Star Wars, Steampunk and Smattering: San Diego Mini Maker Faire

Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Rants, Travel

Kittens, if the chilly, San Diego rain wasn’t a prompt to play indoors this December, the siren of invention, engineering,  technology and design was enough to lure a capacity-crowd of the curious to the first San Diego Mini Maker Faire. Ringing its knell from the warm beauty of the Spanish Mission-styled Del Mar Fairgrounds, this newest stop for the San Diego geek train proved bustling, hectic and promising. Besides, it’s Del Mar, kids! Even a permanent guest at the Hotel del Coronado needs a change of scenery once in a bit and this girl needs only an eighth of a reason to pop over “Where the Surf Meets the Turf”!

"In cosmological terms, S.D. Maker Faire was what is known as a big bang event." Photo: Jeff Kubina

“In cosmological terms … S.D. Mini Maker Faire was what is known as a big bang event.” Photo: Jeff Kubina

Billed as The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire is a congress of the imaginative and a place to share, and sell, ideas and wares. Known as the Maker Movement, this creative-following is gaining steam worldwide, with Faires staged from the Bay Area to New York, from Dublin to Rome, from Tokyo to Sydney. December 2K13 was San Diego’s initiation with its first ever, and hopefully annual, Mini Maker Faire. (Why Mini? Based on New York’s version, there is much room to grow.)

An all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors, Maker Faire worldwide is a cerebral wonderland for anyone with an imagination and the temerity to do something with it. Like a geeky cocktail party, minus the good booze (although some form of vile, domestic, beerwater was available at John Dillinger prices), the gathering is, as Maker Faire claims, a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness … part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.

Waiting in a very long, very slow, very wet line to enter San Diego’s first Faire, a talkative and cheerful USD student spoke authoritatively about the Bay Area venue, claiming it to be, with just a dash of good-natured condescension, “much bigger, way better and lots of actual symposia and lectures”. Fretting about the $12 entrance fee, wishing she had purchased the cheaper, $10 ticket online, she hoped San Diego’s effort would be worth it. Sizing up the hall’s exterior from under her fur-trimmed parka-hood, she sneered a bit and said with a twisted smile, “Kinda doubt it.”

Whilst the entry fee, plus $15 parking was relatively steep (Consider the Grand Dame of geek fests, San Diego Comic-Con, runs $12-$42/day) and the line was agonizingly slow (only two ticket windows), the cerebral and visual stimuli inside Bing Crosby Hall assuaged the lighter wallet and damp boots. Awaiting the rain- and line-weary crowds was a bevy of crafting booths, science experiments and technological demos, including a proverbial explosion in the popularity of 3-D printing: Yoda heads, TARDIS and Millennium Falcons proving the most popular products of the 3-D craze. The most inspiring, fascinating and useful of the 3-D buzz? Robohands: building appendages for those with hand anomalies, in mere hours! Don’t have $80K for a prosthetic? No worries. A set of blueprints and a 3-D printer (approx. $2K to purchase; a pittance to rent; maybe even one exists in your office) and you’ve got a hand by day’s end.

If one’s avocation, vocation or profession tends toward technology, real science, science-fiction or even steampunk, one would be pleased in the tightly-packed confines of the Faire. To boot, Comic-Con and WonderCon regulars would note some friendly faces on the periphery: San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club, to name a couple.

San Diego Star Wars Society: ask for Thomas! Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Star Wars Society: ask for Herr Thomas! Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club shared a space and, as one would expect of them, brought a fan’s enthusiasm to the franchises. SDSWS is like AA, for Star Wars geeks. If they put out a calendar, Tina Fey-as-Liz Lemon-as-Princess Leia-as-hologram would be their centerfold. Meet-ups are a way for fellow San Diego Star Wars freaks to gather and geek out over any and all things SW. From movie marathons to cosplay-and-props workshops, from collecting and gaming to convention field trips and even charitable events (notably Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation: Fighting Childhood Cancer, One Cup at a Time), the simple goal of this SoCal space sodality is to have a good time with like-minded dorks.

If Thomas, a kindly Swiss San Diegan manning the booth, is any indication of the folk you’ll meet at SDSWS, this coterie of Chewbacca connoisseurs would indeed be a pleasant diversion from the leagues of snarky, snippy, Star-savants out there, of both Wars and Trek. Welcoming, informative and inclusive, Thomas was anathema to so many Star Wars experts blitzing about the planet, propelled by their own hot air.  Smiling and eager to chat, hopeful to bring anyone into the fold, even the wholly uninitiated, Thomas offered no snorts of derision or condescending blinks when fielding even the simplest questions from children and adults alike. Enthusiastically, and with the slightest Teutonic accent, he shared the simple mission of SDSWS: “Come and join us to talk about Star Wars and have a good time!”

If the future isn’t your gig, but futuristic is, Gears & Roebuck: Rusty Junk Emporium and The San Diego Steampunk Community (including the Adventures of Drake & McTrowell: Perils in a Postulated Past) were on-hand, in very wee numbers, it should be noted, to hawk a few antique wares, tell some tall tales and share the collective mission of steampunkers worldwide: “We fight with invention, we fight with ingenuity. Full steam ahead! All aboard!” Our own Dr. Lucy, naturally was in Heaven; the gears in her own noggin whirring and ticking as she flitted between the two booths, trying on air-conditioned pith helmets and mechanized corsets, and testing the efficacy of thermometer-regulated moon backpacks and giant, sterling silver spoons for feeding her pet octopus Onslow, back at our Hotel Del.

Capt. D.D. Cumulus and Lady Opal Nightstream, I presume? Photo: JSDevore

Capt. D.D. Cumulus and Lady Opal Nightstream, I presume? Photo: JSDevore

Generally a well-read, sartorially-intense and whimsical crew, the Victorian votaries are tinkerers extraordinaire, taking cues from the likes of  Jules Verne to Bill Gates. Steampunk inspiration reaches back to Sir Charles Wheatstone and his stereoscopic imaging (predecessor to today’s 3-D imaging) and forward to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. If you’ve yet to explore the world of steampunk, do acquaint yourself. If you’re already in the know, and living in San Diego, the San Diego Steampunk Community just might have the perfect, Phileas Foggesque, space-age tool to scratch that ruddy itch.

Will the Maker Faire make it to San Diego again next year? The Maker Movement is gaining traction in metropoli everywhere.  Judging by the Mars-level heat generated in this sardine-packed venue, it seems plumb stupid to not capitalize again on the funky, inventive and creative nature of San Diego folk. However, like Kim Kardashian’s jeans, the Bing Crosby Exhibition Hall was packed to the seams and ready to burst if anyone took a deep breath. My recommendation, promoters? Bigger jeans and maybe some air-conditioned pith helmets.

Air-conditioned pith helmet: a necessary device for any con! Photo: JSDevore

An air-conditioned pith helmet with every ticket! Photo: JSDevore

Full steam ahead! Ahoy! Abyssinia and Merrie Christmas!

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet #MakerFaire #StarWars #Steampunk

Halloween Time at Disneyland! Party in the 666!

Category : Featured, Geek Out, Holiday, Travel

Kids, as a ghostie girl, clearly, this is the time of year I come alive, as it were. The only thing better than a blustery, rainy day here at the Hotel Del is a blustery, rainy day up at Disneyland. I’ve been on a perpetual Disney mission since good ol’ Walt opened the green gates in 1955, so why not entreat anyone I can, ghost or otherwise, to experience the magnificent transformation of The Happiest Place on Earth into The Spookiest Place on Earth: Disneyland’s Halloween Time?! Poor Dr. Lucy. She’s already my de rigueur recipient of constant, obsessive, pro-Disney blatherings. The Holidays are certainly no easier for her.

