Friday, July 31, 2009

Commuting and the Effect of Direct TV on my Life....

It's Friday today and I'm rather happy about that. The past couple of days have been extremely rainy and damp. Thus, for almost the entire drive to work today, I felt like I was smelling dead fish. I'm not sure why. I do pass over a couple of rivers but not enough for the fishy aroma to pervade the air. Also, I have a bit of a cold so the fact that I could still smell the fishy smell means it was pretty pungeant.

Dead fish aside, I'm getting used to the drive to work. As I said, it's thinking time. So far, I haven't done too much thinking about my writing but given that I'm finally getting settled in a new house, that will come a little later.

At the moment, I have rather random thought processes while driving. They're mostly related to TV. I've been watching my Direct TV on my downtime.

One thing I want to know: Why does BBC America show the same five commercials each time there's a commercial break? You can't tell me that it can't attract more advertiesers than it does. Every time I turn it on for an hour, I'm forced to sit through the same promo for How do you Solve a Problem like Maria and the upcoming crossover When Maria Met Joseph. While I'm absolutely not opposed to these shows, I am becoming very opposed to the commercials. I also do NOT want to watch that Jonathan Ross show because I find him annoying and I find the fact that I'm reminded who his upcoming guests are every five minutes to be more annoying.

Secondly, there's that commercial for Cheerios. It's the one where the adorable little kid in his pajamas wakes his parents up to give them Cheerios to lower their cholesterol because he read it on the cereal box. First of all....REALLY? Second of all, that kid is barely old enough for his head to reach the top of the bed to wake his dad up so you're telling me he can not only read the word cholesterol but he knows what it does? I'm sure there's some backstory about his dad reading him the box and explaining to this overly precocious child what cholesterol is and what it does. Personally, I think I'd probably be telling the kid a story about the bee on the box or something. Thirdly, in real life, if a kid woke their parents up with a bowl of Cheerios here are a few things that would really happen:

1) The dad would not wake up.
2) The dad would half-wake up, say, "nice idea but come back in a couple of hours."
3) The dad would wake up, say "go see your mother," and roll back to sleep.
4) Upon sending him to his mother, the mother would wake up and get annoyed with the dad for sending him over.
5) Once the mother was annoyed, the parents would bicker about who let him read the cereal box in the first place.
6) The parents would realize that their child was a little creepy and perhaps they ought to go buy him some books to read instead of cereal boxes.

I find that kid a little too precocious for my tastes.

Aside from commercials, I also think about TV shows. I like the Food Network, I've mentioned that. I've been watching that show Throwdown with Bobby Flay. I'm entertained by this show but the more I watch it, the more cruel I realize it is. The premise of the show is that Bobby Flay, one of Food Network's "Superstar" chefs with 20+ years of experience, challenges cooks from around the country who are the supposed 'best' at what they make. The challengers are set up by being made to believe they're doing a pilot for a new Food Network show or are auditioning for a show or some other slighly believable premise. Then, Bobby Flay and his team waltz in, challenge them and the battle is on.

Here's the thing: The people he challenges are usually local favourites. They've been cooking their speciality for years and years. They are experienced and they are successful because they're good at what they do. I see this as a good thing. However, Bobby Flay is given his assignment and has to come up with his version of their speciality in what seems to be less than two days.

The thing with Bobby's dishes is he always tries to get fancy. For example,I've now seen episodes on Sloppy Joes, Barbecue, Falafel, Philly Cheese Steaks and more. Each time, Bobby doesn't try to make the simplest dish because he knows he'll lose so he throws in ingredients like peanut butter, chipotle, poblano peppers resulting in a gourmet version of the local favourite.

This is all well and good but it doesn't seem fair. He should be forced to make the exact same dish as the person he's challenging in order for it to be fair. What he's coming up with is not the same dish thus it can't exactly compare, can it?

When Bobby does issue the challenge, it seems a little arrogant. He's telling the person whose been cooking their signature dish for years that he can do it better because he practiced for TWO DAYS. That seems a little unfair. It also seems a little unfair to taunt the challengers with the idea that they might get to have their own Food Network show and, instead, have Bobby show up to arrogantly presume he can cook better than them.

Bobby loses a lot. I'm happy about that. The interesting thing is when he does win, he always seems embarrassed, like he knows it's a little mean to do what he's doing. Whether or not he humbly acknowledges that just because he won, doesn't mean he's the best, the challenger has to feel a little crappy. I mean, for years, they've thought they were the best at what they cooked and then this New Yorker strolls in, takes their crown away and then leaves town. That has to sting a little, even if the locals do know you're the best and continue to eat your food. It's a pride thing.

So, those are my random TV thoughts at the moment. I'm sure there's more but I can't think of them. However, it's nice to know my commute is good for something, even if it's not terribly productive thinking. Eventually, I hope it will be. In the meantime, I'll keep watching TV. It gives me something to ponder about.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Calm After the Storm...

These have been some busy weeks for me. Now that I'm done with Comic-Con and the physical act of moving is over, the only things that remains to be done is to unpack.

I hate unpacking. I don't mind unpacking the vital stuff: The kitchen appliances, my DVD's, things I use every day. However, then there are the boxes that are left, just staring at you. When I moved to Ohio from California, I had several boxes that were never unpacked into my apartment. I have a feeling those will be the last ones I unpack too.

Those boxes contain the stuff that I like but don't really need. I know I kept the stuff for a reason and didn't donate it to Salvation Army but it's the type of stuff that when you unpack it, you wonder, exactly, why you kept it.

Nevertheless, if I can't find a place for it here, I'll rethink the fact that I might not actually need it.

Last night was the night I cleaned out the apartment for the last time. I locked the door for the last time and went down to my car for the last time. I was a little sad but I'm already loving my new house so much that it wasn't as sad as I thought it would be.

I'm beginning to get used to the house. The one thing I wish is that I had a button that controlled the length of the grass. Wouldn't that be nice? You could set it to different lengths and the lawn would grow and retract based on the setting. That would save me from mowing. I'm already hating mowing. I don't mind the front grass so much since it's small. It's the back garden that daunts me; the long grass looks up at me and I know that all it will take to make it pretty is a simple mow but the act of mowing itself is not something I particularly like.

Which is sad. I thought I'd like it. I'm hoping once I'm settled in and it's something I get to do in my own leisure time, rather than have to dash out when I have a spare minute, it'll get easier. Helpful friends have suggested paying a neighbour kid to do it. That's an option...but I have to find some neighbour kids first.



I do have a little bit of help with the grass though. One of the bunnies I noticed when I first moved in, likes to sit on the grass in my back yard and eat. That's quite helpful. Now, he just needs about 100 more friends to make an impact. Though I think 100 rabbits on my back lawn might be a little too much for a suburban neighbourhood. However, I do appreciate the bunny's help though.


Last night, I had to set my rubbish out for the first time. I've never had to do that before. When you live in an apartment, there are dumpsters for you to throw your trash bags into and they are magically emptied once or twice a week. Not with a house; with a house, you have to call and set up your trash disposal and then remember to put it out. I did remember but, naturally, it was right after I'd showered and was in my pajamas. I'm going to write myself a big note for next week.



The other thing with the house is the neighbour's dogs. I mentioned them before. I think they're rat-terriers of some kind or another. Every time I go out, they go mad, barking at me. My neighbour said they'd be friendly so I went over to say hi, hoping if I did that often enough, they'd get used to me. Alas, they were NOT friendly and I was rather afraid they were going to Rat-Terrier my hand off. Why is it that everyone thinks their dogs are friendly but when it comes down to it, they're not? I'm hoping these dogs calm down soon because I've actually started rethinking visits to my yard when they're outside which is rather ridiculous because it's not my fault they're maniac dogs.



So, life is settling down, finally. This is a fact for which I am glad. It's been so chaotic for the past couple of weeks and it's nice to feel like the storm is past and the calm is settling in. For a while there, moving seemed so daunting but as I locked up my apartment last night, I had a nice satisfied feeling that I had done it and I'd done it for the last time in what I hope is, at least, quite a few years time.



Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Comic-Con: The Conclusion

It's a gloomy day out there today. When I left my house, it was pouring with rain. At work, it's grey and the skies look heavy but so far, it's not raining here. It makes it hard to get out of bed and drive to work, particularly when I slept horribly last night and would rather like to try sleeping again right now. Nevertheless, I am here and thus, I will conclude my Comic-Con blogging today with my third and final entry.

Yesterday, I talked about the panels I saw on Thursday and Friday. I also saw a few on Saturday, a couple of them in anticipation of the panel I most wanted to see: The True Blood panel.

Saturday

Lost- This is the last Lost panel that will most likely be at Comic-Con for a while unless they do a reunion of some sort given that next year will air the final season of the show. Thus, the panel was going to be popular and we had to wait in line for a good two hours before they let us in. It was in the largest room in the Convention Centre: Hall H. This is the same room that hosted the Twilight panel, rumoured to be the most popular panel of the convention. It was huge, I don't know how many people it holds but my guess is at least 7,000 and that's probably conservative. The panel itself was excellent. It was supposed to just be the two creators of the show, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindloff. However, through the course of the panel, several 'special guests' made appearances: Jose Garcia ("Hurley"), Michael Emerson ("Ben"), Nestor Carbonell ("Richard Alpert") and Josh Holloway ("Sawyer"). The panel was probably the most entertaining one I saw with staged interruptions and videos. Naturally, it didn't answer any real questions on the show but given that the creators don't even tell the cast what's going to happen until they get their scripts, that's not a surprise.

