CAN CON: Ottawa’s Yearly Hub for Speculative Arts and Literature

Originally published on TheNerdistheWord September 2016

CAN CON: The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature draws to a close, after another year of bringing to light the incredibly world of Canadian imagination. Somewhat hidden in the small conference rooms of the Novotel, steps away from the buzzing weekend Rideau Centre, true Canadian book nerds met. Authors, publishers, illustrators and editors from across the country featured amazing works, discussed the theory of science-fiction, fantasy, horror and steampunk, analyzed readership markets, and drank copious amounts of hot beverages.

The convention itself was an RPG game, where activities such as getting books signed, attending panels and readings, and purchasing Canadian works allowed a player to accumulate experience points. A cozy market place allowed publishers to shine and promote their wares and many authors were present to personally discuss their novels. A variety of panels and workshops were offered, including studies in areas including scientific advancements, world building, writer’s craft, renown authors, linguistics and translation, sword fighting, and even a paper airplane DIY ;). Many special guests were present and available for Kaffeeklatsches, intimate discussions and question sessions. CAN CON is also the opportunity for many local writers to pitch their works to agents and publishers, and Blue Pencil Cafés allowed them to get their work honestly critiqued by published professionals. When convention goers wanted to relax for a while, readings were the place to gather, and get a taste of stories published in Canada, usually read by the authors themselves.

CAN CON is a great place to stock up on reading material and qualified readers are at the ready to find your exact cup of tea. After meeting such wonderful people, you’ll love to support the ambitions of local creators. The Canadian speculative literary world gets bigger year to year and is gaining greater footholds on international stages. Sadly, many Canadian authors and novels, though remarkable and innovative, do not get the attention they deserve. Next year, why not ditch the popular bookstore chains and come discover something new?

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Are MP3 Players Becoming Obsolete?

Do you remember your first MP3 player?

I sure do. Mine was a Zen, by Creative Technologies Limited, who were once one of the great portable media player manufacturers on the planet. My device looked like the image below. I was crazy happy about this little (and at the time very expensive!) device, because it meant the end of interrupted songs due to bumpy bus rides faulty and anti-shock CD player technologies. It marked the end of my CD burning days- just imagine- the end of having only a crammed playlist of about 22 songs available at one time. Back then, if you’ll believe it, 512MB of space (fitting about 120 songs) was incredibly huge. My little device could hold more music than I could listen to in a single sitting, and was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

 

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Outdated?

Now you’d probably tell me that MP3 players are a thing of the past, practically obsolete. Smartphones are now the ultimate all-in-one device and most people use them as a general media player.
This only really became a reality for me when I needed a new device a few months ago. As usual, when my bashful habits with electronics has sadly thrown my portable player in a state of disrepair, I went to the store. I candidly skipped over to the MP3 Player section…only to find it filled with phone accessories. It seemed the little display was being phased out as the store barely felt the need to keep (albeit non Apple Inc. brand) players in stock. After making a floor associate search the store far and wide, a device that fit my fancy was actually found. I paid for it, and realized… it might actually be my last MP3 player.

 

A little history

MP3 Players were invented in the late 1990s and hit the market not long afterwards. Back then, the available data memory on the first ever Eiger Labs MPMan F10, was a mere 32MB. By 2000, 1G ‘cutting edge’ MP3 Players were available for about $1000 US. The use of portable devices wasn’t fully popularized until a few years later, when the common 256MB and 512MB became, for a very short while, the affordable norm. This meant you could carry up to 8 hours of playback with you- no more carrying CDs around. The changes to the music industry were swift; downloading and share-ripping became popular habits and physical music stores began their slow decline.

 

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It hasn’t even been two decades since MP3 Players swept through, and are now practically archaic? Gone the way of the floppy disk, fax machines and the dodo bird? Do I still need mine?

 

The future seems annoying to me.

