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Category: Geek Weekend (page 1 of 3)

A Klingon Christmas Carol Delivers Geeky Fun!

A Klingon Christmas Carol takes a holiday classic into decidedly geeky territory. Not withstanding some shortcomings in terms of costuming, EDGE of Orion Productions and director John Gleason Teske have delivered an interesting and entertaining view of the holiday season’s good spirits.

Predating the Dickens version of the tale by several hundred years, as we are told by a Vulcan Narrator (Elise Soeder), the play follows SQuja (Scrooge, played by Tony Bunnel) through the events of the annual, Klingon winter solstice celebration, tlhIngan ram nI’ bom (Klingon Long Night’s Song). A cowardly money lender, the ghost of his old partner, marlI’ (Marley, played by Kent Joseph) and three Spirits of Kahless lead SQuja through an exploration of his life and the discovery of his courage, passion, and honor.

Tony Bunnel as SQuja,

Tony Bunnel as SQuja,

Returning for his second year at the titular character, SQuja, Tony Bunnel delivers a transformation the role deserves. The character seems small at the beginning of the play, shoulders hunched, gestures small. A money lender who cheated during his ascension ceremony, SQuja stands empty of honor and all too full of spite, apathy, and jealousy. Bunnel, under the direction of Gleason Teske, slowly grows the character as the Ghosts of Kahless guide him through his life. By the last moments, SQuja stands larger, full of Klingon passion, without the cowardice the character displays at the beginning of the production. He has not yet claimed the full honor due to him, but ritual fights with his nephew, vreD (Justin Blankenship) and his guests, and a commitment to train along with tImHom (Liam Walsh) leaves the audience with a sense that SQuja will make a warrior, yet.

Justin Blankenship’s portrayal of vreD (Scrooge’s nephew Fred in the Dickens’ version),  delivered with exuberance and enthusiasm, provides a solid yardstick against which to measure SQuja’s progress. The effervescent vreD dominates the stage with his boisterous laughter and swagger, and never-ending confidence in his uncle.

The entire company of performers, each cast for “heart,” deliver solid performances, deftly negotiating around the Klingon language. Coach Dr. Jeremy Cowan spent extra time with the actors to ensure their understanding of this fictional language; pronunciation and syntax. It was not enough to merely recount the words phonetically. The cast honed their Klingon to speak with knowledge of words and often deliver meaning through gestures and reaction. For those who don’t speak conversational Klingon, the production also projects super-titles in English.

In this third year with EDGE of Orion, the costuming and makeup efforts disappoint. Compared to the Commedia Beauregard production from 2010 to 2014, outfits look amateurish, not quite the level of common con cosplay. I heard another member of the audience refer to the Klingon ridges worn by the actors as “Looking like a flesh toupee.”

It provides a stark contrast with the well designed, minimalist set. The sparsely appointed stage, and excellent if unobtrusive light design, draws the audience’s attention to the characters and the action.

Director John Gleason Teske stressed the cross-cultural appeal to the work when I had a chance to talk with him at the press preview. “Star Trek fans should come. Christmas Carol fans should come. People who want to see something different should come. Fans of staged combat should come. It’s an old story told in a new way.”

Language coach Dr. Cowan added, “It’s a show for the people that always get dragged to the nerdy stuff. Even they will have a good time.”

Having seen a preview of the show, I’m inclined to agree. By the end of the show, I was ready for some blood wine! (But I will pass on the gagh!)


A Klingon Christmas Carol runs November 29th-December 16th at the Edge Theater. Purchase tickets at edgeoforion.com/purchase-tickets/ for $22.

On December 15, Star Trek fan band Five Year Mission will visit The EDGEfor a pre-show concert. Learn more about the group at  http://fiveyearmission.net/.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Photography and Photography with Heart.

A Klingon Christmas Carol Opens Tonight!

A Klingon Christmas Carol opens tonight at EDGE Theater in Edgewater. Produced by EDGE of Orion and directed by John Gleason Teske, A Klingon Christmas Carol returns to the Edge Theater for its third year, continuing what’s become a Chicago tradition.

A Klingon Christmas Carol is the first play to be performed entirely in Klingon, a constructed language first appearing in Star Trek. It is the Charles Dickens classic tale of ghosts and redemption, adapted to reflect the Klingon values of courage and honor, and then translated into Klingon (performed with English supertitles).

Director John Gleason Teske talks with local bloggers.

Director John Gleason Teske stressed the cross-cultural appeal to the work when I had a chance to talk with him at the press preview, last night. “Star Trek fans should come. Christmas Carol fans should come. People who want to see something different should come. Fans of staged combat should come. It’s an old story told in a new way.”

