Fandom

The Beating Heart of Fandom

Today is T-14 days until my 40th birthday, and the Reconnection Project has empowered me more than I ever thought it would. Today, I start the process of moving beyond me... Let the games begin.

Fandom is an action and a community.

The Last Air Bender from Shore Leave 32

When I say fandom is an action, it is a bunch of actions.

  • Reading and writing Fan fiction
  • Creating, sharing, and discussing Fan theories
  • Listening to, writing, and singing Filk
  • Sharing, making, and viewing Fan Art
  • Fan Vids
  • Fan films
  • Cosplay
  • Costuming
  • Roleplaying
  • Fan games
  • etc...

Every fan has their own way of participating in fandom. I used to participate a lot more than I do now. And that changes today.

When I stopped everything in the depths of my depression, I stopped playing in the fandoms I love.  I cut myself off from the fan communities I used to not only participate in, but I cut myself off from the people I used to interact with.

Community and fanac (fan activities) go hand in hand, especially now in this age of the internet.

We are defined by our actions

I cannot say that enough to myself or to you.

Ideas in your head stay in your head and if you aren't careful, they will cage you in there.

Life is action. If you want to live a life of compassion, you have to engage in acts of compassion or you are not compassionate. The same is true with everything.

If you want to define yourself by what you love, you have to engage in loving actions.

In fandom, that means, we have to share what we love and promote it. Don't let yourself be passive. Passivity is silence, and silence is nonexistence.

Take your voice back! Take your life back! Share your love with the world. 

Some people might think this is a silly or trivial thing, but it isn't.

My love for Yoda says something about me. He represents wisdom, inner strength, and the ability to find humor in any situation. These are all qualities I admire and desire in myself. When I see my Yodas around the house, it works as a symbol which draws up all these connections in my unconscious mind and strengthens those qualities within me.

Some people might think that is taking all this too seriously, but that is how mythology works.  It is a subtile effect on us, but it effects us all the same. By choosing to surround myself with these images, seeking them out, and sharing them, I am participating in the mythos. Ever time I quote Yoda, I am participate in the mythos and strengthen those qualities in me. 

Don't think that these are some kind of solemn acts. Solemnity isn't required for actions to have effects on our selves. Sometimes they are moments of catharsis, and sometimes they are pure frivolity.  

Today's Task: 

Find at least one thing you love and participate in it.  Share a picture, a video, read some fanfic, watch a fanfilm, or at the very least watch or listen to something you love.

Let me know how you are participating in the things you love.

There's not enough Love and Understanding

It is now T-16 to my 40th Birthday, and it happens to be Brian's Birthday today.  As I write this, he is playing Civ VI, his present with the biggest smile on his face.  It is hard to express how much I love him.

Love is such a strange thing.  I never thought this would be a part of my life, yet still here it is.  Our story is as strange and bizarre as it would have to be to get people like us together.  My life has taught me the most important thing anyone could ever know about love:

Love sneaks up on you

By that, I mean every kind of love. Romantic, friendly, familial, or just simple compassion, it just sneaks up on you. It doesn't come when you seek it out.  It seems to hide when you look for it, but when you least suspect it, there it is.  I was in a relationship when I met Brian.  I wasn't looking for anything else, but it happen anyway.

Friends from Shore Leave.

Romantic love isn't the only kind of love that sneaks up on you. Friends do as well. I never expected to make so many friends from New York, especially since I haven't been to the state since 1996, but now I have a circle of friends there that are as supportive, if not more, than any of the friends I have in the town where I live. How did that happen? 

Honestly Honesty

After an event I am not going to go into a lot of detail about took place in 1998-99, many people I thought were friends stole every THING that I had including my sense of self and how the world works. After that, I decided just be bluntly and blatantly who and what I am.

While I wouldn't recommend for everyone to be as open about their lives as I am, I will say that you have to be yourself.  

Stop caring about what others think about you

I am just me, and you should be you. If you spend any amount of time worrying about what other people think about you, that is just a waste of time.

