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I am a warrior. I carry an Elven Greatsword, poisoned with Drain Magicka. I am equipped in full Steelplate Armor. Four brown dragons have attacked me in various towns–I have taken them all down with my trusty bow and arrow. I am also somewhat versed in magic and alchemy and am considering training at the Bard’s College. Or becoming a thief. I hate trolls and the undead, while I enjoy a good hunt. There is nothing better than clearing out a bandit’s den and grabbing all the loot.

Actually, this is Skyrim Me. Or, rather, Kajagoogoo from Skyrim, as that’s my character’s name.

I am loving Skyrim. Almost more than reading one of the two books that I am reading.

Skyrim

For those who don’t know, Skyrim is a role-playing game (RPG) that I play on my PS3. After I create a character, I go on quests where I fight other humans, monsters, and the paranormal, using weaponry, magic, and, occasionally, wits. I love these kinds of games, and have had a long history with them.

I started out playing PC games in the late ’80s with King’s Quest, and then when I got sick with pneumonia in 8th grade, my dad brought home Final Fantasy IV. I truly fell in love with RPGs then. I would be home sick, playing for hours, gaining levels, moving on through the story, and then I’d get stuck with a boss monster that I couldn’t beat, and my dad would take over through the night. I’d wake up early in the morning to find that he had moved our game on a bit. We never did beat that game (I still think there’s a glitch at the end!), but it began a long love affair with Final Fantasy games.

final fantasy Iv

I fell out with gaming in my teen and college years. Other things were more important, like hanging out with my friends. Yet, when I moved back to San Diego in 2004, my sister and I found a way to hang out together across the 500+miles of separation–online gaming. And, no we didn’t WOW it up–we stuck to our roots and played Final Fantasy XI together. It was awesome to sign on and find her in one of the towns and then go on quests together–me, always the warrior, and she, the trusty mage. She really enjoyed instigating tiffs with the players who chose dwarfish characters as their avatars. She was a troublemaker and a lot of fun!

Dorky Me at Comic-Con in front of a poster for Final Fantasy XIII

For some reason or another, we fell out of love with Final Fantasy XI, and then last year, I finally gave in and signed up for World of Warcraft. I leveled very quickly and then got bored again.

Now, I have Skyrim, which is not an online game, but is so amazing in its limitless possibilities. I am loving it!

I’m thinking my Skyrim addiction is pointing me towards reading one of two books on my TBR list.

the hobbit

RPGs are heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and Dragons is heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings. Therefore, my love of Skyrim and RPGs is telling me that I either need to read Tolkien’s The Hobbit or The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss.

The Wise Man's Fear

With The Hobbit, I’ll get thieves, wizards, warriors, elves, dwarves, and the most awesome of all dragons (Smaug still beats out Dany’s dragons in the Song of Ice and Fire series). With The Wise Man’s Fear, I’ll get a bard who is attending magic school, romance, and battle. All of these things are my favorite parts of Skyrim and RPGs in general.

I’m guessing that I’ll probably go with The Wise Man’s Fear, as it’s part of a series that I’m dying to pick up again and I want to read The Hobbit around the release date of the upcoming movie (that means that I should read it in the Fall/early Winter).

So, that’s how my mood reading typically works–I pay attention to what I’m up to in life, what my interests are, or what I’m trying to escape from (stress and the weight of the world on my shoulders usually equates to a light read). And now you know a little bit more about what a huge dork I am. : )


Locke & Key, volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

• Hardcover: 158 pages

• Publisher: IDW 2008

• ISBN: 1600102379

Locke & Key, volume 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

• Paperback: 160 pages

• Publisher: IDW 2009

• ISBN: 1600104835

Locke & Key, volume 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

• Paperback: 152 pages

• Publisher: IDW 2010

• ISBN: 1600106951

• Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror/Fantasy

• Recommended For: lovers of horror and fantasy; anyone who enjoys graphic novels.

Quick Review: Earns an 92 %, or 4.6 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Locke & Key 1-3 Rubric

This series is addicting and showcases what Hill is best at–characterization, and the mystery and magic within the plot forces the reader to imagine all the possibilities of Keyhouse. Highly recommended for readers of fantasy and horror as this series is highly imaginative and promises to be an awesome ongoing plot.

