Showing posts with label Lord of the Rings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lord of the Rings. Show all posts

This Week in Geekdom

Why hello there Halloween. I didn't expect to see you quite so...soon? If faster-than-light travel were possible, I'd be inclined to say we've superseded Lorenz Transformations territory and gone straight to warp speed at the rate the second half of 2015 has gone. Just crazy. Anyhow, enough of my time-travelling ramblings and on to the Week in Geekdom!


We're only a few weeks away from the release of Fallout 4. If you aren't psyched yet, perhaps this trailer will get you in the post-apocalyptic mood.

Want a challenge? Try to name all 52 of these classic video games from individual screenshots.


Venturoos, we have a date for the premiere of Season 6! We'll finally be able to lay our eyes on fresh Venture Bros goodness on January 24, 2016! Can't wait that long? Perhaps the latest trailer will help tide us over.

Speaking of long-awaited trailers, we finally have a look at the upcoming season of Jessica Jones.


Who's ready for this week's awesome images from around the galaxy? Check out the most complete photograph of the Milky Way that we, as a species, have been able to take to date.

And take comfort in the fact that we have images like that one, as it turns out that some of the largest structures in the universe don' exist?

While we're on the subject of existence, a cadre of researchers believe they've come up with a viable response to Fermi's Paradox: up to 92% of all planets (and, by extension, the life on said structures) haven't actually been formed yet.

Are you a Windows user who has been patiently (or not-so-patiently) waiting for Firefox to release a 64-bit version of the browser? Well that long sojourn will come to an end on November 3rd.

The most recent printing of Physical Review Letters includes these details as to how a group of physicists were able to experimentally realize something that had only existed in the theoretical realm: a quantum Hilbert hotel.

Image source
When vocaloids and dancing around in the privacy of your living room just aren't scratching your idol itch anymore, Japanese robot-maker DMM will allow you to program your very own partner-in-fanaticism. 

File this under: What Can't 3D Printing Do? Researchers at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) have created a printable human tooth that destroys bacteria on contact with its surface, eliminating the accumulation of plaque and preventing the formation of cavities. 

Are you planning on paying a visit to a coral reef in the near future? The latest edition of Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology details why you should skip the sunscreen.

The just-discovered-three-weeks-ago Asteroid 2015 TB145 will be scoping out Earth this Halloween (presumably to observe the practice of trick-or-treating in action).

Is it possible to create your own time zone? Sort of. Read here for the story of two friends who set out to do exactly that.

General Awesomeness

The newly elected Prime Minister of Canada also happens to be a member of the Rebel Alliance.

Harry Potter will be getting the Broadway treatment next year when it becomes a two-part play debuting in London's West End.

Have an extra 60,000 GBP lying around? Perhaps you'd be interested in purchasing this newly-discovered map of Middle Earth fully annotated by J.R.R. Tolkien himself.

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

It's...Sunday? <> I'll issue apologies now if this post seems incoherent, as Extra Life 2014 drew to a close only about three hours ago. It was an excellent run, arguably easier than last year due in no small part to the release of Civilization: Beyond Earth this past Friday, but the GIR and I are definitely feeling the effects of sleep deprivation this morning. Despite that fatigue, the GIR managed to crank out his traditional gaming-inspired haiku! And, of course, being a little tired is a minuscule price to pay in order to help out the Children's Miracle Network. The numbers are still being tallied as of this writing, but it looks like this year's effort surpassed the 4 million USD mark, which is more than half a million dollars over last year's total.

Good times and good games all for an excellent cause. A special shout out goes to the donors that supported team the Care and Feeding of Nerds and the members of our Steam community who offered their time as Player Two for either the GIR or I. We couldn't have done it without you!

So today's post will be a bit on the short side, but there's still plenty of goodness to be had on This Week in Geekdom!


The Xbox One is coming up on its first birthday and it hasn't been the smoothest of sailing this past year. Here is what Microsoft officer Phil Spencer had to say about the console and how it stacks up against the PS4.

Titanfall now has a co-op wave defense mode. Check out the details for this update and the forthcoming DLC, Deadly Ground, here.

Daleks: exterminators extraordinaire and...programming teachers? 


