Velma Dinkley: Scooby-Doo’s Original Geek Girl Goes High-Tech Ghosting

1

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Television

Freddy Jones: With these cameras set up around the house, we’ll be able to watch and record anything that comes after my dad. There’s only one problem; I’m a trap guy. I have absolutely no idea how this stuff works.

Velma Dinkley: Don’t worry. I’ve been stripping dielectric insulation off my coax since before I could walk. Get ready to worship The Velma!

Velma takes one for the team at DragonCon. Photo: Rob Speed

Velma takes one for the gang at DragonCon. Photo: Rob Speed

Just as 21st C. CGI and fantasy SFX finally caught up with Tim Burton’s imagination, 21st C. ghost-hunting gizmos and paranormal paraphernalia finally caught up with the original Geek Girl, Velma Dinkley and her tech needs. Allow Moi, your own Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado to elucidate.

The Mystery Machine keeps on truckin'.

The Mystery Machine keeps on truckin’.

See, kids, before there were tacky, black ops wannabe, caravans of windowless, black Suburbans cruising the countryside at night, there was the Mystery Machine: the epitome of groovy, a rockin’, hippie, aqua-and-orange surfer van carrying four hip, sleuthing friends and their ever-hungry, always scaredy-cat, Great Dane named Scooby-Doo.

Scooby, Shaggy, Freddy, Daphne and Velma have been hitting the road in style, in the Mystery Machine for nearly thirty-five years, meddling in the nefarious affairs of grouchy, greedy locals: these wayward townfolk oft disguised as the supernatural in a variety of form and function. Although Velma Dinkley, short, curvy,  turtlenecked, know-it-all, bobbed-brunette, appears the wallflower of the gang, she is the bespectacled brains behind this adventure crew, forever playing second fiddle to the beauteous ginger, Daphne Blake. To boot, like any geek girl in love from afar, her passion for Shaggy goes mostly unrequited, sitting backseat to the shared loves between a boy and his dog: mad sandwich skillz and Vincent van Ghoul flicks.

Interpersonal issues aside, the Hanna-Barbera creation (1969) of Joe Ruby and Ken Spears just finished its eleventh iteration of the family-friendly, spooky, sleuthing series: Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated (2010-2013). The first incarnation not run first as a Saturday morning kids’ show, this latest series contains a running, arcing mystery involving an antique locket and a Tod Browningesque parrot named Mr. E. The overarching tale knits in and out of fifty-two episodes which originally aired on Cartoon Network in a 2:00p.m., afterschool time slot, over a spotty three-year period. If you missed its original run, S1 is now available via Netflix.

A Warner Bros. Animation, Mystery Inc., shares the same quality as many another WBA production: Pinky & The Brain, Animaniacs and just about any Looney Tunes short. The writers understand adults are watching, too. The genius and longevity of such entities as The Muppets, Disney and Warner Bros. comprehend that vital, full-spectrum hook.

“Grab this! It’s a fairway wood, it’s safe!” Freddy Jones puns as he extends a golf club toward the ceiling to save his dad, Mayor of Crystal Cove, who’s being tossed around the room by a violent poltergeist. A fine example of WBA humour, indeed.

Now, some three decades of understated humour and Witching Hour investigations later, Velma Dinkley has access to an arsenal of high-tech ghost-hunting tools she’s been waiting for and, paired with Freddy’s Traps Illustrated obsession, mystery solving in 2013 could not be easier. An excellent example of this? Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated, “A Haunting in Crystal Cove” (S1e23).

Although the supernatural inevitably end up just being rubber-masked, servo-driven, CGI-enhanced townfolk, the front-end of any Scooby-Doo endeavor has the best of spirit-hunting intentions, entrenched in the hunt for the unexplained. Whilst Daphne’s smokin’ hot-pink getaway sticks get more screen time than Velma’s digital, detecting devices, you know she has them stashed somewhere and puts them through more tests and trials than a Wired product reviewer.

  • Full-spectrum cameras: Velma’s got the hammer-and-nails of any pro ghost-hunting outfit. No consumer-grade for this kitten; she’s gone pro-grade with a modified 16GB card-compatible, 18x zoom, 12.2 MP resolution, dual image stabilization Fuji PRO series. (I think our Dr. Lucy might be jealous and/or nervous. Time for a new camera and/or better hiding places, Lucia!) Set up a string of these babies in any room and along any stairwell, hallway or doorway and they’ll catch the invisible light waves, and the clandestine action therein, at either end of the light spectrum, a.k.a. infrared and UV, where we spookies reside.
  • EVP monitor: Similar to a baby monitor, it picks up cooing and gurgling throughout the netherworld via telepathic electromagnetic impulses, all while weeding out external, earthly noises. Babies, too, I guess.
  • EMF detector: With Southron gatorpeople and evil, Renaissance Faire gnomes lurking about the night, Velma will need a gauge identifying varying electromagnetic fields. It seems high EMF readings could not only signify a cluster of electrical wires bundled in attic walls and giving you monster headaches and hallucinations, but it could also signify the very real energy of Demon Frightnight. It would be good to know with which one you’re dealing. Trust me.
  • After the biscuits, come the gravy: tricolor flashlights (full colour spectrum for night vision and clarity), laser grids (for detecting disembodied movement), thermal imaging cams, temperature change sensors, wireless phone pods and headphones (for on-the-go listening to iPods, mp3s and EVPs), FM frequency sweep radios and shadow detection devices (for, well, detecting shadows).
  • Best of all is the creepiest of all: the Rag Doll K-II, sold by TheGhostHunterStore.com. An EMF detector hidden within Dolly’s dress, it’s meant to be a kinder, gentler object for child-spirits to approach than boring old, shiny, sharp, tech gear. If Spookedy Ann’s face or hands light up … you might have a ghost child. ~shiver~ Run, kittens, run!

Clearly, Velma doesn’t schlep all this gear to each and every mystery. We rarely see more than a Smartphone and Coke-bottle glasses on her person. If she did, the Mystery Machine would be packed to the gills, with cables, power sources and monitors alone, rather than housing just Shaggy, Scooby and their various to-go feasts in the back. Still, the instruments and implements appear when necessary. Maybe Velma stores them at the back of her mom’s coffeehouse/bookstore/town museum.

Long before the stars of reality TV’s paranormal invasion were just filthy thoughts in their fathers’ eyes, Scooby-Doo and his groovy gang were criss-crossing the Southern swamps, abandoned theaters, run-down plantation homes, dilapidated boardwalks and rusted-out amusement parks across our great, haunted country. Long before nice guys Grant & Jason of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters, before those thug half-portions Nik, Aaron & Zak of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and before the moody Ryan and Eilfie of A&E’s Paranormal State, there was the affable, hip, fashionable, cheerful Scooby-Doo and the Gang. You won’t find Freddy schlubbing around in jeans and a black t-shirt to meet the Lord of the Manor. (Okay, Shaggy is, well, a bit shaggy; but at least he sports corduroys and is almost always flashing a smile.)

Get ready to worship The Velma! Photo: Rob Speed

Get ready to worship The Velma! DragonCon Photo: Rob Speed

Even before we were blessed with The X-Files‘ Scully and Mulder, our grunge-era, supernatural sleuths extraordinaire, there was another skeptical but open-minded, saucy, brainy, bespectacled, over-achieving, single, geek girl with a short do and sensible shoes who was so fierce, so confident and so rockin’ she needed only one name: Velma. Rock on, Velma. (BTW, kids, if you see any new episodes with the Mystery Machine crossing the bridge onto Coronado, give me a heads-up! Lucy and I might need to hit the road!)

Abyssinia, kids!

 

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

Follow @JennyPopNet #scoobydoo #velma #ghosthunting #geekgirls

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

You’re Having Fun Wrong: A Pale, SoCal Geek’s Summer Alternatives

1

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

Some are born Geek, some achieve Geekness and others have Geekness thrust upon them. For those of us whom are verily Geek-at-Heart, we shall not be shedding the title as quickly as a West Hollywood hipster sheds his iPad the moment Apple bids him so. Whilst many will claim the title of Geek, as to be Nerd/Dork/Geek/Wonk is très chic, it is a bonkers-dangerous, double-edged sword, kittens. We may live blissfully in our own little, dorky biospheres; yet we are easy targets, like a wounded dolphin, or the only wheat dressed up like a pilgrim the Wednesday before school lets out for Thanksgiving Weekend.

We are Geek. Photo: San Diego Air and Space Museum archives

From sea to nerdy Cameron-submersible sea, forest to dorky Bigfoot forest, Skywalker Ranch and beyond the solar flares, this proudly pale populace has some serious ideas about what is fun and what is not. Summer can be a tough time for us, what with the sun, the outdoors and the prospect of a proper, dress-up holiday still months away. Never mind all that; we know what makes for real summer fun and with all due respect to the rest of you, to quote The Big Bang Theory‘s Dr. Sheldon Cooper, “You’re having fun wrong.”

Summer can be a bit of a free-radical situation for us: left to fend for ourselves amidst the plains and savannas of a deconstructed season, fighting against the harsh summer sun and the expected, traditional, normal, outdoor activities of the average, summer reveler. In adult-life, as in school, just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean the wedgies cease. In such situations, it is only natural to seek the like-minded. When the broad landscape is dotted with the frequently unavoidable herds of roaming, aggressive, beefy, sunny, beachy, geek-squashers it is often necessary for the more fragile, the proverbial 98-pound weaklings, to gather and move in clusters. The sand-kickers can’t get us all if we move as one.

If it is entirely plausible that you could spend a joyful afternoon at Peet’s Coffee having a serious debate about whether Han or Greedo shot first, you just might find the following summer alternatives to beach volleyball, backyard BBQs and 5K mud runs great fun indeed. I cannot advise on alternatives in your backyard, but as a Cali Girl, I will gladly walk you through some of my Golden State’s finest, oft air-conditioned, cerebral, summer dork attractions.

