A New Addition to the Team

Hey there!

My name is Melissa; I'm super excited to join the Geeky Girl's Guide to Life. I hope to be bringing you all kinds of cool news about all sorts of nerdy things. Movies, television, board games, books -- just like the rest of you there's a long list of the things I love. And yeah, I could list them off. But you've got a limited attention span and a simple list of all the things I love isn't going to be all that interesting, because we hardly know each other.

So instead, I'd like to tell you a story. And it starts with a confession:

I wasn't always what you'd consider geeky.

These days, my geekiness and I are... well, we're in a good place. A happy, committed relationship, you might even say. But we've been on and off in the past. It's taken me a while to get comfortable in my own skin, and there were a few moments where I almost abandoned the geek life for the mundane.

Why would I ever do such a thing?

Well, to put it simply: Life sucks sometimes. But those experiences -- those periods of 'normality' did teach me something important. And that's why I'm here, and why I'm donating my time to writing about geeky things. And that's why I hope you'll stick around. Continue reading

Inside Briana Buckmaster’s Album Launch Party for Begin

Briana's Album Cover

I am a Supernatural fan that lives within striking distance of Los Angeles. As such, I feel fortunate. The local Supernatural cast members like to create cool opportunities for us to come together.  I have attended a book reading by Misha Collins, an album release party by Louden Swain, and a charity walk with Lauren Tom and Osric Chau.  I am deeply appreciative. That being said, I don’t drive out to Los Angeles on weeknights. I’m 42 years old and I need my eight hours of sleep. Jesus Christ could show up in Culver City on a Monday doing a water walking demonstration and I’d be like…meh. I’ll watch the livestream. However, last night was an exception. Last night’s was Briana Buckmaster’s first solo show in support of her first album, Begin.

Briana plays Sheriff Donna Hanscum on Supernatural, and is one of the driving forces behind the Wayward AF fan movement.  Wayward AF is a movement that encourages fans (women fans in particular have championed the movement) to value themselves, express themselves, and work towards their dreams. So I wanted to be there when Briana made one of her dreams come to life. And it helped that I knew from her Supernatural convention performances that her genre is my jam. So after work, I made the trek from the Inland Empire to The Hotel Café in Hollywood.

Spending the evening with Briana onstage and with my Supernatural family in the audience, turned out to be a great decision. Briana’s voice and stage presence were incredible. The songs were well chosen. The Station Breaks opened for her and accompanied her, and they were on point. The cherry on top? The mood of the crowd was all love.

Let’s start with Briana’s stage presence. If you have never met Briana, here’s the best way I can describe it:

Briana Buckmaster is the kind of woman that reminds you of your lady queerness.  She walks into the room, and you’re like…oh right. I’m super queer. Briana has swagger. She has that confident, comfortable in her own skin, grownass woman swagger. Combine that with her huge heart and irreverent sense of humor, and you have a potent combination of outrageously sexy. When my straight sister Michele saw Briana for the first time in real life at a Supernatural convention, she messaged me something like “Holy Lord I’m in love with Briana Buckmaster. Wait am I gay?”

If you only know Briana as Donna Hanscum, it might take you by surprise at first. Donna Hanscum is an endearingly sweet and goofy character, but she was not meant to be sexy. That is evident in her first episode in season 9, called The Purge.  When we meet Donna, her confidence has just taken a hit. She is still smarting from being dumped by a boyfriend who was critical of her weight. She runs into the boys at a spa where she is taking part in a weight loss program. Now, Briana is a very thin woman by our mortal standards, but you know, Hollywood. Fast forward to season 13 in the Wayward Sisters episode, the show has let some of that sexy badassery shine through. When Sheriff Hanscum pulls up in her pickup truck to save the day in jeans and a pony tail carrying a cache of weapons, a wink, and a smile, gay women and suddenly introspective straight women everywhere swooned.

But regardless of what you have seen on screen, nothing really prepares you for full strength Briana. She’s a force of nature.  That makes her a charismatic stage presence, which is a big part of what makes a live show a success. Her voice is also outstanding. Singing one or two songs sporadically at Supernatural conventions is one thing. Doing an entire set and being able to carry the show is another thing. And Briana, with a little help from her friends, did just that.

Briana has a bluesy voice that is powerful and vulnerable. She calls it a ‘whiskey voice’. Think Alannah Myles crossed with Bonnie Raitt. I’m no Rolling Stone reviewer, but they would probably categorize her as ‘blue eyed soul’.

Briana opened with the scorching, “Do I Move You”, which was originally written and performed by Nina Simone. Bold move. Nina Simone is one of the greatest musical artists of our time, and there is risk inherent in covering someone like that. We’ve all watched those singing competitions where perfectly talented singers try an iconic song by an iconic performer and everyone just feels let down at the end. Briana avoided that pitfall by not trying to copy Nina Simone. She tweaked the song and made it her own. She pulled the straps off of her shoulders to riotous applause, and poured her entire self into a mischievous and spirited version of the song. It was a great choice to warm up the crowd.