Ever wanted a detailed look at the vehicles in the Marvel-verse? Well these schematics will give you just that.
Image credit

It's still two weeks away from formal release, but Chris Nolan's Interstellar is already racking up millions of dollars in ticket sales.

Fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire books have long since been made aware that the TV series differs quite a bit from the source material. These original Westeros lovers are in for more conversation fodder, as season five of Game of Thrones is set to deviate even more from the texts.

George Lucas believes that movie studios lack both talent and imagination.

Bronies rejoice! Hasbro is in the process of developing a My Little Pony movie. The project is set to release in 2017.


He may be fresh off his Nobel prize win, but Eric Betzig it's letting a little thing like a laureate slow him down. The most recent edition of Science contains a whole different set of research that may revolutionize microscopy all over again.

Even the sun was in on the gaming celebrations this week. Check out the pac-man-like images of this week's solar eclipse.

Vulcanologists have been working for decades trying to develop a detailed, accurate forecasting methodology for volanic activity. This is what they've developed so far.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own real-life Transformer? Well, Brave Robotics, Astratec Corp, and Torny Co. may have inched closer to making that dream a reality.

Air New Zealand loves embracing its homeland's connection to the Lord of the Rings films, but they may have outdone themselves with their new in-flight safety video. (Bonus: Elijah Wood cameo!)

As always, best wishes for an excellent week ahead!
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GiR by GIR: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Good news guys. We have a new feature as part of this whole turning-the-blog-into-a-real-website business that’s been popping up over the past couple of weeks. One of the goals for this ongoing ‘transformation’ business was to produce more content on a weekly basis. To accomplish this, and just because he loves talking about games, the GIR is officially joining the Care and Feeding of Nerds as a contributing author. His game reviews will now be published under the heading ‘GiR by GIR’ (the first GiR being an abbreviation of Games in Review), and his existing posts have been edited to carry this heading as well. He’ll formally introduce himself to you in a separate entry to be published in the very near future. I’ll still be writing game reviews and commentaries as well; think of this as just getting more gaming goodness for your browsing buck. More writing for us and more fun stuff to read for you! Everybody wins! I’ll let the GIR take it from here.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is Monolith Production’s newest take on gaming in Tolkien’s carefully crafted world and they have succeeded in setting a new standard for Open World adventure ARPGs, particularly those set in the realm of fantasy. This comes as a pleasant surprise, as I was a little wary heading into this title considering the quality of some of Monolith’s past titles, namely The Matrix Online and Tron 2.0. However, those missteps are a fairly long time gone and Monolith did manage some modest successes in the years since (like the FEAR franchise). It also helps that, as a pretty big fan of both books and films about Middle Earth, I’m already sold on the setting. That being said, I’m here to tell you though that even if you are a total stranger to these lands, you should still be giving strong consideration to picking up Shadow of Mordor because of the biggest trump card it brings to the table: the Nemesis System.

Before we get to that, since I'll will be spending the bulk of this review discussing it, let’s check off some basics. As noted, this is an open world along the lines of Grand Theft Auto, Watch Dogs, and Sleeping Dogs with the usual collectibles, side quests, and so on. This foundation is paired with typical ARPG combats that allow you to level up skills and gear. Incidentally, your initial set of equipment never changes (Bow, Sword, Dagger). However, Runes, a system of unlockable skills and abilities that you can add to gear, those base weapons are kept feeling fresh and powerful from the beginning to the end of the game. Stealth plays a considerable role and manifests in a manner similar to Assassin's Creed while combat tends to be combat-focused and will feel familiar to fans of the God of War and Batman’s Arkham franchises. If it seems like I’m glossing over some of these things it’s because the concept of open world ARPGs isn’t really new and, if that was all Shadow of Mordor had to offer, I wouldn’t have bothered reviewing it.  The crown Simarils, as it were (hey, I warned you I'm a Tolkien nerd) is the aforementioned Nemesis System.
The game itself is set apparently sometime between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. You play as Talion, a Ranger who guards the Black Gate. His position is overrun in the opening cinematic and *SPOILER ALERT* he dies along with his family and everyone else in the immediate vicinity only to become posthumously paired with a mysterious wraith. Are the purists done gnashing their teeth? I know it may sound absurd, but let’s not forget we’re here to play a game and so certain concessions have to be made plot-wise to wedge this bit of fun into such a well-established world.  I may be a fanboy but I’m also a gamer and, while I can’t deny Shadow suffers a bit in the lore department, if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to get to the top-quality gameplay I can promise you won’t be disappointed. That being said, Monolith is far from ignorant of the weight of the property they're working with. While the main story line acts to facilitate the core gameplay, the various side quests and collectibles are packed full of accurate bits of lore that relate and allude to the larger fiction itself. 

