Thursday, November 29, 2012

Geek Marathon

It’s been a long week. You’ve worked hard and now you have a couple of days off to yourself. You feel you owe it to yourself to do something for you. Something only someone like you could appreciate. It’s time for a marathon. No, you’re not going to run the New York Marathon. You are not an athlete. You are a geek. A geek’s marathon consists of watching an entire TV series or series of movies in one sitting. Your kind of marathon is not as strenuous as running the New York Marathon, but it still takes some planning and preparation. There are steps you should follow, so you will enjoy your marathon.

What to Watch 
There are all kinds of different TV shows or movies you could watch for your marathon. Some of the more popular marathons are Star Wars, Die Hard, Glee, or 24. Let’s be clear, you are a geek with specific interests. You enjoy anime. You love watching all kinds of different Japanese cartoons. There are many genres within anime, so you have to ask yourself what you feel like watching. There’s comedy like RanMa ½. How about action like Fullmetal Alchemist? You could watch a horror like Blood+. A space Opera like Heroic Age is always good. What about that romance series you have? Come on, you know you have a romance series. Everyone does. The last question you have to ask yourself is, are you feeling adventurous and want to watch something brand new, or do you want to watch an old favorite?

More the Merrier
You’ve picked out the anime series that you are going to spend several hours with. Now you need to decide on what friends you are going to share your marathon with. Of course, you can always go solo and enjoy the marathon by yourself, but an anime marathon is always better when you share it with some friends. It’s great to point out little things and try to guess what is going to happen. What friends you invite over also depends on how you feel. Do you want to keep it quiet? Then you’ll need a friend or two that will sit in a corner and not say a word. Or, do you want loud friends that are going to crack jokes and laugh out really loud? This is also a really good time to consider inviting a friend who has never watched anime. It is a lot of fun to watch your friend light up as they start enjoying the anime.

Geeks Only
Just as important as inviting friends, it is important to get rid of people. You love your family, but they don’t understand anime. It is incredibly annoying and evil when they interrupt right in the middle of the pivotal important moment of the series. Get them out of the house. Send them to friends or to other family. If you can’t get them out of the house, then barricade yourself in.

The Feast
Now you need your provisions. Just like the New York Marathon you don’t want to overload. If you eat too much during the anime marathon you are going to be uncomfortable throughout the entire series. You might just fall asleep and miss the marathon that you have worked so hard to put together. I’m not saying you should eat healthy. Geeks don’t do that. Just take it slow with eating. Get your favorite snacks and your favorite drink. Since you are watching anime you could go with some anime food such as Pocky and Choco Bees. If you plan well enough in advance, you can impress your friends by making some rice balls. You will want to make sure you have plenty of provisions to last through to the end of the marathon. You don’t want to be sent to the store in the middle of the story.

Put Away the Sword, Get Your Jammies
You will also need to plan for the right attire to wear. This is not an anime viewing at a convention, so put away the floor length red overcoat and the oversized prop sword. Break out your comfy clothes. Put on your Domo slippers and your favorite sleeper pants. The matching Naruto t-shirt and hoody are acceptable, so long as you will be comfortable.

Stake Your Claim

The final preparation before the marathon starts is to stake out your viewing spot. This is your house and you have planned this anime marathon. It is your right to sit or lay where ever you want. Make sure you have the perfect view of the screen and that you will be comfortable for the next several hours.

The Great Pause Button

During the anime marathon you need to plan for the unexpected. You and your friends are human. You will need potty breaks. Even though you tried to send your family away, they usually come back and they will interrupt you. There will be times during the marathon your friends will have a story to tell. All of this fine. There is nothing you can do about it. This is why some genius invented the pause button and the reverse button.

Thanks for the Memories
There is one last thing to plan for, after the anime marathon is over. Besides cleaning up, you and your friends are going to want to get out of the house. All of you should get some breakfast or dinner, depending on what time it is the marathon finishes. This is a great time to talk about the anime series you just spent several hours watching. Talk about the plot and compare notes on what you think was going on. Talk about the best parts of the series and gripe about the voice actors. Just as if you ran the New York Marathon, you will want to brag to each other about making it through the entire series, in one sitting.

Remember, you have worked hard this week and you have put up with a lot. You have earned the time for your marathon, so you will want to make the most of it. If for some strange reason you would run the New York Marathon, you will want to plan so you can do it well. Your anime marathon is something you actually want to run. It deserves the same planning so you can do it well and ensure you have a great time.

Thanks to:
           Grell at Work by KiamiRay
           Good Friends by Kuromo-sen @
           How Did All That... by Kelcake @
           Party Rockers by Jitsiej @ 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shameless Monday

I am dubbing today “Shameless Monday.” I’m sure a lot of people reading this have done questionable things over the weekend and now need to redeem themselves, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is when I want to be shameless and talk about my writing. 

