Category Archives: Photo Blog

A Celebration of the Stupid Crap We Did In The 80s

A dear friend of mine shared the funniest article about parenting with me the other day. If you’d like to read it, just click on the picture below:

stupid

This happy little dude is sitting in a 1970s car seat. Cute how that was considered safe, huh?

You’ll be shocked to learn that I wasn’t a parent in the 80s. But let me tell you what I was, readers. I was a KID. And some of the awesome stuff highlighted in this very article were projects my brother and I made up in order to keep ourselves occupied on those long, school-less summer days.

For instance…my little brother had a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe:

stupid 2

Every kid in the neighborhood did. Am I right?

It didn’t take us long to figure out that not-so-difficult math equation between his car, my bike, and my trusty old jump rope.

stupid coaster

We didn’t have to be a geniuses to figure out that if we tethered the car to the bicycle with a few solid knots, that we’d just created the world’s most basic roller coaster.

Thankfully (for my parents’ peace of mind, and their insurance bills) we only had one small hill in our front yard. It wasn’t like we lived in the mountains or anything. However, that small little hill gave us just enough momentum to make us feel like we were REALLY flying. I can still vividly remember the anticipation of that moment—the count down, the squeals of delight from my brother behind me, the feel of the wind in my mullet. Every single time my front tire sloped down the first few inches of grassy hill, my heart would skip a beat. It was, in a word, awesome.

And totally worth the ten sweaty minutes it would take us to untie the car, push it and the bike back to the top of the hill, re-secure our roller coaster of awesomeness, and do it all over again.

But don’t worry, friends–I was a responsible 10-year old. My 4-year-old little brother was instructed to keep his feet up and over the dashboard. And on the days when we were REALLY feeling like dare devils, I always made him borrow the helmet from his My Pet Monster.

stupid 6

He never got a concussion. Not once.

Tacky Fun Day

Today is our Tenth Wedding Anniversary.

wedding

We could’ve done any number of things to celebrate this momentous occasion–and in truth, we discussed MANY of them. A trip to somewhere tropical, a giant fancy party, a whirlwind tour of Europe–but when it came right down to it, we figured out the PERFECT way to celebrate the ten years we’ve shared together as man and wife.

We drove to Myrtle Beach–aka Tacky Capital of the East Coast–for the day and pretended like we were tourists.

Now why did we choose to partake in Tacky Fun Day, instead of those other fabulous celebrations I mentioned earlier?

It’s easier if I show you rather than tell you.

So we started our trip at one of the hundreds of beach ware stores you see littering Highway 17 between Georgetown and the North Carolina border. This particular one was a Pacific store, and we went in with a mission.

Find the tackiest t-shirts we could find to wear throughout our adventure.

1

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure we succeeded. Brian couldn’t look at me if I was standing in direct sunlight because, well, my shirt was the color of a fresh new highlighter pen. (PS: I totally should have bought the hot pink sparkly fedora. I rocked it. Hard.)

Once we’d bedecked ourselves in All Colors of 1987, we booked it on over to the Hollywood Wax Museum. Guys? Seriously? Fun doesn’t come any tackier than this. We whiled away the morning jaunting around in the quiet halls of the building, taking selfies with pretend versions of our favorite celebrities. I took a TON of pictures, so I’m only going to share a few of our favorites here.

Top: Our separate reactions to meeting Captain Jack Sparrow. Bottom: The always lovable Tom Hanks, on the set of Forrest Gump.

Top: Our separate reactions to meeting Captain Jack Sparrow.
Bottom: The always lovable Tom Hanks, on the set of Forrest Gump.

3

My handsome husband proving he’s just as tough as Vin Diesel (and in my opinion, a MILLION times cuter.)

6

Y’all better watch out. Bruce Lee and Brian just opened up a can of whoop ass in here.

5

I may have squee’d and run past Jamie Foxx, some race car driver, and Mariah Carey to have my picture taken with The King of Pop. Can you tell I’ve been practicing my dance moves? Can you?

It really shouldn’t surprise you at all that I was willing and eager to jump in a photo with just about any celebrity that the Wax Museum had to offer….

6

Clockwise, from top left: Me with Hugh Hefner (not sure what he’s looking so smug about); Disappointed in Mark Wahlberg’s height; But not so disappointed I wasn’t willing to snuggle him; Dolly’s may be big, but I think mine are bigger; OMG y’all it’s Samuel L. Jackson; Walking like an Egyptian with Elizabeth Taylor.

But probably the most poignant moment, if you can have one of those at a wax museum, was when we came across Robin Williams. I felt compelled to pose for a shot that may have turned out to be the best one of the day.

7

We wiped away the tears and headed downstairs to find the BEST portraits that had been taken as we arrived. “Pose here with King Kong,” they said. “Make funny faces,” they said. And so we did. And I’m SO pleased with how they turned out!

Wax Museum 10001

Wax Museum 10002

We are champs at taking goofy pictures. I think we proved that at the Wax Museum yesterday.

After all that fun, we were still left with hours to fill up our Tacky Fun Day. So off to Ripley’s Aquarium we went. While it isn’t as large or as grand as some of the aquariums Brian and I have visited over the years, it still had a certain charm about it. And the moving pathway underneath the giant shark tank? Super cool. And hard to photograph. So you’ll just have to take my word for it and be satisfied with this blurry picture of me in front of it instead.

