Nerd Goings On in #YEG

Summer, I think it is safe to say, is finally here.  I know nothing is official until June, but the blue skies, blazing sun and my totally coincidental bright red sunburn (you win this time, Daystar!) lead me to accept certain things as fact.  Lucky for me or any other nerd seeking relief from solar radiation, there are plenty of geeky events in the next while that will keep us safely indoors.

“Movie” Nite – The Guild Season 4

As a lead up to the local Can’t Stop the Serenity event, Sheelagh Semper and the Alberta Browncoats have teamed up with Happy Harbor Comics to present weekly viewings of The Guild.  This Wednesday features Season 4, starting at 7pm.; Season 5 will run at the same time next Wednesday, June 6.  Admission is free, and you can pick up your tickets to the CSTS screening while you’re there!

Brass n Brew: Rose n Crown Style

Join the local Steampunk crew for rollicking good times at a brand new venue, the Rose & Crown Pub.  These are great social events for people new to steampunk, or would perhaps like to see what it’s all about in a friendly setting.  And what could be friendlier than a pub? As always, costumes are not required for Brass n Brew events, but are of course encouraged.  The important thing is to come out, relax, and have a great time.  Bully!

Monthly Pure Speculation Organizing Meeting

Want to have a say in how Edmonton’s Pure Speculation Festival runs?  Then join them for their monthly organizer’s meetings.  There is no better way to get involved with one of Edmonton’s top nerd events, plus you’ll get to meet some really great people.  If you’ve ever wondered what goes in to organizing a weekend-long nerdstravaganza, you need to attend at least one of these.

Apocalypse Kow Spring Fling

While not a nerd event per se, it definitely features a bunch of nerds I know and like.  Apocalypse Kow is a tremendously popular a cappella group here in Edmonton, and you will love them whether you are nerd or nerd-adjacent.  How do I know?  Because how could you not love five guys performing the Super Mario theme?  Or their cover of Fat Bottomed Girls?  Trust me: go to the concert and awesomeness will ensue.  Also, partial proceeds go to support The Food Bank and that is always a good thing.

Okay, that should be enough nerdery to hold you for a while.  Next week we’ll touch on a few other things coming up, like Can’t Stop the Serenity and Free RPG Day.  And as always, if you think I missed a crucial geek-oriented event, drop me a note in the comments.

And hey, let’s geek safely out there.

Edmonton Nerdery and Future Plans

Today is sort of a two for one post; I have some local nerdery to promote, and I want to talk for a bit about my plans for Renaissance Dork.

But, nerdery first!

Costuming Help 101: An Informal Affair

Join the Edmonton Steampunk group for a casual afternoon of costume planning and instruction!  If you have questions about steampunk costumes, need some inspiration or just want to hang out with an awesome bunch of nerds, this is the event for you!  Taking place at 2pm at the Elephant & Castle downtown (10200 102nd ave), this is an all-ages event so don’t be shy.  With Pure Spec just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to put the finishing touches on your steampunk array…

22nd Annual Folding Festival

Curious about the mysterious art of origami?  Ever wondered if you could do it yourself?  Pop on down to the Folding Festival and find out!  With a mix of origami displays and hands-on instruction, the Folding Festival is your place to explore this beautiful and deceptively simple-looking Japanese art.  Running two afternoons in the Edmonton Room at the Stanley Milner Library, admission is free to the public.  Come get your fold on!

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Okay, that’s the nerdery.  Don’t worry, there is more coming, I just don’t want to spoil the surprise too early.

On to Renaissance Dork!  Since I started running fairly regular Edmonton Nerdery posts, I’ve had a really good response from readers.  Obviously there was a niche to be filled for a local “What’s On for Nerds” type of site here in YEG, and I am quite frankly happy to be the niche-filler.  Edmonton nerdery is there, no question, but some days I think it needs an amplifier to be heard properly.

So I am going to be that amp, brethren and sistren, and I go to eleven!  In the next while you’ll see a separate page go up with a list of the regular and ongoing geekery around town (things like the Social Media Breakfasts, monthly events at Metro and so on), with links to find out more.  As well, unless there really is no nerdery to report, the Edmonton Nerdery posts will continue on a weekly basis.  If I have to skip a week I will be a very sad panda, so keep those geek events coming!  Seriously, if you are organizing a nerd event or have an ongoing event you’d like on my event page, contact me at brent.jans(at) with the details.

In addition to promoting YEG geekery, going forward you will start to see interviews popping up in the posts.  I am reaching out to people I know in the geek community, to chat with them about this and that.  I will then post our chats here on Renaissance Dork for your edification and enjoyment.  It turns out I know a lot of really interesting nerds, so it seems fitting I should introduce you.

Last but not even least, I am opening the door to guest posts.  I have a few people that have expressed an interest in writing the occasional bit of geekery, but don’t have the wherewithal to set-up their own blog.  Down the road I will provide a home for these orphan posts, and I thought it only right to extend the offer to my tens of readers as well.  So if you have a nerdy piece you want to write and you need a place to post it, talk to me.  It can be anything; editorial, review, amusing anecdote.  Just drop me a line at brent.jans(at) with a query (or even the finished piece) and we’ll talk.

That’s all for now!  The game is five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky’s the limit!

Comments go in the Comment place!


Speak Out with your Geek Out, Day Three: Links to Things I Love

A little late in the day, but I thought I’d get a Speak Out with your Geek Out version of Humpday Links.  These links will take you to things that are close to my heart, and make my geeky heart happy.  Follow and enjoy!

Project Gutenberg is one of my favourite sites for reading material ever.  Seriously, where else are you going to get a Complete Works of William Shakespeare for free?  Plus, there is a serious amount of good, copyright-free material here, and the site is worth hunting through.

