Friday, May 29, 2015

#Fandom5: Five Fictional Characters I Identify With, May 29th, 2015

Happy Friday, fellow nerds!!!

#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.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to find new blogs! Go here to learn more about it or follow #Fandom5 on Twitter!

Today's Fandom5 topic is: five fictional characters you identify with!

This post took some effort, moving beyond tropes and trying to think of characters I really identify with and not just characters I love or wish I was like. And after writing this, I have concluded that I am the Hulk crossed with Pinkie Pie... scary.

Here's my list!

1.  Hermione Granger, Harry Potter Novels
I've always been the teacher's pet, know-it-all, overachiever type, and I have loved and identified with Hermione since I first read the Harry Potter books fifteen years ago. She finds answers, gets stuff done, and watches out for her friends.

2.  Chuck Bartowski, "Chuck" TV Show
I identify with Chuck because at the start of the series he's a geek who is trapped in a crap job and wants more out of life, questioning the path he's on, and dealing with daddy-issues and self-identity. Lots of people feel stuck in their life, and unsure how or scared to make changes, dwelling on the past (Chuck's experience getting kicked out of Stanford), and letting the routine of life keep them down. Fortunately for Chuck, change found him, as it so often does in the standard hero story. That, I do not really identify with...

3.  Princess Leia, Star Wars Trilogy
She's assertive, pragmatic, driven, and not above calling someone a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder. I like to think I share a lot of these qualities with Princess Leia, and I try to remind myself of what I can learn from her and draw inspiration when I'm feeling burned out or low.

4.  Hulk, Marvel Cinematic Universe/Marvel Comics
Socially awkward? Check.
Nerd/Academic? Check and check.
Always angry? Check. Constant smoldering rage.
Large and green? Not so much...

5.  Pinkie Pie, "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic" TV Show
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I get really excited about ALL THE THINGS! I abuse the words Awesome, Amazing, and Great. If you're a nerd who likes the same things as me, I will be your cheerleader and happily jump around cheering for you. And if you watch MLP:FIM, you know where I'm going with this... I'm basically Pinkie Pie in human form. Also, cupcakes.

Runner-up:  Queen Elsa, Disney's "Frozen"
When I first saw Frozen, I was on my way out of a long and dark period of depression. I was also dealing with some family stuff, questioning familial and cultural expectations (getting the PhD, getting married, having kids), and I don't even care how cliché this is, Elsa's song "Let It Go" really helped me feel better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tabletop Games, Parades, and Droids

No Tabletop Tuesday post this week. I marched in three parades yesterday, entertained houseguests all weekend, and was way too busy and tired to write anything up! Sorry! But we've added a new Dungeons & Dragons game (Wednesday nights, weekly, different group/DM) and I created a new characters - a wild magic sorcerer, my first magic-user - so I'll probably have an update on that soon. And we have some great games coming up in June that I can't wait to share.

A few weeks ago I finally received my R2-D2 sixth scale figure by Sideshow Colłectibles. I ordered him back in March using some rewards points I won on Twitter, and was so excited when he arrived! Unfortunately he arrived damaged - a tiny detail on his foot is missing. I did take some photos of him, since I unpacked the box to check all his parts were there/working anyway, but I'm still waiting for the correct replacement part to arrive before I write a review. He's a great figure, and has so many neat accessories, it's really disappointing that I have to leave him boxed up until this matter gets resolved. I want to play with him and show him off!

Other than that, not too much else is going on here. We're getting into SDCC-mode, and need to finish our cosplays, make shopping lists, and plan our schedules - only 47 days to SDCC!!! 

Friday, May 22, 2015

#Fandom5: Five Nerdiest Things I've Ever Done, May 22nd, 2015

#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.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to find new blogs! Go here to learn more about it or follow #Fandom5 on Twitter!

This week's topic is: five nerdiest things I've ever done!

I'm really struggling to write this post, because I'm a big nerd. There are lots of things I've done that could be included in this post, but I just see those things as normal activities. Fun stuff I've done throughout my life, interests I've had, stuff I don't even realize is nerdy because it's just something my friends and I are into or it's part of my job... like traveling to a tropical island and then spending every day in the archives, or making elaborate elf or pirate costumes, then wearing them to midnight movie showings.

That's just how I roll.

1. I make my own fan merchandise/props when I can't find what I want...
I collect garden gnomes, so when the movie Gnomeo and Juliet came out, I was ecstatic! The following spring Garden Fun, an online garden store, announced they would be selling official licensed Gnomeo and Juliet gnomes, so I pre-orderd a pair. But I wanted an Elton John gnome too...

So I made one. I bought a gnome and painted him up to look like the Paris gnome character from the movie, when he's singing Your Song. I've made other things too, like a Cave Johnson Lemon Grenade, a weirwood tree, and the headpiece to the Staff of Ra.

2. Harry Potter midnight book release parties, two in costume
This was years before I even knew what cosplay was - I have always liked costumes and look for any excuse to dress up.

