I find myself hysterical at times when a normal person wouldn’t be. Things that should be simple I find impossible, daunting, stressful, and, when given a choice, try to avoid at all costs.
Parking Garage Machines – Those little slots into which we insert a ticket to escape the parking garage are the same things that I always manage to do incorrectly. I’m not sure how I am able to fail at this task so consistently, but I do. Today, for example, the bar was up – meaning I could drive though unchecked – but I still stopped, put the car in park, opened the door (because I was too far from the machine), dropped my phone, pen, and ear buds on the ground, had to get completely out to retrieve them, apologized to everyone behind me, realized the significance of the bar being up, felt like an idiot, got back in the car, and left. You know that person who has to press the call button on the machine to ask for help? That’s me. I’m not proud of it.
Toll Booths – I experience irrational fear at the thought of having to produce dollar bills or change at tollbooths. The worst are the unmanned catch-buckets (I don’t know the name of the urinal-shaped contraption) and the states that have different rates for each booth. A few months ago I was in the northeast and was told it would cost $35 to go across the bridge because I didn’t have a bridge pass. “There’s a bridge pass? Is that like a Troll?” The guy didn’t think I was funny, but I was so nervous I laughed for us both. I’ve thrown money at the catch-buckets hoping it was the right amount. I’ve dumped change all over the rental car searching for a quarter. I’ve handed over way too much money to the attendant, because I’m too flustered to figure out how much I have. I’ve cried. I’m not proud of it.
Buying my Husband a <Insert Holiday Here> Gift – I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I’m incapable. After nineteen years of marriage I now ask him, “What do you want? Send me the website. Oh, you got it yourself? Happy <Insert Holiday>!” I’m actually not good at gifts in general and am impressed with people who are. Almost as soon as I go onto a website or enter a store I start to second-guess my choices. There has to be a website strictly devoted to the shopping carts I’ve “filled” but never “checked out.” It’s like a sad, virtual wasteland of good intentions. I’m not proud of it.
I have a feeling that if I ever sat down with a therapist there would be plenty to talk about. Someone needs to invent an app which uses questions like “Do you become an infant at toll booths?” to slap you with a diagnosis and program for recovery. I’d buy that…or maybe I wouldn’t…
I love Bond films. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl. I love them regardless of who the actor is, regardless of who the villain is, and regardless of what the story is. I love them. Period.
At first this was going to be a list of the three things I love most about Bond films. However, having just returned from watching Spectre, I think it is probably more important that I cover why I shouldn’t like Bond films, because I loved Spectre, and I have absolutely no idea why. (Although Daniel Craig is quite pretty…but that isn’t it.)
Three reasons I shouldn’t like Bond films.
Excessive Violence. I love action, but I hate gory torture scenes. I actively avoid certain film directors (*cough Tarantino), because their films are filled with disgusting scenes that have no reason other than initiating a gag reflex in people or encouraging idiots with no imagination to experiment. But in Bond films, I actively embrace these scenes. And truthfully, in Spectre, the single torture scene seemed light. Hurt my Bond. Hurt him. It makes him angrier. Angry Bond is an excellent Bond.
Lack of a Discernable Plot. I’m a mystery fan. I love a great set of clues and twists and turns I can’t predict. I enjoy discovering along with the main characters and being surprised when the culprit is revealed. But in Bond films I’m almost always completely confused as to what’s going on. I never understand what clues lead Bond to each new fabulous locale. I have no idea why or how the main baddie always seems to have unlimited resources (elaborate sprinkler engineering in an arid desert) and a perpetual stream of minions. But, when it comes to Bond, I don’t care. I love that Bond is searching for something. I don’t much care how he finds it. Whatever, I’m in. Blindly. (Additional Note: In Spectre with each new locale my first thought was “Mmmm, nice clothes” and I’m not into fashion. Do you see why I’m confused?)
Idiot Women. I love smart, strong female characters that do and say what they think, independently of the corresponding male character (or in spite of them). AND YET I don’t give a flying fig what the women are about in Bond films. I embrace their decoration status and understand completely that they will be in peril at some point. So, it was a delightful surprise to find out that the main female character in Spectre did not end up dead…but no spoilers for those who haven’t seen it.
So, bottom line, I have no idea why I love the Bond films so unconditionally, but I do and I embrace that about myself. “For it is better to love oneself completely than hate because of a single flaw.” – Said by me, to the mirror in my bathroom.