Sleeping Beauty's Chilling Castle Photo: Loren Javier

Sleeping Beauty’s Chilling Castle Photo: Loren Javier

Now, I write specifically of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California; Walt Disney World, well, it’s not the original. Disney California gets a bedeviling, magical, spooky, pumpkin-bedecked makeover, as do all the parks. Nyquil trip-worthy, giant Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy Jack O’Lanterns greet you at the main gate and welcome you into a fall fantasy. ‘Tis best to go at night, as it is  still a tad warm here in sunny SoCal to achieve a true autumnal glow. October 1st temp this year? 100 degrees in Anaheim! Of course, maybe that’s why we Disneyland dorks love Halloween Time so very much. Disney is fantasy, after all, and weather fantasy is a beautiful thing.

From Main Street’s straw-adorned gas lampposts to Space Mountain’s surprisingly heart-stopping Ghost Galaxy (I’ve seen more than a few terrifying ghosts in my day and even I screamed with such true terror, without the ability to ever catch my breath in between banshee calls, I exited with a monster headache and a shredded, sore throat. Gnarly, awesome fun!), everything is infused with an orange-and-gold, haystacks-and-scarecrows, SpiderCider n’ pumpkin muffin kind of elan. Even the popcorn boxes are anew with Gothic imagery. You’ll find ghostly and spooky, seasonal offerings from Jack O’Lantern lollipop cakes at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café on Main Street, to Jack Skellington hoodies and Haunted Mansion home décor throughout New Orleans Square.

The Haunted Mansion, Skellington-style. Photo: Loren Javier

The Haunted Mansion, Skellington-style. Photo: Loren Javier

The Haunted Mansion, above all, receives a dressing up one simply must see in person. Whilst divine and inspiring on its most average day, the manse brings new awe to the darkly-humoured and sartorially gothic flutterbys whom tend to use the manor less as an amusement park ride and more as an interior design sketchbook. September through January, the Mansion looks like the aftermath of a Tim Burton Army’s coup d’etat. Using “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as its seasonal overlay, the neoclassical Victorian estate recounts the tale of pauvre Jack Skellington and his empirical quest to understand himself and his raison d’etre. ‘Tis a Samhain switch that would make even Kafka proud: creepy crawlies, existential confusion and brooding philosophes.

The chateau has been overtaken and rechristened Haunted Mansion Holiday here in Anna’s House (Anaheim) and Haunted Mansion Holiday Nightmare at Tokyo Disneyland for my Japanese, Ju-on horror pals, Yoshiko, Akiko and Aii. Konnichiwa, guys!

Jack and Sally, Zero, the mayor of Hallowe’en Town and his loyal citizens, evil Oogie Boogie and his miniature minions Lock, Shock and Barrel and, of course, Sandy Claws have made the palace their own. Doom Buggies carry Nightmare devotees whom will not only spy favourite replications and vignettes from the holiday mainstay film, but whom will search over and over, enduring sadistically long and serpentine lines to get inside, for details and surprises hidden nicely in plain sight for the more obsessive fans. Haven’t had a chance to get inside, yet? No worries. Allow Moi to offer a wee Holiday Haunted Mansion slideshow!

Apropos to those devilish lines, there are plenty of visual stimuli outside the Neoclassical Italianate dwelling to keep one’s creative centers electrified as you shuffle forward at an imperceptible speed: impaled Jack O’Lanterns on an ivy-laden hillside, scores of flickering candles, skull-festooned, black-ribboned Christmas wreaths and a plethora of tombstones, cemetery statuary and goofy epitaph puns. (Crave an archivist’s details about the original architectural impetus for the manse: the 1803 Shipley-Lydecker House in Baltimore? Voila … Disneyland Nomenclature.)

Should you be fortunate enough to live near Disneyland and even more fortunate to be an annual passholder, get thee to The Spookiest Place on Earth forthwith. Plan on long lines, especially at Space Mountain’s Ghost Galaxy and The Haunted Mansion, buy some popcorn to kill time and take some pictures whilst you wait. I do! Pirates of the Caribbean is usually a pretty mellow wait and though it’s not got a Hallowe’en rework, it’s still pirates. You have to do pirates for Hallowe’en!

Columbia Sailing Ship, staffed with undead, pirate monkeys? Photo" Loren Javier

Columbia Sailing Ship, staffed with undead, pirate monkeys? Photo” Loren Javier

If you’re not an annual passholder, expect a terrifying ticket price into the park. Of course, you can always put that admission toward said-pass and imbue yourself with the heady incense that is Disney all year long. They’ll apply the ticket-price to your new pass and for just a minor monthly stipend, Disney will own your ass forev … I mean, offer you endless entertainment for years to come, plus parking. (Fair warning: If you plan to have a pass for the long term, it is best to renew your pass every year, prior to the expiration date. You can upgrade easily, with a slightly higher, modified, monthly fee; but there are often renewal discounts. Also, you maintain your monthly debits, keeping cost management of the pass pretty regular, minus upgrade costs. If it expires, even by a day, you will be required to buy anew; that means a one-day ticket price/down payment of about $80.00.)

If you do have a pass, besides the useful 10% to 20% dining and merchandise discounts you’ll receive, depending on the pass, you’ll get a significant discount on advance-purchase tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party, excepting Oct. 30th & 31st. What? You don’t know of Mickey’s Halloween Party?! It’s a special, ticketed event ($57.00-$74.00) throughout the month of October. The park closes early to make way for a fab, private-ish party! You may dress up if you like (within guidelines) and experience a whole different Hallowe’en overlay throughout the place: a spooky, blue, ghostly Mark Twain and Pirate Ship Columbia drift atop the fog-laden Rivers of America; costumed Disney characters pose for pictures; safe and healthy trick-or-treating stations await your little ones; and Halloween Screams Fireworks explode over a multi-hued Sleeping Beauty’s Castle! Dates are plentiful, but tickets sell out fast! Learn more here: Mickey’s Halloween Party!

If you find you cannot get to the Park, you can at least treat yourself to a little bit of Disney dread décor at home. Still, as the spooky squatters of The Haunted Mansion say, ditto for Lucy and Moi here at The Del, “there’s always room for one more”. So, hurry back and don’t forget to bring your, death certificate.

Disney shopping not going to do it for you? My pally JennyPop’s got a great slideshow for you then!

No tricks, but loadds of treats await you this Halloween at Disneyland! Photo" Loren Javier

No tricks, but loads of treats await you this Halloween at Disneyland! Photo” Loren Javier

Abyssinia, spooky cats!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet

The Circus Pulls Up Stakes: Dr. Lucy’s SDCC 2013 Slideshow

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Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Well, cats, as Porky Pig struggles to declare, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”. San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is a wrap. The big burg with the filthy mayor and the small beachtown chill is back to it’s groovy, mellow, peaceful ways. (Save for trying to oust said-filthy mayor. What a loony, dangerous maroon!) The air around the Convention Center smells like salt air once again; the trademark smell of The Con hovering somewhere over Santa Fe by now. What is that smell, New Mexicans might wonder? It’s a simultaneously exhilarating, exciting and pathetic amalgam of anxiety, camping, body odour, latex, cheap polyester, sycophancy, Japanese perfume, cheap leather, desperation, domestic “beer” and nacho “cheese” sauce.

I seriously need a shower.

I seriously need a shower.

Seaport Village is back to hosting apple-shaped families from Minnesota and the humourless, tanned beach cops are re-focused on sunburned tourists frantically enjoying their last hurrahs of summer holiday. The “normal” clientele has returned to local strip clubs, replacing zombies, Zorg and Sheldon Cooper in the Champagne Room; alternately, barmaids about town have, thankfully, removed their faux nerd glasses and Hello Kitty “I Love Nerds” t-shirts. (Please, ladies. Leave hot nerding to the real hot nerds.)

