Out of Geekdom

Nothing about writing today, because I didn’t work on anything writing related last night.  It was a time to relax and recharge, and I’ll get into things a little tonight after I return from getting my nails done and grabbing something to eat.  No, I needed a nap and the need to sit and watch some TV last night, all the while thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while.

It has to do with geekdom.  If you’ve followed the blog for a while you’ve seen some of my posts about my various steps into things geeky.  I’ve been into a lot of different things over the years, and I suppose I could say that I’ve tempered that love with a sense of reality, turning my love of various fandoms into a thing that I nurtured and cherished.

However . . . this year I’ve stepped into a “geeky gift exchange” that was limited to a small number of people, and since joining I’ve been going nuts.  No, really:  I’ve been really beating myself up the last couple of weeks over being in this group.  I should point out that I get like this with any gift exchange, because I’m fairly particular about giving gifts.  It’s not the value that I want someone to remember, but rather, I want them to have something that comes from my heart and speaks to them.

And then I begin reading what people in the group already own, what they’ve collected–and I began feeling bad.  Not for them, but rather, for me.

To paraphrase Karen Blixen, I had a collection in geeky things in my library in my home.  It wasn’t big, but it was growing, and it covered a lot of different things.

My first love had always been book–science fiction to be exact.  I was a space travel junkie, but there were a few other stories that I loved just as well, and in the 1960s and 70s I spent hours reading and trying to find stories relating to my favorite authors.  I collected Omni and Twilight Zone magazines, both sadly gone these days, and both of which offered fantastic stories and information while they were out.  I had nearly every issues of the first and all the issues produced during the Twilight Zone‘s short, two year run.  Twilight Zone was famous for first-run printings of Harlan Ellison’s Grail and Paladin of the Last Hour, among his best writing and my favorite stories, as well as Steven King’s The Jaunt and his now-famous review of The Evil Dead where Steven pretty much lost his shit and gushed out his love for the picture.

Then it was Doctor Who, which I started watching in PBS in Chicago about 1980.  Yes, twenty-five years before all the fans who today talk about how they’ve seen ALL THE EPISODES of the show, starting with Rose in 2005.  Uh, huh, sure you have.  I was fortunate to be able to watch the show on one of only two networks in North America that ran it at that time.  (The other network was a station in Toronto, Canada.)  After a while I began taping the show so I could go back and watch episodes when the mood struck, and when our local station finally managed to get access to the then full catalog of existing episodes (just under a hundred are missing, having been destroyed during various BBC vault purges), I was kept busy buying VHS tapes in bulk.

Then I asked for a scarf.

The Forth Doctor was my first Doctor, and he was known for, among other things, his long scarves.  My first wife, pregnant with our son, felt like she needed something to do, so she found a pattern for the multi-colored, eighteen foot scarf, and made it for me.  It was big and heavy, but it was also glorious.  I would actually wear it out and to work, and I didn’t mind the stares shot my way by people who wondered what in the hell I had wrapped around my body.

I few years later I wore that scarf to a huge convention where I met several of the actors, watched the first North American viewing of the Doctor Who episodes The War Games and The Caves of Androzani, and eventually had my picture taken standing alongside a full-sized Dalek that two guys had made in their auto body shop in high school.

This is not that Dalek:  back in my day Daleks didn't sport v-neck armor.

This is not that Dalek: back in my day Daleks didn’t sport v-neck armor.

I went to several DW cons over the next few years, cosplayed a few more times (we just called it “dressing up in costume” because we didn’t know what I was going to get labeled in the future), and met more actors.  At one con I managed to spend nearly forty minutes chatting with Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, and we just talked about things–not always about the show, but stuff about what it was like to act, what it was like to be in other shows, what it was like to live in England and have to hop a flight to Chicago where he’d find himself talking to people like me.  We did get to talking about his not being allowed to have a Regeneration Episode, and he had a . . . few . . . choice . . . words on that matter.  Still and all, Colin was an extremely nice guy and a lot of fun.

Again, not Colin, but I am digging the blond, Helena-like blond hair that I'd like for my own.

Again, not Colin, but I am digging the blond, Helena-like blond hair that I’d like for my own.

