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.

Lyrics That Healed Me: Fall Out Boy Edition

I have a confession, I may be stuck in 2005. Yes back when iPods were a lot bigger, Rhapsody was still a thing, and I spent hours on end listening to a song I didn't know by a band I didn't know on repeat.

That band was Fall Out Boy.

Fast forward to the present and that obsession only grew over time. What still keeps me a Fall Out Boy stan in 2K18?

That's right, ladies and gentleman, the lyrics.

I'm a word nerd, which you probably know by now, since I do the writing thing. But something about someone who can just...word *heart eyes*

Some lyrics just stick with you forever. Let's look at some of the Fall Out Boy lyrics that actually helped me get through some rough times.

 

"You are what you love, not who loves you"

This lyric was majorly important in a time where I made a decision to distance myself from toxic people for my own mental health. However, toxic people rarely see it this way and use many manipulation tactics to make you feel unlovable. This lyric was my mantra for a good year.

 

"Put on Your War Paint"

Another long used mantra of mine. When I was nervous or about to walk into a stressful situation, I could just say, "Quinzel, it's time to put on your war paint" and I was ready to go.

 

"I Don't Just Want To Be A Footnote in Someone Else's Happiness"

While the song is mainly about an extramarital affair, being a footnote in someone else's happiness can apply to many different situations. This lyric was a wake-up call for me and helped me nope out of a lot of one-sided relationships.

 

"Before It Gets Better The Darkness Gets Bigger The Person That You'd Take A Bullet For Is Behind The Trigger"

As painful as this lyric is, there's something refreshing when your feelings are put into words. When dealing with betrayal of any kind, it can be hard to access your feelings besides hurt and anger. This lyric made me feel less alone.

 

"May The Bridges That I Burn Light The Way Back Home"

Mmm, yes. Toxic people I have walked away from took it as my Walk of Shame. Quinzel will be back. Quinzel can't survive on her own. She doesn't wanna burn her bridges with us.

Well, guess what, bitches? I got matches.

 

"I'm A Stitch Away From Making It And And A Scar Away From Falling Apart"

At times I feel simultaneously ok and not ok. I feel like I'm so close to the finish line but I cannot take on another boss fight I'm tired and determined. I'm discouraged but riding on faith all at the same time.

And I can feel not ok and everything still feel ok. Ya know?

 

So there you have it. Been loving Fall Out Boy for over a decade and quite loving the heck out of the lyrics. Are there any Fall Out Boy lyrics that I didn't list here that healed you? What other lyrics from other bands have healed you? Sound off and leave us a comment

Geeky Mom Review: Easy Geeky Nails by Espionage Cosmetics

Disclaimer: on my search for nerdy products to make my hectic mom life a little easier, the ladies at Espionage Cosmetics were kind enough to send me their nail wraps to try in exchange for an honest review. They didn't pay me and all of the following is my truth.

This ain't yo' regular stick on nails!

For geeky girls like us, we want to have more than solid colors and chevron patterns? No No one else will have something like Sonic The Hedgehog nail wraps any time soon. We are the oddballs of the earth, and we wear it proud! And Espionage Cosmetics helps you to wear that oddball geekery right on your nails.

That being said, I am a mom, a new mom at that. I bite my nails, I wash bottles constantly, and...let's not get started on diaper changes. But my baby, Bby-8, is still the coolest. Even if I have to sacrifice my geeky fashion.

Yeah, I ain't seen a nail polish bottle in...I'm not sure, sometime last year? Thing is, you can probably get a few strokes of polish on your nails as a new mom, but being ready at a moments notice with a tiny baby meant that drying time was a thing of the past.

But I STILL want to look nice sometimes and just dress a little more...me. I freely admit I am not an adult. Age wise, yes, I am in my 30s. But I am also showing up in Pac Man leggings and band tees. I like bright colors and I make soccer moms roll their eyes.

So, I stumbled upon Espionage Cosmetics at the beginning of my pregnancy. And, yeah, I was sold then. But shortly after clicking on it, that good ol' morning sickness kicked in and it was a distant memory.

But I have been given a second chance to try out these nails for myself and I am going to share with you my findings? Are the designs super cool? Are they easy to put on? How much can they withstand? Are the ladies of Espionage Cosmetics super cool?* Keep reading on for my review.

Nerdy Nail Wraps Displayed from Espionage Cosmetics

"Ok Quinzel, How Do They Look Tho?"