The Gaslamp Quarter is still predictably lively with Happy Hours and summertime, bistro seating; but the dark-suited business folk of the downtown area are no longer treated to the  lunchtime spectacle and wonder, not to mention parking and traffic jumbles, of Comic-Con. No more Leeloos leaning over the bar at Lou & Mickey’s, no more Han Solos in line at Starbucks, no more Walking Dead at McCormick & Schmick’s and no more Transformers trying to work the fountain dispensers at 7-11. Like a birthday night in Vegas, we are left with sore feet, curious bruising, singed tendrils, oddly placed piles of sunflower seed shells, mysteriously depleted bank accounts, and a faint, pleasurable memory that it might be fun and/or nuts to do it all over again next year … but next time with an even better costume! (They’re called boobs, Ed!)

The Con will return, kids, no worries there. It has been speculated for years that it could move to Anaheim. Well, at least through 2016, Comic-Con shall remain in America’s Finest City; Hallowe’en in July is all San Diego’s. Until next year, enjoy a wee slideshow of this year’s scene, courtesy of our own Dr. Lucy and her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT.

All slideshow photos by Twisted Pair Photography with the exception of the following:

Rotten Tomato by Rebecca Lane; The Two Daphnes: Classic & Post-apocalyptic, all Conv. Ctr. exteriors and Once Upon a Time murals by J.S. Devore

  • BTW, because I know you care, each con, I treat myself to a wee something: a Chewbacca tank by WeLoveFine, a Bettie Page parasol by Retro a-go-go, a Jetsons tee, etc. This year, it’s my Evil Coffee Hour messenger bag by BeKyoot.com. Get one! “Cause Evil Coffee Hour is a brilliant idea and Christy Sanderson is a total doll who designs all the gear herself! It’s what Japanese girls and I call supa kawaii! Cheers, Miss Christy, Tuxie Cat and Momocheet!
Danger + coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Danger + Coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame (a.k.a. authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore) contributes regularly to the official San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide. Read her articles here: The Simpsons, Peanuts & Tarzan!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? jenniferdevore.blogspot.com  JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore


When Tom Cruise Stops Singing: Comics Quietly Continue to Float SDCC 2013

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel, WonderCon

If San Diego Comic-Con was a geologic feature, it would be the Grand Canyon: strata upon strata of distinct, well-defined, colourful variants comprising an arresting, alluring travel poster for destinations Geekward. Every summer, America’s Finest City hosts Hallowe’en in July wherein layers of sci-fi, fantasy, history, science, IT, comics, gaming, cosplay and countless other substrata converge on the San Diego Convention Center to make each year’s Con more popular, more profitable and more prohibitive to entry than the last.

It’s arguable which strata top the bunch, but it’s clear the lone comic dork is at the bottom of the pile, at least where acquiring a badge or an independent press pass is concerned. Press passes, unless associated with a major outfit, are becoming more difficult to garner; online badge purchasing for the individual comes earlier and earlier each year and your clicking finger better be younger and faster than your competition’s. Badges sell out in mere minutes and second chance lotteries just play with a dork’s heart like a cat with a wounded bird. Still, if you can get in the air-conditioned doors, press or otherwise, the event will present you with an experience fantastic and powerful enough to drain you of all common sense, vacuum up all your hard-earned dough, morph your feet into Chinese feet-binding and deliver claustrophobic flashbacks for years to come … and leave you salivating and shaking to do it all again next year.

The joy of Comic-Con: meeting old friends! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

The joy of Comic-Con: meeting up with old friends! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

San Diego Comic-Con, the grandfather of all DorkCons and once a purist, geek Mecca, is now a Gigantor, world-class, Cannes-scale, multimillion-dollar, media bash of Big Bang proportions. Always something of a boon to the local economy, SDCC has become a veritable pot o’ gold over the past decade, the rainbow streaming in from Hollywood-way and infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into San Diego coffers and wallets, not to mention luring paparazzi, as well as legitimate photojournalists, to San Diego’s sunny harbor for five, titillating days. The byproduct of the manic, short-lived press coverage? Unquantifiable results in healthy tourism the rest of the year.

Although no exact figures have been released yet, attendance for 2013 threatens to easily top 130K. As far as local pockets? Last year’s Con delivered the area a vintage, Adam West-era Batman KAPOW! of 180 million clams. Add approximately three million more clams in local tax revenue and no wonder San Diego and The Simpsons‘ Comic Book Guy have been scratching, clawing and letter-writing to keep The Con in town and out of Anaheim.

Why would anyone want to move The Con, other than the obviously jealous Anaheim? (Anaheim, you have WonderCon for a bit; be happy with that.) The Hakken-Kraks, Buzz Killington and young and old biddies alike will complain about the crowds, the late-night boozing in the Gaslamp Quarter and the annual, predictable proliferation of Leeloos, Slave Leias and Sailor Moons. No worries though, Comic Book Guy. Leeloo’s ass, Slave Leia’s gold bra and Sailor Moon’s navel will remain in place, relatively firmly, in San Diego at least through 2016.

A lovely Leia, who goes by the name Lala. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

A lovely Leia, who goes by the name Lala. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Conventioneers and the correspondents covering them bound in from around the globe to gather and gawk at all Comic-Con has to offer: the costuming being the loudest Call of the Wild. Cosplay becomes more and more the focus each year. When Charlie Rose reads “The Babes of Comic-Con” on his Teleprompter with a stilted discomfort in his voice, the Con is reaching its alternative threshold. What used to be counter-culture and Mom’s Basement-nerdy, is now the pinnacle of geek chic. Comic-Con is, for now, the Hurley of Geekdom. Even though H-town seems to have taken over, the core elements are still there, like Spanx: tightly bound and working feverishly to hold the whole thing in place. Akin to the Colorado River, subtly trickling through the Canyon it created it in the first place, the Old School comic strip and graphic novel can still be found at Comic-Con. You have to walk your Duff Man off to find them, but they’re in there.

Clearly, Comic-Con’s focus is still based in comic-as-art-form; just look at some of this year’s themes. Superman, Sandman, Bongo and Aspen Comics are all celebrating milestones of great note. Still, H-town’s involvement, Hulk heavy-handed since the mid-2000s, turns the global focus over to the folks at Entertainment Tonight, Huffington Post and the heaving, final gasps of air coming out of the crew at Variety. Every one of their correspondents tripping over their own phone chargers to cover Halle Berry’s baby-bump, Hugh Jackman’s stubble and Tom Cruise’s impromptu, Rock of Ages serenade. Meanwhile, the Clark Kents of Comic-Con quietly and sagely keep the homefires burning in small, cheerful booths, oft near the lavvies, along the side doors or buttressing Café Express, the indoor, overpriced hot dogs-and-shady-nachos stand. The booths are manned by company execs themselves whom happily snap and post Instagram pics of their fans and heartily shake each and every hand that wends through the maze of aisles to seek their comic wares.

Whilst the Craigslist-hire, brand-ambassador models and bouncers working the behemoth, Hollywood studio booths poorly hide their sneers and eye-rolls at overzealous fans and, with tight-lipped smiles, begrudgingly hand out buttons and bandanas for shows they will likely never watch, the head honchos, chiefs and veeps at smaller media companies like IDW, Diamond Comics and GoComics are happy to stand with a fan for a picture (Plus, help her find the last X-Files: Season 10 comic book in the booth … sadly sold out, though.) or enthusiastically proffer pro subscriptions “for special folks” and other goodies produced from behind the curtains and posterboard.