The one thing most lacking in this world is honesty or integrity or however you want to name it.  Society will always pressure individuals to play a role, because it is a machine like everything else.  It packages, names, and grinds people down until they fit into the role it needs them to fill.

What is important to remember is that Society is made up of many subcultures, and those subcultures empower Society to behave the way it does.  If you are in a subculture that doesn't want you, find another that does.

I left the mainstream or popular subculture years ago because I am not the Cisgendered, Heteronormalized, Centrist demanded my the currant cadre of subcultures that make up the present coalition we call Pop Culture.  

I am not Cisgendered, so I identify as genderqueer, or more specifically as androgynous.  I planted a flag there, and made a home in a community that accepted me as I am.

I could never live a Heteronormalized life, so I found myself in the feminist and LGBT communities.

I am not a centrist, so I called myself out as a liberal.

So what subculture do I live in? Fandom. I love a subculture that defines itself by what it loves rather than what it hates (which is how fandom should be defined, even though sometimes people push the edges of that definition).

To me, that is the secret of life and how everyone should act.  When you focus on the things you love, you attract a loving community around you.  This is a how you attract love in every form.

Brian and I connected through fan activities, and we have now been together for almost 20 years.  All of the friends I have, I met through our mutual fandoms.  Love gives meaning to life.  Love gives us strength.  Love is all that matters.

Task for Today

Share something you love with a partner, friend, or a stranger.  Connect with those closest to you over your mutual love for something: music, shows, movies, games, etc.

Let me know what your results are.

It's time to break the chains (2016 Objectives)

I know you all are probably tired of hearing me say this, but the last couple years have been hard for me.  Depression is a thing.  As we start 2016, it is time for me to do something that I haven't done in a while, I need to set some objectives for the new year.

The break down I went through taught me a couple things.

  1. I am stronger than I thought I was (and so are we all).
  2. You all really do care about not only what we built here, but about me. (That helped me get through more than you know.)
  3. Fandom is what I am, not just something I do.

That third one might sound strange.  In my darkest moments, I found strength not only in my faith, but in Spock, the Doctor, and my love for all things Henson.  When I didn't feel like doing anything, I would listen to Rainbow Connection, and find the strength to keep going.  BTW, I have amassed quite a collection of covers of that song.  I think my favorite is by Amanda Palmer.  She also helped more than she will ever know.  I have never met her, and I probably never will, but her book The Art of Asking, and her music was a big help.

So, having said all that, I have some objectives for this year.

Objective 1. I want to Write more

That might sound overly simple.  I am a writer after all, but with everything that has been going on, I haven't been able to write nearly as much, as I wanted.  I tied myself down with planning, and did very little writing.  I am not going to keep it that vague.

Goal 1.1 I want to post 4 Short Stories a month to Medium

There are a lot of stories in me, and I just need to tell them.  I need to stop worrying if this story or that should be a novel, a serial, a novella, novelette, or a short story.  I should tell the stories that are in my head, and then listen to you all.  If you all want me to elaborate on or extend a story, then that is probably my next novel.  After all, what good is all my writing if no one wants to read it, right?

At any rate, I feel like that will be a good way to collaborate more closely with you all.  I like the idea, and we'll see how it works out.

Goal 1.2 I want to blog more, at least 5 times a week

This is a bit harder for me.  I am so tired of the nonsense hype cycle, and I don't want to be a part of it any more, but there are a lot of things I want to share with you all and discuss.  I am going to do my best to take the time to share those thoughts.  I have to stop keeping it all inside.

Objective 2.  I want to Podcast more

I love podcasting.  I really do.  So I want to set aside the time to do it more.  I even talked Brian into joining me on the podcast again. (insert appropriate happy dance emoji here).

Goal 2.1 Record 5 podcasts a week 22-45 minutes each

Project: Shadow lives again.  More themed episodes, but I will try to have a headline section for things that are actually interesting.  I am going to need your help with this.  I have a lot of things I want to talk about, but could always use your suggestions for show topics.


Two objectives that give me three goals.  It might not sound like a lot, but that should keep me busy in 2016.  I would really like to know what you think.  What are you doing this year?  Let me know in the comments.

