Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

The Magical Land of Nerd

24 Aug

Death and Catwoman hit da town – what up Nerrrrds!

I’m going to skip the details of my second day in ‘Murrrrkah! Not that it wasn’t super brilliantly fun, I mean, I woke up to a splendid plate of pancakes and fresh summer fruit, and got my hands on not one, but TWO really good coffees – which immediately exceeded my food expectations for the States. This was most welcome as it made me feel I would be gastronomically safe for at least the next ten days.

The adventures really began on my third day in SoCal. Even though I wasn’t able to go to Comic-Con, San Diego goes ALL OUT during the week of the convention. Lots of smaller nerdy fringe events take place across the city – professional nerds have come from all over the world to appear at SDCC, they’re going to make it worth their while. So I’d managed to get tickets for a couple of “fringe” events. There were also a few smaller sub-cons like Nerd HQ which had its doors open to the public for the duration of the convention.

Even though I knew I wouldn’t be completely excluded from the nerdstivities, my heart broke a *little* when we went into the city for the first time. All the geeks walking around with their human-sized Comic-Con bags and stylish neck tags. Every pop-culture character that ever existed was walking around the streets of San Diego. I could only imagine what it would be like at the hallowed convention centre. I was surprised at my levels of jealousy.  I was like a five year old watching another kid have a birthday.  I had to practice some serious head-talk to stay atop the envy:-)

I was on my way to a swanky comic-book themed party. I was going to a live taping of the Nerdist Podcast with JOHN BARROWMAN as the guest the next night. Life wasn’t too bad.

([the rest of my brain] jealoussssssssssssssssss….)

Pony had discovered that a comic book themed party was taking place at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. Guests were expected to dress as a comic book character. This slightly freaked me out for three reasons.  1. Pony is notoriously amazing when it comes to costumes. This meant I wouldn’t be able to fudge it all last minute-style. 2. The non-fudged costume would have to be transportable from Australia to the States. 3. The costume options for female comic-book characters are fairly limited – lycra, boobalicious, butt-flashy, maybe a tiara.

Not my favourite things to wear.

(except tiaras – yes to tiaras)

After much deliberation and consultation with the siblings I decided to go as Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics. She’s a pretty cool, perky goth. Pony had organised a Catwoman costume. Damn those humans who can pull-off Catwoman. They should be pushed to the edge of society and poked repeatedly with a sharp stick.

The party itself was estupendo! (yeah, I’m all over that Spanish now I’ve spent 10 days on the Mexican border. Sadly I was not so bueno at Spanish when I ordered a beef tongue taco. I would have liked knowing that’s what “res lengua” meant before money had been exchanged.) Lots of artsy nerdery took place at the doo. Body painting. Cyborg dancing. Superhero photoshopping. Keith Richards was even there![1]

But I think my favourite parts of the evening were the bookends – the hectic getting ready process/testing out my swanky new camera, and the post-party stalker drinks at the Hilton. It’s really fun putting on goth make-up. Try it some time. It’s also really fun being the only two people in a fancy bar with (presumably) fancy famous nerdy people, sporting an accent that is considered cool (yeah, I was cool for a whole 16 days!) dressed as, well, as Catwoman and Death. I’d recommend doing that sometime too.

By the end of the evening, Catwoman was in desperate need of a wheelchair and my wig was starting to itch. But the most… exciting?… adventure was still to come.

We headed home. I went to take out my contact lenses. I’ve written about my experiences with contact lenses before. I’m still fairly new to them. The thought of wearing them whilst overseas unsettled me because I wouldn’t have my fabulous optometrist safety net in case anything went wrong. I practiced some more head-talk. Told myself to stop being stupid, nothing has gone wrong since I’ve had them. The universe doesn’t think “oooh, she’s away from her safety net, let’s mess with her”. That’s crazy Rae. Crazy.

The universe is a bum-face.

First contact came out like a champ. The second one snapped as I pulled it out and got stuck behind my eye. TERRIFYING! Absolutely TERRIFYING.

Shout-out to Pony who was amazingly brave during the ordeal. I woke her up with the words “I’m sorry to get you up, but my worst nightmare has just come true”. Eyes are gross. I find my own eyes gross, let alone someone else’s. Pony managed to keep the gagging to a minimum and sat on the edge of the bathtub patting my back as I poked around in my eye for a while.  She did an excellent job comforting in the face of such grossness.