Like mentioned above, most have moved on to using only one device for most portable electronic purposes. My smartphone in the past has never actually had enough data storage space to fully satisfy me. I don’t know about you, but I use my headphones and player more like an oxygen tank than an entertainment machine. I have albums I don’t quite feel safe without, playlists for focused work, relaxation, working out, social situations, even dungeons and dragons’ campaigns. The now standard 16G of data storage is almost not enough. How will I survive in a world where only a leftover of space not taken by apps or images becomes my portable music? I don’t know if you’ve ever tried working out with a smartphone on your hip or in your pocket, but most models are big, bulky and heavy! Not ideal at all for when you want to move around and get sweaty.

How much longer will companies like Sony Corporation and SanDisk Corporation keep making players? How long will Apple Inc. keep making iPods?

 

Never fear, this story ends well.

While it is sad to see technologies become hallmarks of the past, even a little creepy when it happens so fast, progressions usually aim for efficacy and convenience. If you can afford unlimited data transfer plans, many don’t seem bother with MP3 format at all anymore and just stream their musical fancy while on the go. Some smartphones have also evolved to fulfill the purposes of portable players, as manufacturers now more than ever value the importance of expandable memory. The magic of microSD means you can now (with the right smartphone device) upgrade your data storage by 200G. The Dream.

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The MP3 Player I currently own might actually be my last, but my music listening days are far from over. With the electronics domain changing faster and faster, who knows how we’ll be carrying out music around twenty years from now. I know that one day, I’ll be explaining the magic of first portable MP3 players to my confused grandkids; they’ll no doubt scoff at our old-fashioned struggles, not to mention, our outdated musical tastes.

 

 

Reference:
Andreas Ødegård on March 31, 2008 11:40 Am, Andreas Ødegård. “Celebrating 10 Years of MP3 Players – Anything But IPod.” Anything But IPod. N.p., 31 Mar. 2008. Web. Aug. 2016.

Double Fine Point-and-Click Adventures

Originally published on TheNerdistheWord August 2016

The Point-and-Click game genre is often overlooked in the vast console and PC world of today. While story-telling videogames a few decades ago were more akin to a long novel, the gaming expectations today remind us more of filmography, or a believable second reality. Do you miss games that used to be more focused on the plotline, instead of being thrilling and sensational? You might not have noticed, but Point-and-Click games have not yet disappeared. We at The Nerd is the Word want to tell you about a company which has brought back the genre with a bang: Double Fine Productions.

Benefits of Point-and-Click games are including their inexpensive retail price, they do not take a lot of space on a hard-drive, and can be put down and picked up again as you would any novel. In a Point-and-Click game, rather than moving a character and focusing on combat, the player must use logic and listen attentively to the narrative to advance. Double Fine Point-and-Click require the player to literally, point and click on different objects on an interactive painted background, collect items, discover their uses, and visit various NPCs, to figure out how to unwind the game’s plot. These games are considered low-stress inducing as they rarely require quick reaction time or the player to beat the clock; they usually allow the player to sit back and think of their next move thoroughly.

Depending on your age, you may have actually played some Point-and-Click games back in the 1990s, at home if you were lucky, or on the dinky computer you had access to at school. Back then, Double Fine developer Tim Schafer was still part of LucasArt (Entertainment Company, LLC) was involved in the making of The Secret of Monkey Island. This game was focused on exploration in a rich legend-inspired environment that would remind you of your favorite pirate epic. Games like The Secret of Monkey Island might require a bit of imagination to compare to the videogame graphics of today, but makes up for it with mysteries and treasures that are a blast to uncover.

