Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday: Holiday Game Recommendations

Hello and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected as a biweekly series. New posts are published every other week. Previous posts can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

With the holidays fast approaching I thought it would be nice to take a break and focus on games that are family-friendly and have already been featured on this blog. My family always ends up playing games at the holidays, whether it's Grandma's favorite (Scrabble) or a new one I've picked up to share and blog about.

This post is a list of my five favorite family-friendly games, appropriate for a variety of ages and skill levels. All of these games are very portable, easy to slip into a backpack or tote to take with to Grandma's house. Some are competitive, others are cooperative. Whatever your play-style, I think these games are sure to please.

If you're in need of a gift recommendation or something to do with family or friends this Thanksgiving, hit the jump!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: November 2nd, 2016

Hi all! I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween. We had a good time passing out candy, making a harvest feast (pork tenderloin from Outlander Kitchen), and watching Hocus Pocus!

Some fun little tidbits have popped up in my life recently and I wanted to write about them, so here is a What's Up Wednesday post.

Recent Achievements:
I completed C25K in its entirety - finally! I'm slow, but that's ok - there's always room for improvement. Once I am confident in my distance/endurance I'm going to start taking Stormie running with me again - I'm hoping we'll be able to participate in a 6-legged 5K this spring!

What I'm Looking Forward To...
2013 with my sister!
The Boyfriend's parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this spring and want to take the whole family on vacation to Disney World! We have the dates now and I am so excited! I want to book so many dining reservations - but we're not sure what family activities they'll want everyone to participate in, if/when we'll have park days or meals all together, etc. so it will be awhile before we can make any specific plans. We had a great time at Disney World last spring and I think his parents will really enjoy staying at the resort.

I also signed up for my first 5K run! Technically I completed Warrior Dash in 2013, but this is my first real 5K running race. I'll be participating in the Christmas Story 5K in Cleveland in December!

What I'm Enjoying:
Star Wars Rebels is one of the few TV shows I'm excited to watch each week, especially since we're getting closer to the release of Rogue One in December! I'm also eager for the release of Catalyst, a prequel novel to the events of Rogue One. It's a great time to be  Star Wars fan!

My TBR pile keeps getting bigger and bigger, but I recently checked out Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas from my local library and I'm hoping to start that soon. I have also preordered the newest Carrie Fisher memoir, The Princess Diarist, from Amazon and that should be arriving around the 22nd.

And I am trying to finish a couple of posts about my adventures at New York Comic Con - it's hard to believe it's been almost a month since that convention! I met some amazing Twitter friends, attend some interesting panels and a fun offsite event, and met CARRIE FISHER! I'm hoping to polish and post those in the next week or two, so please check back!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! There's a zombie horde outside...

Happy Halloween and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday Monday! In the spirit of the holiday, I am hitting publish a day early.

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected as a biweekly series. Older posts can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

All month long we've been showcasing a variety of zombie-themed games through a series of weekly posts. Last week's game was The Walking Dead, a board game based on the popular comic and TV series that requires strategy and luck as players explore the board to collect resources and fight zombies.

The final game in our zombie series is Last Night On Earth by Flying Frog Productions. Right off, I'll say this game is not for the faint of heart. Not just because there are zombies... but because this game can easily eat up an entire afternoon.

Hit the jump to read more!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Spooky Songs for Halloween: My Halloween Playlist

Halloween music has always been a big part of the holiday for me - whether it was blasting spooky compositions out the window during trick-or-treat, dancing to the Monster Mash in tap class, or singing along to the Nightmare Before Christmas. From eerie instrumentals to fun pop songs, Halloween music is a great way to get into the spirit of the holiday.

Over the years I have created a Halloween playlist that I listen to almost exclusively during October. Some are obviously Halloween songs, some just have a creepy or spooky vibe to them, some just have a title or lyrics that are vaguely Halloweeny enough for me to include them.

If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

This is Halloween  -  The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack
I'm Your Boogieman  -  White Zombie
The Monster Mash  -  Bobby "Boris" Pickett
I Put a Spell On You  -  Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Witchy Woman  -  The Eagles    (Cher's version is definitely worth a watch)
Boris the Spider  -  The Who
Feed My Frankenstein  -  Alice Cooper
Werewolves of London  -  Warren Zevon
Dead Man's Party  -  Oingo Boingo
Welcome to My Nightmare  -  Alice Cooper
Do They Know It's Hallowe'en?  -  North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative
Ghost Town  -  The Specials
Hell  -  Squirrel Nut Zippers
Hocus Pocus  -  Focus
Thriller  -  Michael Jackson
Twilight Zone  -  Golden Earring
Oogie Boogie's Song  -  The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack
This is Halloween  -  Marilyn Manson
Fire On High  -  Electric Light Orchestra
Ghostbusters  -  Ray Parker, Jr.
Night On Bald Mountain - Modest Mussorgsky, composer

A YouTube playlist for all the videos linked can be found here and is embedded above.

Happy listening, and Happy Halloween!

This post is an update of a previous post originally published in 2014.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Happy Halloweekend!

