Entertainment, life, travel

Con, Con, Everywhere a Con

In a few weeks my next adventure will be going back down to California to visit my cousin for four days, with one of them being spent at WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. I am not sure what to expect from this convention as it will be my first time attending and all I know is that it is put on by Comic-Con International, who runs the huge San Diego show. I am really into pop culture and these conventions have become  favorite events to go to. Going to panels, walking the exhibit floor, sharing experiences with people and seeing all the art that people come up with are some of my favorite things about the conventions. I have been to many different ones on the west coast and it got me thinking about my favorite and my not so favorite. Here are the ones I have frequented and my thoughts on them.

San Diego Comic Con SDCC has definitely been the best con I have been to and it is a ‘you must go at least once in your life’ convention. It is pretty big and a lot of people attend. You definitely have to be ready to be surrounded by people almost the whole time, be ready to sleep outside in line to get into panels that are on your bucket list and be ready not to eat a decent meal for a couple of days because you are spending hours in Hall H to watch panels or hours in line. I know, this all sounds horrible, but I have honestly had the most amazing times in the years that I have gone. The con is four days, always held in July and registration for tickets is usually early in the year. It is a good idea to scope out hotel/airline prices right after you get tickets. My first time going was with my best friends in 2010 (you can read about my full experience here) and we were easily able to get four-day passes with preview night almost a year before the con (this was the only time going to SDCC that this happened for me). I got the idea of going from the coverage of it in Entertainment Weekly and pitched it to my friends the summer before.  We managed to see a lot of fun panels  and I got to attend a couple of fun parties. It was an awesome first experience.

I have been back twice with my cousin, scoring a Thursday ticket in 2013  and then somehow managing to get all four days in 2014. Even though we only went one day in 2013, we saw a few movie panels and got a lot of cool stuff from walking the floor. The 2014 trip was awesome because we saw almost all of the panels that were on our list. This was my first year of sleeping outside, which I had vowed I would not do, but if you have your heart set on seeing certain things then you have to make sacrifices! In two days we only got eight hours of sleep, but it had been totally worth it. We were able to see some pretty awesome movie panels like Marvel (Ant-Man and Avengers), The Hobbit, Mad Max and some cool TV panels; Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, the last Sons of Anarchy panel and a special WB panel of Gotham, The Flash and Arrow.

 

We have tried every year since to go back and have not had any luck getting tickets. This has become a huge downside to this con. It has become so popular that now it is difficult to go. They changed their ticketing soon after the first time I had gone to an open registration and you have to sign up for a member id through the SDCC website. The ticket site is now a randomized system where you log in, you get placed in a virtual line and you basically sit in front of your computer for an hour waiting to be picked to buy tickets or wait for the site to tell you it is sold out. It is a frustrating system! But, San Diego is still a fun place to go and even if you only get a one day ticket or nothing at all, there is still so much outside of the con and you never know what cool things you will get to see or the people you will meet. It is helpful to follow the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog for updates on the convention and when open registration will be.

Rose City Comic Con – It was exciting when this started in Portland and every year has been a good show. After more people showed up than anticipated in 2012, the first year it started, they wisely moved it from the Double Tree to the convention center which definitely provided more space. The convention center floor is very open and I never feel like I am too crowded when trying to navigate it. RCCC is slowly getting bigger and they have definitely improved the show over the years when it comes to guests. It is nice to have a local con and to support local artists and shops. It runs in September and this year has been expanded to three days.

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Batmobile at RCCC

Emerald City Comic Con – ECCC happens in March and is a four day convention. I like going to Seattle and a lot of my friends go to this con too so having a group of people there makes it even more fun. I have gone a few times since 2011, but it has been getting more crowded and Seattle is becoming more expensive to stay the weekend. Usually it is who the guests are that help me decide on going. They do always have cool exhibits, like a Lego display or costumes from a movie, and they have a ton of vendors and artists in the exhibit hall. Plus, Seattle has so much to do in the city in case you need a break from the madness. One of the highlights from attending has been meeting John Noble and Jasika Nicole from Fringe. They were two of the nicest people and I got a photo with them, plus they were nice enough to sign it for me right before the convention closed for the day.

 

 

Wizard World Comic Con This may have been the con where I got to meet the Chris’, but I find the Wizard World ones over priced and unorganized. WW does events throughout the year in different US cities. My first WW was in 2015 in Portland and I went because of the guests. In 2016, they were adding people from the Marvel casts to almost every city but Portland. My best friend and I wanted nothing more than to take a picture with Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth so we ended up canceling all of our Emerald City Con plans (we had everything booked!) to go to Philadelphia. While touring the city and eating Philly cheesesteak was a lot of fun, the convention was frustrating. We decided to only go for one day since we had limited time and ended up spending most of the convention in line due to photo ops being so behind. There were so many people waiting for pictures and the lines were still huge after we had gotten done. The picture itself was so fast; being a hi,  get ready, snap the photo, out the door. The night before we had talked about how we wanted to pose, but when it came time for the picture we had no time to ask and both of us could not even say one word to either of the Chris’ anyway! At other cons, I have actually gotten a chance to talk to people who I was taking a picture with or getting an autograph from so it was a little disappointing.

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Our Chris pic

Everything was running behind by almost two hours and there was barely time to see all of the exhibitors on the floor between my photo and autograph. Then by the time I had gotten done, the convention was closing. I read some stories online later on about how some people got turned away from the photo ops they paid for because the guests  were out of time and had to be somewhere else. The upside of the weekend was being in a new city. I did have a great time with my friends and had good chats with people I had met in line so not all of it was frustrating. I did not attend the show this year in Portland and if I do attend this con again, it will definitely depend on the guests because $50 for just one day is too much!

I have had a lot of fun at conventions and love going. What makes it even better is having friends who are just as nerdy as I am and love to go too. I am excited for WonderCon and will probably attend Rose City again this year. I hope to some day get back to San Diego and some day attend the New York City Comic Con.

