wendylbolm

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Procrastination through writing about nerdcore

In Awesomeness, Nerdcore on June 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm

MC Chris is on tour, and he has Math the Band and MC Lars in tow as he rambles around the country. I went to their concert in Baton Rouge last night, and I’d have to say it was the most energetic show I’ve ever been to. Last night, I was the most excited I’ve been since I saw VNV Nation live a few years ago.

I’ve been a giant Math the Band fan since my friend Bethany first introduced me to their music around 2005/2006. In college, I often put Atom and his Package and Math the Band together on infinite repeat. The song Shark Attack is usually in my makeout playlist, because when I hear the song, I automatically stop what I’m doing and yell “Shark attack!” and sing along. Hilarity (awkwardness) ensues.

MC Lars was a pretty big draw to the show, but Math the Band sealed the deal.

Before the show, I hobnobbed with Justine (Math the Band) and bought some merch. We talked about how awesome the band is (on my part) and I got a free sticker, because I kept shelling out money for awesome stuff, like stickers and CDs. Then, I staked out a position somewhat near the stage and waited more than a half hour for the show to start.

Math (with the addition of Kevin) started the show. The duo was full of energy as Kevin manically played his guitar and Justine took care of everything else. At the beginning of their set, Kevin played so enthusiastic he inadvertently kept lowering his mic until he was hunched over. There may have been other mic issues, because it was hard to hear him. But, the crowd seemed to eat it up. There was a lot of dancing, moshing, and all-around participation.

MC Lars, with ytcracker, was up next.

MC Lars was my introduction to nerdcore, with Hot Topic is not Punk Rock (by nerdcore I mean artists who consider themselves nerdcore; Math the Band’s music was around before nerdcore, so I don’t consider it nerdcore at all). I would say that MC Lars is my favorite rapper, because I can relate to his tracks. They’re about literature and the problems with mass culture.

There were some more technical problems during the MC Lars set, but it actually worked out well. The audience was forgiving, and when they had computer difficulties, they played an impromptu Hot Topic (a song that has logged a lot of iTunes time for me). There was so much audience participation, I think Lars was a little shocked by it all. And, during Hot Topic a mosh pit was formed, which magically transported me to the fifth row of standing people, about seven or eight feet from the stage.

I was very impressed with ytcracker’s performance. He was performing while wearing a Power Glove. How awesome is that?

The glory of the night (at least for me) was when MC Lars, ytcracker, and Sully (MC Chris’s manager) sang Atom and his Package’s Lord It’s Hard to be Happy When You’re not Using the Metric System. The rendition had me singing along and pumping my first in the air. That’s the kind of thing that happens about once in a millennium. I also found out there’s an Atom and his Package tribute CD. Must buy!!!!!!

MC Chris ended the night. People were just drunk enough to be really annoying. I had a drunk couple dance into me, wipe their sweaty asses all over me, push me into other people, repeatedly hit me, knock of my glasses, and the small woman managed to scratch the outside corner of my left eye (even though she was on my right). They ruined the first half of the MC Chris set for me. All I wanted to do was escape from them. Finally, the person in front of me shifted, and I moved forward a few feet. The highlights of the MC Chris set were Fett’s Vett (I am constantly surprised my new New Orleans friends can sing along to the words of this song) and nrrrd grrl. The tshirt contest at the end was also pretty awesome. Fans were invited onstage to show off their nerdiest shirts with the chance to (eventually) win prizes. The winner was a “Pluto: Never Forget” shirt. I voted for it. It was awesome.

MC Chris then asked the audience to take pictures and donate some money to research on Cystic Fibrosis, which he said he has already raised around $65,000 for. His nephew has the disease, and he said it’s pretty much a race against time to find the cure and that people with Cystic Fibrosis usually live until about 30.

After his final song, I headed with the surge to the merch table and talked to Kevin about how awesome Math the Band is. We talked about my friend Bethany (who he knows) and how I’ve been listening forever. He signed the CD I bought, and I got a picture in.

Me with Kevin and Justine from Math the Band

Next, I headed to MC Chris’s table, dropped a dollar into the Cystic Fibrosis bucket (My second donation of the night, thanks for the chance to take part in tzedakah, guys!) and grabbed a classic pose photo with MC Chris.

Me with MC Chris

Next was the MC Lars table. ytcracker was there, and I was going to ask him to take a picture with me, but he handed me a free CD and disappeared. So, I have the CD… I guess I will try to get it signed and get a picture with him if he tours through Louisiana again or is performing at some sort of nerd convention I just happen to be at.

