Category Archives: #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike

“Where your treasure is…”

Imagine that you are tidying a room after a meeting and you find that what was left behind is actually treasure placed there for you to discover. Imagine that you hold another meeting, and another, and another, a meeting almost every week for four years and, every single time, new treasure is left behind. There is so much treasure that, when you spread it out across your living room floor, it is three layers thick. There is so much treasure that it would take almost another four years to sort through it all but you never do sort through it all because there is always a new piece that catches your eye and makes you go back to savor all the pieces you looked at before. Imagine that each piece is priceless and the pieces just keep coming.

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This is what life is like for Grey Havens YA facilitators because, every week during our book discussions, we give our participants markers, pencils, pens, and paper then let them go. They use the materials to illustrate discussion points, to express their wry humor and poignant dreams, to confidently create. From clever scribbles to detailed drawings that take more than one meeting to complete, they have left behind treasure in the form of small glimpses into their intricate minds. Creative and critical thinking, that’s what we’re all about. Astonishing ideas emerge during every Grey Havens YA book discussion. Not all of them are spoken.

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Send Us an Owl: Our photos don’t do justice to either the quality or abundance of art we receive from our YA members. Send us your own photos or, if you are a YA member, tell us about your favorite work of art from a Grey Havens YA meeting!

Nerd Rock: Rush

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with the psychedelic Pink Floyd. On Wednesday, we tuned in to the revolutionary Led Zeppelin. Today, we take a listen to the band Rolling Stone called, “Geek Gods” — Rush! This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Hopefully he will continue it in the future, but for now we hope you walk away with at least a few new favorite songs. Let us know in the comments! Also, make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before continuing to this one. Enjoy!

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Rush

Rush is the nerdiest band of all time. Other bands may feature themes that nerds can connect to but the members of Rush are nerds in the same we are nerds. Because of this, the Canadian progressive power trio has a large and loyal fanbase big enough to rival wp-1462844629413.jpgthat of the Grateful Dead. The band is made up of three of the greatest musicians of all time. Geddy Lee not only plays the bass like a boss but also sings and plays the keyboard at the same time causing him to be rated the #1 bass player of all time by WatchMojo. Alex Lifeson’s guitar skills are legendary (rated second best underrated guitarist by WatchMojo) and (depending on who you talk to) Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time using a straight-up orchestra of drums that John Bonham or Keith Moon never used. Peart also served as the main lyricist, writing epic sci-fi and fantasy stories while addressing other elements of nerd culture. The music of Rush is everything a nerd could want:  intelligent, perfectly calculated and downright epic.

Rush formed in 1968 in Toronto. The original lineup consisted of high school friends Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson along with drummer John Rutsey. They were mostly a heavy blues rock band taking cues from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. wp-1462844647848.pngThey released their first album in 1974 where it achieved moderate success with the song Working Man. However because of health problems, Rutsey had to quit the band leaving Rush without a drummer. They recruited Neil Peart who easily surpassed Rutsey as a drummer. Peart also became the band’s primary lyricist. Peart was a major nerd and wrote songs based off works of fantasy and sci-fi. On the band’s next album Fly by Night the group experimented with longer and more complex songs, such as on the song By-Tor And The Snow Dog, which told the epic tale of two fantasy creatures fighting. The album also featured Tolkien references on the song Rivendell.

By Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel, they had gone full prog (progressive rock), now telling epic fantasy stories on over-10-minute-long songs, such as The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth. This obviously put them at odds with their producers who wp-1462844600867.jpgwanted shorter and more accessible songs. Rush refused to comply and released 2112, an over 20 minute long seven part science fiction epic set in the future where rebels battled the evil “Priests of Syrinx” with the power of music, on the album of the same name. The album proved successful, and Rush was beginning to make a large fan base with young nerds who connected with their music. Throughout the rest of the 70’s Rush released more albums filled with songs about greek gods, robots, space travel, immortality, talking trees, and black holes, and though critics either ignored or bashed them, Rush had reached “cult status” with fans.

Listen to the second movement of 2112:

Listen to the nerdy The Trees: 

By the 1980s, Rush began to incorporate synthesizers into their music — meaning Geddy Lee had to add a third job to his role in the band. They began to get radio airplay as well with songs like The Spirit Of  Radio when they started writing shorter songs. In wp-1462844590355.jpg1981, the album Moving Pictures came out which features (at least what critics will tell you) their best set of songs. Rush gradually used more and more synths on their next four albums. However, the use of synths didn’t mean the music got any less awesome. Songs like Natural Science and Countdown show Peart’s geeky love of science and the excitement of space travel, while the song Subdivisions discussed the struggle of not fitting in, basically being a nerd.