Xyon Koreen knows. Han DID shoot first. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography, SDCC 2K12

  • San Diego Comic-Con: Certainly a toss-up, as to whether this should take the number one or two spot. In the end, it had to be crowned as supreme. Comic-Con is Mecca for con geeks the world over, even the new breed of geek: the poseur. C-C has become the new Studio 54. Few at the 1970s, iconic, NYC discotheque probably actually loved disco. Today, it’s questionable how many Comic-Con attendees even read comic books, let alone have a passion for the medium. Still, decades after Richard Alf et al gifted the Geek World with Comic-Con and after all the poseurs have moved on, when The Big Bang Theory runs its course, the real fans will still faithfully flood the San Diego Convention Center each July, giving the San Diego Fire Marshal four sleepless nights every summer.
  • Disneyland: Like Salieri to Mozart or Sean Penn’s Emmet Ray to Django Reinhardt, were there no Comic-Con, Disney would clearly reign on this list. If you’re fortunate enough to have an annual passport, chances are good you can’t get enough of Star Tours and its fifty-some possible scenarios, The Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, a Johnny Depp-frosted Pirates of the Caribbean and browsing ad nauseam the Capodimonte-laden glass shelves of Main Street’s Disneyana. We Disney devotees do enjoy the occasional, audible snort of derision at new attractions and additions and love to regale newbies and family first-timers with behind-the-scenes Park trivia (especially those of us whom worked there). Overall, it is our church of sorts and if you don’t like Goths, stay away mid-September through January, for The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay at The Haunted Mansion is really, honestly, to die for, kids.
  • Renaissance Pleasure Faire: This one’s the original, yon friends. It’s usually over before summer solstice hits, but you’ll find plenty of other faires up and down the state. Yet, prithee, this is the Hamlet of Renaissance festivals. Oft simply called “Southern” or “Ren Faire”, it’s been around since what feels like Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh were playing footsies behind hogsheads and if you’re well-acquainted with Faire, then you know the tacit rules of conduct: no polyester, no real names, no Victorian Gary Oldmans from Dracula, keep your tongue in character and do not ask us if our costumes are hot. It’s almost always 100 degrees and, with the exception of our cleavages, we’re swathed head-to-toe in leather, velvet, suede and fur. What thinkst thou? Faire is no place for steampunk and there’s also an internal, heated and on-going debate about Captain Jack Sparrow, because he’s a “made-up pirate”. Of course, most of the pirate guilds are themselves comprised of made-up pirates. I give you geek.

Are you Faire enough? Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

  • Conan: Deserving of a Larry King suspenders & glasses/Arnold sausage snap combo-pantomime, this day trip can’t be beat, even by the Masturbating Bear. Whether you’re a lucky local of beautiful downtown Burbank or saving up your game tokens for a Golden State sojourn, a Conan taping is probably the second best taping you can attend in The Valley. Tickets are free, but the online lottery is hit ‘n miss. Still, if you can nail a date and don’t mind being in Burbank on a weekday, you’ll be better than just about everybody back home on the farm.
  • Huntington Library & Gardens: Word nerds, book geeks and art history-snarks, this is your perfect afternoon, except Tuesdays and only from 10:30-4:00 in the summer, 12-4 otherwise. Of course, if you want to miss traffic getting out of the Pasadena-area, you’d best try to be out of the parking lot by 2:30, 3:00 tops. Home to a Gutenberg Bible, an Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales, scores of early-Shakespearean papers, Audubon folios and a selection of 18thC. French and English decorative arts that would make Sofia Coppola swoon, the quiet and hidden treasure of L.A. museums is clandestinely tucked away in upscale, residential San Marino, an old money suburb of Pasadena. If you’re drawn to English incunabula, powdered wigs, French Lace roses and think Joshua Reynold’s Sarah Siddons as Tragic Muse is just downright hot, then you’d better get going. Traffic will be a total nightmare in about forty minutes.

Clearly, because we are Geek, I rest assured many of you will disagree with my list, if only to dispute its hierarchy. Moreover, I expect others will rant and rail over omissions and inclusions. Please, do share. Like learning my Hotel Del ghostie cohort, Dr. Lucy is as bonkers for Carl Barks comic books as I am, it’s always a thrill to learn where more of my own kind, ghosts or non, roam at will, without threat or fear of a good swirly.

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? jennypop.net @JennyPopNet

San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Tarzan, Peanuts and Cocktails with Boba and Darth

3

Category : Comics, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Cheers, babies! It’s me, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado and it’s June! You know what that means? Summer is mere days away and San Diego Comic-Con is a mere month away!

If you think comic dorks can't party, you'd be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

If you think comic dorks can’t party, you’d be wrong. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

No one is more excited than yours truly … well, okay. I imagine there are some nibbling their fingernails a tad more than I. After all, part of the appeal of our Comic-Con is that it’s in glorious San Diego. I get to live here year round, kids, haunting my dilly of a Hotel Del. If you’re zinging your way here for the Con and it’s your first time in San Diego, we welcome you, one and all! Need some priceless, insider tips on all the SDCC how-tos? Check the SDCC Expert for Baby’s First Comic-Con.

Yep, ’tis no place in Cali quite like San Diego. Even the dearly departed Godfather of Comic Books, Richard Alf, knew that! Sunnier than San Francisco, cheaper than Santa Barbara, friendlier than L.A. and cleaner than Anaheim, why wouldn’t we welcome the world? Whilst you’re in town, may I heartily suggest Nerdcore Night at famed The Ruby Room in Hillcrest?

If you’re still looking for a hotel, I feel true pity, ya mooks. Whilst an average $560.00-$730.00/night seems lofty at my Hotel del Coronado, it’s a regal steal compared to some of the fleabag dumps near the airport: real slimy, 1-star m-m-m-motels charging upwards of $569.00/night during the week of SDCC!!! That should be criminal. It’s easily extortion and trust me, I lived in Beantown during Prohibition. I know all about mob behavior. If you have a room at all, huzzah for you!

Costume update, by the by: Dr. Lucy and I are pretty much all set. We’ve decided on a steampunk theme; she twisted my fragile ghost arms. She shall be the lovely and vivacious Lucy Westenra of Coppola’s Dracula. Moi? Lady Euphemia Greystoke of Stonington: traveller and archaeologist extraordinaire. I’ve found my 1920s, Cleopatra, chainmail headpiece and Lucy has been mending and modernizing some of her fine Victorian skirts. We are both in grave need of goggles, though. A very serious issue.

In celebration of the upcoming convention, I thought it would be fun to share an article from the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book. Written by my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, it’s a contemplative and philosophical look at Charles Schulz and the then-60th anniversary of Peanuts. (As a side note, Jenny’s just learned she’s being published once again in this year’s 2012 Souvenir Book with an retrospective of 100 years of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs and a nod to Dr. Jane Goodall … zowie, does that gorilla girl hold a grudge!

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

SDCC Souvenir Book, 2010

The First Beagle on the Moon

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

(Reprinted from the 2010 official Comic-Con Souvenir Book)

 

I think I could learn to love you, Judy, if your batting average was a little higher.

-”Just Keep Laughing”, pre-Peanuts Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz did not create a mere comic strip, a cast of characters to be listed on high school drama department playbills for eons to come; like all sustainable strips, the Writer-Artist-Creator gave us a neighborhood: a safe place where loyalty, security, friendship and a comfortable sense of continuity and familiarity are still unfailingly there for us. The Peanuts gang has been that other group of our friends, always ready to hang with us at a moment’s notice and at regularly scheduled mornings, especially Sundays. Similar to Shakespearean figures, the Peanuts gang has also been, as any psychologist with an ounce of humor and levity will tell you, a microcosm of humanity. A bevy of neuroses, borderline personalities, leaders and followers, Schulz, like the good Bard, nailed it all straight on the round-headed noggin. The psychology of Peanuts, not to drain the comic pool only to replace it with academia, pervades each and every “illustrated laughing square”.

No doubt, the young Schulz did not set out to create a controlled study of freckled subjects and lab beagles with sunglasses and tennis rackets; nevertheless, he did and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Psych 101 textbook without some reference to Charlie Brown’s martyrdom syndrome or Lucy’s narcissism. Blah, blah, blah, the kind reader may mock, but it is real humanity that is inherent in these characters. It is the nucleus of its success. The psychological endgame matters because in the beginning, and eventually that end, all creators start from the premises of what is known and, more importantly, what is felt.

If writer-artists give us some clue as to their failings, fears and fantasies within their oeuvres, then sports (baseball in particular) girls (darned, elusive redheads), loyalty and honor (Snoopy always comes through despite his egotism) were clearly on Sparky’s short-list. Charlie Brown’s undying dedication to his ball team, his tenacity and faith amidst rained-out games, Lucy’s “The sun was in my eyes”-excuses and dozing beagles-at-bat is a fortitude so many desire, yet oft do not posses.

The stomach-churning inner diatribes and teeth-grinding insecurity is thankfully, cathartically played out on-stage, as it were, in Charlie Brown’s (and Charlie Schulz’) quest for the affection of a little red-haired girl, even going so far as addressing the very adult, very 3-D distrust and heartache of jealousy, that love has been taken by a best friend: Linus, to wit, in It’s Valentine’s Day, Charlie Brown. Charles Schulz’ real-life and nonreciprocal marriage proposal marks the launching pad of Charlie Brown’s everlasting expedition of unrequited and, despondently, un-returned love.

The fear of not being accepted, of not belonging is universally shared, regardless of what the aesthetics and sartorial effects may try to loudly declare. Searching the mailbox for that proverbial Halloween party invitation, learning it was a mistake, then going anyway is a Trick-or-Treat bag fraught with snakes and evil clowns: What if I’m not on The List? What if I am on The List? Who will talk to me? What if I’m left all alone? What if they make fun of my costume?

The fear of not receiving a single Valentine in class, and in front of everybody no less, the dread of an empty mailbox and heart at Christmastime, the cold, autumnal loneliness of being the only one whom truly believes in the Great Pumpkin; these comic worries are so real that the chest-pounding is audible, the butterflies are so visceral we can only cringe and endure, waiting nervously for the certain, happy ending. Sadly, it is not always so certain, though. The ending of Snoopy, Come Home is so gut-wrenchingly awful that it is suffered through only because of our own, Charlie Browniest belief that everything will be okay. It is not, in the case of said film. There is no good outcome, there cannot be; everybody loses, big time. To that end, everybody has heart and soul that trudges forth no matter what. This is why we continue to love, adore and cherish our Peanuts gang.

Be it Snoopy’s devotion to Lila, the dying girl, in Snoopy, Come Home, Snoopy’s devotion to his supper dish, Linus’ unrelenting conviction for the Great Pumpkin and, deeper still, Sally’s dedication to Linus and his mission, it is all so human, so carbon-based. Family or friends, it matters not with Peanuts. As is often the case in real-time, digital worlds or the land of ink-and-watercolor, friends are often family, and family, good friends. The Browns and the Van Pelts are core, bound by blood; but that is not pivotal, being bound by blood. Snoopy and Woodstock, Charlie Brown and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Lucy and herself, Schroeder and his Piano, Sally and her Easter shoes and her Sweet Baboo: these are the real bonds, the vital relationships that keep Peanuts going year after sixty years.

