Friday, July 21, 2017

Dragon Con 2007 - Part One

I realized that this year was going to be my 10th Dragon Con. So I'm a little nostalgic on how it all started. We moved to North Carolina in 2005, but after Dragon Con had already happened. In 2006, I didn't go because of going to Michigan for my wedding. But finally 2007 I got to go for the first time.

I stayed with friends and Todd didn't go because he didn't have the time off because that was the year we took our honeymoon. I wrote about the experience in my LJ. Here are some of the highlights!

The drive was fairly uneventful, and we arrived about 5-ish to the Marriott. We tried to check in, but had to wait for my friend Kathleen to arrive. We filled up the time by hanging out with another friend, Nicole and her husband - they were fun to hang out with. We also grabbed dinner, and got our badges. Oddly enough, the line didn't seem that bad to me.

After we got our badges, Kathleen had arrived, and we were able to get into the room. It was a fairly standard hotel room with two double beds (which I think we were lucky to get, because we had been told earlier that only king rooms were left), and it had enough room for me to set up my blow up bed (I brought this because I'm an odd sleeper and that way Kathleen and I could each have our own bed.)

We were on the 41st floor which was very cool, though the elevator rides did make me dizzy almost every time.

Friday dawned very, very early - mostly because the alarm went off at 7:30. I was awake quickly, mostly because I'm used to getting up this early, and I quickly got into my costume, which was my Hogwarts costume.

It was a very hot costume, and I didn't wear it all day. Everyone else got ready and we went downstairs to find out where open gaming was since friends I was staying with were running a one-shot sword and socery Hero game set in Via, which is a world we play in every other Sunday.

Apparently open gaming was not available at that time, so we just took over a table in one of the gaming rooms, expecting to be kicked out. We must have been truly early birds because we weren't bothered at all.

After the game, we headed over to see the stars of Buffy (which included James Marsters, Juliet Landau, Elisabeth Rohm and some random guy who played a demon on the show).

Before the panel though, my friend Alic walked with me to the Hilton to try and find Trader Vic's, where the Bpal meet & sniff was going to be later that night. I thought I had a fairly good grip on how to find it, but alas I was wrong. More on that later

I parted ways with everyone, and went to the Andromeda panel that had Kevin Sorbo and Gordon Michael Woolvett. Gordon Michael Woolvett had a prop from the show and he passed it around. It was neat and I got a fairly good picture of that.

Next up was the Firefly panel - I got in line, waited and managed to get a very good seat because I was alone. Though as the room filled up, I noticed my friend Carmen looking for a seat, and I happened to have one next to me, so we got to sit next to each other.

Unfortunately, Ron Glass was late, so the panel was just Mark Sheppard. It was still a very good panel, and the closest I was for any panel all weekend.

After that, Carmen and I went on the search for Trader Vic's. We got some conflicting directions, and the fact that it was just confusing to find didn't help. We did manage to find it.

We also stopped at both our hotel rooms. I was dying because my costume was so warm, and I had planned on changing before the meet & sniff anyway. So I was very glad to get out of that costume.

Directly before the meet & sniff, Carmen and I went to a Harry Potter panel called "Mourning Potter". It was about the characters who had died and the end of the series in general. It was a very interesting panel.

We then went to the meet & sniff, which was fun - though I have no clue who any of the people were except a couple.

Now, I had had a donut in the room before we left for the game, and we had stopped in the con suite right after the Buffy panel, but I hadn't eaten anything else all day, and everything I had eaten was not good food. I had planned on getting something from Trader Vic's but nothing on their menu looked good, and it was expensive. Carmen got a chicken caeser salad that was very small for what they charged. And she had to get it to go, since the service was slow, and we had wanted to go to the Buffy Horror Picture Show at 10 pm. I had planned on stopping at the con suite after the Buffy show.

We left the Hilton at a little before 10, but managed to make it to the Hyatt just after 10 when we came across a huge line. We asked what it was for, and we were told it was for the 11:30 pm show of Buffy. The line was already really long, so we joined.