But I digress. With his new-found wraith BFF in tow, Talion sets out on a quest for revenge and this is where the game truly shines. As you make your way through the world it evolves and changes with or without you.  See, the Uruk-hai and goblins don’t just sit around waiting to be victims of Talion’s revenge, but have lives and goals all their own. They struggle for power, infamy, and glory amongst themselves. Each encounter you have with them and all adversaries you face will alter how the narrative progresses. I don’t simply mean that you if go left versus right you'll end up in either crags or open plains. Rather, each time you come in conflict with a particular Uruk if you die and fail he will remember and make sure you don’t forget, taunting you repeatedly. Maybe his vanquishing you resulted in his promotion and now has more powerful bodyguards protecting him the next time you cross blades. But what if HE was the one who didn’t survive, you ask?  Well then maybe the power vacuum you created, the resulting gap in the chain of command, has allowed some enterprising upstart get a promotion. This new commander recognizes the source of his good fortune and is grateful to you. Consequently, he can then be turned to your cause and against his own kind. These sorts of events aren’t entirely scripted. Some certainly are, but the vast majority seems to emerge out of simply wandering, exploring the map, and interacting with the NPCs you happen across. 

Perhaps an example from my own time harrying the Uruk forces will help illustrate. 

I somewhat casually engaged a patrol of Uruk in order to free some human slaves. Things were fine at first as I cleaved my way through the enemy ranks, but soon the noise of battle and the piles of corpses drew unwanted attention in the form of a pack of Caragors and additional Uruk patrols.  Things were quickly spiraling out of hand as the Caragors didn’t discriminate who they mauled and ranged units launched spears and arrows liberally into the melee with the mentality of, "Kill ‘em all and let Sauron sort em out". The damage was starting to add up and, as much as I hated to admit it, it was time to flee; discretion is the better part of valor and all that. There was just one small thing I had overlooked during my escape plan: the possibility that an Uruk Captain I thought I had killed earlier, Zathra the Savage, would chose that exact moment to show up and settle our old score (namely that I had dropped a laundry basket-sized wasp's nest on his head, cut off most of his face, shoved him into a fire pit, and left him for dead maybe 30 minutes prior). As we locked blades, he swore this time I’d be the one who lost his head, but it was in that moment that  previously unnamed Uruk scout would seize this opportunity to kill-steal and shot me in the back of the head. Zathra gets a promotion, nameless goon gets both a name and a promotion (to an even higher rank than Zathra), and I got to die.
The interesting thing here is that Zathra and I had a history and the Uruk Formerly known as No-Name just stole his glory – and the game accounted for it. From that point on Zathra has a new motivation borne from his frustration at home landing the killing blow on me and this blossomed into a power struggle between him and No-Name. While I haven’t done so yet, it seems that Zathra might be open to the idea of helping me overthrow No-Name so that he can take his rightful place as chief and, in turn, get the honor and glory of killing me himself at a later date. That was the moment where I realized Monolith might just have introduced a new system as revolutionary as the games whose mechanics it had so liberally been pulling from. This was a level of emergent gameplay and relationship-building I have never seen in an action adventure game before. This wasn’t a scripted story and this wasn’t a pre-generated plot based villain. As a result I in fact found myself extremely engaged in the developing and ongoing drama I had with each of these specific Uruk Captains than I was in the main quest line. That’s not to say the main story arc is bad, but, rather, is a testament to just how powerful these little personal dynamic story arcs are.
The game seems to have a pretty steep learning curve if you aren’t already familiar with things like Batman’s Arkham or Assassin's Creed style systems. Some folks have complained about the finicky parkour/wall climbing aspects, but these individuals can’t provide examples of where it’s been done better. The level of difficulty, combined with almost too little direction in such a massive sandbox, as well as lack of accessibility mechanics-wise may turn some folks off, but if you can stick it out there is mighty fun to be had here and heaping amounts of content. That last point is particularly refreshing considering how short some AAA titles can be these days. If you do find yourself having difficulty perhaps this beginner's guide, courtesy of Game Informer, will help.

