H is for Halo….Maybe?

Ok, as I was brainstorming ideas for my list, I came up with Halo for “H.” It seemed like a good idea at the time. I, however, am not a gamer. I am surrounded by gamers who will be giving me crap after they read this post. I never had console games in my house and love it when I hit a friend’s house with Lego anything. I did play World of Warcraft for a few years, but stopped when I realized that eight hours of grinding could be spent with real live people.

Aww, cosplayers. Image from http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/628023.html

Aww, cosplayers. Image from http://hdw.eweb4.com/out/628023.html

And this photo reminds of a favorite YouTube video.

Wow, serious stream of consciousness/Ooo shiny kicked in.

Halo. I am supposed to be writing about Halo. I know that the franchise originally started as a PC game, and then Microsoft took it over to the 360 for console gaming. The lead character is called Master Chief. The franchise has turned out 7 video games,  book adaptations, graphic novels, comics, a stalled movie, and an anime series.

But it has now become part of the culture and comic relief  as done by Rooster Teeth’s Red vs Blue in the machinima style.

What does this say about Halo? If anything is around long enough and is kind of popular, it will be taken up and reconstituted into a new form. Heck, it has its own pedia site.

G is for Galatica, Battlestar Galatica

Art, back when it was all done by hand. Image from http://www.megomuseum.com/remego/battlestar.shtml

Art, back when it was all done by hand. Image from http://www.megomuseum.com/remego/battlestar.shtml

Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar Galactica leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest… a shining planet known as Earth. ~ spoken by Lorne Greene at the close of each episode of the Glen A. Larson’s original Battlestar Galactica.

So, when normal geeky GenXers had already seen Star Wars the year before, my first exposure to Science Fiction and space travel was Battlestar Galactica and then Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Erin Gray was such a hottie and still is. Gil Gerard.. eh). Looking back it now, it is almost painful to watch Battlestar. It was appropriate for the time, but now we have…

What does the SciFi Channel know about high productions?

In 2003, The SciFi (now SyFy) Channel showed a four-hour miniseries of a new Battlestar Galatica. announced that they have revived the 70’s space opera and would be adding it to their line-up. The purists decried the move as unacceptable, especially after seeing that Starbuck is now a girl (who I think would wipe the floor with the boy Starbuck.. Rawr!). Others could not see how SciFi could have high production value expectations that it takes for space shows. They already had Stargate SG-1, where would the bucks come from?

Could this really happen? No, but it makes awesome TV! Image from http://scienceinmyfiction.com/tag/battlestar-galactica/

Could this really happen? No, but it makes awesome TV! Image from http://scienceinmyfiction.com/tag/battlestar-galactica/

The bucks came from the show itself. Producer Ronald D. Moore gave us nitty, gritty life in space with real plot devices and was not afraid to mix things up. Think about trying to land a Battlestar on a planet to rescue prisoners from another ship. Balls, real balls!  He created an ensemble cast and crew that was critically acclaimed and stacked-up nominations, awards, and best of  lists. We had gone from geeky science fiction to one of the best dramas airing on television at the time. (In 2002, Fox aired and then cancelled Firefly before it had a chance.)

The legacy Ronald D. Moore gave goes beyond the spin-0ffs of Blood and Chrome and Caprica. He proved that a science fiction television show can be engaging beyond the special effects, the fantastic, and the parables of current events. He made science fiction appealing to an audience beyond geeks by making characters who are relatable by their struggles with religion, politics, and existence.

bsg-3

F is for Furry

And then, there is Furry Fandom

Different levels of furry characters

Different levels of furry characters

When I planned my list for the A to Z blog, I thought that Furry would be good for “F,” but sitting here I am grasping at how to write about it without it being this huge long thing.

Here’s what I will do. I will start simply. The general definition for furry fandom is that it is a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animals according to Wikipedia. Right now you are scratching your head over the ten dollar word “anthropomorphic” (see I can spell it right twice!). Basically, it means an animal with human characteristics- intelligence, facial expressions, wearing clothes… And then, it breaks down into smaller subcultures.

Fursuiting

Here we have some college mascots- Bucky (yea!), Herky, Sparty, and Goldy.

Here we have some college mascots- Bucky (yea!), Herky, Sparty, and Goldy. Picture from http://talkingmascot.blogspot.com/http://talkingmascot.blogspot.com April 2011.

Three of these mascots are animal-based, and without the collegiate ties would be purely considered doing something called fursuiting. CSI episodes aside, some people are drawn to fursuiting as a way to interact with others in an anonymous way to get around their shyness. Others like to entertain. While yet another subculture uses suits for a not so PG13 use that I will not discuss in my mostly not adult blog.