This was the longest time I stood in line all weekend - since we had an hour and a half before the show started. It was okay, we talked to some of the people in line. The strangest thing was two cups, at different times, came soaring out of the sky. Luckily they didn't hit anything but the ground.

Finally the line started moving, and we did get in. Though tons of people were turned away from what I heard.

The show itself was great - the audience, including me, sang along with the songs, and a good time was had by nearly all. The only annoying thing was the guys behind us kept talking, and one of the guys behind us was very drunk and got up at one point to find a bathroom to get sick in.

After the Buffy show, Carmen and I parted ways (and I didn't see her the rest of the weekend, which was sad), and I found my way back to the Mariott. I pretty much went to bed because I was exhausted. I didn't ever even eat anything else.

Up Next - Part Two!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who Thoughts

Image: reddit.com
I've been a Doctor Who fan for many years. I haven't seen any of the Classic Who episodes, partly because I'm a completeist and I know some of the early episodes have been lost. Also because that's huge undertaking. The amount of Classic Doctor Who actually stopped me from watching it because of that undertaking, but friends convinced me to start with the new seasons starting with the 9th Doctor.

It took me a few episodes to get into it, but soon I loved it and it's one of my big fandom now. The 10th Doctor is my absolute favorite. 9th is my 2nd favorite and while 11 gets on my nerves sometimes I adore his companions, Rory most of all. I honestly haven't seen a lot of 12. I only watched his first season and a lot of that got lost in my memory because of the seizures I had. I'm doing a rewatch right and hope to have caught up by the time the Christmas special comes out.

For those who don't watch Doctor Who, the Doctor is a Timelord, an alien time traveler. When he or she dies, they regenerate into a new form, letting a new actor take over the part. All the Doctors have numbers that the fans use to refer to them, except for one which is the War Doctor who didn't have his own season, just an episode. 

Since I've been in the fandom for many years, I've seen how fan react to the news of a new version of the Doctor. The chart I've shared above sums it up pretty well, but that seems to be intensified with today's announcement. 

For the first time, The Doctor is going to regenerate into a woman.

And this news has gotten all the reactions from people. Most of my friends have been thrilled, some have been happy and others are in a 'wait and see' mode. Most of the 'wait and see' people are because they don't really like the actress, Jodie Whittaker, which is a valid complaint. I'm personally thrilled - she looks doctor-y and I honestly try to give new Doctors a chance.

But I'm a glutton for punishment, and I read the comments on several pages, included the BBC's Facebook post about it, and boy, people were angry. Even without seeing her speak a single line, people have declared that Doctor Who is doomed and dead and that this move is beyond awful. All because she is a woman. Some people said this was a dumb pc move, some complained that now their young boys wouldn't have a good fictional role model (perhaps the most eye-rolling of all the comments) along with the many, many rage quit posts of "I'm never watching Doctor Who again!"

A lot of the comments were from men but some women too. The anger and venom people were posting was not unsurprising but to me, a little sad. The Doctor is an alien, and other Timelords have changed from male to female in the past. Crying that this will ruin the series seems a bit premature to me. 

In the end, it's just a TV show. I'm looking forward to it and I know a lot of other people are as well. In addition to a new Doctor, there are new show runners as well which I think will make this very interesting indeed.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Michigan Trip 2017 - Travel and Horror Con

It's been a long, long time since we've been up to Michigan to visit family so over 4th of July this year we make the very long trek to the state of our birth (at least for Todd and I).

My dear husband is always coming up with interesting ideas and he got one related to the drive up to Michigan. The drive sucks, it's long and mostly boring. But Todd found a horror convention, Days of the Dead, that was happening in Indianapolis the day we were driving up. It only added on like a half hour to our trip and there was some interesting guests there so we decided to get ticket.

I tried to sleep before we left and so did Todd, even though he got home from work at 11 pm and we left at 2 am. Neither of us got any sleep. I managed to sleep a little in the car but Todd was just high on caffeine.