V- I actually ended up going to the V panel and screening mostly because I saw the line for the room getting outrageously long and it was getting awfully close to the True Blood panel time. As I said before, they don't clear the rooms between panels so getting in can be tough. So, I lined up and go into the V panel. For the most part, the panel only got maybe 10 minutes at most to talk, the rest of the time was taken up with the screening. The show, obviously, is a remake of the mini-series that ran in the '80's. The episode we saw was the first one and while it was good, it wasn't...great. As I said, I will actually write a review of it on my TV blog but I haven't got around to it yet. The star of the show is Elizabeth Mitchell (from Lost) along with other actors such as Morris Chestnut and Scott Wolf. While the special effects are good and the creepy 'lizard people' makeup is a little...creepy, there are moments of pure cliche that I really hope are remedied as the show continues. While it's nice to have a tough woman as the lead, she also has a teenage son from the Zac Efron school of eyelash-acting who, naturally, does not get along well with his mother and blames her for his father leaving. It would be SO nice to have a show where the strong woman lead has a teenage son who actually admires her for working to support him and doesn't miss his good-for-nothing-dad instead of idolizing him but those are few and far between. Nevertheless, I'll probably watch the show when it airs because I remember the original mini-series from the days of my wee youth; the lizard baby and the skin ripping off to reveal lizard skin are images that sort of stick with you.

Fringe- I confess, I've never seen Fringe. I refused to watch it because it seemed to be such a clear X-Files rip-off, I couldn't bring myself to do it. However, after sitting through the panel, I confess, I actually do want to see it as I was grossly misled as to what it was about and the premise sounds intriguing. Also, the two male leads on the show, John Noble and Joshua Jackson were so entertaining, I have to see them work together on screen. Though I feel a little guilty for taking a seat for a panel that I wasn't terribly interested in when there were people outside who really wanted to get in, the panel served the purpose of most likely getting me to watch the show. I had no idea what was happening on the show and to be honest, the promos on FOX weren't exactly helpful in seperating the show from the shadow of the X-Files but after hearing about it, I'm definitely going to rent the first season on DVD and then DVR the new episodes.

True Blood- This was the panel I really wanted to see. Of course, the time slot and the waiting required to get into the panel did conflict with another panel I really wanted to see: Iron Man 2. Given that the Iron Man 2 panel would include Robert Downey Jr. of whom I've been a HUGE fan for many years, it really was a tough decision. However, that panel was in the infamous Hall H and to see it, I would have had to have stayed in the same seat all day that I obtained for the Lost panel and I just didn't want to do that. Besides, I love True Blood and decided that was the panel I'd rather see. I'm so glad I did. It was really, really entertaining. For one thing, the panel was lead by Alan Ball who first got onto my radar with American Beauty and stayed on it with Six Feet Under. Talk about a smart man. Also, Charlaine Harris (author of the "Sookie Stackhouse") novels was on the panel and as a writer, I had to hear her thoughts on the show since it's taken such a seperate path from the books. When asked how she felt now the books and show have strayed from one another, she gave the answer that I was hoping for, the same one that I've mentioned in my blog: She's happy about it because instead of one world of Sookie Stackhouse, readers get two and though they have similar qualities and are set in the same 'universe', they're different entities and that gives viewers/readers twice the entertainment. I think that's a great answer and one I completely agree with. It is lovely to see the TV show but also a treat to learn more about Sookie from the books.

The actors on the panel surprised me. My favourite character on the show is Eric, played by Alexander Skarsgard. On the show, he has a slight Scandanavian accent. In real life, it's quite a southern drawl that he has. Then there's Stephen Moyer who plays Bill on the show and he has a very, very British accent. And is, I might add, much more appealing in real life than on the show. I'm not a Bill fan: He's a bit drippy for me. However, the actor was not drippy at all. Anna Paquin, who plays Sookie, has a New Zealand accent. On the show, the entire cast has a Lousiana Southern accent. It's just fascinating to hear their real accents and realize how diverse the cast actually is. Ironically, Skarsgard is the only one with a real twang and the only one who doesn't get to use it. The newest cast member, Deborah Ann Moll who plays Jessica was very nervous and much sweeter than her TV alter-ego. All in all, the cast and Alan Ball just had a great dynamic and listenign to them was fun. The only part I was sad about was that Sam Trammell who plays Sam Merlotte on the show didn't get to say much and he's one of my favourite characters.
So, those were the panels I attended. I could go on for days and gush about how great they were but I think three days is gushing enough. Obviously, I have a fondness for the TV panels though there were panels by comic-book authors/book writers I would have liked to have gone to but time didn't permit. One of these was the Joe Hill session. However, Joe, the author of Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts wasn't there to discuss his novels but, rather, his comic books which, for me, would have not been terribly useful as I haven't read them.

Overall, what I hope to give you from my blog-series here is a picture of Comic-Con in all it's fandom and madness. So many people think it's just comic books but it isn't. It's a chance of fans of all mediums to come together and indulge their passions. Some of the regular things there still baffle me though this is the third year I've gone. For example, I've never understood the plethora of "Free Hugs" signs. Is it to go along with the "Free Hug Day" or is it just that the people with the signs don't get many hugs so they figure Comic-Con is a chance to cash in? I've never figured that out.

It's a crazy, busy, exhausting adventure but Comic-Con is something that is worth all of it. I'm glad it's only once a year but it's one time a year when it's ok to talk constantly about TV shows, graphic novels, movies and video games. It's a time for geeks, nerds, and normal people who just like geeky stuff to get together and celebrate. It's a mass chaos of people milling, lining up, grabbing freebies and handing them out but the chaos does has a certain pattern. You just have to find it.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Comic-Con, Part 2

Though I have a million things on my mind and a really random assortment of topics floating around in my head, I'll make this Day 2 of my Comic-Con blogging though I promise not to blog about it so much I bore you. But I feel like I've had so many people ask how it was that maybe, just maybe, you do want to hear about it.

Yesterday, I tried to give you an overview of what it actually is, what being there is like. Today, I'll give you more specifics about what I did and what I saw.

One of the things people associate with Comic-Con most are the people in costumes; that's what they see on the news, that's what they tend to think Comic-Con is all about. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people in costume but there are also plenty of us normal folk whose only nod to our 'geekiness' is, perhaps, a t-shirt. For example, I own both a "Merlottes Bar and Grill" t-shirt and a "Fangtasia" t-shirt. They look like ordinary shirts but if you watch True Blood, they have meaning. That's the way I like to show my 'geekiness'.

However, for the more elaborate, hours have gone into the costumes. Some of them look fantastic; these are the people who work hours to make sure they look as authentic as possible. There were plenty of Watchmen characters milling around along with Wonder Women, ninjas, Smurfs and Stormtroopers. Some of the costumes have a cobbled-together effect, sometimes successful, sometimes not. I stood behind a girl who was clearly a pirate wench but she didn't quite seem to have the hang of the corset. Instead of pushing up her cleavage gently, and letting it brim slightly over the top in true-wench style, she had it shoved up below her cleavage so that it literally made a big, floppy shelf. While I tend not to look at things like that, the L-shape of her figure was a little hard to miss, especially when standing in line behind her for two hours.

There are a lot of anime characters there that I couldn't name but clearly, many convention-goers recognized them. That's the beauty of Comic-Con, no matter how obscure the costume or t-shirt reference, someone will get it.

Yet there is so much more than just the costumes. I told you yesterday about the Exhibition Hall. I mentioned that I attended some panels but I didn't go into detail about what the panels entail. I went to more this year than I've ever been to, some I was in just because I was waiting for a panel that followed it. These are the ones I attended:

Thursday:

Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey- I went to this one because I wanted to see the panel that proceeded it. This is an animated science-fiction movie with a VERY heavy emphasis on the Science part. Written and directed by a double PhD., this was an interesting panel that included phone calls from Chris Pine (the new Captain Kirk) and a Comic-Con special video by Neil Armstrong (you know, the man who walked on the moon). While it was fascinating and quite entertaining, science tends to give me a huge headache and the idea of the lead character being a Photon is a little much for my poor humantities-preferring brain.

Entertainment Weekly: Wonder Women: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture: This is the panel I wanted to see and why I sat through the first one. It featured Sigourney Weaver (Alien), Zoe Saldana (The new Star Trek movie), Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost and the upcoming V) and Eliza Dushku (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse). While it was an interesting panel, there were a few moments where it was a wee bit of a lovefest between Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver who are both starring in the new James Cameron movie, Avatar. The women mostly had a lot to say, aside from Eliza Dushku who was a last minute replacement for Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars). Eliza barely got to say anything while Zoe took the majority of the questions. Don't get me wrong, for such a young actress, Saldana was extremely eloquent and intelligent but between her and Sigourney, the other two were a little bit stuck off to the sides. Still, it was nice to see a panel that saluted the fact that women can be powerful in action films/TV shows and they don't always have to act like men to do so.

