Author: Tara M. Clapper

Geeks and Exercise

“This would be more interesting ifI got an Xbox achievement for it.”Photo: Vera Kratochvil, I’m a geek and I exercise. I’ve had an on and off relationship with the gym for a few years now. I’ve had one with my Xbox, too. I put at least a hundred percent into my career, school, and marriage, but for some reason I can’t commit fully to my gaming system and the gym. What’s with that? Part of it is that most of the time, results aren’t immediate. In gaming, achievements don’t appear instantly. You have to work for them. In the gym, muscle building and weight loss takes time. However, when I write an article, I usually get paid the next day. Instant gratification. I should feel fortunate that work is more gratifying for me than hobbies like gaming and exercising, but it can get annoying, too. Three cups of coffee and eight hours later, I haven’t relaxed, and that doesn’t help my work habits. I know geeks of all different types. Some pride themselves on fitness while others fit the WoW stereotype of living in the parents’ basement. I fall somewhere in between, probably because of my age (it’s a lot easier to keep the weight off at 20 versus 30) and due to previous dietary habits. So I found a gym down the street. It’s cheap and bare bones....

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Escapism: Is It Healthy?

Like Warcraft? Non-geeks will tell youto power down immediately.Photo: Petr Kratochvil, Escapism is the cornerstone of a geek’s life–or a writer’s, for that matter. Even though I focus on writing nonfiction, I still constantly rely on the creative part of my mind to generate article ideas. It makes sense that most of my editing work at the moment involves fiction; most of my writing assignments are about TV. I feel like I’m getting away with something because even my work centers around escaping from reality. Is that bad? I don’t think it is. I think it’s the secret to my success. Could I sit down and write for eight hours about a boring topic? Probably not. Can I write about dog Halloween costumes while in IMRP (instant message role play – it’s text-based) with my BFF who lives across the country (shoutout to you, Shannon the fabulous)? Yes. Let’s get things straight. I’m the one who recently posted about how I don’t believe in faeries, even though I like them. Sure, some people take their fantasies to new levels. In attempts to live fantasies, they destroy their lives. There are multiple instances of divorce caused by the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft (AKA WoW, World of Warcrack). Sure, people have lost jobs and marriages because they’ve been addicted to video games, but the real issue here is escapism in...

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Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon – A Review

A literary geek spotted!Photo: Petr Kratochvil, When I saw the title of “Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits are Taking Over the World,” I had to pre-order it from Amazon. The author cleverly divides the book into seven chapters covering the following classifications of geek females: fangirls, book fans, film fans, music aficionados, fans of comedy, domestic DIY, and miscellaneous geeks. At first, I realized that most of these categories applied to me, and I was pretty excited about reading the book. I primarily read it as a bathroom book since I had pneumonia while I was reading it, but the way the chapters are divided up into short sections would also make it an awesome book for train commuters. In the introduction, Simon introduces Gamma Gamma Gamma, or the Geek Girl Guild. This originally consisted of a group of girls that provided Simon with quotes and input for the book, though it’s an open sorority that any geek girls can join. Each chapter offers an introduction, a knowledge quiz, a character sketch describing the type of geek girl, a guide to lingo, history, and notable women. Each chapter also covers “geek love,” or what type of fellows such a lady would go for. I wasn’t really sure about this section. The whole book is written in a cute, intellectual, lighthearted tone; but I could...

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I Like Faeries, But They’re Not Real

Cottingley Fairies: Totally not real. Ask any of my friends–I’m totally into fantasy and role playing games. Within my small menagerie of Dungeons and Dragons minis, you’ll find lots of elves and mages, but one of the favorite figures I own is a faerie figurine that my husband purchased for me in Disney World. And nope, it’s not Tinkerbell, though I like Tink also! The best (and most well-loved) character I’ve ever created for any purpose is a fae named Ceara. I made Ceara for an online text-based RPG called Empire of Meztrailov. After playing her at Seventh Kingdom IGE (a LARP, or live action role playing game) a friend of a friend asked me if Ceara could possibly be hired to appear at a friend’s daughter’s birthday party in the spring. Needless to say, I gave an enthusiastic “yes!” Ceara’s no Tinkerbell, but I figure it would be fun for her to appear at a little girl’s birthday celebration. Ceara’s a fae of the Seelie (Summer) Court, so you could describe her as a ‘good faerie.’ I spent a fair amount of time on creating the character and I spend hours per week portraying her online. I purchased the costume (not cheap) and invested some money in it, though I’ll get most of that money back after appearing at the birthday party. And now that the secret’s out...