The designs are awesome. They have something for every kind of geek. From gamers to book nerds and even fans of grilled cheese, there's something for every kind of geeky girl. If I had unlimited funds, I'd most definitely get one of each (yes, even the grilled cheese one).

LISTEN, don't be silly like me and forget to peel the clear backing off the front. It makes a HUGE difference in the nerdy nail wraps looking more like polish instead of like a sticker.

"I Am Also A Geeky Mom and I Ain't Got That Much Time To Be Doing Nails"

Girl me neither! Again I was lucky if I could get one nail painted before I had to attend to Bby-8. Thing is, these wraps are quick, easy, and you don't even have to apply heat to them! I do recommend using a top coat to get a little more last out of it, but again, if time is a factor, you'll be ok without it.

"Does It At Least Outlast A Few Sleepless Nights? What Day Is it?"

I have....no idea what day it is, so I am going to deflect by telling you about how long it lasts. On the packaging, it says it can last up to two weeks. And since my maintenance has sorta plummeted, I can deal with not having to think about my nails for two weeks.

The thing is, as a Geeky Mom, I spend a lot of time washing bottles, and I mean, water and adhesives just don't mix. So as amazing as they are, at this stage in my life, they only make it about a week. On the plus side, I can't even get nail polish to last over 24 hours so...I mean that ain't so bad

So...Should I Do The Thing?

If "the thing" is buy them, then yes, absolutely. Open a new tab. Do it now! And I wouldn't endorse a product I wouldn't buy myself so let's wait for this paycheck to drop and see what happens.

Luckily, as a fellow Geeky Mom, I realize diapers take up most of your expenses, so hop on over to Espionage Cosmetics and use GEEKYGIRL10 to get 10% off.

If you want to learn more about Espionage Cosmetics, check out their Facebook page. Got any questions about their products and want to hear more from someone who has used them? Shoot me an email and I'll give you the scoop!

 

*= I mean, I'm not reviewing humans because that would be...idk? But I can assure you, you would want to be BFFs with these ladies in real life.

Geeky Mom Review: Nerdy Baby Stuff from Omas Goodies

Disclaimer: I reached out to the ladies of Oma Goodies to see if they would let me try their product in exchange for my honest review. I wasn't paid for this, so, uh, yeah. Honesty and whatnot.

The people want to know, "what's the point of you reviewing geeky baby stuff for geeky mommies?"

Well, I will give you two scenarios.

  1. Maybe you're a first-time Geeky Mom. You can't wait to show off your Death Star shaped belly and plan to use your maternity leave browsing cute baby stuff on Etsy. The reality is: you'll be too full of love, overwhelmed, sleep deprived, and maybe a little smelly (cause let's face it, showers are a world-class luxury those first few months) to even have the energy to open a browser. So wouldn't it be nice if your old pal Quinzel tested it out for you? That could buy you a precious 30 minutes of sleep.
  2. Or let's say you don't have kids. And you want to buy things for your friends that are as useful as they are adorable. Unfortunately, sometimes you just get one or the other. And how the heck would you know for sure when you don't have any babies to test it on?

One look through Omas Goodies Etsy shop and you will be wishing for septuplets, cause you will want to dress all of your offspring in their adorable geeky baby wear.

The pattern I got was Minions and it was awfully cute. The stitching on all of the items was very professionally done. The opposite side of the fabric was absorbent and soft.

So if you're looking for cute fandom stuff. You're in the right place. But, like how we question all cute things, is it useful?

Because here's the thing, your baby is going to spit up A LOT. Then they are going to drool A LOT MORE. So you would get lucky if your cutesy nerdy baby stuff lasted through one photo. Again, not the case with Oma's Goodies. This stuff is useful annnndd cute 🙂

The burp cloth is the perfect size while the bib is a little small triangle shape. At first, I was a bit worried about that, but as it turns out, it was perfect.

The material on the back of the burp cloth and bib remind me of those ShamWow commercials because I'm telling you, it gets up everything. There was a pretty epic spit up that somehow missed the bib completely and ended up on the floor. I was able to soak it all up just using the bib!

Lastly, this tie is just darn cute. It ended up in Bby-8's mouth several times, so I'm just going to take that as he loves it too.

So if you're a mom or buying a gift for a mom, Omas Goodies is the way to go. Not only is it cute and useful, their prices are really affordable. I am probably going to return myself and get the Star Wars set.