From there, the show was consistently engaging and filled with songs that reached out and grabbed you. Better Than That, written by Suzanne Santo, was one of the standouts of the night. It was the kind of song that makes you ache and remember falling in love. During that entire number, the audience was eating out of the palm of Briana’s hand.

Olive Branch, a duet written by and performed with Rob Benedict, was another special one. Rob plays the prophet Chuck / God on Supernatural. He is a musician’s musician, having performed for over twenty years with his indie rock band Louden Swain.  He can write, arrange, produce, play multiple instruments, sing his ass off, and perform like a boss. He is the real deal, and Olive Branch is a folksy, catchy as hell song. We were all stomping our feet and having a great time.

Briana did another duet later, but this time with Jason Manns. Jason is a solo artist, member of Station Breaks, and producer of Briana’s album. Briana explained onstage that she had felt the album needed a nineties power ballad duet.  And that is what Have a Little Faith in Me was, which means it was a soaring crowd pleaser.

Another noteworthy performance was “How Will I Know”, originally performed by Whitney Houston. Again, when you cover legends like Whitney Houston and Nina Simone, it is critical that you don’t try to copy their arrangements or styles. Briana’s arrangement of “How Will I Know” was a yearning ballad. It was bittersweet and moving, and did its own beautiful thing.

And rounding it all off was the uplifting feeling of being in an audience that is plain old happy to be together.  Notable Supernatural family that came out to support Briana included Kim Rhodes, Ruthie O’Connell, Gil McKinney, and Bobo Berens. It was heartwarming to see the friendships that have formed among the cast members. It also felt good that our fandom has played such a critical part in something this special.

I think it is safe to say that Briana’s album was born at Supernatural conventions. Supernatural conventions typically consist of two nights of music: karaoke night on Friday, and a Louden Swain concert on a Saturday.  Cast members show up to sing with the fans on Fridays and to sing with Louden Swain on Saturdays. Our riotous support has resulted in several cast members saying that they have recaptured or refocused on their love of music.  Also, they get to share their love of music with each other and meet the experienced and generous musicians of Louden Swain. Undoubtedly the enthusiastic fan support of Briana’s singing paired with Rob Benedict/Louden Swain’s generosity of spirit, encouraged Briana to record an album. She started a Kickstarter to support the album and it was funded in twenty hours. It eventually took in over double its original goal of $20k.  We all got to accomplish something beautiful together. What is better than that?

The last song featured Briana with Station Breaks singing a rousing rendition of the Beatles ‘Come Together’.  People had arms around one another, and were shouting the lyrics together.

So congratulations to Briana on a fantastic album and to Briana and Station Breaks for a damn good show.  And congratulations to the Supernatural fandom for helping will something wonderful into existence by sheer enthusiasm and showing up for one another. I know we have a lot more to look forward to from Briana as a singer.  I for one, can’t wait. You can buy her album ‘Begin’ on cdbaby, itunes, amazon, and pretty much everywhere else you buy your music. You can find Briana on twitter here.

And to talk fandom with me, join me on my closed Facebook group for Supernatural and Wayward Sister’s fans or catch me on our podcast, Geeky Girls Night In.  I’m also on twitter shouting about Supernatural among other geeky stuff.

If you are going to San Diego Comic Con this week, check out my Supernatural fan guide as well.

Photo from Briana's Kickstarter for Begin

 

 

Geeky Girls Guide to WakandaCon: This Merch Tho

One thing I'm excited about with WakandaCon is this merch! Granted, we don't know what official con wear will be available unless you attend the convention yourself. However, they have a bunch of neat products that you can buy online wherever you are!

WakandaCon, as a reminder, is happening next month. August 3rd through the 5th, in the windy city of Chicago. While the convention is named after the fictional country in Black Panther, there is a reason why it isn't called Black Panther Con.

WakandaCon is so much more than Black Panther. With exciting STEM panels, amazing guests, and in-depth discussions, this con is about to be the definition of "All Black Everything"**

While there are many things to geek out about at WakandaCon, one of them is the merch that is available online right NOW!

My favorite? This mug right here. I don't even care that it's $16.00. It's worth every penny to have that in my cubicle at work.

There are a few awesome shirts out there as well. But this one is pretty cool. I'd wear it everywhere.

Listen yall, if the merch is this good already, imagine what it's going to be when the con actually hits! What do you guys think of the merch so far? Drop us a comment and let us know.

**and before you ask, yes, you can attend if you are not black. Jeez, guys.

Life Lessons Learned from Freeplay: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss

Y'all know I'm a bookworm by now. I was excited to add Freeplay to my Goodreads list, but I wasn't expecting to get a life lesson out of it. Seriously, every page I just sat on my couch like "Well, shit...time to make a change."

Freeplay: A Video Game Guide to Maximum Euphoric Bliss was finished in less than a day. A quick read that I assumed would go into more scientific evidence about how video games actually make you happy, ended up being one of those long car rides with your dad while he gives you a lecture about life using gaming as a metaphor.

And honestly, that is just what I needed.

Jordan Shapiro, the author, is a dad himself, so that could explain it. Shapiro actually got into gaming as an adult while playing with his children and it brought them closer together.

