[PAX East 2017] Survival Tip: Leave and Talk to Strangers

Main Event implies you can leave and find other events… maybe better events.

PAX East is sometimes described as a giant party. I’d think of it like a party in the way that Prom is a party. Sure, it’s “a party” but the real fun is around Prom. Pregaming, after parties, anti-prom parties. Sometime the most fun you can have at an event is by leaving the event.
Every year since we met Kae and I meet up at PAX East with water bottles filled with wine or rum and Coke. Werevel in the awesomeness that is nerding out among your peers over shared interests. Every year except this year.
Foolishly, we though we’d have a joyous time with just the environment and good company alone. PAX, over time, has become less and less the place you go for the environment and company alone. Especially now that they no longer serve alcohol at the bar. Yes, the Sam Adams bar in the convention center was not serving alcohol…
Large companies and innovative vendors have been fewer and further between as the years  passed. Drinking became even more vital to the social aspect of PAX East. Apparently last year an underage youth was served at the bar and now no one can have drinks…

Not super clear on the logic behind punishing adults because children can’t be trusted we decided to leave.

Hungry, bored, and searching for libations lead us to the Marriott hotel next door to the convention center. Specifically, we found the Asylum Gaming Esports at Laugh Boston party situation. We walked in hoping for some overpriced drinks and undersized bar food only to be greeted with an adult nerd’s paradise. It was the PAX we’d always wanted.
Lining the walls were consoles of vintage games like Duck Hunt and Metroid. In the space behind the bar there were two beer pong tables set up. The menu was even gamer themed with drinks like the “Power Up.”  I had the pleasure of seeing a guy order one of these specialty drinks then watch the bartender respond by looking at this temporary menu and saying, “Sure, let me just figure out what that is.”
Kae and I  sat at the bar drinking cheap (but not inexpensive) beer from plastic cups and some basic but delicious buffalo chick tenders and fries.

If you’re going to go to a bar, you might as well talk to strangers while you’re there.

After returning a few stray ping pong balls and meeting the Beer Pong players we were heckled into joining in. I’ve never pretended to be good at any game physical or digital but for some strange reason I was killing it at Beer Pong. Our opponents, Nate (who really didn’t like when I trolled him and called him Nick) and Dude with the beard and yellow hat (who we later found out had a name and it was Colin) were fellow PAX attendees who also wandered away from the main attraction.
This was the scene we’d been craving. We were trash talking IRL and meeting strangers with common interests. There were assists, sweet plays, drinking rules, rules we didn’t understand (Thanks for playing the role of Options and Settings, Ray aka TheHandsomeGinger). It was XBox Live… LIVE
We learned through experience that you might have the  best time by leaving the party and going to a different one.

So I did end up knitting

Some time ago, back when we updated regularly, I promised I would learn to knit. Knitting, I proclaimed, was an excellent post-apocalyptic skill, and one that would also make me some post-apocalyptic money.
(not real world money. No-one is willing to pay what it’s worth).
Well, I learned. I’m at a reasonable level of skill now. I’ve made a jumper and a vest, and I can do lace and cables.  And I still maintain that knitting is an excellent post-apocalyptic skill to gain.
But tell you what. So are all the other fibrecrafts.
Spinning, with a drop spindle or a wheel. You can make your own yarn, out of pretty much any animal fibre. Even plant fibres

Drop spindle with wool
Drop spindle with wool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

including nettles. Meaning as long as you have some sheep, maybe a goat or two, and some nettle patches around your compound, you won’t have to rely on your scavengers finding the last good wool. I can spin using a drop spindle and am slowly making less awful looking yarn.
Weaving. Faster than knitting, and creates different kinds of fabrics. Great, wonderful. Can’t do this yet, but I am looking into learning.
Crochet. Like knitting but done with a hook instead. Better for larger projects like blankets and stuff. I’m not any good at this, so I plan to befriend at least one crocheter so I can force them into post-apocalyptic blanket-based slavery.
See, currently my plan is to basically have a super-defended fabric and clothing store. Oh, it sounds silly, but remember how flimsy and useless modern clothing is made to be. It’ll tear, wear out, rot. And then I’ll be there. With lovely, season-appropriate, knitted or woven goods.
And I’ll take all your valuables in exchange, thanks.
So, if you want to survive, maybe learn to knit, or crochet, or weave, or spin, or any number of old-fashioned life skills that are now hobbies. I can’t promise anything, but if you’re quick by the time the apocalypse comes you could have a place with me.