There were several other things I got into over the year.  Role Playing Games, of which I have dozens, and some of the games I ran during the 1990s were, in a way, legendary.  I collected Battletech miniatures, some of which are impossible to find.  I’d have people paint them and put them on display around the home.  During the period I was between my first and second marriages I began collecting anime:  some movies, some OVAs, a few wall scrolls, more than a couple of figurines that could only be bought in Japan–which, thanks to the Internet, was doable.  I also began collecting animation cells from various productions.  Of these I don’t have many:  maybe a dozen.  The majority are from the original Sailor Moon and Urusei Yatsura, with a couple coming from Song of Escaflowne and Silent Mobius.

All old school stuff, but as they are the original, hand-painted cells, they were and are worth a big of cash.  I know a couple ran about $200 in late 1990s money, and I believe the head shot I have of Lum set me back about $300.  The one I really wanted, the one I got into a bidding war with two other collectors, was for a full-body portrait of Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, which was about as rare a cell as they came.  I stopped when my $850 bid was passed, and I later learned from the seller that the winning bid was $1,100.  Yeah, the things we did twenty years ago when we had money.

A figurine of what the cell would have sort of looked like.  Yeah, I just loved some World Destroying Firefly . . .

A figurine of what the cell would have sort of looked like. Yeah, I just loved some World Destroying Firefly . . .

So what happened to all this stuff?  Well . . .

You see, while I was happy in my geekdom, and wanted to continue adding to the collection, others close to me–otherwise known as First and Second Wives–had other ideas.  My first wife grew bored with my geekness–as she did with just about everything else pertaining to me–and began getting pissy with my collections and my interest.  When I got to where everything I did turned into a big argument, I stopped the pursuit of all things geek, though I didn’t actually curtail my gaming on the weekends.  It was during the time just after I moved out that I lost my Omni and Twilight Zone magazine collections:  my ex told me she sold them at a garage sale, but I’m more of a mind that she tossed them in the bin.  I later lost my Doctor Who VHS collection to my stepson, who my second wife allowed to make off with my boxes of tapes.  I was also “convinced” by my second wife to give him my scarf, because there wasn’t any need to keep it, right?

Some of the other things that happened during my current marriage has been the boxing of my figurines and the removal of my wall posters.  Some of them went to my daughter, but most of them have gone into garage storage.  I was told having them around the house looked–well, not good, right?  My Battletech miniatures are boxed up as well, since I was informed that it wouldn’t be a good thing to put them on display.  I never managed to frame my animation cells, either, and right now they’re sitting in my closet back in Indiana, still in their shipping sleeves.  I’m heading Back to Indiana in a week, and I promise to get a few photos of these and put them up for you to see.  One day my daughter will get them if she really wants them; if not, I’ll probably give them away to someone who’d love a pissed-off looking Sailor Mars about to fireball someone’s ass.

I really have no one to blame for my current geeky apathy other than myself.  Yes, I received little to no support in my pursuits, and in so many instances I felt as if I was working in a vacuum with my fandom, because the only one who felt an interest in these things was me.  Just like with my gaming–which I eventually stopped because I was told by someone that they didn’t understand why I gamed, and kept wanting me to scale back my weekend endeavors in that area–I agreed to curtail these activities, and ultimately I lost interest in the act of surrounding myself with things that reminded me of those interests I loved.

These days I keep my geekness to the area of intellectual endeavor, because I can always look something up and memorize facts and use that knowledge to kinda keep me warm a cozy.  It’s not always comforting, however:  it’s like the difference between having a sweater that keeps the chill away, and curling up under a comforter with someone you love who’s going to whisper in your ear, “I’d blow up a star to be able to speak to you one last time.”  No, not nearly the same.

Which is why I see what others I know have and love, and brings on the tears because it reminds me of what I once had–

And what, over the decades, I’ve lost because I didn’t want to upset people who didn’t support me.

Hey, it’s never too late to turn that around, is it?

Taking the Magic to the Mat

It would appear I have survived Snowmaggedon II:  Electric Boogaloo, here in The Burg.  We got eight inches of snow and I was sent home early because it was pretty nasty out there.  Though not as bad as the last snow we had–at least this time there were plows about and about.  At the moment the cold is what I need to worry about, as it’s about five degrees outside, and the wind chill as I walk to work will be about fifteen below.

Perfect weather for flying back from Manitoba.  But that’s not gonna get written for a few more years.

After feeling down and low the night before, I threw on some old music–like early 1970’s stuff–and examined what I’d written the night before.  I saw where it was lacking, so I did a little editing and a bit of adding, and when I was finished I was far more satisfied with the final outcome.

