Posted in Geeking Out

Puzzle Art

As some of you may be familiar with, I am a huge fan of jigsaw puzzles.  I’ve been putting them together ever since I can remember, and even though it’s been a while since I’ve finished one (I blame the hubby and kid, who never give me any space on the table to do one), I’m still a puzzle lover and still have a minor obsession with collecting them.

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I’ve written about puzzles before, but today I want to talk about some of my favorite puzzle art.  Basically any picture or painting or drawing can be turned into a puzzle (especially on the computer and in apps, where you can also do puzzles but they’re nowhere near as fun), but certain pictures are more fun to put together than some, at least for me.

I’m actually not a fan of real-life pictures as puzzles.  These are mostly nature scenes, like lighthouses or big fields of grass and trees and flowers, which are actually a pain to try put together BECAUSE IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME.  And, to be honest, the real-life photos are just kind of…boring.  Sorry.

1542983_1369263712Pretty picture, boring puzzle

When looking for a puzzle, I usually look for the pictures that contain the words “folk art” or “Americana” and cheesy stuff like that.  It’s funny, because if you were to look at the art we have around our home, it’s all cutting-edge pop art.  But one look at my “puzzle closet”, you’ll see that I’m as apple pie as can be.  I’m the same way with my calendars.  It’s kinda weird.

753_zoomShiz like this

My favorite artists that are most well-known for doing puzzles are Charles Wysocki and his brother Heronim Wysocki.  Both are known as Americana folk artists, and both are pretty awesome.  Charles’ art has a more realistic look to it, and Heronim’s looks more animated.  But they both capture that innocent time around the turn of the century when people sold lemonade on street corners for a penny and grew pumpkins in their front lawns and ate ice cream at 4th of July parades and went on sleigh rides through the woods and OH MY GOD I WANT TO DO A PUZZLE RIGHT NOW.

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The one thing I love about Heronim’s puzzles besides the actual artwork is the fact that in every picture he hides a tiny black cat amongst the scene.  So the fun is trying to find the black cat, either while you’re actually doing the puzzle or looking at the box.  Either way, it’s oddly fun.

catdetailFound ya!

Jane Wooster Scott is another Americana artist who struck it big as a puzzle artist, and to me is known for making awesome trees that are easier to put together than Wysocki’s, but she usually puts more of them in her pictures.  Just a weird, random observation.

wooster-scott_the_long_road_homeGlorious, wintery trees

To get even more specific regarding puzzle art, I tend to veer towards fall and winter art, because to me the fall season is the start of Jigsaw Puzzle season.  I think I associate puzzles with the fall and winter seasons because growing up in Minnesota, it gets, you know, COLD in during those seasons, and sometimes you needed something else to do inside besides read and watch TV and all that jazz.  And because of that, I only wanted to do fall and winter scenes when I did a puzzle.

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Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any spring and summer related puzzles, but I think my fall and winter ones generally outweigh the other seasons.

There are some artists out there who I don’t see enough on puzzles, and I think they would be even more successful if they did more puzzle work (I’m of course assuming that I’m not the only one still doing jigsaw puzzles, though sometimes it does feel that I am).  For instance, Debbie Mumm is a very successful artist that probably caters to middle-aged white women who have country homes, but I never see any Debbie Mumm puzzles (and trust me, I’ve looked).  Again, not someone you’d see on my walls (except in calendar form), but who would totally get along with my other puzzles in the puzzle closet.

201400000409Although I did manage to find one online…

And while I’m not a fan of nature scenes due to the abundance of grass and leaves and trees and sky, I will make an exception for birds.  Not real birds, but hand-drawn or painted birds.  And not just any birds, but cardinals.  That’s my only exception.  NOTE:  Cardinals = winter, so it makes sense.

201400001139This qualifies

When was the last time you did a puzzle?  Have you ever even done a puzzle?  Do people still do puzzles?  Am I the only one?

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Posted in Geeking Out

The Awesome 13 – SDCC 2013

It’s been over two weeks since San Diego Comic-Con 2013 ended, and I’m just now finally getting around to writing about it.  Blame it on the annual SDCC hangover that follows the convention, or the fact that I’ve been busy at work, or the fact that I’ve been oddly addicted to The Amazing Race, which the hubby and I have been watching pretty much non-stop since we got back (thanks to Hulu, where you can find all 20 seasons).  Whatever, take your pick.

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But here I am, ready to tell you all about the craziness that ensued at SDCC this year.  Again, we had a blast, and I’ll even go so far to say…I think it was the best year yet.  Of course every year is different, but this year was, well, pretty damn awesome.  Here are 13 AWESOME moments that happened at SDCC 2013!

13.  Jennifer Lawrence Makes Me Laugh (Again)

Okay, so…confession:  I have a tendency to look up J Law interviews on You Tube just so I can laugh because she always says hilariously awesome things.  So I was pretty damn excited to see her at the The Hunger Games: Catching Fire panel this year.

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The three main peeps were there – Katniss, Peeta, Gale – plus Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, which was pretty cool, but J Law was an obvious favorite of everyone – boys and girls – in the room.  Why?  Because she says funny shiz.  And she’s strangely normal, which is one of the reasons why people love her.  Liam Hemsworth, yes, he’s Thor’s brother.  Josh Hutcherson, yes, he’s pretty funny, too, and I guess he’s OK as Peeta.  But it’s always gonna be J Law who steals the show.

12.  Tom Cruise Proves He’s a Pretty Awesome Guy

If you take a step back and look at my life timeline in terms of who my major crushes have been, Tom Cruise would be way on the left side, closer to the word “BORN, 1979” part of the timeline.  Tom Cruise was my first big crush EVER, way back in the late 1980s, and I got to see him in person for the first time at the panel for his upcoming movie The Edge of Tomorrow.

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Okay, say all you want about Tom Cruise’s personal life.  Whatever.  It’s kinda weird.  But all that aside, he’s Tom Cruise.  He’s a freaking movie star.  Like, the real kind.  And at 51 years old, he’s still a pretty damn good looking guy.  But what I like best about Tom Cruise is that even though he’s Tom Cruise, he’s generous and unselfish and totally modest when it comes to his movies.  He makes sure he gives credit to everyone that deserves it, from the DP to the caterer to the extras in back of him.  And I noticed that at the panel.  People can be all, “TOM CRUISE TOM CRUISE TOM CRUISE” and he will totally turn it around and credit someone else for his successes.  It’s actually pretty awesome.

11.  In Which I Get to Meet Some of My Favorite Artists

Over the past few years, my husband and I have come to know some really great artists that bring their work to SDCC, and this year was no exception.  Chris Yates is a really cool guy, not to mention a brilliant wooden puzzler maker, and every year we bring him a different kind of beer to show our appreciation (plus these artists really need beer at the end of the day at SDCC).  We purchased a new puzzle to add to our collection, and he hooked me up with some more “ghosties” to add to my collection.

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Jeremiah Ketner is one of the most amazing painters in today’s art scene, and my dream is to own everything he’s ever done.  I had never met him, but this year while we were at another booth, I noticed that he was standing right next to us talking to the artist at that particular booth.  Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell him how much I love his paintings, so I did (while probably sounding like a crazy person, but whatever), and also got a picture taken with him.  Go me!

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Martin Hsu is a vinyl artist that I follow on Twitter and Instagram, and I just happened to run into him on the exhibition floor.  I was like, “Martin!” like I actually knew the guy (again, crazy person), but he was really cool and was like, “Hey!”  I told him I loved his stuff and that I would be down at his booth whenever I could make it there.  No picture, but still a pretty cool moment for this self-proclaimed introvert.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to my other fave artist Katie Cook because the line for her booth was like 500 miles long because she was doing commissions.  So we just bought a couple of prints and went on our way, and then I tweeted her afterwards to tell her how awesome she was.  Good enough.

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10.  A Panel Full of Hot Guys

Okay, so that sounds a little shallow…but that’s exactly what this panel was.  The panel was officially called “The Heroes of Tomorrow”, highlighting today’s up-and-coming male actors, but frankly it was just a panel full of hot guys.

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The panel consisted of Matt Smith from Doctor Who, Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones, Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf, Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, and David Giuntoli from Grimm.  They all talked about their shows, how their lives have changed, crazy fans, blah blah blah, but honestly all I was thinking about how I was going to choose between Steven Yeun and Kit Harrington when they ultimately proposed to me (duh).

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But in all seriousness (sort of), it was a hilarious panel.  Not only are they nice to look at, but they’re all really funny and tell really good stories.  Even Orlando Bloom imposter Tyler Posey.  And especially the guy from Grimm, whom I knew nothing about.  I like these heroes of tomorrow.

9.  Mulder and Scully Together Once More

The big highlight of the first day of SDCC was the 20th Anniversary of The X-Files Panel.  Once I got past the fact that this show premiered twenty years ago (I was 14, quite the impressionable age), it was totally cool to see my favorite TV couple together again.

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The panel doesn’t really compare to last year’s 10th Anniversary of Firefly panel (but then again, nothing does), but it was still pretty awesome.  Gillian Anderson looked AMAZEBALLS (seriously, like way better than she ever did on the show), and David Duchovny proved that he has an awesome memory when it comes to the episodes, which was impressive.  And it was Fox “Spooky” Mulder.  YAAAAAAAAAAY.

8.  I Got to See the First Episode of The Legend of Korra Book 2 Before You!

Yep, that’s me bragging.  Neaner neaner neaner.  But that was the definite highlight of the Legend of Korra panel, especially since the last episode of Book 1 aired almost a year and a half ago.  So yeah, we’ve been waiting a long time.  We were hungry for footage, and we got the whole freaking episode.  Feast, baby.

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Of course it looks awesome because it’s Korra and it’s Avatar and it’s awesome.  Of course we (and the rest of the world) will have to wait until September for Book 2 to actually start, but it was nice to get a head start.  Book 2 looks to be even better than the first one, and personally I’m VERY excited about the fact that future pretend husband Steven Yeun will be voicing a new character, the very first Avatar to have ever existed.  Yes, I’m beyond excited.  Thank you.

7.  AMY POND IS BALD

No, you didn’t read that wrong.  Our favorite companion, the Girl Who Waited, is freaking BALD.  Why?  Why is all her beautiful, long, red hair GONE?

Well, there’s a good reason, one being that Karen Gillan is SUPER DEVOTED to her work.  Seriously, all the people who ever thought she was just another model who got lucky with a good role had better think again.  So let me explain.

It’s Saturday night and we’re sitting through the always awesome Marvel panel.  The movie they’re talking about is James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and the entire cast is onstage, including one Karen Gillan.

As you can see, she has hair in this picture.  Shorter than usual, but red and awesome.  Chris Hardwick, everyone’s favorite panel moderator, is asking her about her character in the movie who, he notes, is bald in the comic books.  Karen responds with a “yes, she is” and then…PROCEEDS TO TAKE OFF HER HAIR.

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OH MY GOD SHE WAS WEARING A WIG AND ALL HER HAIR IS GONE AND SHE’S TOTALLY BALD I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS I LOVE HER HAIR BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I LOVE KAREN GILLAN AND NOW I LOVE HER EVEN MORE.

So yeah.  She’s awesome.  And despite the fact that she thinks she looks like an “overgrown fetus”, I think she looks great.

6.  Batman VS. Superman

At the end of the Warner Brothers panel on Saturday, it seemed that Chris Hardwick was about to wrap up when he suddenly said that he was just notified that Zack Snyder (director of lots o’ stuff, but more recently Man of Steel) needed to talk to us.  So he comes out on stage, starts talking about Superman, and then invites some guy (sorry, I had no idea who he was…think he was in Man of Steel) on stage to tell us something else.

So this actor starts reading something, something I later came to learn is from the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns comic book, and ends with this very important quote:

“I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you.”

And then the place goes dark, and on the huge screens (three of them side by side) appears the Superman insignia…and then the Batman one right on top of it.

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That’s right, my friends.  BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN.  Coming soon.

THE PLACE GOES NUTS.

5.  Just Another Awesome Night at the Nerdist Podcast Live

We knew last year’s podcast with John Barrowman was going to be hard to top, but as usual The Nerdist never disappoints.  This year their special guest was Matt Smith, aka The Doctor, aka MY Doctor, whom I absolutely love.  Of course it’s bittersweet when it’s the last time he’ll be at SDCC for Doctor Who, since he’ll be leaving the show after the Christmas special (pardon the tears), but luckily The Nerdist – Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira, and Jonah Ray – always keep things interesting and hilarious.

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I love listening to these guys, and I especially loved listening to them and Matt Smith interacting with the audience.  From a guy telling us about his Twitter account @hotel_pens (in which he collects hotel pens and tweets about them) to an actual marriage proposal, it was the audience participation that made it great.  I hope these guys podcast (is that a verb?) forevers.

4.  Sherlock Makes Me Squeeeeeee

Even though the stars of Sherlock Benedick Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman weren’t at this panel, it was still awesome.  We got to listen to Steven Moffat talk, and frankly that’s good enough for me.  Especially when he shows us a clip from the upcoming (as in 2014, which is TOTALLY not upcoming, but whatever) third series.

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So, the last time we left Sherlock, he had just fallen off the roof of the hospital, and John Watson thinks his best friend is dead.  We all know he’s not, so it’s not exactly a spoiler when we see Sherlock and John together in this clip.  What it is, however, is PURE MAGIC.  In the clip John is asking Sherlock to be his best man in his wedding.  I’m not gonna give out anything else – you just have to see the brilliance for yourself – but if you know Sherlock, you can only imagine how he responds to this question.  BRILLIANT, I tell you.

3.  Ten and Eleven TOGETHER

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, so I was pretty excited for the panel because I was really hoping to see some footage from the 50th anniversary special airing this November, which brings back the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and his companion (Rose, played by Billie Piper).

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I knew all this, of course, but I don’t think I was quite prepared to see them all on screen together with the current Eleventh Doctor.  Ten and Eleven are both so iconic themselves, that to suddenly see them both at the same time in the same scene talking to each other….holy crap, it was just so awesome that it’s all kind of blurrish right now.  The whole room went nutso whenever the two of them were seen together, which made the whole thing even more awesome.  Needless to say, I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER 23.

2.  Loki Yells at Us

At the start of the Marvel panel, none of us really knew what was going to happen first.  We knew they were going to be talking about the new Thor and Captain America movies, but that’s about it.  And then the lights went out.  And Loki spoke.

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Of course the lights were still out, so we didn’t know where the voice was coming from.  Hell, for a second I thought it was just a recorded voice – that is until the lights came on….and there was Loki.  Okay, so it was really Tom Hiddleston, who of course plays Loki in the movies, but he was fully dressed in costume and in character, basically telling us to join his army.  The hall was about as loud as I ever heard it, and you could tell Hiddleston was having the time of his life up there, especially when he demanded “SAY MY NAME!” from 6500 people and got it ten-fold.  Awesome.

1.  The X-Men are Truly United

This year Fox Studios decided not to tell anyone what movies they were bringing to SDCC, which of course caused a bunch of speculation, mainly speculation about the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Hugh Jackman was already going to be there for The Wolverine, so it only made sense that they would talk about the BIGGIE.  Which they did, and we were all, YAY!  But I don’t think any of us were really expecting for THE ENTIRE CAST to come out on stage.  Seriously, it was like when the Avengers first all assembled at SDCC back in 2010 TIMES TEN.  This is all the people from the X-Men movies plus the ones from X-Men: First Class.  Here’s who came out on stage:

  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Anna Paquin
  • Ian McKellan
  • Patrick Stewart
  • James McAvoy
  • Nicholas Hoult
  • Peter Dinklage
  • Ellen Page
  • Michael Fassbender
  • Halle Berry
  • Evan Peters
  • Shawn Ashmore
  • Omar Sy

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So yes, the panel was HUGE.  And I got to see James McAvoy, who is, like, you know, MR. TUMNUS.  We all went a little insane during that panel, let me tell you that.

