The Spine of my Supernatural Fandom

As I’ve been catching up on Supernatural, I realized over the last few days one of the things that makes the show so attractive to me: 

It’s all about the books and the research.    

Yes, there are fights and struggles and angst, good-looking people and down-home people just trying to save the world for the rest of us schmoes, and I do love the paranormal, the magick, the demons and monsters and angels (oh my!), and the writing is terrific. I really dig the meta stuff. But what I love the most is when the Winchesters (and Bobby) have to search through layers of book-held lore to find answers. 

And oh, those books . . .   

Sexy old tomes made of parchment and rag, or worse; hand-bound in leather, edges frayed, dirtied by the hands of time . . . Ancient handbooks on myth and legend, some written in the dead languages, illustrated and calligraphied and illuminated. Folks, I’m calling Supernatural what it really is: Book P0rn.  I think I would have a hard time thinking of a problem that Sam and Dean couldn’t solve without, at some point in the process, having to do the reading, old-school. I enjoy the Internet research they do as well, but on so many occasions, the information they need is so arcane, they have to go poring through old books, even breaking into closed libraries and locked offices to get to them.  Do you know what I’d give for a weekend (or longer!) to poke around in Bobby Singer’s collection of books?       And the books are everywhere in Bobby’s house! They’re stacked on the stairs! Piled by the windows! Unsteady towers of books beside crammed bookcases and layers of open pages on the desk! 

I am so glad I got back into this show, if only for the bibliophilic eye-candy. 

Slow on the uptake but still organized

I’m not good at keeping up with the latest fashions / trends. I notice what people are wearing but it takes me a while to figure out what it is that is popular about the style, or to try it myself. The same with TV shows. I tend to catch onto popular shows after they’ve been playing for three years or more, mainly because I don’t watch primetime, I suppose. I’m into specialized channels like Space and Discovery and Comedy Now, where programs are played which are either syndicated or produced specifically for that channel.

The benefit to discovering a show a few years into its run, or even afterward, is binge-watching episodes that I would normally have had to wait for. I’ve been doing that recently with Parks and Recreation. Not sure why that one has suddenly grabbed me, but it’s fantastic and I cannot get enough. I did the same with Chuck a few years ago, and Castle and HIMYM last year, and Doctor Who, to name a few.

The disadvantage to being a late-comer to the party is that I miss out on a lot of the fan jokes. Like the Ron Swanson memes — I totally get them now. I enjoyed them before, but now I’m on the “in” and they’re that much funnier. And where I enjoyed Amy Poehler’s previous roles, now I completely understand her genius, or at least I see it on a whole new level. (Reminder to self: I still have to watch the final two seasons of The Office.)

It used to be that I would look forward to watching an upcoming episode of this or that, and now I’ve become utterly spoiled by being able to binge-watch, making the shows fit my own schedule. I know I’m not alone in this. But it also frees me up a little from the boob tube: if I know I can watch what I’m looking for at pretty much any time, I’m now less likely to sit there and watch. I’m not killing time waiting for my program to start, or rushing to put the kids to bed so I can catch Lost Girl at its early time (or staying up late to see its second showing when the kids aren’t in bed on time). And therefore the urge to watch is lessened because I know it’s there for when I want it.

Hubby noticed the other day that in our collection of DVDs and Blu Ray discs, we have several that haven’t been watched yet, and a number that we haven’t even unwrapped. I said, “It’s the anticipation of the experience, and it’s just as enjoyable as the watching itself.” I feel that way about books, too. I love seeing them and either knowing I’ll get to them, or remembering what it was like to read them the first, or second, or seventh time.

I used to read all the time, before marriage and university and children and job. I used to read while watching TV, while eating, while sitting outside. I’m trying to get back into that habit — been trying for a while — but I get frustrated when I can only do small bites of fiction, and I end up skimming non-fiction articles instead. It’s nice to learn things and know what’s happening in the world, but I need that escape into the imagination as well, and I get very grumpy when someone has to pull me out to attend to this or clean that. When the final Harry Potter book came out, I remember my hubby taking the kids out to the mall and the park so I could have the quiet space in which to read. It was glorious . . .

My own next book is coming out soon, so I have to start planning promotions and get back into pumping the trilogy as a whole. Try to turn my novels into a trend — me, who catches on slowly even when trends are staring me in the face. I sternly tell myself that it’s the effort that counts as much as the results, and if I don’t show that I love my books, no-one will know it. So prepare yourselves, dear readers — the wind is shifting and I’m going to start posting more about my novels and stories. I need to build in time for more writing as well.

If I didn’t need to sleep, all would be well.