It's the weekend before Halloween, and as far as I'm concerned the holiday has already started!

Halloween is my favorite holiday - I like to eat seasonal foods and light candles. I place a jack-o-lantern in my window to scare away the bad spirits. And I always watch scary movies, read ghost stories, and listen to my Halloween playlist!

Last year I shared a list of spooky stories, and I wanted to do something similar for this Halloween. If you're in need of a spooky movie or books to get in the Halloween spirit, I have some suggestions!

What We Do in the Shadows,
directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi

This movie is hilarious. It's done in a mockumentary style and documents the un-lives of vampire roommates in New Zealand as they hold flat meetings (just do the dishes, Deacon!), learn 21st century technology, and other #justvampirethings.

The Penguin Book of the Undead
edited by Scott G. Bruce

A 2016 publication by Penguin Classics, this book compiles legends and histories of the undead in Europe from the ancient world to the modern age. The beginning of each chapter provides a few paragraphs of context, identifying that passage's author and explaining the supernatural lore of the time period or region in which it was recorded.

This book is great for people who like their spooky stories grounded in history or want to explore how stories of the undead changed over time.

Coffin Hill
by Caitlin Kittredge

Strange things have been happening in the small town of Coffin Hill, Massachusetts. Murders. Missing children. When Eve Coffin, the descendent of the local witch Emma Coffin, returns to town these events remind her of a fateful Halloween night and the haunted woods that surrounds her family estate. She is drawn into the investigation, and her family history means she is the only one who can find out the real cause of these strange and deadly events.

Coffin Hill is a comic series written by Caitlin Kittredge and illustrated by Inaki Miranda. It was published by Vertigo between 2013 and 2015, and there are three trade paperback volumes in the series. I first learned about Coffin Hill when it was recommended to me by an employee at a small comic shop in Ohio, and so far I have read the first two volumes. I will probably read the third on Halloween this year.

This series is spooky and sometimes violent, full of secrets and hidden motives. I really enjoyed the first two volumes, they definitely scratched my itch for danger and witchiness.

Crimson Peak,
directed by Guillermo del Toro

This movie was released last year and quickly became one of my favorites. It is a gothic horror film, combining romance and suspense to tell the story of Edith Cushing, a young American woman who is wooed by an English baronet named Thomas Sharpe. They are quickly wed and move to his family home in the north of England, where Edith is drawn into the dark mysteries that haunt the manor.

This movie is also visually beautiful; the use of color and texture in the sets and costumes, the creation of motifs, every detail helps set the scene and build the characters. I only wish the movie was longer, giving Edith more time to explore the secrets of Allerdale Hall and the Sharpe siblings.

Those are a few of the stories I've been enjoying this month. Do you have any new spooky favorites to share?

Thanks for reading and have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! The dead are walking...

Hello and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected. Older posts can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

Though this series is now a biweekly post, from now through Halloween we'll be showcasing a variety of zombie-themed games through a series of weekly posts! Last week's game was Munchkin Zombies, an adventure-themed card game where the players are the zombies.

Today's game is The Walking Dead by Skybound and Z-Man Games.  As a fan of both the Walking Dead comics and TV show, I was curious to see how the series would translate to a board game.

Hit the jump to read more!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! A dungeon full of zombies!

Hello and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected as a biweekly series. New posts are published every other week. Older posts can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

If you didn't read last week's post, we're changing things up a bit - from now through Halloween, we'll be sharing weekly posts showcasing a variety of zombie-themed games! Last week's game was Zombie Fluxx, a card game where the rules change as you play.

Today's game is Munchkin Zombies, by Steve Jackson Games. Like Fluxx, this game is a variation of a popular card game with a brain eating twist.

Hit the jump to read more!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday: Zombie Fluxx

Hello and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected as a biweekly series. New posts are published every other week. Older posts can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

To get into a spooky, Halloween mood, we're changing things up a bit - now through Halloween, we'll be sharing weekly posts showcasing a variety of zombie-themed games!

This week's game is Zombie Fluxx by Looney Labs. Fluxx is a card game where the rules can change with every card played. The game is won when a player reaches a goal by collecting certain cards, but as the rules change, so do the goals!

Hit the jump to read more!

Friday, September 30, 2016

NYCC Prep: Links and Tips

The start of New York Comic Con is less than a week away! As a NYCC n00b, I have been researching this con ever since I bought our tickets in June. There aren't entire blogs devoted to NYCC like there are SDCC, so I'm sharing a few helpful links and tips I've found as I've prepared for our first NYCC.


  • Not all panels are held in the Javits Convention Center. There are three off-site panel locations: the Theater at Madison Square Garden, BookCon at 500 W 36th Street, and the Hammerstein Ballroom at 311 W 34th Street. These locations can be seen on the map below, which is also available as a PDF from NYCC. Remember, moving between these locations for panels means you need to account for the extra travel time!
  • Unlike SDCC, some rooms are cleared between panels. Panels will be cleared in the Main Stage at the Javits Center and at BookCon. Take this into consideration if you want to attend multiple panels in those locations!
  • The Main Stage panels in the Javits Center are also using the RFID badges as a line "reservation" system - you line up for the panel you want to attend that day and a staff member scans your badge, essentially reserving your presence in that line. Then you can either stay in that line, jump in another Main Stage line that isn't already capped, or head to the exhibit hall. If you leave the panel line you can return 35 minutes before the panel starts and basically be guaranteed a seat; your badge is scanned again when you return for the panel, confirming that you were present in the line earlier that day.

