Saturday, October 27, 2012

Regular Service postponed

This is it, folks. It's the end of everything! The storm cometh, leaving a wide swath of destruction through the middle Atlantic states. Hurricane Sandy brings the wrath of God upon the hapless citizens of the coastline! Rain! Snow! Waves! Floods!
Birds! (Probably!)
Regular service on Big Island Rachel's media empire is postponed until we are no longer doomed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another Hurricane

Oh, now this is just getting ridiculous:

Hurricane Sandy may reach the northeast early next week, making this the second hurricane I've endured since moving to New York.

Excuse me, is this where you keep your fragile constructs of misguided human superiority?
Hurricane Irene barely scrapped by us last August as a downgraded tropical storm. A quick refresh: Girl Scout badge in Hurricane Preparedness, living in the flood zone, had to evacuate, Daddio told me not to do that thing everyone in our family always does by refusing to get out of the way--it's all a rich tapestry of funny observations and drunken street dancing, you should read it again.

Maybe Sandy will hit us, maybe it won't. I don't know because I'm only psychic with cats and the living dead. But even though Irene spared New York City from anything much worse than snarky Village Voice articles on how to get laid during the storm, parts of Jersey and Vermont were hit pretty hard. So I won't lie, I'm a little nervous.

At least I still have the pint of leftover corn liquor in my cupboard from the last time this happened. It's totally un-drinkable, but I'm set if I need to disinfect any wounds or make Molotovs for the looting that inevitably accompanies the complete breakdown of civilization. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Here are a few things I will never talk about on this blog: sports, reality television, New Wave cinema, architecture, entymology, beer brewing, and politics.

Here are a few things that we all I know I talk about ALL the time on this blog: feminism, comic books, regular books, and cats.

Guess which one I'm talking about today!

This is a very important feminist issue.
I wish I had a little kitty of my very own to stroke and cuddle and squeeze 'til it grunts. But I don't have one of those things because my apartment isn't well-suited for a pet, unless you count that nasty little fucker of a squirrel that's storing acorns in my ceiling. I can hear them rattling around up there!

So this week I'm cat-sitting for a co-worker. There are three kitties. None of them are squeezable--one is grumpy and the other two are a bit too old and dignified for that sort of nonsense--but I can stroke them gently and give them little treats from my purse, which pleases me greatly.

*le sigh* No-kitten ennui has set in.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My 3 least favorite things about New York ComicCon 2012

This is going to be my last post about New York ComicCon for this year. A fabulous time was had by all and I wish it could go on and on, but alas, a week has gone by since the con's official end and I've drawn out the denouement as long as I can. It's time to pack away the toys and costumes, store the comic books under the bed, and get back to my real life of being a tattooed writer and college radio personality working at an art school and  living above a famous restaurant Brooklyn.
Good thing I'm awesome, or else this post would be really depressing.
Last week I posted my 7 favorite things about New York ComicCon. This week I'm going to talk about my 3 least favorite things, because the Internet is fueled by pictures of funny cats and the keyboard-smoking rage of nerds who think a little too hard about the logistics of comic book superheroes.
They're just GLASSES! How can NO ONE see that he's Supercat?!
3) The crowds. How I loathe crowds. I'm not talking about New York City crowds either, which tend to move so quickly and efficiently that it's harder to stop than it is to keep going. And as long as I'm outdoors and stay to the edges where I have a clear escape route, I'm okay with crowds that gather in one place and stay there, like a concert or Occupy Wall Street. What I dislike are crowds that are a mixture of these two types, where people have some half-assed notion of where they want to go, but at the same time, they're also kinda already THERE. This sounds a lot more Buddhist and calming that it really is.
Move it, chuckleheads, you're not achieving enlightenment, you're just holding up the line.
I got to the Con late on Friday night, hoping to catch just one panel before the Javits Center closed. It was, in fact, the panel that I was most looking forward to out of the whole Con: The Venture Bros. panel. The best part about the creators of that show is that they almost NEVER talk about the actual show at their Con appearances. They talk about music, pop culture, candy, who has the nicest legs on the creative team, which hand they'd hold a gun in if they were firing out of a moving car--its the freestyle jazz of panel discussions and it's always fun and funny as hell.