Review: The Girl with All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

The girl with all the giftsEveryone and their mother is reading The Girl With All The Gifts, and that is how it should be.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.
When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.

It’s hard to review this without spoiling the various reveals. A smart reader will figure things out fairly early on in the book, but the discovery process is still part of it.
Enough to say that M.R. Carey has created a wonderful, unique take on a tired old concept. The Girl With All The Gifts is a heartbreaking novel, in places. The characters are real, and believable. Melanie herself is a lovely main character to spend time with.
We also spend time in the heads of the other characters. This could have spoiled the book, but Carey has the skill of writing genuinely different POV without ever confusing the reader.
The ending is right, and natural. It could never have ended any other way, but it still comes as a surprise. The whole way through The Girl With All The Gifts, we are asked to challenge our attitudes to humanity, and to ‘monsters’ and the ending makes it happen perfectly.
Read this book.

I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Walk in Edmonton
Zombie Walk in Edmonton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC Three are looking for applicants for a new reality show called I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse.
Zombie fanatics and fitness enthusiasts should apply to  zombies@tigeraspect.co.uk for an application form. Applicants must be able to attend auditions in the UK.
Now, personally, I think zombies are a little old now – overplayed. They’re the least likely apocalypse, and everyone has added them to everything in a cynical attempt to hit the zeitgeist. But, I may be alone in this opinion, as they still seem to be popular.
With that in mind, I can see I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse being much enjoyed by a lot of people (yes, of COURSE I’ll watch it and report on it for you lovely folk) and the people who take part may even gain a small amount of reality TV fame – names in the papers, speculation about their love life, that sort of thing.
BBC Three are yet to release details about what challenges you’ll have to face in I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse, but it’s bound to be the typical combination of physical challenges along with social challenges – living with a group of people you’ll find it easy to hate. So, good practice for the post-apocalypse, then.

There won't be any video games.

So, my life is so utterly dull right now it’s untrue. I wake up, I study some, I look for a job, I write some fiction, I go to bed. Sometimes I go on a run (I am really excited for the release of Zombies Run! for android, because I’m pathetic) or do some weights. The rest of the time I play computer games. Mostly Skyrim. I’m so obsessed with this game I have the OST on my writing soundtrack. I nearly had an orgasm over the Dawnguard trailer.
So, it’s perhaps a little understandable that my Apocalypse Obsession is being quiet right now (though it’s still there. When studying Pugin and his role in the Gothic revival I was like ‘bloke designed defendable buildings, I’ll  give him that.’ I visited a Cathedral built in the Gothic Revival style, and while other people were praying to their god, I said to my husband ‘Barricade the doors and you have a pretty decent emergency shelter if you board up those big windows.’)
So, I wanna talk about some more things I’ll miss post apocalypse, I have to say that right now the thing  I’ll miss most is….
Video games.
I mean, I love reading more, but when I’m too tired or distracted or sad or whatever to read, a video game provides the required immersion and reality avoidance with minimal mental effort on my part. I get to feel real human emotions in a muted form about things that don’t matter, and most importantly I get to rack up a terrifying kill count without being arrested because the 1137 people I killed were just pixels.
It sounds like I’m dissing the medium, but I’m not. When I say I love them, I mean I actually love them. I am occasionally critical of bad games or the culture of racism and sexism within the industry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. They’re capable of telling real, emotionally affecting stories in a deeply immersivve medium, which is fucking great. Love em. Passionately and positively. I don’t bitch about it when a game isn’t what I want- I am just sad and quietly resolve to not buy the next one as soon as it comes out (Fable 3 I AM LOOKING AT YOU.) This is my hobby, I enjoy it, I generally feel positive about it. I have my favourite franchises like everyone, but I’ll give new stuff a try (By the Way, Enslaved is a shockingly underrated and undersold little game set post apocalypse. It’s pretty cheap these days so if you spot a copy, grab it), but I don’t get overly invested in games in the way I do books. A game has shocked me, often (Bioshock), made me sad in a sort of nice way (Fallout 3 and New Vegas, when coming across the remnants of life before the war) but I’ve never been the sort to cry over a computer game. Throw my controller, sure, but cry, or jump around in happiness? I save that for books. What games do for me is to take myself away from whatever else is happening in my world and make it better for a little bit. I can be an incredible person with magic powers instead of an unemployed 26 year old in rented accomodation.
Post apocalypse, they’ll be gone. Even if elecrtricity is still about, we won’t have enough of it to dedicate to my desperately important Skyrim schedule. And I will REALLY, REALLY CARE ABOUT THIS. Because while I love to read, there are going to be plenty of bookstores to loot, so I won’t run out of new books too soon (though I will kill myself if all that’s left is Dan Brown). And I love to tell stories, but I can do that with my mouth. Video games kinda require modern technology, and there won’t really be anything comparable around, any more. There’ll be nothing that can take me out of my shitty world in the way gaming can, nothing to make me feel amazing, nothing to take out a bad day on, just my unending, heart-crushing life.
God, I’ll be stuck with with table top roleplaying. And three of the people on my team are Rules Lawyers. KILL ME NOW.

