5 Fandom Friday – Fictional Characters I Most Identify With

Wow, so this was a difficult prompt for me. I really had to think about it and revisit a lot of my favorite books, TV shows, and films in order to remember my favorite characters as well as those I really related to. Digging deep into why I identify with these characters also taught me more about myself, which I found interesting. I think this has been my favorite 5 Fandom Friday yet.

Jane Lane from MTV's DariaMe cosplaying as Jane during Comic Con last year.

Jane Lane (Daria, MTV 1997-2001)

Daria was one of my favorite shows as a pre-teen /early teen. I remember watching it when I was in middle school and discussing episodes with my friends on the bus rides to school. I actually secretly wanted to be Quinn, but always knew I was more like Daria’s best friend Jane. Jane was super arty and down to earth like me. She was definitely more of an actual artist than I was, but I did paint, write, take photos, and play music. She was sarcastic like Daria, but still had a look on the bright side demeanor even when she was being pessimistic. She was hip and pretty, but an outsider, which I have always identified with. I think Jane would have been more of a social butterfly provided there were actually other intelligent hip people at the school besides Daria. I really liked both Daria and Jane because they weren’t afraid to be smart or smart-asses and recognized how dumb most people were. Yep, me and Jane would have been buds in real life. That’s me in the photo above cosplaying as Jane at Comic-Con last year!

Alex Mack

Alex Mack (The Secret World of Alex Mack, Nickelodeon 1994-1998)

Does anyone remember this show?! I loved 90’s Nickelodeon. I remember watching The Secret World of Alex Mack when I was at my Dad’s house in elementary school. If you don’t remember the show, Alex is almost hit by a truck from a chemical plant and is drenched in some sort of toxic sludge chemical. The accident gives her awesome powers like turning into a puddle of goo, telekinesis, and an electrical/heat charge. It was essentially the X-Men for tween girls. Alex Mack was a super hero and my role model for a while. I even dressed like her. I related to her because I always felt special and different. I was in gifted classes all through out school and was treated differently because of it. I liked to think my brain was my super power, but I wanted super powers like Alex had too. However, even though Alex had powers, she wasn’t a show off. She still stayed a regular kid and was even bullied by Jessica Alba’s character. I can definitely relate to that too although I didn’t experience bullying in the way that she did.

echo by francesca lia block

Echo (Echo by Francesca Lia Block, YA novel)

In high school, I was in a feminist club called Appreciating Women Everywhere. Our president, my lovely friend Kristyn, introduced me to Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. I became obsessed with Francesca Lia Block’s books after that, gobbling up as many as I possibly could. They were short young adult novels, but the writing was so beautiful and emotional. Her books touched me in a way that fiction never had before. I read Echo in either my sophomore or junior year of high school. There was so much I related to in that book. Echo had a beautiful hippie artist mother (like me!) and a dad that wasn’t really there for her. Her father is diagnosed with cancer and eventually dies. While both my parents were alive, they were divorced and my relationship with my Dad was pretty rocky. My mom had cancer when I was about eight years old so I definitely related to that aspect too. Echo has issues with the men in her life because of her relationship with her father. I think a lot of us women have dealt with that. She does fall for a boy named Storm, but their relationship wasn’t meant to be at the time. I too experienced that with a boy I met in middle school, who would come in and out of my life for the next ten years.

Ghost World

Enid Coleslaw (Ghost World, 2001)

I love Ghost World so much that I had a hard time choosing between Enid & Rebecca. I feel like I have qualities from both of them. I identify with Rebecca’s practicality and how she wants so bad to feel like a grown up. I couldn’t wait til I was 18 and could do what I wanted. However, I felt like I identified even more with Enid. She’s really into music, especially 70’s punk and obscure stuff like Indian surf rock. I totally dressed like her in high school and embraced my weirdness. But Enid also has another side to her. She is so afraid of conformity and ending up like her normal, boring classmates. She ends up clinging to Seymour (Steve Buscemi’s character) out of sheer boredom and and loneliness, in addition to the social experiment aspect of it. In the process though, she gets in way over her head and ends up hurting everyone around her. Most importantly she hurts her best friend, Rebecca, which is further complicated with their mutual affection for Josh. I too had a situation like that in high school where my best friend and I liked the same guy and it turned into a big horrible mess.