    This is all explained on the NYCC website and is an attempt on their part to help keep people from standing in one line all day. I think it's pretty neat, and am curious if SDCC will ever adopt something similar with their own RFID badges. This method does not, however, reserve your actual spot in line and I have a feeling we'll still be seeing some people camp in line all day to get the front seats.

Twitter Accounts:
Twitter is a fantastic convention tool. It can help you stay in touch with online friends, learn about events and parties, and it's a great way to find spur-of-the-moment giveaways and celebrity encounters. Honestly, the only reason I made the switch to a smart phone in 2014 was so I could access Twitter at SDCC!

A few Twitter accounts I will be following during NYCC include:

Around the Convention:
As someone who likes to be prepared, I think it is important to look at the convention center map ahead of time. To access the Javits Center map, you can download a PDF from the NYCC website or access it through the NYCC app.

The map pictured here is just an overview of the entire convention center - there are also detailed maps of the different convention areas, like the show floor and Artist Alley. These maps can also be found in the NYCC mobile app, available for iOS and Android.

The NYCC app will also let you keep track of panels and other events  - it cannot be linked with your MyShow login, though. The MyShow login is attached to your Fan Verified email address and can be used on the desktop site... so if you saved favorite panels in the app, they won't show up on the website, and vice versa. This is a disappointment, especially since NYCC likes to emphasize how large the convention is. The app is still worth the download, though, because of its accessibility during the convention. It even shows the weather!

Something interesting I just learned about is NYCC XP. If you've been to Nerd HQ in San Diego during the past few years, you might remember scanning your wristband on different stations. You were then sent product information and files of your Nerd HQ photos, and it interacted with your social media.

NYCC XP sounds like it is similar. Located throughout the convention center are NYCC XP stations, which will link with "your own custom website" through your RFID badge. The website needs a special app to access, and you can share the photos with your friends. I want to learn a little more about this before I decide if I'm going to use it, but it sounds like a neat idea.

And, of course, all the standard large con tips apply - wear comfortable shoes, look at the schedule so you have some idea of when things are happening, stay hydrated, don't be rude, take a shower, etc.

That's it for now! If you're interested in learning about autographs and photo ops, I wrote a post about my experience with that earlier this summer. And if you have any tips for me, or questions I can try to help with, definitely leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! Pausing the game...

Tabletop Tuesday is on a brief pause until next week because I am away on a research trip.  We will be back next week with a fun adventure game to share! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! Sushi Go!

Hello and welcome back to another Tabletop Tuesday!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday has been resurrected as a biweekly series. New posts are published every other week. Last time we played Dragonwood, a card and dice game by Gamewright. That post and other games can be found under the Tabletop Tuesday tag, also linked at the top of the page.

Today's game is Sushi Go! This card game for 2-5 players is also published by Gamewright. Like Dragonwood, Sushi Go! combines elements of luck and strategy to create an entertaining game focused on earning points by collecting cards.

Hit the jump to read more!

Friday, August 26, 2016

NYCC Prep: Photo Ops

When I was prepping for our first SDCC I was spoiled for information. Blogs here, blogs there, blogs everywhere! I went into the convention knowing how panel lines worked, where to go for autograph lotteries, which offsite events I wanted to visit.

NYCC feels like a different story, and I've had to rely more on forums and piecing together comments. For example, NYCC has its own subreddit... but you have to wade through post after post of whiny redditors who didn't get the tickets they wanted. (it really feels like people are simply refusing to read the FAQs and other information NYCC has made available)

In light of this, I am consolidating the useful information here on my blog. Perhaps it will help some other con attendee who is visiting NYCC for the first time. And of course, if you have attended NYCC before and have any tips, suggestions, or corrections, please leave a comment!

Today's topic is: Photo Ops

First off...

OMG YOU GUYS I AM MEETING CARRIE FISHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My only goal for this entire con is meeting Carrie Fisher, and learning how photo ops/autographs work at NYCC has been a top priority since we got our tickets.

It looks like getting photo ops and autographs at NYCC can be done two ways: by purchasing a ticket ahead of the convention on the NYCC website, or by visiting the hall during the convention and waiting in line to purchase (cash only at the show). Last year the autograph and photo hall was on the 1st level of the convention center, in area 1-B. The map was released in mid-August last year, so I'm expecting this year's map to be released in the next couple weeks - but the location will probably be the same.

Photo ops went on sale online earlier today. A time table and links to purchase can be found at this link. There is also an FAQ from Epic Photo Ops linked at that red button seen in the pic below.

