This past weekend, myself and the inimitable lady geek and interviewer extraordinaire, Emma Bauer had the pleasure of taking in the new theatrical production of The Wizard of Oz. The occasion at the magnificent Ordway Theater was “Bloggers Night,” and as such, balconies were filled with internet-savvy wordsmiths, more eager to tweet pictures of their programs than preoccupy over the next day’s write-up for the paper or a thorough review for the pages of a magazine.
The challenge for this geek and part-time blogger was this: what to say about the Wizard of Oz, a story that had admittedly never set my heart on fire?
My parents did show me the classic Judy Garland-led film at one juncture in my early years, but it never stuck. It’s not something I carried with me, as I was apt to do with so many other things, from Mickey Mouse to TMNT and Spider-Man.
Here’s the funny thing though. Sitting in the Ordway Theater, the story, magic, and world of the Wizard of Oz had this immediacy, as if though it was one of those things that dominated my younger years. The words and melodies of the songs known word for word and beat for beat, the personalities and desires of the characters understood and held close. I left concluding that this speaks to not only the enduring and wide-reaching pop-cultural impact of the Wizard of Oz, but also the timelessness of this tale and its themes of escape and longing.
L. Frank Baum originally wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, striving to create a distinctly American fairytale. In the decades that followed, it spread far and wide, adapted into countless different forms and flavors. But the central themes were always there, and upon reflection, these are themes that sit at the core of so many fandoms and geeky universes we hold dear today. Escapism seen through the young heroine longing desperately for something better “over the rainbow,” in a fantastical world far away. The hero’s journey seen through the search for that one elusive thing we lack, sought from the grasp of a wise and powerful man inhabiting a shining city at the end of a long, perilous road – this also wonderful allegory for the “American Dream” ever-present in Baum’s time and still in ours today. And ultimately, that final lesson, that the things we desire, and the things we need, are there within us all along if we’re willing to look for them.
A row of young children sat in front of us in the theater, watching each scene with rapt attention, hanging on every word and responding earnestly and visibly to every outcome. As the wizard spoke his final words in the show’s penultimate act, I found myself in a frame of mind not unlike these young ones, as the words swept me up and resonated strongly.
“If you have what it takes to want a brain, you have what it takes to have one.”
“If you feel enough to want a heart, you feel enough to have one.”
“If you’ve got the courage to ask for something, you’ve got the courage to have it.”
Each an enduring message and an important reminder.
All told, this newest iteration of the Wizard of Oz offers an exciting and fun night at the theater, filled with impressive staging, confident performances and quite a bit of cinematic flourish as well. But young or old, lover of the yellow brick road or no, I think it is in those universal themes and timeless lessons that you will find something worthwhile, should you seek out the magic when it comes your way.
Guest post by Adam Giorgi, who also happens to be my brother. He’s a writer, gamer, reader and Potter head. He also makes cool comics from time to time. Check out his blog: Geek-Attack. Follow him on twitter: @adamgiorgi
Elementary is back on track, Sherlockians. And it’s not just because Jonny Lee Miller looks adorable in an apron.
Tremors is one of the most compelling episodes of Season 2, potentially of the series to date, because it broke out of the crime procedural model a bit and focused instead on the gray areas of morality that drive so much of what Sherlock Holmes is about. Rules meaning nothing to Holmes. Employee handbooks? A waste of time. Black and white? Nah, he’s all gray. This mentality puts him at direct odds with the police department he works for and their desire to do things strictly by the book. But if an innocent man goes free because Watson and Holmes picked a few locks or skirted the rules, are they in the right?
A huge portion of the United States is literally being attacked by clouds filled with snowflakes. It’s lovely when you’re sitting inside your warm place, fire roaring, coffee brewing. Then you go outside and the oppressive cold and impossible driving make it completely unreasonable to consider leaving the house again.
So don’t. Just stay inside. Watch these great movies on Netflix instead:
I know, this is hardly some amazing recommendation. It’s freaking astoundingly perfect as far as Bond movies go. It’s like recommending ice cream. All the flavors are good. Who doesn’t love at least five flavors of ice cream? BUT! As you are listening to the fire crackle and admiring the flakes outside, take a moment to appreciate the insane gorgeousness of Scotland in the winter. This is undoubtedly one of the most perfect film sets in all off Bond movie history.