clementine eternal sunshine

Clementine Kruczynski (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004)

Eternal Sunshine is such an emotional roller coaster of a film, but it’s one of my favorites. It came out the year I graduated high school and what a year that was for me. I had been with my high school boyfriend for over three years, but had fallen in love with someone else while we were still together. Things got extremely messy as you can imagine and there were times when I wished I could have erased him from my memories completely. I love Clementine’s character because she is so free-spirited and fun, but I felt like that part of me was slowly dying along with my relationships with these two guys. At some point she discovers she has a mental illness and I also struggled with depression and anxiety through my teenage years. Luckily the film has a hopeful ending, which made me feel better about my own situation even if I wasn’t starting over with one of the men I loved.

What fictional characters do you identify with?

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Movie Review – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max

When my boyfriend, Justin, first showed me the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, I admit I was a bit skeptical. Was this seriously going to just be one long car chase? Could a movie like that really have much of a story? I didn’t know much about Mad Max other than it was set in a post-apocalyptic setting in the desert. I hadn’t seen the other films and never played the video games. It also looked like Charlize Theron was the ONLY female character in it, which made me roll my eyes in exasperation. However, I decided to give the film a chance after hearing rave reviews from friends on Facebook and professional critics alike. I went on Sunday night with Justin to the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to experience it in IMAX 3D.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Um…so…HOLY SHIT you guys! Mad Max: Fury Road actually turned out to be a truly amazing cinematic experience. I was on the edge of my seat for pretty much the entire film and barely breathed during the heavy action sequences. I loved the creepy weirdo universe George Miller created, especially all the wacko jargon and character names. The bad guy is called Immortan Joe and totally looks like the evil clown from the Twisted Metal video games. He’s got this respirator thing with someone’s teeth on the front and wears clear body armor with badges and metals painted on. He is scary as hell! There are also all these young “war boys” that are basically bred to be his army and do all the dirty work like operate the insane pulley system in The Citadel and drive intense vehicles across the desert. Mad Max is actually captured by some of these dudes and used as a “blood bag” for the sick war boys who have radiation poisoning. I don’t really understand why Max and some of the other characters are healthy while most everyone else is really messed up or sick, but perhaps that’s explained in the early films.

While the majority of the film really was a giant car chase across the desert, the epicness of the action was actually incredibly riveting and original. There were some seriously crazy looking vehicles including one that carried a guy whose sole job it was to play the guitar! The Doof Warrior, as he’s called, is responsible for keeping Joe’s war boys motivated during battle in addition to contributing to the diagetic soundtrack of the film. I can’t think of anything more metal than that. Oh wait, add to that the fact that it’s a double headed guitar that’s also a flamethrower and now it can’t get more metal than that. Whenever the Doof appeared, he stole the show for sure, but the real star was Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.

Furiosa is one of Immortan Joe’s commanders, but she betrays him in order to free the five women he has kept as his wives for breeding. She leads him and his men in a wild car chase across the Wasteland as Joe tries to get back his wives, which he considers to be his property. At some point, however, you find out Furiosa had another motive in making this great escape. She wants to get back to The Green Place, which is where she’s originally from, and is a place completely ruled by women. Apparently, Joe snatched her and her mother from there when she was a little girl, but apparently her mom didn’t make it past the 3rd day. I kept wondering how that happened and what Joe even wanted them for. Was he planning on making Furiosa’s mom one of his wives? Or even making her one of his wives? If so, why does she now look like one of the war boys? Also, how did Furiosa lose her arm? This film leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but I suppose that’s so the sequels can fill it all in.

