San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Badge Quest: Victorious!

Category : Conventions, E-vents, Featured, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Holy moly, Hellboy!! This year was a close one! If you read my Adventures in WonderCon post, you will have noted the tint of sadness that came with realizing WonderCon Anaheim (WCA) was it for the year; the Comic-Con Badge Quest Slaughter of 2014 had left Dr. Lucy and myself emotionally exhausted and near expiration, with little hope of survival on the Con battlefield. Yet, like a Phoenix, rising from Arizona -wait, that doesn’t sound right- we mustered every cell of life that remained, gathered our courage and cerebral weaponry and … huzzah! With two weeks to spare, we parried and riposted our way into San Diego Comic-Con!

Dr. Lucy and I have had a pretty good run of not only getting into SDCC to cover it for geek-culture website GoodToBeAGeek, but also of Yours Truly getting into the accompanying Souvenir Book for a number of years. (Past years included articles on Peanuts, Tarzan and Bongo/Simpsons Comics.) This year’s submission is a piece on the 20th anniversary of Mike Mignola’s half-demon/half-Boy Scout, Hellboy. (Cloven-hooves crossed I get in the Book this year, too!)

Frank Cho artwork, Hellboy, SDCC

Hellboy artwork by Frank Cho

Still, as anyone will tell you, SDCC is becoming more and more difficult to permeate. Getting into the Con via standard, online badge purchase is a crap shoot; obtaining a Member ID is simple enough and getting in the online queue is equally non-taxing; getting to the front of the queue before every day sells out is a seemingly random, lottery-style mind%&*#. GoodToBeAGeek’s very own editor, Jessa Lynn Phillips, who one should note is closely tied-in with SyFy Channel’s upper-echelon, stated, “I don’t think I know anyone who got passes (other than panelists) for more than one day this year.”

To wit, not only is a badge purchase a shot in the dark, this year Comic-Con International (CCI) eliminated the ability to purchase 4-day badges. (Exception being if you purchased a Preview Night badge, for an extra fee, you can add an automatic 4-day pass.) The purpose, according to CCI, was to cut down on unused, precious badge space: folks buying all four days with the intention of only using one or two days. Further, the ability to purchase for friends (up to three plus yourself) during the pre-registration phase -which one can only enter if one attended the previous year- also limited those three friends to those whom attended the previous year. (Crikey! Getting a law degree has got to be simpler. Of course, based on some attorneys I know, it very well might be!)

Naturally, WCA was a blast and, for someone whom loves to play dress up, getting to don my Louise Belcher costume was fun enough in itself and enough to hold me over until Hallowe’en. Still, there had been a faint raincloud over my head as I read CCI’s Toucan Blog daily posts counting down to SDCC 2014.

I had worked my wee fingers to the bone massaging every contact, acquaintance and stranger I could. No one can say I didn’t try. I jiggled all the door handles; like Hillary trying to get into the White House. I even answered an ad on Craigslist to wear an M&M costume; and offered my scribing services for legit pro or press passes, only to be flagged. Apparently “honest-work for honest-comps” is offensive to the CL community; had I offered boudoir photos for scalped badges, I might have made “Best of Craigslist”. Besides the Badge Quest Slaughter, we here at GTBAG applied for press passes, only to be sliced and diced by CCI’s intensely perlustrative press wizards: You shall not [press] pass! I offered to man a booth at GoComics -sadly that contact was no longer with the organization- ; and I looked into volunteering anywhere there was a need within the Con, except the lavvies. One industry-insider advised with a pitiful shake of the head, “Volunteers was filled months ago. It goes almost as fast as the badge sale these days.”

In the end, neither the M&M suit nor a volunteer’s t-shirt was necessary. Happily, Lucy and I were fortunate enough to garner not just an enviable Saturday-pass, but the much-coveted Preview Night-pass! How, you may wonder, mouths collectively agape like codfish? Simple: intricate dealings in the Black Arts, magick of the Teutonic strain and a serendipitous, random spin of Lady Fortuna’s wheel.

Keep all this in mind next year, kids. SDCC online badge sales usually hit mid-February to mid-March. If you got in this year, use that pre-registration phase next year! If you don’t get a badge for 2015, try not to utter in disgust the words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper. It’s okay. You know, th-there’s always WonderCon in Anaheim, you know? Th-that’s just as good. Excuse me. (Turns to cry)

The Big Bang Theory S7e14: "Convention Conundrum". Chuck Lorre Prod., Warner Bros. Prod.

The Big Bang Theory S7e14: “Convention Conundrum”. Chuck Lorre Prod., Warner Bros. Prod.

Take not ye Cons for granted! Each one seems to grow exponentially, year over year. Citing Events in America, a North American trade show and conference directory, SDCC 2014 augurs 130K attendees once again: a self-imposed, max. capacity. Only CES Int’l Las Vegas and New York Comic-Con (NYCC) will bring in more geekage per cubic sq. ft.: 150K and 133K, respectively. NYCC’s projected attendance is up from 117K last year.

As I wrote earlier this year of WCA, oft minimized and discounted as Comic-Con’s little sister, “Whether you get into SDCC or not, WC is fast-becoming a good time all her own and very possibly, depending on how things line up, just as high-maintenance.”

HelloKittyHellboy

Hello Kitty loves dress-up, too!

 

 

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The Jumonville Massacre: A “Savannah of Williamsburg” Book IV Excerpt

Category : Candid Conversations, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Literature

Today marks the 260th anniversary of the Jumonville Massacre. It also marks nearly as many years gone by since my pally, author Jennifer Susannah Devore, started writing Book IV in her Savannah of Williamsburg Series. Folks, she tells me this one is the most difficult one yet to scribe. Not only is this period of Colonial American history intricately spiderwebbed with FFV (First Families of Virginia: the Fairfaxes, the Randolphs, the Carters, the Byrds, the Washingtons et al) and all manner of their ensuing drama and personal conflicts, but 1754 is also a period of exponential growth in commerce, communication and westward expansion.

As Book IV in the planned, six-book, pre-Revolutionary series running 1705-1776, it also serves as a slight pivot wherein, like true colonials of the formative years of mid-18thC. America, characters begin to see varying ideals of life across the sea from The Crown. Whether royal power is dispensed via greedy royal governors like Gov. Robert Dinwiddie, or faceless judges of the Privy Council back in London, personal opinions and political ideologies are being formed. This is an arduous road to take with characters whom have always been only the very best of friends with little to worry about than fishing conditions on the James River, which bottle of wine to take to a hostess and whether or not a pink or a green hat should be worn for a spring garden party. Such is life, though. Folks grow up and, sometimes, especially during great turning points in history, disagree. Yes?

Savannah of Williamsburg's Master Dante Marcus Pritchen. Artwork/copyright: KIM, LLC

Savannah of Williamsburg’s Master Dante Marcus Pritchen. Artwork/copyright: KIM, LLC

History’s account of the Jumonville Massacre is whitewashed and glossed over so much so that it has come to be known romantically as the Jumonville Affair, to Americans and British anyway. Even the National Park Service (as the massacre occurred near what would become Fort Necessity, what is now in the Farmington, PA-area, and is now a national park) labels it “The Skirmish”. One particular “history” book describes the massacre as “A second expedition in 1754 led to bloodshed.” Jumonville is most oft characterized by one or two sentences with an airy flip of the wrist that says, “who knows what really happened?”. I do, and so does Savannah of Williamsburg. To be fair, PBS, as one might expect, has approached it with honesty and scholarship via their phenomenal series The War That Made America.

Jumonville is a deep, dark scar in our shared history, masked by the thick makeup of time. 22-year old George Washington’s first step onto the military stage is tripped by deceit, gullibility, naivete, youth, ambition and manipulation. Washington is played by not only those he thought confidants, but also his own vigorous itch to reach the next echelon of the gentry’s intimate infrastructure. The French have a different recounting of the Jumonville “affair”, of the slaughter in the woods; this is the tale I, and Our Dante Marcus Pritchen, intend to tell in Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington’s Folly and The French & Indian War, Virginia 1754.

So, for all you history geeks out there, as Book IV is still far from the publishing stage, Miss Jenny proffers the following excerpt to her long-suffering, long-patient readers waiting for the next title in the Savannah of Williamsburg Series of Books.

Excerpt from Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington’s Folly and The French & Indian War, Virginia 1754

by Jennifer Susannah Devore.

 

“Do you hear the owl, Ensign Jumonville?” Officer Druillong, though not superstitious, was aware his men might be less than rational about such things. “The men, they are sometimes wary of such omens,” he smiled.

L’hibou? The owl? Oui, je l’ecoute. I hear it. Not to worry. It is merely an owl. Crows are bad luck, magpies are bad luck, corvids are bad luck. I do not believe the owl brings bad luck. Maybe in America, though? You know a bit of the American culture, M’sieur Laforce.” he turned to his his other officer and compatriot. “Is the owl a harbinger of evil, here in America?”

