Ostrichland – Solvang, CA

This year, for our first wedding anniversary, my husband Justin and I decided to go to the Danish town of Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley. Normally we plan a bunch of things to do ahead of time, but I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad sleep and mental health issues lately, so we just decided to wing it.

So on our 2nd day there, I picked up a magazine from our hotel room to see what kind of things there were to do in the area. One of the things that instantly jumped out at me was someplace called Ostrichland. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go there?! Apparently, it’s an ostrich and emu farm where you can actually feed the birds. So obviously, we had to go.

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OMG so excited.

Upon arriving at Ostrichland, there were some fabulous signs at the entrance I just had to get photos of, including one that explained the rules for feeding the ostriches and emus. I was getting more and more excited by the minute.

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Ostrich eggs signed by the likes of Ray Romano and Khloe Kardashian.

We entered the little building off the parking lot, which was a gift shop and the place where you pay the entry fee of $5. They have a lot of bird-themed merchandise, ostriches and emus, yes, but also stuff with peacocks too. In one little corner, they even have ostrich eggs that are signed by famous people who have visited Ostrichland. So fabulously weird!

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The ostriches of Ostrichland. Ready for some feedin’.

So we paid our entry fee and grabbed a pan/dish of food from a rack on the side and went through the back to the outdoor area. After walking down and to the right a short distance, we came to a fenced-off area where there were a shit-ton of ostriches just hanging out getting fed by a bunch of tourists like us.

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Feeding a very impatient looking ostrich.

We were warned to hold onto our food dishes with both hands and for good reason. Those birds have really strong beaks and like pecking at the dish and sometimes your hand (!) as they’re trying to get food. It didn’t take long for one to come up to my dish and start pecking away, making a mess everywhere. It was kind of scary, but awesome. I mean how many people can say they fed an ostrich?!

We did that for a while, my husband and I alternating feeding the ostriches. We watched them flap their giant wings and tried to figure out if the brown ostriches were male or female (they’re female!). Once our bowl was empty, another family even gave us their leftovers because they were leaving. So then we went down a little further and found the emus.

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The “special” ostrich.

Along the way, however, was what you might call a “special” ostrich. He was super wacky and just pecked at whatever was around. I had to take a selfie with him. LOL!

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The Emus at Ostrichland

Then we found the emus and fed them for a while. They were a little more chill, although they made the weirdest noises. They sounded like drums. The emus also seemed to like their solitude more and weren’t attention whores like the ostriches. They mainly kept away from the fences unless they were reeeeaalllyyy hungry.

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Feeding and emu at Ostrichland.

I think we spent a little over an hour at Ostrichland, which seemed like just the right amount of time since there really isn’t much to do besides feed the ostriches and emus, watch them, and maybe take home a souvenir in the gift shop. But it was definitely worth a stop, especially for such a cheap admission and a unique experience. Personally, I love anything related to animals, so I had a fun time with the ostriches and emus.

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Look ma, I’m an ostrich!

Have you ever been to Ostrichland? Or fed an ostrich or emu? What other fun attractions do you recommend in Solvang, CA? Leave me a comment below.

Gwen Stefani’s Just a Girl Vegas Residency

Do you remember what kind of music you were listening to in 4th grade?

I do.

I mostly listened to what was on the radio. Since it was South Florida in the 90s, that mainly consisted of R&B, gangsta rap, Miami booty music, alternative rock, pop rock, and classic rock.

That was around the time when I started to develop musical taste. I just turned 10, and I felt like a big kid finally.

So when I first heard No Doubt on the radio in 1996, I was floored. I’m pretty sure they were one of the first modern rock bands I had heard, up to that point, with a female singer.

I was immediately attracted to their bouncy, fun, ska-infused tunes and Gwen Stefani’s emotionally penetrating vocals. “Tragic Kingdom” was ultimately a breakup album, and every song was a powerful expression of her heartache.

I instantly related to the lyrics and learned as many of them by heart as I could fit into my growing brain.

No Doubt became a favorite band, and I was lucky enough to see them live, a year later, in 1997. I saw them again in 2009 and was even lucky enough to score a photo pass from the newspaper I was working for at the time.

Since then I’ve remained a devoted No Doubt fan and followed Gwen on her solo career as well. Her lyrics still make an impact on me to this day, but none more so than those from the songs on “Tragic Kingdom.”

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So, when she announced her Just a Girl Las Vegas residency, I was all in.

Now, I’m not a huge Vegas person. I’ve only been there twice. But I could not pass up the opportunity to see an entire show based around Gwen’s music and lyrics, both in No Doubt AND as a solo performer.

I decided to buy tickets a couple of weeks ago, and Justin and I basically took a pretty spontaneous trip to Vegas just to see her perform (and for our anniversary).