Language coach Dr. Jeremy Cowan added, “It’s a show for the people that always get dragged to the nerdy stuff. Even they will have a good time.”

Having seen a preview of the show, I’m inclined to agree.

To celebrate opening week, EDGE Theater is offering a host of entertainment and informative sessions:

Thursday Night Nov 29th

Join the Klingon Pop Warrior for a special mini-concert before the show begins! Meet board and troupe members as we mingle over drinks in the beautiful EDGE Theater Lobby before the show! 7:15 doors open! Learn more about The Klingon Pop Warrior here: https://www.klingonpopwarrior.com/

Orion Couling will lead a class on Klingon Martial Arts.

Friday, November 30th

Watch the nationally renown Raks Geek take the stage in our pre-show entertainment. Raks Geek is legendary in blending nerd with belly dance and burlesque. You’ve seen them with their belly dancing Wookie, now catch an all-new Star Trek Inspired dance! 7:30 doors open! More about Raks Geek here: http://raksgeek.com/

Saturday, December 1st

Klingon Curse Warfare with Dr. Jeremy Cowan! To Klingons, cursing is an art form. To truly understand the Klingon culture, you must understand Klingon curses. Our Klingon Language Coach will teach you a few prime curses! Doors open at 7:15 pm

Sunday, December 2nd

The Bat’leth and Martial Arts. Join EDGE of Orion’s Executive Director and international stunt coordinator, Orion Couling, as we explore the martial components of the sacred Klingon Weapon. Learn its deadly secrets and revel in a live demonstration! Doors open at 2:15 pm

On December 15, Star Trek fan band Five Year Mission will visit The EDGEfor a pre-show concert. Learn more about the group at  http://fiveyearmission.net/.

A Klingon Christmas Carol runs November 29th-December 16th at the Edge Theater. Purchase tickets at edgeoforion.com/purchase-tickets/ for $22.

Come Get Some! Midwest Convention Schedule

Earlier this week, a friend asked me if, as the Chicago Geek Guy, I knew of local gaming conventions scheduled for the near future. I had to confess. I didn’t. Undaunted, I reached out to groups on Facebook and Reddit to compile a convention schedule of events in the Midwest.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

October

  • Dan’s Con of the Vale, Brookfield, WI – http://coldironconventions.com/
  • Mini-Hoopla, Janesville, WI – http://www.gaminghoopla.com/mini-hoopla.html

November

I consider this a work in progress. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Record Store Day at Bucket O’ Blood!

Record Store Day at Bucket O’ Blood!

I ignored the social media site’s first suggestion for an event near me that I might enjoy. About the zillionth time it recommended the same location to me, I finally took a look. I confess. It was Buffy and Facebook that got me there. Was I interested in watching two fan-chosen episodes in a room full of geeks at a genre book and record shop call Bucket O’ Blood on a Friday night? I had a friend living in the neighborhood. I could always crash there if needed. OK, Facebook. I’m interested.

I’ve been back to three events in the last month. I’ve moved past interested. I’m committed.

The huge, graffiti inspired sign identifies Bucket O’ Blood as somewhat of an unusual bookstore. Open since 2010, and at its current location in Avondale since 2015, the shop serves up an eclectic mix of fantasy, horror, science fiction, graphic novels, vinyl, and community.

Jennifer Kilgore and Grant McKee bought the store from Marc Ruvolo in the summer of 2013. A musician, Ruvolo opened the record/book shop to sell his labels and favorite genres. When he needed to sell the store in 2013 to tour Europe, Jennifer and Grant were there to take over. “My interests were already in line with the existing store,” Grant told me, “but we felt we could build on the groundwork that was there. It was a good shop that had a lot of potential.”

“It was mostly just a gut feeling and being in the right place at the right time,” Jennifer added.

“I’d pretty much always wanted to own a shop…”

Store co-owner Grant McKee

“I’d pretty much always wanted to own a shop,” Grant explained. “I’ve always been into geekier media: horror movies, science fiction, comic books, and lots of music. At times, I had various plans, but Bucket O’ Blood ties together a lot of my interests. Like Jennifer said, there was a huge ‘right place at the right time’ factor, but I would have done something similar at SOME point.”

Taking over someone else’s shop posed more than a few challenges for the couple. They had to balance maintaining Bucket O’ Blood’s customer base while making it their own. “We wanted to keep it a genre bookstore and punk/metal record store but infuse it with our personality and cultivate a welcoming atmosphere and community for people to gravitate towards,” said Jennifer. Grant wanted to expand into more of his interests and grew the metal vinyl selection, bulked up the graphic novels section, added horror movies, and ditched the CDs.