“I do not think so, universally, Joseph.” He held up an index finger and added, “Although, I do know of a superstitious saying that comes from the British colonies in the South. From South Carolina, I think. I learn this from a trapper I once meet in Montreal; he learned this from a fur buyer for a French family in Charleston.” LaForce cleared his throat and looked upward for a moment, remembering the recitation properly.

When you hear the screech owl, honey, in the sweet gum tree, it’s a sign as sure as you’re born a death is bound to be,” he recited in his thick, French accent and ended with a bit of a chuckle, amused by the Southrons and their provincial ways.

Still, nobody else laughed or chuckled here in the officers’ tent; the misty, rain-soaked morning was just a little too creepy. All three officers then looked to the trees, set their cafes back on the wooden cabaret-tray, on top of the leather-trimmed trunk, and placed preparatory hands on their own firearms as a chill suddenly skittered up each man’s spine. Seeing nothing out of order, each man went back to his early-morning business, in silence, and ignored the hoots of M’sieur Owl. On the other side of the camp, cadets Remy St. Raphael and Xavier Moreau de Poirot went back to attending their cartridges and keeping a sharp eye for anything out of place.

Up on the cliffs, overlooking the glen, Washington stood anxiously, a young man, barely out of boyhood and ready for action. He looked back and forth amongst his Virginia militia. They looked ready, yet unsteady. These men were not trained for this; they were farmers, William & Mary dropouts and shopkeeps, not professional soldiers. It was akin to sending volunteer firemen into the raging mouth of a forest fire. Washington then turned his gaze to the troops with whom he shared this campaign: the British regulars, the professionals.

Captain Stephen’s men, about twenty in count, had arrived as silently as Tanaghrisson’s warriors and placed themselves just west of the glen, flanking the pit where the French obliviously set about their morning routine. Washington’s men had come up from the south, whilst the Indians were everywhere, and nowhere, all at once. As he squatted behind a rock, keeping his lithe, 6’2″ frame hidden from the French, Washington watched the contrasts between his Virginians and Stephen’s regulars. That was where he really wanted to be, in charge of a proper British army. This Virginia militia business was okay for a bit; but it wasn’t the stuff of gentlemen. Royal officers were gentlemen. Colonial lieutenants were simply chief rabble-rousers. Of course, he could have joined the Royal Navy straight away. Alas, there would be little to no opportunity to rise within those ranks. He may have had family connections; but so did every young man of note on either side of the Atlantic and they all wanted to be naval officers. Few wanted to rough the wilds of the colonies. If Washington could move along the French, secure some prime property with Governor Dinwiddie and the other Ohio Company landowners, he’d be certain to receive a commendation, a promotion and a grand step up the social ladder. He just needed to get through today.

Long ago young Washington lost sight of his Indians: the savviest group of this military triad, at least where the deep woods were concerned. Their numbers were small, maybe only ten, but a powerful ten they were. The Seneca, Iroquois and Delta warriors knew this area better than all of the Virginians and Britons put together. They certainly knew it better than young Dante, Washington’s official journaler.

 Commissioned to document all goings-on, Master Dante Marcus Pritchen was an adventurous tabby always on the lookout for an escapade and a good time and whom also called Williamsburg his home. He had jumped at the chance to be embedded with this expedition led by the equally adventurous Lt. Colonel George Washington. A country cat by nature whom lived in a rather comfortable tavern in the colonial capital city and who was descended from the cats of Julius Caesar’, Dante’s version of country was more suited to the life of a English country gentleman. These Ohio Country, dense woods were a little wet and wild for his druthers; but hearty he was and every bramble, bug and blister was nudged away with a sturdy spirit and not a small bit of cockalorum. Not a soldier by any stretch of the imagination, Dante was still a natural athlete, never a flabby and lazy tabby, if not altogether fit for a forest atmosphere. Accustomed to a fine meal, a decent glass of port and a quality bed of goose-down, he made the best of dining on stale bread, a ration of rum (not bad, that) and sleeping in a tree, which, by the morning, was wet with dew. If there was any test for Dante, it was wet fur in the morning.

For now, he shook a bit off his back legs, adjusted his scarlet-lace stock, smoothed his sleep-wrinkled blue frock coat and shot his , now-torn, lace cuffs. Just because he was camping, didn’t mean he had to look like an animal. Thinking back though, the blue-and-scarlet drawing room ensemble, even though capped with very expedition-appropriate, buckskin cloak and moccasins, might not have been the best choice of gear. Nevertheless, though many of the soldiers had openly mocked his dress and, whilst never uttering a word, Washington’s occasional side-long glance betrayed his bewilderment about clearly found it an odd selection, it had yet to impede his job. In fact, Dante had already filled two of his four journals with notes, reports and even some sketches. Nobody could have covered this expedition better and if any military embed was to get his work published in the Virginia Gazette, or, even more exciting, the London Times, it was Dante Marcus Pritchen, cub correspondent. With a final shake of dew off a back leg, he snatched a fresh journal and a dry quill and nib from his leather bag and began to scribe onto the first page. He always loved scratching his nib onto that first page. He surveyed the morning’s situation.

With the British on one side, Virginians on another and the Indians all around, the French would have neither a clue what was happening, nor a sliver of a way out; trapped like rats on a sinking ship. Maybe then they would heed King George’s polite requests to extricate from British lands.

Without warning, a single pop of ignited gunpowder cleaved the peaceful dawn, like a sharpened hatchet through brittle firewood. In a flash, chaos, screams and the smell of sulfur replaced the morning serenity, cricket-song and the musky scent of moss and wet earth. Before anyone in the French camp knew what was happening, dozens of men flooded into the hollow, like water flowing freely out of a pitcher and into a bowl. Indian warriors dropped from the trees like acorns as polished British redcoats and countrified Virginians poured into that same bowl, into the glen. Scattering this way and that, the regulars and Virginians blocked the only egress up and out of the glen. Armed Indians lined the cliffs like a row of stolid pickets. The French screams were sudden and surprised, ranging from soprano to deep baritone pitches. Remy turned toward the excited and terrified screams of his friend.

Au secours! Au secours!” Xavier pulled a piercing screech from his lungs, a last-ditch warning to Remy. “Les Anglais! Les Anglais! Les sauvages, mon ami! Les sauvages!” and he pointed to a warrior crouched on the cliff directly above where Remy stood.

 Remy looked upward in the direction of Xavier’s telltale finger. The sharp edge of a tomahawk was the last thing Remy saw. It was quick. Xavier had just enough time to pray his friend’s end was painless before he saw his own mortality at the edge of the same blade. Blessedly, it was instantaneous and painless for both of them.

Excerpt from Savannah of Williamsburg: Washington’s Folly and The French & Indian War, Virginia 1754 by Jennifer Susannah Devore. All rights reserved. Property of KIMedia, LLC. Excerpt may be shared digitally for entertainment,  non-commercial purposes only and may not be reprinted in analog format or sold in any format, digital, analog or otherwise.

 

@JennyPopNet #historygeek #Jumonville #GeorgeWashington

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Are Today’s Cartoons Loony and Cynical or Are We Just Square?

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

Could you imagine being a kid and meeting SpongeBob, if he were real? My mother and father would most likely warn you to stay away from that “strange kid.”

What does that say about today’s cartoon television shows? What has changed over the past 30-some years? Could it just be that we, as adults, are just out of touch with today’s cartoons, or has our society — and cartoons — grown a little more cynical and off the beaten path?

loonycartoons

According to KidsHealth, young children, ages 6 and younger, spend an average of two hours in front of a television screen, watching either daily cartoons or movies. That time doubles among kids ages 8 to 18. Consider the number of children using mobile devices every day has more than doubled in the past two years, and it would be easy to ascertain the influence of cartoons is much greater than it was when we were young. Personally, I did not have any mobile devices as a kid, much because none existed.

Now, comparing the likes of Spongebob Squarepants, Chowder and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack to 1980s and ’90s cartoons like Garfield and Friends, Thundercats and Care Bears may not be as bad of an experience as grandma would have with a Daft Punk concert; however, the takeaway from each experience could arguably be the same — not much.

 

Cartoons of Yesteryear Had More of a Moral Compass

Cartoons have traditionally aimed to not only entertain children, but to try and teach them something, be it a moral lesson or to encourage them to be more creative and active.

The Care Bears cartoon (1985-1988), for example, focused on being good to others and being honest. It helped children learn how to resolve differences and express their feelings. There were no off-the-wall antics, no farting noises or loud, destructive scenes. These elements are common in cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants and Chowder, which actually has an episode called “Famous Farts.” It would stand to argue that parents would like their children to learn more than the art of flatulence when watching cartoons. It is safe to say the 1980s and ’90s cartoons were, for the most part, fart-free.