The show took place at the Zappo’s Theater of Planet Hollywood, located inside the Miracle Mile mall.

I bought the cheapest tickets I could find online for that date, but honestly, in a 7,000 seat theater, there were no bad seats. However, I was elated when after scanning our tickets, the ticket taker said they were upgrading people’s seats.

At first, I was skeptical and thought it cost money. But it didn’t! I’m not sure why exactly our seats got upgraded because by the time the show got started it looked like a full house, but I’m so glad they did! Our seats were on the stage left side, on the bottom right before the pit.

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Before the show even started, I was smiling ear to ear at the show opening music. A mix of ska, punk, and alternative was playing, some of it very familiar. I was feeling pretty excited and nostalgic.

They were selling merch in the lobby, but it was a wee bit more than I wanted to spend on a t-shirt that night, although I did love the one that said, “This Sh#t is Bananas.”

There were also costumes from some of her music videos on display in the lobby, including the blue and white polka dotted dress from “Don’t Speak.” Oh, how I loved that video. So 90’s Gwen with the bindi and everything!

Although the show was supposed to start at 9:00, it didn’t end up starting until 9:30. But, it was well worth the wait.

Gwen opened her show with “Hollaback Girl,” surrounded by an art deco style set, a black and white striped floor, and dancers holding giant bananas. She had so much energy at the get-go it was impossible not to feel completely infatuated by it.

She moved through a ton of songs at a steady pace from her No Doubt days to her solo albums and even to covers of songs like Rhianna’s “Umbrella” (which she declared should have been her song).

She talked to the audience quite a bit and even took the time to take pictures with audience members and sign stuff.

And of course, since it was Vegas, she had a number of costume changes. During these interludes, the curtains closed and a video was played, where she discussed her journey from Anaheim teenager writing songs in her bedroom to major, worldwide superstar.

It was so fun seeing different photos and video footage of her as a kid, teenager, and then singing and performing with No Doubt.

There was even a segment about her obsession with fashion and how she’s always used it to express herself.

Speaking of fashion, the costumes were fabulous‚ÄĒas you might expect.

One of my favorites was actually the first one she wore, which was a custom black and white jacket with all these incredible embellishments.

The entire set up for “Don’t Speak” was also pretty incredible. She wore this long white cape with rose petals sewn onto the bottom and sang on this platform at the front of the catwalk, which was also decorated with roses and greenery.

Red and pink confetti rained down during the song, and I was so happy I had to take deep breaths between singing so I wouldn’t cry.

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She played pretty much every song I could have asked to hear, and I had an amazing time singing, dancing, and smiling my face off. Needless to say, it was a night to remember.

Thank you, Gwen, for being a musical role model, fashion inspiration, and all-around adorable person whose Instagram stories bring me joy every day.

Until next time.

‚ô•

Do you plan on seeing Gwen Stefani’s Just a Girl Las Vegas residency or have you already seen it? Leave me a comment below!

Lessons Learned from Comic-Con 2015

This year’s Comic-Con turned out even better than last year’s for a number of reasons, which I’d like to share with you all. Although it can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned con veteran, there are ways to make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful.

Plan ahead, but don’t over plan.

Last year was my first Comic-Con and I went a little overboard in the pre-planning stage. It stressed me out so much I was incredibly anxious the first night I got to San Diego and was trying to figure out how I was going to do everything. Well, reality check, it’s impossible to do everything you want to do. Events, panels, autograph signings, and giveaways often overlap. The most important part of planning is to know what’s going on within a time block and knowing what your number one choice is with a backup or two in case you miss out on your first choice. The Comic-Con app¬†is super helpful and was created for exactly this reason. It even has some of the outside events on there like the Her Universe Fashion Show and Adult Swim on the Green. With all this being said, that leads me to my next point…

Leetal Platt's model for her Usagi's Transformation Sailor Moon dress kisses her boyfriend after the Her Universe Fashion Show
Leetal Platt’s model for her Usagi’s Transformation Sailor Moon dress kisses her boyfriend after the Her Universe Fashion Show

Spontaneity is okay!

Even though I planned ahead and picked out what panels I was most interested in, I only went to about 10% or less of them. The thing about Comic-Con is, you never know what might happen. It’s good to be spontaneous and go with your gut if something all of a sudden appeals to you or you find out about a last minute opportunity or signing. If I had gone to every panel I initially was interested in, I would never have had an opportunity to even visit the exhibit hall. I saw a few different celebrities while I was down there including Natalie Dormer, Elijah Wood, Seth Green, and Edward James Olmos. On Friday, I pretty much abandoned the idea of panels all together and my friends and I decided to do The Game of Thrones Experience and walk around the Gaslamp district for most of the day.¬†We got some fun swag out of it and really enjoyed ourselves¬†since we took turns waiting in line. The point is, don’t be chained to your schedule, Comic-Con is full of surprises!

