The legendary festive demon is making something of a resurgence, especially as more and more of us become increasingly jaded towards the consumerism of the season and start to wish for a giant goat-man to come and stuff the mean people into a big sack and drag them away.
Sadly I’m not even sure the 2015 family horror film Krampus ever made it to my local cinema, which is a shame, because the trailer had me immediately curious. I’m a fan of the mythology, and I was more than a little curious as to what could be made from it. Having seen it, I think I still have a lot more to be curious about. (more…)
With the new year approaching, this is a time we reflect and look forward all at once. Today I found myself considering that this year I have not discovered much, no new bands, I’ve played almost no new games, and I don’t think I’ve even read a new comic, let alone any new books, and it’s not for lack of desire, in all cases I either lack the time or can’t find anything that captures my attention so utterly that I simply have to know more. A few great films have come out, and T.V. series, but nothing truly original, mostly remakes or Marvel properties.
But really it’s not been a wasted effort. On looking back I find that most of my experiences this year have been about remaking, and about shedding new light on things I’d already experienced once before, revisiting things I know and finding that I could still discover more. (more…)
I love this time of year, and yes I’d go so far as to say that I get more than just a little geeky around about now. Hard to blame me, it’s a time of year where families come together to share food and presents, and while for many of us that’s a time that generates stress, conflict, and bankruptcy, I shamelessly adore Christmas.
If you think it’s a commercial thing, you’re spending too much in too short a space of time. If you think it’s lost all meaning, you’re a couple of thousand years too late. If you hate Christmas, you’re either doing it wrong or have a very grave and indisputable reason, you have my condolences, you deserve a Merry Christmas more than most.
Saturnalia, pulled from the Roman adoption of pagan solstice, is the source of most of our traditions at this time of year, especially in Britain, Europe and America. The feast, the evergreens, the lights, all stem from assorted Viking, Gaelic, and Celtic rituals along with dozens of others, comprised of the rituals in celebration of many religious figures, Yule, Odin, Horus, and of course Jesus.
Santa himself has deep roots in the same mythologies, hence the frosty abode and eternally full beard. However, he’s not the only mythic beasty roaming abroad, and not all of them are giving out presents. We all know Krampus snatches up children in a sack with many a rattling of chains, but there are some parents out there who may prefer a visit from the Christmas Ogress Grýla, a horror from Icelandic lore who eats bad children, except for her own brood of seasonal tricksters, the Yule Lads, a band of trolls who steal food and things over Yuletide.
There is the ever-famous Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), who in certain cultures is the politically incorrect Robin to Santa’s jolly-old Batman. As the name might imply, Peter is most often depicted as being black-skinned, originally because he was a messenger to Saint Nick who sent reports of mortal behaviour via the chimney, but later with a retelling of the medieval book Golden Legend, Saint Nicolas gained a miracle to his name, the saving of a slave boy. All perfectly innocent, but so were the black and white minstrels at one time. Things have a tendency to change with the passing of time.
Same with Christmas…
December 25th Around The World
The amalgam of holidays and rituals that come together at this time of year are not merely limited to the gathering of families, and sharing of home, hearth, food and gifts. And in places where winter is not a near-fatal experience that drives those to resort to sacred rites invoking the return of the sun, gathering together for survival is less essential than beating each other half to death to settle old scores.
In fact most cultures do something sometime around midwinter, most commonly on the 25th, and though the course of the calendar has shifted a little over the centuries so that the year’s shortest day (in the northern hemisphere) no longer falls on the exact date, it’s still incredible to think that almost everyone on the planet is coming together to celebrate at once. Some are political (India’s Good Governance Day, Taiwan’s Constitution Day), others are historic (Quaid-e-Azam Day, Malkh Festival), some atheists celebrate Newtonmas, the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton.
Famously, Axis soldiers invited Allied soldiers to a few games of football in no man’s land on Christmas day 1914, (Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël) along with gift exchanges and photographs. Sadly the impromptu celebrations were not universal, and many soldiers suffered worse than foul-play during the truce, and the unsolicited camaraderie resulted in harsher orders coming down from the powers that be for fear that the common soldiery would start to doubt the war. Does that make the legendary day any less special? The incredible power of a single, universal day of joy shattered rivalries and broke the absolute rule of the officers and joined to nations at war at their most basic level.