Action cartoons 30 years ago, like G.I. Joe, Transformers, He-Man and Thundercats, also had a definitive line between good and evil and applied several lessons of what is right and wrong, along with the importance of teamwork to overcome adversity. These cartoons contained the essence of what we have come to know as heroes.

There’s no comparing the visual effects of cartoons 30 years ago to today’s cartoons. The advancement in animation and graphics have revolutionized how the common household television functions today. Perhaps that’s where our old cartoons stayed true; they weren’t saturated with noisy, action-saturated graphics. It’s like comparing an orchestra to a garage band.

For example, Ben10 (aired 2005-2008) centered around a typical boy who came upon an alien device which transformed him into various unearthly creatures with otherworldly powers, as the cartoon’s selling point. It’s comparable to Pokemon–the Rubix Cube of cartoons for adults today–in that numerous characters and high action compete for a child’s attention.

With 1980s and ’90s cartoons, the stories themselves captivated the minds of children, not the graphics and action. They were like an orchestra with simple, constructive tunes rather than the “garage band” type of cartoons you see today, where the louder and more obnoxious they are, seemingly, the more popular they get.

 

Beacons of Hope

Technology used in family life, on the other hand, is only moving forward. It is not uncommon for a family household to be equipped with a bundled service of technology, similar to what www.bundle.tv provides: feeding cable and high-speed Internet to the household. This, of course, provides access to an infinite plethora of games, shows and movies to every television, computer and mobile device under one roof. Thanks to technology like this, monitoring what children watch is something our parents can do with ease, compared to the past. There are ways of steering our children, especially our younger ones, toward more quality educational entertainment.

Not all cartoon shows today are bad. There are beacons of hope out there in the cartoon world. Two examples of cartoons with a moral compass are Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. Shows like Dora help younger children learn the basic knowledge of society, but go a step further, teaching viewers a new language (Spanish) while also entertaining them.

Paste Magazine considers Phineas and Ferb to be the best kids show on television, citing its relative plots to everyday life, its intrigue to viewers young and old, and its cleverness in humor. The show doesn’t oversell its characters; it keeps them honest and playful, yet mindful of each other and their parents. Its graphics are simple, yet colorful and never overbearing. It is because of shows like Dora the Explorer and Phineas and Ferb, there is a Care Bear still smiling somewhere.

 

About the Author

Ryan Harrison works for a pop culture magazine where he writes gossip about celebrities… shamelessly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full steam ahead! Ahoy! Abyssinia and Merrie Christmas!

 

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A Geek’s Thanksgiving: Thankful for TV, Tofurkey and Snoopy

Category : Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Holiday, Movies, Television

Kittens, I will admit this only once a year: San Diego is a bore, from Hallowe’en to New Year’s Day. Naturally, for we whom haunt the Hotel del Coronado, there is actually quite a bit to do here during the Holidays: ice skating by the sea, hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps at Babcock & Story, Christmas tree gazing, unique gift shopping and Victorian, holiday decor throughout every nook and cranny of our glorious, 125-year old resort. Still, and some of you, especially you wheats in the Midwest, might prefer this, the weather is predictably mild: average low of 54, high of 69 and 75% chance of sunshine. Sounds great, but growing up a Beantown gal, I need some autumn leaves, heavy rain and a reason to wear some amazing, vintage wool coats. The fam, Dr. Harvey, Mother Hildy and Big Bro Hugh are still in Boston; funny enough, they’d rather be here! (Fortunately, our own Dr. Lucy and I will be headed to San Francisco this Christmas for the annual Dickens Christmas Fair! Plenty of  rain, wool coats and, for our Dr. Lucy, lots of steampunk! Check back in December for a full report and, natch, a slideshow!)

Let this ghostdame tell you nothing is more glorious than an autumn day so perfect it is of filmic proportions: like the art department hand-painted every leaf the perfect shade of red, sprinkled Victorian window panes with the just the right amount of raindrops and yellow gels were placed on all the interior lighting, making a seaside coffeehouse more like Grandmama’s Gingerbread Kitchen, alive with the scents of espresso, cinnamon and nutmeg. This is generally best experienced in Annapolis, Boston or Williamsburg, not Southern California. Of course, there are a few things which make the Holidays a little more festive in swingin’ SoCal, and in those I partake happily and heavily.

PSL, Pumpkin Spice Love Photo: JSDevore

PSL, Pumpkin Spice Love Photo: JSDevore

Now, worshiping at the foamy foot of Starbucks, I await the legendary Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) all year long; yet, it’s all so short-lived, hidden behind the day-after-Halloween red-cup brigade. Design a Thanksgiving cup, Sbux, if you please: tobacco background with golden-yellow and brick-red swirls steaming up the cup, all topped with a turkey silhouette. Ahh, yesss. I can see it now. Well done, me!

In fact, it is somewhat odd, this Thanksgiving penchant of mine, considering the fact that I am a vegetarian (since about the age of fifteen … let’s see, that’s about 1905) and a Native American: 1/8 Choctaw … so, I may make all the “Feather, not dot” and “Casino, not convenience store” jokes I want. Oh, don’t get your p.c. panties in a proverbial bunch. I’ll bet there was a joke around some dinner table in Bangalore during Diwali that had the potential to offend me, had I known of it. Let’s all have a sense of humour, shall we?

Apropos to annoying political correctness, similar to Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values or Bobby Hill in King of the Hill‘s “Spin the Choice” I have certainly been a teenaged, Thanksgiving pain-in-the-ass. As a young punk I oft protested the massacre of Native Americans, the buffalo and the turkeys, all from the courageous seat of a warm and comfortable, upper-middle-class dining room, free of any consequence other than eye-rolls served up alongside King’s Hawaiian rolls. These mild, semi-public assertions were usually manifested via either wardrobe choices (Ralph Lauren southwestern-motif dress, turquoise jewelry, fringed Frye boots), pouting and/or preaching (the year I went veggie), or making my own, authentic succotash (vile disaster). Of course, as the turkey goes, nothing has chilled my tenacity there. I have not partaken in a Thanksgiving turkey or ham since my early teens. To that end, I also will not break a wishbone; the concept makes me shudder.

In the end, I have happily come to realize that other people’s habits are not my concern and it is awfully pompous of me to declare anything at a family holiday, however glossy my hair may be that day. I eat my Tofurkey (Thanks, Mom!!) as others eat their trusting birds and large, baby-pink, farm animals with the suspected I.Q. of a human six-year old and we all share copious amounts of wine, candied yams, coffee, laughs and familial love.

For us vegetarians, Snoopy’s traditional Thanksgiving feast is even better than Tofurkey!

This is where I cease the obligatory “I am thankful for … ” liturgy. I am most thankful for the fact that I neither need nor care to share my deepest and most emotional Thanksgiving musings with a bunch of strangers. My beloveds and I already know the score and it need not be spake thusly.

Oh, wait a minute, I am thankful for one thing I feel I must share. I am Thankful, with a capital “T”, for Television, with a capital “T”! Well, television and film. To wit, as I hope I helped a few lost souls find their way through the Hallowe’en television mist, I humbly offer a Tofurkey platter piled high with moist and steamy media goodness. Happy Tofurkey Day, America!!

Poor little Geek Girl; she never had a chance. Photo: JSDevore

“I don’t think watching TV was the pilgrims’ original intent on Thanksgiving.”

-Diane Chambers, Cheers, “Thanksgiving Orphans”

 

  • Fave Thanksgiving TV Episodes!

King of the Hill “Spin the Choice”

Bob’s Burgers “An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal”

The Big Bang Theory “The Thanksgiving Decoupling”

The Simpsons “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”

South Park “A History Channel Thanksgiving”

Frasier “A Lilith Thanksgiving”

Northern Exposure “Thanksgiving”

Little House on the Prairie “The Little House Years: Part I”

American Dad “There Will Be Bad Blood”

Outsourced “Temporary Monsanity”

Cheers “Thanksgiving Orphans”

Rugrats “The Turkey Who Came to Dinner”

Scrubs “My Day Off”

Seinfeld “The Mom and Pop Store”

The Bob Newhart Show “Over the River and Through the Woods”

WKRP in Cincinnati “Turkeys Away”

Friends Any Thanksgiving episode …

“The One With the Rumor”

“The One With All the Thanksgivings”

“The One With Chandler in a Box”

“The One With the Late Thanksgiving”

“The One With Rachel’s Other Sister”

“The One Where Ross Got High”

“The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs”

“The One Where Underdog Gets Away”

“The One With the List”

“The One With the Football”

 

  • Fave Thanksgiving Films!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Garfield’s Thanksgiving

Hannah and Her Sisters

Home for the Holidays

Martha Stewart Holidays: Classic Thanksgiving

An Old-fashioned Thanksgiving

Addams Family Values (“The Turkey Song”)

 

Did I forget anything, cats? Send me a Tweet @JennyPopNet!