The local independent bookstore in my hometown hosted midnight release parties for the last three Harry Potter books, and got the entire downtown involved. Downtown transformed into Hogsmeade, local stores and restaurants offered themed food, drinks, merchandise, and crafts or games. It was amazing and attracted HUGE crowds.

For the last two book releases, I went dressed as a Ravenclaw student - I made my costume out of thrifted pieces and sewed the skirt, but I could never find a Ravenclaw badge in stock, so I embroidered my own!

3. I participated in Dark Age reenactment.
While I was studying abroad in England I joined a live steel reenactment group. The group was part of The Vikings (there are organizations in the US and Canada, too, but this one was based out of the UK). I bought a full costume, learned about Viking history and the Norse presence in England, and the cultural significance of the items I owned (dye colors, decorations, wealth/status items). Since I was studying archaeology at the time, it was right up my alley. I also made a lot of English friends, while most of the American study abroad students only made friends with each other. We still keep in touch and two of them have visited me in America!

Besides our weekly practice/drinking meet-ups, I participated in a training weekend and three reenactment events while I was in England, and spent weekends camping in a muddy field in Rochdale and amidst castle ruins in Denbigh, Wales. Because we used real steel weapons (with dulled edges) and not foam like some LARP groups, I always returned to my dorm room covered in bruises, but I loved it.

4. Making our SDCC plans
I reeeeeeally like lists and tables and calendars. For SDCC 2014 I used Excel to chart out all the panels and events we wanted to attend. It was color coded, and I used it to cross-reference the panels I wanted to attend against the ones The Boyfriend wanted to attend, room location, and how much time to allot for travel and queues. I made several plans and we were able to attend everything we wanted to except one panel we forgot about because we were tired and it was in a different room.

This is just how I like to plan and how my brain works, but I guess this is pretty nerdy of me. It worked so well that I'm totally going to do it again for this year's SDCC, and I even wrote a post about how I make our schedule, in case anyone might find it helpful (coming in June).

5. I spent my 30th birthday playing Dungeons and Dragons for 8 hours.
I have friends who have held elaborate parties, gone to dinner at fancy restaurants, or gone to New York or Vegas to celebrate their 30th birthdays. But I'm a broke-ass grad student with few local friends. So I met up in the mall with a group of strangers and played D&D the whole day. It was awesome, and probably the best birthday I could have expected, all things considered. And now I have a new hobby and am making new local friends who aren't grad students who only talk shop! Win-Win!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SDCC 2015 Preparations: 50 days out

San Diego Comic Con is only 50 days away!  We're still over a month away from receiving the SDCC 2015 schedule (released two weeks before the convention) but that doesn't mean I haven't been preparing for the Con!

My job ended at the beginning of May (I work at a university, so my work schedule followed the semester calendar) and this month I have begun using my free time to work on my cosplays.  For SDCC 2015 I will be cosplaying as Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebels and Peggy Carter from the TV series Agent Carter.  The Boyfriend will also be cosplaying for the first time, and he will be dressing as Kanan Jarrus from Star Wars Rebels!

So far this month I have purchased all of my supplies and am making my Twi'lek lekku (head tails). The Boyfriend has begun working on his lightsaber hilt. Next I will make my Hera pants, shirt and leather vest, then in June I will start on my Peggy Carter suit and The Boyfriend's Kanan shirt. You can follow my cosplay progress by reading my posts with the Star Wars Rebels Cosplay tag and my Agent Carter Cosplay tag.

I have also started following news of exclusives, off-site events, and panel announcements, to get a feel for what will be at SDCC.  The SDCC Unofficial Blog and Crazy4ComicCon are both great resources for learning about what's going on at Con. Tony at Crazy4ComicCon has even teamed up with Shout Factory to provide video tips for attending SDCC!

To get in shape I have started C25K and eating better.  SDCC can be exhausting, mentally and physically, with a lot of time spent standing in line or walking. The exhibit hall is roughly the length of 3 football fields!!!  Preparing now will make the Con easier - also remember to break in any new shoes you plan to wear and stay hydrated during SDCC!

Over the next 50 days, I will complete my costumes, plan my survival bag, and organize our Con plan once the panel schedule is released, beginning June 25th.

What are you doing to prepare for SDCC 2015?

Friday, May 15, 2015

#Fandom5: Five Most Binge-Worthy Shows, May 15th, 2015

#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.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to find new blogs! Go here to learn more about it or follow #Fandom5 on Twitter!

This week's topic is five binge-worthy shows. I've only included shows that I've actually binge-watched it, and almost every episode was followed by The Boyfriend or I begging for suggesting, "One more?" Or in some cases, threatening to watch it without the other! The kind of show where you bitterly click "Yes" to Netflix's question, "Are you still watching?"
Of course I am! How dare you interrupt!

Thanks to Netflix and other streaming services, binge watching is super easy - you don't even need to change out a DVD to watch multiple seasons! This may or may not be a good thing...