Another game, this time co-led by Schafer, was the sequel to a game first published in 1987, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. Day of the Tentacle, unlike it’s predecessor Maniac Mansion, which was a puzzle-solver to the core, is very focused on story-telling and investigation, with an educational and humorous twist. Using items collected and clues, three characters, separated into different time periods due to a time-travel experiment gone awry, struggle to save the course of history from a deranged detached world-dominating tentacle. If that doesn’t sound crazy awesome to you, we’re sorry, we just can’t help you. Day of the Tentacle has been very recently remastered and is available on PlayStation Consoles, PC and Mac.The epitome of Double Fine Point-and-Click, Broken Age, was (finally!) fully released last April 2015 for Playstation Consoles, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Linus and Ouya. With a simply amazing cast who voice-over absolutely everything, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Masassa Moyo, and Wil Wheaton, Broken Age is a fully original adventure. The player is taken along two separate storylines, and can choose freely when to switch, following two characters as they explore the strange happenings of their world, and attempt to free themselves of the conventional expectations they are burdened with. On one side, Vella is to be sacrificed to appease a large monster, as is tradition- on the other, Shay is seemingly alone on a spaceship where he is pampered like a toddler and dreams of independence. The game is full of riddles and puzzles, features incredible characters, peculiar concepts, and beautiful atmospheres. Many surprises and twist are simply mind-blowing, engrossing the player even more in this visually stunning narrative.Why not give Double Fine Productions a try? The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, and Broken Age, are all available for download at this very moment.

Behind the Mask of No Face

Originally published on The Nerd is the Word.ca August 2016

If you have seen the popular Ghibli Studios film Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, 2001), you have no doubt grown strangely attached to the enigmatic character No-Face (kaonashi). Since his appearance in the Hayao Miyazaki animated universe, No-Face has become an icon about as popular as Tororo (Tonari no Totoro, 1988) and has been immortalized on a large range of both official and fan-made merchandise.

What is the significance of No-Face? Why is he so peculiar, and yet so lovable?

No-Face is truly a unique creation that is not concretely based off Japanese folklore the way many other characters presented in Spirited Away are. He does, however, seem to be presented in the similar fashion of a masked spirit in traditional Noh theatre. Only one character in a single play would typically wear a mask, usually drawing them out as the central intention of the story. The use of masks in this art form is not a way of hiding facial expressions, but rather of codifying the meaning behind a character and stimulating the imagination of the audience. This gives some interpretative importance to the character of No Face in Spirited Away…Could he actually be a main character?

The overall appearance of No-Face in the film seems to be fluid, as he can both be transparent, human-sized, and grow to monstrous shapes. The character displays various types of emotional responses and reactions based on his immediate environment. Additionally, when he devours something or someone, he seems to take on the voice and characteristics of whatever he consumed. He, at first, seems shy and eager to please, becomes frustrated after being rejected, makes himself drunk with attention, and eventually transforms into a horrible greedy beast.

Miyazaki created Spirited Away to teach important world views to young girls, two of them in particular, around the age of ten. He portrays Chihiro, the heroine of the story, as a little girl who is at first a bit spoiled and willfully dependent, and who through a fearsome and exciting adventure, becomes an empowered young lady. It is obvious that No-Face must be a vehicle for some sort of message.

Many fans have thought up and written theories to better appreciate No-Face, and Miyazaki himself has not confirmed anything for sure. He has said in interviews, avoiding a direct answer, bits of information such as “I didn’t want to show them [young girls] something like “the struggle between good and evil.” I wanted to show them the truth about the world.” […] “”Kaonashi is inside of everyone.” No Face is clearly made to be relatable, to stand along with Chihiro as a central character.

Based on this cryptic material, No-Face is, no doubt, a manifestation of the spirit within Chihiro herself, who matures and better understands the consequences of her actions as the story unfolds. It is after all Chihiro who tames the monster No-Face becomes, triggers his regurgitating of all he has devoured, and returns him to his more wholesome state. As she herself has become a responsible and assertive person, she disciplines No-Face into a docile and well behaved child, before finally seeing him adopt the patience of an elderly woman. The transparency of No-Face is meant to incarnate the moods of desires of characters, including Chihiro, but also of all people. No-Face wants affection like everyone and gets caught up in the pleasures of complexities of the material world. He becomes peaceful when Chihiro solidifies her self-reliant will, and rejects the demands and influences of the universe around her in favour of her own goals. No-Face is a quaedam, a blank state where all viewers can see their own weaknesses and the way of conquering them.

