What I’ve been working on lately…
The Great East Bay Geek Guide
My friend and former co-worker, Pete Crooks, and I bounced around the idea for this story for a couple years. And when I read in an Entertainment Weekly blog that David Peterson—who created the full Dothraki and High Valyrian language for the Game of Thrones TV show—was a UC Berkeley grad, we put it on the schedule for Diablo‘s April issue. (I swear, the best tips are happenstance.) The nine-page Great East Bay Geek Guide features profiles of the aforementioned David Peterson, Will Wright (creator of The Sims and Spore), Phil Tippet (special effects guru for Jurrasic World and original Star Wars films), and Rebecca Romijn (X-Men‘s Mystique); answers some burning questions (Star Wars’ AT-ATs inspired by the Port of Oakland? Connection between Mount Diablo and the Diablo videogame?); and includes our favorite geeky East Bay shops, museums, and gatherings. It was a lot of fun to plan, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Here is the web version, and if you want to see how it looked in print, here is the digital version.
I interviewed Will Wright at his office in Berkeley. We talked a bit about drones, which I didn’t include in the story. He has one that he likes to fly from his home in the Oakland hills and was practically giddy describing how high it can go and how great the image quality is. He showed me some of the footage on his phone, and as the drone is landing, I could see a giant heart with “A+W” inside written on his roof. (His wife’s name is Anya.) How cute is that? My interview with David Peterson was over the phone, and he was so much fun to chat with. Even though he now lives in Southern California, he considers his time in Berkeley to be crucial in his career journey: It’s where he first took a linguistics class and learned about language creation. He had many stories about his time in the East Bay, but I particularly enjoyed learning that his favorite college stress-reliever was taking a bus into San Francisco and walking to Ghirardelli Square for ice cream. Mmm… ice cream. I plan to have a bowl in front of me when Game of Thrones returns on April 12.
By the Numbers: Bells and Bones
Also in the April issue of Diablo, I pulled together some fun statistics about UC Berkeley’s famous clock and bell tower. It’s turning 100 this year. I walked by the Campanile a dozen times during a two-week temp job, helping one department prepare for Cal Day circa 2004, but I didn’t realize until researching this story that it’s open daily for tours. That is now on the to-do list. If you want to read my story, here is the web version.
I continue to do some freelance fact-checking and proofreading for United Airlines’ first-class publication. The April cover story is a profile of January Jones, of Mad Men fame, who is now starring in The Last Man On Earth. Two random thoughts: One, I’ve been watching The Last Man on Earth, and I think Will Forte’s character is the most unlikeable person on television. Granted, I don’t watch much television, but typically even bad guys are more likeable than Phil Miller. (Also, Will Forte is East Bay!) Two, my younger self harbored a bit of jealousy toward January Jones years before she was famous. She dated my celebrity crush, Josh Groban. (!!!) Anyway, you can read the digital editions of Rhapsody magazine here.