“We always worried about the records freezing and getting ruined in winter with no heater.”

Beyond repositioning the store’s target market rebranding, the condition of the shop came as a surprise to the new owners. Jennifer described the building as “typical Chicago,… tiny dingy and nothing worked.” No heat. No AC. A host of electrical issues. “We tore out the gross carpet and painted all the walls,” Jennifer told me. “We did the best with what we had. We always worried about the records freezing and getting ruined in winter with no heater.”

When a leak ruined hundreds of dollars worth of rare books, the two knew they needed to find a new location. They stayed there for two years waiting for the lease to end and they could move. In looking for a new spot, the two wanted the largest space they could afford as close to the old place as possible.
The new, well lit, leak free location afforded them significantly more square feet for product and an area for gatherings in the back. It’s a multi-purpose community center. During the party for the 20th Anniversary of Buffy, this back area acted as a comfortable screening room.

Nathan Shelton screens his movie Shadow Bound.

“We wanted to create a space for people to come together and enjoy being with each other.”

“We don’t think of it as a screening room.,” Jennifer explained. “We wanted to create a space for people to come together and enjoy being with each other. We have 2 book clubs that meet monthly. We do book releases, author signings, acoustic music, poetry readings, etc. We’ve had a one-woman show, stand-up comedy night, art show with live painting, a spiritual workshop, all kinds of stuff.”

“Oh yeah, we hosted a 24-hour theater project. I can’t even remember all the stuff we’ve done!”

“We always try to do what’s right and we are honest and fair with our customers.”

Store co-owner, Jennifer Kilgore

The couple credits their success to the character of the shop. Jennifer pointed out, “We are genuine people that are looking for genuine connections with other people. We always try to do what’s right and we are honest and fair with our customers. People appreciate that.”

Since opening in the new location, the shop started selling new books in addition to used. It carries inventory not found at other bookstores in the city and Jennifer and Grant can talk about the genres in a way very few others can. “We truly care about our community, music-lovers, book-lovers, geeks and nerds of all types.”

This Saturday, the shop will host their favorite event of the year, Record Store Day. “People get super excited for that day and there’s a huge turnout of music lovers and record collectors. We choose a theme each year and throw a huge party. Last year’s theme was political because of the election and we had red, white, and blue jello shots, and red, white, and blue cans of beer, hot dogs, apple pie, etc. and everyone got “I voted for Bucket O’ Blood” buttons. There was a Statue of Liberty photo booth cut out and just silly stuff like that. Everyone had a blast. A previous year we did a fiesta theme and had a piñata, tamales, Mexican pastries, margaritas, Tecate, etc. We get creative with it.”

This year, Bucket O’ Blood will be teaming up with Great Lakes Brewing, Beer Temple, DMen Tap, and Dr. Martens for a luau extravaganza. The shop will serve Great Lake’s Turntable Pils throughout the day. Someone will even have a chance to win a special, custom record player.”

Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records. Come for the great selection of genre fiction and vinyl. Stay for the great people you’ll meet there.

Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records, 3182 N Elston Ave.Chicago, IL 60618, 312.890.3860

A full house to honor the death day of H.P. Lovecraft.

Geek Weekend Guide for October 21, 22, & 23

zombie-225x300Lot’s of scary and fun stuff to do in this Geek Weekend Guide. Halloween approaches and one of my favorite films is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Personally, Trinity and I will be searching the stalls for bargains at the Wheaton Haunted Flea Market Saturday afternoon.  One of our favorite CCG interviewees, Chef Val, will be there selling her wares. Trin and I have even put together comfortable costumes.

Highlander Featuring an Introduction by Nick Offerman

The Music Box Theater is offering a special showing of the Queen music fueled, sword fighting extravaganza that is Highlander.  Actor, comedian, writer, musician, and carpenter, Nick Offerman will be on hand to introduce the film.

Music Box Theater, Saturday, October 22nd, 11pm; for tickets 3733 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613

The Skywalker Cycle

EDGE Youth Theater is presenting The Skywalker Cycle, a light Shakespearean adaptation of the holy trilogy. Three casts, three directors, three movies and all the sword fights, shootouts, and laser battles you could hope for, all  in 90 minutes.