9

After a bit of lunch and shopping, we traveled a bit north to the MAIN attraction. We didn’t decide to just go to Myrtle Beach on a whim. Nay, good friends. We went with one specific goal in mind.

Mini Golf.

10

And not just ANY mini golf. Nay, good friends. We drove ALL THE WAY to North Myrtle Beach for the opportunity to play at Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf. After paying the price of admission, and collecting our clubs and balls, we were shuffled off into a train car and driven to the top of the hill.

That’s right. It’s a putt putt course with a TRAIN.

Now you know why we drove up to North Myrtle Beach. (Sheldon would be proud.)

Just to set things up for you a little, Brian and I are pretty competitive when it comes to things like mini golf. We play on a pretty regular basis, and whoever wins bragging rights…well, let’s just say it’s a fun little jab that we use in day-to-day life until the next mini golf game is played.

I’d also like to mention that the last time we played, I didn’t just lose. I lost SPECTACULARLY. By dozens of strokes. I was slaughtered on the greens.

However, luck was in my favor yesterday. I beat Brian not just once, but twice. And here’s the shot of the hole-in-one that sealed my husband’s fate as a mini golf loser:

11

…and Brian’s subsequent “I’m not happy” selfie.

12

Ha HA! Suck it up, loser! … … … I mean, don’t be glum, chum. There are SO MANY OTHER THINGS in life that you excel at … … … I mean, you played so well, sweetie! You should be proud of yourself! You came in SECOND PLACE!!! … … …

Ok, I’ll stop. The next 10 years of my marriage may depend on it.

The final stop of our whirlwind tour of tackyland was actually a bit of a fluke. We wound up at WonderworksI’d seen the wonky, upside-down building from the highway many times before, and never wondered what was inside. Lo-and-behold, it was an entire attraction filled with fun scienc-y stuff. YAY! Science is fun!

We experienced hurricane-force winds, learned about gravity and the pulley system, played trivia games based on everything from geology to theme songs from the 80s, and attempted to land the virtual space shuttle. (Brian’s aside: he SUCCESSFULLY landed. I crashed three times.) (But that’s ok. Because he sucks at putt putt, so it’s all relative.)

We also got electrocuted:

Made giant bubbles:

page

And got to pretend we were real live astronauts:

14

It was a Nerd’s Paradise.

We capped off the evening with a quiet dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, whiling away the moments between bites of awesomeness with recounted memories from that blissful day.

So, you see, I don’t need a week in the Poconos. I don’t want a cruise in the Mediterranean, or a big fancy party. Because what I have is a partner, a best friend, a teammate, a playmate, and a husband, all rolled into one. I’d say that makes us winners.

8

Except for at mini golf. At least in Brian’s case.

Because I’m Happy

You’ve read my blog before, right? For the most part, it’s all sunshine and light (and occasional slap-stick humor.) I have a few mottoes that I live by, and one of my favorites is this:

happiness

It’s not always easy to be happy, I know. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of days in the dump. But I make a decision every morning. And most days, I decide that I’m going to be HAPPY. Why? Because life is too short to be anything else!

So when I stumbled across a little internet challenge called “100 Happy Days,” I knew, even before I clicked onto their sunshine-y website, that it was going to be my cup of tea. The gist of it is this: Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? And if so, can you prove it? I took 100 pictures, 100 days in a row, of things that make me happy. Those photos were shared on my Instagram (and subsequently on Facebook and Twitter, for all my friends and followers to see.)

As the 100 days went on, I had several people ask me if it was challenging to find something to be happy about every single day. Truth? Not at all. Even on days where I was cranky or sad or irritable, I still managed to laugh and smile and be happy during those days, too. Snapping a picture to document those moments turned out to be fun, but also life-affirming. Whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it right. So…go me. I rock.

Here are a few of my most favorite happy moments in the last 100 days…

Day 8: Edge of the World

1

Because a day at the beach is ALWAYS a happy day.

Day 18: Geordi LaForge, Crochet Style

How adorable is he?? I also have a Minion that I adore. You can shop for your own nerdy little Dude at their Facebook shop: https://www.facebook.com/Rekindled.Spindle.

How adorable is he?? I also have a Minion that I adore. You can shop for your own nerdy little Dude at their Facebook shop: Rekindled Spindle.

Day 36: Songs That Remind Me Of Old Friends

You've experienced it before. A song comes on the radio and you're instantly transported back to high school, dancing around with your BFF. Love that feeling.

You’ve experienced it before. A song comes on the radio and you’re instantly transported back to high school, dancing around with your BFF. Love that feeling. It’s an instantaneous grin-maker, for sure.

Day 40: Besties Beach Day

Is anyone seeing a theme? It is summertime, after all. And a day at the beach with a FRIEND is an even HAPPIER day!

Is anyone seeing a theme? It is summertime, after all. And a day at the beach with a FRIEND is an even HAPPIER day! (Pictured with me is BFF and Weight Loss Buddy, Melissa.)

Day 43: My King

Because he makes me laugh. So much. I'm the happiest girl in the world when I'm with him.