Me as a white walker at GOT: Experience the Realm
Me as a white walker at GOT: Experience the Realm

Make time for friends

Obviously this mainly will apply¬†to you if you have friends that are also going, but it also applies to the random people you’ll meet while at Comic-Con. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, especially while you’re waiting in line. I made some great line buddies during the Gravity Falls panel and I wish I had gotten their information. In comparison to last year, this year was ten times as enjoyable because I went with friends and we all made time for each other at some point during the day, often for a meal or outside event. I¬†also had the opportunity to meet up with other friends that incredibly, I have made only within the past year or so! Meeting these people has been largely due to the making of our Harry Potter fan film “Severus Snape and The Marauders.” (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out my post on our teaser trailer here.) I am incredibly grateful for those wonderful people and super excited to put out our little fan film that we all worked so hard on.

Mick Ignis (Snape), Justin Zagri (my boyfriend and the Writer/Director), and Dani Jae (Lily) after the Harry Potter fandom panel.
Mick Ignis (Snape), Justin Zagri (my boyfriend and the Writer/Director), and Dani Jae (Lily) after the Harry Potter fandom panel.

Exclusives are over-rated

I really had my heart set on getting a few of the Comic-Con exclusives this year, mainly the Fight Club 2 variant cover and the Heisenberg Blue Sky Pop vinyl. However, it was pretty much impossible to get either unless you arrived to the convention center at the crack of dawn before the doors even opened. I did not attempt to fight with the hoards early morning just for a chance at an exclusive. I heard horror stories of running and pushing and shoving and yelling, and that’s just not how I wanted to start my day. Even more importantly however, I didn’t want to sacrifice my sleep or my time especially when I could just buy them later anyway. Yes that’s right, you can still buy many of the exclusives after Comic-Con. Sure they might be more expensive than they were at Comic-Con, but not by that much. The Fight Club 2 comic is going for $15-20 and was originally $5, while the Heisenberg Pop vinyl is going for $30-$40 and I think it retailed for around $15 originally. However, I found out through the grapevine that many of the left over Pop vinyl exclusives are available at both Barnes & Noble and Hot Topic after Comic-Con. Unfortunately they were out of the Heisenberg one by the time I found this out on the 16th, but I did pickup the Eleventh Doctor Pop vinyl exclusive at Hot Topic for $15.

Doctor Who 11th Doctor Cyberman Head exclusive
Doctor Who 11th Doctor Cyberman Head exclusive

Don’t feel obligated to Cosplay, but do it if you really love the character

In the past, I’ve felt like I should be cosplaying at conventions. I have friends who are¬†professional cosplayers and costume designers and their costumes are always outrageously good. The thing is, I always had a hard time choosing characters to cosplay as because I feel like there aren’t too many characters that I look like and I hate wearing wigs. Last year I did Jane Lane from Daria, but I feel like a lot of people didn’t know who I was because I didn’t have a Daria with me. This year I decided to do Dipper Pines from Gravity Falls and had a lot of fun doing so. It’s another easy costume¬†to put together, but is much more recognizable since it’s from a current show. I wore the costume to the Gravity Falls panel and had a great time with other cosplayers just taking photos and talking about the show. The best part however, was the producers of the show inviting all the cosplayers to take a group photo with Alex Hirsch and Kristen Schaal after the panel! Just another example of one of the many Comic-Con surprises that can spontaneously happen at any time!

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Dipper Pines cosplay adventure at SDCC 2015!

Only take free swag that you really like, will use, or know someone else will like.

Last year I was in awe of all the free stuff that I tried to collect ALL THE THINGS! This is completely pointless because I think I have less than half of the free stuff I got last year still. Most of it is promotional material for things you just won’t bother with, so only seek out goodies that are of interest to you. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and get an exclusive giveaway or raffle at a panel. Or you may find a brand ambassador for a TV show wandering the Gaslamp Quarter with free stuff. Or even still you might get some sweet swag at an outside event.

Swag from the Her Universe fashion show at Comic-Con
Swag from the Her Universe fashion show at Comic-Con

 

Was this post helpful or do you have any advice or lessons you’ve learned from Comic-Con? Leave me a comment below!

