Why Diversity is Needed Among Panelists: Convergence 2019

This past weekend, I was attending Convergence at the Minneapolis Downtown Hyatt Regency hotel. This will have been my sixth year attending the con as I always have a fun time hanging out with friends, wandering around in cosplay and taking lots of pictures. Whenever I attend Convergence, I try to choose a couple panels to see that peak my interest. This is what inspired me to write this post because it’s crucial to have diversity among the panelists.

Me and my friend’s husband sat down for a panel regarding antagonists we sympathize with in pop culture. The white panelists immediately dived into discussing Killmonger from Black Panther which led to a discussion about race. It’s not that white people can’t talk about race, but it looks really bad especially when there’s no person of color on the panel. There were a couple audience members who chimed in regarding race who were part of a minority group and their points were thought provoking and educated. The fact is being white eliminates us from understanding racial bias since it’s something we don’t experience. This racial bias is what contributes to Killmonger’s story and why he wants Wakanda’s resources. Diversity among panelists would have avoided this issue entirely along with providing the audience a well rounded discussion.

Besides the problematic discussion of race, there was another instance in the panel that left me feeling irritated. A female panelist was discussing a book series she liked, but had given a content warning for the sexual assault in the book. The discussion went as follows:

Female Panelist: This is a book series I really enjoy and the female villain is put through tremendous trauma, so I’d like to give a content warning regarding sexual assault for any female audience members.

Male Moderator: I didn’t think the book was that bad.

EXCUSE ME?! Of course you wouldn’t think the book was bad. As a white male in our society, you may never understand the concept of using rape as a means to hold power over women. Reading the passage in the book may not be harmful to you, but as a woman whenever I read a rape sequence in a book, a content warning is rather useful to me. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to this male panelist because he did seem to backtrack after she made a response back to him. However, it goes to show how some men don’t necessarily understand our struggle with sexual violence especially when it’s specifically isolated to our sex.

Overall I had a great experience at Convergence, but I will say this panel left a bad taste in my mouth. This could have been avoided if more persons of color and women were added to this panel. If you happen to be on a panel where the panelists are one dimensional, I would involve more audience participation to retain an adequate discussion among certain topics in society. Let me know in the comments section if you have ever had an experience like this with attending a panel at a convention, I’d like to hear about it.

 

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Fictional Characters Tag

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I realize I haven’t done a “tag” post in a while. I saw this tag from Emily at Monster Lady’s Diary and thought it was a great tag, but there were other blog posts I wanted to write first. I’m mostly caught up on those, so here are my responses to the Fictional Characters Tag.

Which Character Was Your First Love?

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When I was in third grade, my mom let me watch the James Bond movies. We owned boxed sets with the various Bond films from the different time periods. When I watched each Bond film, I became engrossed in the beautiful dresses, the lustrous travel destinations and all of the action sequences. My love of action films has grown from the Bond movies. As I re-watch them as an adult woman, I realize how truly misogynistic James Bond is. How he treats women as a disposable item and how his love affairs can cost them their lives. The James Bond franchise will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my mom, but also brought me to appreciate the finesse it takes to film an action film.

How Would You Describe All The Characters You Love?

When I become attached to characters from books or any other form of media, I find these characters are genuinely good people. I’m never one to identify with the villains, but the heroes who often have to stand up to evil even though they may be alone in their cause. As I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series, I like to think of Hermione’s S.P.E.W protest as she is fighting for something that’s unheard of and she’s made fun of constantly by Harry and Ron. To me, that’s a character I can support.

A Character You Love That You Think Most People Hate?

Chloe Before the Storm

Chloe from Life is Strange [Chloe is in the center picture]

Life is Strange is one of my favorite video games of all time. One of the main characters is Chloe who’s this selfish teenager dealing with the death of her father. I would say most fans highly dislike her because of her immaturity. I personally like Chloe as a character because she’s a realistic teenager. When my father passed away, I’m sure I acted immaturely to put this image on myself that I was okay. I could identify with Chloe’s struggles of going through puberty along with having her friends move away. The friendship shown between Max and Chloe is one of the main reasons why Life is Strange is such a great video game.

Does One Character In Your Life Have a Strict Personality?

Fangirl

Whenever I think of a character who is “strict” I think of Cath from the novel Fangirl. Cath is very strict with herself as far as what she does in college and who she associates herself with. What I truly love about Fangirl is Cath’s ability to slowly open herself up which connects her with a group of people who love her for being herself. Cath reminds me of my days as a college freshman and how I have grown as a person since then.

