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Top 10 ‘Useless’ Protagonists

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GeekOut Top 10s

You left us with a real tough challenge this week; You chose the Top 10 Useless Protagonists. When we really dissected the name, we realised that the term useless is pretty strong to apply to anyone. Also, to consider a protagonist useless is an even harder concept, as when you consider the purpose of a protagonist, it’s simply to get the story from A to B, via means of a character that you rally behind. Therefore, it’s got to be a main character, which automatically removes candidates such as Yamcha (Sorry, at no point has he been a main character).

Now that we’ve discussed what the protagonist element of this Top 10 is, it’s time to dissect the useless element. To be useless means you are without any use… In other words, to say a protagonist is useless is primarily a useless endeavour (at least, in most cases). With this said, useless is very similar to inept… Which is way more defined a concept. As such, we’re going for a Top 10 Useless Protagonists, but we’ll often dip into the inept. Rules for this list out of the way with, let’s get on with it!


Top 10

10) Vault Hunters – Borderlands

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The lowest entry to our list because, let’s face it here, Mordecai, Lillith, Roland and Brick aren’t exactly good for nothing. They help accelerate the plans of Atlas’ Commandant Steele by locating pieces of vault key, and there’s all of the sequel material in which they are pretty damn pivotal. But there’s two major points against their overall effectiveness on the story here.

1 – They show up at The Vault they’ve been hunting for just to discover Atlas already found it. The Vault opens up and the contents immediately kill the major villain who you’ve been failing to thwart all game.

2 – The whole thing was Handsome Jack’s plan! Start to finish, with Angel’s guiding hand, the Vault Hunters have been enacting the will of the biggest bad in the galaxy.

Well done folks, still feel like a hero? Good job there’s a new cast for Borderlands 2, they might actually accomplish something.

9) Guybrush Threepwood – Monkey Island

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Guybrush Threepwood is well and truly a mighty pirate… Or at least, that’s what he keeps introducing himself as. See, Guybrush really is less of a mighty pirate and more of a mighty pirate fantasiser. I mean, he manages to put a ring on the finger on Elaine Marley, so he’s got something going for him, but he manages to always cause some insane blunders which means he needs to get out there and… Uh… Plunder, I guess. Guybrush really isn’t your stereotypical main character, which is why so many people loved him and still do to this day. But unlike his advasary, the ghost pirate LeChuck, he really is nothing special.

He’s a low lister on this list, as he does manage to accomplish just about whatever he sets his mind to… But Guybrush, although not truly useless, certainly falls under the category of the inept protagonist. He’s someone who basically does stuff and that’s great. It’s not really like he thinks about the grand scheme of things, or why things happen the way they do. A prime example is in LeChucks ship at the start of the game The Curse of Monkey Island. Oh sure, he manags to escape alright, but he only does so because he winds an old friend up to the point of reducing the man to tears, then blows up some skeletal pirates, breaks the cord keeping the cannon secure and boom – The cannon is fired one more time and he blows up the whole god damned ship in the process. I don’t think he really thought about his safety there, or even what the hell he was doing. Still, a success nevertheless.

8) The Kid – Little Inferno

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It’s so very cold outside, so stay sat in front of your very own fireplace and burn your useless old belongings to keep warm. And so you do, as a young boy with his brand new Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace by Tomorrow Corp you sit unmoving, immolating stuffed toys, wooden soldiers, and play with a miniature universe as the entire world about you dies.

The girl next door dies, she tells you all about it in her upbeat letters, while you sit there burning stuff. She sends you gifts, you just burn them. Your house is destroyed, and all you can do is go and ask what to do now, before being picked up by the Weather Man and whisked off to somewhere new.

Don’t get me wrong, Little Inferno is a work of art, but damn that kid! He was beyond hopeless.

7) Marty McFly – Back To The Future

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Okay so get this… We’re led to believe that one of the major characters of Back to the Future is… Doc Brown?!

