Wednesday, July 11, 2012

San Diego Comic Con 2012: Preview Night

Tonight was the big "Preview Night" of San Diego Comic Con - the night when people stand in crazy lines in the hopes of buying as many exclusive items as possible so they can turn around, mark them up, and sell them to someone else.

Sorry - did that sound a little jaded? Maybe it's because trying to nab a few exclusives myself (not for resale, but either for friends or to keep) netted me approximately 2 1/2 hours of time spent waiting in line at A SINGLE VENDOR to get a must-have item for a friend. Do you know that moment when you want to give up, but you stick with it because "hey, I've already invested this much time into it"? Yeah. That. Except for me, add in TWO helpings of "declined for unusual activity" attempts to purchase said items after spending 2 1/2 hours in line, two frantic calls to two companies assuring them the activity wasn't unusual at all, and then more time spend in the line I thought I'd finally left behind.

Maybe it's the exhaustion talking. Maybe it's the fact that this morning I accidentally erased ALL of the images on my camera (including ones from my possibly once-in-a-lifetime Van Halen concert (the real band - aka The David Lee Roth band). Maybe it's the exhaustion of spending the day at an amusement park. Or maybe I'm just feeling really old and tired. (Get off my lawn, you little scamps!) But today was a tough one. Good overall, but definitely tough.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Hopefully tomorrow I won't stand in a handicapped line that didn't move until enough of us started questioning why the heck another register for the disabled hadn't been opened. (Hint: The disabled are in a separate line for a reason - namely, that those of us with issues such as mobility can't handle standing for 2 1/2 hours. Hello, that's why we're IN the special line - to try to avoid that added pain. (And no, we aren't "lucky" to be in a shorter line. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd LOVE to be able-bodied and have to handle the long lines. Feeling pain 24/7 is NOT in any way "lucky".)

I'm just hoping tomorrow is a little smoother, a little less painful, and more conducive to being able to enjoy my surroundings.

Were you at SDCC Preview Night? What goodies were you hoping to score? Were you successful?

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Two weeks prior to the convention, Comic-Con International releases the schedules each day of the con. If you're a person who likes structure and feels the need to plan and make lists, this is the time when you excitement/panic/frustration starts kicking into high gear. Why? Because there is a LOT of things you desperately want to do, and they will inevitably be scheduled at the same time as other things you also desperately want to do! And that's just taking into account the SDCC official schedule. There's also a myriad of things going on at the same time but at different locations near the convention center. 

The best advice I can give you - for what it's worth - is this: Don't panic. Ultimately, things are going to crop up that interfere with those best laid plans. You'll oversleep and get in line too late to gain access to the panel you really wanted to see. You'll have some sort of wardrobe malfunction with your superhero costume. Someone you wanted to meet will cancel at the last minute due to illness or scheduling conflicts. Basically, the best thing to do is to plan to your heart's content, but with the knowledge that you're going to need to be very flexible about changing your plans.

In regards to packing, I am a sort of an "always be prepared" packer. I tend to put a pair of undies and a fresh shirt into my carry-on in case my checked luggage gets lost, for example. An important note: make sure every bag has your name and contact info inside (yes, in addition to the outer luggage tag). Sometimes the baggage handlers can get rough enough that your tag gets separated from your bag. Here's my standard packing list for whenever I'm traveling to attend a convention:


  • wallet 
  • travel itinerary including phone number and address of my hotel
  • any pre-purchased tickets to events, including of course the printed out badge confirmation
  • medications
  • reading material
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, and deodorant
  • any electronics I'm bringing (phone, computer, camera, MP3 player, etc.) along with the necessary cords and chargers
  • contact case and solution, glasses with case
  • a spare pair of undies and a fresh shirt
  • the BACKPACK with it's supplies
  • comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes (seriously can't stress comfort enough, people!)
  • a "nice" outfit or two for going out to dinner or to someplace dressy outside the convention center walls
  • a swimsuit for the hotel pool
  • sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, and any other related thing that would hold up the line at the airport if I put it in my carry on (put these in Ziploc bags, squeeze most of the air out of the bag before sealing - you don't want to open your suitcase and find all of your clothes covered in shampoo)
  • an extra duffle bag with secure luggage tag (in case I can't fit all of my con swag into my luggage)
You may decide that this list is just right for you, or you may need to add or remove some of the items I've listed. 

I'd love to hear from you. What sort of preparations do you make prior to a big trip and/or a big convention?

Friday, June 29, 2012


Big conventions like San Diego Comic Con can be overwhelming - the crowds, the long lines, the multiple panels and events you want to attend happening simultaneously. It can be hard to even find out about some events, parties, contests and giveaways until after the fact.