But I missed it. Because of the crowds. I just couldn't get to the screening room early enough, so it filled up and there was no room for Rachel. R even saved a seat for me and tried to flag me down, but there were too many people around for me to see or hear her.

I appreciate that so many folks want to come to a comic book convention. I like seeing my pet cultural movement go mainstream, because that leads to more output of product and more diversity of product, which means more of what I love. I accept this means bigger crowds and longer lines. But that doesn't mean I have to enjoy it.

2) Missed the Dracula panel.

This one was my own fault. R and I had a choice on Saturday to either see the Weighthacking panel (tips for turning your geek lifestyle into a weight loss tool), or to see the Dracula 150 years later panel. I decided to be responsible and go to the Weighthacking panel, because who couldn't use a brush-up on healthy eating habits, she said as she pushed her glasses up and tightened her sensible ponytail. R basically said, Fair fucks to y'all, you do you what like, I'm going to learn about vampires.
Weight lose tip 1: more peasant babies.
She flounced away on her four-inch heels and proceeded to have the time of her life listening to Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew and the screenwriter of "Hook" and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (the one with Keanu Reeves and Gary Oldman) discuss the history and evolution of one of literature's most famous monsters. I, on the other hand, watched a PowerPoint about responsible weight maintenance, even though I've been at the exact same optimum weight for the last seven years and already live off steamed vegetables and brown rice.

Considering that R was the one who suggested both the archery and the Kill Shakespeare reading, where she won a prize for nailing an obscure Shakespeare question, I really should have known better than to separate myself from her. She was on Con-fire on Saturday.

1) No R on Sunday. She got sick and couldn't join me for the last day of the Con, and it made us both very sad.
Obviously I don't mind going to these things alone. I do it all the time. But I'd much rather share the experience with a good friend, and R, as I said, brought her A-game that weekend. She was winning ComicCon. It was a huge bummer that she couldn't be there.

Although, confession time, I was kinda thrilled to not wear my costume two days in a row and just hang out at the Con in my street clothes. Classy Catwoman may be classy, but she looks pretty stupid without a Classy Poison Ivy at her side, and that corset-bra rubs my armpits raw after eight hours, to say nothing of the punishment my feet take in those heeled dominatrix boots.

So you see, silver linings everywhere! R and I can't wait for New York ComicCon 2013. Only 358 days to go!

See you at the Con.
And you, and you, and you, and you, and...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My 7 favorite things about New York ComicCon 2012

My last post about ComicCon wasn't really about the Con itself, but more of an end-of-the-Con gush of emotion. An emotional oil derrick, if you will. I felt sappy, melancholy, and maybe a little defensive of the vaguely subversive and tawdry things I'd said and done. I think we've all had weekends like that.
I'm looking at you, Hedonismbot.
My sordid personal life aside, I did have a great time, so great that I'm going to count down my top 7 favorite things about my trip to ComicCon 2012.

7) The layout of the Javits Center.

When I went to the Con in 2010, it was the first year that New York ComicCon and New York AnimeFest had a shared event. Regular readers may remember that I went to the AnimeFest in 2009 when it was still it's own separate little convention, tucked away in the basement level of the Javits Center to prevent any high-falutin' ideas in attendees' minds regarding their social acceptability. This tradition continued in 2010, when the AnimeFest show floor and artist displays were crammed into a single hall in the basement while ComicCon got the entire top floor for their show floor and artists, with sunlight and everything. There was some definite stigmatizing of the anime-fans going on that year. And grown-ass adults dressed as cartoon characters shouldn't be casting stones at other grown-ass adults dressed as cartoon characters.
Glass fucking houses, nerds.