All jokes aside, Marty McFly really isn’t all that special, yet he’s treated with a lot of respect. Interestingly, we only thought about Marty McFly, as we almost inducted Morty from Rick & Morty… However, as that show literally explains, the stupid brain waves of Morty are used to disguise the genius brainwaves of Rick. Needless to say, that’s a pretty big power, so Rick keeps him around for this very purpose. Meanwhile, Marty likes to ride skateboards, plays the guitar and plays lots of video games.

Sure, we don’t disapprove of the youngsters lifestyle, but for crying out loud! Just because he played a lot of video games does not make him good at shooting a gun! If anything,

6) Billy – The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy#

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Probably the biggest idiot on this list is our dear child friend, Billy. He’s definitely nothing special and you’d certainly not expect the Grim Reaper to literally be bound to be this kids friend for all eternity… But that’s just how it goes when the sister of dear Billy is Mandy, the evil and manipulative little girl that she is. Conversely, Billy has a heart of gold, but thankfully that’s not literal as otherwise people would try to kill him for his heart alone.

Nevermind, Billy doesn’t have any powers and it’s infuriating. He is obscenely gross though, so he has that going for him? Ah, boys can be so, so icky…

5) Charlie – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Here’s a kid who earns a factory by being less lousy than a bunch of other kids who were randomly selected by their unrelenting devotion to one of the least healthy foodstuffs in existence.

Really need I say more on the matter? It’s not like Charlie doesn’t succumb to temptation like the others, he just manages to wriggle his way out of it without the need for a song, dance, and a gang of Oompa Loompa’s with a wheelbarrow. His most defining action is giving back his gobstopper.

That’s just in the Gene Wilder version, in the more recent (worse, but not all that bad if we’re honest) version he basically just talks to Wonka until the Mad Chocolatier has enough flashbacks for his daddy issues to be resolved.

4) Flute Cop – Axe Cop

flute_copAlright, so you have a flute.

When Axe Cop found the perfect axe at the scene of the fire he became the greatest Good Guy of this or any other world, the pinnacle of the arc of destiny that would send him into a legendary career of decapitating Bad Guys from the back of his mighty T-Rex, Wexter. In his mission he has many friends and allies: Grey Diamond, Sockarang, Liborg, Uni-Baby, and his closest partner in fighting crime, side-kick, brother, Flute Cop!

That’s a guy with a flute. At one point he was an avocado with a unicorn horn and he was vastly more impressive but that flute does, basically nothing. He’s a great sounding board, a humourous straight-guy to Axe Cop’s comedy, but in a world of evil moons and rabbits who break all the rules, a flute ain’t doing much for anyone.

3) Twoflower – Discworld

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Ah, Twoflower. The little tourist hailing from the Counterweight continent, bane of Rincewind’s peace and wellbeing, living danger-magnet in a hawaiian shirt if such a place as Hawaii existed on the Disc. Our intrepid adventurer comes equipped with camera, phrasebook, general obliviousness to his surroundings and the most deadly travel accessory known to man.

The put upon Wizzard is swept into interesting times, watching in horror as danger from all corners narrowly misses Twoflower and instead has a stab at him. The eldritch terror Bel Shamharoth, the cruel dragonlords of the Wyrmberg and C.M.O.T Dibbler’s sausage inna bun, Twoflower survives more by blind luck than any design or aptitude. His antics inadvertently start a revolution back home, for which he is jailed, and once again saved by providence and is landed one of the highest ranks in his nation’s government.

Not bad for an insurance salesman on holiday.

2) Mario

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Yes Mario is on this list and he’s all the way up at number two! It’s hard to believe that this really rather well known hero could end up on this list, but you need to understand something here… Mario, in the main games, is supposed to be a plumber. He’s never done actual plumbing in a game. No, going down pipes does not count as plumbing, would you please just stop it. No, plumbing isn’t going inside of Bowser either. How rude…

But nevertheless, Mario is super successful at being the hero, even though he’s actually genuinely useless at his supposed profession of choice. I bet he just calls himself a plumber so that way he has an easy time explaining what he does to the locals.

‘So, what do you do?’ asked Toad.

‘Uh, it’s a me, Mario theeeeee…’ Mario paused, struggling to find anything adequate to explain his employment status. Suddenly, he heard a flush, ‘… Plumber!’