Severus Snape & The Marauders Teaser Trailer Released!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I produced a Harry Potter fan film this year with my boyfriend, Justin. Our film is called “Severus Snape & The Marauders,” and we are currently in the post-production phase. Justin got to be on a Harry Potter fandom panel during this year’s Comic-Con entitled “Fantastic Fans and Where to Find Them,” where a tiny amount of footage was shown. However, on Tuesday of this week, we released the first official teaser trailer for our film much to the excitement of fans and journalists alike. So far we’ve been covered on Hypable, the BBC’s Anglophenia, and MoviePilot among others, but we’re hoping for more coverage as the word spreads and the trailer gets more YouTube views. So without further ado, I present to you, the teaser trailer for “Severus Snape & The Marauders.”

San Diego Comic-Con Tips from a Newbie: Schedule Planning (Tip #3)

So, it was exactly two weeks from Comic-Con yesterday! While that simple fact is exciting in and of itself, it also means they’ve released the daily schedules! If you’ve already gone through the list, you might be pretty overwhelmed by the sheer number of panels offered, even within the same time blocks. However, I’m here to offer my suggestions and let you all know which panels I’ll most likely be checking out in addition to other potential activities during any down time.

THURSDAY JULY 9

10:00 am – Wrath of Con Bloggers, Room 14A

This panel is a must for any fellow geek bloggers. It boasts Tony B Kim (Crazy 4 Comic Con), Megan Gotch (The Nerdy Girlie), Leonard Sultana (An Englishman In San Diego), and Alyssa Franks (Friends Of CCI), who will all discuss their blogs and how to succeed as a geek blogger. All of these lovely people are on my Comic-Con Twitter list, which I mentioned in my previous Comic-Con tip post last week. I expect it to be super informative and fun and a welcome beginning to my second Comic-Con.

10:45 am – The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, Ballroom 20

A definite¬†¬†must see for all of you Trekkies out there. Personally, I am more a fan of The Next Generation because I grew up with it, but I still enjoy the original series too. This panel is a pretty ridiculous concept since Kirk is a fictional character, but William Shatner will be there reading from the actual book that’s debuting at Comic-Con. Since Family Guy’s former EP is going to moderate, I have to wonder if fans are going to be treated to another Rocketman-esque performance. Get in line at least 2-3 hours ahead for this one.

12:00 pm – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Hall H

Ok, so this is a Hall H panel, which means count your lucky stars if you really want to get into this one. As you may know, people will camp out the night before just to ensure their seat in Hall H all day since they don’t clear the room. If you’re a die-hard Hunger Games or J-Law fan, be sure to pre-plan hardcore. You might get lucky if you get in line 3-4 hours ahead, but¬†it will all depend on how many fanboys and girls are already in line when you get there. The hall holds approximately 6,500 people. I may actually get in line for Hall H around 11 am mainly because of the later panels I want to see in there.

12:30 pm – Return to Gravity Falls, 6A

If I give up on my Hall H idea for Thursday, I will end up at this panel for sure. Gravity Falls is one of the best cartoons on TV right now. I went to this¬†panel last year and it was one of the highlights of my con experience. Alex Hirsch is so damn entertaining. He had a puppet of Old Man McGucket that he acted out a scene with and a few of the other main voice actors were there as well. They even had a few small swag items for everyone. If I do go, I’ll have to make sure I’m done with Season 2 since they’ll be talking about the ending.

1:00 pm – Science Channel: Raiders, Raptors, and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM, 25ABC

This panel sounds pretty amazing. You’ll get to see Behind the Scenes stuff for Industrial Light and Magic’s work on some of George Lucas’ biggest blockbusters. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just think about the visual effects in Star Wars or Jurassic Park. Now you’re interested right?! They’re promising surprise guests and a huge giveaway, so this is definitely something you should consider attending.

2:15 pm – Doctor Who: BBC America’s Official Panel, Hall H

My boyfriend and I are huge Doctor Who fans so I was super excited to see this panel was happening. He was super stoked to see the Master as Missy this past season and Michelle Gomez, the actress who plays her, will be there along with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. While Capaldi isn’t my favorite doctor (I’d much rather see David Tennant), this is still one of my top choices for Thursday’s schedule. This is probably going to be the most popular panel of the day, however, so like I said before, I’d get in line by 11 am or¬†earlier.

3:45 – Sherlock, Ballroom 20

I’m a fan of Sherlock, but this panel is a maybe for me. I’d be completely on board if Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were going to be there, but they haven’t been announced as of right now. It might be worth it just to hear Steven Moffat speak about his work, but I have a feeling this panel is going to be largely overshadowed by the Doctor Who one. It might make it easier to get in though, who knows?

5:00 – Spotlight on Jhonen Vasquez, 32AB

Squee! Johnny! Invader Zim! OMG I am so excited for this panel! My high school years were filled with Jhonen Vasquez comics and cartoons and I’ve always wanted to meet him in person. I’m hoping there will be a subsequent signing as well. The focus of the panel will mainly be Johnny the Homicidal Maniac so I’m hoping that means there is some news like maybe a Johnny movie??

