Jul 30, 2009

Awake and Dreaming

My dreams are intense. I've had lucid dreams, where you know you are dreaming and are able to control what happens next. Every once in a while I'll have a dream that is prophetic. Sometimes they're about trivial things - in high school I once dreamed an entire conversation with the boy I liked, the day before it happened. As a result I was able to avoid embarrassing myself (more than usual). More often, however, the meaning is less clear. Once I had a night terror about a flesh-colored sack filling with yellow viscous fluid. The next week, my father had a heart attack due to a cholesterol blockage. Even my regular dreams are so vivid that I will often confuse them, upon waking, with reality.

This morning I dreamt I was covered in spiders, and that they were spinning their webs around my head. When I woke, I screamed at the top of my lungs. My roommate came running, only to find me out of bed, batting at my ears and shaking all over. When she asked me what was wrong, I couldn't remember the right words to explain myself. 'Nightmare,' my logical brain called to me from across the vast ocean of sleep. 'Ignore the feeling of wispy cobwebs against your neck - it's only your hair. That sense of creeping dread is a figment of your imagination. You are not about to suffocate, or be eaten, or die. Go back to sleep ... if you can.'

"I... I had a dream," I told my roommate groggily, and crawled back into bed.

Jul 29, 2009

Yar, Give Me Tha Booty!

Sorry, I think I saw one too many Captain Jack Sparrow costumes at Comic Con. I just want to share all the fun stuff I was able to beg, borrow and steal while at the convention. Well, not actually share. More like... gloat.

SWAG, aka free stuff! I got a t-shirt from Burn Notice - sure it's neon yellow with Micheal Weston's face in day-glo orange screen printed across the entire front and I would never be caught dead in it. It was free. I also got tons of buttons to add to my collection (and you thought I couldn't get any nerdier). Possibly the best swag, though, was at the Viz Media booth - free manga! Well, free promotional books with the first chapter of five mangas, in order to get you hooked and force you to buy the rest. They're basically like a drug dealer ... the first hit is free, but the next will cost you.

BOOKS ... well, graphic novels. As previously mentioned, I got volume one of Piled Higher and Deeper. I also got volumes one and two of Strangers in Paradise, one of the greatest romance comics of all time. When I went to the booth, the author was standing about chatting with fans, so I even got him to sign my copies - score! Of course, now I wish I had gotten volume three as well - I finished volume two before I even got home. But my bag was so overstuffed I barely managed to zip it closed, so all in all I think I stopped at a good point.

Katchoo, how did you get to be so cool?

STAR COLLECTING. I dragged Maggie through the line for The Guild so I could get my picture taken with Felicia Day. I also stood in line for half an hour to get the autograph of J. Michael Straczynski, a famous comic book artist, for my friend Jeff. Everyone else in line had comics or posters for him to sign. All I had was a page torn from Maggie's notebook. I felt like such a n00b.

Jul 28, 2009

I'm back from Comic Con bearing graphic novels, colorful buttons, and shame. Because what vacation would be complete without utter humiliation?

The Exhibition Hall at Comic Con is a massive conglomeration booths providing everything from swag (free stuff) to books for sale to meet-and-greets with authors and artists. The hall is so massive that if you stood at one end you wouldn't be able see the far wall - even if the room wasn't full of so many colorful banners, advertisements and directional signs as to cause total sensory overload. You could spend the entire con in the Exhibition Hall.

I had come in to hit two or three booths and get out ... so of course I immediately got lost. I was turning yet another corner in the blind hope of finding an exit, when I saw it. A booth for Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD), one of my all-time fave web comics. I squee'd and rushed up to the attendant, gushing about how inspirational the strip had been during my grad school days. He smiled politely. Feeling a bit silly for fan girling in front of this random person, I asked about buying a t-shirt. He kindly pulled down several shirts for me, but none were to my taste or in my size. Frustrated, I was about to leave when he said, "Well, if you buy a book, I'll sign it for you."