In the vein of a youthful William Shakespeare, Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane whom all wrote of the communities they knew, the people and their foibles they shouldered through life, good and bad, lovely and horrid, Charles M. Schulz presented us with pencil and ink versions of ourselves: our ids, egos, superegos and alter egos. He gave us characters and friends upon whom we knew we could count through any rained out game, school exam or major holiday, even when It’s Presidents’ Day, Charlie Brown.

Above all, there is honor. Consider that, akin to so much great “children’s” literature, young-adult fiction, superhero tales, classic fairy tales, adapted fairy tales, graphic novels, comic strips and animated series there exists no ethical enforcement, save one’s own internal gauge and moral compass. It is universal, from Cinderella and Snow White to Snoopy and Spongebob Squarepants, that parents are either handily out-of-frame or conveniently ineffective; adults of any walk and educators of every sort are primarily a concept and rarely given a name, a face or, in Peanuts’ case, even a voice. Law enforcement is a rare impression lest it appears in an almost supernatural state of purity and perfection, like Scully and Mulder or Police Commissioner Gordon. The heroes cannot get away from themselves and must answer to their own merit of principle. There are no citations, no court dates, no weekend restrictions or media groundings. There is no law, no order, only the inner voice and scruples of the very good and, where it relates to our Peanuts, the very, very admirable and steadfast fraternity of fast and eternal friendship. The lasting appeal of Charlie Brown and Charles Schulz is that they are us. As Lucy states so wisely, “Charlie Brown, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!”

The Charlies and we are in the vital and primitive hunt for love, camaraderie and faithfulness. They and we are scared to death that nothing will happen and equally so that everything will. The round-headed kid, the barber’s son and we are all optimistic to a fault, likened to Spongebob in our unending and Bikini Bottom-deep belief that everything and everyone will be just fine. They and we are all flawed superheroes, or at the very least, we strive to be.

(A special thanks to Gary Sassaman, Director of Print and Publications Comic-Con International: San Diego)

 

Abyssinia on the Con floor, cats!

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? JennyPop.net jenniferdevore.blogspot.com & @JennyPopNet

Huzzah! Gamer Girls’ Watering Hole: Nerdcore Night at The Ruby Room

1

Category : Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Game On, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Good To Be A Gamer, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel, Uncategorized

 ”This is a war they started and, by God, we’ll finish it.” -former Britsh P.M., Margaret Thatcher

NorCal Gamer Grrls: Touch Chicas. Photo: Gary Dev

Vulcan ears, steampunk corsets, film-accurate weaponry, hot gamer girls and hard-boiled hooch. Slosh it all into a legendary, San Diego fun zone and you’ve blended up a tangy, spicy, smoking hot extravaganza.  No, not Comic-Com, but that is coming soon, kittens. (BTW, yours truly will be on the floor and covering it live for the good folks here at GoodToBeAGeek! Costume? Still up in the air. Any ideas? I’ve narrowed it to Bellatrix Lestrange, Morticia Addams, Snow White or Ruby Red Riding Hood: the latter both of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Drop a line here or @JennyPopNet and let me know which character you’d prefer!)

Speaking of Ruby Red, there’s a bonkers-wild nightclub right here in my own backyard, just moments from my haunt at the Hotel del Coronado. Welcome to The Ruby Room. Mis en scène amidst the ever active, far-too-hip-for-thou, Hillcrest crawl of downtown San Diego, The Ruby Room offers not only a hardcore, real drinking atmos, but also a nerdcore, real gaming atmos. Hang up your cloak and check your blasters; it’s The Ruby Room’s very own Nerdcore Night. It’s not Comic-Con, but it’s a damn fine tease.

As with many a social movement, Nerdcore Night was born out of a frustration of  social-marginalizing and a need for unity amongst a growing, yet still underestimated subculture of a subculture. The case in study? Gamer girls, oft maligned by the gamer boys they’ve so frequently pwned. Nerdcore Night was divined by Miss Aubree Miller, a partner in the eclectic  TheGamerGirls.com, a geek girl-oriented, lifestyle website encompassing more than the domain implies: music, entertainment, conventions, cosplay, art and design, fashion and so much more nerdy, girly goodness. The hook? These Gamer Girls are bonkers-hot!

Now, all you Modern Millies, riddle me this. Why call attention to such optics? Why feed today’s insensitive, insulting, brutal, throw-away, aesthetics machine? I’ve been fighting sexism since long before I died in 1934, and in Hollywood, to boot. Murder! That’s some serious skirt-chasing around the desk! From what I can tell, you contemporary chickadees carry a lot of huevos in your Louis bags. You know you’re red hot, no matter what mold you do or do not fit. You’ve got a confidence not seen since the Roaring Twenties ditched those Edwardian stuffed-shirts. You’ve got it in spades, and then some, and don’t seem to care a whit who likes it. So, why waste time proving something to that microband of worthless, useless, infantile, misogynist, insecure, fink gamers?

Lauded and gender neutrally-revered dorkettes like Katrina Hill, Adrienne Curry and Jill Pantozzi know they’re aces-beauteous. While mathematical, symmetrical beauty might be the first visual cue you get on these three, it’s definitely not the last thing you’ll remember about them. Amongst this geek girl triad exists an amalgam of journalists, writers, authors, models, TV personalities, comic book aficionados, film theorists, personal band-strategists, wicked WOW gamers, whip-smart businesswomen, fragile hearts, irreverent, humourous, kind, protective and loyal Earthlings. These  broads might understand and shrewdly calculate the value of their charms to bring in unique fans, readers and viewers; but similar to a Harvard or William & Mary legacy, just getting beyond the hallowed brick walls doesn’t cut it. Once they’re being scrutinized, these ladies have to deliver, from the brain as well as the hip.

Left to right: Katrina Hill, Action Chick; Jill Pantozzi, The Nerdy Bird & Adrienne Curry, Mistress of the Dorks Photo courtesy of Katrina Hill

 

Still, all you other dames, isn’t that quiet beauty of yours, the fact that you know you’re pretty, plus so much more, enough to carry yourself like royalty, no matter where you trod? Haven’t all you Millenium muffins come far enough by 2012 that proving you’re a looker to a bunch of greaseballs and strangers online doesn’t matter a hill of beans? Apparently not in the gaming world. Miller says this facet of technology and entertainment is still flush with “female gamers who feel animosity from male gamers.”

According to Miss Miller, in a May 2012 interview with Chad Deal for San Diego Reader, “Whenever a girl beats a guy over, say, Xbox live or whatever, a ton of messages immediately start piling in about how you must be a fat stoner loser chick to have beat them at a game. Boys are petty. We use actual female gamers on [TheGamerGirls.com] who are hot to prove these kinds of boys wrong. Honestly, girls just want gaming equality.” (Please, feel free to read the whole interview, Nerdcore Night – A Safe Place to Geek … but, come back, okay?!)

I don't think this is sanitary. Photo by Jason Anfinsen

 

 

 

 

Jessa Phillips, keen pally, hard-line gamer girl and editor-in-chief of GoodToBeAGeek.com follows and covers gaming passionately: most notably, her Good To Be A Gamer weekly podcast with fellow geek David Lucier. Miss Jessa has had wild experiences with sexism in the gaming world and is cuckoo for Nerdcore puffs. She digs the concept of a night where chicas can get together, talk shop, listen to some tuneage, drink and not worry about some rude boy in Singapore, Bangalore, Seattle or Sack-of-tomatoes slinging personal insults and misogynist hate like cream pies in a Laurel & Hardy flick. Jessa knows her stuff, so when some dude calls her a hack, he’d best step off unless he’s complementing her Hack n’ Slash gaming style.

Playing since Nintendo hit the shelves, Jessa is bonkers for first-person shooting (FPS) and not frightened off by the violence amidst her fave games which, according to her, “also incorporate some amazing world building and storytelling”: God of War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War, Mass Effect, BioShock and Assassin’s Creed. Just because she’s a gamer patootie, she’d rather not be identified as such.

“I do not believe that women who play games need to be singled out as a specific market segment. Developers should not be making games aimed to draw in female gamers. We are, regardless of gender, gamers. The difference between me and another gamer is the games we play. That is all,” Jessa states.

Even so, she’s suffered from unwarranted sexism. Seemingly innocuous, when pre-ordering the original God of War, she was questioned and quizzed by the store clerk, certain she was buying for a man in her life, certain “a woman would shy away from the graphic violence and sexual mini-game this title promised.”  That was simple ignorance and most likely lacking any malice. Her first experience with down home, good old-fashioned, blatant sexism? Enter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

“I was not so naïve as to use a gamer tag that would immediately give away my gender. However, as soon as I spoke my gender was known and it was all over. I will admit, I am not the most skilled gamer, particularly when it comes to shooters. That being said, gameplay has never been my problem. The constant debasing verbal vomit some players spew at the idea that a woman is in their game. A woman can only bear so much trash talk and when she attempts to defend herself, is instantly label a b*tch which only furthers the issue. It is the targeted mean-spirited attitude towards female gamers in online multiplayer gaming that turned me away from the online space and into a single-player gamer.”

Jessa’s feeling a little better about online gaming as days go by; more women are entering the field of play and more men are even coming to the defense of women getting a verbal bullying. She also has a final bit of advice for the loser whom deigns to dis her during her next round, “So I get pwned by a better player, maybe even targeted due to my gender. I’m a big girl, I can take it. Being the man trashing a women who just pwned you with your friends standing by? Just makes you come off as weak.”

Again, don't mess with NorCal grrls. Photo: Gary Dev

Surprisingly, our very own Dr. Lucy is a rabid gamer girl and a dish, to boot. TGG, still looking for gamer models? Sure, she’s a Victorian gal at heart (died at The Del in 1904, in case you’re new here), but she shows up very nicely on camera, best with full-spectrum, infrared, HD cams. Full disclosure: sometimes she only appears as bright orbs … but, what a set of orbs!

Ever since D&D was gifted to RPGs in the 1970s, and then a later introduction to Mech Warriors she’s been a gaming, ghostie girl. Although she can’t always be seen, she can make a presence when she really wants to. Eventually, she moved on to Renaissance Faire; the men can be just as annoying, but her Old School ways fit in better there.

“I’m not into Resident Evil or the highly competitive shoot-em-up games like Halo or intensive online reality games like WOW,” Dr. Lucy confided to me by the hotel pool one night. “I do however still have my Super Nintendo and tons of ‘old school’ games like Mario Bros and every Zelda game ever made. That has to be my favorite platform game of all time. I have gotten a new platform like Wii just because the new Zelda game came out.” (Where does a Victorian ghost find such games, plus a Wii, my skeptical friends might wonder? Craigslist and BestBuy, of course.)”The games I play now are Zelda Skyward Sword, Heroes VI, and Civilization. The game I am saving up for now is Diablo III, and was just released this week!”

