Tag Archives: geek

Swancon 41

To give the reader some context about the following post I will begin with some information. Normally for conventions like Swancon & Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention) there is a two year process in which a group of people who are interested in running one of these events would bid to run the event in two years time. For example people looking to run Swancon in 2017 would submit their bid in 2015.

With that being said at the 2014 Swancon there was no active bid to run the 2016 Swancon. As a result of this WASFF (Western Australian Science Fiction Foundation) took action to seek members of the community who would be interested in coming together and running Swancon 2016.

Out of the darkness some awesome people emerged to form the committee for Swancon 2016 (who I will thank at the end of this post).

Fast forward to the 24th of March 2016 at the Pan Pacific hotel and Swancon 41 comes to life with a wonderful opening ceremony, which included an introduction of all the committee and the guests. Plus a fantastic Welcome To Country by Professor Len Collard. After the opening the people of Swancon were unleased upon the program that had been prepared.

Speaking of the program I have a couple of points to cover regarding it. Firstly as a person who was on several program items I found the flow of information from the program coordinator Frames to be quite excellent. There were many updates and I felt very much informed and in the loop about program related things.

Secondly I found the program to be very balanced and well rounded with lots of diverse items on it covering a range of subjects. A complement to an excellent programmer.

I sadly did not get to spend much time in the gaming room as I was busy doing other things but it looked like the gaming room very well run again.

My only real point that I would raise is I felt the guests were not marketed to their fullest potential. However as the committee did not have a dedicated marketing coordinator I feel the committee did the best job they could with the resources they had.

Once again the venue at the Pan Pacific was first class with all the convention space on one level of the hotel. Once additional thing that was implemented was improved accessibility around the convention.

Unlike Swancon 2015 this year our budget did not allow us to stay at the convention hotel. This year we stayed at the nearby Good Earth Hotel and shared accommodation with a friend. Being very close by made it easy to get to the convention everyday.

Swancon 2016 was my 11th Swancon and I found it very enjoyable and relaxing (despite being rather busy preparing to launch as I am on the 2017 committee). A convention is truly rated by how you feel after the event is over. I came away from Swancon 41 with a very good feeling.

My thanks goes to the awesome team that put together Swancon 41 there were so many of you if I try to name you all I will probably forget someone. Also thank you to guests who gave us their time to be with us.

Swancon 41 was a good convention I am looking forward to the next time I see the members of that community and also for Swancon 42 (for which I am the lead programmer)

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GenghisCon 2016

Genghis Con 2016 hit the convention scene from January 15th until the 17th at the usual venue it is held at which is  Trinity College in Crawley in Western Australia. Here are my thoughts and views on it.

Genghis Con holds a rather special place in the Perth convention scene as it is always the first convention on the calendar therefor for me there is always a strong level of excitement when Genghis Con time comes around.

This year the committee restructured the way the convention was organised with fewer people on the committee and instead turning to the community and asking for there help and support with running things like the program items. This idea worked very well it allowed the community greater input into building their convention and also allowed the committee to be more efficient in organising the other things that needed to be done.

Just to note for the reader I was part of this new process as myself and a friend of mine were the tabletop gaming team for Genghis Con 2016. Which basically involves going away and working out the board gaming schedule for the convention and giving it to the committee. Mostly we worked independently  from the committee and we just kept in general contact with them informing them of our progress.

As a whole I found the program at the convention to be very diverse and interesting with quite a number of different items on it from what has been done in the past. This could be partially put down to the new structure of organising the con that I mentioned above.

In addition to being part of the gaming team for Genghis Con 2016 I was also on several other panel items as well. This gave me some further insights.

Firstly the confirmation of the panel items I was on was sent only 6 days before the convention which is not enough time for preparations to be made for panel content. Also I was to be on three panels Anime 101, Peter Capaldi: Return to Old Who & Board Games: What’s New.

