter who accept my geekiness because they too are geeks.  I've also discovered that many of these people integrate their geek natures into their professional lives, or already work directly in this industry; as such, it seemed fitting to try to connect with as many of them as possible over time and interview them about their careers and lives.

The first interview you all have the pleasure of reading (and I had conducting) is about the lovely, positive, and seemingly ever-cheerful Consetta Parker.  A fellow geek gal, Consetta has had her foot in the Star Wars world for years as the media consultant for Rancho Obi-Wan and a publicist for Star Wars acting talent.  She has a lot to tell about the experience, with just as much passion as one would expect from a fan girl.  Part 1 of this interview reveals her professional side, and Part 2 which will be posted next week will contain some personal sketches, including how she met her very own Stormtrooper husband!

(Note: I have chosen to keep all of Consetta's answers despite their length because I believe they honestly reflect her as a person, and cutting would do her and you all an injustice.)

Consetta with Star Wars author Steve Sansweet.
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)

Why did you decide to become a publicist, and how were you able to get your foot in the geek publicist world?
I became a publicist by total and complete accident! And thank goodness! I’ll try to give you a brief run down/time line and how it all came together. ;)  My passion for animal welfare landed me a position at a local humane society after I graduated college.  Because of my education in communications they put me into the position of handling public relations and humane education.  I ended up doing regular TV and radio guest spots promoting the shelter and featuring our “pet of the week!”  One of the local radio stations liked the way I sounded on air and ended up offering me a position to co-host the morning show so I was working two jobs for awhile (with animals and in radio, 2 of my goals [in life]!); my work in radio got me a job offer in a larger market and I moved to Cincinnati to work for a bigger radio station and have more responsibility.  I did on-air work, promotions, and voice work.  In radio promotions we did a lot of advance screenings of movies and I learned of a company that worked with all the major studios and handled studio publicity and promotions for various markets in the Midwest.  I had no idea there was such a company and I got really excited!  I thought you had to live in Hollywood to work in the entertainment industry. ;)  So then my journey led me to work for this company and I handled several studios including Dreamworks, MGM, and Miramax, and supervised others like Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, and Sony. While working here I had the absolute privilege and joy of meeting Harrison Ford during a press junket in NYC. He was perfect. I finally met Han Solo (dream come true). My work in the Midwest for the studios landed me an opportunity to move to LA and work for a larger company that worked directly with studios like Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Focus Features for LA publicity and promotions.  While working in LA, a random conversation and meeting on a Friday afternoon led me to be working at Skywalker Ranch the following Monday to work the press junket for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith... it was a dream come true and it was the most amazing experience. I felt I’d finally “made it” to my ultimate goal. I was blissfully happy and loved being the go-to person for the press if they had any random Star Wars questions or just wanted to talk about Star Wars!  I had no idea what was about to happen at lead me towards the geeky side of publicity… doors began opening and more and more of my goals started becoming a reality. 
Consetta with James Arnold Taylor
(Picture copyright of Consetta Parker)
What's the most unique geeky thing you've stumbled across or experienced in your publicist job? 
I’ve been so fortunate to have many amazing experiences over the years.  Obviously, meeting a stormtrooper while working a press junket at Skywalker Ranch is undoubtedly galactic tops for me since I married him! Ha! But as I mentioned earlier, I got to meet Harrison Ford (twice actually -- and yes, he remembered me which made my life feel more complete), I also got to walk Billy Dee Williams down a red carpet for a movie premiere in LA which was an unexpected delight, and I’ve got to meet and work with various Star Wars talent over the years working media events and that’s how I met my current clients (and dear friends) James Arnold Taylor and Catherine Taber! It was a random conversation with them that actually inspired me to start my own publicity company.
What's your favorite thing about being involved in the Star Wars universe?  
Star Wars led me to the love of my life… so sharing the joy and love of Star Wars with my trooper is truly a gift I’ll always treasure. :)
Who is your geek role model, your professional role model, or are they one in the same?  Why? 