But that was the stuff I’d already worked on.  I needed to finish out the scene.

The class is Self Defense for Beginners.  The instructor is Madam Ramona Chai, straight outta Hong Kong, who is never going to come out and say, “I know kung fu,” but rather, “Besides t’ai chi ch’uan, wing chun, and southern style praying mantis, I know pencak silat, yaw-yan, eskrima, and krav maga.”  She also knows how to use the weapons that several of those disciplines use, so you have an instructor who could probably kill anyone with one hand and not a lot of thought.

Oh, and she knows magic.

What better way to scare the hell–I mean, demonstrate how she is looking out for their safety when they get on the sparing mat and face off against one another?  Oh, yeah.  They will.  She pretty much tells them without telling them, which is a very kung fu movies way of doing things, if you think about it.  But back to the basic question:  how does she show them?

Nurse Coraline comes in, and the two face off.

Up to this point most students know red haired Nurse Coraline as pretty and curvy and ready with a quip.  They didn’t know she can fight like a demoness, too.  Both she and Madam Chai go at each other with super speed–Kerry is reminded of the Martian Commandos in The Stars My Destination, who are able to accelerate their bodies to ten times normal speed–start landing blows, and when all else fails, they began throwing magic at each other.  Madam Chai does something that looks like a wall of compressed air, and Coraline jumps up in the air and does a slow back flip like an anime girl before tossing a fireball at the instructor.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

By the time the demonstration was over, the kids were able to see that they might get a few bruises here and there, but they weren’t going to die from an electrical attack, and students outside the mat didn’t have to worry about being consumed by magical hell fire, as there was an invisible barrier that went up when the competition starts.

I’ll say this much:  I had fun writing the scene.  I’d been thinking about it for a while, and when it was time to get it down, I went right at it and didn’t stop until it was finished.  I signed off for the night happy and even pleased with what I’d done.

I’d had my own fight–and I think I came out on top.

The Need For Make Believe

It may not look like it, but that’s Iceland and Hatsune Miku in the picture to the right.  Oh, sure, it looks like a couple of girls in funny, costumes, but trust me on who they are.  I know, because I spend the day with them, and I’m familiar with their back story.

Yesterday was a day spent at a local anime con, and while I wasn’t all that much in a hurry to go–mostly because I had a lot of editing to do, and being there was going to take away from that time–I went, mostly because my daughter wanted me to go.

While I walked around a bit, and mingled with the otaku crowds–and even spoke with a few old friends that I hadn’t seen in a few years–I mostly found a place to sit, plug in my computer, and chat a bit while I snapped pictures with my phone and uploaded said pictures to my Facebook page.  And I wasn’t being a creeper; the one time I snapped a picture of someone else, I asked if I could take her picture.  There is a certain decorum one should maintain when you are at a con, and people–particularly woman–are in costume.

Otherwise you should stay home and leave the people having fun alone.

There was a time when I had my own anime fandom.  I like to tell my daughter I’m “Old School,” which is a way of saying, “None of the stuff I watch has been around for decades.”  But I’ve worn by share of crazy tee shirts, and sat through my share of films that, back in the day–aka, twenty years ago–were subtitled by fans because that was the only way you could see that stuff that, at the time, wasn’t suppose to be seen outside of Japan.

The only time I’ve every gotten into costume goes back even farther:  1984, to be precise.  It was at a Doctor Who convention in Chicago, and I decided to dress up at the Forth Doctor, complete with a twenty-one foot scarf.  It’s unfortunate that no pictures of this event exist any longer–the ex-wife has them all, I believe–but somewhere there is a picture of me mugging to the camera while I stand next to a Dalek a couple of guys made in there high school auto shop.  Good times, let me tell you.

Since I don’t have that picture, I’ll have to give you something else, which is likely to be a bit frightening.  So here you go:  me as Hatsune Miku.  Kawaii!  You’re welcome.

I wish my earrings had been longer . . .

There is nothing wrong with getting up in costume–or, as the kids called it, cosplay–and having a good time.  Make believe is what I do for a part-time living, remember?  Maybe I’m not getting into a costume every time I write, but I am getting into there heads.  In a way, I have to be my characters so I can deal with them, deal with how they are suppose to be feeling, and help them figure out where they’re headed within the context of the story.