How do you stay "on top" of things as they're being planned or announced? While the official Comic-Con International website has the panel schedule, exhibitor lists, locations and maps, that doesn't begin to cover all of the things going on in and near the convention. In this instance, Twitter is your friend. You can find things related to your interests by following certain "hash tags", such as #SDCC or #_your_favorite_thing_here_. I'm @TNgirlinWA if you wanna follow me. :)

Who should you follow? (See suggested list, below.) It can depend on where your interest lies, really. If you're a big movie or television fan, you'd want to find the Twitter accounts for the companies that make the movies or TV shows you like. Following the official movie or TV show Twitter accounts, or actors/actresses from the film or show, can also keep you in the loop. If you're interest lies in comic books, you may want to follow the publishers, writers, and artists of your favorites. If you're a gamer or collector, check to see if the exhibitors have Twitter accounts, as they may have exclusive, limited time offers announced throughout the convention. Then there are the places who dig up and report all sorts of various SDCC-related news items and share them with the Twitterverse.

*Here's a partial list of recommended Twitter accounts you may want to follow for SDCC (please leave comments to suggest more so I can have as comprehensive a list as possible):

@comic_con (official Twitter for Comic-Con International)






Of course, when you go to San Diego for Comic-Con, don't forget that there's a whole lot more to experience in the city than just the convention.


*Note that some of these Twitter accounts could fall under more than one category. Basically? That just means more bang for your...tweet...or something.

Friday, June 22, 2012

San Diego Comic Con 2012 is coming: THE BACKPACK

It's almost that time again. A time of myth and legend. A time of the penultimate nerd prom. That's right, folks. I'm talking San Diego Comic Con!

This will be my third time attending SDCC. It should've been my fourth, but an accident (which caused me to have a permanent disability, by the way, because why screw up a little when you can screw up royally) in the weeks prior prevented my attendance in 2009.

My daughter will be coming with me this time. It's a sort of early 18th birthday gift to her. I'm hoping it won't be too overwhelming for her and that she'll have a fantastic time. *fingers crossed* Aside from Doctor Who, she's probably going to be most interested in the anime offerings. I, on the other hand, like roaming the floor and finding out about various comics, and like to camp out in panel rooms for tv shows and such. I'm excited to be able to bring her along, and share a Mom/Daughter adventure.

Since we're arriving a couple of days early, we've already made plans to go to some museums in the area, take in an amusement park, and other such tourist-y things.

I've not started actually packing, but I've been mentally packing for months! Packing clothes isn't too challenging for me, because I'm not a cosplayer. No, for me, it's all about the backpack. You know, the constant companion of the experienced convention attendee, packed with the necessities and the little things that can make or break your day. Below is a list of items I ALWAYS try to put into my con backpack:
  • Three ring binder with sheet protectors (great for keeping signed comics or photos from being crushed), a trading card sheet protector, and a pencil holder for three ring binders containing Sharpies in black, blue, red and silver, a couple of pens, and a small notebook and/or sketchbook (you never know when autograph, sketch or photo opportunities might crop up)
  • A sturdy container to keep snacks from getting crumbled (I recommend protein-rich snacks like peanut butter crackers or pepperoni sticks)
  • A bottle of water (you can refill the bottle easily enough at the con throughout the day)
  • Sunscreen (you'll be spending plenty of time outside in lines)
  • Personal products such as OTC pain reliever, mini first aid kit, mini sewing kit and some feminine hygiene products (even if I don't need these things, I can be someone else's hero for the day with these supplies on hand)
  • Travel-sized deodorant (just because you're among some "unwashed masses" doesn't mean you need to add to the stink factor) and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste and/or some mints/gum (you don't wanna be remembered as "that guy/gal with THE BREATH")
  • Tech necessities, including a power cord for your phone, extra batteries for your camera, extra memory card or film for your camera, and (if possible) an external power source - I love the ones made by New Trent
  • * "Business" cards with your photo, Twitter account, blog URL and other related info - great to hand out to the new friends you make as you wait in lines
Pack all of these things into the backpack you're considering taking with you to a convention, then put it on and walk around and stand around for a good while. Comfort is key when you're talking about long days spent at a convention, so make sure the weight is evenly distributed and well supported. Keep in mind this is what's in your pack BEFORE you make any purchases or start your free swag collection, so if it's already digging into your shoulders or otherwise super uncomfortable, it's definitely worth considering testing out other backpacks.

Speaking of swag and purchases, you may be leaving the convention with a LOT more "stuff" than you started with, and airlines tend to charge fees for extra bags and for overweight/oversize bags. So choose your purchases and free stuff wisely if you're planning on trying to shove it into your luggage. Another option is to ship your goodies home via Fed Ex or a comparable service. You may find that's a cheaper alternative to those baggage fees. It's usually a good idea to pack a sturdy empty duffel and an extra luggage tag if you think there's a chance you'll be buying lots of stuff or collecting lots of swag. It might be useful to get one of those little luggage scales, which could save you a little bit of hassle at the airport.

You may have noticed I didn't list money as a backpack item. There's a reason for that omission. I prefer to keep my funds on my person. I've seen, more than once, people who left their pack behind and were left with no money once the packs were recovered. There are some good options out there for travel-friendly money storage, and I suggest you consider them and see what works best for you. Yes, fanny packs may be less than attractive, but I care a lot more about not losing my wallet than I do about fashion!

