Charity and Geekdom

This Christmas, as gifts for my wife and son, I ordered us all “Fuck Cancer” shirts from the campaign being run by Stephen Amell from Arrow. Part of this was from the link to my geek roots (and Arrow being one of my favorite shows), but the motivation goes much deeper. Sure my family is a supporter of cancer related charities – it’s one of the defining things about my family. Especially in recent years. Directly though, for me, it was about what cancer has taken from me. If you have been following this blog, you know that in July cancer took my best friend and dog from me.

I knew he was getting old, but to have him diagnosed with cancer that was causing such large tumors in him was a shock. I actually found myself echoing “fuck cancer” in my head. After more than fifteen years with us, not even my dog was safe. So I did what I could. Donated food to a local shelter. Adopted a rescue dog from that same shelter. And bought a shirt to show my personal support and to give money to charities working towards a cure.

Just this week, Amell’s new campaign started. A similar shirt design (though more family friendly), but this time when looking for a charity he went to the fans. The same fans that (literally) knocked it out of the park with the first campaign. From those suggestions, the proceeds are slotted to go to two different charities: Stand for the Silent as well as Paws and Stripes. I’ll definitely be picking up this shirt too.

Stand for the Silent is a charity that supports young people against bullying. While the discussion of bullying (causes, solutions, etc.) isn’t cut and dry, a dialog needs to be opened. And any charity that does this has my support. I was bullied quite a bit as a kid. Back then there wasn’t a focus on it like there is today. It was just one of those things you had to get through. And each school had at least one of “those kids.” Which is to say the target. In 3rd grade I beat up two 5th graders who were abusing someone else unable to stand up for themselves. Even after that, I was still the preferred target. It took someone else being in harms way for me to take a stand. Yup, I’ll stand with these folks.


post from Stephen Amell’s Facebook page

Paws and Stripes is a localized charity in the New Mexico area that takes rescue animals and trains them to be companion animals for veteran’s with PTSD and TBI. I think we all know how I feel about helping rescue dogs. But back somewhere around 17 or so years ago I suffered one of the “lesser” of the TBIs. I took a concussion bad enough it stripped away years of memory and forever change how I processed numbers in my memory. It is difficult to fully explain, but my memory of numbers was pretty core to a job where I routinely had to spout off numeric addresses of servers to customers or the support agents on my team. (At the time I worked for AT&T Worldnet in their support division.) It also left me with an increase in my migraines (frequency and intensity) as well as a constant, low-grade headache. Yeah, my 1-10 scale for pain is all sorts of screwed up.

Really, both of these hit home for me. Or hit a home run… since one of the shirts is a softball style jersey.

All of this sparked not only through social media (something I touched on in my blog over at Wicked Lil Pixie this morning), but through geekly pursuits. An actor, playing a DC superhero, engaging with his fans on a level similar to Felicia Day did with the Guild or Wayland does as each an every gig they play (as well as multiple forms of social networking). I may have joked about this back in college, but I fully believe it…

The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.

So maybe go forth to the Represent site for the Sinceriously Campaign and pick up a shirt, hoodie, or tote bag. And maybe go check out the sites for the charities. I’m already picking up one of the dog shirts from Paws and Stripes for Ginger’s birthday. And yes… pictures will follow. 😉

An Open Letter to @dungeonbastard

As you can clearly see by the title, this is an answer to the first salvo fired by one Bill Cavalier, aka the Dungeon Bastard. Clearly he has mistaken me for a gnome bard with an 8 strength and 10 constitution. Which means he is in for a surprise…

gameholecon-dragon-black-217x300In looking towards my upcoming schedule to map out the interviews and reviews to go up on WLP this coming month or two, I realized that my tickets to go to TeslaCon (not to mention the whole point of buying a tri-barreled Napoleonic pistol and hand crossbow) were going to conflict with attending GameHole Con in Madison that month. This meant no joining in on Dungeon Bastard’s Gauntlet of Doomâ„¢, or sitting through a discussion with Chris Perkins, DM to the Starsâ„¢.

This made me more melancholy than an emo goth bard with broken lute strings trying to play the Cure. Which led to me sending out this tweet shown below.


But what surprise was waiting for me in this Tomb of Horrors, but a reply from the man himself a short time later…



The choice is clear? Tesla is dead? Even assuming you don’t consider shows from SyFy that might say different (and who wouldn’t listen to them after Sharknado), we’re talking steampunkers. Only the Bronies are a more rabid fanbase. (Please don’t hunt me down, Bronies.)

Mr. Cavalier, you clearly don’t understand that TeslaCon is a short 20 minute drive from GameHole Con. In a matter of minutes we could be wrapping wrists together in period-appropriate silk rope and knife fighting like a cross between West Side Story and a half-orc mating ritual. (I would have went Klingon parmaqqay, but GameHole is a gaming con, not a trekkie convention.)

I don’t know what will be happening in Madison come Halloween, but I know it will be a night to remember. Hopefully we don’t thin the ranks of the geek community too much with our genre in-fighting. Because honestly, is there anything more sad in Wisconsin than geek-on-geek crime? Not since the “Fake Geek Girl Controversy of 2012” has the normally pacifistic community been rocked this far down its core.

Though, in all realism… to my gaming and geek brothers and sisters… TeslaCon is sold out. Go get your game on with the Dungeon Bastard and Chris Perkins, DM to the Starsâ„¢.


