Monday, February 28, 2011

C2E2: Coming Soon!

Wow, almost March. I can hardly believe two months of the new year have passed already. Which means that sci-fi convention season is just around the corner! Yes folks, we are less than three weeks away from the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (also known as C2E2). I am quite excited about this; last year's C2E2 was the first convention I ever wanted to go to. I was not able to go, partly because I was in the middle of my student teaching and partly because I had nobody to go with. This year Johnny and I are going with Jason and his friends. It should be a crazy fun time, because almost all of us are going in costume. The sole exception is my brother, who will probably spend most of his time pretending he has no idea who we are.

Jason and his buddies are dressing up as wrestlers from the nWo. I know next to nothing about wrestling, so my costume is completely different from theirs: Warrior Princess Peach. I got the idea from this t-shirt:

I could have just gotten the shirt and left it at that. But I decided it would be much better to go as Peach with some sort of badass weapon. I bought this costume about a month ago...

It took a bit of searching to find a costume with a skirt that came down past my knees. I will never understand the tendency to create revealing costumes for EVERYTHING.

Anyway, my mom washed and ironed the costume for me today, which must have taken quite a bit of work. It came shipped in this tiny package and was VERY wrinkled. Now, however, it looks great. Tomorrow Jason and I are going to Toys 'R' Us to buy some sort of weapon; I will probably end up with one of those semi-automatic Nerf guns. A sword would be pretty cool too. Once the costume is all assembled: pictures! And of course, I plan on taking a TON of pictures at the con. Eliza Dushku will be there, which is awesome. I definitely want a photo with her. Plus, Patrick Stewart will be at Wizard World in August! Hopefully he will ACTUALLY be there this time...last year he was scheduled and had to cancel.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


This post comes to you in two parts.

Part 1: My review of the Lego collectible minifigs. Lego sells them in series of 16, one figure per bag. These are all unique figures that are not available in any sets. They are sold as "mystery" items; there is no way to see which figure is in the bag until you open it. I decided to start collecting them, and picked up one from each series at Borders today.

This is the baseball player, from Series 3. I love all of the details here, particularly the little design on his baseball cap. I was hoping for the Lego elf, but this little guy is pretty cool too.

I wish the same could be said for my Series 2 figure.

With her long blond hair, red swimsuit, and pouty lips (which are too small to show up in the photo) I swear Lego was trying to create a Pamela Anderson minifigure. Is there really that great of a demand for Lego Baywatch? I will chalk this one up to Rule 34 and back away slowly.

I realized later that there is a way to at least guess which figure is inside the package. If Lego really wanted to be devious, they would pack the figures in bubble envelopes, but they have not done that. By carefully feeling through the plastic, it is possible to determine which of the 16 figures is inside. I decided to try it out, and was quite pleased when I correctly identified the 2 figures from Series 2 I wanted most. Here we have the Wicked Witch; with her skirt and pointy hat, she was pretty easy to pick out.

Finally, I was quite pleased to find the Lego vampire. I was able to identify the bat here.

"Children of the night...what a mess they make."

It took me a bit to figure out how to put his cape on, but he is definitely my favorite from the lot. Was my method of identification cheating? Possibly, but Borders was charging $3.99 each for the figures. If I am spending four bucks on a Lego person, it darn well better be the one I want.

Part 2 of this post is what I have been doing this evening. Jason found a Tenth Doctor action figure for me online, and so I have been posing Ten and Eleven to take some pictures. Here they are working on my laptop.

And again, trying to break into a safe.

I like this shot, particularly the way Ten is looking over his shoulder to make sure they are not about to be caught.

Random Thoughts on Writing

In addition to yarn craft and Lego models, one of my other hobbies is writing stories. I have this vague idea for a series of books which will probably never see the light of day because I find it much more enjoyable to imagine different scenarios for the characters in my mind, and then write kind of a rough draft down. Jason and I (along with my brother Johnny, sometimes) are writing a Star Trek crack-fic. For those not "in the know" on fanfiction terms, a crack-fic is a specific type of story where all of the characters act like they are on crack. Or possibly that the writers were on crack when they wrote it. Anyway, what it boils down to is insanity. Some of the highlights so far include:
-Captain Picard ordering Riker to wear a tutu
-Wesley Crusher being ordered thrown out of the airlock
-Riker "dating" Tasha Yar (or, specifically, her cryo-preserved body)
-Troi singing the theme song from "The Huntsman" (we found Freakazoid! on DVD at the library)

Maybe it makes sense if the reader is on crack...