Social commentary aside, the arrangement also made for terrible traffic flow in the Javits Center. This year, the organizers wised up and had a fully-integrated Con. There was one show floor on the top level, one Artists Alley on the ground level, and the basement level was only for panels and screenings. Even though over 100,000 people attended this year, traffic flow was kind of okay. I only had one panicky moment where I was afraid I'd be crushed into a fine red paste on the show room floor, and that was my own fault. I should have never tried to get into the most popular part of the Con during peak hours.

6) Archery.

First thing we did on Saturday morning after changing into our costumes. I didn't have my glasses on, so my first two arrows didn't even hit the target. I pulled low and to the left, which is actually the same problem I have when I shoot guns. My third and final arrow I WAY overcompensated and hit the bulls-eye.
Like a boss.
I won a limited edition Tomb Raider print, which thrilled me a lot less than getting to keep my target. Incidentally, does anyone want a limited edition Tomb Raider print? I don't play Tomb Raider and I try to surround myself with art that doesn't depict fiery doom.
Just screams relaxation. Or maybe just screams.

5) Kill Shakespeare: A Live Stage Reading

Second thing we did on Saturday. "Kill Shakespeare" is a comic written by Anthony Del Col and Conner McCreery, and drawn by Andy B. They projected panels without word bubbles on a screen behind a table of actors, who provided the dialogue. There was also one very busy prop man making all of the sound effects with plastic wrap, spoons, and buckets of water. The story is about a bunch of characters from Shakespeare's plays, some of whom believe Shakespeare to be a god, and some of whom want him dead because of the threat he represents to their power. It was a good story with memorable characters, and it's always fun to see something in one medium make the transition to another.

The best part, though, was that R won a copy of Kill Shakespeare: Volume 1 by answering a Shakespeare trivia question, and it was a doozy. "What Shakespeare character has the most lines in a play not named after that character?" R's hand shot up so fast she almost knocked my mask off. She was in there like swimwear. "Iago!" Iago in "Othello" has the most lines of any Shakespeare character in a play not named after him. Now that is some hard-core nerd knowledge. In my opinion, R definitely won the Con for Saturday.

4) ComicCon Comedy

In 2010, I only saw one stand-up comedian, doing just a single 15-minute set. It was great. This year, there was so much comedy to choose from that I didn't get to see it all. First was the Nerdologues, "a comedy show that explores nerd culture through hilarious sketches and personal stories." Then we saw an hour-long set by Uncle Yo, seen here leering from behind a monocle.
Classy, Yo.
It's pointless to recap a comedy routine, firstly because I don't want to plagiarize the comedians, secondly because I don't want to make you laugh using someone else's material, and thirdly because I don't even think it would be that funny. You just had to BE there, man!

3) Saga panel

"Saga" is a comic written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, and it's currently the best-selling independent comic after The Walking Dead, in addition to being my favorite comic on the stands right now. I was on the fence about whether or not to go to this panel. Panels with creators are hit-or-miss. Just because you're good at writing or drawing doesn't mean you're a great public speaker, and nothing makes me cringe like seeing some poor creator bomb on stage because s/he can't work the crowd. But Brian K. Vaughan killed it. I laughed almost as much as I did at the actual stand-up comedy. He was charming, friendly, foul-mouthed, cheeky, and just humble enough to be endearing.
Not even trying to hide the bald.
My favorite quote: "I remember asking Fiona not to make Alanna [the heroine] a redhead, because I thought there was a glut of redheads in fiction right now. And she said to me, 'You know, she doesn't have to be white.' And I said, 'Of course, I'm an IDIOT!'"

My other favorite quote: "I had an idea about this guy and his monkey being chased by women with one boob on motorcycles and I thought, Did I just shit myself? Or was that a real idea?"