Whether they be creators and publishers like IDW Publishing (X-Files, Star Trek, 30 Days of Night, Doctor Who) and SLG Publishing (Haunted Mansion, Tron, Gargoyles), distributors like Diamond Comics Distributors (Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics) or syndicators like GoComics (Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Get Fuzzy, Foxtrot) and its parent company Universal Uclick, these folks are the lifeblood of any comic book convention, the River to the showy Canyon walls. Without their conveyance, nobody gets Wolverine costume claws, The Big Bang Theory t-shirts or Sandman annotations. Even within the river, notable and gifted creators like SofaWolf Press fight the current of mass media, straining and mushing like sled dogs just to get the Kudos they so deserve. Read Caterwall or Nordguard? If not, acquaint yourself with the Disney-level artwork and storytelling of Jack London proportions.

True, the course of the river has shifted dramatically; it’s more of a culture-con now, and that’s fine. Most folks love some glam, some flash and even boobies, naturally. To boot, when more eyeballs seek a curiosity such as Comic-Con, it can mean a lucrative, pleasurable outcome for all. Art and the creatives will always progress, should progress; it’s the nature of the beast. Still, amidst the après-hours, high-end hotel-bar, cocktail parties, the Gaslamp pub networking circuit and even the intrageek debates about cosplay inaccuracies, it’s nice to recall the original trickle from whence such a gathering came.

Peanuts. That is all. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Peanuts. That is all. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Comic-Con International has a mission statement. Brief and to the point, it reads:

Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artforms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

Clearly, the hot Poison Ivys, the intricately detailed Walking Dead, the frenzied sightings of Halle Berry and Neil Patrick Harris and the rumours of surprise appearances by Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro will always win the gaze of amateur phonecams and AP entertainment reporters alike. Yet, even when the Con is gone, if years down the road the flash and dash dim, all our fave comic characters will remain: Betty & Veronica, Citizen Dog, Sherman’s Lagoon, Calvin and Hobbes, Vampirella, The X-Files, Peanuts, Haunted Mansion, My Little Pony, Wonderland, Gargoyles, Foxtrot, Get Fuzzy, The Simpsons, Sandman, Superman, Spongebob Squarepants, Dick Tracy, Savage Chickens, The Avengers, The X-Men, Pearls Before Swine and so many other familiar, longtime and new-found friends. Tiny, tireless warriors one and all, they will surge ahead quietly, like the greenish-grey Colorado River forever playing second fiddle to the colour-saturated travel posters of breathtaking, Canyon sunsets. Diligently they will trudge so we might enjoy their quirky company all year long … until the Con, the crowds, the chicks and the claustrophobia return to San Diego next year, at least through 2016. Better start getting your clicking finger in shape now.

Pray away the Poke! Not everyone loves SDCC! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Pray away the Poke! Not everyone loves SDCC! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame (a.k.a. authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore) contributes regularly to the official San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide. Read her articles here: BongoComics/The Simpsons, Peanuts & Tarzan! She also loves a Pikachu!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? @JennyPopNet  JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

All photos by Twisted Pair Photography

When The Anime Girls Start Looking Old: Sobering Up, SDCC Day 4

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Category : Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

The Borg Queen’s makeup is starting to wear, Arthur the Moth’s white bodysuit has nacho cheese stains and Slave Leia’s posterior-veil is flaking away from the glue that has, thus far, kept it titillatingly adhered to said-posterior. It must be the last day of Comic-Con.

 ... and you thought you'd met your soul geek last night. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

… and you thought you’d met your soul geek last night. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Cheers, kittens! What a weekend! DorkCon has been an absolute blast! Day three, Saturday, was sheer bonkers and, despite my attempts to Tweet and report to you directly from the Con floor, the villains at Sprint communications did their best to vanquish my valiant efforts and blocked all ghostly transmission to the non-Con masses. What you missed will come to you soon, via my annual SDCC wrap-up post, complete with a fantastic (in the truest sense of the word) slideshow, thanks to our own Dr. Lucy and her EOS Canon Rebel! For now though, it’s Sunday; and, like Vegas in the early morning hours, things are starting to look pretty sketchy and the broad you thought was your dream gift from Fortuna looks like an old drag queen impersonating Sailor Moon.

Cases of unused, 2013 Souvenir Books, Event Guides and Con bags sit bored and stacked up in blue-curtained, administrative corners of the Convention Center lobby and the degree, and quality, of costuming has dwindled significantly. Of the four days (Thurs.-Sun.), Friday and Saturday were the days for cosplay. It’s like showing up for a party, a little uneasy and nervous for the first hour or so; then, you have a drink, loosen up, lose some inhibition, gain some confidence and next thing you know you’re leading the conga line with a G-string on your head that you found in the hamper of the upstairs lavvy. Of course, after the Sambvca is all gone and the host is passed out on the lanai, you realize it’s time to go home.

Even today’s rainy threats are coaxing along the end of Comic-Con 2013, as if entreating the cosplay ladies to don some pants and plaguing the Pokémon-picketing, Jebus fanatics to go away. San Diego loved hosting you, folks, really; but America’s Finest City cannot remain that way if the streets are clogged, the Gaslamp District is unapproachable to the more timid locals and there are 12-stone cosplay chicks on street corners with dimpled ass-cheeks hanging out of their very poorly chosen Poison Ivy costumes. Folks, it’s Sunday and the host is unresponsive on the lanai … time to go home.

All right, folks. Let's move it along. Show's over. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

All right, folks. Let’s move it along. Show’s over. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Follow @JennyPopNet

Hell Yeah, It’s Friday at San Diego Comic-Con! Thanks, H-town!

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Category : Candid Conversations, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

“Samuel”, we’ll call him, an affable, casually t-shirted executive at a prominent, East Coast-based comic book distributor, sat next to us last night at Jolt ‘N Joe’s in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, after the Con closed its doors.

San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Convention Center Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Convention Center Photo: JSDevore

“Let’s see,” he started, looking up and to the right as he counted silently in his head, “I guess I’ve been coming to Comic-Con since 1994. It’s nuts. Each year when you think it can’t get any crazier, the next year is worse. Each day gets worse. Friday will be crazier than today, Saturday crazier than that.”

“When did you notice it start to grow so wild?” I asked over my Dirty Shirley, a Shirley Temple with Vodka.

Again, he looked up and to the right, his lips counting the years. He swirled his Budweiser bottle and, upon settling on an answer, set it down with a clink.

“2004, I’d say. When Hollywood started paying attention. That’s when it really changed. Hollywood realized, ‘Hey. There’s a key demo here and they’re trapped.”

My cohort took a sip of his G&T and said, “Totally trapped. Nowhere to go but Mexico.”

 

Follow for SDCC updates @JennyPopNet!

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Under A Simpsons-Blue Sky!

Category : Comics, Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Not much time to post today, kittens… it’s Day 1 of San Diego Comic-Con! The weathers is bonkers-gorgeous and I am chock full of comic book glee for my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore! Third year now (Peanuts & Tarzan marking previous articles), she’s published in the Official Souvenir Guide! This year’s theme? The 20th anniversary of  Bongo Entertainment: the fine minds behind The Simpsons, Futurama, Bartman, et al.

Souvenir Guide 2013, Bongo article by JSDevore Photo: Rebecca Lane

Souvenir Guide 2013, Bongo article by JSDevore Photo: Rebecca Lane

So, off to the Con! Will certainly post more later. In the meanwhile, follow @JennyPopNet, @Eslilay and @GoodToBeAGeek for up-to-the-minute Tweets and snaps! Now, so much to do today, like buying one Rebecca Lane of Rotten Tomatoes a G$T for snapping this shot of my article for me and Tweeting the following:

“Some pre #SDCC reading; penned by my talented friend @JennyPopNet Souvenir Guide pg 164…check it out!”

Cheers, Beki!(Look for her at SDCC; she’ll be the one in giant tomato suit!)