On another note, I have noticed that relationships in romance stories can usually be divided into three categories. Some stories fit into more than one, but so far I have not been able to think of any that could not fit into at least one.

The first cagegory is "Love at first sight." The characters meet, and there is an instant attraction between them. Their relationship is never really developed beyond that point; the audience is supposed to understand that this is "true love" even if the only thing they have in common is hotness. The rest of the story is spent separating and then trying to reunite the two lovers; the relationship is pretty much used as a MacGuffin for why the hero needs to go on his quest. This is quite common in Disney movies--off the top of my head, I can think of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid. Romeo and Juliet is another notable example, which is often held up as an ideal. These people have apparently forgotten that (a) their story ended badly and (b) both of the main characters are kind of idiots.

The next category is pretty much the opposite: "Hate at first sight." The characters meet and immediately clash. As they get to know each other, however, they realize that the other person has redeeming qualities after all. The rest of the story is spent developing their relationship as the characters grow. This leads to a much more believable connection between the two people, and a more honest relationship. A classic example would by Pride and Prejudice. Today, this one is common in romantic comedies. Disney's Beauty and the Beast fits here as well.

The third category is "Friendship becoming love." The two characters may have known each other for a long time, or they might meet at the beginning of the story. They began as "just friends," but now are ready to be more. Often, the two people involved are the last to realize that they belong together. The story is mostly spent trying to get the two characters together. Sometimes, this will involve one character (or even both) realizing the person they are currently dating is not "the one." Like "hate at first sight," this is a growing, changing relationship that is often quite believable. This type of relationship accounts for the other half of romantic comedies. Disney's Mulan also falls into this category.

Things get more complicated (and, when done well, more interesting) when the categories get mixed together. Unrequited love happens when only one character experiences love at first sight, or friendship becoming love. Their potential partner ignores them, hates them, or does not want their friendship to become anything else.

Some stories may follow more than one formula. Twilight is a unique example. It begins as "hate at first sight": Bella and Edward's first meeting is tense and edgy at best. Then they quickly (and unrealistically) realize their true love, and it follows the "love at first sight" formula, completely skipping over any type of character development. Bella also goes through "friendship becoming love" with Jacob, but this more believable development is dumped when Eddy comes back into the picture. This was one thing that frustrated me even when I was sort of a fan of the series.

Speaking of Twilight, there is some evidence that the author is confused about what makes a healthy relationship and what is abusive. The rushed development of Edward and Bella's relationship is one example: once they realize their true love, Edward's controlling behavior is completely ignored. An even more disturbing example is with Bella and Jacob. Jacob is in love with Bella, but she denies being in love with him. He forcefully kisses her after she tells him not to, which in a YA series like Twilight I figured would be treated similar to rape. Bella tries to punch him and ends up getting hurt because he is so muscular. Her father, who up until this point has been levelheaded and the voice of reason, takes Jacob's side and laughs when Bella complains. Obviously Bella is in love with Jacob! He just had to show her! The series is actually full of dysfunctional relationships passing as "true love." Despite all that, I do not feel that Twilight will be the downfall of society. Sometimes, a book is just a book. Hopefully it will fade into obscurity soon, with nothing left but the people who decided to name their daughters Renesmee.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Things, Including a New Hobby

Sorry for not updating in the past couple weeks. Life has been pretty busy. When I last wrote, I mentioned that Chicago was recovering from the Blizzard of 2011 quite nicely. After a pretty good cold snap, we had a stretch of warm, spring-like weather, so those 20 or so inches of snow are all gone now.

