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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full steam ahead! Ahoy! Abyssinia and Merrie Christmas!

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

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

Follow @JennyPopNet #MakerFaire #StarWars #Steampunk

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

Dr. Lucy, Miss Kitty & Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium

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Category : Featured, Geek Out, Travel

Dr. Lucy, as you might know, is plum bonkers for steampunk and our excursion to Comic-Con did not help her obsession. In fact, she’s been leaving the Hotel Del quite a bit as of late, seeking San Diego-area antique shops, vintage stores and retro boutiques to help feed her need. Whilst fluttering down the coast, she came across a frabjous place devoted to steampunk. The downside? No booze. If only Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium had a wild west saloon attached. Maybe someday soon? For now, it does have a tattoo parlor.

Miss Celeste, for your pleasure. Photo: JSDevore

Pairie purveyor Harriet Oleson, might well turn up her nose at the bottled, dried and otherwise preserved mammalia in the curiosity cabinets of Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium. Of course, that would be the well-bred, prim, Victorian in Mrs. Oleson: posh country-wife to Nels and mother to the precocious and glorious Nellie Oleson. The sales-savvy, shrewd Mrs. Oleson, the pioneer proprietress of Little House on the Prairie‘s Oleson’s Mercantile, would covet and embrace San Diego’s newest emporium of steampunk ephemera. She would see a thriving capitalism, bordered and framed fancifully by ruffles and feathers of gilded, Victorian-era proportions in the mighty powerful, contemporary trend that is Steampunk. A steadily growing interest in Victorian-tech and word-of-mouth about this beachside bazaar are both running at locomotive speed, headed straight for each other and powering Dr. Watson’s, and its formidable owner, straight into hogsheads full of 21st C. gold nuggets and peer popularity.

From Dr. Watson's fine millinery selection. Photo: JSDevore

Now, many of you read my coverage of Comic-Con. Amidst the fervor, chaos and unrelenting joy that was Comic-Con, Lucy and I fielded the same question ad nauseam: “What is steampunk, anyway?” Imagery from Sherlock Holmes to Jules Verne, Wild Wild West to Copper were invoked and, despite the seemingly enthusiastic discussions, most glazed over midway, stole a few snaps and moved along toward less taxing, more easily explained cosplay like Catwoman, Doctor Who, Bender and Duff Man. Whilst overall, steampunk was a rarity, Lucy and I found a smattering of worthy steampunk folk about the Con. League of Steam, for one caught our interest: “Victorian-era Monster Hunters Serving All Your Supernatural Elimination Needs Since 1884″. (Monsters, indeed! Check back in October; I shall be posting a sure tongue lashing at the League during the Season. Too boot, just FYI, I’ll be spending Hallowe’en 2012 in style: with Harvey & Hildy, the parental units, in spooky, spectral Salem, Mass.!) For now, still not certain what this damned steampunk is? Voila … a succinct introduction.

Miss Kelli Mae: Belle of the Carnival Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

Student steampunk beauty: no screenplay, no portfolio, no angle. Just having fun. How refreshing. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

Well done, Sir. Well done. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

... and I thought the Comic-Con bags were big! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Yours truly, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel Del Photo: JSDevore

 

Dr. Lucia Devereaux, I presume? Photo: JSDevore

During Lucy’s quest for further steampunk inspiration, she ventured up the beach to Dr. Watson’s. Mise-en-scène amidst one of San Diego’s most wonky and wild populations -marines via Camp Pendleton, surfers and skaters, tatted rockabillies, Bettie Page wannabes, wealthy property owners, hippies, retirees, vacationers, Real Housewives, the homeless, shadow immigrants, Victorian ghosts and so much more- Oceanside, California is just the fragmented and funky community to welcome this proctor of peculiar paraphernalia.

Dr. Watson's Cabinet of Curiosities Photo: JSDevore

Dr. Watson’s is part-natural history museum, part-western general store and all saloon decor. It is run by one Tracy Scheidel, best described as an AntennaTV-worthy, feisty-yet-soft-hearted protagonist, an amalgam of Gunsmoke‘s Miss Kitty, Little House on the Prairie‘s Harriet Oleson and Dukes of Hazzard‘s Boss Hogg. I’m guessing if she likes you, you’re in good shape about this town. Owning a fair swath of property and store-frontage along famed PCH, (Body Piercing by Tracy and About Face Tattoo to start), Madame Tracy Scheidel is an affable, intriguing and inquisitive conversationalist.

Possessing a quality so few have, yet so many covet, hers is a social talent leading the visitor to believe of their utmost importance in her day. What you want, she has. What you need, she’ll attempt to satisfy. What you love, she loves. In a previous life, this broad might have been a formidable madam, saloonkeep or politician.