Update on the 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge: (I keep calling it Theatre Challenge or Theatre Competition, but it’s not) — I set up the registration forms using an online form and posters are nearly done. The next step is to run off copies and distribute them around town. The last time I tried to get students to help me out, I’m fairly certain most of the copies of posters ended up recycled or trashed because I didn’t see them in any of the stores I went into . . . (grrr), so I may just keep a folder with me and ask to post them as I do my errands and whatnot. I also need to print up and cut tickets for the actual performance night, arrange an interview with the radio station, and find rehearsal space.

And then there’s the Ottawa ComicCon — I have students asking about that. Must get on it. I’m wondering whether it would be easier to hire a touring company to take care of the details, but I’ve done this before, and it’s just energy and time and patience.

And sleep. I’m no good to anyone if I’m wiped out.

The Hunt for a New Purse

(Seeing as I’ve pulled a very late night, I shall post EARLY today in case I crash completely after work and haven’t the energy to post later . . . well, you get the idea.)

Last year, I was dragging around a rolling backpack for the sake of my lower lumbar and knees and hips. I’m a tall person — gravity is playing havoc with me now. But it wasn’t terribly convenient during field trips or Cons or even runs to the store. I was using handbags for my wallet, but ever since the kids came along, most of the time my purse needs to be roughly the size of a diaper bag to accommodate all the detritus that comes along with being a mom. I’d played with having a messenger bag that would fit both my laptop and my wallet, but when that bag bit the dust, and the backpack got old and squeaky, I picked up a cheap tote while on a field trip and used it through summer and fall. Now it’s halfway through winter, and it’s given up, too.

I’m bag-hunting once again.

I ought to repurpose one of my old purses, or finally make that piece of coat cut from the bottom of my son’s Attack on Titan jacket into a bag — I have the materials, the piece of coat has pockets already on it, and I’ve gotten my sewing machine fixed. But consumerism . . . oh, the lure of finding The Prize, the perfect bag (for now) that will express my personality and fit my stuff.

Oh, my stuff . . .

As I was going through my purse the other day to see if I had any hand cream, I found Off Skintastic lotion from the summer. That’s how often I clean out my purse, folks.

Bags I am considering, from ThinkGeek:

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I am torn between getting something with lots of pockets and organizational features, in an effort to sort myself out, and just a big empty space for the jumble of items that I know will inevitably happen. Plus, cleaning melted chocolate, gummed up candies, and spilled juice is much easier when the interior is spacious rather than narrow.

I’ve done the mini-backpack, large backpack, messenger, tote, wallet-on-a-strap, and once in high school, I picked up a nifty novelty purse that had a large, working clock on one side. I do like the novelty items. They suit my temperament and cheer me up on harder days. But sometimes I think — I’m a mom, i’m a professional, I should stick to the mature, sensible bags, should I not?

And then there’s the whole reuse-vintage thing. I’m not only a fangirl of pop culture and sci-fi/fantasy, I’m also into historical fiction, particularly Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery and their ilk. So the carpet bag style appeals to me lately as well. What if I found a way to combine the two? Could I find a carpet patterned with images of my favourite fandoms? Should I shove aside time in my day to make something workable that reflects my love for all things awesome, past and present?

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Ugh, this is so painful. It’s almost as bad as choosing a new pair of shoes. Worse, even, because shoes tend to half-hide themselves under the hems of pants (assuming one can find pants long enough).

A few years ago, the trend at my school among adults and students alike was to invest in a pricey, stylish Coach bag. Way out of my price range. But I could see how they attracted consumers — made of leather, pretty hardy, nice to look at. I need something like that, a bag that is preferably water-proof, self-standing so it doesn’t droop if I have to set it down, with a thick strap that won’t slip annoyingly off my shoulder and is long enough to loop over my neck so I have both hands free.

I’m probably over-thinking this, but really, purses aren’t cheap. They can be, but you get what you pay for. I want something that will last, match my personality but also be tasteful, have space, and not break my budget. I feel like anything less than $20 or $30 is going to start falling apart over a matter of months, but I don’t want to pay more than $40 or $50, either.

Anyone out there want to send me a purse?

Meeting People and Geeking Out: My Latest Adventures in Fandom

Since last we met, dear readers, the summer has passed and I have tried to keep myself productive, with varying levels of success. I’ve made some progress on my next novel, the third and final in The Talbot Trilogy, and my garden has been happily growing, feeding bees, butterflies, earwigs, slugs, and birds. I don’t mind that I’m helping the first two, but the latter three I’d prefer to be rid of, particularly as they like to snack on my lovely Heirloom tomatoes.

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The highlight of the last few weeks — and a point of particular stress — was taking my family to FanExpo in Toronto. Our great end-of-summer hurrah, as it were. Weeks of preparation, developing an itinerary and choosing accommodations, creating costumes and explaining the passage of time to my daughter. And with that much anticipation, it’s no wonder that the time we spent at the event flew by, though enjoyably so.