Watch the music video for Subdivisions: 

By 1989, Rush had returned to a harder guitar-driven sound with the album Presto and continued this throughout the 90s with albums like Roll the Bones and Counterparts. Though it looked like the band was over after Peart suffered a major personal tragedy, the band returned wp-1462844548883.jpgin 2002 with Vapor Trails leading to Snakes and Arrows in 2007. Rush latest album, Clockwork Angels, released in 2012, was an epic concept album later adapted into a steampunk, dystopian fiction novel. In 2010 the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage was made telling the story of the band and their struggle of being constantly overlooked. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years later and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary with the R40 tour, rumored to be their last major tour.

Watch the trailer for the R40 tour: 

Watch the trailer for Beyond the Lighted Stage:

That’s it for now. I hope you all will check out these awesome artists!!! Nerd (and Rock) On!

Coming Soon: The Beatles, The Who, Queen, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, and David Bowie.      

For one final video, take a listen to the epic The Spirit of Radio:

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Rush song and why? What other bands do you consider to be nerdy? Leave us some song suggestions in the comments. 

Nerd Rock: Led Zeppelin

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with Pink Floyd. This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before tuning in to this one.  Enjoy!wp-1462761910460.jpg

Led Zeppelin

wp-1462762574688.jpgYou don’t get more epic than Led Zeppelin. British hard rock band Led Zeppelin is one of music’s greatest artists. As far as bands go, they are only second to the Beatles in terms of innovation and influence. They revolutionized live shows and made Rock and Roll about albums, not singles. Though they were only around for a little over a decade, they created about as flawless as a career as possible through their nine albums. Rated the 3rd greatest artist of all time by VH1, 14th by Rolling Stone Magazine, and second greatest band of all time by WatchMojo their music is timeless and oh-so nerdy, often borrowing elements from fantasy and history for their music and appearance.  

wp-1462762565582.jpgLed Zeppelin formed in 1968 as a heavy blues rock band made up of guitarist Jimmy Page, singer Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham, and bassist John Paul Jones. They released their first album in 1969. It was made up of  blues covers, acoustic tracks, and psychedelic songs. It began one of the most successful debut albums of all times becoming the fifth best selling album of the 60s. They released their second album Led Zeppelin II later in the year which outsold its predecessor and is now seen as one of the most important albums in hard rock and heavy metal history. The album featured more original songs written by Page and Plant such as Whole Lotta Love and Ramble On.

Listen to the Tolkien influenced “Ramble On“, especially the second verse:

Led Zeppelin were renowned for their incredible musical ability. Jimmy Page is considered to be one of rock’s all great guitar players (usually ranking just under Jimi Hendrix). John Bonham is usually rated the greatest drummer of all time, while Jones was known not only for his skill with a bass but with the keyboards as well. Plant became known for
his powerful, bluesy voice that cemented him as one of the greatest frontmen of all time. Led Zeppelin’s live shows wp-1462762491966.jpgbecame legendary partly due to the fact that they lasted for many hours, much longer than had ever been done before. They were also known for never releasing singles, meaning you couldn’t go to the record store and buy a single Led Zep song, you had to buy the whole album.

Watch Jimmy Page play an incredible guitar solo with a bow:

By Led Zeppelin’s fourth album in 1971 they were the biggest band in the world, taking over from the now broken-up Beatles. The album featured many of Zeppelin’s best songs such as Black Dog and When the Levee Breaks and of course, Stairway to Heaven.  Led Zeppelins lyrics began to get more complex as they now used the works of Tolkien as inspiration for songs. Stairway to Heaven, Ramble On, Misty Mountain Hop, and The Battle of Evermore all reference LOTR in some way. The group also referenced Norse mythology and Vikings with songs like the Immigrant Song and No Quarter.

Try to find all the Tolkien references in the geeky “The Battle of Evermore”- 

wp-1462762553227.jpgOn their next few albums Led Zeppelin began to experiment with more types of music such as funk, reggae, ballads, progressive rock, folk, along with using spanish and eastern influences, such as on the song Kashmir (featuring the nerdy line: “I am a traveler of both time and space”) . Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti were some of the bestselling albums of the decade and their new musical styles helped bring in new fans.

However in the late 70’s personal tragedies, such as Plant being injured in a car crash and his young son dying of illness, along with drug use caused Led Zeppelin to begin to disintegrate. Soon after the release on their 8th album In Through The Out Door, John Bonham died of alcohol poisoning leading to the band’s breakup in 1980. In 1982, the album Coda was released. It was made of previously recorded but unreleased tracks. Page and Plant both pursued solo careers during the 80’s and 90’s. In 2007 the band reunited with Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums for the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert leading to a DVD release of the concert in 2012.  