Many more exciting things happened this year at SDCC, but alas I only have room for so much.  Now to start planning for next year….

Posted in Geeking Out

SDCC ’13: Let the Madness Begin

Over the weekend the full San Diego Comic-Con 2013 schedule was released to the public, and once again it’s going to be a doozy of a convention.  That’s right, I said DOOZY.  And “doozy” in SDCC terms is code for “will be getting absolutely no sleep whatsoever”.  But honestly, the people who think they’re actually going to get a decent night’s sleep at SDCC are either fooling themselves, or they’re not doing SDCC right.

So in exactly 10 days, SDCC will be open.  And assuming all goes according to plan, here’s my schedule:

Thursday, 7/18/13

10:00 am – Intelligence – Ballroom 20

11:00 am – Star-Crossed – Ballroom 20

12:00 pm – Beauty and the Beast – Ballroom 20

1:00 pm – Psych – Ballroom 20

2:15 pm – Sherlock – Ballroom 20

3:30 pm – The X-Files 20th Anniversary – Ballroom 20

4:45 pm – Entertainment Weekly’s Brave New Warriors (feat. Matt Smith from Doctor Who, Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones, and Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, among others) – Ballroom 20

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So yes, I will be camped out in Ballroom 20 all day on Thursday, mostly because I want to see the Sherlock panel (no Freeman or Cumberbatch, but still excited), and the X-Files anniversary panel with David Duchcovny and Gillian Anderson.  Because of that, I’ll have to sit through panels that I don’t have much interest in – the first four that day – but if I want to see Sherlock and The X-Files, I have to get there really early.

Friday, 7/19/13

10:00 am – Inside The Big Bang Theory Writer’s Room – Ballroom 20

11:15 am – The Legend of Korra – Ballroom 20

12:30 pm – Bones – Ballroom 20

1:45 pm – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Ballroom 20

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Luckily Friday is a bit of a lighter day for us, which *might* give us a chance to catch a couple hours of sleep.  The main panel for me that day is The Legend of Korra, which means I have to sit through a Big Bang Theory panel that won’t even have any of the actors present (which is fine, since I don’t even watch the show).  We’ll stay through Bones, which we haven’t watched in about four years, because we want to see Joss Whedon and his Avengers spin-off TV show.  After that panel we’ll probably head to the Exhibition floor to check out all the booths since we’ll be tied up in Hall H for the next two days…

Saturday, 7/20/13

10:45 am – Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, feat. Godzilla, Seventh Son, 300: Rise of an Empire, Gravity, and The LEGO Movie – Hall H

1:35 pm – Lionsgate, feat. I, Frankenstein and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Hall H

2:55 pm – Entertainment Weekly’s Women Who Kick Ass, feat. Michelle Rodriguez, Tatiana Maslany, and Danai Gurira – Hall H

4:15 pm – 20th Century Fox – The schedule says “TBD”, but I’m really hoping they’ll have X-Men: Days of Future Past – Hall H

6:00 pm – Marvel Studios, feat. Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Hall H

9:30 pm – The Nerdist Podcast Live, feat. special guest Matt Smith – Balboa Theater

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I’m kind of bummed that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had to pull out of SDCC, but I’m actually really excited for all of these panels (well, except for maybe the EW one, which I’m kind of meh about).  Of course as usual the Marvel panel will be the big one – they haven’t announced any actors yet, but Marvel has yet to disappoint at SDCC.  Also, I’m SUPER excited for the Nerdist Podcast – not just because Matt Smith is their guest, but because I just love the three Nerdist guys, Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira, and Jonah Ray.  Last year’s live podcast was probably my favorite part of the entire con, so I can’t wait for this year’s.

Sunday, 7/21/13

10:00 am – Supernatural – Hall H

11:15 am – Breaking Bad – Hall H

12:30 pm – Doctor Who 50th Anniversary – Hall H

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It’s going to be a very long wait for a pretty short day, but I’d do it for Doctor Who.  I’m excited to see Supernatural, I don’t watch Breaking Bad (but my husband does, so he’s happy), and, well, duh.  Doctor Who.  Matt Smith will be there, obviously, as will his current companion and the creators of the show.  But deep down I’m wishing praying hoping that David Tennant will show up.  He’ll be in the anniversary special, and well, you just never know.  Heads may explode.

See you in ten days!!!!

Posted in Geeking Out

The “Do”s and “Don’t”s of Comic-Con

Because San Diego Comic-Con 2013 opens three weeks from today, my countdown has officially begun.  Okay, well, it actually began when we got home from Comic-Con last year (“it’s only 51 weeks away!!”), but now that we’re down to less than a month, I’m officially TOTALLY EXCITED.

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And because it’s our sixth year attending, I can consider myself somewhat of an expert of all things SDCC.  Sort of.  I mean, I know there are people who have been attending since the 70s, but the SDCC of the 2010s is a lot different than the 70s-90s.  And my husband and I have pretty much have the whole SDCC thing down, at least enough for me to write my own Do and Don’t list for some of you newbies to go by.  So if you want to know how to survive SDCC, read on.

DON’T bring a car.

The first few years we attended the con, we drove in to San Diego from LA, always either parking at a hotel or some other parking structure that charges mucho dinero to leave your car there.  The solution?  Well, if you’re traveling a long distance and flying direct to San Diego, there are many shuttle services operating within the area during SDCC that can easily take you to your hotel, and also can shuttle you to and from the convention center.  Or if you’re coming in from a place like LA (like us), you can take the train.  We did this for the first time last year, and we will never do it any other way.  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.  Seriously, you don’t have the stress of driving down the 405 freeway for three hours, and instead can sit back and relax with some free refreshments and free wifi while the train takes you past ocean-side cities and beautiful cliffs.  Yes, it takes longer, but really…if you probably can’t check into your hotel until 3:00 in the afternoon anyway, so if you leave in the morning you have plenty of time.  Plus a train ticket from LA to SD is only around $30, which is cheaper than filling up your car.

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DO have a planned schedule.

There’s a reason why SDCC releases their complete schedule before the convention begins.  You need to plan ahead.  Find the panels you want to see, write down the time and location, and make sure they don’t conflict with anything else.  Of course there’s ALWAYS going to be something that conflicts, so you’ll most likely have to make some Sophie’s Choices.  Is the panel on Women Comic Book Artists more important to you than that panel on the upcoming season of Supernatural?  Do you think you can make it in time to get from one panel to another when they’re 15 minutes apart…assuming there’s no line?  Which of course brings me to my next tip…

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DO get in line early.

I cannot stress this fact enough, especially if you want to see the panels that are in Ballroom 20 and Hall H, which are always reserved for the big TV and movie panels.  Getting in line an hour early at SDCC is 8 hours too late.  I’m totally serious.  When there’s a panel that everyone wants to see, like last year’s Firefly 10th Anniversary panel, we got in line at 2:00 in the morning.  The panel wasn’t until noon the next day.  And we weren’t in the front, if you’re wondering.  The panel was in Ballroom 20, which holds 4250 people, and we got a spot towards the middle of the room.  One of the reasons for having to get in early even if the panel you want to see isn’t until later that day is because they don’t clear out the rooms between panels.  So you can end up camping out in the same hall all day in order to see your panel.  I know, it sounds insane.  At least to outsiders, it does.  To seasoned SDCC people, it’s just another day in Hall H or B20.  I always feel kind of bad for the people who show up late (in SDCC terms) and say, “Is this the line for such-and-such panel?” with confused and worried looks on their faces, after you’ve been sitting there for literally six hours, as you nod and point towards the end of the line, which is now about 5000 people-deep (Hall H holds 6500 people).  But that just goes to show you, you need to be prepared.

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DO dress comfortably.

Since you’ll probably be doing a lot of waiting/sitting/sleeping on the ground, you’re gonna want to be as comfortable as you can get.  This is whether you dress up in costume or just regular clothes (like me).  Don’t bring those cute jeans that make your butt look great but are just a smidge too tight in the waist, because after about 30 minutes of sitting you’re going to wish you had a pair on of sweatpants.  Also, wear layers.  Just because it’s 80 degrees doesn’t mean it’s going to be 80s inside (it’s more like 50 degrees inside).  And when you’re not sitting, you’ll be walking, so don’t wear freaking stilettos (which I’ve seen girls do).  Unless it’s part of your costume, no one will be looking at your feet anyway.  Comfort is KEY at SDCC, trust me.

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DON’T expect to get much sleep.

This is more so directed at the whole “get in line at 2:00am” business, but sleep should definitely not be a priority at SDCC.  If it is, then you’re going it wrong.  Last year, for example, I averaged about 3 hours of sleep per night.  And honestly, I didn’t feel tired the whole time I was at the convention.  You’re having so much fun and your adrenaline is going the whole time because there’s just so much excitement, that it’s just something you’re not thinking of.  Of course when we got back to LA when the convention was over it all caught up to me and hit me in the face like Thor’s hammer (haha), but it’s usually worth it (for me, at least).

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DO stay hydrated and fed by more than junk food.

Since I’m older now I can say this with more confidence.  Junk food is not your friend when you’re running on 2 hours sleep and caffeine.  Of course since it’s a convention, there’s junk food everywhere, which is probably no big deal to the people in their early 20s who could probably go all day on a bag of Skittles, greasy pizza, and Mountain Dew.  But if your body doesn’t work like that, it’ll probably benefit you to bring some healthier options with you to keep in your bag or backpack just to keep your body from falling apart.  Trust me, you’ll thank me at the end of the day.

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DON’T expect to get autographs.

Unless you’re going to specific signings, there are no autographs at the big panels.  Once the panel is over, the actors and creative team get up, wave to the crowd, stand there for pictures, and then leave.  They don’t usually hang around, and some even have limos waiting for them out the exit doors to take them to the airport (like Harrison Ford in 2011).  Of course you may see someone out on the exhibition floor just walking around and being a fan themselves, like the time I saw Grant Imahara from Mythbusters on the floor, in which I blurted out, “Hi!  I love your show!” and he said, “Thanks!”  Or there was the time last year when Joss Whedon came to the line for the Firefly panel and signed pretty much every autograph he could, but that was totally out of the blue (and it was Joss and Joss is Boss).  But honestly, that exhibition floor is so crowded that there is no time or space for autographs.  So if you want an autograph, get in line at the designated areas and WAIT.

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DO get out of the convention center.

It’s easy to stay at the convention center all day, what with all the excitement going on, but you need to get out every now and then and hang out in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.  The Gaslamp District is one of my favorite places in all of Southern CA.  It’s filled to the brim with restaurants, pubs, coffeehouses, and shops, and during SDCC the whole area gets into the spirit of the convention.  And because SDCC gets bigger every year, lots of events now happen offsite at places in the Gaslamp District.  So get out and get some fresh air and relax a little – before you have to get back in line!

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DON’T take everything that is free.

In the exhibition hall where all the vendors are promoting their art or book or whatever, you can find yourself being handed everything from business cards to free comics to huge bags to hold even more crap.  It’s okay to take some, but keep in mind that you probably have to carry around this stuff ALL DAY.  And that can get pretty heavy on your back.  So a free button here and there, maybe a few business cards, but know where to draw the line.  It’s okay to decline – there are 130,000 other people there to take them for you.

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DO bring extra batteries.

Whether you bring a regular camera or your phone, you’re going to need some back-up.  The last thing you want is to finally make it into that panel for which you’ve been waiting eight hours, only to realize that your phone or camera is now dead and you can’t take any pictures of Robert Downey, Jr.  My husband and I both have iPhones but know that they definitely won’t last an entire day, given how much we use them, so we invested in back-up iPhone battery packs that last about ten hours (give or take).  So when you need to charge your phone, you just plug it into the battery pack and it charges it up.  If you’re completely out of juice and aren’t stuck outside waiting in line, there are plenty of places within the convention center to recharge – you just have to be able to find an available one.

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DON’T stress out.

Yes, there are a lot of people.  Yes, you may be waiting in line for hours on end.  Yes, you might not get into a panel you wanted to see.  Yes, you may be forced to talk to complete strangers.  But you know what?  Enjoy it.  Comic-Con is an awesome experience that you’ll never forget, whether you go just once or every year, and you don’t want to have the whole thing ruined by stressing about something you have no control of that will only bring on a headache.  So the official SDCC mantra to live by?  JUST GO WITH IT.  It’s crazy, fun, and frustrating at times, but JUST GO WITH IT.

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See you in three weeks!

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out

Mid-Year Report

Did June come early this year?  Seriously, did we skip a couple of months and decide we needed it to be June?  Because I swear to God I was just celebrating New Year’s Day, like, last week.  Honestly.  June?

Anyway, yes.  It’s June now.  June is a great month because it’s half spring and half summer, and it holds the promise that it’s going to be a great summer.  Remember when we were kids and June not only meant “SUMMER!” but it also meant “WE STILL HAVE TWO MORE MONTHS AFTER THIS!!!”?  Well, now that we’re adults now and have these things called “full-time jobs” there really isn’t such a thing as “summer” anymore, but June is still lovely.  Especially if you like flowers.

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June is bustin’ out all over.

I really have nothing topical to write about today, but since I have the time to write and really do want to write every day, I’ll just update you all on what’s been going on in my world.  You know, now that’s June and all.  Consider it to be a mid-year report on all the Odds & Thens that happen around me.  Also, prepared to be a little bored because my life isn’t exciting at all.  Sorry.

So, remember how I was going to challenge myself to watch at least five new movies a month because last year’s movie-viewing was so lame?  Well, I’m going to be honest with you.  I haven’t seen a new movie since February.  Well, with the exception of one, and that’s Wreck-It Ralph, and that’s only because my daughter thinks it’s awesome.  But apart from that, I haven’t been interested in watching any new movies.  As usual, I find comfort in my favorite go-tos:  Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.  Also, it tends to be that when I’m home alone and have the time to watch a movie, I also want to clean the house (sorry, I love to clean.  I really do.), and so I usually put in a movie that makes good background noise.  Hence, a movie that I’ve seen a kajillion times.

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Time to clean!

I haven’t really watched any new TV, either.  I finally got all caught up with Glee which, unfortunately, never really won me back at the end of the season.  It’s sad, really, when I think of how much I loved the show two years ago, to now when I actually have to force myself to watch it.  Methinks I probably won’t see much of it next year, but who knows.

Ever since discovering that all the seasons of The Twilight Zone is streaming on Netflix, I’ve been watching about three episodes at a time when I’m able to.  Man, talk about a great show.  The stories, the writing, the way it plays on people’s fears…it’s all so great.  And it’s fun to see old actors in what was probably the very first thing they did.  If for some odd reason you’ve never watched the show before, I suggest doing that right now.  This second.

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That’s not fair!  There was time now!

To be honest, the shows I’ve seen the most these past couple of months are Justin Time and Adventure Time which, I’ll be honest with you, I LOVE.  I’m serious.  I love these shows.  They’re shows my daughter loves, too, which is why it’s so awesome that I like them as well.  Justin Time is about a kid who travels to different parts of the world with his imaginary friends Squidgy and Olive (at least I think they’re imaginary….), and Adventure Time is about…well, I can’t describe.  Seriously, I’m not even gonna try because I’ll end up sounding totally insane.  But it’s so much fun to watch.

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So much awesomeness.

I’m also in the process of mentally preparing for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, which takes place on November 23, 2013, and also leads up to the departure of my first and favorite Doctor, Matt Smith.  It was just announced this past Saturday that he’ll be leaving the show after the Christmas episode, and while Doctors leaving is the nature of the show (duh, they regenerate…that’s why there have been 11 so far…), watching Matt Smith leave is going to be really difficult to do.  I may have watched the first series reboot with Christopher Eccleston back in 2005, but my heart was never in it.  I decided to give it another chance when Matt Smith came on back in 2010, and I’ve loved every single second of it.  I’ve since gone back and re-watched Eccleston, and also came to love David Tennant as the tenth doctor, but Matt Smith will always be my first and my favorite, and I will be truly sad to see him go.

