Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Geek Girl Travel: L'Anse Aux Meadows

By Marie Victoria Roberston
Did you know that “Vikings” are only called Vikings when they’re raiding and pillaging? Otherwise, the correct term is Norsemen and Norsewomen. If you drive up to northernmost Newfoundland, you will see the beautiful site of l’Anse aux Meadows—the historic, archeological site where Leif Eriksson and a group of Norsemen landed over a thousand years ago. L’Anse aux Meadows is especially significant since it is currently the only accepted site of a confirmed pre-Columbian expedition (take that, Christopher!) The site was explored in the 1960s by archeologists Anna Stine Ingstad and her husband, Helge. 
Earlier this August, we packed up the car and drove, ferried, then drove some more to Newfoundland (about a 5000km round-trip, for the curious), intent on seeing the archeological site and Norstead, the nearby historical re-enactment village (think Upper Canada Village, but with Norsemen.) Having read The Vinland Sagas, we were curious to see this piece of history for ourselves. It was a heck of a journey, but you haven’t seen Canadian natural beauty until you’ve seen Newfoundland and Gros Morne national park.
The only remaining evidence of the Norsemen's visit to Canada
The archeological site itself might be anticlimactic for those who don’t know what to expect. There are no walls, ruins, or foundations left; instead, we were invited to tour grass-covered mounds, the shapes of which suggest connecting houses and doors and fire pits. This is all that’s left of Leif Eriksson’s crew and their journey to a land they called Vinland-- possibly “Land of Wine”, though if they were hoping to find grapes growing in Newfoundland, they were out of luck. Historians seem to agree that the reason for the journey was partly to find Vinland, and partly to find lumber and ship it back home to Greenland. No one is quite sure why they left, though the leading theory suggests they encountered trouble with the aboriginal people who lived in the area. 
A re-created hut at l'Anse aux Meadows
It’s a bit surreal to stand on the unassuming mounds and picture how, 1000 years ago, twenty burly Norsemen were sitting and eating here. A visit to the nearby re-enactments might help one visualize the settlement. There are, in fact, two such places: the l’Anse aux Meadows site itself has recreations of the buildings suggested by the mounds a few dozen feet away, and there is Norstead Village a short drive away. Both villages are staffed by re-enactors who are as happy to tell you about ancient Norse life as they are to talk about growing up in l’Anse aux Meadows and nearby St Anthony. One of the coolest conversations we had was with the old Norse fisherman, who happily broke character to tell us about playing on the mounds as a child before anyone knew what they were (everyone in the area thought they were the remnants of an old “Indian” village), and how he helped with the archeological dig in the 70s before going to work as a re-enactor.
The Snorri, a replica of the ship that brought Leif Eriksson and his crew from Greenland to Newfoundland
 Norstead is where you want to go if you really want to see characters and learn about old Norse culture. At the entrance, we were greeted by Bjorn Blue-Eyes, the chieftain, who showed us the Snorri, a recreation of the ship that brought Leif and his crew to Newfoundland. In one of the common huts, a Norsewoman demonstrated nÃ¥lebinding, a technique older than knitting and crocheting. A cheery blacksmith showed us how to make iron tools, while breaking character to lament that the nearest McDonald’s was five hours away. Norstead is right by the water’s edge, and on the day we visited, it was grey and windy—epic weather for learning about this fascinating old culture.  
Norstead is where you want to go if you really want to see characters and learn about old Norse culture. At the entrance, we were greeted by Bjorn Blue-Eyes, the chieftain, who showed us the
 A women's workroom at Norstead Village

I’d like to conclude with a neat piece of trivia. It was archeologist Anna Stine who led the archeological dig at l’Anse aux Meadows, and the artifact that alerted the team to the existence of a Norse settlement was a spindle-whorl, a weight that attaches to the bottom of a spindle used to spin wool. In other words, a woman’s tool. In other words, two women across the centuries were responsible for this hugely important archeological discovery. 

Marie Victoria Robertson is a published speculative fiction writer and playwright, as well as the board president of Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative ( When all the other girls wanted to marry Johnny Depp, she wanted to run away with Worf on the Enterprise. She enjoys giant robots, time-travel paradoxes, and forcing her son to watch Futurama.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Geeks Being Bullied

By Lee A Farruga

Bullying is universal, but is being a geek the main reason one gets bullied. Are geeks bullied more today or is it the older geeks who had it the worse. Is being a geek the real reason why one gets bullied?