Though the film Spirited Away has now been released for over 15 years, the character of No-Face is still a hit. He’s simply adorable as a naïve and impressionable child-like spirit, trying to better understand those who surround him. No-Face is very attachable as we can all easily understand to his longing for companionship, his loss of control, and eventual acceptance of self. Next time you see a manifestation of No-Face, whether it’s a spiffy pin at your favorite Geek Market, a silent cosplayer at a Japanese Culture Fair, or a real spirit standing eerily on a bridge, remember the implications that hide behind that mask.

References:

Komparu, Kunio (1983). The Noh Theater: Principles and Perspectives. New York / Tokyo: John Weatherhill. ISBN 0-8348-1529-X.

Atlantiza, (2012), Quoting interview from POSITIF magazine (April 2002): http://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/278/is-no-face-from-spirited-away-based-on-any-traditional-japanese-legends

Event Coverage: Beyond the Gates of the Kingdom of Osgoode

The gloomy clouds and bothersome rain last weekend was not enough to stop the 9th Annual Kingdom of Osgoode Medieval Festival from carrying out amazingly. Volunteers and enthusiasts help visitors travel back in time to feudal Europe when day to day life, domestic habits, garment customs, artistic expressions and community structures differed greatly from today. Like most festivals of this kind, the Kingdom of Osgoode is a portal to a fusional view into the Early, High and Late middle ages, with a dab of renaissance period, tied together with an overall fairy-tale and fantastical setting; all the charm of the medieval era without the stink and social issues.

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Garbed in my 15th century gown and cloak, I attended the lovely dancing and musical performances organized on various stages. Singers, master lute players, flutists and harpists added a great deal to the atmosphere.  Some performances stretched out further geographically than expected, such as with a traditional Indian dance of the Vedic periods, an appreciated multicultural addition.

Other events included a birds of prey presentation, a tradition depended upon in the middle ages for hunting. A dueling demonstration followed, with various levels of armour and sword fighting techniques offered. The biggest happening was of course the jousting matches, where knights (both male and female) competed while riding impressive war horses the for the favour of the crowd, and of the Kingdom of Osgoode royalty.

Jousting is actually an exciting event to watch and can be dangerous for the riders. As the talented announcer told the crowd, each hit is like a car accident. On more than one occasion the jousters were thrown off their horses!

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The festival is an amazing activity for children of all ages; a castle labyrinth, adapted dueling stations with stuffed swords and dragon defeating relay courses were set up for their entertainment. Scavenger hunts and quizzes were available to ensure the visit was a bit educational.

Like at most festivals, many unique local sellers had set up shop in the marketplace. Talented jewellery and accessory creators displayed their fantastical wares. Original materials and techniques included wood burning, bone and feather upcycling, metal work, soap making, flag sowing and more. Delicacies were also sold, including traditionally baked bread, exceptional preserves, and herbal teas. A pickle barrel on wheels traveled through the grounds, selling delicious homemade pickled field cucumbers.

The Kingdom of Osgoode festival is one of the best kept summer secrets in the national capital region. While some faced the crowds at the first Saturday of Ottawa Bluesfest, I sat comfortably in a fairy tale. This well organized and delivered little event is fully recommended to history and fantasy nerds and well worth the drive.