Shadow of Mordor provides a solid bedrock on which I hope a full franchise and not just DLC can be built. I’m sure there are more stories that can be told about Middle Earth that aren’t rooted in the films and I would love to experience them using the formula Monolith has presented here. Again, I cannot stress enough how excellent the Nemesis System is. I strongly recommend picking this title up at your earliest opportunity.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was reviewed on a Windows PC using a gamepad controller.  It’s Rated M for Mature and is out now for PCs on Steam for $49.99 USD for the base game with optional season pass content for an additional $24.99 USD. The game is also available for Xbox One and PS4.
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This Week in Geekdom

Hope everyone's having a great weekend thus far. You can probably guess that the past week has been chock-full of costume construction. Fortunately, all that is now 100% complete so I can get down to packing and studying up on the Epic rules for Star Wars: the X-Wing Miniatures Game. I've got two miniatures tourneys on the Gen Con schedule and need to fit all the practice I can into the next 2-3 days. In the meantime, let's get down to the Week in Geekdom.


Revisiting franchises is the name of the cinematic game as of late, but one property that hasn't gotten the reboot treatment is Galaxy Quest. Turns out, that might not be true forever. Earlier this week it was confirmed that a script for a sequel does exist.

While we're talking about reboots, let's chat for a minute about the fact that J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the cult TV series Babylon 5, is personally leading the charge to turn his brainchild into a major motion picture.

It's a question that has been bandied about since the publication of the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Why didn't the members of the Fellowship just fly to Mount Doom on the giant eagles? This amusingly illustrated fan theory seeks to provide a definitive answer.

In an act of what's most likely too little, too late, DC released their distinctly Marvel-esque release schedule spanning until 2020.

Back in February of this year, economics blog the Motley Fool penned this piece about how the Guardians of the Galaxy would flop. Yeah. About that.

Conversely, Comics Alliance has a slightly different take on Marvel's movie business model.


Darkchylde artist Randy Queen has been on a personal quest to stamp out all criticism of his work from all corners of the internet.


It's estimated that we humans have yet to understand approximately 95% of the universe. Does this translate into a weaker case for the Big Bang Theory?

The latest edition of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society contains this research that appears to have found the origins of the 'lonliest supernovae in the universe.'
Image courtesy of Nature Communications.
Add to the list of things that we, as a species, found perplexing but are now beginning to comprehend the fact that electrons often exhibit odd quantum behavior when they pass through a magnetic field.

Ever wonder why you seem to get your best ideas while you're in the shower? Here comes the science.

Honda's humanoid robot Asimo has added two new skills to its digital resume: bar tending and taking penalty kicks.

General Awesomeness/Feats of Nerdery

Are you a lover of both coffee and steampunk? Well, if you also happen to have 4,200 GBP lying around you can be the proud owner of this incredibly complex and lovely coffee machine.

Designer Michael Tyznik hopes you'll be able to better navigate the geography of the continents in the Song of Ice and Fire series with the help of these subway maps he drew up.

Have you ever wanted to run your own particle accelerator? This simple-but-addictive click game from the gaming lab at CERN can help assuage your cravings for atom smashing. (In other news, there is a gaming studio at CERN.)

As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead!
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This Week in Geekdom

Hi guys. Happy Lunar New Year and Imbolc/Candlemas! It's been a little bit since the blog has featured any sort of new post, and for that I apologize. A couple weeks ago I got a promotion that, amongst other things, will free me from the cycle of quarterly battles with the workish Elder Hydra. Woot! While I'm very excited to move on to new challenges, this final battle with the Elder Hydra, as if somehow sensing my impending departure, morphed into a boss fight. Fortunately, that combat has come to an end and the Hydra's regenerative malice will no longer wreak havoc on me and, by extension, the blog.