Watch the trailer for the Celebration Day concert: 

Our Nerd Rock series continues on Friday with Rush! 

wp-1462762540468.jpgP.S. At the meeting, we talked about Page’s playing of the guitar with a violin bow and how different and unique that is, and how that is, really, what a nerd looks like. What do you think?

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Led Zeppelin song and why?

Nerd Rock: Pink Floyd

Círdan’s note: A few weeks ago, we asked our young adults if they had any topics or questions they wanted to address in a student-led discussion. One of our high-schoolers Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528, put together a fabulous presentation on Nerd Rock that we thought was too good not to share. We’ve transformed his powerpoint into blog form so that you can enjoy and rock along with us. Remember our Grey Havens YA slogo: “Being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.” Ethan’s enthusiasm for rock and the connections he draws between music, fandom, and being a nerd are what Grey Havens YA is all about. This post is part one of three (so far), so stay tune for more classic rock and nerdy awesomeness. Party on, dude!

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Best of Both Worlds

You wouldn’t think it but Classic Rock and Fandoms go together extremely well. I can’t think of a nerdier type of music. While pop has to always please a mainstream audience, rock can sound like whatever you want it too as long as it just sounds awesome. While pop music has to fit inside a box, rock music can have large amounts of fans without a single hit. While the artists in this series are all pretty well known (except for maybe one), many people don’t see the nerdy side of their music. That’s what I am going to point out with this series and hopefully introduce to some new music that’s sure to get you as excited as the next Marvel movie.

Here is what I mean when I say “nerdy music,” and these are the factors that I used to make this list:

  • Characters- The members of the band are cool and may even may be nerds themselves.
  • Backstory- The band itself has an epic story (such as their rise to stardom, lineup changes, etc.)
  • Visuals- The band’s logo, album artwork, or images at live shows are nerdy in appearance such as taking from sci-fi or fantasy.
  • Talent- The band members have almost superhuman talent on their instrument.
  • Lyrics- The group’s lyrics feature nerdy themes (such as not fitting in, science, or themes and ideas based off of novels or poems)
  • Fandom References- The band’s lyrics or imagery references fandoms we still enjoy today.
  • Solid Franchise- The band has produced a steady stream of quality material during their time together.
  • Storytelling- Their music tells stories through either individual songs or concept albums

So Here We Go!!!

Pink Floyd.

wp-1462754049217.jpgPsychedelic/Progressive Rock band Pink Floyd is one of the most successful and innovative music artists of all time. Rated the 51st greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, The 18th greatest artist by VH1 and the 4th greatest rock band by WatchMojo, Pink Floyd is a combination of intelligent lyrics, lengthy and complex arrangements, unique themes and imagery, and spellbinding live shows.

Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd started out as a psychedelic band led by frontman Syd Barrett who used fairytales and works of fantasy as inspiration for Pink Floyd’s earliest albums such as The Piper At The Gates of Dawn and the space themed Saucerful of Secrets.        

Listen to the Tolkien influenced “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s first album. 


By their second albums Barrett had succumbed to the excess of the 60’s, his mind altered by drugs leaving Pink Floyd without a frontman. Bassist Roger Waters stepped up to the task working to find Pink Floyd a new sound, while guitarist David GIlmour stepped in to replace Barrett. The group tried out experimental soundscaping on
Atom Heart Mother and film soundtracks on albums like Obscured By Clouds and More. They even scored the the music for the moon landing on British television. In 1971 they released Meddle, which showed the band moving in a more progressive direction. Little did they know they were about to become one of the biggest bands of all time.

Listen to Pink Floyd sample the Doctor Who theme on “One of These Days” (at 2:20)

With the release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 Pink Floyd became superstars. The album spent 917 non-consecutive weeks on the charts and is now the 3rd best selling album of all time. Pink Floyd had found their mind-bending, epic sound with Waters providing the philosophical lyrics and themes, often using Barrett’s mental illness for ideas, which led to some of their most famous songs such as: Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and Brain Damage, while Gilmour’s guitar skills and the rest of twp-1462754049220.pnghe band’s musical talent (Richard Wright’s keyboards and Nick Mason’s drums) put unique music behind the words. The band released the album Wish You Were Here in 1975 while also receiving recognition for their live shows which featured laser and light shows.

As Pink FLoyd’s fame grew Waters’s lyrics began to grow more political. In 1977 Pink Floyd released Animals, an Orwellian concept album that compared social classes to barnyard animals and in 1979 they put out The Wall, a concept album telling the story of a rocker who builds a metaphorical wall from humanity. The album became the best-selling album of the decade (although DSOTM would later outsell it). However Waters (who wrote The Wall pretty much all by himself) began to see the band as his own. In-fighting caused the band to break up after one final album in 1980 (basically a Waters solo album).