Dexter: This was the panel I wanted to see most on Thursday. I'm a huge fan of Dexter as you probably know if you read my blog regularly. It was well worth the wait as we got to see clips and hear about the new season. The panel featured Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Julie Benz (Rita), Jennifer Carpenter (Deb) and Jon Lovitz (the upcoming "Trinity Killer") along with some of the show's producers. Jennifer Carpenter was really nervous but the cast and crew responded to questions and answered the ones they could. The thing with fans are...they're nosy and they want to know things for which we're supposed to wait. Nevertheless, it was a great panel.

Friday

24- Sadly, I got into this panel quite late and thus missed the first half. What I did catch was Kiefer Sutherland's usual calmness and dry sense of humour and Mary Lynn Rajskub's (Chloe) daffy sense of humour. What I did see was highly entertaining.

Bones: I confess, I don't watch this show but the panel was before the Joss Whedon ones and I was already in the room for 24. I had fun here though. Though David Boreanaz who I know from Buffy couldn't be there due to the fact that his wife was expecting a baby any moment, the panel was a lot of fun with just Emily Deschanel and Hart Hanson. Mostly, it was fun because they talked about some of the gruesome stuff on the show and then made fun of Boreanaz. It was a fun, even for a non-Bones watcher.

Dollhouse/Joss Whedon: Joss Whedon panels are always my favourites. He is extremely sarcastic, funny and entertaining and, of course, I adore his work. This was a unique panel because we got to see the unaired episode of Dollhouse that FOX wouldn't air called "Epitaph One". I'm sad that FOX didn't air it but if you're a fan of the show, you MUST rent/buy the DVD so you can see it before the new season begins. It's dark, it's wry, it's sad and it's pure Joss Whedon. The panel itself featured only Joss and Eliza Dushku, the star of Dollhouse, at first but later they brought out Dichen Lachman and Fran Kranz who play Sierra and Topher on the show, respectively. The audience questions were mostly aimed at Joss- his fans are loyal and tend to follow his work obsessively.

RiffTrax: For those that don't know, there used to be a show called Mystery Science Theatre 3000 which employed silly humour, cheesy special effects and the theme of being trapped in space as an excuse to make fun of awful sci-fi and horror movies. It was basically a man and two robots mocking a movie. RiffTrax is done by the same creative team but releases CD's and MP3's which fans can download and play along with the movies being riffed. I found out there's one for Twilight. Naturally, I must watch it because anything that makes fun of Twilight is going to be on my radar.

Ok, so that's an overview of what I saw on the first few days. I hope I didn't bore you. Since I'm running late because work gets in the way, I'll save Saturday and the conclusion of my Comic-Con adventure for tomorrow. If you have specific questions or want to know more about specific things, feel free to email or comment and I'll be happy to answer.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic-Con: An Overview for the Uninitiated...

I'm finally back. It feels very strange to not blog; I was tempted to but the lack of an internet connection put a damper on the temptation.

However, I have returned and will, hopefully, be back to my normal blogging routine.

I had a fabulous time at Comic-Con. That's pretty much going to be the gist of this blog. If I rambled on about everything fantastic I saw, it would be an even more epic-lenghth blog than usual. However, I'm sure others will follow. Today....today will just be an overview for those who cannot comprehend what, exactly Comic-Con is all about.

In short, it's about entertainment. Comic-Con is a massive convention for anyone who loves entertainment.

Comic-Con began, I believe, as a gathering of Star-Trek fans and so, in many people's minds, Comic-Con is just a massive gathering for geeks and nerds who like to dress like Spock and speak Klingon to one another. I have to confess, upon my first visit three years ago, this is what I thought.

Fortunately, I was wrong. Very, very wrong. To my delight, Comic-Con encompasses many, many things, crosses genres so it's not just favouring science fiction and provides massive amounts of entertainment in many formats. Yes, there are Trekkies there but there are also thousands of other people into many, many other things.

When you enter Comic-Con, it feels slightly like a descent into madness. Picture, if you will, a big convention centre. Then make it bigger. The San Diego Convention Centre, the site of Comic-Con, is huge. Then, picture swarms and swarms of people waiting to get inside. These people are dressed in everything from plain old t-shirts and jeans to full blown costumes from Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars (of course), Anime characters, Super Mario Brothers, Lost, Shawn of the Dead and thousands more. There are so many 'insider' t-shirts, shirts that have significance only to fans of whatever the shirts symbolize, that it's impossible to see them all.

At the centre of the convention centre is the Exhibition Hall, a massive, gaping room filled to the brim with things to see. There are film studios there: the Warner Bros. booth is always the busiest place in the hall followed by Paramount, Fox and Sony. Then there are the big comic publishers: DC, Marvel and Dark Horse. There are booths for video games, the pinnacle of which is the G4 booth, the TV network dedicated to video gaming. There are booths for artists of both Fantasy Art and Graphic Art; you can meet and talk to the artists one-on-one, just by strolling by. There are booths for fun, booths that sell things like t-shirts of Mr. Toast (I now have one because, hello....toast! I love toast), Happy Tree Friends....the list goes on and so do the booths.

The Exhibit Hall opens at 9:30 a.m. On the first day of the convention, attendees had to go get their badges which double as admission passes. Once my friend and I obtained our badges, we were sent back outside to the streets outside the convention centre to wait, along with the rest of the early birds who wanted to be there as soon as it opened. Irritatingly enough, around 9:15 a.m., the security team stopped sending people out, allowing the latecomers to get their badges and wait inside, right outside the door to the Exhibition Hall. Naturally, this inspired wrath in those of us who had been waiting for a while and, let me tell you, there were a lot of us. However, we did briefly get distracted from our irritation when we realized they'd filled up the inside waiting area to the point where the people taking the escalators down from getting their badges had nowhere to go when they got off. Yes, it's a little cruel but we actually all watched with bated breath to see who would be the first to start the pile up. We didn't have to wait long. The people began to pile into one another like dominos until some smart person finally stopped the escalator. Unfortunately, they did this without warning and one poor soul almost tumbled right off the edge.

Our irritation was increased again when they finally opened the Exhibition Hall late and then proceeded to allow all those people who were inside to enter, leaving us stranded outside with security blocking the doors so we couldn't get in. We had to wait fifteen minutes longer to get inside. This may not seem like a big deal but many people wanted to see some of the panels that were supposed to begin at 10 a.m. Getting into any of the popular panels takes a commitment of waiting in line for a very long time and the later you get there, the lower your chances of getting in.

Once inside the Exhibition Hall, the first thing to do is go find a bag. Many of the booths give out free bags, each emblazed with the logo of the place giving out the bags. If you attend Comic-Con, you need a bag to put in all the buttons, stickers, comics and gifts you're given. Many of the booths that are solely there to promote their products give out goodies to convention goers and, at the end of the day, your bag is weighed down with things you grab or are handed to you.

The floor of the Exhibition Hall ranges from chaotic (the area around the movie studios' booths) to calm (around the Fantasy Art area). There are thousands of people there and sometimes, the crowds are crushing. To top it off, the bigger booths like Fox and Warner Bros. have signings throughout the day, a chance to meet stars from your favourite movie or TV show. For me, the signings are too much work and they rarely have them for shows I like. However, it is an experience; I did get a signature from Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost and the upcoming V remake coming in November on ABC. (For a review of the first episode, check out a future blog on Captain TV). My friend and fellow attendee is a huge fan of Mitchell's so I kept her company in line and ended up getting a signed poster.

As well as the Exhibition Hall, there are panels throughout the day. On the first day, I went to a panel sponsored by Entertainment Weekly called "Wonder Women" and it featured Sigourney Weaver, Eliza Dushku, Zoe Saldana and Elizabeth Mitchell. I also saw a Dexter panel that day. For the panels, patience is required as the popular ones require at least a couple of hours' wait. They don't clear rooms between each panel and so, sometimes, you end up sitting through ones prior to the ones you want to see just to make sure you get a seat for your desired panel.

There is food to be had but like any event, it's overpriced and not that good. The trick is to eat a big breakfast, snack on things like granola bars throughout the day and wait to eat dinner afterwards though there are evening events as well. As my friend and I were still on East Coast time, we ended up wimping out of the evening events to go back to the hotel, drop off our laden bags and grab a quick dinner before going to bed around 10:30 p.m. This way, we'd have energy throughout the day.

You need energy for Comic-Con. The walk to the hotel for us each way was over a mile. Once inside, the Exhibition Hall takes a tremendous amount of walking to get from one side to another. The panels take tremendous amounts of standing in line. By the end of the day, your feet feel like you've run a marathon, no matter how comfortable your shoes. I admire the women who go in costumes that require heels.

At the end of the day, the lines streaming out of the convention centre mirror those streaming in during the morning. Some brave people head over to the line for Hall H, the largest room in the Convention Centre and always with the most popular events. People camp out here so that they get guaranteed admission along with a good seat for the next day's panels. This year, the "Twilight: New Moon" panel had Twi-Hards and their mothers' apparently camping out over 24 hours before it began. For those of us who aren't that energetic or dedicated we leave. People await, handing out yet more promotional materials. This year, the TV show Heroes was sponsoring a 'carnival' outside the Convention Centre, complete with rides, games and cotton candy stalls. I think it has something to do with what's going on with the show but since I long gave up on Heroes because it just, frankly, started to suck, I have no idea. Still, it was a great idea.