There have been a couple new developments during the recent silence and these will be featured in their own posts as we get back to a normal publishing schedule. So let's get down to the Week in Geekdom!


The past few months have seen a veritable torrent of rumors concerning the plot, work schedule, and casting of the still-untitled Batman vs. Superman movie. On Friday Warner Bros. decided to add some actual confirmed facts to the fray with this official announcement.

Speaking of projects that are surrounded by a froth of rumors, the latest news to come out of development talks for Star Wars: Episode VII is this potential casting tidbit. Errrr, not feeling great about this one.

How is the forthcoming Peter Pan origin movie like the TV series Arrow? Well, for one, the two share a producer but said producer (Greg Berlanti) claims that the similarities do not end there.

JJ Abrams' pair of Star Trek films may be a point of heavy contention for franchise fans, but the alternate timeline presented in the movies is but one of many directions that cinematic Trek could have taken. Read here for a detailed description of Beginning, the Star Trek movie that never was. 


Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia made this potentially landmark ruling that would, if left unchallenged, change the composition of the internet forever. While this has gone largely unremarked upon by the media at large, the guys at Daily Kos attempt to depict the consequences with this cartoon.

It's a merging of cosmic forces that's still billions of years away, but scientists believe that these images of existing galaxies can provide us with a glimpse into the far-flung future.

Cortana may soon have life beyond the Halo series. If Microsoft has its way, Cortana may attempt to challenge Siri for interactive mass-market AI supremacy.

Ooooh...magnetic monopoles
The latest issue of the journal Nature details this effort to create and photograph a synthetic magnetic monopole whose existence was predicted nearly 85 years ago.

10 of the most commonly circulated urban legends about NASA (and the subsequent debunking of said myths).

We've chatted a few times about the potential applications for ultrathin and ultralight materials and this phenomenon may be the key to making such compounds possible.

Want to take a course with Carl Sagan? Well, the Library of Congress will now let you do just that.

General Awesomeness

We may not be anywhere near the point of being able to build Jaegers, but Sagawa Electrics has put together this Appleseed-inspired mechanical exoskeleton.
We have a date for International TableTop Day 2014! Mark your calendars and have your dice bag ready on Saturday, April 5th!

The Middle Earth Project has been toiling away to create a 1:1 virtual recreation of the eponymous Tolkien world. See what they've been able to complete so far.

This is what 2013 looked like as viewed from orbit:

As always, best wishes for an awesome week ahead!
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Geeky Crafting: Combating Writer's Block

Hello and Happy Solstice to everyone out there in the interwebs! For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year harkened the onset of a few months of hard-won, glorious freedom from the daily school routine. Don't get me wrong, school was wonderful for a whole host of reasons (I know, a nerd who loved school…who'd have thunk it?), but having that extra time and brainpower to spend as you saw fit seemed like a luxury. Now, as an adult with a full-time job, the concept of summer vacation may be a thing of the past (fie on that!), but it seems as though the pace of life seems to slow a bit during these few months as people try to enjoy the fleeting bits of good weather. 

Between this and the onset of yet another battle with the workish Elder Hydra, I'm trying to cram in as much enjoyment/hobby time as humanly possible. Since the GIR and I are, lamentably enough, not going to Gen Con this year, all the effort that would normally be given to a costume is instead being allocated to my other favorite creative outlet: writing. 

At the moment, the object of my scriptic affections is something I've wanted to do for many years now: GM a campaign. You might remember back to last year's rundown of releases and gaming developments at Gen Con 2012 and a brief mention of Fantasy Flight's newest foray into RPGs, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. This, my friends, will be the system with which I (hopefully) will begin my GMing career. A full review of the system will be the subject of a future post, but right now I'm giddily embroiled in a tangle of plot threads and character development. 

At this point, though the campaign universe and I have a long history, the premise of developing an RPG adventure is still new enough that the novelty alone will keep me happily creating for the time being. However, I know that all too soon the ease with which the words flow will taper and perhaps even grind to a halt. It doesn't matter how engaging the subject matter is or how enthused I am about a project. At some point during the composition process my brain will straight-up rebel and those cerebral parts that are normally happy to wordsmith will pitch a hissy fit and stubbornly refuse to continue or, more commonly, will feel generally blah and in no fit state to create.