Abyssinia, kids! See you at San Francisco’s Cow Palace for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair!

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

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

Were Games Better When You Were A Kid?

Category : Featured, Game On, Geek Out, Geek Rants

Photo Credit: C. Gomboli

 

Approaching the age of thirty, there is one question bugging me more and more often. I’m sure if you’re of a certain age it’s occurred to you too: Are children today having more fun than I did? Our generation pretty much grew up alongside video games. We were born around the time the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System were released. As we were starting school the Megadrive and Super NES hit the market and the graphics changed from what looked like they were made out of poorly constructed Lego models to looking like they were made out of really high quality Lego models. We watched as Starfox introduced 3D polygons and marveled at how realistic the graphics were in Donkey Kong Country and Mortal Combat. We pioneered the controls of the first person shooter. Now, we simply aren’t happy with a game unless it has a fully realized, photo-realistic environment with A-list voice actors, the books are comprehensive and available and there is a reasonably wide choice of TV channels.

But here’s the thing – as we’re getting older, games are continuing to get better. We live in a world where the fully immersive virtual reality sets we all fantasized about while watching Lawnmower Man are on their way to becoming a reality. We are facing every generation’s worst nightmare: our children may grow up having a better childhood than ours.

Fortunately, the gaming industry, like the comics industry, has long since abandoned trying to appeal to children. Instead, they seek out the far richer thirty-somethings. To appease us, the gaming industry has been taking measures which ensure gaming becomes a far worse experience than ever before, allowing us to wax lyrical about a “golden age of gaming” later down the line.

 

They’re doing this by:

Keeping You Online, All the Time

A long time ago, we were introduced to an exciting new concept called “The Internet.” You could take games you were playing on your computer, use the Internet to connect to other people with the same game and shoot them. It was a great system and fun was had by all, even though we all had dial-up connections and the games ran like really old, poorly-maintained clockwork.

Flash forward to today and Microsoft is currently in a public relations quagmire because they wanted to sell their new console, the Xbox One, so that it was online all the time. If you didn’t check into your Xbox at least once a day, it would shut down. They have now backtracked on this, but that doesn’t mean an end to it. In fact, the rot has already set in.

Try something for me. Go to your local outlet of Game, and buy the very latest new release. Buy it on release day if you possibly can, first thing in the morning. Then run back home as fast as you can, power up the Xbox, rip the cellophane wrapper off your game, put the disc in and… before it loads up, your Xbox informs you that you will need to download a patch.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s not getting into Kafkaesque DRM or games that insist on being connected to your social media account. Or of course:

 

Making You Pay For Your Fun

When we were kids the rules were simple. You saw a game you liked, you downloaded the demo or installed it off a disc on the front of a magazine. Then, you would play that demo to death until you could persuade your parents to buy you the full game. Once you had the full game, that was it. You might get the occasional add-on pack, but the rule was once you bought the game, you had access to everything in the game.

Oh how naive we were!

One of the earlier, subtler examples of this was the Catwoman storyline in Batman: Arkham City. It was a simple idea – if you buy the game new, you get a code that unlocks the Catwoman story. If you buy the game second-hand, you have to pay for it. It was simply a way to encourage cheapskates, like me, who get all their games from Cash Converters to actually put some money into the games industry.

As with any idea like this, it wasn’t long before someone looked at it and thought “How can I make this evil?” And so, Skylanders was born. The ingenuity of Skylanders is that your avatar in the game changes depending on which toy figurine you place on the “portal of power” that plugs into the game console. The best part is huge chunks of the game, from secret treasure to bonus levels, are blocked off unless you have the right figurine to give you the right powers to access them.

So, after you’ve pestered your parents into buying the game, you still can’t complete it until you’ve pestered your parents into buying all of the accompanying toys!

 

They’re Trying Too Hard to Be Movies

Let me tell you about the first level of the first real first person shooter, Wolfenstein 3D.  You start off in a prison cell, with a gun and a dead Nazi. Another Nazi opens the door and you shoot him too. Then, you walk out of the door and… and anything. There are multiple ways you can work your way through Castle Wolfenstein, killing Nazis and the odds are you’ll probably get lost doing so.

Now, watch the walk-through of the first level of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It starts off with a short intro film explaining the plot. Wow, it’s been five minutes already…six minutes. After six minutes of watching a movie, you appear to actually be in the game. Now, you have to help that guy. Oh no, he’s dead. Now, this guy is talking to you. Okay, maybe now you can go and explore. Oh wait, no. You’ve have to ride on this truck. You’ve been “playing” nearly ten minutes and ahh, here are some baddies to shoot. Well, I say baddies. I don’t really know why you’re shooting them.

The point is, there are nice, big, yellow letters marked “Target” telling you exactly where to go at all times and BOY does it look pretty and… oh, you’re back watching a film again. Of the first 15 minutes since pressing “START,” not counting load times, roughly 6 minutes have been spent playing an actual game, which is perhaps the biggest tragedy. The graphics of our games have become so good that developers are putting more energy into showing us the pretty pictures they made than giving us an actual game to play.

Of course, there are games that are going the other way. At first glance, Minecraft has graphics not much better than Wolfenstein 3D, but the gameplay options (on a map that is actually bigger than the planet) are limitless. Unless there’s a bigger demand for games that are supposed to be fun, rather than graphically amazing, online micro-transaction machines, the peak of gaming is probably going to remain around the time Half-Life came out.

 

Jason Falls is a freelance writer and avid gamer working with Butlers Bingo. He misses the old days of video games and also thinks those damn kids should get off his lawn.

Shauncastic – Episode 128: A Cunning Conversation

Category : Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Guest Appearances

I’m back on Shauncastic!

Courtesy of Shauncastic.com

This episode takes on Fan Creations and Copyright Infringement. The “Jayne” hat took over social media this week as independent crafters received cease and desist letters due to alleged infringement upon the copyright held by FOX. The hoopla comes on the tails of Think Geek’s announcement that they will be selling the officially licensed hats. Fans took to social media to speak out for the crafters, blame FOX and Think Geek got caught in the crossfire.

Shaun Rosado (@pneumaz), Laura Rosado (@drmrstheawesome), Josh Gilliland (@bowtielaw & @TheLegalGeeks), Juliette (@rumielf) and myself discuss some of the intricacies of the issue, the social media outrage and the what happens now.

Where our cast discusses the controversy behind Fox shutting down handmade “Jayne” hats.

The “Cast” this week is DrMrsTheAwesome, “Just” Jessa (from Good to be a Geek), Juliette (The RumiElf) and Josh* (from The Legal Geeks)!

*Nothing in this podcast should be considered legal advice or constitute an attorney-client relationship with anyone listening to the recording. All statements are purely personal opinion.

-Shauncastic.com

Click the link below to listen to the podcast on Shauncastic:
http://shauncastic.com/2013/04/11/shauncastic-128-a-cunning-conversation/

RevNews 2012 Year in Review – The Year of Geek Women

Category : Bytes, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Guest Appearances, News

On occasion I have the pleasure of appearing as a guest on other sites and podcasts. A few weeks ago, I appeared as a guest on the RevolutionSF RevCast as they took a look back at the year of 2012. In this episode, we tackle the “Fake Geek Girl” controversy and attempt to discover what the issues at the heart of the controversy are, how it became such a big deal and how we hope to move on in the future.

The RevNews is back!  This time host Gary Mitchel is joined by some Geek women to discuss the events that have defined Geek Women in 2012.  You know that Jessa Phillips, Laura Haywood-Cory, Sarah Carless and Tegan Hendrickson are going to talk about the “real geek” controversy that has swirled around fandom this year.  Spoiler:  Gary gets made an honourary woman.

Click the link below to listen to the podcast!
http://traffic.libsyn.com/revolutionsf/61212-2012_in_Review_Part_One-The_Year_of_Geek_Women.mp3

RevNews 10/31/12 – Disney Buys Star Wars

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Category : Bytes, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Guest Appearances, News

Unless you have been residing under a very large rock, you have heard the big news – Disney bought Lucasfilm, Ltd. In a move no one saw coming, the house that Mickey built found the droids they were looking for when they paid George Lucas $4.05 Billion dollars for the Lucasfilm empire. Among it’s vast holdings, Lucasfilms owns the rights to two hugely successful franchises, Star Wars & Indiana Jones. Along with the rights to these franchises and many more, Disney picks up the production powerhouses Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), as well as Skywalker Sound, which provide production services to a large percentage of the film and television industry.

 

 

I had the opportunity to appear as a guest on the RevolutionSF RevNews podcast to discuss the sale and the ramifications this transfer could have on the future of some beloved franchises. Also on this episode of the RevNews podcast are Gary Mitchel (Host, RevolutionSF.com), Dash (Shauncastic, Women of Geekdom Calendar), Shaun Rosado (Shauncastic) and Matt Cowger (RevolutionSF.com).

