5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions Sep01

5 Characters Who Made Bad First Impressions...

When I tell people I was homeschooled, they often ask if I was shy or antisocial as a child. When I tell people I’m a geek, they ask if I have a job and still live in my parents’ basement. When I tell them I’m Southern, they ask why I don’t have a strong accent. When people assume things about me, they often get a first impression that isn’t accurate. It frustrates me because they’ve attributed characteristics to me within the first few minutes, and I have to fight to counter a negative first impression when I shouldn’t have to. I feel hurt when people think they know me from a few stereotypes they heard through the grapevine. But I’m guilty of doing this too, with people I meet and with fictional characters. Sometimes I make up my mind about them before I give them a chance. Here are five characters I didn’t like at first, but changed my mind about later. For some of them, I grew to like them as they changed and adapted; for others, I started to like them because I understood them better. What characters would you add to this list? “GOLLUM =D” by speedportraits (speedportraits.deviantart.com). 1. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings) When I first saw Gollum in the movies as a child, I was terrified of him. I wasn’t sure of what to make of this “gangly creature.” He was an odd schizophrenic who seemed bent on doing anything, including murder, to get back the Ring. But as I learned more about his character and understood his addiction, watched his development I realized, like Frodo did, that he really is a creature to be pitied, not feared. “Cactus Love…” by Moni (moni158.deviantart.com). 2. Sokka (Avatar: The Last...

Choosing Peace In Nausicaa’s Wake Dec05

Choosing Peace In Nausicaa’s Wake...

Princess Nausicaa is cut from the Studio Ghibli tradition of strong, female heroines. Even her appearance challenges the stereotypical princess, as she has short hair and wears aviator gear instead of a ball gown. Nausicaa is more at home flying a glider and repairing a windmill than she is meeting perspective suitors. Respected and adored by her subjects, she cares for their well-being and safety. She’s confronted by a rival kingdom, who storms into the peaceful village and quickly conquers it, killing Nausicaa’s father in process. In a rage, Nausicaa defeats the enemy soldiers and nearly murders all of them. However, the village is still in danger from another threat. A thousand years before, civilization collapsed as ancient, mythical warriors destroyed the earth. It is strongly inferred that these gigantic creatures punished mankind for its poor treatment of the environment. Indeed, the Valley of the Wind is at the edge of a toxic jungle that’s spreading poisonous spores and inhabited by gigantic bug-like creatures called ohm, which can be incredibly destructive when they sense a threat. Even out of poison and dirt can grow a most marvelous thing. Threatened by another kingdom and by the ohm, the village seems to be at the end of its life, another victim of the ancient apocalypse that beset the planet. But Nausicaa, a lover of nature who can communicate with and tame the powerful ohm, has discovered that beneath the human-poisoned jungle are clean running waters. There is yet a chance at life. A lot of times, the challenges in my life come through my own doing. I behave in ways I know I shouldn’t, but do so anyway out of pride or blindness. A white lie here, a corner cut there, a deceitful response, a bitter...

Gift Guide to Geek Art Nov04

Gift Guide to Geek Art...

Like winter, Christmas is coming. And if you know anything about geeks, it’s that we love fan art. Since art is a big part of what we do here at Geekdom House, we’ve got the inside scoop on where you can go for your art lover’s Christmas gifts this year, including a list of some of the fandoms they cover so you can search this post for anything particular you’re looking for. That’s right, we did all the work for you. Or, of course, you could send your friends this link so they know what to get you. That works, too. 1. Paper Beats Rock Super Smash Bros. • Mario • Pokemon • Avatar: The Last Airbender • Spiderman • Venom • Attack on Titan • Big Hero 6 • Spirited Away • Gundam • Street Fighter • The Legend of Zelda • Link • Samus • Megaman • Fairy Tail • Natsu • Fullmetal Alchemist • Deadpool • The Flash • DragonballZ 2. Fabled Creative Pokemon • Jurassic Park • Retro • Space • BioShock • Supernatural • Mario • Batman • Fallout • Portal • Destiny • Luigi • Daisy • Mario Kart • Wario • Toad • Bowser • Maps   3. Otis Frampton Star Wars • Firefly • The Lord of the Rings • The Hobbit • My Neighbor Totoro • Doctor Who • Mad Max • The Legend of Zelda • Star Trek • The Big Bang Theory   4. Joe Hogan Art Pokemon • The Legend of Zelda • Majora’s Mask • Adventure Time • Mad Max • Final Fantasy • Cloud • Mario • Megaman • Spider-Man • Star Wars • Banjo-Kazooie • Stranger Things • Super Smash Bros. • Link • Peach • The Wind Waker • Rick and Morty • Ghostbusters • Sonic the Hedgehog • Journey • Mass Effect • Undertale • Halo   5. Sandara Fantasy • Dragons • Dungeons & Dragons • Myths   6. Wisesnail Art Sherlock • Deadpool • Guardians of the Galaxy • Rocket Raccoon • The Avengers • Harley Quinn • Suicide Squad • The Joker • Moriarty • The Falcon • Captain America • The Lord of the Rings • Vision • Groot • Assassin’s Creed • Doctor Strange •...

