Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 was an interesting year.  Honestly, it was one of the best I've had recently.

My sister got married.  I went to San Diego Comic Con for the first time.  I developed a small exhibit for display at an event in New York City.  The Boyfriend switched jobs, and though he's exhausted, he seems happier.  I'm losing weight successfully for the first time in forever, it seems.  Didn't get as much done on my dissertation as I would have liked, but I'm much happier with the work I'm doing.  I started this blog, and have met so many neat and geeky people because of it.

at the History Vikings experience, San Diego Comic Con 2014

Over the past year, I have become a much more confident, optimistic, and forgiving person.  My goals are becoming better defined, and I am more excited for my future than I have been since starting my PhD.  My depression was also much better this year, with no long periods of overwhelming anxiety or despair.  Very different to 2013, that's for sure.

I am looking forward to 2015 - it will be an exciting year.  We already have our Comic Con badges, and are planning our trip out to San Diego.  Avengers: Age of Ultron will be released on May 1st.  Star Wars VII will be released on December 18th.  I'm going to be doing a bit of international travel, hopefully to my beloved England to see my friends, but definitely to Russia (of all places - it's a long story, but should be an interesting trip).  And I'm turning 30 years old in April!

Our New Year's plans are low-key.  We're staying home, making a bunch of unhealthy finger foods, playing board games, and watching movies.  I received How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel for Christmas, so we will be watching those, and probably a few more episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix.  Tomorrow, we will probably just chill and play games, then The Boyfriend will be making Beef Wellington for dinner.  We've been doing this for a few years now and always enjoy it.

Wherever you are, and whatever timezone you're in, I hope everyone has a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a wonderful 2015!

Stormageddon waiting to eat his New Year treat! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 26th, 2014

Happy Boxing Day!  Did everyone have a Merry Christmas?  I hope so!

Throwback to the December 12th #Fandom5 topic, guess who got #2 and #5 on her wishlist of gifts from Santa!  Yes, I am now the proud owner of the LEGO Mos Eisley Cantina and three volumes of Hawkeye TPBs!  Sweeeeeet!

Funny story: the reason I now own the Mos Eisley Cantina is this blog. No, really. My sister (HI!) is a reader and told my mom about it.  How sweet is that!?

And now it's time for...

This week's topic: New Year Blogging Resolutions!

Oooh this one is tricky, because I blog for fun and keep this blog pretty separate from my professional life.  I can list a number of professional goals, and personal goals, but I haven't thought about resolutions for blogging before! Great idea!

1.  Quit rambling so much
I can be quite verbose.  I can go off on a tangent for just about any topic - personal story?  Yup.  Something I read once?  You got it.  I write every post, then edit it a few times to cut out extraneous material before I hit publish.  I don't think I can be so direct on the first draft, because I change my mind about what to include, but I think I can edit more for the final version.  Do y'all think I write too much?

2.  Blog Maintenance/Appearance
I either need to migrate to WordPress or learn Blogger better so I can edit this page and make it more graphically pleasing.  If I'm going to use a platform, I need to actually know how it works!

3.  Learn to promote myself more?
I struggle with this because why should I promote a blog that is just for funsies?  And it's not like this blog is devoted to covering a specific topic, like just crafts or just cosplay or just cons - it's more like a celebration of my all my fandoms and hobbies and what I feel like writing about.  Perhaps you have some insight you could share with me?

4.  Join BlogLovin'
Did this a week before Christmas because I realized I wasn't keeping up with all the blogs I wanted to, and I was really slacking at looking at the comments on my own blog!  So I joined, and I like it, and instead we'll make number 4...

4.  Keep up with comments!
Post comments on other blogs!  Check and reply to the comments on my own blog!  Don't just make a post and disappear into the aether until the next #Fandom5 comes around!  I resolve to check my blog here at least once the same day that I make a post, and the following day.

5.  Find a direction and keep a posting schedule
I need to create a posting schedule and find more of a direction for this blog.  It's just a hobby, but it's kind of all over the place and except for #Fandom5 posts I blog rather intermittently.  I think having a direction with what kind of content I want on this blog will help me come up with posts I can write once or twice a week.  Thoughts?

What are your blog resolutions?  I can't wait to read the other blogs participating in #Fandom5!  And please leave comments for me - I would love some feedback!

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 19th, 2014

Merry Christmas!  This is the last Fandom5 before the big day, and today's topic is:
Must-Watch Christmas Movies!