How I Got Here: I have read Hill’s two novels–Heart-Shaped Box and Horns— and would consider myself a fan of his work, eager to observe and support him as he develops as an author. So, it was only natural that I would check out his graphic novel series. Also, Locke & Key is huge at Comic-Con every year, so I have been wondering what I have been missing. Now, I can confidently attend the annual panel showcasing the series and hopefully MEET Joe Hill this summer and not be a total dingus. Finally, my girl Amy, from Lucy’s Football, is another Hill fan and highly recommended this series back in October when I was reading Horns. That was the kicker.

The Series: Synopsis from the Publisher, IDW

EISNER-NOMINATED BEST LIMITED SERIES!

EISNER-NOMINATED BEST AUTHOR!

Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez (Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show, Beowulf), Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them…. and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…

My Synopsis:

The series kicks off with a violent attack on a family and their subsequent move from northern California to Lovecraft, Maine (love the Lovecraft allusion, of course). The mourning Locke family consists of the eldest son Tyler, middle daughter Kinsey, and the youngest son Bode, along with their very damaged and alcoholic mother. The Lockes move into Keyhouse, which has been in the deceased father’s family for centuries. Keyhouse has many mysteries, including keys which always seem to appear to the precocious youngster Bode. Lurking in Keyhouse’s wellhouse is a malevolent spirit who goes by various names, but I’ll associate him with his pseudonym Dodge. As the series unfolds, the Locke children will have to uncover the mysteries of the keys and go head-to-head with the scheming Dodge.

My Analysis and Critique:

I really enjoyed the first three books in this graphic novel series! Each book ignited my imagination as the Locke children discovered new keys which unlocked new powers and abilities for whomever turned them. This series is like the horror version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking-Glass. It has everything my imagination craved as a young reader, but also the horror and adult themes for my adult self.

The pacing of the series is very tight, with back stories slowly unraveling, characters developing evenly, while action, horror, and mystery are sprinkled throughout. Basically, this series has everything that keeps readers turning pages ravenously and coming back for more.

Now my rundown on each book:

Welcome to Lovecraft:

This book served as the exposition to the series, providing the basic setup of initial conflict with Rendell’s (the Locke patriarch) murder and the family’s subsequent struggle in dealing with the attack and the loss of Rendell.

Welcome to Lovecraft also introduces us to all of the primary characters of the series. Readers meet the Locke kids–we see Tyler in his beloved Oakland A’s hat fishing, Kinsey with her dreadlocks and eyebrow piercing looking after her little brother Bode, who is using his imagination with a self-created treasure-finder. Throughout the rest of the book, the kids change due to the violence dealt to their family, yet stay true to their core personalities. I really enjoyed the character details throughout, and these characters felt very real–Tyler’s anger, Kinsey’s insecurities, and Bode’s aloofness as a young boy. The mother copes with her rape and her husband’s murder through drink, essentially abandoning her children to look out for themselves in their new environment in Lovecraft as she drinks her pain away. Again, this seems true.

Readers also meet the rest of the major cast of Locke & Key in this book: Duncan, the kind uncle who delivers the Locke family to Lovecraft and Keyhouse; Sam, the psychotic student killer of Rendell, who isn’t finished with the Locke family yet; and Echo, the strange spirit girl living at the bottom of a well at Keyhouse.

Hill’s greatest strength in this book is his characterization, but a close second would be what may be considered a character in its own right–Keyhouse. Keyhouse is an amazing old house full of colonial history and magical keys! Bode seems to be the “keymaster”, always uncovering the keys and discovering their uses. Being a child, he is, of course, more open to the idea of magic, so this makes sense. The keys are magic–and they are so cool! In this book, there is the introduction to five keys–the Ghost key (when turned in a certain door, the user becomes a ghost), the Gender key (changes one’s gender), the Echo key (I still don’t get this one, but it has something to do with echos, and it imprisoned the girl at the bottom of the well), the Anywhere key (it takes you anywhere!) and the mysterious omega key (it’s a mystery, I don’t know what it does).

Overall, I enjoyed this book as an introduction to the rest of the series, but, as usual, I don’t like book beginnings, so this book is my least favorite. Yet, it is a very good setup for the rest of the series.

Bonus Feature at the End: an awesome piece of artwork that features the inside of Bode’s head!

Locke and Key Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill

Head Games:

Locke and Key Head Games by Joe HillHere the series really picks up with a lot of back story on various characters. We learn more about the malevolent Dodge (who is Echo in book one and now goes by the name Zach in his newest incarnation). We also learn more about who Duncan is and are introduced to another key character, Ellie, who is very much tied up with Dodge. Via Ellie’s story, we meet her son Rufus, who promises to be a very interesting character throughout the series.

