Wednesday, April 25, 2018

On Universal FanCon


Guys, I am really sad and mad right now about Universal FanCon. I hadn't heard of it before it was postposed/cancelled one week before it was to occur, but seeing tweets from so many people who were planning to go was heartbreaking. So many artists and vendors losing their first shot at sales/networking and cosplayers and other attendees who never felt accepted at other cons losing a safe space for geeking out. 

I'm proud to be an exhibitor and co-creator of the Manga Reading Lounge at Anime Detour and my July staycation at Convergence is a highlight of my year. I can't imagine having an experience like that taken away so suddenly. 

The other sad thing is, it might not have failed if the founders hadn't 1) tried to make their first con some huge, money-making endeavor when most cons barely break even, 2) failed to vet one co-founder who had been involved in failed cons before, and 3) they had asked for help from experienced con people. The Twitter conversation made it clear that there was a deep bench of experienced con administrators who would have been happy to help. I'm not one myself, but my limited experience creating a miniature library con tells me that it's a very complex endeavor with a lot of moving parts that requires constant back-and-forth communication, not just asking Starbucks to donate stuff at the last minute. 



WHAT WE CAN DO TO MAKE THINGS BETTER:
  • Support your local, volunteer-staffed con. Unless you are super into getting celebrities to sign stuff, skip those traveling things Alexandra Erin calls "autograph mills". Local cons are way more fun, you have more input in their content & policies, plus it gives volunteers/staff more experience to start more cons to fit your interests. 
  • If your local con sucks, start your own, but start small. Comic-Con wasn't built in one day
  • Make your con safe for diverse attendees. Ask them what policies would help them enjoy the con. Have diverse panels and panelists. Ban harassers. 
  • Attract and mentor diverse con volunteers and employees. Then, they can learn and start their own cons. Geek culture is big, we can have cons for everybody. 
  • Don't be a dick. Don't tell a marginalized person they "aren't allowed" to cosplay as someone.
  • Give these artists some money. They lost a major source of income, so support them if you can. 
  • Attend this pop-up convention. if you can afford it and are near Baltimore, attend this mini-convention for people who were coming to FanCon.
  • Make your Con transit-accessible. Not everyone can drive or has a car, and some people may fly or bus in. I'm looking at you, Con of the North!

Monday, February 19, 2018

JFRO's 2017

Jfro's 2017 from ash966 on 8tracks Radio.



Sorry this is so late, guys. 



Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black:  

Books -- Who Fears Death?, Universal Harvester, Fingersmith, The Collapsing Empire, City of LIght, City of Poison

Comics -- Ooku, Over Easy, Genshiken Second Season, Order of the Stick

Movies -- The Shape of Water, Free Fire, Thor: Ragnarok, The Big Sick, Willow Creek, The Boy & the Beast, Atomic Blonde, Mifune: The Last Samurai, Get Out, The Nice Guys, Okja, My Cousin Rachel, The Love Witch, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Gimme Danger, Logan, Moonlight

TV Shows -- Stranger Things, Taboo, Black Sails, Orphan Black, Halt & Catch Fire, The Walking Dead, Insecure, GLOW, Billions, The Expanse, Bojack Horseman, Orange Is the New Black, The Path, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, Veep, Train to Busan, Travelers, Silicon Valley, Sense8, RuPaul's Drag Race, Transparent, Powers, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Americans, Legion, The Magicians, Archer, Mr. Robot, Fear the Walking Dead, unREAL, 12 Monkeys, Versailles, Crazyhead, The Strain, Better Call Saul

Albums --Woven Hand: Star Treatment, Troubled Horse: Revolution on Repeat, Telekinetic Yet: Abominable, Summoner: Beyond the Realm of Light, Ruby the Hatchet: Planetary Space Child, Royal Thunder: Wick, Moonbow: War Bear, Kadavar: Rough Times, Fireball Ministry: Remember the Story, Ecstatic Vision: Raw Rock Fury, Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy, Colour Haze: In Her Garden, Greenleaf: Rise Above The Meadow, Blues Pills: Lady in Gold, WhiteNails: First Trip, Tad: 8-Way Santa (Remastered)