Check out their website: https://osgoodemedievalfestival.com/

Explore and Choose What You want to Believe in

Originally published for State of Liberation

‘Religious Nomadism’
The largest portion of individuals follow a beloved religion and take part in doctrine study, practices, rites of passage and in their communities. On another hand, at least 1 Billion in the world consider themselves ‘non-religious’. Among them, some are completely devoid of interest for a religious aspect in their lives, and some do have an interest, but seek alternative spiritual paths and dislike the implications of organized religious groups. Many who also identify as followers of large religions for statistical purposes live somewhat detached from traditional practices, and love to explore other belief systems. The inquisitive mind finds that a multitude of spiritual perspectives have contributed to shaping our world. Wanting to acquire more information about faiths different from those we were introduced to is not wrong. Wanting to disperse ignorance if only to better understand the values of those different from us is not a bad thing. New doors of insight and contemplation are opened to those curious enough to venture out of their bubbles and engage in what this era has named Religious Nomadism. The wisdoms those who wander and learn discover, turn into lessons that can be incorporated and reflected in everyday life.

 

Not a New Thing
Religious Nomadism
or Religion a la carte has the core concepts of humanism as ancestors, and would have truly emerged at the time of the European renaissance. Fresh ideas and conversations formed with the help of newly available religious and foreign texts being printed and floating about. The world seemed bigger and full of new mysteries as the South and North American continents were uncovered. A new interest in antiquity and eastern cultures added a different flair to literature, music, food and even fashions. Extreme religious changes overturned the tides of spiritual power for the western world, making the act of rethinking religious practice and belief a popular trend.
History then repeated itself much later, at the end of the second world war, from the mid 1950s to the coming of the New Age movement of the 1970s. Important denominations began to break away from traditional religious practices and attendance in places of worship dropped. The concept of the self as the only required spiritual authority was introduced, and the movement reopened pathways to ancient religions as well as belief systems foreign to the western world.  A weirdly mismatched yet widely known theology settled, which married neo-pagan, eastern beliefs such as Confucianism and Taoism, aboriginal spiritualties, and even scientific viewpoints.

 

Exploring the Same World
Religious Nomadism is a subtler and refined incarnation of the historical airs du temps described above. Practitioner may travel freely across the religious landscape and discover new things; the self, our intuition, the natural moral compass within us, becomes the only important spiritual authority. If in our travels we uncover something that resonates within, a story, a symbol, a line of verse, perhaps merely a feeling, or even a divinity, we can add its wisdom to our personal figurative book of beliefs. We let it guide us to who are meant to be, let it be our strength when we need it.

As each person comes to create their own spiritual system, it becomes apparent that the religious concepts we uncover pave a personal way to a common goal that all religious practitioners on earth share.  By accepting that there are limitless levels of religious experience in the world, and that each believer contributes to a greater collective wisdom, the mind, and our social world, opens wide. Conversations can flow freely; the curious accept one another for their views and values as they are. The messages at the core of all spiritual practices, the common denominator that unite us all, becomes clear.

 

Tread Carefully

Those who incorporate new beliefs from foreign religious systems into their personal faiths must be weary. An intelligent, objective and respectful approach is required to ensure that the concepts we are introduced to are properly researched and delicately interpreted. We must realize that by opening ourselves to the unknown, learning about it and applying its viewpoints into our everyday life, we unconsciously uproot pieces of cultures that are not ours to dissect. We strive to understand different spiritualties for our own personal growth, therefore we become the practitioners of our own system of belief, rather than joining those we have observed. For example, should you be from a judeo-Christian environment, and decide to explore Buddhist perspectives, do not call yourself a Buddhist, but rather see that you are using elements of Buddhism as spiritual inspiration (should you chose to pursue and practice Buddhism committedly, it is a different matter). No matter what and how much we try to learn from genuine sources, what we add to our own corpus of beliefs will always be somewhat converted to western frameworks of thought. We are learning and observing, experimenting, but in no way does implementing bits and pieces of a religious system make us religious authorities for others. Let’s be humble, inquire with reverence. Let’s admire, adopt, but not appropriate.