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The Skywalker Cycle;  shows on October 21st 7pm, October 22nd 2pm, October 23rd 7pm; $12; Devonshire Theater 4400 Greenwood St, Skokie, IL 60076

Nightmare on Chicago Street

From the web site:

On Saturday, the city of Elgin is calling for help to battle the zombie horde. The event promises that every human will have a good time with 4 stages of entertainment, bands, food and merchandise vendors, drinks, live graffiti artists, and guests like SVENGOOLIE.

As with all viral infections that occur, some people will undoubtedly FREAK OUT and destroy some of the businesses and buildings in the safe zone.  Expect some of the businesses to be boarded up, trash everywhere, burning tires, some of the left over cars may be damaged and overturned, as well as ZOMBIES being caged up. Do not fear! Your safety is guaranteed by military presence, concerned citizens and our Zombie Defense Initiative. Some of the businesses will be open for you to get food, shelter (YWCA Warming Station), medical treatment (an ambulance will be there with doctors on hand), and many more food and drink stations throughout the safe zone.

As with all groups of people (or things), some have a kind heart to them and will feel bad for the undead. Expect protesters there fighting for ZOMBIE RIGHTS and several ZOMBIE MARCHES may occur.

This may be your last shot at survival, so

In order to maintain some sort of economic health after the apocalypse we are asking for a nominal safe zone entrance fee. This will get you into the safe zone to partake in all of the entertainment, but more importantly it will guarantee your survival! Online tickets can be purchased on our website or at the entrance gates.

Nightmare on Chicago Street; Elgin, Illinois – Chicago Street, between Douglas and Villa; October 22, 7pm til 11pm

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Geek Weekend Guide for October 7, 8, & 9

Be Geeky! Be Healthy! This Geek Weekend Guide offers a little bit of both.

 Berwyn Fandemonium!

From their Facebook site (because I couldn’t say it any better):

Berwyn Fandemonium is Berwyn’s FIRST geektastic pop culture event, presented by fans, for fans! A Maker/Crafter/Creator show and market, inspired by comic books, sci fi, fantasy, anime, steampunk, gaming, and more – embracing all that is good and nerdy!

Berwyn Fandemonium will have vendors selling indie comics and prints, jewelry, wearable art, bags, stickers, pins, buttons, and new and vintage toys – all inspired by their makers’ love of pop culture and fandom.

When you’re ready to take a break from shopping, head over to our gamers’ corner and play on a classic 8 bit NES, stocked with all your favorites!

Do you like to #cosplay? Maybe you’ve always wanted to give it a try? Show off your favorite character in our all-ages COSTUME CONTEST! Kids and adults are welcome to sign up for their chance to win a prize from one of our generous sponsors.

We’re also going to have face painting and caricatures available to enjoy!

Berwyn Fandemonium: Saturday, October 9, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; The Outtaspace, 6840 32nd St., Berwyn, Illinois 60402.

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K 2016Crypt 5K

Trinity and I will spend Saturday night running through a cemetery. No. It’s not to escape the undead. It’s to benefit the American Diabetes Association. The course takes its runners through a fully candlelight Rosehill Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Chicago and the second largest in Illinois.

Registration for the race is closed, but I trust the runners won’t mind if you come down to cheer them on and check out the site.

Rosehill Cemetery Crypt 5K: Saturday. October 8; 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

somethingwickedFirst Friday “Something Wicked” Opening Reception

The first Friday in October brings an art opening to Elgin. Featuring live music from  Phantoms & Pestilence and Think Easy, the exhibit offers a “variety of arts media whose subject matter is meant to instill a combined sense of wonder, awe and perhaps a little dread.”

First Friday “Something Wicked” Opening Reception: October 7: 6:00 pm til 10:00 pm; Side Street Studio Arts 15 Ziegler Ct, Elgin, Illinois 60120; $5 suggested donation

Geek Weekend Guide for Sept. 30, and Oct. 1 & 2

I will desperately try to squeeze in some Geek for this weekend, but I’m focusing mostly on getting my new place set up.  Hopefully, I will be able to pop out and check out a new FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store). Greenfire Games is celebrating their grand opening on Saturday. If you’re near Oak Lawn, pop by the shop. Could it be a successor to Pat’s Hobbies?

And now, here are a couple of the cool things I won’t be able to attend this weekend.

ValorCon

Now in its second year, ValorCon will take place at Macy’s Event Center, Friday to Sunday.  It features scores of computer and video, live-action, tabletop games, and a host of interesting panels. A few we noticed include: Geek Femspective (to discuss  What’s Missing in the Geek Community), Friendship, Romance & Sexuality in valorcon-2-pngVideo Games, and Building a Successful Kickstarter.