I keep hearing people call this a feminist film. While I don’t think feminism should be a dirty word, there is a little bit more going on here than just that. Mad Max: Fury Road is a social and historical commentary about the oppression of people in general and women more specifically. This film and the Mad Max universe, takes place post-civilization and post-apocalypse; we have no idea what civilization was like before then. Was it like it is now? Or were people more civilized? Did everyone have equal rights? The point I’m trying to make is that the Mad Max films show what it’s like to live in post-civilization when there are no real rules anymore and people are just trying to survive. Someone always comes to power in these situations because people need someone to rally behind who will make sure things get done. Very often, this person is corrupt because of their attraction to power. However, things might have been very different if another person had seized control of The Citadel, Gas Town, and Bullet Farm initially. A woman might have been more just in her position, but power can corrupt across any gender or race ( The example that comes to mind is President Coin from the Hunger Games).

What makes Immortan Joe a misogynist and likely a rapist too, is that he calls his five wives his property and most likely forces them to have sex with him in order to successfully breed a healthy heir. It seems to me in a post-civilized world where there is no real government or written law, property is in the eye of the beholder anyway and therefore could be taken at any time by anyone. Of course, women nor any person, is not property and should never be treated as such. This is essentially slavery and exploitive in many ways, and obviously no one wants to live like that. So, is it really a surprise then that the Five Wives want to escape from Joe and go someplace where there are only women?

I think what so many of these so called men’s rights guys are up in arms about is the fact that a woman actually saves the women in this film. She is the surprise superhero, and becomes the main protagonist, not their beloved Mad Max. I guess that can seem emasculating to some guys, but if you ask me, they couldn’t have been very comfortable in their masculinity to begin with. Sure Max helps them, as does Nux, but Furiosa would die to protect them all and nearly does in the end. However, I’d like to point out that she does becomes a damsel in distress herself and that Max (a man) has to save her, seeing as he’s a universal blood donor. She still had to rely on men to aid her and needed one to live.

Although the women are heading to The Green Place of Many Mothers, which is a matriarchy where no men are allowed, the women ultimately need the help of the men in order to survive. The mothers of the green place are nearly wiped out on their own, which was probably a combination of being snatched by men using them as breeders, fighting with other clans, and starvation. The point is that men and women need each other. THEY ARE EQUALS.  The dynamic on the War Rig with the wives, Furiosa, Max, and Nux is that of equality. Everyone has a job. Everyone is working together. The ones who know how to fight, fight. The ones who know how to fix things, fix things. It doesn’t matter their gender or age for that matter. Now tell me please, dear people of the internet, what is so horrible about that reality? These people have helped each other escape oppression and bring down an evil tyrant. The women are just as powerful as the men, especially given the circumstances. If men would just stop oppressing us and projecting outdated views on what women should and shouldn’t be doing, they’d get it.

Feminism is about equality. Yes there are militant feminists, as there are militant believers of every kind of theology, school of thought, and ism. Extremists are often louder and more media-worthy than their normal counterparts, but that’s why they’re called extremists. They are not the norm. I can’t wait to live in a world where men don’t mock or are surprised by kick ass women. How about supporting a fellow human being who is standing up for themselves and eliminating the injustices of the world? You’re a feminist if you can be unselfish for one moment and imagine yourself in another person’s shoes who may not be as privileged as you because of their sex, gender or sexual identity. Feminism is not a four letter word and we shouldn’t be afraid to call each other a feminist. Letting someone else tell you what you are is an acceptance of oppression.

So George Miller, I applaud you and your film for creating this dialogue between men and women about equality and feminism. It’s about time that a man wasn’t afraid to show a woman fighting on her own terms. Go see Mad Max: Fury Road!!

