Grab Bag

Today is going to be a bit of a grab bag on the blog. I had considered not posting until tomorrow as I have a busy day ahead of me, but then I thought, “Nah!”.  Riveting insight into the mind behind Renaissance Dork…

I’ll throw up short blurbs about things as they occur to me throughout the day.  So you can always check back multiple times, or simply wait until tomorrow for the whole thing.  Your call.

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My 50 in 52 book-reading campaign is going better than anticipated.  I’m up to seven-ish books now, which is a little behind the curve, numbers wise.  But if the trend continues I anticipate my personal concerns about Bookpocalypse (wherein I have to read thirty books in December to make my quota) may not come to nothing.

And so far my mantra of JUST READ IT has not led me to anything horrible.  To be fair, I did sort of pad the beginning with some of my favourite authors, but that was just good sense.  If I started with an unknown entity and it sucked, there’d be a book-shaped hole in the wall and my book-list would just be 52 entries of “Books Suxxor!”.  Okay, probably not, but it would have made this whole thing harder to get into.

Astute readers will note I did away with my “out of five” scoring system.  I’m not sure why I ever started it, given I always find those sorts of arbitrary scores pointless.  But it’s gone, so you’ll just have to trust that I’ll tell you if a book is bad.

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Onto a tougher subject.  I started following Victoria Dahl largely because of her work as co-host on Sword & Laser.  Much to my delight, she also writes passionate and engaging posts on feminist topics, so I lucked into a “two birds, one stone” situation.  Yesterday she wrote a post entitled, “What Should We Teach About Rape?“, which I thought a very necessary thing given CNN’s reaction to the verdict handed down in the Steubenville gang rape.  Her article articulated many thoughts that I’ve had about rape culture and victim shaming, and I think it is a necessary read.

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One for the Very Cool file; Adam over at The Unknown Studio cited one of my posts in his weekly Edmonton Blog Watch.  Thanks, Adam!

If you don’t know it, The Unknown Studio is a fantastic podcast from right here in Edmonton, now in its fourth season.  The website is great as well, and both Scott and Adam do a lot to boost Edmonton’s profile.  Check it out!

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I don’t know what took me so long, considering my 50 in 52 Challenge, but I am now on Goodreads.  If you want you can track me down under my name on the site, and we can swap stories.  As soon as I can figure out which of their widgets don’t clash with WordPress, I’ll use their challenge tracker here on the site.

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Okay, I’ll be back to add more nuggets later as they occur to me.  In the meantime feel free to leave comments below, they are always welcome.

5 Blogs I Read for Fun

I suppose it should go without saying that, since I write a blog, I must also read other blogs.  While that is weirdly not always so (I do know of one blogger who doesn’t read other blogs because “they generally all suck”… *sniff* But not mine, right?) in my case it is certainly true.  Besides the information they provide, reading other people’s blogs gives me insight into different writing styles, and most importantly different viewpoints.  And since I follow several blogs on similar topics, I can also get a sense of the prevailing winds of opinion on certain nerd topics.  And, contrarian that I am, allows me to write the occasional piece tacking against that wind if I think it’s warranted.

I’m not sure how many blogs would constitute normal reading.  I currently have about 75+ blogs that update through my Google Reader; add to that the ten or so that I read from webcomic sites I visit (guilty confession time: I like the Penny Arcade comic.  But I LOVE the blog updates that go along with them.  Something about his writing style speaks to me.) , and maybe a further 5-10 I read from links on social media oh god I forgot Tumblr, more like 15-20…okay, maybe that’s a lot.  In my defence not all of them update daily, though Wired and Geek Dad appear to have me covered by updating a bajillion times a day.  So let’s say that, daily, I read somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40-50 blogs.  Your mileage may vary, but I find that a comfortable number.

Out of all that, I’m going to suggest 5 blogs to you that I think you might get a kick out of.  They aren’t in any particular order.  They aren’t necessarily my top five blogs either; rather, a representative spread of the things that amuse me.

Slushpile Hell – I stumbled across this one a little while back, and it immediately spoke to my editor’s soul (how my editor’s soul could hear it through all that stone…).  For non-editors, the slushpile is the sometimes mountain of unsolicited manuscripts received by publishers.  Reading through it can be…a challenge.  Slushpile Hell is one literary agent’s journey through the slushpile, one mind-bogglingly bad query at a time.  Each post is delightfully concise and offers up just the right amount of weary snark I need in my blog diet.

The Chapel Perilous – Okay, my nerd-crush on Monte Cook is fairly well known in certain circles (and now this one), so my reading his blog should come as no surprise.  Interestingly, it was reading his blog that led to him coming to Edmonton as a GoH at Pure Speculation; of the names that then Gaming Coordinator Scott C. Bourgeois suggested, Monte’s was the only one I “knew” through his blog, as well as recognized.  So I suggested he be moved to the top of the list, which of course Scott had already done (his nerd-crush being as strong as mine).  I love reading The Chapel Perilous for its blend of gaming and personal posts.  Monte posts about the things that matter to him, first and foremost.  So when I read something about gaming posted amongst more personal material, I know the opinion he is giving is sincere.  And sincere passion in the nerd hobbies these days is like gold…if gold were still valuable.  Platinum, then.  At least electrum.

Total Fan Girl – I read other nerdy blogs for a variety of reasons: inspiration, information, entertainment.  Total Fan Girl gives me a healthy dose of all three, plus a perspective on the hobby that I find valuable as an Old Male Geek worried about inclusiveness.  Like me, she is a general-purpose nerd with a variety of interests, and her posts reflect that.  She is also a gateway into another of my media addictions, as she posts updates for the GeekMoms podcast.  Mostly I like her blog because she always brings me the really cool stuff.  And that challenges me to do the same.

Awesome Dice Blog – Okay, I’ve actually only been reading this blog for a few weeks now.  But in that time I’ve gone back through and read EVERYTHING! (putting the OCD back into OCD…five times!)  It first came to my attention through the Twitters because of a link to a very cool little time-line of dice throughout history.  Then in one of those internet happen-stances I received an email from Brian at Awesome Dice, asking if I would link to their site.  So I checked their site out, thoroughly (see above EVERYTHING), and said yes, of course I would.  Yes, they talk a lot about dice; if that isn’t in your wheelhouse then you might want to give a pass.  But the blog also covers a wide variety of gamer nerd topics, and includes video posts from Balthazar (yes, THE Balthazar) on…well, just about anything.  Here’s a sample:

So I highly recommend these guys for your daily dose of game nerdery.  Oh, and they also sell dice.  Awesome dice, so I’m told.

The Unknown Studio – Better known for the podcast of the same name, The Unknown Studio also has a snazzy and interesting blog.  While there are a number of sources I follow to keep up on what’s going on in Edmonton, this blog is probably the most fun I have doing it.  It’s worth reading for FML Fridays alone, but Adam Rozenhart also posts some really sincere and insightful pieces on my city and the people in it.  And he also posts some flat-out goofy shit.  The combination works, and like the podcast, keeps me coming back.

Okay, that’s me.  What are you reading in the blogosphere?  Share in the comments below, and maybe we’ll all read something new today!