Whether it’s Faire, Zelda, Civilization or her long-ago, Victorian parlour games of Whist, Cribbage, Crambo or Hot Cockles, Lucy maintains boys will be boys.

“Heaven help anyone who ‘lets me win’ or gets all condescending!” she went on after yet another poolside-absinthe. “As for sexism, men ALWAYS think they know best and it does leak over into gaming. I find it entertaining when people who don’t know me try to categorize me. They usually get it wrong and reveal more about themselves in the process than they perceive about me. I know people need to stereotype others to a degree to feel comfortable so it makes me value those people who are capable of recognizing and appreciating people for who they are and those with the ability to recognize that all people evolve and are multifaceted.” Well, not all people, Lucy. Have you watched The Jersey Shore on your Kindle lately? Ick.

In the end, after all the womens’ studies, political hashing and academic posturing, Nerdcore Night is just damn good fun. Similar to Disneyland, Renaissance Faire, Comic-Con and FOX’s Animation Domination, it’s a few carefree hours to congregate with fellow goobs and let off some steampunk. Nerdcore Night is a girls’ night out and even though that seems a little dated in and of itself, it’s become a nice, universally nerdy haven. For, even though it started as an IRL meet-up for San Diego-close gamer chicks, it’s happily become an all-inclusive, guys and dolls, hipster doofus et al function: geeks, nerds, dweebs, gleeks, word nerds, orch dorks and so on. Hail dorks, well met! If you recall, I covered this pandemonium of geek culture previously, White & Nerdy checklist and all. Into which category do you fit?

Whatever you do call yourself, however or with whomever you identify, you’re welcome at The Ruby Room, any night of the week. Bring your hip game, though; Hillcrest ain’t Kansas and it ain’t Dr. Lucy’s weekly Hot Cockles … although, I imagine there’s a bit of that, not to mention some Squeak, Piggy, Squeak going on somewhere in the club.

By the by, for the rest of you cats whom tend to booze ‘n cavort sans cape and sword and just want a good Irish whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, I.P.A. or BOGO penny wells, The Ruby Room serves up a wide swath of divertissements: vintage burlesque –sadly, no Dita Von Teese, yet-, live bands, righteous DJs, art shows, charity functions, fashion soirées and themed karaoke nights. Whether you wield a French corset dagger or sport a slick set of Zildjian drumsticks in your back pocket, chances are excellent you’ll find a Ruby Room bash that suits you and your motley crew nicely. As the good folks at The Ruby Room humbly claim, “Not trying to be everything to everyone, but everything that is us.” Awww.

“Ladies don’t start fights, but we can finish ‘em.”  -Mlle. Marie Bonfamillle, The Aristocats

Destination: San Diego. Warp speed, Captain! Photo: Rabbot

 

Abyssinia, cats!

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? JennyPop.net , jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and @JennyPop

 

The Proper Deets:

@theRubyRoomSD

The Ruby Room

1271 University Ave.

Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103

619.299.7372

Another Babka? It’s a Same-Name Bing Bash!

1

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature, Movies, Television, Travel, Uncategorized

Ciao, cats. Summer’s a-comin’ fast and the Hotel del Coronado is prepping for San Diego’s best season of sun, surf and soirées. Springtime’s sweet, but summer’s sizzling. You know we ghosties are cold all the time; even the tiniest rise in surrounding temperature is a beautiful thing. Plus, folks are up to here with their winter blues and springtime antsy pants. Ergo, it’s the best time to throw a swanky hotel riot. The only issue with a summer splurge, besides whether to host it at the pool or on the beach, is what theme? Real party hounds know you need a kicking theme and Dr. Lucy and I are tossing around a few ideas in our noodles. Regardless of theme, the very merry month of May is the perfect time for a Ghost Host Rag!

Swanks a lot for the booze, Micky!

 

Natch, Lucy wants to go steampunk; natch, I said cool it already with the Victorian adventurer gig for a bit. I mean, really. How many aviator helmets and goggles can a girl have? (Although, I do hear around the whiskey cooler there’s a pretty steamy -steamypunky- sex scene in The Darlings of Orange County by my pally Jennifer S. Devore. Who knew there were so many useful toys in Johnny Depp’s official Ichabod Crane Detective Kit from Sleepy Hollow. My, oh, my!)

Now, as far as planning this affair, I’ve been throwing shindigs since I was a wee thing. Dr. Harvey & Hildy love a good time, even if it does include way too much foxtrotting, so I can thank Mum & Dad for weaning me on teas and socials and letting big bro Hugh and me throw as many parties as the old Beantown bungalow could handle. So, it goes without saying that after nearly a hundred years of throwing fetes, my beachside blow-out is sure to be a blast. First off, it’s to be all ghosts, mostly. Plenty of folks to invite. You’d be shocked at how many ghosts there are floating about San Diego and beyond. Boy-zo! If you could actually see us all. You know that feeling you get on the back of your neck, when it feels like someone’s watching you? Someone is. Always.

Nobody parties like us ghosties: no hangovers or obnoxious twits (we can’t get drunk), loads of amazing, authentic costumes (when it’s a fancy dress gala) and usually just mild property damage consisting of a broken window or two, a crack’d mirror hither and thither or some ecto-gooed silver and china. Even all that, we simply blame the guests or staff here at the hotel. If you think the Haunted Mansion looks wild, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve been to one of my parties: dead or alive. This one will be Dr. Lucy’s first since the turn of the 20thC. Good thing she can’t get drunk on absinthe anymore, because I’m willing to bet she ends up loosening that Victorian cravat of hers.

My first party: Hallowe'en 1912. Bet you can't guess which one I am!

 

Theme-wise, Lucy and I have discussed a few: steampunk, Old Hollywood, literary figures, medieval, Renaissance Faire, goth, pirates, superheroes (kind of saving that for Comic-Con), Disney, Star Wars, pin-up, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Lady Gaga/Madonna. You name it, we thought of it. Problem is, I’ve done ‘em all and I am loathe to redux a party or a costume. Then, whilst searching Netflix for ideas (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Party Monster might be leading us in a dangerous direction.), we had a bonkers idea: a Bing Party!

Bing, Google, whatever you want to call it, it’s a search engine social. I have issues with Google and some of its privacy practices and cahoots in cooperation with the Chinese government, so I do the Bing thing … until I learn they’re toads, too.  A Bing party, in case you are unaware, is also known as a Same Name party. Ever Binged yourself? Sure you have. It’s great fun when the booze runs out and you couldn’t possibly watch anymore of My Drunk Kitchen. Once you Bing yourself, you find there are dozens of folks with your name and it’s bonkers to see what they’re up to. It’s also frightening when you learn there’s some greaseball or half-portion daring to call themselves by the same sweet name your Parental Units bequeathed upon you, and you hope against hope that folks you knew way back when, won’t Bing you, see that mook and think it’s you. Still, if you weed out the wet smacks and felons, you might have yourself quite a wing ding at hand. You might want to have it at a club or a Spongebob Fancypants hotel though, just in case one of those felons shows up looking for free hooch. You don’t want ‘em knowing where you live.

Hannah Hart. Clearly, it’s a fab name and whilst I was pretty sure I was the only one on the planet, there are in fact a number of us: none as fab as I, of course. Most notably there’s a bonkers chick who, apparently, loves to get toasted while she toddles about her cucina. Yea for her! My Drunk Kitchen is her web series and on her site, she’s currently running a very apropos video called Adultolescence: House Party, a how-to. I think if she were a dead girl, we’d gel brilliantly. Maybe I’ll check in on her anyway and proffer a personal invitation. Sometimes those with exceptional brain usage, beyond the ten percent most of you pills use, can sense me. She seems like she uses a tad, just a tad, more than ten percent.

Other Hannah Harts include a student at the University of Southern Maine, an actress, a photographer, another writer at another geek site called The Mary Sue: A Guide to Geek Girl Culture (Quite a coinkidink, I think!) and even a couple of cons: one Hannah Hart recently incarcerated at Sarasota, FL central booking, and one Hannah Hart, old time criminal, shipped off from Middlesex, England in 1836 aboard the Elizabeth and dumped on the good folks and natives of New South Wales, Australia. Nice work, England. See, I told you there’d be a mook or two. Have your Bing party in a public location, kids. While I’m at it, let’s have a look-see at some other Lucy Devereaux and my authoress pally, Jennifer Devore.

Other Lucy Devereaux include: a photographer (Why is every modern girl a photographer? B&W? Please.), an architecture student from the U.K., a grocery pricer for a national supermarket chain, and some muffin in Madison, Wisconsin.

Other Jennifer Devores include: a cellist, a math teacher, a boudoir photographer (geez), a makeup artist, a marketing exec and, lo and behold, another guest of the state, this one arrested in Clark County, OH.

Please, no mug shots for this Hannah Hart! This is my house!

 

Not listed, because I do have some respect for the dead, are a number of Lucy Devereaux, Hannah Harts and Jennifer Devores in  obituaries and ancestry reports the world over. Wait, I guess I just listed them. Anyhoo, I assume they’ll all be at my Bing ball. Why wouldn’t they? Beaded gowns, notable figures from throughout history, absinthe with the wormwood, yet without the psychosis and plenty of surf, salt air and sloshing shrub glasses. The cocktail of choice? We’ve decided upon the Pink Palace, in honour of the Beverly Hills Hotel 100th birthday. Ooh! I think I just changed the theme of the party! 100 Years of Beverly Hills! Come dressed as any B.H. era you dig: 1930s Marlene Dietrich trousers in the Polo Lounge, 1950s Marilyn Monroe sex kitten heyday, 1970s bungalow-trashing rocker, 1980s neon Nagel beauty or even 1990s 90210 Dylan McKay. Don’t forget your stylin’ Porsche 356 speedster.

Dylan v. Brandon? Please. Was there ever a question? Photo: Cloudzilla

 

Yes, an excellent plan! Lucy will love it, despite the lack of a Beverly Hills steampunk era. Sorry, babe. Maybe you can do the Marilyn Monroe thing. Come on, do the voice for us. You know you love doing it. Besides, I don’t want to meet  all those other dames with the same name … would you?

Photo: Alden Jewell

 

Abyssinia, cats!