I started my research by simply Googling “bullying geeks in school”. While I got a lot of hits on being a geek who bullies and how not to bully at comic-cons, there were still a few articles I found whose titles seemed to be generally what I was looking for, but as I found, well, not so much.

“Geeks Guide To Not Getting Bullied” (, April 24, 2012) Their suggestions were aimed mainly at not antagonizing those lower on the IQ scale. For example, don't say a test was easy, or mention you got a high score, or correct someone's grammar. Their absolute worse advice was “Pretend to be Dumb” - yes they actually said that. There was no mention of gamers or cosplay, or don't read your comics in public. Most comments to the article said that their popular kids in school were the smart kids, so these didn't appy at all.

“Six Lessons Learned From Being Bullied as a Geek Kid” (, Dec 7, 2012) Again, the post was more about generally nasty people bullying someone they perceive as different, but no specific mention of anyone doing anything “geeky” that led to getting bullied. The article did, however, have some very good tips and discussion in the comments.

“Geeks Don't Get Bullied Simply For Being Geeks” (, Feb 1, 2013) This article was much more realistic and made a lot of sense. It said that being passionate about something (the definition of “geek”) and being honest about it is what makes you vulnerable, whether it's comics, science, dancing or anything really – geeky or not. They also mention gender and homophobia. Geeky things like games, comics, etc. operate outside of gender roles – girls playing shooter games, boys reading instead of playing football.

In the Kotaku post they also mention another article “Why Geeks Get Bullied (Not Necessarily for Being Geeks)” in The Atlantic, Jan 31, 2013. It said that there are other factors that contribute to being bullied and one of those is “Cultural Capital”. They define it as having things beyond finances that can influence social mobility. One of the class markers is being intellectual/nerdy/geeky. This becomes a sign of privilege to some. The bullies take offense to the idea of being left behind. One example of this comes from Diana Vick – steampunk artist and founder of Steamcon in Seattle. She remembers a boy who said he needed to bring along a dictionary on their dates just to understand her. That relationship obviously didn't last.

What I found from the sum total of the information I looked at was that they all said the same thing – people will always attack those they perceive as different. It doesn't matter whether you're a geek, your skin colour is different from the majority, or you like to sing, there are those who need a scapegoat and will grasp at anything they can.

With being a geek becoming mainstream today, there is a lot less bullying for that reason specifically. My girls talked to friends about this subject and they all said their schools have anime and gaming groups now. My girls have never experienced being bullied simply for being a geek.

While there still is and, sadly, probably always will be bullying, we've come a long way in helping to educate about and prevent it. In Ottawa, every school now has a policy to combat bullying. As well, we are lucky to have groups like Jer's Vision, a wonderful anti-bullying and awareness organization. One of their wonderful people provided me with the following stats on bullying.

(Data current as of 2014 from Prevnet- Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network)
  • 89% of teachers say violence and bullying is a serious problem in schools, and list it as their top concern out of six offered options
  • 75% of high school-aged kids say they have been affected by bullying
  • 71% of teachers say they have intervened in bullying incidents, but only 25% of students say that teachers have intervened
  • The victim's peers are present in 90% of bullying cases. Studies show that when peers or bystanders step in, the bullying stops within 10 seconds.
  • 1 in 5 teenagers have been cyberbullied
  • Girls are victimized by sexual harassment and emotional aggression more frequently than boys
  • Girls tend to begin using social forms of bullying at earlier ages than boys (9-10 years old on average)
  • Physical bullying declines with age, and verbal, social, and cyber bullying tend to increase between the ages of 11 and 15
These stats may be a little depressing, but the lady who provided them also told me this lovely story and I think it's a great counterpoint. “A few years ago, I interviewed a lot of young people to write a show called "The Bullying Monologues". One young lady told me she experienced horrible bullying because her family was poor-- kids would spit on her, throw snowballs with rocks in them, etc. She was close to ending her life, when her family acquired a computer for the first time. Since she loved comics books and fantasy, she was finally able to connect with fellow geeks, and realized she was not alone. It gave her hope and helped her through the tough time. She credited geek culture with helping her mental health.”

Here's how I want to finish this post – a little girl at the 2013 Denver Comic-con asked Wil Wheaton how he used to deal with being called a nerd when he was a kid – his response is perfect.

Lee A. Farruga is known as everyone's Geeky Godmother. She has many talents, lots of energy, and loves to help people achieve their goals, whatever that might be. She can also be found reviewing books, games, movies and more at Also known internationally as the Canadian Queen of Steampunk, Lee created and manages Steampunk Canada. When she finds spare time, Lee does background acting for television and movies, and enjoys geeky activities with family and friends.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Doctor Who Series 8 premiere: The Doctor is In

By Courtney Lockhart

I have to admit- this time last year I was a very disappointed Whovian.