Once the sun came up, Emily woke up and so did I. We stopped at a rest area and I changed into my Alice costume. I'm unable to go to a convention without a costume. Emily also was wearing her Chewbacca costume which is just pj's anyway.

Sadly the main person we wanted to see had canceled. That was George Romero and he canceled for health reasons. Once we got in and got our wrist bands, we found Matthew Lillard who was in Scream and Hackers, as well as being Shaggy in Scooby-Doo (both the live action movies and in recent cartoons).

His line wasn't too long so we got in line. Emily was a bit shy but she was very geeked that he pulled her aside and talked her in the Shaggy voice. The lady who had my phone to take a picture with us and him actually got a video of it put a couple of really cute pictures. We all got hugs from him (even Todd!) and got our picture taken.

We wandered around the halls. It was a mixture of dealers tables and celebrities doing autographs.
Being a horror convention, there was a lot of somewhat scary stuff but Emily was doing fine. We found the other person we wanted to meet, Lita, who is one of my all time favorite wrestlers. She was really nice and we got a picture taken with her too.

Todd had told Emily she could have $20 to spend at the convention. My kid found the table that was selling Pokemon stuffed animals in the middle of all that horror stuff and had to get one. I got some stickers for our car.

We were only at the convention maybe an hour but it was fun. It was nice to get out of the car and walk around for a while. I did nearly scar my child for life. They had a haunted house set up and I had Emily take a picture with it. Next to it was a giant pumpkin with Michael Myers standing there. I didn't realize that it was a cosplayer and not a statue. Freaked Emily right out! I felt so bad!!

After we got to the car, we went to White Castle for lunch which was yummy and then got back on the road. I was going to drive but Todd decided he was fine and actually drove the rest of the way to my dad's house.

It was supper time once we got there and my dad took us to this pizza buffet called Pizza Ranch. They had fried chicken and a great salad bar in addition to the pizza. It was really good!

Once we got back to my dad's house, I was exhausted and so was Todd. Emily, who had gotten the most sleep, was not so we let her stay up with my dad and they watched the first Harry Potter movie. Both Todd and I passed out as soon as our heads hit our pillows. It was a really long day.

Up Next - Beach Day!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Adventures - Carowinds

One of my goals this summer is to experience some things Emily hasn't ever done before. Our first summer adventure ended up being Carowinds, an amusement park a couple of hours from where we live.

I work from home at a company that is based out of Texas, but there are only a few states were they hire at home people. They usually do a company picnic in the summer and a Christmas party, but I've never been to either mostly because of timing. But when it was announced that the company picnic for the Carolinas and GA was going to be at Carowinds, I jumped at the chance.

I got a ticket for me and a guest (which was Emily) for free, plus they provided lunch! I had been wanting to check out Carowinds anyway, and to do so for free made it extra awesome!

Emily and I got up bright and early that morning and drove there. We got there just before 10 am when the park opened. We easily found the tent with the person from my job who had the tickets, and we entered the park.

When we got inside, there were several Peanuts characters waiting. Emily met them all and we got pictures. It was a good thing because we never saw the characters out and about for the rest of the day. Sadly, Snoopy wasn't there so we didn't get to meet him.

Most of the people who were there at opening headed to one of the many roller coasters, but we headed all the way to the back of the park to ride on the Plants vs. Zombies ride. We had no wait and it was an ok ride. You got on these bike things after you picked either to be a plant or a zombie and then you shot at your enemies. The bike thing would jerk and move sometimes. It was fun to do once but neither of us wanted to do it again.

From there we went and rode on Boo Blasters which was another shooting game. The ride vehicle took you through a haunted house and you shot at things. I liked this ride a bit better, in fact we rode on it twice before moving on.

We then rode the bumper cars and did a ride in the Planet Snoopy section which was all Peanuts themed rides for kids. The park was starting to fill up a bit and we had some time before lunch so we decided to ride the white water raft ride. The line was long, and much longer than I had thought when we got in line. But finally we rode, and it was fun!