Please don’t run away! Give me a chance.

Yes, I have some stories that I am working on that I would like to tell you about, but I also would like to tell you about some of the things I have learned about writing. I am very much an amateur writer and I have so much to learn. It is my hope that with the eyes of a novice I can share what I am learning in new ways. 

The shameless part first. About a month and half ago I finished a short story, called Pain & Paranoia. It is approximately 10,000 words or roughly 20 pages. It is about a young man, Jason, who is tortured and beaten by two small goblins. Jason can see the goblins, but no one else can see the little monsters. Jason’s co-workers and friends think he is going crazy and hurting himself. 

So, far I have had a lot of positive feedback, even from people who say this type of story is not their cup of tea. Pain & Paranoia is free and is available here:
I hope it is a story you will like. If you do read it, please let me know what you think. I would even like to hear criticism. The criticism will help me to improve my future writing.

I won’t bug you with my other stories at this time, so let me share with you something I have learned about writing. I quickly realized the writing processes I learned in English 101 and 102 actually work. Who knew, right! I have found a combination of different processes work for me. 

When I first get an idea for a story, (I have about a dozen of them right now) I like to free write about the idea. Free writing is putting whatever pops into your head on paper (electronic or otherwise). You write no matter what it is that pops into your head, even if it is the same word over and over again. Also, you are not supposed to stop writing at all. I have switched up the rules for this. I write down what pops into my noggin, but only those thoughts that have to do with my story idea. I will stop writing so I can organize my thoughts, but I will not get up from my seat. 

Free writing has been very helpful for fleshing out a story. Most of the time I start out with a simple idea such as “There are four tribes of werewolves.” From there I start to see all the characters of the story and what they look like. I get ideas about their quirks, weaknesses, and strengths. I can see where the story takes place. I will come up with different parts of the story and where I want it to go. Please keep in mind, it does not come out this organized. My thoughts jump all over the place hitting this, that, and left field. 

The second process I like to use is outlining. This is where I make bullet statements and organize the ideas. As I said my thoughts during free writing are jumbled up. During outlining I will take each thought and organize it so all of it makes sense. I organize by characters, location, background story, and story points. 

When writing my story I will refer back to my outline. The number one thing I get from the outline is simply remembering things like one character always wears hoodies, or a character’s name. I’m always forgetting names. During the story I get ideas, so I stop and add them to the outline. One rule I have about outlines, they are not written in stone. Just because I decided during the outline two characters should fall in love, does not mean that during the story I can’t make one of them gay and they never get busy. I’ll stop there, because I need to keep this PG.

I hope this has not been too shameless, but I have to get word out there somehow about the stories I’m working on. After all, what is the point of writing a story if no one is going to read it?

I also hope my thoughts on the writing process were helpful in some way. I know the processes I talked about are fairly basic. I felt there are some burgeoning writers that might be struggling with how to form their ideas. Maybe there is a writer that just needed a reminder about some tools for generating ideas.

One last thing, I am not completely shameless to think I know it all. I do not know the first thing I am doing. Therefore, I would love to hear from all of you. Let me know what you do for your writing process. Do you change up the rules? Where are your areas of trouble? I hope to hear from all of you.

Thanks to:
          SleepingFox @ (Love Is War)
          Bob Beeson (Pain & Paranoia Cover Art)
          kagomeamichun @ (Art Medium Chibi: Writing)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Out Of Style Geek

I saw the first Star Wars in theatres over fifty times. I watched Robotech and Star Blazers, before anyone heard the word anime. I have collected over three thousand comic books. I have spent hundreds of dollars on anime and manga. Then there is the t-shirts and collectibles I have amassed over the years. I am a Geek. Recently I have proudly started calling myself “Otaku,” which is Japanese for Geek.

I can easily frustrate my wife with Star Trek quotes, when she tries to argue with me. My sons stare at me blankly when I try to teach them a life lesson through the wisdom of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Friends are reminded of how weird I am when I tell them of the new Battle Angel Alita manga I bought. I am an Otaku. At least I thought I was, until I finally made the holy trek all Geeks must make to a convention. It was at the convention where I learned I am not as Geek as I thought I was.

It was toward the end of summer and my 15 year old son, Morgan, would be returning to school soon. Morgan has enjoyed some anime and manga, thanks to me, but he did not embrace the Geek side of life, so he reluctantly agreed to go with me to the convention.

We traveled to Salt Lake City the night before the convention and we stayed with some friends in the area. Our friends did not completely understand what kind of convention this was. Colette kept trying to relate it to something she knew. “Is it a Star Wars kind of convention? Are they going to have Star Trek special guests? I didn’t know they had Lord of the Ring conventions in Salt Lake.” I told her it was an anime convention. “A what convention?” asked Colette. Her scrunched up face told me I had said something foreign or perverse to her. I explained, with some authority, that anime and manga are cartoons and comics from Japan. Their popularity has grown in the U.S. for the past decade. At the convention people like to dress up as their favorite characters and watch brand new anime and some old favorites. There is an artist’s area for amateur artist to show off their work and all kinds of stuff to buy.

