I decided that I would take the week between Christmas and New Year off, but the damn Internets keep pulling me back in!
Various items for today:
Paul and Storm say:
...as the first geek President, Barack Obama would do well to reward this important and influential constituency by creating a new cabinet post: the Secretary of Geek Affairs.
And it’s up to YOU (the collective you, that is) to make sure the right person gets the job. As such we present GEEK MADNESS: a 64-”team” elimination tournament decided by public voting as to which person (or persons), real or fictional, is best for the job.
It's as much fun to read as you'd think. The four regions have names we all recognize, like the Bombadil and Jor-El Regions, and there are some truly difficult geek match-ups, like Steve Jobs vs. The Cast of Revenge of the Nerds.
Somehow, I got added to this insanity, and I'm in the Jor-El region. Normally I don't care about this sort of thing, and never take it seriously, but I really like Paul and Storm and I'm totally into the spirit of Geek Madness. Vote early and vote often, my brothers and sisters, and we'll all celebrate when I get crushered in the second round, provided we can somehow get past Bruce Cambell in the first round. (I know, I know. If you can't vote for me in this circumstance, I totally understand; I had a hard time voting for me.)
I wasn't going to write an LA Daily this week, because the Internets seem to be turned off, but my editor told me that traffic is actually up at the Weekly, so I went ahead and wrote a story about playing Scrabble with Anne:
I drew an X. She drew an E. It was an unnecessary harbinger of things to come. She went first, and instantly took a twenty point lead. I scored seven, much better than usual. Four or five turns later, she played SEXY for a triple word score, and I never caught up. It was a blowout. I was Custer at Little Bighorn, Varro at Cannae, The Broncos at Superbowl XXIV.
With about twenty tiles remaining in the bag, I saw a chance to draw within 40 points. I had QIEEB after I'd played an ineffectual two letters for a humiliating three points. If I drew a T, N, or R, I could place the Q on a triple word score, build off the U in FUGUE, and make QUIET, QUEER, or QUEEN.
I drew the T and held my breath, for Murphy's Law of Scrabble is that, with 85 potential places to play, your opponent will always play in the one place that leaves you thoroughly fucked.
Mike (aka Gabe) says that playing D&D with me and Kurtz and Tycho inspired him to get a DMG and learn how to run a game. They did four comics about it that I absolutely love. (part one - part two - part three - part four) I also love that this comic has given rise to the term the Gabe Bag as in, "I knew it would be a long flight, so I put my DS into my Gabe Bag, but I started reading an ARC of BONESHAKER before take off, and I never took anything else out."
Mike couldn't have chosen a better time to start DMing. The Fourth Edition Dungeon Master's Guide is the book I've wanted to read since 1983: instead of just being a collection of magic items and a few passing references to the joys of reading boxed text, it actually teaches the reader how to be a DM. It explains – among several other things – how to figure out what your players want and give it to them, how to create encounters on the fly, how to scale encounters and award XP, and how to bring the game to life off the table, so everyone truly feels like they're in a town called Winterhaven and maybe it's not such a good idea to try to bluff that Ranger in the alley after all. The Fourth Edition DMG takes every single thing that makes DMing intimidating and scary, and casts dispel fear on it. Whether you're planning to run a 4e campaign, a T20 campaign, a GURPS campaign or a World of Darkness campaign, it's the one book that all hopeful DMs should have, and I think that even experienced DMs will find it a useful and enjoyable read.
If you've ever rolled a D20, stayed up all night mapping out Zelda on the NES or just happen to have heard of Wil Wheaton…buy The Happiest Days of Our Lives audiobook, it's more than worth it.
Listening to the book was an almost eerie experience. At times I felt like some of Wil's stories were lifted directly from my own childhood, only with the names and locations changed. I think this is what makes this book so charming…that despite the fact that, like me, you may have grown up a decade and a few thousand miles away from the author…you instantly feel have a lot in common through sheer geek-cameraderie.
I remember standing in a toy store, determined not to leave without a Star Wars action figure like in 'Blue Light Special'. I remember being 'taught' by little-Hitler teachers who were far more interested in petty, selfish power-trips than actual teaching like in 'The Butterfly Tree'…and sadly, the loss of a beloved family pet almost exactly like "Let go – A requiem for Felix the Bear."
In fact, to me, that's almost exactly what this book is. A memoir of the experiences that 'growing up geek' brings. The discovery that the things you love deny you entry into the mainstream social circles, the feeling that you have to constantly defend your choice of hobbies, and the joy when you find someone else who feels the same way. After listening to the whole thing, I almost can't help but think of Wil's childhood recollections as 'Geek-Seed Moments'...those formative childhood experiences that steer you down the road towards geekhood.
Geek-Seed Moments is a phrase that I like a lot. I'm working on a new introduction for the Subterranean Press edition of the book, speaking specifically to people who aren't already familiar with me and my work, and don't know what they're getting into. I keep coming back to various ways of saying that it's about geek nostalgia with some of the stuff I love thrown in, but the words keep coming out all weird. Maybe "Geek-Seed Moments" will help me put them together into something more satisfying.