Check out Omas Goodies Facebook page and also their Etsy shop. And if you're a new mom reading this, for the love of Pete, hand that baby off and get some sleep.

 

1 Reason To Watch 13 Reasons Why Season 2

TW: this article discusses sexual assault and rape that happens in 13 Reasons Why, season 2. And while I am about to rip a rapist to shreds, I am sensitive to you protecting your mental health. Proceed with caution. Also, if you or someone you know is a rape victim, here is a list of resources that may be able to provide support. Take care of yourselves, we care about you 🙂

 

I hear ya, this season of 13 reasons Why isn't without issues, and that's putting it lightly. After that overly gratuitous and unnecessary rape scene, I have more than 13 reasons to throw this series in the trash.

However...

Let's dig it out of the trash for a second. Wash off the sticky goo and banana peels and focus on the one thing these writers did right.

They told us why Bryce was able to easily able to commit such heinous acts against women.

It was NOT because he:

  • Was abused as a child
  • Was raped himself
  • Was tired of being rejected by women
  • Was acting out any form of trauma and, therefore, was able to get sympathy from viewers

Bryce was an asshole rapist simply because he was an asshole rapist.

That's it.

He had no excuse. He was a privileged, athletic white boy who got anything he wanted. Even in his speech to his mother, he shrugs while admitting "I wanted her, so I f*cked her"

This is in regards to his rape of Hannah Baker.

Often times in media, we are made to sympathize with a person who has no regard for their victims' feelings. We are made to feel sorry and to try to understand their side of the story. It's frustrating to watch and it's just another way of making their victims (and any victims watching) feel powerless.

But not this time. We went into this whole trial knowing that Hannah, Jessica, and even Bryce's girlfriend Chole, were all, without question, raped by this fucking rich asshole. And it's very clear that this asshole was not sorry.

While it's disheartening to see the jury ultimately believe his fake ass nerd defense, maybe this will cause viewers of the show to think before they dismiss a victims statement.

Your rapist can be rich, can be smart, can have anyone they want, can even have a partner that they have consensual sex with, and STILL be a rapist.

I really hope that this begins to change others perception of "The Perfect Victim" and stop making excuses for people who believe that they are entitled to other peoples bodies.

What do you think about 13 reasons why season 2? Leave us a comment and start a discussion

How Were We Supposed to Know that Hipsters Were So Flammable – Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal Deliver in Blindspotting

Hey geeks! Last night your girl went to an advanced screening of Blindspotting with the Bruin Film Society.  Blindspotting is an indie film written by and starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.  In Blindspotting, Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.

It will be released July 20 but as a fangirl I lack patience when it comes to seeing my faves. So I braved L.A. traffic from the IE and boy was it worth it. The movie was phenomenal. And after the screening, writer/stars Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, and brilliant supporting actresses Janina Gavankar and Jasmine Cephas Jones did a lengthy Q & A. After the Q & A they sat on the stage (!) and stayed to talk to fans for over an hour. They were precious. I’ll talk about that experience on the podcast next week but for now, this is my Blindspotting review.

Blindspotting cast

Blindspotting is an ambitious movie. It is about home and loyalty. It portrays people of color raising children, trying to keep their relationships strong, and coping with PTSD, all in environment of gentrification, police violence, and mass incarceration. But at heart it is a buddy comedy centered on fast talking hot head Miles (Rafael Casal) and easy going everyman Collin (Daveed Diggs). It is a nuanced, challenging, yet side splitting buddy comedy. And oh, there is spoken word poetry. Quite a bit of it. All of that sounds pretty hard to pull off. But the crazy thing is that they DO pull it off. The screening audience (myself included) was alternately laughing, gasping, and sitting on the edges of our seats. There were also tears. It is that affecting. The movie's power to affect the viewer, if you are a person of color especially, comes partly from the fact that the characters who inhabit this movie would have been stereotyped or made caricatures by other movies.  We don’t often get to see these types of characters in this way – people of color, convicted felons, working class people, women of color, etc. In Blindspotting they deal with trauma but they also dance in the kitchen. They grapple with violence but also clown on each other. Another big part of the impact of this movie comes from the method of layered, gradual storytelling and commitment to authenticity.