The Odditorium is sentried nicely by a charming looker with bombilating, black tresses, pale skin, rouge lips and a saloon girl-swagger. She calls herself Miss Celeste. What you need, she also wants for you and will go to lengths to get it. She will also ask, sincerely, “How did you hear of us?” As eager and positive about the Odditorium and its livelihood as is Madame Tracy, Miss Celeste also maintains the shop’s Facebook page, posting photos, articles and upcoming events.

Like a welcoming saloon after days on a lonesome desert ride, Miss Celeste and Madame Scheidel, in this surfside museum-cum-mercantile, amidst the shrunken heads, dried bats, vintage Playboy magazines, leather top hats, feathered baubles and mechanical goggles, will have you nestled nicely on their inviting divan. From there, you can watch a private fashion show, your special girl model striped, Victorian bloomers, Betty Grable-inspired bathing suits, Dita Von Teese-styled tap dance shorts, Sherlock Holmes-worthy plaid trousers and Lonesome Dove-ready cotton chemises. All the while sipping gratis coffee and noshing from an assortment of Little Debbies. Before you know it, just like that oasis saloon, you’ll have happily and easily spent a few hours and a few more dollars. Makes me think a steampunk saloon, along the lines of Old School Vegas, Fremont Street’s Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, might not be a bad idea, for Madame’s next venture.

Delightful bloomers for an afternoon sur la plage. Photo: JSDevore

Until Lucy gets her Gunsmoke-styled, steampunk saloon in San Diego, you might want to wet yer whistle at Dr. Watson’s Sweltering Summer Tea Party, Fashion Show and Charity Event: Sunday, August 12th, 2012, 1:00 – 5:00 PST.

RSVP for the Tea, Oui? Forget not your Manly Moustache. Photo: JSDevore

 

Dr. Watson’s Steampunk Odditorium, proprietress Tracy Scheidel

421.A South Coast Highway

Oceanside, California 92054

760.757.6628

 

Abyssinia, cats!

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

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

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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 

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

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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

Hannah Hart’s Sweet San Diego Comic-Con Goody Giveaway

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

All right, Boyzos and Betties, unless you’ve been slumped over a Pacific Beach bar for the last three months -Very possible in P.B.- you know Comic-Con is nigh and yours truly, Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame of the Hotel del Coronado, is headed there with proverbial bells on.  (Actually I’ll be donning ruffled, Victorian bloomers and a pith helmet: no real bells.) Whilst it may seem Dr. Lucy, my Hotel Del ghostie cohort and SDCC partner-in-crime, and I are going for a good old fashioned, G&T-fueled, steampunk, dress-up party, we’re really doing it all for you. Really.

Photo: ParkaBlogs

For all you mooks whom wanted to go, but couldn’t make it, either because you were unsuccessful in nicking a badge through the Con’s wonky, mad, digital dash for online purchases, or it was just never in the cards for you to get to America’s Finest City this summer, I shall be your big eyes and perky ears throughout Geek Mecca.

Directly from the San Diego Convention Center floor I shall be Tweeting and Facebooking only the choicest gossip and sweetest pics: hot Manga girls, celebrity sightings, bonkers cosplay, even that guy who absolutely should not be wearing Spandex. If it’s worthy, I shall cover it. If I’m lucky and can squeeze into a panel or two, I might even be able to get you some dishy goodness on the likes of Bob’s Burgers, The Walking Dead, Children’s Hospital, The Simpsons, True Blood, Spongebob Squarepants, American Dad, The Big Bang Theory, Vampire Diaries …  phew. You know what? Take a peek here at the full list of TV panels for 2012; just far too many to reference. If I could corner anyone for you, who would it be and what would you ask them? Tweet me @JennyPopNet or @GoodToBeAGeek and let me know; I’ll do my best!

Moi? I’ll have my eyes peeled for the likes of Seth MacFarlane (American Dad, Family Guy), Matt Groening (The Simpsons), Loren Bouchard (King of the Hill, Bob’s Burgers), Bill Amend (Foxtrot), Henry Winkler (Children’s Hospital, Happy Days, Arrested Development) and the entire Once Upon a Time cast and writers’ crew. Witness my love for Once here! Although, I do have to say that if the rumours are true, according to Variety, The Lone Ranger may be hosting a panel, possibly featuring Helena Bonham-Carter, Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp … well, I think we all know the outcome if this happens. Dr. Lucy! Pack the smelling salts!