Listen to “Pigs on the Wing Pt.2” from Animals

To people’s surprise, Gilmour, Wright, and Mason reunited for a new album in 1987 without Waters ensuring a legal battle over Pink Floyd name. Waters eventually relented and the new Pink Floyd lineup scored a few hits such as Learning to Fly and On the Turning Away. In 1994 the group released the album The Division Bell, an altogether stronger and more focussed effort. In 2005 Pink Floyd managed to put aside their differences for one last show together at the Live 8 Charity Concert before going their separate ways. Richard Wright passed away in 2008 and a mostly instrumental Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, was released in 2014 honoring his achievements.  

Now, I leave you with two final videos. Watch this incredible guitar solo from the Live 8 show (solo starts at 20:54, but you’ll also enjoy the rest of the video):

Finally, see more about the Pink Floyd live show experience in this trailer for Roger Waters’s new concert movie: 

Our Nerd Rock series continues on Wednesday with Led Zeppelin!

P.S. At the meeting we also enjoyed watching the first eight minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as it syncs up perfectly with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was pretty spectacular!

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song and why?

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary)

Círdan’s Note: Hopefully you’ve heard by now all about the surreal new gaming experience created by Grey Havens YA titled The Last Stand. Here it seems I’ve found the remnants of a journal written by one of our quest members, Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian). Let’s take a quick look inside Jim’s head and find out what happened the last time our members got together to fight for survival in The Last World… (P.S. Catch up by reading the first game here.)

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Day 2

I apologize for not writing yesterday. I was…preoccupied.

Our table is leg-less. But on the plus side, we got a new gate!

Timmy cried…again. Sometimes I wish he would just go away. But then I remember that I promised my wife I would protect him before she died. Huh….I regret making that promise.

We got a new guy here to our camp. Rumor has it he slaughtered an entire army all by himself. One tough dude. I’ve been appointed as our official Gate Guard. Now that we have a gate, it is a  useful role.

~Thump~ What the heck?  There’s some sort of gorilla here. I thought those things were extinct. I’m gonna go see what’s up with him. He seems like a…weird creature. He seems to be salvaging the bear he killed for food. I’m not sure though. Apparently the bear angered him in a game of chess…so he…killed it. Then he showed up here and now he is going to stay. I swear…we are already running out of food. We can’t deal with all of these new people. While I’m speaking, they are ripping the femurs out of the bear to use as new table legs. Our dragon guy went out to go scavenge for wood. The gorilla followed him. I’m not sure why he’s going, but ok. Now we have a gate, a sort of propped up table. Not much else though.

Apparently, there was some sort of bunny in a log they found. It’s the last of it’s kind. Further examination of the bunny is happening. We were allowed by our great overlord, GM, to use our eyes to examine the bunny. What a miracle. I don’t know how we would have learned about the bunny without our eyes. The gorilla used his clumpy pelt from the bear to make a bed for the bunny.

We happened upon a cave like structure. There are two people inside, both human. One of our own is sneaking inside. She failed, but the dragon guy got in. He disabled the trap, clearing the way for everyone to get in. I dismantled the trap, and while doing so, got us a future defense for our base. The gorilla kicked in their door, and shot at them. He was shot in the process though, but our healer is looking into it now.

Timmy tried to put the fire out by rolling in it. It didn’t work, so someone else put it out.

The gorilla was deceived into not burning down the door of the couple. One of them is pregnant. Timmy is going in to talk to the couple. We’ll see how it goes.

Make me proud son……

Ok, I was just informed that the man is pointing a gun at Timmy. That guy is gonna die if I get ahold of him. They won’t let me approach the room, for fear of this man’s safety. I can relate though. When my wife was pregnant with Timmy, I did everything and anything to help her. We gave the bear meat to the couple.

They took meat, so we took their gun. Now they have no weapons.

Ok, so Timmy alerted the man that his gun was being stolen, so the wife pulled another pistol out.

She currently has it pointed at our group. Duke Brilliance is talking with them, hoping to calm them down. So we came to an agreement. We leave, and we get their table legs. Now we don’t have to use bear femurs anymore. That’s ok. Those things creeped Timmy out anyways. Still not sure why we are here.

So we found out about a nearby town. I guess we are going to head out soon. We took the gun from the gorilla. We headed west. There is an office building in the distance. There’s a pack of mutant lions in a river. The dragon Halfling is going to attempt to fly someone over them.

Let’s see how this goes.

Ok. He made it. We used our weapons to shoot the lions, and then harvest their meat. We made it through the river. So our healer can’t swim. Great. The dragonling is going to try flying her across. He barely made it. The gorilla escaped his binds, snapping the rope in the process.