So, that's an overview of the entire event. Hopefully, I've given you a mental picture. It's organized chaos, mostly. Yet it's a fun chaos, chaos that allows us to indulge the shows, books, comics and movies that we're passionate about and embrace the fact that it's ok to be a fan. I'll recap more specifics tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading. It's nice to be back.

Happy Monday.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pre-Trip Bad Moods....

It's the day before I go on vacation for four days. I think I'm supposed to be happy and excited but at the moment, I'm actually feel rather crotchety and irritable. I know I timed this trip badly; at the moment, all I want to do is just go home, put my feet up for a bit and then putter around the house for a few days. I know I'll have a good time when I get to Comic-Con in San Diego but at the moment, I'm too tired to actually think about going.

Today is one of those mornings in which I feel like I got out of the wrong side of bed: I'm having a bad hair day, I feel like I look awful, traffic was terrible this morning and my coworker and fellow Comic-Con attendee has stood me up in the office. We were both supposed to get here early so we could leave early and yet...I'm here and she's not. Which now means, chances are, rather than leave early, I'll have to work late until she's ready to leave. These are all small things but if you combine them with a rather tired Monkeypants and...I think that means I might be a little scary.

I'll try not to socially interact until I'm feeling mellow. It's probably better that way. The timing of my bad mood couldn't be much worse: I know that.

Now my coworker is here and...sadly, she's also in a bad mood. We're both suffering from pre-travel stress: Me, because I'm in a bad mood, her- because she's afraid her credit card has been cancelled and it happens to be the card under which our hotel room is reserved.

Strangely, this has put me in a better mood. I probably should be worried about the credit card but...I'm not. That has a logical conclusion and solution...it will just take a little time. My bad mood is irrational and silly.

I have no reason to be in a bad mood, honestly. In the grand scheme of things, life is going well. I am a rather lucky Monkeypants in that respect.

I find bad moods fascinating. Most often, there is a logical cause for them but on other days, days like today for me, they just hit you with no real reason. It's like you wake up and even though the sun is shining, you still feel like there's a big old raincloud floating right above your head, just like the Flump named Perkin did. Everything just feels like it's not quite right, hence the bad hair day. I tried to make a cup of tea and then realized I'd already put the rubbish out and there was nowhere to put the teabag without starting a new bin which was not something I wanted to do when I was going to be gone for almost a week. I went to make toast and realized that it had popped up and become cold while I was worrying about the teabag. My ponytail holder isn't tight enough and no matter how many times I redid it, my ponytail looked stupid. Behind all these tiny little things is the bigger worry that I've forgotten something very important that I'm going to need for my trip.

Then, I drove into the office and got stuck behind the world's slowest driver. He was one of those people who constantly rides the brake so it actually looks like he's blinking his lights at you from behind, it occurs so frequently. I always try to keep a cars-length between me and the driver in front of my but it's hard to keep consistent when Mr. Brakey is tapping out morse code on his brake pedal. When he finally turned off, I got behind Mr. Inconsistant. This is the type of driver who is going 70 mph one minute and then slows to about 45 mph the next. Fast and slow, fast and slow...in a way it's worse than Mr. Brakey.

I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not been in my grouchy mood. However, the smallest little things tend to bother me on days like this.

As I got to the office, I noticed there were some of the Facilities crew outside, cutting down a tree right outside the office windows. On a normal day, I'd probably be quite excited that there are lumberjacks outside...lumberjacking. Which, actually, now I type it, is actually a rather hilarious word. Go on, say it again...LUM-BER-Jack. I think it's the lumber part that's funny. What is a lumber, anyway? LUM....BERR.

Um...I digress. I have a thing about words. I've mentioned that before. I find words delicious and I love to say some of them out loud. LUMBERJACK!

Ok, I feel even better now. I think I'll just shout out "lumberjack" if I'm feeling crabby. Of course, that's if anyone can hear me over the sound of a chipper-shredder outside the window. Which, of course, leads me to think about the movie "Fargo" and the creative use of a chipper shredder there. Which is strangely interesting...

This is turning into a rather strange blog. I apologize. I'm going to a comic-book convention so I suppose being strange is probably actually...quite normal.

Which leads me to tell you that I probably won't be able to blog until next week. Captain Monkeypants is going on vacation. My apologies but I will return with stories from my trip. In the meantime, I'd like to thank you all for reading, for putting up with my strangeness and enduring my bad mood. I am feeling far better than when I started this blog. Yet, just in case my bad mood threatens to return....

LUMBERJACK!

Happy Wednesday....

Monday, July 20, 2009

All Moved in...Finally!

It's Monday morning after an insanely busy weekend and all I have to say is...I'm tired. It's nice to have a break from work but I think, sadly, work tends to be more relaxing than this last weekend.

I can't complain, however. The move went smoothly which made life easier. As soon as the movers showed up, I felt a huge weight fly off my shoulders and I knew that from there, things would be fine. I watched them effortlessly carry my heavy furniture down the stairs, load it up and then unload it at the other end. As soon as the furniture was out of my apartment, I realized I had been stressing for no reason: There was hardly anything left to move. As soon as the furniture was placed in my new house, it felt like a home already.

Since then, I worked diligently; I unpacked the kitchen so that, at the very least, I could cook and make food. I set up the computer, I set up the TV. I unpacked the DVD's. I put up some paintings that have been waiting to be displayed since I moved from Los Angeles. Now, I don't have to worry about being 'fined' for nail holes in my walls the way I would in my apartment.

The house looks....good. Don't get me wrong: There's still a magnitude of boxes that I've been ignoring but the beautiful thing is that there is a place for everything already. I don't have to worry about where to put things because there's room for everything. It'll take some time to get fully unpacked but it's feeling pretty nice to have a house and to be able to call it home at last.

Of course, naturally, there are a few slight drawbacks. My neighbours have those yappy dogs I mentioned before. Well, I've been going to the house for other three weeks and yet still, every time I go outside, they go ballistic. Now, I've discovered they also go ballistic if I'm in my room which just happens to face onto the neighbours house. If they hear me move, they bark.

I'm used to yappy dogs. My parents have a few of them. I love dogs so I'm not visualizing tossing them off a balcony or anything because they're just doing their doggy thing. Yet it is a little bit frustating to go outside, hear the dogs and then watch the neighbours have to shepherd the dogs in because of the noise. It almost makes me feel guilty for going in my own backyard which seems a little...silly. I'm hoping they do, eventually, settle down. I don't want to not get along with my neighbours. I'm wondering if I ask if I can give them a treat, that'll help. I have a few left over from Sausage's visit.

Aside from that, the only downfall is the fact that I'm unfamiliar with the 'noises' of the house. During the day, they're no big deal. At night, lying in a rather unfamiliar room, those noises can be...a little creepy. The water heater especially is a little unnerving; it has this rather odd groan to it that sounds a little like the Titanic did in the film when it started sinking. The ceiling creaks a little too which at times sounds like someone's moving around in my attic. Naturally, I try to move past that thought quickly because otherwise my overactive imagination will start working twice as fast and I'll never be able to sleep.

Now it's Monday and I'm finally in the office. I had to commute this morning and I timed it pretty well. In future, I'll have to remember to make coffee and toast to eat on the drive but I didn't get time today, unfortunately. It just means my tummy will make some peculiar noises until it is fed. I'm going to drink some tea to appease it since there's absolutely no coffee in the office. This is not a good thing. It might be my turn to get coffee too. Oops.

However, even though today will be busy at work, compared to my weekend, I think I can handle it. The rest of the week is also going to be busy after tomorrow as the San Diego trip to Comic-Con looms. I'm looking forward to it; I only wished I'd planned better so I could find time to see some of my California friends but, alas, when you books something on the spur-of-the-moment, it's hard to think of these things.

I'm a tired Monkeypants today because of the weekend yet...I'm also a happy Monkeypants. Being a homeowner is exciting and, at long last, I'm starting to appreciate that fact. I still have a lot to do but now I'm there...it feels like home. And that feels pretty nice to me.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Slush Puppies make Everything Better...

Mornings like this are muddled. I had to turn around on my way to home to run back to pick up a birthday card to mail to a friend. I hate being late with birthdays, even by a day. Then I get into work and there's a steady flow of morning visitors by my cube. There often is in the mornings: Coworkers stop by to chat. Yet today, my cubicle-neighbour is also in which means there's even more chatter.

Not that I mind but it means my morning isn't off to its routine beginning and sometimes routine is good. At the moment, I need routine because my life is so muddled elsewhere that I'm trying to not feeling like I'm drowning in the stress of moving.

I took a really full carload to the house last night and I still have several to go. I'm trying to take it in pieces, not look at the overwhelming amount of stuff I still feel like I have to do.

Yet it's Friday; I have a weekend to worry and I'm hoping once the movers have taken the furniture tomorrow, it will look less intimidating in my apartment. I'm also looking forward to actually living in my house. That happens...beginning tomorrow.

This has been a week of "lasts". That always happens when I move. For example, today was the last easy commute I have for a while. No longer will I have an 8-minute hop to the office but, instead, have a 40 minute commute again. Once the office moves, I'll be back to a ten minute drive. I'm actually not upset about the commute for now. I like driving; I like the thinking time. Some of my novels were thought up on my commutes to work. It'll be nice to have that time to just let your mind wander.

