Why Are Male Fandoms So Hostile to Women?

Photo by Sam Howzit
Here there be sexism

Lately, I've become aware of sexism and misogyny in the most unexpected of place - geek fandom culture.

I was a comic book nerd when I was a kid, but haven't touched a super hero comic in decades, so I was unaware of the dramatic ways things had changed in fandom over those years.

So you'll have to excuse me for thinking that fandom stuff was still primarily the territory of awkward, but mostly benevolent, too-fat or too-skinny male outcasts who are persecuted for their interests. See, that's the thing. I grew up as one of those people, and most of my friends were into the same role playing games, comic books, and horror movies that I was. Some of them were also early computer nerds, so fascinated by the possibilities of the extremely primitive home computers they had at the time that they were willing to spend their time practicing old-fashioned programming languages instead of hanging out with the cool kids at school.

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5 Life Lessons I Learned Playing Candy Crush Saga

Photo by m01229
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
It seems like half the people I know play Candy Crush Saga. I base this on the insane number of Facebook invites I've gotten and the look of manic glee in their eyes when the addictive candy-based puzzle game comes up in conversation. It's a fun little puzzle game, for sure, but it has also unexpectedly taught me several life lessons.

5. Addiction takes many forms.

One of those forms manifests in the relentless candy matching game play of Candy Crush. Forget the schmaltzy music that accompanies this game; the soundtrack should be a continuous loop of "Sister Morphine" or "Waiting on the Man," because the dead look in your eyes a few weeks after Candy Crush gets its hooks in you is one more often associated with serious drug addiction. It starts off innocently enough. You download the game for free, and its cute but fun gameplay goes along well for maybe ten or 15 levels before you hit the first difficult one. Maybe you have to replay it a time or two, and then you move on, happy to have bested the challenge.

Soon, though, those challenging levels often turn into what I think of as "Total Bastard" levels where a person might get stuck for days at a time. That's when you suddenly realize that you're addicted to this sinister candy game, because like a drug pusher, it offers to buy more lives and more time (with real money, of course) or to buy game bonuses that will help you finish the Bastard levels and move further along the game. I get it; game companies need to make money, but this type of luring a person along reminds me of the Junior High warnings of drug dealers that would give a kid a few pills for free, the first time.

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Losing Weight: There's an App for That, or How I Lost 30 Pounds Via Technology

Categories: Geek

Probably the best diet tracker on the planet.
As far back as I could remember, my dad was heavy, and while I never quite reached the same heft that my father did, I have been overweight for nearly 15 years, something uncomfortable for me to admit because I spent the bulk of my first 30 years on the planet as someone probably too skinny for his own good. It made the challenge of losing weight all the more daunting because it felt like I hadn't just let myself go, I'd also let myself down.

Earlier this year, I made the decision that it was time to really do something about it, but I wasn't sure what. I consulted with some friends who had gone to weight loss places with success, but I just didn't feel comfortable in that environment. I also disliked the idea of diets. I've always believed that changing your behavior, unless you are willing to change them for good, was pointless. Then someone mentioned MyFitnessPal.

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Five Predictions About the New Star Wars Movie

Categories: Film and TV, Geek

Hopefully he still gets a chance to shoot first.
That new J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars movie is off to an ignoble start:

Harrison Ford was injured last week on set of "Star Wars: Episode VII," and it looks like he may be sidelined from filming for a while. The Mirror reports the 71-year-old actor has sustained a broken ankle that could leave him off set for six to eight weeks.

Last week, it was reported a hydraulic door -- most likely belonging to the Millennium Falcon -- fell on the Ford, who is reprising his role as Han Solo in the sequel.

Ford's absence on set is causing production to shift around what scenes are being filmed.

The door from the Falcon fell on him? What a piece of junk. Still, I wouldn't worry too much about Ford's injury. "Shifts in production" notwithstanding, the following list shows a bum ankle won't have much of an impact.

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5 Bullshit Arguments People Make About Switching a Character's Gender/Race

Categories: Geek

A little while back I wrote an article about why I felt the next Doctor on Doctor Who needed to be female. Not why I wanted a female Doctor, but why things I had noticed in the show and in fandom demanded that a woman be given a chance in the lead role. And then I posted said article to the large Facebook fan page that I help administer to watch the arguments roll in.