I bought a bumper sticker and a (signed!!!!!) poster from MC Lars. I got the chance to tell him how awesome he is and how he’s my favorite nerdcore rapper, and how he got me into nerdcore (it was ((I hope)) less fangirl than it actually sounds) and then took a picture with him. He said I was sweet, which made me pretty happy.

Me with MC Lars (dreamboat captain)

The best thing about seeing all these guys in concert was seeing how much they appreciate their fans. And, how much their fans appreciate them.

I’m glad this all came out mostly coherently. Yay for cafe au lait and zucchini bread.

In which I enter a fanfic writing contest…

In Awesomeness, Complete Waste of Time, Fiction, Short Story on June 15, 2010 at 2:25 am

Picture by Jeff Zugale


A few weeks ago, I was reading John Scalzi’s blog, and I saw a picture that changed my life. The very picture that now appears in this blog post. And, there was a challenge. He wanted readers to write a fanfic about the picture, in order to win a contest.

Here is my entry to that contest:

Mitzie sat on her aunt’s dock, a book in her lap. A trickle of sweat coursed down the back of her neck, causing her short hairs to rise. Still, the small patch of skin effected by the moisture combined with a weak breeze was no relief. Mitzie was outside in the heat. With the bugs.

She hated it.

This was her parents’ way of doing good by her. They thought a summer in Middle-of-Nowhere-Alabama was beneficial for the same reasons they limited her texting and internet time.

“We want you to experience a disconnected life,” was what her mother said before her banishment as they coasted along the interstate in their climate controlled tank of minivan. Mitzie had nodded, because at that point the full reality of the summer was an unknown.

When her parents pulled away from the summer cottage for their own Hawaiian vacation, Mitzie smiled brightly at her aunt Gloria.

“It’s almost 6:30, should I turn the news on for you?” Mitzie asked. She had long ago discovered the news as a gateway to the prime time programs she wanted to watch.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I get the newspaper. Why don’t you play outside for a while?”

“No, really, it would give me some time to unwind.”

“Well, so would sitting in the swing porch with a book. Plus, I don’t have a TV.”

Mitzie wasn’t phased. “Well, why don’t I check to see if there’s anything exciting going on in town. Does the local paper have a website?”

Gloria patted Mitzie on the head as she walked inside. “No internet, either. Why don’t you play with your kitten for a while. I’ll start dinner.”

Schlotsky. Her new Russian grey, only a few months old, was the most exciting thing about her summer so far. That and the books her aunt kept on shelves that hugged the walls inside. So far she’d read The Hobbit, Dune, and the Oz series. She would never admit it to her aunt or her parents, but once she got into the stories, she enjoyed the worlds they created in her mind.

With Schlotsky batting at her shorts and a cloud of mosquitoes humming lazily in the air, she pored over her newest acquisition, this time a large hardback from the dining room. It was part of a series but was the first on the shelf. She’d made the mistake of grabbing it without glancing at the title, thinking it was the first story in a long line of titles. Instead it was a manual, explaining creature after creature with lists and charts of numbers she did not understand. A monster’s manual.

Mitzie kept at the book, even though it bored her. She read the blurbs about the monsters. She reviewed the stats. She spent a good amount of time staring at the pictures, which were interesting but couldn’t be expected to keep her attention. She could either crack the meanings in the book in her lap or walk through the sweltering, bug-infested air of her aunt’s yard back to the house and the other books. Even Schlotsky was being stifled in the heat; it was almost two. Mitzie reached into her bag and pulled out her SPF 60, slathering the sun warmed lotion her arms and legs.

‘I just don’t get it,” she shouted at Schlotsky, who looked up at her with wide, yellow eyes. “Stupid book.” She kicked it with her toe, careful not to send it over the edge of the dock and into the creek.

“The book’s not stupid, you just don’t know how to use it yet,” boomed a vaguely familiar, masculine voice from a few feet away.

Mitzie looked up, surprised. At the end of the dock was a man, obscenely out of place, wearing a black tee and faded jeans. Canvas sneakers adorned his feet. When he smiled, Mitzie started to ease herself backward, prepared to run.

“Hello, I’m Wil Wheaton. You may recognize me from my work on Star Trek: The Next Generation or my starring role in Stand by Me.” He extended his hand, his smile never wavering.

Mitzie peered at the man from over the top of her glasses and frowned. He did look familiar. And, he did appear from nowhere onto a dock surrounded on three sides by water. He definitely wasn’t dripping from the creek. There was a possibility he wasn’t stranger danger.