This Hannah Hart’s fave place online? JennyPop.Net and @JennyPopNet

 

Keep Your Phone Booth, Superman: Renaissance Man Has Virgin Mobile

1

Category : Comics, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature, Travel

Photo J.S.Devore

So, it was a road trip of rugged proportions. Dr. Lucy, her pet octopus Onslow, my Little Lindy and I finally made it to see the yeti crabs and the ghost octopi of Antarctica! It took some planning, but natch, any road trip does. As far as those energy miles I’d saved up, this trip was a doozy. Sorry, Dr. Harvey & Hildy, your little girl ain’t headed home to Beantown this Christmas. I’m stuck at The Del for a while now. Energy spent or no, our Jules Verne trip into the deep absurd was well worth being pinned here for a while. No worries, though; been to the Hotel del Coronado lately? Not a bad place to spend eternity, Wheat!

As far as the trip down south, try spending two weeks under the sea at some six miles down. Sure, the sea vents are warm. Yet, I think I’ve said it before; when you’re a ghost, you’re always cold. I was just as cold at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean as I am at the hotel pool. The difference in the water is one of speed: water slows us down a bit. There’s also the matter of pressure: 16,000 heady lbs. per sq. inch, if you’re counting. Downright nasty, but in the end just a gnarly headache for we ghosties and worth it for all the curious little creatures we saw down there.

Onslow and Lindy made some friends in the deep and Lucy and I had a cheery old time messing with the “brave” crew of the HMNZS Wellington: a New Zealand tugboat on which we hitched a ride to our final dive spot. Nice folks, but skittish. It’s pretty creepy that far south at sea, even for me. Of course, a little ship haunting kills the time and you’d be shocked at how high a seaman can jump when goosed during a quarterdeck midnight patrol. Ha! Pranks aside, record-depth, deep sea exploration isn’t for everyone. Don’t you mooks try this at home: a sure brodie if you do! Now, if you’re two firecrackers named Richard Branson and James Cameron … what a couple of butter and egg men!

Photo: NOAA

Onslow, meet Sir Richard Branson

 

Now, I know they’re out there, Phillipe Cousteau, the late-Steve Fossett, Benedict Allen, Jane Goodall; but I don’t read about too many renaissance men and women in your modern day. You folks seem to reward and genuflect at the feet of something called a Snookie and a host of any rag-a-muffin who can get themselves on a desert island competition, star on Youtube for nothing more than being a half-portion or sing mildly well in a teensy tube top. Well, who can’t do that? In my day, we had adventurers and record-breakers coming out of our bazooms.

Picture it, 1911 – Yale prof Hiram Bingham discovers the ruins of Machu Picchu. 1922 – Howard Carter and Lord George Carnarvonone unearth the tomb of King Tutankhamen. (Hence, a keen swing in the world of ’20s fashion! Scads of scarab brooches, mummy-linen dresses, golden headwraps, jewelled sandals and loads of pricey travel excursions for the well-heeled into the sandy abyss of the Middle East.)  The Wright Bros. set aloft on the shores of Kitty Hawk in 1903 while Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart and Elise Deroche all set aviation records in the ’20s and ’30s. (Yes, Little Lindy is named after Charles. She is a San Diego dog, after all.) Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd set the world on fire when he ventured to the South Pole not once, not twice, but thrice from the late-1920s through the early-1940s.

Byrd South Pole expedition Photo: San Diego Air & Space Museum archives

 

More apropos to our own expedition, Beebe & Barton commanded their “bathysphere” to a record-depth of 3,028 feet off Bermuda in 1934; a generation or so later, in 1960, Jacques Piccard piloted his “bathyscaphe” Trieste to a new record-depth of 35,800 feet … in the Mariana Trench. Enter filmmaker James Cameron, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Sir Richard Branson. Cameron and Branson are in a Victorian-styled race to the bottom of the sea, each trying to be the first to reach the depths of the Mariana Trench since 1960 in a solo submersible. The steampunk aesthetic possibilities are endless! Schmidt, apparently, is in on the hunt for deep-sea exploration as well, but with future plans and not part of this competition. Now, Cameron is a clearly a man of repute and impressive feat, holding the No.1 and No.2 top-grossing films, worldwide, in movie history: Titanic and Avatar. He also has a filmography worthy of note … short of George Lucas, of course.

So, yeah. I’ll give ya some modern Indiana Jones types. Still, even in the frenzied age of King Tut-inspired, archaeological dig-holidays, we didn’t even have a pip as smooth n’ juicy as Richard Branson! Zowie! Like a Victorian adventure-novel hero, Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is a melange of The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Pride and Prejudice and Superman … but better.  Ha HA!

Sir Ricahrd Branson, Time 100 Photo: David Shankbone

 

They sure are! Photo: Luis Rivera

His superpower is Capitalism. His kryptonite is specious. It could be kindness, as he agreed to become godfather to a baby born out of a broken Virgin Condom (a product since abandoned); it could be good humour, as he quipped to an Atlantic Exchange audience during a War on Drugs debate, that he’d asked President Obama “for a spliff” at the White House State Dinner for Prime Minister Cameron (David, not James); it could be making G&Ts out of lemons, as he laughed off his failure to traverse the Atlantic via hot-air balloon with a zippy Virgin tag line, “There are better ways to cross the Atlantic”. Whatever Branson’s weakness is, it certainly is not apparent: unless it’s boredom.

The Virgin Atlantic founder, entrepreneur, travel magnate, philanthropist and effervescent billionaire has developed a bevy of Virgin companies and it’s too bonkers to list them all here; so have a look-see here instead. When he’s not marketing at the speed of sound, he’s darting hither and thither about the planet, sans red cape, but in tuxedos, wetsuits, snowsuits and dungarees, all whilst sporting a glorious head of Viking locks. He also keeps company along the way with kick ass flight crews swathed in 1960s chic aviation glamour and with an attention to quality and service not seen outside the old school examples of mid-20thC. Pan Am and TWA. Remember when flying was special and one actually dressed to travel? One did not bring a pillow and wear jim-jams to fly. Ick. Well, I’m pretty certain Sir Branson is sporting neither jim-jams nor a cape at this moment; he is, however, most likely … up there, in the sky!

Bam! He’s saving polar bears with Virgin Unite and legislation by WildAid!

Wham-o! He’s working with Al Gore and the U.K. Parliament to extract methane and carbon from the atmosphere!

Kapow! He’s mentoring Africa’s young with Enterprise Zimbabwe and the Branson School of Entrepreneurship!

Bazinga! He’s trying to legalize cannabis in the U.K.!

Splat! He produced the Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen, was imprisoned for printing the phrase Nevermind the Bollocks, found a priest to testify for him that Bollocks was indeed not a profanity, but slang for an 18thC. man o’ the cloth and …

Kablam! Twenty-five years thereafter he was knighted by the well-saved Queen herself! Hell-ooo, Sir Richard Branson!

Photo: Katherine Johnson

 

Superman might have nice pecs and a cute head of shoe polish. He might even be able to reverse the rotation of the Earth and turn back time. For this hot patootie, the Earth spinny thing is all he’s got on Sir Branson, a.k.a. Renaissanceman. Yeah, yeah. I know some of you Superman fans, and I can hear the tickety-tackety of corrections and complaints now. You go right ahead, Comic Book Guy. I’ll still wager Branson’s a greater superhero than Superman any day of the week. First of all, he’s real. Of course, Renaissanceman is also a total mensch.

I’ll bet when he sees poor Superman flying around out there without any Wi-Fi, without any Virgin Red media, without any of Virgin’s signature airport Chauffeur Transfer Services, he’ll give Superman a ride anywhere he needs to go … via his aces keen Virgin Galactic starship! Cheer up, Superman. There can be only one.

Need a lift, Superman? Photo: PD OMara

 

Hold everything! Superman, you may be out of luck on that hitchhiking thing … Ashton Kutcher just bought the 500th Virgin Galactic ticket, at 250,000.00USD, no less. Murder! Sorry, babe. Hey, maybe you can reverse the Earth’s rotation and buy that last ticket before Ashton gets it. Too slow, Superman. Just too slow.

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Looking for more Hannah Hart rants, kids? Here I am! Find me @JennyPopNet, too.

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

Once Upon a Time … There Was Scripted Television

2

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature, Movies, Reviews, Television, Travel, Uncategorized

Hey, kids! Ring-a-ding-ding it’s like Springtime for Hitler around here! The set-design faeries must have had a March 1st deadline and, boyzo did they ever make it! 85 degrees, postcard blue skies, a sparkling ocean view that just won’t quit and a rainbow of pastels and brights everywhere you look! Dames are in their sugar-pink dresses, guys are sportin’ their Peeps-yellow polos and the air smells like strawberry salt water taffy and lemonheads. San Diego’s ready for spring and so am I!

Being a ghostie girl, I’m kippy enough to get to haunt the Hotel Del forever and ever, as so many of you already know. (Those who don’t quite get my gig, check out my back story.) Now that I’m all moved into my new digs in the Resort Suites, I’ve packed away my velvet opera coat, my tweed jackets and my fur-topped pirate boots and moved my warm weather gear front-and-center stage. Hello, Betsey Johnson floral tea dresses, JLo floppy hats and 1970s wooden platforms! Unless you’re allergic to fun, smiles, hibiscus cocktails and feeling good, get yourself out here and enjoy our warming, welcoming, California sunshine.

Springtime Candy Goodness photo: J.S.Devore

 

What else fills my noodle in the spring, besides fouffy dresses and perfume that smells like caramel corn and cotton candy -Miss Dior Chérie by Christian Dior is just such a scent- ? Flowers! Springtime means flowers and when I think of flowers, I think of forests; when I think of forests, I think of der Schwarzwald; wenn ich denke an dem Schwarzwald, I think of fairy tales. When ich denke of fairy tales I think of Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, The Pied Piper of Hamlin, Three Little Pigs and Little Snow White. When I think of them, I think of … American network television? One thing I have been enjoying, when not out sunning my chilly gams by the pool, is watching loads of Grimm and Once Upon a Time on Hulu. Scripted television, fantasy-themed at that, is back, babies!

Der Schwarzwald: The Black Forest photo: Reisen aus Leidenschaft

 

No! It can’t be true, Miss Hannah! Surely you jest! Scripted television? You and your ghost tales of the good old days! No, little children, ’tis true. Yes, I’ve been dead and holed up in The Del for nearly a century, but I consume far more media than the living and wow, have your modern viewing habits gone to dust over recent years! Some of you are probably too young to remember, but if you sit back and sip your champagne coolies I’ll tell you a story, a fairy tale of wonder and woe.