In addition, participants are given an opportunity to join one of four larger teams, and points can be earned at all offered activities toward earning fame, fortune, and prizes! We website describes the event reads:

Being the biggest city in the US within reach of both coasts and everything in-between makes us the perfect gaming nexus. You’ll get to try new games, compete in tournaments, take group lessons, see veteran players go head-to-head, engage with publishers as they demo upcoming titles, and attend panels with industry leaders and gameplay experts.

Macy’s Event Center, 111 N. State Street, Chicago, IL; September 30 – October 2; For tickets visit: www.valorcon.com

Otherworld Theatre Company Presents Paragon

On Saturday and Sunday, Otherworld Theatre Company presents paragonParagon, 40 short science-fiction and fantasy plays performed by 110 actors over the course of  two days. This is the second year of this short-play festival, dedicated to Otherworld’s missing of growing the genre of Science and Fantasy.  Plays are divided into roughly one-hour blocks over the course of two days. Performances will take place at the Public House Theatre.

The Public House Theatre, 3914 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
11 a.m.-6:45 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday
For tickets visit: http://www.otherworldtheatre.org/paragon

The Geek Weekend Guide for September 16, 17, 18

The Geek Weekend Guide has some interesting activities! Unfortunately, you won’t see me at any of these events. I will be moving.

Board Game Bonanza #3

A BYOB board gaming event in Westmont. This sounds like a lot of fun. Take your regular board game night and multiply it by a factor of 20. They may even order out for food! Come and go as you please.  Bring your own games. Plenty of free parking.

Westmont Commons, 117 N. Cass Ave. Westmont Il (Metra accessible); Saturday, September 17th, 8am till 10pm

Acrobatica Infiniti Circus: After Dark – Villains & Vigilantes

Dress up in your best villain cosplay to go and see a truly unique entertainment experience. The show promises international circus starts performing themed acts of juggling, acrobatics, contortions, comedy, and much more.

Uptown Underground, 4707 N Broadway, Chicago; Friday, September 16th,  8pm; tickets available.

Rubik’s Cube September Challenge9-15-2016-12-22-35-pm

Here’s a chance to prove your geek cred at one of Chicago’s best game shops. Work for your best time on:

  • 2×2
  • 3×3
  • 4×4
  • Pyraminx

To win prizes and the coveted title of Cat & Mouse Supercuber of the Month!

Cat & Mouse Games, 1112 W. Madison St., Chicago, Illinois 60607; Saturday, September 17th, 1pm till 3 pm, $5 entrance fee.

The Geek Weekend Guide for September 9, 10, 11

The stars are aligned and the forces of Chicago Geek Guy are together this weekend! It’ a Geek Weekend Guide we can all enjoy!

American Science and Surplus Annual Warehouse Sale

Once a year, one of Chicago’s geekiest retail chains opens the door to its warehouse to reveal the secret workings of its innards. The event promises, ” tables of incredible stuff at unbelievable prices. Bring the whole family, we’ll have something for everyone!”

Saturday, September 10, 9:00 am til 4:00 pm.  7410 N Lehigh Ave, Niles, IL 60714-4024

Geek Weekend GuideA Princess of Mars

From the website:

When Confederate deserter John Carter is mysteriously transported on the surface of Mars, he is forced into an epic conflict between the planet’s alien races. As Mars is poised on the brink of collapse, war-weary Carter realizes he must choose sides when the planet’s fate rests on his shoulders.

Chicago’s premier science fiction theater company brings the city another night of fantastic adventure.

A Princess of Mars, by Otherworld Theater Company, runs September 9 through to 24,  Berger Park,  6205 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60660. Seats available from Brown Paper Tickets.

The Geek Weekend Guide for August 26, 27, 28

I am not doing anything geeky this weekend. I’m going to do my best for a new personal record in the Rock the Night 5K then spend Saturday and Sunday recovering from my efforts. Still the Geek Weekend Guide offers up two fun events for those not laid waste by physical activity.

Arcade, Video, and Game Room ExpoThe 1st Annual Arcade, Video, and Game Room Expo

The Crown Plaza in Rosemont is hosting this first of its kind event. The expo promises hundreds of arcade games set to free play, vintage game tournaments, and a number of guest appearances.

Pokémon Go Cosplay Meetup: Valor vs. Instinct vs. Mystic

Stephanie Plus Verb and The Fantasy Realm of Chicago are hosting a Pokemon Go meet up at  Konak Pizza & Grill, Friday night at 8:00 pm. Cosplay is not required, but there will be a costume contest for those who dress up. If you’ve reached level 5, wear your team colors!

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