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Trust me.

That being said, I’m VERY excited to see the 50th anniversary episode, mainly because Smith will be joined by David Tennant and the once companion Rose, and it’ll be interesting to see how their characters will collide.  And obviously I’m curious as to who will be the Twelfth Doctor.  Everyone’s got their speculations, but we’re all going to have to wait a while before that answer comes.

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I hope he’s ginger!

And speaking of mentally preparing, we’re only 44 days away from San Diego Comic-Con which, of course, my hubby and I will be attending this year.  It’ll be our sixth year attending, and it’s going to be just as insane and crazy as it always is.  Last year’s con took so much out of me, physically and mentally (no sleep, Firefly reunion), and I told my husband that we should “take it easy” this year.  Of course I say that every year, and of course we always find ourselves getting into line for Hall H panels at 2:00 in the morning.  And this year I know there are going to be some big panels that I won’t want to miss:  The Hobbit (part 2), Doctor Who, Supernatural, Thor 2, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Ugh, just thinking about all of it makes my stomach get all flippy.  But I can’t wait.

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Gaaaahhhh….

In between all that, I’m also learning how to “garden” (in pots out on my balcony), I’m getting my daughter situated for kindergarten next year (no, that’s not stressful at all), and I’m trying to understand why my cats insist on doing my hair while I try to sleep.  Either that or they’re giving me the worst head massage ever.  Seriously, cats are effing weird.

I have a feeling this summer is going to totally fly by, so enjoy the weather and the opportunities while they’re hot.  And don’t forget to have fun!  Because summer – whether you’re in school or have a full-time job – will always be “SUMMER!!!!”

Posted in Geeking Out, Living Life

Facebook’s Inevitable Backlash

As I write this, most of you will have probably already checked your Facebook page at least five times today.  I know I have – hell, I’ve probably checked in five times in the past hour.  And I’ll probably check it many, many more times before this day is over.

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It’s funny when you think back five years when Facebook just started showing its face (haha, PUNS) it was something that a lot of us weren’t on, let alone something we had even heard of.  Some of us were just starting to wean ourselves off of MySpace, some of us were still sending actual emails to our friends and family.  One thing for sure is that we probably didn’t expect Facebook to become as big a part of our lives as it has become today.

Of course there are the few people in our lives who aren’t on Facebook, but for most of us it’s just part of our daily routine:  wake up, grab iPad, check Facebook, eat breakfast, get ready for work, check Facebook one more time, go to work.  That’s pretty much my Monday-Friday.  Hell, probably my weekends, too, minus the “go to work” part.  Yet as I go through the motions of my day, checking FB whenever I get the chance, there’s something nagging at the back of my “I-made-it-29-years-without-FB” mind.  Why am I so dependent on it????

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I have tried more than once to break up with Facebook.  I tell myself that it’s a waste of time, that I don’t really care about what so-and-so had for dinner, or how often so-and-so goes to the gym, or that so-and-so is suddenly in a relationship with “It’s complicated”.  And I tell myself that most people don’t care about the random movie quotes that float around in my head, or the funny quip my daughter spouted out, or that I’m once again checking into Starbucks.

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And lately I feel that Facebook is getting loaded down with ads, links, and shares that don’t hold any interest to me.  Yes, I understand that you think that meme is hilarious and that you want to share it with the world, but that’s what Pinterest is for (don’t worry, I’m totally guilty of that, too).  I understand that you think this article about why the government is secretly trying to destroy the world is interesting, but a lot of people don’t.  Remember when Facebook was just status updates?  Yeah, they may have been boring, but at least they didn’t make our entire news feed look like spam.  Or a farm.

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Lately I’ve come across lots of articles about people starting to leave Facebook because it was taking over their lives, and I’ve noticed some FB friends of mine appear less and less in my news feed, making me think that maybe they’ve died, but of course they’re just out having an actual life.  But it just goes to show you that although FB may rule the world, it’s starting to prove that it shouldn’t rule our lives.

I think all these things on a regular basis, and yet I also remind myself why I actually like Facebook at the end of the day.  I’m a total introvert, which means I’m not someone who’s just going to pick up the phone and call someone to talk.  I’m not one who loves to go out with big groups of people and get my social on.  I’m a writer for a reason – I communicate best through writing.  I feel more comfortable when I can write to someone rather than meet them face to face, save most of my small group of friends.

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So in a way, Facebook is a bit of a god-send for me.  I’m able to talk to people I normally wouldn’t whenever I want.  I can post something on someone’s wall without feeling like I’m going to have a total anxiety attack.  And not a day goes by when I’m not thankful for this.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with social networking in general.  We’re dependent on it because it keeps us connected to pretty much everything:  friends, family, celebrities, news, etc, yet it can alienate us from the things we used to enjoy back before “social networking” became an actual term.

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So where do you stand on all this?  Are there ways to cut down on social network without completely losing touch on reality?  And can an introvert socially survive on just emails?

Posted in Geeking Out, Learning Things

The Awesome 13 – Figure Skating!!

This may sound like completely uninteresting news to, well, MOST of you, but 25 years ago today, Brian Boitano won the gold medal in Mens’ Figure Skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Ontario.  ALSO…15 years ago today Tara Lipinski won the gold medal in Ladies’ Figure Skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, making her the youngest (15 yrs) to accomplish that feat.*

*Side note:  It’s actually 25 and 15 years ago yesterday, February 20.  It’s just taken me two days to write this damn thing.

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So, why are those moments so significant?  Why, in a blog filled with posts about books and movies and music and TV shows and sometimes tea, do I even care about these events?  Well, ladies and gentlemen, the truth must come out.  I LOVE FIGURE SKATING.  There, I said it.  LOVE IT.

It’s no secret that I sort of loathe sports in general.  Which is actually kind of funny, considering I entered college as a sports journalism major (quickly realizing after a year that it was definitely not for me).  I enjoyed sports in high school, but only because my friends enjoyed sports.  And to be honest, I only watched sports for the cute guys.

But figure skating is the one sport (and yes, it is a sport even if it doesn’t involve a ball or running around) that I have truly loved ever since age 8 when I saw Brian Boitano win his gold medal at those ’88 Games.  I saw him do those triple jumps with his arm straight up in the air, and I was hooked.

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So to celebrate this sport and the fact that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, are only ONE YEAR AWAY, I give you 13 Awesome Things I Love About Figure Skating.

13.  Surya Bonaly’s Backflips

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 If you followed skating in the 1990s like I did, then you know Surya Bonaly.  She was the one who did all those crazy backflips out on the ice.  And not only did she land those backflips, but she landed them on one freaking foot.  Bonaly was known for her jumping ability (obviously, what with those backflips, but she never won a gold medal at the Worlds or the Olympics.  In fact, in 1994 when certain team members sat out the Worlds in China right after the Olympics, Bonaly was certain she would take home the gold.  But the gold went to Yuka Sato instead, and even though Bonaly got the silver, she was totally pissed and refused to stand on the podium or wear her medal.  Maybe she should just stick to doing backflips in exhibition shows.

12.  Stefane Lambiel’s Spins

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Sometime around the mid-2000s a skater from Switzerland emerged during a time when quad jumps in men’s skating were just starting to become all the rage.  If you weren’t doing the quad, then you just weren’t good enough.  Well, guess what.  Lambiel said “Tu m’emmerdes!” to all that and showed the world his crazy-ass spins on the ice.  Seriously, this boy could spin like a freaking top and not show signs of slowing down until suddenly he did.  It really says something when you can go on to win gold medals at the Worlds two years in a row because you can literally spin circles around all the other skaters.  I doubt we’ll see another spinner like Lambiel in our lifetime again (unless he has kids and forces them to spin like he did).

11.  Yu-Na Kim’s Perfection

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Now, whether her name is Yu-Na Kim or Kim Yu-Na (everybody says it differently), I’ll probably never know.  But what I do know is that at the 2009 World Championships in Los Angeles (which I totally attended!!!) she skated what was probably the most perfect skate of anyone ever.  Yes, it’s a bold statement.  But when you realize that she put up a score of 207.71 (under the crazy ISU scoring system), making her the first woman to surpass 200 and shattering all sorts of records all over the place, you have to give her mad props.  AND THEN…at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver she did the whole I’M AWESOME thing all over again and completely crushed her own record, scoring an insane score of 226.56 overall.  WHAT?  I know.  She’s amazeballs.

10.  Alexei Yagudin’s Fancy Footwork

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It’s one thing to incorporate intricate footwork into your choreography during a skating routine.  But to suddenly become freaking LORD OF THE DANCE ON ICE is something completely different.  That’s what Russian skater Alexei Yagudin did when he started getting everyone’s attention in the late 1990s.  Suddenly skaters began to realize that their choreography paled in comparison to what Yadugin was doing with his feet on the ice.  To quote Chandler Bing “His feet flail about as though independent from his body!”  Seriously.  Why did Yagudin win the gold medal at the 2002 Winter Games?  HIS FEET (and probably some awesome jumping skills as well).  Other skaters took notice and quickly tried to imitate, usually totally tripping up their footwork and falling on their faces (I’m looking right at your curly mop-head, Timothy Goebel).  To this day, no one comes close to his fancy footwork.

9.  Jamie Sale and David Pelletier’s “Love Story”

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Every now and then a pairs skating team comes along that makes you think, “Oh, gee, they’re cute together”.  But then there’s the Canadian pair of Sale and Pelletier who makes you think, “Oh god, they’re ADORABLE.”  Seriously, these guys are perfect together out on the ice (and apparently off the ice as well) and will have you feeling the love after just a few seconds into the routine.  Their free skate to “Love Story” at the Grand Prix final and the 2002 Olympics will bring out the feels in anyone with a soul.  Even the scandal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, in which they placed second behind the Russians until a silly French judge admitted she was pressured to vote for the Russians no matter how they skated, didn’t break these Canadians up (they eventually received the gold medal after the Games ended).  If anything it made them stronger.  I saw these two lovebirds skate at Stars on Ice to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” and it was probably the most intimate routine I have ever seen a pair skate.  Swoooooooon.*

*Side note:  While searching for pictures for these two I found out that they DIVORCED back in 2010.  SO SAD.  But still a better love story than Twilight.

8.  Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto’s Energy

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I never used to enjoy watching ice-dancing.  To me it was lame pairs skating without the jumps.  And the US admittedly sucked in the ice-dancing department.  That is until Belbin and Agosto came shimmying their way onto the ice and sort of exploded all over it.  Finally, an American team (well, technically Tanith Belbin is Canadian but she totally converted to Americanism to compete in the Olympics) that actually has a chance to win something!!  Not only that, but they were so much fun to watch.  I’m pretty sure these guys got hopped up on pop rocks and Mountain Dew before they stepped onto the ice because they seriously radiated energy in every spin and twizzle they did.  Unfortunately they never got the Olympic or World’s gold – silver in 2006 was the closet they came – but they still managed to US ice-dancing on the map again after many, many years of NOTHING.

7.  Brian Boitano’s Jumps

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Yes, folks, this is what started it all 25 years ago.  I was only 8 years old, but I remember watching him skate, and I remember feeling so proud and excited and emotional when he jumped with one hand straight up in the air – something that no one else was doing at the time.  And even now when someone does a jump like that, it’s a nod to Boitano and how hard he fought for that gold medal in 1988.  He competed in the games along with hometown fave Brian Orser of Canada, in what would eventually be dubbed “The Battle of the Brians”.  They both went into the free program tied after the short, so it literally was a battle for that gold.  But it was Boitano and his awesome jumps who took that gold back to America.  Battle won indeed.

6.  Evan Lycacek’s Deserving Win

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The year was 2010, and the American men hadn’t won a gold medal in figure skating since the aforementioned Brian Boitano 22 years ago.  It had been a sport dominated by Russian men (every year since 1992!!), and it was high time that the US take that shiz back.  So American skater Evan Lycacek did just that.  HE TOOK IT BACK.  In what was probably his best skate ever (complete with real tears at the end because he knew he did so awesome), Evan did about 50 billion jumps and everyone knew before he even finished that this gold was HIS and his alone.  So take that, Russia.  Another miracle on ice.

5.  Michelle Kwan’s Consistency

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Because of the news ISU scoring system (which after ten years no one still understands), there will never be another skater like Michelle Kwan.  Back in the days of the 6.0 scoring system, she DOMINATED ladies’ figure skating (except when it came to the Olympics).  She’s a five-time World Champion (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2003) and a nine-time U.S. Champion (1996, and then every year from 1998-2005).  She’s more known for her artistry on the ice rather than her jumps, which probably cost her the gold medal to Tara Lipinski at the 1998 games.  But Michelle had what Lipinski and other rival Sasha Cohen lacked, and that was her insane consistency.  Seriously, this girl was so good every time she got out on the ice.  Who else can say they got 8 perfect 6.0s in one routine the way Kwan did at the 1998 U.S. Championships?  Well, no one now, thanks to the new scoring system.  Thanks, French judge at the 2002 Games.  It’s all your fault.

4.  Johnny Weir’s Confidence

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Despite all the crap that people talk about him, I love Johnny Weir.  I first saw him skate at the 2002 Games and thought, “Wow, this guy skates differently from all the other guys.”  The guy can jump with the rest of them, but it obvious that he puts his blood, sweat, and tears into the artistry of skating.  He’s a beautiful skater on the ice, while sometimes flamboyant, which causes some people to criticize his skating, even calling it “too feminine”.  But that Johnny Weir, he doesn’t even care!  He loves to skate, he loves to wear feathers and sparkles, and you can see that he’s happiest on the ice when he can be himself.  And when he’s happy, he’s an awesome skater.  Who likes to wear feathers and sparkles.

3.  Tonya and Nancy’s Feud

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Oh, come on, you loved it, too.  And all it took was one swift whack to the knee to make the world recognize figure skating for what it is:  a blood-thirsty, violent sport!  But seriously, this was by far the most interesting and entertaining thing to come out of the 1994 skating season and the Winter Games in Lillehammer.  To quickly summarize if you were born yesterday:  After a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was leaving the rink when somebody suddenly came up to her and clubbed her on the knee, making her cry out “Whyyyyyyy” over and over again.  The suspects were quickly identified as Tonya Harding’s husband and his cronies.  Tonya denied involvement, but who the hell knows.  All we wanted to know was if Nancy would be able to compete at the Olympics, and what will happen if she could?  Well, she did, and ended up getting silver behind unknown Ukrainian Oksana Baiul, while Tonya performed understandably horribly.  It wasn’t U.S. Figure Skating’s most proud moment, but it was its most popular, and no one who watched will ever forget it.

2.  Sasha Cohen’s Ballet

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She was called The Ballerina on Ice, and it was easy to see why when you watched her skate.  Sasha Cohen is still my favorite skater of all time, despite the fact that she was painfully inconsistent and never won gold at the World’s or the Olympics.  I didn’t care about any of that, though, because I just loved to watch her skate.  She was pretty, she wore pretty costumes, she skated to pretty music, and she skated pretty.  Oh, and her I-spins and Biellmann spins were INSANE because she was so flexible and could pull her leg straight up into the air like a crazy person.  It’s unfortunate that she didn’t achieve status the way Michelle Kwan did because I think she’s a much more artistic skater and – when she’s on – a very good technical skater, but she will always be remembered for holding everyone’s attention for 4 minutes like no other.

1.  Gordeeva and Grinkov’s “Moonlight Sonata”

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Oh, geez.  This is going to give me the tears and feels even before I start to write it.  Back in the 80s and 90s, the Soviets/Unified Team/Russians sort of ran the whole Pairs Skating scene.  And none were greater than the child partners-turned-couple-turned-husband-and-wife team of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.  Omigosh this couple was gorgeous.  And their skating?  Absolutely flawless.  They won the gold at the 1998 Games, and then stopped competing until their return in 1994.  And it was there where they proved to be one of the best pairs of all-time.  For their long program they skated to “Moonlight Sonata”, which pretty much left everyone speechless and teary-eyed.  I taped that performance and used to watch it every morning before school because it was so awesome (and he was so gorgeous).  On an extremely sad note, Grinkov died not even two years later of a massive heart attack, which makes this particular performance even more haunting and beautiful.  Seriously, I have nothing snarky to say about this.  It’s just awesome.