And much like the good father he is, his book taught me so much about life that I really need to A) quite strongly recommend you read it for yourself but also B) share some of his wisdom here.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book and how they will stick with me:

 

As a perfectionist, I needed to learn that losing wasn't the end of the world. Just like in gaming, you learn more about how to beat your bosses from losing than you do from winning.

How many times in life did I need to restart, try another level, even repeat the same level again? I felt like a failure and that I was giving up. But the thing is, I wasn't taking the whole cartridge out, I was pressing the restart button.

And how many times have I been too afraid to take a risk? To jump into a new relationship when I wasn't sure if I would get hurt again? To quit a toxic job because I didn't have a new one lined up just yet (and before you say anything, I found a new job two days later. This quote is the truth).

I was surprised that this book even spoke to the social justice. With all that's going on in the world lately, it's good to be validated that I'm fighting the good fight.

 

And finally, I'll leave you with this quote. it reiterates on losing, but man is it powerful

 

 

 

Words Mean Things, But (Sincere) Apologies Do Too: My Thoughts on Justin McClure

Here are some things you need to know about me:

  • I am married to a white man
  • We have a biracial child together
  • I don't owe you a goddamn explanation for either

I say this because I often get "why would you date a white guy" and no. No. No, sir. I don't owe you shit.

When I was 12 years old, I told myself I would marry someone who loves Buffy The Vampire Slayer as much as I do. After dating a short while, I found out this dude was literally in the Buffy fan club. Wedding bells rang almost immediately.

Saying that to say, interracial couples are always under scrutiny. It doesn't matter how alike you are or that your SO, who happens to be white, was the only one holding your hand in the hospital, your relationship only exists because somewhere deep down you hate black men so much.

It's exhausting to hear that shit.

So looking at the McClures, it was refreshing. They had such real conversations, such love for each other and their children that you couldn't help but be inspired by it.

So hearing that Daddy McClure said some racist shit in the past was disappointing. It hurt because I looked up to this couple. I enjoyed watching them interact with their children in a healthy manner

But watching his apology affirmed my faith in humanity. Watch the full video here

I am a strict believer in apology form. There will be no fauxpologies on my watch. This is what I did NOT hear in Justin's apology

  • "I'm sorry if..."
  • "I'm sorry but..."
  • "I have three black children so..."

Those statements would have been red flags for me, but the structure of his apology felt sincere because:

  • He owned up to those statements
  • He recognized the impact of those statements
  • He apologized to his wife for hurting and embarrassing her
  • He talked to his children as another way of showing accountability
  • He recognized that this apology may not be enough for some people, without mocking or belittling them.

I think if you still refuse to support these YouTubers after this, that's fair. This post isn't to sway your opinion. This post is to make you aware of apologies when they are sincere. In my honest opinion, nothing about Justin's apology screamed "A PR PERSON WROTE THIS" to me. Instead, after watching him be vulnerable on camera so many times, it not only felt sincere, it felt authentic to who he was.

I usually watch The McClure Twins in order to understand parenting more. But this apology video actually taught me that marriages aren't perfect, and interracial marriages have their own set of daily battles. But with the right two people, they can win those battles each day.

You know who can't apologize for shit? Roseanne.

Tell me your thoughts on Justin McClure and what you feel is a sincere apology. Drop a comment below.

 

KantCon Proves That Gaming is for Everybody

KantCon is a tabletop convention located in Overland Park, KS. Every year, gaming enthusiasts get together to do what they love most: game.

From my Instagram Takeover on Saturday, you could tell there were plenty of geeky vendors in the gaming halls. There was no shortage of dice holders, merch with gaming references, and D20 dice. In fact, one of those dice was a big old stuffed version that I plan to buy for me- I mean, Bby-8.

But attending a gaming convention can make you question yourself. Am I enough of a gamer to be here? What kind of knowledge do I need to have to go in?

The answer: None. Seriously, come as you are. What are your other excuses?

"I have kids and don't have a babysitter"

Bring them with you. Seriously. KantCon is a very family oriented convention. There is even a Kids KantCon gaming area, where there are board games, soft lightsabers, and even a Make Your Own Mask station. I saw older children playing in the main hall with the best of them.

"Seriously, I don't know much about games"

The thing I loved about KantCon is that you could have walked in their accidentally, said "cool, I'd like to attend, but I've never played a tabletop game before" and someone would be willing to show you how to play.

There was no gatekeeping here. Everyone here was so polite and willing to teach anyone about the world of tabletop gaming.

There was a very nice gentleman that told me everything I needed to know about Artemis. There was a small area set up with about 4 laptops and a projection screen. While also helping those in the middle of their gameplay, he even came up to me and explained how the game worked. The best being is that it would work on almost any computer system. No gaming upgrade needed. I need to review this game at a later date because he had me convinced!

"I don't live in Kansas, silly"

Ok, that's a fair excuse. However, if you don't have plans to visit that neck of the woods. I encourage you to look to see if there are any tabletop gaming conventions in your area.

