Tag Archives: MarsCon

Therefore I Geek Podcast Episode 23, Mikey Mason Live at Marscon

mikey_mason_promoUpon the 17th day of January in the Year of Our Lord 2015, Andrew availed himself of his gallant, mechanical steed of Japanese engineering and hied him to Marscon of legend.  Quoth he, “I shall take upon myself to speak to comedy rock star Mikey Mason.”  Tracy was sick.

In this podcast episode, Mikey reveals his RPG player voice, takes on the persona of “Pedantic Man,” and gives a fantastic feminist rant about strip clubs (it’s not what you’re thinking!).  Yeah… that’s just a teensy bit of the hilarity that ensues.  Trust me.

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Filed under Interview, Podcast

Editorial | When is a Spoiler a Spoiler?

The idea for a post on the topic of spoilers and what makes them so awful came up while I was waiting on line to purchase my weekend pass at Marscon.  The cute (and obviously new) couple in front of me was chatting about upcoming convention events with another man in a costume.

Mikey Mason is performing on Saturday night.  He does a funny song about Firefly” said Costume Guy.

“Oh, I haven’t seen Firefly yet, but I really want to,” the girl responded.

“Yes, I’m gonna fix that ASAP,” said her boyfriend.

“Well you HAVE TO LIKE IT,” Costume Guy intoned.  He paused for a second and then said, almost belligerently, “And you have to cry when Wash dies.”

“DUDE!!  Why did you do that??” cried the boyfriend.

Then Costume Guy actually smirked and said exactly what I knew he was going to say:  “It’s been ten years.  She should have seen it.”

So what exactly is a spoiler?  How long should fans wait to discuss major plot points of their favorite entertainment in public to avoid spoiling them for others who may not have seen, heard, or read them?  I have made it very clear on this blog how much I hate spoilers and why I hate them.  I think that most people think of spoilers in two ways.  Most people—especially fans—are very respectful and careful of spoilers in entertainment that has recently been released.  No one wants to ruin a new movie for their friends.  Those who don’t care personally if they ruin the ending for a someone else may just wish to avoid the condemnation they would receive from a group of people who had not yet enjoyed it.

costumeAt the same time, many people seem to think that any piece of entertainment older than an arbitrary amount of time is fair game to be spoiled for anyone.  Some even seem to want the attention, negative though it may be, that comes from the inevitable exclamations of protest.  As I was composing thoughts for this blog, right before class, the student next to me began discussing the movie we would be watching this week for History of Russia, Anna Karenina.  “Everyone dies!” he announced gleefully to the girl who had just explained that she was excited to see the movie since she hadn’t read the book, “Don’t even tell me, ‘How dare you spoil a 19th century novel.’”

On this subject geeks should beware falling into to the hipster trap.  What is annoying about hipsters is not that they enjoy media outside the mainstream, but their superior attitude and the fact that they sneer at and refuse to educate those who are ignorant of these so-called alternative works.  The feeling of superiority over the nouveau geek who hasn’t mourned the loss of everyone’s favorite firefly class pilot is alluring and addictive, but it can be an even more incredible feeling to watch someone else experience your favorite show or movie for the first time.

I believe that it is just as discourteous to deliberately ruin the plot of a piece of entertainment that is decades old to a person who has already expressed a wish to see or read it as it is to ruin the plot of something new.  In the case of my Marscon example, I really wanted to slap Costume Guy before he walked away.  (I probably would have, if I weren’t wearing my Therefore I Geek t-shirt to represent the blog.)  This also goes for readers of book series that have recently been made into movies or TV shows.  The readers of The Hunger Games should not spread spoilers about the plot on message boards designed for fans of the movies.  I find the A Song of Ice and Fire readers who deliberately campaigned to spoil the Red Wedding for people who only watch the HBO show particularly loathsome.

At the same time, geeks who have not yet seen the entirety of Dr. Who are responsible to avoid spoilers of old seasons that may be available on the internet.  It is just as ridiculous for someone who doesn’t know the name of the tenth doctor to complain that someone has spoiled Rose Tyler’s fate on a message board somewhere, as it is for Costume Guy to spitefully spoil the ending of Serenity for someone who has stated that she wants to see it.