The book also centers around a new key that Bode has found–one that literally opens one’s head! The head key provides the opportunity for its users to add in and take out whatever they want from their own heads! Via this plot development, we get to see some really cool artwork of what the insides of our characters’ heads look like (for example, Bode’s is full of dinosaurs and robots and playing with his family). Obviously, this works really well for further character development. The head key also provides opportunities for mischief when Dodge gets a hold of it, as he moves throughout the book, tampering with people’s heads.

I really enjoyed this book as it stirred up my imagination and filled me with wonder. Also, there are so many good mysteries started, via the back stories, that I am curious to know more about what has happened before at Keyhouse, and with Dodge. Who is Dodge? What is his purpose? How did he get to Keyhouse?

Bonus Feature at the End: an awesome extra that focuses upon the history of the keys. Readers get to check out excerpts from the diary of Benjamin Pierce Locke, who created the keys during the Revolution. I loved this extra, especially since it only stirred up more curiosity and questions for me!

Locke and Key Head Games by Joe Hill

Crown of Shadows:

Locke and Key Crown of Shadows Joe HillMy favorite of the series! The Locke kids are finally getting it together and finding strength and developing into firmly-rooted characters!

This book was darker as Dodge has discovered the Shadow key, which unlocks shadows to act at your bidding. Of course, Dodge uses it for his malicious purposes, unleashing creepy shadows on the Locke kids at Keyhouse as they are home alone. These were the best scenes of the book.

Second-best part of the book was Kinsey’s development. In this book, she earned the title of my favorite character in the series. She gets into some hijinks at the beginning of the book with some new characters, Scot and Jamal, and by the end of the book, these two quirky characters become her closest friends. I love these two boys, and I hope they become a major part of the storyline as their quirkyness will add to the plot. I’d love to see them joining forces with the Locke kids as they battle Dodge.

Finally, this book introduced some more keys that have exciting implications. As mentioned before, there is the Shadow Key, but the Locke mother (who is my least favorite character with her alcoholic self-pity) discovers a new key that fixes things. I’m not sure how this will be used, but I’m sure it will bring about some interesting plot development. In addition, Tyler found the Giant key, which was very helpful in the battle against the shadows.

Bonus Feature at the End: more keys added to Benjamin Locke’s diary! The excerpts from the history of the keys now includes the Shadow key, the Giant key, and the Mending key!

Miscellaneous Praises and Gripes:

– I still don’t get the Echo key. I don’t understand its purpose and how it works.

– I love scanning the books in the background of each of the comic’s panels. Among the books in Keyhouse, you’ll find (of course) Lovecraft, Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.

– While Tyler and Kinsey are supposed to be in high school, it doesn’t seem like a high school. It comes off as more of a college. I guess it’s a private school. However, it keeps throwing me off!

Locke and Key Crown of Shadows Joe Hill

– Along the same lines, it doesn’t seem like a high school because Scot has tattoos! What’s up with that? I don’t know of any high-school-age teens with a bunch of tats! That bugged me too. Is that an art issue? Or a characterization issue?

– Final gripe: why does the mom always have to be wearing tops with her boobs all out? Her boobs are her most defining feature (next to the ever-present wine glass/bottle). Confusing for a mother character to be treated so sexually. I guess it’s a comic book thing.

Locke and Key Crown of Shadows Joe Hill

Links:

Goodreads Reviews:

Welcome to Lovecraft

Head Games

Crown of Shadows


Last night, I sat with my husband Jesse on the porch–I was waiting for my cheeseburger and salad to be ready for pickup; he was waiting for our friends Tim and Pat to pick him up. As we watched Pat’s metallic- orange Acura pull up in front of the house, I grabbed my keys and gave my husband a quick kiss goodnight. I walked down with Jesse to Pat’s car to say my hellos to the boys. Pat asked from the driver’s seat, “Oh, hey Mandy! You coming along?”

Ha! As if! (I’m still heavily influenced by my teen fashion icon Cher, from Clueless.) Drinking and playing pool all night (which I suck at) or reading The Drawing of the Three?

“Nah!” I responded. “I’m gonna go pick up some food and then read my book all night. It’s what I do!”

Pat raised his fist in tribute. He appreciates people who do what they want, when they want.