In which Zombie Joe responds to the Fake Geek Girl Hate…

I know some of you might be expecting a blog about the Iron Cupcake Madison event. Well, that’s more of a thing for the Zombie Cakes Madison blog. Not to mention I still have to get around to writing that. This is more on the Zombie Joe/Geek side of things. If you’re not hanging out in geek areas of social networking, well… honestly… you’re probably not reading this. In the event you’ve been under a rock or without wifi for the last couple weeks, there has been an explosion of rage over the hate that has been travelling around due to an article telling “Fake Geek Girls” to “just stop.”

This innately bothers me, and only slightly due to the number of geek girls I know. I am also concerned on the level of a parent of a geek, a son who would would likely be excited that there are geek girls out there. Not to mention as a concerned community member, as it is apparently not in my nature to be indifferent towards the communities I am involved in. I want to see my fellow geeks happy. And finally as a grandparent who wants to see his granddaughters have the opportunity to let their geek flag fly if they so choose.

Back around five or six years ago, we had one of our grandchildren come and stay with us for a while. I forget how long exactly, but it was measured in months, not years. We went around to setting up a room for her (as our house at the time had 4 “bedrooms”. (One had doors leading to a second story three season porch and stairs to the third story attic.) We went to the store and allowed her to pick out a bed. We figured we could manage this as toddler beds are mostly plastic and it would help her feel like it was her room and not grandma’s room. At the store she passed up the princess beds, the tinkerbell beds and proudly announced that she wanted a Spider-Man bed!

At this point my wife looked at me. You guys know the look. The one that says, “What the hell did you do?” I simply threw my hands up in the air and told her I had nothing to do with this. Keep in mind that my wife really didn’t have a problem with her getting the Spider-Man bed, it was more the point that she was claiming I infected her with “geek cooties.” Yeah, no matter how I write that it makes her sound bad when really it wasn’t. Moving on…

We have her room set up with a Spider-Man bed, a table and chairs and everything was great. She was with us over Christmas which meant I got to play Santa Claus again (and also meant there was more money spent at Christmas that my wife didn’t know about until Christmas morning), so she also got a Dora the Explorer play house with some figures. See? She liked Dora AND Spider-Man. It is possible!

Anyhow, after her time with us she came back to visit and told me that she didn’t like Spider-Man any more because she was a “girly girl.” While I’m all for them making their own minds up about what they want, I know I am unique in that view at times. Frilly dresses became the order of the day and princesses were more girly-girl than Spider-Man. Basically my step-daughter wanted her girly-girl.

In her defense, she has learned a lot in the five years since then. Like the last special (read: sculpted) cake my wife made for the granddaughter’s birthday was a zombie cake. Seriously, she wanted one just like the one Grandma made for “Grandpa Zombie,” complete with a headstone. I even went out and got her a molded chocolate black cat for the display. Her birthday is near Halloween, so the whole spooky theme makes sense really.

As a geek parent and community member, this hipster-like attitude that many of the geeks and gamers are displaying towards the “fake” geek girls is rather counter productive. In the last 5-10 years I’ve more than once overheard guys at the gaming shop or comic book convention complaining about the lack of girls in all of their interests. One of the biggest claims is how everything would be so cool if they could find a girl who was into their particular flavor of geekery. So then why is it that they feel the need to test every one they meet or instantly place doubt on their pedigree?

For some I think it may be a defense mechanism. That girl is cute/hot/breathing, so therefore would have not interest in me, so therefore she can’t really be a geek, right? Granted there are more than a few geeks out there that treat even other guys that way. They’re what we like to call douche canoes.

Seriously, way back (when GenCon was in Milwaukee) I was working as security in the “Alien Archives” (museum of scifi related props) and someone was asking if the props were real. Grabbing the clipboard of information given to me I answered that of course they were, like the Klingon pistol on the second shelf was used… “That’s not a pistol!” You can already see where this is going. And I quote…

“Yes, like that Klingon pistol on the second shelf there was used in…”

“That’s not a pistol!”

“It’s not?”

“That’s a distruptor!” (Cue his companions rolling their eyes.)

“Right. So that Klingon pistol there was used in Star Trek IV…”

Seriously, all it takes is a little bit of that old saying my mother taught me when I was younger. “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” Or, as Wil Wheaton puts it, “Don’t be a dick.” (For the record, my mother had some other adages that ranked right up there in the PG-13 status as well, but those are another story.)

In the process of writing this, I was given a harsh reality in just how ridiculous it has gotten. The Geek & Sundry channel opened on YouTube. The first videos were episode 1 of Tabletop where Wil Wheaton plays board games with guests, a Guild music video and a vlog where Felicia Day learns blacksmithing. For my own part, the music video is the best one they’ve produced yet and I am waiting to see Jim Parsons come on Tabletop for a rematch with Wil Wheaton. (Life imitating art anyone?) In the comments on YouTube there was someone who voiced that the channel was so “commercial” there was “no way [it] was made by real geeks.”

Seriously? Who in their right mind is going to claim that Felicia Fucking Day and Will Fucking Wheaton are not real geeks? (By the way, the previous was used in the ideal of Amanda Fucking Palmer, not William Fucking Shatner for those of you familiar with Wil’s stories. Rockstar Middle Name Status more so than what-a-dick status.) I have some college stories that involve hearing about Wil Wheaton’s geekyness and I know that Felicia Day plays D&D, computer games, console games, and reads more scifi/fantasy novels than even I do in a year. But, again, that is a story for another time. For now I leave y’all with a piece of advice that will help you get ahead, make friends and maybe have a chance to talk to some geek girls before complete pissing it off. In short, I end by reiterating Wheaton’s Axiom:

Don’t be a dick.