Because he makes me laugh. So much. I’m the happiest girl in the world when I’m with him. (You try and look at this photo without laughing. Go on.)

Day 46: My Adoption Fund Minions

This series of photos was taken at one of our yard sales, to benefit our adoption fund. Every single one has been hot, miserable, and exhausting. But having my friends and family around has also made them FUN and HAPPY! (From L to R: Minion Name tags I drew for each team member; Head Minion and BFF, Tina; the lovely Kat; Expert Crocheter and General Happiness Expert, Jaime; Gru, aka Brian, and Office Manager Minion Rick aka my Daddy.)

This series of photos was taken at one of our yard sales, to benefit our adoption fund. Every single one has been hot, miserable, and exhausting. But having my friends and family around has also made them FUN and HAPPY! (From L to R: Minion name tags I drew for each team member; Head Minion and BFF, Tina; Cat Wrangler Minion Kat; Expert Crocheter and General Happiness Expert, Jaime; Gru, aka Brian, and Office Manager Minion Rick aka my Daddy.)

Day 47: Date Day Dress

Sometimes all it takes to put a smile on a girl's face is for her husband to say "You look really pretty," and to offer to take her picture in her new dress.

Sometimes all it takes to put a smile on a girl’s face is for her husband to say “You look really pretty,” and to offer to take her picture in her new dress.

Day 76: WERQ Week, Day TWO

WERQ makes an appearance several times in my 100 days countdown, but this picture was my favorite. Why? Because WERQ makes me feel strong, sexy, and, you guessed it, HAPPY!

WERQ makes an appearance several times in my 100 days countdown, but this picture was my favorite. Why? Because WERQ makes me feel strong, sexy, and, you guessed it, HAPPY!

Day 86: Happy International Cat Day!

 You KNOW celebrating my furbabies makes me happy!

You KNOW celebrating my furbabies makes me happy! From L to R: Dizzy, Pip, Harry and Scooter.

Day 95: Baby Brother’s Birthday

Family makes me happy. Birthdays make me happy. Even celebrating birthdays of people who stabbed me once makes me happy. :)

Family makes me happy. Birthdays make me happy. Even celebrating birthdays of people who stabbed me once makes me happy. (In case you missed it, that’s my little brother, Adam, aka: the Great Pencil Wielder of 1989.)

Wanna take up the challenge? Just visit 100 Happy Days, read all about it, and commit to making your life a happier place to be. I’ll be cheering you on! I had so much fun doing this challenge that I might just start over!

Summertime Woes

Going to the beach requires a lot of work.

Before you start throwing things at me through your computer screen, let me explain.

See, I live 45 minutes from the actual ocean. Yes, I’m luckier than most because I can still make it a day trip, whenever I want. But still….a lot of planning goes into a trip to the beach for me. There’s the weather watching, and the guesswork that goes into whether it’ll be worth an hour long car ride, only to get to the beach and be rained out. There’s the logistics of the thing: will I also have time to stop for groceries on the way home? Can I make it to the post office before it closes, or should I leave early and go first? I wonder if I can eat at that little cafe nearby in a swimsuit and cover-up?

Then comes the packing. Beach towels for me, an extra for a friend, and another extra because you can never have too many towels. Sunscreen: SPF 50 spray for my body, special baby formula lotion for my face, SPF 15 chapstick. Can’t forget my hat, my sunglasses (because I have to wear my real glasses while I’m driving), headphones, a book or two, maybe a magazine if I’m feeling so inclined. Oh…and the cooler. I’ve got to fill it with ice and add healthy snacks, tons of water, and a trash bag for use at the actual beach.

I load it all into my car as the sweat drips down my brow because HOLY CRAP it’s A HUNDRED FLIPPIN’ DEGREES OUT HERE.

I’m all loaded up, all the i’s have been dotted and the t’s crossed. I kiss my husband goodbye, grab my keys and my wallet, and hit the pavement. Twenty minutes into my drive, I’m ignoring the giant black thunderhead that decided to pop up in the direction I’m heading. It’s July in Charleston…if there’s a thunderstorm this early in the day, it’ll be a quick one. I forge ahead, determined to get my time in the sunshine.

There’s traffic; so much traffic my nerves begin to fray. A dude driving a giant blue pickup cuts me off (because it’s always a dude in a pickup), and those nerves snap. My “Yay For Me, I’m Going To The Beach” mood begins to turn into my “If This Poo Face Doesn’t Start Driving The Speed Limit I’m Going To Scream” mood.

And then, finally, my car crests the bridge over to the Isle of Palms, and I see palm trees, and wide expanse of sand, and an even wider expanse of blue, all the way out to the horizon. My heart releases in my chest, and the smile creeps onto my face without my realizing it. I grin at the giant pelican as he flies lazily over the bridge into the marsh below. I stop at a red light, gladly waiting for a few minutes because I know I’ve almost reached my destination. I allow a tourist, then another, to merge before I cross the street, since I know they’ve probably never been here before, and I want to share this little section of my world with everyone and anyone. I greet the volunteer at the gate and happily hand him my parking fee, and we chat, momentarily, about the weather and the tides.

Parking achieved, I unload the bounty that needs to make the trek across the sand with me: my beach bag, my cooler, my lounge chair. I strap it all around my chest, all twenty pounds of it, sweat dripping down my back, but I do it all with a song in my heart. I nod and smile and speak to all I pass: people are just happier at the beach. And so am I.