Fiona was nice enough, but Brian K. Vaughan owned that stage. Cool for him, slightly problematic for her (see number 1 on this list). Plus I got some artwork!
My copy smaller.
2)  Geek Thoughts panel: Top blogs discuss writing about science fiction, fantasy, and fandom

This is the meat-and-potatoes stuff of conventions. Writers from, Boing Boing, The Mary Sue, The Beat, and Bleeding Cool talked about what it means to be a fan and what it means to be leaders of fans and fan forums. Honestly, this one is a bit of a blur because it was late in the day and I was really tired, but I remember feeling like I was more informed about the way information is disseminated through my community, and that made me feel smart.
Smart enough to finally make the connection that the guy who ran a website called Bleeding Cool would, of course, be British.

1) ComicCon Women

So I attended two panels, back to back, by and about the women of the nerdly underground. The first was GeekMoms: Raising Young Padawans, held by the women who write Wired's GeekMom blog. I only caught the second half of this one, and it was entirely by accident. I wanted to attend the panel right after GeekMoms, which was being held in the same room, and I was so tired after two days of walking the Javits Center that I decided to just to the room and sit through whatever was there, just to SIT. And it turned out to be a very interesting discussion about how these women were passing their interests along to their children. They talked about what properties were appropriate for kids in terms of gaming, books, comics, and movies, and how much the landscape of childhood has changed since they were nerdy little girls who had to hide their interests from classmates, both because of their gender and the actual interests.

I'll just say I'm into leather. No one will suspect a thing.

I had a moment where I drifted off because they were discussing how to pick the right schools, and suddenly heard one of the panelists mention the Girl Scouts, so I whooped and clapped and completely threw her off track. I don't think she was expecting that much love for the Girl Scouts, but gang, I loves me the Girl Scouts. I loves them a lot.

The second panel was even better, Getting Graphic with Girls: Empowering girls and addressing issues through paneled pictures. This was a younger set of panelists whose moderator cancelled at the last minute, leading to a lot of very funny "Unmoderated!" jokes.
Look how unmoderated they are. Scandal!
Something magical happens when you get some confident women in a room together and ask them to talk about their careers. There was so much confidence radiating from these individuals, and they all had so much respect for each other, it was mesmerizing. Maybe they all knew each other already, maybe they all happened to be great public speakers, but they were far and away the best panel of the Con in terms of flow, diversity of topics, humor, intelligence, and exuberance. They were just so much FUN. One of the presenters even said, "Girls writing comics just have more fun with it. Guys feel the need to be all dark and gritty and serious, but maybe because we're outsiders in the genre, we can just have fun with our comics and not have to worry about that."
She doesn't give a damn if you like her duckies or not.
All of the other panels I'd attended to had just one or two women presenting, and while I wouldn't say they were drowned out by the men, the men spoke a lot more and there was a slight hesitation on the part of the women when it was their turn. It wasn't obvious, and I may even be imagining it in hindsight. I don't think anyone is surprised that a woman who spends her weekends like THIS can mistake fantasy for reality every now and again.
Sh! I'm feeling the curvature of the earth.
But dudes, DUDES, the contrast between the way women spoke on the panels where they were outnumbered and the way the women spoke on the all-women Graphic Girls panel--you can't witness that without feeling both empowered and stripped of power, all at the same time. Empowered, because hearing women talk about their art and passion is awesome; and stripped of power because you don't really get to see that when you add men back to the equation.

And I swear I'm not making this up. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that her colleagues will sometimes just straight up ignore her comments during conferences. "When I will say something -- and I don't think I'm a confused speaker -- and it isn't until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on the point." Women are ignored. My Big Boss commented as I revved myself up for the Con that he always thought the BF was the one who got ME interested in comics. A student worker followed up with a comment about how you don't meet a lot of girls who are interested in comics. And this wasn't about the comics, not really. Cultural and political movements are almost always dominated by men. Democracy: "Oh, women want to vote, too?" Art: "Oh, Virginia Wolfe, you want to write, too? Oh, Frida Kahlo, you want to paint, too?" Girls can be geeks, too?

