Geekfest: A Great Geekend (Part 2 – Saturday)

20130812-110443.jpgHaving ensured we got a full night’s sleep (see the last instalment) we were up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to get showered and breakfasted before another full day of fun adventures through Geekdom. (There was a chap at the event who was literally bushy-tailed…) A quick aside at this point: the buffet breakfast at the Renaissance was probably the best I’ve had on this side of the atlantic, and all the better for being included in the discounted room rates that came with booking via Nine Worlds.

After filling up wholeheartedly at brekkie (the packed schedule was making lunch plans vague) we started a Saturday that was mostly spent Being Skeptical.

Dream Warriors

First on the agenda was Sleep Paralysis. We approached this from different angles, Kez as an occasional sufferer, myself with an eye to narrative potential. We were first presented with a short film by Carla MckInnon Devil in the Room, which was fifty per cent informative and fifty per cent outright creepy as hell. Luckily there were no youngsters present but it really should have come with a bit of a warning. Kez was deeply affected by some of the imagery although she has not suffered the worst sleep paralysis symptoms and as there was an unsurprisingly high proportion of sufferers attending it seemed to chime with a lot of their experiences. With Carla was Dan Denis, who has been conducting research with her for the Sleep Paralysis project. He took us through the ins and outs of various myths and the science behind sleep paralysis, to which I could only conclude that once again our brains have some truly devious ways of going wrong and messing us up. I also left with some story ideas about an agent/ hero/ self-made hero who combats the beasts that appear during sleep paralysis by way of astral projection, although perhaps that’s just Nightmare on Elm Street without all the slashy bits…

Our next session was also in the Skeptics room, dealing with ‘Alien Mummies, Monsters and Mermaids’ and delivered by the highly entertaining Paolo Viscardi of the Horniman Museum. After taking us through the basics of creature identification (including several unlikely objects that turn out to be very mundane that he has been asked to identify and a story about picking up roadkill and carrying it to work for the taxidermist…) he then had us trying to identify other cryptids that have been in the news over recent years. The concluding part of the talk was a nice trek through the foggy history of mermaids, from folklore to Ripley and P T Barnum. As well as the fun of all this, there was also the important point raised to question why the media, and some individuals, love to propagate these modern myths when even some cursory research proves them to be utterly explicable. Many quote ‘experts’ without citing their actual source, with such experts being entirely fictional or utterly useless at their jobs if, for instance, they can’t see the Montauk Monster is easily identified as a raccoon.

How to be a Millionaire in Four Dozen Easy Steps

I’m a fairly recent convert to Kickstarter and crowdfunding – in fact my first Kickstarter project as a backer was Nine Worlds itself back at the end of february. Since then I’ve dropped more money than is possibly advisable on a couple of really cool-looking games, but what really interests me is the people that have decided to go down the Crowd-funding route. This talk, with Jan Wagner of Shadowrun Online and Alex Harvey of the Tangiers project wrangled by Tomas Rawlings from Call of Cthulu: The wasted Land, focussed on how to make a successful Kickstarter. The bit they didn’t mention was having a cool idea, but I suppose we all think we’ve got that before we start…

They did, however, make it very obvious just how much work it took, in preparation and particularl in community relations. And, contrary to the belief that crowd-funding means your project has paid for itself before it even starts, the likelihood is that although production costs can be sourced from your backers, a lot od design and research is going to initially come our of your own pocket. Perhaps the most telling quote (paraphrasing here) was “Kickstarter folks are professional backers these days, looking for professional projects. This may be your first Kickstarter, it isn’t theirs.” I wonder, and this was not addressed in the talk, if other crowd-funding sites and sources are more suited to the arty-cottage-industry-one-person-with-a-vision sort of projects these days, or if Kickstarter has basically cornered all of the crowdfunding juice to the detriment of that initial goal.

heraAfter that, and an impromptu talk with lady who had self-published some novellas (and taken the very wise step of hiring an editor and copy editor for her latest editions) we went on the hunt for food. McDonalds turned out to be the most convenient and cost-effective choice, and since this meant leaving the hotel we left for the other venue a few minutes’ walk up the road. Yes, Nine World was occurring over two hotels, with the gaming-related streams taking place in the other venue. We had brought some games with us for ad-hoc fun but all we managed to fit in before our next scheduled talk was a quick game of Hera and Zeus. It says something when there’s not enough time to play games! Next year, maybe, we’ll be able to indulge the gaming side of things a bit more.

Evening Entertainment

While Kez had a nap (she is growing another lifeform so that’s excusable) I hung out at the bar and chatted/ stared into distance overwhelmed with ideas, and then attended the Fact Hunters panel back with the Skeptics. It wasn’t my favourite panel, despite initial appeal, and as well as turning up a bit late I left early, a little bit bored with the descent into cod-philosophy discussions of what constitutes a ‘fact’. Not from the panel, I add, but too many audience members trying to make their own obscure points, I’m afraid.

I should have gone to the ‘Mary/ Sue’ panel on writing female characters instead. Oh well.

After that the party started. And by started, I mean launched with a sing-a-long of the musical Buffy episode One More With Feeling. I don’t really have to explain this, you can see it here:

Kez and I are in shot for just a couple of seconds and you are fortunate not to be able to hear my atonal bellowing, though she has a lovely voice.

Fun. Pure, geeky fun. I wasn’t bothered about the discussions of the ins and outs of the Whedonverse, the feminist subtexts of his characters, or anything else Joss Whedon-related, but you can’t ignore a good sing-a-long, can you?

The rest of the evening was spent in quiet repose and conversation with various people. In the bar. With drinks. I was, however, sober. Pretty much. I promise. All-in-all a day well spent, into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Coming up in Part 3 – Will we regret our late night shenanigans? Will breakfast be as good? Why isn’t a vertebrate skeleton the universal we think it is?

Published in: on August 13, 2013 at 10:05 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Next in Part 2 – Succubi, mermaids and Rimmer, plus a sing-a-long to remember. […]


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