 

Best of all for you jelly beans, I’m giving up the goods! Not those goods, ya wet smacks. Con goods! Now, pay attention:

  • 2 Grand Prize Goodie Bags Incl. one official Comic-Con Souvenir Book, autographed by author Jennifer Susannah Devore on her article, That Other Jane: 100 Years of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Heartbreaker , plus a collection of goodies from random floor vendors as well as some official Comic-Con Schwag  Bag contents. (Note: very few writers’ and artists’ work appear in each year’s book. Getting a signed one is a rare treat indeed. Keep yours mint; Jenny’s getting bigger by the day! Fan-wise, that is.)
  • 3 Goody Giveaways per convention day  A goody is one promotional item from random convention floor vendors. I don’t even know what these are, yet! I’ll be Tweeting them live from the floor. Trade shows and conventions are chock full of awesome tidbits ranging from coffee mugs and comic books to games and anime key chains. Who knows?!

Me! Me! I want a Jennifer Devore-signed Souvenir Book! Photo: ParkaBlogs

How to win? Easy Peasy! Just Tweet or FB the following during the SDCC dates of July 12th-July15th!

  • 2 Grand Prizes:
  1. One Facebook Fan: “Like” Savannah of Williamsburg on FB and post a quote from one of Jennifer Devore’s Savannah of Williamsburg books. (Don’t have a book? Get a free Kindle or Nook sample at Amazon and BN.com. Every quote gets you an entry!)
  2. One Twitter Pal: Follow @JennyPopNet and Tweet a short quote from any of Jennifer Devore’s Savannah of Williamsburg books.
  •  Daily Goody Giveaways: Follow @JennyPopNet with a Tweet containing  #SavannahofWilliamsburg and #SDCC, or “Like” Savannah of Williamsburg on Facebook and post a Comic-Con greeting on her wall!

Already a follower on Twitter? Already a Facebook fan? Sweet! Then all you have to do post a quote, Tweet a hashtag and wish Dr. Lucy and me luck on tracking down Johnny Depp! (Wish Johnny luck, come to think of it!)

Photo: Nico Genin

 

See what we shall endure for you? Well, you and Johnny. Photo: ParkaBlogs

Abyssinia at the Con, cats!

All prizes to be mailed out after SDCC. All winners shall be selected at random from qualified entries. In the event of any dispute whatsoever, I will be the final arbiter of final judgement under any circumstance. There is no cash value. As a condition of entry, entrants are expressly prohibited from making any claims whatsoever. No third party shall bear any responsibility whatsoever in relation to this promotion, including but not limited to syndicates, partners and affiliates. This contest is held solely by jennypop.net. This contest is held solely for fun. Have fun!

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online?

Jennypop.net, @JennyPopNet  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

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

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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

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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

Psst, Kid. Wanna Write a Book? Authors, Writers & The Curious Rash of Social Media

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

Ciao, kittens! Spring’s in full swing and all’s swell here at the Hotel Del. Dr. Lucy and I are in the early stages of prepping for Comic-Con. Costumes are the project du jour and Lucy’s going steampunk with a mad vengeance. It’s all Airship Pirates this and The Parasol Protectorate books that. Speaking of, Gail Carriger, authoress of said-books, will be a featured guest at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and Lucy’s just beside herself about it. Plus, she can’t tear herself away from shopping at Clockwork Couture and currently has her eye on a stunner of a bejeweled Onslow Octopus ring. Moi? I’ve got my peepers on a steampunk, octopus parasol. Even ghost chickadees need a pretty parasol. In addition, I’ve decided to go as Ruby/Red Riding Hood, the va-va-va-voom, sylvan vixen of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, of which you’ll recall my recent review. Looks like I need a quality red cloak and some huntsmen’s gloves. Luckily, I’ve already got a dandy Belgian sword.

 

Apropos to Comic-Con, my dear pally, Miss Jenny Devore, is wringing her hands awaiting word on a piece submitted to the fine editors at the official Comic-Con Souvenir Book: topic being the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. Me Hannah, You Tarzan! Hubba hubba! Take a jungle hike, Jane. Leave your canteen and snake-bite kit, you’ll be fine without ‘em.

An accomplished author in her own right, Miss Jenny’s got some opinions about the publishing world and I got to thinking about her and all the other poor mooks out there writing, publishing and turning bloody blue as they scratch and claw, day-in and day-out, for someone, anyone to notice them. Natch, I pondered further, might the keen writers of eras gone by, say, Laura Ingalls Wilder or Beatrix Potter, thrill in the elixir of today’s social networking opportunities? Or, might they flounder and panic futilely to extricate themselves from the inescapable tar pits of literary masturbation and personal promotion.

