Friday, July 30, 2010

Comic-Con Perspective From a True Geek Girl #SDCC

I pestered my friend Bree to write about her experience at Comic Con for those of us who weren't able to go. I KNEW her perspective would be entertaining and was I ever right. Enjoy this Comic Con 2010 report from an authentic geek girl!

Guest post by Bryony Mackey

"Lately I’ve seen a few articles aimed at women regarding SDCC. Let me just say, condescending does not even begin to cover them. It’s more than a little sad that in the year 2010 many people still swing that wide brush which paints any girls at a comic/sci-fi convention as just tagging along with a guy. It reminds me of when I showed up to an employee’s desk to fix a computer issue one time. He said ‘Oh, er, um…Are you like the ‘unofficial’ IT person? All the guys are busy right now?’ I was so taken aback all I could say at first was ‘Are you serious?’ (which was 100% more profanity-free and less violent than what ran through my head) Oh yes, he was completely serious. People really are taken aback when they discover I read comic books, wanted a Death Star cake at my wedding, and that I prefer technology to people. So when I was asked to do a write-up on my time at Comic Con, I thought that maybe, just maybe I can convince at least one person that the mythical geek girl does exist. And doesn’t always dwell in her parent’s basement.

This was my second year at SDCC. Due to traumatic events post SDCC 2009 and other assorted factors I only purchased a Friday pass this year. Which let me tell you, one day will exhaust the frak out of you. I guarantee it!

One thing I stress to anyone going to a con, regardless if it’s Comic Con in San Diego, Dragon*Con in Atlanta, or Starfest in Denver, is do some planning! Plan, plan, plan! I had poured over the schedule as soon as it was released, deciding which panels I absolutely had to see. I entered all of the pertinent information into my trusty Google Calendar and ensured it was sync’d with my trusty Blackberry so I would know where I was every step of the way. I also toyed with the idea of dressing up for it. My husband had helped me build a truly shiny Dark Helmet costume for Halloween last year (Slave Leia's EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT!). But then I remembered how hot the costume was, how hot Comic Con was, and how hard it was to see in that frakking helmet. So civvies it was.

Lucky enough for me, all of my ‘must see’ panels were being held in Ballroom 20, one of the largest rooms at the San Diego Convention Center. I knew from my experience in 2009 what to expect line-wise. Therefore I was not surprised when after registration I rushed to join a mob that was behind the mob that was waiting behind the line to get in line for Ballroom 20. Basically there’s a large terrace/balcony where they set up snaky chains to maximize the line. (I have the worst skills in judging distance, but I’m pretty sure if you straightened out the snakies in that line it would be about 232 miles long.) So my mob and I are all waiting to get outside and get in snakyline 2010, when rumors start flying about the fire marshal being on his way, and how they’re going to kick us all out of that area! At one point a dude who looked reasonably in charge said he was going to take our mob around to another line location where we’d be in a real line to get into snakyline. About half the mob and I follow reasonably-in-charge-looking-man until he takes us down the escalator. The line to get in line is downstairs? Pretty sure he’s full of Sith-spit. So I bail on the half-mob, take a quick tour through the vendor floor and make my way back up to Ballroom 20.

There is a new mob! And now the Fire Marshal really *is* there and they’re all trying to figure out what to do. So I think someone had some sort of epiphany and they just open the doors and let us all go get into snakyline 2010. WEIRD!! The moral of that story is... probably that you should just stay put, wait it out, and good things happen.

The first panel that morning was for Stargate Universe. I’ve always loved the Stargate movie, but confess I never really got into the shows. I knew a lot of Stargate SG-1 groups that made the con circuit in Denver. Nice people. Needless to say the panel did pique my interest and SGU is now on my ‘to watch’ list. Ming Na was very personable.

Moved up a few more rows, WHOO!

Next up was Caprica. I loved-loved-loved-loved Battlestar Galactica in a completely unhealthy fashion, so I was a bit apprehensive when I heard plans for a prequel named Caprica. Luckily, Caprica delivers. It’s dramatic and gritty and intense and oh-so-different from BSG, being set 58 years in the past. The Caprica panel featured Alessandra Torresani (Zoe Graystone), Sasha Roiz (Sam Adama), Ronald D. Moore (co-creator/executive producer), David Eick (executive producer), Magda Apanowicz (Lacy Rand) and was moderated by Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times. The cast had a fairly good rapport with one another which is always nice to see. My favorite parts of this panel had to be listening to Ron Moore speak. He’s an infinitely fascinating man and he and David Eick seem to have a very comfortable relationship, which I think translates into a great show.

After Caprica I managed to move about 15 rows forward, WHOO!