A Character I Wouldn’t Get Along With?

Any character that is blatantly racist or despicable would be a character I wouldn’t get along with. The characters that truly anger me the most are the conniving, intelligent villains. When I thought to make a list of what these characters would be, I immediately thought about Lucius Malfoy. His evil has been passed onto Draco, but also how he works with Cornelius Fudge in The Order of the Phoenix to slander Harry is downright troubling.

A Character You’d Travel the World With?

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I wouldn’t travel with this one… photo from 2015 at the Doctor Who convention I attended.

The Doctor! Specifically David Tennant or Matt Smith. I could go all across the globe, but even beyond the galaxies too. I really need to re-watch Doctor Who sometime soon.

A Character You’d Rely on To Help You Get Over Your Fears?

Ben and Leslie

Leslie Knope would be my character to help me overcome any of my fears. She would inspire me to chase my dreams and keep my head in the clouds.

Where Do Most of the Characters You Love Come From?

I’m an avid book reader and TV watcher, so most of my characters from this list will probably come from those type of media. If I have time, I do watch movies, but it’s more rare for me to watch a movie than a forty three minute TV episode.

A Character You’re Most Likely to Have Weird Dreams About?

Lucifer

Ooh.. I don’t remember my dreams as far as specific fictional characters appearing within them. I’m really into Lucifer right now and I’m hardcore shipping Lucifer and Chloe, so maybe that would be included in a dream of mine sometime soon.

A Minor Character You Love

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I counted Phil Coulson as a minor character in the scheme of the Marvel movie universe. He was one of the common links in the Marvel phase #1 set of movies without having much time on the big screen. His untimely death is what brought the Avengers together to battle it out in NYC. Since his revival, Agents of Shield has been successful on ABC. I regret to say I have fallen way behind in the show, but the first three seasons are some of the best TV I have watched.

What Character Represents Your Mentality?

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How could I not choose Luna Lovegood. I have her wand on display above my nightstand for this reason. She’s an authentic character who’s extremely quirky and at first not taken seriously. Eventually she proves herself during the Dumbledore’s Army training as she summons her rabbit patronus. She also helps Harry to find the diadem, so he can destroy it. I could go on, but I aspire to be like Luna every day.

Here are the questions in case you’re interested!

Which Character Was Your First Love?

How Would You Describe All The Characters You Love?

A Character You Love That You Think Most People Hate?

Does One Character In Your Life Have a Strict Personality?

A Character I Wouldn’t Get Along With?

A Character You’d Travel the World With?

A Character You’d Rely on To Help You Get Over Your Fears?

Where Do Most of the Characters You Love Come From?

A Character You’re Most Likely to Have Weird Dreams About?

A Minor Character You Love

What Character Represents Your Mentality?

 

Reviewing My Mad Cave Comics

In February, I was honored to be contacted by Mad Cave Studios to read and review their major comic series. I chose to write those reviews on Twin Cities Geek instead of Bizarre Brunette due to the bigger fan base. Mad Cave Studios is incredibly busy as they’re prepping for a new comic series to launch titled Show’s End which takes place in a 1920’s circus. This series has a strong Halloween / creepy horror vibe and I’m here for it. Here are my general opinions on the series I received from this Miami based comic studio.

1. Midnight Task Force

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Midnight Task Force Vol. #1 cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

Midnight Task Force is a fantastic, cyber-punk comic series taking place in a corrupt futuristic Detroit. Midnight Task Force features Aiden McCormick, an intelligent detective investigating a series of grisly murders. Aiden secretly battles schizophrenia dating back to his PTSD from his days serving in the military. Can Aiden keep his sanity throughout the cat and mouse chase of hunting a serial killer?

The artwork in this comic is dark, but alluring. It gives Detroit this crime ridden feel while also adding bright neon colors to make Detroit seem more attractive than what it actually is.

Ultimately, this comic went in a different direction than I had originally anticipated. Without giving spoilers, it seems that there’s more to the serial killer Aiden was investigating. There’s also a nice cliffhanger towards the end of this volume, which leaves me intrigued as to how Aiden’s character will develop over the course of the series run.