And finally, I choose my spot and set up camp. There’s no better moment than this. I whip off my cover-up, douse myself in sunscreen, don my hat and sunglasses, and take a seat.

It is always worth it, in the end.

Beach 3Beach 1 Beach 2

Between you and me, friend, I probably won’t think about how much work it takes to get to the beach when I go again next week. These are the kinds of summertime woes I can deal with. And happily.

My Photography Skills Are Improving…But Not As Quickly As My Photoshopping Skills

I’ve been spending a lot of time behind my camera lately. It’s an introspective art form for something who’s more used to making funny faces in FRONT of the camera. But lately, it’s been the outlet for my creativity.

With photography comes editing–which, depending on each individual photographer is either the fun part, or the daunting part. For me, it has always been the daunting part. Especially when I take 400 pictures that I have to wade through to find the perfect shot before I even start messing with it in Photoshop.

The truth is, despite what my friends and family think, I really don’t know how to use Photoshop to it’s fullest potential. See, up until last week, my idea of editing a photo consisted of cropping, resizing, and de-fuzzing. Oh, and adding myself to the picture of the place that I’d rather be today, doing the things I’d rather be doing.

Beach 4

Don’t judge me. I need a vacation.

As it turns out, Photoshop does a TON MORE STUFF than just those three things. And thanks to the internet, and tons of free YouTube tutorials, I now know much more about editing photographs the way the Photoshop gods intended. And so, without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots taken over the course of the last few weeks, all edited to perfection. Go me.

 The young Scottish ring bearer at a wedding I photographed recently. The black and white made it feel that much more special.

The young Scottish ring bearer at a wedding I photographed recently. The black and white made it feel that much more special.

The drunkard at the Renaissance Festival. He's my kinda guy.

The drunkard at the Renaissance Festival. He’s my kinda guy.

 Probably the best portrait I've ever taken, and made even better simply by adding a cooling filter with Photoshop.

Probably the best portrait I’ve ever taken, and made even better simply by adding a cooling filter with Photoshop.

Teeny tiny toadstools, all in a row.

Teeny tiny toadstools, all in a row.

This photo actually hasn't been edited, which makes me preen like a peacock. Broomstick handles at the Ren Faire.

This photo actually hasn’t been edited, which makes me preen like a peacock. Broomstick handles at the Ren Faire.

A beautiful day at the beach, a warming filter, some fuzzing around the edges...who knew a few quick clicks could produce something so lovely?

A beautiful day at the beach, a warming filter, some fuzzing around the edges…who knew a few quick clicks could produce something so lovely?

 Blue. Cerulean blue.

Blue. Cerulean blue.

I wasn't sure this shot would turn out, because it looked so fuzzy straight out of camera. But a little tweaking and I think it might be my favorite.

I wasn’t sure this shot would turn out, because it looked so fuzzy straight out of camera. But a little tweaking and I think it might be my favorite.

 Pink pail against a blue sky, sharpened foreground and blurred background. I rock.

Pink pail against a blue sky, sharpened foreground and blurred background. I spent a lot of time on this photo, but it was totally worth the end result.

 A photo of the Angel Oak I took awhile ago that I finally edited to my satisfaction. Black and white, and I edited out a pesky cable that ruined the photo.

A photo of the Angel Oak I took awhile ago that I finally edited to my satisfaction. Black and white, and I edited out a pesky cable that ruined the photo.

Who knows, maybe this will turn into something more than a hobby for me eventually. But for now? It’s been a great way for me to use my creativity in a new and different way.

No worries. There will still be goofy shots of me on the blog. Because even though Photoshop rocks at helping me create beautiful images, I still think it’s main purpose is for comedy.

ComicCon 2013: The List, Finale

In order for me to tell you the very best thing that happened at ComicCon, I need to rewind things a bit…to 1997.

Once upon a time, believe it or not, there was a 16-year-old version of me.

Xander 4And suddenly, as if from a granted wish, a brand new television network aimed at teeny boppers came crashing into my teenage life. With the introduction of the WB Network, a delightful new television program titled “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” became my new obsession.

Photos of David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar were pasted with due diligence onto the front of my Trapper Keeper, and conversations during homeroom centered around the Buffy/Angel romance.

By the time college rolled around, I was still in love with the show, and made absolutely certain to record all the episodes on an increasingly growing stack of VHS tapes. (There may have been hour-long training sessions with my mother just to learn how to set the VCR to record. I wasn’t messing around, y’all.)

One day, as the stars aligned and kismit did her duty, I met Jenna, a fellow college freshman who also spent her free time lost in the world of Sunnydale. And we became fast friends.

Xander 5

A friendship born on a shared adoration of Joss Whedon is one that lasts a lifetime. And Jenna and I are, as you all know, still the best of friends. We still talk about Buffy, quote Buffy, and relive our favorite Buffy moments, each and every time we get together. It may not be the focus of our adult lives, but it still one of our most favorite things in life.

So when I found out that Nicholas Brendon (AKA Xander Harris) was signing autographs at ComicCon this year, I made it my life’s mission to meet him.