1. Breaking Bad
I binged the first three seasons one summer, then started watching regularly on AMC during the fourth and fifth seasons. I was left with such a fierce need to know what happened to the characters, it was practically a temporary addiction.

2. Big Bang Theory
This is one show that I have binge-watched both on DVD and as reruns on TBS and other tv networks. While this show does have some problems (representation of minorities and female characters comes to mind, sometimes the jokes veer too far from "This is geeky and also funny!" to "This is funny because geeks are ridiculous, lol, nerds, amirite?"), this show is still a lot of fun to watch. Even if everything they have ever said about Warcraft is horribly, horribly wrong.

3. Firefly
This show is binge-worthy for two reasons. The first is, it's just that good. It's like the Lays potato chips of TV shows, you can't stop at just one. The second reason this show is binge-worthy is a sad one: there's only one season of 14 episodes. So if you're watching one, you might as well watch the whole season.

4. Battlestar Galactica
No matter how many times I watch this series, I am always left wanting more. Just catching a rerun on BBC America is enough to set me off on a binge.

5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This animated series was released in six seasons between 2008 and 2014 on Cartoon Network and Netflix. This series is definitely binge-worthy, and each episode is only ~22 minutes long, so it is easy to power through 6 episodes or more without realizing how much time has passed.

If you are going to watch The Clone Wars, I recommend following the official chronological episode order on - using this order, certain storylines make more sense and characters don't reappear after they've died.

Honorable Mention:
The Boyfriend watches the entire run of Futurama at least once a year, start to finish, over a couple of weeks. That's seven seasons, plus three movies. But Futurama is one of the best shows ever made.

via Gizmodo

Breaking Bad, Big Bang Theory, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica images via Wikipedia.
The Clone Wars image via Wookieepedia.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre

Welcome back to Tabletop Tuesday!  This week we played Cryptozoic Entertainment's Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre.

How's that for a game title!?

And this game is just as crazy and fun as the title implies.  In this post, I'll tell you a little bit about how the game is played, what I like and don't like about it, and how it fares as two-player game.

Hit the link to learn more about Battle Wizards!

Friday, May 8, 2015

#Fandom5: Five Favorite Fictional Moms, May 8th, 2015

This weekend is Mother's Day here in the US and to celebrate, this week's Fandom5 topic is favorite fictional moms! Did everyone remember to send their mom a card???

Picking out favorite fictional moms was more difficult than I thought it would be. A lot of my favorite characters' moms don't figure in their stories, and more often than not it's because they're dead. Wtf Disney? My relationship with my own mother has always been pretty good too, so I never envied any fictional characters their mothers.

But once I got thinking, I found lots of great fictional mothers - most of my choices are from TV shows or books. This is my list:

1. Queen Elinor
"Brave" is a great movie about mothers and daughters. Queen Elinor wants what she thinks is best for her daughter, Merida, but learns about her daughter's interests and talents and desires over the course of the film. Merida, in turn, grows up, learns responsibility for her actions and consideration for what her mother is trying to teach her, and they both come out on the other side appreciating each other more. Plus Queen Elinor is voiced by Emma Thompson, who is wonderful.

via the Disney Wiki

2. Molly Weasley
I bet she's going to show up on a lot of lists today, and for good reason. She is one of the best fictional moms I can think of. She loves and cares for her kids and all their friends. She watches out for Harry, who never had a caring mother-figure. And she defeated Bellatrix Lestrange during the Battle of Hogwarts in one of the most mama-bear moments in fiction: "Not my daughter, you bitch!"

via the Harry Potter Wiki

3. Helen McIntyre
I had an American Girl Molly doll growing up and I remember her mom being pretty great in the Molly books. She worked outside the home while her husband was overseas working as a doctor during the war, but had plenty of time to listen to her children's stories and problems. She helped Molly make a hula skirt out of newspaper and crepe paper for Halloween. And she was firm when they misbehaved.

via the American Girls Wiki

4. Linda Belcher
Alriiiiiiiiiight! Linda is a great mom - she accepts her kids' quirks, supports them in their weird little dreams and activities, and being a mom isn't her entire identity. She has her own adventures and personality. And she likes to randomly break into song.


5. Kitty Forman
"That 70s Show" was one of my favorites in high school and I loved Eric's parents, Kitty and Red. Kitty held the family together, navigated her husband's short temper, stood up for her son, saw through her daughter's lies, and cared about all of her son's friends too, especially when the family took in Hyde after his own mother abandoned him.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! Star Wars X-Wings Miniatures

Hello again! This is Tabletop Tuesday, a blog series all about tabletop games. Over the last two weeks I wrote about my newest gaming adventure, Dungeons & Dragons Expeditions. My first post described the game and what it was like to be a tabletop RPG n00b, the second post offered suggestions for finding a tabletop RPG group.

In honor of Star Wars Day, this week's topic is Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures by Fantasy Flight Games. This game is my newest tabletop love! Hit the link to learn more about miniatures gaming and May the Fourth be with you!