The Big Bang Theory was next, and it seemed that most people had sat through the first two panels just for this. (No one was stabbed for it, luckily) Con workers were making some adjustments on stage as they do, when we noticed there were instruments being tuned on stage. Instruments? I’m pretty sure Johnny Galecki really does play some large stringed instrument (Shockingly I was not a music major) but there was a…accordion? So my row-mates and I started to extrapolate on what that could possibly mean! AN ACCORDION? THAT’S CRAZY! A few moments later some paper came down the rows and we found ourselves looking at lyrics to TBBT’s theme song! Yay, a sing-along! Wil Wheaton comes onstage and informs us that we will be having a sing-along…with THE BARENAKED LADIES!!! The crowd goes totally nuts. That was a really nice treat to give the fans, and they sounded fantastic!! This panel had Chuck Lorre (Creator/producer) and Bill Prady (Creator/producer), as well as series stars Johnny Galecki (Leonard), Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), and Kunal Nayyar (Raj). The best parts of this panel had to be Chuck Lorre busting Wil Wheaton’s chops. Chuck is a funny, funny man. Another one is Simon Helberg who cracked joke after joke - he’s completely hysterical. It is always a bit disappointing when you realize that the actors are not even close to being geeks themselves, but such is life.

I moved up a couple more rows, YAY!

After Big Bang was the Bones panel. I actually sat through that panel in 2009 while waiting for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse panel. I remember being really surprised that Bones had a panel at SDCC. I watch it occasionally and enjoy it, but don’t really keep up with it. Hart Hanson (creator/producer), David Boreanaz (Seeley Booth), and Emily Deschanel (Temperance Brennan) were all on hand for this panel which was moderated by some TV Guide Bones fan guy who moderated last year. I found him annoyingly smiley. Kathy Reichs, the author of the Bones books was a surprise guest, and everyone who attended got a copy of her new book, 206 Bones. (Haven’t read it yet.) This panel was alright. I got the distinct feeling that David and Emily do not particularly like each other. They were smiling and ‘joking’ but it was almost as if they were trying to annoy each other. The way I imagine newscasters who hate each other act.

I moved up to the FRONT ROW!!!! But no yay, because I was on the complete right-hand side. Bad move on my part. *Sadface*

So now, the panel I was waiting for…The Joss Whedon Experience!! I love Joss. I love anything that man has his hands in. Astonishing X-Men is my favorite comic series. I read the Buffy, Runaway Kids, Angel and Fray comics. I love all of his shows and it really is awesome to hear him talk. Unfortunately people tend to *always* ask him the same questions, it seems. “Why do you like strong female characters?” etc. But I try not to let that bother me. About halfway through, I noticed some people walk out from behind stage (remember, I’m on the faaaaaaaaaar right, by the wall and the stage entrance. And with one guy I thought to myself ‘Nice disguise, dude’ The guy was wearing a white (golf?) hat, a big black mustache and sunglasses. Well I forgot about him until someone went up to the mic and asked ‘Who’s your favorite actor?’ Joss didn’t even hesitate and said ‘Nathan Fillion’. The crowd went nuts, and Joss says ‘No, you don’t understand *points at the guy on the mic* it’s Nathan Fillion.’ It was indeed Nathan out there which was awesome and a lot of fun.

I really very much wanted to stay for the Entertainment Weekly: Girls Who Kick Ass: A New Generation of Heroines because it was so up my alley. There’s nothing I absolutely love quite as much as when women are not portrayed as stereotypical ‘women’. However I knew I had shopping to do, and the vendor floor is entirely unforgiving and HUGE. Also I had been sitting in that Ballroom for about 6 hours and some people at SDCC have that, er…questionable hygiene issue. And someone was farting. You know who you are, and I’m here to inform you there’s a special place in hell for you. Along with people who talk at the theater.****** (Or bring babies to Comic Con. Yes, there are people who seriously brought babies.)

So I decided to make my way down to the vendor floor to check out all the goodies. Now it seemed that many booths were in the exact same place as last year. I know a few of them moved, but for the most part a lot of the displays were the same which was mildly disappointing. Hasbro seemed to have a larger presence and brought a real-pony-sized My Little Pony (it was huge awesomeness), as well as a gynormous statue of He-Man! Which I totally squealed at because I loved He-Man and She-Ra. I think that’s where most of my kick-assedness comes from. She-Ra kicked tons!! My little-girl memories show me a woman who carried a blade and beat people up. My hero.

One exciting point on the floor was was when I saw Misha Collins (Castiel from Supernatural) being interviewed on the second floor of the WB booth. We made eye contact, totally had a moment. (Not really.) He's totally adorable in real life, and a very tiny man.

I made my purchases of a Darth Vader belt (a belt with him on it, not like *his* belt with all the buttons. I already have *that* belt), a Rebel Alliance (actually it's the Alliance to Restore the Republic) symbol buckle, an angry grizzly shirt from artist Ben Walker (highly recommend his stuff if you share my sense of humor. There may not be much that’s awesomer than a bear with guns.), a super soft Star Wars T from Her Universe (amazing shirt!), my 4-day Comic Con pass for next year, and finally a skull and crossbones from my favorite Goth booth there. After that I was feeling pretty exhausted and crowd-weary, so I made my way to Jolt’n’Joes for the GeekGirls Tweet-up.