5 Fandom Friday – 5 Nerdiest Things I’ve Ever Done

Five Fandom Friday

Ok this week’s 5 Fandom Friday took a little bit of digging into the ol’ mind caves. My nerdiness goes wayyyyy back. I mean I was in gifted class from grades 3-12. I love science museums. And there are tons of things I can nerd out over. However, I chose to go with things that are still relevant for me today. It just so happened that they are also mostly pop culture related as well. Here are the 5 Nerdiest Things I’ve Ever Done:

Game Haus Cafe in Glendale, CA

5. I am a regular at a board game cafe.

Yes that’s right. This exists. Game Häus. A cafe devoted to playing board games. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Los Angeles and quite possibly the world…maybe. It is pretty incredible though. They have about 900 different games, from the classics like Monopoly and Scrabble to deck building card games and hardcore table top strategy games. It can be pretty overwhelming at first, but the guys who work there are all super helpful. If you just give them an idea of what kind of games you like, they will recommend a game for you, and it’s always a good time. It only costs $5 and you can play ALL DAY. Equally incredible is the delicious selection of food and drinks they offer. I am particularly fond of the cornmeal pizzas and their cafe lattes. If you have a sweet tooth, they also always have amazing cookies, cakes, and other naughty confectionaries. So yeah, you can find me there with my boyfriend at least twice a month.

Liana at the Renaissance Faire 2014

4. I have been going to Renaissance Faires religiously since I was 11.

I’m pretty sure I went to some even before the age of 11, but it all changed that year. That was the year my Mom and I actually worked at the Renaissance Faire. Well technically I couldn’t really “work” at the faire, I volunteered, but I was assigned to a shift just like people who were getting paid, so yeah. We were both beverage wenches. I served sodas and she served beer. We were stationed in different locations of course. I was with a bunch of teenagers, which I loved. Some of the vendors even gave me things for free, probably because I was such a cute kid. 😛 I ate giant pickles and enormous turkey legs. I watched the Washing Well Wenches and the Mud Show. I gaped at the fairies and the tree lady. I spoke in Olde English the best I could. It was all so magical and I loved every second of it. So, naturally, I went back every year. This was all in Florida, but I’ve continued the tradition here in California. This year, however, I couldn’t go so I did the next best thing; Medieval Times! I enjoyed a lovely surprise party there organized by my boyfriend and cheered on the blue knight with 15 of my friends and family. ❤

Justin and Liana Doctor Who Cosplay

3. I built a Tardis from scratch for my Halloween costume two years ago.

I really wish I had a better photo of it, but alas. My boyfriend, Justin, got me hooked on Doctor Who a few years ago so of course we had to dress up as the 11th Doctor and the Tardis for Halloween. I built my Tardis out of a cardboard box from Office Depot, spray painted it, made paper windows, made handles from straws, etc, etc. It was probably my favorite costume I’ve ever made. I wore it with galaxy print leggings and a Bad Wolf sign pinned to my chest. Unfortunately, the West Hollywood Halloween Parade pretty much destroyed it and I had to trash it shortly after. RIP sweet Tardis.

Me and Mom at the Wizarding World

2. I have regularly nerded out on Harry Potter with my mom…like a lot.

Yeah my mom is cool like that. She likes Harry Potter. She has read most of the books and seen all the movies. When the last few movies came out we went to see them with a Harry Potter cosplay group and dressed up. We went to Islands of Adventure the year after the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened. It was magical, OF COURSE. We ate in The Three Broomsticks, had Butterbeer, met the Hogwarts Express conductor, rode all the rides, etc, etc. Three years ago we went to London for the Olympics, but managed to squeeze in a few Harry Potter related activities including visiting Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station and the village of Lacock where they filmed parts of the first few films. My mom is awesome! Love you moo. 😀

severus snape and the marauders kickstarter poster

1. My boyfriend and I are making a Harry Potter fan film.

I recently posted a few images from a promotional photoshoot we did for our Harry Potter fan film entitled Severus Snape & The Marauders. We are in the post-production phase now, but we have been working on getting this film made for almost a year and a half now. During the Summer last year, we launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which failed. But, we didn’t give up and re-launched on Kickstarter in November. After a successful Harry Potter themed launch party, and the help of our large Facebook following, we managed to reach our goal in one week! We went into production in February and had one hell of time filming some pretty epic wizarding duels. This film has been a serious labor of love for Justin and I, but we are lucky enough to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people. Everyone involved loves Harry Potter just as much as we do and wants to see this film get made. If you’re curious, feel free to check out Justin’s previous Harry Potter fan film The Greater Good, which has nearly 3 million views on YouTube!