Katy here. I’ve been wanting to contribute to the Wekk website with a regular blog post for a while, but I wasn’t sure what to write. I rejected nearly every idea – even the one that would have the title “Half Tablet Every Day” (which seemed genius at the time, but in retrospect is rather vague). Kevin is the expert at trailer breakdowns, Mandy excels at pop culture historical analysis, and Kellie knows the most about pretty much everything else, so I wasn’t sure if I could contribute. But tonight I was struck with inspiration, so without further delay I present to you the first – Katy’s List of Things!
The Three Best Things to Buy at a Grocery Store
Delicious things. Let’s face it, we all go to the grocery store intending to buy vegetables, but somewhere between the entrance and the fresh foods we suddenly need chocolate. We deserve that chocolate. If we’ve had an especially stressful day (doctor’s appointment, vet visit, too many conference calls…) the chocolate needs to be frozen…as in ice cream. This category also includes anything that’s bad for us – guacamole, cinnamon rolls, bacon. We hide these wonderful items under several clear bags of colorful vegetables (time to make that spinach salad) and we vow not to let the produce decompose in our refrigerator.
Magazines. I can go entire weeks without a single article about how to improve my life, but five seconds into the checkout line I suddenly need to know how to dress for the holiday season. I also need to know how to erase wrinkles in my face, where to go on vacation, and how to bake my family a delicious casserole…using lots of vegetables (preferably not eggplant, because even though I don’t hate eggplant, I’m not sure I understand why we try and use it…I mean it’s smushy and purple, like a large bloated prune).
Hash Browns. They make me happy. I will sometimes buy several packs, greedily grabbing the last few on the shelf, because what if there is a hash brown shortage? I might be forced to go weeks between crispy delicious bites. Horrifying. I also enjoy buying frozen breakfast burritos, but I’m not sure I can explain that (also that’s four things and I am trying to stick to three for these lists).
So a successful grocery store visit involves these three things…and an iced latte (also…burritos). Did I miss one?
Hey, Wekksters. Kevin here, and this week is the grand daddy of all nerd-related conventions. It’s the “2015 Comic Con International” in San Diego, California, also known as “San Diego Comic Con 2015,” also known as “SDCC,” also known as “The Longest Convention Lines For People Who Want To Say They Breathed The Same Air As ‘Doctor Who’ Star, Peter Capaldi.”
We, at Wekk Podcast, are not going to this year’s con, (which is a tragedy that will be avenged one year,) but I thought that it’d be fun to mention a few tips to ensure that those of you who are attending this massive event, do it all wrong.
Yes. You read that right. There are far too many blogs that tell you how to make the most out of your SDCC experience. Why follow the herd? I’m here to tell you how NOT to attend Comic Con by encouraging a little reverse psychology, and by sharing some funny scenarios that dip into a bit of convention truths that we all know far too well.
Disclaimer: Let it be known that if you follow these dubious tips, you will make fewer friends, create horrible experiences for everyone, and you will leave an embarrassing impression on anyone you meet. However, if you want a positive convention experience, avoid these tips like the zombie-plague.
So, here we go. Bad advice in 3… 2… 1… LAUNCH!
1. Come Woefully Unprepared
Believe me, no one loves a convention-goer more than when he’s ill-prepared. The volunteer staff cannot wait to field the typical Comic Con questions, such as, “How do I get into Hall H without all the silly waiting?”, “Where can I get some baby powder? This homemade Voltron costume is chaffing in the wrong areas”, and “Do you know where my kid is? I left him right here two hours ago.”
2. Complain… A LOT
Be the life of your group and the envy of everyone around you by complaining to anyone within earshot about anything. Everyone loves a complainer, right? And at SDCC, most of your time will be spent waiting in lines, sitting on carpets or asphalt, so you have a captive audience for your grievances. Complain about the waiting, about the food prices, about the weather, about the crowds, about how much better the con was when comic books was the main focus, and about anything else that ticks you off. If people tell you to shut up, tell them they’re just too scared to admit that you’re right. And you are right. You’ll earn a lot of con-cred this way. Trust me. (wink)
3. Yell… A LOT
How else are you going to be heard over the cacophony of convention noises than to create your own, ear-splitting, goat sounds of your own? Those around you will appreciate that you are adding to the local atmosphere. And trust me. The looks on the faces of the people around you might seem like disgust to you, at first, but it’s actually admiration. Yes. Really. Learn how to tell the difference.
4. Run… A LOT
Don’t worry about knocking into people, toppling a well-planned display, or bowling over a bunch of cosplayers posing for a photo. Be like Barry “The Flash” Allen and run as fast as you can manage. It’s all part of the fun of gathering as many bruises as you can before the con is over. There’s a little known secret about SDCC, and that’s the prize for the most contusions at the end of the con. Rumor has it the winner gets some kind of massive insurance bill at the end. Gotta shoot for something, right?