 

Independence
There are plenty of critics with negative opinions of Religious Nomadism. One of the most obvious detriment to picking and choosing religious concepts to treasure is that it is an individualistic approach. Living your own faith, customized and constructed by no one else but yourself means you will rarely find someone else who maintains the same religious uniqueness as you. The sense of belonging acquired from within a religious group such as a church congregation, according to these critics, becomes lost.

Independence means standing apart, and sometimes swimming against the current, fighting for your right to choose. Why accept, or worse, pretend to accept, pieces of a faith that do not ring true within, for the sake of conforming and acceptance within a group? It is argued that religion a la carte will isolate a believer, but the effect is rather the contrary for genuine adepts of the movement. As mentioned above, religious exploration turns us ultimately to seeing the common patterns between belief systems, breaking down mental walls based on race, nationality or orientation. Religion a la carte opens the channels of communication and creates an environment where differences are celebrated and unique opportunities for education.

Image CC0 Public Domain; Pezibear, https://pixabay.com/en/users/Pezibear-526143/

Comiccon 2016: Ottawa

Originally published on The Nerd is the Word.ca on May 24, 2016
http://thenerdistheword.ca/index.php/2016/05/24/comiccon-2016/

A stroll through the EY Centre at Comiccon will allow you an introduction with countless celebrities of the nerdy fictional world. Much like how Santa Claus sends out his world-wide team of mall representatives, many of my favorite anime, television, film, graphic novel, book and videogame characters were walking around in the flesh, happy to introduce themselves and pose for pictures. I met many favorites, who unbeknownst to most of us, call Ottawa home.

 Comiccon 2016 was probably one of the most well organized geeky convention yet. The panels and presentations were (mostly?) fascinating, the vendors were (finally!) varied and were not all selling the same items, the artists and their gorgeous pieces were simply remarkable (I bought a painting :p), and some unique nerdom elements, such as The Doctor’s TARDIS and the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, were present for fans to enjoy. Though sometimes the volunteers didn’t really understand what they were doing (they try their best!), signs were badly posted leading to misinformed guests, and the schedule was as unpredictable as ever (the website lies), I do feel sorry for those who missed the event.

As cool as everything was however, seeing the effort Ottawa convention goers put into transforming themselves into the amazing personalities residing within them is the best part of attending Comiccon. I realized that these heroes, villains and idols, on a daily basis, cannot reveal their amazing identities and live among us, incognito. They come out for conventions to meld into the crowd, mingle with their peers, and meet their adoring fans.

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Vincent Valentine was outside, as usual, avoiding crowds, but didn’t mind posing with me! This is Kait Merciless, Cosplay Artist (facebook.com/KaitMerciless, twitter.com/KaitMerciless) This was my favorite picture of the weekend!

I of course stuck around for the main event of the convention; the Masquerade. I saw plenty of other nerdom super stars, intricately made outfits and many with original presentation styles. I must comment here on the fact that this costume contest was very poorly organized and felt more like a high school pep-rally than a professional event. The hosts, two ladies who I supposed were thrust on stage without much direction, were dragging on the event with improvised jokes that never seemed to end. What should have been minimal and entertaining banter between co-hosts, turned into nothing less than stealing the spotlight from the cosplayers. Only my interest in seeing the final contestants kept me in the room until the end.

Comiccon in Ottawa has improved with each coming and I certainly plan to attend in the next years. The fans and those who enjoy transforming into their favorite characters to bring cherished stories to life, I am sure, will be waiting eagerly for Comiccon 2017.

 

Image CC0 Public Domain; Pexels, https://pixabay.com/en/users/Pexels-2286921/

Local Spotlight: Under a Fey Moon

Originally Published for The Nerd is the Word.ca on May 8 2016
http://thenerdistheword.ca/index.php/2016/05/08/local-spotlight-fey-moon/

Christine Doyle of Under a Fey Moon is an Ottawa-based handmade seller who crochets adorable nerdy creations. We at The Nerd is the Word came upon her unique talent at the Ottawa Geek Market and just had to approach her for an interview.