As corny as it may sound I’d have to say when I was little one of my role models was undoubtedly Princess Leia.  I wanted to be like her -- she was strong and a leader, she got to kiss Han, she had a Wookiee friend etc… She inspired me. :)  I also always looked up to my parents and I still do. They were always there for me and supported me every step of the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my folks. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done. I truly believe I have the best Mom and Dad in the galaxy! As far as a professional role model I’d have to say all the strong women in the entertainment industry I’ve had the privilege of working with and knowing. It’s a very tough industry and you’ve got to work hard and continually prove yourself. If I ever felt overwhelmed or unsure of myself I’d simply look to the women around me pushing through and it inspired me to keep going. I developed a strength over the years I never knew I had in me and I will forever be grateful for that.
Do you find that the professional world in general is becoming more accepting of geek culture?  
In general, yes, I do. I remember being on conference calls and in meetings with various studios years ago brainstorming for sci-fi films and hearing the confused or negative “tone” in some voices. Obviously, I was always excited to work on these types of films and enjoyed feeling more “tuned in” and trying to come up with ideas that would be fun for “us” -- those of us that “got it.” Over the years I have noticed the tone has changed and I believe the studios and media outlets understand the geek culture better.  Some may not necessarily  like it, but there is more of an acceptance and motivation to appeal to the geek masses. I also feel movement has also been a double-edged sword. You can see it now in regard to events like San Diego Comic-Con.  Major studios jumped in full swing and have had a massive presence at Comic-Con over the last several years (much to the dislike of many in feeling Hollywood was trying to take over). I remember thinking, “Ok, this is good, but they’re kind of preaching to the choir here.  We are the target demographic.  We don’t need much convincing to go see the sci-fi summer blockbusters.” Tons of money has been put into Comic-Con by the studios and during the convention the response is normally huge and positive. So whenever there is a summer box office failure in major studio productions of sci-fi, action, and superhero films, the tone slips back into thinking we are not the numbers or masses they thought. I think we’re in an interesting time right now as far as trying to find a middle ground and observing the learning curve in that geek culture is so much more than any ONE convention or event.
Filming for Star Wars: Rise of the Consultants.
(Picture copyright Consetta Parker)
Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like to share?  I've heard hints of SyFy... :) 
There are various things on the horizon indeed! I am beyond excited to be going with James Arnold Taylor (JAT) and working with him at Star Wars Celebration 6 this August.  JAT is the main stage host so he’ll be working non-stop and we’re working on plans and scheduling now… I think SW fans will be very happy at C6! ;)  My trooper and I also just worked on and filmed for a new reality show… I can’t give too many details YET, but I can tell you it involves Star Wars (guess that’s not much of a surprise, huh?). I suppose I could give another little hint: SyFy. ;) It was an amazing experience and we are still recovering from it all.  The entire film crew was wonderful and I’ve made not only new professional contacts but also personal ones. I have come to terms with that fact I’ll most likely come across looking completely ridiculous… and I’m ok with that. When I was younger I used to be afraid to be who I was and I lost myself for awhile. I never wanted to forget or pretend to be anyone other than who I was again so I decided to just go all in and let my geek flag fly!  So if people want to poke fun or think I’m a total spaz then I accept that 100% and have no regrets. Life is too short to worry about what everyone thinks… at some point you have to let it go and just be. :)
If you could give one piece of advice to developing professionals in the geek world, what would it be? 
Follow your passion, believe in yourself, and your dreams will come true.  I know it may sound simple or lame but I believe it with all my heart. So many things in life distract us or throw us off course. We end up settling, feeling too old, giving up, or losing hope. It may take a very long time and you may feel lost at times. Remember to look up and forward… not down and back.   Believe in who you are and what you want to achieve. There is always magic in the air and dreams DO come true every day.
And remember, the Force will be with you… always. :)

Be sure to come back next week to catch Part 2 of Consetta's interview to find out how her Trooper proposed to her, armor and all!


Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Live-Action Trailer

He's back...

As if Comic-Con wasn’t exciting enough, Microsoft and 343 Industries released the official trailer for their upcoming digital web series, 
Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.  It.  Is.  Epic.

View the trailer and read my reaction here!


Female Gamers are People, Too.

Yeah, a lot of us react like this.

I don't know if you know this, but female gamers are kind of a big deal.

To be more precise, female gamers are a big deal because they have recently been the center of attention for many large news stories in the video game and popular culture industries. Why? Because they are being sexually bullied and harassed by people who apparently find fulfillment in such mean-spirited actions. Do you remember when you got pushed off the swing in elementary school, and then called names in high school, and then betrayed by your boy/girlfriend in college? The harassment against female gamers is like all of these situations rolled into one, except female gamers tend to never see their bullies face-to-face.

