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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Avengers Gray is the new Black!

Comic-Con veterans know to leave some extra room in their suitcases for all those exclusives and swag available each year. You might want to leave a little more room when you're packing this time, because Her Universe is debuting some seriously cool geeky chic fashion at SDCC 2014 this week, including the Marvel Heroes Gray dress that I plan on wearing. It looks like it's going to be a little short... but MARVEL!!! Enough said. 

You don't need to say it. I already know. I have not mastered the selfie. I'm working on it. Here's a little more Marvel fashion goodness. Oh, Black Widow Hoodie!!! You might need to live in my closet too!  
Photo: Her Universe
If Marvel isn't your thing there are lots of other fangirl fashion goodies availables - leggings, tanks, dresses, hoodies, dresses, and jewelry. With licensing agreements from Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, The Walking Dead, Transformers, as well as Marvel, there's a little something for everyone. Is it too early to start my Christmas shopping? 

Photo: Her Universe
One of my favorite pieces making it's debut at the convention is the "Ultimate Convention Hoodie". Just what makes it the "Ultimate Convention Hoodie", you ask? According to the press release, it's got enough pockets for all your swag and gear. I'm not kidding. There are front pockets. Sleeve pockets. A pocket for a water bottle. A trick pocket. A pocket for a comic book. TWO pockets for posters. And yes... that IS Chris Hardwick from Nerdist modeling the "Ultimate Convention Hoodie". It's available in sizes for men and women. 

Photo: Nerdist
Don’t forget, Her Universe is also teaming up with Nerdist to host their first SDCC fashion show on Thursday night at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. You'll be able to see pieces from their new collection along with some fan-designed Geek Couture on the runway. I'll be there in my Marvel Heros Dress - schedule permitting! You can find all the details about the show on their Facebook event page.

Badge holders can shop for the new collection at booth #2913-E in the Lucasfilm Pavilion. They're giving away a free Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy slap bracelet with every purchase. 

If you're not heading to the Con this year don't worry. You can buy everything online on the Her Universe website after the convention.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Is this Heaven?!? No, it's Comic Con!!!

It’s that time of year again. To all my fellow nerds out there you know what I’m talking about. It’s time to get ready to pack up your favorite Cosplay and dork t-shirts and descend upon San Diego to worship at the High Temple of all that’s Nerdy and Cool.
For those of you who have NO idea what I’m talking about...
Where have you been? And you think we are the ones who only come out of the basements once a year.

Comic-Con International gets underway here in San Diego next week. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the show, making it the longest, and largest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention in the country.
The Convention has changed a lot over the years. Much like a Comic Book Superhero, Comic-Con has a humble origin story too. In 1970, the event drew about 300 people its first year. If you’ve experienced the madness that is The Con these days that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. This year, more than 130,000 comic book, movie, television, gamers, and Cosplayers are expected to pack into the San Diego Convention Center’s 615,701 square feet of exhibit space. If you’re interested in taking a closer look at Comic Con’s history, here’s a video that breaks it down.

As a life-long Nerd, and long-time attendee of The Con, I have mixed feelings about how big it’s gotten the past several years. I’ll save that for another time. Besides, everything changes. Even after all these years, the opportunity to experience Comic-Con and all it’s craziness first-hand is a gift.
If you haven’t gotten to experience it for yourself, it’s hard to describe, but I'll try. Imagine being surrounded by tens of thousands of people. People from all over the world, and from all walks of life. But they’re your people. They speak your language. They get you.
I was covering Comic-Con last year and got stuck trying to make my way across the gauntlet of the main exhibit hall floor to Hall H. Attention, newbies - that happens a lot. I didn’t understand what was causing the jam. Was The Big Bang Theory cast on the floor signing autographs? I was getting really irritated because I there was NO way I was going to get to Hall H in time to line up for a panel I was probably not going to get into anyway but I wanted to try... and then I looked up. I saw what why the floor had come to a stand still. Star Wars: Episode IV was playing on the big screens hanging above throughout that part of the Exhibit Hall. It was trench run scene. You know the one. Gold Leader had just gone down. Even though I have a feeling we'd all probably seen that scene a few times... everyone was just standing there. Watching. Reciting the lines together. And cheering when Luke turns off his guidance computer and uses the Force to make that impossible shot.

