Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer Adventures - The Drive-In

One of my favorite memories as a kid was going to the drive-in. My mom would always buy us new pj's since we would nearly always fall in asleep in the car. I honestly don't remember any movies I saw, but the experience of sitting in the car to watch a movie was awesome.

There is a drive-in that shows new movies about an hour away from my house. We've passed it a few times over the years on the way to Charlotte, but we'd never gotten there. Finally I decided that Emily and I were going to go this summer.

A few weekends ago, the Sunset Drive-In Theater was showing Despicable Me 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming. This kind of killed two birds for me because I had promised to take Emily to see Spider-Man once she got home from Michigan.

The gates opened at 7 pm and I got there about then. Since this was our first time, I wasn't sure how fast it would fill up. It was pretty empty when we got there so we got a great spot right by the bathrooms and concession stand.

We had a few hours to kill so we checked everything out. They had a Despicable Me 3 coloring contest so Emily sat down and colored a picture. They also had a Despicable Me 3 photo booth and one for Spider-Man too.

As the sun was setting, we got some popcorn. We got some other snacks as it got closer to movie
time. Before the movie, they gave out some prizes. Emily didn't get anything big but she got a little Despicable Me 3 poster and some Minions stickers.

To hear the movie, we had to tune into their radio station which was a bit different. But it worked well. The drive-in filled up quite a bit before the movie started. After Despicable Me 3 finished, quite a few people left. We stayed to the end.

Emily was clad in pj's but she did stay up until the end of Spider-Man. I do think she passed out as we drove away.

It was a lot of fun! Next time, I may bring my own drinks and just get popcorn there. Hopefully we'll get to go again this summer!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Overwhelmed at Large

I'm very liberal and I make no secret of that. I'm horrified by the current administration as they try to wipe out all the good that the previous administration tried to do. I try to be an ally as best I can to LGBT+ people. I think everyone should have the same rights and freedoms. And the whole healthcare mess, well, that one scares me the most because of my poor health.

But, I see posts on social media often about how everyone needs to be calling their representatives everyday about a variety of bills. How cisgendered white people aren't doing enough to build up LGBT+ people and POC. How we must resist with every fiber of our being every moment of the day.

Ok, maybe not so much that last one, but it's overwhelming. I use resistbot when I can, but that only really formats and gets your words to the right place. You still need to write several cohesive paragraphs about what you want your representative to be doing which can be hard sometimes.

So I have guilt that I'm not a good enough liberal. That I'm not doing enough for the causes. That I'm not a good enough person because I don't have the ram in my head to resist every day.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this so I thought I'd put it out there. I know a lot of my issues stems from the fact that I have a boatload of anxiety on a normal day. Lately, I keep having panic attacks for no good reason. Maybe the reason is just the world we live in right now.

I'm also introverted, living with chronic pain and still need to have enough energy to work and to parent.

Yes, it may sound like excuses but it's the truth. I don't think that people should stop posting about things people can do. Just maybe ease up on the idea that everyone must be doing said things. We all need a break sometimes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dragon Con 2007 - Part Two

This is my trip report from my very first Dragon Con, originally posted on my livejournal. For Part One, Click Here!

Saturday we got up rather early again, since one of my friends was had to be out and about early because he was in the parade. I got into my costume, which was my Summoner Yuna costume, and I needed some help as well. 

Another friend and I headed down to get a good spot and watch the parade.After the parade we got food and headed back to the Hyatt for the panel with Ellen Muth (who starred as George in Dead Like Me). Lunch was yummy and the panel was very interesting. 

Unfortunately, by this time, I was starting to feel badly, as the pain in my head started to grow. I didn't really want to put a cold pack on, mostly because that would detract from my costume. Eventually I did have to put one on because the pain was pretty bad.

We did some wandering, went to the Walk of Fame (it was crazy in there!), and then made our way to Peter S. Beagle's reading. He read the prologue and a few chapters of his new book, "I'm Afraid
You've Got Dragons" which was very interesting, the book doesn't come out until next year, but I really want to get it when it does come out. 