On receiving my confirmation e-mail I was only on two panels Peter Capaldi: Return to Old Who and Cool Games/kickstarters (which I did not put myself down at all). However I was then rather confused when I received an e-mail about the Anime 101 panel from Genghis Con which I was not confirmed to be on by their programme coordinator.

The other main point was the neither the panels or programme coordinator contacted myself to see if I would need any special equipment or connections for my panels <fortunately I did not>. Also no one contacted me to see if I had a preferred time for any of my items. Normally I finish work at 4pm which means I would not get into the convention until about 4:40pm. This would have been a problem given the first panel I was listed to be on at 4pm and the second one was at 5pm. This normally would have been a problem however fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your perspective) I was off work in the week up to the convention because of my knee acting up. So this turned out to be a non issue but some communication from the programming team would have been appreciated.

As readers may be aware David Bowie passed away on the Monday before Genghis Con. I contacted the committee to inquire if it would be possible to do a music tribute to him celebrating his collection of songs. The committee were more than accommodating in this request which they are to be commended for.

The convention it self went rather well. The only real issue we had was we were given a room with two twin beds instead of a double bed. However this was put down as a venue issue. Other than that the only thing I would raise is that the board gaming area should have it’s own dedicated room and not combined with the common room. Some of the rooms were under utilised however this did give room for last minute program items to be added <like my David Bowie item>.

The AGM went very smoothly as normal even with the added item of the constitution changes which the committee handled very well and professionally.

All in all it was a good convention and with a combination of some new faces and some old guard on the next committee 2017 looks like being another exciting convention.

 

 

Supergirl Pilot Review

Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) was sent to Earth as well as her cousin Kal-El (Superman). Kara’s mission was to protect her younger cousin. However on it’s way to Earth her ship was knocked off course and she ended up in the Phantom Zone where time does not pass. By the time her ship arrives on Earth her cousin had already grown up and become The Man Of Steel.

As her cousin did not need her protection any longer Kara went and lived with her adoptive human family the Danvers where she grew up into a young lady however as she did not need them she hid powers from the world.

Kara while currently in the employ of CatCo Worldwide Media as the personal assistant to Cat Grant a situation forces her to reveal her powers to the world and the story of Supergirl begins.

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I first discovered that a Supergirl series was being made when I saw the 6 minute long preview which was released online sometime before the pilot aired. While the pilot to Supergirl leaked before it’s air date I did not watch it until it came out through proper channels.

Allow me to continue by saying firstly that over my many years of watching shows and in particular genre shows. As an example I have seen the pilots to 3 Star Trek shows (Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise), The X-Files, Babylon 5 & Sliders just to name a few. So how does Supergirl stack up against these other titles?

Firstly the casting, which I think on the whole was done very well.

Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl: Melissa was an excellent choice. Her only other big role was Marley Rose on Glee for two seasons. Which for television audiences means she is mostly an unknown quantity. She does also have a theatre career spanning 15 years which does show through in her work on screen. as she is able to not only act excellently in scenes but allows her to play the double life of Kara & Supergirl well.

Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen: Again another good casting choice here. Jimmy Olsen connecting events in National City with those in Metropolis through is work at the Daily Planet and his connections with Superman. Brooks has a reasonable body of work behind him and is well cast in the role of Olsen

Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers: Leigh has one of most impressive bodies of work in the main cast having stared in Grey’s Anatomy for 112 episodes. She is quite well suited to the action role that Danvers plays through her employment. However Leigh is also quite good at playing the other side of her character being Kara’s adoptive sister and all that comes with that.

Jeremy Jordan as Winslow “Winn” Schott Jr: Winn is a tech expert at CatCo who works near Kara’s desk. She befriends him straight away and he helps set up her out fit and a hideout. He also has a crush on her. At the moment in the series this is the character I am finding the least interesting Jordan is a good actor however. Perhaps over time the character will grow on me.