**note** If you go to the guest list on the main NYCC website, you will NOT be able to click through to the photo op purchasing page - the guest schedules have not been linked/updated **

Honestly, everything seems really straightforward. You buy your photo ticket online or at the show. You can have up to 4 attendees in the photo. Photos are done in groups/waves, so you don't have to wait in line for hours before - they say to just show up a few minutes before your time slot.

We'll see if it's really as smooth and simple as this process appears to be. I'm not sure if the wave/group system was used at past NYCCs, but I will update this post after the convention with my experience!

Now... what do I wear!?!?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tabletop Tuesday! Proceed with caution... Here there be dragons!

Tabletop Tuesdays are BACK and boy-oh-boy, do I have a GREAT game to share with you today!

Formerly a weekly post about tabletop gaming, Tabletop Tuesday is being resurrected as a biweekly series. New posts will be published every other week. Like always, Tabletop Tuesday posts will include game reviews, instructions for playing, and details about my adventures as a tabletop RPG player. Requests and game suggestions are always welcome!

Today's game is Dragonwood by Gamewright. This is one of my new favorites, and I am so excited to share it here. We just purchased it at the end of July, so this review is written from the perspective of a new player. Hit the jump to read more!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dusting off the blog...

It's the middle of summer and I am FINALLY getting back to blogging!  I have some big things planned for the Nerd Cave:

Tabletop Tuesdays will return in August!
This weekly series of blog posts reviewing and detailing different tabletop games ran from May - September 2015. I am resurrecting it as a bi-weekly series, beginning in August 2016. Planned posts include a feature on creating an RPG adventure, a month of zombie themed games in October, and plenty of miniature-based games! As always, I am on the lookout for new games and would love to hear about your requests!

In October I will be attending New York Comic Con for the first time. It seems like there are fewer resources devoted to attending NYCC than there are for SDCC (how to navigate the con, information on offsites, how autographs work, etc) so I'm going to consolidate the information I learn as I prep for this convention here on the blog. And of course I will be posting about my adventures at the con itself! (Mission #1 - learn about autographs - because CARRIE FISHER is scheduled to attend!)

Star Wars Legends: Thrawn Book Club
If you were following Star Wars Celebration last weekend, you might have heard that a fan favorite character is returning to canon and joining the cast of Star Wars Rebels characters: Grand Admiral Thrawn!  This character debuted in the 1991 Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, the first book of the Thrawn trilogy. That book was decanonized and made part of the Star Wars Legends collection of stories in 2015 with the release of Star Wars Episode VII.

In the lead up to Rebels season 3 and a new book release, Thrawn by Timothy Zahn in April 2017, the Tosche Station podcast is planning a re-read of the Thrawn Trilogy - and I am planning to follow along! More information, such as the start date of the re-read, is coming. For now I am planning to post my thoughts on the books here on the blog. Who else is planning to follow along?

And plenty of cosplay, crafting, and comics-related posts!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hot Toys Princess Leia Figure

A couple of months ago I received my sixth-scale Princess Leia figure from Sideshow Collectibles. This figure is made by Hot Toys, a brand known for their amazing detail. She retails for $204.99.

Leia was made available for pre-order in August 2015, and was originally scheduled to ship in November and December of that year. Her release date was pushed back a few times, until finally she arrived at the end of April 2016.

I saw an early version of Leia at San Diego Comic Con in July 2015 and immediately fell in love. Leia is my favorite Star Wars character, and it was so exciting that such a detailed figure was finally being made! Of course, I pre-ordered her within minutes of the listing becoming available.

The quality of the Princess Leia figure is very typical of Hot Toys. Stunning, realistic face sculpt. Full articulation of the body. Interchangeable hands for holding props. And an accurate Episode IV costume. She also comes with a figure stand and, if you managed to pre-order the Sideshow exclusive version, a backdrop of the Tantive IV corridor where we first see Leia giving the Death Star plans to R2!

Princess Leia comes with the aforementioned stand and bonus backdrop, as well as:

  • a blaster rifle
  • a blaster pistol
  • interchangeable hands
  • extra wrist posts


Her hood has a wire so you can shape it around her head - perfect for reenacting the beginning of the movie! Otherwise you can have it hang down her back. Her hair is sculpted, which means you won't accidentally ruin her hairstyle by dusting her or changing her pose.

I found it very difficult to pop her stand together, and was nervous that I would break the plastic. The arm is a very tight fit into the base and I needed to use a flat surface to get some leverage.

The plastic bags covering her shoes and hands were tightly fitted to protect her in the box, but the tape used to keep the plastic secure was very sticky and hard to remove. I ended up using a pair of scissors to cut the tape - otherwise I was getting tape residue on my fingers, which could have transferred to her white dress. Just a warning to be careful!

Overall, I am still in love with this figure! She is perfect, and is currently hanging out with my sixth-scale R2-D2 made by Sideshow Collectibles!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

SDCC Tips!

If you're attending SDCC this year, here is a list of tips I've found helpful!

Be sure to check out the Unofficial SDCC BlogCrazy4ComicConThe Nerdy Girlie, and An Englishman in San Diego for more helpful tips! Their knowledge made me feel excited and prepared for my first SDCC in 2014!