What can the Skeleton Warriors of Papua New Guinea teach us about Christmas.

I didn't expect to be blown away by the sheer beauty of a people that paint themselves as skeletons, but it happened.

What is it about these men that took my breath away?

They embrace life.  To paint your body with the visage of death reminds us of the precious and fleeting nature of life.  More than that, their willingness to play with their traditional art form.  This is a quality we have lost in the us vs them culture we adopted over the last several decades.

This is most evident this time of year with some people's reaction to Christmas.

Culture, tradition, and religion

It is undeniable that Christmas has a special significance to Christians, but it is also an American cultural institution.  Movies like Elf, The Santa Clause, and Miracle on 34th Street, not to mention Rudolf, the Night Before Christmas, and A Christmas Carol, all provide secular images that have become cultural fixtures over the years.  Don't even get me started with How the Grinch stole Christmas.

My point being, while, yes, there are some cultural institutions that should be abandoned in the name of inclusion and diversity, we as a culture need to learn to play with the images we have inherited, rather than reject them all blindly.

We have lost too much of our culture to hostile copyright laws to trash what little of the public domain we have left.

If a cultural image bothers you, ask what about it is so troubling.  Is it something inherent in the image, or is it baggage you are carrying with you.

There is too much either/or thinking.

Santa Claus can be both a Christian reminder of St Nicolas of Myra, and a secular figure who sells Coca-cola.  He doesn't have to be one or the other.

If we don't learn how to reconcile the contradictions facing us in these images, we will never be able to cope with more fundamental ones like how all life is sustained by death.  Hydrogen must die to give light to the plants.  Plants and animals must die to sustain our lives.  We ignore these issues by telling ourselves that plants can't feel or think, but they still have to die.

Truth often presents itself through paradoxes.  The sooner we get comfortable with that, the sooner we will start to find peace in our hearts.

Play with your culture

If we don't play with the images we have inherited, they will go away, and if we don't make new ones, we will follow soon after.  We like to think that we are rational creatures, but we are also emotional ones.  Logic speaks to our reason, but images speak to our emotions.  For too long, we have abandoned our emotional natures to fend for themselves, gleaning what little nourishment they can from pop culture.

We are the agents of our culture.  It doesn't belong to us. It has only been entrusted to us until we leave it to the generations after.  Leave it better than it was when it was handed down to you.  Don't short circuit the culture out of some short sighted need to react to the past rather than create the future.

 

Good Reads feels like a place to be alone, so I started a new group

I have been a member of Good Reads for a long time, and I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. 

I cannot get into the groups.  I have tried, but the conversations are rarely interesting.  If you know a good group, please invite me.

I cannot get into the stream... The site feels disjointed.  I rate and review books I read, but it doesn't seem to be more than that. 

I want Good Reads to be a place I can go to talk about books.  Maybe I am using this site wrong.  I have looked through many tutorials, but none of them have helped me.

So, in hopes of making Good Reads work the way I want it to, I started a Project: Shadow Book Club.  I hope you join.  I will give this a year to take off, and I will post there even if I am just talking to myself.

I am reading Kaiju Rising, and made that the first book of the month.  It is a collection of short stories about giant monsters destroying cities, but it is so much more.  I have really been enjoying the book, and I look forward to discussing it with you.

I also set up a poll for to select the book of the month for October.  You can vote on the four books I added or suggest one of your own.

Lets get this book fandom doing what it should: discussion and sharing.

Game of Thrawn

As I, like many other fans, am trying to get excited about Star Wars VII, and it has not been easy.  Sunday, Brian and I were talking about what we wished they would have done, and I said, "I just want Star Wars: Game of Thrawn." 

I immediately pulled out my laptop and started making a movie poster.  I grabbed a photo of the Iron Throne and  Sketches276 by B321618, which is a kick ass picture of Grand Admiral Thrawn, and I made this-

What do you think?  I don't often take the time to do pictures like this.  Let me know if you want me to do things like this more often.

Market Wars: The Female Geek

Over at Club Jade, they pointed out a post over at How not to suck at game design about Why marketers fear the female geek.  This is a topic that need some attention.