My point here is that, just as it is common courtesy to avoid spoilers of new material, it is also polite to avoid spoiling (especially maliciously) the plots of things other geeks have yet to enjoy, if they are planning to.  When Andrew and I have conversations about A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones), I am very careful to avoid discussing the plot of the books beyond where he has read.  Likewise, he did not spoil Serenity for me before I had a chance to watch it.  Wash’s death would have done very little for me if I had known about it beforehand.  As it was, I identified and empathized with the character only to be punched in the gut (as was he).

Have you had a big moment in a movie, TV show, or book ruined?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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Filed under Editorial, Tracy Gronewold

MarsCon: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

There are few things more fun than spending a weekend at a local geek event.  That is just what Therefore I Geek did this past weekend at MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA.  Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly about this convention:

The Good

There was a lot of good at MarsCon. Being a local event makes it much more manageable and relaxed than other, larger events such as NYCC.

One of the first things we did was check out the gaming area and pretty quickly got pulled into a game called Quickfire.  Quickfire is a universal tabletop miniature game, meaning that it doesn’t matter what miniature game pieces the players use. The simple rules can get a game going for any number of players in no time. As players go through the game, there are progressively more difficult environmental challenges that appear. There are two major drawback to the game:  the need for a GM-esqe person and the high risk of the game dissolving into complete chaos. These issues were only minor, though, and the overall game play was enjoyable.

This was an epic game table, the kind I'd only dreamed of.

This was an epic game table, the kind I’ve only dreamed of.

MarsCon also had several good panels, which in my experience is a rarity at local conventions.  On Sunday morning I attended a panel on editors and their changing role at someone’s (*cough*Tracy*cough*) urging and it was a fantastic panel. Of the four panelists, two were editors, one was a writer, and one did both.  Will McIntosh, Carrie Ryan, Edmund Schubert and Laura Haywood-Cory, along with a moderator Michael Pederson, who also happened to be an editor, were intimately familiar with the subject they were discussing and it showed.   This is the kind of panel I want to attend all the time. It was engaging, informative and stacked with experts.

Sunday afternoon I went to “Cult Film: The Atomic 50’s: When Supernatural Horror Went Scientific”, a panel on the scientific turn that B movies took in the 1950’s, which was also amazing. There was so much useful information in this panel. While I am uncertain about the presenter’s credentials, he was incredibly knowledgeable and was so passionate that it was easy to get caught up in his excitement. This was also one of the few panels in which the audience participation was value added. Many of them had seen the movies in question and were able to jump in when the presenter forgot a character or actor, but then quieted down when he started speaking again.

[Tracy:  While I sent Andrew off to learn about how much respect and reverence he should have for his editor, I went to a panel called “Beyond the Strong Female Protagonist:  Writing Women who are more than ‘Kickass.”  I really enjoy this type of discussion anyway, so I was excited to get into it.  The panelists were all writers and were led by Jim Hines, author of the Magic Ex Libris series.  I enjoyed the conversation and appreciated that the panelists kept order in the room—even shutting down a particularly opinionated fan who attempted to hijack the panel several times.]

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(from left) Meriah Crawford, Jim Hines, Alethea Kontis, L. Jagi Lamplighter, and John C. Wright

Of course any event with Mikey Mason is always a blast. Mikey gave us a nice mix of his better known material, plus a couple of songs from his most recent album. If his Facebook page is to be believed, and I think it is, then he wrote a whole new album while he was at MarsCon!

Mikey Mason

Mikey Mason

Aside from his duties as entertainer, Mikey was both the best auctioneer and gave the best “Vanna White” impression while working the charity auction for the Heritage Humane Society of Williamsburg.  In the end they managed to break last year’s total on just two items. I wish you all could have seen the look on the face of the liason to the  Humane Society. He kept getting more and more excited as the auction bids grew.  By the end, he looked absolutely stunned. (T:  Can confirm.  It was adorable!)

The Bad

No convention is perfect and MarsCon was no exception.  Mikey’s concert had an hour of scheduled setup time but it was still forty-five minutes late starting due to “technical difficulties”. We can all understand some minor glitches—lord knows I’ve seen them at NYCC—but a delay of this length due to problems with fundamental things like lighting and sound is not acceptable. I was surprised to see a venue as experienced as this one having issues like this, especially with an artist like Mikey who has a very simple, straightforward setup.  Speaking from experience, the rig should have been set up before hand and then just moved into place.