Hello Christine! My name is Elyse Turcotte of The Nerd is the Word and I am absolutely charmed by your work. When and how did you learn crochet?
My grandmother is an avid crocheter, and she learned from my mom, so I had the best teachers as a kid. But as happens when we’re kids, adult things become boring and I set it aside and I forgot every single stitch technique, until about 10 years ago. At that time I was inspired by blogs and friends in forums posting their work, and YouTube reminded me what I was missing. Thank you technology!
At what point did you develop an interest in opening a business? Tell us the story behind Under a Fey Moon!
I’m sure many home businesses have a similar story. I started making stuff I enjoyed, and at that time it was all about babies. I had little ones of my own, as did friends. I started to get requests for items, which grew into making similar items for friends of friends, and eventually strangers. As time went on, however, my babies grew, and I discovered more and more geeky projects that could be done with crochet and knitting. Since I’ve always been a bit of a nerd (ok, maybe a lot of a nerd), this was like a homecoming to me. I could create things I really loved, and would keep around in my own home if I wanted. Which is why I always have to make multiples (and sometimes even more multiples!) of everything.
How do you juggle craft fairs, your Etsy shop, and personal life? Have you run into any difficulties?
I had been a stay at home mom for nearly 6 years, so it was easy for a while. I recently decided to go back to work full time which has really cut into my crafting time. Fortunately days off and Netflix binge watching keep me on the straight and narrow for crafting. I’m pretty fortunate to have a very supportive family who have no problem helping out around the home and taking care of all of us. Markets are fairly recent for me, and I’m finding I love doing them. I’ll definitely be making more time for them in the future.
You make adorable hats and dolls! How do you pick which character or fandom to portray?
I mostly create things from my favourite fandoms, and expand out from there. I occasionally get requests for others I hadn’t thought of, or I’ll see a meme or something that sparks an idea, and go from there.
What is your favorite Nerdom, and why?
My immediate response would be what ever it is I’m caught up in at the moment (preparation for Geek Market for example was all 11 seasons of Supernatural). But honestly I would have to say Star Trek. I was at exactly the right age to watch The Next Generation when it was aired, and even got to see Generations at an advanced screening. That was my first introduction to cosplayers and it opened up a whole new world for me. Add to that the technology that Star Trek has inspired as well as the world view Gene Roddenberry promoted, it will likely always be my favourite.
What is your favorite item you ever crocheted?
My favourite item is probably Spock. He’s my favourite nerd, ever, not only in Star Trek but Leonard Nimoy himself was an amazing person. Crafting one now is not only a bittersweet project, but it reminds me of an ideal I like to aim for.
What are you working on next? Can we get a sneak preview as to the next crochet items we should see in your shop?
I’m working on a few more super heroes, DC being the first to be done. I want to get Flash and Superman up there, and then move on to Marvel. I’d like to do a few more clothing items, such as the Doctor’s scarves, Warcraft tabards, etc. These are huge projects though, so it may take a bit of time.
Do you enjoy the Ottawa Geek Market? What does the fair mean for Under a Fey Moon?
I had a BLAST at Geek Market. I think I enjoyed myself more than the patrons did. It was so cool to see the amazing creations from the other vendors (as my pocket book can attest), as well as the fantastic cosplays. I love that geeks can get together and be so very welcoming to everyone, regardless of their passions. I can’t wait to do this event again. It was some very cool exposure for Under A Fey Moon as well; it was fun seeing people’s reactions to the work I presented.
Are you planning to participate in any other craft or geeky fair in the near future?
Next up is Creative Ottawa Nerds on June 11. I’ll be working then again to stock up for Geek Market in October, followed by St. Anne’s School Bazaar in November. I’ll be posting event pages on my Facebook page to keep folks updated.
We here at The Nerd is the Word were delighted to meet an artist such as Christine of Under a Fey Moon. Her unique talent for bringing out the cute side of nerdiness is something we highly recommend seeing.
Be sure to check out her links below!
Under a Fey Moon on Facebook!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Under-a-Fey-Moon/293069777389278
Christine also sells her item on Etsy!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/underafeymoon
Find more pictures on Instagram!
https://www.instagram.com/underafeymoon/
Image CC0 Public Domain; xxolgaxx, https://pixabay.com/en/users/xxolgaxx-742787/

Keeping Up on One Piece Adventures!