In an episode of Little House on the Prairie the television series, Laura Ingalls, as a burgeoning writer, contributes to and wins an amateur writing contest. The prize? She gets her stories published by a big city publisher: St. Louis or New York, I don’t recall. The twist? She turns down the offer when she realizes the publishing pills want to jazz up her innocuous Ma and Pa tales. (Seems execs haven’t changed much over the years.) Walking away, her moxie and integrity intact, our pretty, perky and plain prairie protagonist eventually does earn a book deal and, thankfully for us, we have the Little House series of books today. Whilst her publisher and agent would sell her charm and tout her words around the country, Half-pint had to do her share, too. She wrote the books. That used to be the hard part. Were she writing today, her bloomers and corset would need a good starching to keep her steady on the course and stop her from doing a swan dive under Ma’s quilt, grabbing her fave stuffed bunny, Mr. Sniffles, and giving up altogether, ’cause today’s book business is brutal, babies.

Photo: Jo Naylor

Knowing a thing or two, about a thing or two where indie publishers and authors are concerned, not to mention those backed by traditional, big publishing houses, it’s clear to this ghostdame that your worldwide, 24/7, omnipresent, vlogging, blogging, iReporting, YouTubeing kind of social media and promo possibilities are the bane of the solitary writer. Around every proverbial corner there’s some slimy crumb bumping his gums about how the worthless and pathetic can be better writers. Nasty and hateful industry insiders, bored readers and armchair critics tell the aspiring schlubs regularly how they suck eggs. The need and ability to incessantly and shamelessly plug, ply, hawk, rationalize and apologize for one’s precious wares morphs the once-quiet and pensive writer into a mealy-mouthed carnival barker.

Now it seems to me most writers crave attention: needy little bastards. Whether or not they inherently have the ability to market their work to elicit that attention is another story. Miss Jenny did a number of book signings back East at good ol’ fashioned Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores, not to mention Borders and Waldenbooks shops. Remember those, kids? She was also a fixture in Colonial Williamsburg, schlepping her Savannah of Williamsburg books alongside more than few notable authors and historians. Jim Lehrer, Edward Cline, Dr. Phyllis Haislip and a gentleman whom is considered to be the worldwide authority on Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Alf Mapp, just to name a few.

With the exception of Jim Lehrer, being a tough bird to get close to, she spoke often with these folks and found many of them,  even those traditionally published by the big houses, spent as much time as she did booking appearances, wrangling events, scheduling book signings and even printing their own event signage. Want a real-life sob story? Here ya go.

One of these prolific authors waited nearly a year for royalty checks, was eventually sent a pittance check and then the publisher filed for reorganization, a.k.a. bankruptcy. Amazingly, the bankruptcy court forced him to return the wee check, dismissed the royalties owed altogether and allowed the publisher to keep the titles. Zowie! Talk about getting whacked with a bag of nickels by a bunch of goons.

To wit, some, but not the rightfully pissed off author in question, have dutifully joined the dance of the social networks to aid in their publishers’ quest for the almighty review, movie option and American dollar.

Photo: JSDevore

Come one, come all! See the Word Nerd! Careful, she's stark-raving mad!

 

For those whom deign to seek it, there exists more online advice and how-tos for the tentative scrivener than Spongebob Squarepants had excuses to put off writing his driving essay for Mrs. Puff. Countless editing fora, manuscript submission no-nos, insider agent tips, the psychology of cover art, character development webinars and marketing strategies up the wazoo flood not just the search engines, but the writer’s tenuous and wobbly noggin.  From what I know about the delicate genius, writing-by-committee is painful. Seek ye just a single, golden thread to pull one over the wall and kapowie! the poor, unsuspecting wordsmith is floored and buried with a dump truck of frayed, worthless bits of twine too short and thin to use anywhere.

Even Anne Rice –a moment of silent respect, please- comprehends the importance of Tweeting and Facebooking as she socializes and shares personal musings, liberal politics, current affairs, photos of her kitty, Little Prince Oberon, and, of course, updates of book signings and reviews. People of the Page, she dubs her fans and followers. Miss Jenny is an Anne devotee and thus, a Person of the Page.

Not only are Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Smashwords, SmartGirl, Blogger and the like literary campgrounds for amateur and professional writers alike, but the Wellborn of Wordsmithing have pitched their tents in cyberspace as well. Besides Anne, J.K. Rowling, Steve Martin, Peter Mayle, Bill Bryson, Brian Jacques, Sophie Kinsella, Gail Carriger and even Half-pint have succumbed.