 

Bongo and Jeepers, Kids! Danger-prone Daphne Heads to SDCC 2K13

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel

Cheers, kittens! If you’ll kindly check your calendars, you’ll see it’s summertime and if you regularly follow the scribblings and adventures of Dr. Lucy Devereaux and Moi, you’ll know summer here in sunny San Diego means just one thing: San Diego Comic-Con!

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Bits of Hannah’s private Bongo stash. Photo: JSDevore

Summertime lists of entertainment alternatives for the geeky and the pale put SDCC firmly on top of the pile. It’s air-conditioned fun where we ghosties and our fellow friends of pasty pallor can hide from the vile sun and retain our dewy freshness. It’s a venue where geeks, dorks and nerds of every shade of pale can gather in costume, greedily clutching their comic books and collectible figures whilst dork-walking at revved speeds to snag front-row seats to panels such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Action Figure Showcase and I Can’t Write, I Can’t Draw, But I Love Comics!, all without fear of a wedgie anytime during the day … as long as conventioneers don’t wander too far into the neighboring Gaslamp District. The Gaslamp is no place for a lone nerd in costume, especially at night when the surfy sportos, apathetic hipsters and sloshed beach thugs roam, and own, the darkness. Travel in nerd packs if you must; but be assured, like any Star Trek exploratory mission, the one in the red shirt will be sacrificed. Don’t be the red shirt.

Dr. Lucy, her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT in-hand, and I will be covering all the geeky goodness of SDCC 2K13 for you and Tweeting snaps, sightings, booths of note and nerdy news all weekend long from the floor and beyond the ether! Panels will be plentiful and will run the gamut of information and instruction from Inside The Big Bang Theory’s Writers’ Room to Steampunk 101, and Showcasing the Best in Korean Comics to Snoopy: A Retrospective. As always, SDCC is also a bit of a celeb trek and this year, expect to see the likes of James Spader (Lincoln, The Blacklist), Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) and  J. Michael Straczynski (Superman: Earth One, Before Watchmen). Of course, Dr. Lucy is always on the hunt for Seth Green and one can hope one bumps into Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, George Lucas or Adrianne Curry in one of the aisles. (Bring the smelling salts, Dr. Lucy!)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a comic book convention if I wasn’t interviewing somebody fabulous for your reading pleasure! (WonderCon offered Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) and Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak). Dr. Lucy and I will be squeezing our fine, cosplayed cabooses into the SyFy Press Room once again: this time, a table chat with the cast of SyFy’s Warehouse 13. Interview and candid pics, à la last year’s Being Human interview, will post after the Con concludes.

In past years, I’ve been … I mean, my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore  has been fortunate enough have her articles selected for the official Souvenir Book: 60th anniversary of Peanuts (which earned her a citation in TIME magazine) and the 100th anniversary of Tarzan (which garnered her an invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall). One never knows what good fortune and opportunity this year’s submission, if accepted, will bring her. Cross your fingers, kids!

The themes for this year’s Souvenir Book are many and varied: amongst others, the 75th anniversary of Superman, 50th anniversaries of Marvel Superheroes and Doctor Who and 25th anniversaries of The Tick and The Sandman. Miss Jenny’s selection? The 20th anniversary of Bongo Comics. Known as Bongo Entertainment since 2012, it is the comics publishing empire founded by The Simpsons-creator Matt Groening with three BFFs in 1993: Steve Vance (DC Comics, Disney Adventures Comics), Cindy Vance (Disney Adventures Comics) and Bill Morrison (Roswell: Little Green Man). Navigating twenty years of analog-to-digital waters is no easy task; yet, Bongo has flourished, combining classic comic core and the moving target that is modern zeitgeist.

The frosting on the Comic-Con cupcake? Getting to dress up months before Hallowe’en! Last year’s costume was Steampunk, WonderCon was Abby Sciuto and this year’s con will be Scooby-Doo‘s Daphne Blake. I thought about Velma. Surely, the scholarly, brunette geek girl does seem to suit me better. Still, Velma’s sweater is ugly and unflattering and, quite frankly, she’s too good of a ghost hunter. I can’t abide that, really. Danger-prone Daphne, though?!  She’s hot, she’s nice, she’s wealthy, what’s not to like? Plus, I’ve always wanted orange hair for a day and what girl doesn’t love hot pink tights, lime-green accessories and a purple micromini? Jeepers!

Iconic Daphne Blake: a variety of iterations, from sexy to saucy to classic.

Danger-prone Daphne is on her way! Let’s go, Freddy!

Abyssinia at the Con, kids!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet @Eslilay and @GoodToBeAGeek for SDCC floor updates!

Monster Man, Martinis and Mulder: WonderCon Anaheim 2013 is a Wrap

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Category : Candid Conversations, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Movies, Television, Travel, WonderCon

The Wild West of 1850s southern California never saw WonderCon coming. Originally an agricultural collective of pious, German farmers and vintners, Victorian Anaheim would have plotzed at the site of The Joker, Jawas, Hobbacca and G-stringed Supergirls crossing Katella and Harbor, headed into their Anaheim Convention Center. Although, he might have appreciated some of the more inventive steampunk costuming, 1857 co-founder George Hansen must have just come to grips with Disneyland when WonderCon steamed into town last year. This year, it descended upon the O.C. once again and, if Hansen’s ghost gets his wish, it should be headed back up north, to San Francisco’s Moscone Center for 2014. If the rest of us get our wish, parent company Comic-Con International will permanently add this southern substitute, WonderCon Anaheim, to its regular menu des plaisirs.

Abby, meet Agents Scully and Mulder Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Abby, meet Agents Scully and Mulder Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

WonderCon Anaheim (March 29-31, 2013) is best-known now to the O.C. public as the week of visiting geeks. The baby sister of San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon mixed with the usual, inland-Orange County population of Disney geeks and overran Hansen’s “Home by the Santa Ana River: Ana-heim“. The Anaheim Convention Center was a safe place to contain all the geekage, like a well-lit, glass-and-steel roach motel, keeping the community-at-large safe from countless iterations of Batman and, simultaneously keeping said-geekage safe from countless wedgies. ‘Twas a few, relaxing days where being a pale, obsessive, Simpsons fan actually brought about accolades and wearing a rhinestone dog collar, mini-kilt and Manson boots brought compliments, rather than propositions.

Like most comic book conventions, behind the cosplay, superiority complexes and aisles of overpriced crap sitting alongside collector-worthy art, there are serious discussions happening: academic panels, legal seminars, artistic advisory groups and the like. True, a lot of them are more Family Guy table-read than Algonquin Round Table. Still, these all-inclusive chats in the upstairs meeting rooms are worth the convention entrance fee, even if the downstairs floor full of steampunk dorks, Star Wars tees and vintage action figures is not your cup of Darjeeling. (Captain Picard’s space beverage of choice, duh.) I had the opportunity to cover a couple of these panels and interview some of the panelists for GoodToBeAGeek.com: All Shapes & Sizes Welcome and Geeks Get Published – and Paid! Industry insight is always good gossip!

Without a doubt though, the best part of any convention -and I’ve been to more than a few, including NAB, NATPE and the MIPCOM/MIPTV conferences in Cannes- is the après-mingling in the hotel lounges and nearby restaurants and bars. True, ’tis no Cannes or Nice, but Anaheim, my pretties, much to the chagrin of dear old George Hansen, has more than it’s fair share of suitable martini outlets. The Anaheim Gardenwalk is replete with moderately-priced, chain dining establishments, but the king is P.F. Chang’s. There is not enough space here to go on about their Chinese 88 martini (topped off with champagne) and their tofu lettuce wraps. ~insert Homer Simpson-style drool here~ Roy’s Hawaiian serves a tangy, yummy, signature pineapple martini and offers a warm, sugary, tropical atmosphere, bringing the diner into the island spirit, not totally unlike being on Kauai, which is surprising, considering one’s in inland SoCal. Of course, the best mixing by far is the hotel where the con sits. This one was Hilton Anaheim and its Mix Lounge.

