ipodyssey

iPodyssey returns

ipodyssey

Last year, I participated in the Wise Guys Events first-ever iPodyssey, an Mp3 flash mob event.  An offshoot of New York City’s famous Improv Everywhere‘s MP3 experiment.

I’m going to do it again this year!

Many of the folks I know from Thrill the World and GuerilLA Improv were there too.  Well, some of us from GLA were already at the rehearsal for the flash mob musical so we just headed down the freeway from there.

It was so much fun!  Running around with all these strangers, following only the voices in your ears.  Other people were looking on like WTF is going on.  It was all kinds of awesome.

Sure, our little group is nothing massive like New York. But hey, LA is representin’, yo!

Oh, and look who’s totally “cheating” at 0:52?

Last year’s musical rehearsal and my running amok with the Wise Guys were some of the awesome things I decided to participate in without a wing man/woman.

Brandon isn’t the type to flash mob and I couldn’t find any other friends to go along.  Usually, I would just blow it off and stay at home, but that all changed in 2008 when I went out to learn Thriller on the beach.

Brandon was in Washington D.C. that weekend for work.  I found out about Thrill the World’s first practice, but I couldn’t find anyone else to go with me. Instead of letting the opportunity go by like I usually do, I decided to just head on out.

For the longest time, I was missing out on things because I didn’t want to go by myself.  And then, that day, I got up and drove to Manhattan Beach to learn to dance Thriller on the sand with complete strangers all by myself.

Duh! I know!

Having grown up alone per se, with my brothers having left home for schools in the UK and US when I was young, I was used to being by myself at home. My mom never let me go out anywhere unaccompanied. Never go alone to anything. It was either with friends, with mom, or our maid would go with me.  So, I got used to the company.  Once I came to the U.S., I didn’t have many friends.  So, if there was no one to go with me to do things, I’d be perfectly happy staying at home.  It was the same thing in high school and college, and even in marriage too.

A total nerd, I tell you.

The one fateful trip in 2008 led me to do the first Thrill the World in LA and then to help lead the following year. And the musical. And the iPodyssey. And many other fun things.

I’ve been missing out on living because I was afraid of going in alone.

No more.

iPodyssey 2011, here I come!

[ETA: August 13: Sadly, I actually didn’t make it out to Century City after all. My last weekend of freedom before returning to the workforce, albeit temporary contract, needed to be quiet and low-key.]

What was the most spontaneous thing you’ve done–solo or otherwise?

Stand Back

Fashion + Science

Brandon sent me this video about a German designer who invented a new type of fabric made out of cow’s milk.

You read that right. She invented the fabric.

She was as scientist first. Fashion became a passion. So, she is actually a fashion designer AND a biologist.

Nerd girls can have it all?

Oh, yes.  Yes, we can.

Now this lady just needs this shirt…

Stand Back

ThinkGeek.com

Firefly was first

Don’t Insult the Browncoats

Don’t get me wrong. I have been SUPER excited about seeing Cowboys & Aliens the moment the filming was announced. I have had Daniel Craig’s butt as my wall paper since it was first available.

But as I’m sitting here watching this promo of the movie, as a fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly series, I’m insulted and outraged by all of these people cooing about how a mash up of sci-fi and Western has NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE.

Bitch, please.

Firefly was first

I understand you need to sell your movie but why do you have to go and insult the intelligence of your core audience: the fanboys and fangirls?

Just because Firefly didn’t go “mainstream”, it doesn’t mean y’all can come through and claim that you’re the first who’s mashed up the genre.

I’m not saying that Firefly is first to mash up. Wikipedia documents quite a bit of history of “Space Western”. I’m just pointing out that Firefly definitely mash it up before Cowboys & Aliens.

I admire your work, Favreau, but you ain’t first.

So, be excited, fellow geeks and nerds, that Cowboys & Aliens are coming to theaters. And go out to see it as I definitely will.

But be prepared to defend the honor of Firefly universe (or even Cowboy Bebop if that’s your thing).

This is a my call to arms to all Browncoats (and even Alliance) to unite and defend our place in the geekdom.

We were first. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

Okay, fine. If you Cowboys & Aliens camp wants to say that you mean you’re first to put aliens in the Western and THAT hasn’t been done before, maybe you could claim that. I would fact check on that though.

But please, I beg of you, to stop it with being the first mash up of western and sci-fi, okay? Not only you are embarrassing yourselves among your fanboys and fangirls, you’re beginning to damage our calm.

Speaking of having my calm damaged, someone said this to me about Cowboys & Aliens.

