Tag Archives: geek

On Learning New Things

A week ago, I started learning how to play guitar. I have no frame of reference about how to play, so I’m starting with zero knowledge of the instrument. When the guy at the music store asked me what kind of guitar I wanted, I replied, “Red?”
 

I didn’t make a purchase that day, but I did borrow my father-in-law’s Parker electric guitar. Thankfully, it’s red.

I did, however, purchase a little program for my Xbox called “Rocksmith.” The box promises that it’s “the fastest way to learn guitar!” That quote from a national study by Research Strategy Group Inc. I have no idea what that group is, but that quote, along with all the reviews of the program I’d read, convinced me to give it a try (and the $20 discount with Amazon Prime didn’t hurt either). I don’t want to focus this column on Rocksmith, but it’s a good program that seems to be working for me. I’m better at learning things when I can turn learning into a game.

I wanted to start learning guitar because I was feeling stagnant. I’ve been at my job for nearly seven years. I’m a work-at-home dad, but as my kids progress at school, they will be home less and less. I needed to learn something that would keep me busy, keep me striving to get better, and keep the loneliness away when I was by myself.
I also missed performing music. Guitar seemed like the perfect solution.

And while I’ll never look as cool as this guy:

I could at least look as cool as this guy:

I promise I’m not mocking this man. He looks dope.

 

I have nothing to prove I’m striving to just keep practicing, learning, and attempting to be a tiny bit better than I was the day before. I’m not pressuring myself too much. I have no performances to train for. I’m not starting a band. I’m just doing it because I love to make music.

 

A lot of times, I have been so afraid of failing that I wouldn’t try new things. Sticking to stuff you already know is safe. You don’t have to get too far out of your comfort zone when you stick to the same activities. This is almost a completely new universe for me, and the freedom to fail is, well, freeing. I want this to be a big first step in becoming a more well-rounded individual.

If I may, let me encourage you to try something new, especially if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Learning those subjects that you actually want to learn changes the dynamic of gathering knowledge so drastically. Enjoy yourself.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here badly plucking away at “Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

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Where is my Fandom?

I’m having a bit of an existential crisis. I used to be a fan in the literal sense of the word: fantatic. I used to be able to talk your ear off about comics, movies, video games, board games, and I would do so with glee. But, lately, fandom has been kind of annoying to me. Every time I see a post by a Doctor Who fan, I just want to unfollow them. When I see people arguing over which video game console is the best, I want to give up on the internet altogether. It’s not that I’m not a fan of those things; it’s that I’ve lost my patience for the fandom.

Just this morning, I saw a friend make a post that was ripping apart Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That movie came out over half a decade ago. People are still complaining about The Phantom Menace. It released 15 years ago.  For half my life, I’ve been hearing people complain about that movie. And I was complaining right along with them, for the most part.

What changed me? You know, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s that I had kids. Or started my own business. Maybe I’m just tired all the time. Maybe the fandom is just getting younger. But, I am just getting weary of it all. I’ve started unfollowing so many of the Facebook pages of things I like. Some of the Doctor Who pages are the worst.

Pond gagI hate stuff like the above picture. I don’t find it even remotely clever. The picture doesn’t really fit, and it’s sappy as all get out. I think maybe I’m just incapable of loving a television show like some other people on the internet.  Maybe our TV shows actually become a religion to some.

 

Being a kind of geeky dude, this is starting to worry me. While maybe I’m just growing up, there’s a part of me that feels inexorably linked to geek culture. I don’t want to give it up. I like gaming. I like sci-fi and fantasy. I like comic books. But, I feel like my quest for moderation might be harming my geek credentials. And I can’t believe that it’s an actual concern for me.

Maybe it’s my desire to belong with like-minded individuals that makes me worry that I’m falling a bit out of hardcore geek culture and into “dreaded” casual fandom, but I’m not JUST a geek any more. I have family, friends, church responsibilities, job stuff. Honestly, in the face of that, maybe falling a bit out of fandom’s gravitational pull isn’t such a bad thing.

So, if you’ve been where I’ve been, how did you get your fandom back? Or did you just leave it behind?

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Geeky Updates Galore!

So, a lot is going on in the world of Geek Cinema, as I like to call it. I thought now would be a good time for a round-up.