Posted in Geeking Out, Learning Things

Birthday Toast Post – Shigeru Miyamoto

You may not know his name, but I’ll bet you your lunch money that you’ve encountered him at least once in your life.  Okay, well, maybe not him, but his creations.  In fact, you may have even played one of his games last night.  And to gamers – casual or hard-core – he may be the reason why they started gaming in the first place.

So, who is this guy?

Well, let’s see.  Ever heard of Mario Bros.?  Donkey Kong?  Zelda?  All creations of Shigeru Miyamoto.  Do you have a Wii system in your house?  Also a Miyamoto invention.  So yeah, this guy is pretty much the reason why video games still exist today.

And today also happens to be his 60th birthday!  And as we all know, the Japanese take the 60th birthday very seriously.*

*Okay, so not all of you may know that.  I only know because I married one.**

**Not a 60-year-old.  A Japanese person.  FYI.

Anyway, since it’s Miyamoto’s 60th birthday, I think he deserves a birthday toast post.  Super Mario Bros. was the first Nintendo game I ever played waaaaaaaay back in the day when Atari was pretty much obsolete and the NES system was the coolest thing ever.  I played the crap out of that game, changing the way I played it each time (do I warp right way?  Do I warp to level 8?  Should I just play every single level?)  My favorite worlds were the ones that involved trees in the air that you had to jump on to get across (3 and 6).  My least favorite were the ones that involved the spiky guys you could only kill with fire power (4 and above).  The castle levels made me so nervous that I would break out in a sweat (until I managed to jump on that spiky dragon guy three times at the end).

Super Mario Bros. 2 was kinda weird and nothing at all like its predecessor, and I never got even close to beating the entire game.  Of course the game was originally called something else – wasn’t even supposed to be a Mario game – but they slapped the Mario name on it at the last minute and it became a sequel.  In this one you could pick what character you wanted to be, and I always made sure I was Princess Peach because she could fly (re: hover) for about five seconds, which was helpful when jumping over large areas.  Too bad she was hella slow at everything else.

When Super Mario Bros. 3 came out (after its 90-minute commercial via the movie The Wizard), it sort of changed everything…and also made me never wanted to play the first two versions again because this third one was all kinds of awesome.  The worlds were amazing (Giant Land!  Pipeland!  Iceland!), and Mario could do so many more things (like change into his Tanooki suit!), and there were games to play in between levels.  The flying ship you had to get through at the end of each world made me even more nervous than the ridiculous castles from the first Mario game that my hands would be shaking the whole time.

In addition to The Legend of Zelda being, well, kind of adorable, it was one of the first games to use nonlinear gameplay that included riddles and puzzles for the player to solve.  Honestly, I don’t remember much about Zelda except for how cute Link was – I was too busy trying to reach level 8 in the Mario games.  But it was extremely popular, spawning numerous sequels and gaining a more roleplaying-type feel to the game, which is probably why it continues to be popular.

In 2006, Miyamoto introduced the world to the Wii system, which made people get off their butts and move their bodies, which was another way Miyamoto revolutionized the game industry.  Suddenly your whole body was part of action, whether you’re playing the new Zelda games or challenging yourself to a game of bowling in Wii Sports.

I loved the Wii when it first came out (I still do – I just haven’t played it in a while).  My husband and I spent hours playing Wii Sports, whether it was bowling or tennis or golf, and we enjoyed watching each other figure out our “Wii age” by how fit you are (I was always older than him).  My husband even did yoga on the Wii for a long time, which goes to show you don’t have to sign up for a gym or classes.  The Wii made gaming a physical activity, working both your mind and your body.

Miyamoto has been criticized in the past that his “casual” games don’t keep up with the “hard-core” games, but he’s said that there shouldn’t be a difference.  Games are games, no matter how you categorize them.  People are always going to play them no matter what.  And Miyamoto is still putting out games, mostly now for the new Wii U, which will be released in the States THIS SUNDAY.  Wii U will the first hi-def gaming console, and will still be compatible with the original Wii.  It comes with a touchscreen and can be played on the TV or on the hand-held screen when the TV is off.

In other words, Miyamoto continues to spread his awesomeness everywhere.

So join me in raising a toast to the man of the day, who created a generation of thinkers and dreamers and strategists, and who still changes the way we play.

Happy birthday, Shigeru Miyamoto!

Posted in Geeking Out

Bored? Get Your “Board” On!

When was the last time you played a board game?  And I’m not talking about the “board games” that you play on TV (Scene It), or virtual board games you can play on iPads.  I’m talking about actually sitting around a table with a game in front of you.  I’m talking about “roll-the-dice-it’s-your-turn” or “time’s-up-put-your-pencils-down” types of games.  Board games, people!

It’s been a while, right?  I know it’s been a while for me.  Because why drag out a box with a bunch of pieces and sit at a table when I can curl up on the couch and slide my finger across a small screen and watch as tiny birds soar by?  Well, I’ll tell you why.  Because board games are FUN and they force you to be social (something we all need to work on in this cold, networking age).  And most of them (the good ones) don’t have to be charged after a few hours.  I mean, you know how long it takes to play Monopoly.  One does not simply stop playing Monopoly just to recharge batteries (though one may need to go to bed to recharge their own body’s battery and continue the next day).

Remember the days when board games were pretty much the only kind of games out there?  My friends and I would spend countless weekends playing awesome board games like Stratego, Life, Payday, Clue, Yahtzee, and one of my personal faves, The Sweet Valley High Board Game, in which your character had to go shopping and buy all the right items for their chosen date, played in the style of the matching game Memory.  Whoever finds their date first, wins!  Shallowness at its best.

Another game I love to play, and what I think may be the best board game in the world, is Scattergories.  That’s the one where you get a list of 12 categories, like “A Boy’s Name”, “Cartoon Character”, “Appliance Brand Name”, etc, and then you roll the giant die with all the letters of the alphabet (except for Q, X, and Z), and then the answers of the category have to start with whatever letter the die lands on.  The fun part is hearing everyone’s answers (the larger the group, the better) and trying to be the only one with a certain answer.  Many a laugh is had during the playing of that game.

And of course I can’t talk about board games without mentioning Trivial Pursuit, which is also a favorite of mine.  I’m a huge trivia buff (duh), and I love to be challenged by other people who are trivia nerds.  Luckily I have a husband with a wealth of pointless knowledge, and together we’ve branched out into other trivia realms like Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, and The Beatles Trivial Pursuit.  Of course it’s more fun to play with other people who know a lot about those movies.  We once played LOTR TP with another couple who had only seen the movies once or twice and we annihilated them.  The game was over so quickly that it wasn’t even that fun – and I’m sure the other couple was bored out of their minds (and maybe they hated us a little).  So if you’re going to play genre-specific trivia games like that, make sure everyone is on the same page.

For a while it seemed that board games were a thing of the past, almost as extinct as the dinosaurs.  Stores stopped selling them unless they were some new version of Monopoly, and people resorted to video games and apps.  Soon it seemed that the only place you could find board games were at garage sales and thrift stores.  But thanks to people like Wil Wheaton, who created his own You Tube show called Table Top, which is simply him and his friends playing a different board game together every week, it seems like board game playing may be on the rise again.  You can still find board games at Target and such stores, but at a lot of malls (at least here in Minnesota) still have the stores Games by James, where you can find a lot of games.  Barnes and Noble also has an awesome selection of award-winning board games I like to buy as Christmas gifts.  There are some really fun games out there that are great for those cold winter nights, or just when you don’t feel like going out and spending money.  If you need a starting out point, here’s a present for you:

  • Trivial Pursuit (the Genus edition is the original, but there are many different varieties)
  • Scattergories (it’s fun to make up your own categories, too)
  • Outburst (not sold in stores anymore, but easily found at thrift stores for super cheap)

  • Taboo (makes a great party game – it can get loud!)
  • Aggravation (it’s all about strategy and pissing off the other guy)
  • Monopoly (again, many different editions, but the original is the best)
  • Yahtzee (try to get them all in order of how they’re listed on the score sheet)

  • Cranium (fun for every type of gamer)
  • Mad Gab (makes you hear things differently)
  • Apples to Apples (make sure you play with the right people)

I know I’m probably missing a few, and I know there are a lot out there that I haven’t even played, but my goal for 2013 is to get back into the board game groove.  The call of Smurfs Village and Angry Birds and Spelltower may be great, but iPads eventually die out.  Board games live forever (unless you lose game pieces, of course).  But you know what I mean.

Board games in 2013!!!  Who’s with me?

Posted in Geeking Out, Traveling to Places

My Travels Through Middle Earth

I understand this post is long overdue, but since I’ve been on a Lord of the Rings kick lately I figure now was as good of time as any to write about my trip to New Zealand, aka my honeymoon, seven years ago.  I always meant to write about the trip, or at the very least scrapbook about the whole thing, but since I severely lack scrapbooking skills, that never happened.  I wrote a small piece called “What Lord of the Rings Means to Me” back in 2006 for LiveJournal (remember that site?) where I briefly mention my trip, but I’ve never chronicled the whole experience like I plan on doing right now.

So yes, it was seven years ago this November that my husband and I traveled down to Middle Earth, even though it feels a lot more recent than that.  When we were thinking of places we wanted to go to for our honeymoon, ideas like “Scandinavian Cruise” and “Northern England” came to mind, and we even got suggestions from people who told us to go to Hawaii because we could stay with family.

Because who doesn’t want to stay with family members while on their honeymoon?

But in the end the decision was easy.  My husband and I aren’t beach people, we had already traveled to England, and a cruise around Scandinavia was outrageously expensive.  But that’s not what made our decision to go to New Zealand easy.  It was the fact that we were meant to go there.  The Lord of the Rings movies were what brought my husband and I together in the first place, and since all the movies were made there, it made sense as the only place to go.

I connected with a company called Red Carpet Tours in Auckland, New Zealand, which specializes in LOTR tours, and booked a two-week tour of the North and South Island, hitting all the important and hard-to-get-to LOTR sites.  And for anyone thinking of going on a LOTR tour, I highly recommend this tour.  The people involved are awesome, and it’s the best – and easiest – way to see the county.

So on November 5, 2005 we departed the Los Angeles International Airport for Auckland, New Zealand where we endured an extremely long flight (13 hours) and lost a whole day in the process.  I can’t sleep on planes, so when we arrived – in the morning, I might add – I was completely exhausted and looked, well, not pretty.  But you know what?  I didn’t care.  I was in New Zealand, and that was all that mattered.

We spent the first night in Auckland, but since there are no LOTR sites in the capital city, we left the following morning for Matamata, aka The Shire.  And when I say “we”, I mean our awesome tour group.  There were about 20 of us with our guides from all over the world: California, Utah, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Maryland, England, Australia, and Finland.  It’s funny to look think back on that first day and how none of us knew each other, to the last day after we had grown so close.

But as I said, Matamata was our first stop.  This is where Peter Jackson and his amazing crew had built The Shire / Hobbiton / Bag End all from scratch.  And when we were there, various Hobbit holes remained.  Not because they were tourist attractions at that time, but because they knew…somewhere down the line…that they would need them for The Hobbit (seven years later).

Matamata was such a special place, not only because it’s Hobbiton, but because still seemed so untouched and peaceful, with its many sheep wandering in and out of hobbit holes.  It had an innocence that perfectly matches the innocence of the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, and although it rained the entire time we were there, none of us cared at all.  Because how often can one say that they actually stood in Bag End, or danced under the Party Tree?

From there we headed to Rotorua, which is best known for its large population of Maori tribes.  That evening we went to an active Maori village where we saw a “haka” and ate some amazing food.  It’s always interesting to see how other peoples live and to witness their traditions, especially when they’re so different from your own.  It was obvious that New Zealanders (Kiwis) are very proud of their Maori people and heritage, and it’s just another thing that makes the country so special.

The next LOTR stop we made the following day was to Mount Ruapehu, which is where the beginning of The Two Towers was filmed with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum, and also the location of Mount Doom.  It was one of those moments where you’re sitting in the bus just looking outside at the flat lands and then suddenly you’re like, “Holy crap, it’s Mount Doom!”  It just sort of appeared out of nowhere, which made it even more cool to look at.

And yes, there were some reinactments occuring at this location.  Because we’re nerds, and we love LARPing.  And what better place to do it than the actual site?  Makes for much better reinactments.

Oh, and this is where we stayed that night.  The cast also stayed here while filming, and we all got to stay in a room that a cast member stayed in.  Since Sean and I were “The Honeymooners” on the trip, we got to stay in an extra-special suite…the one that Peter Jackson himself stayed in.  And, um…yes…it was awesome.

The next day we drove over to the Powderhorn Chateau, another place where the cast and crew stayed many a night.  The most exciting part of the day was an obnoxious picture us women all took on the bed Orlando Bloom slept in when he stayed there.  Because we love our elves.  And let’s face it.  THAT’S AS CLOSE AS WE’RE GONNA GET.

We spent the rest of our time on the North Island in Wellington, the heart of New Zealand, and also the place where Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studio and Weta Workshop reside.  We saw some random sights in Wellington like the area where Rivendell was “created”, and the path where the Hobbits are walking in the first movie when they first see The Black Rider (“Get off the road!”).

But the best place BY FAR in Wellington was Weta Workshop, which is run by visual extraordinaire Richard Taylor.  On the day we went down there, our guides weren’t sure if we could go in.  Our best bet was to just see the lobby and that was it because they didn’t think Richard Taylor was there.  But after checking it out and making us wait patiently on the bus, our guide returned with this:  “We’re going in.”

But he didn’t just mean the lobby.  No, we were going IN in the workshop.  We were going to see where all the armor, costumes, etc. were created, and Richard Taylor was going to be our personal tour guide.

This was probably the geekiest moment of my entire life.  We got to see the COOLEST things – things that were so top secret that we were told not to post any pictures of them on the internet (in 2005 this was not difficult to do), mostly pictures of props from the upcoming movies The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and King Kong.

We got to meet some of the artists who worked on the films, and of course got to hold some of the props, the coolest being King Theoden’s sword.  I also got to hold one of the (many) Academy Awards that Weta won for the three movies, which was awesome.

Soon our journey took us to the South Island, a land consisting of mountains and sheep.  Oh, and lots of filming locations from all three movies, plus an awesome new tour guide who was an extra in The Two Towers.

One of the coolest places we visited was the site which would become Edoras, the Rohan Kingdom in The Two Towers.  Known as Mount Sunday in real life, this oddly-shaped landmass is very remote – you have to walk across a swiftly-moving stream and climb up to get there – and if you’re not careful, you could get carried off by the wind, which sometimes feels as though it’s moving at hurricane force.

But the views are definitely worth it, especially when you’re doing your best Eowyn impression.  None of the Rohan village was there, of course, but it really did look like this when you stood there.  Super cold, super windy, but super awesome.

A day or two into our South Island adventure, we stayed at a place called The Hermitage, which is a hotel in the middle of a range of glacial mountains.  Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand, was clearly visable from our hotel room.  We also heard the cracking of falling glaciers during the night, a sound I highly recommend hearing some time in your life.

One of the reasons why I loved the South Island so much was because most of the landscape shots you see in LOTR were done on the South Island.  And one of the reasons why I love watching The Two Towers so much is because I see the South Island everywhere.  Despite the fact that I was extremely hungover from too much wine the night before (thank you to Oliver’s restaurant, which serves their wine in glasses so big they look like tankards), the day we spent at Poolburn (Rohan plains) was one of my favorite days.  Lots of reinactments, and lots of “I recognize this!” and “I know this exact shot!” and “Oh my God, this is Aragorn’s rock!”