 

 

east coast, travel

My Travels: East Coast Adventure

My aunt and I enjoy going on vacation together so over a year ago when we were talking about where we wanted to go next, the east coast was mentioned and we talked about what we wanted to see. New York had been at the top of my list for a while and I thought it would be neat to see some of Massachusetts too. Not long after, we booked our hotels in Cape Cod and New York! Time flew by and we spent 8 wonderful days exploring the east coast.

Portland to Boston is almost six hours and while the flight was nice,  the getting from the airport to our dinner destination was a stressful experience. East coast driving is definitely more aggressive and cars were trying to make their way into our lane from all directions, most weren’t that friendly when it came to merging and at times you couldn’t even tell where your lane was! It was crazy and we were grateful when we finally made it out of the city.

I watch the Wahlburgers on A & E and trying their burgers was on my to do list so we made our way to Hingham to have dinner. I had the Our Burger, with lettuce, tomatoes, house made pickles, government cheese & Paul’s wahl sauce and some tots. Both were delicious! It is very cool inside, with the ceiling having the names of movies and TV shows that Donnie and Mark had been in. It was very fun to see the places that are featured on a show that I enjoy!

From there it was a three hour drive to our hotel,  the Cove at Yarmouth. I had found this place through my Mom’s time share and it was pretty decent. It has two pools, a restaurant, laundry area and the rooms came with a keurig, microwave and mini fridge. It was in a good spot, in between the towns of Yarmouth and Hyannis, and easy to find.

We spent the next day exploring Cape Cod. There is a main highway that goes all the way up the cape and it is surrounded by trees. Being fall, they were all different colors and the drive was beautiful. Unfortunately you can’t see anything off the exits so you basically have to pick a town and start exploring. We chose Provincetown, at the very top of the cape, as the place to start. We spent the morning walking the town and checking out all of the fun shops. It is a cute place right on the water and has a cool Pilgrim monument that you can go to the top of,  which we chose not to do, but you can see the whole thing from town.

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Provincetown

We made our way to the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center and Race Point. The visitors center has some really pretty views and you can see the Pilgrim monument from the observation deck! We did hit the beach at Race Point, but not for too long as we had more places to go. There were so many spots to stop and see the ocean or just walk around. I was in awe of how beautiful everything was.

While trying to find a place for lunch, we found that it was common for most  places to be shut down for the season. Someone told us later that most places close right after Columbus Day since it isn’t too busy during the fall/winter months. We made our way through Chatham to see the lighthouse there and ended up at the Skipper Chowder House in south Yarmouth where I had my first lobster roll. I am not a seafood person, but vacation is a time for trying new things! It was pretty tasty and I also had a cup of delicious New England clam chowder to go with it.

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Lobster Roll & chowder

 

We headed back to Boston the next day to explore a little bit of the city and take a whale watching cruise, which had been on my bucket list for a long time. I had been reading ‘Patriots’ by AJ Langguth, which is about the American Revolution and I was eager to see all of the places in Boston that had come up in the book. We started out near the harbor and followed the Freedom Trail from the Old State House (the site of the Boston Massacre) to Faneuil Hall (where the patriots would meet in secret), past the Old North Church, to the Paul Revere statue and his house. I loved seeing all of these historical sites and I could have easily spent the day seeing more of them. I hope to go back to Boston one day and finish the trail!

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Faneuil Hall and the statue of Samuel Adams

Along the way, we ended up in Little Italy and came across a gelato/cannoli shop that we had to stop in and try both! The place was filled with older men speaking Italian and we sat for a few minutes to listen to them. It was pretty neat!

We made our way back to the waterfront to the New England Aquarium, the place I had gone to online to get our tickets, and took a boat out to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The website promises to see whales on every trip and they delivered! It was a nice, clear day and there were plenty of them out feeding. One even came up next to the boat for a few minutes and put on a show! It was a very cool experience.

 

For our last day on the cape, we took a ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard. We decided not to bring the car and ended up taking the bus around the island, which there were stops  in each town and buses showed up frequently. It was convenient and cheaper than taking the car on the ferry, but we didn’t have time to see everything and couldn’t stop to see sights (like the Jaws bridge!). We stopped in Vineyard Haven and Oaks Bluff to look around and had lunch in Edgartown. There weren’t many shops open, so we ended up just walking around and it was a cool place to see.

We left Cape Cod after four amazing days and headed to Newport, Rhode Island. We spent the day checking out the famous mansions that reside on the coast. The tour packages included either five houses or two. Since we had to be in Providence by the afternoon, we chose to do two and toured The Breakers and Rosecliff. The Breakers, built by the Vanderbilt family,  has an Italian Renaissance style and had some amazing art pieces all over the house. Rosecliff is not as big, but is still impressive and my favorite room was the ballroom. Both houses were stunning and had amazing views of the ocean. It was an audio tour and it was fun to learn about the history of the homes.

The rest of the day was spent walking around Newport and driving to Providence to take the train to New York. It was a quick three hour trip and I was glad to be done with driving. The train ride was smooth and the views were amazing, with most of the route being along the coast. The best part of the ride was getting into New York and seeing the lights of the city! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It had been a long day of traveling, but seeing those lights got me excited and I couldn’t believe I was in New York!

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Sunset from the train

We spent four amazing days in the city. I was a little nervous, mainly due to how big it is, but after the first day we easily got to know the area we were staying in and managed to figure out the subway. We stayed at Hotel St James, is an older hotel and had small rooms, but came at a decent price. One thing we hadn’t counted on was how there was no air conditioning in our room! They had taken all of the units out in anticipation of the fall weather, but it ended up being warmer and more humid than we were prepared for. The staff were very helpful though and found us the last fan! Overall it was an okay place to stay and you couldn’t beat the location! It was only a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Times Square, so we spent the majority of our time in that area.