Some new things in the past few weeks...Jason and I had our first Valentine's Day together. I cooked breakfast-for-dinner for us. One of my favorite things to do is cooking for him. Before anyone protests that I am setting the women's movement back to the 50s, I would like to point out that I grew up in a house where everyone cooks. I have been helping my mom bake since I was very little. My dad and brother love to make chili together. When my brother starts dating, he will probably cook for his girlfriend. Cooking for someone is a wonderful gift, no matter who is doing the cooking (or the eating).

I also went to the Chicago Auto Show for the first time on Friday. My brother Johnny wanted to go, so our dad took him, Jason, and me. On the one hand, it was kind of neat to see all of the new cars. On the other hand, Jason and I know very little about cars, so most of the technical talk was lost on us. They had a slot car track, which was pretty cool.

My new hobby is building things out of Legos. Here is one of my favorite TV characters, in half-inch plastic form:

"Hello, I'm the Doctor." The sonic screwdriver in his hand is actually a sonic wrench, because there is no way to attach the blue piece to a screwdriver. I am not sure if Lego even makes minifig-sized screwdrivers.

And, of course, what would the Doctor be without something to save people from? Here is a close-up of my Lego Dalek design.

Good thing I was able to snap that photo without getting caught...


Next on my list of things to build is a Lego TARDIS. I found some great designs on Flickr, and was quite excited to find a video tutorial for one of my favorites.

I only have about half the pieces I need, but that is easily fixable. I shall have more photos soon!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blizzard Aftermath and Daily LOL

We are recovering from the Blizzard Of 2011 quite well. Schools are open again, after being closed for two days in a row. Yes, even the high school who had not had a snow day in 33 years was closed for two days. We Chicagoans have shoveled out our parking spaces and staked our claims with lawn chairs...although, I live in the suburbs and have never actually seen a parking spot with a chair in it. Must be a city thing. There were cars stranded along Lakeshore Drive all night during the blizzard, but miraculously, none of the stranded people died. We still have quite a bit of snow, but this is Chicago and we are used to it. Yesterday was bitterly cold, which was probably why the schools were closed again, but things are getting back to normal.

In other news, this is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time:

Sorry, Yoda, the Doctor has you there.

Me? Have a TV crush on David Tennant? I have no idea what you're talking about. Also, as my icon will remind you, the shiznit Yoda is.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow picture!

Sent from my mobile. Enjoy.


Here is my first attempt at a mobile phone post. I like my camera phone very much. Anyway, I took this picture early this morning form our basement window. That half-buried round thing? That's our picnic table. Going out to shovel with my brother now.

Edit: Well. So much for that picture. I'll attempt to re-post later.

Blizzard Of 2011!

I am keeping up with my "new things" resolution, but most of them are not very interesting..updates will happen when something big comes along. Case in point: Chicago is currently experiencing one of the biggest blizzards ever.

For the first time in my lifetime, our local high school is closed. They are notorious for remaining open; the last time they had a snow day was in 1967. My parents both grew up in the area, and remember the blizzard of '67 as one that completely crippled the city. My mom was a girl at the time, and remembers how excited she was because not only was she home from school, her mom was home from work. Then there was the blizzard of '79, which my parents remember because they were house-hunting at the time. They bought their first house (which we still live in today) without knowing whether the front porch was wooden or concrete. It was completely buried under all the snow. The last big snow I remember was the blizzard of '99. When we finally got dug out, one of my more adventurous friends came to school on his snowshoes. We made a snow fort in our backyard.

I have to say that I am enjoying myself very much. We are all home safe and sound, and have not lost power (yet). Plus, I am the kind of person who still wishes for a white Christmas every year. I love snow: sledding, snow angels, snow forts and snowmen, you name it. The last I heard, the official count was over 17 inches of snow, with two to five more expected before the snow stops this afternoon. None of us is planning on leaving the house today. To celebrate our snow day, Mom and I are making pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Jason is safe at home too. He decided to take his vacation this week, which turned out to be a very good decision. He was a little peeved about being snowed in during his vacation, but I pointed out it was better than dealing with the craziness at the grocery store where he works. He is planning on coming over here once the weather dies down.

I will have pictures in my next post!