Songs --Willam: "Ho Ho Ho Ho", Red Velvet: "Talk To Me", Girl's Day Everyday: "I'll Be Yours", BTS:"Not Today", Tiffany: "Talk", RVG: "IBM", MGT: "Knowing Me Knowing You", 2NE1: "I Am The Best", Crystal Fairy: "Drugs On The Bus", Sofi Tucker: "Drinkee",  Skrillex & Damian "Jr Gong" Marley: "Make It Bun Dem", Jackie Shane: "Any Other Way", Cari Cari: "No War" 

Apps --Reelgood, Reddit, TuneIn, Flickr, Artstudio, Tumblr, 8Tracks

Devices --iPad, iMac, Apple TV 4, Nook GlowLight Plus, Universal Laser Systems laser engraver, Lulzbot 3-D printer, soldering iron

Events --Convergence, Anime Detour, ToshoCon, Steampunk photoshoot in Irvine Park, WMCN Reunion show, Chris Isaak, Minneapolis-St. Paul Mini Maker Faire, presenting at the Library Technology Conference, Bakken Museum, At Home With Monsters @MIA, World War I @Minnesota History Center, Como Obon Festival

Items of clothing --Gray motorcycle boots, gear earrings, resin pendant, Steven Madden hooded coat

Games --Plants Vs Zombies 2, Candy Crush: Soda, Tetris Blitz, Agents of Oblivion, Delta Green

Web sites --Lifehacker, r/rupaulsdragrace, r/relationships, Captain Awkward, Fast 'n' Bulbous

Twitter Twerps --@AnaMardoll, @arthur_affect, @FakeLibStats, @HalpernAlex, @loather

YouTubers -- Jimmi Pynk, Kevin Logan, Feminist Frequency, The Boulet Brothers, MovieBob, Screen Junkies, Afterbuzz TV, Diamanda Hagan, Vaginal Fantasy, Hey Qween, Willam Belli

Materials - metallic acrylic paint, EasyCast resin, laser rubber

Boyfriend --JSeux continues his winning streak!

Friday, December 08, 2017

I MADE YOU SOME BREAKFAST




Everyone who knows me, knows I love me some breakfast. Even if I wake up at 4 PM, I like to start with some breakfast-type food.

Unfortunately, this conflicts with my desire to stay in bed as long as possible on workdays. My solution is to bring portable breakfast items that I can eat between the time the bus drops me at work until the time I have to be on a desk.

My go-tos are Quaker Real-Medley oatmeal cups and Jimmy Dean Delites breakfast sandwiches. The only problems with them are that they are 1) full of preservatives and stuff, 2) OK, but make you dream of better food, and 3) kind of rubbery from the microwave in the case of the sandwiches.

I'd been trying to find a breakfast sandwich recipe for a long time, but trying to make good eggs for a bunch of sandwiches just seemed really intimidating. I've just mastered making scrambled eggs a few years ago, and they require careful watching to come out right.

Then, this article appeared in Lifehacker. The sheer genius of baking the eggs in a cookie pan! No watching to make sure the eggs are OK the whole time. No cooking them in some kind of egg ring (I use small round Ziploc container lids to cut the egg into circles). No finding storage for a very specific device that might not cook everything equally well. Yay!

I made the breakfast sandwiches with ham and provolone. I added canned mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning to the eggs. For the muffins, I just used whatever Target had. They weren't the best, but the sandwiches still tasted good. I'd recommend getting the best English muffins you can afford.

For cooking from frozen sandwiches, I'd recommend defrosting them at 30% in the microwave for 90 seconds, then cooking them in a toaster oven for 5 minutes at 300 degrees (take the top muffin off and put it next to the rest of the sandwich), but you can cook them for 65 seconds in the microwave after defrosting if you are in a hurry.