Mix was crowded, dark and lively and the staff worked off their patooties to keep the Stella Artois, Sapphire gin and dried wasabi pea snackies flowing. Nice fellows and patient as saints, especially when a drunken, impolite, cabbage-waving, Flava Flav doppelgänger insisted on buying a round for nearly half the bar, rudely yelling the orders to the bartender. (Yours truly declined. Far too obnoxious, even for a gratis G&T.) Oddly though, the con cosplay at Mix was sparse. There were some costumed folk hither and thither; my companions even forced me into a picture with a sad-looking, all too fay, nervous He-Man. Why so few costumes, I wondered each night? I would later learn the Hilton was mostly where the journalists stayed; the Marriott was the place for the cosplay crowd. So, book your hotels accordingly next year, con-goers.

The whole event was nicely wrapped up with an unexpected dinner, especially for a vegetarian. My Viking, a deathly-tightly-corseted Dr. Lucy and I ended up at Morton’s Steakhouse when my brother-in-law and professional pirate, a.k.a. Cap’t. Maurice Bloodstone, -who some of you may know from my novel, Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates- happened upon an SFX idol of his in the Hilton parking lot, twice. The second, chance meeting with Mr. Cleve Hall proved too much serendipity for our excitable Bloodstone and a dinner invitation was proffered.

Cleve Hall, gentleman Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Cleve Hall, gentleman Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Best-known, currently, for SyFy’s Monster Man, Cleve Hall is hardly a newbie in the Hollywood special effects game. Like Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, Cleve and his immediate family have been lurking around the Deep South and the West Coast for eons; his family in the prop and SFX business, the Mayfairs in banking and real estate. For Cleve himself, above-the-line credits (incl. actor, producer and director) as well as hair & makeup and costume & wardrobe fall solidly within his ken. Cleve himself has a wide umbrella. How to Train Your Dragon, Ghoulies, Ed Wood and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure are just a few titles under his Victorian, silver-handled umbrella.

Now, my brother-in-law is as taken with the master’s oeuvres as he is generous. Ergo, it had to be, Bloodstone invited Mr. Hall to join us for dinner. Morton’s Steakhouse was the closest option and, after three days in five-inch platform boots and too-tight ponytails, I was ready to sit and drink anywhere.

Mr. Cleve is, in a word, gentlemanly. He is, in my experience, quiet, pensive and, similar to an attorney I once interviewed in Philadelphia for a tech-boom documentary, careful about choosing just the correct word when telling a tale. He does not name-drop, although he certainly could, does not dominate the table, although this raconteur could. Instead, he answers queries succinctly and adds just the right embellishments to the conversation, like the perfect, silver, poison ring or red, contact lenses. He did not overpower our dinner; he did make it memorable. He was spot-on, to boot, when at dinner he talked of the popularity of Monster Man and Face Off. Quoting his daughter, I believe, he said “Family gets meaner and strangers get nicer.” Thank you for your southern hospitality, but the pleasure was all these strangers’, Good Sir.

So, like Christmas décor or Hallowe’en costumes, WonderCon Anaheim 2013 is wrapped up nicely and packed away gingerly in the rafters. What’s next for this geek girl? Coverage of the upcoming X-Files Season 10 “premiere”, in comic book form that is: Season 10 in comic book form, not my coverage. Meeting the IDW publishing team at WonderCon, those creating and distributing the new comics, makes interviews for this June post easy-peasy. Then, comes July … San Diego Comic-Con!

I’ve submitted yet another article for consideration in the annual Souvenir Book. History says I should make it in; after all, the last two (Peanuts and Tarzan) made it and one of those was even cited by TIME magazine. (Hey, look at me! I’m a Peanuts expert!) Still, my goal this year is to garner the lead article for the “20th Anniversary of Bongo Comics” theme … that’s The Simpsons to the uninitiated.

So, look to me as your unofficial Bongo historian and for X-Files revival coverage and your insider to San Diego’s summer antidote to the cool kids on the beach. Also look to our Dr. Lucy and her amazing Twisted Pair Photography. See you in the Sunday funnies, kids!

BTW, I ordered the chopped salad, sans the bacon and red onions, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive martini. Cheers!

All slideshow photography by Twisted Pair Photography … loads more here at their Flickr page!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt on-line? Jennypop.net  @JennyPopNet & Jennifer Devore’s Amazon Author Page

WonderCon 2013: Dr. Batman, Monster Man, Fierce Women and Missing Seth Green, Again

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Travel, WonderCon

Steampunk Lucy & Abby Sciuto Photo: JSDevore

WonderCon Anaheim is a fait accompli. These California comic book conventions are like a Tequila Sunrise: equal parts fun, tequila, sunshine and just the right amount of tart. The bar in the Anaheim Hilton, Mix Lounge, was a bit too much fun. Of course, like any trade show or con, those après-show mixers also serve as yummy networking juice. Having an affable, excitable, confident pirate in your corner also helps the networking process.

This con was chock full of crucial contacts, old friends, new Geek Meets and enough pop culture goodness to make the wait for summer’s San Diego Comic-Con nearly unbearable. I met a Batman Ph.D., dined with a Monster Man, met a smarmy yet kindly fellow from Bongo Comics and missed meeting Seth Green, again, by thiiiiiis much. As I covered the event for GoodToBeAGeek, there shall be a full wrap-up and slideshow coming soon. There shall also be interviews. Whilst there, I attended a few panels, including All Shapes and Sizes Welcome and Geeks Get Published – and Paid!.

 All Shapes and Sizes Welcome, moderated by power chica Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) featured Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse), Adrianne Curry (Adrianne Curry’s SuperFans), Helenna Santos Levy (founder, MsInTheBiz.com), Amber Krzys (founder, BodyHeart.com) and Lynn Chen (founder, www.theActorsDiet.com). Without giving up too much booty here, the panel was an intimate, inspiring and touching look at the effects of body culture on women in Hollywood and media. Moreover, these strong femmes shared their histories and personal tales of how they came to be the ladies they are and what pivotal, Aha! moments got them there.

L to R: Adrianne Curry, Lynn Chen, Helena Santos Levy, Amber Krzys, Miracle Laurie and Leah Cevoli Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Geeks Get Published – and Paid! was moderated by the sparkling Jenna Busch (Cocktails with Stan), with whom I shared a lovely chat on our mutual fondness for James Michener over Stella Artois and gin martinis at Mix Lounge. Jenna’s panel featured S. G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament), Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History), Alex Langley (The Geek Handbook), and Dr. Travis Langley(Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). This panel was partially selfish on my part. Learning how to grow cabbage out of words? Yes, please! Perchance next year, or even at SDCC, she might like this published geek to sit on her panel.

This particular panel was also a lovely chance to meet the quietly sweet Katrina Hill (her kind demeanor being totally anathema to her Action Flick Chick persona),the boyish Alex Langley (His love of Calvin and Hobbes and, I’d bet, Dennis the Menace happily shines through.) and his brother Dr. Travis Langley. Having gifted the good doctor’s Batman and Psychology to my own psychologist-father, it was my pleasure to meet Dr. Langley, discuss secure attachment theory with him and have said-book signed for Dear Old Dad. To boot, Katrina and the brothers Langley are affiliate-partners with GoodToBeAGeek and its editor, Jessa Phillips. My articles there are syndicated via RocketLlama and soon Nerdspan. It was very nice to finally shake their hands.

I also took part in one of the oddest, strangest, most memorable fine dining experiences of my life. Suffice it here to state merely the following: Morton’s Steakhouse, Monster Man Cleve Hall, homemade rum, an à la carte-meat travesty, a renegade pirate and Night of the Evil Dead Corset that nearly killed Lucy.