If you're going to attend SDCC 2012, or any upcoming entertainment convention, I hope you'll find these suggestions useful.

*You may want to put a few of those "business" cards in the same thing you're using to hold your money in order to more easily access them.

What are some of your "must-haves" for attending a large event like SDCC?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Van Halen with David Lee Roth - they've still got it!

Growing up in a small town in Tennessee, I was surrounded by people who were die-hard country music fans. While I tended to be the sort who tried to stay under the radar as much as possible (if you're invisible, the theory went, people wouldn't notice you enough to pick on you), my taste in music was my small way of being a rebel.

While many of my peers were extolling the virtues of artists like Alabama, T. G. Shepherd, and Hank Williams, Jr., I was diving head-first into rock and roll. I loved the older stuff - Led Zepplin and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few - and really found my groove in the rock of the late 70's and the 80's. I was into all of the "hair" bands - Ratt and Warrant and Poison. I still believe Ronnie James Dio had one of the strongest voices in all of rock-n-roll. I'd stay up for a weekend radio program called "Metal Shop", where I developed a deeper appreciation for WASP and Judas Priest. I've seen Alice Cooper in concert a few times, and would readily see him again and again (one of THE best live showmen out there).

In the center of my love of rock, however, lived one man. Original (and best...ok, ONLY, in my own perfect little world) frontman for Van Halen, "Diamond" David Lee Roth was THE guy with whom I papered the walls of my bedroom. And the doors. And, okay, the ceiling. In 1985, my one big dream crumbled before me - Dave and the band parted company, meaning I'd never get to see them together in concert. I was only 14 at the time, and not in any position to go to a concert for at least a couple more years.

I won't lie, people. When I heard the news, 14 year old me cried. I continued to follow Dave through his solo career, and to ignore the "Van Hagar years" (any other singers aren't even worth Googling to figure out who else tried to front the band). I have been able to see David solo a few times, and it was fun, but it was still not quite the realization of my dream.

This weekend, my dream amazingly came true! They guys have tried unsuccessfully to reunite before, so I've always held my breath when it came to thinking this past Saturday's event would ever be a reality for me. But sure enough, on May 5, 2012, I FINALLY got to see Van Halen live!  (You can look up "Van Halen Tacoma 2012" if you want to see some of the footage folks recorded at the show.)

And it was amazing!

It may have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I'm so glad I was able to pull things together so that I could attend. I was pretty far away, but just happy to be in the same arena with the band. If I'm REALLY lucky, maybe they'll stay together, put out another album, and go on another tour. If they do, I'm going to get a MUCH better seat one way or another! :)

I'm still flying high over this experience. I find myself grinning like an idiot even now, days later!

What artist or group would be your "dream" to see live in concert? If your dream concert happened and you were able to attend, did it live up to your expectations?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Celebrity checklist

This is from my old Myspace blog, circa January 2, 2006. I'm just transferring this over for now, with hopes of updating it when I've got the time.

Celebrity checklist

Sometimes people will ask me who I've met (famous and not-quite-so-famous). Here is a VERY PARTIAL list - I'm working on getting everyone listed, but this is (and will likely remain) a work in progress.

BTW, if you don't know someone, look 'em up yourself. I am not your personal search engine. ;)

Adam Busch
Alexis Denisof
Alison Wall
Andy Hallett
Armin Shimerman
Aron Eisenberg
Avery Brooks
Barbara Luna
Billy Idol
Brett Michaels
Brian Thompson
Bruce Campbell
Carolyn Seymour
Casey Biggs
Chase Masterson
Cirroc Lofton
Danielle Cormack
Danny Strong
Deborah Downey
Ebonie Smith
Eliza Dushku
Erin Gray
Ethan Phillips
Garrett Wang
George Hertzberg
George Takei
Gina Torres
Grace Lee Whitney
Greg Evigan
Hallie Todd
Herb Jefferson
Hudson Leick
Iyari Limon
J.G. Hertzler
James C. Leary
James Doohan
James Horan
James Marsters
Jason Carter
Jeremy Callaghan
Jerry Doyle
Joel Tobeck
John D’Aquino
John DeLancie
Joss Whedon
Julie Benz
Kate Mulgrew
Keir Dullea
Keith Hamilton Cobb
Kevin Smith
Kevin Sorbo
Leonard Nimoy
Lou Ferrigno
Manu Intiraymi
Marc Singer
Marina Sirtis
Mark Metcalf
Martin Rayner
Max Grodenchik
Meighan Desmond
Michael Dorn
Michael Hurst
Nichelle Nichols
Nicole DeBoer
Patrick Kilpatrick
Rene Auberjonois
Richard Biggs
Robert Beltran
Robert Duncan McNeill
Robert O’Reilly
Robert Picardo
Ron Glass
Ryan Gosling
Sarah Hagan
Seth Green
Spice Williams
Ted Raimi
Tim Russ
Timothy Omundson
Todd Bryant
Tom Lenk
Tony Amendola
Vaughn Armstrong
Vince Neil
Walter Koenig
Willa O’Neill
William Gregory Lee
William Shatner