Ethan Gilsdorf

Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, and teacher. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. Gilsdorf's articles, essays, op-eds and reviews on the arts, pop culture, film, books, gaming, geek culture and travel regularly appear in the New York Times, Boston GlobeSalon.comBoingBoing.netPsychologyToday.com, GeekDad, Washington Post and wired.com and dozens of other magazines, newspapers, websites and guidebooks worldwide. As an expert on geek culture, Gilsdorf frequently speaks in public, and appears on TV, radio, Internet media and in documentary films. He is a lover of ELO and a hater of littering. Sometimes he wears a tunic and chainmail, or these grampy pants. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. More info at ethangilsdorf.com or follow him on Twitter.


A Conversation with Wil Wheaton

A splendid time with the actor-writer-blogger-geek-champion turned host of TableTop

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A look at the new Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide

Ethan Gilsdorf gets a sneak peak inside the definitive nerd Bible

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Dungeons & Dragons & Philosophy

Ethan Gilsdorf explains why Socrates would have made a good DM and that John Stuart Mill was Lawful Neutral. Catch his talk on Head-Banging, Dice-Rolling, and Summoning Demons tonight in Cambridge, Mass.

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A Conversation with John Cleese

Ethan Gilsdorf talks to the Monty Python’s Flying Circus alum about his career, his new autobiography, and his limbs.

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The hands and minds behind The Boxtrolls

Ethan Gilsdorf meets with the team who animated The Boxtrolls, where old school stop-motion is merged with the latest in CGI

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An Exclusive Inside Look at Denver’s Dinosaur Hotel

Ethan Gilsdorf reports on the most awesome hotel in the country. Meet Stanley the Stegosaurus and friends!

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Documentary proves girls will play D&D with boys

A group of boys, aged 9 to 11, plays D&D every other weekend, but their parties never include girls their age. Meredith Jacobson’s DnDnG explores the possibility that their female friends could enjoy the game just as much as they do. By Ethan Gilsdorf.

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An exclusive look at the new D&D Player’s Handbook—and The Warlock

Ethan Gilsdorf gets a first-look at some incredible high-res art from the latest edition of the classic pen-and-paper role-playing game.

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A visit to the basement where Dungeons & Dragons was born

Ethan Gilsdorf celebrates the origins of D&D and presents Jon Peterson’s exclusive video tour of the place where E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson set out on their first adventures

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Meet the man who remade Middle‑earth

Ethan Gilsdorf interviews John Howe, Tolkien Illustrator and Conceptual Designer of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Movie Trilogies

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Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla, like our inner self run amok and gone berserk, just needs a warm mug of cocoa and a good hug. Ethan Gilsdorf on Hollywood’s latest rendering of the kaiju classic.

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The Art of Ralph Steadman’s “Slightly Maniacal” Humor

“When I don’t know what to do, I do that!” announces British cartoonist and artist Ralph Steadman in For No Good Reason, just before he unleashes a signature splat of ink onto a sheet of paper. “It just might lead somewhere.” Ethan Gilsdorf interviews the documentary’s director, Charlie Paul

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The 1964 World's Fair opened 50 years ago today

Ethan Gilsdorf on the show that embodied the “innovative, lunacy, hope, and fear of the Sixties”

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Technophobia goes off the Depp end in Transcendence [Movie Review]

In the official poster, a sinister AI remnant of genius Dr. Will Caster evinces inhuman mastery of Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic

In the near future posited by the film Transcendence, which opens today, residents of Berkeley, California are living in a kind of police state. The power grid is down. No computers, no Internet. Which means no Facebook, either (thank God). A shopkeeper uses a beat-up laptop as a doorstop. We know the end days are especially dire because a dirt-caked, cracked cell phone lies lifelessly on the sidewalk. Its technological purpose has been reduced to mere object. A potential tool for an enterprising human. Recall the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey: Instead of apes smashing skulls with bones, the aftermath survivors of Transcendence may as well be wielding their iPhones as weapons.

“They say there’s power in Boston, some phone service in Denver,” intones a melancholic Paul Bettany, playing a neurobiologist named Dr. Max Waters. We quickly discover Max had a hand in creating all this mess. After what he calls an “inevitable collision” between humankind and technology, “things are far from what they were." Existence itself, he says, “feels smaller” without the Internet.

That’s all, folks. Welcome to the not-so-brave world of the new Johnny Depp anti-technology thriller Transcendence.

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The Disorienting and Disturbing Arthouse Science Fiction of Under the Skin [Review]

If Her was all about Scarlett Johansson's off-screen presence–the vagaries of her voice, and what meaning might be read into its inflections–Under the Skin is all about Johansson's looks. And her looking. At you. It's about skin, and bodies, and silent facades. Johansson plays her extraterrestrial invader practically as a mute.

The script for Under the Skin, which opens today in New York City and Los Angeles, and April 11 in select U.S. cities, probably contains a few thousand words of dialogue, max. What conversation there is bridges long silences. Viewers will find no traditional alien versus human action. No chases, or gun battles, or heads exploding with green goo. No little green men or tattooed Klingon wannabes hatching plans to destroy the earth, either.

Likewise, fanboys (and girls) drooling over Johansson won't be treated to some mindless sexcapade. As a nameless woman, Johansson cruises the streets of Glasgow, using her newfound wiles to seduce men for her nefarious purposes. She's an alien femme fatale, and once she's snared you in her spell, gentlemen, her sultry face clicks back to its poker-faced, robotic demeanor. Look out.

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