David Harewood as Hank Henshaw: Having recently rewatched the Doctor Who two parter The End of Time I realised where I had seen Harewood before. He played Joshua Naismith in it. In Supergirl he plays Henshaw the head of the DEO. While he appears to he a hard ass he does want what is best for Alex & Kara.

Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant: The most well know actor in the main cast Flockhart was the lead in two other major shows being Ally McBeal & Brothers & Sisters. She is well suited for the role of the CatCo CEO as she has an heir or elegance about her and can play her character with ease.

While I’m not going to go through all the recurring cast I will make two mentions which I felt were special

Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers: Obviously Cain played The Man of Steel himself in the 90’s tv show Lois & Clarke: The New Adventures of Superman. In this series he plays Kara’s adoptive human father.

Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers: Slater starred in the 1984 film Supergirl. She is Kara’s adoptive mother in the series.

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The pilot itself was good I felt it outlaid the story in a way so those who don’t know the story of Supergirl could very easily pick up the story. However it was done in such a way that those of us who are familiar with the story feel entertained and are not left bored by something they already know.

The range Kara goes through in this episode is awesome, from officer worker to revealing her powers. Then to be badly discouraged and then finally saving the day. It was excellent acting on the behalf of Benoist.

I did notice that the pilot was only the length of a normal episode, which is a testament to the creators to be able to tell the story they needed in 45 min instead of 2 hours like tv pilots of old use to run for.

The action and effects were good and all the actors came to the party and performed very well. This is  series that has quite a lot of potential. I hope to see it do well.

Daisy Ridley: A Rey of light for Star Wars

While  I am scheduled to do a generalised Force Awakens post on Thursday after seeing an article online last night I felt compelled to make this post ahead of the other one.

For the article I referenced above please see the following link

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-28/missing-star-wars-hero-has-fans-asking-wheres-rey/7056480

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It is not often that history repeats itself. Only through careful design and planning can it have a chance of doing so. However history has indeed repeated itself when you look at casting choices in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope & Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

For A New Hope all three actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford had a small body of work before staring in Star Wars. With the exception of Ford who’s biggest release prior to Star Wars was the 1973 movie American Graffiti, both Hamill & Fisher had only really done work domestically in America.

The creative force (no pun intended) behind episode 7 have done the same thing taking three relatively unknown actors and putting them firmly in the spotlight. In this case its John Boyega, Adam Driver & Daisy Ridley. It is the latter’s performance that I shall focus on now.

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As mentioned above the casting choices for the new Star Wars introduced us to relatively unknown actors naturally as a result of this I had not seen any of the work that Daisy Ridley had done before episode 7. Which results in my initial option of her skills as an actor were based solely on her performance in The Force Awakens.

However with playwright and actor Arnold Ridley (The plays The Wrecker, Ghost Train in 1927 & Dad’s Army as Private Godfrey) as her great-uncle one suspects Daisy is of a strong acting lineage.

Being cast in episode 7 was exactly the global exposure the Daisy not only needed but also deserved. Here is why.

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The Force Awakens gives Daisy the widest pallet possible for an actor to portray a huge rage of acting skills all packaged together in one movie.

There were plenty of action scenes where she was running and climbing and dodging fire from the enemy which shows her skills for action movies. However she was not only able to show her credentials as an action star but was able to convey the full range of emotions all in just over two hours of film including sadness, fear and anger as shown here.

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Daisy has the skills to act in almost any movie which will be a huge asset to her as role come her way and her profile continues to grow. She is certainly a rising star of the movie industry. She is an amazing talent and I for one will watch with great interest to see her career grown and bloom as time goes on.

As a side note for the anime & Studio Ghibli fans out there Daisy is providing voice acting work for the character Taeko Okajima in the English dub of the Ghibli release Only Yesterday due for release in 2016.

Thanks should be given to those who cast episode 7 for putting Daisy in the role of Rey she is a strong female main character who is played by a very talented young lady. Who I hope will be a role model to all the young kids out there seeing the movie both girls & boys.

