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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Remembering Jim Henson on his Birthday

"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little better for my having been here. It's a wonderful life and I love it." - Jim Henson.
Today in 1936, a creative genius named Jim Henson was born. Even though the world lost him while he was still far too young... the characters and worlds he created live on in our hearts today: “Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show,” “Fraggle Rock,” “The Dark Crystal,” “Labyrinth”, Yoda . . . and the list goes on and on...
I still love all things Henson. As I'm sitting here typing this, I see Cookie Monster on my bookshelf. Animal is here too. Yoda is nearby reminding me to do, or do not... there is no try. Words to live by. 

The Muppets have evolved since Jim’s passing, but their legacy lives on. The crazy characters he created still dance and sing, and their stories aren't finished. "The New Muppet Show" made its debut on network television this week. But before television shows, and movies, and theme park attractions, there was just a man. A man who was more than just the voice of a frog. He was also the heart. And he simply wanted to bring joy to others through puppets.
And boy, did he.
Thank you , Jim Henson!!! Someday... we'll find it. <3 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How do I love thee, San Diego Comic-Con? Let me count the ways...

It's the calm before the Comic-Con storm in San Diego today. Workers are doing last-minute preps, assembling tents and setting up lines outside of the Convention Center. It's the city's biggest annual show, and one of it's largest money-makers. Each year, the Con brings in approximately $178 million into San Diego's economy over the 5-day Nerd-fest. 
Yes. Nerds spend money. NOT news!!! Have you taken a look at the exclusives this year? 
From live concerts at Petco Park, to movie and television premieres, parties, zombies, and everything in-between, the Comic-Con of today looks a lot different than when it started in 1970. It looks a lot different than my first Con. That was awhile ago. I'm, I-hated-New Kids-on the Block-years-old. Do the math, people. 

As this year's Con approached, I've heard the same complaint over and over again that I've heard the last several years. I've even said it myself: "Comic-Con used to be about COMICS". Yes. It did. But guess what guys - get over it!!! Comic-Con has turned San Diego into Hollywood 2.0 for a weekend for awhile now. Some may see this as exploitive, but I don't necessarily agree with that. After all, what is nerdiness, anyway? I might have to explore that in more detail in another post. I haven't even looked at the panel schedule for the weekend. Nerd Problems. 

And yes. For the record, I AM a Nerd. A real one. NOT a booth-babe, or a Cosplay "skank", or whatever label is being thrown out these days at women who like to worship at what I like to call, the High Temple of Nerd. I'm a life-long, nerd, to be precise. I couldn't grow up with the Father I had and NOT be. It still cracks me that people are surprised when they discover my nerdiness. What is that saying about judging a book by it's Cover Art? So what do I think a nerd is? 

I think its about loving something so much other people think you’re weird for it. In other words, it’s not what you love but how you love it. And even with the crowds and the craziness I still love Comic-Con and here are a few of the reasons why: 

Planning out my Con Wardrobe. Do the socks go with the swimsuit?!? 
(Thank you, DC. I <3 Batman and I <3 Swag!!!)

Being in a place where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is geeked out.

Meeting new friends, and in some cases - new "friends" who will follow you around the rest of the Con.

The awesome signs. 

Being in a place where dressing up is highly encouraged.

Two Words: Gender-swap Bro Cosplay!!

Trying to figure out the obscure Cosplay
Iron Bat Beyond? 

Star Wars EVERYWHERE you turn.

Batmobiles-REAL ones!!!

Posing for glorious pictures everywhere 

Being able to breathe the air, and if you're lucky... rub shoulders with the same people you have written fan fiction about.
I know. Crazy-eyed, FanGirl in full-effect. It was embarrassing. But, ADRIAN FREAKING PAUL!!!! Deep Breaths. I'm STILL geeked out about this. 

Nerd Love

Being in a Place where you can completely geek out.

Yes, the crowds at Comic-Con have gotten a little chaotic the past decade, but so what. I think Comic-Con still gives people who love all sorts of crazy stuff a five-day oasis where they can come and no one will judge them. To all my fellow Nerds out there: This is what we always wanted, Right?!? When you start complaining that the non-Comic Book types have ruined Comic-Con because they don't like exactly the same things you do, you're doing the same think you hated being done to you as a kid. Play nice, everyonesaying that certain people don’t belong at your thing because they don’t like the exact same things you do, do you realize that you’re doing the very thing you hated being done to you as a kid? 
So try to play nice, everyone - if these ladies can do it, we all can! ;-) Have a great weekend, and May the Force Be With You! 

Fear not, those without Comic-Con Badges...

There's plenty of geeky goodness for you to partake of in San Diego this weekend. If you follow my posts you probably already know this, but just in case - Comic-Con kicks off (unofficially) today!!! With the event selling out faster each year, passes are getting harder and harder to come by. Those of you who weren't able to get badges this year may feel like you're standing behind the velvet rope at a club - watching everyone else file past you. But there's no need to feel that way. You can still worship at the high temple of all that's nerdy and cool. There lots of things going on off-site throughout San Diego - from downtown, to the Embarcadero, to Balboa Park, to Liberty Station, and up to La Jolla - that don't require badges. Here's a taste:
The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog’s “Enchantment under the SDCC” reader party is back at Henry’s Pub from 8-10 p.m. There will be giveaways and raffle prizes. The event is 21-plus.
WIL WHEATON kicks off the w00tstout Festival at Liberty Station. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m. A $59 ticket includes 10 4-ounce beer samples, a commemorative Hop-Con 2.0 glass and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Designated-driver tickets are available for $25.


The first-ever Geek Couture fashion show featuring some fan designs along with Her Universe's new collection at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel. The show is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Entry is first-come, first-served and if you have a badge it's free. 
8-11 pm at Petco Park
Elijah Woods and Zach Cowie spinning tunes at Bang Bang. Yes, Really.

w00tstock returns with version 6.0 and headliners television host and special effects artist Adam Savage; actor, author and blogger Wil Wheaton!!!!; and music-comedy duo Paul and Storm. The event will start at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theater. Tickets are $40.


House of Blues. Door's open at 11. Show starts taping at Midnight. Show is 21+

The San Diego Symphony is bringing Danny Elfman’s famous film scores to life with a concert at 8 p.m. at the Embarcadero right behind the convention center. They'll be doing the same thing with the 2009 Star Trek score Saturday night. Tickets range from $25 to $90.

A comedy performance by podcast hosts Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray, and Matt Mira, followed by a live taping of the show, usually with a surprise celebrity special guests. Past Comic-Con guests have included Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and John Barrowman. There are two shows planned. The first starts at 7:30 at the Balboa Theater.
Henry's Pub in the Gaslamp 5-8 p.m.

Still haven't had enough? Keep the SDCC party going at the after-party concert. The concert returns to Whiskey Girl for its 6th year on Sunday 7/27 at 7pm. It's a 21+ event, with a $5 donation requested at the door. 

I'm exhausted already. And that's just a few of this things happening around San Diego Comic-Con weekend. I didn't even get to some of the events that are on-going over multiple days: Godzilla, Nerd Hq, The Walking Dead Escape, Homers Dome, The Geek and Sundry Lounge, Gotham, The Game of Thrones: Survive the Realm Experience, I could go on, and on. Click here for a full break-down. And don't forget about the PEOPLE WATCHING! That's a good time in and of itself, my friends. 
Comic-Con weekend is a Marathon. NOT a sprint. Pace yourselves, everyone. Have fun, and May the Force Be With You! 

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.