Fursuiting takes form in different ways. The picture about shows a full suit. Partial suits are a combination of a head, arms, legs with human clothing. Others are happy with just ears and tail.

How did we get here though?

That same Wikipedia article credits Albedo Anthropomorphics by Steve Gallacci as the first Furry comic. However, being named in 1980 at a science convention, the anthropomorphics go all the way back to Mickey Mouse, and Felix the Cat when they were called “funny animals.”

Since then, people have continued to identify with cartoons, be it Bugs Bunny or the Thundercats. As the Wiccan/Witch movement gained momentum, people connected to the traits of their spirit animals. Others took it further believing they can transform or shape shift into an animal called therianthropy. This is becoming a common path in various role playing game systems.

It is a lifestyle

Furry fandom definitely has a cultural lifestyle.  Each year, numerous conventions are held all over North America and Europe. A few well-known conventions stateside  are:  Anthrocon (billed as the largest Furry convention in the world), RainFurrest, Further Confusion, and Midwest Fur Fest. In fact, I have mentioned this under “C,” that the Twin Cities will have their own convention in September of 2014 called Furry Migration (the site should be live any day now…). Previously, the conventions tended to focus solely on fursuiting & creating/building/accessorizing and graphic arts. Now, the trend is a focus on highlighting authors, publishers, games, videos, and gaming. Furry conventions are different from science fiction conventions in the way that the attendees interact with each other. They are families coming together again after visiting at the last convention. An interesting crossover does occur with Anime conventions, and cat girls. Well, more than just cat girls.

Who loves a parade? Fursuit parade at Midwest Fur Fest 2012

Fursuiting can be the ultimate crafting experience. Suits range in price from $500 to $10,000. Some folks like to build their own, while others go out and order them.

“Fursonas” are characters developed by Furry fans. Wikipedia attributes the development of these fursonas to role playing. That is correct, but I know others who have created them as an alter-ego. It is a place where mentally, they can relate better to themselves and others.

The development of the internet and Usenet is also has a hand in today’s Furry fandom. It is the belief of one of my friends that Furry fandom has such a strong gay representation because on Usenet you find alt.gay followed by alt.furry. This gave people an avenue to more freely talk about themselves and their feelings, wants and desires. I believe this is where the fursonas really started.

XXX

The television shows take the sex angle, and make it sensationalistic. As in any subculture, there is some aspects that not all people can relate to. CSI and other shows pick up on some random tidbit in the news, and they create a whole episode around it. Is all of Furry fandom like this? No, but it is something to keep mind.

And by the way, if you go out looking for more information, watch out for the hate sites. The first one I saw threw me for a bit. I am a female, and a Furry- some sites will say that I cannot possibly be both. Yet, this is voice people hear in the media, on the internet, and talk among friends. Furs just want to be respected, left mostly alone, and not be seen as deviants.

 

E is for Electronica

Doobie, doobie, doo

Where to begin? (Besides being late getting this out….)

Daft-Punk-Discovery

That is a place to start, but it is not all about Daft Punk. I have always liked post-industrial music, and that like has crossed over to electronica. Then again, I tend to be eclectic in my musical tastes. The only music that I tend to run from is country music and musicals.

Back to the music

NINCloser

Better to show this than the actual video with some REALLY adult images.

Nine Inch Nails. Nitzer Ebb. Ministry. Skinny Puppy.  All kind of hardcore at the time. I also listened to Depeche Mode, The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, and all kinds of things. Yes, I listened to pop music too.  But, pop music never really felt right. Maybe it was me, the GenXer, feeling disaffected and only connecting with the music that didn’t have the happy ending.

But it started to change, pick the red pill or the blue?

Thinking back, the milestone I can actually place for the change into electronica is the movie, The Matrix.

The_Matrix_Dodge_this_(HD)_0893

Dodge this!

We had a little alternative mixed with techno and drum & bass. This is the first time I heard Crystal Method. I caught more Prodigy, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Rammstein (Du Hast – lol) here too. Soon, I heard the Chemical Brothers, and get we this guy from NYC showing up on the scene going by the name, Moby.

Anime, again?

I think the only reason that I still am current on musical trends is because of my liking of Anime and other conventions.

DjPlaying

Ok, fine. He is not at an Anime convention, but it is a cool picture

So, it is at the dances, and frankly, Pandora as of late, that keeps the edge of new music close to me. Who have I been listening to lately, other than the Current (89.3 the twin cities public rock radio- break free from commercial radio!)- Pendulum (The Island, Pt. 2), Deadmau5, Nero, Blackmill, Wolfgang Gartner, and the Glitch Mob to name a few.