The Morality of Robots and Self-Driving Cars Jul22

The Morality of Robots and Self-Driving Cars...

If Isaac Asimov is known for anything within popular culture, it is his three laws of robotics, made famous in the book I, Robot and its movie adaptation. The laws were conceived because of the invention of self-directed robots. They answered the question of how created objects were allowed to act with respect to the safety of the people who created them. Asimov envisioned a robot morality controlled by inviolable laws which began with the first law: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” That seems straight-forward: when a robot can direct its own actions, it must not be allowed to cause human beings to come to harm. Of course, there are situations where it is not simply a choice between harming a human or not. Sometimes the question concerns reducing the total harm when some injury cannot be avoided. In that case, at least according to the movie-version of the story, there is a complex heuristic by which a robot must make a decision between the value of one or more humans: the result of that calculation directs the action. If a burglar entered my house and I found myself in the position to kill him, what would I do? For example, in the movie, the protagonist Del Spooner is saved by a robot because he was deemed to be more likely to survive after being pulled out of the water. Extrapolating from the presumed algorithm, I expect that quantity of humans would also factor in, that is, saving two humans would take precedent over saving one. This question of the value of human life based on an algorithm is now coming to the fore in the realm of self-driving cars....

Pokémon Go and Outrage Culture...

Last Sunday, we spent about half an hour at a local park. As people holding their cellphones drifted past, they all stopped at the same place and started swiping furiously at their screens. Most punched the air in triumph, one or two sank to the ground in disappointment. Consulting our copies of Pokémon Go, we worked out that they were hunting a wild paras. Common, but we can understand the allure. We wanted to catch it too. The Pokémon Go app is two weeks old in the U.S., less than one week old in Canada, and it’s already easy to spot the players. They aren’t texting or talking on their phones, they are immersed in the intersection between the “real” world and the video game on their screen. If our outrage draws lines that we cannot cross in order to understand one another, maybe it’s not worth expressing. Call us old curmudgeons (an accurate assessment for two of the three of us writing this), but it reminds us of an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Star Trek predicts everything. And this is no different. Commander Riker returns from shore leave with a highly addictive video game. Like a contagious disease, enthusiasm for the game spreads among the crew until the everyone is playing rather than attending to their duties. It falls to Wesley Crusher to uncover the underlying alien plot, rescue the crew, and save the ship. It’s been years since we saw the episode, but the image that sticks with us is the crew wandering around the ship, completely absorbed in the game. Watching our fellow Pokémon Go players, we experienced a feeling of déjà vu. While we doubt aliens are using the new game to take over the world, a simple google search reveals that the conspiracy theories of Pokémon Go are already...