 

I like to think Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beatrix Potter, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Geoffrey Chaucer, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Wm. Shakespeare -or Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton or Sir Robert Cecil or whomever it is we’re learning might have “been Shakespeare”- would have not shoved their work in our faces at every turn. I also like to think that some of them would have loved the idea of social media. You just know Mark Twain, HST and Ernest Hemingway would have delighted in followers, fans and friends, from afar, and would have certainly used the proverbial 140 to its pithiest and volatile best.

 

Ernest Hemingway Photo: FL State Archives

 

It’s a double-edged sword indeed, kittens. In my day, if you could write like F. Scott Fitzgerald and you were fortunate enough to get noticed or have the right connections, you could be a superstar. Just sit back, drink your scotch, holiday in Paris and let the industry professionals take on the lion’s share of the legwork. Being an author had caché because it was a rarity. It was a nearly impossible title to attain because one had to stand out in the crowd. Today, anyone may write, whether or not they can write. Of course, there lies an upside to the barrage of opportunity available online.

No need for Algonquin Roundtable connections anymore. Can’t get into the New Yorker cafe? No worries, dollface. You write it, you publish it, you sell it, you market it. Of course, there’s a lot of cut-rate writing out there; but there are a lot of great oeuvres, too, that we might have never seen without the Internet. The keys to the kingdom are no longer necessary and some of the unknown and worthy are busting through the front gates, pens blazing. The Internet, Amazon in particular, is like the Ellis Island of Bookland. Enter its turnstiles and leave the starched Old World with its stern Old Ways behind you. Opportunity beckons on every street corner, but, writer, beware … so do the scams, cheats, sure-things and a nasty, blistering rash if you’re not careful.

Lucy’s finding all kinds of goodies to buy at Clockwork and that got me thinking about another commercial marriage that might have flourished, but we’ll never know. See, if Laura Ingalls could be prone to Tweeting, Mrs. Harriet Olseon could certainly embrace the new culture easily, culling “friends” and patrons from the world over and redirecting them to her Joomla website: populated with goods from Olseon’s Mercantile as well as drop-ship, throw-away, plastic crap from Singapore and China. Nels, I’m pretty sure, would not have been allowed admin permissions.

By the way, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s current tweet @HalfPintIngalls: I know Almanzo is really into Morgan horses but… uh, should I be concerned that I found THIS in his stocking drawer?

I guess even Almanzo can’t be trusted online. What a fink!

 

Abyssinia, cats!

Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? www.jennypop.net and @JennyPopNet … ’cause we kinda have to. Murder!

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

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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

 

Inspector Hannah: The Curious Mysteries of the Poe Toaster & the Antarctic Ghost Octopi

2

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

Ciao, babies! It’s winter in San Diego and whilst we’ve got sheer aces weather right now, it’s still winter. That means the Hotel Del is relatively quiet and I’ve got cabin fever of the Muppet Treasure Island degree. Plus, that mook Edward has proved completely useless where elevator pranks are concerned. What a wheat!

Winter at The Del: quiet like Spring Break in Iceland Photo: J.S.Devore

 

Despite the sunshine and good cheer, it’s still winter: too warm to don my fur-trimmed capes, not warm enough to wear those pretty Hawaiian dresses that Dr. Harvey & Hildy sent me. (By the by, I did find me a dead girl, poor thing, and -pouf!- I can now wear my Maui Zowies.) Winter is, however, much as those early New England settlers learned, an excellent time to indulge one’s indoor skills: sewing, reading, sketching, snuggling and the like. Check or cash, baby? Wink-wink! Of course, when one is a ghostie and resides in a vast hotel with a moderate clime and a great poolside bar, there really is only one activity to beset the winter doldrums: preparing to solve a mystery!

Now, maybe I’m keen to snoop out a good caper because I watch far too many mystery series, mostly British. The Brits know how to produce a series of feature film quality, BAFTA-worthy performances from what I assume are the only nine mystery actors in the U.K. and how to expose a murder scene without giving the viewer what could be a sneak peek of the latest Saw incarnation. Subtlety speaks volumes, all you GFX Joes at CSI and NCIS: just a note. Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, Rosemary & Thyme, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Cadfael, Poirot (Set in 1930s London, so natch it’s my fave!) top my Netflix queue. Well, today is Edgar Allen Poe’s birthday and, Daddy-O, is there ever a mystery or two involved with that fellow! The Mystery of the Poe Toaster is my latest mindboggler.