It was just so open, not a building in site for miles, and it was, simply, Rohan.  In the flesh.  I half expected Eomer and the Rohirrim to come riding by any second, or a group of Orcs to come running through, carrying two captured Hobbits on their backs.

Again, if you’re ever on the South Island, make sure you go to Poolburn, preferrably with a tour.  I can’t imagine going on my own without getting completely lost.

One of my favorite scenes in Fellowship of the Ring is at the end when Frodo decides he needs to carry on this task alone, but before he can do anything, Sam comes running along, telling him that he’s coming with him.  And I was lucky enough to be able to stand on those very same shores as he did (and do my own little reinactment, holding the ring and deciding my own fate).  The location is near the AWESOME town of Queenstown, and it’s such a beautiful area, with the blue waters and the Remarkables mountain range taking up the background, and it’s a great place to picnic and enjoy some peace and quiet.  Oh, and a great place to be a nerd and pretend you’re Frodo.

Speaking of reinactments, here are three more for you that took place on the South Island.  In one some of us are Rohan refugees (we’re trying to look cold and miserable – at least we got the cold part down), and in the other I’m pretending to be falling off of the cliff that takes Aragorn and the warg rider off it’s edge.  We even got another traveler who wasn’t with our group to join us in the reinactments, and he had so much fun that he wanted to ditch the people he was with and continue on the whole tour with us.

And finally here we are on Pelennor Fields, recreating the Ride of the Rohirrim, and looking mighty fierce, I might add.  This location was pretty cool because if you were lucky, you might find a small prop like an arrow still lying on the ground.  None of us did that day, but those fields are so spread out that you know there’s got to be something out there.  And if you’re unlucky, you might just find one of the mines that the New Zealand Army has lying about.  Just watch your step.

There are a lot more pictures I could add to this, but that would make this post way longer than I originally intended.  And like I said, this post really has no significant purpose other than the fact that I finally got to write about some of my experiences that I’ve been too lazy to do over the past seven years.  But even though seven years have passed and I’ve traveled to other places, I still hold a very special place in my heart for New Zealand.  If you ask anyone who’s been there, they’ll tell you that the place changes you.  There’s something about New Zealand that is unlike any other place on this earth.  The people, the land, the air…it really feels like a magical place that shouldn’t exist in today’s world, but people who have been there are lucky because it does exist.

Posted in Geeking Out, Learning Things

Corsets and Heat Don’t Mix…and Other Things I Learned from The Renaissance Festival

Yesterday I attended and survived my very first trip to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and, as expected, a merry time was had. Merry enough to where I’m already excited to go next year. And as is the case of any new thing I experience, I learned some very valuable lessons. For instance:

1. These Turkey Drumsticks Are Not Your Usual Thanksgiving Fare

One of the first things we did upon arrival to the festival was get in line for our lunch, aka The Turkey Drumsticks. Now, I need these things were big, but you don’t really understand the magnitude of what you’re about to injest until you’re actually holding one in your hand. It’s like when an actor wins an Oscar for the first time. They run up on stage and are handed the award, and the first thing they say is, “Wow, this is a lot heavier than I imagined.”

lot heavier.

Well, that’s what the Renaissance Turkey Drumstick is like. Seriously, the thing probably weighs close to three pounds. Three pounds of tender, juicy, greasy as all hell, hot turkey meat for you to eat without the help of any utensils. It’s quite filling, and I had to pass the rest of mine to my husband to finish because I couldn’t eat another bite. But you really only do it for the experience, because when else can you walk around eating a giant turkey leg and actually blend in with the rest of the crowd? Huzzah!

2. Some Men Really Do Like to Wear Tights

I wasn’t surprised that more women came dressed in costume than men. I mean, we get to wear pretty dresses and wings and show our cleavage while men don’t have many options other than dressing like a pirate and wearing a bandana on their heads. However, I was surprised by the number of men who fully embraced the wearing of tights. And not just tights, but codpieces as well. Oh yes, they’re not just for baseball players. And these men wear them – and the tights that cover them – with pride. Huzzah!

3. Don’t Do Free Beer Tasting on an Empty Stomach

This weekend’s theme at the Renaissance Festival was Shamrocks and Shenanigans, and the Free Beer Tasting was sponsored by Guinness. For those of you who have never participated in Free Beer Tasting, it’s really quite simple: just sit down and listen to someone explain the history of featured beers while they pass around about 3 or 4 oz of different kinds of beers. Since it was sponsered by Guinness, we were treated to samples of Harps, Smithwicks (pronounced “Smitticks”), Guinness Stout, and Guinness Extra Stout, all which followed a delicious pre-drink sample of Smirnoff’s Mandarin Corkscrew (which I could easily have for breakfast everyday).

Patiently awaiting our beer.

Now, five samples don’t really seem like a lot to some people. But you’re drinking these samples in a very short amount of time. Add up all the samples and you’re drinking 20oz of beer in about 15-20 minutes. Again, may not seem like a lot. But I’m a total light-weight, and the effects of the beer hit me as soon as I stood up and realized all I had in my stomach was some turkey meat from two hours ago. Huzzah!

4. Don’t Make Fun of Fainting Couches – You May Just Need One

In the morning before the seven of us headed out, we had all gathered at Lady Elizabeth’s dwelling (aka my friend’s house) for a lovely breakfast of quiche, muffins, fruit, and juice. At that point I was all decked out in my corset and skirt, and feeling quite skinny and amazing. After my second muffin, I joked about how I wish I could wear a corset all the time because it sort of holds everything in, but how I would probably need a fainting couch because back in the day corsetted women used to pass out all the time from lack of oxygen, therefore needing a couch on which to pass out.

Little did I know that I almost needed one myself. After standing in the heat and drinking numerous ounces of free (and purchased) ale with nothing but turkey meat in my stomach, I began to feel faint and sweaty and actually saw spots in front of my face. Luckily a bench and Lady Elizabeth came to my aide and removed said corset – just like Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean! – and after a long guzzle of water, I was good as new (sans corset). Bottom line: you may feel amazing in your Renaissance Spanx, but make sure you have back-up help. Huzzah!

5. You Don’t Get Dirty. You Get DIRTY.

The Renaissance Festival is held outdoors in a gigantic open field, and to make you feel like you’re actually living in Renaissance times (despite the fact everyone is holding an iPhone), there are no roads and hardly any grass to walk on. All that’s left to walk on is DIRT. Lots and lots and lots and lots of dirt. And when thousands of people are walking on lots of dirt, the air tends to get dusty. Now, you don’t really realize this as you’re partaking in the festivities. You’re drinking, laughing, eating, shopping…you don’t have time to look at your arms to see if they’re a shade darker than they were before you left that morning.

And then you get home. You’re standing in your house, back in civilization, back under normal lighting. And you notice that you’re tan. Oh, wait. That’s not a tan. That’s not from the sun. That’s a layer of dirt. And you realize that you have dirt coming out of every oriface of your body. You blow your nose. BLACKNESS comes out. You take your costume off. You have to vacuum where you just stood. You take a shower. The bathtub turns gray.

And then you feel amazing. Huzzah!

So the rules for next year are quite simple: Bring handwipes for Turkey Leg, eat more (but drink just as much), convince husband to wear tights (won’t happen), and tie corest a half an inch looser (maybe). Unfortunately, nothing can be done about the dirt. But hey, it might rain next year! Then you can play in the mud!

Huzzah!

Posted in Geeking Out

“Toying” With My Childhood

When I was a kid, my mom was super anal about making sure I took care of my toys.  She even went so far as to not let me brush the hair of my Strawberry Shortcake dolls.  Honestly, who does that?

Well, now that I’m older and have a daughter of my own, I’m kind of glad she did.  Because now my daughter can experience the same joy I felt while playing with such toys as My Little Pony, Care Bears, and, of course, Strawberry Shortcake because not only did I keep them all, but I took care of them.

All of these brands have made comebacks in the recent years, changing their look slightly to keep up with the times, but still remaining popular with the little girls (and boys, of course.  I’m talking to you, Bronies).  And I love the new versions (especially My Little Pony, but we all know that).  But how many four-year-olds can say that they have the same toys that were released thirty years apart?

To your left is the Strawberry Shortcake character Lemon Meringue, one circa 1985, the other circa 2011.  You would never know they were the same thing, right?  The almost 30-year-old one is cute with her curly hair  and freckles, and the new one is, well, kinda sexy.

And yes, it felt really weird to write those words when referring to a Strawberry Shortcake doll.

But you have to admit, the newer dress is way better than whatever the hell Old School Lemon is wearing.  Is that some kind of smock?  And I’m sorry, but green and white striped tights went out of style around 1987.  Apparently an update was needed.

But thanks to my mom, those curls on Old School’s head look exactly the same as they did in 1985.  I bet the ones on eBay look like crap.

I also still have some of Strawberry’s old accessories, like the Big Berry Trolley on which Almond Tea and Raspberry Tart are taking a ride.  It’s still fully intact except for the missing mailbox, which isn’t exactly missing – it’s just at the bottom of one of our toy bins.

You can currently purchase the Big Berry Trolley on eBay right now for as low as $34.00…or as high as $250.oo – sealed in its box!

Yeah, I wouldn’t pay that amount, either.  But it’s nice to know that it seems somewhat in demand and that mine still looks fairly new.

And hey, the girls look nice, am I right?  Too bad Almond Tea got kicked out of Strawberry’s gang.  Do they have something against…tea?

I was slightly guilty of maybe brushing Raspberry’s hair back in the day, thus making it look like a bit of a ‘fro now, but luckily she has that big hat to cover it all up.  And speaking of that hat, what exactly is it supposed to be?  Doesn’t really look like a raspberry…

For a certain part of my childhood, my favorite thing in the world was Care Bears.  I loved them.  Seriously.  I used to cry when The Care Bears Movie ended because I wanted it to go on and on forever.  Like one long Care Bear Stare.

Luckily I had these little guys, among others, to tie me over.  This was the official Care Bears Car of Care-A-Lot, and while I think Tenderheart Bear was supposed to be its driver, I have Cheer Bear up front and Bedtime Bear in the back.  You know, where he can sleep.

I have a very random yet distinct memory of this car and being over at my friend Angie’s house.  We were simultaneously playing Care Bears and eating Razzles (it’s a candy, then a gum!) and we (well, in my head I blamed her) got orange Razzle all over the car.  I don’t remember ever washing it off; it just wore off with time.  Which is kind of gross.  Because I’m sure at one point it was actually gum sticking to the car.

What do Razzles turn into after they’ve already morphed into gum?

In addition to the car, the Care Bears needed a place in which to live and play.  What better than a big heart-shaped house in the clouds with a weird spinning teeter that doesn’t totter, a slide, and a swing (which you can’t see in this picture as it’s on the outside of the house.  Which is kind of lame, if you think about it, because the Care Bear who wants to swing always gets stuck outside by themselves).

I admittedly didn’t play with this thing that much.  The bears always fell off the damn slide, the spinning thing didn’t spin all that much without the bears flying off, and the swing always fell down.  So what did I do to make it fun?

I pretended there were destructive tornadoes in Care-A-Lot and the only way to keep the Care Bears safe was to hide out in the cloud house until the tornado passed.

I was also a weather-obsessed child, but that’s something for another day.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I love the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  The show is awesome, and the toys are even awesomer.  And yes, awesomer is a word, but only when you’re referring to My Little Pony.

My daughter (and I) have a handful of the new smaller-sized ponies, which are perfect for the tiny little purses my daughter likes to carry around.  Back in the day, if you wanted a smaller pony, you had to get a baby pony (I happen to have three old school baby ponies, two which are twins).  Otherwise you were stuck with the regular-sized pony which, when I look at them now, aren’t nearly as adorable as the new Friendship is Magic generation.

I have a whole suitcase full of these guys, all who look completely out of style.  Their manes and tails are still decent, but their cutie marks are wearing off and a few of them just look plain dirty, even though I’ve tried washing them.

Of course that doesn’t mean they’re not worth anything.  You find some old school ponies on eBay for, well…okay, not a whole lot.  I found a few that I have that are only selling for two dollars.  But still.  I’m guessing not a whole lot of people still have their original My Little Pony collection.  Except the ones selling their collections eBay.

Which I will never do, by the way.

The next couple of photos are strictly randoms, dolls that for some reason I’ve never gotten rid of.  These two ladies in their Glamour Shots pose are Lady Lovelylocks on the left, and Rose Petal next to her.

I had no accessories for Lady Lovelylocks – she was on her own and had to try fit in with all the other girls from other lands.  She usually hung out with Rose Petal, who also had no other friends, but she had digs.

Unfortunately those digs are still at my parents house.  She basically lived in a giant purple watering can with an awesome red door and a rooftop patio where I would have her conduct orchestral concerts.

I also liked to pretend that a tornado was going to hit the purple watering can, and even though Rose Petal was safe inside behind the awesome red door, her rooftop patio got destroyed every single time.

And just for fun, I have one last “toy” to share with you.  It isn’t exactly mine – I have no idea what happened to the one I grew up with (technically my brother’s, but as a ten-year-old I totally ignored that rule).

This is my husband’s old NES, and I’m so glad we have it.  I loved the old school Nintendo when I was a kid.  None of the games were flashy like they are today, but they were addicting, and they were fun.  I remember playing hours and hours of Super Mario (1,2,3) and some of my random faves like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman.

I don’t have access to those particular games anymore, but I still have some of the greats:  all three Marios and Tetris.  We have a small bin of old NES games, including Kid Icarus which I keep meaning to take out, but it always

comes back to these four games.  To be honest, I can’t even get into the newer games these days (though I did go through a small Super Nintendo phase where all I played was Donkey Kong Country, but, again, that was a long time ago) because I always – ALWAYS – compare them to the original Nintendo.  It probably has something to do with nostalgia and how nothing will ever be like it was.  Stuff like that starts to happen with age.

But that’s okay.  Keeping all my old toys was probably one of the best things I could do for my daughter.  Yeah, her friends might look at her strangely as she plays with her weird-looking, oddly dirty My Little Ponies from 1982, but she will be so much more well-rounded than the rest of the crowd.  She’ll be all, “Hey, I liked My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake before they were cool again!”

Oh my God, I’m turning my daughter into a hipster.

Sweet.

Posted in Geeking Out, Learning Things

Come Hither to Ye Olde Renaissance Festival

When I arrived at work today, there was a brochure in my mailbox for the upcoming and ever-so-popular Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Ever since I was a tween many moons ago I’ve wanted to experience the grand adventure that is the RenFest but I’ve always been either too lame or too far away to attend.

But not this year.

Oh, no, my fellow comrades. NOT THIS YEAR. For this year will be the year I don medieval dress and fill my stein with medieval ale and nosh on ye olde turkey leg. This year I will embrace all that is RenFest and not let the fear overtake this girl.

Though I probably won’t be dressed like this.

A quick history regarding the Minnesota Renaissance Festival: It began in 1971 and is currently one of the oldest and largest Renaissance Fairs in the US with an average 280,000 people in attendance during its run. Penn and Teller did their first show together at RenFest in 1975, and Jason Mraz once worked there as a pickle boy.*

*I’m sure he sold pickles on a stick, or something like that, but all I can picture in my head is Jason Mraz dressed up as a pickle singing “Lucky”.

Anyway, after reading the brochure, it’s obvious why people love to go RenFest. Besides getting to dress up in costume (peasant, pirate, wench), check out these awesome-sounding theme weekends:

Italian Carnivale
6th Annual Pet Fest
Weiner Dog Races
Arabian Horse Show
Bocce Ball Tournament
Spaghetti Eating Contest
Italian Vendors & Events

Royal Ale Fest
BBQ Competition & Festival
Homebrew Competition
Bird Show
Free Beer Tastings
Silk Road: Discover the Riches

Fairy Festival
Longbow Competition
Belly Dancing Lessons & Performances
Middle Eastern Music
Belly Dance Competition

Highland Fling
World Highland Games & MN Highland Games
Sign Language Saturday
Kilt Competition
Scottish Village
Free Beer Tasting

Wine, Chocolate & Romance
Wine & Chocolate Festival
Free Vow Renewals
Chocolate Pie Eating
Charity Auction
Grape Stomp
Free Wine Tasting

Oktoberfest
German Dancers & Music
Bavarian Village
Hammerschlagen
Keg Toss & Bier Pong
Beard Competition

Festival Friday
School Days
Ladies Shopping Day
College Discount Day

Shamrocks & Shenanigans
Irish Village
Harvest Market
Irish Dancers & Music
Kilt Competition
Free Beer Tasting

Shenanigans!