Click here to listen to the episode: http://traffic.libsyn.com/revolutionsf/121031_RevNews_Disney_Buys_Star_Wars.mp3

X-Files Freak Show Meets Pawn Stars: Science Channel’s Oddities

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

Happy Hallowe’en, all you eerie black cats! Every time I think Christmas is my fave time of year, October sallies into town and, bonkers I go! Travel, parties, costumes and ghostly film & TV marathons: my pally JennyPop has a fab viewing list! What’s better than a Hallowe’en viewing party? Watching with spookily stylized treats and drinkies! Sippy, sippy? Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel, where I shall be spending this Samhain soiree, is proffering the perfect pumpkin pie martini. Um, yes, please!

Back here in Cali, up in wine country for the après-Salem festivities, Dr. Lucy and her deathly devoted Dr. Devorkian shall be serving up Dr. Meechele’s Eyeball Martinis: Belvedere vodka with pimento-stuffed, skewered, black olives and bleeding vampire teeth ice cubes.  (Need some ghoulishly good entertaining ideas, your own self? Thank Jebus, Sunset magazine knows not all Westerners want BBQ and hiking trail articles all the time!) Last year’s Napa bash? So ominously pleasing, I’m mildly concerned as to what this year could bring. Fret not, though. Should Lucy and I survive, updates will follow. Survive, you query? Yes, so much fun that even two living dead girls might not make it out alive.

To boot, I finally decided on a costume: Abby Sciuto of NCIS. True, I was already Abby one year and I am loathe to repeat a costume. Yet, that was five or more years ago and, in my defense, I had nowhere to go. So, I spent Devil’s Night in Colonial Williamsburg and roamed the town, frightening the upper-crusty and upper-dusty of the Old Dominion. They make the real dead n’ dusty, like Mum & Dad, Boston’s own Dr. Harvey & Hildy- look like Haunted Mansion party crashers. Holy moly, what a stuffy set of bones, those Virginians. (Hey. How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb? Seven. One to change it and six to talk about how great the old one was. Ha!) Natch, this ennui does not include the vast array of CW performers, interpreters and artists. Yikes! Those beans can par-tee har-dee!! Stephen Christoff, Sterling Fry and Lance Pedigo … I’m talking directly to you, boys!

Artwork by CurtisDog53/FanPop

So, whilst searching for NCIS on Netflix, I happened across an eery series, parfait for this time of year, called Oddities: Science Channel’s own answer to History Channel’s Pawn Stars. Well, I knew in the thump of a tell-tale heart that our Dr. Lucy needed to see this. Funny enough, she recognized some little friends amidst the bottles and glass domes on display at Obscura Antiques and Oddities: the Downtown Manhattan-based curio shop where Oddities is shot. You’ll recall our excursion to Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium here in sunny San Diego? This place makes Dr. Watson’s cabinets look like glass cases of Betsey Johnson accessories at Macy’s. This stuff is freaky, even for Moi.

Recall the X-Files episode “Humbug” (S2E20), wherein Scully and Mulder travel to Florida to investigate murders in a carnival freak show? Well, move Pawn Stars to this episode and you’ve got Oddities. So much so, I would not be surprised if Leonard, the freak show murderer and underdeveloped, free-range, conjoined twin of Lanny (actor Vincent Schiavelli) was either preserved in one of the shop’s formaldehyde bottles or skittering freely amidst Obscura in the wee hours of the morn, pinning antique butterflies and dung beetles to Chatty Cathy doll faces.

Owners Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson claim Obscura “ain’t your grandmother’s antique shop”. True dat, as they say. My own Beacon Hill Granny would freak at the idea of petrified whale cochlea and fossilized mammoth dung … and she’s dined with both Mussolini and Joan Crawford. Better dressed and far funkier than the desert rats and t-shirted schlubs of Las Vegas’ Gold and Silver Pawn, the patrons and staff of Obscura are reality TV’s antidote for those with a greater interest in rhesus monkey skulls and Thai snake wine, than Rat Pack memorabilia and John Wayne saddles. Beyond the odd customer (I do mean odd), there seems to be an irregular parade of collectors, artists, performers and seasoned antiquers ebbing and flowing into the shop: like a perpetual tide of 1920s carnival workers and sideshow talent. Best of all, for yours truly and her Hallowe’en viewing habits, this is exactly the kind of place Miss Abby Sciuto would haunt; ergo, it’s the perfect, seasonal viewing pour Moi during costume fittings!

Bad timing: Obscura, closed. Photo: Tony Buser

Kids, keep your Saturday nights at 9:00 free! Set your DVR if need be or just watch via Netflix. Note though, Netflix has only Season 1 thus far. Although, S1 does contain my, so far, fave episode! You’ll make the Addams Familyesque acquaintance of an unearthly and creepily adorable, oh-so-odd beauty whom, after careers of both a mortician and a model (runway, I presume, by her lovely, lanky looks) has made the natural progression to fashion designer. Now she needs an embalming table for her latest collection. Why? You’ll just have to watch: S1E4 “Model Mortician”. Besides, where else on reality TV, besides The Real Housewives of Orange County, will you hear the following three declarations?

“I don’t think I’ll be spending $400 today on a walrus penis.”

“Finding a perfect monkey skull is not an easy task.”

“I’ve exhausted my resources trying to find a grade-A monkey skull.”

For my two centimes, similar to The X-Files, the show is best watched at night and with a glass of Cabernet. Noontime and a cup of green tea? Not so much. The Hellraiser skull pins, antique dentures and 19thC. straight jackets are a bit unsettling too early in the day.

To boot, this year Science Channel is running an Oddities Hallowe’en Day marathon!

With my familiar, (R.I.P.) Catrina Tituba, in Colonial Williamsburg. Photo: Colonial Paranormal Society

Right-o then, chickadees. Back to my Hallowe’en preparations. I need the right pair of Demonia-style, Marilyn Manson, platform boots, a new mini-kilt (purple, pink and black if possible) and just the right, final piece of jewelry: maybe a pirate ring. Ah, yesss. Excellent. I require a replica of Captain Jack Sparrow’s emerald ring. Precious. Preciousss! Lucy? Are you paying attention?


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

League of S.T.E.A.M. Targets Hannah & Dr. Lucy: How Rude!

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

Kids,  I don’t get too much mail here at The Del. Being dead and all, who’s going to send Moi anything? With the exception of occasional postcards you good pips send me here at the Hotel del Coronado -keep ‘em coming, babies!- mail call is pretty quiet around The Del for yours truly.

Still, along with the odd postcard, and some of them are quite odd, especially those from Texas, I do get unexpected packages once in a blue moon. Today, I received a small, padded envelope with a CD in it. There was no note with it, no greeting, merely a crude marking on the CD itself which read, “Consider yourself warned”.

Jeepers creepers! The return address read only “League of S.T.E.A.M.“!

“Supernatural & Troublesome Ectoplasmic Apparition Management, indeed! How rude! I have a right mind to send them a very sternly written letter. However, I am even more of the mind that my online blathering has finally called too much attention to not only myself, but my dear friend Dr. Lucy. It seems to me, we’ve got some ghost hunting types here in the hotel and, what with Hallowe’en fast-approaching, my guess is these steampunk monster hunters are gearing up for Samhain Scandals! Well, they’ll never catch me! Ha ha!

This, btw, is what those real monsters sent me. Pay close attention after the 3:00-mark.
 

 
Damn it, Lucy! I know how much you enjoyed playing with that new EOS Canon Rebel. Still, didn’t I tell you that if we were going to go play at Comic-Con, that we had to lie low? Especially in the SyFy Press Room? As dear old dad, Dr. Harvey, would say, “Oi vey, Lucy!”.

Fortunately, I shall be out of town for the Holidays: home to good ol’ Beantown and spooky Salem, Mass for some Hallowe’en haunting about the Hawthorne Hotel; and, Lucy shall visit her dear Dr. Devorkian up in Napa this All Hallows’ Eve. Let’s see the League of S.T.E.A.M. find us now! (Oh. Wait. Damn it, Hannah!) Well, at least now the League shall have to dispatch their tiresome, hyper-weaponed gnats to New England and Northern California, as well as wherever else their ne’er-do-well activities take them here in Southern California. Shame on them, nettling and tweaking the likes of Lucy and Moi! Funny enough, now those half-portions in Ghost Adventurers and Ghost Hunters International don’t seem so bad.

I think I can take the mook in the visor, but what's with the giant wrenches? Jebus!

Monster hunters take note! Perchance, you are not aware of she with whom you dare to dance! I swing a mean cocktail bag, kittens!

 

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

How Black Adder and the French Will Save The English Tongue

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

Vulgar vocab primer. Excellent coffeehouse reading.