After posting this recipe on Facebook, my friend SR shared one of her breakfast favorites, which just happened to resemble Quaker Real-Medleys, at least it did when I doubled the amount of oats. I put in craisins instead of currants because Target didn't have currents, plus craisins are awesome, and left out the sunflower seeds because yuck. After cooking, I put them into the above-mentioned small round Ziploc containers for work. I like to heat them up and add a splash of milk. At work, you could use those little creamer cups if you have some around. Just a warning: after a day, the mix looks a little grey, but it still tastes great.



Friday, October 27, 2017

I MADE YOU AN INSTRUCTABLE


Steampunk Gear Earrings

So, since my work got a makerspace a year and a half ago, I've been making more things than ever. One of my favorite sites for making ideas is Instructables. I've made LED bracelets, laser-engraved rubber stamps, and drawstring pouches. My felt cameos are a little different, but this is where the idea came from.

I even became a Pro member to support the site and because I like being able to download .pdfs to consult while making stuff. Youtube videos can be great for showing techniques, but nothing can compare to a step-by-step guide (although Instructables can have video, so best of both worlds, really). As a librarian, I make a lot of those, so I know of what I speak.

Since I now have the fancy camera for taking good macro pictures, I wanted to try my hand at making an Instructable. The editing interface is pretty intuitive for anyone who's blogged or added content to a web site. If you make stuff, definitely give it a try. If you want to get your content to people, Instructables' large, active community is going to get more views than a blog post.

I had hoped to make a video showing my technique for attaching beads with wire, but it was hard to get close enough to see things while filming it myself. Maybe next time.


Friday, September 22, 2017

I GOT A NEW CAMERA


So, I decided it was finally time to get me one of those fancy cameras. My point & shoot had finally died from being dropped one too many times, and I went to see Chris Isaak only to have him appear as nothing but a big white blob on my phone. Since I take a lot of pictures already, it seemed a good use of my annual fun spending. We have a DSLR camera at work, and I liked the pictures it took, plus it has that good old-fashioned "clickity-click" sound when you shoot.

My main worry was actually the size of the camera. I went to a photowalk once and people seemed to be competing in a who-can-lug-around-the-biggest-Cyclops-beast-around contest. My tiny hands and achy shoulders can't handle that sort of thing.

When I did a Google search on "small DSLR cameras" I learned about mirrorless cameras. My photography class teacher said that the lens is actually more important than the body of the camera for taking good pictures, so why not get a small camera that can still change lenses? Some of the big-name photography sites liked the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, which I developed a gadget crush on right away.

OK, let's face it, some objects are just more esthetically appealing than others, and it's not terrible for that to be a factor in your purchase decisions. As long as it does what it is supposed to do and doesn't clean out your bank account, why not? I have to admit I love the retro look of the OM-D and sometimes I take it out just to look at it. That's why that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up stuff doesn't work on me, I have a TON of things in my place that give me joy when I look at them. My motto is "Everything I do got to be funky", not "Everything I do got to be boring but utilitarian", after all.

Also, the controls have a good hand feel for me and seem like they'll last a long time.

The main drawbacks of having a camera that is both fancy and schmancy are 1) worrying about something happening to it and 2) spending money on endless accessories. For 1) my vow is that OM-D will never be removed from either a case or a very-sturdy camera strap and for 2) I just have to parcel it out slowly and put things on my Amazon wishlist. Like did you know that the straps that come with fancy cameras are no good and have to be replaced with something better if you don't want it to slip off your shoulders? And that there are separate bags for cameras, lenses, and your whole kit? But that makes no nevermind now that I can take night shots that don't look like those weird light shows you sometimes see when your eyes are closed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

JFRO AIRWAVES TAKEOVER 2017!