What I've learned from watching science fiction shows

I watch a lot of science fiction. I read alot of science fiction, too, but I grew up watching Star Trek and Stargate.
Yes, I’m a geek. (It’s okay, you can say it. It’s not like it’s a secret or anything.)
I realized recently that I’ve learned a few things from my steady diet of space battles. (One of them is that regardless of space being a giant vacuum, explosions will always sound…well, like big explosions. Always.) Hopefully those things will even help me post-apocalypse, but only time–and the apocalypse–will tell.
I’m concentrating on TV shows here, otherwise this post will turn into a novel. Or at least a thesis paper. (Hmm…might not be a bad thesis topic.)
Anyway. So, what have I learned from watching science fiction? Well, it depends on the show.
Continue reading “What I've learned from watching science fiction shows”

The post-apocalypse dinner party

As most of you probably know, American Thanksgiving is only a few days away. This is my first Thanksgiving in the U.S.; it’s also the first Thanksgiving where I’m required to do the cooking myself (sadly, there’s no one around to do the cooking for me, since my family–namely my mother–is still in snowy, wintry Canada).
Now that I have to think about making a slightly fancier dinner for my hubby and kids, I (of course) got to thinking about dinner parties in the apocalypse. What will those by like?
Obviously, I’m not saying that survivors will be hosting dinner parties immediately after the world ends. No, no. I don’t think people will have get togethers like these until, oh, I don’t know… Not until people are settled into survival camps and a defensive perimeter is set up, anyway.
But at some point, someone’s going to want to play with a zombie pinata (and so will other people), so you might end up with a dinner party anyway. And it might become a Thanksgiving dinner, though not because of the arrival of the first pilgrims. You’ve got something else to be thankful for now–you surivived the apocalypse!
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Celebrating birthdays in the post apocalypse

My three year old recently sang her way through the grocery store. (No, I’m not trying to get her on any talent competitions or anything. This was all her doing.) She sat in the cart, singing/yelling “Happy birthday Daddy” at the top of her lungs.
Obviously, we were going to have a little party of sorts to celebrate his birthday. With balloons and cake and everything. But later on, I started thinking about what birthdays would be like during the apocalypse (because I tend to end up thinking about what random things would be like during and after the apocalypse).
Continue reading “Celebrating birthdays in the post apocalypse”

Celebrating birthdays in the post apocalypse

My three year old recently sang her way through the grocery store. (No, I’m not trying to get her on any talent competitions or anything. This was all her doing.) She sat in the cart, singing/yelling “Happy birthday Daddy” at the top of her lungs.
Obviously, we were going to have a little party of sorts to celebrate his birthday. With balloons and cake and everything. But later on, I started thinking about what birthdays would be like during the apocalypse (because I tend to end up thinking about what random things would be like during and after the apocalypse).
Continue reading “Celebrating birthdays in the post apocalypse”