Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fighting Words

Sometimes, I get very excited about certain things, and other people don't understand. And when I say sometimes, I mean every other day. And when I say "things" I mean generally geeky things. 

If you're friends with me on Facebook, I'm sure you've noticed the Wheel of Time banner on my Facebook timeline. (For the record, it's the Moraine one). I've made several comments recently about the impending end of the Wheel of Time (and about how Tarmon Gai'don is coming), and how I'm pretty sure I'm going to cry when I finally hold that book in my hands. I told my boss that I won't be coming into work the day Wheel of Time is released or the day after. Because all I'm doing is going to be reading it.

If you've been in my presence in the last week, you've noticed my bouncing off the walls excitement that The Avengers is finally coming out on DVD. (Which I totally now own). And I'm planning an awesome Avengers party with my friend Melody, where we will watch The Avengers, dressed in the colors of our favorite hero (or villain, as the case may be), and eat Avengers themed snacks (I plan on making Captain America shield sugar cookies). It's going to be awesome.

Over half of the blog posts I've commented on in the past month have been Doctor Who related. And any time myself and another person who watches Who have been in the same room, all we've done is discuss how we feel about the new season. And it never fails that there are strong feelings on either side and voices sometimes get raised to volumes that probably shouldn't be used indoors (though never angry yelling, just over excited hysteria, mainly).

These are only the recent things I've been geeking out about. I've been a geek all my life. And over the course of my life, there has been a set of words that will immediately make me furious.

Sometimes it's not actually said in words. Sometimes it's just a raised eyebrow when I excitedly start talking about my crazy Wheel of Time theories or how I feel Steven Moffat has forgotten which Doctor he is writing for. Sometimes it's in an indulgent shake of the head. But those I can ignore. It's the words, though, words that make me angrier than most people probably realize.

What words?

"It's just a movie."

"It's just a book."

"It's just a TV show."

"It's just a......"

Three very short words put in front of a noun. But it's amazing how three short words can patronize and belittle. 

Three short words that say, "Why are you so worked up about this? It's not real. It doesn't matter. It's silly. There are bigger, more important things in life that you should care about. Things that real grownups like me care about. Stop being such a silly little kid."

I recognize that my love of Mat Cauthon isn't going to end world hunger. I know that my love of Harry Potter or Stargate SG-1 isn't going to end war or hate. 

But beyond that, who are you to judge my love of something and what it has done for me and others?

My love for geeky things has brought me a career and community. Through the characters I have come to love like friends, I have learned lessons from their actions and avoided mistakes in my own life. Through my love of these things, I've had revelations, both about myself and my faith. These things I love, these things I get excited about, they are a part of me, inseparable from me. I am not just Loki or Meg Murray. I am also Rand al'Thor, because I have learned his lessons. I am Menolly, because I have walked with her through her life. I have never just been a student of my teachers and professors. I have been a student of Hari Seldon, Moraine Sedai, Luke Skywalker, Dumbledore, Kelsier and so many others. 

When you belittle and demean my enthusiasm, you're belittling and demeaning the impact these things have had on my life. I am who I am today, because of these things. 

So next time you find yourself uttering, "It's just a...." Catch yourself. Stop and think. Because it's not just a book or movie. It's not just a song or a game. It's something more. It's someone else's identity. Their life.

And the next time you want to tease someone because they're geeking out over something, just remember this quote from John Greene.

"Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’"

Think about that. "You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness." 

May that always be said about me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Avengers Assemble!

In honor of The Avengers, finally coming out on DVD this week (which I will be buying and watching over and over and over and over again), I present to you How It Should Have Ended.

If you haven't been watching HISHE, you should. Seriously, these videos are the best thing ever. They never fail to make me laugh and whenever a new one comes out, my colleagues at work and I huddle around my computer and watch it. And we laugh hysterically and quote it non-stop for the next week.

So, below are the How It Should Have Ended videos for all the Phase 1 Marvel movies (or at least, all the ones they made a video for), and then the last one is the Avengers.

Iron Man:


Captain America:

And finally, The Avengers:

You're welcome.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Where to Start: Star Wars Expanded Universe

Star Wars was my first fandom. Before Harry Potter was popular, before I discovered The Wheel of Time, before I started watching Stargate: SG-1, I had Star Wars. The movies have been my favorite for as long as I can remember. I started reading the books in the fifth grade and have read over 100 of the Expanded Universe books. 