“No, I think I know you from somewhere else. Like a sitcom.”

“Well, I have had a number of guest roles,” he said in a serious voice, finally pulling his hand back, unshook. “Perhaps The Big Bang Theory?”

“No, but I’ve got it. Weren’t you that asshole in The Guild?”

“Yes, I was! Wasn’t it awesome?” Wheaton asked, his serious facade slipping.

“I guess. Also, weren’t you in that one TV show with the cute guy with the long hair? Where they’re all Robin Hood type scheisters?”

“You mean Leverage? That part was also pretty awesome. You know, it’s one of my favorite shows.”

“Yeah,” Mitzie said, smiling. She decided to give the magic man the benefit of the doubt.

“Well, Mitzie, today is your lucky day. I am here to help with the problems you’ve been having interpreting your Monster Manual.”

“How do you know my name?”

“Well, you see, I am the intergalactic ambassador for Dungeons and Dragons relations. Whenever someone gets to the point where they might give up D&D forever, I’m sent to fix things. I am a very big fan of D&D. So, what exactly is the problem you’ve been having?”

“Well, I got this book from my aunt’s bookshelf, but I can’t make hide nor hair of it.”

“Oh. So, you’ve never played before?”

“Not really.”

“Well, what you have there is a compendium of most of the monsters you can use in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. D&D is a role playing game. It’s sort of like a computer game, except you use your imagination to create the world you are playing in. I think it’s safe to say that D&D is awesometastic. The different editions vary in awesomeness, but we’ll get to that later.”

“Oh.” Mitzie pulled the book back towards her and placed it in her bag. “In that case, you came out for nothing. I guess I’ll head back to the house to find something else to do.”

Schlotsky looked from Mitzie to Wheaton with her huge cat eyes.

“Hey, wait. I think it’s great you haven’t played. Today is the perfect day to start a beginner’s campaign. Does your aunt have more books like this one?”

“Look, it’s okay, really,” Mitzie sighed. “The game look complicated. I don’t want to play a computer game using my imagination. If I was at home, I would just play the computer game on my computer.”

“But you’re not at home. You’re here. With a cool aunt. I bet she’d play.”

Mizie crossed her arms and scowled.

“Okay, how about this. In D&D, anything can happen. Literally.”

“Whatever.”

“Here, I’ll show you.”

Wheaton lifted his arm into the air, and a long spear fell from the sky. He caught it, and as Mitzie watched, began to shimmer. His black shirt began to grow pale and bulky, fluffy. His cargo shorts shrank until they fit his form in blue, shiny splendor. That would have been enough to shock Mitzie, but her eyes were drawn to the shirt. The newly formed sweater was made of a knit clown face, complete with red lips and orange hair.

Wheaton looked down and blushed. “Sorry, this is what all of my characters wear in my imagination.”

“Your characters don’t wear shoes?”

“Who needs shoes? My characters are all bad-asses.”

Wheaton stabbed at the air above his head, and Mitzie heard a low rumbling. The wooden slats of the dock began to tremble and clack together. The air lost some of it’s humid edge as black clouds filled the sky. The caustic smell of burning tar overpowered her senses. When Mitzie looked behind her, the forest had been replaced by a volcano dribbling out molten lava and belching black smoke. When she looked forward, she now saw a black, bubbling sea. The wood beneath her was the only physical remnant of her world.

Wheaton’s response was a wide and manic smile. When he thrust his spear point towards Schlotsky, Mitzie yelped in fear. It quickly turned to awe. She watched as her kitten began to grow and morph, sprouting feathery wings and a long, spiraled horn from the center of her forehead. Wheaton laughed as he jumped on the kitticornasus’s back and took flight.

“See? Anything can happen. Are you ready to generate a new character yet? I can help with that, too.”

“No, really, I think I’m good. Can you take me home now?”

Wheaton looked around, assessing their surroundings. “Hmmm. You know what we really need? Another player.”
Wheaton pointed his spear at the ground, and a battleaxe fell from the sky a few feet from Mitzie, rotating end over end until it hit the rock with a clang. The earth rumbled once again, and this time a green man appeared, stocky, dressed in leather, and grumbling.

“Again, Wheaton?” The creature asked. “I thought we’d cleared this kind of thing out of your system. You do understand I have a job, right? One in which I sit at my desk and write all day? And a wife who makes me clean the gutters and take out the garbage? I can’t just leave all that for whenever you get a gaming hair up your ass and need to shoot off to imagination land.”