30 Rock is a really cool building with a lot of shops and places to eat inside, there were subway stations close by and there was a nice spot outside by some fountains to just sit and people watch. The NBC store inside was really cool and had a lot of merchandise from some of my favorite shows. I definitely spent a little too much money in there! We spent a lot of time in Times Square and it was such a fun area to be in.  There were SO MANY people! New York is definitely not a place for someone who has crowd anxiety, but it is a fun place to people watch! For me the coolest part of the crowds was hearing all of the different languages being spoken!

We had bought a City Pass before the trip, which gave us tickets to a bunch of major attractions for a decent price. We used our pass to go to the Top of the Rock and take a Circle Line Cruise on our first day out. Both offered amazing views of the city with being able to see all of Central Park and Manhattan from the Top of the Rock. The Circle Line Cruise allowed us to see the major buildings from the river and we learned a few things, like which dock the survivors of the Titanic landed at and where the US Airways flight landed on the river.

The rest of the day we spent time in Central Park, had lunch at Shake Shack  and went to the Museum of Natural History. It was kind of a bummer though because we only got to see one exhibit and an IMAX movie because of an event happening later in the evening that caused most of the museum to be closed off.

Our second day started at  the Today show! Matt Lauer and co. don’t come outside until 8am, but it is a good idea to be there at least by 6 so you can check in and get a good spot near the cameras. I don’t think we made it on TV, but it was fun to watch them film part of the show.

We spent the rest of the morning at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which is a very emotional experience. The museum is heartbreaking and insightful. There are a few exhibits inside that include damaged fire trucks, the last steel of the twin towers, plus pictures, documents, videos and audio that you probably can’t see or hear anywhere else. Both the memorial and museum are respectable tributes to the victims and should be seen while in New York.

We finished the day with a nice walk on the Brooklyn Bridge, ate some New York cheesecake and went to the top of the Empire State Building. It was foggy out that night so we couldn’t see anything from the very top, but the inside of the building is still neat and we had a little bit of a clear view from one of the lower floors.

Our last day was very rainy! We had breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (where there are singing waiters!) and by the time we made it to the Plaza Hotel and walked a little more of Central Park, it started to pour! We ended up going to a movie and finishing our shopping in Times Square. When the rain finally stopped we finished the day with taking the subway to Grand Central Station and having dinner with a friend. Despite the rain, it was a great last day of the trip.

Overall, this had been one of the best trips I have taken. All the places we had gone were beautiful and there were so many things to do and see. Cape Cod and Boston were amazing and if I go for another trip, I would stay in Cape Cod again and just drive around Massachusetts. There is a lot of history all over the state and there is definitely more to see along the Freedom Trail.

 

I loved New York so much and had the most amazing time there! My favorite part  was the Top of the Rock and walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Both had the best views of the city. Everything I ate was amazing; the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery, the pumpkin cheesecake at Junior’s and the Shake Shack burger, fries and beer were my favorite! My only regrets in New York were not seeing a Broadway play and not taking the NBC Studio Tour. By the time we decided to do the tour, they were all sold out and the next one wasn’t until a few days after we were gone.  Next time, I will do both, plus go to Brooklyn, look in all the fancy shops on Madison Ave, find the Friends building and eat more! I can’t wait!

 

life, travel

Nerd/Travel Bucket List Update

It has been a while, a LONG while, since my last post and I have to say that I miss writing. My free lance didn’t turn out how I had hoped, but I have been wanting to get back to doing it for myself for a while now. First up, re-visiting my Nerd Bucket List  and my Travel Bucket List. A few years ago I wrote these lists with the determination of trying to accomplish as many things as I could, but had some setbacks with my health right after I wrote both. For the past few years I have tried to get back to accomplishing things on both of these lists and I think it is time to get back to writing about them!

So one of the nerd bucket list items that I have managed to do since writing the list was #6, travel to Oahu and see some of the Lost filming sites. It wasn’t quite the tour I had wanted to take, but it was still satisfying. My aunt and I took the movie tour of the Kualoa Ranch, not just where Lost was filmed but also movies such as Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Godzilla and You, Me and Dupree. Kualoa Ranch is one of the most amazing  places I have been. It sits right off the ocean and the views of the mountains are amazing. On the tour you get to take a bus through the valley and stop at some of the movie locations. There is also a World War II bunker that now houses the submarine from Lost and various pictures/posters from the movies/TV shows that have been filmed in the area. The highlight of the tour was seeing Hurley’s golf course and the pond where the submarine scenes were filmed on Lost. It was such a great trip and it definitely made me love Hawaii even more than I already did!

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Kualoa Ranch pond

#5 on my nerd bucket list, meet more celebrities, is the other list item that I have also kept up on. I have been to San Diego Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con a few times in the past five years and have managed to meet some more people from my favorite movies and TV shows. Some highlights have been meeting Karl Urban, Stephen Amell and some of my favorite S.H.I.E.L.D agents, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge and Ming Na Wen. In June, my best friends and I are traveled to Philadelphia to Wizard World Comic Con to see some of the cast of The Avengers.  I still can’t even believe that my best friend and I got to stand next to Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans!  When we were talking about going, I felt like it was a crazy decision to go all that way to talk to them for probably ten seconds, but then I thought that life is short and this is what we want to do. So we canceled everything we had booked in Seattle for ECCC and booked everything in Philadelphia in a matter of days! It turned out to be an amazing trip! We spent a day and a half exploring the city, then another day at the con. Yes, it was only about 30 seconds standing with the Chris'(which I was too nervous to even look at them!), but I had the best time with my best friends in an amazing city.

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City Hall, one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia.