I never really thought about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) being hard to break into, because when I started reading them, I read them in no particular order. I read whichever book my Waldens had in stock that weekend. But recently, it was brought to my attention that some people view the EU as a baffling wall of books, with no idea where to start. I'm sure that has only gotten more baffling with the addition of the books that take place before and during the prequels. (I've read about a dozen of those, but not all. I'm more of a Luke/Han/Leia/Wedge kind of girl).

So if you are wanting to break into the EU, but have no idea if you should start at The Truce of Bakura or at The Jedi Academy, I have your answers here! Yay!

There are three ways to read the Star Wars EU:

One is in order of Star Wars chronology. That is, start with A New Hope, read the books that take place right after it leading up to The Empire Strikes Back, read the books between it and The Return of the Jedi, and then read the books that take place after that in the order they take place in the universe. This chronology is published, and you can find a pretty good one here. Because it's all inclusive, if you're looking for Han/Luke/Leia books you need to scroll about halfway down. I suggest using ctrl F to find one of the original trilogy movies and then look at the books around it.

If you choose to read the books this way, there is one important thing you'll need to remember. A lot of the Rebellion Era and New Republic Era books were written before the new trilogy came out. This led authors to create some history of the universe that directly conflicts what we're told in the new trilogy. Like we didn't know before the new trilogy that Jedi couldn't get married. Authors assumed they could, since Luke and Leia were the children of a former Jedi, and they talk about historical Jedi who were married. Also all the history of Boba Fett in the Bounty Hunter books is now completely bogus, thanks to George Lucas. So I would suggest checking publication date before you read a book, just so you can know if something was written before or after the new trilogy. That will help you figure out why some of the history seems weird. 

The second order of reading the Star Wars EU is in order of publication. That's probably closer to the order I read it. I can't find an order online for that, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.

The third way to read it is to read the books I'm about to suggest in the following order, which is a mix of the first two (this only covers books that take place after The Return of the Jedi).
  • The Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, The Last Command). The Thrawn Trilogy was hailed as the follow up trilogy to the original trilogy. And it's amazing. If you read no other Star Wars books, read these. They take place around there years after The Return of the Jedi.
  • The Jedi Academy Trilogy (Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Champions of the Force) This one takes place after The Thrawn Trilogy by like two years.
  • Truce at Bakura. This takes place almost right after The Return of Jedi, so that's going back in time a little. 
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia. This takes place after Truce at Bakura but before The Thrawn Trilogy.
  • X-Wing Series 1-8, Rogue Squadron, Wedge's Gamble, The Krytos Trap, The Bacta War, Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command. These actually take place before The Courtship of Princess Leia and for the most part they don't follow main characters. But these books are what cemented Wedge Antilles as my favorite character, and introduced the awesomeness of Corran Horn. Seriously. Awesomeness.
  • I, Jedi. Now that you know who Corran Horn is, you can read this book, which actually takes place during The Jedi Academy Trilogy.
  • Children of the Jedi, Darksaber, Planet of Twilight, The Crystal Star. These books aren't a set, or even by the same author, but they sort of follow a story-line. Also the next couple are in chronological order within universe.
  • X-Wing Star Fighters of Adumar
  • The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy (Before the Storm, Sheild of Lies, and Tyrant's Test)
  • The Hand of Thrawn Duology (Specter of the Past, Vision of the Future)
  • Young Jedi Knights. You need to read at least the first four, because these characters are important to later stories. Jaina, Jacen, and Tenel Ka are all important. I love all of these books, but they are written for kids.
At this point, you have a couple of options. Go ahead and read The New Jedi Order, or go back and read all the other books that take place during the time period, like Shadows of Mindor or Tatooine Ghost. Either works.  But DO NOT read the Legacy of the Force Series without reading The New Jedi Order and do not read Millennium Falcon until you've read the Legacy of the Force. Heck, DON'T read the blurb for Millennium Falcon until you've read Legacy of the Force. Seriously, the blurb has major spoilers. Then once you've read Millennium Falcon you can move onto The Fate of the Jedi. So that order is:
  • The New Jedi Order
  • The Legacy of the Force
  • Millennium Falcon
  • The Fate of the Jedi
Also, recently a ninth X-Wing book came out (like this past week), but it takes place after The Fate of the Jedi. So DO NOT read Mercy Kill. K?