Lifting the Curse Feb05

Lifting the Curse

A youth living as a princess among wolves. Giant boars possessed by demons. An elk-like spirit who gives life and takes it away. A monk who fights and curses as well as any warrior. “Distinctive” describes Princess Mononoke, Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece depicting humans at war with nature. But perhaps lost in the spectacle of gods and demons is a challenge that I find speaks directly to me. The film’s protagonist seeks to live a life free of bitterness and scorn, and that’s something I can relate to because I daily struggle to do the same. Ashitaka, the prince of a small tribe, has been cursed by a vengeful boar god who is driven mad by an iron pellet buried deep in his body. Ashitaka’s journey to find a cure for the fatal curse leads him to Irontown, an island settlement erected by Lady Eboshi, a shrewd and fearless businesswoman. She asks the prince why he’s there, to which he responds, “to see with eyes unclouded by hate.” As it is with Ashitaka, grace is the power to cast out hate, the power to absolve the curse. But his eyes are clouded by hate. Ashitaka’s eyes burn with loathing toward Eboshi as she proudly explains how her warriors chased off the bordering mountain’s boar gods through fire and gunpowder, all in the name of making her town the richest property in the world. They are the ones who shot the boar god, and thus are responsible for Ashitaka’s predicament. After his cursed arm begins to move on its own, attempting to assassinate the woman, he says of it, “If it would lift the curse, I would let it tear you apart, but even that wouldn’t end the killing, would it?” And Ashitaka isn’t the only...

Certain doom Aug14

Certain doom

Sometimes I forget that villains consider themselves to be the heroes of their own stories. Take Dr. Doom, for example. He believes he’s the hero of everyone’s story. In Doomwar #3, Dr. Doom faces a mystical arch that blocks his path, inscribed with the words “Only Through Purity Unencumbered by Pretense May You Pass.” Dr. Doom has killed untold thousands in his conquest to gain power, so purity isn’t exactly his namesake. I mean, his name pretty much says it all. He removes all of his armour—something he has never done up to this point in history—and walks through the arch naked and totally vulnerable. He is transported to the mysterious cosmic lair of Bast, the Panther God of Wakanda, an incredibly powerful deity who could destroy Dr. Doom in a moment should he be found of impure heart. Bast recalls the decades of death and destruction Dr. Doom has caused and asks him why he would think for a moment he is pure enough to pass through alive. Freedom and security exist in a precarious balance. Dr. Doom genuinely humbles himself before Bast, and explains the justification for his actions. He says that he’s looked into tens of thousands of possible futures and in every one the human race is enslaved or destroyed by an alien power; every future, that is, except the one where he rules humanity as an absolute dictator. Every attempt he made to overthrow the world’s governing powers, every time he fought to destroy the Fantastic Four or the Avengers? He did it for the good of humankind. Bast sees that Dr. Doom is telling the truth, deeming his intentions “pure.” He allows him to pass. This is why Dr. Doom will never admit defeat. If what he’s seen...

Eclipsing the future Jul21

Eclipsing the future

My immediate response was, “NO WAY.” But then I thought about uploading my consciousness into a robotic body some more. The role-playing game Eclipse Phase takes place in a society where the technology to supplant a person’s consciousness (their ego, memories, knowledge, personality, and skills) into a new, often robotic, form exists. Should you get old, sick, or damaged your body is disposable and easily replaced. I was reminded of the argument by Sheldon Cooper—one who displays robot logic himself—about teleportation: “Assuming a device could be invented, which would identify the quantum state of matter of an individual in one location and transmit that pattern to a distant location for reassembly. You would not have actually transported the individual, you would have destroyed him in one location and recreated him in another.” I have a similar problem with this idea of being able to “live forever” in a digital environment. Would it really be me living on? Or would I have died and my memories, personality and skills simply be recreated? Scientists are actually working on the concept of memory transference, even conducting successful experiments by electronically inserting memories into the brains of mice. Perhaps the technology to pass on all my emotional baggage will be available sooner than I would have guessed. And if it works, I ask myself: what if I did it and found myself lost in a sea of ones and zeros, no longer the person I used to be but just a faint reflection? Who would be the one who holds the power behind the technology? Can we trust Skynet? You know, the important questions. If it’s okay to accept a heart transplant or brain surgery, why not this? In Eclipse Phase, various factions control agents who run black ops missions; these...