For my travel bucket list, since 2012 I have been to Oahu, took a road trip to Vancouver BC, been on two more California/SDCC trips, had a 30th birthday celebration in Vegas, explored parts of Colorado with my other best friend, went on an adventure to Lake Havasu, AZ with my mom complete with side trips to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam and this year I made it to the northeast, not only to Philadelphia, but split a week between Cape Cod and New York. I am hoping that in the near future will be a trip to D.C. and I never stop dreaming about New Zealand and Europe! Hopefully when my finances get a little better, that dream will become a reality.

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Staying at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, has been a highlight of my travels.

So that is what I have been doing since my last post and I am okay with it. Life does not always go the way you expect it to, but I believe that it is better to make the most out of it. I am definitely grateful to be able to do the things I enjoy most and spend time with the people that I care about. Traveling has been what makes me happy so here is to more exploring the world and to more writing about it!

travel

My Travels: Vancouver B.C.

Sam enjoying some Top Pot

I am back after a hiatus and hope to keep up my blogging. I thought a good way to start would be a recap of my Vancouver B.C. trip this past Memorial Day. My BF loves, no, LOVES poutine and suggested a weekend up north. We left on Saturday at 4am so we could get a good start at exploring the city since we only had three days to do it. The drive up there was nice and I had to make a stop at my favorite doughnut shop, Top Pot, on the way. They are around the Seattle area, but I always go to the downtown one on 5th ave. The doughnuts are always fresh and the raspberry chocolate is my favorite. Their coffee is pretty good too.

Beluga!

After our pit stop, we continued on and made it to the border around 9 am. We spent about 45 minutes waiting in line and by 10:30 made it to Vancouver. A 6 1/2 hour drive is not that bad. Our first touristy stop was at the Vancouver Aquarium. One of the main reasons I wanted to come here was to see the beluga whales and they did not disappoint. They are amazing creatures and it was fun to watch them. Also at the aquarium were sea otters, dolphins, penguins, tanks and tanks of different fish and there was an Amazon/jungle exhibit with alligators, plenty of snakes and piranhas.

One of the many views from Stanley Park

Overall, the aquarium was fun and there were many interesting things to see. We spent the rest of the day driving around Stanley Park, which was gorgeous. It also was a perfect sunny day and it made the park even more beautiful. There were a lot of people out enjoying the day: biking, taking wedding photos, sitting in the sun, picnicking and even rollerblading. I don’t think I have seen anybody rollerblade in years, but it seemed to be pretty popular.

We made our way back to Richmond, BC to our hotel, the River Rock Casino Resort. This place was only twenty minutes from Vancouver and easy to find. We had a nice one bedroom suite and it included a view of the water. The hotel had a buffet, a nice sized casino and a pool/hot tub area. It was really nice and I would definitely stay here again.

River Rock Casino Resort

Sunday was poutine adventure day. We had breakfast at the buffet and then made our way to downtown Vancouver. Our first poutine place was the Fritz European Fry House. The owner was nice and we had a laugh thanks to Sam who thought poutine with pop was something other than poutine with a (soda) pop. He got the original poutine with the gravy and cheese curds and I had a hot dog. Both were delicious. I thought their poutine was even better than the stuff from the food carts in Portland.

Poutine at Fritz European Fry House

We walked around Vancouver for a while, bought souvenirs and I made a stop for a nutella/coconut crepe. While in a t-shirt shop, the cashier told us about another poutine place we had to try. He got the notion Sam was into poutine from the shirt that he had bought…. with the poutine design. We made our way to La Belle Patate, our second poutine stop. Sam chose the poutine with ham this time, but there was so much of it he couldn’t finish. I tried this one too, but liked Fritz poutine better.

Poutine #2

After downtown we visited Granville Island, the market district of Vancouver. It reminded me of Pike Place market in Seattle, with all the meat, vegetable, dessert and goods stands. We bought almonds, the “world’s best syrup” (which trust me, it is), sausage and pepperoni and sat down to enjoy some gelato. We had dinner at a restaurant on the island and enjoyed some local drinks. We went back to the casino and gambled for a while where i proceeded to be up seventy dollars and then lost it all. It was still fun though.

Salmon on a stick and crab cocktail from the marketplace

Our last day was spent driving and having lunch in Seattle. We had a delicious chowder filled meal at Ivar’s, walked around the marketplace and I had to make one last visit to Top Pot. Overall, I had an amazing weekend and would go back to Vancouver. The drive wasn’t bad, the food was good, the resort was comfortable and the city was easy to get around.

life

My Nerd Bucket List

Thanks to some inspiration from my friend Mindy, I decided to follow in her foot steps and do my own nerd bucket list. I feel pretty lucky to have been able to do the things I have done already and I look forward to completing my goals. 

My accomplishments so far:

My big bag from Comic-Con

Attend the San Diego Comic-Con: I had been wanting to do this for a while and I finally got to go. I went with my friends, Mindy, Dan, Addie and Anna, last year and it was the most fun, but frustrating thing I have ever done. The lines were long, the waiting was sometimes unbearable, but I saw some of the coolest stuff and met the coolest people. It was nice to be in my element and be able to geek out in public. If you are passionate about comics, movies, tv, art, then this is something that you need to do at least once in your lifetime. You can find my recap of my adventure here. I am hoping to make another trip in 2012.

A good moment

Meet a celebrity: So this is probably something everybody wants to do, but when it actually happens you can’t believe it. When I went to Comic-Con I wanted to meet at least one person that I could go home and brag about. I ended up meeting a lot of people, some on purpose and some we just ran into.

I saw Thomas Jane (The Punisher) on the street, got an autograph for my parents from Brent Spiner (Data from Star Trek), got an autographed poster from the Vampire Diaries cast including Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev, got a picture with Jerry O’Connell at a fan party for Entertainment Weekly and got a Serenity comic signed by Nathan Fillion. If that wasn’t enough I recently attended the Emerald City Comic-Com and got to meet John Noble (Walter from Fringe) and Jasika Nicole (Astrid from Fringe). All of this was accomplished just by going to a couple of comic-cons!