SDCC Survival Pack (originally posted August 2, 2014)
Pack a backpack or other easy to carry, comfortable bag with some necessities - like water, snacks, sunscreen, Purel, band-aids, pain relievers, a poster tube, a notebook and pens/Sharpies for autographs and sketches, and anything else you might need throughout the day. Days can be long, with few chances to access your hotel room!

Follow the SDCC Schedule and Plan Ahead! (originally posted June 24, 2015)
I hate planning my vacations down to the minute, but I hate going anywhere unprepared even more.

For SDCC I like to use Excel and create a schedule of panels and events. I collaborate with The Boyfriend, asking him to pick panels he wants to attend, and then I see where our interests overlap so we both get to do something we like. Once we have decided what panels we'd like to see, we plan for when we should get in line, when we should hit up the exhibit hall, and when we should check out all those awesome off-site events!

I use different sheets in Excel to create plans A, B, and C in case we get shut out of a panel, but basically I like doing this for one major reason: it creates a great visual calendar, telling me when and where different things are happening, making it easier to change plans on the fly. You should also have a convention center map handy, either from the guidebook or on your phone.

Use Your Phone!
Twitter, email, and Instagram have all been extremely useful when I've attended SDCC before. If you follow convention-related accounts (like the blogs linked above) and official company pages you can learn about wait times, giveaways, events, and other convention tips!  There are also official apps for the convention and offsite events, like NerdHQ, as well as travel apps (if you're using the trolley between Hotel Circle and the Convention Center).

But most of all...

Enjoy Yourself!!!
There will always be something else going on at a convention as large as SDCC. With so much going on inside AND outside the convention center, that is just the nature of the beast. So if you miss something you wanted to see, don't let that ruin your con! Find something else amazing to do instead!

Geeks Go Glam party, SDCC 2015

Agent Carter flashmob, Marvel stage, SDCC 2015

Fighting a dragon at the Geek & Sundry offsite event, SDCC 2015

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New York Comic Con Ticket Sale, June 29th, 2016

Today was the ticket sale for New York Comic Con and The Boyfriend and I were fortunate to nab 4-day passes!

We've never attended NYCC before, despite NYC being a short trip away by train or car. Because it is so much closer, travel costs are $1000 less than flights to SDCC - so I really don't understand why we've never tried to attend before!

Buying Tickets
The ticket buying process was first come, first served - but the site placed everyone in a queue based on when they connected with the servers, so that process was similar to the waiting room system SDCC uses.  I actually found this relaxing - after the initial click to access the link I was just waiting to see when (if) it would let me in to buy tickets. No spamming refresh, or any of the other stressful situations I was expecting.

The queue then let groups of buyers in, where they could purchase their tickets and t-shirts. It looks like hotels could also be booked, but I whizzed through the check out process and my receipt page failed to load, so I'm not sure when that was available (during or after the tickets were purchased).

And it's a good thing I hurried. Among the repetitive questions clogging up #NYCC, Twitter was also full of people complaining about their carts timing out. The site would not accept my credit card at first (it said the number was wrong, and I had to retype it even though it was correct) and then the receipt page failed to load, giving me a small heart attack until the email receipt came through.

Sorry for the blurriness, but I was so stunned and wanted to document this so quickly that my hands were shaking!

Tickets went on sale at noon, Eastern time. It took about 75 minutes for 3-day passes to sell out, followed by 4-day passes at ~90 minutes. As of this writing (2:46pm EST 6-29-16**) it looks like all individual days are still available - the official social media accounts have not posted otherwise.

One thing that surprises me is how many people are complaining about the Fan Validation process.  This is really no different from SDCC's Member ID - log on before a certain date, fill out a profile, and bam! - you're eligible to buy tickets. But Twitter is full of people complaining that they or their friends didn't go through FV and feel entitled to tickets even though they couldn't follow basic directions. (The entitlement is typical of any big con that sells out, though...)

Anyway, we have our passes and now we need to learn about the con itself! Like SDCC, NYCC is a big convention, so we already know some survival tips: bring snacks, wear comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, etc.  But the specifics of this particular con - like how autographs are sold/given away, what sort of off-site or party experiences we can expect to find, how certain booths sell their exclusives - that is the information I'm after. I have yet to find the NYCC equivalent of the SDCC blog or Crazy4ComicCon, but I'm searching!

I'm very excited! This will be a new experience. And I am so happy that I get to attend a big convention this year - I am still pretty bummed about missing SDCC and seeing everyone and celebrating Wonder Woman's 75th anniversary, so I'm hoping to meet some Twitter friends at NYCC and that there is something on for Wonder Woman! (And Carrie Fisher will be there!!!)

If you've ever attended NYCC and have some tips or a tip blog to recommend, please let me know in the comments!

** It looks like as I was typing that, Saturday tickets sold out. Sunday kids tickets have also sold out since this post was published.

Friday, June 17, 2016

#Fandom5: Five Favorite Podcasts (June 17th, 2016)

Happy Friday! Today's 5 Fandom Friday is one I am excited to write because I have been wanting to share these podcasts on my blog for months now.