Overall, I think most cons try to be inclusive, but KantCon really means it. Not once did I run into anyone who was like "You don't know what that is?" *scoff*. Children and adults alike were on the game floor, having an amazing time. Above all, everyone was super respectful and kind to everyone.

My only complaint? That I didn't purchase this.

What do you guys think? Is this something that would make you want to go to KantCon? Holler at me in the comments section.

Road to Gen Con Part 1

I feel like my first foray into conventions warrants a blog post. Multiple blog posts. You have been warned. 


About 3 years ago I wrote a blog post on the anxiety I feel about going to conventions. This never got finished and it never got posted. How could I explain to you guys the giant weight on my chest at the thought of going to a convention? I would be going by myself (my husband isn't into those things). I'd have to talk to people *shudder*. I'd have to figure out what I wanted to do, and how to do it. Nah bruh, cons weren't for me.

But this was 3 years ago (possibly more, I haven't checked the date on that draft). A lot of things have changed. My anxiety is a lot worse. However I also manage it.  I have to. I speak with strangers every day during my 9-5. People look to me for direction. I feel like now is the time for me to step a pinky toe into the con world, and Gen Con seemed the optimal place to do it

What is Gen Con?

According to the website, Gen Con is the longest running gaming convention in the world. From what I have seen and my understanding they  deal primarily in board games and role playing games (think D&D). It is (for now) located in Indianapolis, which suits my needs as I am located in Indianapolis as well.

Why do I want to go?

I like games. I like games a lot. I don't have much experience in board games however. I have played Ticket to Ride a whole lot. I'd also like to learn how to play D&D or even a card game like Magic the Gathering. This convention offers the perfect opportunity for that.

Also I think this is a small step into the convention world. It is local and it is downtown and I can get there with relative ease. I can also navigate downtown like a boss. Part of my anxiety stems from needed to know everything about where I am going. I am that person that can't take driving directions from someone, because if you tell me to turn 3 seconds from a turn I will hurt you. And also freak out when I miss the turn. I have control issues. Sue me.

I'd also like to meet different people. My friends are typically spread out across the globe. Maybe I meet some nice people around here that like to do somethings that I like to do. This seems like also a great place to network and spread the good news of this blog and our podcast (you are listening to our podcast right?).

What do I hope to take away (other than pins)?

Other than some swag, I hope to learn to play at least one game. I hope to hand out stickers (and possibly buttons if I can get my funds together to purchase some). I want to wander around downtown, take pictures with cosplayers, and eat a good lunch. Mostly I hope to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy myself. I want to come back with tons of stories for our readers here and listeners on the podcast.

Have you been to cons? Are you leery about going to cons? Do you have advice for me? Let me know!

 

The Women Behind WakandaCon Are Total Bad Asses: Geeky Girls Guide to WakandaCon

 

 

As part of our Geeky Girls Guide to WakandaCon series, wouldn't you want to learn about the women behind the con? Cause let's face it. Con after con after con after con, female leadership can be, well, almost non-existent. But that's not the case with WakandaCon.

WakandaCon, taking place August 3rd through the 5th in windy Chicago, is headed by women who are almost as fierce as the Dora Milaje. But even more than that, they are inspiring. Don't think you can reach your dreams? Think you can't win in a game that's stacked against Black women? The road is hard and not without scars, but these three women have proved that you can battle your way to the top.

Wayment, ALL Y'ALL WORK IN THE ARTS??

Yes! Just before I was about to take that Theater Degree and toss it in a fire, I learned that Ali Barthwell (Co-founder, Social Outreach), Lisa Beasley (Producer and Media Relations), and Taylor Witten (Producer and Content Strategist) all graduated from college with arts degrees. Ali attended Wellesley College, Lisa attended LeMoyne-Owen College and Taylor went to Dartmouth College. All three women combined have experience in acting, production, writing, directing, and teaching well after college.

This is inspiring because, as an arts major myself, it's just so validating to see women, black women in particular, out here doing the damn thing

The Path To WakandaCon is Paved With Friendship

Each of them came to WakandaCon in their own way "Wakandacon is founded on principles that I feel are personally important to move our people and culture forward." Taylor says about the convention, "Blackness is a spectrum. Out with the old, and limited question of “are you Black enough?” We aim to shift what it means to be Black, culturally, personally, professionally, and expressively. No matter where you land on the spectrum - your journey and experience shape the culture. We want this to be a movement. We want to create more seats at the table, establish safe spaces for creatives of color, and amplify their voices. By joining the Wakandacon team, I felt like I had found my tribe."

Lisa didn't take much convincing to hop on the project, "My friend Ali Barthwell reached out to me and told me that her brother had an idea named “Wakandacon.” I really didn’t need any further explanation. I knew exactly what it was and exactly why she was telling me he had the idea. Honestly, it didn’t take much. I was on board when she said, “Hey, my brother has an idea.” I love helping my friends work out their ideas."

"My brothers and I were going to see Black Panther a lot and my older brother David came up with the name first: Wakandacon." Ali says, while I wonder if she beat me in the number of times she saw Black Panther. "He tried to pass it off to Matt and me to organize but we convinced David to lead us. As we started to build this idea, we realized that we needed more help so I recruited Taylor and Lisa who are friends of mine with experience in the areas we were missing. We’ve been creating and building this thing since that moment. There has been a lot of educating ourselves and learning from other cons and their successes and mistakes."

