Sunday, March 17, 2013

Megacon 2013

So... Megacon '13:

Ghosts, Ghosts, Ghosts

Going to conventions can be, well, rigorous. You're on your feet all day, moving from panel to panel, dodging people in the dealer's space aisles, talking to strangers, waiting in line for everything, and keeping your camera ready. Rest is for weaker fans, haha.

But I'm very sneaky.

I happen to know Scott Tepperman, an investigator on Syfy's Ghost Hunters International. He's the coolest guy you'll ever meet: funny, easy-going, and kind. He had some great stories about what it was like to travel the world, exploring haunted castles and prisons in pitch black darkness. Although Scott is branching out into other avenues, like starring in low-budget horror movies, he still goes to conventions around the U.S. I was thrilled to hear that he'd be going to Megacon this year!

The GHI booth became my home base for next two days. I met fellow investigator Paul Bradford as well (who turns out to be a big Doctor Who fan, haha).

Dodging the crowds lining up for autographs in the special guest sections, I always returned to the booth to check in, eat my lunch, and listen with a huge grin on my face as fans came to the booth to share paranormal experiences with Scott and Paul.

Sci-Fi Speed Dating

Speed Dating was so much fun! The people behind the TLC show, Geek Love, were indeed running the sessions; just knowing that helped calm my nerves because they are the best, haha. Ryan Glitch had a slew of hilarious jokes to keep all of us distracted and calm. What I liked most is that he was very concerned that us girls were comfortable - and if we needed anything, he'd rush to our rescue like a superhero!

Luckly for me, I had no issues. I got to talk to thirty-five guys, three minutes each. My mouth went dry after the first three minutes, but I soldiered through it somehow. I had a water bottle, but time went so fast that I'd probably miss talking to someone if I reached for my water and took a drink (I kid you not). For the most part, three minutes was more than enough time to feel someone out and see if you like them. After the first four guys, I relaxed and started having fun.

I took Speed Dating very seriously. I vowed to myself that I'd only write down the numbers of the guys I'd like to get to know more - guys that I could see going on a date with. So... at the end of the session, I only wrote down one guy's number. Ah, well. I talked to so many nice guys, but the chemistry just wasn't there for me.

My sheet, however, had a lot of numbers on it. Wow! I'm very flattered.

I'd love to do Sci-Fi Speed Dating again. Really, truly. The only tough part is that the two hour sessions are huge chunks of time to lose when you're at a convention. To do more than one session per convention would mean that you'd ultimately miss out on other panels or, well, eating. Eating is very important... but tends to be ignored during cons, haha.


The panels this year were a mixed bag, but for the most part, I enjoyed them. My first panel of the weekend was "Crafting the Character Arc: How to Successfully Navigate Your Character Through Your Narrative." Going in, I expected to see a full panel of comic book writers, but instead discovered that the entire panel was going to be conducted by one lone woman: Jennie Jarvis, an MFA instructor as Full Sail University.

With less than a month away from holding my MFA degree, I felt a swell of pride in seeing her up there, kicking butt and taking charge of a large room packed with writers. Some of what she taught was review for me, like how she used a story diagram to talk about character growth (rising action, climax, etc). However, Jarvis has written in various mediums, including screenplay writing, so she had a lot of tiny but glittering gems of great advice. The best for me was when she defined the difference between goal and motivation. Readers, Jarvis says, expect to see a character win or fail at a goal (aka a tangible thing). You can't rely on a character's internal conflict alone. Ex: seeing two characters wed at the end of a story is more powerful than just having one character feel that the other character loves him/her.

Another memorable panel was "Q & A with Vic Mignona." For anyone living under a rock (seriously, guys), Vic is an amazing voice actor; some of his roles include Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist,   Zero Kiryu from Vampire Knight, Tamaki Suou (!!! *passes out*) from Ouran High School Host Club, and, like, a million others.

I've gone to Vic's panels before, and it's probably a miracle that I had because his legion of fans keep growing every year. What makes Vic so, well, lovable, I suppose, is that he has a very warm and encouraging personality. He always does a great job with voice acting, but when you meet him in person, it's almost as if those shiny anime sparkles surround his face, haha! During his panel, he talked about his journey in becoming a voice actor, pursuing your dreams, and speaking in the voices of our favorite characters. I would have liked to have seen more of him, but Saturday was insanely crowded, making even the smallest goals seem quite impossible (my, have these conventions grown!).

In the evening, I attended an indie film festival, showcasing award-winning short films in various genres. In addition to seeing Creepy Crawly, an aptly-named horror short film with Scott Tepperman as one of the actors, I got to watch Pupsock and Wendell vs the Sky Pirates.