There was just one problem—Jenna wasn’t with me.

So Bri and I put our heads together and, combining the idea of Manny the Meerkat with Flat Stanley, and came up with the perfect way to take Jenna with us on this trip.

Meet Flat Jenna:

page

I chose a few of my favorite shots (provided by Jenna and her mom, Deb), cut them out, pasted them to card stock, and packed them in our book bag every day, so that I’d have Jenna with me at ComicCon.

So, when the time came to find Nicholas Brendon’s booth, I pulled out Flat Jenna and waited, excitedly, for my turn to meet him.

As we approached his table, a huge grin spread over his face. “Hi guys!” he said brightly. And before I had the opportunity to answer, he pointed at Flat Jenna and said, “Who’s that? I get to hear the story, right?”

As he signed my comic book, I told Xander about my best friend. I told him how we used practically every moment of our spare time in college watching Buffy reruns with Brian, passing pints of Ben and Jerry’s back and forth. I told him how we still quoted the show, knew all the words to the musical episode, and how, years later, Buffy was still something we talked about on a regular basis.

Most importantly, I got to tell him how the show brought me together with the person who is not only my best friend, but also the mother of my godchildren, and the closest thing to a sister that I’ve ever had.

“That is too awesome,” he said, and pushed back from the table. “C’mere and give me a hug.”

My wonderful, amazing, quick-with-the-camera husband caught the moment on film.

Xander 1

(Note the closed eyes, people. This was a serious hug.)

After he released me, we turned to the camera for the photo we’d actually paid for. I held the perfect version of Flat Jenna in my trembling hands, her tiny little thumb pointing in surprise at the celebrity we both never imagined we’d actually meet. And the photo turned out just brilliantly.

Xander 2

(Kudos, hubby. You rock.)

Just as I thought the moment was coming to a close, Nicholas said, “Hold on a second, I get to hold her, right?”

He took Flat Jenna from my hands and, in a moment of Xander-worthy confusion, we shuffled around each other until Jenna was pointing at me.

Nicholas put his arm around me again and said, “That’s the way it should be, anyway–you guys are the stars here.”

Xander 3

We thanked him profusely. The true definition of kindness, he made me feel as if we’d been chatting together for at least twenty minutes. (Brian swears it was less than five.) But the point is that he didn’t just listen as I went on and on about my experience of his stardom. He was attentive. He asked questions. And he seemed genuinely moved by our story. So thank you, Nicholas Brendon, for making this fan’s dream come true.

As we walked away, signed book tucked under my arm, Flat Jenna still in my hands, I started shaking. “I can’t believe I just met Xander. I can’t believe…I…just…met…XANDER!” I nearly dropped Flat Jenna as I pulled out my cell to call Real Life Jenna. “I have to tell her right now!”

We stepped out into the breezeway and I listened to the dial tone, nearly jumping out of my skin as I waited for my best friend to answer her phone.

“Hey, sweetie!” she said brightly.

“You’ll never believe what just happened!” I said, and promptly burst into tears. “I just met Xander!!!”

And that’s when the Squee Heard Round The World happened. Only it was Jenna, not me.

I told her the story and she was just as excited as I was about the whole encounter. I imagined her standing right in front of me, of us holding hands and jumping up and down and enjoying the moment together. As we hung up the phone, I wiped the tears away and smiled up at my husband.

“That was the most awesome thing at ComicCon, EVER,” I said. And he agreed.

I gave Jenna a frame this past weekend. In it was THE version of Flat Jenna held by Nicholas Brendon. So now, a tiny piece of that moment lives on from the top of the curio cabinet in her dining room.

My encounter with Nicholas Brendon takes the ComicCon cake, not only because I got to meet and touch and talk to a member of the Buffyverse, but because I got to make my best friend a part of the moment, too. It will go down in history as the most squeeworthy moment at ComicCon.

I’ll just have to try and top it next year. ;0)

ComicCon 2013: The List, Part Deux

This is a continuation of my last blog, which you can find here.

When it came to putting the awesomeness of ComicCon into list form, I had a hard time choosing my top two favorite things. It’s a toss up here, people. Truly. Because the last two items on my list are so epic they each deserve their own blog. So while we’re continuing the countdown with “Number Two” on the list, let’s just call it what it is….a draw. You’ll see why, once you’ve read both blogs.

Also, I’m breaking typical list protocol with this item. It’s getting sub-categories. Because I’m the boss, that’s why.

Here’s part two of the list:

Two: The Crazy, Kind, Nerdy, Super-Awesome People of the Con
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—going to ComicCon wasn’t just about the comic books and the geek swag and the celebrity sightings. For us, it was our Nerd’s Trip to Mecca. Every single person that attended the convention—all eleventy billion of us—were there to celebrate whatever it is that we’re all fans of. It didn’t matter that this chick over here loved anime, and that chick over there loved Supernatural. What mattered was that we were all uber-fans of something. And that’s worth getting together for.

We had a few encounters with fellow nerds that left me awed and speechless. The first one happened minutes after stepping in line on the very first day of the convention.

2-AEugene and Christopher. I overheard some guys in line near us talking about their strategies on getting to the most sought-after booths. Intrigued, Brian and I drew them into conversation, and we spent the two hours waiting for the doors to open talking to our new best friends.