I have good friends. Pat and Tim are some of the best that I’ve ever had, always respectful of my quirky obsession with reading and books. They both have their own quirky obsessions as well (an intense love for cats, basketball, music, and Castle, to name a few). They’re also my #1 Comic-Con buddies, the ones who taught me to take pride in my borkyness.

My Comic-Con Crew. From left: sis Erika, Jason (who gave me the title "Bork"), Kevin, Tim, Pat (doing his best Platoon), and me with my Stan Lee temporary tattoo. My hubby Jesse is taking the picture.

But, they’re not borks. Neither are the majority of my colleagues at school. In fact, it is shocking how little the English teachers I’ve encountered in my five years of teaching actually read, considering that their job is to push students into reading. A gang of non-readers attempting to create readers. It sounds like a crock of caca to me!

There aren’t many borks in my adult life. People who are passionate about reading, who’d prefer to spend their evenings and weekends finishing their latest read, so that they may move on to the next one. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by passionate people, friends who are obsessed with creating art, films, and music. They understand and respect my obsession. They just don’t share it.

So, what happened to all of the peers I had in elementary school with the same passion? The ones who I spied across the classroom doing the same thing I was doing–hiding a paperback in their lap as they pretended to read from the textbook.

As a kid, I had lots of borks for friends. We would have sleepovers, do a lot of the normal sleepover rituals–eat pizza, watch a movie. But, as it got late, we’d pull out our latest Babysitter’s Club book or Fear Street, and would read contentedly next to each other until we passed out. I was never good at sleeping in, so often would I wake up at dawn, while my friend (or friends) was still asleep, and raid her bookshelves. In 6th grade, I made friends with another girl who shared my adult horror taste, and while she slept until noon, I nearly finished one of her Dean Koontz novels.

What happened to these girls? Are they still avid readers? Or did their passion die as they entered adulthood, now tied up in careers or parenting or some other new passion?

Maybe they’re doing exactly what I’m doing. Perhaps they have discovered this wonderful online community of readers with whom they can have their own virtual sleepovers all over again, reading quietly next to the rest of us, and then sharing their delights via keyboard.

Are all of you my adult sleepover friends? I think so.

So, I want to say thank you to all of the book bloggers and other avid readers on the internet who engage with me daily about our shared passion. A year ago, I thought I was just some odd bookish duck; reading was yet another peculiarity to add to my quirks list. Now I see that I’m not so different–there are many of us.

The next time there’s a big readathon, like the Dewey’s in April, I vote that we all order pizza, snuggle up in the wee hours, and appreciate this wonderful virtual sleepover that we’re all so lucky to have discovered!


My Wedding Day

The blushing bride after getting hitched!

It’s December 31st, the last day of 2011, and looking back, I realize this has been a really big year for me! I have had a lot more ups than downs in my life this year, and I think it might be hard to top in 2012. Here are some 2011 highlights for me…should I start with the bad or the good? Or should I just create a timeline? I’ll create a timeline like one finds at the beginning of classics books. Then, I’ll follow with all of my 2012 reading stats!

A CHRONOLOGY OF MANDY IN 2011

Life

Historical and Cultural Background

Jan.

  • Attend the ALA Midwinter Conference in San Diego; learn that books can sometimes be free with the introduction to ARCs. I thought I was stealing at first!
  • Beginning of 8 month silence with sister Erika.
  • Gabrielle Giffords shot on Jan. 8.
  • Charlie Sheen is “winning”.

Feb.

  • Arab Spring protests begin.

Mar.

  • Japan Earthquake on Mar. 11.

Apr.

  • Spring Break begins.
  • Read constantly to complete Spring Seasonal Reading Challenge; end up reading 28 books in April.
  • Get married to long-time boyfriend Jesse during a spur-of-the-moment day trip to Reno. Both the groom and bride were lovely in their T-shirts, jeans, and hiking boots.
  • Get pink-slipped for the third time in four years of teaching.
  • Deadly tornadoes sweep the US, 207 touch down on Apr. 27, killing 346.
  • Royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton (I didn’t watch, in case you’re wondering).

May

  • Death of Osama bin Laden.

June

  • Go to Wisconsin for a fishing weekend with Jesse’s family. Fire my first (and only) gun once, and find out that I have a propensity for fishing (caught a trout, a bass, and a blue-gill).
  • Dad visits, temporarily reunite with sister, begin 6 month silence with Dad.