We had a long talk about this at Shore Leave this year in two of the Panels I was on.  I've never understood why men in suits prefer to ignore or be condescending to women rather than just treat them as part of marketplace.

Since the majority of my readers are women, thank you by the way, I realize what a powerful part of the market they can be.  So why would anyone ignore more than half the market?

Men are easy

Hot Chick + Nudity (partial or full) + violence + spectacle = work made for men.

While I am not and would never say that women are not interested in these things or their combination, for the most part, female geeks (at least the ones I know), are very detail oriented.  It is harder to come up with an interesting plot or characters than it is to follow the man equation above.

I can only hope that this stupidity with end in the not to distant future.  Do you have any other ideas why marketers are choosing to ignore women, please share in the comments.  This all confuses me way too much.

Disney fires the Deathstar at the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Boom!

Queue the fanboy freak out in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

No!!!!!!!  The Mouse is not my father!

*** Warning, what follows is a RANT  ***

So, Disney, ahem, Lucusfilm as owned by Disney, has announced that the Extended Universe never happened (read it here).  They are urban legends.  Like a good JJ Abrams film or an Ewok that isn't annoying.

While the announcement was polite, and I didn't expect them to canonize the whole of the expanded universe, I thought they would at the very least respect the Thrawn trilogy, if nothing else...  I suppose JJ needed his freedom so he could add more lens flare and red matter.

What pisses me off the most about their patronizing announcement is that it feels like this is the decision they had already made, and that they pretended to look into the question in hopes it keep fans like me from freaking out.

Too little, too late.  I was done with the Empire a long time ago, and I not really interested in rehashing all this again.  I know they are making the films for the mass audience, and they don't give a crap about what the fan base thinks, but this is just salt in the wound JJ cut into my interest in the franchise.

I hope they make a better film than I think they will, but my hope is as dead as Alderaan.

So, there is going to be a geek couture fashion show at San Diego Comic-Con

Gah, I am not sure how I feel about this...

First off, I need to point out that this is not couture.  Couture is the made to measure garments made by members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.  As geeks, we should at least get the nomenclature right.

Secondly, I love the idea of this, but this is more an add for Hot Topic which is an opportunistic mall shop that feeds more off trends (that it doesn't fully understand and often misrepresents) and is not known for quality clothing.

It would be a great thing to see a fashion culture in geekery that goes beyond t-shirts and hipsters, but this does not have the feel of anything more than a publicity stunt.

I hope I am wrong.  Maybe this is the beginning of a broader social engagement, but looking at the sketches, it feels more like they are going to try to look more avaunt gaarde than they really are.

As long as this fashion show is better than Under The Gunn's steampunk challenge, there is hope that something like this could catch on, but I do not have high hopes.

Walking the Labyrinth with friends

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Went out last night to see Labyrinth at the Moolah with friends. I love a good midnight show, and it has been a while since Brian and I went out with friends.

There is something so very special about a road trip with friends. Sharing music and trading stories while traveling has to be one of the best experiences life has to offer.

I spend so much time alone working, or shepherding my virtual friendships on Facebook and Google+, that sometimes I forget about the sheer joy of the journey: the power that an meaningful event can have not only on me, but on my relationships.

Trust has been an issue for me for a while, but I feel like I am staring to move past it and make new friends.

Leave it to the glamour of David Bowie to remind me of the power of the road trip to change the way I see the world.

Oh, great and terrible Goblin King, we have walked your labyrinth and grown closer and stronger for it. May you kingdom have no end.

Live-action fan film Robotech Valkyrie Project coming soon

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Director Cesar A. Turturro and writer Jorge Luis Sucksdorf are working in Argentina to make a full, live-action Robotech fan film.  Robotech: Valkyrie Project is the result.

According to their website, they had expected to have the movie out in 2012.  The trailer above was released in December as proof they are still working on the project.

I hope they release it soon.  The trailers are amazing.  Maybe this will even goad Hollywood into making a quality Robotech film.