So...WYD Outside of WakandaCon?

Thing is, each of these women are out here living life, breaking glass ceilings, hell, breaking glass universes. Doors are opening for them all over the place.

Taylor thought she was slipping me a shameless plug, but I was gonna put her on blast anyway 🙂 She's got a film project in the works, called The One I Love. It's about a Christian couple who face trials and tribulations as they grow in their relationship and faith. Since Taylor is herself a woman of faith, her production of this Indie film comes straight from the heart.

Lisa is, to put it simply, changing the world. She is the co-founder of The Nova Collective which is a company that works to transform corporate culture. I wanted to know if there had possibly been an uptick in a need for this after...how do I put this lightly?...the shitstorm after the election. "The entire Diversity & Inclusion industry has increased due to the friction caused by the last election. Conversations are happening in the workplace whether people want them to or not and we help companies strategize how to have those conversations. The last election has put a magnifying glass on problems that have already existed in the workforce so I think a lot of the workforce is relieved people are finally talking about it."

 

I asked each of them "What's the best thing about being a black woman? what's the worst thing?"

Ali hits me with a simple but truthful statement, "The most challenging thing about being a Black woman is being a Black woman today and the best thing about being a Black woman is being a Black woman."

"Sometimes I can’t tell if people are not listening to me because what I’m saying is actually trash or because they are not used to listening to black women."Lisa tells me "I’ve often worked in environments where what I say is dismissed because of my identity but I’ve learned that that is also my superpower. Now I work in groups that value my expertise and experiences. The best thing about being a black woman. Oh geez. I love how I can bend and manipulate my hair in many different ways. I love the skin I’m in. I love being a black woman."

And lastly, Taylor is quite literally taking me to church with her answer. "The BEST part about being a Black woman," she says, "is that there is no limit to the type of woman I can be. Black women grace almost every part of the earth. We’re literally everywhere, doing all kinds of great things. It’s truly inspiring. The challenge is that most people don’t see us that way. I often come across people who have such a narrow view of who I should be and how I should act because I am a Black woman. My hope is that Wakandacon exposes us all to a new way of thinking about Black women and provides a better representation of our whole selves."

Lisa Stole My Dream Job, Y'all

Not really, no. She didn't steal it from me. But I was super jelly to learn that Lisa Beasley is a friggin' writer for Cards Against Humanity!!

"Super cool, right?" She says to my green-with-envy self "I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of the comedians and writers in the room. The head writers thought that I would be a good fit for the room. Because of my other projects taking off, I now work with them as a Remote Contributor."

If You Don't Read Any Other Part Of The Article, Read This

All three of these women have been out there making it happen for themselves. So I had to ask them one burning question:

HOW???!!!???

How did you get to where you are today? How can someone like me succeed in this world? How? How? How!

Thing is, not only is Lisa working in the Arts, she is also making changes in Corporate America and has a lot of advice to give. "Big changes start with yourself. In attempting to save myself economically, I’ve been able to open doors for other people. The experiences that I’ve had as a black woman in certain industries led me to explore different career paths that could build spaces for people to do the work that they love to do. Selfishly, I wanted a place to work and found that a lot of my friends were having a hard time finding work because most jobs are just trying to fill a diversity quota and would only allow one of us at a time. So instead of waiting for someone to hire me, I created jobs for myself. If you’re a black woman and you want to make big changes, think about the why and hold that in your mind often. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing will get you through the tough times. Also, take care of yourself. We are so used to taking care of others that taking care of ourselves seems selfish."

Moving right along to Ali, who gives us the best advice on how to succeed as a black woman. "First, go to therapy" Ali scolds like a Saturday Morning Mama that tells you to get ready to clean all day "or find a restorative hobby." she continues.

"There will be difficult and trying experiences. You won’t be able to avoid them completely but remembering that your mental health and security is the most important thing. It’s very easy to think that our struggle fuels our creativity or as Black women, we should shoulder the burden and power through but you can’t create from an unhealthy place. You need moments to restore you that make you healthier.

I would also say that you are most likely two to three times better than your white counterparts. That’s just a fact. And if you’re anything like me, you probably work to be perfect before you even try anything because if you fail, there might not be a second chance. That desire to be exceptional only will help you. Don’t let that desire to be perfect hold you back from trying something new or become harmful. See why you’ll need therapy?

Lastly, rely on your networks. There are more people who are willing to give you advice, guidance, or an introduction than you realize. Asking someone for advice or asking them to tell you their story to success will make them feel important and they’ll probably want to help you. "

And lastly, Taylor leaves us with lasting advice that will get you through the entire week. Heck, maybe even the year. "I was really hoping to share some deeply impactful-life-changing Def Poetry Slam style advice," She says, "however, this is all that came to mind --- Decide. Commit. Succeed. Only you can determine your future and it starts with making a choice."

If these three women can make it, you can too. WakandaCon forever!