When the Death Star exploded the applause and cheers were deafening. Trekkies were high-fiving Jedis. Marvel fans were hugging DC fans. You get the idea. It was AWESOME!!! I missed my panel. But that's okay. Because moments like that are what make Comic-Con so special for me, and I'll keep coming back to worship at the High Temple of all that's Nerdy and Cool each time I'm able to secure those coveted passes. 

My name is Marena and I'm a Nerd. I'm getting ready for church and I'm not afraid to let my Geek flag FLY!!! For the record... the Stormtrooper asked to take a picture with me. ;-)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ever have one of those days?

You know…
One of those days. One of those days you just don’t feel like talking?
I’m having one of those days. Which is inconvenient, because sometimes. I get paid to talk. I know what you’re thinking. It makes no sense. The part that sometimes people actually pay me to talk. Out loud even.
Occasionally, I’m even required to have a serious conversation with real people. I KNOW?!? That’s even crazier than the “getting paid to talk out loud” thing. Usually, when I’m having one of those days where I’m required to have a serious conversation with real people (when I’d rather be doing something that's really important like talking with my Interweb “friends” in the Dorkisphere about which is better - Star Wars or Star Trek) I try to snap myself out of it by asking a serious question. Like: "can any of the guys in the room make machine gun noises with their mouth?" That generally will derail a serious conversation... because guess what? They all can!!!e
But today, I’m tired of talking.
I’m tired of listening.
I’m tired of meaningless conversations. I’m tired of hearing the same regrets, the same complaints, and the rest of the same bullsh*t.
I’m tired of people talking just for the sake of talking. Complaining about things they can’t change. Or worse - complaining about the things they can change. When I say “complain” I’m not talking about the times when you are talking about your problems in an effort to look for solutions. That can be constructive. I'm also not referring to the times when you share your experiences (good and bad) when you're trying to bring friends and family up to date on the latest in your life. Part of being human is sharing our experiences and supporting each other.
We ALL complain from time to time. I think the important question to ask is: how often do you complain? 

I think you might be onto something, Jane Wagner! At least it feels that way for me today. So for all of you who are tired of all the complaining or those of you who can’t seem to stop complaining, or those of you who just like to talk for the sake of talking, here's a few things I think we should all stop talking about today. 
1. Being Tired
Go ahead. Ask around. Take a poll if you want to. Ask people if they care how tired you are.
(Hint: They don't).
I feel pretty confident making that statement because I say this a lot. Sometimes I say it even before I know if I'm really tired or not. Are you really tired? What is really going on? Is telling someone you're tired going to improve your life in anyway? Maybe you're not really tired at all. Maybe you're just talking to fill the silence. No one cares how tired you are. Everyone is tired. Get an extra hour of sleep at night. Take a nap. Get off Facebook or your phone. Read. Meditate. Write about it. Complaining about it is boring and it's like saying, "I am a person".  Duh!
2. Your job
For most of us, work is a necessity. I hate it when that happens! Most of us spend more time at work and around our colleagues then we do with our own families. If that's not a good reason to try to enjoy yourself, then what is? 
3. The weather
Everyone deals with it. It's not just you. Unless you're in another state or country around the people you're sitting next to, I think it's a pretty safe assumption you can take it as a given the weather didn't pass them by. If you're hot/cold/wet, chances are they're hot/cold/wet too. It sucks. The world is ending. We get it. Do we really have to talk about it?
4. Your amazing relationship
I know. It sounds so, "bitter party of one your table is ready." But unless all of your friends are getting unlimited foot rubs or BJ's its probably better to keep quiet about it. 
5. Being Single
Maybe you're single because you complain so much? 
6. The last time you had sex
Go to a bar and pick someone up. Buy a vibrator. Or better yet. Just shut up!
7. Justin Bieber
Unless he's causing you direct harm, ignore him. Yes - he's on drugs. Yes - he's crazy. You don't have to listen to him, or go to his concerts, or pay attention to him.
8. That weird thing that happened to you
Guess what? It probably wasn't that weird at all and whyareyouboringmewiththiscrazystory? 
Sorry. The voices in my head. Sometimes they argue with each other.
9. Your dying phone battery
It happens. Guess what? There are starving kids in the world who have never even seen a cell phone. Maybe you shouldn't be on your phone so much? Maybe this wouldn't happen if you didn't text so much? No one cares if you can't Instagram that amazing dinner you cooked for yourself while you're waiting for your phone to charge.
10. Internet lists 
Unless they're ones I'm writing (of course). If you hate Internet lists, just don't click on them.
And last but not least...
If you're tired of selfies get off Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Or any other social media platform. You don't have to see them if you don't want to. 