The Tweet-Up was a lot of fun, I met a lot of Twitter friends there which was very cool. Grant and Kari from Mythbusters showed up and were both super nice people, very gracious to everyone. However, it was incredibly hard to get a friggin’ beer in that joint, which sucked.

Finally, loaded down with my loot, I made my way to the Santa Fe Train Depot where I apparently missed the train back to Cardiff, despite arriving 10 minutes before its scheduled departure time. I had to call my non-geeky husband to come pick me up before I had to trade my Star Wars shirt to a hobo for sidewalk space.

I already can’t wait for next year’s SDCC, and in case you're still wondering what it’s all about...

Most of us are not surrounded at all times by people who share our geeky passions. My husband good-naturedly tolerates mine, and finds my obsession with most of it endearing, rather than frightening. I generally tend to scare people when they find out I have a Lord of the Rings tattoo, or that I know Hermione's birthday and read Star Wars books. Comic Con may be noisy, it may be crowded, and some people are smelly. But it’s a place where we’re not weird. A place you may catch snatches of a conversation being held in Klingon, and it’s not considered out of the ordinary. A place where I could wear my ‘Hentai Inside’ shirt and people laugh then tell me ‘Nice shirt’ instead of ‘Huh?’ Because at Comic Con, you are hanging with 125,000 people who get it. And surprisingly, a lot of us are girls.

Oh, because I’m sure you’re all wondering. I did not win the battle to have a Death Star cake at my wedding. Though husband and I compromised and I made a custom cake-topper with R2-D2’s (they lit up and had sound-effects!): Padme and Anakin."

Bryony (Brian-ee) Mackey is a former champion bullrider and NCAA All-American swimmer with her Bachelor's in Business Management and Equine Management. She's a self-taught programmer and all-around IT girl who fell into her position as a web developer and HTML programmer for a financial services company quite by accident. She shares a home in Arizona with her husband, her iMac named Avery, her trusty Blackberry, and her unhealthy obsessions with all things Joss Whedon, Battlestar Galactica, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Spaceballs. In her spare time she reads as many books as she can, knits, crochets, fishes and shoots her compound bow. Follow her on Twitter: @BKQuinn

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

dream experimentation

with all the talk around the movie Inception right now (which I hope to try to see very soon), I came across this HuffPost about sleep facts.

I dream very vividly a lot of the time and one dream in particular was the catalyst to start writing a story that I'm about 12 chapters into. But I've hit a plateau with the writing even though I have the basic plot points outlined for the rest of it. Another creative dream could really be inspiring and motivating. So when I read this article, particularly this point below, it got me thinking I might try some experimentation:

What can you do with your dreams?

Plenty -- you can pre-dream. Try this:

1. Write down an old, favorite dream or experience in three to four sentences.

2. Add two sentences that remake that dream's plot you the way you want.

3. Visualize the new dream three to four times a day a minute each time.

4. When you wake, record your dreams.

I find it fascinating how my old dreams have morphed into new dreams with the new experiences and information I've accumulated. Have you ever woken in the morning fresh from a dream that's an amalgamation of very old and very new experiences to form a giant WTF question mark over your head?

The brain is a fascinating thing - and who knows, maybe I can get it to work for me while I'm sleeping... ;-)

Do you dream? Ever tried lucid dreaming or other dream experiments?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

bellydance workshop Aug. 29, Golden, CO

Zills, Veil and Shimmies

Hey everybody! Sure hope you can make my all level bellydance workshop being held at Studio 21 in Golden, CO on August 29 - 3:00 - 5:00 PM.

This workshop will focus on zill (finger cymbal) rhythms, veil work, shimmies and more. For people with bellydance experience I'll add layers on for you to challenge you.

If you happen to have a large piece of fabric that could pass for a veil or a veil please bring it, if not don't worry I have some extra veils.

I don't have any extra zills but you can still learn from listening and I'm happy to pass mine around. I will describe the various rhythms, demonstrate & we'll work through a few rhythmic exercises and you'll have handouts describing everything we've learned.

Zill rhythms are essential to know for the bellydancer, so even if you're not ready to add a zill rhythm to existing dance movements, understanding them will help the middle eastern music to really get into your blood! It is DIFFICULT and takes practice (it's basically playing an instrument while other body parts are shimmying or undulating at a different rhythm). We won't spend too long on zills but I want to give a very basic understanding & background.

We will also learn about all the different types of shimmies and learn exercises that isolate every part of our bodies so we can do those shimmies better :-)
This is the part that will get us sweating!
I'll make sure we have at least 30 min of bellydance workout so you get a little bit of everything.

If you'd like to RSVP via Facebook, here is the link (send me a friend request if you need to but message me and let me know why a total stranger is requesting my friendship :).

If you would like to know more about my dance history, please visit my bellydance website.

Please comment here to introduce yourself if we haven't met yet.

Hope to see you there and happy shimmying!