Such is the way of things. Were time and distractions limitless, I'd leave this dreaded writer's block to resolve itself. Unfortunately, that sort of luxury is not readily afforded to anyone who writes any sort of content that is intended to be consumed by another person. We're often subject to deadlines or the expectations of our readers, neither of which will stand idly by simply because new authorial ideas have become hard to procure.

Aside from this blog, my graduate thesis, and the forthcoming campaign, I write a not-insignificant amount as part of my job and, over the years, have developed a few little exercises to help overcome the writer's block malady. Though, in all honesty, this issue extends to most, if not all, creative pursuits. So if writing isn't your thing, you can probably apply these to just about any project.

First and foremost item to consider when you're at a loss for words: Why are you writing this?

Seriously. What is your intended outcome for this work? Do you want to derive anything personally from this? If so, what? Is this a story you feel needs to be told? Are you hoping to entertain an audience? Is this a brand new genre/style that you've been dying to experiment with? Are you hoping to get published?

Sometimes, particularly if you've been embroiled in a project for an extended period, we lose sight of why we embarked on this journey in the first place. It's extremely easy to do and often causes all sorts of frustration. Taking a step back and reconnecting with the intended purpose of your work can often help clear away any mental "clutter", or extraneous thoughts about the project, and set you back on a productive path. 

If that doesn't work or you feel that mental "clutter" hasn't dropped away as much as you'd like, move on to some self-diagnosis. What do you think is causing the "blockage"? The most common responses tend to be: lack of inspiration, fatigue, overwhelmed by new project/genre or thinking that nothing you write is good enough/original.

Let's tackle those one at a time.

Lack of Inspiration
You feel completely blah about any and all ideas that spring to mind. It's not that you don't want to compose, it's that you feel you have nothing to write about. There's a lot of sitting down to sketch out your thoughts and coming away with blank pages. Counter this deficiency by indulging in some of your favorite works or, ideally, a combination of well-loved precedents and content that is new to you. Stop thinking about your own project and surround yourself with pieces you admire. Don't limit yourself to the media form that your current efforts are based in. If you love some Tolkien, maybe read a few chapters from the Hobbit and watch one of the Trilogy or listen to the soundtrack. If Gaiman strikes your fancy, perhaps take in some artwork based on his prose, then flip through your favorite issue of The Sandman. As you're doing this, try to take in the material mindfully. Ask yourself questions periodically. Why are these works so good? What about them moves you? It's also perfectly ok if you can't define the answers to those in words. The responses can manifest just as nicely in your thoughts. Let yourself drift away for a bit. You'd be surprised how not actively considering your own process for a while can free up your mind.

You are just too damned tired or stressed out. The mere thought of creating just adds one more chore to your unending to-do list. Ugh and fie on writing! First off, deep breaths. Clear your head as best you can. Once you've regained your bearings, ask yourself this: Is this actual burnout or is this ennui? At times it can be tricky to discern the two, but, frequently, the distinction is pretty clear. If you're burnt out, just physically/emotionally/creatively drained, stop actively thinking or working on the project if at all possible. Do something completely different; occupy your hours with anything but writing. Give your brain and body a chance to rest and reset. If you absolutely have to continue chipping away at your project, make notes as needed (world building exercises are excellent for just this purpose) but no further construction. For serious. Just. Stop.

Ennui, however, is a completely different matter (and a generally awesome word). This is the mental equivalent of, "I should go to the gym, but I just don't feel like it." It's what makes procrastination so easy if you're prone to such. In any case, the response is the same: force yourself to create anyway. Exert some control over that petulant mind. Rwar! Though the brain isn't a muscle, the concept of plasticity definitely applies; you'll get better the more you practice. Obviously that's not exactly what someone mired in ennui wants to hear, but it's a sure-fire way to resolve the problem (and improve your overall writing skills in the process). Get yourself revved up and back in the fight!