July

  • School year ends on 1st day of Comic-Con; although I arrive at Comic-Con from work in record-breaking time, I FAIL to get into the Game of Thrones panel. Boo.
  • Comic-Con is not as epic as years past: it’s far too crowded and hard to get into panels. But, I do buy a bunch of Twilight Zone toys.

Aug.

  • Buy a desk and create an office in spare room devoted to writing.
  • Begin pursuing writing fiction seriously via exercises in Bell’s Plot & Structure and The Artist’s Way program.
  • Start writing three pages daily in journal.
  • Break the silence with my sister.
  • Read Hussey’s Create Your Own Blog, study and analyze popular book blogs, and set up my own blog Adventures in Borkdom.
  • Published my first post on Aug. 24.
  • When regaining my teaching job appears unlikely, Jesse and I consider moving out of state. North Carolina, Virginia, and Illinois are our top choices.

Sept.

  • Rehired at school, one day before the first day of school.
  • Learn how to balance blogging with a full-time job.
  • Occupy Wall Street protests begin in NYC.

Oct.

  • Participate in RIP challenge.
  • Complete my first 24 hour read-a-thon.
  • Death of Steve Jobs.
  • Death of Moammar Gadhafi.

Nov.

  • Death of Andy Rooney.

Dec.

  • Break silence with Dad at Christmas.
  • Hit my 100th post.
  • Biggest month for blog hits; doubled last month’s number.
  • Read my 100th book in 2011, the most books that I’ve ever read in a year!
  • Death of Kim Jong Il
  • Last US troops withdraw from Iraq.

Reading Stats

Note: Of books read in 2011, 7 % were Young Adult books.

2011 in Numbers

– I successfully met my reading goal of 100 books read in 2011!

– Total Number of Pages Read in 2011: 35, 359

– Number of Books over 1000 pages: 4

– Number of Books over 750 pages: 7

– Number of Books over 500 pages: 15

2011 Reading Challenges

– Spring Seasonal Reading Challenge–Almost completed

Summer Seasonal Reading ChallengeNot even close

RIP Reading Challenge: Complete!

2011 Reading Events

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon: Read for the full 24 hours!

So, that was my 2011 year! Currently, I am reading my 101st book for 2011, and then I’ll be all amped up tomorrow (if I’m not hungover) to declare my 2012 goals!


It’s Saturday, when I like to just share the random, disconnected thoughts in my head. I have a whole lot on my plate and they’re not all necessarily book-related. Really, I’m just putting off the inevitable–all those book reviews I still need to write after my Read-a-Thon extravaganza. Not that those reviews will be too much work…I just want to spread them out! I wrote two yesterday…four more to go!

Halloween Costume: What to Do?!

So, as always, I have put off my Halloween costume until the last minute. I am going to a Halloween party tonight and am completely unprepared. Every year, I want to dress up as Dana Scully from The X-Files, but I didn’t buy my red wig and gold cross in time! So, that’ll be next year. At least I found the items on Amazon, so I can purchase them this year and hold on to them for next year.

I’ve put some thought into it (only about 30 minutes worth), and I’ve decided that I want to go as one of my favorite book characters. The easiest one I can think of (as long as I can find a few items) that is one of my current favorite book characters, is Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I just need to do some tricky work with my hair, find a wooden sword, some sort of beige-y, baggy shirt, and I’ll have a costume. Maybe a cloak too if it’s cold. Then, I’ll dirty up my face, let my hair be a mess (she’s such an awesome little tomboy!) and I’ll be ready to go! Here’s the look I’m going for:

If I get it pulled together, I’ll take a picture and post it here!

Reading Safety Tip: Don’t Open the Door!

When I got home from work yesterday, it was very warm (San Diego, remember?), so I left my front door open with the screen door closed and locked. As is typical on a Friday, I got to work on catching up on blogging and was in my own little world, reading my favorite blogs on my IPad. Walking into the living room, with my eyes glued to the IPad screen, I heard a soft knock on the screen door. Typically, I avoid answering the door (the best way to avoid solicitors is to just ignore them), but unfortunately I was caught–the man at the door had seen me through the screen.