There are so many good Christmas movies, but I have a few I love and try to watch during the holiday.  Fortunately, unlike my favorite Halloween movies, I own most of these on DVD or VHS, so there's little risk of missing them!  And some of these are on Netflix now!

1.  A Christmas Story
"You'll shoot your eye out!"  Poor Ralphie.  All he wants is the Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle for Christmas.  This is a must-watch for a variety of reasons.  It's so funny!  It's a modern classic!  It seems to perfectly capture what Christmas was like as a kid - not the specifics, but the overall feeling of wonder and excitement and family stress.

As I'm originally from the Cleveland area, where it was filmed, this movie has a special place in my heart.  My mom and I are planning to visit the Christmas Story House, which is a museum now and was restored to look like it did in the movie.  They sell the leg lamps in the gift shop too!

2.  The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is the best version of Dickens' classic Christmas story.  Michael Caine is a perfect Scrooge, the music is fantastic, Gonzo narrates. the ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come is appropriately scary, and it has Kermit.  I love Kermit.

3.  Baryshnikov's Nutcracker
My grandparents taped this off PBS back in the 1970s or 1980s and I insisted on watching it every time I would visit.  I would dance around, and because of that my mom enrolled me in ballet classes, where I later performed as a mouse in a production of the Nutcracker.  My grandparents ended up giving me the tape for my 4th birthday and I still have it - but now I only watch it at Christmas.  And luckily it's on YouTube now, so I can stop worrying about ruining my ancient VHS!

4.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Another modern classic, this one is hilarious.  Clark Griswold just wants to have an old-fashioned family Christmas, and it seems like everything is working against him!  The neighbors are stuck-up yuppies, the extended family is caustic and crude, but it's not until something happens at work that Clark snaps.

The ending of this movie is hilarious, and there are some great lines - "We'll have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny-f*cking-Kaye!" "Hallelujah! Holy Sh*t! Where's the Tylenol?" - along with some good-natured humor poking fun at Christmas customs and the pressure to have the "perfect" Christmas.

5.  It's a Wonderful Life
I love this movie and watch it every Christmas Eve (in black and white, on my Mom's old VHS).  I love the message and the characters, and how even though none of George's professional dreams came true, he still had a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas, you beautiful old Building and Loan!

There are so many more I want to list, because I love them, like Die Hard and Trading Places, but they aren't movies I need to watch on or around Christmas to feel Christmasy... they're just favorites.

Runner up:
Prep and Landing - this tv special is hilarious.  I love it when they "rev up the engines" by psyching up the reindeer!  And the elves are wicked cute.

And one more thing...
Does anyone else remember "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus"?  These were on in the 1970s-1980s, and the first was animated while the second was one of those old stop-motion style tv specials.  These were GREAT.  I don't think kids know these specials anymore, because they haven't been aired in years.

My mom taped a bunch of Christmas specials off the TV when we were kids, so we grew up watching these every year, long after they stopped showing them on TV.  And to be honest, I don't much like watching Rudolph or the animated Grinch without the 1980s commercials, even though those are still aired every December!

What are your favorite Christmas movies and TV specials?  
Do you only watch them with certain people or on a certain night?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

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Thursday, December 18, 2014


I jumped on the Serial bandwagon kind of late... I only started listening about a week ago, even though I've been subscribed to the podcast through iTunes since around week 4, when my Twitter feed was filled with posts about the ongoing podcast and the story of Hae Min Lee and Adnan Syed.

Today the final installment of Serial's first season was released.  I haven't listened to it yet, but before I do I wanted to share some thoughts.  This post is mostly spoiler free, I think I only mention something about the mishandling of evidence, so if you haven't listened to Serial yet you can read this post without worrying about spoilers.

Friday, December 12, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 12th, 2014

Christmas is getting closer and closer!  This week's Fandom5 is about... Presents!!!

Five Presents I Want Santa to Bring to Me!

I don't like writing Christmas lists as an adult, because it feels like I'm being greedy and bossy - "Buy me THIS!" - but my mom and The Boyfriend's mom both insist on lists, so I oblige.  But to be honest... my lists have way more toys and comics on them now than they did when I was a kid!

This year, I'm asking Santa for...

1.  JoAnn's Gift Cards/Cosplay Supplies
I'm starting work on my SDCC 2015 cosplays, and I need supplies!  Fabric, thread, embroidery floss, shoes, fake hair pieces (because I'm cutting 8-12 inches off my hair in two weeks and won't be able to do Leia styles anymore!), a replica blaster, leather, all the things!!!

2.  LEGO Mos Eisley Cantina playset
I have Jabba's Palace and Rancor Pit, and the Millennium Falcon.  I think I need a Cantina, so I can play all my favorite Han Solo scenes!  Then everyone will pregame at Jabba's, hop in the Falcon (Chewy is going to DD), and go to the Cantina to party with Loki and Unikitty!

Han SHOT. Period. Greedo didn't get a shot off, so there was no "first."

3.  Wonder Woman footie pajamas
Who wouldn't want a pair of these?  They are freaking awesome!!!
I would also accept a Wonder Woman snuggie.

4.  A trip to England
I haven't been back to England in almost two years.  I miss my friends!  I would love to go back for a few weeks and see everyone, preferably during the summer when reenactment season is happening.

5.  Hawkeye trade paper back collection
How have I not read this yet!?  Being a grad student really cuts into my comic reading time!

What are you hoping Santa will bring you this year?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: December 5th, 2014

Happy December! It's hard to believe 2014 is almost over...

Today's topic: My Favorite Holiday Songs to Spread Cheer!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, but Christmas/Yule is a very close second!  The twinkle lights, the evergreens, the rebirth of the Sun on the Solstice, the baked goods, the movies...

And I love Christmas music - so much so that I have five different iTunes playlists devoted to it!

You got that right Buddy!

If I miss my mom, I play Mannheim Steamroller and Celtic-inspired Christmas music.  If I am feeling frustrated, but want to salvage my Christmas spirit, I break out the Xmas metal (very useful when shopping right before the holiday).  But the classics, like Dean Martin and Bing Crosby, are my absolute favorites.

But what are my top five?

1.  Christmas Can-Can, by Straight No Chaser
I first heard this during the Christmas season of 2010 while I was driving 6 hours to visit my family.  I was driving through Pennsylvania in a snow storm, listening to a station playing only Christmas music, and this came on.  I was at the 4-hour mark, and it was just what I needed to reenergize me!

This one is a lot of fun - the tempo of the song and the humor in the lyrics always improve my mood.  When I finally reached my parents' house I downloaded it and played it for my mom, who then asked me to make her a mix CD with this song on it!

2.  The Twelve Days of Christmas, performed by John Denver and the Muppets
I have several versions of "12 Days" in my iTunes, but this one is my favorite.  Hearing Miss Piggy sing, "Ba-dum, bum, bum!" makes me so happy.  This one definitely spreads the cheer - only a grinch wouldn't love the Muppets!

3.  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, performed by Andy Williams
I have a hard time describing how this one makes me feel, but it fills me with so much joy that I want to dance around like I'm in an old movie musical.

4.  Feels Like Christmas, from the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best Christmas movie (but that's a topic for a later Fandom5) and any of the songs from it get me into the Christmas spirit, especially this one.  I love this part of the movie, watching Scrooge start on the path to redemption.  Look at him smile!

5.  Sleigh Ride, performed by Johnny Mathis
I have 4-5 different versions of this song, but Johnny Mathis is my favorite to sing along to.  The Ronettes are a very close second though (and the Spice Girls have a version almost identical to the Ronettes, so they'll do in a pinch!)

I was going to do honorable mentions (because I have 167 Christmas songs in my iTunes and add a few more every year), but I ended up with more of those than the actual Fandom 5 list... so instead I will leave you with an anecdote.

While writing this I was looking at my iTunes and listening to a few songs to make sure I got them right, and I realized what a freaking hodge podge my Christmas music list is...  and what a gamble it is to have my entire Christmas collection on shuffle!  Why do I say that?  Because I have both "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole and Bob River's "Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire" and they start the exact same way, with an instrumental bit - so here I was thinking I was getting the sentimental Nat King Cole song, when suddenly it's about roasting the Chipmunks and eating them!  Boy, did that make my morning! Hilarious!

Happy Holidays!  What are your favorite holiday songs? Do you prefer humorous songs, Christmas classics, or instrumental pieces?  Do you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas or are you just saying that?

To learn more about 5 Fandom Fridays, check out The Nerdy Girlie's blog or Super Space Chick's blog!  December and January prompts are posted on their blogs (TheNerdyGirlie and SuperSpaceChick).