To Brian’s delight, we’d managed to find two toy collectors–Eugene is a fellow Transformer fan, while Christopher was in for all things Marvel. Naturally, they asked if Brian had any major purchases he was hoping to make. That’s when Metroplex came into the convo. You’ll recognize Metroplex from a photo collage in the previous blog, but here’s another shot of him, just to jog your memory:

mETROPLEX

Brian was so excited about this Transformer. Ask any of our friends and they will tell you that he was talking about this ComicCon exclusive, one per customer, hottest ticket in toy business robot for MONTHS before the event. So when Eugene and Christopher asked, Brian jumped at the chance to talk about Metroplex.

“That’s cool,” Eugene said. “So you’ve already got your voucher, right?”

Cue the crickets, and imagine us standing in a sea of nerds, mouths agape.

Turns out, the Hasbro booth was so popular, that if you intended to shop there, you had to be at the convention center at 5 a.m. to pick up a voucher, which gave you an appointment time for standing in line. Just to get to the booth. To, like, buy stuff.

And we had no clue.

It was obvious that we were both disappointed. If we didn’t get Metroplex on Day One, he would sell out, and I knew Brian would be devastated. I was in the middle of coming up with an elaborate plan to cheer up my depressed hubby when Christopher said, “I wasn’t planning on buying Metroplex, and I have a voucher for 4 o’clock today. Just meet me at the booth and I’ll get him for you.”

What the WHAT???

Here’s this guy we’d known less than an hour, and he wasn’t just offering to do something kind, he was (unknowingly) making Brian the Happiest Geek In The Land.

True to his word, he met us at the booth later that afternoon, purchased the toy for Brian, and handed it over with a smile. Brian tried to tip him, and Christopher refused. “It’s your first Con, man. I’m just glad to help. All I ask is that next time, you pay it forward.”

We will, Christopher. Thank you SO much.

2-B: The Doctor. With the 50th anniversary happening at this year’s convention, there were Doctors EVERYWHERE, and of every persuasion. I saw tall Doctors, fat Doctors, old Doctors, child Doctors, female Doctors—and I greeted each and every one of them with a jaunty “‘Ello, Doctah!” in my best (Brian would say WORST) Cockney accent. But out of all the many Doctors over the course of the Con, I managed to meet the very best one—not once, but twice.

Thursday: Brian and I are standing in line to visit one of our MUST SEE booths–the Titan Toys booth–when I saw the most adorable David Tennant-style Doctor in all the land. I fumbled for my camera and Flat Jenna (more on that later this week), and quietly asked him for a photo. He was so generous with his time, and so kind, and the photo turned out awesome. (Except for the fact that my eyes are closed. But I couldn’t help it. He was a good hugger.)

Doc

The Doctor was impressed with my tale of bringing my bestie along to the Con, even if only in flat form, and he wanted me to be sure and tell her hello. (Hi, Jenna! From the Doctor!)

I thanked him several times, and off he went into the crowd. I smiled all day thinking about how sweet he’d been to pose with Jenna and me.

Fast forward to Friday: Brian and I were fighting our way through the throngs of geeks, trying to get to a specific booth. I bumped into a very tall, rather handsome Trill (from Star Trek). I made a joke about nerdy sardines, and he laughed at me. That’s when I looked up and recognized him as our Doctor from the previous day. He recognized me too, and hugged me again. This time I gave him my business card so he could find the photo we’d taken once he arrived at home. “It’s amazing that I ran into you again, considering this huge crowd,” he said.

And he was right.

I never saw my Doctor again, but I’m hoping beyond hope that he finds me, and follows me on Twitter, soon.

2-C: Captain America. By lunchtime on Day One, we were utterly exhausted. We traipsed the entire circumference of the San Diego Convention Center just looking for a spot to sit and enjoy our sandwich. We finally managed to find an unoccupied corner of carpet, set up camp, and rested our tired feet.

I noticed Captain America as he wandered out of the double doors from the exhibit hall. His costume was damn near movie quality. I was very impressed, but too hungry to try and capture a picture. That’s when he took off his mask and started scanning the crowd. I recognized that weary face–he was looking for a place to sit, too. I made some room and waved him over. He sat down next to me gratefully.

For the next half hour, we talked to Cap about, what else, the Con. As it turned out, his father was a metal worker, and had helped him develop his costume. The shield was absolutely beautiful–there was even a little damage from battle worked into the design. He told us that he’d served in the Army, done several tours in Afghanistan, and when he’d gotten home he just wanted to do something worthwhile. He’d been dressing up for comic book conventions for a long time, and joined forces with some other masked superheros in Las Vegas to work for a charity called “Critical Care Comics.”

“We go to big children’s hospitals in the area dressed in our costumes and visit the kids,” he said proudly. “We also give them free comic books. It cheers them up and gets them excited about comics, all at the same time.”

I was so moved by this veteran’s story that I asked him if he’d have his picture taken with me. He went to stand up and said, “Oh, sure, just let me put my mask and stuff back on.”

“No need, Captain,” I replied. “You sit, stay comfy, and rest those tired feet. Besides, I’m more interested in having my picture taken with the hero behind the mask.”