Ok, so that's pretty confusing. If you're interested in reading in the EU and you're confused, you can ask me about it. But the real moral of the story is start with The Thrawn Trilogy.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When Characters Do Things You Would Never Do

When it comes to authors and characters, people often get confused. Sure most everyone knows that Dumbledore is a character (and therefore fake) and J.K. Rowling is a real person, but somehow the fact that Dumbledore is gay becomes a stance on J.K Rowling's personal feelings on sexual orientation. Now, I'm fairly certain that J.K. Rowling doesn't have any sort of problem with gay people. But I'm also certain she does have a problem with say...murderers. But we're ok with her writing murderers, but not ok with her writing about a gay character. (I use the term "we" very broadly here, to mean people in general, sort of like the French "on" which means "we" but doesn't mean necessarily you and me. If that makes sense. I am completely ok with people of different sexual orientations.) 

Now, you might say, that's a completely different scenario! It's very clear that J.K. doesn't support murder. It's her bad guy who does the murdering after all. So that's a very clear line. An author supports things the good guys does and doesn't support things the bad guy does. 

Except that's not necessarily true. 

I don't think Brandon Sanderson supports thieving, but the main characters of Mistborn are thieves. I think half of the fantasy writers out there would be very upset if they lived in a fuedal system, yet half of their characters are the very princes who rule one--and those princes are rarely handing out rights to the people they are subjugating. Authors build worlds. They create characters to live and explore those worlds. But the characters (most of the time) are not the author. Which means they can do things that the author would never want to do or approve of doing. 

But in this day in age, readers and even critics often forget that. If you write a misogynist character--and that character is your main character--suddenly you're a misogynist.  If you write a weak female character, suddenly you're saying all females are weak. But that's not true. Maybe the story calls for a girl who grew up sheltered and always told she was worse than men, and that she needed a man, and maybe that's why she latches on to the first guy who comes along...and you know what, maybe that guy is a good guy. A legitimately nice guy and this isn't a story about showing how terrible it can be for women with that mindset. Maybe it's a story where the main girl character just happens to be like that. We can hope that over the course of the story she learns otherwise...but so what if she doesn't? Maybe that's not the point of the story. But maybe it's necessary to the plot for some strange reason for her to be that way. I don't know. I'm making stuff up here. Anyway, if you write a character like that, suddenly the author is being slandered and labeled as a crazy anti-feminist. (Not always that extreme, but sometimes it is).

So when I see things like this, as an author, it sort of scares me. Because my characters, my good characters, do stuff I don't believe in. They have premarital (non-described completely off screen) sex. They drink alcohol (which I don't at all). Heck, they might smoke. That doesn't mean I support those things. That doesn't mean I think you should do them. It means in that situation, it makes sense for this character, who is not me, to do these things.

Take my current dilemna. I do not curse. At least, not anything the modern world would gasp at. I say "crap". I occasionally say "hell", and I really struggle with taking the Lord's name in vain as in "Oh my god and "oh god" and the like. But in the story I'm currently working on, The Descent of Chris Chappell, there is a scenario where I need one of my characters to curse. And not like s*** or d***, but the f word. 

Nothing else makes sense with his background and the situation. This is probably the most moral character in the story, the most straight-laced (but not straight actually) who is always encouraging everyone else to do the right thing. He has a very strong sense of right and wrong. But there is one situation, one argument/fight, where he is pushed to an extreme where the only response that can express the level of digust he is feeling with his friend is "F*** you." And sure I could say "Eff you," but that's not what he would say. That's not right. He needs to say it.

And I don't know if I can write it. I don't support that kind of langauge in any context. I  would never say it. I'm actually struggling wtih the idea of typing it and then it having to be there on the page. Staring at me. But that's the only correct response for him, if I'm true to the character.

In this modern world where author and character get confused, what's a girl to do? i don't want anyone to think I condone that kind of language, but my character isn't me.

So where is the line?

Monday, September 17, 2012


Last November, I finished the first draft of one of my novels, which is currently called The Descent of Chris Chappell. Last January I rewrote the first chapter because the original one sucked. Shortly after I created a plan for how the first part needed to be re-written. And then I stopped.

With one chapter re-written and an outline for how I wanted the new draft to go, I just stopped. Life got crazy because I started doing all sorts of traveling for work and for some reason I just didn't get back to it.

Until last week.

Revisions on The Descent of Chris Chappell are now fully underway.