I start my shopping in August, often before Christmas starts showing up in the warehouses of shops (although not much before, tinsel starts showing up before August is even over) so I not only spread the cost across months, I’m also immersed in presents for about a third of the year. I’m spreading cost, saving myself some effort in December, and thinking about other people more than I should as a retail worker. Yesterday I suffered with people coming to me with last flailing grabs for Christmas presents (a laptop is not an afterthought you over-paid halfwits) and resenting me for not having it in stock! Imagine the smugness I felt.
And yes, I like getting presents! My gaming group always get me the most awesome stuff, doesn’t matter how much they spend, be it a couple of pounds or a couple of dozen, they know me, and know exactly how to make me smile. I like to think I do right by them, this year I put together a kind of Loot-Crate style box of mini-presents, some generic, some specialised, sounds like I’ll be doing the same again next year, although with different stuff inside.
Oh, and thanks Tim for my present, you mean a lot to me too. It hasn’t stayed in the kitchen, it just photographed better against the kettle than the mantelpiece.
Season’s greetings from GeekOut South-West. Join Timlah as we look through Christmas 2015 and see what’s in store for 2016.
Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christma—
SANTA GET AWAY FROM THAT TREE!!!
Oh hi all, this is it you know? We’re at the end of the year and we’re about to see Christmas 2015 just pass us by like a gentle breeze. It’s oddly warm for this time of year here in England, so the science buffs amongst you can tell us reasons for this down in the comments below. Now that’s out of the way with, what have we been doing and what’s in store for the New Year?
This past week, I was at my sisters’ wedding after party in typical costumed fashion. I made a tricorn hat, with a crocodile tooth pattern and the brim of the hat was lined with feathers. I had to wear high heels and tights. I had to wear a large coat and a jabot, who on earth could I possibly have been cosplaying as? Well, of course, it had to be Captain Hook!
The coat, waistcoat and jabot I actually rented from a small business here in Bristol called Fancy Dress Fanatics. They are a brilliant company who stock many wonderful costumes. Please do go and check them out. I took a few pictures of their store when I was in there (With their blessings), so you can see for yourself just how well stocked they are. They were incredibly well priced at £25 for the three pieces for rental and the staff were very attentive. They knew what worked with what and where everything was. I had many people comment on the quality of the outfit, from the coat, to the attention to detail of the hat. Sadly, I had no eye-liner available nor any way to stick a ‘tashe and eyebrows to my face in the short time I had to get changed, but I am pleased with the result.
Once the night was over, all I had to do was make sure all of the costume pieces were in good condition, on their original hangers and back in the bag. Popping in to see them was nice and easy and the deposit was £30 (as an incentive for you to bring the outfit back!) I really enjoyed wearing the outfit and we got some great pictures out of it.
So that’s what I was up to on Monday hence I didn’t do my usual post slot (Thanks Joel for picking up my slack!) Then yesterday, we had the incredibly talented Chris Lock do his second post on his Replacing the Mighty Keeper series. If you’ve not read these articles yet, I really recommend you do. He’s going through Dungeon Keeper-like games and reviewing them, comparing them to the real deal. We’re going to record a video of us playing Dungeon Keeper, too.
Both Joel and I are really into the spirit of the season. In fact, just yesterday, I was sat in work with a Hawaiian Santa shirt on and a Santa hat, so clearly I’ve been infected with the good tidings and cheer. Because we’re so in the mood of the season, we went ahead and bought a Christmas present for one another. I received a mug from Joel which says something that is similar to “Worlds’ Best Boss” except it was the exact opposite of “best”. I meanwhile went for a more neutral “Worlds’ Okayest Employee” trophy for the guy. Merry Christmas Joel!
Over the holidays you may have seen we’ve not stopped our post schedule. We declared we were going to have an article out every single day and we’ve not let you down yet. There’s a post associated for every day on GeekOut, so we’re doing something right. Even if one or two posts (especially around convention seasons), were just place holder posts for the real thing to happen the following day. We’re always keen for feedback, so please let me know if you’ve got ideas for what we could or should cover here on GeekOut.
Next week, we’ll have finally finished 2015 and it’s been a roller-coaster of a year for us all. There have been some seriously great moments, but please take a step back to remember some of the tragedies of the year. With the terrible bombing of Paris, to the Syrian refugees, we’ve seen some dreadful things occur in the real world. It’s rare I bring the real world into an article here on GeekOut, but we’re aware these things happen and I would implore all of you to do your bit you’re your local communities where possible. Remember people are people, regardless of what your political views are.