Photo art by OddSock

A Boston baby like  me, Edgar Allen Perry was born in Beantown, but then gad about a bit: London, New York, Philly, Baltimore and Richmond to name a few stops. He even did a U.S. Army stint at Fort Monroe in Virgina as artillery Sgt. Major Edgar A. Perry, until he decided the military life wasn’t for him and began showing up on the base’s parade field wearing little other than his hat and angling for a discharge. Whilst there though, he wrote The Cask of Amontillado: a tale set in Vague Europe and based on the true ghost story of a Virginia soldier walled up alive in abandoned stone building. Echoes of such a horrific end make themselves heard in The Black Cat, as well. Yikes! Fort Monroe historians say folks still claim to see Poe’s spirit sitting at a table and writing his stories.

Alas, finally during an 1849 autumnal visit to Baltimore, the man who would come to be recognized as the father of the modern detective tale, with The Murders in the Rue Morgue, died eerily prophetically, under circumstances as mysterious as if prescribed by his own, pale hand. Speculation on his death at age forty runs the gamut from rabies to murder.

 

Fort Monroe, Virginia: Quarters No. 1 Photo: U.S. Army

Poe’s enigmatic departure took him from this realm and deposited him into mine. No, I’ve yet to meet him, but do have a pally in Baltimore who says she once saw him at the Barnes & Noble on the harbor, flipping through a Calvin and Hobbes comic book and chuckling. Years after he passed on, a secret admirer wafted into the B’more moonlight and began a perplexing proffering to the writer: a half-bottle of cognac and three roses. Lain respectfully by a disguised devotee, swathed all in black, a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, Poe’s original grave site at Westminster Hall has silently received the kindly gifts each birthday. Reported sightings of the booze and its bearer date back to my day in the 1930s. Since the 1940s, however, the mystery has ensued annually on the original Goth’s birthday, come 12:00 midnight on January 19th without fail … until 2010 when the admirer was a no-show for the first time. Since then, fans, readers, devotees and beautiful goths have pulled college-worthy all-nighters at the grave site, waiting for the man in the wide-brimmed hat to lay down his bouteille et fleurs, according to Jeff Jerome, curator of Poe House and Museum: a row house situated on Amity Street in Baltimore and cared for under the auspices of the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore. In the wee hours of Poe’s 203rd birthday, after seeing no sign of the hatted gifter for a third year, fans have decided to let go of the vigil. “It’s over with,” said Jerome.

Half-drunk Cognac and roses? Nevermore Photo by K.Kendall

 

It has been speculated that there could be copycats to come; many say that’s a shame. Yet, ponder this, kittens. Maybe there had been copycats or even generational hand-overs in decades past. If no one has ever known the true identity, how could we know for certain it’s been the same man, or woman, all along? Maybe there will be copycats; yet in the end it’s not a shame, not by a long shot. Doesn’t it just mean that generations and generations later he’s still thought of reverently? For my part, I hope someone continues the tradition. Horsefeathers! Maybe I’ll do it! Who cares who does it? Don’t we all want to be remembered after we pass on “to the light”? Writers especially! Show me a writer whom doesn’t long, secretly or not so secretly, to be regaled for ages after their death and I’ll show you a great big fibber … with the exception of Franz Kafka.

My fave W&D bag: a Charlie Chaplin cocktail purse

I had a secret admirer once. After the Ida Lupino incident, some sweet San Diego Sugar Daddy left me gorgeous handbags and beaded purses outside my hotel room door for near forty years. It got kind of creepy, but I still have all the bags and don’t they make for a fabulous collection?! Most all of ‘em are spiffy Whiting & Davis beauties! Eat your heart out, Paris, Eva and Shakira! I never knew who he was and like the 30 Rock episode where Jenna Maroney’s stalker ceases his harangues, I did miss the attention, and the bags, once he stopped. Oh, well. Maybe some new admirer will begin gifting me goodies. Heck, someone already gave Lucy and me Kindles. Go ahead, cats, send me something! Send me a postcard, in fact! Let me know who’s reading my gum-flapping and send it to:

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame/Turret Rm.
c/o Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

Now you’re on the trolley!

 

In the waning days of January, the days are getting a tad longer here. Still, Dr. Lucy and I are  mighty bored at The Del. After we work out the Poe mystery for a while, we have a new adventure planned. We’re thinking about heading to Antarctica! Marine biologists have found ghost octopi! Tell me Dr. Lucy and Onslow aren’t itching to check out this wild snow show!  Zowie!

By the by, the city of Baltimore, Maryland has recently cut all funding to the Poe House and Museum. If you find this as great a travesty as I do and want to make a donation, large or small, to keep the place running past this summer of 2012, send it along to Jeff Jerome himself and tell him Hannah Hart sent you!

Abyssinia, cats!