I've gone through the most of it in broad strokes. I've cut sections out and rearranged other sections. However, none of it is smooth or pretty right now. It's all hacked up and ugly looking. And that level of ugly is very disconcerting. 

I'm in the middle of doing my hack up of the third part, and I feel a little disheartened because it's so ugly right now. I look at it and I'm just like, "ugh. This story is never going to be pretty. It's never going to become anything. It sucks."

I can see what I want my story to become, but making it get there is just so hard. And I'm afraid it's never going to happen. I'm afraid that my aspirations of becoming a published author are just delusions and that my story is pretty much worthless.

So that's where I am right now. Staring at Chapter 28 in despair, trying to figure out how to make it more engaging and fast paced, since it's only two chapters away from the climax.

And that's why this post is just blah. Because I'm in the middle of revisions blues.

But don't worry. The blues will go away eventually, and I'll become really excited about my story again. I've already fallen back in love with dear old Chris Chappell, and my heart breaks for him. It's just a matter of making sure that the reader's heart breaks for him as well.

In other news, I've gotten my book review blog started back up again! So be sure to check in there tomorrow for a review of a truly fantastic book: Spin.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where to Start: Doctor Who

Doctor Who is one of the geekdoms that it can seem hard to break into. Do you start with the new show or old? Do you pick up with the latest Doctor or go back to the first Doctor of the new revival? What about this David Tennant people are always raving about? Where the heck do you start?

For those of you who are not Who savvy, a little history. Doctor Who is a British science fiction show that started in 1963. It then ran until 1989. A TV movie was made in 1996, a movie that is considered part of cannon, despite its issues. However, the show lay dormant until 2005, when it was revived. This 2005 revival was not a reboot or a redo. The old show was taken as its cannon (as much as anything is cannon in a show about a time traveling alien who can change his appearance instead of dying) and the new show started at a point where new people could jump in without knowing any history and old viewers could watch without complaining, “They’re changing everything!” Since 2005 there have been six seasons, but three incarnations of the Doctor. Because you see, the Doctor is an alien who whenever he is about to die instead regenerates into a new person. But at the same time he’s still the old person. It’s sort of a caterpillar/butterfly thing.

So with all of this insanity, where does a person possibly start?

Well, the answer for this is never “Go back to the very, very beginning.” No sane Doctor Who fan would ever say go back to the very first episode, "An Unearthly Child" and start from there. It’s not because those episodes are terrible or incredibly bad. It’s that they were made in 1963, and for people with modern sensibilities, those old episodes can be hard to watch. And it certainly won’t addict you to the show or even give you a feel for what the show is. The show didn’t know what it was back then. When Doctor Who came out they thought of it as an educational show. And though Doctor Who is still a family show, a show that never loses sight of the fact that children are a large portion of its audience, it is not the show it thought it was at the onset. (Most shows rarely are.)

But narrowing it down to the revival is not as easy as picking it up with the first episode “Rose”. You can certainly do that, and many people have. My best friend started watching the new Doctor Who from the onset of its revival and loved Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor. (For the record, he is the Ninth Doctor, and is usually referred to as such). However, I have found that for people who are hesitant of the show, those first few episodes do little to hook them in. So I advise generally not starting at the beginning.

The first episode I recommend to anyone who is new to Who, is “Blink”. It comes from the third season of the revival, when David Tennant is the Doctor (the tenth Doctor) and his companion is Martha Jones (companion is the human who travels with him). I recommend this episode for two reasons. One: it’s awesome. This might be the best standalone episode of Doctor Who ever written. (There are episodes that I love more, but I usually love them because of the emotional impact and plot lines they gain from a story arc. This one is a forty-five minute episode that you can enjoy like a short story. You don’t ever have to watch or read anything else. Except you’ll want to.) The second reason is that it requires absolutely no prior knowledge, since the episode does not actually follow the Doctor or Martha. It follows a young woman who knows nothing about them, and you are introduced to the Doctor and Martha through her. It does an excellent job of explaining who the Doctor is without delving into too much Time Lord detail. (Time Lord is the Doctor’s species). It does an even better job of explaining all the crazy stuff that happens when time travel is involved in a show. This is the perfect episode to explain to you everything Doctor Who is about and what sort of show it is.

The next episode I generally recommend is “The Girl in the Fireplace.” This is another episode that has a little more of an outsider feel, because there is a stranger (stranger being not the Doctor or one of his companions) that the plot revolves around. However, this episode does follow the Doctor and his companions. I love this episode. I think it’s beautiful and tragic, and everything I love about Doctor Who. It gives you an amazing feel for the character of the Doctor and who he is.