Suddenly, a large beast with a spiky turtle shell on his back known only as Bowser comes out from the restroom. ‘Oi, red hat. You a plumber? Good. You’re needed in there.’

And to this day on, Mario became the sworn enemy of Bowser.

Ah, toilet humour.

1) Daphne – Scooby Doo

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Daphne is one of the ‘gang’ in Scooby Doo and she’s an iconic character from the series. This isn’t the first time we’ve included a character from the Hanna-Barbera Productions classic on our Top 10 lists, so we’re glad to get another one in. Daphne is instantly recognisable with her red hair, blue top and green scarf. She’s not dumb, but she’s certainly far from any of the more useful characters on the show.

She has no qualities which makes her of any true use. You could argue that Shaggy also has a similar fate, but between the two, Daphne has even less use in that she often does just act as a damsel in distress. See, whilst Fred generally has the plan and Velma has the ideas to make it happen, we’re left with three characters: Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne. Whilst Shaggy might have his off moments, he certainly makes up for it with some uncanny bravery for a scaredy cat. He usually will act as bait for the baddies. Scooby helps, by being a dog he brings some useful skills, especially when he’s being rewarded… But Daphne’s just Daphne… God damn she is so useless in this show.


Honourable Mentions

Some characters are simply and utterly rubbish at what they do… And these are two more characters that deserve to be mentioned on our Top 10 Inept Useless Protagonists list.

Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler – Whitechapel

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Ok, I feel a little bad for this one. DI Chandler is a good detective and a good cop. In every season of Whitechapel he solves the crime in just enough time for things to get good and dramatic, despite his ever clashing team, crippling OCD, and the sheer terror of the horror-themed criminals that Whitechapel pitches against him.

But there’s one major problem. It seems there’s a curse upon poor Chandler, as he’s never yet managed to bring a single killer to court. The New Ripper, the Copy-Krays, the Bogeyman, the Witchhunter, the Flayer, every single one has died in bizarre circumstances just as the team have them bang-to-rights. Had the show been renewed for one more season, the one it richly deserved, we may have discovered why every criminal they uncovered died before being brought to justice.

Lan Hikari – Mega Man Battle Network

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Lan Hikari really is far from useless, as he’s managed to save the world from some evil viruses and programs. If you’re uninitiated, Lan Hikari is from the Battle Network series of Mega Man, which also had it’s own anime. In the anime, Lan is viewed as a plucky, eager and energetic kid who has a great heart. In the games he’s viewed as much too… And his partner in digital virus busting is the titular Mega Man. Pretty impressive that he can control Mega so easily…

Except at the start of every game in this franchise, he manages to forget everything he’s done. He goes so far, that he forgets even how to bust viruses at the start of every single one of the games in the franchise and has to be re-taught how to do it! It’s a little insane – and whilst I respect the fact gamers need to be taught how to play the game (especially when there’s new features, or if you’re new to the game), the fact it so bluntly tells you “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!” is a little over the top.


We’re now absolutely fed up of these characters getting so much glory, when they effectively add nothing to the story. It’s time for us to put this list to rest and tell these characters to get back to what they do best, which isn’t much really, but at least we’re being honest about these things here. While we wait for these useless ones to get out of here, help us decide what Top 10 we cover next week. We never said we weren’t useless at making up our minds..!

That’s it for this week, from Daphne to Twoflower, we’ve covered some pretty useless and inept characters indeed. But what did you make of our list this time? Did our reasoning of including ‘inept’ characters resonate with you, or do you think that made this list too easy? What about the order of our list? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


Cosplay Post – You’re A Wizard, Timlah

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All of these conventions are sneaking up on us as of late, however it’s come to my attention that next week, on Saturday 26th, it’s BristolCon! This marks the third year I’ve attended this event, which is a really fun local Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention. There’s some interesting talks, a lot of nice merchandise and an art room to go with it. Couple this with the fact we’re right next to a bar at all times as well (… I’m saying nothing about hanging about at the bar, it’s not like last year we had a huge game or two of Zombie Fluxx there or anything, ) I like to make use of my time as a cosplayer.

Why? I dunno. I just enjoy this stuff. So with that said, what am I going to BristolCon as?