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I will admit, there are some aspects of FanExpo that I had hoped to be more satisfying. I thought a lot about the power of anticipation on the way home — how the expectation of something grand and exciting can outweigh the experience of the thing itself. Like the chase feeling more fun than the catch, or the trailer more tantalizing than the film. I’d set up photo opportunities for myself and my family with some of our favourite actors, and we looked forward to those intensely, but when the pivotal moments arrived, I was too shy to make the most of them. I saw others having fun with posing, and props, but I was too keyed up with the glamour and shock of actually being there to do what I’d dreamed of doing: asking for a quick hug, or standing between a pair of actors rather than slipping to the side. An expensive learning experience, to be sure. Photo ops are a long wait, and a quick doing. I’d thought that they would be better and more personal than an autograph, but after sharing some nice, quick conversations with two other actors (and waiting only 20 minutes for each), I think my opinion is reversing itself.

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Freddy! He also had a great guest role on “Chuck”…

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The 11th Doctor himself! And a few seats away, Rory, the Last Centurion…

Michael Rooker was a delight to talk to, a real highlight...

Michael Rooker was a delight to talk to, a real highlight…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Relax, dear,” Bruce Campbell says to me. “It’s not a mugshot.” “I can’t,” I told him, “You’re too awesome!”

 

 

 

Still, there is something to be said for spending two days in the company of thousands of like-minded individuals. I saw people of all ages and faiths, ethnicities and educational levels, mingling happily in a sea of science fiction and fantasy merchandise, celebrities, icons, and workshops. Cosplayers are among the kindest people you will ever meet. They’re much like Shriners, in fact, in my experience: very friendly, open to conversation, willing to help or point you in the direction of help, highly creative and generous of their time. 

I think that the attendees and volunteers of FanExpo are perhaps the best part of the event.

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It’s a place for waiting, you see. You wait in line to meet someone who’s been part of your favourite fiction, for a fleeting chance to tell them how much you appreciate their work and if you can afford it, take away their signature as a treasured souvenir. You wait in line to obtain a precious bottle of water or a slice of pizza for your hungry children, acutely aware that you’re grateful that it’s there and you live in a country where a long line is a minor inconvenience. You wait to find a place to squeeze through the crushing crowd between tables displaying information about philanthropic fan organizations raising money for Sick Kids, and pick up advice on costume repair or spy a coveted tea pot while you’re there. You wait to meet your significant other, who is trying to get to you from the other side of the building. And yet the adventure keeps happening around you, while you’re waiting.

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You’re seeing superheroes and creatures of mythology rubbing elbows with fantastical recreations of anime characters and video game villains. You’re glimpsing famous faces at the end of one of those long lines, smiling and shaking hands with the fans who support them, and delighting in the proximity. You’re making way for a grand Gandalf with his perfectly Hobbity wife, steadily moving forward with the aid of a walker, while an infant barely a month old is wearing the onesie of a comic book heroine, swinging in her father’s arms. It’s hot, and it’s loud, while a gathering of gaming fans cheers on competitors in a virtual race, and the people stream in breaks and eddies toward the doorways that funnel them to the next part of the convention centre. It’s beautiful, dizzying, and maddening, all at once.

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You make friends at FanExpo. I had lovely conversations while waiting in line, with a nice young couple who’d just finished school. The lady (whose name I was too shy to ask) offered to pilfer a Sprite from an unwatched case on behalf of my thirsty self, and I promised her we would bond in jail. (Don’t worry, we didn’t steal the pop.) And then I chatted with a terrific gentleman who was the only person I’d seen with the wisdom to bring a folding stool for the waiting. (Hello, dear Man-with-the-Stool, if you held onto my card and have gotten to read this!) 

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Adding to this the experience of strolling downtown in a metropolis in full creature or hero gear, passing sports fans on their way to the Blue Jays game and boarding the subway with evening commuters, and you have a summertime adventure that simply cannot be equalled or diminished, even if the photos weren’t quite what were originally envisioned and the legs and feet take days to recover from hours of walking and standing on concrete floors. After all, adventures aren’t meant to be perfect. They’re occasions in which to learn about ourselves, to take risks and push boundaries, and later to share with others by story and photograph.

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Travelling by subway…

 

We first went to FanExpo last year, and we enjoyed it so much then that we determined to make it a family tradition. Already, my husband is planning how to improve his costume for next year, and my son is considering his cosplay options. I’ve learned the value of carrying a large, colourful or easily recognizable staff — it might seem cumbersome, but it’s incredibly useful for identifying someone across a crowded convention hall. I’ve also learned the value of the revealing, light-cloth costume in an environment heated and humidified by thousands of bodies. So the next trip should be even better than this one.

 

 

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My daughter immediately embraced the first Elsa cosplayer she saw, and refused to let go for a good five minutes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But though I feel a layer of disappointment here and there (which may also be a mark of my own anxieties making themselves known — always worried that I haven’t done things exactly right), I know that my family had an excellent experience, and that makes it all so very worthwhile. 

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