What am I missing? Feel free to add in the comments.
I have said it before and I will say it again... There is an EXTREME NEED for a sarcasm font ;-) 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Holy Rusted Metal Batman!

I have a confession to make. I’m a little bit of a geek. Okay. I AM a geek, and I always have been. 1939 was a very good year in geek history, because it was a great year for comic books. It’s the year Marvel launched. It’s the year the rest of the industry caught onto Superman’s rising success. It’s the year DC introduced Flash and The Sandman. It’s the year a host of other characters ranging from Blue Beetle to the Ray, to Captain Marvel made their first appearance too. It’s also the year The Bat Man (as he was called then) made his debut, 75 years ago this week in Detective Comics #27.
Batman’s rise was almost as swift as Superman’s. Within a year he was starring in his own monthly series, and pop culture has never been the same. I think almost anyone can tell you something about The Caped Crusader. People who have never even touched a comic book know who Bruce Wayne is, and they can tell you that he decided to devote his life to fighting crime when his parents were killed in a dark alley. People who have never seen a Batman movie can still work Batmobile or Joker references into casual conversation. How many characters are instantly identifiable from their silhouettes alone? Mickey Mouse. Batman. And maybe Godzilla if you’re in the right crowd. 

So why is Batman still so popular after all these years when other superheroes have fallen by the wayside? Other writers have tackled this subject before. Many have discussed the idea of Batman as a "power fantasy". Lots of people may secretly fantasize about the idea of having unlimited resources to build cool gadgets, drive awesome cars, and punch bad guys in the face. Some writers credit his popularity to his versatility. You don’t like the brooding, realistic, warrior of the night Batman? That’s fine. There’s a wisecracking, time-travelling, scientist Batman out there. If you don't like the darkness and despair of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight", there are the "Silver Age" comics, with their absurd plots and silly characters.  For others, Batman's appeal may be that he's character with a specific goal and mission. He’s got his sh*t together (most of the time), and to a young geek like myself who liked to get lost in the world of superheroes and super-villians (and still do, sometimes) when I first discovered Batman -  I liked that about him.

I have another confession. I like comic books. After the last few paragraphs, I'm sure you're all shocked by that revelation. I’m more Marvel, than DC - but Batman is my favorite Superhero. And I’m not talking about Christian Bale’s "The Dark Knight", or Adam West’s Batman (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those interpretations).  It's probably a function of my age - but I love the classic Super Friends Batman, and especially, Michael Keaton’s Batman. He’s the one I think of when I see the Bat-signal.
I’ve loved Batman almost as long as I can remember… I still do. For lots of reasons. I’ve learned from him too over the years. Since he's celebrating his 75th birthday this week, and I've had Batman on the brain a lot lately anyway, I figured now was as good a time as any to write about some of the things he's taught me.

Actions Matter

“It’s not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” – Batman Begins

We often go through life with the best of intentions. One day, we might decide to start going        to the gym. Or we might talk about sitting down to write that book we’ve always wanted to write. But for whatever reason, we get distracted by the present and lose our focus. We never make it to the gym. We never write that book. Nobody is going to remember what you meant to do. They’re only going to remember what you do. So do it. 