My signed EW issue by Doc Jensen and Michael Ausiello

Talk LOST with fellow fanatic and my favorite Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff “Doc” Jensen: I got to attend an Entertainment Weekly fan party in San Diego and I got to talk to Jeff Jensen. I had been reading his recaps on Lost for years (you can find one of his articles here) and it was exciting telling him how much I loved his writing. He even signed my copy of the Lost finale issue of Entertainment Weekly. A bonus was meeting fellow EW writer Michael Ausiello. He signed my issue too!

Charlaine Harris and I

  

Attend a book signing of a favorite author: The Southern Vampire Mysteries is one of my favorites series and I jumped at the chance last year to attend Charlaine Harris’ book signing for Dead in the Family, her tenth Sookie Stackhouse book, here in Portland. She seemed like such a sweet lady and has the best southern accent. It was fun to listen to her and she was pretty hilarious too. When asked if she would sleep with a vampire or a werewolf her reply was “depends on if you like it hot or cold.”

My elven star inspiration. Mine is in color.

Get a nerd tattoo: True nerds have at least one “nerd tattoo”. I chose something from Lord of the Rings for mine, with the intention of getting this flower I saw on the Return of the King dvd box. After looking around on the internet at various Tolkien sites though I found something I liked better. So when I turned 21 I went and got my elven star tattoo.

Start a book club: I have been wanting to do this for a long time and it finally happened. Mindy helped me get it running and now we have been doing our movie adaptation book club for over a year. I have to say I am pretty proud of us for sticking with it. It is one of my favorite things to do each month.

Things to do:

A Lord of the Rings New Zealand map

1. Travel to New Zealand and walk the road to Mordor: Okay so you can’t really walk the road to Mordor, but you can still go see the amazing scenery from the movie. I have already found a tour, I just need the cash. It might take me a while to save it up, but I refuse to give up on this adventure.

Hogwarts. I could see it, but couldn't go in

2. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Ever since they announced this theme park it has been on my must see list. I went to Orlando last May, but the park had a delay and opened up two weeks after I left. It was one of the main reasons why I was going and it wasn’t ready! The worst part was we could see Hogsmeade and  Hogwarts castle while we walked around the park. The first thing I would want to do is get some Bertie Botts from Honey Duke’s and try a butter beer at the Leaky Cauldron.

Dream costume

3. Dress up for a Comic-Con: I have been to two cons and I have yet to do a cool costume. I dressed as Sookie Stackhouse in San Diego, but I would like go bigger. I would like to do a custom-made Batwoman costume that is the actual Batwoman and not the lame Batgirl one.

4. Write an article for Entertainment Weekly: Writing for Entertainment Weekly is actually my dream job, but to write at least one thing for them would be amazing.

5. Meet more celebrities (and actually talk to Nathan Fillion next time): Celebrities on my wish list are True Blood cast, JK Rowling, JJ Abrams, Steve Carell and Nathan Fillion is a must again because the first time meeting was too quick and I would like for actual dialog to happen!

6. Take a LOST tour in Oahu: I almost did this when I was in Maui last November, but it was too much money because of the plane ride. Next time I go back to Hawaii I intend to stay in Oahu so I can take the Lost tour. There are plenty to choose from too.

7. Attend the JRR Tolkien birthday party at McMenamins: Unfortunately I have to wait until next year to do this because it is in January. They do it every year where they have music and food inspired by Middle Earth. People dress up in costume and then all three Lord of the Rings movies are shown in the theater.

Here are a few non nerdy things I want to accomplish:

1. Own a house

2. Own a vacation home. In reality, a place on the Oregon Coast. In my dreams, Maui or Las Vegas.

3. Own a classic mustang or dodge challenger.

4. Get motorcycle endorsement.

5. Become an entertainment writer.

6. Spend a New Year’s Eve in New York and see a play on Broadway.

7. Take a food road trip through the South. I have most of this planned and want to start in Texas and drive to the east coast, eating at as many BBQ places as I possibly can. Better pack some TUMS!

8. Take a European history tour like this.

9. Go on a safari in Africa.

10. Take a ride on at least one scary roller coaster (like the Hulk at Universal Studios). This is no joke, I have a fear!

11. Finish all my scrapbooks and keep them updated

12. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich

13. Do things in Oregon that I haven’t done yet including travel on the Mount Hood Railroad, go to the Sea Lion Caves, take a Columbia Gorge wine tour, visit the Oregon Historical Society.

14. Take a dance class, preferably ballroom.

This is definitely just a start and I hope to add more to this list as time goes by. Hopefully I can cross off at least one item from my nerd bucket list and my regular bucket list this year.

Entertainment

My top 10 movies to see in 2011

2011 looks to be better then 2010 when it comes to movies and it is time to see which ones are worth spending that $10 on. Warning, these are the top ten films I am looking forward to this year and you might not agree on them!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

#1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, July 15

After watching part I in November of 2010, I wanted to continue onto part II right then. I couldn’t get enough of Deathly Hallows and it is going to be a long wait for July 15. This seventh Potter book is the best of the series and the first movie may have left out some things, but none of those things were too critical. Part I had emotion, action, suspense and heart and part II should be no disappointment if it keeps the same elements and stays as true to the book as it can.

Girl with Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig

 

 

#2.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, December 21

This movie has the potential to be either good or ruined by us Americans trying to copy the Swedish version. As I was reading the book, I could picture Daniel Craig as Blomkvist and wasn’t surprised when David Fincher cast him. It helps that it is being filmed in Sweden and the cast is good too with Stellan Skarsgard as Martin Vanger, Robin Wright as Erika Berger and Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger. The question mark belongs to Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. She will have some big shoes to fill since Noomi Rapace did so well in the Swedish movies. Love the book, like the Swedish films, hopefully this version will not disappoint.