BristolCon 2015

I can’t remember for the life of me if I’ve mentioned it, but it’s time to retire Oskar. He’s been great and I’m sure in the not too distant future he’d be fantastic to return to the world, but his old bones are weak and weary now. It’s time to look towards the future and decide what will become my latest casual cosplay? I’ve got one… And it’s another Original Character. Whereas Oskar was developed from an existing character (Oscar Kass), this one I wanted to make completely unique, a definitely unique costume.

For all of the Facebook and some of the Twitter fans of GeekOut, you may have noticed I’ve been tweeting and posting about a wizard hat. After all, to debut a new costume at BristolCon, a fantasy convention, it’d make sense to make it relevant to Sci-Fi or Fantasy. Last years BristolCon, I went dressed as Twoflower. It’s only fitting then that this year, I go as a Wizard. For those unfamiliar with Discworld and The Colour of Magic, Twoflower is a tourist and he travels with Rincewind the wizard. Instead of going as Rincewind himself, I decided to make a character somewhat inspired by his antics.

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So to be a wizard, I need a wizards hat. There it is above. Want to know how I made it? It’s pretty simple… But pay attention to the equation part!

  1. Material; I used Pleather. Felt is the traditional material of choice for this type of hat. The pleather gave this a really extra floppy feel which was kind of my goal.
  2. Thread & Needle; I used a matching thread, but later I went over it again with a black thread so it stood out.
  3. Pattern Paper; I just used normal paper and taped them together. It worked wonders!
  4. Scissors, craft knife, a pen (or chalk, depending on your preference.)
  5. Measuring tape, Ruler

Material cost: I bought several metres worth of pleather for £10. I didn’t even use 1 metre for this. This hat cost approximately £4 to make.

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Some of the things you’ll need!

First, get your measuring tape and let’s figure out how we’ll make the pattern:

  1. Measure around your forehead for your heads circumference. Add some extra on for how low on the head you want it to sit. You do not want it to be the exact size of your head, as it will barely fit. Write down your heads circumference and any give. anything between half an inch to one and a half works wonders. I put up half an inch extra.
  2. Figure out how wide you want the brim. I decided to add 4 inches for the brim.
  3. You can suss out the brim circumference if you want, I found it didn’t matter too much.
  4. Find your heads radius: That’s half of your heads circumference (with the extra give you gave in step 1.)
  5. Figure out how tall you want your ‘peak’, that’s the long pointy bit!

For a better explanation of how this works, I’d highly recommend this page, which has some amazing information about the maths behind making the hat. Once you’ve finished writing all this down, you’ll be making two patterns: One for the peak and one for the brim.

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The peak is interesting to make the pattern for. You need to think that you’re making a whole cone. You need to make what is close to three quarters of a full circle, which seems like a bizarre thing to do… But the reason is simply that you’ll be folding the peak on itself to sew it up. You’ll notice my brim (the big circle) didn’t have a hole in it: This comes afterwards. I used my craft knife to score out the part and it popped out quite easily. I used scissors when I was unsure of how well the knife scored it. I also used the scissors to cut out the main shapes.

When you go to sew the peak, remember to sew the “wrong way”, as when you’re finished, the untidy bits of your sewing should be on the inside. If you’re going to use pleather, I might advice that you use a lining of some kind. I didn’t mind so much, I personally prefer it without lining, but I’d probably recommend a simple lining for the brim. It would make it look a lot tidier. But heck, my guy is an accidental wizard.

A book for all budding wizards

A book for all budding wizards

With two pieces now, you need to sew them together. The way I did it is probably not the recommended way, but: I used some extra room I left on the bottom of the peak (the hem) and pinned it to the brim. Then I sewed the peak to the brim by sewing along the hem and whallah. I had a pointy wizards hat! Well then, that’s that.

Couple this with my blue robes, commonly used with Oskar and armed with a brand new book (That I made), I’ve just got one thing remaining: I need a wizardly weapon. Y’know I already have one..? Cast your mind back to this image:

DSC_0537You might notice what appears to be a large stave of kinds and you’d be correct. I already had a staff made up, which was the basis for the scythe. The staff needs a tiny bit of love (some duct tape sounds good) and we’re good to go. Therefore, by reusing things I already have, this costume has cost me no more than £4 to make. Bargain cosplaying if there ever has been some!