6:00 –¬†Her Universe Fashion Show

I only caught the very end of this last year and regretted¬†it sorely. Upcoming fashion designers submit designs, and upon acceptance get to actually build their outfits, which are based off a cosplay or an existing franchise. The winner gets to design a collection with Her Universe and Hot Topic! Personally, I am rooting for Leetal Platt to win. She’s an amazing designer and just won both The Jury Prize and Best in Show at her FIDM debut this year. Check out her amazing collection.

7:00 – E-textiles and Cosplay: Learn to Sew a Working Light Circuit, 30CDE

I’ve actually seen this workshop listed before at other conventions and around Los Angeles and have always wanted to do it. I’m not big on cosplay, but I’m down for anything related to lighting and learning a new skill. You even get to hand sew and take home a working light circuit. Pretty sweet!

8:00 – Son of Name That Movie – Room 9

This panel is actually kind of a game show format where you can get randomly picked to play. They choose a bunch of movie clips for you and you have to name as many as possible. I feel like I would be pretty good at this, but it’s hard to think that quickly under pressure. Nevertheless, it seems like it would be entertaining to at least watch, but there will be prizes for 1st-4th place winners.

9:00 – Spirited Away Screening – Horton Grand Theatre

This sounds like the perfect way to unwind on your first night of Comic-Con. One of Studio Ghibli’s biggest films will be screening along with the lure of trivia and prizes. It’s hosted by Her Universe and Hot Topic, so be sure to dress your best.

FRIDAY JULY 10

10:00 am – The 16th Annual Animation Show of Shows – Hall H

A panel solely dedicated to short animated films who are all award winners. The best way to find your new favorite animators or animated character. ‘Nuff said.

11:30 am – Space Command: A Hopeful Future – Central Library

This panel has some amazing people on it including Bob Picardo(!) and focuses on the new sci-fi series with footage and a Q&A with the actors.

12:00 – AMC’s The Walking Dead – Hall H

I’m a bit biased here because I watch the series, but I have a feeling this will be one of the more badass panels for Friday. There’s so much drama and terror happening from episode to episode and the writers always throw in amazing twists.

1:00 – Archie Forever – Room 4

Archie is one of the first comics I ever read. I remember when grocery stores used to carry the Archie and Veronica digests that were on the magazine racks in the checkout lines. This should be a fun panel and attendees get a free gift bag!

2:30 – Game of Thrones – Hall H

One of my favorite shows at the moment. I didn’t get to go to the panel last year but might attempt it this time. They always give great swag bags at this panel. I know last year it was a backpack filled with stuff branded with the “All Men Must Die” graphic with the 3-eyed raven. Worth a shot especially if you’re willing to wait in line overnight.

3:15 – [adult swim]: Robot Chicken – Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront

I love pretty much everything that Seth Green does so this is sure to be a fun panel. Definitely get there a few hours ahead to get into this one.

4:15 – Bob’s Burgers – Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront

If you get into the Indigo Ballroom for Robot Chicken, just stay in there til 6 pm. I just started watching Bob’s Burgers, but am already in love with the Belchers. I love Louise, especially because she’s voiced by Kristen Schaal, but Tina is so fantastically weird and awkward. Probably will have a giveaway too.

5:00 – Archer – Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront

Archer is a fantastically crazy and witty show that is worth your time and a little of your sanity. The line will most likely be long for this one, so like I said before just go to the Indigo Ballroom earlier and stay through this panel. The banter between the cast will be worth it.

6:00 – Starz: Ash v. Evil Dead, 6A

Really quite excited for this show. I loved the Evil Dead movies as a teenager and Bruce Campbell is such a cheeseball. Be forewarned though, it will be pretty gory so don’t bring any kids under 13.

7:00 – World Premiere of Justice League: Gods & Monsters, Ballroom 20

I am a fan of the animated DC shows, especially anything that has Batman in it. This is supposed to be a unique take on some of our favorite Justice League characters, which may prove interesting. Paget Brewster, formerly of Criminal Minds, is voicing Lois Lane so she will be there on the panel to make me squee like a fan girl.

8:00 – Be a Financial Superhero Even if You Aren’t Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, Room 4

I am always interested in improving my financial situation so this nerdy take on it will surely be useful if you’re like me.

8:30 – Klingon Lifestyles, 6A

A ¬†klingon stage play with Bat’leth battles? Sign me up!

SATURDAY JULY 11

10:00 – Are You Ready Kids?: Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants, 6A

America’s favorite sponge has his own panel and will surely be entertaining! All the voice actors will be there and there will be a Q&A in addition to trivia and prizes. Take your kiddos if you have some.