Taking on this project/genre seemed like such a good idea at the incept, but now you're buried under the dual-faceted avalanche of trying to create while learning something new. Since the problem is two-sided, the response should address each piece of the issue. Go back to the fundamental question: Why you are doing this? Once you've redefined why this project was so appealing in the first place, follow the steps outlined for someone lacking inspiration only, in this instance, limit yourself to the media form you hope to create. In the case of writing, look to authors you admire in this particular style. One decent way to "jump start" yourself is borrow  a section of someone else's text, then spend some time breaking it down into various components, analyze those components, then set back to your own composition. Reverse engineering works as well with writing as it does with other creative processes. Bonus: it's also a great way to introduce yourself to and gain familiarity with new vocabulary!

Nothing good/original
You've got plenty down on paper/Word docs, but it's just not good enough. Or, what you have is ok, but you feel like you've read/heard/seen this narrative a hundred times before. Well, you're technically not wrong. According to literary historians, nothing is original. Anything you come up with is one or more of the 36 Dramatic Situations (or insert any number of similar such lists here). While this may be somewhat disheartening, that doesn't imply that what you're attempting to make isn't good quality or worthwhile. By this logic, you're working with the same fundamental material as everyone else who has ever created a work of written, auditory, or visual art. That right there is pretty cool. So try not to get caught up in the idea that everything you make has to be 100% unique content. Also, be nice to yourself. The quantity and severity of self-criticism tends to correlate with the amount of emotional investment and aggregate time spent on a project. The practice is so easy to pick up that sometimes you don't even realize what your mental monologue is actually saying.  

Keep plugging away while you can; don't shy away from taking breaks as needed. Then give your work to a neutral 3rd party. It's tempting to pass your writing off to a friend for review/initial thoughts but, if you really want to know if what you're doing is any good, seek out the opinion who has no personal ties to you. Bring friends into the mix on the second or third drafts.

Best of luck to everyone wherever your creative pursuits may take you!
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Nerd Life: The Many Faces of Geeksploitation

Holy fiery space debris Batman! If, for whatever reason, you had no inclination to partake in the manufactured festivities that tend to characterize Valentine's Day (at least in the States) the past few days held no shortage of headlines of both cinematic and straight-from-the-big screen varieties to hold your focus. The footage of the meteor impact was as incredible as it was terrifying. Something I found particularly surreal was just how accurately this sort of event has been portrayed in a variety of media. Computer models of various impact scenarios probably deserve a lot of the credit for that and, while Armageddon still deserves its role as conveyer of all the errors for those employed in the aerospace industry, it was striking to see that other depictions of this instance of science fiction-cum-fact weren't too far from the truth. Of course, we can banter about such things largely because those individuals harmed by the impact are expected to make a full recovery.

The world of science fiction was not without its own major developments. We got word that maybe, just maybe, Harrison Ford will bring Han Solo to the new Disney-driven Star Wars trilogy. There is a subset of Geekdom that seems to applaud this, another that decries this, and the remaining majority that regards the entirety of the project with a spectrum bookended by heavy skepticism and deep-set cynicism. I'm definitively within that majority. Star Wars has been a subject of personal adulation since second grade and I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that Episodes I-III left a number of scars. Aside from the emotional toll they wrought on most of the fan base, the prequels firmly underscored the principles that Lucas wanted the franchise to operate under. In his mind, the Star Wars Universe was A) meant for a grade school audience and B) designed to generate absurd profits in licensing and merchandising. I say 'was' because I, like many fans of the goings-on in that galaxy far, far away, now hold a modicum of optimism regarding Episodes VII-IX simply due to the fact that Lucas is no longer behind the wheel.

The rumors of Ford taking up the mantle of the Galaxy's Most Lovable Smuggler once again cause shudders throughout the whole of Nerdery largely because this casting is the first of several major indicators that we, as fans, will get regarding the direction of the new trilogy. We hear these things and can't help but ask what's on all our minds: Is he coming back because he actually wants to be Solo again or is this just what the studio thinks we want to see and/or lets Ford cash a paycheck? It's hard not to be cynical here, particularly when Ford's dislike of playing one of his hallmark characters bordered on vehemence for the past few decades. The likelihood of those feelings just evaporating upon the announcement of a new trilogy seems a little less than coincidental.