From there, we went to the picnic area. We had to show our tickets which had a lunch voucher and we found the pavilion my work was at. I didn't know anyone there because no-one from my team had come, but there was yummy food. There was hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, potato salad, cookies and a variety of drinks. We ate up and then headed back to the car to drive to the water park section of the park.

I was a little unsure about how much Emily was going to like to the water park because she doesn't know how to swim and still isn't thrilled with water on her face. She's much better than she was when she was younger but she still doesn't want to go underwater.

We started small. There was a little kids area that had a small water slide that we went down several times and then we went to one of the wave pools. Emily loved this so much! She loved jumping in the waves and letting them push her back.

As we walked around we found another kids section but this was for bigger kids. There was about eight different water slides and we went on most of them. And on one of these, Emily's head actually went under the water. I always had her go down the slide first and then I went after her. She didn't freak out and she was really excited to tell me that once I went down the slide.

After another stop by the wave pool, we got changed out of our swim suits and drove back to where we were before. We spent about 3 hours in the water park.

Once we were back in the regular park side, we stopped and got some Italian ice as a snack. We did more rides, mostly at Planet Snoopy. Some of the rides were kid only, so I just watched from the side and took pictures.

I did make Emily ride the Carolina Skytower which is a ride that takes you up really high and you slowly go around in a circle to see the park and the Charlotte skyline in the distance. I really enjoyed it - it was very relaxing.

We had supper at Chick-Fil-A and then Emily rode more Planet Snoopy rides. We even rode on a kiddie roller coaster that was very exciting. I was out of spoons at the end and just let her ride to her heart's content while I watched. We ended up leaving at 9 pm, an hour before the park closed, because I was beyond exhausted. Of course, 11 hours in an amusement park will make one exhausted even without chronic pain.

All in all, it was a fun day! I'd like to go back and maybe even get season passes next year.

Up Next - The Drive-In

Friday, June 23, 2017

Women Are Capable

Image: www.lisajohnsonfitness.com
This is a bit of a rant, brought in part by an interaction I had at work as well as the current climate of our country and world.

Women Are Capable! We can work, we can lead, we can do more than be mothers. We can be mothers and work or stay at home. Every woman is different and NONE of us are lesser than men. No matter how many men think we are lesser.

I work in IT, which has been a man dominated field. But I'm good with computers and I'm good at my job. I never thought of myself as extremely techy until I started working in IT, but from the people I've had to help over the years, I am very good with most things techy.

Doesn't stop people from telling me I don't know what I'm doing. Usually older men who sometimes call me 'honey' and 'sweetie'. Usually these fellows don't know what they are doing, as in the case I had today.

This dude totally was mansplaining me the entire call as well as talking down to me. I had to tell him to do something about five times before he would listen to me and do what I told him to do. In the end, I couldn't help him because of his lack of computer knowledge. Didn't stop him from thinking that he knew it all.

It's 2017 for goodness sakes! Women are strong and capable. Please, treat us like we deserve to be treated, as human beings at least.

Monday, June 12, 2017

ConCarolinas 2017

ConCarolinas is one of my favorite cons. It's small but has a lot of activities. And a lot of my friends attend which makes it a lot of fun. ConCarolinas was actually Emily's very first con when she was only 8 months old! But this year we did a few new things, including staying overnight at the hotel for the first time.

Emily and I got up early on that Saturday morning and make the trek to Charlotte. We made good time but when we pulled into the hotel, I noticed that there were no parking spots anywhere nearby. I pulled the car up to unload it and made the decision to pay for valet parking. That was a great decision because we left the hotel several times to get food.

The bellhop loaded our stuff onto a cart and took it to our room. It only took a minute for us to get our badges and we got down to the dealer's room just before it opened. We went around the room and Emily exercised great control until she saw Pokemon cards. She had to get some! The only thing I bought was some decals for my new car.