The humor is wonderful, and a bit eyebrow-raising, but the mixing of mediums is the best part. I love that puppets and digital characters share the screen, along with special effects and real actors and actresses. I met Thomas Mumme, one of the masterminds behind Pupsock. Somehow, we got on the subject of Buster Keaton (always a good thing) and then we geeked out about Hugo - he insisted that I need to put the book up at the top of my reading list! And it is. I have The Invention of Hugo Cabret on my desk, ready to be read.

The Haul

Despite the gigantic dealer's space, I walked away from the convention with only a few items. Many booths sold the same exact t-shirts, plushies, posters, etc. - an unusual phenomenon. As you can see, I didn't get any Doctor Who merch;Hot Topic sold about eighty percent of what was there (and, if I had really wanted them, I would have already emptied by wallet at Hot Topic, thankyouverymuch). 

I am a big, big, big fan of the Portal series, and practically slobbered over the small, but good wares. I got a huge, stuffed Wheatley and a "Wheatley Laboratories" t-shirt. Yes, Wheatley is my favorite character, haha. 

I also got issues #1 and 2 of the Fionna & Cake comic book series. Adventure Time is pretty awesome, but the gender-bent characters have stolen my heart. I wish there were more issues! The artwork inside the comics was gorgeously-drawn and I'm so excited to see more of Flame Prince.

In regards to anime, I finished my collection of the Earl & the Fairy manga. I fell in love with the anime, but the manga is also great. And, last but not least, I got a keychain of Sailor Moon's disguise pen, the first weapon of sorts she ever used alongside her tiara. The disguise pen doesn't get much love, so it's wonderful to have one! 


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unread Books and Convention Time!

With two months left until graduation, one question weighs on my mind: what will I do with all my books?

I haven't gotten to a book-hoarding stage, where paperbacks creep out of the floorboards and my hardbacks cut up my skin when I sleep in a pile of them at night, but my three bookshelves are stuffed with manga, YA, and children's books. All the textbooks from college and grad school have been exiled to the computer room in the front of the house. If you opened my closet, you'd find thrift store collections of Grimm's fairy tales jammed with retired library books, sold with the plastic and bar codes still on their covers. I even have one shelf in my closet dedicated to anthologies, since I've gravitated towards them after having to procure stories for my students during grad school.

Unlike this comic, I'm not keeping books for my future brood. Rather, I reread them many times, enthralled by my favorite scenes and characters, and I love being able to lend them to friends as well.

But after I graduate, what will happen to me? What will happen to these books?

I'm willing to make my life difficult: if I have to move, I will break my back packing and moving all these books with me. However, I want to make sure that every book I'm bringing is one I want to keep - and that means catching up on all the unread books I have.

Above, you'll find a chunk of one of my bookshelves - probably the most jam-packed section. I've read most of these books, but there are a few that I've lined up to read over the next few weeks.

The best part about finding books I don't like, or don't want to keep, is that I can donate them. It makes getting rid of books easy, because I know that other people will pick up those books and like them, even if I didn't. I could never, ever throw a book away *shudders* Always donate, kiddos, haha.

In addition to my book worries, spring break has started! I've got a thesis to format, adding the finishing touches on the persnickety formatting requirements, down to the appropriate spacing between headers, leaders, and margins. I must take naps, do laundry, clean my room, eat out, write, and do something fun. Well, the fun part is something I have covered this year.

On Friday, I'll be going to Megacon, a giant sci-fi and anime convention held in Orlando, FL. I LOVE these conventions, but you wouldn't know it from my blog. Come to think of it, I only started blogging during my first year of graduate school and, since then, I haven't been able to attend (due to a combination of deadlines, teaching, and creative writing events). The stars aligned this year, allowing my brother and I to have the same week off... and that week happened to include Megacon.

Couldn't. Be. More. Perfect.

In the two years since my last convention, I'm sure that a lot has changed. I'm feeling a little nervous, actually, because I've been out of the loop in what shows and fandoms are popular now. My life has revolved around devouring novels, memoirs, poetry, and studying craft... so I haven't had the time to watch a bunch of anime or buy new gaming systems to play some amazing RPGs (my favorite types of games). I've only recently gotten into Doctor Who (thank goodness), and I've reached Season 5, watching a few episodes with the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, so I'm feeling pretty good about that.

Normally, whether I'm behind or not shouldn't matter, but I'm trying something new. Stepping out of my comfort zone, shall I say.

I'm going speed dating while I'm there.

Inspired by Geek Love, a sci-fi speed dating show that aired on TLC, I'm going to take a chance and have some fun (and hopefully swallow my nerves, haha). Even if this experience turns out to be a disaster, it'll make for a good blog post, haha!

Because I lack a fancy phone, I can't live tweet my Megacon adventures, but I will be taking my Kindle Fire. If the hotel and convention area have free wi-fi, then I should be in business!

What have you all done / plan to do for your spring break? How do you handle a growing pile of unread books?