The confirmed selection of JJ Abrams as director for at least the first installment of the new trilogy has had a similar, if not quite so divisive effect. Ostensibly, a good portion of that stems from the age-old rivalry between those who prefer their Star titles to terminate in 'Trek' versus those who champion the suffix 'Wars', but this reaction is a bit more complicated than that storied bifurcation. Few of those who've seen Abrams' rendition of the Star Trek universe can find serious fault with his reverent treatment of the source material which, in turn, resulted in a final product that was both innovative and satisfying to existing fans. This would normally be promising right? We'd get a director who has a track record of tactful ingenuity when working with properties that have extensive and complicated history. I mean, the man initially declined the directing gig because he was daunted by the sheer cultural enormity that is Star Wars. The source material on its own is so expansive and dense as to have inspired everything from college courses to government-recognized religions. It'd require an enormous effort to accurately capture in its own right but now, post-prequels, the premise of true authenticity will undoubtedly weigh heavily on all those attached to this project. Isn't this a good thing? Of course; it has the potential to be a truly great thing. We can only hope that Abrams and other members of the creative team are allowed the same breadth of interpretation they enjoyed with Star Trek when they finally get their hands on Star Wars.

At this point in the Cycle of Popular Culture, we've seen examples of complex source material receiving appropriate treatment when taking said property from one form of media to another. The Lord of the Rings is probably the best instance of this but, as we saw with the Hobbit, there are limits to just how far that level of scholarly devotion will extend in terms of the finished product. I have no doubts that Episode VII will be the recipient of nearly-innumerable resources. The real question is: will it all matter?

Our epic levels of fanaticism for beloved properties are one of our defining characteristics as a subculture. Regardless of what ends up going down with this movie, fans of Star Wars will, undoubtedly, cause midnight showings at theatre after theatre to sell out on release night. (I know, because I will almost certainly be in that light saber-wielding crowd) Merchandise will be purchased and forums will overflow with every sort of response from geeks around the world.  Episode VII can exploit our immeasurable adoration with gusto if studio execs wished it so. So, if all this is as close to foregone as a conclusion can be, why worry about the quality of the movie itself?

Because, even at this very early stage, those studio administrators masterminding the production of Episode VII appear to be making, or are trying to make, choices and decisions with us in mind. As we've discussed before, for all our raging and reputation for being impossible to please, some industry professionals do recognize that we are a formidable demographic, due in no small part to our considerable capability for information sharing and raw purchasing power. Yes, we're likely to spend our hard-earned cash on this film but, as the leadoff piece of a new trilogy, the guys at Disney seem to realize that pissing us off will ultimately tarnish their product as a whole. Disney has the luxury of having two disparate but firmly established precedents in hand before production of Episode VII even begins in earnest. One the one hand you have the much-maligned prequels and the backlash against them that reverberates throughout Geekdom nearly a decade later. On the other you have last year's release of the Avengers, one of the top-grossing films of all time. One of these treated the source material respectfully and sought to cater to its nerdy core demographic while simultaneously not isolating the general public. The other was essentially a pet/grudge project that brusquely turned away from the adulation of its primary fan base. One of these generated $1.5 billion in one year as a single movie (tack on an additional $1.3 billion from 6 other movies in 7 years if you count the single hero-centered movies that led up to the Avengers), the other generated $1.2 billion with three movies over 6 years. You don't have to be adept at math to see the disparity in those returns.

The message is pretty clear. When we nerds are happy, we're capable of momentous action. At present, amidst the Nerdaissance, our presence in popular culture is such that we see instances of caricature and exploitation fairly frequently. While we often see these in a negative light (yes, I'm looking at you Big Bang Theory and King of the Nerds), we cannot be blinded to the positive potential of having our basic characteristics leveraged for upcoming projects. Our fanaticism is what brings things like the Avengers and Episode VII to cinematic life. While it's tempting to concede to pessimism at times, we cannot ignore the fact that we do, in fact, have a voice as a demographic. As always, it will be our mindful, tactful interaction and participation with the industries that produce the content we crave that will shape both being and business.

Ok Disney/Abrams/Studio Powers-That-Be. The ball is in your court. Don't let us down. (no pressure)
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