So…all that sounds mind-blowing. Really. Especially when they use words like “kilt” and “beer” and “longbow”. I seriously don’t know what weekend I want to go on, because they all sound like WAY too much fun. Luckily I have a friend who goes every year who told me months ago that she was dragging me to RenFest, but after reading the schedule I don’t think any dragging will necessary. Even my husband wants to go, though I’m sure he thinks he can go without having to dress up. I’ll just have to tell him that he’ll look totally stupid if he doesn’t.

The RenFest planning begins!

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, The Awesome 13, Watching Movies

The Awesome 13 – Comic-Con 2012

Well, another Comic-Con International has come and gone.  And as usual, it was full of fun, craziness, and no sleep.  And what better way of recapping my experience than with an Awesome 13 list?

So here it is:  13 awesome moments from Comic-Con 2012!

13. Fringe Tears

I’ve never seen the show Fringe (it’s one of those shows that I really wanted to watch but never had the time), so there’s no reason to be emotionally invested in it.  However, that all changed after sitting through the Fringe panel on Sunday.  During the audience Q & A, the cast was asked to name their favorite scene from the first four seasons of the show that they weren’t in.  One of the actors Jasika Nicole began to describe a scene with fellow actor Anna Torv, and she starts crying.  Then Anna Torv starts crying.  Then actor Lance Reddick starts crying.  You can hear people from the audience of 6500 people sniffling.  I’m crying, and I don’t even know why.  But it’s just a testament to how much this show means to them, how hard they’ve worked to stay on the air for four years, and how this final season will make everyone cry even more.

12.  A Korra Read-Through

We all know how much I love the show The Legend of Korra, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally put faces to the voices we hear on the show.  At this panel on Friday, the voice actors came out and did a read-through from various scenes throughout the season with the help of voice instructor Andrea Romano.  It’s so bizarre hearing these voices you know so well coming from actual human beings, but you start to realize why these actors were hired, why their voices match their character so well, and it doesn’t take anything away from the magic of the show.  And after a rough-cut of scenes from Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, I’m more excited than ever for it to start again.

11.  Superman Superfan

The Q & A portion of any panel is always interesting, but every now and then you get a fan that truly encapsulates everything a fan should be.  On Saturday during the Man of Steel panel, a fan came to the microphone in tears.  Cloaked in a Superman sweatshirt, it was obvious this man is a huge Superman fan, and after seeing the very first footage of this upcoming movie directed by Zach Snyder, he became overwhelmed to the point where he could barely get his words out.  The moderator of the panel Chris Hardwick (more about him later) then jumped down from the stage and ran up to the man to give him a huge hug, telling him that he represented everything that true fans are, and that it was totally cool to cry about it.  It was just one of those things that show you how passionate we are at Comic-Con and how much this stuff really means to us, and for two minutes this guy was the star of the whole panel.

10.  The Train and Felicia Day

This year at Comic-Con was definitely a year of firsts for us, one of those firsts being taking the train from Los Angeles to San Diego.  After four years of driving to SDCC, I highly recommend taking the train instead.  It’s much more relaxing, you have free wifi, and if you sit in business class like we did, you get unlimited snacks.  You also might run into a celebrity or two like we did on Sunday on our way back to LA.  Now Felicia Day might not seem like a celebrity to most people (most people don’t know who she is), but to the people of Comic-Con she’s a goddess.  She also happened to be at the train station on Sunday afternoon.  She was waiting in line like the rest of us, and since I knew I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity again, I went up to her and told her how much I enjoyed her web series The Flog.  She smiled and said thank you, and again after I told her that my daughter is now obsessed with unicorn poop (you have to watch The Flog to understand that).  I didn’t want to seem like a scary creeper, so that’s all I said, even when she sat two seats behind us on the train.  I had my moment, and it was kind of awesome.

9.  Robert Downey, Jr.’s Entrance

It just wouldn’t be Comic-Con without Robert Downey, Jr.  He loves Comic-Con, and Comic-Con loves him.  Every time he’s there he makes some kind of awesome entrance, and this year was no exception.  Right before the Marvel panel on Saturday night, the lights suddenly went out and the song “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross began playing over the speakers.  And before we knew it, Robert Downey, Jr. was dancing down the aisle of Hall H while 6500 people were cheering.  He obviously had security all around him, but it didn’t take away from the awesomeness of it all.  Because when it comes to RDJr at Comic-Con, it’s “never too much”.

8.  The Lines

Most people hate lines.  And for 51 weeks out of the year, I hate lines, too.  But lines are a huge part of Comic-Con.  No matter what you do, you’re waiting in a line for something.  In the past we’ve always gotten up early to get into lines for Hall H and Ballroom 20 where the big panels are going to be.  But this year was the year of camping out.  The panels this year were so big that people camped out overnight to secure there spot in the hall.  For example, on Friday we got in line for Ballroom 20 at 1:30am (mainly because of the Firefly reunion panel, which wasn’t until 12:30pm).  On Saturday my husband got in line at 10:00pm (I joined him at 2:00am) for Hall H (mainly because of the Warner Brothers panel, which wouldn’t start until 2:30 pm).  And on Sunday we got in line for Hall H at 2:30am, which actually proved to be late due to the 1000 people ahead of us in line (mainly because of the Doctor Who panel at 12:30pm), but we still got a decent seat in the middle of the auditorium.  It takes experience and planning to get a good spot in line.  I saw so many people come to the line after 7:00, thinking they were there early, only to discover that they probably weren’t going to get into the panel.  As the saying goes, “One hour early at SDCC means 12 hours too late.”

You just become accustomed to waiting ten hours in line at Comic-Con.  You find stuff to do.  You make friends with the people around you.  And you make those lines part of your overall awesome experience.

7.  Warner Brothers Surprises

Everyone knew going into the Warner Brothers panel that it was going to be a big one, especially with movies like Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and The Hobbit on the schedule.  But what we weren’t expecting were the little surprises they had in store for us.  The first one was the expanded screens.  Instead of the usual one screen in front of us, the screen extended to both side walls, giving us three screens of awesomeness.  Then in between Pacific Rim and Man of Steel, they surprised us by showing a teaser for the movie Godzilla and then bringing out the director (looks awesome, by the way).  And then in between Man of Steel and The Hobbit, they once again surprised us by bringing out Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis to talk about their upcoming movie The Campaign, which was hilarious.  And who doesn’t love surprises, especially at Comic-Con?

6.  Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

This refers to an upcoming episode of Doctor Who, and is just a sliver of how much fun the entire Doctor Who panel was on Sunday.  Writers Stephen Moffat and Caroline Skinner were there, along with actors Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill to talk about the show, as well as show footage from the upcoming season, like dinosaurs on a spaceship.  This is Karen’s and Arthur’s last season on the show, leaving about halfway through, though we don’t know how they’re going to go out, so this was a little bittersweet for everyone, as their characters Amy and Rory are hugely popular.  Chris Hardwick, who knows more about Doctor Who than I ever will, moderated the panel, and it was just fun to watch everyone interact with each other, especially when Karen and Arthur did impressions of each other (hilarious).  Season seven can’t start soon enough!!!

5.  Chris Hardwick, Comic-Con Extraordinaire

Chris Hardwick is the host of the podcast “The Nerdist”, which my husband and I are avid listeners.  During Comic-Con, he’s one of the busiest guys there.  He moderated five panels at the convention, as well as attending his own panel and hosting a live podcast of “The Nerdist”, which we attended on Friday night.  Why do I like Chris Hardwick?  Well, for one thing, he’s hilarious.  He’s a great host and moderator, and always knows exactly what to say at the right time.  He’s also worked his ass off to get to where he is today.  You may remember him from the 90s as the co-host of MTV’s Singled Out with Jenny McCarthy and, if you listen to his podcast, you’ll know that he didn’t exactly enjoy it.  He became an alcoholic, drinking up to 14 beers a day, and gained a bunch of weight until he finally got his life together.  He stopped drinking, he got in shape, and he created this podcast with friends Matt Mira and Jonah Ray.  Like Felicia Day, he’s become hugely popular in the nerd world, getting just as much applause at the panels he moderated as the stars themselves.  He’s truly an example of proving that you can be successful by working hard and doing exactly what you’ve wanted to do your whole life.

4.  John Barrowman Reveals All

If you were to watch John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness on Doctor Who and his spin-off series Torchwood, you would never know how hilariously crude and awesome he really is.  John Barrowman was the guest at the live “Nerdist” Comic-Con show on Friday night that we attended, and I honestly don’t think I’ve laughed that much or that hard during any two hours of my life.  I won’t go into everything that happened (edited for content and all), but John Barrowman has absolutely no shame when it comes to his love life (gay and proud), and his bathroom habits (poop), and he will kiss and fondle total strangers without any kind of consequences.  The live show is now up on their podcast to listen to, but it was definitely one of those “you had to be there” moments that I will never forget.

3.  A Visit from Joss Whedon

It was early Friday morning (early as in 3:00am) and we’d been waiting outside in the Ballroom 20 line since 1:30am.  Mostly everyone in line was asleep – that is, until word got out that Joss Whedon was at the front of the line signing autographs.  That was pretty exciting, but we figured that he probably wouldn’t make it down to our part of the line.  We were in front of a lot of people, but we definitely weren’t in the front.  But a half hour later, we spotted him making his way down towards us.  He was signing autographs, people were getting their picture with him, and Joss himself was actually waking people up who are sleeping.  My husband was determined to get Joss to sign his SDCC badge and a picture, and guess what:  he did!  And I got to take the picture!  It was such an exciting moment – this man who had created some of our favorite TV shows and directed the third most successful movie of all time, taking the time to come out at three in the morning to greet his fans without any security, showing how much he appreciates us, and proving why we appreciate him.

2.  Thirteen Minutes of The Hobbit

Excluding the Firefly reunion panel, the thing I was most excited to see was the panel for The Hobbit.  They had promised it was going to be big, and they did not disappoint.  Peter Jackson was there, along with writer/producer Philippa Boyens and actors Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Ian McKellan, and Elijah Wood.  They started off showing a video diary of the end of filming, and that was all exciting, of course, but nothing compared to the 13 minutes of actual movie footage that was shown.  I don’t think I breathed the entire time.  We saw new faces, plus old faces like Galadriel, Legolas, and Elrond.  It all looked seriously…amazing.  And we only have to wait five months to see the entire thing!  Hell, we’ve already waited nine years to see it, so what’s another five months?

1.  Firefly’s Shiny Moment

By far, the most anticipated panel of the entire con was the Firefly reunion panel on Friday.  There’s a reason why so many people were camped out to see it.  Even though the show wasn’t even on for an entire season, it has achieved true cult status, its fans some of the most loyal and passionate of any.  The minutes leading up to the panel were tense – you could practically feel the anticipation in the air.  It was the first time I’ve witnessed an audience begin to clap in rhythm before a panel has even started.  Not all the actors could be there, but when the ones who were walked on stage, the place exploded.  Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Sean Maher, and Adam Baldwin were all there, plus producer TIm Minear and writer Jose Molina, and, of course, Joss Whedon.  The panel was awesome, of course, but the moment that we’ll all remember was the final question of the audience Q & A when Joss was asked what the show’s fans meant to him.  He couldn’t answer – not because he didn’t know, but because no words could describe.  He got choked up, then Nathan got choked up (seriously, there were tears), and the entire crowd of 4000 stood up and gave Joss the biggest standing ovation I have ever witnessed in my life.  I don’t think a dry eye was in the house – audience or on stage.  It’ll definitely be the moment I will always remember from Comic-Con 2012.

Posted in Geeking Out, Watching Movies

Dear Spidey: Too Soon?

With The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters in less than a week, the same question is probably rolling around in everyone’s (well, at least the nerdy ones like mine) mind:

Is it too soon for a franchise reboot?

I first thought this a year ago when the buzz began and when they made an appearance at Comic-Con.  The first Spider-Man series was still fresh in my mind, as well as everyone else’s, with Spider-Man 3 being released in 2007.  And even though the third movie wasn’t the best one (most people just forget it ever existed), it still seemed like it was a little too soon to try bring back Spidey.

But the more buzz I hear about the upcoming movie starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone – among others – the more excited I get.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first two Spider-Man movies that Sam Raimi did ten years ago.  I had always been more familiar to Batman, so Spidey was new to me in 2002, and Sam Raimi did an excellent job at introducing him to people like me.

Meet your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

It’s well-known that Sam Raimi wanted to do a fourth Spider-Man movie, even after the flop of the third one, but it became apparent that there just wasn’t enough story there from the first three to warrant a fourth.  Hence the reboot:  Start over fresh when Peter Parker is in high school (Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker had just finished high school) and tries to find out more about his father who left him, and concentrate on his first love, Gwen Stacy (who, in my opinion, is way cooler than Mary Jane because she’s a science major and super smart, as opposed to MJ who wants to be an actress).

Way smarter than you.

Like I said, I was a little iffy at first.  The one thing that kept it on my radar was the fact that Marc Webb (haha, no pun intended?) was directing the new reboot.  Marc Webb, for those of you who don’t know, made his directorial debut with 500 Days of Summer, which is an amazing movie (if you haven’t, PLEASE PLEASE SEE IT), and I knew that this Spidey movie would be different than the others because of what Marc Webb can do with character development.

Yep.  “Development”

I’ve heard from various sources that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are “stellar” in this movie, which is good to hear.  Tobey Maguire was, you know, fine as Peter Parker.  Meh, I say.  Kirsten Dunst isn’t my favorite person in the world to watch on film (except when she’s playing a child vampire), but I loved her hair in the first movie (not in the second, because the bright red from the first was now muted red…blah).

Blah.

And for those of you people who are totally against the reboot, let’s sit back and talk about Batman for a moment.  The original Batman franchise had two good movies, both directed by Tim Burton in 1989 and 1992 (Batman and Batman Returns).  Then Jerry Bruckheimer took over and sort of ruined things for everyone (Batman Forever and Batman and Robin).

That all ended in 1997.

And then someone had the brilliant idea of bringing Batman back from the dead.  Instead of basing him off the Batman that Warner Brothers had created in 1989, they turned it into on origin story (and who doesn’t love origin stories??) and based it off the classic comic book Batman: Year One.  They got an amazing director, Christopher Nolan (Memento) to take over, and they cast Christian Bale as Batman (and if you’ve ever read this blog before, you may be aware of my feelings for Mr. Bale).

A whole lot of awesomeness.

Batman Begins came out in 2005, and seven years later this Batman reboot is considered to be one of the best franchises ever.  Its sequel The Dark Knight made a kajillion dollars and got Heath Ledger a (posthumous) Academy Award.  The final film of the series, The Dark Knight Rises, opens in theaters next month and will no doubt make just as much money and be just as awesome.

I’m not saying this new Spider-Man reboot is going to equal the success and awesomeness of Christopher Nolan’s Batman, but it deserves to have a chance at it.  Because if you get a movie that has great storytelling, great characters, great effects, and great heart within it, you have a great movie.  It won’t take away anything from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, it can only just expand on what’s already great.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see what Zack Snyder does with a second attempt at a Superman reboot…

Posted in Geeking Out

A Little Something About Memes

*A Word of Caution:  This post is highly irrelevant and pointless and will do nothing to make you smarter.  But it might make you laugh, so you’re welcome.