Birthday Freebies!!!

Happy Birthday Candles on Cake

Photo by Will Clayton

I am kind of obsessed with getting stuff for free. I’ve made it one of my life goals to get as much free stuff as possible. I’m not greedy, I just don’t have a lot of money right now, man! So many different companies give away products, merchandise, and food for free all the time. You just have to know where to look.

One of my favorite places to search for free stuff is FreeFlys.com. No I’m not being paid to say that, I legitimately found their site on my own and use it all the time. I’m just trying to share the wealth here! But anyway, they had a blog post a couple of years ago about birthday freebies. This means that stores, websites, and restaurants will give you something for free just because it’s your birthday! How awesome is that?! All you have to do usually is just sign up for their email list or rewards program. Easy peasy.

I’ve compiled a few of my favorites that I’ve actually used and think are worth it. If you want to see Freefly’s comprehensive list, feel free to check out this post.

1. Jersey Mike’s – Get a Free Regular Sub and 12 oz Fountain Drink

2. Real Mex Restaurants (Chevy’s, El Torito, Acapulco, etc) – Free Entree (Up to $12.99)

3. Ben & Jerry’s – Free Single Scoop when you sign up for their newsletter AND on your birthday!!

4. Buffalo Wild Wings – Free Snack Size Wings (8 pieces)

5. Baja Fresh – Free Taco for signing up AND Free Burrito on your birthday!!

6. Baskin Robbins – Free Birthday Scoop

7. Panera – Free Birthday Pastry

8. AMC Theaters – Free Large Drink

9. CVS Beauty Club – Save $3 on any purchase

10. Best Buy – Free $5 to spend on anything in the store!

11. Pizza Studio – Free Pizza!

12. Medieval Times – Free Admission with Purchase of a Regular Adult Admission (This is where I spent my birthday this year and had a lovely surprise party!!!)

Any really good ones that I missed?? Share all the free things!

Severus Snape & The Marauders Poster Photoshoot!

I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet, but I am the Producer of a Harry Potter fan film called Severus Snape & The Marauders. We raised money on Kickstarter to make our film and finished production last month. We’re currently in the post-production phase, which includes editing, sound, music, and marketing. I did the photography stills for the production as well as all the posters. On Sunday, we did our last photo shoot for the film at Valley Photo Studio in Winnetka. All of the main cast was there and we had a blast shooting, dancing, drinking breakfast beer, and singing to whatever ridiculous music Paul (our Remus) decided to put on. We shot images for character posters as well as the official film posters and even did a few interviews for our friend, Dr. Janina Scarlet.

Here are a few unedited images from the shoot. I will definitely post the posters when they’re done! If anyone is interested in helping us get the word out about the film when it’s finished please comment or email me! 🙂

Garrett Schweighauser as James Potter
Garrett Schweighauser as James Potter
Dani Jae as Lily Evans
Dani Jae as Lily Evans
Paul Stanko as Remus Lupin
Paul Stanko as Remus Lupin

5 Fandom Friday – Most Binge Worthy Shows

Seeing as I was working Friday and got into a car accident, I haven’t really gotten around to this post until now.  Luckily I am starting to feel a bit better due to meds and my extremely loving and supportive boyfriend (who also threw me a surprise party for my bday on Saturday). That being said, here are my picks for most binge worthy shows.

Criminal Minds cast for Season 10

1. Criminal Minds

Ever since I discovered Criminal Minds about five years ago, this has been my go to binge show. When I lived in Miami by myself I had a tiny TV with no cable and like 12 local channels. This one channel was constantly playing Criminal Minds reruns so I started watching it because it was sometimes the only show on. I immediately got into it because of the interesting dynamic between the BAU team and their characters’ ever evolving arcs. My favorite character is Penelope Garcia for sure, but Dr. Reid and Morgan top the list too.