Cap

We talked quietly for a little while longer, then packed up our bags and our trash and headed back into the convention. But I kept thinking about Captain America all day long. Over dinner that night, Brian said he’d been thinking about him, too.

It just goes to show that the most useful tip we received before heading into ComicCon was to just talk to people. Because we made some awesome friends, heard some amazing stories, and were inspired to be better nerds, all based on the people we met. So thanks toy collectors, Doctor Who-impersonators, and Captain America. You guys made our ComicCon experience that much more amazing, just by being you.

Stay tuned for the last installment of ComicCon 2013: The List, coming later this week. You won’t want to miss it. It was truly a full-circle moment for yours truly.

ComicCon 2013: The List, Part 1

When you’ve waited for a trip for years and it finally comes to fruition, it’s a heady experience, my friends. The walls of the San Diego Convention Center rang with my squees from the moment we descended into the hallways amongst several Princess Leias, Captain Mals, and Red Shirts.

Our first glimpse of the concourse from the escalator. This was one of many “Squees Heard Round The World.”

There was SO much to do, to see, and to enjoy that trying to describe every moment to you all would take weeks. So instead, I’m sticking with what I do best. Here is a list of my top 5 favorite things about our ComicCon Experience.

Viva La Nerdolution!!: The Top Five Things That Made Me Squee At ComicCon ’13

FIVE: ALL THE STUFF!!!
Holy sensory overload, Batman! When I say there is tons to see at ComicCon, I’m not lying, friends. For the first two hours in the exhibition hall, I felt like a five year old with OCD that had been dropped into a candy factory that plays boy band music over the loud speakers while also making a myriad of toys and giving away free puppies.

Yes. It was just like that. Exactly.

When I wasn’t distracted by the flashy lights, the giant screens playing cartoons and movie clips, and the professional cosplayers whose costumes rocked my world, I was busy shopping. Because OMG ALL THE STUFF!

ComicCon is a veritable smorgasbord of all the nerdy things in the world you could ever wish to purchase, all under one roof. And purchase we did.

There weren’t just things to buy, either! Movie props, museum quality displays of famous costumes, life-sized Lego sculptures, pop art of our favorite TV stars…Wowzas.

A short list of the swag we came home with: multiple Doctor Who collectibles, including an entire set of teeny tiny Doctors (all 11!); t-shirts ranging from Star Trek to Doctor Who and everything in between; Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Graphic Novel, Volume One (more on that later); and the crowned jewel of the Transformer collection, the ComicCon exclusive Mr. Metroplex himself (he’s two and a half feet tall, y’all.)

To say that we would have bought more stuff if we’d had the room in our luggage is an understatement. I saw no less than ten other things I wanted (including but not limited to a television remote control that is the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. WHAT the WHAT?!?)

 

Four: Um, That’s John Barrowman, You Guys!!?!?!
On our first day wandering the floor, we noticed a booth advertising autographs and photo opportunities with a few nerdtastic celebrities. While we were intrigued by the possibility of meeting Star Trek TNG royalty Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, and Michael Dorn, there was one name that caught our eye above the others.

And that name, ladies and gents? John Barrowman, aka, Captain Jack from Doctor Who and Torchwood.

There was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to meet, talk to, and touch him, for two reasons: 1) he’s Jack Harkness, y’all!! and 2) He has not only worked with, talked to, and touched David Tennant, but he’s kissed him. Which by proxy means we did, too.

So we took our places near the front of the line (we were numbers 3 and 4) and waited for nearly an hour for just that opportunity. We were behind Rose and the Doctor who, despite holding a sign that read “end of the line,” were actually at the very front of the line.

Side note: the next day I was delighted to find that "Rose" had followed me on Twitter. I officially made a friend at ComicCon!!

Side note: the next day I was delighted to find that “Rose” had followed me on Twitter. I officially made a friend at ComicCon!!

Behind us was another Doctor, this one the Matt Smith version, who had a relatively thick German accent, and we spent that hour discussing the many anamalies taking place in that precise moment when two Doctors are crossing timelines while waiting to talk to Captain Jack. (These are the types of conversations that happen in line at ComicCon. It makes the time go by faster.)

To the delight of both Doctors, Rose, Brian, and myself, John Barrowman walked out and smiled his one-million watt smile right in our direction. He joked with the Doctor and Rose, saying, “Hey, I think I know you guys from somewhere!” We anxiously awaited the moment when the booth bosses would take us in to meet our celebrity.

After a brief mix-up over tickets, we were led behind the curtain. Mr. Barrowman smiled at me and wrapped his arm around my shoulders, leading me to stand on the X at his feet. He smelled wonderful. (Sorry Brian.) We looked up, the photo was snapped, and he thanked us for our time. As Brian exited the booth, I turned to Mr. Barrowman, put my hand on his shoulder, and congratulated him on his recent nuptials. He smiled again, dazzling me down to my toes, and said, “Thank you. Sincerely.”

I melted.

Here’s the photographic evidence that I’m not making this up:

John Barrowman smaller

Thank the photography gods that I didn’t look as star struck as I felt. This baby’s going in a frame.