2. Knights of the Golden Sun

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Knights of the Golden Sun Vol. #1 cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

I’m shocked to tell you this, but I deeply enjoyed reading Knights of the Golden Sun. The reason why I’m saying this is it’s a comic that’s inspired by events in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. I’m not a religious person and I don’t plan on ever converting to Christianity. Reading Knights of the Golden Sun didn’t feel “preachy” and the way this comic is paced allows for every character to have their moment of glory.

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Uriel in all her glory. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

Knights of the Golden Sun takes place between the Old and New Testaments and describes the battle between God’s angels and “The Fallen” which were a group of angels exiled by God himself. There’s a lot of beautifully illustrated battle sequences within each issue. My favorite is Uriel and how she summons this cast of blue lightning which she utilizes to battle with a group of giants.

When I received Knights of the Golden Sun, there were only four issues out at the time. The full first volume of Knights of the Golden Sun will be released in July. I do plan on purchasing this as I prefer having completed volumes of comics versus single issues.

3. Battlecats

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Battlecats Vol #1 Cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios 

Battlecats is the final series I received from Mad Cave Studios. Battlecats is a medieval, fantasy epic with elements of DnD mixed with the 80’s TV show Thundercats. In the beautiful realm of Valderia lies the Battlecats, a team of cat warriors sworn to protect Valderia at all costs. The Battlecats are sent to destroy a Dire Beast who threatens to encroach on Valderia’s territory with intent to endanger Valderia’s citizens. As the Battlecats investigate the Dire Beast, they recognize how this beast isn’t like the other creatures they have killed before. What does this mean for Valderia’s future?

Honestly, I was slightly disappointed by Battlecats. I’m all about great character development and I felt there were too many characters introduced without backstories. This made it difficult for me to become invested in the story since the characters seem largely forgettable.

Another minor annoyance comes from the added information about Valderia with its seasons and moons. This information was intriguing to read about, but it would have been better if it was included in the beginning of the book where it could be easily accessed again throughout the story. Instead, I have to flip back to the middle of the book to reference the information which felt awkward as I was reading Battlecats. 

Despite my disappointment with Battlecats, I do intend on continuing with the story. The first graphic novel has potential and I’m hopeful that in the next volume we will learn more about the characters.

Mad Cave Studios is a comic studio to watch for. With the addition of Show’s End, another series was announced Thursday titled Wolvenheart. Wolvenheart is described as a, “time-travel, steam-punk, Victorian comic. I’m excited to get my hands on both Show’s End and Wolvenheart as Mad Cave Studios has proved to be a talented and driven comics studio.

Mad Cave Studios can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

 

Summoning Elder Gods in Cultists & Cthulhu

It’s been a rough start for me this week trying to get back to reality after attending Twin Cities Pride all last weekend. I had a blast walking around, taking pictures and seeing everyone being authentic in who they are. I decided to spend my Sunday after Pride writing about this new card game I tried out with friends titled Cultists & Cthulhu. If you read any of my board game reviews, you shouldn’t be surprised as to how much I enjoy any game based off H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. I found this game at Con of the North, a gaming convention I attended back in February. This would be a perfect game to pack for a convention, or to a brewery.

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The purple deck is the draw deck, the green deck is the ritual deck. 

Cultists & Cthulhu is a card game where players are trying to roll dice to complete rituals. On a single turn players will draw cards from the purple deck. These types of cards will either be cultists or minus cards which impact another player’s dice roll. Cultists are the most important card in the game because to complete a ritual, you need to have a cultist in play to do so. This is where the game becomes tricky because you can steal cultists from other players. This is how I lost the game because my friend stole my cultist, so I couldn’t complete rituals.

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Cultist cards are represented by the leaf symbol above the number. 

Once a cultist is in play, the player has to roll 4’s, 5’s or 6’s to receive ritual tokens to be placed on a ritual card. The twist on this is if you roll at least three 1’s and 2’s in one roll, the cultist goes “crazy” and has to be discarded. Fortunately, I rolled extremely well in the game I played, so this never happened to me. My friend however, had to discard two of her cultists in one game. I like the dice roll aspect of the game because it makes every game different.

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The book symbol is the one that says how many ritual tokens needed to complete the ritual. The Cthulhu is how many points that are received once the ritual is completed. 

Winning the game includes completing a ritual which earns points. Each ritual card has a book icon on the bottom left of the card. This is the amount of ritual tokens needed to complete a ritual. The Cthulhu symbol on the right of the card is the amount of points received once the ritual has been completed. The first player to have twenty one points worth of completed rituals wins the game.