I was at a friend's cottage desperately checking my twitter to discover who was going to replace Matt Smith in the iconic roll of The Doctor.  When they announced Peter Capaldi- I was upset.  Because of my obsession familiarity with Torchwood, where Capaldi had portrayed major series 3 antagonist John Frobisher,  I felt it would be impossible for an actor already strongly associated with a signifigant character to  shift to being the main character of the universe.  In my mind it was  like Tom Hardy being named the next Batman.  I was predicting a series 8 that I would suffer through to support the show but not necessarily enjoy.

Today I am happy to admit that I was completely wrong.

The series 8 premiere, written by show runner Steven Moffat, was moving, entertaining and action packed.  Regeneration has temporarily fried The Doctor's brain. Not only is he trying to figure out his new body and personality, but he can't decide whether to trust his friends to help him. The regeneration confusion leads to a great deal of the episode's humour and amuses in a way that doesn't distract from the main conflict.

Capaldi's doctor is finding a place in my heart. I'm a 10th doctor girl and the introduction to Twelve strongly reminded me of how I felt after watching The Christmas Invasion.  He's a complete 180 from Matt Smith with the exception of still being able to  rock those amazing speeches that Moffat gives The Doctor.  I'm also wondering if " Shut up!" is going to be the new Geronimo?

The supporting crew in this episode, Strax, Vastra, Jenny and Clara- or as the doctor refers to them at first: Grumpy, the green one, the not green one and the one that asks all the questions- were a joy to watch. The 'give Team Vastra their own show'  contingent in the fandom will be louder than ever after this one. They  handle both sides of the regeneration angst argument brilliantly. This episode also gave me a very Sherlock vibe in that a lot of the supporting dialogue seemed to be the writers attempt to verify that they are listening to the fans.

The episode passes the group viewing test with flying colours. We all had  different levels of familiarity with the Whoniverse and were all highly entertained. There are easter eggs galore and little things that I'm sure will mean more in the future, but for those watching who aren't as fluent in Who it is still a great introductory piece.  The best part is, for the first time since series 5 we will get all twelve episodes in one go, no breaks!

Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9pm on Space, You'll be able to meet previous Who stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvil  at Fan Expo this month. Matt Smith and a special mystery Whovian guest will be appearing at Montreal Comiccon in September.

Courtney Lockhart lives in the west end of Ottawa with her husband and step-cat.  She is polishing her skills to pursue one of her dream careers as either a costume drama character, Torchwood operative or executive assistant to a billionaire vigilante. You can follow her daily mission to DFTBA on Twitter @corastacy.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Monty Python Live! (Mostly) - Geek Girl Review

By Emily Plunkett

If there’s one thing I never expect Monty Python to do, it was to make me cry.  The bastards.
This past July, the legendary British comedy group reunited for 10 live performances at London’s O2 Arena.  This came after years of pesky fans repeatedly asking quite nicely for something special that would allow them to reminisce on the jolly ol’Python bits they fell in love with some time ago.  And of course, like true hipsters, the moment they announced the whole thing last November, everyone began making the obligatory jokes about the fact that the combined age of the group is 357 or how it just would never be the same without the long deceased Graham Chapman, how they should just let things be, blah, blah, blah.
But of course, this is Monty Python we’re talking about.  The same Monty Python in which the last time they gathered onstage for a reunion, they brought an urn full of Chapman’s “ashes” to make the reunion complete - and then proceeded to spill the contents of the urn onto the stage; which were then then swept under the rug, vacuumed, etc. So when they announced the new live show, they wasted absolutely no time taking their own shots over what they were about to do; possibly even quicker than the notoriously harsh British media could.  When it came time to actually to see what they had come up with during a screening at the South Keys Cineplex on July 31, I personally had an ounce of faith that this quintet of septuagenarians could pull it off.