INTERVIEW: Infinity Stone Ring So Cute It Will Wipe Out Half The Population

I know we have worn out Avengers: Infinity War to dea- uh, I mean.... #TooSoon

What I mean to say is, what drew me to this Etsy Shop was the sight of this beautiful Avengers: Infinity War wire wrapped ring. It's just to die fo- crap! Uh, I mean T'CHALLA IS FINE OK!!!

Upon looking through this shop, I needed to get to know the artist behind all of this. Dot is the shop owner of Healing Evergreen on Etsy. Residing on the East Coast, Dot's favorite comic book character is the Hulk (she'll talk more about him later). She shows a lot of her talents through wire art and her shop has evolved into painting, designs, and healing crystals. I love her personality as it is all over her site. Under a discussion about plant life she says, "I also talk to my plants to help them grow (don't knock it till you tried it)."

I mean, all of my plants are dead and not spoken to so....she may be on to something.

So my nerdiness lead me to wire art, healing crystals, and these mix and match jewelry loc sets (which, can I get these in an Avengers Infinity Stone set for my locs, please???). I had to interview this gal and see what she was all about.

So, here's my interview with Dot. Enjoy our tomfoolery 🙂

Quinzel: What got you started in Wire Art?

Dot: "I saw some earrings I could not afford and decided I could make those. A couple of girls at work liked what I made and it started from there! And now I am going more towards using wire in painting and designing and moving away from jewelry."

Q: I know you said you are moving away from jewelry, but the Avengers ring is gorgeous! Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts on it?

D: "I have seen them all! But, I like the movie even though Hulk couldn't come out to plat, he's my favorite. Despite all contract agreements they didn't have to punk him out like that. Lol. I'm thinking they went to the soul stone and Doctor Strange saw this as the only way."

Q: Aside from crafting, tell me what other geeky things you enjoy?

D: "I like reading, watching cartoons... Assassination Classroom is my all time fav, I wish I could go Mach speed. I like Dragonball Z and Naruto Goku and Naruto remind me of each other. I also enjoy yard work and crystals."

Q: Do you have any other future Wire Art projects that you want to tell us about?

D: "As I stated before, I am moving away from jewelry arts and working towards paintings and designs. These paintings include wire and beats to create sensory art. I came up with this concept because of my daughter. She loves to create and she loves to touch and discuss different textures."

And there you have it, my interview with Dot from Healing Evergreen. I know she's moving away from jewelry and the Avengers Infinity Stone ring isn't currently listed on her Etsy shop. But if you just got to have your hands on it (like me) hit her up and I'm sure you both can work something out. Tell her The Hulk sent you 😉

 

7 Reasons SDCC is Bliss for Supernatural Fans: Know Them and Crush the Con

Supernatural was the reason I went to my first Comic Con. I loved the show dearly but hadn’t yet gotten into the fandom, so much like Jon Snow, I knew nothing. My ignorance resulted in one of the more painful failures of my fandom life. 

I went down to San Diego on the Saturday, because I only had a badge for Sunday. After a boozy, successful evening bar hopping, I asked a friend when I should get to the convention center for the Sunday panel in Hall H (the largest hall in the convention center). It’s important to note that my friend had only been there as a vendor, not as an attendee.  So he replied “I don’t know, an hour before should be fine.” If you’ve been to Comic Con before, I can hear your eyes pop out of your head. Or hear you guffawing. You’re incredulous, I get that. 

Well, I thought I’d be extra safe and get there three hours before. I walked down to the convention center and saw that people had spent the night there and that the line stretched further than the eye could see. I decided to try anyway, and was shocked that I actually eventually reached the front of the line.  But it was not meant to be. After hours in line, they literally let the person in front of me in and put down the rope right in front of my chest. Which, I knew was a risk. But then something happened that rubbed salt in the wound. As the last person to my left walked inside the hall, I heard them say “what is Supernatural?” That fan was there for the Twilight panel happening in Hall H after Supernatural, but SDCC doesn't clear the hall so unfortunately our fates were intertwined.

I won't lie, gentle reader. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I had gone to a lot of trouble to be there. The line security guy was apologetic.  He assured me I could cry if I wanted to. He’d been seeing it go on all day. 

I wasn’t going to let that happen to me twice. The following year, I dug in and learned how to master SDCC as a Supernatural fan. What I have learned is that there is no better fandom to belong to during the week of San Diego Comic Con. And if you know what to look for you will crush SDCC and leave with memories to last a lifetime. Here’s why, in no particular order:

7) Swag. Supernatural is a relatively small show. But the fandom is so passionate and committed, it makes an outsized impact. You can see that in the free swag at SDCC. First, the bags you get when you check in are usually designed with art from a limited number of new shows enjoying a big promotional push----and, Supernatural. Understandably, you don’t get to poke through all the bags when you check in. They have something like 150k people checking in. You take the bag you are given. But then you quickly look around and see who has a Supernatural bag that might trade with you. You want to do it soon, because later on, people have all traded and they have the bag they want.  