10:30 – Temple of Art, 24ABC

I’ve been supporters of these guys since the beginnings of Temple of Art and donated to their Kickstarter campaign. There are some truly great artists involved including the great David Mack.

12:00 – The Simpsons, Ballroom 20

I reeeeaaaallly want to go to this panel, but it will most likely require getting in line pretty early. Nancy Cartwright (my fave Simpson voice actor) will be there and they’ll be talking about the next Treehouse of Horror, which are always some of my favorite episodes!

1:00 – Seth McFarlane’s Animation Block, Ballroom 20

If you’re a fan of animation, stick around Ballroom 20 for this one and check out Seth McFarlane’s shows (American Dad, Family Guy, etc) including a new one called Bordertown!

1:45 – Spotlight on Stan Lee, 6A

The man, the myth, the legend; Stan Lee! Go listen to the wittiest, sharpest 90-something year old comic creator you will ever meet! He is seriously the best.

3:00 – The Muppet Show Coming to ABC, 6A

If you don’t want to see the Muppets, you have no soul.

4:00 – Starz: Outlander, Ballroom 20

I’ve read the first book and seen the first episode and I have to say, I am pretty impressed with the TV show’s adaption. I have a feeling it’s going to be even better than the books. Go for sexy scottish accents and beautiful period drama scenery/costumes.

4:45 – Dark Horse: An Afternoon With Joss Whedon, Hall H

Another no-brainer. Joss Whedon has churned out some of the best cult-favorites i.e. Buffy and Firefly. You’ll get to hear what he’s working on next from the man himself!

6:00 – The Geek Shall Inherit: A Look at the Evolution of Geek Culture, 14A

I might be biased because my friend Dr. Janina Scarlet is on this panel, but you should definitely go to this one. A panel of smart people will be analyzing geek culture and most likely making you feel a lot better about being a geek.

7:00 – Fight Club 2, 5AB

I think everyone needs to be in the same room as Chuck Palahnuik at least once. I’ve seen him twice in person and it’s always a little different or I learn something new about him or his books. Fight Club 2 has been greatly anticipated so here’s your chance to ask all those burning questions you had after you saw the end of the film in 1999. (now you feel old don’t you.)

8:30 – The Character of Music: Classic Horror Special Edition, Room 8

Memorable music pretty much makes or breaks a great horror film. This should be a pretty cool panel with the composers from films like Friday the 13th and Dawn of the Dead.

SUNDAY JULY 12

10:15 – Fantastic Fans and Where to Find Them, 6A

I might also be incredibly biased with this one, but you should definitely get to the convention center on Sunday morning for this panel. My boyfriend, Justin, will be speaking about Harry Potter fandom along with a bunch of other lovely people from The HP Alliance, International Quidditch Association, and others.

11:00 am – Sixty Years of Gumby, 29AB

Gumby is one of the only claymation style animation that I liked growing up. I have a soft spot for the little guy and this panel will have pretty much everyone involved in Gumby ever.

12:30 – American Horror Story and Scream Queens, Hall H

This sounds like a pretty fun panel especially if you’re a fan of horror and American Horror Story in particular. It will probably be a lot easier to get into since Sunday usually has a lot less people.

1:00 – Official Sailor Moon Panel, 6A

If Sailor Moon was as much of a childhood favorite for you as it was for me, you need to go to this panel. They’ll be sharing news about the new Sailor Moon Crystal series and probably have a giveaway or two.

2:15 – Starship Smackdown XV: Battle of the Intergalactic Stars Edition, 6A

My boyfriend is pretty stoked about this one, so if you’re a dude I’d say check it out. Panelists get drunk and talk about which starship would win in a fight. Sounds pretty hilarious to me.

4:00 – Full-time Creative Work on a Part-time Schedule, 24ABC

This is going to be a great panel for all you fellow creatives out there. I dunno about you, but I have a hard time balancing my regular work with my creative projects and making money. Should be useful and they’re giving away a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Even if you can’t make it to all the panels you want, you should definitely check out all the stuff going on in the exhibit hall as well as all the events outside. This site has a bunch of the outside events listed to make your life easier.

Anyway, good luck and happy Comic-Con!