“This is such a ridiculous concept for a movie,” she said.

“EVERYBODY knows there were no aliens back in those days. There wasn’t even electricity!”

I’m serious.

P.S. According to sources, that Chinese phrase in the image is “Chur ni-duh”, uttered by Wash in “Out of Gas”, which is slang for screw you, get lost, or go to hell.

The Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA I'm kind of in

About that Slave Leia PSA…

So, that Nerd Machine’s Slave Leia PSA I participated in finally came out.

Did you see me?

Don’t watch it again. Because you won’t see me…unless you know where to look.

My Slave Leia is absolutely not in the picture, I can tell you that much. My Jawa outfit, however, is.

Pause at 0:48. See Gigi/Chun Li’s talking to somebody? And that shadow behind Lauren’s Wonder Woman and the white spot on the floor behind her (might I add, fine) tush?

That, my friend, is the left side of me covered in my Jedi/Jawa robe. And the white spot on the floor is my left foot.

The Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA I'm kind of in

ETA: Here’s one from the Behind the Scene video. See me on the left?

OakMonster.com - Oakley as a Jawa

The clip was cut away for a second. But from 0:48-0:52, I actually am in this video.  Not in the way I thought I would. But hey, at least I’m there a little.

This may not be Transformers, but Pam, I know how you feel now.

ETA 2014: Behind the scene video isn’t available on Break.com any more. Good thing I took screen caps!

Here’s me, the only warm one under my Jedi robe. Suckers… ;-)

OakMonster.com - Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA - Behind the Scenes OakMonster.com - Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA - Behind the Scenes OakMonster.com - Nerd Machine Slave Leia PSA - Behind the Scenes

lego moon landing

NASA: Mission Inspiration

In a few days, the last American space shuttle will be launched.  An era will come to an end.

But according to the NASA PR machine in USA Today, it ain’t over yet.

The United States needs to cede its low-earth orbit missions, such as the space shuttle, to the private sector so it can free up resources to explore deep space, [NASA’s administrator and a former astronaut Charles F.] Bolden said. President Obama has directed NASA to work toward sending manned spacecraft to an asteroid and to Mars.

Translation: American astronauts will rely on the Russians to get back into space for now.  The international space station will be supplied by unmanned flights funded by private corporations.  Also the private sectors can have fun with suborbital flights and even sending folks to the moon for now.  All of this so that NASA can focus on deep space and heading to Mars.

Mmmkay?

I should be excited about NASA going off to develop technologies for deep space travel and for getting astronauts to Mars.  But I’m not.

While I’m happy that the private sectors getting to the space travel  sandbox, I feel disappointed that NASA won’t get to be the one to do everything.  It feels like suddenly my childhood hero wasn’t all that I thought he would be, and worse, now he is stepping aside to let his sidekicks do the work.

Maybe my view of the American space program is completely romantic.  You know, the WORLD LEADING space program.  The Right Stuff.  First man on the moon.  Oh hell, even “Armageddon” is all about the glory of American space program.

What surprises me more than anything these past few days, however, is the fact that I found myself emotionally attached to the last shuttle launch and the changes in NASA.

I guess when the space program and the astronauts were your inspirations as a kid, they still have a piece of your heart.  Even long after you realized you’re never going to become a NASA astronaut.

lego moon landing

Borrowing from Balakov @ Flickr

Back home somewhere in my room, there is a copy of my 4th or 5th grade essay about what I wanted to be when I grow up.

I wanted to be the first Thai female NASA astronaut whose day job is the editor-in-chief of a magazine and whose free time spent defending her tennis championship and performing as a ballerina.

Why be one thing when you can be EVERYTHING?

It was fitting. I was publishing my own zines to share with my classmates, going to tennis and ballet lessons on weekends, and was the only person I know of in my class who had subscription to possibly Thailand’s only science magazine at the time and a shelf full of science books.

I can’t really pin point where my fascination with science came from.  But I think it might have been from just me being one hell of a curious child.

Why are leaves green?  Why do snails turn into bubbles and goo when my brothers put salt on them?  Who put people in the television?  Do robots really exist?  What about Godzilla?  What are the stars?  Why are they up there? Where did the moon go sometimes?  Are there really bunnies living on the moon?  What about the space ships like in Gundam and aliens like Star Wars?

My parents indulged my curiosity and got me any books I wanted to read on just about any topic.  I went far and beyond what I was taught in school.  Dad, being a news junky that he is, would pass along any science articles he read in the papers and mom did the same from her magazines.