After that, we went back to the room so I could change into my Tightrope Girl costume then hurried down for the costume contest pre-judging. Thankfully I was first to be judged, because both Emily and I were pretty hungry at that time.

I changed again (this became a theme for the day) and we went to get lunch at McDonald's. We had a bit of time, so we went down to the pool for a bit. It was really relaxing and nice to cool down because it was hot out!

After that, I changed in my Princess Leia costume and we went to the gaming area to play D&D. We had a lot of fun, and Emily's character helped us a lot in the combat with her sleep spell! Next year, hopefully we can go down on Friday and play in more D&D games.

Once the game was done, it was time to change back into my Tightrope Girl costume and go down to my friend Mikey's concert. It was great, though I did have to run back up to the room because I had
forgotten my gloves. I had to leave early to get lined up for the contest. Thankfully it was in the same room so I just got Emily settled in a seat in the 3rd row and left my purse and glasses with her.

This was my first costume contest I've ever been in so I was in the novice category. There were some other great costumes there too. I had no idea what I was going to do on stage and I started to feel really nervous.

In the end, I pretended like I was walking a tightrope and then posed in my pose for a moment. It was really fast. Then it was time to go back to the waiting room to wait for everyone else to have their turn on the stage.

Once everyone was done, they had us all come out on stage. We stood there while they read off the winners of the film festival as the judges decided who won. The novice awards were read off first and to my great surprise, I won 3rd place!

The best part of the whole weekend was when they read my name off, a tiny blur in the 3rd row jumped to her feet, her hands thrust in the air as she cheered for her mommy. It was awesome!

The other winners had great costumes too. A Newt Scamander cosplayer won best in show and he deserved it - his costume was really great!
It was about 6:30 pm once we got done with the costume contest so I got changed again. We went and got Cookout for supper. We watched Disney Jr. on TV as we ate and then we headed back to the pool for some night swimming. I was pretty beat by that time so we didn't swim for too long. I let Emily watch some tv while I got things packed up to make things easier in the morning.

The next day we got up and went swimming again for a bit. Then we got everything packed up. I went to the valet / bell hop station to get some help. I figure if I'm paying for valet parking they can come up and get our stuff. 

I knew it may take a while, and so did the guy at the valet station. He told me he would send someone up as soon as possible. Sadly, I had to call down several times before someone came up. It took over an hour. By that time, Emily was convinced that we had to live there now.

We got our car which they did pack up for us, and went to get some lunch. After lunch, we went back inside to do one more spin around the dealer's room. There was a booth that had geek-inspired sweets so I got Emily a Pokemon sucker and a BB-8 cookie.

As we were leaving the dealer's room, I rounded a corner and realized that Emily was gone! I freaked out as I paced the hallway not wanting to go too far away. My friend Mikey happened upon me mid-freak out and he went to the dealer's room to look there. All of a sudden, Emily reappeared! She had gone into the bathroom and had thought I was following her. I had lost her but she didn't know she was lost.

We went and told Mikey that we had found her and then headed out. After stopping at 7-11 for slurpies, we headed on home. It was a very fun weekend (except for the losing Emily part) and I look forward to next year's ConCarolinas!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Wonder Woman

No spoilers for those who haven't seen it - though if you haven't seen it, go and see it! It's awesome!

I loved the movie, it was excellent, but I also am loving the fact that I was able to take my daughter to see a movie that I wish was made when I was a kid. I loved the Wonder Woman tv show when I was small.

I do admit that I did tear up during different parts of the movie, in part because Emily was sitting beside me watching Diana kick all kinds of butt. I felt similar things when we went to see Ghostbusters last year, which both Emily and I liked quite a bit.

I'm very happy that my daughter is growing up in a time where she can see women being able to shine as the stars of their own universe. Wonder Woman does fall in love, but she still had her own drive and her own goals.

Basically, Wonder Woman made me so happy as a geek, as a woman and as a mom. My husband did see it as well, and he really enjoyed it too. So go see Wonder Woman!