5. Drink… A LOT
First off, if you aren’t vomiting on convention hall carpeting, you aren’t doing Comic Con right. Second, alcohol and cons go together like Jar Jar Binks and intergalactic self-respect. Start drinking early, finish drinking late, and be sure to cure that massive hangover the next morning with a large helping of overly-priced, sub-standard food at the exhibitor’s hall. That will get the pre-regurgitated, stomach convulsions kicking in mighty quick.
6. Ruin the Panels
Make loud and obnoxious noises, use your cellphone cameras in device-prohibited areas, and talk loudly while some celebrity is making a salient point about her character so no one around you can hear. Anything to get you known by the security in the halls is a plus. Also, wait in line at the Q&A microphone and ask embarrassing questions of the panelists, like “At what point did you realize you were making a serious career mistake making this horrible movie?”
7. Don’t Shower… EVER
This is the most important rule on this list. It’s why I feature it last. Nothing else says “party-time” better than a convention-goer with severe hygiene issues. There’s always one in every group, but you don’t want to be just any con-goer with a stink. Shoot for “legendary” status and elevate your stench by also wearing the same funk-ridden clothing every day. In fact, I suggest that you pre-saturate all your clothes the week before with tons of sweat-stains to have your clothes ready on Preview Night. As you walk around, you will want people to turn their heads and go, “Damn, man! What the hell is wrong with you?”
And that’s a wrap. I hope everyone has a safe and sane Comic Con, I hope the squees are genuine and plentiful, the fun is infectious, and the memories are good and long-lasting. Bye, for now.
Kevin here, and I believe I can say with firm confidence that all of us on the Wekk Podcast enjoyed reading Andy Weir’s “The Martian.” There may have been an issue with a scene here and there, but for the most part, we all had a great time with the book.
So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to learn about author Andy Weir’s journey to literary stardom. Here now is a list of some facts I learned recently about the making of this book, as well as what Andy has up his sleeve next. Enjoy.
1. How “The Martian” Proves That Anyone Can Publish a Book
Andy’s path from writing for his own pleasure, to now having a Hollywood movie made from his novel, is amazing. One thing Andy says in interviews is that he never actively marketed his book. He simply wrote it and people wanted to read it.
He initially published each chapter on his personal website. Once he finished the book, some readers said it was too cumbersome to read the whole thing on a webpage, so he created a couple of e-reader compatible files and uploaded them for anyone who wanted them for free. Then, some readers said they didn’t have the technical know-how to take these files and stick them in their Kindle, so he went to Amazon and uploaded his book for readers at a price-point of .99 cents, the lowest price he could charge. (He was not allowed to offer it for free, which was his original intention.) Once on Amazon, his book started selling quite well until it hit Amazon’s Top 10 Sci-Fi e-Books list, and that’s when his life changed. Random House took notice, he got an agent, a book deal, a movie deal, and he’s already writing a second novel. (Mentioned below.) Big things come from small beginnings, and Andy has championed the e-book business because without it he would not be where he is today.
2. Weir Wrote a Computer Simulation To Plot His Book
Some writers write outlines, some interview people, some do lots of research in order to get the facts right. Andy Weir went a step further. Since he wanted to be as accurate as possible, Weir, who is a computer programmer, created a program to simulate the exact position of the Earth, Mars, and the Hermes spacecraft at every point in his story.
Not only did it help him figure out the exact flight path of the Hermes, but it also showed him the exact distances between each orbiting bodies so that Weir could accurately portray the communications between the Earth and both Hermes and Mars. That level of commitment seems to border on the obsessive, and we thank Andy for that.
3. Weir Hates the Book Cover
Well, “hate” is a strong word. Let’s say he disliked the cover when it was shown to him. The cover I refer to is the North American version (shown at the top of the page) that features an astronaut in a white spacesuit surrounded by a rust-orange cloud of dust.
To make the cover, an artist used a photo of a Space Shuttle astronaut during an EVA on an actual shuttle mission. The Mars duststorm was photoshopped around the figure to complete the image. Not only did Andy Weir not like it, he pointed out in an early draft of the cover that it contained a reflection in the astronaut’s helmet that showed the space shuttle’s cargo bay. (It was quickly corrected prior to publication.) Anyway, since it’s common for books to have different art in other countries, Andy has mentioned that he likes the Dutch version the best, which is located below.