Once upon a time there was a magical place called The Writers’ Room where smart and witty folk thought about fresh ideas and interesting characters and how to best interpret and present them to entertain the good people of TV Land. Then, the gruesome and greedy producers emerged from the fjords and hollers and swathed the land in the blackness of Reality TeeVee … 

Television, unlike film, has gone the way of Wal-Mart: cheap and easy to produce, cheap and easy to market to the lowest common denominator. It’s a sure fire return on investment: no actors, no scripts, just a flat-fee to participants, some base expenses like housing and booze and maybe a prize for the last one standing. It’s good enough … in the absence of anything else. So is Grapeade, but ick. Don’t get me wrong, kids, film can be total schlock, too. Ever seen the Fred franchise? Heavens to Murgatroid! Yet, we’re talking television here and this medium still reigns supreme where garbage stacks up like London’s Daily Mail in a shut-in’s Yorkshire cottage.

Certainly, one can always turn to the likes of the BBC for trips into the fantastic: Being Human, Whitechapel; Masterpiece Classics for, well, classics: Downton Abbey, Sherlock; and HBO & Showtime for something freaky and fab: Game of Thrones, True Blood. Further, as many a Hannah reader knows, American television rules where comedy is concerned, when producers care to take a leap of yuks. Yet the broadcast airways of the big four generally run scared when presented with concepts outside reality and talent show programming. Happily though, it seems as of late the powers that be of network teevee have begun their commendable trek back into the dark and misty forests of fantasy. We may ne’er see the likes of The Twilight Zone, Star Trek or The X-Files again, but ABC, NBC and Fox are making remarkable efforts to reward us for sitting through years of The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser and American Idol.

Those who oft read me, know my love for FX’s American Horror Story. Thrillingly, I now have a few more options for fantasy via Grimm and Once Upon a Time. ABC and NBC have both brought the medieval fairy tales to the small screen; though, I think ABC has an edge. Once has the benefit of two Lost writers, which explains the bouncing around, parallel-universe storylines: Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. It also has the benefit of, as Rolling Stone reviewed, “the first hot Snow White ever.” Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snowy is certainly a more grown up version than the Jessie Wilcox Smith or Walt Disney reiterations we’re used to, but if you ask me, Snowy’s always been a bit of a hot patootie, especially the truly Teutonic version with long, blue-black, curly hair and sky-blue eyes. Bonkers hot! That’s the reason she was left behind in the forest, then later hunted by her mother’s goon, in the first place. Original tale by the Brothers Grimm lends a far more sinister version than the colourful Disney tale we all know, and which I love equally. (No implied cannibalism with Disney! No, Sir! Don’t know the cannibal-angle? Read the original.)

A bit stormier than The Happiest Place on Earth’s Fantasyland, and taking itself very tongue-in-cheek, the sylvan hamlet of Storybrooke, Maine is where the world’s fairy tale characters have been sent to live in exile by the Wicked Queen, a hateful gift thrust upon fairyland at the wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming. Storybrooke? Seriously? asks Emma Swan, played by golden girl Jennifer Morrison, the unwitting offspring of Snow White and Prince Charming, and soon-to-be the sweet-and-spicy sheriff of Storybrooke. Natch, not only Grimm characters reside in Storybrooke.

Perrault’s Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood make their lovely but forced homes there and Collodi’s Geppetto, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket are trapped as well. A perfect example of that tongue-in-cheek? Jiminy, looking like a poor, literature professor, is Dr. Hopper, Ph.D., psychologist. Continuing the Grimm thread, Robert Carlyle plays a captivating, slimy, slithering Rumpelstiltskin, spinning gold and profiting from desperation and the Evil Queen herself, Ruby, serves as mayor of this Stephen Kingesque burg.

It’s a darker setting than The Magic Kingdom, but it’s done remarkably well and beautifully shot: cinematography by Stephen Jackson. Similar to American Horror Story and The X-Files, this is a tale best watched at night and with a glass of red. Also similar to The X-Files, it’s shot on location in Vancouver. Not to put too fine a point on it, but just like AHS, X-Files and Grimm, Once uses very cool, spooky and blue-hazed opening titles to keep us from trolling for other programming during the first commercial break. Finally, apropos and pivotal to fantasy television, another Northwest metropolis serves as backdrop for yet another reiteration of the grim, children’s tales.

If Law and Order SVU relocated from Manhattan to the Black Forest, you’d have Grimm. It takes the NBC model of cop shows they just can’t seem to chuck and turns an affable, modern-day Grimm (traditional hunters of the supernatural in this version) into a detective working homicide cases in the eerie outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Amidst his work, he sees the supernatural beasties and, lo and behold, they seem to be at the heart of every crime scene. Hitler himself, according to the latest episode (S1E13) Three Coins in a Fuchsbau, it seems was a Blutbad, a werewolf. In Grimm, the Mausehertz, Lausenschlange, Fuchsbau, Eisbiber and a host of other creatures replace the antagonists in your standard cop show; these guys just happen to morph in and out of their animal forms.

Die Bruder Grimm

Supposing the audience knows more about Grimm’s Fairy Stories than they probably do, each episode is fitted with an opening quote from the originating tale. Pleasingly so, there is also a nice smattering of German in each episode, thanks to he whom carries the show: a Big Bad Wolf, or Blutbad, named Monroe and portrayed brilliantly by Silas Weir Mitchell. Funny enough, Mitchell’s first role ever was Hansel, in a grade-school production of Grimm’s Hansel und Gretel. Mitchell plays a reformed Blutbad whom has assimilated nicely, has a quiet business fixing antique cuckoo clocks and sustains his bloodlust with handy-dandy, blood ice cubes in his soup.  He’s the conduit to the supernatural and has all the answers for Detective Nick Burkhardt, a newbie to the supernatural whom had no clue he was a Grimm until his auntie, his nearest living kin, passed away and passed down the family business … and a trailer full of what looks like props left over from the attic set of Charmed.

 

Although the characters and mythical figures are well represented, Grimm‘s plots are certainly stretched and reshaped, like a shrunken cashmere sweater on a drying rack, to embrace modern issues and appeal more to the CSI viewer whom likes his steak rare, and less to the Snow White of us whom like a deep cabernet with our pink rose cupcakes.

Overall, it’s just peaches to see the fairy tale genre taking hold once again. Fairy tales have been around, be it oral tradition or written, for centuries. They are the stuff of human interaction and, moreover, offer up the most primal of emotions: fear. Fairy tales are the tales of mankind: good vs. evil, right over wrong, romance and terror. Steampunk Dr. Lucy, my fellow ghost pal at the hotel, loves fairy tales as much as I; she finds the rebirth sehr interressant, in her words, “because too much of magic has left the world”. She certainly has a point. Star Wars is even fairy tale fodder, as much as is Sleeping Beauty: good vs. evil, larger-than-life villain and a steamy romance, to boot! Han Solo in those breeches and jack boots?! Sweet biscuits!

I’m just happy to see that some bravehearts in the decision-making, turreted towers of TVLand have the strength and courage to wield their broadswords and fight the dragons and trolls whom have led us headlong into harm, feeding the masses incrementally more and more poisonous, shiny, shiny candied apples.

Carthay Circle Theater photo:Evan Wohrman

As a side note, yours truly was at the original premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs … looking smashing in Chanel, if I I might say. Yeah, I was dead by then; but it made for no less of an event. (I did have to get my Chanel dress on a dead girl before I could actually wear it, but that all worked out just fine.) Sure, with a packed house, too, I had to sit on Clark Gable’s lap, but zowie! He never knew what he missed!

It was Christmastime in L.A., 1937, and the history-making film was introduced to the world at the Carthay Circle Theater in L.A. What a lineup of stars and lookers who showed up to see 90 minutes of animation! Shirley Temple was there (total doll) and Charlie Chaplin (what a smooth talker). Marlene Dietrich graced the place (What a face, but what a piece of work! Honey, you ain’t the only one in H-town with a million-dollar caboose!) and funny men Milton Berle and George Burns helped fill the celeb seats. Cary Grant showed up (What a man!) as did the luscious Ginger Rogers. What a set of getaway sticks on that broad! The place sold out and at five bucks a ticket, that was a lot of chicken feed back then, cats! Left 30,000 un-ticketed fans pouting outside the theater. (Sounds like this year’s Comic Con.)  Good for Mr. Disney!

The naysayers called it Disney’s Folly, but they were a bunch of mooks and flat tires. Little did they know the markers Walt and Snowy would set: first feature-length cel animation, first full-colour animation, first American feature-length animation, first Walt Disney Productions production. Whilst the theater is long gone, with the exception of a replica facade at the Walt Disney Studios, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and die Bruder Grimm continue to bring us generations of dreamy fairy tales, lingering nightmares and the brilliant juxtapositions of  mayhem, cannibalism and really, really pretty dresses.

Bis später, alligator!

 

Looking for more Hannah Hart rants, kids? Here I am! Find me @JennyPopNet, too.

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

 

Zowie! Up in the Sky! It’s a Dork, it’s a Nerd, it’s a Geek … it’s Superwonk!

3

Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Movies, Travel

Ciao, dolls! Still waiting to scram Antarctic way with Dr. Lucy and Onslow to see the yeti crabs and the ghost octopi. We’ve got some gum in the works; however, getting my Little Lindy into her astral plane carrier.

Little Lindy, ghostdog of the Hotel del Coronado

 

Sure, she’s a docile cottonball, but that little nutter needs to be confined to a conveyance when travelling. Making it all the more difficult, she’s a ghost like Moi, and is all the more flighty for it. Think Jack Skellington’s faithful Zero of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, but black. Dr. Harvey & Hildy (Mum and Dad) babysat her once; took her with them to Prince Edward Island, they did. The minute they hit the Charlottetown Harbour, Lindy was off like a new bride’s nightie. To allay the issue of a possible runaway, Dr. Lucy is currently devising a GPS for her: Ghost Pinpoint System. It’s a tricky bit and involves crystals. So, until we can lure Lindy into her carrier and Lucy can develop a viable crystal-enhanced tracking device, I’m just waiting in my turret room here at my beautiful Hotel Del and Lindy’s chasing sea gulls around the property.

 

Meanwhile, cats, I’m taking this extra time to research those early, frosty, ice-or-bust explorers, including watching any films I can on the snowbound set: 1934 Klondike Annie with Mae West and Robert Flaherty’s 1922 documentary Nanook of the North. Zowie! The Eskimo life is not for this vegetarian! Not to mention the lion’s share of the flicker was funded by a French furrier company. Yikes! I’ve also been reading loads of books on Adm. Richard E. Byrd and his 1930s, modern, mechanical migration southward: aerial cameras, airplanes, communications resources. Murder! This was no shot in the dark expedition! Thankfully, my travelling companions and I don’t need all that and furthermore, thankfully we’re all already dead; I’d hate to perish, stranded and starving on the ice. Of course, if I can look as wham-o, hubba-hubba as Vivien Leigh, all dolled up in faux furs and Max Factor,  in the 1935 Anna Karenina when they find my corps, aces!