First, the authenticity. Every single aspect of the movie feels organic. Every character feels like it was pulled from inside of someone rather than composed on a writing room board. The dialogue is fresh and the jokes feel like jokes your friends would tell, but only if they were as fast on their feet and as funny as Miles and Collin.  In the Q & A portion after the screening, Daveed Diggs says he and Rafael drew on their own rhythm and chemistry as lifelong friends. That makes Miles and Collin a joy to watch.  The spoken word in the movie is the patter of two childhood friends who have  spent years running the streets entertaining each other by just talking shit and making up verses. I was a little worried about potential awkward inexplicable poetry moments. But I literally didn’t even notice the transitions between poetry and non poetry. That is just how Miles and Collin talk. And as the spoken word elements are heightened little by little throughout the movie, you are never taken outside of the story. You just get absorbed early and it is a fantastic ride.

Secondly, part of the organic approach is that the movie never tells you what to think, it just makes you feel for the characters. It  shows people living their lives, and then it goes about taking their inner emotional lives seriously. For example, the main friendship of the movie involves two men who love each another (it's platonic, but it's love), but whose friendship is tested by the world and their own trauma. Precious few movies or TV shows portray male friendships in all of their importance and nuance.  So that already makes Blindspotting special. According to most pieces of art/entertainment, men aren’t supposed to care about each other that much. They aren’t supposed to need each other that much. In most movies centering male friendships, the audience is encouraged to laugh with them but never allowed to cry with them. That is a classic feature of toxic masculinity. But Blindspotting just blows past all of that and shows brilliantly how these two men need their friendship. That makes the movie great because it rings true.

It would be absurd to pretend that Miles and Collin wouldn’t depend on their friendship for survival. They grew up together. They have helped each other survive absent fathers, life on the streets, and the criminal justice system. So the fact that Collin and Miles have chosen to be family to one another makes complete sense. Some of the best scenes are when Collin is in Miles’s home, playing with his baby Ziggy (Ziggy Baitinger), and bantering affectionately with his partner Ashley (Jamine Cephas-Jones). But Collin and Miles experience life differently because the world treats them differently based on their race. Collin is trying to survive in a world where the color of his skin makes him a target, and his record means one misstep puts him back in jail. Miles wants to champion Collin, but in true family fashion, that often means inhibiting his growth. Also, Miles is a white man who grew up in among people of color, so he feels like he has to continually prove he is extra down. Add that to his deep fear of losing his home (Oakland) to gentrification, and he is always the first one to pop off. But when he starts shit, he is attracting the police, which puts Collin at risk as a Black man with a record. Miles doesn’t think about that at all, which is part of the problem. He’s just being wild trying to defend his home and his best friend. That’s what he thinks, anyway. But he is missing a big part of the picture by refusing to be accountable for the added risk he is bringing into Collin’s life and his own son’s life. This problem unfolds and escalates throughout the movie masterfully.  By the time Miles and Collin have it out, covered in blood in a parking lot, you just can’t tear your eyes away. The dialogue, the performances, everything is as compelling as anything you will see on screen.

Also, this approach to telling personal stories is the most impactful way to talk about topics like police murder and mass incarceration. That is because politics are personal. It is the power structure that de-personalizes politics. It is the power structure that tells you politics is something separate you think about only when you turn on CNN or go to the voting booth.  This is at best a privileged point of view, and at worse, a calculated strategy to dissuade marginalized people from participating in the political process. In truth, politics is simply what our institutions do to the human spirit.  Watching Collin deal with PTSD, Ashley trying to keep her son safe, Val trying to improve her life, and Miles trying desperately to hold all the pieces together with his bare hands – these stories tell us everything we need to know. When we see institutional injustices collide with their lives – Ziggy throwing his hands up and saying ‘don’t’ shoot’ while giggling, Collin walking down the street at night during a particularly heart stopping scene where you are begging the cop car to Please. Just. Keep. Driving.  How can you not see that politics are about how the human spirit is at the mercy of our institutions?

Also brilliant is the layered, gradual way in which they introduce you to these characters. You go on a journey that forces you to see their humanity, the good, bad, and ugly, at all times.  This plays out to sharp effect with the Collin character as well as with Val and Collin's arc.