Last night was also the last time I will sit at my computer in my apartment and email, the last time I'll really make lunch for work in my apartment. I know, I know...it's small stuff but I love my apartment and I'm going to be sad to miss it.

Still, life moves forward and so must I. Last night, I started unpacking my kitchen at the house. I had a rather scary experience as I was measuring my pantry for shelves. The overhead light/fan in the kitchen has a glass globe on it; it fell off and shattered on the floor. I am extremely thankful I wasn't standing under it because, at the very least, it would have hurt. It probably wouldn't have been quite serious so I'm glad I chose that moment to measure my pantry. Needless to say, it got my heart racing a little. Nothing like a near concussive-experience to scare the crap out of you.

So I'm glad it's the weekend. Work has been busy this week. I'd like to think I'm slowly but surely finding out where I fit in my company and now they're starting to realize that my experience is quite useful, I have a lot more work to do. I'm hoping that lasts for a while.

It's nice to be busy but part of me is just longing for life to settle down again so I can be faced only with choices such as "stay here or go to my parent's this weekend?" or "what's for dinner?" At the moment, choosing things such as the height at which to mow my grass or flat paint or semi-gloss are ruling my life. Again, I ask, when, exactly, did I become a grown up? I miss the days of trying to decide which flavour of Slush Puppie to get at the local Pak a Sak.

I miss Slush Puppies. Even in England we used to get Slush Puppies. It was such a treat to get one on a hot day. The only problem I've always have is that I suck the flavour out and am left with a lot of flavourless ice-crystals. I've never understood that. My friends all got them and theirs still had flavour. In fact, that happens to me what kind of frozen drink it is: Arctic Freeze, Icee, Slurpee or Slushie. Hmm....

You know, I pass by a convenience store which has a big Slush Puppie sign in front of it every time I go from my apartment to my house. I'm thinking I'm going to stop there today. Slush Puppies make everything better as long as you go heavy on the syrup, light on the ice. I intend to do just that. Maybe it'll make me feel like a kid again, even for a few minutes.

Sometimes that's all you need. Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moving Preparations and Harry Potter (of course)

This week is going by rather quickly. I'd say that was a good thing but since this weekend leads to moving, a wedding and a lot of work to get ready for my trip next week, I think it's going to be a while before I get to relax.

I did get to work on the house yesterday though. I did such domestic things such clean out the fridge, scrub the path and plant some...plants.

There's nothing more disgusing that cleaning out someone else's fridge. I know it's my fridge now but until it's clean, I don't lay claim to it. It's clean now, thus it's my fridge. However, that was after an awful lot of scrubbing and cleaning. There were things spilled in there that I don't think I want to know from whence they came. They were sticky, smelly and just plain disgusting. I, fortunately, didn't find any furry vegetables though there was a bag of ancient potatoes buried in there as well as some milk that expired rather a long time ago. It was not a pleasant experience but it's about as clean as it will ever get now so I think it's time I started calling it my fridge.

I won't even talk about the bath. Let's just say that cleaning that took a while. It was literally grey in spots from dirt stains. I took down the ancient shower curtain, a tropical fish print and prepared to put my own more demure fabric butterfly one up when I move in.

I think the house is finally ready for me. I even started unpacking the kitchen boxes. I'm having a problem there. I mean how do you know which cupboard should hold what? Whenever I go in someone else's kitchen, everything has a place and it seems to fit. My cupboards are gaping and empty. I don't know which one should be my plate/dish cupboard. which one should hold my spices or wine glasses. There's so many choices to make!

I did start putting things in cupboards but I'm afraid that I did it wrong and I won't like it. I know I can change it later but it's my first official home and I want to get it right. It's one of those things that is so insignificant that later on, I'll wonder what I was worrying about but it still seems important right now.

I did reward myself yesterday with a screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Seriously, did you think I wouldn't? I won't spoil the film for anyone but I will say that now I've seen it, it's definitely not something I think a five-year-old should see and, if they do, I certainly hope they don't 'get' it; it's just too...dark.

However, for those of us who love the Potter books and the Potter universe, it's well worth a watch. I like it more than the last movie- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - which I felt was ridiculously rushed in an effort to make the shortest film of the series. It's one of the most intense and detailed of the books and to cram it into a short film was a bit ridiculous. This one is much better. There are moments of hilarity, moments of sadness and moments of just plain creepiness. That's just the way I like my Harry Potter.

I like to reward myself once in a while like that. It makes it worthwhile to be productive. It's like being on a diet: Sometimes you just have to cheat otherwise it just becomes miserable.

So, I rewarded myself last night. It will get me through the rest of the week which will consist largely of loading up my car, disassembling furniture and unpacking boxes. It's moving time, no doubt about it.

And, speaking of moving, I would like to take this opportunity to wish one of my good friends luck on her last day in the office before she leaves L.A. for the unchartered territory of Texas. I try not to mention specific names but she's one of my loyal readers and a great friend to boot. I met her in L.A. and since then we've both had the need to escape the city life for one of a less harried existence. As you drive out of the city, Ms. P- look back once, see the smog-encased landscape and think of the green lands that lie ahead.

Ironically, we're both having the movers come on the same day. It's strange how life works in tandem with those you care about, even when they're miles away. I've already done my cross-country move and I know how hard it is. I shouldn't be complaining about moving to a house, 20 miles from where I live now. Especially as it's my house.

I'm still getting used to saying that. Good luck, Ms. P-

And Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Harry Potter Day....

Today is a Harry Potter day. I say this because today's the day that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie comes out. I'm quite excited and yes, I am taking time from my moving schedule to see it.

I like Harry Potter Days. The best days are the ones when the books came out because as I say regularly, I'm a reader. There's nothing more relaxing and wonderful than having a big book to read that you can't wait to sink your teeth into and pass hours and hours of being lost in a world of fiction.

Today is still a good Harry Potter day though. I actually count the books and movies as seperate entities. Even though the movie was based on the book, they're different. I picture Harry, Hermione and Ron more as the illustrations from the books than the actors who play them. I collect some Harry Potter stuff and most of it features the illustrations. That's not to say I don't think that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson don't do a fine job of playing Harry, Ron and Hermione but they're not the characters I read about in the book.

It doesn't mean that I'm not excited about the movie.

However, I do wish I could reread the entire series anew. If I did nowadays, I'd be reading each one for the multipleth time. They were wonderful reads, the kind of books that become old friends. The best thing of all is that they're a series and once you start, you have what seems to be an endless supply of future reading.

Of course, once you get to the last book in the series, it's a little like Christmas Eve; you WANT to read it just like you want Christmas to come but you know once it does, it's going to pass so quickly you're going to wish it was still Christmas Eve.

That's where I am with the Charlaine Harris novels. I started the last one in the series last night. I know that there'll be more later on but I had this fantastically entertaining pile of books to read and somehow, not slowly enough, I ended up on the last one somehow. I'm rather sad about it because I have no idea what to read next. I have books to read but I've been so immersed in the world of Sookie Stackhouse that coming out of it might be a problem. I'm going to wonder why everyone is coming out in the daytime and how, when it's a full moon, there aren't any were-creatures around.

Yes. I know. I should move onto other books. I'm sure I have some other, more literary, books to read. However, I like reading non-literary books. I applaud Charlaine Harris for creating a series that may not be the most literary thing ever but they are ridiculous entertaining and that's the mark of a good writer. I find escapism into her worlds similar to that of J.K. Rowling's. This is not to compare the two writers because they're wildly different in style, character building, narrative and everything. Yet in both Harris' and Rowling's worlds, the blending of our world with that of the the magical/supernatural is almost...believable. With the world of Harry Potter, it is easy enough to believe that underneath the bland, easy world of reality there's a whole, hidden world full of magic. It's concealed from the muggles in very creative ways, ways that are believable from the minute you step inside the pages of Harry Potter.

With the world of Sookie Stackhouse, once you open the first book, it is actually quite easy to see how vampires are able to be 'out' in the world, how the werewolves and were-creatures, witches, demons and other 'supes' are waiting in the shadows, watching to see how the world reacts to the Great Revelation of the vampires. Soon enough, these creatures will come out of the shadows and the humans in Sookie's world will see that vampires are the tip of the iceberg.

I love that in the Sookie books, there is no apology, no overexplaining of how these creatures can exist, why they exist. They're just there, given personalities and traits that make them oddly appealing and endlessly fascinating.

I'm going to be sad to finish inhabiting Sookie's world when I close that last book. I think I'm going to have to read another series. Suggestions would be much appreciated. I've heard Anita Blake is good but I'm not sure I want another vampire series yet, however.

Still, for now, at least I have Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to watch. It's not quite the same as getting lost in a book but it will do. For now.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Other Side of Macabre...


I have a confession to make. As a child, I was a horrible scaredy cat. I couldn't even watch the preview to a movie that looked like it might be scary. I remember my dad renting Jaws and he had to pause it through the gorier bits because I would have nightmares if I saw them. I remember watching a trailer for a film in which a man sat on top of a giant meat grinder and I had nightmares for weeks. I never saw him jump into the meat grinder. I never saw him even get ground up. Yet, in my mind, he did; I knew what was going to happen and thus, I would lie awake for hours, hiding under the covers, afraid of the dark.