Well, that’s it folks. There’ll be pictures of Timlah, the Accidental Wizard no doubt some time after BristolCon is over. For now though, we roll onto Saturday. I’m looking forward to the event and hopefully people will get a bit of a chuckle out of my attire. If you’d like to make your own for Dummies book, please check out this website, a generator. As a warning, there’s a small watermark on the printed page, but it’s not so bad. I’d recommend doing what I did which is copying the embed code into a text file and adding <html><body></body></html> tags around it. Change the size to something more appropriate (I chose 1024 x 768) and then display that on screen and print it. That was, for some reason, the only way it would get larger for me.

That’s all, the Accidental Wizard is about ready to go. Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. The costume has taken no more than 4 hours to make and at just £4 to make the hat..? This was one of the easiest decisions and simplest costumes I’ve ever worked on. This will become my future casual cosplay pieces. Keep your eyes out over the coming weeks whilst I work on my horror Original Character, Ashe.


The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic

Ah yes, it’s time for another look at one of the classic novels written by Terry Pratchett, the father of Discworld and all around awesome sci-fi/fantasy legend. In case you missed the last one, we had a look through the first in the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic, go check it out! We’ll wait right here whilst you go look… Are they gone? Good, let’s get on with this look at The Light Fantastic!

So this is the second book in the Discworld series and is a continuation from The Colour of Magic. As you may recall, that book finished on a cliffhanger. The Light Fantastic is the continuation and conclusion of this adventure featuring Rincewind the Wizzard and Twoflower the Tourist, along with their faithful companion, Luggage… the Luggage. Written in 1986, this was the only Discworld book to be a continuation of another Discworld book. No, seriously – I want you to go and find any other Discworld book that ends on a cliffhanger and is continued in another book. You won’t find one.

The Light Fantastic

The plot of The Light Fantastic is about the journey of Rincewind and Twoflower coming to an end, but along the way, there’s still some unresolved business. Rincewind manages to fall over the edge of the Discworld and is brought back by the Octavo, thus saving him. Without their knowledge, Death goes and tells the leading wizards of the impending fate of the world… Unless all of the spells are read from the Octavo. Typical, isn’t it that it’d have to be with the inept wizard Rincewind?

Of course, this means that Rincewind is now a wanted man… So a damn lot of wizards go out to capture Rincewind and the Octavo. After a while, Rincewind meets back up with lovable tourist Twoflower, before they are accompanied by the aging Cohen the Barbarian.

Rincewind

Through the rest of this story, we see luggage become a hero that saves Rincewind (Which is amusing to think a little box with legs could be a hero)! We also see more of the Great A’Tuin, who has decided to change the path the Discworld is on. We also see Twoflower go toe to toe with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… In a game of Contract Bridge. There are people who are heading to mountains after hearing about the impending apocalypse, because they want a better view.

The whole premise of The Light Fantastic is there to close off the events of The Colour of Magic and to bring resolution to this journey. It’s an amazing fantasy story filled with a lot of light hearted humour and wacky characters. Much like The Colour of Magic, there was a television show for this, which happened along side The Colour of Magic. Once more, David Jason retains his role as Rincewind.

You can buy fantastic Discworld miniatures from http://pjsmprints.com/miniatures/index.html!

You can buy fantastic Discworld miniatures from http://pjsmprints.com/miniatures/index.html!

Overall, The Light Fantastic is definitely worth the read. It’s got great pacing and it’s really satisfying seeing the end of the journey that Twoflower and Rincewind set out on. I won’t spoil the ending for you all, as I reckon you’d enjoy experiencing the story for yourselves. But that’s all for now, so what do you think? Have you read The Light Fantastic? What Discworld book should we have a look at next? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter. Keep the fantasy spirit strong!


The Colour of Magic

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Have you ever been so enthralled by a book that you went on to read the whole series? I’m sure you have. In the modern world, some of the most captivating books are amongst the most magical and surreal. It’s with this in mind that I wanted to look through one of my favourite book series, Discworld.