Reading a bit, hither and thither I’ve come across a widespread vexation amidst contemporary writing. Bloggers, authors, writers of all sorts appear to have come to the conclusion that the more vile and odious of curse words peppering their oeuvres, the more smashing, dashing and edgy said-oeuvres will be. My own pally, Jennifer Susannah Devore, chose to season her latest novel with dashes and pinches of the scandalous. To be sure, Miss Jenny’s The Darlings of Orange County does this with rapier-like whips, flicks, snaps and stings using a fair sampling of modern slang, evoking sexual, sensual and downright nasty scribblings. She even looked to her time-tested and dogeared, paperback copy of Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Still, it’s a far cry from her shy and largely Victorian instincts. Of course, and you didn’t hear it from me, chickadees, she’s also selling the lusty Darlings hand over fist in comparison to her family-friendly Savannah of Williamsburg. To sum up the problem, this need for tingling titillation, allow Moi to quote Muppet Treasure Island:

Rizzo:     What’s wrong?
Gonzo:   It just feels so weird.
Rizzo:     That Mr. Arrow’s dead?
Gonzo:   Yeah, that … and my pants are filled with starfish.
Rizzo:     You and your hobbies!

Anyhoo, one of my standard, online stops is the blog of a feisty Celt from Phoenix named Natalie Wright, author of the YA Celtic fantasy Emily’s House. Her latest musing got me thinking: Help Me Clean Up My Potty Mouth. “I’m on a quest to build a library of non-swearword urban slang. It’s time to get creative,” she opines. Well, toots, let me say that curse words and swears may change from generation to generation and era to era; but, they’re all still curse words. However, the beauty of time and nostalgia grants that what was once scandalous and verboten, may later be pithy and distinguishing. Tired of mundane and prosaic cursing? Need some nifty razzes for that sap at the next staff meeting or the rude jellybean next door? Get a gander of some of our kicky gum flaps from the 1920s and 1930s.

Now, if the Twenties were roaring with smooth n’ snazzy wordsmithing, nobody but nobody beats the Elizabethans where the almighty spoken smackdown is concerned. If you’re a history geek and a bit of a Renaissance Faire regular, the Shakespearean mudslinging may be old hat to you. For those not so well-acquainted, you’d do well to expand your insult-vocabulary. You think calling someone a motherf%$*&@ is scurrilous? “F*%# you, B%$@#!” is an affront? Zowie! How about, “May your meat pie fester and boil, you dankish, full-gorged shoe-sniffer!”? Try slinging that the next time some virtual slug disrespects your mad, hacking skills. Maybe, “Your mother’s void is a dribbling, bat-baited maggot-pie!”?

Me thinks she hast already tweak’d you, you errant giglet. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Sure, they’ll laugh at you; but that’s all they’ll be able to do. How does one combat barbs like, “Your visage not only stopped a thousand ships, but the Royal Navy has requested the Queen declare your beslubbering death-hole their safe harbor.”? No one beats Shakespearean-age wit and if I know the geek-soul, you pips could care less when piked at the business-end of a good laugh; it’s de rigueur. True victory comes from leaving your opponent devoid of all ammunition when the pith flies. Not sure how to cull this new lingo? You learned Klingon, didn’t you? Same way. I know a fair bucketful of Faire-folk whom taught themselves, at least the very basics, of Elizabethan-era English: including my Miss Jenny. Explains loads why she had very few friends in college, spent most weekends either at home, at a museum, at Disneyland or at Faire. Her weeknights? Practicing her thees, thys and thous, you mammering, milk-livered moldwarps.

Go ahead. Call her a clouted, fen-sucked clotpole. I’ll wait. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Not interested in that much work? Help yourself to the Elizabethan Aspersion Grid below. Simply pick a bit from columns one, two and three and, voila! …  you’re an ignominious, mewling vituperant. Go ahead, try it on someone the next time you feel the need to swear. It’s oft been said that overuse of curse words signifies a lack of vocabulary. Well, not where the Elizabethans were concerned. It was a finely honed art form, a battle of wits that lasted throughout, morphing along the way of course, the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Amongst the menu des plaisirs, (what the French call BCBG: Bon Chic Bon Genre, or what you call The Beautiful People) at the court of Versailles, if you couldn’t keep pace with the flinging of zingers … well, c’est domage and, peut-être, pack your valise and find yourself a new château. Lord knows where the art of the barbed-tongue dropped off so precipitously.

Image: Jean-Honoré Fragonard: pd via WikiMedia Commons

Whilst you’re crafting your new lexicon of libel, drift on over to Miss Natalie’s cheeky blog and give her a hand, or the finger; give her some ideas for thoughtful slang. Panty hamster is always a winner, as are tart monkey and foot-licker. To boot, she’s got a giveaway going on for your efforts. Most original creations win the prize! Need a bit more inspiration? Two emphatic suggestions: Black Adder and Ridicule.

Black Adder (BBC 1485-1917): Seasons 2 & 3 notably and available for instant viewing on Netflix. Rowan Atkinson proffers a healthy dose of supercilious slights from the ale-soused fringes of Queen Elizabeth’s court (S2) to the luxe n’ lazy chambers of King George III’s court (S3) and his beetle-headed son the Prince Regent, played brilliantly by Hugh Laurie.

Ridicule (Leconte/Legrand/Waterhouse 1996): one of the finest French films ever produced is a gorgeous yet swampy look at how those with the keenest wit may earn the patronage of the king. All the glam of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette but dirtied up a bit and melded with the grime and arduous social mobility of AMC’s Hell on Wheels.

Huzzah, sirrah! A guttish, fool-born dewberry if I’ve ever seen one! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Now, no offense implied, I seriously doubt you have what it takes to beat my pally, Jenny. She’s had years of practice; she’s been a word nerd since the age of three and a history dork since elementary school. (Ever see the snap of her 5th grade pilgrim costume? The one she wore for the last day before Thanksgiving break? Poor thing.) Then again, our vivacious and Victorian Dr. Lucy may not have given her input at Miss Natalie’s post just yet. Sure, our Lucy’s prim and proper, mostly. When need be, though? Jim-i-niy! When I say nobody’s got a mouth like the Elizabethans … I mean, nobody but Dr. Lucy. Zwounds!

Dr. Lucy. Sure, she looks sweet, but turn around. She’s not laughing with you. Photo: JuliaReyesPhotography.com

These fine wenches do not sling slurs, mostly. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

By the by, I came across this UrbanDictionary definition of Zwounds!, a common exclamation at Faire:

“Archaic expression of shock or suprise [sic]. Derives from “God’s wounds”. As with similar archaisms, “Zwounds” is used in jocular contexts by tedious nerds with intellectual pretentions [sic].”

My nerd-response? Sirrah, you spelled “surprise” and “pretensions” incorrectly. You pig-faced, belly-bloated hedge-pig.

Abyssinia, hedge-pigs!

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

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Artless

Base-court

Apple-john

Bawdy

Bat-fowling

Baggage

Beslubbering

Beef-witted

Barnacle

Bootless

Beetle-headed

Bladder

Churlish

Boil-brained

Boar-pig

Cockered

Clapper-clawed

Bugbear

Clouted

Clay-brained

Bum-bailey

Craven

Common-kissing

Canker-blossom

Currish

Crook-pated

Clack-dish

Dankish

Dismal-dreaming

Clot-pole

Dissembling

Dizzy-eyed

Coxcomb

Droning

Dog-hearted

Codpiece

Errant

Dread-bolted

Death-token

Fawning

Earth-vexing

Dewberry

Fobbing

Elf-skinned

Flap-dragon

Froward

Fat-kidneyed

Flax-wench

Frothy

Fen-sucked

Flirt-gill

Gleeking

Flap-mouthed

Foot-licker

Goatish

Fly-bitten

Fustilarian

Gorbellied

Folly-fallen

Giglet

Impertinent

Fool-born

Gudgeon

Infectious

Full-gorged

Haggard

Jarring

Guts-griping

Harpy

Loggerheaded

Half-faced

Hedge-pig

Lumpish

Hasty-witted

Horn-beast

Mammering

Hedge-born

Huggermugger

Mangled

Hell-hated

Jolt-head

Mewling

Idle-headed

Lewdster

Paunchy

Ill-breeding

Lout

Pribbling

Ill-nurtured

Maggot-pie

Puking

Knotty-pated

Malt-worm

Puny

Milk-livered

Mammet

Quailing

Motley-minded

Measle

Rank

Onion-eyed

Minnow

Reeky

Plume-plucked

Miscreant

Roguish

Pottle-deep

Mold-warp

Ruttish

Pox-marked

Mumble-news

Saucy

Reeling-ripe

Nut-hook

Spleeny

Rough-hewn

Pigeon-egg

Spongy

Rude-growing

Pignut

Surly

Rump-fed

Puttock

Tottering

Shard-borne

Pumpion

Unmuzzled

Sheep-biting

Rats-bane

Vain

Spur-galled

Scut

Venomed

Swag-bellied

Skains-mate

Villainous

Tardy-gaited

Strumpet

Warped

Tickle-brained

Varlot

Wayward

Toad-spotted

Vassal

Weedy

Unchin-snouted

Whey-face

Yeasty

Weather-bitten

Wagtail

That Other Jane and Carrot Top: Tarzan Lands at SDCC 2012

1

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

For all you poor mooks whom did not make it to San Diego Comic-Con 2012, or did and possibly lost, tossed or neglected your coveted Official Souvenir Book, unaware of the gems contained therein, I feel sad that you missed out on author Jennifer Susannah Devore’s Tarzan article. You should feel bad; it was good enough to garner Miss Jenny a personal invitation to meet the one, the only Dr. Jane Goodall! Where? A banquet in Tarzana, of course! No worries, jelly beans! There’s still time to mend your silly ways.