4. Weir Admits to Fudging the Science For The Sake of His Story
In the book, the initial calamity that befalls Mark Watney is caused by a mega-sandstorm that aborts the mission. Andy has has said in interviews that his book’s sandstorm actually would feel like a two kilometer-per-hour wind on Earth and would not have been a threat to anyone on Mars. But, given that the protagonist needed to be stranded, and most people think that Mars dust-storms are ferocious, he took a bit of artistic license and made it into a super-storm.
(Above: The very “manly” UK version of Andy Weir’s book.)
5. Why Mark Watney Never Got Depressed or Lonely, and Why He’s Portrayed As a “Smart-Ass.”
Andy Weir has said that he wanted Mark Watney to be an “astronaut” who simply looked at the situation as a problem to be solved instead of dealing with the psychological negativity anyone might face after being abandoned on Mars.
In a recent Reddit AMA, Andy said “It’s a very serious situation and could have been a very dark, depressing story. I used Mark’s wit to lighten up the situation. Also there’s a TON of exposition in the book, where I have to give dry, scientific information to the reader. Having it delivered by a smart-ass makes it palatable.”
6. What Is Andy Weir Writing Next?
Once again, from the recent Reddit AMA, Andy wrote: “I’m working on my next novel, Zhek, which is a more traditional sci-fi novel. It has aliens, telepathy, faster-than-light travel, etc.” In other interviews, he described this story as “epic” in the literary sense of the word, and it’s one that may take several books to complete.
Well, now we know a little bit more about “The Martian,” about Andy Weir, and about his immediate future.
What did you think of “The Martian?” Did you agree with our comments during the podcast? Let us know in the comments section.
Kevin here. Disneyland is nicknamed “The Happiest Place On Earth” for a darn good reason, I think. It simply makes people happy. The cynical among us would scoff at such sugary sappiness, but whenever I am in the park, I feel rejuvenated as if I have been given an elixir of life. To me, Disneyland isn’t about cynicism, hipster irony, or corporations run a muck. No. It’s about smiles, and children laughing, and adults reliving the joys of their childhood. How could anyone see anything but beauty in that?
So, in the spirit of the people who love Disneyland, I give you a list of things about the park that I have loved in my life, and hopefully you love some of these same things, too. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s one I hope you will enjoy. So, here goes.
Disneyland happiness means…
…E-ticket rides. You can’t spell “excitement” without three e’s, or rather, three E-ticket rides.
…The Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland (where Big Thunder Mountain resides.) One of my earliest memories of the park.
…Hearing Snow White’s singing voice echo in the wishing well at The Snow White Grotto.
…Main Street. Just the whole vibe is amazing.
…The old Penny Arcade on Main Street that had authentic mutoscopes from the turn of the 20th century that showed flip-books of filmed scenes for a coin.
…The old two-level Starcade in Tomorrowland that always had the latest, greatest video games. I spent many rolls of quarters there in my day.
…The Haunted Mansion. This and Pirates of the Caribbean are two of the greatest rides that Disneyland has ever created.
…Flying over London and Neverland inPeter Pan’s Flight always makes me feel like a kid filled with wonder again.
…Pulling on the bendable, bamboo ceiling support in the Indiana Jones ride queue. When the ride was new, spikes would slowly emerge from the ceiling and it would descend a few inches to dramatic effect. Very cool memory.
…The original Submarine Voyage. I never got to see the live divers and mermaids, but the ride was so cool, that I can only imagine what it must have been like to see a real person waving at our sub as it passed by.
…The Mission to Mars ride. Oh sure. The ride looked like the inside of a giant washing machine, but for those of us who imagined traveling to faraway places, this was the ultimate trip.
…Tom Sawyer’s Island, which was, essentially, a place where you just turned your kids loose and let them play. What fun!
…CircleVision 360. Being the huge movie nerd that I am, how could I possibly resist a 360 degree movie? Yes, you had to stand for the entire movie, and it didn’t help that you might have had really aching feet during the show, but it was one of the most unique movie experiences I have ever had, and I miss that attraction very much.
…Holidays at the park. Nothing beats the Halloween and Xmas at the Happiest Place on Earth. Everything is decorated, the music is all seasonal, and even some of the rides are changed to have a holiday theme. And the climax of the fireworks at night during the Holiday period brings nightly snowfall. All in Southern California, no less. Nothing short of magical.
That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. What are your favorite Disneyland moments, past and present? Let us know in the comments.
Kevin here. This is a kind of companion article to our podcast on “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It’s more like a jumble of notes I scrawled out after I saw the film. Read them and digest them normally with at least eight glasses of water. And remember:
THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THESE HERE WATERS. TURN BACK IF’N YA HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM.
1. In our podcast, I was the only one to maintain a less-than-upbeat opinion of the movie. Oh, I definitely enjoyed it, and I’ll be seeing it again, but I still maintain my B+ rating for the film. If I change that opinion, I will update the blog.