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BristolCon 2014 is almost here

DoubleTree Hotel the Venue

Tomorrow is the day for BristolCon 2014!

For another full day of sci-fi and fantasy fun, it’s time to go and get our book love on and this year, BristolCon is looking bigger and better than ever!

It seems there’s going to be a panel for everyone, there’s a section dedicated to the Yōkai in Japanese culture, which is awesome for me! As well as that, there’s going to be some amazing readings by really talented authors and writers, panels on how to get into writing and much more. What’s more, the GeekOut South-West social group are going there to investigate, look around and chat! Come say hi to us!

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Bristol-Con – Are you in?

Bristol-Con is an annual one day convention held in the heart of Bristol. Not surprising, since it is called Bristol-Con.

Bristol-Con looks to promote Sci-Fi and Fantasy, giving authors, artists and even game enthusiasts a chance to get together. There’s great chances to network with other authors/artists, as well as being able to showcase your works.

Held in the Doubletree Hotel which is basically just across the road from Bristol Temple Meads train station, Bristol-Con will start in the morning, hosting panels and activities throughout the day until the evening.

If you’re an author or are an artist and you’re looking for exposure, then Bristol-Con might just be the place for you. Also, if you’re part of the general public like me, then you’d be amazed at the series of informative panels, activities and stuff they sell in shops.

Also, this year it looks like Bristol-Con are taking Sci-Fi and Fantasy games a lot more seriously. As an avid gamer myself, I have to thank them for this. For more information on this, please check out their official post on the matter.

This year however, they weren’t prepared for one thing.

 

GeekOut South-West are taking to Bristol-Con

Yes it’s true, Bristol-Con and GeekOut South-West have been in discussions and the amazingly lovely Jo Hall has offered us a severely discounted price (providing you are part of GeekOut South-West on Meetup.)

Click the logo to be taken to our Meetup page!

Click the Meetup logo to be taken to the GeekOut going to Bristol-Con event!

The wonderful people at Bristol-Con have given us a special discounted rate of £15 for between 10-20 people or £12 for more than 20 people. We can’t go wrong with these prices as normally it’s £25 to buy a ticket or £30 on the door!

As such, they’ve offered us a better than half-price deal. Thanks guys!

To make this event even sweeter, they’ve teamed up with the amazing Bristol Bad Film Club to deliver all Bristol-Con goers a chance to watch an awful film called The Uninvited. This is about a killer cat. Okay, I’m sold.

Please note, if you come for the GeekOut session, we’ve not gotten a deal on the bad film, which if you pay in advance is £5. If you pay on the door, it’s £6 and profits go to charity.

We’ll end the night on a high by going to a pub, but I think we’ll leave the pub decision until the very end of the day when we can all decide together what/where we want to do and go. It’ll be a long day, full of laughs, talks and I’ll bring some card games. Oh gosh, I didn’t mean Zombie Fluxx again did I?! I’ll need to get some new games!!

Oh yeah and I might have said I’ll be getting dressed up as Twoflower, probably closer to the movie version.

Yes, I’ll be making a case for my actual camera to do those kinds of shots.

 

I’m getting all tear-y eyed

It feels strangely apt that I make this post today…

You see, exactly one year ago, I joined WordPress. One of the first groups that I ever reached out to was in fact Bristol-Con. As such, I’d like to extend my thanks to you, old reader and new reader alike. I’d also like to thank Bristol-Con, including Jo Hall and Cheryl Morgan for being kind to this local Bristol geek and his idea of running a social group. I’d like to think GeekOut South-West is turning pretty successful with over 100 members on the Meetup page.

We joined Meetup in January this year and we’ve not looked back since. We’ve been on the up in all aspects, be it the social group and be it via the blog. As such, to everyone we’ve ever spoken to as a group: Thank you. No matter what your contribution was: Thank you.

Now that the grovelling is over, here’s to another many years of GeekOut South-West content and to many more years for Bristol-Con.

Do you like the looks of Bristol-Con? Have you been to it before or do you know of anything similar? As always, please do share your experiences in the comments section below and we’ll speak to you all very soon!