Meet Jessica Chobot From Nerdist News!

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Photo: Nerdist.com (used with permission)

Hi there, GeekMom Mel here. If you are anything like me, you like to get your geeky news with a dash of personality, don’t you? A dash of, dare I say, humor? Well, over at Nerdist.com, Jessica Chobot provides just those things on her Nerdist News segments. She’s covered everything from James Bond to my personal favorites, Star Wars and Godzilla, and she does it all with enthusiasm, fun, and attitude.

Not only is Jessica a fellow nerdy woman, but she is also a mom. Since that makes us pretty much kindred spirits (right? right?), I figured I’d take the opportunity to ask her a few questions about…well, a little bit of everything!

GeekMom Mel: How did you get started with Nerdist News? What’s been your favorite news to cover, and/or the weirdest?

Jessica Chobot: I started with Nerdist shortly after I ran in Chris Hardwick at the Comedy Central offices. We just randomly bumped into each other in the lobby. I was starting to find my way back into the workplace after having my son and we got to talking about that. I mentioned that, while my son was an adorable bundle of cuteness, I definitely needed to get out of the house and find something to do with myself besides changing nappies. He took pity on me and shortly after our meeting I did some freelance work for them which then led to the full time gig at the company.

The highlight working at Nerdist so far was working E3 this past year, which I believe was the first time Nerdist had a booth there (I might be wrong on that though). Video games are still very much my jam, so to be able to go and be on set again with a whole new group of people was an incredible treat. Everyone was exhausted but excited and I’d say we did a stellar job having a positive presence at that event. I would place that under my favorite news to cover.

As for the weirdest… hmmm… Everything is pretty odd. It’s not “news” but we did do an interview where I interviewed Michael Rosenbaum and the interview slowly but surely devolved into us talking about farts. It was pretty much the highlight of my career.

GMM: If you had to pick one favorite realm in the nerdiverse, what would it be?

JC: If we’re talking a place to live, I’d choose the Citadel in Mass Effect – but ONLY during peace time. I’m in no hurry to be murdered by a Reaper.

If we’re talking about a nerdy type of thing I’m into, then I’d still have to choose video games. Now that I’m a mom and have even less time to dedicate to my personal pastimes, video games is the one thing I always go back to. That and murder mysteries. And the paranormal. And Korean dramas.

GMM: How has parenthood changed your experience of being a fan, gaming, and things like that? Do you think about things differently, have you had any changes of heart?

JC: There are two things that, as a gamer, have changed for me since becoming a mom. One, the amount of time I have to dedicate to my gaming. Titles that should normally take 5 hours now take 10 or more (if I’m even able to finish them at all). Plus, because of the time crunch, I only dedicate myself to games I’m REALLY into and don’t bother trying to keep up with everything anymore. My mobile gaming has also skyrocketed, mostly due to convenience. Two, I try not to play anything where I know children will be shown suffering. Even then, something will sneak through the cracks and I’ll end up crying for days afterwards every time I think about it. Bioshock Infinites’ expansion caught me off guard and while I thoroughly enjoyed the additional game play, my heart was just crushed.

GMM: The holidays are coming, and many of us will be exposed to family members we may not have seen through much of the year. Has your family been generally accepting of your nerdy ways, even going so far as to support them, or have you had loved ones shaking their heads or giving you perplexed looks?

JC: They’ve always accepted my nerdy ways although it took me getting a career in “the ‘biz” to get them to respect it. And even despite that I don’t think they totally understand why and how I can make money doing this kind of work. My grandmother still has no idea what I do.

GMM: Do you have any particularly entertaining/embarrassing holiday stories from your past?

JC: My family is BIG into giving gag gifts. The worst was one year my parents had gotten a box for a Super Nintendo and filled it with a rock and wrapped it to give to my brother. Needless to say, that was quite an interesting Xmas morning. Luckily for my brother my parents had wrapped the actual system up in something else, so it was just a temporary scare. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person go through so many levels of different emotions so quickly!

GMM: What was the worst gift you have ever received, if you are at liberty to say?

JC: The worst, because it made NO SENSE, was when I was 12 and my grandparents got me Xmas hand towels. They were beautiful towels that I would really appreciate now but as a 12 year old, I was all,”Whhhhhaaaaattt???”