I woke up the next morning and excitedly woke Morgan. He was not happy with me. He grumbled something about it being an hour before he normally gets up for school. I put on my favorite anime t-shirt, with characters from the Death Note anime, with my most comfy pair of jeans and sneakers. Morgan wore a blank t-shirt and jeans.
The moment Morgan and I walked into the convention hall, we knew this was completely different than what we expected. Everyone was dressed up as some anime character. We were the only ones that were not. Off to one side there was a group of characters that were pretend sword fighting with the occasional character trying to blow them all up with an oversized rocket launcher. In another corner was a group of identical characters fighting over whom was the better Naruto character. In front of us was a line of beings that crawled out from varying dimensions and landed from hundreds of alien planets. Was this the line to check into the convention or the line for the cosplay competition? Maybe the bathroom? Given all these costumes and lack of gender identification for some, raised a few more questions about the bathroom. I realized Morgan was trying to hide behind me. He looked horrified. Finally at the front of the line, a lady in her twenties asked, “Why are you here?” To which I replied, “I’m here for the convention.” She took my credit card and looked for our tickets in the system. “You look too old to be here,” She handed back my card with a shrug and says, “but I’ve seen weirder around here.” We took our passes and our complimentary bags of goodies. As I turned and looked around, I realized the young lady behind the ticket counter might be right about something. I could easily be the father and possibly the grandfather of every single participant at the convention. Throughout the day I took pictures of anyone who would stop, which was pretty much everyone. I found myself asking more and more what character the person was dressed up as. It was nerve wracking not knowing who they were. I couldn’t even figure out what series they came from. Thankfully most of them were nice and took pity on me and were happy to explain what character they were. There was one kid who was dressed as a samurai who took too much pity on me and kept giving me hugs whenever he saw me around the convention.

One of the first areas Morgan and I went to was the market. I decided if I was going to run out of money at the convention, it would be here. They had everything: costumes, swords, posters, models, backpacks, food, jewelry, and so much more. I looked through the costumes and noticed the makers did not take into consideration someone of my girth. I admired the beautifully crafted swords, even if they were fake. The price tags were for someone who lived by themselves, not for someone with a family. After looking around for a while, Morgan bought a couple of posters and I bought some models. I had to look up the name of the models when I got home to know who they were. Morgan and I both bought caps that looked like the top half of some creatures’ heads. Morgan’s was all black with long floppy ears and golden eyes. Mine was grey with pointy ears and pointed teeth above my brow. Later my hugging samurai asked, why was I wearing a girl’s cap?
One of the activities we watched was supposed to be part of the cosplay competition. I thought the characters would get on stage and show off their costume. This was actually cosplay combat. Two characters got on stage with weapons and whatever special powers they brought along. Someone sitting at a table would call out attacks for each character, which they would act out. Morgan and I both agreed it was lame, so we ducked out.

We took a break at the cafĂ©. I was looking forward to this. I’ve read online about Japanese candies and treats. I settled on some Pocky, which is chocolate covered pretzel sticks and some choco bees, which is a chocolate filled graham cookie. Morgan and I also bought some fruit sodas. The glass bottles looked really neat. The top was sealed by a glass ball and there was a spiral halfway down the inside of the bottle. Morgan and I tried for some time to open the bottles. Finally a group of boys who had been watching us intently asked for my bottle. The boy took the plastic cap attached to the bottle and whacked the glass ball. It sounded like the bottle shattered, but it didn’t and the ball rolled down the inside on the spiral. They handed the bottle back and watched intently as I took a drink. I tilted the bottle back and the glass ball rolled up and blocked the fruit soda. The boys giggled at me. It took another two bottles before I figured out how to properly drink the soda.

One of the last activities we took in was the Anime Music Videos. People take clips of anime and set them to music. As I explained to Morgan, it’s just like when MTV used to play videos. As the videos played, I got all excited. I knew the songs! I knew the anime! Morgan took great enjoy in reminding me, “Dad, these are all old anime and old songs. They can’t show the new stuff here because of licensing problems. It says so in the program.” This also explained why I had already seen all the anime movies they were showing at the convention.

On the way home we agreed we had a good time. Morgan said he relaxed and enjoyed himself when he figured no one there would recognize him. I enjoyed myself as well, but I was disheartened to learn I am not the Geek I thought I was. I learned that most of my Geek knowledge was dated and my Geek tastes in style were very out of date. I realized I am not the carefree Geek that can snatch up extravagant collectables anymore. My 15 year old son tried to comfort me in saying, “Sorry Dad, but Peter Pan has died.”