So, I went and talked to the man through the screen door. I won’t describe the man, because it could come off as biased, prejudiced, or even racial profiling. Let’s just say it was a 30-something man of medium build who had a nervous look to him. He told me he was selling whole-sale meats (steaks, shrimp, etc.) from his car or truck or something, and said he was practically giving them away and wanted to know if I was interested in checking them out. I wasn’t thinking anything was fishy, I just don’t do solicitors, so I said, “That sounds great, but I don’t have any cash on me…maybe come back another time.” Persistent, he was, and said he took checks, atm cards, etc., so I just said, “This isn’t a good time, sorry.” Then he quickly replied, “I could just get you a business card,” and before I could say “that would be great,” he literally ran down the porch steps and down the street. I waited for him to return, and after about 5 minutes, I stepped outside and looked for him. There was no sign of a truck, or van, or him…he just took off.

This got me thinking…what just happened, or could have happened here? I see a lot of “MISSING” signs posted around my neighborhood, usually of Hispanic teenagers, and I’ve got a pretty good knowledge base of serial killers (My mom owns a copy of The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers) so I have an active imagination. Was I a potential kidnapping victim? Probably not, although the situation did feel off and peculiar. It could have been a perfect scenario: I walk with him to his vehicle, he somehow incapacitates me and gets me in his car, and then takes off. No one would have noticed for a few hours…actually more than that as my husband was out of the house until 11:30.

Lesson: I need to be careful about always locking my doors (front and screen) when I am in La-La Land, reading. I need to make sure to not ever open my door when speaking to strangers on the porch. Even if I wasn’t in any danger, I always am in danger- I’m a woman. I can’t go jogging unless it’s between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.. It sucks. I always have to be vigilant. So, my purpose in telling this story is to remind all female readers to be cautious of their surroundings. It’s great and easy to get caught up in a book, but don’t lose sight of the real world. There are scary people out there!

A Lot of Love for Buffy Alumni

This week, everything seems to be coming up Buffy. First, Amy at Lucy’s Football, tweets and blogs about seeing Adam Busch (a.k.a. Warren the Tara-killer, leader of The Trio) and his band at a recent show. Then, I got caught up on Supernatural last night and was pleased to be reunited with James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter.

I should inform my readers that I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. This show had a major influence on my viewing and reading tastes and all of the castmembers of the show have a special place in my heart. This is one of the major reasons why I love Comic Con so much–Joss Whedon is the King of Comic Con and Felicia Day (of season 7 of Buffy) is queen, and the rest of the alumni always seem to pop up in some way. Amber Benson (Tara of Buffy) is always contributing to panels on writing, Nicholas Brendon (Xander of Buffy) is sometimes signing autographs, and Nathan Fillion, Eliza Dushku, Anthony Head, always are promoting their ever-geeky projects. Then there is the annual showing of the Buffy episode “Once More With Feeling”, which always is the last event of Comic-Con, where the fans gather to watch and yell “Shut up, Dawn!”, and of course sing along (my favorite is “Going Through the Motions” and Spike’s “Let Me Rest in Peace”). I love Buffy!

So, I’ve been thrilled to have Buffy pop up all week. Especially since my major crush on Spike/James Marsters is apparently still going strong. He appeared as an ages-old witch (warlock? wizard?) on the episode “Shut up, Dr. Phil” on Supernatural and was great as usual. And hot. He’s a bit older, but is still handsome as ever, and radiating Bad. I love James Marsters. It’s still weird to not hear him use his Spike accent, but doesn’t matter. James Marsters still has some sort of hold on me! Well, enough of my crush. Just thought I would share a bit.

So, that’s what’s on my brain today! Enjoy your weekend!


                                       Ripley: I can handle myself.
                                   Hicks: [chuckles] Yeah, I noticed.

 -Aliens; written and directed by James Cameron

As a child of the ’80s and young woman of the ’90s, I feel I was groomed to be strong. My mom was a headstrong undergraduate studying Political Science while taking care of two kids and my dad raised my sister and I to believe that we could do anything a man could do. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that Dad was the biggest feminist I have ever met. So, it was fitting that he introduced me to one of my favorite female icons- Ellen Ripley of the Alien[s] movie franchise. I’m not sure how old I was when I saw the second movie of the series Aliens (1986), surely in my teens, but I recognized a strength in Ripley that I wanted to emulate. I knew I would never be fighting a deadly alien on a spaceship, but did know that when I faced life’s daily conflicts of the serious or small variety, I wanted to meet them with Ripley’s strength.