After all, that’s what I’ve always loved most about Monty Python: their absolute fearlessness, which was on full display at O2 Arena. It’s always been there.  You can see it in the very first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  There is virtually no laugher from the studio audience.  They are baffled by just the level of absurdity the program offered.  Random pig squeals, sketches with no clear punchline.  Just pure...well, I don’t know.  Whatever it was, it was on display for the British public to fall in love with and the actors on the screen gave the impression that they just didn’t care if anyone laughed at all.  What they wanted to do was out for everyone to see and we could take it or leave it.  Eventually there would be a word to describe this brand of brand of humour.  Pythonesque is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “denoting or resembling the absurdist or surrealist humour or style of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television comedy series.” That’s right.  An entire word was added to the dictionary to define and describe the humour of Monty Python.
Back to the show at O2.  I knew there would be bits that would feel somewhat uncomfortable.  Python animator turned genius film director, Terry Gilliam, had given interviews where he called the reunion “depressing,” and he noted that they all had careers that were far beyond Python. In fact, it was no secret that the main reason they were reuniting is because they’ve been hit with lawsuit after lawsuit.  
But you know what?  Even Gilliam’s contributions in no way felt forced.  He looked like they were having fun.  They all looked like it.
There were moments that I was wondering how they were going to handle on stage, and was absolutely stunned on how beautifully they made it work.  Six-foot-four, number two ranked British comedian of all time, John Cleese, has had hip replacement surgery and cannot do the classic Silly Walk sketch. But! Eric Idle just happens to be a songwriter and they were adding dancers to the show anyway. So why not write a new song based on the sketches and give it to the chorus line?  There were also several moments where the actors forgot their lines. I couldn’t keep track whether it was Cleese or Terry Jones who forgot their lines more frequently.  They took the piss out of one another’s circumstances.  The classic “Penguin on the Television” sketch made mention of the many travel documentaries made by the ever so good natured Michael Palin.  During a cross-dressing judges sketch, Idle and Palin asked who handled the Cleese divorce.

And Carol Cleveland! Oh how they wouldn’t forget her!  Still the sexy, big chested, vixen they chose from day one and never let go! She was just so delightful and happy to be performing with the guys!  And she wasn’t the only “cameo” of sorts.  Every night during the run of the show, guests were brought out during “Blackmail” to round out the tribute.  On the last night – the one broadcast to the world – the special guest was Mike “Austin Powers” Myers, who couldn’t believe his eyes as to where he was and what was going on around him.
The nod to their departed colleague came during the Parrot Sketch.  “He’s climbed the ladder to meet do meet Dr. Chapman!” screamed Cleese to Palin’s shop keeper before they both paused to allow the audience to catch the reference and to give the heavens a thumbs up.
Nothing about it felt forced.  Nothing about it felt wrong.  It wasn’t just some old fart rock band that’s decided to give it a shot.  This was a thought out celebration of everything Monty Python is about.
At the very end, as they came out for the encore to lead the audience and the rest of the cast and crew in a sing-along of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Idle mentioned that the show was being broadcast in cinemas around the world and this would be the last time they would ever perform together.  He wanted everyone, in every theatre, to sing along.  And even on the encore presentation I attended, the audience sang.  As I sang, I choked back the tears of pure happiness and joy knowing for damn sure Idle wasn’t joking.  In true, right before they told the audience to “PISS OFF,” the sons of bitches rubbed it when they inscribed “MONTY PYTHON 1969 – 2014” across the stage.  This was Monty Python’s swan song. And it was as perfect.

Is it truly pathetic that I cried as hard as I did?  Probably, but I don’t care.  I felt privileged and honoured to have seen the performance.  

And so, to John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin, I say thank you for everything.  If this is truly the end of Monty Python, I am honoured to have known you and your comedy.  May your work always inspire me and remind me to be fearless in all I create.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Emily Plunkett is a recent graduate of the journalism diploma program at Algonquin College. As a freelancer, she’s written for the Ottawa Star and the Sarnia Observer. Notorious for being a Beatlemaniac, a record collector and something nobody can really put a finger on, she enjoys a good Sunday afternoon with CBC Radio chatting away, her knitting in hand and her cat, Levon, snoozing at the end of the bed.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Pemberley Digital and Interactive Storytelling

By Courtney Lockhart

For the past couple of weekends I have indulged in one of the universal vices of the digital age: Binge Watching.  I made my way through approximately 300 episodes of three different series in less than 96 hours and before you ask: yes I did eat, sleep, shower and occasionally leave the house.  It helped that the episodes were less than 15 minutes each.

So what had me so enthralled? Four words: Jane Austen on Youtube.  

It started with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modernized version of Pride and Prejudice told through vlogging and social media.  The transmedia approach means that in addition to Lizzie's point of view, the audience can follow other characters, like trouble wild child Lydia or supportive best friend Charlotte through the story.  There are no one dimensional  characters. Even if there isn't enough time in the videos to flush everyone out, they can keep developing through Twitter and Tumblr.  For example, during the first week of the story when Lizzie and her sisters are being introduced to us on the main channel, over on Twitter you can read along as Bing Lee surprises his sister Caroline and best friend William Darcy with the news that he bought a house called Netherfield.