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Disney Princesses and the Female Geek Identity

Does Ariel encourage young women to sing, or give uptheir voices to get a man? Photo: Petr Kratochvil, Women have long debated and discussed the fantasy ideal of icons like Barbie and the Disney Princesses. I’d say I’m a Disney princess fan, but I don’t think about them too often, or about how Disney characters have influenced my life. However, I had to think on it today when I noticed “Star Trek” icon George Takei’s recent post on Facebook–including the below image. Takei is an openly-gay activist who frequently posts progressive material on Facebook. Most of the time I agree with what he posts, but I clicked the ‘share’ button on Facebook to see what my friends thought of this one.  I agree and disagree with the image and Takei’s comment: “This may be where it starts for little girls. Parents, think about the messages your children receive.” My friends (including my mom) pointed out a few things in defense/in criticism of the image: Most of these Disney princesses were not ‘created’ as recently as the ones kids watch now (Tiana, Rapunzel, Mulan, Pocahontas); Snow White appeared in 1937 Disney continues to market most or all of the princesses, including the ones featured Parents influence kids more by example than by what they allow them to watch Disney princesses also exemplify positive behaviors: good singer, likes to read, has...

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A Review of Magic the Gathering Ajani Goldmane vs. Nicol Bolas Duel Deck

After a great deal of traveling and regretting the absence of our Magic: The Gathering decks, my husband and I came across an oasis: a LCBS (local comic book store) with cathedral high ceilings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much space left in our suitcases–but we had enough room for some Magic cards and comic books. Among our purchases were the new duel decks: Nicol Bolas vs. Ajani Goldmane. These new duel decks come bundled. I was at first frustrated because I couldn’t tell the colors of the decks due to the packaging (I mainly play green, white, or green and white decks). My husband checked out the description and had a feeling I’d like playing the Ajani deck, so we made the purchase. Magic is our go-to game when traveling by train or plane. Though I was initially frustrated at not knowing the colors of the decks, I soon found that the Ajani deck was white, red, and green. The Bolas deck is blue, black, and red, which suits my husband’s playing style. As you can guess by the colors, the Ajani deck is primarily a life gain (white) and abundant (green) deck. It moves quickly, and the low-level creatures in the deck have a decent amount of power. To win against the Bolas deck, you really need to attack quickly. Failing to do so will result in a quick...

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Review of Space and Star Wars Rides at Walt Disney World

Store outside of ‘Star Tours.’Photo: Tara M. Clapper While vacationing at Walt Disney World, I was able to get my geeky self on some seriously fantastic rides–including some with an outer space theme! Here’s a brief overview of the Star Wars and outer space rides at Disney World as well as an idea of wait times, tips, and tricks for each ride: Mission SPACE The experience: Mission SPACE takes you on a trip to Mars. When you enter, Gary Sinise assumes the role of your trainer. He briefs you on your mission and assigns a job to you. In your ‘pod’ of four, you’ll be responsible for part of the mission (pressing buttons on the console). In actuality, you’re not entering a spaceship–you’re heading into a centrifuge, the type of equipment astronauts use to train. Wait time: You’ll definitely want to grab a FastPass for this ride if you go early. If you head to it later in the day, you’ll have a 5-10 minute wait line (we went off-season in August). Tips: This is a great ride if you like to get dizzy (like on the tea cup ride) and spin around. To keep from getting too dizzy on the ride, you should keep your eyes open. If you get motion sickness, avoid this ride. There’s an ‘intense’ and ‘less intense’ level. Star Tours The experience: Star Tours...

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On Friendship: Women and Gardening

How’s your garden lookin’ today?Photo: Parkseed, public domain. “The fool who gives advice about someone else’s garden is not tending to his own plants.” -Paulo Coelho, Warrior of the Light: A Manual As a writer and a communicative woman, I know that it’s often easier to talk than it is to listen. Lately, I’ve been really involved in keeping things in my own life running smoothly, and I think it shows in various aspects of my life, including my work. I’ve also noticed that I’ve been giving better advice to others. Maybe this is because I’m seeing to my own problems first–and I wasn’t doing that before. I think it’s also because I try to wait until someone asks for advice before giving it. Otherwise, are they really ready?This is particularly relevant among female friendships. Going back to the Coelho quote, I’m glad I learned to usually tend to my own plants before criticizing someone else’s garden. It’s still a work in progress for me, but having taken a step back, I notice how frequently this happens in friendships between women. I think it’s one thing to have an opinion; another to over-advise. When I get offended at the unsolicited advice of another, further contemplation usually reveals that her own criticism is due to her poor handling of a similar situation. In the age of social media, all of...

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