 Understand that you are human

“We ordinary people might lack your great speed or your x-ray vision, Superman. But never underestimate the power of the human mind. We carry the most dangeroud weapon on Earth inside these thick skulls of ours” – Mark Millar, Superman: Red Son, DC Comics

Batman is one of the few Superheroes who has no super powers. Sometimes, he has to remind himself of these limitations. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves too. Because it's okay to be human and have feelings. We can use them to motivate, to inspire, and to accomplish amazing things. 

Be Prepared
Four words: Bat Shark Repellant. Enough Said.

You need to be willing to risk failure in order to succeed
"All men have limits. They learn what they are and learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine."      - Knightfall, DC Comics

     Humans are naturally risk-averse. There are lots of studies out there that show this. In fact, some people are more comfortable going through life trying to minimize risk rather chase a reward. Sometimes you have to take risks in order to reach your goals. Even if that means jumping without a net. 

       When you do fail, don't let it define you
"Why do we fall, Bruce? So we might learn how to pick ourselves up." - Batman Begins
No matter how hard you try, its inevitable that you're going to experience failure at some point in life. You're probably going to experience failure many times. That's just life. The real test comes in how you handle that failure. Are you going to make excuses? Blame others? Keep making the same mistakes over and over again? True greatness comes with owning and embracing those failures. Because that's the only way you can learn from them, pick yourself up, and come back stronger than you were before. That's what Bruce Wayne does. You can too.  

Yes. I love Batman. Always have. Always will. I love that he doesn't have superpowers. He's not a mutant. Or from another world. I could never be Superman, or The Incredible Hulk and who would want to be, anyway? But anyone can be like Batman. So maybe you'd have to inherit a couple billion dollars to have all those wonderful toys. But it's possible if you tried hard enough, worked hard enough, trained hard enough. Right?!? 
So maybe it was just for a few hours... But it was still pretty sweet. :-) Happy 75th Birthday, Batman. I'm better for knowing you. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A few things I've learned as a "Grown-up"

Sometimes it’s hard to breathe.
Breathing has been on my mind a lot lately, because it’s been hard for me to do - literally. It's a LONG story. Trust me when I say rib injuries. NOT an experience you want to have.
So I went to have some body work done today, to try to make breathing a little easier...the literal kind of breathing anyway. As I gingerly tried to lower myself down onto the table and find a comfortable way to “rest”, I looked up. Someone had written “BREATHE” in a black sharpie on the ceiling. I wish I had my camera with me so I could've taken a picture. I laughed even though that hurts too. Since I've already been thinking about breathing so much lately, I figured this was just another sign from the Universe to put down some other thoughts about what I've learned as a "grown-up":  

  • Breathing can be difficult – literally and figuratively.
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment in an argument you realize you're wrong.  
  • If you like the outfit on a mannequin, BUY the outfit on the mannequin. Don't try to create the same look yourself. You won't. 
  • Kay Jewelers is WRONG. On any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Bud Lite than Kay.
  • There is a great need for a sarcasm font.
  • Eight hours of continuous,
  • unmedicated sleep is one of life’s simple pleasures. Actually... eight hours of medicated sleep is pretty sweet too.
  • You never know when the moment will hit you. But inevitably, there is a moment each day at work that you aren’t going to do anything else productive in the day.
  • If you worry less about what people think of you, you can learn a lot about them. You won't leave as many conversations wondering what just happened. 
  • "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means you will never wash it. EVER.
  • Even under ideal conditions you may still have a hard time finding your car keys, or your cell phone, or be able to pin the tail on a donkey. But you can
  • always find the snooze button - in the dark, from three feet away… in a little over a second.
  • soul mate is an earned title... earned over time.
  • You will miss out on some soul mates. This also goes for friendships. There will be unforgettable people you cross paths with. You may share an amazing conversation...a magical evening... or a few days... or a few weeks with them. Now they live half-way across the world, and you will never see or talk to them again. That's just how life works sometimes. That really sucks. 
  • Never buy those too-small jeans on the expectation that you will soon lose weight.
  • The top five amazing foods that fight aging are all fruits and vegetables so just eat more fruits and vegetables already.
  • There is no magical list of eight new ab moves coming out next month, or a list of 10 things you can do that is going to make your life perfect even though the magazines and websites will publish them over-and-over again and I will probably write more of these kind of lists FOR the same publications too... because paychecks. 
  • There ARE no grown-ups. Everyone is winging it… some just do it more confidently than others. 