#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 topic is five favorite podcasts. I don't know about you, but I really didn't start listening to podcasts until 2014, when I listened to Serial and downloaded the NPR app to listen to at work.

Since then I have realized that I really enjoy listening to specific styles of podcasts - primarily those types that I describe as radio essays (host presents on a topic) and narrative interviews (interviewee does most of the talking, but the host might ask a few questions or edit in a brief comment for context). I also like serialized stories, especially mysteries both real and fictional. My favorite topics are science, history, human interest/personal anecdote, and true crime.

What do you like in a podcast? Do you have any recommendations for me?

1. You Must Remember This

One of my two most-favorite podcasts is "You Must Remember This" hosted by Karina Longworth. This podcast presents the (forgotten) history of Hollywood during the twentieth century, navigating studio spin and popular myth to find the truth behind those stories.

New episodes are released every one-two weeks, with interim weeks showcasing past episodes that are relevant to the current season. The past few seasons have followed themes or topics, with the most recent season being focused on the Hollywood Blacklist and the 1947 HUAC trials.

2. Gastropod

My other favorite podcast is Gastropod. This podcast is about the science and history of food. It is hosted by Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley. Episodes have included discussions on how different utensils change our perception of food, why we eat breakfast, and the history of Chinese food in the US. They just started the fifth season and episodes are released every two weeks.

Warning: this podcast will make you hungry!

3. Radiolab and This American Life

I listed these two together because they are very similar in style. Each episode follows a theme and includes 2-3 interviews or stories. I like the variety of the content and the production quality (I think both are associated with NPR). Older episodes of TAL can be found on its website.

4. The Black Tapes and Limetown

Like the above entry, I listed these two together due to their overall similarities. Both are fictional stories done in the style of a serialized radio program where listeners follow the host as she investigates a mystery. TBT is supernatural themed, while Limetown is a bit more science-fiction. Of the two, I definitely like Limetown more. TBT is a good story, but it's prone to poor voice acting and some other style/editing issues that annoy me as a listener.

Limetown finished its first season and I'm not sure if it will have a second. TBT is currently in its second season. Both podcasts should be listened to in order, due to the narrative.

5. Lore

This podcast is one I stumbled upon while browsing the popular podcast feed in iTunes and I really, really like it. This podcast explores folklore and local tales, looking at human behavior and the construction of these stories - and the truths behind them. Episodes are released every other week, and each episode is presented almost like an essay or paper focusing on an event or topic. I think I like this style because it is more "academic" than most podcasts I listen to.

This podcast has become so popular/successful that the creator, Aaron Mahnke, is working with Valhalla Entertainment to turn the series into a TV show.

Honorable Mention: The Mystery Show

This podcast hasn't been updated since July 31, 2015, and that makes me really sad. I loved pretty much everything about this show: the way it was edited, the theme song, even Starlee Kine's lisp. The mysteries she solves aren't earth shaking revelations... Basically someone wonders something (that couldn't be answered on Google), and she chases down an explanation. It's really fun to hear about the twists and dead ends, and the lengths she goes to to find an answer.

I really hope this show comes back soon and that the long delay is just because she is out solving more mysteries.  (If you want to give this one a try, I highly recommend the Belt Buckle, episode #3.)

Friday, June 10, 2016

#Fandom5: Five Fandoms I Just Couldn't Get Into... (June 10th, 2016)

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week. I've really missed blogging lately, and thought what better way to ease back into it than with 5 Fandom Friday?

#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 fandoms I couldn't get into. What are those comics or shows or books that you encountered, maybe even tried to enjoy, but ultimately decided wasn't for you?

1. Supernatural

When I tried watching it on Netflix I just wasn't in the mood for yet another "monster of the week" style program. I got halfway through season one and couldn't be bothered to pick it back up - not because I didn't like it, but because I just couldn't get into it. I'm sure I would like it if I gave it another chance - maybe I'll try again this summer!

2. Star Trek

I really liked the episodes I've watched (Trouble with Tribbles is the best) and I think I've seen almost all of the movies (Original movie, Khan, Search for Spock, that one with the whales, the two new ones), but Star Trek has never been something I fan-girled over. I think if my early exposure to the series had been different I would have loved it - the exploration, the science, the interactions with different cultures... 

3. DC TV

We tried watching Green Arrow, the Flash, and Gotham, but ultimately we got a few weeks behind on the DVR and just didn't care enough to bother catching up. 

The only exception is Supergirl, because I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. I think we had too many DVR conflicts (yay Time-Warner...) so I am waiting to watch it on Netflix.

4. Twilight

I tried. I just can't get into this one. 

(btw if you like Twilight then I think you might like the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, because the story is pretty much Twilight + Outlander: vampires and "destined" loved and witches and time travel)

5. LARPing

I had a friend in college who was a member of a local fantasy LARP group. I'm pretty sure her character was an elf... anyway, she wanted me to join and it seemed kind of fun, with the costumes and chance to "fight" in battles.  BUT... I had participated in live-steel reenactment while studying abroad* and I guess I'm a bit of a snob because the thought of fighting with foam weapons just did not appeal.