A grocery store, hardware store, and office building occupy the streets of the town. The gorilla completely failed at jumping across.

He broke through the ice, so we’ll have to see if he can get out.

Aaaaaand he failed. He is currently stuck in the water while our dragonling goes back to help him. There are noises in the grocery store. Let’s hope there aren’t any people there. It’s going down at the river. The gorilla is getting into a fight with one of our members.

A man is in the grocery store, thinking about how much food he is stealing.

The gorilla broke her nose with a swift kick to the face. Our healer can’t even. She tired to heal the broken nose, and succeeded in making it worse. On the plus side, she gave her a rag to hold on her broken nose.

The rope collection at the hardware store is just amazing. All kinds of ropes, both thick and thin.

I’ll write more tomorrow.

Check out more on Wattpad.com as the story develops!

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Send us an owl: What do you think our quest members will find inside the seemingly abandoned city? What in the world is going on with the gorilla?? Tune in next time to see if we find out!

P.S. If you love the fact that we’re helping all generations to engage in literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion and want to help us continue, check out this super fun way you can support us this December!

Grey Havens YA’s Last Stand!

RPG Dice

The year is 2602. The planet once known as Earth has been callously re-christened The Last World. America is now popularly known as The Corruption. The Sahara Desert is covered in frozen ash. Days are short and dark. The temperature remains at a stubborn 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There are zombies, dragons, zombie dragons and killer wasps. Who can you trust? How will we survive?

RPG Character Sheet

This is the world of The Last Stand, a role-playing game developed by Grey Havens YA members at last April’s Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. Today, we finally got to come together in one large group to play! Some of our characters are road-weary loners, some are brilliant but aloof and unstable, motivated by self-interest or fear, some are too trusting and kind. Some have magic, others have science and mechanical skill. None of these skills are infallible.

Some have empathy or telepathy, others have trouble understanding what goes on in another person’s head. One carries his small son across the post-apocalyptic landscape in a backpack, wondering at times if the burden is too much. One of us is a Martian, kind but lost and overwhelmed by the thoughts that flood her mind. Another is slightly mad from all she has seen, though we don’t know what memories haunt her. There is a man in the camp who can be quite caustic but hovers around his community anyway. One man has golden eyes and no one knows his name. One is the sole survivor of a recent, terrible war. Our dragon is helpful but he snores. Times are harder than they have ever been. Is this really what we do for fun? Absolutely it is!

RPG Group 2

Role-playing games are good for the mind, heart and soul. If we can be anything we want, why do we give our characters limitations and problems? Why not just place ourselves in paradise? Why do we harness our imaginations to the roll of a polyhedral die? Because problems are solved, beauty is created and relationships are forged when our limitless daydreams have to fit themselves into a world that, as wild as it may be, is still governed by rules. Every time we roll the die, we risk failure but risk is our business. We don’t just hack our way through trouble either. We have weapons but we also have skills. We have strengths and weaknesses and we use them all to try together to find what each of us is looking for.

Real life is like that, too, isn’t it? Sometimes we have everything we need to succeed but circumstances turn against us anyway. Sometimes, everything goes our way. You can’t have everything you want but you can have adventure–in the game and outside of it. We also have each other.

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Our young adults built this world with all its dire problems and it is likely that they will save it many times over.  They each put nuance and depth into their characters while our game master oversees the whole thing with patience and wit. It is easy to be impressed by this. It is easy to see them going on to do great things in our own world, such as showing compassion for all kinds of characters, finding ways to work together even when the compassion hasn’t risen to the surface yet, solving problems, understanding when things don’t go their way but allowing themselves to feel elation when they do. It is also easy to see how gaming is helping them to fulfill their potential on the way to adulthood.

Gaming is part of a great tradition of storytelling, a myth that metamorphoses in the telling. It is collective storytelling, a tale adapted by each mind that joins the quest, causing the other minds to bend and twist to keep up. In a role-playing game we can see through strange eyes. Each player tries out a persona that emerges from a mix of compassion for their own attributes, empathy for what it must be like to be another, a bit of wish fulfillment and a lot of adapting to everything that comes along, including zombies, dragons, zombie dragons, killer wasps and, from time to time, a bit of luck.

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RPG Gigi Character

RPG Robyn Jayne Katie

The Last Stand proved so popular with our members that we would like to add regular gaming sessions to our schedule and, perhaps, even invite more gamers to join us but this would require more time and resources than we currently have. Click here to help! Click here to learn about what happens at a Grey Havens YA meeting when gaming is not on the agenda. May fortune fall upon your every roll!

Send us an owl: What is your favorite role-playing game? What is your favorite gaming memory? 

In December, we begin reading and discussing The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. We would also love to know your favorite memories of reading this great author.