GMM: What do you think is the best way non-geeky parents can support their young nerdlings?

JC: I think acceptance is key. Just because your child is into video games, comics, or whatever doesn’t automatically make them an outcast. Nor does it mean you should attempt to force them to like other things. Instead, appreciate that they have a passion for something at such a young age and, as with EVERYTHING, keep an eye on who they’re chatting with and what they’re doing.

GMM: Any ideas for parents who might not know what to get their kids?

JC: I’m a big fan of forcing people to give me Xmas lists. Some may think that kind of kills the holiday spirit but I would rather give someone something I know they want, instead of guessing and having them go to return it on the sly.

That said, if you’re struggling for ideas, I find ThinkGeek.com always has something amazing. There are also some fantastic games out this holiday season: Destiny, GTAV remastered, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Smash Bros., FarCry 4… Just remember to buy the game that is age appropriate for your child. And, of course, the Nerdist t-shirts and hoodies are a guaranteed winner ūüėČ !

GMM: What are some cool things Santa’s elves might consider loading the sleigh with this year?

JC: Again, I’d say that if you have a gamer on your hands, check out the holiday release titles! ThinkGeek.com and DudeIwantThat.com are AMAZING resources for crazy/geeky gifts. Also, if your kids or significant other have a Pinterest or Keep account, check out their boards and BAM! Instant present list (I actually can’t recommend this tactic enough). As for Nerdist.com, my big faves at our store is our Nerdist digital gift card, our coffee mug and our Enjoy Your Burrito t-shirt. Especially for geeky women, I find our shirts fit quite well which isn’t always the case for ladies looking for fun tees.

GMM: If you could get ANYTHING for a holiday gift, what would it be?

JC: I’m currently asking for a very specific trip to Japan. One where I can go to the Kansai area (specifically nearby Kyoto) and stay at one of the traditional hot springs there. I’m thinking about 2 weeks. Otherwise, I’m down for a solid 4 days of non-stop leveling of my Dragon Age: Inquisition warrior (I’m a tad obsessed at the moment).

Thanks so much to Jess Chobot for taking the time to chat. And do go over to Nerdist.com and watch her Nerdist News segments. You won’t regret it!

Jessica Chobot currently serves as host for Nerdist News over at Nerdist.com, as well as a freelance host for both TV and web. Jessica spent the first half of her career at IGN Entertainment where she hosted the popular web shows, IGN Strategize and The Daily Fix. From there it was only natural for her to jump into television where she hosted G4TV’s Proving Ground, alongside Ryan Dunn, and as a field correspondent for G4’s Attack of the Show and X-Play.

The Weekly, Geekly Rewind: August 27, 2012

Image by: NASA, public domain

What’s Happening

GeekMom Rachel recently got to poke the mind of a geek icon. Check out her interview with Gerald Casale, founding member of the band DEVO.

It’s the last week before Labor Day, but don’t despair: Laura’s 35 Ways to Make Summer Last is all you need.

Melissa’s adventures extend beyond the GeekMom universe, read about her “big long snake-encounter-at-wildlife-refuge post” — her novel The Prairie Thief hits shelves this Tuesday!

GeekMom Helene has been providing some priceless tips for budding photographers. Read Part One: Light and Part Two: Focus!

Education & Community:

Jen’s guide to to IEP is a must-read.

With school getting underway in most of the country over the next month, many will be participating in iPad Pilot programs, testing out the new technology with the new generation of learners. Last year GeekMom Sarah sat down with the administrator of one such program in Maine: read part one and part two.

And check out 9 hacks for creating a closer community, including new online neighborhood networking services.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on ‚Äėukulele? Winning!

Homer’s Odyssey is pure entertainment when it’s an epic audio version from Odds Bodkin.

All About Tesla

Underwire reports on the upcoming Tesla docudrama

We celebrate Tesla’s birthday

About the Oatmeal’s Tesla museum plans

33,333 donations and counting

Science & Weather

Check out the iPhone app that helps with weather awareness

And speaking of which, here’s Patricia’s tips on how to stay aware.