If you watch both of these shows and say, “I must have more!” and you want to continue watching the show, you then have two options.

Option 1 is that you go back to the beginning of the revival and watch from Season 1 of the new series. This takes you back to that first episode “Rose”. You watch all the Christopher Eccleston episodes, all of the David Tennant seasons, and then you start in on the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith.

This will be the option that most people direct you to, specifically, those of us who are die hard David Tennant fans. It makes little sense to start with Season 2 (David Tennant’s first season) and skip Season 1, because a lot of Season 2 is dependent on Season 1. And Season 3 plays directly off of Season 2. And though I started with Season 4 without having watched any other season of Doctor Who, or even any other episode of Doctor Who, it’s not something I recommend. It leaves you scratching your head and asking yourself, “Who is that blond chick who keeps appearing and why should I care about her?”, thus lessening the entire season’s emotional impact.

However, I’m going to go a little renegade here and go on the record and say it’s completely ok if you want to start with Matt Smith as the Doctor (i.e. Season 5). The Matt Smith seasons have little to nothing to do with the previous seasons. However, if this is the route you take, there are two David Tennant episodes you must watch first, the Season 4 episodes “The Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”. These episodes directly relate to a character in Season 5.

If you watch those two episodes, plus the two I already recommended ("Blink" and "The Girl in the Fireplace", "Blink" being completely necessary to watch Season 5), then you can start Season 5 and be completely fine.

Is Season 5 the best season of Doctor Who? The answer is no in my opinion, but it is debatable.  But if you watch Season 5 and love it, you can then go back and watch the other seasons of Who, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Doctor Who is an amazing show, and I highly recommend it.

Anyone out there disagree with my recommendation? Does anyone else have any favorite standalone episodes that they recommend to new Who viewers?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jumping into the Deep End

So after I realized graphic novels aren't porn, I didn't immediately jump into graphic novels. There was no particular reason why I didn't, other than there were so many regular style novels I hadn't read and no compelling reason for me to switch mediums. 

I was, of course, aware that I was missing an entire medium of stories, but generally graphic novels were just too expensive to even think to get into. Twenty dollars for a book I can read in three hours? Yikes! Not to mention that the medium as a whole has given me trouble. The pages are simple too overwhelming with images. I like to have my images one at a time. It helps me focus.

Recently, however, I have attempted to get into comic books, and there are two reasons for that: my undying love for Loki and my purchase of an iPad. Now I have a character I actually want to explore. Now I have a device that allows me to view the story pane by pane instead of page by page. Bingo!

So a couple of months ago, I tried to wade into the Marvel Universe. And promptly realized there is no "wading" into the Marvel Universe. There is no shallow end. There is only an extremely deep end and a high dive. 

What do I mean by this? Well, generally when getting into any story, there is a place to start. Granted, that place can be debatable. Is it A New Hope or The Phantom Menace? The correct answer to that is A New Hope, but you're not really wrong if you start with The Phantom Menace. You're not really wrong until you start with Revenge of the Sith or Return of the Jedi. I mean, you just can't start at the end like that.

With Marvel comics, however, the true start for most of their stories is back in the 1960s, and the world has been running continuously since then. So to start at the true beginning and catch up, you need to read fifty years worth of comics. Sure, comics are the kings of retconning, but they generally assume you've been reading since Marvel Girl joined the X-Men. (Which is in the first X-Men comic, and Marvel Girl is Jean Grey who also later houses the Phoenix Force and... *brain explodes*). 

What about reboots you may ask. Well, Marvel has rebooted it's universe before, but rarely (if ever) at the expense of the old continuity. They just create an entirely new universe and leave the old universe running. And sometimes those universes cross-over. And every comic seems to assume you've read all the comics that come before it. And suddenly I'm reading a comic that assumes I know the entire history of The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, and the X-Men in three different universes. *brain explodes*

Oh! And another bone to pick with the Marvel Universe: no where online have I found a list of comics in chronological order and none of the comics say "this story is continued in comic named [XXX]." Sure, it's pretty much understood that Thor #620 is followed by Thor #621, but how are you supposed to know when Siege comes into all of this? Or Civil War? And in what comic did Thor die in for him not to be in Civil War and in what comic did they bring him back in since he's in Siege? Those comics aren't that far apart in time and they're in the same universe! WHAT THE CRAP, MARVEL! *brain explodes*

Do you see what I'm saying, dear readers? There is no shallow end. There is only the deep end. And yeah, I read The Ultimates, but I don't want the Ultimates Universe. I want Earth 616! (Which is the main continuity universe, thank you, wikipedia for explaining that because the comics sure don't.)