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Fandom Theater

For the past two years (yes, everyone — it’s birthday season!), Grey Havens YA has been leading regular “outreach” programming referred to as Fandoms Unite. We call this outreach because it’s a chance for the entire young adult community to come together without the limits of our currently closed book group. We love Fandoms Unite because we get to have fun and show everyone just how much we love it.

Each Fandoms Unite has a theme — it could be trivia, sing-a-longs, fitness for nerds, find out more on our Community Programming page. However, Co-Director Robyn’s personal favorite is what we like to call Fandom Theater. Think of it as drama club but full of fandoms.

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First, you’ll need some tongue-twisters to warm up. How about saying “Raxicalicofalipitoris” five times fast? What about Legless Lego Legolas and his Lego Lass? We also need to get in to character, so a few times shouting “KHHHHAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN” at the top of our lungs should do the trick. We may even throw in some Nerd Yoga to center ourselves.

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Next! We need to start the acting! We hand-pick the best scenes from fandom movies and television shows and give volunteers the opportunity to bring them to life. The best part about this is that it never goes according to plan and it’s always hilarious. Our participants surprise us by playing trees, tv screens, and radios. We even had one volunteer stand perfectly still as Han Solo frozen in carbonite for the first scene of Return of the Jedi!

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Another fun aspect of Fandom Theater is the improv – we alternate between scripted scenes and fandom improv. Participants pick characters, a place, and a problem out of a hat and see where the action takes them! Can you imagine Sherlock, Ron Weasley, and Sauron solving a crime in Narnia? What about Darth Vader, Elsa, and Katnis at Hogwarts fighting off a Dalek invasion? Fanom improv is the best! Sometimes, we’ll even send extra characters in to help the scene a long — “Sam and Dean Winchester, go save them with the Impala!”

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Now, while our improvisors are getting ready with costumes and props, we have to keep the rest of the audience entertained. The “Nerd Circle” is an exercise developed spontaneously because we happened to have a hula hoop and a rubber ball in our props bag. All we needed to add was nerdiness and we have plenty of that! To play, just drop the hoop on the ground and gather in a circle around it. The person with the ball tosses it to someone else who then has to jump inside the circle and do something nerdy. We get lots of quotes, impressions, songs, interesting facts, (polite) hand gestures and more. If you can’t think of something, you can skip your turn by passing the ball to someone else. It is not about being the last nerd standing but about being as nerdy as you can in a circle of people who think being nerd is something to show off!

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Fandom Theater is so much fun! And we here at Grey Havens YA are pleased to announce that we are bringing this fantastic event to the Lafayette Public Library on Saturday, October 24th from 6pm to 8pm! If you are in grades 6-12, sign up today on the library’s website!

Okay, I just can’t resist adding some more photos form our awesome volunteer photographer, Donna Clement!

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Send us an owl: What awesome scene from your favorite Fandom are you just itching to act out?

Notes from an Extremely Geeky Week: Geek Fair and READCON 2015!

who shot first geek fair

Who shot first?

At the end of every Grey Havens YA meeting, we share what we call Fandom Moments, telling each other of the geeky and nerdy things that happened to us during the week. Over time, we have come to realize that our lives are replete with Fandom Moments but some weeks are even geekier than others. There is, for example, the time we went to Denver Comic Con and the time we spent a week LARPing Harry Potter for young witches and wizards beginning their magical educations. The week of Sunday, September 20 through Saturday, September 26 is right up there with the geekiest of our geeky weeks. What a time we had!

geek fair group photo

It all started with Geek Fair, part of the Longmont Museum’s Cultural Resources Fair. Geeky artists and organizations came together from all over the Front Range to help us honor our community’s teachers with a show of geeky solidarity!

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The programming began with a panel of Geeky Educators, featuring two teachers, the leader of the Longmont Public Library’s Animé Club and a parent-child psychologist. They shared how fandom culture enriches their lives and work, helping them to relate to and inspire youth and their families. One educator spoke of the desire to dispel the stigma around intelligence and curiosity. Another told us that she tries every day to remind her students of the Doctor’s words, “In 900 years of time and space, I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” It is pretty clear why we ❤ ❤ geeky teachers. The conversation continues in our Geeky Teachers group on Facebook!

geeky educators

The panel was moderated by Grey Havens YA members who talked about what their geeky teachers mean to them. 