2016 is looking to be a terrific year in terms of what we’ve got planned here for the website, so I think it’s finally time to unveil a few things I’ve been thinking up as of late:
- I don’t want us to be GeekOut South-West forever. In fact, we’ll be looking to move over to a brand new name: GeekOutUK. I’ll be retaining the GeekOutSW.com domain which’ll link you directly to GeekOutUK.com. It’s a small change that makes a big difference. We want to be all inclusive: we want to be UKs top geek community.
- Coupled with that, I want to start developing this site away from WordPress.com and make a dramatic move over to WordPress.org… But I don’t want to lose what we already have. I’m working tirelessly these days to improve the website and keep producing content, because I believe what we have and what we can have is something truly special.
- GameBlast [link]. Just sayin’.
- MORE COSPLAY FROM TIMLAH!
This isn’t a comprehensive list of what we’ve got planned. Some of the website changes we have planned for early-to-mid next year is simply huge, but because of how big some of them are, I don’t want to tell you about them until we’ve actually gotten them confirmed… But next year, we’re making some changes around here – We want this site to be more interactive, more accessible for you all to take part and we want to build on our existing community and then some.
There was a sound beneath him, at the foot of the bed. He turned again, aware of the dull throbbing in his shoulder as he moved. His eyes fought his efforts to open them, and a blurry image of concrete walls greeted him, which slowly focussed to settle upon the shape of Juniper.
“I recall seeing this hat,” she turned the conical disc slowly in her hands, “almost every week in the library, stood before me once again for some new misdemeanour to be reprimanded. Somewhat iconic of Leylandii, wouldn’t you say? Almost as much a part of his identity as his smile, and his disregard for maintaining order. I shall miss it. Despite it all, I shall remember him fondly as the young boy who challenged everything he was told until he understood exactly why it was being told to him.
“Do you think that the same young boy would have ignored well reasoned advice, endangered the lives of his friends and comrades, his own life, and the lives of everyone at this facility, to retrieve a hat? No matter how well meaning the intentions, no matter how competent he may have thought himself, Leylandii was not fool enough to risk so much for so little.” She placed the hat on a table behind her, utterly expressionless “Your actions have not only shown contempt for his memory, but a total disregard for your own life, with which the council feels you can no longer be trusted.”
Another games day come and gone and what a fantastic day it was. And another huge thank you to everyone who attended and took part in the many games and competitions.
The two role-plays drew a surprisingly large audience, as well as interested players. Viking Tomato was held on the main stage in the afternoon, it was a parade of heroic vegetables and terrible… terrible puns as it ever is. Daring feats by the Cranberry Saucerer, and Rhubarbarian saw victory over a band of militarised Pringles. Mike, my co-conspirator at Quotes from the Tabletop DM’d, he recently started his own YouTube channel, Bassios!
My game started in the morning in a separate RPG room, I used Kerplunk to build an ever mounting sense of dread, and dread it most certainly created. While my attempts to implement sound failed due to technical difficulties, it didn’t stop the look of abject terror on the face of the young lady who caused a catastrophic loss of marbles.
Here are a few pictures from the rest of the day, thanks to the owners of e-Collectica and CEO Darwin T. Dodo (I’m fairly sure T. stands for the) for providing them. These pictures will be uploaded to our Facebook page, so if you see yourself, tag yourself.
The party carried on to a local pub for the die-hards who just couldn’t let go. The after-party is one of my favourite parts of the day, and I hope that even when the event starts extending into the evening that the after-party still happens.
Wheels are already in motion for e-Collectica games days next year, and we want to make them bigger and better than ever. Not to mention that the the October Games Day of 2016 will be the store’s 10th birthday, so they are looking to make it a real party. We’ll keep you up to date with the plans nearer to the time, or you can follow e-Collectica on their Facebook page for up-to-date news and info on the massive array of games they stock.
So here’s our last words on Kitacon 2015: Back to the Kitacon. A few pieces of news, some information that might be of interest to those who either weren’t there or missed bits. I’ll also go over some of my favourite moments in better detail because as you may have noticed, they were a bit rushed throughout the weekend.