 

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

Making Comic Books Respectable: You’re a Good Man, Richard Alf!

2

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

Ain’t no place nobby like San Diego, babies! I knew it when I transplanted from Boston during Prohibition, Lucky Lindy knew it when he test flew the Spirit of St. Louis here before making tracks for Paris and a geeky teen named Richard Alf knew it when he convinced fellow geek Sheldon Dorf from Michigan, not to mention Ray Bradbury, that America’s Finest City could also be America’s Comic City.

Smile, you’re at SDCC! Photo: Parka81

Not only does this swell apple have the keenest weather anywhere on this dizzy planet, but it’s also got a vibe that attracts, nay welcomes, the most creative, odd and inventive of funky souls. Whether you’re a tech industry torpedo, a bio-tech wiz, a jazzin’ musician, a visual artist, a jolly good writer or just all-around loose cannon, San Diego is waiting for you with open arms! Goths, geeks, punks, dorks, goobs, gamers, nerds, hippies, preppies, fashionistas, vintagistas, dancers, pin-ups, skaters, singers, slackers, surfers (I dig those Carlsbad surfers, I must say. Zowie!) and ghosties alike … San Diego makes room in its sunny and mild heart for all. Even America’s Mom lives in America’s City: Marion Ross of Happy Days, a.k.a. Mrs. Cunningham lives the quiet life on one of our crazy-beautiful beaches. What more comforting arms than that of Mrs. C? Been thinking about kissing off your burg and heading for the the sparkling limelight of L.A.? Skip it. Try San Diego: cleaner water, better coffee, snazzier bars and sunnier folk. Plus, we S.D. girls are plenty friendly and tend more toward the au naturel look. Ya keen?

So, what better place to invite all the geeks, the world over, to the biggest geek fest ever? San Diego Comic-Con is back in town, kids! I get myself to Comic-Con every year; being a ghostie girl, that’s easy beans. In fact, I’ve been there since the first big event in 1970 when one Richard Alf, Kearney High Schooler and a Detroit-transplant named Sheldon Dorf, after meeting via one of Alf’s regular ads in the back of Marvel comics to buy and sell comic books out of his parents’ garage, set up in town at the U.S. Grant Hotel: first attendees included sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury and comic book artist Jack Kirby.

San Diego Comic-Con Mural Photo: Jason Persse

Initially dubbed San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con, this three-day gathering was the birth of what would eventually become the wildly costumed, Hollywood-frenzied, world-media covered, global wingding more in line, business-wise, with France’s MIP and MIPCOM media conventions than a community garage sale and meet-up for comic geeks and their wares. Later knighted San Diego Comic-Con International, it and our fair city are now synonymous with comic geeks, fantasy and wicked hot cosplay the world over. They also now produce SDCC’s baby sister: WonderCon. Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg may not have been at the earliest shows, but I was!

I did a brief fly-by the year Alf took advantage of his matriculation as a U.C.S.D. music student and moved the Con to campus,even renting dorm rooms to attendees for “discounted rates”. Murder!  What a keen kid! No wonder he ended up in advertising and stocks. Tell me Campus Con wasn’t bonkers! Comic dorks, college scrubs and, unfortunately for their study needs, a meek Montessori group found themselves housed alongside each other in cramped quarters one week back in the early ’70s. Since then, if it’s a biotech dork dressed like The Flash or a college kitten dressed like a hot preschooler, it must be summertime in San Diego.

Even though Alf and his fellow founders delved into other passions throughout the years, Comic-Con would remain cognizant of its nexus. Savvy? At the 2009 show, Richard Alf, Mike Towry, Sheldon Dorf and Ken Kreuger were saluted and honoured by Comic-Con International. Eerily, all but Towry have now since passed away; the honours came too late and none too soon. San Diego State University had even been in the midst of researching the phenomenon that is SDCC and talking with Alf and Towry about their early days for S.D.S.U.’s Comic-Con Tales when Alf took ill.

Now, while I’d never met Richard Alf personally, I’d certainly seen him about town on occasion. Heck, I’ve been here since the 1930s; I’ve seen everyone on occasion. Plus, no one could miss those Central Casting, nerd glasses and beaming smile of the 6’6″ Alf! Last year, just prior to the commencement of the 2011 Con, while checking out all the pre-show jitters around town, I buzzed a dedication ceremony at the airport for San Diego’s newest tribute to the visionary mind. Running gleefully along San Diego International Airport’s pedestrian walkway hangs a mural titled The Sky’s the Limit, dedicated to the city’s aviation and cartooning history. Sweet kazoo, a city that appreciates animation! Snoopy, as the Red Baron, and Shel Dorf himself grace the mural’s colourful, historical tale. Who was there to help commemorate this embrace of flight and funny? Richard Alf and Mike Towry themselves.