Noomi Rapace, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law get into trouble

#3. Sherlock Holmes 2, December 16

Speaking of Noomi Rapace, she got so popular from Dragon Tattoo that many studios started to court her to star in their movies with Sherlock Holmes 2 coming out the winner. I loved the first one and Robert Downey Jr. will always bring me to the theatre. Jude Law is also back, but not sure of Rachel McAdams. The plot is being kept under wraps and all that is known is Holmes and Watson are after Professor Moriaty, the mysterious character from the first movie. The first one was fun, hoping this one will be too.

Cowboys and Aliens

#4. Cowboys and Aliens, July 29

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford with Jon Favreau as director, what more could you ask for? A western that involves aliens is intriguing and the trailer looks pretty good. Olivia Wilde is also in the cast and has broken out thanks to Tron and House.

Captain America

#5. Captain America: The First Avenger, July 22

This is just one of the many comic book movies of the year and I think it looks to be the most interesting of them. I like era movies and this one will be set during World War II with Captain America (Chris Evans) taking on Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

Captain Jack is back

 

 

#6. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, May 20

I am a sucker for these kinds of movies, the ones that you can sit back, relax and just have fun. On Stranger Tides got rid of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, replacing them with Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane. Johnny Depp is awesome as Jack Sparrow and I think this fourth installment will be a lot different with the new cast and a new adventure.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

#7. Thor, May 6

I missed out on the panel at Comic-Con, but after watching the trailer for the first time I am more interested in the movie. Chris Hemsworth seems like he is going to make a good Thor and having Natalie Portman as the leading lady isn’t so bad either.

Natalie Portman, Danny McBride, James Franco and Zooey Deschanel in Your Highness

#8. Your Highness, April 8

R rated comedies are always better than PG 13 ones (see the Hangover, Wedding Crashers and Due Date) so this should be no exception. The cast is stellar with James Franco and Danny McBride at the lead with Natalie Portman (she is going to have a good year) and Zooey Deschanel as the women in their lives. The trailer looks funny and the fantasy element should make it a little more intriguing.

Jason Segal and the Muppets

#9. The Muppets, November 23

The kid in me is excited for this movie. It has been a long time since we have seen the Muppets and Kermit the Frog is not one to forget. Jason Segal and Amy Adams join the gang for their first film in a long time.

Jeremy Renner, Tom Cruise and Paula Patton of Mission Impossible 4

 

#10. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, December 16

I am a fan of the Mission Impossible movies and am looking forward to this new one. I am one of the few that don’t really have a problem with Tom Cruise these days. The cast adds to the appeal of the movie with Jeremy Renner, Josh Holloway, Simon Pegg and Michael Nyqvist (from the Swedish Dragon Tattoo) added to the mix. Having JJ Abrams as a writer doesn’t hurt either.

Other notable releases:

Scream 4, April 15: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette are back for the fourth installment of the series as the ghost face killer comes back to Woodsboro. Fans of the original will probably watch this new one with younger people being appealed by Kristen Bell and Emma Roberts.

Water for Elephants, April 15: This is Robert Pattinson’s role outside of Edward Cullen and I think he might have a chance to prove himself here. The movie is from the best-selling novel from Sara Gruen. With Reese Witherspooin and Christoph Waltz also in the cast I think this is going to be a hit.

The Hangover Part II, May 26: The Hangover was a success at the box office and was pretty darn funny. Hopefully this one can be as funny and has the potential with all the guys from the first one coming back.

X-Men First Class, June 3: This may be a chance for the X-Men franchise to have a good re-boot. X3 was terrible and the X-Men need to do something to erase it from out memories. James McAvoy leads as Professor Xavier.

The Green Lantern, June 17:  Ryan Reynolds is the lead with Blake Lively as his love in, once again, another comic book movie. I am not 100% sure about it, but most likely will watch.

Cars 2, June 24: Lightning McQueen and Mater are back in a race around the world. Cars was a huge success for Pixar and they are looking to repeat that success. Hopefully this one will be as charming as the first.
Edward gives Bella the business

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I, November 18: As a reader of Twilight you would think this would be on my ten must see list. The problem is I loathed this book and am not really dying to see the movie. The plot was week and there is not enough source material to make two movies. It will be interesting to see what they come up with to fill the time. Plus, there is no way that they will show the supposedly mind blowing sex that Edward and Bella have. Damn these books for appealing to teenagers!

Chris Evans may win the battle of abs

It will definitely be an entertaining year for movies. It will be interesting to see what stars will break out and which comic book adaptation will rule. I think Thor and Captain America will duke it out with Chris Evan’s chest becoming the winner.

 

 
life

Looking back on 2010/Looking forward to 2011

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

Happy New Year! It is already that time where we think about what happened in the past year and look ahead to things that we want to happen in the new year.  2011 has already started off as a deja vu and it has made me realize there are some things I would like to change.

Looking back on 2010:

2010 was definitely an up and down year. It started off with my personal life taking a tumble and having to adjust to living alone again. I think I am still adjusting to it and it is hard to go back to something that you have a hard time with. I got back on my feet and decided that I wanted to go back to school to get a degree in Communication. As I have always said I want to be an entertainment writer and I have spent the last ten months trying to figure out how. I decided on school again because I wanted to get better at being a writer and learn the fundamentals of communication. To help with my career journey I joined Examiner.com as the Portland TV Examiner just to get my name out there and add a little experience to any resumes. By September I had been asked to join another website called TV Geek Army to recap and do news pieces on TV shows that interested me. So far it has been a fun experience and hopefully it will somehow help me down the road.  