This isn’t for everyone, I get that. And the accents are hilarious. But as a Minnesota native, this movie just GETS winter. Like, real winter. Not Christmas movies winter. Not the final scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary winter. Real winter. And it’s great.
How can I say that this movie is one of the most under rated movies about robots ever without sounding trite? Ok, I guess I can’t. How about I just tell you this: this movie is astoundingly underrated. It’s such a critical and beautiful take on aging, technology and loneliness - all of which don’t get enough attention.
Want to escape the snow? Want to feel like it’s not 10 degrees outside for even one minute? Then partake in this Alfonso Cuaron masterpiece and thank me later.
The alternative title for this movie should be: Black Friday. Huzzah. Tim Burton has never really been better. It’s on Netflix this very minute. You have no excuse. Just enjoy it.
"Uteruses before duderuses."
It’s possibly Leslie Knope’s most notable moment of genius. And it’s my new motto. Let me explain why…
My life has been a tornado lately. This isn’t some kind of weird Helen Hunt themed Twister metaphor. I truly mean that it is as if a gale force wind invaded my life, threw every single thing I thought I knew about who I was, who I want to be and the life I live day to day and threw it in the middle of a cyclone. When the storm finally passed, I was holding onto the hands of my best friends looking at the chaos and going: “shit, I have to clean this up?”
Lucky for me, I didn’t have to clean it up alone.
Now this is a weird transition, but I’ve been thinking about Catching Fire a lot lately too. I see a lot of myself in Katniss. I can be stupidly stubborn. Relentlessly tough. I will try to go it alone, even when I don’t have to. Let me say that another way: Katniss is always turning away help. IF YOU TURN AWAY HELP, STOP IT. KNOPE WOULD DISAPPROVE.
When you’re watching everything you know flail around you and crash to the ground, it’s scary. It’s easy to turn inward and push everything and everyone out until the noise and the glass and the chaos ends. But don’t do it. Don’t be Katniss. Take your best friends by the hand and cry. And when weird shit happens, like your sex toys end up on the front lawn, laugh with them too. (I’m not saying my sex toys literally ended up on my front lawn, but believe me, it could have.)
My girlfriends saved me. I told them that over and over and over again this last month. Those uteruses are the best things in my life. If you don’t have that - stop reading this - stop trolling Reddit - stop shopping on Think Geek - stop watching Avengers for the 10th time. GO. Make a date with your lady friends. Start talking on the weekly with your good friends. Tell them your secrets. Open up. In time, you will grow closer. And if you see a storm on their radar, take their hand, plant your feet firmly on the ground and be there for them.
I hope I never have to return this favor to my dear friends some day in the future… but I will be there saying, “What would Leslie Knope do?”
Allow us to introduce Kay Stephens, award-winning author and Lady Geek warrior against cyber bullying. Stephens has been working to promote and advocate for girls for more than 20 years as a nanny, camp counselor, mentor, teacher and program administrator for an all-girls science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) after school program.
When Stephens noticed the lack of girly-geek tween fiction, along with the appallingly frequent and hurtful cases of cyber bullying among middle school girls, she launched her novel "Ethel is Hot (LOL)." The story features the runty-but-cute 12-year-old Ethel F. Effelby, who goes to a science and leadership school in Maine. Ethel gets duped by an all-out cyber bullying campaign orchestrated by two girls looking for YouTube fame.
Stephens is proud to announce that her Kickstarter campaign for “Ethel is Hot (LOL)” has been fully funded! Thanks to all her fellow lady-geeks and supporters who made “Ethel is Hot (LOL)” possible. Stephens expects to have the novel ready for distribution early next year. Check after the holidays to get your hands on your own copy!
Check out Stephens’ interview with Being Geek Chic to discover her inspiration for “Ethel is Hot (LOL),” her advice for her 13-year-old self, and the title of Ethel’s memoir. Read on!
Q: What was your inspiration behind “Ethel is Hot (LOL)”?