 

As I’ve been researching our trip, I’ve also come across loads of totally unrelated, kooky info as I’ve been led astray via so many tentacles online, as one is wont to do. I’ve noted a phenomenon that wasn’t around at all in my day: geek culture. In the 1930s, nerds and geeks were of a certain intellectual class and not at all common. They were like Samoans; you might know someone who knows one and that was pretty cool. Nerds were easily identifiable by sector, industry and eye wear. The thick glasses and pocket protectors were a necessity, not a fashion statement akin to white earbuds, pork pie hats and skinny jeans on men. Ick, btw. (Gents, if you can wear skinny jeans … don’t. You look like junior high school girls and, anthropologically speaking, grown up tomatoes are not looking for gentlemen whom look like boys whom look like little girls. Just a note.)

 

Nerds and geeks were strictly born out of science, math, computer, space and there was also the occasional G-man.  They were the burdened heroes and pioneers of modern medicine, communications, burgeoning space programs and Cold War warriors in sensible shoes and $4 crew cuts. The most pedestrian of them were math majors and chemistry professors. Part of their appeal, guys or dolls, was that they were remarkable, unorthodox and weirdly marvelous. Geeks and nerds were like nobody else and you knew if you stood next to them at a cocktail party, you’d hear some bonkers stories, usually involving Bunsen burners, photons and nematodes. Ha! By the by, I know some will say there’s a vast difference amongst the labels geek, dork and nerd. Etymologically-speaking there is (see definitions below); culturally, not really.

 

Hint: front row/French Club holds a dork with published historical-literature and a geek whom develops serious intelligence technology. I've said too much.

 

Today, everyone is a geekoid. To be one is to voluntarily join a pithy club, complete with tech-themed clubs with names like Djørk, overpriced consumer-grade accessories available from your local Mapple “genius” (Seriously? Genius is now discounted?) and a monstrously lucrative industry growing around the need for all said-geeks to gather in a convention hall multiple times a year. Of course, if you’re a Goodluck Gander, the club also comes with a small but swell selection hot mamas with a hankering for quants and policy wonks. Here’s the kibosh, though. If everyone is a dork, nerd, geek or dweeb of some sort … is it really as unconventional and novel as one thinks? Further, if everyone is on the guest list, who’s left outside? The real ones, the true intellectuals and experts are like Superwonks; so deep into and dedicated to their fields, like Bill Gates and Dr. Michio Kaku, they could care less what they’re labeled and probably don’t care what color their earbuds are.

From what I can tell, geek is now partnered with just about any hobby, career or obsession known to mankind: orchestra geeks (known as orch dorks), pep club geeks, comic geeks, science geeks, math geeks, music geeks, fashion geeks, retro geeks, car geeks, goth geeks (just goth, please), ghost geeks, film geeks, TV geeks, gamer geeks, history geeks, book geeks, grammar geeks, sci-fi geeks, fantasy geeks, role-playing geeks, Faire geeks, cosplay geeks, Disney geeks, chess geeks and so many more. Who’s left? Jocks, professional fishermen, Wall Streeters, Prince William and 10thC. vikings may be the only folks left whom don’t categorize themselves as geeks.

 

Now, Webster’s will describe a geek as:

1. a computer expert or enthusiast;
2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual;
3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken. (The real definition in my day … not a proud claim!)

 

Nerd as:
1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person;

2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

 

Dork as:
1. a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others; a social misfit;
2. Vulgar/penis (Zowie!).

 

Good Noah also lists all interchangeably as synonyms: incl. such derisive terms as  jerk, schmo, grind and swot.

 

Guilty! Devore: what a dork

Happily, the flip-side to the fad is said-terms have become less hateful and derogatory. To wit, my dear pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, a self-professed history/film & TV/Disney geek, might be part of the problem. How much blame she shoulders, I shall not say. She has, however, taken the very geeky effort to compose a list of things White & Nerdy people like. Her original post on the matter is an homage to Christian Lander, the original Stuff White People Like creator, and can be read in full at her highly-popular-in-Russia-Germany-and-Finland site: Of Course, What Do I Know?

 

Check the list below, wheats. Are you White & Nerdy? Ask yourself before you toss around terms like geek, dork and nerd so willy-nilly … Am I really White & Nerdy? If so, own it. If not, you’re just embarrassing yourself.

 

White & Nerdy? I give you their King and Queen.

Stuff White & Nerdy People Like (In no particular order)

  • Comic Con (What kind of W&N would my pally Jen be if she hadn’t been published in the official Comic Con book?)
  • The Big Bang Theory (incl. memorizing the Barenaked Ladies’ theme song)
  • CNNGeekOut blog
  • Geology
  • Robots
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Steve Martin
  • Sci-fi and fantasy novels with anthropomorphic animals
  • Weezer
  • NASA
  • SyFy Channel
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock (no Googling the rules – either you know it or you don’t)
  • Periodic Table of the Elements (Fun idea: claim a corr. birthday element, if you find numerals offensive)
  • Crafting historical and theatrical alter egos (incl. learning Elizabethan English, Klingon, swordplay, spells, etc.)
  • Wired magazine
  • Swedish Fish
  • Michael Cera
  • Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Action figures
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Notating in journals (yes, ye olde quill to parchment) and memorizing things like Pi, Drake Equation, hierarchy of performance art, accurate recall of the British monarchy since 1066, etc. 
  • Making and wearing costumes
  • Using “one” as opposed to “you” or “I”
  • Lunchboxes
  • George Noory
  • Grant Morrison, Supergods (You doth rock, Sir … dig the accent, too!)
  • UFOs
  • Ghost Hunters (not Ghost Adventurers … there is a difference)
  • Bigfoot
  • George Lucas
  • Skywalker Ranch
  • Mystery Science Theater 3K
  • Disneyland
  • The X-Files
  • Renaissance Faire
  • Semi-audible snorts of derision
  • Jokes involving German, Austrian or Swiss scientists
  • Bill Gates
  • Reminding people Bill Gates saved Steve Jobs and Apple from oblivion with 150 million cabbages
  • Jokes involving Windows Vista, DOS, neutrons or nematodes
  • The IT Crowd
  • Microsoft
  • Microsoft-blue button downs
  • Any and all digital media
  • Fry’s Electronics
  • Roku
  • Hello Kitty
  • T-shirts with math or code humour (skeletal humour works, too, as in “I find this humerus”)
  • Goths (Yet, we also like the originals: roaming Visigoths & Ostrogoths of the Roman Empire)
  • Voyager Golden Record
  • The Simpsons
  • Comics
  • Comic books (yes, they are different)
  • Animation
  • Saying Linux
  • American Dad!
  • Historical- and/or technical-inaccuracies of any kind (so we can first laugh, then correct them)
  • Bad grammar (ditto)
  • George Will
  • Dictionaries
  • Peppering conversation with foreign language-bon mots
  • Shot-for-shot remakes (exclnt ex: Opening sequence to Indiana Jones I, stop-motion w/Hasbro figures)
  • Memorizing, then sporadically reciting, TV and movie quotes (incl. full dialogues with multiple characters)
  • Role-playing
  • Acquiring movie props (incl. the front-end of a film reel, cut and tossed, from an X-Files episode)
  • Complaining about tech support
  • Making lists

Did my pally omit anything? Let her know @JennyPopNet because I’m off to Antarctica!

 

Abyssinia at the South Pole, cats!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

Red Wine? Check. Candles? Check. Priest? Check. Season Two of American Horror Story? Check?

2

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Reviews, Television

SAG Awards Update to American Horror Story post: January 29, 2012

Ditto, what I wrote below about the Golden Globes, including the part about Dr. Lucy and me having Kir Royales and watching the 18th Annual SAG Awards in our Hotel Del. Additionally, Miss Jessica Lange just scooped Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Drama Series for her role as Constance Langdon in FX’s American Horror Story. Brava, Ms. Lange!

Golden Globe Update to American Horror Story post: January 15, 2012
Some of you cats may have preconceived notions of us ghosties. Well, listen up, Wheat. As much as it pains me to say, we are not prescient, we do not have extrasensory perception (ESP); we can neither see into nor predict the future. We are just like you, except we can travel with preternatural speed and levity, can pinch wine from the bar and blame it on the night crew, and have remarkably long histories. Just like you, we also watch Hollywood awards shows and have gut-feelings and strong opinions about whom will take home what. (Dr. Lucy and I are enjoying the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards a ce moment inside my turret room at the Hotel Del. Kir Royales, anyone?) As it behooves the following piece, the legendary Jessica Lange did indeed earn a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress/TV for her role as Constance Langdon on FX’s American Horror Story. Jessica Lange praises American Horror Story writers [at the Globes], saying, “More than anything, I want to thank the writers, because I find it more and more rare, or rarer, every year to find a piece of work that is really beautifully written, and gives you something to do.”, according to CNN Showbiz journalist David Daniel @CNNLADavid. Congratulations and well done, Ms. Lange!

Ciao, dolls! Now that the holidays and the New Year hangovers have settled, Dr. Lucy and I have mellowed back into our very fine grooves, haunting our lovely Hotel Del. Although, some of the staff and their common manners are severely lacking as of late, odd for such a hallmark in the world of service: P.R. department in particular. I think we might have some fun with them in these quiet days of January. My pally in the elevator, Edward, may be able to help us offer up a scare or two even. Going down? What fun for winter boredom!

Edward, to the roof! Photo: J.S.Devore

In the meanwhile, babies, I’ve been making keen use of my Christmas Kindle and watching loads of, not just Ghost Hunters, Midsomer Murders and Warehouse 13, but a new fave: American Horror Story. Not since The X-Files or late night shoots with Errol Flynn have I looked more forward to moonlight. Not to mention watching on a night like this: Friday the 13th! Murder! (You don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia, do you? Silly kittens!)

Also, not unlike The X-Files and the original swashbuckler, this horror story simply cannot be thoroughly enjoyed during daylight hours and is best not attempted without a bottle of red or, at the very least, a Washington martini (gin-soaked, filthy and with three fat olives: each representing the three branches of government … you do know those, don’t you?).

 

Not since Errol Flynn ... well. Oh, Johnny! When will you visit us at The Del? Photo: George Beahm

Not for the spiritually or visually squeamish, and you cats know I’m neither, AHS is a satisfying, ocular cocktail with equal parts Hitchcock suspense, unsettling 1930s carnival freakshow, vintage L.A. funk and scads of sexual oddities: all with just enough shock-and-awe to coat the glass and remind you it might be television, but it’s definitely cable. Zowie! (Standards and Practices aren’t the wet blankets they were in my day, are they?!)