This post was much harder to write than I was expecting. I'm lucky that almost everything I am introduced to is shared with me by other fans, people who are willing to share their excitement, which in turn makes me excited.

* This October is the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and I reeeeeeeally want to go! I'm not sure if my friends still participate in it, or where I would get the money to travel to England... but I would love to go see this, especially on a big anniversary year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Another update...

This got kind of long. I wanted to delete most of it. Cut out a lot of the personal, pare it down to the "Hey, I'm still here, I'm hoping to read a few fun books this month, I wish I was better at keeping myself on a schedule" stuff...

But I kept it all.

tl;dr - been feeling pretty stressed out and lost lately. Challenging myself to make a few small changes in June, we'll see if any of it sticks. I wish I knew how to be happy with the day-to-day elements of life...

The end of the semester was rough. It was easy to focus and be productive before the "Disney" trip - there was a conference in April that I presented at, and it was held at Disney World. With that concrete date it was easy to set goals and get work done. Not only having a set date to works towards, but it was also something to look forward to. Something different from the day-to-day, and a way to reward myself with some playtime in the parks for getting so much done.

But now that trip is over and it has been really hard getting back into things. Not because the trip was a disruption, but because I feel like I have nothing to look forward to now. Nothing to tell myself, "Well, life is exhausting and stressful, but at least this trip/event is coming up soon! There's more to life than working and taking care of the dogs and repairing the house!"

Instead I'm just back to the constant, boring, daily routine of wake up, take care of the dogs, get some work done, watch TV, go to bed, repeat, repeat, repeat. The last two years I had SDCC in July to plan for and look forward to. And while it was a distraction at times, it was something that helped keep me going. Since we're not going to SDCC this year, I don't have that.

My anxiety and depression have been flaring up a lot lately. I'm cutting my caffeine intake, because I noticed days when I drink coffee tend to be worse than others (though I've had at least 1 cup per day for the past few years, so I don't know why this is starting now...) and I'm trying to get back into a running schedule (or any schedule) to get some of those exercise endorphins. I feel like I am operating in a constant state of stress that is higher than normal... like there is a knot inside me getting tighter and tighter.

I know some of it has to do with the end of the semester. I was just so busy with teaching and my own research that I didn't have time to dwell on things that make me feel low and feed that monster. And now that the semester is over I am having trouble keeping a schedule and keeping busy - though I have plenty of work that should be keeping me busy.

I was hoping to go into the field with my advisor, to work on his site for a couple of weeks. I'm telling myself he didn't have the funding for another grad student, but honestly I have no idea why I ended up excluded from the trip and by the time I realized I wasn't going, it was too late to change things so I didn't ask. Maybe he forgot about me being interested. Maybe it really was a funding issue. Maybe he thought I'd be better off staying here and using this time to work on my own research. That and another professor suggesting (demanding) I cut half my project out of my dissertation (yay, so many hours wasted!) have really been messing with me. Why am I even doing this anymore? I hate that question, because I don't know the answer and I feel like I'm too close to the finish line to just say "eff it" and leave.

I'm also having trouble balancing work and home. I want to let the dogs play and have plenty of stimulation, but I can't work at home because of how they demand my attention. I feel guilty leaving Ripley in her crate for a few hours while I go to my office, especially since I am so exhausted when I am home that I feel like I don't give them the attention they need.

I often catch myself wishing I was single and living alone, so I could bury myself in my work and just finish it all that much sooner. Not exactly a healthy approach to grad life, but it would eliminate a lot of the guilt that comes with having a home and dogs to look after, and the nagging belief that The Boyfriend won't take care of things in favor of playing video games.

I've decided to use June - 30 days - to try to make a few changes and get myself on a schedule. Then at the end of the month I'll hopefully be able to look back and see what worked, what didn't, and if I'm "happier" as a result. (not necessarily happier... but maybe better able to deal with the day-to-day and keep chugging on?)

It's mostly small goals, focused on continuing good habits that might have fallen by the wayside due to schedule changes or other "life" disruptions (like bad weather, new puppies, etc). Get back into the habit of using my planner to record not only my to-do list, but what I got done and how long I worked. Get back on target with dieting - I managed to keep off the weight I already lost, if I could just get on track then I'd be back to my pre-PhD weight by the end of summer. Join a writing group composed of other grad students, for feedback as well as accountability. Make time to be social again (I haven't played D&D regularly since December).

I wish I had more free* time to read novels and comics. My TBR pile is huge! I'm challenging myself to read three books this month - to catch myself when I'm just sitting on the couch, refreshing Reddit or Twitter, and swap my phone for a book. The books I've chosen are A Darker Shade of Magic, Star Wars Aftermath, and Star Wars Bloodline.

* "free" as in time spent reading for pleasure without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else

Nothing too drastic, really. Nothing that I haven't done before, to some extent. I'm not entirely surprised these feelings of depression and needing change are coming around now... not only because the semester is over, but because Memorial Day has personal significance, tied up in a lot of regret. My life would be very, very different right now if I had been stronger then, but I really need to stop focusing so much on "should haves" and instead focus on what I need to do now.