2. There was too much happening to really care about anything. Too many characters, too many cuts to this random Avenger uttering a witty line, then jump-cutting to another random Avenger… rinse, wash, repeat. All of this made me dizzy as if the film were trying to make me eat cereal past the point to where I could hold down no more food. The same happened in the film. Lucky I didn’t vomit.
3. What was the drink they were all handed after the Hydra battle? Should I have known what that was? I would have preferred them all to be handed bourbon or scotch and have them act like the characters on Mad Men or Archer.
4. Ultron was not as badass a villain as he was in the comics. I mean, James Spader did a great job, but he was less of a threat than his swarm of minion robots. And I know that the swarm is technically Ultron too, but it felt less menacing to me to see the minion bots attacking as opposed to seeing Ultron’s physical form attacked Iron Man.
5. The film gave the audience zero time to hate Ultron. Ultron literally took micro-seconds to turn evil. The “why” went by so fast that it was almost dismissed as extraneous information. In fact, so many things were expected to be digested so quickly that it was tiring, and I’ve probably forgotten the details on most of the battle scenes already.
6. I’m not sure how the Banner/Romanoff romance was necessary to the plot. There. I said it. It ended as it began, with neither character changed in any way. They just reset their brains to “brood” and moved on.
7. I was very disappointed that the the Avengers’ main beatdown was NOT caused by Ultron, but by Scarlet Witch’s bad dreams. Ultron’s badassery suffered since he never contributed to any of the Avengers’ suffering except through his extension minion-bots. And Scarlet Witch’s induced visions were simply foreshadowing of things to come than having any relevance to the main plot.
8. So, Ultron’s master plan was to turn a city into an object big enough to cause human extinction? Would that have really worked? I felt any object needed to be much bigger, or be it needed to be an object headed at Earth at an infinitely greater speed.
9. Introduce Quicksilver, then kill him off? Okay. Let me phrase this differently: Make us care about Quicksilver, and then shoot him 48 times? Where’s the logic in that? Was that done simply to create a pissed-off and brooding Scarlet Witch in future films? Yay! More Marvel brooding.
10. The Age of Ultron ending was quite anti-climactic to me. There was no build-up to Ultron’s defeat. He just gets shot with beams of energy and Scarlet Witch ripped his heart out. (Which, by the way, didn’t feel very emotional to me. Just sayin’.) Then The Vision talks to Ultron’s last remaining minion bot before destroying it. Not the most gripping climax, to be sure.
I walked out of the theater feeling a bit unsatisfied. The CGI was great, the dialogue was witty and smart, and the film was a quality effort, but I felt two things: First, that there was just too much happening for me to care. Second, that it felt more like an extended teaser for The Infinity War. I felt like this should have been titled “Act II: Don’t Worry. The Real Movie We Want To Make Is Coming in Three Years.”
That’s some of my reactions. Tell us yours. What did you like about Age of Ultron? What did you not like? Write it up and leave a comment. And thanks for tuning in to Wekk Podcast.
Over the past weekend, there was a Geek & Sundry Twitch stream at a gaming convention at SXSW in Austin, TX, and one of the board games they featured on the show was made by Asmodee (famous for such games as “Splendor,” Takenoko” and “7 Wonders,) called “Concept.” Felicia Day and her brother Ryon played this on the stream with a couple of random strangers at the gaming convention, and it looked really fun and engaging.
“Concept” is a game that’s very easy to explain and very fun in practice. With a minimum of four players required, two players try to get the other two to guess a word or phrase. Imagine the game of Charades or Pictionary where instead of flapping your arms around, clucking like a chicken, or drawing something no one can understand, you have a board of basic pictographs or icons that you place pieces on to give the other players clues to the word or phrase you want them to guess. One player draws a card with a word or phrase, and must use the board of pictographs to get the players to guess correctly. This is the basic concept (heh heh) of “Concept.”
The board has vibrant colors, both in the neon-colored pieces and the icons on the board, and you are encouraged to shout out your guesses as soon as they come to you just like in Charades or Pictionary, but with less physicality required. If no one gets the word or phrase, more clues are forthcoming until someone wins the round. When a person guesses right, points are doled out to both teams, and the player with the most points at the end wins.
“Concept” earned a Golden Geek nomination at BGG.Con in 2013, and it won the As d’Or (Golden Ace) Award at the Cannes Festival International des Jeux in 2014.
This is a game that looks like a fast, fun party game with a unique board mechanic that anyone can enjoy, and I look forward to trying my hand at this game very soon.