I separted from my friends and ended up in the room with a migraine that was about a 7 or 8 on the scale of 1 to 10. I spent a good portion of the afternoon/early evening in the room laying down.

I did drag myself out of bed because the showing of "The Last Unicorn" with Peter S. Beagle doing commentary was that night. We there about an hour early and it was a good thing because the room they were showing the movie in was tiny! We did get in, and we got seats. They turned lots of people away, which was sad. 

The movie was great, and it was very interesting to hear the commentary from Peter.

After that, we headed back to the room - I was still feeling pretty crappy. We did get some food and then watched the Dawn costume contest that was on Dragon*ConTV, as we ate, and then crashed not long after that.

Sunday we actually got to sleep in a little. And I had thankfully slept off my migrain! 

I went to the Stars of Harry Potter panel, and I just managed to snag a seat. Unfortunately, I was too far away to get any good pictures. It had the actors that played the Weasley twins and the actor that played Neville. It was very interesting.

After that, I ran into my friends and we all watched Tom Smith, who does Filk, play a short show in the lobby of the Hyatt. I knew what Filk was, but this was my first time really listening to it. It was very amusing. 

I went to the art show for a bit and then met up with another friend because we both wanted to go to the Star Trek: The Next Generation panel. We did food runs and as my friend had returned with her food, the line started moving. The panel was in the biggest panel room, and it still got filled to the brim. The panel had the actors who played Data, Dr. Crusher and Riker. Brent Spiner, who played Data, seemed very bitter, and none of them really wanted to talk about Star Trek that much. It was an okay panel, but I had been to better ones.

The actor who played Riker did come out into the audience before he came on stage. He was really close to us. 

After that, we went to another panel, I think it was one in the writing track - I don't really remember it that much and then we came back to get in line for the Ron Glass panel. 

This line was the worst of all weekend. We ended up standing in line in the outside area where all the smokers came to smoke. I'm really allergic to smoke, so this was not fun. Plus, the line didn't move, and didn't move, even though most lines started moving about 15-20 minutes before the panel started. My friend went to ask at one point why the line wasn't moving, and she was angrily told that they were trying to clear the room and get the people in wheelchairs in. The line didn't move until 15 minutes after the panel started.

The panel itself was good - Ron Glass didn't sit down once!! 

Afterwards, I went to the Walk of Fame which was much emptier than it had been. There was only one person in front of me when I was getting Ron Glass's autograph. He was very nice, and I got a couple of pictures.

I then saw that James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy, was there, so I got in line - there was only one person in front of me there too. I got my picture signed and we talked for a minute. He was really nice too. Alas, no pictures of that.

I went back up to the room to put my newly autographed things away, and headed to the dealer's room. I mostly wandered for a while, and the only thing I really bought was a Harley Quinn print for Todd. We had gone to the dealer's room on Saturday I think, and I had gotten the "Done the Impossible" DVD, which is about Browncoats, and something I had wanted to see for a while. And I got a Browncoat lanyard as well. I honestly did not spend hardly any money on stuff at Dragon*Con.

After that, I went back to the room and found my friends vegging out before their big dinner with Peter S. Beagle. I had been wishy-washy on if I wanted to tag along or not, because I knew it would be expensive, but I also knew it would be a cool experience. So, I ended up deciding to go.

It was a very cool experience, and the food was expensive, but really, really good. I didn't have that much to add, but still had a good time. 

We got done with dinner just in time to head to the Hyatt for Tom Smith's concert. The room was packed but it was a very good show!

After that, we tried to peek into the Pirate Party, but it was full, so we just went back to the room, and watched some of the costume contest before going to sleep.

Monday was most just packing up and driving home. That was the first and last time I was at Dragon Con until Monday. That first Dragon Con has sparked a decade of memories and fun times!

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

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