Surprisingly, my exposure to Ripley has always been limited to Aliens ; I have never seen the first film Alien (1979) by Ridley Scott. Sure, I have seen the chest-ripping scene many times, but in all these years, I have never sat down and watched the original! I remedied this on Thursday and was delighted to see Ripley in her earlier days. Before discussing Ellen Ripley further, here is the original 1979 trailer and a short synopsis of the film Alien, as provided by IMDB.com:

• Movie: 117 min
• Director: Ridley Scott
• 1979
• Genre: Science Fiction/Horror

Synopsis:  A mining ship, investigating a suspected SOS, lands on a distant planet. The crew discovers some strange creatures and investigates.

Ellen Ripley begins as the third in command of the mining ship Nostromo. She is already strong, but is definitely more soft and feminine before her first dealings with the horrors created by “the eighth passenger,” what we all know as the Alien. She jokes with the nearly all-male crew, loves the ship’s cat Jones, and has faith and trust in her mission. She is not yet skeptical of those around her and the company she works for. Yet, it is she who makes the hard decisions with logic- such as electing to quarantine Kane after he has been attacked by an unknown lifeform during a scouting mission on a desolate planet :

Dallas (attempting to board the ship after the mission): Something has attached itself to him[Kane]. We have to get him to the infirmary right away.
Ripley (inside the ship): What kind of thing? I need a clear definition.
Dallas: An organism. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Wait a minute. If we let it in, the ship could be
infected. You know the quarantine procedure. Twenty-four hours for decontamination.
Dallas: He could die in twenty-four hours. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die.
Dallas: Look, could you open the god-damned hatch? We have to get him inside.
Ripley: No. I can’t do that and if you were in my position, you’d do the same.
Dallas: Ripley, this is an order. Open that hatch right now, do you hear me?
Ripley: Yes.
Dallas: Ripley. This is an order. Do you hear me?
Ripley: Yes. I read you. The answer is negative.

Despite her clear rationale, she is overruled and thus begins their alien-induced nighmare. She is smart and quick to decide; she doesn’t cower from danger but steps up to it without regard for any so-called female shortcomings. She goes on to suspect, investigate, and unveil the duplicity of a fellow crewmember and evolves into the well-known Ripley, the badass who trusts few and knows how to handle pretty much anything.

Here is my favorite Ripley moment from Aliens:

and here is Sigourney Weaver on Ellen Ripley:

I love Ellen Ripley and I love the Alien mythos, and despite the fact that Ellen Ripley won’t be a part of the film, I am eagerly awaiting Ridley Scott’s upcoming prequel Prometheus, scheduled to premiere sometime in 2012. It will star Michael Fassbender (of Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre, and X-Men: First Class) and Charlize Theron (of Monster, Hancock, and my personal favorite, Arrested Development season 3 ), and will be Ridley Scott’s first foray into Science Fiction since Blade Runner(1982). Prometheus had major buzz at this year’s ComicCon, particular an unveiled scene that showed a nude Charlize Theron doing pushups. There is not yet a trailer for the film, but from i09’s summary of the released footage at ComicCon, it sounds pretty good!

So, thank you Ridley Scott for creating my favorite cinematic female, Ellen Ripley! I can’t wait for your your return to space and the Alien mythology!

Note: my viewing of Alien satisfies the Peril on the Screen task for the R.I.P. challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings!


I reflected upon this over at The Insatiable Booksluts and thought I would share here…

This last summer, I was a totally awkward fan girl when I happened upon my current favorite author at Comic-Con. My main goal at this year’s convention was to do all things A Game of Thrones-related. Unfortunately, that was everyone’s goal and I got into none of the panels. After two days of striking out, I was on my way to The Guild panel (I’m a huge Felicia Day fan), and was pondering if I should take a break before getting into line. I stood in the hotel lobby and stared out the glass doors. I decided against it and turned around to return to my standing-in-line mission. Then I saw him and I froze.

Standing directly behind me was my Summer god, George R.R. Martin, the man who wrote my obsession, the man who commanded the crowds of Comic Con. He wore the very outfit I had grown to love from all of the internet pictures and videos I had seen of him. I was dumbstruck. After a few moments of inner hysteria, I thought to grab my smartphone to get a picture. He must have seen the crazy in my eyes as I stood there staring at him. He turned around and started to walk away.

I got my phone out finally and followed. I had to get a photo, I had to get over my shaking, I had to say something!

“George! I mean Mr. Martin! George?!” I tried to catch up to him as he stepped onto an escalator but it was too late…I stood there shaking, elated that he stood so close to me.

I also snapped a picture…it is an action shot of me trying to get his attention:

Oh boy. What a stammering goober I am!