For recent examples of harassment and what we can do about it, read the rest of my article over at Grizzly Bomb.


Maleficent Is on Her Way...

Creepy and cool, all at the same time.

Those of us who grew up with the classic Disney films have had the joy (or maybe sorrow?) of seeing these stories turned into live-action flicks over the past several years.  Quite possibly the best part of these remakes was the portrayal of the villains.  Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil in the 1996 version of 
101 Dalmatians, for example, made me decide I’d much rather work for the cynical, harsh editor Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.  Also, Charlize Theron’s recent evil queen in Snow White & the Huntsman sparked in me a new appreciation for a villain I had otherwise thought rather shallow. Now it’s time to make way for some visible horns.

Read the rest of my post over at The Grizzly Bomb!


My Geeked Up Life: Best. Barbies. Ever.

Even though I was a geeky girl who played with dinosaurs and action figures, there were those days I still pulled out my model horses or even my Barbies.  I never thought much about the way the Barbies looked, though nowadays I find it absolutely atrocious how anatomically incorrect they are, which is why I will not allow my future daughters to obsess over them.  However, I am seriously willing to put aside all skepticism about Mattel's misrepresentation of the female body when I see these bad-ass beauties:

Empress of the Aliens, indeed.

Goddess of the Galaxy, no questions asked.

One glance is all I needed - I want these dolls.  Like something out of a Lady Gaga closet, these Barbies' out-of-this-world wardrobes make me forget their unrealistic figures.  Just imagine the cosplay possibilities here!  These dolls outfits could provide hours of crafting entertainment.   The outfits also remind me of Katy Perry's different styles in her "E.T." music video, all of which are already on my costuming to-make list.  Too bad I still haven't purchased my very belated Christmas gift of a sewing machine.

The dolls are listed on the Barbie Collector website, but are both sold out (I can see why).  You can view more images for each doll on their pages:

Did you recently find a geeky toy you simply can't wait to own?  Share it with me! 


Xbox 720: Yay or Nay?

Concept only; Microsoft doesn't like green anymore.

What’s double the number 360?  That’s right, it’s 720.  If you couldn’t get that, you should probably review your multiplication tables.  Why is 720 so important here?  Because that’s the newest version of Xbox that the Internet is buzzing about since last week’s E3.

Read the rest of my 720 thoughts on my article over at GrizzlyBomb.com!


Happy Vader's Day!

Some of you may know I pride myself on being Dutch.  Though the Dutch reside in a small country, we've offered quite a lot to the world.  Because it's Father's Day, I'm going to discuss just such one of these things we've offered the world -- the geek world, that is.

In the Dutch language, there are many words that can be used for father, but my favorite choice has to be vader.  As soon as I discovered what this word meant, something clicked in my head and I thought, "Of COURSE.  That makes so much sense!"  Vader equals father, and Darth Vader is Luke and Leia's father.  Kudos to you, Lucas.

Who's your daddy?

There are of course debates as to whether or not Lucas actually had this meaning in mind when he named one of the most famous characters of all time. I don't care if he did either way; the coincidence is enough to make me proud to be both Dutch and a geek.  It also makes me even prouder to say "happy father's day" to my dad.

So for all you dads out there, geeks and non-geeks alike, happy Vader's day!  We love you (even when you cut off our hands and all that).


My Geeked Up Life: Felicia Wins at Music... Again.

Felicia Day has come out with a new music video.  It's country.  And somehow, I love it.

Let me explain what I mean about "it's country... somehow, I love it."  Most of you know who Felicia Day is, and if you don't you should probably stop reading right now and go repent before her fans shun you for eternity.  Here's a quick run-down for the nerdily inept: Felicia gained attention as the writer, producer, and star of the web series The Guild and has rapidly grown to be geekdom's go-to girl, with her quirky comedy and creative talents that span everything from old-school Nintendo systems to taking a crack at ice sculpture for her show The Flog (a production of her YouTube channel, Geek&Sundry).  Many of you probably think what I do when I see a new project of hers: "This girl just doesn't stop!"

This is the song and music video Felicia just released three days ago with Jason Charles Miller; it's called "Gamer Girl, Country Boy."  Felicia and Jason wrote the song together and, in Felicia's words from The Flog, "went to town; there is unnecessary cosplay all over the place."