"Sky's The Limit" mural, Lindbergh Field (Mr. Alf: second from the right) Photo: San Diego Int'l Airport archives

“Sky’s The Limit” mural, Lindbergh Field (Mr. Alf: second from the right) Photo: San Diego Int’l Airport archives

By the way, babies, I wish I’d had the ability to shutterbug as easily over the decades as you do today. Luckily for all of us, there were folks who did have such abilities and I refer you to the Richard Alf memorial website brought to you by the pips at The Museum of Modern Mythology and Pop Culture. You’ll find loads of snazzy snaps of the first Comic-Con Souvenir Book, the legendary Alf V-dub Bug and keen snaps of young Richard, Mike, Shel and more.

You’re a good man, Richard Alf. Rest in peace. Last year’s Comic-Con was just wild! This year’s is looking even finer than that! Thank you, Mr. Alf.
By the by, you can read Jennifer Devore’s (Hannah’s alter ego and a Comic-Con geek of the first level) 2010 SDCC Souvenir Book article on Peanuts (cited by TIME magazine, no less!) and her 2012 article on Tarzan (which garnered her a Meet & Greet with Dr. Jane Goodall!).
Abyssinia, cats!

 

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

At the Con: San Diego Comic Con with Tron: Legacy

2

Category : Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Movies, San Diego Comic Con

Comic Con. What an experience! Some go for the gaming, some for the cosplay, some for the comics, but I go for the tv and movie panels. For me this year, the most anticipated movie panel was for Tron: Legacy.

It was great starting the Con in the legendary Hall H, the largest venue at SDCC. The first panel (to my mind, the warm-up act I) was for the animated Megamind, and appearing on its behalf were Will Farrell, Tina Fey, and a cardboard cutout of Brad Pitt. The panel was fun and the clips gave us a chance to try out our True 3D glasses, which worked really well even though my seat was not the best. Good to know if you find yourself in a crowded 3D theater.

Next up, though, was what I had been waiting for . . . Tron: Legacy. The panel was moderated by Patton Oswalt, who was entertaining, and whose comment, “it’s been 27 years since the 1st Tron. Those who saw it in the theatre raise your walkers” has now been forgiven.

If you are concerned that TRON: Legacy is a remake, be at ease. It is, in fact, a sequel – a what-happens-next, although “next” is a few decades later. The inclusion of Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner should assuage any fears you may have. If, on the other hand, you never saw the original, get thee to Netflix immediately. TRON is a classic, made in the early days of video games and personal computers. It is interesting to note that, in spite of appearances, no computer animation was used in the making of that film; all animation was hand-drawn, including the “light” on the skinsuits.


The panel was comprised of Director, Joe Kosinski; Producers, Sean Bailey and Steven Lisberger (from the original TRON); and cast members Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, and Bruce Boxleitner.

One of the most interesting bits of info released was that this sequel will include the Jeff Bridges of today interacting with footage of Jeff Bridges at 35. Included in the new promotional clip, which premiered during the panel, was a brief moment with the 35-year-old Bridges, and it appears that in order to make the production appear seamless, they’ve superimposed footage of his face (from earlier footage) onto an actor in the current production. It will “be interesting to see how well this works in longer clips. As with all things TRON: Legacy, I’m hopeful.


Unlike the original, computer animation abounds in this sequel. Although, interestingly enough, the lights in the skinsuits are actually lights, not hand-animated or computer-generated. The look of the movie is, of course, nicely “tech-y.”  The use of True 3D really did add to the experience by drawing you into the environment. So, I would recommend seeing the film in that venue, if possible, or even better, in a newer IMAX theater.


One of the best question-and-answer exchanges of the panel was from a fan to Olivia Wilde (whose character’s motivations are as she says, “ambiguous”). She was asked by an apparently adolescent fanboy if working on a movie about video games made her more interested in video game players. Roars of laughter and cheers. But she replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and explained that she really had not played video games in years . . . not since Duck Hunt; but had started playing them again because of the movie and has become a big fan of the games and of the players. She went on to say that she loves Comic Con because the fans are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and intelligent. She is wise.

The last bit of news is that they are in discussions about re-releasing the original Tron in an “exciting new format.” Any guesses? No further info was available, but hopefully things will be nailed down shortly, to give everyone a chance to see that very excellent movie before the sequel is released.

The panel and the fans were equally excited about the new film, and I cannot wait. Mark your calendars for the US premiere on December 17.