After I my Con Haze lifts, I shall regale you with full coverage of WonderCon 2013, Morton’s Horrorhouse and my interviews with Katrina Hill, Leah Cevoli, Amber Krzys and Helena Santos Levy. In addition, there will be a powerhouse slideshow by our very own Eslilay Evoreday of Twisted Pair Photography, a slideshow of such proportions that it will take longer to import and load these snaps than it will to write up all the articles. You’re welcome.

Lucy, Hannah and the trademark pineapple martini at Roy's Hawaiian Photo: JSDevore

Abyssinia, cats!

@JennyPopNet

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? jennypop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

 

R2D2, Slave Leias and WonderCon: Happy Valentines Day!

Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Travel

Cheers, kittens! I imagine scads of you are reading on your devices whilst trapped amongst the winter remnants of Nor’easter Nemo. Ergo, I shall spare you the complaints of how chilly it is here in San Diego, in February: 56 with a low of 43! Of course, being a ghost, I’m always cold: sunny beach weather or no. (New to this ghostdame concept? My bio will get you up to speed.)

Well, if you’re a geek in love and whether snowbound in Beantown or surfside in Solana Beach, chances are kippy you’re focused on one of two things right now: Valentines Day and/or WonderCon. Should you be fortunate enough to live in Southern California, my Hotel Del, in this year of their 125th anniversary, is hosting the Sweetheart Ball for a mere $125.00/person for dance floor-flanked dining: $100.00/person for the rest of the Crown Room. Get out the red lipstick, your swishiest beaded skirt and those dancing heels, all you hot tomatoes! The Fox Trot is where it’s at this year!

As for WonderCon (Anaheim Convention Center, March 29-31, 2013), if you’re uninitiated, it’s a comic book and pop culture convention similar to Comic-Con International, but smaller, earlier and sans the Gigantor schwag bags. Numbers? According to Publisher’s Weekly, approximately 40K 2012 WonderCon attendees vs. some 130K for SDCC. Historically a San Francisco-based event that prides itself on being more musty comic books than shiny vinyl girls, it has been moved down to Anaheim  for a couple of years to wait out refurbishing of it’s true home, Moscone Center. Planning to head NorCal way once again for 2014, we SoCal geeks are lucky enough to get it one more time this year! It’s a gentle, warming ease into our wackadoo SDCC, like walking gingerly into a mellow surf, as opposed to trouncing into a rough shore break and getting splashed right in your bits and pieces in one go. To boot, it’s walking-distance to Disneyland!

The R2D2 Builders Club at WonderCon Photo: InSapphoWeTrust/flickr

Are you a Northerner missing your WonderCon? Been dying to go, but never get around to it? Curious about why anybody would want to go? No worries, cats! Our very own Dr. Lucy and I will be onsite and covering it covering it for GoodToBeAGeek.com, live from the floor, just for you: Tweets, snaps, gossip and bonkers costumes, all for your enjoyment! If you wonder how well two Cali ghost girls can narrate just such an event, have a peek at our recounting of 2012 San Diego Comic-Con.

Should you kids have anything or anyone specific you’d love us to seek an’ snap, query, interview or just plain stalk at Wondercon, let us know! Tweet us @GoodToBeAGeek, @JennyPopNet or @Eslilay. Lucy shall be at the ready with her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT and I with my trusty Waterman, analog journal and Android devices. Whilst the guest list isn’t quite as lengthy as SDCC, there is quality in this condensed version: Jane Espenson (Firefly, Buffy, Once Upon a Time), Dean Koontz (legendary horror novelist) Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell (fantasy artist team extraordinaire) just to name a few. In addition, if you’re whacky for Superman, WonderCon is proud to announce the exclusive, world-premiere of DC Universe’s animated flick, Superman: Unbound!

Though it may be on a smaller scale than SDCC, it seems costuming and cosplay are as necessary as ever at WonderCon and Lucy and I shall be joining in the fun. Lucy’s going steampunk again, this time with a wild and cheeky rum-powered top hat. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Moi? No clue, kittens. Check back in March. Hot pink bunny ears might be playing a role, though. Slave Leia is always an option; yet, that might be better suited for the warmer and sunnier climes of Comic-Con in July. Of course, for all you brassy broads with gorgeous getaway sticks, Leia in chains can go a long way in taking the traditional ennui out of St. Valentine’s Day. Zowie!

My Valentines gift to keep you warm, Fair Reader! Photo: Digital_Rampage

Right-o, off to brainstorm some Valentine haunts with Lucy. Nothing’s more romantic than some friendly, midnight, ghostly frights for the guests amidst the hallowed hotel halls of my historic Hotel del Coronado!

Abyssinia, kids!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet

Freedom IS Free! Happy Birthday, Mr. Franklin!

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Category : E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Literature, Travel

The authoress confers w/Mr. Franklin in Boston. Photo: JSDevore

Update: Apparently, Savannah of Williamsburg: Ben Franklin, Freedom & Freedom of the Press, Amazon/Kindle ranking is #1 in Non-Fiction (although it is historical-fiction) and Perspectives on Law/Legal History!! Yea, Miss Savannah Squirrel!!

 

Calling all history geeks! It’s Ben Franklin’s birthday and my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore is giving you a little freedom, for free! Savannah of Williamsburg: BenFranklin, Freedom & Freedom of the Press is free for Kindle, today only: Thursday, January 17th!

Kittens, that Benjamin Franklin was one prolific cat! Inventor, printer, entrepreneur, politician, writer, community leader, social organizer, coffee lover, lady lover, possible-privateer, all-around Good Time Charlie and … maybe even a secret element behind the Freedom of the Press we so take for granted? Maybe so!

For all you history geeks, Miss Jenny is giving you the tale for free: Savannah of Williamsburg: Ben Franklin, Freedom & Freedom of the Press is Book III in her Savannah of Williamsburg Series. (Read the original, official, Colonial Williamsburg press release here.)

Set in Philadelphia, New York and Colonial Williamsburg, the third in the series of historical-fiction finds a young, Swedish printer’s apprentice named Linus amidst one of the greatest trials in human history: the John Peter Zenger Trial. Add one great Scot of an attorney, Andrew Hamilton, the nasty and arrogant New York & New Jersey Royal Governor William Cosby, a secret weapon, a new twist on onus probandi and one stunning, shocking verdict of “Not Guilty” and you’ve got the trial that changed the course of American journalism and conferred upon us the all too important Freedom of the Press.

Don’t let the poncy squirrel in a frock scare you, nor the tavern cat, French court Pom or Venetian fox-turned-thespian. The thousands of readers and scholars who have made Savannah of Williamsburg: Ben Franklin, Freedom & Freedom of the Press #88 in Amazon’s Law Fiction/Legal Perspectives genre can’t be wrong. Let Jenny’s Squirrel Girl and John Peter Zenger share with you one of the cornerstones of our great democracy.

Read on, keep up, write oft and speak out, people!

"Savannah of Williamsburg: Ben Franklin, Freedom & Freedom of the Press" by Jennifer Susannah Devore

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet

 

 

Fluff Up Your Vagina Pillows: Portlandia S3 is Here!

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Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Reviews, Television, Travel, Watching the Web

The Holidays have come and gone, my pretties. The gift cards have been defrayed with frightening speed and, for some of us, like Dr. Lucy and myself, Comic-Con is still a staggering seven months away. What’s a creative spirit to do in the grey bane of post-gifting, post-cocktail Winter? Prepare for Season 3 of Portlandia on IFC, of course. Get ready to get your Pacific Northwest-weird on, America!