There is usually also a Comic Con magazine with a Supernatural cover. Entertainment Weekly is good about doing Supernatural covers as well and I've picked that up at the CW booth in the convention. So basically, you can get exclusive Supernatural swag for cheap or free. Well, you stand in lines and do some begging. But no money exchanges hands.

I should also mention my favorite Supernatural merch here. CineQuest is owned by Supernatural fans, and their exclusives are always the best. They know what moments, characters, and relationships mean the most to us. Check out their exclusives ahead of time and visit their booth. They are really friendly and will talk Supernatural with you if they aren’t too swamped. And if you aren’t going to SDCC, you can still snag some good stuff, so check it out. They don't pay me for the plug I just love them. 

6) Random Acts. As you may know, we have a Supernatural fan supported nonprofit called Random Acts. Random Acts always has volunteers come down for SDCC. They usually coordinate a donation drive as well as another service oriented activity. They are sometimes on smaller panels about fandom charity, doing us proud. I have worked with Random Acts on several volunteer projects. They are amazing. They work hard for free. And during SDCC they always bring us together. I just love to see their wonderful faces.

Misha and Random Acts volunteer Kae Winters (Hi Kae!) handing out coffee to folks in line for Hall H Sunday morning.

5) The big slumber party. I know this one is a matter of personal taste. But I always look forward to camping out overnight for the Sunday Supernatural panel. People look at you like you’re crazy. Or they feel bad for you. Who in their right minds would sit in a line for 27+ hours? Well, for me its part of the fun. I get to see people I talk to online all year but only get to see in person that one time per year. We bring card games, we work on art, we chat about our lives, and we gossip about the show. We organize line buddies so we can go get lunch or check out other panels. Then we all come back to get our wristbands and set up our sleeping bags at night. The weather is temperate and I love to camp anyway, so for me, Saturday night on the grass is a geek slumber party to enjoy.

Line buddies! The sleepover! The little one in the foreground is my baby, who is no longer a baby but is now 6'3" and no longer sleeps over. (It's not for everyone) I sleep over and he comes back with breakfast in the morning.

Also, the cast and crew know we are there for at least 24 hours before the panel, so they often come say hi. I’ve seen Jim Michaels (producer) come over to chat with fans. Jared Padalecki came by one year at 3am after his parties and said hi. And Misha always comes by. He might jog by and give high fives. He might bring us coffee in the morning. He might just pull his happy ass up with a cart stacked with pizzas. You just never know. There are pics of him all over the internet of him visiting the SDCC line. I don't own those pictures, but feel free to share them if you have them! 

4) Supernatural family at smaller panels. Supernatural has been on a damn long time. So there are a lot of past and present cast, writers, and crew. Many of them come down for SDCC for new or side projects. So who is your favorite writer? I bet they are signing or have a panel on some other project. I bet you would like that project too. Look at every panel and scan for names. Follow Supernatural family on twitter and sign up for their email lists. That way you don't miss them! 

Maybe I’ll do a separate post just for SPNFam appearances! If you’d like that, then let me know in the comments or on twitter. It’s like Supernatural Pokémon. Catch ‘em all.

These are my personal pictures with SPNFam over the years at SDCC. My apologies in advance for the wild variety of quality. Also, I no longer remember the dates. I carbon date them by my son's height and my inevitable slide into middle age. But we have queens Kim and Briana. We have Osric, Rich, Rob Benedict, Jim, Rob Thompson, and Ben. To a one they were gracious and friendly.

3) Wayward Cocktails. Jules Wilkinson, who runs the Supernatural Wiki and is a lovely human being, spearheads the annual fan party Wayward Cocktails.  We take over a bar in downtown. There are Supernatural decorations, fan art vendors, drink specials, amazing swag, and all your SPNFam. If you work on Supernatural in any capacity, you get in free, so folks who work hard behind the scenes on the show will come and chat with the fans. It's our chance to thank them for their hard work.

Last year at the party, I spotted Bobo Berens (writer), and I went over to say hi and thank him for the great episodes and for being rad.  The friend that came with him was a little surprised. He said something to the effect of..wait...you're famous here? These people all know who you are? I was like YES OF COURSE! AND WE LOVE HIM! It was really cute.

Two years of Wayward Cocktails. Me with Bobo Berens on the right. I don't take a lot of pics inside because it's so dark, but trust, it's a lot of fun.

The actors of course get a lot of the glory because they literally personify the characters we love. And they absolutely deserve all the love they get. But the words they say? The sets we adore? The amazing props that become objects we cherish? Lots of people work hard on those and don’t always get the feedback from fans since they are behind the scenes. This is a super fun opportunity to meet them and let them know how much their work matters to you. You never know who is going to come, but no matter what, you have a great time with other fans. 

2) Misha Collins. There are so many members of our cast that I look at and think ‘gatdamnit we are lucky bastards that this person is a part of our SPNFamily’.  I feel that way about Osric, Kim, Lisa, Brianna, Rachel, and many others that have huge hearts and inspire us to do good, celebrate our diversity, and show kindness to one another. Misha Collins is truly one of those people, and he always connects with fans at SDCC.  One year he tweeted us to meet him and have a cosplay contest, even though he wasn't even on the panel that year. Last year he did a scavenger hunt on the fly and the goal was to find him in downtown San Diego wherever he was. THAT warrants some detail.