A: I’m a fiction writer, but I’d never written a middle school/YA novel before. I think with all the stories about girls I’d been hearing in the news around that time being cyberbullied (2006-2007)—and adults having absolutely no clue about how cyberbullying worked—Ethel just came to me. It was a name my best friend in high school had made up—Ethel F. Effelby, and personified this kind of dorky-but-earnest character. The serious side, of course, is that she gets blindsided by certain cyberbullying tactics that few people understand—even today. I think her innocence getting crushed was something I needed other girls of this age to understand, to relate to, and most importantly, to empathize with. Ultimately, the tactics that happened to Ethel were further extrapolated and turned into a cyberbullying guide for adults a colleague and I created called Cyberslammed.
Q: When did you discover you were “geeky?”
A: You know, that wasn’t a term of pride when I was in middle and high school like it kind of is today. (And now I do my Mary Katherine Gallagher impression, get down on one knee and yell: “Star Wars rules!”) But you didn’t wear “Geek” so freely as a badge back then, not in the mid-1980s when all the John Hughes movies made the Geek the butt of the joke. I think being a Geek embodied all of the good things that weren’t cool then, such as: liking Monty Python and Mad Magazine, not wearing designer clothes, spending time in libraries, answering a teacher’s question earnestly, not sarcastically. Oh, and the glasses and braces also didn’t help. I didn’t bother jockeying for the popular position in middle or high school; it was too much trouble. So, I just kind of wore a lot of brown colors, stuck with my two only friends and waited it out.
Q: What advice would you give fellow lady geeks looking to break into the publishing industry?
A: With both of my books, I’ve had one foot in the traditional side and one in the self-publishing side of the industry and breaking into both is equally as difficult, I’m not gonna lie. A lot of people want the instant gratification of seeing their work in print, but neither the traditional publishing industry nor the self-publishing industry affords instant gratification. The former might entail years of rewrites and rejections while the latter requires you to literally learn from the ground up an entire business model before you self-publish. (And if you choose to go that route, take your time and invest in making the work the most polished and professional it can be—or risk earning the ire of fellow authors, for sloppy and quickly published books undermine the hard work indie authors have undergone over the years to be on the same playing field as traditionally pubbed authors.) /Rant over. If you have a book burning inside of you, write it. Authenticity and your level perseverance will be the measure of its success.
Q: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
A: 1. Catholic school will ruin your fashion sense until you are 30; don’t sweat it.
2. Keep your eyes open, your guard up and your compassion sharp: there are other kids around you who are more scared and more vulnerable. They can use your help.
3. Invest your babysitting money in this stock called Apple Computers. Trust me.
Q: What would be the title of your memoir?
A: I’m a pretty private person, so it’s highly unlikely I’d write my own memoir. But if my alter-ego Ethel F. Effleby grew up, her memoir might be titled:
"Space Diapers and Other Indignities
Observations From a NASA Psychologist”
Photography credit: Jessica Graham
Emma Bauer is a Being Geek Chic Contributor. Clearly, she’s got great taste. She is a PR enthusiast, history scholar, tea drinker, fashion devotee, and of course, aspires to Be Geek Chic. Follow her on Twitter: @emmalynnbauer
So it’s Cyber Monday. I know it’s supposed to be about gifts, but in case you’re like me, this is your chance to get some great Lady Geek gear at a reduced price. Here are some of my favorite picks for yourself or your recipients:
ShadowPlayNYC: These lovely ladies are offering 15% to 30% off on their space gear with a variety of coupon codes. The infinity scarves are so soft and wonderful, you won’t regret it.
Rifle Paper Co: I love, love great stationary. For lady geeks looking for wanderlust in 2014, you need to check out their line of travel calendars. And their iPhone cases. I picked up the London one because LONDON! Everything is 30% off with CYBER2013.
LEGO: Amazon cut prices by as much as 40% on lots of great LEGO sets, including Marvel sets for my Avengers loving friends. And yes, the Amazon deals are better than the LEGO store deals today.
Black Milk Clothing: Overpriced leggings become… less overpriced today. Everything is 30% off. This is one of the only sales they will have all year so it’s best to get on that now.
PhotoJoJo: Virtually everything in their store will be some percentage off today through one of their flash sales. Follow them on Twitter and keep checking back for good deals. I’ve got my eye on the Digital Holga Lens, which is $5 off today.
Stickygram: One of my favorite gifts I bought for someone else last year was a set of Instagram magnets of my adventures with my Mom. The magnets are the right size and super fun. The sheets of 9 are 25% off today.