Originally Published for The Nerd is the Word.ca on March 28, 2016
http://thenerdistheword.ca/index.php/2016/03/28/keeping-one-piece-adventures/

If, like millions of fans, you’ve been keeping up with the latest One Piece anime development, you probably know that the current Dressrosa story arc, introduced back in January 2014, is drawing to an end. Fans have eagerly waited for the moment when, Monkey D. Luffy, the rubber-man “who’ll become the Pirate King”, would finally strike down the machiavellian Don Flamingo.

I won’t spoil any of the details, in case the entire One Piece adventure is still an open sea for you to discover, but the unbelievably persistent pirate captain is known for his childlike, yet world-saving resolve. No matter how many times he is struck down, Luffy stands up again, ready for more, always delivering an incredibly satisfying victory.

One Piece is difficult to overlook in the anime universe. Based very closely on the manga created and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, it began airing in 1999, and has since then delivered 17 seasons and over 730 episodes. Adventures to wondrous locations in the Grand Line ocean, like Sky Island (yes, in the clouds), or Merman Island (yup, under the sea) unfold as powerful enemies emerge from the wild realm of piracy, and the corruption of the World Government. There is even mysterious and rare Devil Fruits that give characters potent and often ridiculous super powers, to some unstoppable authority over the elements, and others the appearance of a humanoid giraffe.

The style of One Piece, from the iconic shonen category, is a unique cocktail of cartoonesque humour and gripping action, giving its viewers a healthy dose of laughter all the while keeping them hooked to elaborate story lines that lead to their ultimate zenith. To keep an almost ‘pirate-fairytale’ atmosphere, many characters are given the name of historically renowned pirates and legendary figures; you’d probably recognize like Bartholomew Kuma, Blackbeard, or Captain Ax-Hand Morgan. Some characters might also remind you of certain western entertainment icons?

Though there is a core group of central and recurring characters in One Piece, each personality encountered is unique and given a rich background and justification. Luffy and his crew are not the plundering pirates of our 17th century; their only claim to that name has to do with freedom, wanderlust, and the desire to meet new people and hear their stories. Each member of Luffy’s crew is very attachable and most fans report being very emotionally involved in the plot’s development. Some of us even cried for a sail boat, and we aren’t even ashamed of it.

One Piece does take a level of commitment and patience, as any monstrous “700 episodes and ongoing” series would. Known for stretching out important events, numerous and frustratingly placed flashbacks, and sometimes even tedious repetition the show can be ideal for binge watching; allowing the viewer to take control of the rhythm of suspense by skipping ahead when necessary. The silly-looking summary maps detailing the particular location of each main characters and their immediate situations become a navigation guide as story arcs become incredibly complex.

Particularly intense planning involved in each story arc is surely something to be admired. Seemingly frivolous details often turn out to be hints to mind-blowing plotline elements that are actually completely worth the (sometimes long) wait. Many mysteries that hooked us in at the very start have yet to be explained… Oda is taking us along on a grand journey with unique characters, to extraordinary locales, in search of answers (and fun!). Incarnating exactly the proverb that “life is a journey, not a destination” some fans even still expect to be tuning in for the latest of Monkey D. Luffy’s exploits in their old age, and secretly hope that Luffy never reaches his ultimate goal to continue his exploration forever. Celebrate Luffy’s eagerly awaited victory against Don Flamingo, but above all, celebrate the new adventures to come!