The man I had taken for a low-level flunky was actually Jorge Cham, the author of PhD.

That's the thing with Comic Con ... you never know who you're going to run into. I saw Jimmy Fallon walking down a hallways in a green spandex costume, camera crew in tow. I swear I saw Beth Grant (as Maggie said, it was one of those "hey, it's that woman!" moments) waiting for someone by the escalator. And every so often, in a panel, a star would come up to the microphone during the audience Q&A. So I guess I should have expected that Jorge Cham might be manning his own booth. Once I realized it, I tried to play it off.

Me: Shouldn't you have a minion doing this for you?
JC: You know, I should!
Me: Talk to your publisher and demand a minion!
JC: Well, I have a pretty tough publisher.
Me (not knowing what else to say): Oh. Bummer.
JC: *wry grin* I'm self-published.
Me: Hahahahahaha, I'm laughing because I'm uncomfortable.
JC: ...
Me: I'll just go, now.

Jul 26, 2009

Just forward my mail to Ballroom 20

Greetings again from Comic Con! Look forward to many posts on the TV blog of the ah-mazing panels I've been in. Right now, on this blog, I'd like to talk about the thing about Comic Con that they don't want you to know ... the f*cking lines.

Today, I got up at 6:30 am to get ready, get my stuff packed, catch a trolley, and wait in line for an hour and a half. All for the sake of seeing David Tennant live and in person, but still. Here's the thing - if there's a panel that you really, really, really, really want to attend you have to get there stupid early. The plus side is that you meet interesting people in line. Some have fascinating jobs, like video game designers or interns at Cartoon Network. Some have wonderful costumes, as you saw in my previous post. Some have interesting ... odors, which is not as fun. Still, overall it's good.

There's a whole strategy involved, as well, For example, I want to see the Being Human / Torchwood panel this afternoon in this same room. I know that's going to be a popular, so I'm just going to hang out here all day. Yes, I'm insane. No, I do not care. Also, I'm not the only one. I'm here in the American Dad panel, and half the t-shirts I see around me are squeeing about Ianto Jones (character from Torchwood). That's just how we Comic Con-ers roll.

Jul 24, 2009

Day One (and a half) of Comic Con

You will be pleased to note that I survived my cross-country journey (starting at 6am) from Virginia to California.

First of all, Comic Con is amazing! Even if comic books, awesome TV shows, movies and novels aren't your thing (I imagine you would spend most of your day playing with your belly button lint), you have to admire the sheer organization it takes to corral some 126, 000 nerds in and out of meeting rooms all day.

I am currently sitting in the hallway of the San Diego Convention Center, watching heroes, villains and ninjas walk by. Don't believe me? Observe...

Kakashi and the 3rd Hokage from Naruto

American Maid and Sewer Urchin from The Tick

The Doctor, pictured with a Dalek, from Doctor Who

I love seeing and recognizing truly random costumes - and I think the people wearing them enjoy having their hard work pay off. For example, yesterday I saw a man dressed as Captain K'nuckles from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.


Jul 22, 2009

Comic Con, ho!

This time tomorrow, I will be basking in the warmth of sunny San Diego ... shortly before locking myself in a convention center for the next four days. Yes, Comic Con is finally (almost) here! For those of you who don't know, Comic Con is the O.G. comic book/cartoon/sci-fi/fantasy convention. It's the Nerd Mecca. Maggie, Rachel, Carly and I have been planning this trip for ages.

The only problem is that there is so much to see and do! Even when you factor in my general lack of interest in the mechanics of comics (how-to workshops and historical reviews leave me cold), my schedule is jam-packed. There are a lot of hard decisions to make. For instance, do I go to listen to Terry Brooks talking about the latest Magic Kingdom of Landover book or to "Mad Science: The Science Behind Science Fiction?" Should I stick with my plan to go to the "Meet The Guild" panel, or try to get Neil Gaiman's autograph when he comes to talk about Coraline? And at some point I should probably go out and, you know, see San Diego.