After the inspiring panel, we danced!! We also sang fandom-themed songs, had a captions contest and answered some challenging fandom trivia questions. This was our first time presenting the full Fandoms Unite program for an all-ages crowd. We didn’t want it to end. It simply does not get any better than seeing members of the Society for Creative Anachronism dancing like Baby Groot in full medieval garb!

dance like baby groot

While all this was happening, guests browsed tables hosted by local cultural organizations. The geeks were well-represented, including the Cerar Clan of the Mandalorian Mercs, The Barony of Caer Galen, the organizers of Myths and Legends Con as well as geeky artists, podcasters and entrepreneurs.

cerar clan  mini painters


caer galen
    beyond the trope geek fair

By the end of the day, we had bonded in that way that geeks so easily bond, through shared enthusiasm and a love of the imagination. We rounded out the day with a kind of geek summit meeting, bringing together representatives from our guest organizations to share their geeky dreams. That conversation continues in our new Geeky Leaders of Colorado group on Facebook. Until we meet again, geeks of the Front Range, stay shiny and may the Force be with you!

geeky leaders discussion

What do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night–try to take over the world (or just make it a little geekier)!

The Longmont Museum is a perfect partner for Grey Havens YA. The building is beautiful, flooded with light with plenty of space to play, including the highly interactive Robots Rising exhibition that continues through January. They are a local haven for imagination and creativity so, when it comes to geeks, of course they just get us!

You would think that Geek Fair would be enough geekiness for one week but it didn’t stop there! Just six days later Grey Havens YA was at READCON 2015 at the Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone. You can imagine our relief when we we were assured that all the libraries in the High Plains District are Vashta Nerada free!

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We stayed out of the shadows, just in case. 

We were proud to be part of the official READCON 2015 launch by helping to host the pre-READCON breakfast at The Brew at Dejalu Books. It’s such a great place for coffee, crepes, and books! Our members came in cosplay to greet guests, talk about books and draw free pictures for anyone who wanted a little fandom inspiration to take home. The walls were decorated with the works of Grey Havens YA artists and the atmosphere was thick with our particular brand of enthusiasm.

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readcon menu

A few butterbeers and a hearty Second Breakfast gave us the fuel we needed for more fun!

After breakfast, we headed over to the library. We were greeted, not only by library staff, but by a familiar blue box. We knew we were in the right place!

 tardis readcon

Arriving at READCON 2015 in style. Allons-y!

Our members served as official judges of the genre book display competition and designed their own libraries using Minecraft. There were things to do and see all over the library, even outside, but, if you were looking for Grey Havens YA’s directors, chances are you would find them inside the incredibly clever “What Would the Doctor Read?” interactive display.

where to go

So much to do and see at READCON!

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What WOULD the Doctor read? He would ask Grey Havens YA for book recommendations!

Just being at READCON was a joy for us but we were also thrilled to present a panel about our favorite books. Grey Havens YA members talked with insight and humor about all of their most beloved young adult fiction. The audience was very engaged and, after the panel, they could check out the books for themselves from the beautiful Grey Havens YA book display!

reacon displayreadcon audienceWe had a great audience!

reacon panel

We tried to take a serious picture. We really did…

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… but it just didn’t work out that way!

We are tremendously grateful to Carbon Valley Regional Library for inviting us to be part of READCON 2015 at their warm and welcoming library. We can’t wait to return with more Grey Havens YA programming! This week, we will be returning to our regularly scheduled book discussions but our imaginations will linger a while longer at Geek Fair and READCON!

TARDIS photobomb

Best accidental photobomb ever! The expression on the face of the kid in the corner sums up our feelings about our amazing geeky week. We can’t wait for next year! Good thing we have a TARDIS!

Click here for a full slideshow of photos from READCON 2015. More from Geek Fair and READCON 2015 – including videos – coming soon! Make sure to like our Facebook page for daily updates and more photo fun!

Send us an owl: Did you attend Geek Fair or READCON 2015? Did you have as much fun as we did?

How do you nerd?

Grey Havens YA has been taking the #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike campaign on the road, and it’s been a pretty awesome journey! First, we stopped at the Longmont Museum’s Robots Rising exhibit. Next, we headed to the Longmont Library’s Summer Reading Program Kick-Off.  As seen on Twitter, the signs have been traveling far and wide, but sometimes we also get to have a Nerd Table. The Nerd Table encourages patrons to be a part of our interactive art project by drawing or writing about how they nerd. This could include anything from fandoms to sports to hobbies to equations– and even to equations that when read aloud become limericks. It’s been quite an amazing and nerd-tastic experience! Check out some of our photos below, and like our Facebook page for even more nerdy content.

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At the Library, we also did a short presentation of our Fitness for Nerds program! It was so fun to replicate this program for younger kids. I think our members had a blast leading it, and we saw so many little ones laughing and dancing.

wpid-wp-1432577330804.jpeg wpid-wp-1432577343064.jpegDance like Baby Groot is my favorite! We also did some nerd yoga, Hermione hand-raises, and fangirling. And of course, we had to end with The Big Finish:

wpid-wp-1432577315354.jpegIt was fantastic!