After quite a few calls to Australia to gather advice and comfort from the contact-experienced-father-shaped parent and my optometrist (“Um, hi. It’s Raewyn Campbell. My contact broke and is stuck in my eye and I was wondering what I should do…?” “Come in!” “Well, I’m actually in the States at the moment…”) I felt assured that I had a few days up my sleeve until my future as a pirate was sealed[2].

The plan was to go to an optometrist as soon as we had a spare moment. It wasn’t a complicated plan. It was a good plan. The only problem was that the next day was going to be hella busy with little cousin retrieval, Spiderman, and the Nerdist podcast, so we’d have to aim for Saturday morning. Deep breaths. Pirates get parrots, so, silver-lining.

But kids, there’s a lesson to be learnt from this traumatising event. Eyes are resilient. Eyes can withstand a surprising amount. And you’ll find that out for definite in the next blog post.

[1] By “Keith Richards” I of course mean an old, stoned, leathery man Pony and I had weirdly met only that morning at the coffee place and who had turned up to the comic-book themed party dressed as Keith Richards. As you do.

[2] Just to reassure people who might find all this too disturbing. My dad once had a contact stuck behind his eye for about two weeks and didn’t even realise until it moved itself to the front one day all folded up and easy for the removal. Eyes are hardy. Deep breaths. Everything is ok. Optometrists are super adept at fixing this type of situation as well. I think the opt’s words were “simple procedure”.


Holiday Nerdery

9 Jan

Back to work after 17 days off. I’m pretty out of practice with my writing, so doing a blog sounds like a good jumping off point. Also, I haven’t posted anything for months, so it’s about time I get back to it.

As a way to ease myself back into my research I thought I’d go through some of my favourite holiday nerd moments. Because the truth is, while I might be freaking out about how I’ll ever manage to get back into work mode, the reality is, it never really went away.

6. Portal 2. My sisters and brother have been badgering me for months to finish playing Portal 2. I would be watching TV and all of a sudden I’d hear this whisper: “Play Portal….” And then another voice would join in and the chant would begin: “Play Portal. Play Portal. Play Portal”. And then my brother would walk past, my sisters would beckon, he would crouch behind the lounge (think Evil Demon Bob) and join the crescendo-ing chant: “Play Portal. Play Portal. PLAY PORTAL”. I shut them up by saying I’d play it in my Christmas break. Which I did. It’s hard to beat an afternoon involving GLaDOS, chicken Twisties, and the lounge. But turrets*!? What the crap Aperture Science!? I hate you.

5. Contact Lenses. This might sound a little anti-nerd, but I feel it intersects with the realm, so I’m mentioning it in this list. Almost two years ago to the day I went to the optometrist and he said I’d need glasses. All-the-time glasses. It took a while, but I really like my spectacles now. Yet every now and then you get ready to go out, you get your makeup right, or you’re going to a festival or something, and you think it would be really nice not to have to wear glasses. So I went back to the optometrist and asked about contact lenses.

When the lenses came in the optometrist showed me how to use them. I was in there for over an hour and in that time only managed to get one lense in myself. He ended up having to put the other one in, and after lots of fishing around and stressing out and a phone call from my brother saying he was locked out of the house, the optometrist took the lenses out for me. As I was leaving he gave me a pair of practise lenses to try the next day. His parting words were: ‘I’ll stay here until 6 o’clock. If you can’t get them out by 5:30 ring me and I’ll take them out for you.” He’s so nice.

I managed (after about 45 minutes worth of trying and my dad cheering me on) to get them in the next day. I got home from uni at about 4pm. I fished around for about an hour trying to get the damned things out my self. I stopped trying not to cry. I induged myself perhaps a little too much in the crying, partly in the hope that I could maybe cry the lenses out. In the end I rang the optometrist and took him up on his offer.

I walked in all puffy and mascara smeered. He asked if I’d like to give it one last go myself. My hands were amazingly steady as I washed them in preparation. The optometrist turned around to get something behind him. And like a ninja I had my fingers in my eye, the contact pinched, and before I knew what was happening I had got the right one out. I wasn’t very cool in my triumph. There was a lot of cheering and chest puffery. Buoyed with my success the other one came out just as easily. I couldn’t even feel bad that I had wasted the poor guy’s time. I was proud as punch. I went home with another practise pair and bragged to my family about how amazing I was.

The sad thing is, this scenario of tears, time and eventual triumph has been repeated a few times over. But it’s slowly getting better. It only took me ten minutes the last time I wore them to get them out myself. TEN MINUTES NERDS! No tears! Like a winner.

Basically, conquering contacts this holidays was pretty special.