 

Three: Nerd HQ, Zach Levi, and the Serenity Viewing Party
I have to say, as much fun as we had at ComicCon, I think our day at NerdHQ might have been my favorite. Here’s a little back story—

Nerd HQ is a home base separate from ComicCon. Located at the iconic Petco Park, it was originally a place for nerds to congregate away from the bustle of the convention center, and it offered charging stations, arcade game play, cutting edge technology, and most importantly, a chance to encounter celebrities. Nerd HQ was the brainchild of actor and philanthropist, Zachary Levi, who donates the proceeds from the event directly to Operation Smile–a charity that helps children around the world born with cleft lips and palates.

First and foremost, let me take this opportunity to thank Mr. Levi and his team for providing some weary nerds with a place to SIT. The entire area was filled with plush black leather couches. After three days pounding the pavement, my feet and my arse were thrilled with all the sitting that was to be had at HQ. I also got to charge my equally exhausted iPhone, and we were dazzled with a hilarious puppet show featuring Glove and Boots. (Check them out. They’re really funny.)

We also had close encounters of the celebrity kind with Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame, as well as Evangeline Lilly from Lost. (Wil totally brushed my shoulder while walking by, you guys. No kidding. Thanks, insanely crowded concourse!)

There were two huge moments that happened for us while visiting Nerd HQ. Firstly, we got the chance to meet the man behind the whole shebang. While recycling some water bottles (we were in Cali, y’all) and deciding what to do with the rest of our afternoon, we noticed Zach Levi himself walking toward the Operation Smile photo booth. Excited to get the opportunity to thank him, we joined the queue. We were encouraged to be creative with our photo op, and since the couple in front of us stole our idea (getting him a gin and tonic for a “cheers!” pic) we opted for goofy instead. Here it is:

1016972_10200356660463266_223021441_n

I think we made the right choice because, let’s face it, no one’s gonna pull off hotness quite like Mr. Levi. I mean, look at that smile, wouldja???

After the shock and delight of meeting Mr. Levi, we took the opportunity to take a few shots, just the two of us. And I’ve gotta say, they may be my favorite photos from the entire weekend.

2 3

(Let the record reflect that we totally won ComicCon with these Joss Whedon-inspired shirts from RedBubble.com. We were stopped everywhere we went and asked about them. It restored my faith in humanity, learning there were so many Joss fans in the world. Le sigh.)

Anywhoo, awesome moment number two was the Serenity Viewing Party on the baseball field, hosted by none other than Nathan Fillion himself.

(Pause for maximum squee-age.)

I didn’t get to wrap myself around Mr. Fillion’s leg while promising to always adore Captain Mal, but I did get to watch him and Alan Tudyk introduce one of our favorite movies of all time.

We were about 6 rows back, so there’s no close up of our guys, but I recorded it anyway. For Firefly/Serenity/Joss Whedon/Nathan Fillion fans, it’s pretty squee-worthy, in my opinion. Here are a few snippets from the event.

How cool is that? I stopped recording when the movie came on because, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s about experiencing not recording. So we sat back, enjoyed the movie, and cried when Wash died (as usual.)

On the way out of the stadium, both Zach and Nathan came out onto the balcony above us and waved us goodbye. Each of them took a photo of the crowd and tweeted them later, and guess what—Brian and I are in BOTH SHOTS. Proof that we are now famous by proxy because we live in celebrities’ camera rolls:

Nathan's Photo

Nathan’s Photo

Zach's Photo

Zach’s Photo

SQUEEEE!!!

To complete this list, I have to share 2 more total squee-worthy moments with you…and since this post is already bordering on a novella, I’m going to save those for next week. So stay tuned for the next 2 installments of ComicCon 2013: The List!

Behind the Scenes at ComicCon with The Lucky Puppy

Curious to see what happened during our first day at ComicCon? My father-in-law and fellow need connoisseur, Walt, is helping me tell the stories behind some of our experiences. For a sneak peak, visit this post at LuckyPuppy.net! And stay tuned for more news and posts as this nerd train keeps rolling through the halls of the San Diego Convention Center!

In the meantime, here’s a picture of Iron Man to tide you over.

20130719-064215.jpg

Back To Reality…Sort Of

After the magickery of last week, I’ve finally come down from Cloud 900 and am back to the grindstone.

I have to go to the DMV this week.

Hooray.

Anywhoo, I noticed on my trip that my driver’s license has fallen apart. Completely. As in two halves make a whole. I whipped it out of my wallet to check in to our hotel pre-concert, and could only laugh when it came out in pieces.

1

I had to ask the desk clerk for scotch tape. And then I had to pray to the alcohol gods that  I wouldn’t be carded at the arena. Because I knew they’d think it was a fake ID. (Because I look like a fresh-faced 16 year old, after all. Right?)

At any rate, when I pulled my license out this morning to take the above picture, the tape gave way on one side and the two plastic pieces fell apart in such a way that it reminded me of Kate Beckett flashing her credentials in the bad guy’s face. So I thought….hey, art project.

2

But then I thought to myself, “Self, that could be construed as impersonating a police officer. And that’s bad news, Mr. Bill.” So I removed the post-it note badge and found myself instead pondering the always frightening license photo.

It’s really a shame that I can’t choose my own. I mean, I have a TON of perfect photos to choose from for my driver’s license. Think the state of South Carolina would allow me to submit any of the following?

page

No? Really? I was seriously hoping for the princess one.