However, all the cross platform promotion would mean nothing if there wasn't a quality program to go with it. The writing is wonderful and the performances are enthralling.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
won a 2013 Creative Arts Emmy for Best Original Interactive Program and I have rarely seen a show deserve an award more.

Thanks to DVD sales and an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign Pemberley Digital, the production team  behind LBD, has created two more equally addictive series. In Welcome to Sanditon  the viewers become a part of the story. Based  on Austen's unfinished manuscript Sanditon, Georgina "Gigi" Darcy moves to a small California beach town to beta test her brother's latest technological marvel. Written story arcs are combined with fan made videos to show a town in the middle of a social civil war. They followed up with their take on Emma called Emma Approved. Emma Woodhouse is a lifestyle guru documenting everything that goes on in her office for the eventual lifetime achievement award she expects to receive- much to the chagrin of her business partner Alex Knightley.

This week Pemberley Digital will premiere it's first non-Austen series. Frankenstein MD starts on PBS Idea Channel August 19th.  Set in a modern university, Victoria Frankenstein  is determined to prove herself through her unorthodox experiments. This will be the first time I will be following a Pemberley production live and I'm pretty excited to play along.

Courtney Lockhart lives in the west end of Ottawa with her husband and step-cat.  She is polishing her skills to pursue one of her dream careers as either a costume drama character, Torchwood operative or executive assistant to a billionaire vigilante. You can follow her daily mission to DFTBA on Twitter @corastacy.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Capital Geek Girls Ladies Night Wrap-Up

By Emily Plunkett

Although the sign said closed, confused onlookers into the Bank St. Comic Book Shoppe last Sunday saw the store buzzing with business – with one very distinct feature.
Hosted by Capital Geek Girls, the Comic Book Shoppe held its fourth ladies-only night.  The store was open after hours on August 10 for female and female-identified shoppers.  While participants browsed through the store for a special find, they could also have their fortune read by the Rune Dice, enjoy Cici and Co. donuts or participate in open gaming.
Participants Emily Drohan, Ameila Bone and Zeyna Bnourbianbachi were drawn to the event by the promise of a panel presented by Ottawa cosplayed and CGG contributor Critical Miss. They were not disappointed.
“I'm breaking out the sewing machine and I'm really bad at it,” said Bnourbianbachi, a budding cosplayer.  “I was really interested in [learning how to] save money.”
Between manicures and presentations, ladies were also treated to the ongoing August birthday sales as presented by the Comic Book Shoppe.
Store manager, Angie Kuehl says that events like girls-only shopping creates a distinct community.
“We felt the need to create a safe environment that female and female identified cliental could actually be comfortable in the space and not feel judged by knowing and not knowing [the products].” She said.
“We still get a bit of a geeky atmosphere going. There is a lot of us geek girls [around] that warrants this. It's so successful,”
Kuehl says she is unsure when the next ladies-only event will take place, but one thing is for certain, word will get out and the event will continue to grow.
“It's one of those things where there's a lot of it in Ottawa, but you’re not really aware of it, unless you're already a part of it,” said Bone.  “So it's nice to kind of get that hand that's coming out and [saying] ‘Join us, it's not that much of an insider's club.’”  

Editor's note: We would like to thank everyone  who volunteered and attended ladies night. It was a great time and we loved chatting with those of you that we met.  CGG contributor Lee A. Farruga also attended and wrote about her experiences here.  

Emily Plunkett is a recent graduate of the journalism diploma program at Algonquin College. As a freelancer, she’s written for the Ottawa Star and the Sarnia Observer. Notorious for being a Beatlemaniac, a record collector and something nobody can really put a finger on, she enjoys a good Sunday afternoon with CBC Radio chatting away, her knitting in hand and her cat, Levon, snoozing at the end of the bed.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

In Defense of Fan Fiction

By Courtney Lockhart

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed an increase in the media attention given to Fan Fiction. For the uninitiated, Fan Fiction is unsanctioned original stories written by fans of a particular tv show, book, game, movie, band etc that takes place in that fandom and uses its characters, sometimes mixed with original ones as well.  What I’ve taken away from the articles I’ve read  is that most people believe three things about what is commonly called Fanfic:

1)     It’s all written by lonely teenagers  
2)     It’s all badly written
3)     It’s all porn

Reading these articles generally resulted in a high level of frustration  and ranting to friends as to how these writers just don’t get it  and it’s not all like that. I would sit there perplexed as to how someone could get it wrong again.  Most of the fan fiction that I came across were well written, intelligent pieces by people looking to improve their skills or contribute to a community they adore.  It eventually dawned on me that  the reason these articles had it wrong is that these well-adjusted, determined writers weren’t talking about it. They were afraid of being labeled crazy fans with little knowledge of the outside world and even less talent.