I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of the giant tree outside my window for a while because I saw Poltergeist and there's an evil tree in that movie that reaches through a window and grabs a little boy.

I even used to be afraid of John Wayne because right after he died, I had a dream where he was buried in our garden. I was afraid to walk by the patio area for weeks because the stones looked like gravestones to me and I was convinced John Wayne was buried there.

So, what it comes down to is that I was a child who did enough damage to her sleep patterns with my overactive imagination without needing help from horror movies.

Ironically, nowadays, I'm pretty much the complete opposite. I laugh at horror movies and like that darker side of life, the Dexters, the vampires, the shadows that surround us.

Yet, it doesn't change the fact that I was a bit of a wussy child. My parents were really good about limiting what we were allowed to watch and most of the stuff I saw that gave me nightmares was around a friend's house or with my older brother. Yet, I had enough to contend with by letting my imagination scare me to death. I'd imagine seeing corpses in piles of leaves or hear the cackle of a witch on a cold windy night. Yes, I admit, Captain Monkeypants was a bit macabre, even back then but it was the other side of macabre, the side that was terrified of it, not the side that liked to create it for the slight thrill of otherness it gives me today.

As a child, I knew my limits. I knew there were things I had to wait to see, things that were too old for me, books I would have to wait to read, movies my older brother saw and then told me about. I had to wait until I was older to see and read those things. I'm happy I had to do that; I think that went a long way into helping me embrace the scarier things in life, of learning that thunderstorms were not heart-stopping things of terror but, instead, were a fantastic display of nature at it's angriest. It made me see that Freddy Krueger wasn't some horror creation that should give me nightmares but, instead, was a bit of a laugh and was so ridiculous, it wasn't worth being scared about. It was a progression from the innocence of childhood, the great unknown of being older, of being allowed.

The point is, I needed this natural progression from childhood. It made me appreciate things in due course. I was allowed to be a child for a long time, long enough to help me become a proper adult (or, at least, as much of one as I am today).

Nowadays, I see that happening less and less. I found out that my brother was taking my niece to see the new Harry Potter film on Friday. She's five. As soon as I heard that, I admit I was shocked. I know she loves the franchise; she's been my Harry Potter buddy for a while now. For the longest time, her parents only let her watch the first couple of films, the ones where Harry, Hermione and Ron are still children, where Trolls and Basilisks are the scary parts.

I guess they eventually let her see all of them. I'm not judging my brother and sister-in-law as parents but it does make me sad that they're so willing to let her see these movies.

I know the movie, technically, is rated PG so it's not huge that she's seeing it in a rating sense. But...as a child? That just makes me sad. This movie contains the throes of adolescent hormones, violence, death of a major character, battles, betrayal....all things that a five-year-old, not matter how mature, won't truly be able to get.

I think as a Potter-fan that I'm sad for her on a whole other level. She's missing the chance to truly, slowly discover the series and the pleasure of discovering a new adventure of a character. Instead, she's viewing the movies as a five-year-old, with a five-year-old comprehension; she's never going to have the chance to 'discover' such a wonderful series because she's already 'been there, done that.'

As a reader, I always advocate the book over a movie. I'm hoping when she learns to read, she'll treat the series as a new one but I don't think that's possible. I think that once we see a movie and then read the book on which it was based, it's hard to picture characters in a book as anything other than the actors. I try deliberately not to do that, to treat the book and movie as two seperate entities. I usually succeed because I'm stubborn and I suffer from writer-bias. The characters were created by the writer so he/she should be able to have the final word on how they look. Thus, I'll always believe a writer over a film company who cast actors in the roles unless they match up. The cast of True Blood, for example, couldn't get closer to the pictures in my head for most of the characters if they tried.

Anyway, back to my point about my niece. I'm not her parent and wouldn't dream of telling her parents what to do. Besides, they'd never listen anyway. It just makes me very sad on several levels that they can't say, "Sorry but you're too young. We'll take you to see Ice Age 3 instead." Now there's a movie for kids with talking animals, crazy squirrels and a more child-friendly storyline. I'm not saying that Harry Potter shouldn't be enjoyed by a younger generation but as the storyline progresses, so does the maturity level and the darkness the characters face. I suppose part of me doesn't want her to know about that darkness yet, to enjoy the fact that she's a kid and the hardest part of that should be stopping her younger brother from wearing her play-jewelry.

Yet, I'm not a parent. Maybe this is a way for her not to have nightmares about John Wayne being buried in her garden or imagining trees reaching in and grabbing her when she sleeps. It doesn't change the fact that part of me wants to grab her, sit her down and read her some nice stories that she skipped in her efforts to embrace Hannah Montana and Harry Potter, stories that are sweet, pretty and wrapped in pretty bows. Yet she'd probably scoff at those, wanting to know when the fighting started, when the witch would eat the children.

I think what it comes down to is that children today are in a hurry to grow up and me, in my old fashioned way, thinks they should get to be a kid for just a little while longer before the awkwardness of adolescence attacks. Nowadays it's harder, that line between adolescence and childhood is blurrier by the day.

I want my niece to have a proper respect for scary things and not take them in stride the way she does now. Yes, I suppose it's a sign of maturity but there are some things that should be scary and it worries me that she no longer seems to notice this. Maybe she's just not a scaredy cat the way I used to be.

Or still am...actually. I saw Ronald McDonald on a TV show this morning. I never noticed before but he could inspire terror, even in an adult. I think it's the big clown mouth- I keep expecting him to show a set of teeth or wield a knife. Either way, with his Happy Meals and weird friends, he inspires suspicion. Apparently, you never completely grow out of some things...it seems that I'm still a little macabre.

Thanks for reading. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wishing Harry Potter Spells Really Worked....

It is unbelievably amazing how quickly weekends fly by. One minute, I'm getting off work on a Friday evening and the next thing, I'm groggily reaching for my alarm on Monday morning, putting it on snooze in hopes that that extra 9 minutes of sleep will refresh me enough so that getting out of bed isn't so hard.

Of course, the snooze button never helps. More than anything, it's a taunting reminder that you do have to get up for something and no matter how many times you hit it, you still eventually have to get up otherwise you wouldn't be hitting it in the first place.

I hit my snooze button just once today and I still feel like I'd rather be sleepily lying under my covers, not having to get up. That happened on Saturday morning. I forgot to turn off my alarm and it went off and for one brief, disoriented minute I began to mentally prepare for the workday before I realized with absolute delight and joy that it was, in fact, Saturday and I didn't have to get up for a while.

Now I'm up, I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the weekend. I did spend Friday night cleaning the house in preparation for my parents' visit. I had planned on mowing the grass but, alas, a big thunderstorm put the damper on that. I spent Saturday morning cleaning my apartment. By the time they arrived, both my 'residences' were as clean as they were going to get.

I'm happy to report my parents approved of the house. They poked around, checked everything out and seemed to find no massive issues which was a huge relief, I have to say. My dad even installed a new cable outlet in my office for me so that I could run the internet in there. He's good like that. It turned out to be a really fun day. Even now, in my mid-thirties, I still crave approval from my parents and having them give the nod to my first home felt really...nice.

Naturally, I spent yesterday at the house too. I ended up mowing the grass. After two mowings, I can safely say I am not a fan of mowing. For one thing, it takes too long. I put one of those grass-catchy bags on the back of my mower but had to empty it every five minutes. I finally gave up on it. Then, of course, I looked over at my neighbours' yard. Their grass is that perfect shade of green, a nice length and not a grass clipping in sight. I felt compelled to rake up my clippings but then..what do do with them? My neighbours don't have a grass pile anywhere in sight. I'm baffled. I now have a massive pile of grass clippings. My grass looks nice but I have a feeling eventually, I might have have a grass mountain in a couple of weeks.

I still want to know what my neighbours do with their clippings. That's weird, right? I mean, I saw them mowing and it looked like they were cutting the grass but where'd the grass go? Maybe it's like a Harry Potter spell...all the grass is magically 'poofed' away as its cut.

Or maybe I just have an overactive imagination. Even so, I want a Harry Potter spell to get rid of my clippings. I think "Evanesco", the vanishing spell would work nicely.

Aside from mowing the grass and raking it, I didn't get too much accomplished. I did go exploring a little to find a Kroger. On the way, I passed a little "British" pub. I say "British" in quotes because though it says its an English pub and it has an English pub-y name, I looked at the menu online and, well, it's not that British. They have lots of British/European beers but with the exception of fish and chips, there's not a nod to British cuisine at all. There are a lot of burgers and bar-food but no bangers and mash, bubble and squeak, Welsh Rarebit or British breakfast. Nevertheless, at least there is a pub of sorts fairly nearby which is pretty nice in these parts.

I eventually found the Kroger though for some reason, my GPS (aka "satan") decided to take me on the scenic route. Sometimes she does that, even though I tell her I want 'fastest time'. Sometimes, I think she leads me on wild goosechases just because she gets annoyed that I call her satan. When I drove to our conference in Indianapolis, she took us by the hotel that was our destination about three times, telling us it was on the right. Turns out it was on the left but we were so focused on listening to her, we didn't see it. I could almost hear her laughing at us. I can't help it that, on occasion, her upbeat, annoying calm voice changes to the gravely, deep overtones that I would assign to a demon or figure of the underworld. Maybe she/he's cross that I don't give him/her more respect. I suppose I should, I mean satan is still trying to give me directions but it's hard to follow them because, frankly, the shock of hearing the voice usually takes over and I stop listening to directions. Also, I think satan needs a translator because I can't often understand him. He slurs, you see.