I don't want Marvel to reboot their universe (again). I want them to give me an in, a direction. I want them to say, "Hey you, new reader, start here." 

And theoretically, that's what they're doing with Marvel Now, but for right now, I'm just too tired of trying to figure it out. Here I am, an eager reader trying to break in, and I can't. You're killing me, Marvel comics. 

Maybe you know where I should start, but general advice I've gotten is just pick a character/group and go with it. Just jump in and try to read as much as you can and eventually it will all make sense. Unfortunately, I don't have the patience for that business. I want an order, I want direction.

And I've realized that for some people this may be a problem with breaking into other things. Like the Star Wars Extended Universe. Or Doctor Who. Or heck, the works of Isaac Asimov. So you know what, dear readers, I'm going to start to write handy dandy "Where to Start" guides on the different things I'm familiar with, so none of you will get burned out trying to figure out that things I love (and want you to love too!). 

So look forward to that, with this Friday's Doctor Who Where to Start. And the answer is not at the beginning. It's more complicated than that in my opinion. (And I'm doing Doctor Who first because it's timely, what with the new season starting up and all).

Have any of you out there ever been burned by trying to break into things? And I don't mean by fans. I mean by the actual thing itself. Anyone else feel my pain with comics? And, for the love of all that is good, if you have the definitive "this is where you start in Marvel" answer, please please please please share it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Why I Never Got Into Graphic Novels

When I was young I devoured the Sunday funnies, particularly Calvin and Hobbes. I loved (still love!) Calvin and Hobbes, and over the course of my elementary and middle school years collected around twelve Calvin and Hobbes comic books (via the Book Fair). When the complete collection box set came out, my parents got it for me for Christmas. 

Considering I have this deep burning love of a comic and that my parents encouraged it, it might seem odd that I never took the next step and got into "real" comics (i.e. superheroes, graphic novels, and basically anything not in the Sunday paper). And is odd.

Another example of how odd it is, I really love Star Wars. Between fifth grade and the first half of seventh grade, the only books I read were Star Wars books. I read them completely out of order so it never surprised me that there were holes in my Extended Universe knowledge. I would just file the little comments or references characters made about unknown things away in my brain and look forward to having my questions answered in the other books.

I particularly loved the X-Wing series and had a huge crush on Wedge Antilles. The X-Wing series revealed a major hole in my knowledge, i.e. the whole Wedge/Baron Fel relationship. I was eager to fill said whole, but I could find no other books that dealt with the situation. I read every book that was out and couldn't figure out where this story took place. Did it happen in the movies and I missed it? No. Was there an entire series of books that I was missing? Not according to my bookstore. I owned every book they had ever sold in the Extended Universe. I eagerly picked up each new book, wondering if finally this was going to be the book that actually introduced Baron Fel as a person and explained how it was that Wedge Antilles came to  marry his sister.

I never found that book because it didn't exist. At least, not in novel form. I learned in high school (when the internet was finally at my fingertips), that this entire story line took place in the X-Wing graphic novels, which I had never touched and never knew existed. 

Star Wars comics? How could I have not known about this? You would think I would have seen them in the bookstore, right? 

Well....that completely misses the reason why I never got into graphic novels as a kid. It wasn't because I hated the medium, as my love of Calvin and Hobbes disproves. It wasn't because I hated the content, as my love of Star Wars disproves. No, my dear readers, it was for one simple yet crazy reason:

Because they were called graphic novels.

I never walked down the Barnes and Noble aisles entitled "graphic novels". In the Waldenbooks where I used to by my Star Wars books in middle school, I averted my eyes if I had to pass that section. Why?

Well, you see, I thought graphic novels were porn.

Growing up whenever my parents were describing a movie I wasn't allowed to see, or a section I needed to hide my eyes during for a movie, they described it as "graphic". So I thought "graphic" meant "not appropriate for children", which meant sex or extreme violence. Both were things I wanted to avoid. 

So like a good kid, of course I avoided the porn section of the bookstore.