Let’s start with Collin. Of course Daveed Diggs is absurdly lovable and he brings that quality to the screen. But it is more than that. The movie is masterful at creating this experience of getting to know Collin at every level so that you never simplify or patronize him. Now. You know from the opening scene that he did time for a felony. At the first part of the movie, you are left to guess as to Collin’s crime.  But you are having so much fun with the jokes, the banter, and the streets of Oakland,  that you don’t dwell on the question. Also, you feel right away that it can’t be anything too nefarious. When you meet him, the first thing you see is his sense of humor. Then in quick succession, you see his vulnerability around Val and his silliness with Ziggy. You get the idea that he has disappointed Val and made some poor choices, but you know that he is a good person who wants to better himself. While Miles and Collin are moving things in and out of people’s houses, they idly make up rhymes together. These are absolutely brilliant pieces of character development as well. Hearing the rhymes Collin makes with Miles to deal with the boredom tells you that he is a sensitive, clever, thoughtful guy. Then, a little way into the movie, Miles (in true extra af Miles fashion) dismisses Collin’s crime saying ‘how were we supposed to know hipsters were so flammable!?” But as we see through the entire movie, humor is a great way to cope but can also be used to mask truth.  So from the jump, you sense that Miles is a hilarious but unreliable narrator. So you know fire is involved but that's about it.

By the time you see the crime Collin has committed, you are already ALL IN on Collin. You love him and want things to turn out for him. The crime isn’t something that changes that. But it does reveal another layer of Collin that surprises you. You also see him momentarily through Val’s eyes and in that instant you understand why she broke up with him. The moment also adds another layer to your understanding of Miles. Like, oooohhhhh he thinks a woman should be completely ok with that. Duly noted, Miles.

By the end of the movie you see Collin for who he is in his entirety and the journey you took in doing so never let you simplify him. It never let you love him for something he wasn’t.  A more pedestrian movie would give you the experience of “Some incarcerated men of color are good people.” Blindspotting give you the experience of “all incarcerated men of color are human beings, both good and bad, like Collin and like everyone else”.  Y’all. That’s a big difference and it reflects masterful storytelling, and it must be said, storytelling where people of color get to tell their own stories.

And since I have mentioned Val, I have to say that I appreciated how layered the storytelling was for Val and Collin’s relationship. You first meet Val when she and Collin have an icy relationship. He’s almost off parole and he wants to show her that he can improve himself.  She has her defenses up. The first introduction you get to any description of Val is Miles complaining about her. He calls her a disloyal bitch in his loud, extra way. He complains about Val not visiting Collin in jail (and presumably dumping him) the way he complains about $10 green drinks, his favorite burger place becoming vegan, and hipsters parking like shit. These are all crimes in Miles’s world.

As a woman, I did not join him in judging her. Calling a woman disloyal is just another way to describe a woman maxing out on your bullshit.  But while Miles judges Val, (mostly because he judges the Collin/Val relationship through the lens of family, not romantic partnerships) the movie does not. I was happy about that, because judging a woman for leaving a relationship can become sexist hack bullshit really quickly. But thankfully that doesn't happen. Val is nuanced like everyone else.

As the movie unfolds it becomes clear that Val wants better for Collin because she still loves him. And the chemistry between Val and Collin is off the chain. The scene where she is braiding his hair and he looks up at her? Oh Lord. *fans self * And afterward when he goes in for a hug and she shuts her eyes while he is holding her like “goddamnit motherfucker why do I love this so much”. I mean. Their chemistry is freakin fire and she is so relatable.  I’m a school nerd and so I’m also going to relate hard to a girl doing her flashcards trying to better herself. Another way the movie shows that it does not judge Val is that the other women do not judge Val. Collin’s mom loves Val. And Ashley is very clear that any distance between her and Val is because of a very perfuntory consession to Miles's focus on loyalty. An Ashley line I loved was “ I didn’t cross the picket line, shit I’m just following her on social media.” These women have made different choices but they do not judge one another. And you get the feeling that they care about each other a lot.

With time you see that neither Val nor Miles are perfect in what they expect from Collin. And you understand that it was never about Collin making a choice between Val or Miles expectations. It was always about Miles choosing himself. And oh god do you want him to choose himself. CHOOSE YOURSELF, COLLIN.

Look, I’m a passionate person. Latina + fangirl is a potent combo. But its also a damn good movie that touches on so many themes that matter to me.

Last thing I want to say is that this movie depicted PTSD in an incredibly honest way. As someone who suffers from PTSD I appreciate that. And on the podcast we are going to do an entire ep about media that gets the depiction of mental health right and I’ll definitely be talking about Blindspotting. I'll also give my first-hand account of meeting the amazing cast, and I’ll read a list of names Miles calls white hipster gentrifying his neighborhood. It’s good shit.

So yeah, do I need to spell it out? Go see Blindspotting when it comes out. Release date: July 20, 2018 (USA)