Nevertheless, even though GPS lady did take me the long way to Kroger, at least she didn't transform into satan yesterday. In fact, for the most part, I had a very pleasant drive through the area. It's nice to go exploring and see the possibilities for things to do, places to eat, places to shop, etc. Yet, there'll be plenty of time to explore once I've moved permanently.

As long as the grass doesn't need to be mowed. Evanesco clippings!

Yeah. That never works in real life. Doesn't mean I won't keep trying though.

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hazy Days of Summer...

It ended up being gloomy for most of the day yesterday. The gloominess became accompanied by humidity which meant the evening resulted in a sticky, sultry heat. Today is already starting to feel a little oppressive with its thick air and if the weatherman is right, tomorrow will be worse.

Of course, that's if the weatherman is right. Which he rarely is. This means I shall just have to wait and see, as is usually the case.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, humidity or not. My parents are coming down to see my house which I'm both excited and terrified about. I want them to see my new home and approve of it which is where the fear comes in. I have this horrible worry that my dad will walk around with his engineering-type hat on and start finding things wrong that sound dooming. While that would be helpful, I'm already a bit skittish about owning my own place.

They're also the first ones to actually see the house besides my realtor and me. I wish it could be perfect for them but the best I could do was to finish painting last night. There's no way that those mounds of boxes are going to get unpacked before they arrive tomorrow.

The hard part is that I have to at least clean the house a little from my painting attempts AND I have to clean my apartment which currently looks a bit like a bomb hit it due to the fact that I barely spend any time there at all and, when I do, it's either to eat, sleep or pack.

Still, I know they'll be ok with whatever I'm able to do. That's the nice part about parents. I need to mow my lawn again because it's already long. I know my dad will notice that. Part of me wants to leave it and, if he mentions it, happily show him my new mower and suggest he try it out. However, I know that won't really happen so I'm going to try to squeeze another mowing in tonight.

I keep reminding myself that a week from today is the last day I'll be commuting to work from my current apartment. The thought is a little alarming just because it made me realize I'll have to get up earlier to make the longer drive. I'll actually have to change my morning routine until, at least, the office moves and my commute is shorter again.

The thing about the office moving is that the date keeps getting pushed back. This is fine but...it's Ohio. We've been told September now. I'm hoping it's not much later than that just because this is Ohio and not too long after September comes winter and bad weather. The last thing I want to do is have to navigate the rural highways to get to work when it's snowing. I'll keep my fingers crossed though that we move before the winter. Though the people in our office who will be then doing the commute from here won't be too happy about that.

Ironically, as much as I love snow, I don't want to think about that at the moment. I know I've said that I'm not so fond of summer as I am the other seasons but it doesn't mean I'm quite ready to move on yet. Despite the sticky humidity out there, summer does boast some lovely treasures. There's nothing better than fresh summer vegetables and fruits on a nice day, of being able to walk outside, cold beer in hand and just enjoy the sounds of the summer around you. The flowers are in bloom, buzzing with bees and butterflies, growing slower and lazier as the heat increases.

In some ways, I'd give anything to have the days of summer back that we had when we were kids: Long, lazy days where you don't have to get up for school or work, in which you can get up when the heat is already in full swing in mid-morning. Days which were spent at the swimming pool, reading on a sunbed until the sun got too hot and then cooling off in the chlorine-acrid water only to climb out, laze your way over to the concession stand for ice-cream and then start the routine over again. Though those days were during my awkward teenage phase and they seemed hard back then, now I can look back and see how nice it was where the hardest decision for the day was ice-cream sandwich or frozen pizza slice?

This morning as I drove to work, I saw a man cleaning out the fire hydrant. Water was blasting out of the hydrant and forming an ocean-sized puddle on the street around it. I thought for a second how great it would be to pull over, strip off my shoes and play in the water letting it wash away the cloying humidity from around me.

Then reality set in and I realized that going to the office dripping like a drowned rat was probably not the best way to start the day. Yet for one brief liberating moment, I mentally let the water soak me and I was taken back to the days of my youth where my siblings and I would soak ourselves with the hose in the back yard on the hot, sticky summer days.

Yet, though it's hard to quite recapture the freedom of my youth where it was completely acceptable to spend the day at the pool or getting wet in the backyard, there are some advantages to being an adult and looking at that past through the rose coloured glasses that are a little foggy from the heat. The simple pleasure of getting home from work, grabbing a cold beer from the fridge and relaxing on my own patio is hard to replace. Having my very own hose that could be used for summer cool-downs or to water the garden I can plant exactly as I like is a pretty nice thing to have, indeed. And if spending the day in my office instead of listlessly trying to find something to do on a hot day without air-conditioning is the way to get those things, then I say bring on the hazy days of summer.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Coming Home Again...

It's a gloomy day outside. Once again, the weatherman was wrong. He said it was supposed to be hot and sunny all week. There wasn't supposed to be any showers that actually fell; they were supposed to stay up in the clouds. Unfortunately, when I left this morning, there was a sprinkle happening, just enough to completely make a mess of my car.

Nevertheless, I don't mind a little gloom. I do hope the sun comes out this evening though. This is not because I miss the sun, necessarily but because I have to finish painting with my "Mulling Spices" and having sunlight makes it much easier to paint evenly. Also, since the room I'm painting lacks overhead light and requires a plug in lamp, it makes it a little dark in there if there's no sun.

Last night I took a break from the house and had dinner with some friends and saw "The Hangover." I have to say, I enjoyed that movie quite a lot. It was very silly, very 'male-oriented' and yet because it wasn't men being macho and coming out on top but, instead, men who did very, very stupid things, I rather enjoyed it. There was something satisfying about the characters who weren't more than average in their lives using their drunken/drug-enhanced night to do things that they'd never do if they were sober. Yes, they were farfetched but...well....sadly, a lot of it was believable.

I liked the diversion from the house. The little town where I live is a rather nice place to go after work. The quaint little downtown area caters to college students so there are bars and restaurants galore. Most places serve pub-grub but, given that it's a rather expensive private college in town, also gives the rather spoiled students some upscale options too. There are more and more sushi or tapas places popping up. Unfortunately, around here, tapas are more like small versions of normal bar appetizers with a slightly more gourmet twist such as mini burgers with blue cheese and some fancy dressing or spinach artichoke dip with crostini.

My new neighbourhood is much more suburban. There are a ton of places to eat but they're more chain-based, less small-town. I think I'm actually going to miss that though since our office is now not moving for a few months, I'll be commuting back here. Thus, it's not like I won't be able to still enjoy the local offerings. I'm also going to miss my apartment. I thought that last night. I actually love it; it's been the first apartment I've lived that has been easy. My first two apartments had all kinds of issues that I know I've mentioned in my blog: ants, mildew, no air conditioning. This place is just...nice. Everything works. The place is clean. It's efficient. I love it.

I'm not looking forward to moving out in some ways. For one thing, moving is always a chore. Secondly, thanks to Sausage, I have to explain the rather large hole in my carpet. It's not like I can pull a rug over it and run away. It's going to be time to own up to the fact I had a contraband Sausage in my apartment for a few days.

The nice thing about having a month to move is much of my smaller, easy to move stuff is already at the house. Each time I go, I take a load. I've moved a lot of the smallish stuff already. I'm hiring movers just for the furniture. That shouldn't take long by the time I'm done with everything else. It's actually quite sad how little furniture I have but, having been an apartment dweller for almost 9 years, it's no surprise.

This is, however, a much easier move than my last one. A 45 minute drive is far easier than the 4 day drive it took to get from L.A. to Ohio. I get to ferry my stuff this time rather than watch it take off in a lorry four days before I need to get in a car and move myself. It's also much easier to say goodbye to the life I'm living at the moment because, well, it's not like I'm actually leaving that behind.

I still miss a lot of things about L.A. I stay in touch with the people I was closest to and in many ways, I talk to them almost as much- if not more- than I used to. There are some things that aren't as easy; I can't just go to the movies with my friend the way I used to when we both had nothing to do. I can't just drive to another friend's house so we can wander aimlessly around Barnes and Noble and while away the hours just enjoying talking about books. I miss the events, the food, the beach and the variety.

Yet, I don't regret my move. I'm content here. It's funny how we have to leave home to find it. I was talking to a friend at work the other day. She has a daughter who graduates from high school this year and who has the "I hate this town, I don't want to be trapped here" bug. I had that bug. It took a few years after high school and college for me to get away but I did. I went to L.A., had my fill and, ironically, returned to a town much like the one I'd been so eager to leave. I think somewhere during my L.A. years, I realized it didn't matter where I lived. I'd really been looking to find out who I was and I thought that escaping to a big city would tell me. I suppose it did, in a way. Somehow, it made me realize that it wasn't about where I lived but what I wanted. And what I wanted had changed. I stopped needing excitement and glamour. I started needing a life in which I could settle.