– If you are a gamer or GM, Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips is the site you need to have in your bookmarks.  Better yet, sign up for the newsletter.  I’ve been getting it for over five years and I’ve never regretted a single issue; every one is packed full of useful RPG tips and advice.  Go there now!

– Those who know me, know my eldritch love of Cthulhu (Ia! Ia!) and the Cthulhian role-playing games.  The Unspeakable Oath feeds that love on both counts.

Cheapass Games is pretty much my favourite board gaming company ever.  The games are clever and fun, and right now you can get a bunch of them for free off the site.  Great free games, how can you not love that?

– If you love steampunk (which I do) and live in Canada (ditto), then Steampunk Canada is the place to connect with others that love the retro-futuristic movement.  Heck, even if you aren’t Canadian you should check it out; you can find fellow steamed punks to visit while on holiday!

– One of my very favourite podcasts ever, it’s Crazy Sexy Geeks!  Jill Pantozzi and Alan Kistler are a delight to listen to, serving up their own special look at nerd culture every week.  Add to that some useful geek dating tips, and you have a podcast every nerd needs to hear.

– Started by Zachary Levi of Chuck fame, The Nerd Machine is a great little social networking site for the nerderatti.  Sign up, cruise the forums and spend some time in the chat room.

– A newly-discovered bit of web TV geekery, The Variants explores the lives of people working in the unpredictable world of retail comics.  Funny and sometimes touching, this is a must vue for anyone who wonders what goes on at their comic-book store when they aren’t around.

Okay, that’s all for now.  Join me tomorrow and Friday for the last two instalments in Speak Out with your Geek Out.  What will they be, you ask?  That would be telling, wouldn’t it?

Comments below as always…

Fanboy Confessional

I’ll be honest, when I first saw Fanboy Confessional commercials pop up on Space, I rolled my eyes.  It looked like yet another show lampooning the more extreme members of our fandom.  But however badly conceived and executed, shows about geeks don’t come around very often.  So I locked it in to the PVR, and expected the worst.

I will admit without reservation that I was wrong.

Having watched four episodes so far (Space airs two half-hour episodes back-to-back) I admit to being truly impressed, both with the respect given to the topics and the obvious enthusiasm towards the subject material.  Narrated by Aaron Ashmore (yes, Jimmy Olsen from Smallville) and directed by Michael McNamara (no stranger to documentaries; you may have heard of 100 Films and a Funeral), each episode focuses on one genre in the greater fan continuum.  In the four episodes I have watched so far, the show has examined cosplay (focused mostly on anime/manga cosplay, but touching on other kinds as well), steampunk, horror fandom and super-heroes/real-life super-heroes.

Each episode follows two or three people or groups, as they go about their geeky lives enjoying whichever fandom is the topic for that episode.  In the case of the cosplay episode, for instance, we are introduced to a group of four friends who are relatively new to anime cosplay as they plan and prepare to attend Anime North; at the same time we meet a few more experienced cosplayers, as well as staff from Anime North responsible for the cosplay contest at the con.  That, in fact, is one of the things that has kept the episodes interesting for me, that range of experience inside each of the genres.  As someone who has been inside fandom for a while, it is good to be reminded that there are always new fans coming up behind you, as well as elder fans cutting the path ahead of you.

But what I love the most about the show is the thing I was wrong about.  None of the episodes I have watched have lampooned or derided anyone.  Obviously it would be very, very easy to grab some footage of “that guy/gal” (and every aspect of fandom has one) and use that to represent all the rest of us. Instead, each episode gives us a broader spectrum of fans, presenting a much more complete picture of the people rocking that genre.  More than that, each episode is skillfully shot to show all the enthusiasm of the fans without making them look like, well, nuts.  And I’m not saying fans are nuts (we are, but I’m not saying that) but you and I know how easy it is for us to appear nuts when shown out of context.  Fanboy Confessional keeps the context clear, and so the fan joy shines through.

I was most surprised by was the Real Life Super Hero episode.  I had heard, of course, about extreme comic book nerds taking to the streets in costume and extracting vigilante justice.  You know, the idiots that at best make comic book nerds look bad, and at worst get themselves/others hurt, or get arrested because they are breaking the law.  Here is a tip, and I know this will come as a shock: you don’t get to break the law just because you are wearing a costume. Sorry.

But the FC episode didn’t talk about those guys, except for one person who mentioned them in order to distance their group from them.  Instead, we were shown a group called “The Skiffytown League of Heroes”, a group of real-life super heroes that perform public services in cities and towns all across the States.  Then the episode focuses in on two members: DC’s Guardian (the city, not the comic company) and Thanatos (A Vancouver-based RLSH ).

Both of these gentlemen work in public, in costume, trying to spread a very positive message.  DC’s Guardian spends his time talking to people about citizenship, making sure people are involved in their government, that they’re voting and generally working to get people involved in their country in a positive way.  Thanatos is equally public-spirited, volunteering his time in one of the poorest, crime-ridden areas of Vancouver.  But instead of doling out vigilante justice, he brings water and energy bars to prostitutes and street people on hot days, and comes back in the evening to bring care-packages to the homeless.  Both of these gentlemen are just open and earnest about connecting with and helping people.  Not only was I impressed with the episode itself, I was blown away by these two heroes and thrilled to know that people like this exist.

If you are a geek I cannot recommend Fanboy Confessional enough.  It is a funny, engaging and reverent look at our collective fandom, and it is well worth your time and mine.  You can catch it Wednesdays on Space, 8pm and 8:30pm (MST).  Or if you can’t wait until next Wednesday you can get a little taste on the Space website.

My name is Brent, and I am a Fanboy.