Ok ok, I’ll admit it. Matthew Gray Gubler’s nerdy charm is what REALLY attracted me to the show at first. One of my favorite episodes is a Dr. Reid centric one from Season 2. It’s actually a two-parter with James Van Der Beek playing a serial killer with multiple personality disorder. I was so riveted to the very end and loved how they gave Reid something to struggle with into the next season.

I’ve only watched about half of the new season, but I binge through whenever I have a little extra time. It’s one of the only shows where I feel like I really know the characters and feel like a part of the family. I can also boast being an extra on the show for two separate episodes in seasons 7 and 8, which was an awesome experience.

Family Guy

2. Family Guy

Whenever I don’t know what else to watch, Family Guy goes on. It’s my go-to feel good show. Peter’s stupidity really makes me feel better about life in general. Sometimes the jokes go way over my head, especially in the later seasons, but that’s probably because they’re referencing something very specifically Rhode Island. I love it when Lois gets excited about something or when Brian gets drunk. I love it when Stewie hits on other babies or when they make jokes about him being sexually ambiguous. They always throw in some real gross out moments that make me squeal but then laugh uncontrollably. It’s a truly fun, easy to digest show.

Game of Thrones Opening Logo

3. Game of Thrones

I jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon after Season 1 and 2 had already aired. I had seen the billboards around Hollywood and heard about the books from friends, but wasn’t really that interested at first. At some point, however, I decided to give it a try and binged the first two seasons in like a week. Holy crap it was good. So much drama and passion and conflict for just one show. I really enjoyed the world George R. R. Martin had created. Having read The Lord of the Rings, I could definitely relate to Game of Thrones’ elaborate universe. Tyrion was instantly my favorite character and still remains so. I am definitely a fan of the strong female characters on the show too, namely Brienne of Tarth and Daenerys Targaryen. I’ve kept up with the show into the current season and get really excited every time Sunday rolls around now.

Glee Promo Shot

4. Glee

Ok I am slightly embarrassed to admit I watch Glee, but it really is a great show. I love music and musicals and Glee executes the musical genre in a highly effective way. I was a drama and chorus kid in high school so I found it fun to watch this show and feel good no one ever slusheed me in school. I love all the characters even though they sometimes annoy me for various reasons, but hey, that’s just like real people! I binge the crap out of this show for long stretches and then get so emotional I have to stop. I actually put off watching the episode where Finn dies until recently because I knew I would have to devote an entire day to crying about it. I was right. It was so incredibly sad that Cory Monteith died and that he had a real thing going with Lea Michele. Other great sad-cry moments were when Blaine sings “Teenage Dream” before him and Kurt break-up or when Kurt’s dad has a heart attack. Blaine is definitely my favorite character. I ❤ Darren Criss’ voice.

Gravity Falls

5. Gravity Falls

So my little cousin Ella actually got me into this show. She is a rabid Disney Channel fan and discovered it one day. I was skeptical at first, but the humor on this show is so kooky it hooked me right away. Like most cartoons, there is actually a lot of adult humor sprinkled in that goes way over a kid’s head. Grunkle Stan is especially great at saying mean and sometimes inappropriate things. I also love all the creatures and the Mystery Shack and all the weird shit that goes down in Gravity Falls. The Halloween episode was one of my favorites especially because the Summerween Trickster ended up being made of all the crappy candy that no one wants. Where does Alex Hirsh get his ideas from??

Mabel is definitely my favorite character mainly because she’s voiced by Kristen Schaal. She’s also just super adorable and has a pig for a pet so what else could I ask for? I watched a few episodes here and there initially, but recently binged through the rest so I could finish the season. They just started Season 2 and I will definitely be catching up with that in the next week or so.

There are tons more shows I’ve binge-watched, but most of them aren’t on TV anymore. What are some of your favorite binge-worthy shows?