Cultists & Cthulhu is a sinister card game that’s perfect for any Lovecraftian fan. Prolific Games, the publisher behind Cultists & Cthulhu, is a local MN based board game company. It gives me a sense of pride to share my love for a board game that was crafted in my state. To purchase Cultists & Cthulhu, head over to Prolific Games online store where you can find the many fabulous card games to add to your game collection.

 

 

On the Road to Gen Con 2019

This August I will be attending Gen Con for the first time with a press badge! Instead of attending under Bizarre Brunette, I will be attending on behalf of Twin Cities Geek. As a board game and DnD player, I cannot wait to see what Gen Con has to offer. I have already started putting money aside to spend at the con because I want to purchase all the board games. This will be the first road trip me and my brother take together because I invited him to attend Gen Con this year. I’m already counting down the days until Gen Con begins.

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My Gen Con Profile! Screenshot taken by me. 

The road to attending Gen Con began in January 2019. I have a friend from college who used to own a game store. He has been attending every Gen Con for years. I had always wanted to go, but being in college made that extremely difficult to afford. He reached out to me inquiring about whether I would want to go this year. For shits and giggles, I decided to fill out a press badge with full intention of paying full price for a badge in case it didn’t work. In February, I received confirmation from Gen Con that I would be receiving a press badge. I was elated and immediately began to research where me and my brother would lodge for the convention.

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It’s the final countdown. Image screenshot taken by me. 

Speaking of hotels, I started looking way too late for a hotel room. Hotel rooms usually sell out when Gen Con badges go on sale in January. Virtually every hotel I had checked was full. This is where I decided to look for air BnB’s. I found an affordable air BnB northeast of downtown Indianapolis. I’m slightly worried that it’s a little too far from the convention center, but that’s what uber is for. My lesson was learned if I want to attend Gen Con and have a hotel downtown, I need to book it in January.

Last month, the event lists were released. These include various DnD campaigns, MTG 2020 Core Drafts and even a group fitness class titled Buff Barbarian. You better believe I signed up for the Buff Barbarian because that’s the best name for a group fitness class I have ever seen. Besides the Buff Barbarian, I also put down a couple DnD campaigns I wanted to be apart of. However, when I clicked register for events, I was in 6,119 in the queue line. 6119!!!!! It was safe to say I didn’t get many of the events I pre-registered for, however, I am playing in a Harry Potter themed board game, so that’s a win for me. I also didn’t realize events were paid. Each event costs anywhere between $2-$12 dollars. I wonder if that’s to pay for the DM hosting the event? I’m not quite sure. This certainly limited the events I wanted to do because of a cost per each event.

As far as cosplays, I haven’t quite established which cosplays I will bring. I’m thinking for sure my viking Wonder Woman inspired cosplay along with a Harry Potter Gryffindor student cosplay. I’m not sure how many people cosplay at Gen Con or if it’s more of a gaming convention meaning less people cosplay. No matter what I will wear a cosplay because cosplaying is fun.

I cannot believe I’m attending Gen Con as press this year. This is an amazing achievement for me and I hope to spread word about Bizarre Brunette while I’m there as well. If you’re going to Gen Con as well, I’d love to meet up! Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Demons Meet Law & Order in Lucifer

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Me and my brother loved watching Law & Order SVU when we were in middle school. Law & Order SVU is the show I watch when doing chores or I want to have a distraction from a tough day. Lucifer is a Law & Order inspired show with demons thrown into the mix.

Lucifer is the literal king of hell played wonderfully by Tom Ellis. He’s the owner of a nightclub and finds amusement having sex with beautiful women and drinking copious amounts of booze. After one of Lucifer’s friends is shot and killed, he meets Chloe Decker, a LA homicide detective who’s assigned to this case. Chloe, played by Lauren German, is unique because she’s immune to Lucifer’s gifts. His “gifts” includes being able to persuade people to reveal their deepest darkest secrets. Chloe uses this to her advantage to solve crimes throughout Los Angeles.

Each season of Lucifer has a larger subplot intertwined throughout the season. The first season involves Lucifer getting shot by Chloe and he starts to bleed. Lucifer is immortal, so why is he bleeding from a simple gunshot wound?. Meanwhile Chloe is trying to build a case surrounding a supposed corrupt cop. The plot twists in the first season were shocking.