According to Bonnie Burton's Facebook page, Felicia was apparently receiving lots of negative feedback about this video (i.e. flaming, spiteful, trolling, just-plain-MEAN garbage).  Within three days the video's hit 142,000 views, but has roughly 2000 negative likes despite there being around 9400 positive likes.  That's approximately 1 negative like for every 4 positives.  (You see all my clarifying, vague words there, such as around and approximately?  That's right, I'm totally not a math teacher.)

Despite the fact that there is a general lack of civil interaction online, I am honestly surprised more people didn't like this video.  I think this video displays yet another singing and writing talent of Felicia's; honestly, how many geeks care to delve into writing or performing country music?  She's already done a dance song, a Bollywood-inspired song, and a rock song for The Guild.  Country just seems like a logical next step in this plethora of genres.

I will say I for one avoid country in such a way that if it were embodied in the last living human male on earth, I would die a slow and painful death instead of marrying him, procreating, and saving the human race.  Growing up in Arizona means you have country all around because many Arizonans readily accept the cowboy lifestyle the rest of the nation assumes we lead.  Then I moved to the Midwest, where the farmers also tend to listen to lots of country.  That much country music drove me completely away, much like how over-zealous or shallow Christians tend to drive people to any other religion but that one.

However, Felicia and Jason's video has opened my mind to the fact that maybe country and geekdom can co-exist.  After all, Firefly continues to be a fan favorite (then again, it's really difficult to not accept Nathan Fillion's portrayal of a kick-ass space cowboy).  Country and geekdom -- it's an odd mash-up, but like Felicia and Jason sing, "Couldn't let you go, even though/We come from different lives.  So when you're lookin' for love, open your eyes/It might be outta regular sight."

I suppose from hereonout I must take their advice when I'm unsure that something will "mix" properly with the geek world.  Gamer girls have always been all right, so perhaps country boys are, too.


Why We Love Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Part 2

A few weeks ago, I started this post series about the attraction of science fiction and fantasy in popular culture.  The first reason I addressed was the ability for science fiction and fantasy to be all-encompassing; they are easily able to address multiple issues within a single piece of work, hence they are able to reach a broader audience with a wide range of interests.  You can read all of Part 1 here if you missed it.

Many of you left comments on Part 1 when I asked you why you thought science fiction and fantasy were so adored, even by those who don't necessarily call themselves geeks or nerds.  Today, for my 10th post of this blog, I'd like to discuss another reason found in many of these comments: escapism.

From http://pitchersandpoets.com/2009/09/01/watching-the-hero-walk-alone-together-ritual-community-power-and-baseball/
'Nuff said.
To be honest, I do not plan to discuss the escapist nature of science fiction and fantasy in great length.  There are hundreds of books, essays, and articles written on this topic, many of which you can just google.  Of course, I'd highly recommend J.R.R. Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" and C.S. Lewis's "On Science Fiction," which both succinctly yet accurately address escapism in these two genres.  I firmly believe their ideas on this topic are still valid today, no matter how old-fashioned some of their other ones may be.

Essentially, what you need to know about the escapist nature of science fiction and fantasy is this: some people think these books are no more than scribbles on pages to help divert your attention from real-world issues, and other people think these books are helpful specifically because they show you the real world from a new perspective.  My thoughts?  The latter couldn't be more correct.

Sure, there are many of us who do take guilty pleasure in picking up a less-than-Pulitzer-Prize-winning romantic fantasy romp just for the fun of it.  There are also those of us who felt like we could live "normal" lives only within the science fiction worlds we discovered.  However, many of us recognize the implicit nature of science fiction and fantasy to take us outside of ourselves, outside of our limited viewpoints, to illuminate the issues, hypocrisies, and ideas in the world around us that we are not otherwise aware of or may not otherwise have been open to hearing.  Because of this, we are terrified at the concept of an Orwellian-inspired government that uses Newspeak to convince its citizens of its ideas regardless of morality (or are we there already?).  We cheer for Sam and Optimus Prime in their fight to save humanity, because they have shown us that we humans have immeasurable value.  We also ache to see the love and acceptance Harry finds with Ron and Hermoine radiated into our suffering, spiteful Muggle world.  This is why escapism is not just a quick little vacation for our minds; if anything, escapism engages our minds to think even more deeply about our everyday routines, and how the larger forces at work behind those routines may ultimately be driving us towards a life of slavery or a life of freedom.