Swing on over, grab a Sailor Jerry Banana Hammock and read Jenny’s article here!

Steampunk Jane and her Carrot Top Tarzan, Lord of the Props Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

That Other Jane, reprinted with JennyPop’s very own permission, from the 2012 Official Comic-Con Souvenir Book

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

 

That Other Jane: 100 Years of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Heartbreaker

by Jennifer Susannah Devore

I was so jealous. I thought she was a wimp. I was sure I’d have been a better mate.

                                                                                                             -that other Jane … Goodall

Herein lies the innate appeal of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Be he an object of affection, admiration or competition, Tarzan falls neatly into the untidy world of animal instinct, feral existentialism and personal authority: a Lord Greystoke of the Flies, if you will.

Burroughs composed an enduring theme and a permanence of characters spawning not only a succession of film and television iterations, but also serial books and eventually comics, penned not by Burroughs himself, but a veritable jungle encampment of devotees. From Dell Comics’ cheerful adventure yarns of the 1940s, which featured a ripped, yet stick-thin version of Tarzan, to Psychology Press’ Ways of Being Male: representing Masculinities in Children’s Literature and Film by John Stephens to George of the Jungle, Tarzan has been a centenary of topic. Scholars may argue a garden of reasons why the jungle Brit in the loincloth has remained ever so popular; but the reader’s heartbeat will tell you unequivocally there exists solely one answer. Stimulation.

Certainly, the sight of a well-sculpted, 1930s Johnny Weissmuller slicing into a sheath of river or even the hot, animated Disney Tarzan of 1999 swinging on a vine (Watch out for that treeeeee!), brings a swoon to many a fan, just as Captain Jack Sparrow, Indiana Jones or Han Solo does. Be not fooled, it is not simply the silky hair flop, the cheekbones and the swagger (uh – well, it kind of is). It is primarily what brings about said-swagger and the flip of that flop which oft has a nuclear power to melt its unsuspecting, doe-eyed victims like wax. It is the hero’s confidence, fearlessness and willingness to machete his way through the jungles and bridge the rivers, only to pop back to the surface victorious and, even if a bit broken, durable enough to shake off the snakes, the leeches and the authorities to forge ahead.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, born of Mid-western stubbornness and raised on Western ruggedness weathered the literal, as well as figurative, frontier realities of a changing America at the turn of the 20th Century. The son of a Civil War veteran and a protective yet yielding mother of six boys, two having died as infants, Edgar was the youngest of a large and prosperous family prone to enterprise, exploits and chance. From Chicago business ventures to Idaho gold dredging and cattle ranching, a young Edgar saw a world of possibilities; he certainly recognized his growing America was whatever a man wanted it to be. After a smattering and sampling of job-jobs like railway security, clerical manager, door-to-door salesman, pencil sharpener wholesaler, ditch digger and accountant, amongst others, Edgar found his future in the fertile pages of pulp fiction.

Burroughs would state later that if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines that I could write stories just as rotten. This was in the same spirit as, Mark Twain, claiming some thirty years previous and Hunter S. Thompson claiming some eighty years after Twain, that a lot of folks make an awful lot of money writing some really awful schlock. It appears the unifying theme was, hopefully, they might be equally as fortunate. Mark Twain summed it up best when he prognosticated about Huckleberry Finn, They have expelled this from their library as, quote, trash and suitable only for the slums! That will sell 25,000 copies for us, sure.

Screaming through his tales, like Carol Burnett’s clear-as-a-bell Tarzan yell, Burroughs’ Wanderlust and spirit for adrenaline ripped through his tales of pirates, jungles, space, cavemen, dinosaurs and, lest we forget, The Land that Time Forgot. Over the decades of his long and successful life, Tarzan would be his Goose That Laid the Golden Egg. If Tarzan book money was good, Tarzan film money was out of this world.

The first celluloid representation was Tarzan of the Apes (1918) starring Elmo Lincoln as the silent hero. Whilst this iteration would follow most closely the events of the original novel, it was Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) that would explode out of the water like a surfacing submarine to penetrate pop culture. It would give us not only a taut and toned Olympic gold medallist swimmer named Johnny Weissmuller but also, as the first Tarzan film with sound, that iconic Tarzan yell which many will cringingly attempt. Raise your hand if you never tried it while swinging from the monkey bars on the playground.

As they often do, successful writer/film types take those sawbucks and buy Hollywood ranches, Palm Desert compounds, Caribbean islands or spooky manses in the Maine woods. Burroughs bought a sprawling one of the former just north of H-town. As a testament to the zeitgeist in 1923, the residents and citizens of the L.A. suburb burgeoning around his ranch, voted to incorporate as the town of Tarzana. Just five years previous, he had already incorporated himself: a savvy and uncommon move for a writer of this era.

Adventurous in word as well as deed to the end, Burroughs served as a WWII correspondent in Hawaii, embedded with U.S. Air Force bombers and even crossing paths with his equally unflappable son, Hulbert, a war photographer. After the war, he returned to the sunny jungle of Tinsel Town. Passing away in 1950, he would miss the continuing success of Tarzan throughout the Fifties via comic books and reprints of his novels and serials. He would also miss out on the explosive rebirth of his chef d’oeuvres as the Sixties would bring Tarzan the television series and a paperback book smash that introduced “Me Tarzan, you Jane”, their son, Boy, and a charming chimp named Cheeta to a whole new generation of restless rowdies ready for anything that wasn’t suburbia.

“It was somewhere between ten and eleven that I read Tarzan and decided I would go to Africa, live with animals and write books about them,” Dr. Jane Goodall, founder and mentor of the Jane Goodall Institute, recounts in a 60 Minutes interview. One-hundred years after the initial October 1912 publication of Tarzan of the Apes in All-Story magazine, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creations match, if not absolutely mirror, mankind’s quest for self, sufficiency, survival and stimulation … well, and the cheekbones.

From creatures At The Earth’s Core, to a Martian Princess to the Lord of the Jungle, from The Cave Girl to The Girl From Hollywood to The Mucker and Pirates From Venus, Burroughs proffers vicarious pleasures and fantasy to the desk-bound, the cubicle-trapped and the homebodies of the planet. Simultaneously, he gives hope, inspiration and itineraries to the modern-day travelers and dreamers of the world.

Wanderlust is just ein deutsch Wort away from lust. Adventure-lit hits all the right buttons. Burroughs and Tarzan sliced their own paths, just like Captain Jack, Han Solo, Grizzly Adams and each real-life Indiana Jones throughout modern history, including the likes of Margaret Mead, Diane Fossey, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, Jacques Cousteau, John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh, Sally Ride, Teddy Roosevelt, Neil Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Valentina Tereshkova, Admiral Richard Byrd, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Edmund Hillary, Amelia Earhart, all the Monkeynauts and, finally … that other Jane.

In an October 2010 CBS 60 Minutes interview, reporter Lara Logan asked Dr. Jane Goodall: Why Africa? Dr. Jane replied: Because of reading Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan. Doctor Dolittle rescues animals from the circus and takes them back to Africa. And then, Tarzan, of course. The Lord of the Jungle.

Then the subject of Jane Porter, Tarzan’s girl, arose. In a statement soaked with decades of irritation and disgust, Dr. Jane exclaimed: I was passionately in love. He marries that other, stupid Jane. I think I’d have been the perfect mate for Tarzan, don’t you?

While today we’re bombarded with everyone else’s imagination, it’s satisfying to recall an era when we worked our own, fueled simply by Burroughs’ words … and, at least in Jane’s case, the loincloth. Now that’s what I call stimulation.

Jennifer S. Devore w James Sullos, Jr. (left/president of ERB, Inc.) and Tarzan author, Tracy Griffin (right) plus a special invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall herself in Tarzana! Photo: JSDevore SDCC 2012

 

Author bio: Jennifer Susannah Devore authors the historical-fiction series Savannah of Williamsburg, as well as the contemporary The Darlings of Orange County. She is a regular contributor to GoodtobeaGeek.com under the pseudonym Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado; her tribute to the 60th anniversary of Peanuts was published in the 2010 Comic-Con Souvenir Book She lives on a San Diego beach with her husband, a Pomeranian and an immortal cat she believes is Binx from Hocus Pocus.