4. Neil Gaiman. I’d bought my sisters and myself tickets to see Neil Gaiman in Sydney. Along with a couple of my Gaiman loving friends we drove up to Newtown (NEWTOWN!! Yep, I drove in the city! Rae: Conquering contact lenses and city roads since 2011!) to see this entertaining and clever man. He was accompanied by a string quartet called FourPlay who were pretty brilliant. We got seats in the second row, so we were close enough for him to spit on us… not that he’d do that, but, you know, if he’d wanted to he could have got us easy.

I think my sister described the night the best: Neil Gaiman last night was amazing – a lot like bedtime stories, a little like a dream. SO good.

3. Avatar: The Last Air Bender. See entry on Portal 2, but insert ‘Avatar’ in place of ‘Portal’.

My siblings love this funny little show. They’ve been wanting me to watch it for a long time. I always come in when they’re half way through a season and they don’t want me to be spoilered, but they also don’t really want to start again from the beginning just so I can see it. Like Portal I said I’d watch it in my break. I’m about 16 episodes in. It’s strangely addictive. What really gets me is the animation, the almost unnoticeable background details, little superlative movements, or facial expressions, or sound effects. They crack me up; like a group of villagers demurely cheering the return of the Avatar while one lone man goes completely hysterical to the point of mouth frothing  **; or Momo (Aang, the Avatar’s pet lemur) constantly stealing people’s food in the background, or Aang crashing into things or fidgeting behind other characters exchanging serious dialogue, or the ‘boing boing’ noise when someone is poked in the head. Watching Aang try and shove Momo into a tiny air vent was also surprisingly hilarious.

2. Doctor Who. This year was the second time since The Lord of the Rings films first came out that I was looking forward to Boxing Day more than Christmas. Because this, like last year, was the day the Doctor Who Christmas special was airing. I had been preparing my extended family for this event for weeks. We were going to my Aunty’s house for second Christmas on Boxing Day. I’d taken to just subtly throwing into conversations about Christmas prep the inevitability of the viewing: “So, I’ll make a trifle. Also, Doctor Who’s on that night, 7:30. We’ll need the telly. And salad? Yep, I’ll remember ”.

To their credit they remembered and generously allowed their geeky kin to withdraw and shed happy tears over their special show. The episode was beautiful; silly, funny, and magical. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one of my all time favourite books, it gives me tingles. It’s one of those stories that gets closest to feeling tangibly magical. To have this combined with Doctor Who, which also manages this magic thing was super affecting. Hearing the Doctor ask “What do they teach you in school these days!?” was a definite highlight***.

My sister also got series 6 of Doctor Who on DVD, so I spent quite a bit of the holidays re-watching episodes from that. It was also nice going over to my friend’s house on new year’s day to relax and geek out with some Who. What can I say, the show brings people together:-)

1. Everyday Nerdery. I loved the taken for granted nerdy things that just went on in the background every day. Things like over-hearing conversations like this:

Mum to brother who had just got home after spending New Years Eve playing some roll-play game about Cthulhu… probably… I just remember hearing him tell Mum he was going down to Nowra to participate in an “eldritch abomination” to bring in the New Year.

Mum: How was the game?

Brother: It was great! I played this rich guy. Actually, I was kinda a bad ass. (Lots of details about his bad assery and what happened in the game. I think there was a buggy or a carriage or something and maybe explosions…?)

Mum: (doing an admirable job of sounding interested) Cool! Where did you stay the night?

Brother: At my mansion. I had this massive estate that had heaps of rooms for guests (continued to describe his fancy house)

Mum: Oh, um, I mean, in real life…

Brother: Oh. At Grandma’s.


This is what nerdity is all about. Right there. The imaginative becoming the real. It makes me happy.

I also loved consuming an entire season of Community in a day. And losing time on Tumblr. And having my sister ask which shoe I wanted and then telling me it was fighting another shoe that my other sister had chosen to represent and as such we must fight each other to death on behalf of the shoes. And re-realising I love The Cook and the Chef (problematic gendered implications re. the title but they’re both just so darn nice). And having one of my sisters attempt to explain the storyline of the Sandman comic book series by Neil Gaiman before we went to see him. And being jealous of my cousin’s sonic screwdriver screwdriver. And my other sister watching cricket and working out how it worked in terms of how it is like Quidditch and then describing how it should be more like Quidditch. These everyday nerdy things made the Christmas/ New Years break all the more enjoyable. So thanks to everyone who contributed.

As you wish xx