The Sorcerer Supreme

The Sorcerer Supreme

1. Marvel courting Johnny Depp for the role of Doctor Strange?!

-Let’s hope not. Don’t get me wrong, I think Depp is an incredible actor but I’m sick of seeing him in EVERYTHING and I think there are other equally talented actors out there that would be better suited for the role. Jim Caviezel, Justin Theroux, Viggo Mortensen, Oded Fehr, Joseph Fiennes, and Karl Urban, just to name a few. Thankfully, the rumors of him being courted for the role are just that, rumors. And let’s hope they stay that way.

 

 

I hope there's some excellent special features on this.

I hope there’s some excellent special features on this.

2. THE ADAM WEST BATMAN TV SERIES FROM ’66 IS FINALLY COMING TO DVD (AND HOPEFULLY BLU-RAY)!!!

-You heard me right. After years and years and years of waiting, the series is finally being officially released. Thank you, Warner Bros! I’ve waited too long for this. TOO LONG.

 

 

Could this be Aquaman?

Could this be Aquaman?

3. Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman just keeps turning into Justice League more and more every day.

– Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman, respectively. Then came Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Then there were rumors of Denzel Washington and Dwayne Johnson for the role of Green Lantern. And there was also the rumor of Jason Momoa being eyed for the role of Martian Manhunter (but I’d prefer Lobo). Well now we have Josh Holloway being sought for the role of Aquaman. Seriously? I really hope Warner Bros doesn’t end up turning the film into another Spider-man 3. We all remember Spider-man 3, don’t we? Hopefully all of these roles, if actually cast, will just be small cameos at the end of the film to set-up a JLA film. Hopefully.

 

Soak in all that douchebag-y goodness.

Soak in all that douchebag-y goodness.

 

4. Michael Douglas is Hank Pym in Ant-Man.

-Yep. Gordon Gekko is Hank Pym, which I guess makes sense because they were both major A-holes. So maybe this will work. I’m still on the fence about this because I think he’s overrated as an actor. I think Paul Rudd was a great choice, Michael Douglas…not so much. But I guess I’ll just wait and see.

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The Cupcakes Are Not a Lie

 

There’s not much I can think of that geeks love more than chocolate! What’s not to love? It’s delicious, chock-full of calories and sugar, and caffeinated (for those late night Xbox Live parties or D&D sessions). Studies have shown that chocolate is even beneficial for your health by giving you antioxidants to fight off free radicals and lowering blood pressure—though the benefits are from the cocoa powder itself, as opposed to all the sugar and fat added, but who’s counting?!

For my birthday, my friends got together and made me a cake designed after the one at the end of the game Portal—a three layer chocolate cake complete with whipped cream and berries on top. It was so rich, however, that it was difficult for three people to finish eating before it started going bad. So for portion control, we opted to make cupcakes this time!

But look at me still talking when there’s baking to do!

To launch The Cool Ship’s Arts and Crafts section, I bring you:

Deadly Neurotoxin-Free Cupcakes

Here’s what you need:

Chocolate cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge)
Chocolate Icing
2 bags of Dark Chocolate Chips (full of antioxidants!)
White icing
Red Mini M&Ms (1 bag of the Red and Green Christmas M&Ms will do nicely)
Cupcake pan liners or Non-stick cooking spray

I demonstrate proper smooshing technique for maximum chocolate chipness.

Preheat oven and prepare cake batter as instructed on the box. Put the bags of chocolate chips and M&Ms in the fridge, as the kitchen may get warm and cause them to melt. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?

Fill the cups about 2/3 full of cupcake batter. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Frost cupcakes with a moderate amount of icing. Pour a small amount of the chocolate chips onto a saucer so that they form a single layer. Take the cupcakes one by one and place icing first onto the layer of chocolate chips. Give a gentle push on the bottom, to ensure maximum chocolate chip coverage. Lift cupcake and tamp down the chocolate chips, filling any gaps by hand. Place cupcakes in the fridge for about 5 minutes, to allow icing to stiffen.

Using a fine tipped decorating bag (or the icing that comes with several shaped tips), gently squeeze 8 small dots of white icing along the circumference of the cupcake. Top with red mini-M&Ms. Add a candle and invite your friend, the companion cube, to the party.

Please be advised that a noticeable taste of blood is not part of the cupcake’s ingredients, but is an unintended side effect of the cupcake’s ingredients which may—in semi-rare cases—emancipate crowns, dental fillings, tooth enamel, and teeth.

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