Do we need to see the evidence again?
If something is important and destined to have impact, women have to scrape and scramble to make certain they're a part of it, and everyone is always surprised to see us there. They shouldn't be. ComicCon is amazingly diverse. There's an even 50-50 gender split, and a huge range of ages, races, and level of mobility represented. Sadly, you wouldn't know it to look at the "Special Guests" list for New York ComicCon: a bunch of middle-aged white dudes with a scattering of Asians and women shuffled in at the bottom. I'm not saying that those people didn't work hard to get where they are or that they aren't talented. I'm just saying that the people who consume the product don't have much of a voice in the group of people who produce the product.

And it's that sort of dense brain-food that makes the ComicCon Women my number 1 favorite thing about New York ComicCon 2012.
Next Sunday, I'll count down the list of my least favorite things about New York ComicCon 2012.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sincerity is the new irony

I stood in the lobby of the Javits Center on Sunday with a great sorrow welling up in my heart. New York ComicCon was over. Everyone was shuffling slowly out into the sunset, costumes limp and dragging on the ground. We'd looked forward to it for so long; blogged and tweeted and re-blogged about it in giddy anticipation; fondly remembered past conventions; met with friends to compare spreadsheets and synchronize our schedules; shopped for costume accessories; and maybe we sat alone in our apartments wearing our costumes weeks before the event JUST TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE COMFORTABLE.
I have entirely legitimate reasons for this.

Then we went to the Con.

And then it was time to go home.

I go to these things for a lot of reasons. Camaraderie is one. There's nothing like being in a crowd of 100,000 people who like the same things you like. Visual stimulation is another. My favorite game to play as a little kid was dress-up and I love that I can be a grown-up and still play that game with folks who will always take it way more seriously than I do.

But the main reason I go to ComicCon is because of the love. What love? ALL the love. Love of games, love of toys, love of costumes, love of comic books, love of movies, love of television, love of art and stories, love of artists and storytellers--love that I have for these things and love that others have for the things I love. That sort of love and sincerity isn't really in vogue right now. That pissy "I was into X before it was cool" trope is a siren call for the terminally hip and permanently dissatisfied, as if being cynical and jaded with life is a shortcut to wisdom.

I say thee Nay!
Thor reference!
I love sincerity! I'm sick of irony. I don't want to like things "ironically" or be "ironically" into comics and cartoons or "ironically" attend ComicCon. I just want to like things. I want to collect comics and quote "The Simpsons" and fritter away my hours reading exhaustive Wikipedia articles on "Torchwood" and "Game of Thrones." I want to bore my co-workers with my Flickr stream of ComicCon photos and tell them that I had the BEST time and MEAN it, goddamnit! That's what being a nerd is all about. It's about loving what you love without being ashamed of it.

So I'm declaring sincerity the new irony. According to data I just made up, 3 out of 4 disaffected youth now have tattoos of that slogan in Helvetica font. The last disaffected youth has it tattooed in Comic Sans because it reminds her of old Superman word bubbles. And where was she this weekend? That's right, she was at the Con.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Am Spartacus!

The danger about drifting off into thoughts of New York ComicCon at an industry conference is that you suddenly find yourself standing up while people are applauding you and you have no idea why. I was at a university up in Washington Heights this afternoon, playing with my necklace and thinking about my NYCC costumes (yes, there's more than one), and then my co-worker was tugging at my elbow to get me out of my seat while about 200 hundred people clapped for me for no reason I could see.

So I smiled and nodded, my go-to response for situations like this (I have a shameful amount of them), and ran a little movie clip in my mind of that moment in "Spartacus" where everyone was standing up and yelling, "I am Spartacus!"

I asked my co-worker why we were standing up and he laughed. It was super-embarrassing to have to ask him again because he thought I was joking the first time. Turns out we were standing up to be recognized for giving a presentation at the conference on good customer service. This was probably better than my first theory, which was that my thoughts were visible to the auditorium. I wouldn't blame them for applauding, though.