Endocrine disruptors that can affect not only our health but may damage us in ways that go on for generations. This hearkens back to a post by Laura, with research showing even BPA-free plastics also stimulate estrogenic activity in human cells.

GeekMom at Dragon*Con

How to find GeekMom at Dragon*Con

What’s new for 2012 at Dragon*Con

Links We Love

Beautiful bento box slideshow

Kids need to not be afraid of strangers anymore, there are other threats.

Sandals that leave behind animal footprints? Where were these when I was a kid?

This Week With the GeekMoms

Brigid shares some new mini paintings on her Tumblr.

Ruth just returned from a great weekend at Southeast LinuxFest and will be continuing the geekfest this weekend with Maker Faire: NC, where you can find her in the opensource.com booth. And to bring it full geek circle, Monday she’ll be hopping a plane to Portland, OR for Open Source Bridge. If only she could time between conferences to work on her Dragon*Con costume… anybody got a suggestion?

Jenny heads out on Monday with her family for a 40 day trip around the country. Follow their attempts at fun, education, and shenanigans on her trip blog.

It was a fun weekend for Judy Berna, as she camped in the White Mountains of NH with her wonderful in-laws, and hiked to Arethusa Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire. It was a tough hike, up some pretty rugged terrain, but her metal foot held up well. Now she’s back home, running back and forth to school functions as her kids wrap up their last two weeks of school and her son prepares to graduate.

Chaos Mandy is going to be doing some belated spring cleaning this weekend. She is also going to have a date afternoon with her hubby to see “The Green Lantern” on Sunday.

Cathe is going to be brave and try to start a Pokémon league in Vancouver with another mom. She is hoping to hold it at the new Vancouver game store, Dice Age. However, this weekend is all about dad. The weekend will include Dungeons and Dragons and possibly some Warhammer painting.

Sarah is glad that the chickens have finally moved outside, now the house can be sealed off and all the dust sucked out of it! She looks forward to turning 30 gracefully this weekend with good friends, a lot of shrimp and a showing of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

This last week, Jules had a fabulous time interviewing Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait. She also began pre-orders for the audiobook version of her book From The Mundane To The Insane: A Wonderful Journey Without A Destination. She is now counting the days until school ends on June 29, so that she can get more much needed rest to help her overcome her latest increase in lupus activity.

Laura finally spent some time relaxing on the front porch reading a stack of good books. That will come to an end soon since it’s time to bale hay.

Patricia embarked yesterday on a 14 day mini-tour of the Northeast, with stops in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Vermont. The Wanderlust Yoga Festival is on the docket! Yesterday she might have added New Hampshire to the list. As of this writing, her husband just stuffed 5 days worth of camping equipment into the car-top carrier, which will be used for days 9-12 of the trip.

Rebecca Angel is excited about her two new upcoming albums. Both are live recordings, one from each band. The first cd release party for The Subs will be this Sunday. The Subs enjoys costuming ourselves for each gig and have decided on a Hawaiian theme. Now to find a shirt…

This Week With The GeekMoms

Kristen is fully addicted to Game Dev Story. She would tell you more about it, but she’s busy waiting for the first week numbers to come back on the sequel to her Hall of Fame Game, “OMG JFK!” – a very popular Historical Action RPG.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Corrina posted romantic scenes from her books at her website www.corrinalawson.wordpress.com and at her livejournal, http://corrinalaw.livejournal.com/. On the personal side, she is feeling a little older after sending off her eldest daughter to an overnight at one of her prospective colleges.

Brigid had a mommy’s night out this week when she attended the Yann Tiersen concert in D.C. with a mommy friend. It was way super awesome, and they didn’t get lost or anything. GPS is a beautiful thing. So is Yann Tiersen.

Laura admits to living in a falling down house where she makes strangely subversive food and dreams of supporting herself on a poetry diet.

Patricia Vollmer‘s family enjoyed a nice simple Valentine’s Day. ¬†Patricia’s dear husband set up a scavenger hunt around the house with cryptic clues about their marriage, eventually leading her to a pretty pair of earrings! ¬†The boys finally got the Pillow Pets they’d been begging for since last year, while Patricia’s husband enjoyed a fun chocolatey Valentine’s Day with a local delicacy: Sin in a Tin!