It wasn't until late high school that I realized my interpretation of the words "graphic novel" was incorrect and that graphic novels were just comic books*. And in high school, I had gotten away from Star Wars roots and was reading more epic fantasy, so I didn't think to pick up graphic novels then.

(And of course college sucked the life out of me, and I'm lucky I maintained reading as much as I did. Graphic novels on top of that would have drowned me.)

So that is how a girl ends up being twenty-five years old and only just now starting to read graphic novels. 

I'm eager to dive into this whole world of fiction that I missed, but man, it's hard. But more on that, on Wednesday. 

*Granted, a lot of graphic novels do feature sex and violence, just like a lot of regular novels do. So not entirely wrong, I guess.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Post*Con Stories

Cosplay is a major part of Dragon*Con, but it's not the only part. There are the panels, the vendors, the actors, the insanity, and so much more!

So first off, did I meet all of my Dragon*Con goals? Mostly, yes. I got Richard Dean Anderson's autograph and Connor Trinneer's autograph. I got a fabulous pocket watch that was absolutely perfect for me and my steampunk cosplay. I did get a geeky t-shirt, a geeky WoT Mat Cauthon t-shirt. (I also got the Siswai'aman Bandanna, because it was five dollars extra and I can't help that I really really really love the Wheel of Time.) We did eat at the restaurant, which is called Durango's. However, though the hostess copslayed as a fairy, our waiter did not. He was middle aged and probably thought he was too old for all that sort of stuff. However, I did not get a copy of Brandon's new novella Legion. I couldn't find the booth and things were just crazy. But considering that's one out of six goals I didn't meet, I think I did pretty well overall.

How was staying in the Hyatt? Crazy. Absolutely crazy. This was my family's first year staying in one of the host hotels for Dragon*Con and I was really excited. And really it was fantastic. It was so nice to know that my room was right there...eighteen floors up. And the elevator situation at the Hyatt is truly terrible. At one point we were heading up to bed for the night and the elevators were so crowded that there was a group of like six people who use wheel chairs or scooters stuck in the elevator well, unable to move from floor to floor because they couldn't get on the overcrowded elevator. I really think D*C needs to look into that and reserve one of the elevators for people who need it only, because that's just crazy. Some of them had been waiting for over a half an hour. And that should never be the case. 

The Hyatt was also really loud at night and I found I had a hard time sleeping. The same wasn't true of the other four people in my room, but such is the case. However, I loved staying onsite. Having dc*tv was wonderful (we were able to watch the Supergate panel from the comfort of our own room instead of dealing with the insane line) and just the sheer convenience was second to none. So my family and I definitely want to stay on site again next year, but maybe not the Hyatt since it seems to be the nexus of the insanity. I'm thinking the Westin, which every time I was in there, no matter what the hour, had a much less insane line for the elevator. 

How was Richard Dean Anderson? Honestly? Disappointing. I went to the Richard Dean Anderson panel on Friday and to start off with, the volunteers really screwed up the whole line situation. Luckily, we made some friends with other people in the line (you should always make friends!) so we didn't end up getting screwed over in the process. But a lot of people were angry at the line situation, and it was one of the more terrible line screw-ups I've seen happen in a while. But that has nothing to do with RDA himself. I think it was a mistake to have RDA's first panel be him only, since this was his first Dragon*Con. It would have been better to have the Supergate panel first so he could learn the drill from the other Stargate actors who come all the time (like Joe Flanagan and Jason Momoa). Anyway, he basically seemed to have little patience for fan questions that were meant in fun. The moderator was already severely moderating the questions (you had to write your question down and it had to get approved before it even got to her and then she chose which ones to ask), and he still had little patience for the ones asked! Like the first question she asked (which seems perfectly legitimate) was a joking, "What's in your pocket and can you build a bomb out of it?" RDA was like, "Really guys? Really? That was a million years ago and it wasn't real." 

You never say stuff like that to the fans! We know it's not real. But it's all meant in fun. Have a sense of humor. Sheesh.

Anyway, I could deal with that, because it was his first Dragon*Con, but then he took advantage of the fact that we were all there hanging on his every word and he went political. Apparently, the Republican Convention had been the night before....but no one in the audience watched it because we were at Dragon*Con. And RDA took advantage of his time on the stage to rant about his political thoughts. And you know, I lean fairly liberal and will probably be voting in that manner come November, but it made me physically uncomfortable to hear him say from up there, "Vote for Obama" and essentially, "Republicans are crazy." You're an actor. I don't come to you for political advice. I come to you for you to tell funny stories of the shenanigans that happen on the Stargate set.