Eventually, NASA and the astronauts became my hero along with other space related characters from movies and mangas I grew up with.

I wanted to be Neil Armstrong.  I wanted to land on the moon.  I wanted to fly like Han Solo and fought for Macross.  The Challenger accident didn’t deter me from my goal whatsoever.

(Oh, and then I also concluded that there were no rabbits on the moon because there was no air on the moon. Bunnies would need space suits and that would be silly.)

Long before I got to know The Doctor, I already wanted to see the stars.

“If you want to be an astronaut, you have to be a scientist,” my mom said.  “To be a scientist, you’ll have to do good in math and science.  And to work for NASA, you’ll have to know English really well.”

“Do I need a doctorate degree, mommy?”

“Yes, honey. You’ll need a doctorate degree to be an astronaut. And you know you have to study very hard to get all the way to doctorate degree.”

“Okay!”

My mom knew exactly how to bait me.

I am blessed to have parents who supported all of my scientific endeavors, just falling short of getting me a chemistry set (there was no such thing as a “toy chemistry set” in Thailand back then) and sending me to Space Camp in the U.S. which I read about in my science magazine.

Want to spend half an hour after school in the library? Go ahead as long as you get your homework done before dinner.  Want us to just leave you by yourself here at the bookstore while we walk through the mall? Okay as long as you promise to not wander off because we will leave without you (nice threat!).  Want that set of kids’ science books in English?  We’ll even throw in the newest Oxford Student Dictionary. (English AND science at the same time? Score!)

You need a roll of aluminum foil, a few cardboard boxes, and dad’s architect staff to help you build a parabolic dish to roast a marshmallow?  The challenging part (back then) is finding marshmallows in Thailand. But yes, you can ask dad’s staff nicely to help you after work and no you can’t ask them to come back to help you on the weekend.

I scored brilliantly with science and English all of my Thai student life, having that working for NASA goal set in my mind.  Math! Science! English!  My ineptitude in math would eventually surface and kill my dream of becoming a scientist, and therefore becoming an astronaut.  But it never dulled my passion for science.

*

As I grew up, the career goals and interests started to shift.  All the reading about the stars led me to the stories of how the constellations get their names, and therefore to Greek and Roman mythologies.  Hence, I wanted to be archeologist and editor-in-chief astronaut.  Dad handed down to me his hand-cranked Pentax SLR about the same time I wanted to work for the UN because the translators were cool.  So then, photographer and Ambassador of Thailand astronaut would be the next appropriate choice.  Finally, I was enthralled by theater performances after my mom had taken me to a few because I had mad crushes on some TV actors.  So, I then wanted to be a theater actor and advertising creative director astronaut.

Like I said, eventually my limited math skills failed me. No math, no science track for college.  Was I disappointed?  Yes.  But at the same time, my imagination told me I still have hopes because NASA could select me for an astronaut based on my other achievements. You have a Tony Award for your stage work?  Of course, NASA would send you to space for that!

A bit delusional. But hey, a childhood dream is still a dream!

The love for science didn’t perish though, despite knowing I could never be a real astronaut.  By this time, you just can’t take science out of this nerd girl.

That leads us to now.

I’m just a humble unemployed communications and social media specialist who still is a huge nerd and wants to go to space someday.

Without NASA to inspire me back then, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I wouldn’t have developed interests in computers.  I wouldn’t have loved the science fiction genre.  I wouldn’t have left my home country in pursuit of my career dream (at the time, the goal was to to attend Art Center College of Design to study graphic design, right up the hill from JPL!)  I wouldn’t have taken my first shot at HTML or IRC or any of those computer mumbo jumbo that weird French guy in my college writing class tried to get me into.

And look at me now, while I’m not “the first Thai female NASA astronaut whose day job is the editor-in-chief of a magazine and whose free time spent defending her tennis championship and performing as a ballerina” I thought I would be, I’m still enjoying life in the science nerd kingdom in the home country of NASA itself.

Now, excuse me as I research a plan to start saving up for a Virgin Galactic flight.

Who was/is your inspiration?

The Nerd Machine Slave Leias

Geek Girls Sunday

Serendipitously, after I posted the rant about geek girls v.s. faux geek girls, that very same weekend turned itself into a Geek Girl Weekend.

Thursday

A friend of mine forwarded me a tweet: a call of arms for any L.A. Slave Leia costume owners for a web video shoot for The Nerd Machine.  (For those who didn’t know, The Nerd Machine is a brainchild of Zachary Levi a.k.a. Chuck from the TV show Chuck…or the voice of Flynn Rider from Tangled.)  I replied to that call with a couple of photos including the Zombie Slave Leia with Darth Vader.