You have to get inside their skin, put on their clothes, and walk in their shoes.  When I read a story, I can tell when someone has gotten into the mind of their character, and when they are just “writing them out.”  And I’m not talking about Mary Sueing someone; I mean when you have sat and thought about what the character is suppose to do, how they are suppose to feel, knowing their dreams and aspirations, their fears and flaws.  Particularly those last two, because what is a real character if they have no fears, no flaws?  I’ll tell you who they are:  someone named Mary Sue.  Please, you may love the ground I walk upon.

Getting in touch with an inner child is important when you write.  Neil Gaiman said it best:  “Growing up is highly overrated.  Just be an author.”  Think about how much fun it was pretending you were someone else, and channel that feeling into something that brings a feeling of wonder to some place inside yourself that hasn’t been touched in a while.  Sometimes you gotta break out the imagination.  Some times you gotta remember what it was like trying to wear mom’s high heels.  As a famous doctor once said, “There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.

As for getting the mind limber and going to different places . . . Miku-chan (not me, the one at the very top) had reddish hair under that wig, and she said she wanted people to call her Pepper Potts–who, as we know, is the only thing that allows that drunk Tony Stark to do the things a normal person does–though I’m sure a fifth of Crown Royal helps.  Thinking ahead, I told her she should keep her hair color, and come to the con next year as Rescue, wearing her own powered armor suit.

If you look at the picture to the right, you can see just how fetching an Iron Pepper would look.  Who cares if it’s gonna be a lot of work to put it together, because if you show up at a con looking like that, you’re going to rock.

So let that cosplay flag fly.  Use it in your daily life, because we don’t have as much fun as we should, and if you aren’t having fun day-to-day, then what’s the point.  And let it come out and play when you feel the need to create something that’s going to entertain others–even if that “other” is only you.

And you know what?  I look good in a wig.  I don’t know about the blue hair, though.  Maybe something in a red, then I can say, “I wear ginger now . . . gingers are cool.”

Catchy line.  I should use that more often.

After Class Unease

My characters lead such interesting lives.  Far more interesting than me, that’s for sure.  Then again, I’m not involved in something out of an anime . . .

I should feel lucky.

Saturdays become long writing days.  I put up Scrivener, get into the chapter I’m going to do, then leave it so I can put in words little by little.  Yesterday was blogging, then Part II of Removing the Tree, then a little bit of writing, then off for lunch at an Indian restaurant, then back for a little writing, then setting up guest blog posts, then outside to talk about the tree, then writing a guest blog post . . . and, finally, as the night wore on, really getting into Part Fourteen of my current work.

Part Fourteen is all Meredith, from her point of view.  It’s not going to be a long chapter, not as long as the preceding four chapters, which were all about Cytheria and Albert.  It was a bit tricky getting into Meredith’s head, because I’ve been out of it for so long, but she’s a good kid–a little seductress, to be sure, but when you see someone you want, go for it, right?

She does realize one thing, and that’s she can’t get Cytheria in trouble for . . . well, in an earlier chapter, they met for lunch, and one thing a person should never do is taunt the girlfriend/lover/partner of the guy you just had sex with if said girlfriend/lover/partner has the ability to kill you with her mind.

Which Cytheria came very close to doing.

Meredith could go to the agency that oversees Cytheria, or even go to the school and say, “Your professor of history tried to crush my body with her brain, I wanna file a complaint!”  ‘Cause now, they have to have a meeting about why the professor of history was crushing a student with her brain, and it all comes out that she was playing Ayeka to Cytheria’s Ryoko.

No, not a good place to be.  At least Albert’s the one with Ryo-Ohki.  You don’t want to give Cytheria her own spaceship, even if it is cute and eats a lot of carrots.

A thousand words in last night, making it a pretty good session.  I have something else I have to start writing today as well–how does this work out that I’m doing all this writing now?  I need to lay out a thousand or so words for an eight-part story, and I’m going to be flying by the seat of my pants on this one, as I only have a basic idea, and little else.  Sounds like fun, huh?

And it’s going to be a romance of sorts.  Okay, more like some semi-erotica.  Okay, more like a fantasy with lots of sex.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Since I don’t have anything plotted out, it’s going to be interesting to see where this goes.

The long weekend is almost over.  Later today it’s back to The Undisclosed Location, and getting back to the grind.  Getting back into something like normal.

I hate normal.

Can’t we just play a little longer?