At the Supergate panel he tried to go political, when someone asked what other actor would the stargate actors like to work with, RDA answered Clint Eastwood. Because I was at the Friday panel, I knew RDA was joking and was about to use that to launch into a political tirade. Luckily, the other actors just started answering the question and didn't let him talk anymore.

Anyway, I'm glad I got his autograph to add to my collection, but overall it highly disappointing. This is the first time I've ever been disappointed meeting a Stargate actor. Most of them are awesome. Alas, it's sad to say, but I kind of wish I hadn't gone to the Friday RDA panel at all, and had kept my illusions intact.

How was the Wheel of Time track? Amazing. First off, on Friday my parents and I are doing are first go around of the vendors rooms and when we hit the Ta'veren Tees booth, the vendors immediatly noticed my mom was wearing one of their shirts so they gave us free Redarm ribbons for our badges. And then they asked if we had been to the Wheel of Time track yet. When we said that we hadn't, they said we needed to go there immediately, because the track was giving away A Memory of Light backpacks to the first 400 people to arrive there. So we booked it to the Westin and got free backpacks! I was super excited, because I'd been wanting the backpack ever since I first saw mention them, but had yet to win one. So yay!

Sunday evening, I ended up spending most of my time in the Wheel of Time track, and it was wonderful. I love Wheel of Time fans. Anyway, Brandon Sanderson did a reading from the new (the last!) book coming in January, and it was from Mat's first appearance in the book! When Brandon was like, "I'm going to read about Mat," I could barely contain my excitement. Because he's totally my favorite character.

Also the panel entitled "Robert Jordan's Legacy" was really awesome and moving. Robert Jordan was a great man who brought us something wonderful. And as awesome as I think Brandon Sanderson is, I miss Robert Jordan. 

Miscellaneous. Dragon*Con was crazy, as usual this year, but overall my experience went really well. I got to hang out with many of my Atlanta friends. I got to be a ridiculous fan who could just be me without being judged (even when me was actually Loki or a Victorian time traveler). I got to meet new cool people. And it was tons of fun. 

I already miss it and can't wait until next year.

So anyone out there go to D*C? Any great stories you want to share?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cosplay at Dragon*Con

The cosplay at Dragon*Con this year was once again phenomenal. First we're going to cover how my costumes turned out and then I'm going to put up some pictures of my favorites!

So my steampunk costume from last year fared well this year with one exception. I broke my fascinator. I got it all the way from Albuquerque to Atlanta and then broke it at the Atlanta Airport Marta Station, when I tripped. It fell out of my hands and the gear box exploded everywhere. Luckily, I was able to salvage it using my friend Allison's superglue. So though it looks correct in the picture, it doesn't actually tell time. The hands are just glued on. Despite that, I still got a ton of compliments. People loved the fascinator.

Also, I did manage to find an awesome pocket watch. You can totally see the gears and it's windup so I don't have to deal with batteries any more. Yay!

So the steampunk costume went well. And my Loki costume was awesome. There were a lot of Loki's run around, but most were Avengers Loki, and none were trying to cosplay the specific outfit that I was. So it was nice to be a little bit different. So below are two pictures of it. One is with me holding the jacket/vest back so you can see the under tunic and how it looks. The second is with me holding the throwing knives.
So yay! There were two other days of the con, but for those I didn't cosplay. I just dressed geeky. Geeky t-shirts, geeky skirts, etc. 

So what cosplay did I find particularly impressive at the con? Well this Iron Man was really impressive. He might as well have stolen it off of the set, it was so awesome. It was made of metal and he could still walk in it. It was truly fantastic.

Also, I saw these fantastic Evening Wear Avengers. These ladies made these dresses themselves, and really, you could wear a lot of them on the red carpet.

This cosplay of Rand al'Thor and his ladies from the Wheel of Time series was truly fantastic. The Aviendha was actually part of the seperate group, but the lady dressed as Elayne completely made her dress and her husband's (the guy dressed as Rand) jacket. Including the embroidery. It's just beautiful.

Steampunk-wise, here are some great outfits, starting right off with a steampunk flux capacitor.

And to finish off, a completely ridiculous and yet awesome Loki. You're welcome.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

No post today! (I'm still at Dragon*Con). Go out and have fun!