How a person chooses to spend their lunch break is a true reflection of the person themself.  One might choose to read the paper, keeping him or her up-to-date on the goings-on of the world around them.  One might choose to read a book, like the lady who inconspicuously reads Fifty Shades of Grey when she thinks no one else is looking (we are).  One might even find a quiet corner to sit back and catch a quick catnap to revive him or her for whatever the rest of the afternoon may bring.

I, however, choose to spend my thirty minutes with my iPad and something I like to call “Google”.  More specifically:  Google: Memes.

That’s right.  I am a MEME-A-HOLIC.

 

I’ve always found that certain memes will cause a chuckle or snort given my mood.  Sometimes I roll my eyes.  And sometimes – I admit – they will fly right over my head.  I was never one to seek out memes; I was usually exposed to memes via my husband, who spends far too much time looking for funny stuff on the net.

 

And Dwight Schrute knows best.

But lately I’ve found that nothing makes me laugh harder than a clever meme.  A really good one will make me laugh the way Mystery Science Theater: 3000 made me laugh.  And if you think about it, they’re pretty much the same thing.  With MST3K you get to watch people (well, one person and two robots) make up their own hilarious dialogue to hilariously horrible movies.  With memes, people create their own captions with certain photos. *

*I’ve decided it’s impossible to define what a meme is in my own words.  If you must, please Wiki it.

True dat.

Memes are all the rage with the young folk today.  A year ago I hadn’t even heard the word “meme” until a co-worker of mine, 19, – referred to herself as the Socially Awkward Penguin.  I, 32, looked at her like she was insane.  She then told me that it was a meme…and I still thought she was insane because she was using lingo that my Gen- X ears didn’t understand.

 

After she explained more about memes, I realized that I had heard of a few, thanks to my husband and his obsession with the Leonardo DiCaprio Walking meme.

And there’s more.  So, so much more.

Now that I was “in the meme know”, I felt cool.  And young.  And slightly ridiculous.  Which is how all people in their 30s should feel at any given moment, if you ask me.  Maturity?  Who needs it?

This sudden urge to look for memes as a way of spending my lunch break began when my co-worker developed a fascination (re: obsession) with the character Loki from Thor and The Avengers.  I wanted to post a picture of Loki on her Facebook page (because I’m nerdy like that) and this was the first thing I found:

Though one can disagree.

Suddenly we started looking at all Loki memes.  Then Captain America memes.  Then Avengers memes.  Some were good, some were meh.  Some made me laugh out loud, some made me confused.  But they all made me more addicted and committed to finding THAT ONE AWESOME MEME.

You can find memes of any genre and any subject.  There are the memes that have rooted themselves in popular culture:  Socially Awkward Penguin, Drunk Baby, Bad Luck Brian, Hipster ArielScumbag Steve, Sad Keanu.

Norm will give Sad Keanu a drink.

Then there are the ones, the “Caption This” memes that I tend to find when I spend too much time on Google.  There are some hilarious ones that deal with Downton Abbey, My Little Pony, and basically any other form of media out there.  Some favorites I’ve come across:

Feminist Ryan Gosling

First World Problems.

Inception 

It’s Friday, Friday…

(seriously SO many Rebecca Black memes to choose from.  Can’t stop laughing.)

There are people out there in the internet world who spend all their time creating these memes just for the entertainment of others.  And while most people would view this hobby as stupid and useless, I must say that if it weren’t for them, I would spend my lunch hour either watching the face expressions of the woman reading Fifty Shades of Grey or waiting for my Magical Blueberries to harvest in my Smurfs Village.  If it weren’t for them, I’d have nothing at work to make me laugh (the wholesale and distribution business isn’t as funny as it sounds).

So thank you, all you meme creators and internet phenomenon activists.  Because of you, my sense of humor is challenged, my IQ is slightly lowered, and my lunch hour rocks.  Keep ‘em coming.

Happy meming (memeing?)

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Watching Movies

Comic-Con 2012 – A Wish List

With Comic-Con 2012 less than a month away, there’s lot of speculation of who and what is going to be there.  Which studios will bring their most anticipated movies of the coming year?  Which celebrities are going to make an appearance?  How early am I going to have to get up to possibly see the one panel for which I’ve been waiting a lifetime?

We’ll have all these answers in the days leading up to the convention, but for now all we can do is wait and play the guessing game.  It’s a good way to get ready and excited for Comic-Con – as long as you don’t get your hopes up about a certain person who will most likely never make an appearance at Comic-Con.

Yes, I’m talking about you, Christopher Nolan.

For those of you unfamiliar to Comic-Con, read my blog post from last year.  Or here’s a quick run-down for you:  Comic-Con is a four-day convention that takes place in San Diego that celebrates the popular arts: movies (mostly of the sci-fi/fantasy genre), TV (same deal), comic books, pop art, and CosPlay.  Movie studios, television studios, artists, and writers come together and put on panels for the lucky 100,000+ people who get to attend Comic-Con to show off their hottest upcoming releases, or to talk about what we as an audience love the most: the popular arts.

It’s an exhilarating, tiring, and exciting event that my husband and I have attended for the past four years (minus the one year I was due to give birth on opening day), and each year is different.  But will still manage to have an awesome time on practically zero hours of sleep and live to tell the tale (seriously, if you ever go, don’t plan on getting more than three hours of sleep a night). 

Of course the one thing that most people anticipate is the schedule for Hall H.  Hall H is the room that is mostly reserved for the big movie studio panels because it holds the most people – 6500 – but don’t let that number fool you into thinking you can just come and go into the hall as you please.  If you want to get a spot for ANY of the panels on that particular day, you have to get there early.  REALLY EARLY.  We’re talking “before the sun comes up” early.

There are actually people wrapped around this whole body of water…just waiting.

So until the official Comic-Con schedule is released, here is my official Comic-Con 2012 Wish List.

The Hobbit Panel

The word on the nerdy streets of San Diego is that Warner Bros. Studio has reserved a three-hour block for Saturday.  Do you know what that means?  THE EFFING HOBBIT.

There are already rumors that this is going to happen, given that it’s WB’s biggest movie this year and that Peter Jackson hinted about it when he made an appearance last year.  The Lord of the Rings movies are my favorite movies of all-time, and to see be able to see the cast of its sequel will be huge for me.  I’m serious.  There might be tears.

Iron Man 3 Panel

Getting to see Robert Downey, Jr. in any panel is pretty awesome (I saw him at the panel for Sherlock Holmes three years ago), and after the insane success of the first two Iron Man movies and The Avengers, everyone is anticipating a huge panel.

Also, since I’ve missed the two other Iron Man panels because of pregnancy or other CC events, I would love to see Gwyneth Paltrow make an appearance.  Maybe I’ll ask her a question about GOOP and what kind of organic food she recommends I eat.

Star Trek 2 Panel

 I’ve read two conflicting rumors about J.J. Abrams upcoming sequel:  a) Star Trek 2 is going to be big at Comic-Con, and b) Paramount isn’t coming, therefore no ST2 panel.  I hope the first rumor is true, because I freaking loved the first movie (I’m not even a Trekkie), and I love J.J. Abrams.  I got to see him and Joss Whedon speak together at CC two years ago, and I’ve decided that J.J. is pretty much all kinds of awesome (and okay, I might have a total nerdy crush on him, but whatevs).  So I would love to see him talk about the sequel, I would love to see the cast (Chris Pine), and I would LOVE to see footage.

So please, Paramount, make your presence known at Comic-Con this year and BRING STAR TREK 2!!!

The Legend of Korra Panel

Since this is my new favorite show of the year – and a sister show to another fave Avatar: The Last Airbender – I would love to see it make another appearance at Comic-Con.  The show came to the convention last year to a sold-out panel, and it wasn’t due to air for another year.

But now that the show is on and it’s completely awesome, I would love to see them come back, along with all the voice actors this time.  And possibly a fire-ferret.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Panel

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and shut up.  It’s about 99% sure that Twilight will be there for their final film this year.  They’ve never missed a Comic-Con, and this is their big finale.

That being said, I’ve never gone to any of the Twilight panels.  We’ve always been at a different panel during that time, and besides, the Comic-Con Twi-hards kinda freak me out.  But I would like to experience it just one time, and this is my last chance to do that.  And maybe Jacob will take his shirt off…?

The Vampire Diaries Panel

Okay, here’s where the real “wishing” comes into play.  I wish I could be in two places at once.  I know for sure that The Vampire Diaries will be at the con this year.  It’s already been announced.

However, as what happens a lot at the con, it’s during the same time as another panel…that panel most likely to be The Hobbit.  And I’m sorry…Stefan, Damon, I love you…but I cannot miss the chance to see a bunch of Dwarves and Elves and Kiwis on stage.  I’m sorry.

Doctor Who Panel

Last year the Doctor Who panel was on Sunday, and for the past four years we’ve never stayed at Comic-Con through Sunday.  Sundays used to be the quiet, non-eventful, do some last-minute shopping days that never got much attention.  But now Sundays are becoming big in their own right, proving that last year when the Doctor (and Castle and Glee) showed up.

No word on whether they’ll be there this year, but hopes are high (as are the rumors).  And since it’s the last season for companions Amy and Rory (I’m crying just thinking about it), I’m sure they’ll want to make one last appearance.

The Dark Knight Rises

Yeah…it’s never gonna happen.

And just for fun…

Firefly Tenth Anniversary Panel

Because you never know.

Posted in Geeking Out

Hipster Intervention

According to Urban Dictionary, a hipster is definied as “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter”.  They also like to wear clothes that were popular in the 1990s and glasses that were popular in the 1950s.

I’ve never considered myself to be a hipster.  I wear glasses, but only because I have horrible eyesight and don’t like contacts.  I got rid of all my flannel shirts in 1997, and I don’t own a Bon Iver album.  I like Kelly Clarkson and superhero movies.  I watch “Glee” for the music.  I eat organic about 20% of the time, and I can’t stand the taste of coffee.  I think Ryan Gosling was robbed in People Magazine’s Sexiest Man of the Year award.

I’m just like any other girl out there, right?

Well…no.  I’m not.  In fact, I strive to not be like anyone else.  I like to wear snarky t-shirts that no one understands but me.  I like to freak people out by listening to obscure film scores in my car.  I like to whip out stories that start with, “So when I first started listening to Sarah McLachlan in 1994…”  Unfortunately this can only mean one thing.

I am kinda…sorta…in a way…a little bit of a hipster.  In a totally nerdy, subtle way.

Crap.

Back in high school, I wasn’t exactly what you would call an outcast.  I had a good group of friends, I didn’t get into any trouble, grades were average, and I didn’t get bullied or made fun of (except for comments about my bangs, which, YES, I totally get now). But I didn’t have any stand-out talent like some of my friends, so I felt this need to prove to people that I was cool and different because I didn’t want people to think I didn’t exist.  So I started liking things that no one else did, and also hating what everyone else liked.

When everyone started listening to “alternative music”, ie, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc, I rebelled and listened to classical.  When everyone was watching Chris Farley and Adam Sandler movies, I watched sci-fi and World War II movies.

And okay, I was a total Friends junkie just like the next person.  But I also watched Homefront and Roundhouse, which I guarantee you none of my other friends (save one) was watching.  Of course I pretended that I was totally NOT watching Party of Five, but that’s total crap.  The stupid Salinger family made me cry every week.

Lame.  Sort of.  Not really.

I had subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly, US (before they came weekly), and Premiere magazines.  When it came to movies and TV, I had to make sure that I knew everything before anyone else.  I didn’t go around and broadcast all my knowledge of upcoming movies and shows in the works, but would subtley insert a random comment in conversations.

For example:

Random friend:  “I want to see that new vampire movie with Tom Cruise in it.”

Me:  “Oh, me, too.  I remember last year when they cast the part of Lestat, the author Anne Rice was so upset about it because she didn’t think Tom Cruise would do it justice.  I guess she’s okay with it now, though.”

Random friend:  *obviously in awe of my knowledge*

See?  I wasn’t really showing off, but I was letting them know that I was totally aware of this movie a whole year before them.  Was I a know-it-all?  Perhaps.  But there’s a difference between someone who flaunts their knowledge in your face and one who shares little tidbits of information.

That’s me.  A tid-bit sharer.  Just enough tid-bit to let you know that I’m IN THE KNOW.

And you’re not.

I went through a bit of an information-gathering dry spell once I hit college.  I guess that happens when you suddenly have a different group of friends with different interests.  I started having different interests, too.  I started liking ‘N Sync – but ONLY because it contained two members of The Mickey Mouse Club (Justin and JC) – and I was quick to tell people in conversation that I still had every single episode of MMC on video (still do).  The same goes with Britney Spears.

Random Friend circa 1998:  “Oh, I love that new song “Baby One More Time”.  I’ve never heard of the singer, though.”

Me:  (le sigh)  “Her name is Britney Spears.  I used to watch her on The Mickey Mouse Club way back in 1993.”

Random friend:  *obviously in awe of my knowledge*

That’s sort of the mantra of a true hipster, this claim we make on finding certain things first, usually when it comes to music, but it can also apply to other things like movies and fashion.

I wore jelly shoes 25 years ago because they were a dollar, not because they were cool.

Joss Whedon assembled Buffy and the Scooby Gang before he assembled The Avengers.

I bought an iPod when people were still buying Discmans.

Twilight was just some vampire book when I first read it.

I wrote a letter to Christian Bale in 1993 AND got a handwritten response (it’s still framed).

I’ve been watching Star Wars since I was four.

I wore combat boots when I took my driving test in 1996.

Neil Patrick Harris is Doogie Howser.

Nathan Fillion was Captain Mal before he was Richard Castle.

I know all that kinda makes me sound like a snob or a know-it-all or A BIG OL’ HIPSTER, but I can’t help it.  Like I said, it comes from a lack of confidence growing up and a need to feel superior to people who were way more popular than me in school.  Like I pictured all them in twenty years going, “Oh my God, what’s-her-name was totally way ahead of her time.  Who else predicted Ryan Gosling would become a huge star?”

But although I like to stand out with my knowledge of all things obscure, I do crave for interaction with someone who can keep up.  It’s what attracted me to my husband all those years ago.  He shared a love of movies with me, and we could spend hours talking about things that none of my friends knew about.  And since then I have met people who are in the know, people who I can really get nitty-gritty with when it comes to weird stuff like young adult books and Disney animated movies and Battlestar Galactica.

I remember one year at Comic Con my husband and I were sitting in line (what a shock) and this one guy in front of us started talking to us about something random like Batman, or something.  I quickly realized that this was a guy who knew his shiz, a guy with whom I could go toe-to-toe regarding things like the Spider-Man reboot controversy, which Doctor was the best from Doctor Who, why Joel Schumacher sucks, why Michael Bay stole our childhood, why casts from shows like Firefly and Freaks and Geeks will never be that perfect again.  I didn’t know this guy from Adam (though it turned out that he was actually friends from Seamus Deaver from Castle, of which I’m thoroughly jealous), yet here we were for five hours debating about nerdy crap that no one but my husband gets to hear from me.

I felt powerful, like a nerdy lawyer.  I didn’t feel like a hipster, I didn’t feel like I was bragging to someone about being knowledgable, I didn’t feel threatened that this guy might know more than me.

I felt like I fit in.

Now before you go and start judging me, please take into account that we are ALL hipsters to certain point.  We all have that little thing we SWEAR we liked before everyone else did.  I know there are people out there who got into Lord of the Rings before I did, or who started reading Harry Potter before I did.  I will never be able to say that I listened to Nirvana before they got popular.  I’ll never be able to say that I started going to Comic Con back when it was just comic books.  I’ll never be able to say that I was one of the first people to ever play World of Warcraft.

And I don’t know a damn thing about football.

But to those people I say this:

Congratulations.  You win round one.

But I’m still claiming discovery rights on Ryan Gosling.

I totally called that one.

Happy hipstering!

Posted in Geeking Out

Best. Puzzle. Ever.