San Diego Comic-Con Tips From a Newbie: Who to Follow on Twitter (Tip #2)

In my last post, I focused on What to Bring With You Everyday to Comic-Con, which included your phone charger or extra battery. It’s very likely that you will be constantly on your phone, checking social media and posting to it in addition to the dozens of other activities smartphones can do nowadays. One of the best uses of your phone checking time during Comic-Con is to follow Comic-Con activity on Twitter through the hashtags #SDCC, #SDCC15, and #ComicCon2015. All of the companies who have booths or tables have a Twitter account and will be posting throughout the convention about giveaways, signings, special surprises, sales, and other announcements. This is your way to gain an advantage over other people who may not realize how to find out about these things. Aside from companies posting from their booths, however, you will also find information on the activities going on outside of Comic-Con in the surrounding areas. There are hundreds of simultaneous events happening during Comic-Con and there is always something to do. Additionally, many die-hard fans and convention veterans will also post their own tips or leads on things they’ve found out about, which can be infinitely useful. There are sometimes secret parties that pop-up last minute or random giveaways outside too. Last year I got a sweet Transformers fanny-pack when I was walking towards the Gaslamp District.

But, you may ask, how am I to know who to follow on Twitter to be in the know? Well my dear geeks, I have done most of the work for you already. I created a Twitter list under my account @LianaRosePhoto, with 80+ accounts you should check out during the con to stay in the know. I will be adding to it in the days and weeks to come as we get closer and closer to the week of Comic-Con. Please feel free to subscribe to it, share it with your friends, and tweet me with suggestions. Here’s the list in all it’s glory:¬†https://twitter.com/LianaRosePhoto/lists/comic-con. I’d also love to know who will be there in July so please add me and I will add you back!

Check back next week for another useful tip for navigating Comic-Con as a newbie.

21 Days til Comic-Con!

The Artist’s Way: First Artist Date of the Year

The Artist's Way bookI

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had a hard time finding work and getting out on my own. I was depressed a lot of the time and often complained to my parents about how I felt blocked creatively. My Dad then sent me his copy of The Artist’s Way in order to nudge me along in gradually becoming unblocked. I began to do the weekly assignments, morning pages, and artist dates and finally found a semi-full time job that allowed me to move out of my aunt’s house and into an apartment with my boyfriend. However, I stopped doing the work and never completed all 12 chapters/steps of the program. Now I find myself in a similar situation and am once again turning to The Artist’s Way for support.

After committing to doing the morning pages about two weeks ago, I finally went on my first artist date yesterday. Btw, an artist date is a date you take yourself on in order to inspire and stimulate your creativity. So, I had a few books and DVDs I wanted to trade-in for some cash and decided to take myself on over to Amoeba Records in Hollywood. It’s one of my favorite places to spend time just browsing and I always have a great experience when I go. They ended up taking all six items I had, and gave me $1 for each so I came out with $6. It was certainly better than getting nothing at all for them. I had also decided that I would use all the money that I got from selling my boyfriend and I’s things for our trip to Comic-Con next month so we could have spending money for merch and food.

I also had a $4 credit from a previous trade-in so I decided to browse around for a while and see if I could find something good to take home with me. I don’t really use CDs anymore so I headed over to the used rock record section. I must have spent two whole hours going through the endless racks of old records looking for something that caught my eye and was under $4. While I was browsing I discovered that a band was sound checking at the stage they have in the middle of the store. I found out that the electronic band, Miami Horror was going to be playing a free show. I’ve heard of them, but wasn’t really familiar with their music so I was stoked to be able to watch them perform.

Miami Horror at Amoeba Records

 

While I watched Miami Horror I munched on the dark chocolate covered pretzels I bought at the Godiva store earlier when I was at the mall. Chocolate covered pretzels are one of my favorite snacks and Godiva’s¬†are especially good. There’s nothing better than chocolate and good music.

Godiva Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels - Yum!

 

After going back and forth between a few records and even some cassette tapes. I finally settled on an Armenian dance LP for $1 and Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real LP for $2.99. I was pretty shocked to find that Crystal Antlers record for so cheap. It was in one of the bins under the main stacks and was double wrapped. When I unwrapped it at home, I saw the original price sticker was still on there: $14.99! So score one for me, yay!

Records from Amoeba Artist Date

 

I really enjoyed this artist date because I felt like things just came together for me to make it a special and memorable experience. It definitely made me excited to make my artist dates spontaneous and free-spirited. Tune in next week to see where I go next!

 

San Diego Comic-Con Tips From a Newbie – What to Bring With You Everyday (Tip #1)

I cannot believe it, but we’re already only 29 days out from San Diego Comic-Con! This will be my 2nd year attending and I am beyond excited! Last year was pretty intense for me as a newbie and I admit being a little overwhelmed by everything, especially because I was there by myself for the first two days. This year I am taking a more relaxed approach, but will still prepare as much as I can. I am putting together a series of tips that will help if you’re a newbie or a seasoned vet who is open to ways you can improve your experience! Here’s tip #1:

What To Bring With You Everyday

  • A backpack – This should be a pretty good size, but not too bulky especially if your car isn’t nearby or you’re not staying within walking distance from the convention center. Make sure it’s comfortable on your back and has adjustable straps. I made the mistake of using the bag they give you on the floor, and my back was in pain by the second day.
  • Earplugs – Ok, you may not realize it, but the convention floor is noisy! There are thousands of people walking around talking to each other, music blaring, booths playing video clips or doing some sort of demo, announcements, etc. It can be really overwhelming especially if you’re an anxious person already. Earplugs can cancel out most of that noise and allow you to focus on yourself and your breathing so you don’t freak out like I did, lol. Earplugs are also great at night in the hotels when you’re trying to sleep!
  • A plastic water bottle – Ok believe me, I am all for reducing water bottle waste in landfills, but this is one time when I refuse to use a refillable water bottle from the store. Last year I brought my metal water bottle with me and it added so much weight to my backpack. You’ll be much better off just buying a normal sized water from the store and refilling it at a water fountain throughout the day because it hardly weighs anything even with 16 oz of water in it.
  • A good camera – Unless you’re a cosplay photographer or photojournalist, I don’t really recommend carrying around a heavy DSLR with multiple lenses everywhere. However, whatever comes to mind when I say “good camera,” bring it. It can be your iPhone or a consumer grade DSLR or a small point and shoot. There is just so much happening that you are going to want a good camera, especially if you plan to blog about your experience. A good camera is great too for those random celebrity sitings (I saw Kyle Gass from Tenacious D last year!). Don’t forget your charger, extra batteries, and memory cards too!
  • Business¬†cards – Comic-Con is great for networking if you’re in the biz or want to be. You never know who you might meet! Last year I met a cameraman for IGN at a bar in the Gaslamp District, many bloggers and cosplayers, and a wide variety of people from all over the world. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and promote yourself a bit!
  • Snacks¬†– OK this one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how little time you have to gather snacks together during a con. Buy all your snacks the day of preview night so you’re all stocked up for the week. Be sure to bring stuff high in protein and complex carbs. The best snacks are fruit, cut up veggies (with dip if you have a container to keep it in), protein or granola bars, nuts, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, and beef jerky. These will keep you feeling full and give you the energy you need to walk multiple miles every day during the convention.
  • Your badge¬†– Duh! But seriously don’t forget it! You’ll need it to get into special outside events as well as the actual convention center.
  • Phone charger or extra battery – Chances are you’ll be checking your phone a lot at Comic-Con. Using the official Comic-Con app, following the #SDCC tag on Twitter, posting photos to Instagram and status updates to Facebook, texting your friends, listening to music while you wait in 2+ hour lines. Your phone will most likely die before the end of the day so make sure you have a way to charge it.
  • Sharpie¬† or pen – To jot down notes, doodle while you’re bored, or for spur of the moment celebrity encounters or sightings.
  • Sunglasses¬†– Cause July in San Diego is hot and sunny (for the most part) and some of the panel lines start outdoors.
  • Poster Tube¬†– This is something I was lacking last year and really wish I had. There are so many free posters during conventions and the best way to keep them looking good is in a poster tube. The Nerdy Girlie¬†mentioned she made one out of a wrapping paper tube. The FOX booth also usually gives them away at the start of each day.
  • Handheld mirror¬†– Especially useful if you’re cosplaying. For checking your hair and makeup before a photo is taken, and there will be lots of photos taken!
  • Light sweater or hoodie – The convention center can get cold and the weather does get cooler at night in San Diego because it’s right on the water. Layering is a good idea so you can take off and put on as needed.
  • Comfy shoes¬†– Cannot stress this one enough. You’ll be doing so much walking. The convention center has 2.6 million sq. ft. of facilities and outside events extend a couple miles from that in every direction.

What else am I missing? What are your must haves for Comic-Con this year?

Countdown to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood

If you know me at all or have been following along with this blog, you probably know how much I love Harry Potter. You can imagine my excitement then when I received an email entitled “The Countdown to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has begun!” Although Universal didn’t give an exact date, they’ve stated the WWoHP will open in Spring of 2016. So for those of us who really will be counting down, that’s potentially 9-10 months away!!! Or 303 days. Or 7,272 hours…You know. If we’re really counting…

While I have already been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando (before they built the add-ons with Diagon Alley and all that), I am still beyond excited to have Hogwarts practically in my backyard! Universal Hollywood is only 5 miles from me and I can see the construction driving down one of the main streets in Burbank!! I’m going to start saving up for a season pass because lord knows they’re going to jack up their prices once the WWoHP opens.

Here’s the official video released by Universal today at the IPW tradeshow in Orlando.

Btw, Quidditch inspired 3D goggle glasses?! I know I won’t be the only one who tries to pocket those…

Are you as excited as I am for more Harry Potter theme parks??

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!!