Also, I’ve never been particularly thrilled with events held in hotels. Typically they don’t have large rooms that can serve as a proper exhibit halls. Dealer rooms have to be squeezed into small rooms and tend to spill out into the hallways which leads to traffic flow problems. While that wasn’t an overwhelming issue in the Fort Magruder Hotel & Conference Center, another hundred or so additional people in attendance might have made it much more of a problem. The positive side of the hotel is that it had proper spaces for panels, which other conventions (such as the VA Comicon) do not have.

The Ugly

I’ve mentioned that the panels I went to on Sunday were amazing.  Saturday panels were, unfortunately, the complete opposite.  In a panel about the “Dark Side of Disney,” panelists started off by asking the audience what the panel was about. It was immediately obvious that the panelists were almost completely unprepared for the topic about which they were supposed to be speaking. One panelist had no specific knowledge on the topic outside of a couple of Google searches and a discussion with her friends.   She spent most of her time trying to convince the audience and other panelists that there was a prevalence of mental illnesses in Disney films. I’d love to know what made her think that a Google search provided adequate expertise to diagnose and discuss mental illness.  At one point another panelist actually cut her off because she obviously didn’t understand what she was talking about.  Needless to say, we bailed out of this particular panel pretty quickly

In a later panel on cosplay, the panelists were significantly better informed, the least experienced having done it for seventeen years, but they were unable to keep the panel on track. I have no problem with audience interaction during a panel.  Especially at an event as small as this it’s a great chance to have a more intimate experience with the panelists.  Having said that, the panelists are the experts.  Attendees want to hear what they have to say, not opinions from the other audience members. This panel would have benefited greatly from a strong moderator with firm control of the room. A good moderator should ask some basic questions, get the panelists discussing the topic and then towards the end take some questions from the audience.

In the end we had a great weekend and I’ve got some great ideas for new content, so keep your eyes open for it. MarsCon will definitely be making an appearance on my 2015 calendar.

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Events

Around the Web January 10, 2014

Throughout this week I am sure you have all been bombarded with new and interesting tech updates coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show. With all of the shiny new 4K TVs you might have missed the fact that 3D TVs are becoming a dying breed. When Vizio (who sells the most TVs in the US…who knew?) announced their new model lineup for 2014 there were no 3D TVs to be seen. Now you may say to yourself “It’s only one manufacturer, who cares?” but this is a big deal. With the largest US seller getting out of the 3D business, it’s only a matter of time before the higher end brands start to bail as well. It also doesn’t help that the few content providers who created 3D entertainment (ESPN chief among them) are abandoning the format.

I've always felt this looked more than a little stupid too.

I’ve always felt this looked more than a little stupid.

I’m personally glad to see this fad go. I’ve never been a particular fan of 3D since it requires me to wear a pair of glasses over my glasses, and I was dreading the thought that all entertainment would be headed that direction.

If you are anything like us, you’ve been salivating over the wait for season three of Sherlock. The bad news is that the season will come to an end once again, after its usual three episodes.  The good news is that seasons four AND five have already been plotted out. That’s right folks, we are definitely getting two more seasons of this fantastic show. Not only that, but the creators are claiming that these seasons will be some of their best work, full of exciting twists and turns. If you are in the UK, tune in Sunday for the season finale and then let the waiting begin. If you’re in the US, just… keep waiting.

If I promise to be very, very good can we have more? Please?

If I promise to be very, very good can we have more? Please?

If there is any rhyme or reason in determining the length of a British TV show, it has eluded me thus far.

Thanks to our wonderful Editor, I’ve got an awesome site to share with you all. Whether you’re a poor college student, hard working professional, or just thrifty, Sh*t You Can Afford is the site for you. The site provides a nice mix of useful and novel items, all available on Amazon for around $20. I’ve already started my random crap want list.

Think of all the random crap you can get with just one bill.

Think of all the random crap you can get with just one bill.

Maybe if I were the proud owner of  that portable door lock I could have prevented a couple of embarrassing moments involving bathrooms in Manhattan.

Finally we’d like to share with you the experiences of one of our fellow bloggers. It’s no secret that we are in love with books and that a great customer service experience makes any retail transaction, online or in person, that much better.  Our fellow bloggers The Leather Library share their pretty awesome experience with The Folio Society. Without having purchased anything, I’m already a fan.

Sooooo pretty...

Sooooo pretty…

For those of you in the Hampton Roads and Richmond areas, come join us for MarsCon in Williamsburg next weekend. Despite living in the area for six years, this will be my first MarsCon (my timing has been off the last couple years).  I’ve heard great things and I’m really looking forward to it.

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