As these genres start to become more popular and therefore more widely accepted (and more often than not, their fans seen as intuitive instead of "geeky"), people formerly opposed to science fiction and fantasy on the grounds of unreal escapism seem to be questioning their assumptions.  Maybe these "escapist" books really do hold more value than previously suspected.   Maybe there's a real-life, applicable reason four out of the five top-grossing films of all time are science fiction or fantasy.

Maybe science fiction and fantasy can help us escape and then come back to change the world.


Celebrate Geek Pride Day!

In honor of it being Geek Pride Day (or rather, in honor of it having been Geek Pride Day, since it's almost over where I live), I decided to finally post a picture of my newest geek apparel procurement:

We love ya, Kermit.

Yes, that is me, and no, I didn't feel like showing my face because I hated my hair at the moment.  Focus on the shirt, people.  It's awesome.  I like it a lot better than this Kermit getup:

Um... what?

I've yet to wear my new shirt to work but I'm hoping that when I do, I get some good feedback that I can post here (unlike Lady Gaga's outfit, I'm sure)!  If you want your own "Geek is Chic" Kermit shirt, you can purchase it on Amazon, though I found mine at Macy's for only $9 on sale.  *does a Dutch High Dance, hereafter known as a DHD*


Wonder Woman: Bonnie Burton

If any of you geeks out there are at all involved in the deeper levels of Star Wars fandom, then you may know that Bonnie Burton was one of its key components as she was their social media coordinator and blogger for the Official Star Wars blog.  I'm sure many of you shared in my disappointment when you saw Bonnie announce on May 7 on her Twitter account that she was laid off by Lucasfilm after 9 years of employment there.

Seriously, were the Lucasfilm execs under a Sith mind trick while making that decision?

Love the hair.  
Bonnie Burton was one of my role models.  When I first started digging into the Star Wars franchise, I discovered that Miss Burton played a central role, and I immediately tagged her as a role model.  There was a woman holding a real job in the Star Wars company?  What more could an aspiring, geeky female writer want?  (Yes, I realize there are other women involved in the Star Wars franchise, but in case you forgot who I'm writing about in this post, please reference the post title.)

I should clarify.  Just because she no longer works at Lucasfilm does not mean she's not one of my role models anymore: Bonnie Burton is one of my role models.  I can't see that position of hers ever being lost in my book of Wonder Women, no matter what the circumstance.  Therefore, to celebrate her positive influence on the world of geekdom and in my life, I've assigned characteristics to every letter of her first name to explain what I think about Bonnie.  Call it junior high-ish; I can take it.

B - beautiful.  Bonnie wrote about the influence that Betty Page had on her life on her website, and this "inspired [her] to do [her] own thing and not care what others thought."  To me, Bonnie has a firm grasp on what it means to be a beautiful woman.
O - original.  Bonnie always comes up with unique content that I can't help adore, like her new co-authored book Weight Hacking: A How-To Guide for Geeks Who Want to Lose Weight and Get Fit.  And she was the first person to marry R2-D2 (no joke).  Beat that.
N - nice.  My co-worker and I always argue that the word nice is an empty word, something that people throw around carelessly when they don't really know what to say.  I beg to differ here.  Every time I interact with Bonnie on Twitter, she is polite, respectful, and flat-out a nice lady.
Caution: herbs on board.
N - nifty.  Bonnie is notorious (hey, look, another n-word!) for her Star Wars crafts; she can make pretty much anything around the house into something related to that beloved film series.  I mean, who doesn't want their herbs planted in an AT-AT?
I - inspirational.  Self-explanatory.
E - encouraging.  Many times I notice that Bonnie's tweets are complimentary, supportive, and benign towards those she interacts with; I'm not sure I've once noticed her purposefully say anything rude or hateful, and that's a rare gem in the wide, untamed wilderness that is known as the Internet.

I know I'm just another fan and another geek among millions, especially since the dawning of this recent online nerd revolution.  However, I hope that this little tribute has not fallen on deaf ears.  To those of you who feel the same way about Bonnie's inspiration, please, learn something from her example and make the geek world a better place for all of us.


My Geeked Up Life: Andre Norton

Quick update: I have started reading Daybreak: 2250 A.D. based on a recommendation from my co-worker.  He was the first one to make this suggestion when I told him about my idea for this blog and for having my readers make me geekier, so I must pay homage.

I will post my review of the book when I'm done!  If you've read this book before or anything else by Andre Norton, do you like the book/author?