I should know, I’m one of them.

Credit: Fan Fic Flamingo
I’ve been writing and reading fanfic on and off since I was about 12 years old.  My most recent stint started a couple of years ago when I decided four series of Torchwood were just not enough. I started reading, and eventually I started writing. It was a great way to work on the areas of my storytelling I felt needed development, while expelling the extra energy that comes from being really into something. The feedback was also incredibly helpful.  I was getting dozens of people from all around the world giving me constructive criticism and tips on how I could improve.  Some of my stories were so well received that people offered to translate them into different languages.  It eventually gave me the confidence to consider myself a 'real' writer and offer my services to this blog. 

Even though I felt complete comfort in the Fan Fiction community, in real life I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. They just knew I was 'writing stories' and that I shared them on an 'authors website.'  Over time I’ve started letting people in on the secret. Usually either because I find out they are also writers/readers, I'm at a convention so it feels safe, or because they have said something so atrocious about the art form that I feel the need to defend it from a first person perspective.

Because above all, that’s what it is, an art form. Like all art there is good, bad and not your taste. If you don’t like the really sexy stuff, don’t read it. If you find a story isn’t going the way you like, move on. You wouldn’t go into a Chapters and expect every book to be a masterpiece created strictly for you.  I won’t deny that the badly written stories of legend exist. But for every one of them there is a story out there that is so good you would swear the person worked on the original it was based off.  With the joys of the anonymous internet, some of them just might.  
Emily Bett Rickards A.K.A Felicity Smoak on Arrow

Courtney Lockhart lives in the west end of Ottawa with her husband and step-cat.  She is polishing her skills to pursue one of her dream careers as either a costume drama character, Torchwood operative or executive assistant to a billionaire vigilante. You can follow her daily mission to DFTBA on Twitter @corastacy.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Bears and Beets and Battlestar Galactica

By Baz Miller

Back in 2012 I found myself in a very strange place.
I was 20, had recently moved back into my mother's basement, and had recently signed up for an account on a popular online dating website after having ended a 5 year relationship with my high school sweetheart.
I met my current partner there, we had been talking for a while and I had been fairly obvious about my love of Sci Fi and character-driven dramas. He was surprised that I had never watched Battlestar Galactica.

Katee Sackhoff
I rooted around for a bit and eventually scrounged up a copy of all four glorious seasons of the 2004-2009 show, as well as two movies, and the accompanying Caprica sereis.

The problem with Battlestar Galactica is you can't simply stop watching Battlestar Galactica. Roughly 70 hours later I emerged from my mother's basement in a daze, staring warily at the toaster and wondering if my brother was a robot.

Battlestar Galactica is about space travel, and Artificial Intelligence, and People. Mostly People.

It's a show that appealed to my mildly obsessive attitude about prejudices. Gender roles, religious extremism, what makes a person a person? It's all there but it doesn't insult your intelligence by telling you what to think, or how to feel. The character's react, but because they're all amazingly flawed and kind of horrible people sometimes you don't feel like any one point of view is there to make you say "Ah yes, this is the good guy so all his opinions are on the moral high ground and I should agree with him".

Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck is a force to be reckoned with. The woman owns the show. A female character who is a badass but still has moments where she's able to be a screw up, feminine and loving. It makes you forget that Starbuck in the original series was a dude.
Mary McDonnell
The other female lead, President Laura Roslin is played by Mary McDonnell. She takes office at the beginning of the series and spends the duration of all four seasons battling a terminal breast cancer diagnosis and still finding the strength to not only manage the fractured remnants of the human race, but to serve as the democratic buffer to the show's militarist male lead (Edward James Olmos as William Adama).

Those two women (and Jaime Bamber in a fat suit) are a huge part of my love for Battlestar. It is a show that has taken the time to represent people like me, and people who I want to be like. Strong, intelligent, powerful women who are still imperfect and a little crazy sometimes.

Two years later I'm still a huge fan of the show, and have the coaster's to prove it.