I'm hoping to post more on this blog in the future. About fun things, like board games and movies and books. Maybe something about the conference/Disney trip. Until I can work that into a schedule, I'll try to comment more on other blogs - I've been enjoying them during my lunch breaks and I'm looking forward to everyone posting about this year's conventions!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A brief update...

Hello! I just wanted to share a brief update, since it feels like so long since I posted anything. I also need to catch up on everyone's blogs and see what all you have been up to in the past couple months.

Since I last wrote...

1.  We got a new puppy. Her name is Ripley and she is a lab mix. Mixed with what, we have no idea. Maybe some kind of terrier... or maybe a hound. She is adorable and full of love and energy.

However... this was quite possibly the worst time to get a second dog (and I'm not just talking about housetraining in a northeast winter...) but we didn't want to wait much longer since Stormageddon is turning 4 in April. To be honest, when we didn't get a puppy over the summer, I wrote it off as something that wasn't going to happen. A part of me regrets getting her, since I really don't have the time or energy to deal with a puppy right now. I love her, but this feels like yet another thing that I let happen in my life when I knew I should have hit the brakes.

2.  I've been teaching a class, so preparing for that on top of all my own work has made me very busy. I'm pretty much on campus working (since I can't work at home with the new puppy) or at home taking care of dogs. I'm exhausted and overwhelmed, and my perception of time is all wonky. I really need a break, but I can't slow down until after March - I have to finish a lot of writing in the next few weeks, especially since I'm presenting a paper at a conference this spring.

3.  We might not be going to SDCC this year...

Yeah, I'm still not sure if I'm okay with this. Part of it is the money. Actually, that is really the only reason The Boyfriend has given for not wanting to go. I suppose he's also giving my trip to Orlando as a reason not to go, but that trip is for a conference where I'll be presenting a paper, so it doesn't feel like much of a vacation to me. Plus we're not paying for that trip...

I suppose we'll put the money towards some house repairs instead, but it's the same stuff he's been saying he's going to do for the last three years, so I really doubt it. I'm sick of him not giving me a straight answer when I ask him questions about this, or anything else. But that's a whole bag of stuff that's a little too personal for this blog...
Guess we need to decide if we're participating in the badge sale this weekend, since we still need Friday and/or Saturday passes to make the trip worth the cost.

So that's my life right now. Too busy, too tired, not sure if I'm going to SDCC this year, not sure about a lot of stuff. Making progress on my dissertation, though, and I might be going into the field this summer to work on my advisor's site, so that'll be great.

How are you doing?

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

C25K 2016

I just finished C25K week 2, day 1. I did 2.13 miles on my treadmill. I'm using the Ease into 5K app, which I bought a few years ago when it was still called Couch to 5K, and I've been wearing my Her Universe Captain Phasma tank to motivate myself.

I've started C25K a few times before. Usually make it to week 3, then something happens that changes my schedule or the weather gets too icy to run outside or whatever... and I miss a few days and never get back into it. It's easy to make excuses when it's cold and dark and I'm busy with work.

This time I'm going to finish. I might have to repeat a difficult week, or squeeze in a run even though I'm busy with grading, or suck it up when the temperature drops below zero. I definitely need to buy new shoes. But I will finish this time.

And if everything goes as planned, this time next year I will be training for the 2017 Dark Side Half-Marathon at Walt Disney World. 13.1 miles in 3 hours or less is my goal. I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday or the countdown to episode VIII!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year 2016

I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year's Eve last night! We stayed in, ate some finger foods and watched Ex Machina on Amazon Prime streaming. Tomorrow we have plans to play a marathon session of D&D with friends. All-in-all a very low-key New Year for us.

I don't put much stock into the New Year and resolutions - autumn has always felt more like a time for new beginnings to me, and the cold and dark of winter kill any motivation I have. But there are some things I definitely need to accomplish, and I need to start now. I just feel very lost and unfulfilled, like I'm floating along without much direction and have no support system to help deal with it.

I haven't made New Year's resolutions in years, but two major things I will accomplish before the next turn around the sun are...

Complete C25K
I have started C25K a few times over the years, usually making it to week 3 or 4 - but then something happens with my schedule, or depression hits, or the weather changes and ice makes it too slippery to run outside, or I have a looming deadline, and suddenly making the time is too difficult. Whenever I get overwhelmed the first thing to go is my diet and exercise.

This time I am pushing through to finish all 8 weeks. I want to run the Disney Star Wars half-marathon someday (next year?), I want to be stronger and fitter, I want to know that in 10 or 20 years I'm not going to have weight-related health problems that could have been avoided - and if I want these things, then I better quit thinking about it and start making them a reality.

Finish my dissertation
I am sick of being a graduate student, feeling like I'm waiting for "real life" to start, fearing what is going to happen after grad school (what am I even going to do with this degree???), and fielding questions from relatives who have no genuine interest in my work beyond "When are you going to finish?"

I am going to finish my dissertation for a spring 2017 defense date so I can move away and move on with my life. Find a job that pays a livable wage. Just get on with life.

Do or do not, there is no try. And I am choosing to do.