Standing outside of Epcot

My ups of 2010 definitely were my travels. In May I spent a week in Florida with some family and friends and it was one of the best trips that I have taken. We spent most of our time at Disney World with a side trip to Cocoa Beach. I saw some amazing things and had the best time; Disney World was just an experience by itself! You definitely need to spend a week there to enjoy it all. My only disappointment from the trip was not being able to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We arrived about a couple of weeks too early! It is on my must see list and a future trip is in the back of my mind.

My favorite Comic-Con moment

 In July a couple of friends and I attened the San Diego Comic-Con. I had always wanted to do this so I was able to talk my fellow geeks into going. We bought our tickets in October of 2009 and waited a long nine months for the event. Comic-Con was probably the coolest thing that I have done in my life. We got to meet celebrities and attended panels for anticipated movies. My favorite moments were meeting Nathan Fillion and getting to go to the Entertainment Weekly party where I got to meet my favorite writers. I think this is one trip where I  hardly had any bad moments and all the people I met were really nice.  There is nothing quite like a visit to Comic-Con and always be glad I got to attend. It was a chance for the geek in me to be fully let loose! I do want to go again, but would be satisfied with just the one experience.

I ended my travels with a trip to Maui with my father and stepmother. They had invited me to go earlier in the year and who could say no to Hawaii? We had an amazing time and so far I have not seen a place as beautiful as Maui. We got to see the sunrise at almost 10,000 feet, swam with a turtle and experienced some of the best food that I have ever had. I think Hawaii will always be on my “must go back” list.

My downer of the year was losing my stepfather in August. This was the first personal death that I have experienced in my life and it was very hard on the family because it was unexpected. I have lost grandfathers, aunts and uncles, but nothing compares to losing a parent. As of now it is still a fresh wound and it is hard not to think about it every day. For me it was a wake up call and it made me realize that nothing is certain in life and it is not something we should take advantage of. It helped me realize that one of my goals in life is to experience as much as possible.

Looking forward to 2011:

For the last couple of days I have been thinking about the changes that I would like to make in my life. I haven’t really been myself for the last couple of months and I would like to get back to being me. I think the stress of  trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, finances and personal loss have taken a toll on me mentally.

My first step has been to take winter term off from my communication studies and figure out what I really want to do. School is stressful and expensive and I want to figure out if it will be worth it in the long run.  It was a last-minute decision where I dropped my classes a day before they were suppose to start, but I think a little less stress will make me feel better. I will probably go back in the spring time, but at least have the next three months to figure some stuff out.

My next goal is to see how I can lower my expenses and get to the financial position that I would like to be in.  Last years moving and travel expenses left me with less than I wanted, so my goal is to get back to a good financial position. So far, this is what I have to improve things. I think day by day my list  will be longer, but don’t want to start out with too much on my plate.

Another Disney trip in the works

One thing that I am looking forward to this year is a family vacation to Disneyland in June. My nephews are very excited to go to Mickey Mouse’s house and it is going to be fun to go with the whole family. Yes I know I go to Disneyland way too much, but it is my favorite place to go. It will be even more fun experiencing it with some family members who have never been before.

 I don’t really have anything else planned right now, but it is still early in the year! There are places I would like to go, but I think I am going to wait until 2012 so I can save up for the things I have always wanted to do like an out of the country experience.

I am hoping that 2011 will be better than 2010. It can’t promise me anything, but the least I can do is to be hopeful about it.

life

Back to School

I did it, I survived my first week of class. This term I am taking just two classes, but this time I wasn’t lucky enough to get online ones. I actually have to go to campus…. the horror! It actually isn’t going to be as bad as I thought it would be. I just need to discipline myself into going to bed on time because in order to be able to go to class I have to be at work by 7 and it sucks!

I have an intro to communication class and a family communication class to keep me busy for the next two months. Both are interesting and I find that I learn better in a face-to-face class, although the online classes suit my schedule better. My fam comm professor is hilarious and I don’t think I have enjoyed a first day of class more than I did in his.

Of course I have already my moment of self-doubt this week. I got to talking to someone in my group and he asked me the questions of what my major is and what I am going to do with it. I explained to him that I was doing some post-bacc work for a degree in communication and that I already had a BA in history. Then he asks me what I am going to do with my communication degree if I already have a degree in history. Good question. I think I tried to sound more convincing to myself than him when I tried to explain that I wanted to go into journalism and both degrees would hopefully help me. It’s hard to explain to people. I have gotten those kind of questions a lot lately and it has made me wonder the answer. I feel like I am not going to get where I want to be someday, but I do feel that school gives me the hope that I will. I know what I want to do, I want to be an entertainment writer, but its the question of how do I get there that lingers. Overall it won’t take me very long to get this degree and I am not worried about the length because I have a job and I want to hit my five-year mark at it (which is June 2011). I think it will be a good term and I am hoping it won’t be too stressful.

I am still working on my Examiner page and just the other day I received an email from someone asking me to come write for their TV recap site. The site is TV Geek Army and I decided to take it on. It doesn’t pay like the Examiner, but I want to put my name out there. You’ve got to start somewhere right? I am only going to be doing the Dancing with the Stars and the Office recaps for now since I have lots of other stuff on my plate so look for my articles on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Other than school the only October happenings is a trip down to Prineville and an eventful Halloween weekend. I am looking forward to some parties, but can’t decide on a costume. I was going to re-use my Sookie outfit, complete with fang marks this time, but after a trip to Spirit Halloween last night it is hard to decide. There were too many cool costumes to choose from. We shall see!

Entertainment

Entertainment: looking back on summer, looking ahead to fall

I love this time of year. Everything changes colors, various pumpkin foods can be found to eat, football starts, the new TV season is upon us and it means that the movie season is back. It definitely was a bummer summer for movies and the blockbusters didn’t really live up to their potential. Iron Man 2 was not as good as the first, Eclipse (just like the rest of the Twilight movies) was not as good as the book, MacGruber was terrible, Knight and Day was odd. My list of summer movies I liked isn’t very long with Inception, Robin Hood, the A-Team and the Other Guys making the cut.