Cathe is crocheting Poke-balls to give as party favors at her daughter’s Pokemon themed 5th birthday party.

Sophie had a fantastic time taking her one year old son to the theatre for the first time this weekend to see The Chris & Pui Roadshow; he behaved perfectly for the whole hour. She also had some wonderfully geeky Valentines Day presents from her husband who clearly knows her very well!

Jenn Tylbon did, in fact, survive Snowpocalypse 2011 (Otherwise referred to as “Hey! It snowed a bit in Oklahoma!”). Oklahoma schools shut down for nearly two weeks straight because it looked like your average Tuesday in Vermont. Tornadoes we can handle but a foot of snow cripples us.¬† At any rate, cabin fever set in and she decided eHarmony was a good idea. Never buy things online when you’ve been trapped in a tiny apartment with naught but a three-year-old and cranky cats for company. See her personal blog for updates on that.

Rebecca Angel has been delighted with a photography course she offered the last six weeks. The kids had a great time with their cameras, and class itself was filled with taking silly photos and chatting about what works and what doesn’t. The next session starts next week and she can’t wait to meet the next crop of students.

Ruth got to do a webcast with a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and spend a minute dancing with the lead singer at a concert, but got beat out for famous-people points when her five-year-old announced Justin Bieber had come to her class. (Not true, of course.)

Fighting ‚ÄúMean World Syndrome‚ÄĚ

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Image: Kiernan M., age 8

“You know, who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.”¬† George Gerbner

It’s been a long day. You turn on the TV news on to catch up with what’s going on, then get through a few of your TiVo’d crime shows. Maybe tomorrow you’ll help the kids make sock puppets.

But wait, is that glowing screen afflicting your family with some kind of syndrome?

A syndrome said to cause pessimism, fear, and the inability to gauge reality?

You be the judge.

It’s called Mean World Syndrome.

It’s based on the research of the late George Gerbner.¬†His work showed that a heavy diet of violent content in news and entertainment convinces viewers the world is more dangerous than it actually is. Back when Gerbner did the bulk of his analysis, media was a smaller and quieter place. Now we have 24 hour access to news channels, movies, and net content.

Gerbner wrote,

Our studies have shown that growing up from infancy with this unprecedented diet of violence has three consequences, which, in combination, I call the “mean world syndrome.” What this means is that if you are growing up in a home where there is more than say three hours of television per day, for all practical purposes you live in a meaner world – and act accordingly – than your next-door neighbor who lives in the same world but watches less television. The programming reinforces the worst fears and apprehensions and paranoia of people.

And those who are convinced the world around them is a highly dangerous and unpredictable place have more than a heightened sense of insecurity. Gerbner found they are more likely to see violence as a solution to problems rather than to reason in more nuanced ways. Fear also drives them to take hard-line political and social attitudes.

When Gerbner testified before a congressional subcommittee in 1981, he said,¬†“Fearful people are more dependent, more easily manipulated and controlled, more susceptible to deceptively simple, strong, tough measures and hard-line measures.”

Screen shot: L. Weldon

Hmmm.

But the world is NOT more dangerous. It just seems that way. The Center for Media and Public Affairs did a study on network coverage of murder. In a five year period the murder rate in the U.S. went down thirteen percent. But during that same time span, network coverage of murders increased three hundred percent.

Yes, we face realities too harsh for reality TV. But when crime, disaster, ecological devastation, war, and other tragedies are presented as random occurrences nothing constructive is gained. It’s normal to react with anger, fear, and sorrow because these emotions can rouse us to positive action, but we need an option. ¬†Sometimes that‚Äôs direct action, sometimes it‚Äôs seeking deeper understanding of how to prevent these tragedies.

Problems relentlessly hyped on movies, news, and by pundits—-well, they just seem so pervasive, so disconnected from causes, so impossible to change that we feel helpless to do anything about it. That‚Äôs another effect of Mean World Syndrome.

We end up cynical, which is bad for our own health and bad for the planet. We humans are already more likely to pay attention to and remember negatives, a trait that probably helped us to survive in saber-tooth tiger days. But the long progress of humanity has much more to do with our tendency to cooperate, form close relationships, and to care. We are hard-wired for compassion, not for a mean world.

Fight Mean World Syndrome