Lucifer is a favorite show of mine because of the characters. Lucifer can be an asshole, but he also has good intentions despite being the retired ruler of hell. Chloe is sassy to Lucifer while also using her cunning investigative techniques to seek the truth. I cannot forget to mention Trixie, Chloe’s cute daughter. Trixie adores Lucifer which is hilarious since Lucifer hates kids. His apparent hate for children doesn’t stop Trixie from giving him hugs throughout the season.

I wanted to give a special shout out to the fans who utilized the internet to save the show. Lucifer originally premiered on Fox until it was cancelled. Fans were irritated and created a petition to save the show. Netflix realizing they could make money off of Lucifer fans, swooped into renew the show at the last minute. I wish I was apart of this legion of fans, but I only discovered Lucifer a week ago.

Lucifer is a fabulous show featuring demon drama in downtown LA. I finished season one a couple days ago and I plan on watching season two either today or tomorrow. I’m trying to slowly get through the show as I don’t want to wait for new episodes.

If you’re a fan of Lucifer, let’s talk about the show in the comments!

 

Modern Horizons Pre-Release MTG + Tips for Drafting.

On Sunday, I drove to Rochester, MN to participate in the Magic the Gathering: Modern Horizons Pre-Release. This will be my third pre-release I have attended since rejuvenating my interest in Magic the Gathering. I’m still an amateur player, however playing in these events has given me confidence to keep playing the game. I had a blast playing with the new cards, but I also wanted to share some general tips for drafting in Magic that one of my friends sent me.

Modern is a format in Magic where decks are built with at least sixty cards versus standard Magic where decks have forty cards. Me and two other friends participated in this pre-release except it wasn’t like a typical pre-release I attended, it was a draft. Drafting in Magic can be extremely difficult. Drafting is where everyone opens a booster pack and picks only one card from that pack. Then the pack gets passed to the next player and they pick one card from the pack. This means I need to pick cards from what’s passed to me without knowing what cards were picked by other players. I chose to make a blue / white deck with a bunch of flying creatures.

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This is one flying creature I used. 

My deck wasn’t that great. I found the other players in our group had more “aggressive” decks meaning their decks worked faster than mine. I only won one game out of twelve games (as I said, I’m still an amateur). After this experience, my friend sent me an article about what to look for when drafting. It’s titled BREAD which stands for:

B – Bombs. This is the super powerful cards. This could mean creatures that can’t be removed from the game easily or instants which can remove many creatures at once. It’s a card that you can’t pass up, so pick this card first in a draft.

R – Removal. These are cards that remove creatures or artifacts. If a deck doesn’t have removal, it’s useless. Creatures make up a deck, but the deck needs to be defensive as well. 

E – Evasion! Choosing creatures that are difficult to block. This includes finding abilities such as flying, deathtouch, unblockable or I find menace to be an ability that’s kind of obnoxious. My deck was based around flying creatures, but the deck failed. That’s because of . .  . 

A – Aggro. This is why my deck failed. Aggro refers to filling up a mana curve. Meaning you want to cast a creature card every turn if able. This means choosing creatures that are cheap to cast. My flyers were great creatures, but often they required at least 3 sometimes even 5 mana to cast. This means by the time I was able to cast a creature, my opponent had at least three or four creatures out at once time. This cost me almost all of my games. 

D- Duds! These are the cards no one wants. I was playing a blue / white flying deck, but I still found cards that were green or black which didn’t work with my color scheme. This happens to everyone at a draft where you’re forced to take cards no one wants. These cards can be sorted out when the deck building begins. 

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The Oneirophage – every time I draw a card, I put a counter on it. 

Even though my deck sucked, I liked the cards I drafted. I pulled a couple “Phantom Ninja’s” which cost three mana. Their special ability is they can’t be blocked. This is useful because anytime I attack with them, my opponent can’t do anything about them. I also liked my “Wall of One Thousand Cuts.” It’s a wall which provides a blocking creature for my deck. I also like the art work on “Oneirophage.” This is a squid illusion which every time I draw a card, I put a +1 / +1 counter on Oneirophage. This squid could become powerful as my turns progressed.

As I reflect on the pre-release, I learned valuable deck building skillsDeck building is the hardest thing for me to grasp in Magic the Gathering. Once I have a successful deck, I’m good to go. I’m trying to play more Magic because in August I’m going to Gen Con. If I can win at least one game in Gen Con, I would be thrilled.