So you might as well laugh for a few minutes... even when it hurts. Forget all those "grown-up" worries from time-to-time... go outside. And breathe. 
You'll feel better. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Why do we fall?

I walked down to the beach yesterday…
It’s something I don’t do nearly enough given my close proximity to it. I spread out my towel, plopped myself down, and let the sun start warming up my skin. I could hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean rolling in. I could smell the salt air. I looked out on what is truly, a spectacular view…
And I started cry.
This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve had so many opportunities. Opportunities that many people never get to experience. I live in a town that looks like it could be on a Hollywood back lot… with a beach. I should be feeling pretty good. Because life is good. Instead, I felt empty and cold. I let feelings of negativity fill my mind. I have no idea what I want to do next professionally and it’s starting to freak me out. Another article I’d written… rejected. I put myself out there again for someone and I’m really confused.
I felt alone and very vulnerable.
I thought about how many more failures I would have to experience before I started to feel “more enlightened” like all the self-help books say. How many more times I’m going to be willing risk letting myself be seen by someone.
You get the idea. I had a pretty spectacular pity party.  And then went home, opened a bottle of wine, and beat myself up FOR feeling sorry for myself. Because I should be better than that. Right?!?
Not so much. And I know that… most days, when I’m not having a pity party, on a beautiful Southern California beach on a sunny day in a town that looks like a Hollywood back lot.
But this is the world we live in. The one in which we pretend everything is always okay. We broadcast idealized images of ourselves, and then compare ourselves with the idealized images of other people and feel like we don’t measure up. We let ourselves believe it’s not okay to admit our failures and our passions. Instead, we act invincible…like nothing can ever hurt us. We hide by getting lost in work, our families, or our friends. We distract ourselves with Facebook and Twitter. I get it. I’ve done it too. They can all be nice shields to hide behind.
Being honest about everything you feel is tough, and sometimes it hurts. A LOT. Still, I think its more painful to hide your pain inside – to watch the person you love, or the place you want to be from a distance...because you’re trapped. Trapped by your fears about the possibilities of heartbreak and pain.
I rediscovered a quote the other day by Theodore Roosevelt from a famous speech he gave in 1910. I’m glad I did, because I needed a little smack in the face yesterday and today as I kept my pity party going.
Anyone who enters The Arena of life is going to get their ass kicked. That’s just the way it is. Life will take whatever it can from you if you let it. It’ll steal your dreams, it’ll change your priorities, it’ll crush your ideas of romance. But if you decide to numb all of your anxieties and pretend to feel nothing… you’ll miss out on what makes us human. And I think that’s vulnerability.
There are a lot of definitions of vulnerability out there. But this is what I think it is. Vulnerability isn’t about being cool. It’s not about Facebook likes and making everything seem okay. It’s about telling the truth – YOUR truth… from the bottom of your heart, because you want to do it. It means saying and doing exactly what you feel, even if you potentially leave yourself with nothing. It’s about doing things with your heart and with honesty. It’s about celebrating those fleeting moments in time, loving someone fiercely, and fully engaging in a life that doesn’t come with any guarantees. It’s about letting yourself be seen, and that can be terrifying… because there are a lot of risks involved when you do that, and often pain too. But is it as terrifying as getting to the end of your life only to realize you’ve never bothered to show up?
Too many people today are afraid of real feelings and that makes me sad. Connection is why we are here. We’re hardwired for it. It gives meaning and purpose to life. Too many people don’t chase love or passion anymore, probably out of fear – fear of looking stupid, fear of failure, fear of rejection.  I know a lot of people who are miserable because they aren’t being true to themselves. I’ve been there.
Be vulnerable. Tell someone the truth. Say how you feel. Chase your dream. Don’t just be an observer in your own life. Show up. Be seen. It takes a lot of guts to do that… but each time you do, it gets a little easier. That’s what I’m starting to figure out, anyway.
Why do we fall?
Day by day. Step by step. I become a little more unbroken. And even though I still fall. I fall a lot… I fall forward. Then I pick myself up. I’m in The Arena. Join me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall...