Hopefully I will have internet access at the hotel and energy enough to blog about all the wondrous happenings. If not, you can just imagine me in my Comic Con t-shirt, running from room to room according to my obsessively-complied schedule, surrounded by my nerd brethren and the occasional famous person, with a big grin on my face.

Jul 20, 2009

Per usual when my life is a mess, the blog suffers. Here are list of links to keep you amused during the current dearth. About 80% safe for work. Unless your boss is a real @$$hole about the firewall.

FailBlog - full of hilarious pictures, videos, articles and the occasional response to a threatening email.

FML - stands for F*ck My Life. A standard entry would sound something like this. "Today, my sister and I were kidnapped by hill folk never to be seen again. FML." The best part is that you can show your support/disdain by clicking, "I agree, your life sucks" or "You totally deserved it." FML keeps a running tally of the votes ... I always imagine someone coming back to their post, only to realize one million internet strangers think they deserve what they got. Glorious. Although some entries can stir up mixed emotions.

TFLN - no, I don't mean the Teaching for Learning Network. I mean Texts From Last Night, a hilarious catalog of the foibles of youth. For example...
(425): If I had a nickel for every time somebody called me a bad person I would have enough money to check into rehab

Jul 17, 2009

You Call Me Haraam? Well, So's Your Mom!

If you are in the DC area, I have an event to recommend! Headscarf and the Angry Bitch is a one-woman play that is part of the Capital Fringe Festival. The protagonist, Zed Headscarf, is a Muslimah comedy folk singer who has been hired by a local mosque to do community outreach. Her outrageous personal stories and music about growing up Muslim in America speak of an irreverence born from familiarity, rather than contempt. There were plenty of shout-outs for the South Asians ("We'll get to Indo-Pak relations in just a bit," Zed promises at one point, with a twinkle in her eye. Later, we hear her ballad to her Indian ex-boyfriend. I won't spoil the ending, but it's good). Parts of it were really touching, and I'm woman enough to admit that I blubbered like a baby. I got the feeling that the character draws heavily from the life experiences of the author/actress, Zehra Fazal.

She's a friend of my friend Kristi, which is how I heard about the show. We met her afterward, and I totally fangirled all over myself. So ashamed.

A few bits of advice: Buy tickets ahead of time! I foolishly did not, and had to buy one of only ten standing room only tickets. The show isn't too long (less than an hour), so standing isn't a problem unless you're a lazy lump like me. Luckily I had friends there saving me a seat (thanks, guys!). In addition to tickets, you'll need to buy a Capital Fringe Festival button:

The final two shows are tonight at 8:30 and tomorrow at 3:30, at the Warehouse Next Door. There is a bar, but don't be seduced by the fact that they have Pina Coladas on tap - they're sickeningly sweet to start, and nothing but ice by the end. Maybe because mine was a virgin... insert a sexual innuendo of your choice here.

Jul 8, 2009


This may sound strange, considering the source, but I love roadside church signs. You know the ones - white with movable black letters, like fast food billboards. Only instead of two-for-one deals on greasy burgers, they advertise fellowship meetings and children's pageants. And sometimes they deliver little bon mots to make a long drive more bearable. For example:

- in front of a predominantly Black church near where I used to live in Richmond: SOUL FOOD SERVED HERE
- on 29 North, at what I assume was a nondenominational church: GOD WANTS SPIRITUAL FRUIT, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS!

I know full well that there signs are not meant for me. None of these churches are seeking to recruit overly intellectual American Hindus who suspect Christianity may be secretly polytheistic.* But I love these signs, because their whimsy underscores an intrinsic similarity - I think God has a sense of humor, too. And my laughter as I drive past is an outpouring of joy at this shared revelation.

*The Devil? Are you kidding me with that?