As you may know, I love to do puzzles.  I’ve blogged about puzzling before, and I hoped that I would start puzzling again on a regular basis.  But alas, that did not happen.  I haven’t done another puzzle since.

Until now.

I was at Barnes and Noble today, and I found myself looking in their Toys and Games section.  If you haven’t looked before, I highly suggest taking a cruise through there when you have a chance.  The have toys and games there that you can’t find anywhere else.

FUN!

Anyway, I was looking through some children’s puzzles, and my eyes fell upon something beautiful.

I recognized the illustrator right away, since I just wrote a blog last week praising her amazing work.  This puzzle features an illustration by Valeria Docampo, and it’s super amazing.  It’s a floor puzzle containing 36 pieces, but each piece is like a piece of artwork.  And the picture above?  That’s just a portion of what the picture actually is.  I’ll save that for the end.

I splurged and bought the puzzle, treating myself for getting a new job.  As soon as I brought it home, my daughter wanted to put it together.  And since the puzzle is half hers, I immediately obliged.

Getting started.

As you can see, there is more to this puzzle than meets the eye.  Is that Belle I spy in the bottom corner?  And a pumpkin carriage?  To whom does that belong?

Getting her groove on.

At this point, my daughter has fully taken over puzzle duty.  I give her small hints, for example, “Hey, that looks like is might be Cinderella’s crown!”, but other than that, she’s doing this on her own.  She’s kind of a prodigy in that way.

The final lap…

Here my daughter is figuring out where the last of the pieces go.  All that’s remaining is Snow White, which happens to be my favorite part of the puzzle (The Dwarves!  The woods!  The apple!) but unfortunately my daughter is a little Cinderella-biased.

After finally placing the last of the 36 pieces, the puzzle was complete.  My daughter was uber proud of herself, which I guess she should be, being only three years old and already a Master Puzzler.

In all seriousness, it really is a beautiful puzzle.  I wish I could frame it, but I know it’s something my daughter will want to put together countless times.  Which is totally fine with me, of course.  Because after mastering 36 pieces, 1000 is just around a corner.

A better look at the beauty.

On a side note, I just discovered they sell a lunchbox with the same picture…which I’m totally going to purchase without guilt.

I WANT YOU.

Happy puzzling!


Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies, Writing Stuff Down

Giving Thanks

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge all that I’m thankful for in this world.  Of course I’m thankful for my family and friends and the health of my loved ones, but I’d like to give thanks to the little things in my life, the little things that make my life just a little bit better everyday.  So a big THANK YOU to:

1.  The Rolling Hills Starbucks for always getting my drink right.

2.  Glee, for giving me a reason to watch TV on Tuesday nights.

3.  Britney Spears, for coming back better than ever.

4.  M&Ms, for being evil and amazing at the same time.

5.  My car, for understanding me.

6.  Meg Cabot, Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver, Lauren DeStefano, Carrie Ryan, Shannon Hale, and Cassandra Clare, for writing books that I LOVE.

7.  J.K. Rowling, for being determined to get Harry Potter published even though hundreds of publishers turned you down.

8.  Suri’s Burn Book, for making me laugh out loud every single time I read it.

9.  Team Umi Zoomi, for making my daughter obsessed with counting and measuring things.

10.  Apple, for creating the iPod ten years ago and letting me love music even more.

11.  Peter Jackson, for creating three movies that changed my life.

12.  Sweden, for being awesome.

13.  Facebook, not for being a huge time-waster, but for keeping me connected to friends across the miles.

14.  Christian Bale, for existing.

15.  The iPhone app Flower Garden, for giving me the excuse to say, “I need to water my flowers.”

16.  Nathan Fillion, for being Captain Mal, and for putting your hand on my shoulder.

17.  Disney, for keeping fairy tales alive.

18.  My daughter, for being just as much of a smart-ass as me.

19.  Bacon, for your wonderful smell.

20.  Angry Birds, for making me ANGRY.

21.  Kelly Clarkson, for belting it out.  Every.  Single.  Time.

22.  IKEA, for furnishing my entire apartment.

23.  Twitter, for turning me into a young adult lit author stalker.

24.  Doctor Who, for Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

25.  Comic-Con, for the chance to be around 100,00 people just like me for five days.

26.  The clouds, for making it rain every now and then.

27.  Krista Huot, for creating some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.

28.  Target, for always having what I need…even when I don’t need it.

29.  The Walking Dead, for making me hope that a zombie apocalypse will NEVER happen, no matter how entertaining it is to watch on TV.

30.  Everyone who’s ever read this blog, because it’s nice to know someone is listening.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Posted in Geeking Out

The Puzzler

So, a long time ago – back when my husband and I were “just the two of us” – I spent a lot of time doing jigsaw puzzles.  Loving puzzles is sort of a requirement on my mom’s side of the family, so I’ve been doing puzzles my entire life.  But a few years back, I had this resurgence of putting together puzzles.  I was feeling homesick for Minnesota (happens every fall and winter due to the lack of fall and winter in SoCal), and the only thing that made me feel okay was doing a puzzle.  So I went to Target and bought this:

It was a 1000 piece puzzle by folk artist Charles Wysocki.  I finished it in one sitting.  And suddenly I was hooked.

I started buying tons of puzzles of the same artist and his brother Heronim Wysocki (who has a similar folksy art style) and putting them together whenever I had free time.  And since my husband – a chef – worked nights and weekends, I had plenty of free time.

I got my two co-workers at the time hooked on puzzles as well.  We would swap puzzles whenever we were done with them, and one time we even cut out of work early to go puzzle shopping.  We would spend afternoons looking on eBay for puzzles that you can’t find in stores anymore, like Springbok brand puzzles and their infamous “National Jigsaw Puzzle Competition” puzzles, like this crazy one:

Hell no.

This went on for a while, even after I left that job and had no one to swap puzzles with except for my mother-in-law, who became just as obsessed with puzzles as me.  It was a fun hobby that kept me busy, kept my brain sharp, and kept me happy.

And then I had a baby.

You can pretty much guess what happened after that.  All puzzle making stopped.  Once in a while I would attempt one when I would feel homesick, but I would usually stop after completing the border.  In the past three years since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve probably done a total of maybe three puzzles.  That’s it!  And this is coming from someone who used to do three puzzles in one weekend.  So a few days ago while cleaning out my daughter’s closet, I looked up and saw the 100 or so puzzles that I still have and decided that I was going to do one.  Not just start it, but FINISH it.  So I grabbed this one:

It looked kind of fall-ish to me, and it had been awhile since the first time I did it.  So – rather nervously – I began putting the pieces together.

Off to a slow start.

My daughter tried to help me find pieces that go together, but being as how she’s 3, it was hard for her to grasp the whole “look only for pieces with straight edges” concept.  Needless to say, I had to remove a lot of her “Look, Mom, this goes here!” pieces while she wasn’t looking.

By the way, one of my biggest pet peeves is the sudden shrinking of box size that puzzles have gone through over the years.  Puzzle boxes used to be around 12″ x 12″ x 2″ (give or take).  They were big enough to where you could dump all the pieces in the box and still have enough room to dig around for pieces.  But over the past few years, they’ve gone down to about 7″ x 7″, giving you absolutely no room to do any digging.  If you even try to dig, you will inevitably have pieces that fly out, putting you at risk of losing one.

But I’ve found a way around that.  While I was digging and grumbling and complaining about tiny boxes, I asked my husband if he had any kind of large, shallow box to dump the pieces in.  He thought for about two seconds, and then gave me this:

What kind of cake is that?

Yes, that would be a 13″ x 9″ cake pan!  It was perfect!  Shallow enough to where there are no dark corners, and big enough to where no pieces were flying out (except when my daughter tried to “help” me again).  I was quite pleased with my husband at the moment.  That’s why I married him.  He knows what to do during puzzle emergencies.

Not too long after, I completed the border (except for two straight-edged pieces I was sick of looking for).

Happy!

Around the same time, I also finished this:

Not happy.

But I was on a roll, and plain iced water was going to have to do.  About an hour later – and after I decided I would do all the easy parts first – the puzzle looked like this:

Doing all the easy parts first, i.e., signs with words on them, however, means that I still have to do the crappy parts: sky, grass, and trees.  And normally – that is, ever since I had a kid and decided I didn’t have the mental capacity to complete a puzzle – I probably would have packed up the puzzle and quit right there.  But I didn’t!  I grabbed a bag of Skittles and continued to power my way through this puzzle.  Because, dammit, I was going to finish this before the day ended.

And – after resting on the couch with the kid that stole all my puzzle love, and having dinner with the husband who brought new light to cake pans, and watching a scary-ass episode of Doctor Who – this happened:

Mind the glare.

I finished!  I was thoroughly thrilled, despite the fact that this also occurred:

That’s right.  A missing piece.  I blame everyone who lives in this apartment.

But hey, it’s cool.  I was happy that I finished, and I was happy that I felt all my love for puzzles come back to me.  I hope this is the beginning – er, continuation – of a beautiful relationship.  In fact, I have another tiny box on the table just waiting to be put together right now.  Will it happen?

Damn right, it will.

Happy puzzling!

Posted in Geeking Out

Comic-Con Hangover

WARNING:  THIS BLOG HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BOOKS.  BUT I MIGHT MENTION TEA AT THE END.

It’s that time of the year again.  That one time during the month of July when 130,000 people get together for four days to celebrate the popular arts, when 130,000 fans of comic books, science fiction/fantasy film/television, horror, animation, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels come together, forget about the real world, and bond over panels about Star Wars and Joss Whedon while waiting in ridiculously long lines…discussions they normally couldn’t have on a daily basis, and lines you wouldn’t see at Disneyland even on its busiest day.

In other words, four days spent hanging out with your best friends.  Who happen to be dressed like superheros and zombies.

My husband and I have attended Comic-Con International every July for the past four years (excluding 2008 when I was nine months pregnant and my due date was the first day of the convention.  Not sure my husband has forgiven me for this), and each experience is different.  I could write a book on all we’ve done at Comic-Con, but I’ll keep things short and sweet and give you some highlights of each year, ending with this year’s con that we attended last week.

2007

This was our first year, and we only went for one day – Saturday (it starts on a Thursday and goes through Sunday).  We had been to much smaller cons prior to this, but Comic-Con was definitely an eye opener.  SO MANY PEOPLE!!!  We had come specifically to see the Battlestar Galactica panel and then see Joss Whedon in the next panel.  The panels were taking place in Ballroom 20, a room that holds 4,250 people, and a couple of hours beforehand we decided to see if there was any line.

Well, we found out that a “couple of hours beforehand” is definitely not early enough.  There was a Heroes panel before the BSG one, and turns out that everyone in line was still in line for that one, and most of them weren’t getting in.  And since they don’t clear out the rooms between panels, we were convinced we weren’t going to see either BSG or Joss Whedon that day.

But someone was watching over us that day, and we did get into both panels.  We also learned our lesson when it comes to Ballroom 20, and also the legendary Hall H (more about that soon).  Two words:  COME EARLY.

2009

In 2009 we went for two days – Preview Night, where everyone gets a sneak peak at the ginormous exhibition floor and buy a bunch of toys, and Thursday.  We decided to tackle the infamous 6500-seated Hall H on Thursday due to the panel put on by Entertainment Weekly – The Visionaries – where they invite two of today’s hottest directors/writers/producers in Hollywood.  This year?  Peter Jackson and James Cameron.  Jackson was there to talk about District 9, and Cameron was there promoting what would become that year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Avatar.

Mind-blowing as that all was, it didn’t even come close to the OMG-I-CAN’T-BELIEVE-THIS-IS-ACTUALLY-HAPPENING extravaganza that took place the following year.

2010

Big things were to happen in 2010.  The final Harry Potter movies were coming out, and Marvel Studios was prepping for all of their releases that will eventually lead up to The Avengers:  Captain America and Thor.  Hall H was bursting out of its seams last year, and my husband and I were up everyday at 4:00 in the morning to get into line.  In the real world, having to get up at 4am is horrible.  I can’t imagine a worse way to start your day.  But when you’re at Comic-Con, for some reason getting up before the sun is no big deal.  It’s just part of the experience.  You get up, throw on a pair of jeans and whatever witty pop culture t-shirt you can find, steal a blanket from the hotel, join all the other crazies in line, and find something to do before they open Hall H at 9am (or depending on when the first panel is).  Some people sleep (some people have been sleeping there all night), some people strike up conversations with the people around them, some people bring games, and some people just sit there and stare at their watch.  Bottom line:  the line for Hall H is totally insane, but it’s no big deal.  And in 2010, it was definitely worth it.

We’re so ready

We camped out in Hall H everyday last year.  On Thursday we fell in love with Scott Pilgrim, on Friday we got to hang out with Nathan Fillion, and on Saturday…well, on Saturday all hell broke lose.  The Hall H line was extra packed at 4:00 in the morning, mainly due to the fact that the first panel of the day was the Harry Potter panel and there was a rumor that the main cast (Harry, Ron, Hermione) were going to show up.  That rumor, unfortunately, turned out to be false.  But we did get Draco.  And we got to see awesome footage from the final two movies.

After the few panels that followed, the excitement began.  The Eye-Stabbing of Hall H.  Apparently there was some sort of altercation over seats after the Resident Evil panel, resulting in one fan getting stabbed with a pen in the eye.  Of course this delayed things a bit, and many were afraid they would cancel the rest of the panels, the Marvel panels that everyone wanted to see.  But THANK GOD that didn’t happen and after everyone settled down, the extravaganza continued.

Harrison Ford showed up.

33 years after Star Wars, the man who was know as Han Solo and Indiana Jones – who has never attended Comic-Con – showed up with Jon Favreau and the rest of the Cowboys & Aliens cast.  And 6500 fanboys and fangirls wet their pants.

This picture doesn’t do the pants-wetting moment justice

We thought nothing could top Harrison Ford.  To this day, very few things can.   After the panels for Thor and Captain America, we all thought the day was over.  We got to see a lot of great panels that day, and after the excitement over stabbings and Han Solo and upcoming Marvel superheroes, we thought we couldn’t take anymore.

We were wrong.

As soon as the panel for Captain America ended, we suddenly see Samuel L. Jackson appear on stage.  Crowd freaks out.  He introduces Robert Downey, Jr.  Crowd freaks out even more.  And then before we know it, he’s introducing the entire cast of The Avengers, including the writer/director – my fave – Joss Whedon.  It was a totally unexpected moment, and no one who was in that hall at that moment will ever forget it.

2011

As you can imagine, this year had some big shoes to fill after last year.  Of course it’s also the year that the big studios decided to pull out of Comic-Con, two of those studios being Warner Brothers and Disney.  They still had a big presence on the exhibition floor (exclusive toys, signings), but no panels.  So after going through the schedule with a fine-toothed comb, my husband and decided that we wouldn’t spend the entire con camped out in Hall H.  This year we were going to spend more time on the floor, more time mingling with the insane crowds, and hopefully attending a few small panels that we normally wouldn’t be able to make it to.

Of course it wouldn’t be Comic-Con, though, without at least one trip to Hall H.  Especially when Steven Spielberg is involved.

Yes, this was the year Spielberg finally made it to the con, and if it wasn’t awesome enough, Peter Jackson joined him.  So there I am, watching two directors who have made all my favorite movies, and pinching myself constantly.  Because stuff like this shouldn’t happen to me.  But it did!  I got to see Spielberg and Jackson talk about their upcoming movie The Adventures of Tin-Tin.  And it was awesome.

The rest of the con this year was low-key when it came to panels, but it was still totally fun.  We spent more time with the people – people who are fans just like us, and who share one thing in common:  We love to be entertained, whether it’s by movies about vampires or tv shows about zombies or comic books about superheroes…we’re all fans.  And that’s the one thing that will bond us together once a year, if only for four days.

See you next year!!

P.S. I’m currently drinking Lipton’s White Mangosteen and Peach Superfruit Green Tea.  It’s quite refreshing when hot.

Happy drinking!