Baz is a chronic doodler and has a habit of subjecting her friends to long rants about feminism, video games, and whether or not Thorin is the hottest Dwarf. She's using Capital Geek Girls to channel some of that energy. You can also find her at

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Remembering Robin Williams

We here at Capital Geek Girls  were greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Robin Williams. A few of the writers were able to put that sadness into words to share.

Credit: Eva Rinaldi 

A good friend of mine posted a very apropos quote when the news broke about Robin Williams’ passing:

“A clown needn’t be the same out of the ring as he has to be when he’s in it. If you look at photographs of clowns when they’re just being ordinary men, they’ve got quite sad faces.” –Enid Blyton, Five Go Off in a Caravan

I think that sums up exactly why this death is such a shock. My favourite Robin Williams movies were always the funny (or at least, light-hearted) ones—Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, etc. While I was never a huge fan of his stand-up, I know so many people who just loved his manic onstage energy and I can see why. 

He was funny, and he made so, so many people happy. There is something incredibly sad about a comedy icon fighting such severe depression that he felt suicide was his only way to find peace. How could someone who so easily brightened everyone’s lives be feeling so much darkness himself?

We can only hope he finally found his peace. His memory and his movies will always be with us.


I had just spent an enjoyable evening with my girls and husband watching mindless television. I decided to check my computer for emails and updates. What I found was the news about Robin Williams – and I cried – a lot.

I grew up with his comedy and his quick wit. He made me laugh so very much. Mork and Mindy was one of my absolute favorite shows growing up. I was 13 years old. It had a huge impact on me. I have always stuck to his comedic roles likes Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage. I have never been able to watch any of his serious work. Why? Because I knew he battled demons that I didn't want to see in his serious face.
Because I see it every time my husband has a dark day due to the same demon or my youngest has a down time because she's inherited her dad's depression. I know the constant fight that's involved. I know Robin Williams fought the good fight for all his 63 years. I cried because he lost the fight. Depression won.
I don't generally swear but... Fuck Depression!


In her official statement, Susan Schneider asked that we not focus on her late husband’s death. Instead, we should focus on “the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.” 

So here goes: 

When I was a kid, It was Aladdin sing-a-longs in the car, Hook screenings with my cousins, and learning the Batty Rap at recess with my best friend- I still remember most of the words to all of these to this day.

When I was a teenager, It was watching Live on Broadway for the 23rd time in my buddy’s basement. We threatened to hold an intervention to get him to watch something else, but never did.

When I was in school it was watching Awakenings to discuss ethics, What Dreams May Come in philosophy class and Flubber on the field trip coach bus. 

As an adult, it was listening to him discuss his humanity, flaws and struggles on various podcasts and talk shows, then watching my young nieces and nephew discover the magic of his movies for the first time. 

Unlike most artists that I have mourned, Robin Williams didn’t represent a singular phase of my life. His talent and brilliance were a constant. The idea that he is gone is difficult to process and it just doesn’t seem fair. 


This one hurts.

Beyond the fact that it’s Robin Williams that passed – like, THE Robin Williams who has made us piss our pants laughing for the past 40 odd years – I cannot get over the fact that we lost another soul to depression. 

As much as we didn’t know him personally, we knew his work.  For children of the ‘90’s and beyond, he is Mrs. Doubtfire, Alan Parrish, Peter Banning and the Genie. Mork, Adrian Cronauer, Patch, Sean Maguire to fans of his generation and his plethora of critically acclaimed awards.  When an artist encompasses so much of our pop culture spectrum, we feel the loss.  The world is crying right now.  I know this because my social media feeds have exploded with tributes from fans and personal friends of the actor.  

What I noticed immediately is that all the posts I’ve read are filled with reminders that we should never take depression for granted.  And I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve been there.  I know that pain and have come back from the brink; and now the whole world is reminded on such a deeply personal level that the pain of depression is so powerful and encompassing.  Williams probably knew what he had as a husband and a loving father, whose last post to Instagram was a photo of himself and his daughter as a child.  But when you’re in that much pain, it all flies out the window, and internal lies of depression takes over. 

It’s so real for so many of us, and yet it takes the death of an international superstar for us to have this conversation. 

Let us hope that this heartbreak will lead to more who suffer from mental illness and depression to seek help and for the discussion of suicide to break free of its taboo so that we don’t have to lose another beautiful spirit.  After all, the next spirit the world loses won’t be famous, but someone will have loved it as much as the world loved Robin Williams; and the cycle of heartbreak will repeat


I am deeply saddened by this loss of a great talent. He was a man a tremendous abilities that the world will sorely miss.