It's Reunion time again, and I was back on the wheels of steel. The theme for my radio show this year was Cyberpunk, a musical soundtrack from the 80s to today for movies like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, or books like Neuromancer and Synners



Here's my archived radio show:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fl9era6cgmnpg56/Andrea%20Herman%20-%20Nicecast%20Archived%20Audio%2020170602%201304.mp3?dl=0

Tracklist:

"Making Of Cyborg" - Kenji Kawai
"Ghosts" - Japan
"Vienna" - Ultravox
"Morningstar In A Black Car" - Ashbury Heights
"Crash" - Mesh
"Kingdom" - VNV Nation
"Neon Lights" -Kraftwerk
"Big Electric Cat" - Adrian Belew
"I Want You" - Cabaret Voltaire
"Driving The Dynamite Truck" - Breaking Circus
"Burning Inside" - Ministry
"Headhunter" - Front 242
"Self Control" -Raf
"Guardian Angel" - Juno Reactor
"Nothing At All" -Lights Of Euphoria
"Love Via Revolver" - Valkilly
"Prayer Praise & Profit" -Pig
"Underbelly Of The Beast" - Danzig
"Underpass" -John Foxx
"Just For A Moment" - Ultravox
"Go" - Tones On Tail
"Musika Atomica" - Syrian
"Timekiller" - Project Pitchfork
"Destroy Everything You Touch" - Ladytron






Friday, May 12, 2017

HOW TO MAKE A MIX/PLAYLIST


Some of my old mixes from back in the day.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I've been making mix tapes since high school in the early 80s when my best friend spent a year in New Zealand. It kept going in college for high school friends, then it kept up when college buddies went their separate ways. As friends got older and had families, it became my go-to New Year present, as it is a way to show you value your friends while spending minimal cash & not obligating them to buy you anything after spending all their money on presents for family members.

I've gone from tape to CD to online playlists, although I still do CDs for presents so people have something tangible. In the old days, when my only computer was a TRS-80 model 100, I went to Kinko's with some art to copy and cut up and the song list hand-written in large type to reduce to fit a cassette case. Now I have DiscLabel software for that, or I can just upload songs and screenshots to 8tracks.

One thing hasn't changed, though, are certain rules I have more making a good mix, based on years of experience and trial and error.

RULES FOR MAKING A GOOD MIX:
  • Pick your mix type first. Mixes can be personal (geared to one person) or public. Other main organizational principals are - time period, genre, mood, subject of song, season, region, and mixes inspired by other media (usually a book or movie). To have a good mix, start with an appealing organizational principle.
  • Variety is key. Back in my college DJ days, I learned the rule of three. DJs typically play 3 or 4 songs and then tell you what songs they play. Of course, with mixes you don't have to take breaks, but it's still a good principle to group similar songs and then change it up a bit every 3-4 songs. Ideally, I try to have some connection from every song to the next from the beginning to the end, whether it's type of vocals, genre, time period, mood, both are cover versions, etc., but if it's a case of connections vs variety, variety always wins. Even if you are doing a mix that is all punk or metal, you have to mix it up with subgenres, types of vocals, eras, a bit harder or softer, more or less poppy, etc. More than one song by the same person or group should be avoided in most cases. Basically, a mix that is all the same is a boring one.
  • Know your audience. If you are making a private mix for one person, you need to keep their preferences in mind. For example, one person told me they hate female vocalists who sound like little kids, so no MIA. Conversely, if you feel pretty sure someone already has the song, no need to add it to their mix, unless it's a case of a song that reminds you of a certain special time or event. For a public mix online, swearing in a song will limit when people can listen. I sometimes have swearing in my public 8tracks mixes, but label them "NSFW" in case people I know would be offended. Also, good to avoid too much audible swearing for a party mix or anything that might be listened to by children.
  • Don't be too obvious. If you are doing a Minnesota mix, you may want to consider that everyone who wants to own the music of Bob Dylan or Prince probably already has it. If you are including a famous artist, at least find a more obscure track. For me, a mix has two purposes - to entertain by creating a mood, and to inform the listener of music they don't already know about. That doesn't mean you have to be a expert. For example, I have a "Bollywood & Bhangra" mix, but I'm not an expert on the genres by any means. However, it's my most listened-to mix on 8tracks, possibly because the genre is not well-represented on the service, so it fills a niche.
With the rise of services like Spotify & YouTube Red, the barriers to creating a playlist are pretty small. No more lying on the floor waiting to stop the cassette player and start it again. You don't even have to own the music. That special feeling of having someone "like" your mix can be yours with these tips.