 

 

 

D is for Dead Again

DeadAgainDead Again, the movie

Ok, so the name of the post originates with a 1991 movie that starred Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Dead Again mixes karma, reincarnation, and hypnosis into a surprising thriller. Balancing the movie between two timelines of current day and the 1940’s.  Mike, a Los Angeles private investigator, is called in to help an amnesiac-afflicted woman who is filled only with nightmares of a murdered pianist. Twists and turns abound in this movie, and when you think you have figured it out, another twist comes along.

The Players

The movie is an interesting intersection of career paths. Branagh and Thompson, married at the time, really jump onto the American movie radar. The following year, Thompson stars in Howard’s End and wins the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She goes onto to build an amazing award-filled and impressive career with a total of two Oscars, 41 awards, and 47 nominations.

HowardsEnd

Kenneth Branagh already directed Henry V two years earlier, and continues to build on his stable of Shakespeare movies. He not only has a brilliant mind for Shakespeare productions but has 57 credits as an actor, 16 as a director, 7 as a producer, and 8 as a writer covering genres from Horror (Frankenstein) to Action (Thor). And, although he and Thompson are not married any longer, that does not stop him from casting her in his productions.

BranaghHamlet

Little known writer, Scott Frank, goes on to brilliance in his writing career. That same year A Little Man Tate comes out. In the following years, Frank either wrote or did the screenplays for Malice, Get Shorty, Heaven’s Prisoners, Out of Sight, Minority Report, Flight of the Phoenix, The Interpreter, The Lookout, Marley & Me, and the soon to be released Wolverine.

wolverine_ver5

It is interesting to me to see how paths cross, connections are made, and relationships develop. Dead Again was a small movie (made for $15,000,000 and grossed $38,000,000 domestically) which that happened to bring together three artists on their way to fame.

C is not for CONvergence

Yes, the blog is called ‘CON’undrum’s Rhapsody, but it isn’t CONvergence

For those who know me well, they would expect me to write about CONvergence. I, instead, wanted to write more generally about conventions. More specifically, I want to write about fan-run conventions. Geeks that live here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities) area have a number of conventions to go to without having to leave the metropolitan area. They range from Science Fiction/Fantasy, Anime, Gaming, Horror, Culture, to Relax-A-Cons.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

All the conventions that I name in this post are staffed by volunteers. No one is paid to spend anywhere an average of 12 to 18 months organizing a weekend convention. Some conventions even have their staff pay for their membership/ticket and hotel rooms. What is even crazier, is that some of the staff crossover into other conventions. These people like to refer to their time spent as a hobby. I have been one of those folks, and I would not trade my experiences for anything.

Here is a run down of some of the local conventions by genre.

Science Fiction/Fantasy

CVGBritCONvergence Held each year on or around the Fourth of July weekend in Bloomington, Mn at the DoubleTree Hotel. 2012’s convention had an attendance of over 5,600 spanning four days. Memberships are purchased and give access to panels, demonstrations, movies, anime, coffee shop, ConSuite (food stuffs), dances, performances, parties, and more.

Diversicon  A convention built on diversity in culture, fan groups, and media. Diversicon is held the first weekend in August at the Best Western at Bandana Square. The convention is known for its unfettered approach to guests as they come from all walks of life.

Snarky275x277MarsCon A yearly three-day convention in March last held at the Crowne Plaza in Bloomington, Mn in 2013. They have just announce their move to the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. A smaller convention with loads of fun. The venue lets attendees have more access to the Guests of Honor who come from more of a media background.

MiniCon Currently held on Easter weekend, MiniCon can boast that it is the longest running Science Fiction convention in Minnesota. The first year it was held? 1968! It also sets up at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Mn. MiniCon is considered by some to be the progenitor for other conventions here in the metro area. It focused on all areas of Science Fiction for many years, then narrowed its focus to authors and more literary themes. The last convention had many attractions to appeal to a wide interest with movies, music, and gaming.

Anime

adlogoAnime Detour I am not going to get into to it here because the “A is for” post was all about this convention.

animefusion_logoAnime Fusion Started in part by some Anime Detour folks and others to have a fall convention that features old and new school Anime. They had their first convention in October of 2012 and had over 900 people in attendance. The convention returns this year at the Ramada Mall of America October 18th-20th.

Gaming

Con of the North One of the longest running fan-run gaming conventions in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Gaming activities include: role playing, collectible card games, war games, board games, miniature games, computer games, and many more games. This is a low key type of convention with some light programming with some costume events and auctions. Con of the North will return February 14th-16th, 2014 at the Holiday In St Paul East.

Horror

Arcana A theme continues here as Arcana is Minnesota’s longest running Horror convention. While this is year 42(!) for the convention, it has been held at the Best Western at Bandana Square for 21 years. Aimed at a mellow crowd, it is a convention geared to the “dark fantastic”  of H. P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and others.