If you, or someone you know, are battling depression or anxiety you can call the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region at 613-238-3311.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Geek Girl Review

By Marie Victoria Robertson

You know, a lot of my favourite fandoms are really ridiculous when you stop to think about them. Transformers is really just an extended toy commercial with giant robots smacking the crap out of each other, and I love it. And when you break down Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s even more ludicrous. And that shit is my jam.

The thing about TMNT is that the franchise wasn’t supposed to be as awesomely cheesy as it is. Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and published by Mirage Studios, the original TMNT comics were both meant to be a parody, and to be kind of crazy dark. It was only when the 1987 animated series came out that kids of the 80’s like me discovered TMNT and went nuts. I can’t explain why I love TMNT, with the franchise’s bizarre mix of silliness and dark maturity, but I sure do love it.

Now, on to the movie. Spoilers ahead.

The plot is pretty typically thin— the Foot Clan, a criminal gang led by the Shredder (of course) is terrorizing New York City. Intrepid reporter April O’Neil is following Foot Clam activity in an effort to snag a serious story, in the process meeting four “vigilantes” that turn out to be the Turtles. Meanwhile, rich industrialist Eric Sachs is planning to release a toxin over NYC so his company can then release the antidote for big money. The twist? The antidote is the mutagen that created the Turtles in the first place. In this version, they and Master Splinter were lab animals intentionally injected with an experimental mutagen by none other than April O’Neil’s father, who later died in a lab fire.

My take on this movie: it’s not bad at all, and for the most part, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. Go on, tell me that watching Donatello launch Raphael into a truck isn’t fun! I can see why a lot of critics are turned off by it, though. It’s definitely a movie for fans of TMNT and fans only. 

The big points:

Oh man. They’re turtles all right (the “aliens” rumour has been thoroughly debunked, no worries). Once you get past the uncanny valley nature of their new CGI designs, the boys are actually cool as hell. Every Turtle has a unique body shape, facial features, and little touches that go way beyond the coloured masks and trademark weapons. Raphael, always my personal favourite, was a muscled badass. Donatello was the most adorkable he’s ever been. Michelangelo was pure cowabunga. I was only a bit disappointed in Leonardo, but maybe that’s because he was his usual bland self. He tends to fade a bit when contrasted with the strong personalities of the other Turtles. Overall, I loved these guys, and it was great to have so much attention paid to their brotherly interactions. That was always the best part of TMNT for me. 

Megan Fox did a passable job. Not as bad as I expected, but not amazing by any means. I didn’t see April in her. I was happy enough to see that, while she wasn’t taking on Foot Clan members solo or anything, she did a decent job of not being a damsel in distress. There was some added backstory of her knowing the Turtles and Splinter when they were still lab animals and rescuing them from the fire, which added a sweet connection. 

Be warned that changes were made, especially concerning Splinter and the Shredder. I found this the most disappointing part and it contributed to the thinness of the plot.

Okay, his armour was pretty reminiscent of Michael Bay’s Transformers design, but it didn’t do anything mechanical beyond the arm-claw extensions. Not crazy about the facial design though. The Shredder’s eyes should be visible, damn it! Also not crazy about his backstory changes. Removing his connection to Splinter and the Turtles just makes him look like a random psychotic Japanese man who is fond of fancy armour for his crime sprees. He was a pretty physically menacing villain, I’ll give him that. 

Keep an eye out for the sweet flashbacks of Splinter raising his boys. From an action perspective, this is why I love CGI: we get to see how incredibly badass Master Splinter can be. He’s the only one who manages to take on the Shredder in a one-on-one fight.  

Oh yeah, katanas and sais go flying and there’s gratuitous martial arts and long scenes of non-stop action, and it is all awesome. I mean, isn’t that kind of the point of a TMNT movie? 

So, should you see it? If you’re not a TMNT fan, I’d say skip it. You probably won’t find anything you like about it. But, if you are a TMNT fan? Worth seeing. It’s got everything a TMNT movie should have—the four Turtles in prime form, Splinter, Shredder, April O’Neil, humour, sarcasm, pizza, callbacks to previous movies/comics/series, and all the martial arts action you could want. Radical. 

Marie Victoria Robertson is a published speculative fiction writer and playwright, as well as the board president of Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative ( When all the other girls wanted to marry Johnny Depp, she wanted to run away with Worf on the Enterprise. She enjoys giant robots, time-travel paradoxes, and forcing her son to watch Futurama.
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