For more photo fun, remember to check out our Facebook page. If you want to bring Fitness for Nerds to your community, leave us a comment or send us an email. Thanks for all the fun and support. Remember, it’s how you love it!

 Send us an owl: How do YOU nerd?

What a Nerd Looks Like: Guardians and Game-Changers

We hope you’ve enjoyed all four of our recent essays about Grey Havens YA and being a nerd. This next post comes to us from Judah. He wrote this after our April symposium, but we’ve had so much content to share with you that we are just now able to publish it. Judah wrote this because he felt inspired to do so, not because we asked him to, and we hope that it will inspire you too. Please consider sharing with us your own stories and supporting our group. Thanks! Now #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike, and it is amazing.

wpid-wp-1431895064722.jpeg I was asked a life changing question this weekend. Well- more of a request. But still, it changed my way of thought, and reminded me of my childhood. I attended an event called The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium, an event created by The Grey Havens Group. The Grey Havens Group is an educated group of Tolkien fans that organize events such as The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. At the Symposium, numerous panels and roundtable discussions were conducted. I had the honor of being on the Grey Havens Young Adult panel along with some of my young adult friends that were within the group. Grey Havens YA is a young adult group dedicated to young people that have a passion for reading, and is a place where we are free to express ourselves. The panel was a great deal of fun, and we were laughing the whole time. The adults in the room marveled at how free we were, talking about our fandoms (a fandom is any sort of thing you are a fanatic about). We discussed our favorite fandom, how we joined the group, and what we liked about meetings.

Later on in the panel, towards the end, a woman raised her hand and said something I will not soon forget- she said something along the lines of: “I admire how freely you express yourselves. I want to commend you on it. But I want you to remember those kids who don’t express freely like you.” There was a hint of desperation in her voice. “Those kids who hug the walls, who are silenced by everyone around them. They are nerds, just like you, but in a different way. Find them, and help them. Please.” She asked.

That made me think. It made me think hard. I recalled being in middle school, and realizing that hugging the walls was not an option for me.

I saw those kids, and I avoided them. I forced myself into popularity, and started accruing talents to help me in my journey to popularity. I did not realize that that was a path to high school celebrity, but then later, a real life nobody. Those kids who hugged the walls are the people going somewhere. But how are they to go somewhere if there are football players and cheerleaders harassing them, or just blatantly ignoring them? How can anyone be successful if no one around them is urging them to be? No person can have success if they are being told they can’t be successful.
But that brings up a brand new topic: what about the adults in their lives?

If no one is bringing them to adults that can help them, and if they are too afraid to talk to their teachers, then what authority figure can help them? No adult is going to stop the so called “positive insults” that happen in schools. They ignore it. We need people who are going to act.

I go to Skyline High School. There, the adults do try to stop the bullying, but it doesn’t work. They don’t have the power to stop anything that someone says to another at schools. Adults try their hardest to stop it, but it just isn’t working. I still see kids everyday, that walk into school, afraid just to walk down the middle of the halls. They have been told by everyone that they are ‘different’. And according to those people, this kind of different is not welcome in their comfort zone. But did they stop to think that different may be good? And that maybe that kind of different is acceptable?

I have tried to talk to some of them, and they just turn away. They rush down the side of the hallway, glancing around nervously. The wall has become their savior. If they even try to be confident, they are crushed immediately by the crowd of rushing teens, all desperate to make their mark. What is some random kid to them?

I think its time to stand up. I know that you have seen kids, and even adults, that struggle with this. So please, listen to what I’m saying here. Help them, and guide them if you are an adult. If you have children, tell those children to respect everyone else. They can be above the bullies, and they can befriend that boy who likes computer programing. They can hang out with that girl who likes Doctor Who. They can even get along with them.

If you are reading this as a young adult, then I know that you know what I’m talking about. You can look into their faces and see it. Try walking next to them in the halls, even if you don’t talk to them. Sit at their table, even if they don’t look at you. Invite them to sit with you at lunch. You may find them a lot more fun than they appear to be.

But then there are those of you who are that kid. You see all these teenagers, laughing and having fun, and you walk to the side. Well I’m going to tell you this. You don’t have to walk along the side of the walls. Walk alongside everyone else. You are just as good as they are. If you can, find people that will talk to you, hang out with you, and respect you. I know you can. I believe in you. All of you. You can be that person that everyone follows around. You can be that person that people confide in. You are a human being, with the same rights as everyone else. So get out there… And be the best kind of human. Whether you are a Whovian, a computer nerd, an athlete, or just yourself. Get out there. Be yourself. And be confident.

Send us an owl: What do you think of Judah’s challenge to be yourself and stand up for others? Will you be a guardian and a game-changer? #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike