The Omen

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. . .

-From On The Road, by Jack Kerouac

If you get to pet a baby alligator, it’s a good omen that your life is on the right path.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the Philly Geek Awards, and there was the aforementioned alligator, and it’s skin was a like a polished stone.

The Velociraptor! Cannibalism! crew was nominated for Indie Game of the Year so all of us put on our black-tie best and got ourselves to the Academy of Natural Sciences for the fabulous ceremony, where artists and scientists and activists all gathered to celebrate the fabulous projects that have rocketed out of Philadelphia this year.

Photo from

Jared Axelrod and J.R. Blackwell (Photo from

Jared Axelrod (my husband) was ALSO nominated for Best Comic Creator for his incredible graphic novel, The Battle of Blood and Ink, thus securing our position as a Geek Power Couple. We went on each-others arms to the ceremony, and I am so incredibly proud of him.

There was a photo-booth, wine and dumplings, cool people in great outfits mingling around dinosaur bones and the staff carried around wonderful animals including a parrot, turtle, and an adorable little owl. I had the distinct pleasure of petting a baby alligator.

The staff member holding the baby instructed us where exactly we could touch her, and pointed her head away from us as we did so.

“She’s like a coiled spring,” he said “We don’t really know when she might strike. But you can pet her there.”


Jennifer Rodgers, artist and game designer on Velociraptor! Cannibalism!

From walking into the Global Game Jam, meeting a bunch of strangers who became friends and designing a game with them, to being at this award ceremony among scientists searching for cures and activists seeking to make this city a better place, was quite a journey. There we people who said that we would never succeed, and here we were, petting a baby alligator and walking a red carpet.

Hearing about the other projects, from an art project involving braille to a project that lit the city skies, I felt like I was in a community of people on fire. Not everyone quite understands the drive, the fire inside to make things, to create, to change things. The curiosity to see why something works and then, having learned that, to build something new. I get a lot of blank looks. But in that room, the fire burned in all of us.

After the ceremony, people expressed sympathy that my group didn’t win. Which is sweet, but winning doesn’t matter when I was invited to sit in a room with minds that burn like those exploding roman candles Kerouac writes about.

I take the alligator as an omen. I am on fire. I am lit. I am exploding. I hope you come with me.

Major, one of the designers for Velociraptor! Cannibalism! on the red carpet.

Major, one of the designers for Velociraptor! Cannibalism!, sporting his Reginald costume on the red carpet.