My costumes ARE pretty sweet. You'll see.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Retreat! (But never surrender)

Nothing makes me feel more grown-up than going on a business trip. I just like the way it sounds: "I'm afraid I'll have to cancel our regular rat-shivving appointment on the East River. Kindly convey my apologies to Long Lizzie and the Circus Twins. Oh, nothing fancy, I'm just going on a business trip." And then I take all my extra purses out of my absurdly cute overnight rolly-bag, the blue one with the turtles and monsterra leaves, pack it full of actual overnight stuff, and roll through Cobble Hill like a boss. No Hello Kitty lunchbox for me today; the office will be providing meals.

We spent the night up in Rockland County at the Stony Point Conference Center. It was hard to pin down at first, because on the one hand, the Center was VERY hippie-ish, with the peace signs and bookstore full of leftist pamphlets. On the other hand, there were huge dove and olive branch tapestries hanging in the dining room, and more crosses than you usually see at your run-of-the-mill commune. But then I read the guest information booklet in our room and found out that the Center is run by the Presbyterian church. Fortunately, our room had free wifi, so I googled the Presbyterians and found out that they're a very liberal and socially-conscious branch of Christianity, which explained the LGBTQ section of their gift shop. So know I know. (And knowing is half the battle!)

I would have loved to stay at a place like this for my Girl Scout camping trips, instead of up in the freezing cold highland desert, which had to have been the only ugly place in the state of Hawaii. Stony Point had lodges, a glass-enclosed dining room, fine art everywhere, rock gardens, a meditation solarium, and a Victorian Mansion perfect for a murder mystery that we got to bunk in. We shared it with an Islamic healing group also up for their retreat, so there were halal and vegan options at all the meals. (Fortunately, my one coworker had visited the Pork Store before the trip and we had plenty of prosciutto and pepperoni to keep our arteries nice and greasy. Gotta love the Pork Store.)

So, threw the Frisbee around, chased some deer, sat in the fancy parlor, discussed yearly goals for the office, ate some cannoli, and then came home. It was very peaceful and relaxing to be away from the physical office and get a fresh perspective on the things we do every day.

Coming home yesterday, my coworker and I were zipping down the Palisades Parkway behind our Big Boss's SUV in her sweet little Mini Cooper, and she remarked how grown-up SHE felt driving her own car home from an office retreat. There we were, just a couple of grown-ups grown-upping it up in New York.

Then I forgot my purse in her car when she dropped me off. I think I know why my sister always says that if you're still using the word "grown-up," you're probably not one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fucking Squirrels!

I don't care for squirrels. They can go right to hell.

It's fall right now, so the squirrels are hiding nuts in the ground for the winter. They do this move where they push a nut into the dirt with their foreheads, which is fine, it's very cute and woodland-creature-ish, but then they use their paws to pat the dirt and grass down over the nut they just buried, and I'm not okay with that. Squirrels have thumbs. That shit is just wrong. There's something eerily human-like about the way they smooth over their nut caches, carefully arranging the clumps of sod and weeds like a little kid burying her sister in the sand at the beach.

Leave air holes. Very important detail.

Squirrels aren't only creepy, they're stupid: gray squirrels forget where they hide their nuts after they smooth the dirt over with their creepy little child-hands. They'll just eat any old nut they dig up out of the hard, frozen ground in winter. They don't particularly mind if it wasn't their spindly digits that crammed it down in there.

And last night, a squirrel moved back into my bedroom ceiling. That fucking squirrel, or maybe a different fucking squirrel, skittered around between the second and third floors of my building for 8 months last year. It survived two poison visits by the exterminator and only moved out when we had a goddamn hurricane. Why is it back? How does it get in? What can be done to stop it?! It's maddening!

One of these nights I'm going to take my butchers knife and just start stabbing wildly into the drywall until I hit something soft and furry.

That is all.