Irony Man Jul01

Irony Man

Tony Stark’s armoured suit is as much as a part of him as the electromagnet in his chest or the blood pumping through his veins. But Stark wears another armour, one that can’t deflect bullets or  stop explosions, but keeps him safe nonetheless: his sense of humour. Stark is not what some might call “emotionally available.” He keeps himself aloof and never lets anyone get too close (with the possible exception of Pepper Potts) . He doesn’t seem to trust his teammates and, whenever they try to have a serious conversation with him, he jokes around to deflect genuine emotional connection. When he brings a nuclear bomb through a wormhole to destroy a fleet of invading aliens and very nearly dies as a result, the first thing out of his mouth upon his revival is, “What happened? Please tell me nobody kissed me.” Shawarma therapy notwithstanding, Iron Man relies on his emotional armour just as much as his shiny red and gold suit. Iron Man 3 had a lot of great scenes showing just how damaged he is and how poorly equipped he is to deal with his emotions. A kid shows him a crayon drawing of a space portal and his body reacts by going into shock. He assumes he’s been poisoned before Jarvis politely informs him that he is, in fact, having a panic attack. The man who can fix anything can’t fix himself—talk about irony, man. Iron Man has spent his life dealing with pain by building it into armour. In the finale of Iron Man 3, Stark blows up dozens of his power suits in a spectacular metaphor for his newfound emotional freedom. But in Age of Ultron, his anxiety has evolved under his nose into full-blown fear. He responds...

A haiku for the Hulk Jun19

A haiku for the Hulk

Final Fantasy battle medley May19

Final Fantasy battle medley...

In honour of music month, one of our guest writers (who is also a musician, you may notice) elected to write us a song. Saddle up your Chocobos, strap in the Onion Kids, and Locke and load my friends. From the Cloud comes the Lightning and takes us out of Winnipeg Snow and right to the Edge, mister Mark Barron. Final Fantasy battle medley! by Mark Barron “No fancy production here; this is all just live in front of my webcam, except the two obvious parts where there are overhanging chords and different effects. The downside is that after the two takes, I realized I had cut off some of my left hand, which I’m thankful to say is much less painful than it...

Geek songs that amuse us May01

Geek songs that amuse us

Since May is our music-themed month, we will be regaling you with fun playlists every Friday. Up first are our top five picks for silly songs. Give ’em a listen, give ’em a laugh. You can’t really go wrong with these. What are your favourite geek songs that amuse you? Did we miss any?   “Want You Gone” (Portal 2) The epitome of GLaDOS’ character is depicted in this song. We want to put her, Mal Reynolds, James Ford and Veronica Mars in a room together and see what happens.   “Bad Horse” (Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) High-ho, Silver!   “The Mysterious Ticking Noise” (The Potter Puppet Pals) Once you try to perform this “song” in a group you realize how much fun it is. One of the Geekdom House Wandering Minstrels‘ better songs since it didn’t require us to stay on key.   “White and Nerdy” (Weird Al) Also, the original version with the Luigi death stare is high on our list of favourites.   “If I Didn’t Have You” (Howard Wolowitz) Our commander’s certain she’d be a goner if this song was used to serenade...

The villainy of the soulless...

She doesn’t have a soul. I wonder, is that what makes GLaDOS such a great villain? Killing a test subject is of no consequence to GLaDOS, and she appears to delight in playing mental games. Having a soul is apparently not a prerequisite for wonderful sarcastic wit: “Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official test record. Followed by death.” Lots of gamers (including yours truly) will tell you that they love GLaDOS. It is curious, since you don’t often hear people saying that they love a villain. “I love Professor Umbridge.” “I love Saruman.” “I love WaLuigi.” Seriously, who’s great idea was that one? “Well done. Here come the test results: ‘You are a horrible person.’ That’s what it says. We weren’t even testing for that.” —GLaDOSHmm… nope. Uncommon words, those. These dastardly characters might be amazing (or annoying) villains, but am I personally attached to them? No. I do love to hate their guts, but I’m glad when they get what’s coming to them. Portal’s GLaDOS is a completely different story. I would mourn the loss of this beloved A.I. because I don’t think she’s truly evil. Sure, she’s soulless, but this begs the question: can you be both soulless and awesome? Perhaps a deeper question would be CAN something be good or evil without a soul? Do we only see GLaDOS as “evil” and ATLAS and P-body as “good” because that’s how they’re programmed? The concept of a soul is explored a lot in science fiction where artificial intelligences abound. What about Data? What about Boomer? EDI? Baymax? We can hold A.I. accountable for their actions. That much is as easy as altering a few lines...

Link doesn’t need a better plot...