“Mitzie here needs someone to help her see why role playing is the most fantastic past time there is. And, I think we are just the guys to show her. Mitzie, this is John Scalzi. A famous writer. You may have heard of some of his titles, like Old Man’s War.”

Mitzi shook her head.

Scalzi sighed. “Okay, what about Stargate Universe? I’ve worked on that TV show.”

“Maybe it sounds familiar. Look, I just want to go home. This is lame.”

“Lame? This is adventure! Look!” Wheaton shrieked from his mount.

Wheaton swooped down toward orc-Scalzi and stabbed his spear in the air around Scalzi’s head.

“Dude,” Scalzi yelled up at him, “Face it. She isn’t into it. Kids these days just aren’t. Now land that thing. Don’t make me bacon that cat. Cat thing. And, by bacon I mean knock out of the sky.”

“I don’t buy it. Mitzie is just as awesome and full of creativity as we were at that age.”

Wheaton cackled as he took another dive towards Scalzi’s head.

“If I agree to play this game of yours, will you set everything back to the way it was?” Mitzie asked as she eyed the volcano and approaching stream of lava.

“Oh.” Wheaton looked deflated as he pondered this for a moment. He reigned in Schlotsky and descended back to his original spot a few yards away from Mitzie. “Yeah, I guess. Maybe your aunt will DM for us.”

The air around them shimmered once again as the world returned to normal. Schlotsky ran and hid with her head buried in Mitzie’s lap. Wheaton was once again in his black tee, and Scalzi looked much like a normal guy a tee and jeans. Now the air only shimmered with heat and bugs.

“Come on, Scalzi,” Wheaton said as Mitzie picked up her bag and cat and started to trudge back up to the cottage. “Let’s get our game on.”

“Dude, I have to go home and get back to work. It’s not like I get paid to get zapped away to parts unknown to help some kid find her RPG groove.”

“Don’t be a dick,” was Wheaton’s reply.

Scalzi sighed once again as he joined the trek through the high grass and trees.

/story

Say what you will about it, but I had a heck of a time writing it. And, I would just like to point out that these are the fellows I model my life after.

Except I don’t bacon cats.

(Or do I?)

A step inside my creative process

In The Art of Writing on June 6, 2010 at 5:04 am

I was watching the #query discussion on Twitter today when I noticed an agent complaining about vampire/ werewolf stories. This was worrisome, because the novel I’m working on started out as a vampire/ werewolf story. Now, it’s a blood magic/ nature magic story where humans channel different aspects of the divine. The blood mages channel death, while the nature mages channel the chaotic forces of nature. Still, in its present incarnation, it’s still too much like a vampire novel.

While I fiddle with the story line, I’ve decided to start working on the first draft of a new novel. Here’s how I came up with the bare bones of the story:

I knew I wanted the story to be about a woman who falls in love with an IT guy at a university.

I wandered downstairs to my apartment complex’s library to look for books for research.

On the way down the stairs, I decided that the woman should be an archeologist at the same university as the IT guy. It makes sense that the IT guy works for the archeology/ anthropology department.

I picked up a book on the world’s mysteries (by Reader’s Digest) and zeroed in on Atlantis. I discovered that some people really think Atlantis is the Bahamas. Huzzah! That’s close enough to home for me to work into a Calaveras plot! (Calaveras is my fictional city that I’ve been writing about for a couple of years now.)

I decided that the plot will revolve around an ancient, alien god who pushes the story forward. While I was thinking about it, I realized that the deity will be neither male nor female. It’s an alien god, not a Western god.

Now, I’m filling in the holes and working on a rough outline. And, I feel good about the plot points I’ve come up with so far.

Mitzvah Day

In Awesomeness, Judaism, Life Goals, Mitzvahs, New Orleans on June 3, 2010 at 5:22 am

On Sunday, I’m going to be making survival kits for the homeless through the Jewish Federation of New Orleans. It’s not doing a heck of a lot, but as someone who has lived out of her car, I think giving back and helping people in need, even if it’s just getting them a few basic comforts, is something more people should be doing.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, there a billion charities and nonprofits out there to choose from. There are animal shelters, organizations that help people tell their own stories, soup kitchens, clothing banks, and so many more ways to help that it’s pretty much impossible to say there is no entity out there that meshes with your values and interests.

Also, welcome back to the blog. I’m going to be updating this site to reflect my new life. Some of the journalism stuff will go. Some will stay. I’ll be adding information about art, Jewishness, New Orleans, grad school, writing, and etc. I hope you enjoy your visits here and the new look.