Naturally, as with too many wicked-smaht series running amuck in TV’s own dead house à la The Others (Arrested Development, for one glaring example), there is a universal fear, as great as that of coming face-to-face with James Carville in an abandoned cabin in the Maine woods -egad!- , that Middle America might not tolerate the Golden Globe-nominated for Best Drama Series for TV American Horror Story with the same religious devotion as some of we Coasters do. Although, Season Two is already in high gear and I await anxiously the return of my fave Haunted Mansion, north of Anaheim at any rate.

Screaming for a swell, club-mix soundtrack infused with Rage Against the Machine, The Smiths, Marilyn Manson and maybe a touch of Beastie Boys for the lighter, bouncier freak fare, AHS punches up more stomach-jarring drops and reality jolts into darkness than a Wright Brothers’ transatlantic Red Eye. With enough characters and flashbacks to rival a time-travel, Celtic fantasy novel, the oft comic-noir (to those of us with a taste for gallows humor), bloody series invites us into a veritable palace of the dead, the 10K sq. ft. 1908 Rosenheim Mansion in L.A.’s posh Hancock Park, and proves that the afterlife, much like alcohol and fame, merely magnifies personality traits, and billable disorders.

Rosenheim Horror House, Hancock Park, L.A. Photo: Loren Javier

Guided by the chilly, blue hands of the curious brains behind the likes of Nip/Tuck, Entourage, The X-Files (natch), Dollhouse, Midnight Cowboy, Glee, Roswell and even true horror entertainment like ABC’s The Bachelor and the Julia Roberts feature Eat, Pray, Love, we are led into a Green Room, hovering type of existence populated with far too much relationship muck and back-stabbing, literally, to even attempt a back story here. Suffice it to say the lead male is a psychologist treating patients, living, undead and otherwise, in his haunted home. Red flag, babies! Not since Alan Thicke’s Dr. Seaver on Growing Pains was there a more obtuse shrink. Dr. Ben Harmon, however, may top the charts. Played beautifully, aesthetically as well as dramatically, by the very fine Dylan McDermott, his man foibles are almost forgivable, almost … until his potently sympathetic family (Boston transplants like me!) comprised of wife Vivien, daughter Violet, and their precious pup Hallie Harmon, plead with you not to be so quick to alleviate his guilt. Not to be bested on any facet, though, is the phenomenal, SAG- and Golden Globe-nominated Jessica Lange.

Part Designing Women‘s Julia Sugarbaker and part 1980′s Nancy Reagan, Jessica Lange’s Constance Langdon is as icily polite and hospitably, politically incorrect as a 1960s Virginia country club conceding to diversity applicants. She’s an utter pleasure on-screen and, with apologies to a very worthy cast, carries the show on her regal shoulders. I shudder to think what might happen were she to bail. With an upper middle-class ’60s sensibility and a coiffure that is almost certainly wrapped and pinned in bathroom tissue each night, she bakes up delightfully toxic pleasantries in an accent far more suited to the drooping humidity of a Richmond summer than to the bright and shiny California climes where she finds herself and her spectral, wastrel wards forever more. So unnerving, arresting and dead-on is her FFV (First Family of Virginia) demeanor, and trust me, I know a few by which to judge, one just might partake in one of her pretty, rat poison cupcakes served up with coffee, lest Constance takes note of one’s lacking, social graces.

Now, my take on the afterlife is that it’s simply divine. Of course, I met my demise in the Hotel del Coronado, so I get to spend eternity with room service, a poolside bar and pricey gift shops galore. The bee’s knees, I tell ya!  I do have the “dresses on a dead girl” issue and the poor etiquette of the hotel’s P.R. people who just blow my wig at every turn, but that’s all manageable, if not terribly easy or amusing. Whatever your take on death is, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, or forever reside where you died, I think we all might agree, dead or alive, on a given opinion.

Like reality TV, take Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for a glittering example, American Horror Story is aces fun to watch; but, my afterlife reality is sheer, smooth bliss. If you find yourself in an AHS afterlife situation, you have to ask yourself, What did I do to get here? and How the Hell do I get out? Until then, get your wine, light your candles and have your priest on speed dial … just in case.

Not a bad eternity, if I do say so myself! Even in winter.

Abyssinia the afterlife, cats!

 

For more Hannah Hart, search my name in the GTBAG search bar or visit www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Love dishing about #AmericanHorrorStory? So does @JennyPopNet !

How Betty & Veronica, Uncle Scrooge and a Lonely Octopus Save Christmas

4

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

Horsefeathers! Hildy just e-mailed me and I say, Ba-loney! I’m absolutely zozzled with disbelief!

I don’t want to make a beef about this, but here’s the dish. If you recall my previous post, I told you cats I was off to Boston for a Beacon Hill Christmas. I also mentioned it’s no simple jaunt, spending up loads of my energy to get there. Sure, ghost travel ain’t the big brodie yours is, but it’s still no basket of blackberries in July. Well, guess what, kids? Dr. Harvey & Hildy, good ol’ Mum and Daddy, won’t be having a Beantown Christmas this year because they’re headed for Hawaii! Well, I told them that’s all wet! How could they? I’ve been saving up since summer for the Road to New England and they go all Santa-in-a-grass-skirt on me!

 

Hannah Hart? We found these in an old Next Day Air igloo at Lindbergh Field

 

To make matters worse, they’re taking big bro Hugh with them. It looks like I’m all alone, Santa Baby. Just my little dog Lindy and Moi. Home for the holidays suddenly doesn’t seem quite the raspberry I thought it was. Plus, how am I supposed to get all my presents? Try to receive a package as a ghost, or deliver one for that matter. The current residents inevitably either keep the goods or send them back marked No longer at this address. Duh, Dumb Dora. Even brown can’t do that. Murder!

 

 

Well, I’m nothing if not a Pink Gin is half-full kind of kitten. I suppose the upside is not only do I get a respite from Harvey & Hildy’s foxtrot flaunts, but I also get to remain in San Diego, in my gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. Boyzo! Is it ever bonkers with Christmas spirit! Better than that? I think I spied an old chum lurking over a Gibson in the Babcock & Story – and I do mean old . . . she’s been here longer than I. Dr. Lucia Devereaux, oceanographer, was the first hot scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She also had a knack for tinkering and a fascination with the new electricity fads of the day: a deadly avocation when combined with her vocation.

Pauvre Onslow: as commemorative holiday decor

Dr. Lucy’s been haunting the hotel since 1904 when – The Del being the world’s first resort to use electrical lighting – she naively tried to teach Onslow, her pet octopus, whom she housed in the hotel pool, how to run the nighttime deck lights. One sad splash! and that was it: she would reside where she died. Legend has it Onslow scuttled back out to sea before he died and today he still tarries about the shoreline, only able to see his Lucy from afar. Sometimes at night, you can see them waving to each other: Onslow’s tentacles from the sea, she her handkerchief from her attic laboratory. Each Christmas Eve since then, if one listens carefully over the crashing waves of midnight, one hears Dr. Lucy singing his favorite poem, Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair by Stella Mead (1934). It’s haunting, really. Lord Octopus went to the Christmas Fair; an hour and a half he was traveling there …

 

She’s been adventurous lately, leaving her lab, now that steampunk is all the rage. Lucy’s a sucker for anything Victorian and mechanical. Lucky for her, the hotel gift shops have a plethora of steampunk décor and accoutrement: Onslow Christmas ornaments, clockwork art, vintage styled jewelry and sartorial finery galore for gentlemen and ladies in the posh hotel boutiques. If I can keep her out of the lab, I think it could be a nobby Christmas! Maybe Harvey & Hildy going to Hawaii is the best pressie after all. These hotel holidaymakers won’t know what hit when we jazzy kittens jolly up the joint!

 

Until the Christmas wingdings begin, I’ve got more than enough seasonal cheer and swell weather to keep me chipper. Best of all, I’ve got a stack of Mickey Mouse Magazines, Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge Adventures and even a few modern copies of Betty and Veronica. Oh, I do like that sassy and shiny Veronica! You wouldn’t find Miss Veronica Lodge at The Del in flip-flops and elastic-waist shorts … like some of you. (Cats, try to remember it’s an upscale resort when you visit. U.S. presidents, dignitaries and film stars holiday here. At least, please don’t wear your jim-jams out of your hotel room.)

Comic books for a chickadee like me? And how! You think all you alligators with your Superman, Spiderman and Star Wars tales cornered the market on comic book furor? Think again, dolls! Disney ink first hit the pulp in 1930 and I’ve been hooked like an old lady on a favorite Atlantic City slot machine ever since. I’ve even still got my very first comic book ever, a stocking stuffer in either ’31 or ’32: Mickey Mouse in Death Valley. Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie and those brazen Beagle Boys have been taking this muffin on adventure after adventure for over eighty years. Topping the stack currently is my 1949 Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade.  My faves though? The Egyptian escapades; nothing’s funnier than a mummy chasing Donald Duck! Throw in Mickey and Goofy afoot of a mystery in the Scottish Highlands and you’ve got some rip-roaring good yarns! Don’t forget to check your Junior Woodchuck Guidebook for tips on overseas mysteries, just in case you’re headed to exotic lands for the holidays. (I hope Harvey & Hildy packed their copy!)

 

Now, I’ve got to go change. The Travel Channel is on the premises shooting Skating by the Sea: The Del’s beachside ice skating. First, I have to dig up my fur-trimmed, Sonja Henie skating dress, my white, velvet muff and then it takes forever to do my finger curls. (Listen up, broads. Ghost locks are paper-thin and refuse to hold a curl; whatever you died with, you pretty much keep forever. So, if you have some idea of when you’re going out, make sure your hair is looking spiffy.) As soon as I’m cute n’ camera-ready, I’ll dash over and make a few spins around the ice rink. See, when they get around to editing next year’s Travel Channel Hallowe’en specials, they’ll remember they think they saw yours truly in some of the Christmas footage. Hey, it’s good B-roll for them and I get to keep my footy in the flickers.

 

Dr. Lucy, wait!

 

Okay, dolls. Tootles and Happy Holid … wait, is that Dr. Lucy? Ahhh, it is! Sure enough, she’s headed for the bar! I think I have time for a quick G&T à la B&S. Damn, I’m never going to get to my comic books. Whilst she and I catch up, perhaps some of you can suggest other great comics (any new steampunk series?) and holiday cocktails for Lucy, Lindy and Moi this Christmas @JennyPopNet.

 

 

 

Abyssinia, babies!
@JennyPopNet
Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Switch to our mobile site