As a female gamer, I feel like I’m scrutinized a lot. I don’t usually mention the fact that I’m a woman when I’m online gaming because a) I don’t think it should matter, b) if I do, and we lose, then the reason we lost MUST be because I’m a girl, and c) if I do and we win, I get a lot of attention and the guys in the lobby often start hitting on me. So I have to be good at every video game and every style to get approval, and even then it’s not the kind of approval I appreciate? I have to dominate at Halo to be considered a “real” gamer, even though that kid over there sucks just as much but it’s okay because he’s a boy? I’m not trying to whine here or say, “Woe is me, blah blah blah,” I’m just generally curious about this attitude. Gender is the chromosomes we got stuck with. It reminds me of when I hear people complaining about Nintendo and that they need to offer better plotlines in their games. “Link should talk.” “The story should be more interesting.” “Please kill Navi.” Ummm… no. Except maybe that last one. Here’s the thing, Legend of Zelda does what Legend of Zelda does best, which is interesting gameplay and puzzle solving. We’re not going to see intricate plotlines along the levels of a game like Mass Effect, because that’s not Nintendo’s strength. And remember when they did something drastically different with the release of Majora’s Mask, and so many fans complained? (Ironically, that is one of my favourite Zelda games, though I’d argue Nintendo was still playing to their strengths with that release. It was amazing.) Where am I going with this? I promise. Hang in there. Nintendo is in a whole different league...

Abandoning our humanity Mar25

Abandoning our humanity

Attack on Titan is a brutal story that centers on one theme: survival. The only humans (that we know of) live in a city protected by gigantic walls, which prevent the Titans—giant, humanoid creatures that consider humans their chew toys—from entering. You might foresee the problems that could arise when Titans break through the first wall that surrounds the city, Maria, and flood the outer ring inside, causing thousands of refugees to retreat back behind Wall Rose (or be Titan dinner). I, however, was too caught up in the terror of the people and watching a mother get chewed up before the eyes of her traumatized son to think about what would happen later. After the citizens who escaped have made it to safety, after everyone, including me, has breathed a sigh of relief, the shoe drops. Hunger sets in as a food shortage becomes apparent. The space in the inner walls cannot support all the refugees who had flooded in from the outer ring, which is now overrun with Titans. Is it worth becoming a monster so your children don’t have to be? What does the government to do in response to this crisis? Something horrendous. But something that I might do in the same situation, because I can’t see an alternative. They send about 250,000 of the refugees (20% of the populace)—farmers, blacksmiths, architects, gardeners, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers—on a “mission” to reclaim Wall Maria. It’s a suicide mission, a glorified reason for getting rid of the extra mouths to feed. Armin’s grandfather is one of the people enlisted to go, and we see him saying goodbye to Armin with a grim but determined expression. He knows exactly where he is going: to his death. Technically, he chooses to go, but is it really a choice? Is there really another option? Sure enough, every single one of the refugees is crushed and eaten by the Titans, and this is one of the many reasons the main character of the show, Eren, vows revenge on the creatures and, along with Armin, joins the army to fight against them. I was too caught up watching a mother get chewed up before the eyes of her traumatized son. The needs of the many, as it were. RIP Leonard Nemoy. Armin, generally the voice of wisdom in the show, says at one point, “You can’t change anything unless you can discard part of yourself too. To surpass monsters, you must be willing to abandon your humanity.” Is abandoning your humanity worth mere survival? Are you abandoning the very thing you are fighting for by doing so? Or is it worth becoming a monster so your children don’t have to be? Everyone has a choice, but it is those decisions that seem to have no right answer that I dread facing. Would I have the courage (or folly) to make the same decision and walk off on a mission that if actually succeeded, would mean abandoning my own humanity to accomplish it? It is hard to say one way or the other until Titans decide to invade Canada, but I do know I would be terrified of the ethical decision before me. Whether it be Adama or Obama, these tough decisions are not new. At first sight, in Attack on Titan the needs of the many mantra can be interpreted as sacrificing your life for the lives of all the others who are left behind. That’s noble. That’s honourable. But the scary thought is pondering a future where it might be necessary for someone to sacrifice their humanity to preserve the humanity of others. That choice is...