Culture

First, I want to define what I mean by a Culture convention. To me, it is a convention that focuses on aspects within a culture. Now, if that makes sense, let’s continue!

britcon_logoBritCon A brand new convention that will be held May 24th-26th (Memorial Day weekend) at the DoubleTree Park Place in St. Louis Park (yes, the metro area does have more than one DoubleTree). It “is the only three day event of its kind dedicated to celebrate BRITISH Science-Fiction, Fantasy & Folklore in Movies, Media & Literature,” as it is posted on their website. It looks to be brilliant!

FMlogoFurry Migration This is another new convention that is currently organizing. They have a hotel contract to have a convention September 12th-14th, 2014 at the Ramada Mall of America. Yes, this is way out, but this is what it takes to get it done right. The convention focuses on not only graphic artists and fursuiters, but also authors and  publishers with programming including Furry themed videos, games, and lifestyles. I am looking forward to seeing how this organization develops.

Relax-A-Con

Earlier, I mentioned that some people staff multiple conventions. This category of convention is for those amazing souls who put on the previously listed conventions and never get any downtime.

omegamanOmegaCon Held in Siren, Wi, this convention does not hold to being in the metro area.  However, with the large amount Twin City folk that go, I think that Siren is annexed temporarily to the metro for that weekend. Speaking of weekends, OmegaCon is generally the first weekend of November, but with its popularity, a Spring weekend has been added (April 26th-28th, 2013). It is a chance to relax with old and new friends over food, drink, games, movies, and vintage Saturday morning cartoons.

SuperCon Known as the “Great Geek Living Room,” SuperCon originated as a geeky escape from the Twin Cities in 1992 when the Super Bowl came to town. The weekend remains the same over its 20 year history while the host city has changed. Currently, folks head out to Hastings, Mn and the Country Inn. The agenda is to keep the convention as simple as possible with a ConSuite, and light programming. The idea is to socialize, whether through games or the Stitch hunt in the pool/hot tub.

But what about…?

I will not say that this is a final list. The conventions I listed here are ones that I am familiar with and have exposure to. Also, there are several for-profit conventions here in the Twin Cites, but I am not mentioning them.

B is for Blue

TARDISBlue…

Ok, the give-me for “blue” for most geeks is the blue British police box known as the TARDIS from Dr. Who. There is much news in regards to the series within the past week.

Season Seven, Part Two premiere (spoiler alerts)

Saturday night gave us the new installment of Dr. Who with a brand spankin’ new companion. Well, maybe not new in our viewing pleasure. We have seen her before living and dying. We watched Clara in The Snowmen where she lives in Victorian London as an enterprising young woman who slides through society as a barmaid to a governess. Then, we see her attacked, and she fell from the TARDIS to her death.

Clara and the Doctor in the 2012 Christmas Special

Clara and the Doctor in the 2012 Christmas Special

Wait.

That was not the first time we, or the the doctor, saw her. She was the souffle girl from Asylum of the Daleks. As the Junior Entertainment Manager of the starship Alaska, she was the remaining crew member trying to survive. Clara helps guide Amy and Rory out of the asylum, but she is herself trapped. The Doctor fights his way pass Daleks he defeated in previous battles, only to find that Clara, herself, is a Dalek cyborg. Again, we see her death as the planet is destroyed.

Who is this woman, and how is she alive again? We have seven more episodes to find out.

50th Anniversary Special News

Over the weekend, and on Monday, April 1st (no, this is not an April Fool’s joke) it was released that Billie Piper and David Tennant would be coming back for the anniversary special. They are to be joined by “other familiar faces” along with accomplished British actor, John Hurt. On the BBC One Blog, a photo of David Tennant and Matt Smith shows them after their first reading on Monday night. The blog promises more updates as they occur.

Just 50 years…

In fifty years we have seen 11 doctors, 50 plus companions (there is a great debate as to who qualifies as a companion), the Daleks come and go many times, how statues can be the ultimate boogie man, the Master continuing to try to take over the universe, among other old and new adversaries. Dr Who started as a television show in 1963. It has since crossed over into plays, a movie, books, comics, audioplays, animated series, and television spin-offs. Dr Who has been spoofed on  Saturday Night LiveMystery Science Theater 3000Family GuyAmerican Dad!FuturamaSouth ParkCommunity as Inspector Spacetime, The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory. The show has infiltrated into the culture so quietly. What would we do with out those buzz phrases “bow ties are cool,”  “brilliant,” or “its bigger on the inside?’ I know that my life would be lacking without having Dr Who in it.

DOCTOR-WHO-LOGO-2-693x274