There were legion. There were myriad at the very least, but they essentially boiled down to five basic, fallacious premises that seem to crop up whenever anyone talks about non-whiting, non-manning a famous character. Today, let's look at those five and explain why they're bullshit.

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Game of Thrones: "I Am Your Son. I Have Always Been Your Son."

Big impin'.
"The Children" is the title of Game of Thrones' 4th season finale. Though we can probably figure out who they were actually talking about (more on that later), the title could also refer to: a) the Lannister children, all of whom end up ... disappointing father Tywin in various ways by epsiode's end, b) the Stark children, who are (Jon Snow included) growing up and heading towards vastly different careers, or c) Daenery's dragons, no longer fully under their Mother's control.

Of course, it's *probably* in reference to the Children of the Forest, the legendary race the First Men made peace with before Aegon the Conqueror arrived on Westeros (another fact not divulged in the show for purposes of time). Looks like they've been keeping busy in the interim by taking fireball lessons from Tim the Enchanter.

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Cover Story: Houston's Comics Convention Scene Is Back From the Dead

Categories: Geek

One day soon Houston may be mentioned in the same breath as San Diego and New York when it comes to go-to convention destinations for comics fans, Trekkies, Whovians, cosplayers and every other demographic that so openly celebrates its passions now that the nerds have won.

The four-day Comicpalooza convention at the George R. Brown this year was massive. More than 30,000 people attended, bringing nearly $10 million to the city of Houston.

According to founder and convention head John Simons, you even hear Comicpalooza being talked about by industry people at the premieres of Hollywood blockbuster superhero movies like Thor: The Dark World.

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Game of Thrones: "Nothing Makes the Past a Sweeter Place to Visit than the Prospect of Imminent Death."

Is there anyone in Westeros who *isn't* taller than Jon Snow?
Jeez, I take a week off and all this happens: fan fave Prince Oberyn took a night train to the Big Adios courtesy of the Mountain, the Hound tells everyone (well, the guards at the Eyrie) Arya is alive and well, Sansa announces her true identity to the nobles of the Vale. And the best part about those last two? Never happened in the books.

These deviations bear some consideration, now that show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have just about caught up with George R. R. Martin in print, and it was recently hinted it will now take eight -- not seven -- volumes to finish the story. With other changes (that I've hopefully detailed here sufficiently) already in place, we could be seeing even more dramatic departures.

Whatever, you're not listening, because last night was EPIC, brah! Giants! Mammoths! Hollering! Mance's wildling army finally arrived at the wall and, as was the case with the Battle of the Blackwater before it, we stayed on location -- with Jon Snow and company -- for the whole episode.

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A Guide to Comic Convention Panel Etiquette

Categories: Geek

Adam Perez via YouTube
This year at Comicpalooza I didn't get to attend many panels, and none of the big celebrity ones as my journalism skills were required elsewhere at the convention. It's OK, though because I got a play by play from fellow geeks and reporters, and I've got to tell you Houston some of you really need a crash course on how to behave at these things. It seems more than a couple of them were disasters that could have been avoided if the people attending them have given a little thought to some of the things that make panels great.

So, in the name of improving the next go-round I've come up with a handy list of Dos and Don'ts that I hope will insure our celebrity guests next year aren't going to spend their time on stage wishing it would be done as quickly as possible.

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Meet Miltos Yerolemou, the "Dancing Instructor" of Game of Thrones

Chuck Cook Photography
Miltos Yerolemou at Comicpalooza 2014

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones novels have plenty of characters with ambiguous morality, but a few were written as heroes. Syrio Forel was one, and he (apparently) died to save his swordfighting student, Arya Stark.

Forel's death was "offscreen," both in the books and in the television adaptation, so some Game of Thrones fans hold out hope that the former First Sword of Braavos is still alive.

The Greek actor who brought Forel to the screen, Miltos Yerolemou (pronounced Yur-rel-le-mou,), was certainly alive and well in Houston at Comicpalooza, signng autographs and teaching classes on the water dancer-style of swordfighting to attendees.

(By the way, if you want to learn some of these swordfighting moves for yourself, the last class is today at Comicpalooza at 3 p.m. Cost is $50. Sign up at Yerolemou's booth in the autograph area at Hall E in order to attend.)

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