I wish I could take credit for that sentence, but I can’t. Ray Bradbury wrote it. 
So brilliant. 
So simple. 
So true. 
Why is it so easy to lose sight of some of the things that should be so simple in this whirlwind we call life?
I know it’s only February, but 2014 hasn’t exactly gotten off to the start I was hoping for – and not just because I’ve been sick. I feel like I haven’t been focused. I’ve been spending too much time in my head (not a place you want to be – trust me). I've been frustrated. Making excuses for why things aren’t the way I want them to be.
I’ve been drifting... 
But spending time with my nephew Chaz last week reminded me of one of the simple truths in life I've managed to let slip through the cracks.
Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall…
Chaz was teaching me how to play Flying Gecko Football. Yes. You read that right. Flying Gecko Football. In Chaz’s world, gecko’s have wings and can fly. Of course they can… because why not?!?
The game is pretty simple. To play, you climb up on the arm of your couch holding your football that is actually an egg with special powers like spinning webs, and then you jump with the special football/egg as far as you can.
Flying Gecko Football!!!
I warned Chaz to be careful, because sometimes landing can be a little bumpy – even with a football/egg that can spin webs… but he wasn’t afraid. He took the starting position, and jumped.

I’m sure you can guess what came next. Let’s just say it was a bumpy landing. Flying Gecko was down. And yes… there were tears.
Aunt Marena – aka Lego Spider (apparently, that’s the other player in Flying Gecko Football) picked up the injured lizard to make sure there wasn’t any serious damage. As I was rocking Chaz back and forth (because he’s still little enough barely to let me) he looked up at me and through his tears said, “Sometimes it hurts to land, doesn’t it? My wings went back into my body too soon. Let’s do it again.”
So brilliant. 
So simple. 
So true.
Thank you, Chaz. I’ve been spending so much time in my head, I lost sight of that for awhile.
We all hunt for advice on a daily basis, constantly asking friends, colleagues, family members - even strangers - what they think we should do about this, that or the other. We hope they might enlighten us by offering up some fantastic motto or unique insight that will change our perspectives and attitudes for the better. But let’s be honest, that rarely ever happens.
Instead, the advice we usually get encourages us to play it safe. We’re told not to wander too far off the beaten path. We’re encouraged to steer clear of impulsive decisions, not to take chances until we’re ready.
Is anyone ever ready?
It can be scary to make decisions confidently, to choose your own path and to commit to your own judgment. I think the reason we receive the advice we do at times is that the purveyor of advice wants to be right just as much as you don’t want to fail. So, when you tell someone to play it safe, maybe it seems that nobody loses, but in truth, nobody wins.
Maybe you’ve already taken that big step to do something you want to do, something you’re passionate about. It’s ambitious, which is the best part about it. You know it won’t be easy, but you can’t wait to get started and try and make something of it… and more importantly, of yourself. Then, out of the blue, come the people (quite often your friends), who wish they had the determination and willpower to do what you're attempting, and who try to plant those seeds of doubt in your mind. It’s probably not out of spite or jealousy… but out of their own self-appeasement.
I like words… but can’t is NOT a word I’m fond of. So I say don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do something. They’re just afraid you might actually do it.
The only thing standing in the way of everything you want in life is yourself. If you don’t like something… change it. It’s really as simple as that. So go with your gut. If you feel it’s right, it probably is. And if it isn’t… it’s not the end of the world.
Then jump again.
And again.
Your wings will unfold as you fall.  
Thank you for reminding me, Chaz.

A little Chazzle Dazzle makes EVERYTHING better!