We were in line for Hall H and someone came by with a basket of fortune cookies with the first clue. Of course we had no idea what was happening. He just springs these things on us. To join in the Misha fun, you have to be open minded and willing to drop everything you’re doing. I wasn’t going to miss out, so I took a clue, grabbed a wonderful line buddy and got moving.

The first clue led to us finding someone near The Tick pop up who gave us a task and a clue. So we started doing tasks, documenting them, and bringing them to the next stop which we would figure out via the clues.  At every stop there were Supernatural cast members giving us the next clue and task. So we got to meet and talk to Osric, Kim, Brianna, Ruthie, and Alaina. We couldn't take selfies because it would spoil the clues so we kept it under wraps so that each person after us got to walk into a hotel or restaurant and see a cast member or two waiting for them. It was so lovely. And we did tasks like find the ubiquitous Jesus protesters and protest with them, find warriors, find cat costumes, I can’t remember the details but it was a ridiculously amazing ride, and Misha was the end of it with Osric and Kim in the park right across from the convention center. They chatted with us, took pics, and were just generally delightful. Those three, man. They are gems.

It was a mini GISH! (formerly known as GISHWHES). Btw, the deadline to sign up for this year's GISH is fast approaching, go register! https://www.gish.com

 

Osric, Misha, and Kim being their wonderful selves. Again, I didn't really have a great camera yet but you get the picture! (ba dum dum ch)

The moral of the story is, you can set your watch to it (do people still wear watches?). Misha is going to try to channel our energies for the greater good and build something bigger than ourselves. That’s our Mish. Set notifications for his twitter account.

1) The Panel. The Supernatural teams seem to understand that we go balls to the wall for Supernatural at SDCC, and they  reward that with a great panel. They know we sleep outside. They know we wait around the clock. And they take that seriously and let us know we are appreciated.  After all, SDCC is the most massive pop culture event of its kind in the world, and Hall H is the monster hall of the con. Not many shows can fill Hall H on their own. But Supernatural is not just any show. Fans do what it takes to show up for Supernatural. And every year we leave on cloud nine after our Sunday panel.

Here’s how it usually goes, based on my 6 years of SPN panels at SDCC.

About an hour before the panel they start letting us in to Hall H. We’ve all slept outside but by then we’ve given each other breaks to go brush our teeth and get breakfast. We’ve packed up our bedrolls and put them away somewhere. We are sleepy but excited.  As we walk into the Hall, the staff give us high fives and we cheer. We made it into Hall H! Last year, they also tossed us each a t-shirt commemorating every year Supernatural has had a panel at SDCC. We speed walk through the massive hall to find a seat as close as humanly possible.  We take pics of ourselves in front of the screen. We post selfies with our SPNfam. We make sure we get to the bathroom before the panel starts. We walk around saying hi to anyone we didn’t get a chance to see in line. 

Then the room gets dark. We see new footage. A preview usually. We see the gag reel. Then we see Rich and Rob, who moderate all the Supernatural panels these days.  They bring out Jensen, Jared, a producer or showrunner, and now Misha too. In the past there have been others, but always at minimum, it’s Jensen and Jared. They seem to remain so grateful and excited to be in Hall H. They come in taking footage and trying to look all the way to the back of the hall. And they start the panel which never fails to be uplifting and hilarious. Jensen and Jared are basically brothers. Their chemistry is a beautiful thing to watch and share in. If you have been to a SPN con you know. They finish each other’s sentences, they have perfect comic timing together--they could take their act on the road.  They are consummate professionals with the fans -- warm, humble, and sincere, with the occasional gentle ribbing when appropriate. We are so fortunate to have these two guys leading our show. And the fact that the moderators are their close friends adds to the atmosphere of family and friends. 

But last year there was more.  Before the panel, when the room got dark, the entirety of the massive hall was ringed with screens with a special video presentation for us. It was overwhelming in the best way. And then the band Kansas came out and performed ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’. I put my phone down and just yelled the lyrics with everyone else. I had goosebumps! There were tears! 

But even when we don’t get Kansas or t-shirts, we always leave on cloud nine.

That isn’t to say we always agree on everything. We do express our dissent when they do something awful the prior season, like kill off our one LGBT representation and love letter to the fandom Charlie Bradbury in the most disrespectful way possible--but I digress.  Without fail, no matter our disagreements, we are always reminded why we are a part of the Supernatural family. We always leave stronger and uplifted. We saw our fandom family. We made new friends. We felt the love and appreciation of our cast and we were able to show our love and appreciation for them. We laughed at the gag reel together.  We did something weird because Misha said it’d be a good idea. These are memories we will always treasure.

So if you’re going this year, please come say hi. You've definitely seen enough pics of my face now to find me! 🙂 I’ll be at Wayward Cocktails Thursday.  I’ll be in that big ass line up and down the water on Saturday.  Hopefully I’ll be wearing a Supernatural bag. But I’ll definitely be in Hall H screaming my fool head off. Let’s make some damn memories.

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