Nic Mathieu has been tapped to direct Robotech, Warner Bros.’ big-budget adaptation of the venerable anime featuring giant mechanical warriors.

The project has major franchise potential -- on the scale of Transformers -- and has been in development at the studio since 2007. Akiva Goldsman and Tobey Maguire are producing along with Matthew Plouffe, Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell (Hollywood Reporter).

Fingers crossed.

What is a gaming community?

Chistina Kelly put together this great presentation on what makes a gaming community, and it really made me think:

 

 

I think the problem that we are all facing an issue about how to bring in people in a way that they contribute to the project, without clouding the issue of copyright and ownership to the point where no one can make money off it.  This presentation is a great start.

Celebrating the Heir to Franchise Fiction

The 20th Anniversary edition to Star Wars: Heir to the Empire releases on September 6, 2011.  A must own for Star Wars fans.  A great read for those looking for a next book to read.  But above all of that Heir to the Empire helped to transform franchise fiction.  

 

Timothy Zahn was the first to move outside of cannon in franchise fiction.  He transformed it from backward looking to forward looking. 

 

Before Heir to the Empire franchise fiction was safe and tended to be boring.  The stories stayed within the established timeline and themes.  They would explore more about the established characters or show them in a new situation but didn't really move forward.  Characters were safe and static.  Settings were going stagnant.

Starting with Heir to the Empire we move outside of Star Wars cannon.  The characters take a depth that was missing before developing, growing and even face death.  Their lives move forward introducing a continuity for instance Han and Leia are together like before but they start a family, have kids, joys and losses. 

We also get a sense of suspense added back into franchise fiction.  No character is safe from a dangerous situation because main characters do die leaving us without the knowledge if they will survive.  For instance in the beginning of Heir to the Empire we start out with the final death of Obi-Wan Kenobi who shows up telling Luke Skywalker that his strength in the force is fading and that he will no longer be able to return to counsel him.  Thus giving us the final death of Obi-Wan Kenobi and signaling to the readers that even big named characters are not safe from a final end even ghosts. 

Heir to the Empire is also a great story moving the setting forward after the defeat of the Emperor.  We get introduced to an amazing and dangerous character Admiral Thrawn who is messing with cloned Jedi.  We also get introduced to the ysalamiri and the concept that there are some things devoid of the force and thus immune to it.  This book shows us how the Rebal Alliance sets out to rebuild their new government and attempt to bring peace to the galaxy.  Heir to the Empire is the first book in a trilogy of novels known as The Thrawn Trilogy.

Plot

Five years after the Death Star was destroyed and Darth Vader and the Emperor were defeated, the galaxy is struggling to heal the wounds of war, Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins, and Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of new Jedi Knights.

But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor’s warlords—the brilliant and deadly Grand Admiral Thrawn—has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the New Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to create.

Special Features in this edition

  • an Introduction and annotations from award-winning author Timothy Zahn
  • exclusive commentary from Lucasfilm and Del Rey Books
  • a brand-new novella starring the ever-popular Grand Admiral Thrawn

Understanding Everything Remix

This is an awesome series on the topic of Remix titled Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson.  It will show you how there is nothing new under the sun.  Watch the series below.

Everything is a Remix Part 1

Everything is a Remix Part 1 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 2

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix Part 3

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Fandom, for Community and Fun

Jeffrey Carl Faden posted his thoughts on fandom, and I have to say, I understand were he is coming from, and I feel like he just missed the point.

His main argument is that being a self identified a fan gets to enjoy the benefits of community, but are discouraged by the label to create stories and worlds of their own.

I couldn't disagree more.  I am a fan.  I have always been a fan, and I participate in multiple fandoms, and that has not stopped me from creating my own worlds and stories.  I would even argue that this exposure forces me to figure out how I can be more original.

I started writing fan fiction, and it was a great place for me to learn some of the fundamentals of story.  I will not repeat my old "fanfiction is what culture is" sermon again, but I still feel that way.

Fandom is the a world of like-minded people who help me discovery new fiction, music, and games.  They expose me to new ideas, and challenge my preconceptions.

Fandom is, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.  /rant