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The days are starting to run together, and I’m slowing get less sleep, and my feet hurt more than ever from traversing across the city…and I keep finding myself more in love with NXNE. That said, let’s get straight to the events.

So on June 14th, the Thursday of NXNE, I personally started off the morning by catching up on a little of blogging, and then heading around to the Hyatt Regency for the 2pm NXNEi events. Here are the events of that day:

1. My Anti is Bigger Than Your Censorship: Combating Internet censorship through art and satire

This presentation was presented by Saman Arbabi, who founded the satirical political show Parazit in Iran, which can be likened to The Daily Show here in the US. With he has combated the Iranian government using humour, art, and satire, and has created a gigantic following of fans who all want a major change in their government. This was one of the most powerful panels I went to at NXNEi, not only because of the impact that Saman has had in Iran, but because of the way he did it. He created this short show, which grew and grew, because he was allowing a venue for people to be angry. He was allowing them to feel and think as they wanted, and it is something that I think many of us forget to do sometimes. Saman is also very interested in internet censorship, and how many countries all around the world are slowly having their rights taken away, most notably North Korea, which Saman is particularly interested in. Currently, Saman is working on a project called Weapons of Mouse Destruction, in the hopes of raising awareness about internet censorship.

2. Beyond Media Queries: Responsive Design and Cross-Device Thinking

Although I’m not a designer by trade, and a lot of topics in this discussion were a wee bit over me head, I still gleaned quite a bit of information from this on a broader scale. I won’t get into specifics about interfaces, responsive design, or cross-device design, but the overarching thing I understood from it was that you need to ask yourself “why” more. If you ask yourself why first, then you can solve a lot of problems about the how, what, and who. Also, make sure you have your priorities straight, and do go for shiny things when simpler solutions will solve your problems. I think these can pretty much be applied to life and the universe in general.

3. Digital Vixens and Female Zombies: From script to screen in game writing

This was a very interesting panel, and one that I mostly wanted to go to for personal reasons, that being that I’m just a huge geek. I used to want to be a video game designer when I was in high school, so I actually love to talk about the theory of gaming, and in the context of NXNEi, and feminism, this panel felt strange, but still interesting nonetheless. The three panelists were Kimberly Ann Sparks (game writer), Lesley Phord-Toy (game developer), and Marissa Roberto (game journalist), which was a great mix and depth of knowledge to take on the subject, but the panel felt a bit design-centric, and less about the depiction/representation of women in games and gaming culture, which was a bit disappointing. Despite that though, the panelists had some amazing opinions and advice about creating experiences for an audience, and how sometimes the conception is harder to produce than you might think, which I think applies to pretty much any creative craft.

After the NXNEi events were finished, I realized that I didn’t have any food to speak of, except for some peanut butter and jelly (no bread). So I decided to pick up the basics: hummus, bread, carrots, and naturally bean sprouts. So I had a bean sprout and hummus sandwich and headed over to the Royal Cinema for Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy at 7pm, which was one of my big hits not only for the evening, but definitely the festival. I read the book, which the film is adapted from, just about a month ago, and it was totally coincidental that the movie was playing at NXNE, so of course I had to go. It was even better than I expected, and I was kind of expecting a lot. The cinematography was interesting and fluid, the music was beautiful and well integrated, and the portrayal of the characters was really honest, and packaged together the message of the film very well. Although I liked the book, there were definitely some plot lulls that were solved in the cinematic interpretation, and the director’s story about making this movie was phenomenal, to say the least, but I’ll get to that in the next post. One of the coolest things was that since this is an independent Canadian film, there aren’t that many showings, and so Irvine Welsh himself was there, and talked a bit about transition from book to film.

Naturally, after the other events, I was ready for some music, so I made my way over to El Mocambo at 10pm for the Army Girls, where I ran into a couple of friends that I had met the day before (and hopefully will see again tonight)! Army Girls is composed of a girl on voice and guitar, and a guy on drums, and a whole lot of bubbling energy, that tends to overflow. I liked them way more than I expected, and the front-woman completely owned the stage. She not only engaged the audience while she was playing, but between songs as well. And personally, I also love that her parents were there, which I’ve seen at a couple of other acts here at NXNE.

After the Army Girls, I ran over to Monarch Tavern at 11pm for Mira Black. The crowd was small, so I got a table near the front, and ordered a whiskey sour for myself, which was pretty much perfect for the mood. I thought I was on my way to a hopping electronic disco for some reason, but Mira turned out to be more of the crooning, futuristic soul singer type. The atmosphere she laid into the room was so relaxing, and her poetry, both within the songs and between the songs, flowed so well, partially to do with her silky speaking voice. I talked to her afterward too, and she gave me a CD and said that she usually has a guitarist as well who couldn’t make it, so I can’t wait to listen to CD, and watch some videos.

Because my feet were tired, and I told myself I wouldn’t push myself too much, I decided to head to the Free Times Cafe for awhile. At midnight Jenny Berkel played, along with her sister and a friend. Although I’m not usually into singer-songwriter acts, her voice was really compelling, and really had a way around the guitar, as did her sister around the accordion. After chatting with The Liz for awhile, we both stayed for Maneli Jamal at 1am. The crowd was pretty small since it was later in the night, but he gave an amazing performance of his original works, as well as a Nirvana cover, which I really appreciated. It was nice to have such an intimate setting for that type of music, and I might head back to the Free Times Cafe if I ever feel like kicking up my heels.

After Liz and I parted ways, I felt like making one more show, so I headed to Sneaky Dee’s to see Dance Laury Dance. Apparently, and I learned this after the show started, that they started as a Ja Rule cover band? I don’t know if that’s true at all, but they rocked the house with non-Ja Rule songs, and had a truly old-school rock and roll, bust your balls feeling. Even though my legs were tired from the day, I found it hard not to dance, and ended up giving into temptation.

 

Until next time, folks! Stay tuned!

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