Friday

Folks with The Nerd Machine asked if I would be available for a shoot on Sunday night in Sherman Oaks.  Since I’ve got nothing planned for Monday morning, what else is this unemployed girl going to do but say yes!

Saturday

I was given the call sheet for Sunday night shoot.  I was one of about 15 Slave Leias on the call sheet. Along with the famous Team Unicorn ladies. And Nathan Fillion.

Captain Tight-fucking-pants himself will be there?!?! Dear gods, please let me be the one Slave Leia that fell into his lap. Or something!

Alas, the gods weren’t THAT kind.  Nathan was in the earlier shoot for a different PSA in “The More You Nerd” series.

*snap* *sigh*

Anyhoo.  Later on in the afternoon, we went to watch my friend Pam performed her storytelling piece for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  “Death 40 Feet Tall” was fantastic. She touched on all the points of a life of a geek girl that even non-geeks would understand.  And praises be Michael Bay!  My cheeks were tired from smiling so much.

After the show, we continued to nerd out at a nearby restaurants with her friends.  And I told Pam about my upcoming big geek moment.  And of course, she’d threaten to kill me out of jealousy if I get to meet Nathan.  This must be how other girls feel when they came across a pair of Manolo for only $50, or something.  Getting to share my nerdy joy with fellow geeks is elating!

Sunday (Father’s Day…appropriately)

Much. Excitement! I gave myself a full hour to get my hair and make-up ready for this.  LOL.  A lot of weirdness I had to adjust too.  First, I only wear my contact lenses as needed, and obviously this was needed. That was weird #1.

Then, I have only donned the Slave Leia outfit as an actual Slave Leia twice before.  Usually, I’d be done up as Zombie Slave Leia. Weird #2 is to not have my face all dead-blue and there was no blood spattered anywhere on my body.

Weird #3 I figured I’d feel once I’m surrounded by the real cosplay girls as my outfit, despite the modified top, was store-bought.  And I would be right. Almost everyone there came through the list of Slavemaster, crafter of Leia’s Metal Bikini‘s accurately made Slave Leia cosplay gitups.  A few came through casting.  Three of us came in via Twitter.

To my relief, there are a few who put on the same store-bought ones I have. I’m not the only one after all!

The cosplayers seem to know each other well and were hanging out together.  I clung on to Cristina who made her own outfit and made acquaintances with Lauren the Closet Geek and fellow Asian Leia Gigi.

ETA 2013: At the time I failed to mention Emily Ruth. Of all the girls I mentioned here, I’m most in touch with her. So, hi Miss Em!

The Nerd Machine Slave Leias

It was so refreshing to be among the real geek girls. I mean, I was happy to be one of the weak geekling of the bunch as I have never been to a convention of any kind, and maybe the only one there who doesn’t read comic books.

We were held in the garage where we got to have some fun with other characters for the shoot. Even Zach Levi came by to schmooze for a bit.

2011-06-19 20.44.30

The surprise of the evening was that we were supposed to have a second outfit to change into.

WHAT?!

Apparently, NONE of us were told about bringing a second costume.  ALL of us have our own cosplay costumes we could have brought!  But instead, they had to don the store-bought stuff the crew had laying around.  So there were a few classic Star Trek mini skirts and other cheesier variety of Halloween costumes.  At least one get to keep her Slave Leia outfit.

Some of us just came up with something we had on hand.  Ginny happened to have on hand her R2D2 swimsuit…which kicked ass. I brought my Jedi robe for warmth, so I just threw that over my street clothes and *voila*, instant Jawa!

Best part of the evening?  Zach asked for my name…since I was the girl who would be crossing in front of the camera.  And he called me by name for the rest of the shoot.

Star struck? Oh yeah. “Chuck” knows my name. Well, at least for that few hours.  And he gave me a hug later…so that made up for it.

All in all, the evening was magical. And a tad surreal.

I’ll definitely post the video when it comes out. You’d probably catch a glimpse of the back of my head.  Or my arm.  Or something.

[ETA: The video is out–and I’m TOTALLY prophetic. I’m in it just as I predicted.]

P.S.

To add to the surrealism of it all was what appeared to be a hello from my dearly departed Gregg.  Last summer, Gregg took me to see James Taylor and Carole King at the Hollywood Bowl.  As I was driving by the Bowl on my way home from the shoot, out of my random playlist crooned Carole King’s “Home Again”.  I took it as a sign that Gregg approved of the evening’s adventure.