Hopefully Disney and Lucusfilms realise the awesome potential they have in this character and they change their marketing strategies to include more Rey products  and unlike in the article I referenced in the beginning we won’t be asking “Where’s Rey” in the future.

Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song

Well another year almost gone and another season of Doctor Who complete. Once again we find ourselves at that special part of the year where we have the Christmas Special. This year sees the return of River Song in The Husbands of River Song.

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The episode begins with a messenger at the door of the TARDIS looking for “The Surgeon”, the messenger having being sent by the one and only River Song who is apparently married to King Hydroflax. However as is quite often the case with River things are not always as they appear especially when she appears not to recognise The Doctor…

Firstly allow me to begin by saying that this is a nice lighter episode with some nice comedy scenes in it. I feel this was much needed because quite a few parts of series 9 (especially the end three episodes) were quite dark. So a nice light hearted fun romp was a much needed change.

Aside from the snow and a few other visual queues there was very little Christmas in this Christmas special. While this is not the first time this has happened I feel a Christmas special should have a certain level of Christmas in it and this one sadly did not have enough.

In terms of the episode I felt the pace was a bit slow to begin with but it picked up as the episode went along. Towards the end it slowed down nicely at the right point for the ending.

River not recognising The Doctor was probably a result of the fact he is now in his 13th regeneration and on a new set of lives. This goes beyond her knowledge of him as she has always stated that she knows all of his faces.

All being said though I felt this was a reasonably solid episode. The pacing could have been better but it’s not as bad as episodes have been in the past. Now we wait until season 10.

JAFWA 25th Anniversay celebration

Last Saturday (The 12th of December 2015) my wife & I attended the end of year marathon screening at JAFWA. The end of year screening also doubled as the 25th anniversary celebration for JAFWA.

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As a way of information and background JAFWA stands for Japanese Animation Fan of Western Australia. I first started attended from around 2000-2004. In which time I saw some rather excellent anime and formed some awesome friendships. My now wife Cathy was also in attendance at that time and used to sit directly in front of me, however we never spoke to each other.

At the 25th anniversary they screened some awesome retro anime including Read or Die, Tenchi Moyo, El-Hazard, Neon Genesis Evangelion, GTO, Card Captor Sakura & Full Metal Panic! it was great to see these and other titles which are much loved by the anime community.

It was also great catching up with friend who were in attendance of the screening, some of whom I have not seen in quite a long time.

While the continued rise of the internet and streaming services have in some way caused diminished numbers at clubs like JAFWA. I still feel that clubs like this serve as an invaluable service to the community because it brings fans together.

My thanks to the committee of JAFWA for putting on an awesome event. it has rekindled my love of anime and I may very well may make JAFWA a regular fixture on my calendar again.

For more details on JAFWA please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/JAFWA/?ref=ts&fref=ts

The fear of RPG players

Reciently I have been watching the RPG series on Geek & Sundry run by Wil Wheaton called Titans Grave: The Ashes of Valkana.

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It can be found here if you are interested in watching the series https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7atuZxmT954UvydqNVClXAH3GRT0pAp2

It was at episode 7 & 8 that I noticed something interesting which got me thinking regarding the relationship between the GM, the game & the players.

In episode 7 of the series a character was introduced called Runcible (pictured below). When he was introduced one of the party reacted with great suspicion to his presence and took action to be prepared for a possible combat situation… I will let you guys watch episodes 7 & 8 to see the results of scenario….

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As someone who has both been a player & a game master for more than a decade I find it a very interesting case that RPG players are wary of anything even it might be benign and non threatening. I wish to pose the question… Have GM’s of RPG games over the years instilled into players an automatic fear that when something enters a game without the players knowing it’s intent?

I think the answer is yes… so the next time your GM introduces an npc into your RPG perhaps your strategy should be to talk to the npc first and perhaps not pull our your longbow or blaster.