Bear in mind too, that Kita is a convention for 18s and over, so parts of this article will be a little NSFW. And that’s where we’re going to start… (more…)
The convention is just getting warmed up, and I’m on my way to the Karaoke so this shall be brief.
It is so good to be back in with the convention crowds, to be surrounded by like minded people, and I have no shame in admitting it’s even more awesome to have a press pass. Tim will be uploading the pictures we got from front of house during the opening ceremony in the place that was prepared for us. We felt like nerdy kings… In the company of somewhat larger press outlets.
As the name Back to the Kitacon suggests, the 80s are strong in the themes here, from the battery of film references in the opening video to the Crystal Maze style site-map (complete with animations).
Regulars on the convention circuit will be pleased to hear:
- The Opening Ceremony started about 20 minutes late because…
- There are already technical difficulties, from Chairman Phil (DJ Lastknight) messing about with the lights during the introductions and rules, to excessively loud speaker buzzing that sounded like Mothra trying to get some air-time.
So Kita is going smoothly.
Facilities for the con-goers at Birmingham Hilton have improved from last year. This year we have street food, a special menu being laid on by staff including nachos, burgers, hot dogs and Thai noodles. There’s also milkshakes of pretty much anything and cocktails (including some non-alcoholic, for those like myself).
Sure it’s junk but at least it’s being laid on special!
First panel attended, an almost complete list of anime pigs during which there were a great many pigs. Oh yes, just so very many pigs.
Tim has pictures, expect his first update this evening!
Talk to you tomorrow, gonna go sing until my face hurts!
Once more, thanks to Crunchyroll, I’m keeping as up to date with anime as I possibly can be. Perhaps soon I’ll get around to watching the incredibly popular Attack on Titan properly? Regardless, last week, I finished watching You and Me 2, which left me very happy. In it’s place, the streaming service offered me Ushio and Tora, an anime that seems to be entirely different to You and Me 2, so not sure where the algorithm from. Regardless, I decided that since it offered it to me, I may as well make the most of the service and watch the anime.
Following Japanese folklore of demons (or yokai) quite closely, Ushio and Tora is an anime about a boy who accidentally lets loose a bunch of demons unto the world after encountering one himself for the first time. Ushio and Tora has been released in the past, all the way back in 1992 in fact. This anime that I’m reviewing now is a new version, a whole series which is set to span 39 episodes. The manga started all the way back in 1990, so what does this new anime series have to offer us?
Ushio Aotsuki, the son of a temple priest, is set to look after the temple whilst his father goes on holiday. Ushio is told plenty of stories of demons and an ancient spear that is keeping them at bay. Whilst this all seems like superstitious mumbo jumbo to anyone in the modern age, it turns out that his father might not be telling lies at all. As it transpires, there is a trapdoor leading to a basement within the temple and so Ushio decides to investigate.
Within the chambers of the basement, there is a demon called Tora, who has been trapped for over 500 years. He is speared to the wall and threatens that if he is unleashed, he’ll wreak havoc upon the world, like he used to. Ushio decides that’s not such a good idea so leaves him there… But now that the trapdoor has been opened, all sorts of yokai are taking over the temple grounds. Calling upon Tora, Ushio frees Tora… But to what consequence?
The art style of Ushio and Tora is very distinctive. Rather than take my word for it, why not check through the gallery I’ve put together?
I love the voices in this show. It seems that the voice actor Tasuku Hatanaka was a fantastic pick for Ushio who I pick up to be a little bit brash and a little cocky and arrogant. He seems to have boundless energy and the voice actor really lets this seep through in his performances. Couple this with the voice actor for Tora, Rikiya Koyama, who was also the father from Shokugeki No Soma. The talent pool in the voice actors and actresses in this show is fantastic.
The quality of the music in this is brilliant too. It’s all very subtle and atmospheric for the situations. From violins during sad moments and full fledged guitar work for action scenes, the audio changes masterfully as the story develops.
I don’t think this is an anime for everyone, but I certainly had a lot of fun watching it! I will be watching all of this as it unfolds.
I think you need to be looking for something funny, but at the same time be a fan of all that is action packed in anime. With this in mind, I’d sort of call this a Shounen Comedy. If you don’t like a bit of boyish action in your anime, this probably won’t be the one for you. From a samurai who somehow makes Ushios hair so much longer, to the action of the yokai fights, this is bound to be one that young boys (and indeed girls) will adore.