And now, having just bought a house, I'm settling. Yet, as it would even a couple of years ago, the thought doesn't scare me as I thought it would. It doesn't make me feel like I'm giving up anything. In fact, it makes me feel like I'm gaining everything. There's something to be said about that. I hope my friend's daughter feels the same way someday but, as it did for me, sometimes, it takes the actual experience of leaving to make you realize you really just want to come home.

I hope she finds that too.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Apartmentalization, Comic-Con and Overcoming Paint-Fear...

This week is going by both quickly and slowly, if that makes any sense. Work-wise, it's dragging. Free-time wise...it's whizzing by. I suppose that's the way it always is, really, but I just seem to be noticing it more.

I painted again last night. I decided it was time to conquer my Post Traumatic Paint Disorder. I'm happy to report that the "Mulling Spices" colour seems to be behaving far better than the "Cranberry." For one thing, it's actually covering the walls without needing a primer. For another, it's dark enough that I can see exactly which spots I missed unlike my "Meadow" colour which looks deceptively like it's covering the walls but when it dries, reveals all manner of 'missed' areas.

I'm still not happy with Lowes and their signature paint. I sniff at it. Next time, I'm going to Sherwin-Williams. I have a friend who can get me a 40% discount there. I thought compared to Lowes' paint, it'd be much more expensive but by the time I'm done actually COVERING my walls and ceiling, it would have worked out cheaper to go to Sherwin-Williams. However, we live and learn, right?

Aside from painting, my life is terribly unexciting at the present moment. I do need to mow my lawn yet again. I bought a lawnmower last week and let me tell you, that thing is hard work. It was a bit of a nightmare to get it running. With my piddly upper-body strength, pulling that start cord thingy is rather a challenge. Given that the lawnmower kept dying because the grass was so long and it couldn't handle the load, I had to pull that cord a lot. I got my workout even before I started mowing the grass. Naturally, the bag thing on the back of the mower doesn't do a good job of catching the grass. One lane of grass and the thing is full. This means most likely I will have to rake up the grass clippings. I HATE raking. I find it tedious and rather dull. While I mowed, I did notice that there's also a family of bunnies living under my tool shed. Or, at least, they stay there from time to time.

This poses a wee bit of a problem. You see, I had planned on retrieving Sausage from my parent's house to live with me permanently. But...well...how do I put this nicely...Sausage is a dachshund. His ancestors were bred to go down rabbit holes to hunt, hence their long thin bodies. Sausage is very loyal to his ancestors. Let's just say there might have been an incident last week at my parent's where Sausage found a nest of baby bunnies and decided to honour his hunter's blood. He might have have shaken several of those baby bunnies in his teeth and accidentally-on-purpose killed them.

Bad Sausage. I know it's his nature but...they were baby bunnies. You can see why I'm a little worried about letting him near another family of bunnies, can't you? I'll have to give that some thought.

I do enjoy watching the rabbits though. There's a vacant house right behind me and the rabbits like to bask in the sun on the lawn and the deck of that house. I think there's four of them altogether.

I move in permanently next Saturday. That's when my furniture moves and thus, I do too. To complicate matters, I'm going on holiday to San Diego the following Tuesday evening. I'm actually going to Comic-con, the big comic-book/TV/Move convention. Now is the time on Sprockets when you laugh at me for being a nerd/geek. I've been before. This will be the first year when I go for more than a day. In my defense, I'm going with a friend who has always wanted to go but never been able to find anyone to go with. I'm actually looking forward to it since there's going to be some good panels this year. I know "True Blood" is having a panel as is "Dexter" and "Dollhouse." These are all TV shows I love. There's always a chance to meet/listen to authors I love. As a writer, it's a very good place to go to see other writers and learn from them.

It's also a great place to go to watch people. Seriously...there are some weird people there. I mean, obviously...it is a comic-book convention. Though, the days of it just being "Star Trek" people are long gone. Nowadays, there's everyone from the Twilight crowd to shows like "Lost", movies like the new "Sherlock Holmes" and video games. It's an overwhelming place but it's pretty amazing. Of course, they're doing a panel for the new Twilight movie on Thursday from what I've heard. This means that the place will be packed with teeny-boppers and their mothers, all straining for a view of Robert Pattinson and stalking the poor boy until he has to run and hide. From what I read, he does a lot of running and hiding from insane fans. I don't think he knew what he was getting himself into when he agreed to play Edward Cullen. I feel bad for him because those Twilight fans are quite insane. So are their mothers.

I'll be blogging more about my Adventures at Comic-Con after I've been. It's only two weeks away. I'm excited though I wish the timing were a little better. The week right after I move is going to be a bit hectic. Still, I'll have the following weeks to settle down, unpack and really enjoy the fact that I live in a house. I'm already appreciating that while I have neighbours who seem really nice and they may be next door, they're not directly above, below and beside me in their dwellings. I cannot hear their sado-masochistic sex-sounds from my house. Granted, I haven't tried sleeping in their with the windows open but given that my future-bedroom faces my neighbours who have an eight-year-old, I'm not too worried. Of course, I haven't heard those sounds in my apartment for a while due to the fact that my upstairs neighbour moved out. I'm not too disappointed by that although there was a certain entertainment value that came from that, no matter how disturbing.

I also have my own washer and dryer. You know it's sad when you go to do your laundry for the first time and you actually look for the slot to put the quarters. Yes, blog readers, I have been apartmentalized.

Happy Wednesday

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Post Traumatic Paint Disorder and Other Things...

I think I'm sleepier this morning than yesterday, if that's possible. I blame it on the fact that I actually had a semi-relaxing evening last night. I refused to go to my house and work just because I knew if I did, it would not be a fun experience.

The sad thing is even when I don't go to the house, I can't seem to stop thinking about it. I dreamed about painting last night. That was not terribly relaxing. Yesterday, I went on a walk at lunch with some coworkers and we happened to pass by a man who was carrying a paint tray and roller. I felt a cold shudder run up and down my spine. I think I might be suffering from a little Post Traumatic Paint Disorder.

Still, here I am, somewhat alert and ready to start my day. Well...ok, so I'm ready to start the day. I'm hoping the alert part will come later.

It's funny how easy it is to follow a morning routine without being really alert. From the moment I stumble out of bed, shutting off the annoying morning radio show since it did it's job and woke me up, I'm usually in a bit of a stupor. Then I turn on the morning news on the TV and start the process of getting ready. I've started to like the news in the mornings; its good company. Today there were no bears in the news. I was quite sad about that. Lately, it seems like there's always a black bear somewhere or other, stumbling into someone's back yard. I like bear stories. Yesterday, the news was featuring a local beef jerky manufacturer. Well, actually, it wasn't the news as much as the weatherman. He was doing an on-site visit of a local beef jerky company that's been rated one of the best in the U.S. I was quite happy for the weatherman since, lately, he's been wrong about the weather almost every day. At least there's not too much he can screw up by talking to someone about beef jerky. On the plus side, they didn't show us how the beef jerky came to be but just showed us the finished result. That was a relief. It's one thing to enjoy the taste of something; it's another thing to actually see the nasty process of how it comes to be. I prefer ignorance with some of my food. That way I can still love a good hot dog, enjoy bacon with my breakfast and eat at KFC.

Still, it was nice to see the weatherman out and about yesterday. He really is a terrible meteorologist. He was the one that promised a nice, sunny, hot and humid 4th of July only two days before the actual day. Then we had a cool, wet and dreary 4th of July. I find it hard to believe that with the amazing live Doppler 10 Thousand or whatever we're up to now, it's so hard to predict the weather two days ahead of time. However, this is why weatherman is the...the weatherman and I am Captain Monkeypants. Maybe it's like one of those mystery novels; weatherman deliberately misleads us so that we keep tuning in to guess whether he'll be right today.

Probably not though. As always, I find my best option is to stick my head out the window and see what the weather's doing. I keep an umbrella in the car. I keep sunglasses in my car. I have a snow shovel, just in case, in the boot of my car. So....I think I'm covered. Though I'm not counting on using the snow shovel for a few months. As much as I love snow, there's a season for that and it is not now.

Clearly, I'm feeling rambly today. I didn't really have a topic in mind when I sat down to write this. Life is a little busy at the moment. I mostly like it that way. I do miss the leisure of sitting down, tapping away at my computer and being able to write whatever I feel like. I have my "office" picked out in my house; I'm planning on furnishing it with a lot of books and my computer and that's it. It'll be my hideaway and hopefully that will push me forward in my writing. I've been at a standstill too long. I've blamed Amazon.com and I've blamed Publisher's Weekly. To some extent, I still blame them but there comes a point when you have to move on. Although I'm sure both Borders and Barnes and Noble are quite happy with my Amazon.com grudge. I've made a firm point of doing all my bookbuying from those two stores. Given my latest obsession with the Sookie Stackhouse novels, I'd say they've both done rather well. It's my private way of sticking my tongue out at Amazon.com. I hold no illusions that they care but it satisfies me to have to work a little harder to shop rather than relying on the old standby of Amazon. Hey, Barnes and Noble offer free shipping too so there, Amazon.com.

Ok, now I'm really babbling. Which means it's time for me to wrap this up for the day. Sometimes it's nice just to write whatever's on my mind. Thanks, as always, for bearing with me and reading.

Happy Tuesday.

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