 

Abyssinia, cats! maybe miss jenny will tell us all how the banquet with Dr. Goodall goes!

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

Adrianne Curry & RDJ Sightings, Johnny Depp & Seth Green MIA: SDCC 2012

3

Category : Conventions, E-vents, Featured, Geek Out, Geek Rants, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel, Uncategorized

“There’s an awful lot of weird, pasty people in here, myself included.” So went my recurring, silent observance throughout this year’s Comic-Con, striking oft as I flitted hither and thither through the San Diego Convention Center, like a frantic mosquito seeking an open window on a muggy, Malibu, summer’s day. The pastiness was not truly what struck me, nor was the definitive weirdness. The real oddity was, like in so many gatherings where we geeks gather en masse -Renaissance Faire, Disneyland-  the convergence of and shoulder-to-shoulder conditions pressed upon so many individuals not generally prone to mainstream socializing. Moi? I haven’t left my Hotel del Coronado much since 1934. Dr. Lucy, my ghostie cohort? 1904. Judging by the bevy of pale and malleable bodies endeavouring some severely awkward social interactivity, they’ve not left their abodes since 1904 either. (Need more than just one fat Slave Leia? Dr. Lucy’s Comic-Con 2012 Gallery of Oddities!)

No caption necessary. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

On the flip side, after the initial shock of being face-to-face with strangers on a trolley and crushed side boob-to-side boob with fat Batman at Starbucks, a comforting calm washes over one and the irony of being surrounded by two-hundred thousand other Earthlings hits.

San Diego Old Town Trolley ... all aboooard! Photo: JSDevore

Suddenly the looks, stares and comments are friendly and complimentary. Instead of thinking the standard, snarky, “Hey, mook. Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”, I’m posing and flashing my Colgate smile and jack booted-gams left and right for anyone with a smartphone or a news camera. “Make sure you spell my name right!” becomes my de rigueur response, as opposed to my usual, “Grody”. (Yes, by the way, occasionally the more telekinetic of you live wires can actually see Lucy and me: Ghost Hunters types are quite adept. The stares and the infrared cameras do get to be a little boring after a while though. Costumed and fancy dress affairs tend to bring out more believers. Ergo, SDCC and Faire are perfect places for us to play without too much unwanted attention.)

Of course, once I hit the train each evening, my snark and sneers revived nicely, especially to a particularly forward sleazebag whose interest in my ruffled bloomers was creepy. Lowering my aluminum goggles down off my pith helmet and onto my face, now resembling Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, I gave the letch a hard stare à la Paddington Bear and, pulling my skirt tightly over my Victorian bloomers, I replied, “These are for the convention only.” and turned to watch the bay the rest of the way home. Thank goodness for Lucy; she handled him deftly and politely for both of us. Her Victorian manners are far more genteel than my Flapper Girl gums.

Disco vader, Boba Fett and Starbucks? Feels like a party! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

Back at the Con though, and all those other wackadoo jelly beans in your personal space, a thumbs-up from a dapper Mad Hatter and a 360-spin from a vixen Catwoman to tell you how amazing your costume is, combined with all the other praise throughout the day, tells you you’re not quite the freak you so oft feel. When a chap from the L.A. Times chases you down for a snap, a fellow from the Houston Press says he’s been stalking you for thirty yards and wants to know more about whom designed your gear and a gorgeous Ruby Red Riding Hood compliments your corsetry, well, it makes for some strong self-esteem boosts. (Stalking though, sans costume, generally bad.)

Dude. Both your faces are looking in the wrong direction. Zowie! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

Sure, it sounds needy, feeding on compliments greedily like a truffle pig zeroing in on the hunt. Still, when a trip to Trader Joe’s or even Nordstrom can be fraught with elbow nudges and snickers due to something as simple as a parasol or an oversized hat (No, I am not going to a wedding, the races or a funeral, thank you very much.) it’s nice to be in a venue, even if crushed like a pack of nematodes, and feel like part of the gang. Even if we usually don’t want to be part of any gang.

The only downside to the Con, if one can call it a downside, Dr. Lucy and I did have to field the query, “Now, who exactly are you supposed to be?” and then followed by, “Ah. Interesting. Now, what is steampunk?” Dr. Lucy had a great, if not lengthy description. Most tended to glaze over mid-description, but I liked it.

Think Jules Verne and Victorians and what their concepts of future technology would have been, utilizing the machinery and technology at their hands, in the 19th Century.

Blink, blink, the inquisitor would respond. I would then add succinctly:

Have you seen Sherlock Holmes, the newer versions with Robert Downey, Jr.?

Ahh! Yes, yes! Iron Man! Cool! they would exclaim, pleased with themselves. See, Lucy, people are obtuse, mostly. KISS, as the politicians say: Keep It Simple, Silly. Still not sure about this damn steampunk business? Keep a keen eye for steampunk stylings in BBCAmerica’s newest crime drama by Barry Levinson, Copper, set in 1864 NYC. Can’t wait ’til it airs August 19th? Find a bit more steampunk here.

Hannah & Lucy, Steampunk Chicks, Day 3 SDCC 2012 Photo: Eugene Powers, Whedonopolis.com

 

Steampunk. However you slice it. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

Hannah and Dr. Lucy, Steampunk Chicks, Day 1. Photo: Maria Stefanopoulos, IngeniousTravel.com

 

Why, Dr. Lucy! You'll give the boys heart flutters! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

Admittedly, speaking for both Lucy and myself, we did feel a tad out of place at one point. The old pangs of being the only kid dressed up at school for Hallowe’en flooded back in waves. Fortunate enough to garner admittance into the SyFy Press Room, Lucy and I attended a Being Human roundtable interview.  With the exception of one chick in a hot pink anime wig, Lucy and I were the only ones dressed up in costume. Poor Sam Huntington, a.k.a. Being Human‘s Josh the werewolf, as he sat at our table, nearly had a cardiac event upon sight of Lucy’s corseted bosom, crushing a small, plastic water bottle to subdue his carnal desires. Good for you, Lucy. At 108 years young, you’ve still got it!

The rest of the press room was filled to the brim with black-bedecked, serious journalists. A few were freindly, but the odd looks were there. (Why they were surprised, I have no idea. It IS Comic-Con.) As is oft the case IRL, nervous attempts at jokes and small talk were met with long blinks. 

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

In the waning hours of Day 3 of the Con, as Lucy and I sat against a wall in the Meeting Halls catching our breath, a crowd piled up in front of us as they were held off by guest control, waiting for cross-traffic to pass: a ridiculous line for a Mythbusters panel. As I watched Hobbit feet and blistering stilletos shuffle by, I caught a good portion of a conversation as a lovely and petite blue-haired fairy and a somewhat beefy Harry Potter came to stand nearby us.

 

Pretty, pretty pixie. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

So, is it what you expected? Harry asked of his pretty pixie.

Ohmygod! So much more! I’m already planning next year’s costume! she clapped.

What’s your favourite part so far? Harry asked further.

She thought for a moment, then replied, Remember when we went to your Mom’s that time? ‘Member we stopped by before that Halloween party? We did the Alice in Wonderland thing?

Yeah. Your White Queen costume?

Yeah. Well, nobody here has looked at me even once the way your mom and sister did that night. It feels natural, just being here. It’s amazing.

Exactly. What she said. How was your Comic-Con experience?

 

 

Dr. Lucy winds up the Belle of the Con: Miss Kelli Mae, my personal fave! Photo: JSDevore

 

A rare moment of downtime. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

Note: Whilst we did see Mark Hamill, Adrianne Curry (beyond hot), Parasol Protectorate author Gail Carriger and Robert Downey, Jr. (Very, very hot. Sherlock, indeed.), we did not see Seth Green or Johnny Depp. Be assured, this was not from a lack of effort. Seth Green was indeed there, visiting the Peanuts booth, participating in a Robot Chicken panel and making general happy mayhem of the grounds. My final effort, a lone Tweet, is recorded for Comic-Con history:

Jennifer S. Devore@JennyPopNet

Might as well seek w effort :D Is @sethgreen anywhere near aisle 1400 @Comic_Con ? Would love to say Ciao! #sdcc

 

No words. Too hot. Dig you, Mizz Curry! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

The honour is all mine, Miss Carriger: Parasol Protectorate Purveyor. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

Klingons. Not so tough IRL. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

Go ahead, try not to sing it. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography SDCC 2012

 

What did you get up to during Comic-Con 2012? Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Hannah fave places to haunt online? @JennyPopNet   jennypop.net   amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore