Monday, March 30, 2015

SDCC 2015 Preparations: 100 days out

We are officially 100 days away from the beginning of San Diego Comic Con 2015!!! In a little over 3 months, swarms of geeks will be descending upon the Gaslamp and Downtown San Diego, in search of exclusive news and merchandise, seeing old friends, making new ones, and generally having a really frakking great time!

Last week, on Tuesday, was the Hotelpocalypse, or the SDCC Hotel Sale.  This hotel sale helps Con-goers find rooms in hotels downtown and along the (free!) shuttle route at pretty decent prices (compared to the jacked-up rates available for the same week at the same hotels).  There were a whole bunch of problems with the sale this year, but we got lucky and have a room within walking distance of the convention center.

At Geek & Sundry

Now that Hotelpocalypse is over and the majority of badges have been sold (parking passes still need to go on sale - don't forget to get your lottery email in!), let's get down to business to defeat the Huns.

I mean, it's time to get serious about planning for the Con!

History's Vikings panel

By now, we should all have booked our flights and hotels (or trying to, considering how the hotel sale went). It's time to plan and work on cosplays, research what guests and panels will be at SDCC, and wait for the official schedule (released two weeks before the Con) and exclusive merchandise news.

Loved these two cosplayers! Marion even had the frying pan!

Over the next few weeks I will share the resources I used to plan for SDCC 2014, what I intend to do differently for SDCC 2015, and my cosplay progress.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peggy Carter Cosplay, post 2

I still haven't found fabric I like for Peggy's WWII uniform from Captain America: The First Avenger, so I have decided to switch gears and make Peggy's blue suit from the Agent Carter TV show. Peggy wears this suit in the first episode of Agent Carter and in some promotion images. It is royal blue, and she wears it with a white shirt, a red Stetson Aviatrix hat, and blue shoes.


I have already sourced a blue gabardine that I like very much, and am working on finding a hat I like. The fabric I'm using is polyester gabardine in royal blue from

My mom thought she had a red hat I could use, but it is too round and has a net veil across the front that I would hate to remove to repurpose the hat - and I don't want to do that, it would ruin the hat. Bummer!

Stetson makes the Aviatrix in red, a rerelease of a hat they made in the 1940s, and that is what was used on the show... but I can make the whole suit for less than $50, so I'm a bit hesitant to spend $95 on a hat, after shipping. There are some cheaper red fedora style hats on Amazon, so I am thinking about ordering one of them instead.

Opinions? I'm really struggling to make a decision on this. Part of me wants to order the Stetson, but that price tag really has me hesitating... but it would be so cool to own Peggy's hat. And I'm more confident in the sizing of the Stetson than the Amazon hats, but I suppose I could always resell on eBay if whatever I ordered came too small.
Stetson Aviatrix
Hat 1
Hat 2
Hat 3

For the shoes, I am going completely screen-inaccurate and not ashamed of it - I am going to wear flats or very low heels that I already own because I want to be comfortable! Probably Oxfords. I wore heels for my sister's wedding and I have never been happier to take off a pair of shoes! I can't imagine wearing a pair of heels to walk around at SDCC.

That's my progress on Peggy so far. I would still like to do her uniform, especially since I already have the pins and buttons, but until I find fabric I like I'm not going to spend time making something I'm not happy with.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hotelpocalypse 2015

Yesterday was the San Diego Comic Con hotel sale, aka #Hotelpocalypse. Every year, San Diego hotels set aside rooms to sell in this sale, working with CCI to set prices and giving Con goers a chance to get a room at some of the most popular Gaslamp and downtown hotels, or further out along the shuttle route.  Unlike recent badge sales, speed is key - loading the screen as soon as the site goes live and filling out the form quickly directly influence if you're successful, there are no online waiting rooms and randomly generated lines to buy. And then, after the mad dash is over, con goers are left to wait for a few days days before they find out if they were successful.

This was our first year participating in the hotel sale - last year we had a bunch of Marriott points and stayed out in Mission Valley for next to nothing! Before the sale started, I did a bunch of research to prepare.  CCI released the hotel price list before the sale, and resources from the SDCC Unofficial Blog, Friends of CCI Forum, and An Englishman in San Diego were very useful, showing how the form/website has worked in the past, what information should be prepared ahead of time, and how fast hotels sell out.

But none of that prepared me for the reality of the Hotelpocalypse.

I had an hour break between appointments at work, and the hotel sale fell right in the middle of that (noon East Coast time). At 11:30 I got my link ready to go, my list of hotels set up, and then I waited... I was alone in the office, but of course someone showed up and wanted to chit chat moments before the sale started! I politely told them I was busy and couldn't talk, and went back to my nervous shaking, clock watching, and general stressing out.

As soon as the clock hit 12:00 I tried to load the page... but it wouldn't load! I hit refresh until it seemed to load (argh!) then it took its sweet time loading (double argh!), which wasted 40 seconds. But finally I got in! Or so I thought...

It turns out, I had the "bad form." Using auto-fill, I managed to get all my contact info recorded and moved on to the hotel selections, but there was no drop down menu, no list to be made. I kept double clicking on hotels, trying to tab-select, but nothing worked. I guess I hit enter too many times, because suddenly my browser redirected me to a page that said my form was submitted successfully.  All of this happened within the first three minutes of the hotel sale.

I tried again, and got the bad form again, and accidentally submitted it again after I posted that tweet. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I tried again and finally got a working form, which I filled out and submitted sometime around 12:08. I figured there was no way we'd get a downtown room on my form, but a later tweet showed that Travel Planners said downtown hotels sold out around 12:13, so there was a chance. Or we could get one through The Boyfriend's form, which was submitted by 12:04.

I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to stay closer to the Convention Center. But we already booked a back-up hotel in Mission Valley along the shuttle route, so The Boyfriend and I are in good shape.  Knowing we had a hotel and were trying for something closer (and cheaper!) removed a lot of the stress from yesterday's sale for us.

After work was done for the day, I saw this tweet:

I called, more out of curiosity than anything, and reached a very nice Travel Planner who said that, because I submitted a completed form eventually, they would use those hotel selections and apply them to my earliest time stamp (oh man, I really hope I got the hotels right! It was such a blur...)  We also learned that anyone who submitted the bad form with their email/contact info without a later good form submission would get an email to confirm their hotel selections and their time stamps would be honored.

This is good news for anyone who accidentally submitted a bad form within the first few minutes, but isn't so great for anyone who waited for a good form or who received the working form from the start but took a while filling it out. We won't know who lost out on a hotel room because of this problem, regardless of what form they used.

Personally, I wish this process used a system like the Epic waiting room (where users log on ahead of time and randomly get the chance to enter their info) or a lottery where we could enter by a deadline for a chance at our selections. I also wonder what changes we will see to the hotel sale next year, in response to this year's sale and the problems that caused users to receive the "bad form."

Other than those who submitted the bad form and had to confirm their choices by 5pm today, Con goers are still waiting to hear from Travel Planners. Everyone is waiting to learn if they were successful in yesterday's sale.

To everyone who is waiting for an email from Travel Planners, good luck! I hope you hear some good news!

**UPDATE 3/27/2015**
Since I wrote this post, people who only submitted a "bad" form should have received an email from Travel Planners asking for their hotel selections and submitted those by 5:00pm EST on Wednesday, March 25th. Starting that afternoon, Travel Planners began sending out confirmation emails to everyone that included hotel picks and room information.

These emails were sent out until midday Thursday, March 26th. That evening, the hotel reservation emails started. Based on Twitter, it seems most rejections were sent at the beginning. In years past, rejections were sent first, then hotel reservations were sent alphabetically by hotel name. But that so did not happen this year - hotel reservation emails seemed to come out in bulk by hotel, but there was no discernible order to it. It was not alphabetical, it was not done by distance from the convention center or shuttle route or hotel company/family.

The Boyfriend received a reservation for the Holiday Inn Bayside out by the airport because none of his six hotel picks were available to him and he chose the "no waitlist" option - since we have a back up hotel, we decided it was downtown or bust for the hotel sale. But I have no idea why the airport hotels were included as downtown hotels. On the price list they were separate, and it is a 40 minute shuttle ride to the convention center from that Holiday Inn! Crazy. After learning that, we decided to stick with our back up unless I got something better with my own reservation.

The Boyfriend's email came through at 11:20pm EST. I stayed up and kept refreshing my email, but finally threw in the towel at 12:30am EST and went to bed. I was out by 12:45am, and my email came through at 12:55am - I found it when I woke up this morning.

I'm pleased with our reservation - I managed to get a room at The Bristol, within walking distance of the convention center and $25/night cheaper than our back up in Mission Valley!

I hope some things change for next year's sale. People have begun referred to the two form debacle as "Menugate" and there are a lot of people on Twitter complaining because they didn't get a room - though that would happen no matter how flawless the sale went!  And even though we were successful this time, I'm not sure we'll participate next year. The hotel sale is just too crazy. I think we'll go with an early booking at a hotel, or maybe get a condo.

I've heard a lot of good news from my Twitter pals, and I am so happy you guys got rooms!

Friday, March 20, 2015

#Fandom5: Comfort Films, March 20th, 2015

What movies do you choose when you've had a rough day, or aren't feeling well and just want to curl up on the couch?  That's the topic of this week's 5 Fandom Friday!

I love movies, and my list started to get kind of long.  I really had to narrow it down!  There are a bunch I would like to tack on as runner-ups - like the Avengers, which I like to watch when I travel, or The Vikings, which reminds me of my reenactment friends, or Muppet Christmas Carol, my favorite Christmas movie.  It was hard, but I managed to cut the list down to 6 entries plus one runner-up.

What movies did you choose?

1. Star Wars Trilogy
I can't choose just one, but honestly, anything Star Wars makes me feel better.  I watched a lot of Clone Wars while I was sick last week.

2. Disney movies
(especially Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Mulan)
I grew up with an extensive Disney VHS collection, and have continued to buy the DVDs/Blu-rays as an adult.  These movies are the visual media equivalent of chocolate chip cookies and macaroni & cheese - pure comfort food.  And I enjoy singing along.

3. The Fifth Element
This is one of those movies The Boyfriend and I like to watch together, and we quote it at each other at really random times.  It's just a part of our relationship.  Leeloo Dallas, multipass!

4. The Wedding Date
The Boyfriend doesn't understand why I don't own this movie yet, because if it is on TV I will find it.  I identify with the Kat character in a lot of ways, but I also love the romance, the humor, and the fact that it takes place in England.  If I'm feeling low, this movie helps me feel better.

5. Indiana Jones Trilogy
As unlike real archaeology as these movies are, they make me feel better when I'm in a grad school slump.  They are reinvigorating.  (Crystal Skull is not included in this list for a number of reasons.)

6. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I love movie musicals, especially movie musicals starring the he-man, macho hunk of movie musicals, Howard Keel.  Hnnngh.  Seven Brides is one of my all-time favorites, and I used to watch it with my sister when we were kids.  We especially loved the barn dance scene.

Runner up: The Thorn Birds
Technically this is a TV mini-series, starring the King of TV mini-series, Richard Chamberlain.  I stole my mom's VHS tapes when I moved out (shhhhhh) because I love this series.  All 8 hours of it.  The angst!  The forbidden love!  This one qualifies because it reminds me of my mom, it's 8 hours long, and it's good for a variety of moods.

#Fandom5, or 5 Fandom Friday is a weekly blog link-up, and the creation of Kristin at Super Space Chick and Megan at The Nerdy Girlie.  Go here to learn more about it!

Monday, March 16, 2015

#Fandom5: My Fictional BFFs, March 13th, 2015

Happy Friday the 13th!

Late post because I was waiting to add pictures and then I never did!  But I had a terrible cold (thank you, students) and was laid up on the couch all week, so I'm not going to beat myself up too badly.

This week we were asked to blog about our fictional BFFs.

1. Princess Leia
Kind of an obvious answer for me, because I LOVE her and want to be her. She would be a great BFF because she's loyal, kind but not a doormat, and you know she'd be a great friend to have in a bad situation.

2. Thor and Loki
I would love to be a member of their little friend group, with Lady Sif and the Warriors Three. I used to do Dark Age reenactment, and I imagine hanging around with them would be like living at a reenactment event (get drunk, fight with swords, cook over a fire, and sleep amidst castle ruins). In fact, I know a few guys are are the living embodiment of Volstagg...

3. Peggy Carter and Angie
Five words: Girls' night at Stark's apartment!!!  I think I would get along with Peggy very well, and Angie is a great time. If Agent Carter has a second season, I would love to get more time with these two and see their relationship.

4. Harry, Ron, and Hermione
But mostly Hermione. While the last few books were being released, it really felt like these characters were real. (I'm a Ravenclaw, so Hermione could take a break from Harry's "Boy-who-lived" angst c. Book 5 and come study with me!)

5. Belle, Beauty and the Beast
Like a lot of little girls, I identified with Belle.  She was a different kind of Disney princess - instead of spending half her movie asleep, she took it upon herself to rescue her father twice and returned to the Beast's castle when she feared for his life and the actions of the mob.  Plus she was a brunette who liked to read, and so am I.  I really think we would be BFFs.

6. Catherine/Birdy
My mom bought me the book "Catherine, Called Birdy" because my name is Katherine and she thought I would like it. Actually, I LOVED it and re-read it so many times that the cover is practically falling off. It's one of the few books from my youth that I took with me when I moved out of my parents' house (there are so many more I want to retrieve, but I need more shelves!!!), and I re-read it often. Birdy inspired me, and was a kindred spirit when I needed one. The setting of the book is medieval England, which is still one of my favorite periods of history to study. 

Beyond Birdy being someone I could imagine being a BFF with (if I was a young teen again) this book and its main character really are my fictional BFFs, because a book and its characters are always there for you, and no matter how many times you re-read it, you can learn new lessons from them.

Runner Up: The Sailor Scouts and the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey, because I immersed myself in both of these worlds when I was younger. And Molly McIntire.

#Fandom5, or 5 Fandom Friday is a weekly blog link-up, and the creation of Kristin at Super Space Chick and Megan at The Nerdy Girlie.  Go here to learn more about it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#Fandom5: Favorite Gaming Snacks/Foods, March 5th, 2015

Hello again!  This week's Fandom 5 prompt asked what we like to eat or drink while blogging. If I'm eating anything while I blog, it's breakfast or my post-breakfast second cup of coffee.  So I'm changing it up for this week's post.

Truthfully, I'm not the biggest snacker but if I do snack, it's usually in front of my gaming PC. And even then, I'm less inclined to just snack and more likely to just eat my lunch or dinner while I'm playing/taking a break.

The thing with gaming snacks is they need to be easy to eat. Depending on the game, you will have both hands occupied for long stretches of time, such as in timed matches or arena battles. Anything that requires two hands to eat is probably going to be cold and gross by the time you get around to it.

1. Candy
My computer desk used to be littered with candy wrappers until I finally cleaned it last weekend. If there is candy in the house, it will find its way to my computer desk and I will devour it. That's how I disposed of our leftover Halloween candy. I like small chocolates (miniature candy bars, boxed Valentine's candy) and Tootsie Pops.

via Amazon

2. Red Velvet Oreos
I'm a little bitter that these were limited edition, because they were divine. I inhaled my first package watching TV and finished the second a week later playing Warcraft. Ok, maybe it's good that they were limited edition...

3. Mountain Dew
SO CLICHE. A gamer drinking Mountain Dew. (But seriously, the orange cherry Game Fuel is awesome and tasted even better when they marketed it as Horde Red. Lok'tar Ogar!)

via the Mountain Dew Wiki

4. Taco Bell
Ok, not really a snack, but I already listed Mountain Dew, so why not just go with it. To look at The Boyfriend and his friends, and the gamer friends I had during undergrad, Taco Bell, Mountain Dew, and MMORPGs kind of defined college for them. On occasion The Boyfriend and I will get some Taco Bell and then game all night* It can be a lot of fun, but kind of falls into that too messy/likely to get cold and nasty category of foods that I like to avoid while gaming.

* all night = 1am for me

5. Water
I drink a lot of water when I'm at my PC, which is great, but I could go without the panic induced by The Boyfriend yelling, "Dungeon popped!!!" while I'm in the loo...

via Engadget, because I let my WoW subscription lapse again...

#Fandom5, or 5 Fandom Friday, is a weekly blog link up and the creation of Kristin at Super Space Chick and Megan at The Nerdy Girlie. To learn more about it, go here.