 

 

From weird to Wired frames-of-reference, Primetime Emmy Awards-nominated and Gracie Allen Awards-winning Portlandia proffers an Übermodern vaudeville steeped in a homey and comforting grey and rainy respite of Northwestern coffee culture and smells just slightly of a musty vintage shop. Amidst a television culture of all-too-shiny, all-too-sparkly drama and desperate, hacky, wannabe comedy usually set in New York or L.A., Portlandia scratches an itch that one can only get from wearing the same rarely-cleaned, wool, REI sweater too many days in a row. (Apropos to NYC/LA: Producers, enough with where you live. We love landing at LAX and JFK, too; but there are other population centers across this vast country. Get out once in a while. Try San Diego, in fact. My Hotel del Coronado would make a sparkling backdrop for some such nonesuch.)

Depending on your sphere of comedy, Portlandia will range from side-splitting cackles to bemused snorts. Like an Anne Rice novel, a bottle of red or seasons 1-6 of Family Guy, even the worst of the bunch is still better than just about anything else in your purview. A hybrid of American and Canadian sketch comedy pacing, British story and character oddity, plus off-the-beaten-path travelogues, Portlandia serves up a grande porcelain cup of soy-frothed satire and schtick. Everything, from vegetarian dumpster dining, to hipper-than-thou thrift store clerks, to dog park etiquette, to gender-neutral booksellers, to Supa kawaii -Japan’s obsession with the super cute/super tiny- gets the snarky treatment. It’s a beautiful thing. Be ye a Renaissance Faire geek, a SciFi freak, a hippie poetess, a steampunk tinkerer (~ahem~ Dr. Lucy?), a vintage glam girl (Who, Moi?), a psychobilly crooner, a Jack White stalker or a power-lib Ivy Leaguer, Portlandia will tickle something on you, somewhere.

Special treats include the occasional, surprise guest star, including Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan, Jack McBrayer, Penny Marshall and Jeff Goldblum.

Already a fan? All apologies for preaching to the non-denominational choir. If not? Acquaint yourself pronto with the locally-sourced, fair trade, dye-free, organic, vegan stylings of Arminsen & Brownstein, co-creators and -stars. Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Netflix Instant. You could also take a wee break from your pre-recycling activities of chipping the dried cheese off your pizza box and rinsing your Parmalat milk box and sample some tapas-sized clips of Portlandia here, courtesy of IFC. Have even more time because you quit your job and you’re makin’ jewelry now? Play at the whole site for a while and even take a tour of Portland with Kumail Nanjiani (frequent guest star) to find IRL inspirations for some of the show’s sketches … including America’s only all-vegan strip club! Colour me there!

So, get your Battlestar Galactica marathons out of the way, brew some Fair Trade Kopi Luwak Indonesian cat coffee and fluff up your vagina pillows … it’s time for Portlandia, Season 3!

“The modern world’s gone all off track, but you can escape it all in Portland. It’s the dream of the 1890s in Portland.”
-Portlandia, S2E5

S3 Premiere on IFC Friday, January 4 @ 10/9C

Starring: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein

Executive Producer: Lorne Michaels

Director: Jonathan Krisel

Production company: Broadway Video Entertainment

Distribution: IFC, Netflix and Umbrella Entertainment

Writers: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel, Karey Dornetto, Allison Silverman, Bill Oakley

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

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The Great Space Coaster and The Beauty of Absolute Zero: Hannah’s Halloween Heyday

1

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Holiday, Travel

Holy macaroni, cats! If I came out of this year’s Hallowe’en with only one recollection, it was becoming privy to the last invention mankind will ever need: a roller coaster that can create everything, always. Quod the quod?!, you cry. Trust me, I held that same wonderment all night long.

Dr. Devorkian, we've got new vic ... I mean, guests! Photo: J.S. Devore

Naturally, Lucy and I can have fun just about anywhere. After all, we’re ghostie girls trapped in our luxurious Hotel del Coronado who have happily made G&Ts out of lemons and amuse ourselves haunting this grand, Victorian dame of seaside resorts. So, what makes a night even more fun for us? Dress us up like Abby Sciuto and her beauteous broken doll, add Dr. Devorkian, Ozzy Osbourne and a baker’s dozen of complete nutjobs to a Northern California Halloween gathering and you’ve got yourself that which comes before Part B. Part A, of course!

As it was a wine country bash, the wine did flow: Bogle, Apothic Red, Cavi, Coppola and, natch, a case of Two Buck Chuck (that’s Three Buck Chuck to you East Coasters). To boot, Dr. Lucy’s Victorian love, Dr. Devorkian, set about tinkering in his rum lab and proffered victims, I mean guests, selections of lemon, cherry, mango, pineapple and plum eau de vie.  Dangerously, there was a special bowl of soused cherries. Zow-ie! Ghosts can’t get drunk, but I steered clear nonetheless. Yet, if the 200-proof cherries packed a wallop for mere mortals, they were nothing compared to the dizzying effects of the mortals themselves.

Abby + Ozzy = True Love 4 Ever Photo: J.S. Devore

To keep it simple, I shall note the three most memorable:

1) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/Republican Redneck: This fellow arrived revving his chainsaw and, after a few annoying minutes of this, stashed it in a shed and just called himself a Republican redneck the rest of the night. When not playing a hillbilly, he prides himself in living “off the grid” and building his own nation up in the mountains: a NorCal Petoria, if you will. He sustains himself, somewhat, growing medicinal weed and, natch, utilizing the electric company’s low-income assistance rates. (Do you have any idea how high his electric bills would be otherwise? Bonkers!) Still, even living this “Little Growhouse on the Prairie” existence, he’s not nearly as serene and peaceful as one might think. He’s riled up and irritated because “it sucks more people won’t take weed in barter. They still want money.”

2) The 2016 Presidential Candidate: Politics are never a good idea for party chit chat. Of course, once someone decides to hold court, one has to listen; it’s not that big of a house. The Big Bad Wolf, as was his character this night, declared his candidacy for 2016 in our presence. When questioned about his platforms, he stated the following: 1) Flat tax (fair enough); 2) Legalize weed (Why not?); 3) Mandatory military service for everyone (Exsqueeze me?); 4) “Dump Israel” -his words, not mine- (deplorable). Put your wolf mask back on, son, and get back to the woods.

3) Chief Wackadoo: This chick wins, hands-down for kookiness. Dressed as a tiger, sort of, she prowled the night querying and quizzing other guests, offering up opinions, ideas and criticisms and hitting on our painfully polite Abby. The most memorable conversation of the night goes to the Chief: her description of a recent invention of hers. Always a curious sort, our Ozzy wanted to know more and, rather than describe the exchange, I shall transcribe the discussion as I heard it, watching in wonderment as I sipped on a velvety glass of Apothic Red. Keep in mind, our Ozzy Osbourne is in full character.

 

Chief Wackadoo: It’s my own invention. I created it in my head. It’s a roller coaster that creates everything, always, all the time.

Ozzy: No kidding? Everything, all the time?

Chief Wackadoo: Everything, always. Doesn’t matter what you need. An arm, a computer, a car. Everything. It’s perfect because if a part breaks, it just makes a new one.

Ozzy: Wow. That’s amazing. How big does this thing need to be?

Chief Wackadoo: Twenty miles long.

Ozzy: That’s going to be difficult to find, a straight stretch of that much land, especially in California.

Chief Wackadoo: It’s not a problem because it’s going to be built in space. It’s all going to happen inside a planet.

Ozzy: Really? So after it builds everything, always, how do we get all those things back down to Earth?

Chief Wackadoo: That’s the beauty of absolute zero.

 

As Dr. Lucy would say, “You can’t make this s*%@ up.”

Dr. Lucy: our broken doll. Photo" J.S. Devore

Want more snaps of the night? Enjoy a slideshow at JennyPop.net!


Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet

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