Let down by season 3

Even summer TV was a let down. I waited nine months for True Blood and even though it started off good, it lost its spark. The storylines went everywhere, they took characters places that weren’t normal for those characters and there were some really pointless scenes in some of the episodes. I am a HUGE fan of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries series and even though it is hard to separate the books from the show, season 1 had the excitement of the novels. The characters were all involved in the same storyline and not going in different directions. This can not be said about season three. I will stay true and watch next summer, only because they are going to do one of my favorite storylines, but they better step it up.

Back to movies, after skimming the release calendar there are some fall and winter releases that look worthy enough for a $10 ticket.

The Town

September 17 – “The Town”

Starting off the fall movie season is “The Town” with Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Blake Lively and Rebecca Hall. Adapted from the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan, the movie follows Doug (Ben Affleck), a thief from Charlestown, Massachusetts, the armored-car robbery capital of the world. Renner plays his friend Jem who is in on the heist, Hamm is the FBI agent trying to catch them, Hall plays a woman who they take hostage during a robbery and Lively is Krista, Jem’s sister, who is in love with Doug. This is a choice for the book club this month and after reading it, the plot was what I expected it to be. It reminded me a little of “The Departed”. I couldn’t get boston accents out of my head and could perfectly see Renner as Jem. With Affleck at the directors chair, “The Town” looks promising. His last movie “Gone Baby Gone” was a good movie and this one I don’t think will disappoint either.

The Social Network

October 1 – “The Social Network”

There is already some Oscar talk for the movie about the founding of Facebook.  The movie centers around the founder, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg from “Zombieland”) and the controversy that surrounded the creation of Facebook. I think what I find this movie appealing is the story, mainly because I don’t know it. The trailer is pretty good, but then again it could turn out to be one of those movies that is bad, but the trailer is good.

Red

October 15 – “Red”

Bruce Willis, Mary Louise-Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Karl Urban and Morgan Freeman, this is the cast of “Red”. How could you not want to watch a movie with these people in it? I for one would definitely like to see a movie where Helen Mirren shoots stuff up. Karl Urban is not bad to look at either. “Red” looks like it could be a fun movie.

Due Date

November 5 – “Due Date”

Starring Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis, “Due Date” follows Peter (Downey) a father to be that has to hitch a ride with Ethan (Galifianakis). Both actors are funny (Galifianakis was the best thing about “The Hangover”) and the movie comes from Todd Phillips, director of “Old School” and “The Hangover.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

November 19 – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I”

This is a movie that I have been anticipated since I turned the last page in the book.  Being a faithful Potter reader, I have been very back and forth about the films. The first one I absolutely loved and it really captured the magic of the series. The biggest let down so far was “Goblet of Fire” due to the fact that it felt rushed and they couldn’t put some of the important parts in it since the book was pretty long. In “Half Blood Prince” they added a scene that was completely  unnecessary! I could write a whole blog about the movies, but I won’t because it won’t change them. I just have to cross my fingers that the two last Potter movies, and the most important ones, are going to be up to par. The one thing that I like already is that they have put this in two parts, the book has way too much detail to leave anything out and cram it into one movie. I am glad that the director decided to be faithful to the fans and is going to put everything into the movie that he can from the books. Just from the scenes shown at Comic-Con and from the trailer, the important parts are not going to be left out. Definitely hitting the midnight showing for this.

Tron: Legacy

December 17 – “Tron: Legacy”

I haven’t been too much into 3D films, but I feel that “Tron” is one that must be watched in 3D and the scenes at Comic-Con that were showed sold me on it. Jeff Bridges is back as Kevin Flynn and joining him this time is Garrett Hedlund as Flynn’s son Sam who gets zapped into the game, Olivia Wilde as Qurroa, a warrior and Michael Sheen as Castor, the villain of the movie who wants to stop Sam from leaving the game.

This isn’t really a big list, but these movies were the ones that stood out to me the most and are movies I would pay to go see. Find a complete theatrical release calendar here for the rest of the year. Anything else that should be added to the “must see” list?

Entertainment, life

Trying to get back in the saddle….

I know, its been a while. August has been a crappy month and I am trying to get my mojo back. It has been hard though, I definitely have a case of writer’s block, both here and on my Examiner page. There was an unfortunate death in my family this past month and it has been a little hard to go back to normal. It definitely has had me thinking about how anything can happen and we shouldn’t take life for granted. It has also made me think about what I want out of life and where I would like to end up. I am trying not to let things get to me as much and am trying to get the people that have done me wrong out of my head. This has been difficult to do, but I have come to realize that in the end I am the better person and I hope I wouldn’t treat people the way I have been treated. I am definitely not perfect and even though I wouldn’t admit it right away, I know that there are times where I have been wrong or acted stupid. I am grateful for the friends I do have and how much they have helped me during this difficult time in life.

Besides August, the summer was pretty good. I had two amazing vacations, Florida and Comic-Con. Both were places I had never been and I had a great time. I would definitely go back to both. Other than those trips, I didn’t do much these past few months, just been trying to enjoy my time off before I start school again. I have Maui to look forward to in November and as always I love the holidays. Halloween activities look promising, school starts again at the end of September and college football is starting this weekend so I have more than enough to keep me busy during the winter.

I definitely would like to keep my writing up though. Lost was my passion to write about and now that it is over, I need something new. Updates are nice, but I want to branch out. I need some ideas! So far one of my ideas is to write like a book report for each month, ie. what I read throughout the month and my thoughts. I like doing the TV recaps/thoughts, but need to find a new show/s. So I need some feedback from my readers. Is there anything you would like to read about? Are my ideas something you would want to read? Is there a show or shows that I should tackle? Please, give me some thoughts! I always appreciate them and always appreciate my blogs even being read!