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Miss Hannnah Hart, Ghost Dame of the Hotel del Coronado
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 16:00 Jennifer Devore
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”This is a war they started and, by God, we’ll finish it.” -former Britsh P.M., Margaret Thatcher

Vulcan ears, steampunk corsets, film-accurate weaponry, hot gamer girls and hard-boiled hooch. Slosh it all into a legendary, San Diego fun zone and you’ve blended up a tangy, spicy, smoking hot extravaganza. No, not Comic-Com, but that is coming soon, kittens. (BTW, yours truly will be on the floor and covering it live for the good folks here at GoodToBeAGeek! Costume? Still up in the air. Any ideas? I’ve narrowed it to Bellatrix Lestrange, Morticia Addams, Snow White or Ruby Red Riding Hood: the latter both of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Drop a line here or @JennyPop and let me know which character you’d prefer!)

Speaking of Ruby Red, there’s a bonkers-wild nightclub right here in my own backyard, just moments from my haunt at the Hotel del Coronado. Welcome to The Ruby Room. Mis en scène amidst the ever active, far-too-hip-for-thou, Hillcrest crawl of downtown San Diego, The Ruby Room offers not only a hardcore, real drinking atmos, but also a nerdcore, real gaming atmos. Hang up your cloak and check your blasters; it’s The Ruby Room’s very own Nerdcore Night. It’s not Comic-Con, but it’s a damn fine tease.

As with many a social movement, Nerdcore Night was born out of a frustration of social-marginalizing and a need for unity amongst a growing, yet still underestimated subculture of a subculture. The case in study? Gamer girls, oft maligned by the gamer boys they’ve so frequently pwned. Nerdcore Night was divined by Miss Aubree Miller, a partner in the eclectic TheGamerGirls.com, a geek girl-oriented, lifestyle website encompassing more than the domain implies: music, entertainment, conventions, cosplay, art and design, fashion and so much more nerdy, girly goodness. The hook? These Gamer Girls are bonkers-hot!

Now, all you Modern Millies, riddle me this. Why call attention to such optics? Why feed today’s insensitive, insulting, brutal, throw-away, aesthetics machine? I’ve been fighting sexism since long before I died in 1934, and in Hollywood, to boot. Murder! That’s some serious skirt-chasing around the desk! From what I can tell, you contemporary chickadees carry a lot of huevos in your Louis bags. You know you’re red hot, no matter what mold you do or do not fit. You’ve got a confidence not seen since the Roaring Twenties ditched those Edwardian stuffed-shirts. You’ve got it in spades, and then some, and don’t seem to care a whit who likes it. So, why waste time proving something to that microband of worthless, useless, infantile, misogynist, insecure, fink gamers?

Lauded and gender neutrally-revered dorkettes like Katrina Hill, Adrianne Curry and Jill Pantozzi know they’re aces-beauteous. While mathematical, symmetrical beauty might be the first visual cue you get on these three, it’s definitely not the last thing you’ll remember about them. Amongst this geek girl triad exists an amalgam of journalists, writers, authors, models, TV personalities, comic book aficionados, film theorists, personal band-strategists, wicked WOW gamers, whip-smart businesswomen, fragile hearts, irreverent, humourous, kind, protective and loyal Earthlings. These broads might understand and shrewdly calculate the value of their charms to bring in unique fans, readers and viewers; but similar to a Harvard or William & Mary legacy, just getting beyond the hallowed brick walls doesn’t cut it. Once they’re being scrutinized, these ladies have to deliver, from the brain as well as the hip.

Still, all you other dames, isn’t that quiet beauty of yours, the fact that you know you’re pretty, plus so much more, enough to carry yourself like royalty, no matter where you trod? Haven’t all you Millenium muffins come far enough by 2012 that proving you’re a looker to a bunch of greaseballs and strangers online doesn’t matter a hill of beans? Apparently not in the gaming world. Miller says this facet of technology and entertainment is still flush with “female gamers who feel animosity from male gamers.”

According to Miss Miller, in a May 2012 interview with Chad Deal for San Diego Reader, “Whenever a girl beats a guy over, say, Xbox live or whatever, a ton of messages immediately start piling in about how you must be a fat stoner loser chick to have beat them at a game. Boys are petty. We use actual female gamers on [TheGamerGirls.com] who are hot to prove these kinds of boys wrong. Honestly, girls just want gaming equality.” (Please, feel free to read the whole interview, Nerdcore Night – A Safe Place to Geek … but, come back, okay?!)

Jessa Phillips, keen pally, hard-line gamer girl and editor-in-chief of GoodToBeAGeek.com follows and covers gaming passionately: most notably, her Good To Be A Gamer weekly podcast with fellow geek David Lucier. Miss Jessa has had wild experiences with sexism in the gaming world and is cuckoo for Nerdcore puffs. She digs the concept of a night where chicas can get together, talk shop, listen to some tuneage, drink and not worry about some rude boy in Singapore, Bangalore, Seattle or Sack-of-tomatoes slinging personal insults and misogynist hate like cream pies in a Laurel & Hardy flick. Jessa knows her stuff, so when some dude calls her a hack, he’d best step off unless he’s complementing her Hack n’ Slash gaming style.

Playing since Nintendo hit the shelves, Jessa is bonkers for first-person shooting (FPS) and not frightened off by the violence amidst her fave games which, according to her, “also incorporate some amazing world building and storytelling”: God of War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War, Mass Effect, BioShock and Assassin’s Creed. Just because she’s a gamer patootie, she’d rather not be identified as such.

“I do not believe that women who play games need to be singled out as a specific market segment. Developers should not be making games aimed to draw in female gamers. We are, regardless of gender, gamers. The difference between me and another gamer is the games we play. That is all,” Jessa states.

Even so, she’s suffered from unwarranted sexism. Seemingly innocuous, when pre-ordering the original God of War, she was questioned and quizzed by the store clerk, certain she was buying for a man in her life, certain “a woman would shy away from the graphic violence and sexual mini-game this title promised.” That was simple ignorance and most likely lacking any malice. Her first experience with down home, good old-fashioned, blatant sexism? Enter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

“I was not so naïve as to use a gamer tag that would immediately give away my gender. However, as soon as I spoke my gender was known and it was all over. I will admit, I am not the most skilled gamer, particularly when it comes to shooters. That being said, gameplay has never been my problem. The constant debasing verbal vomit some players spew at the idea that a woman is in their game. A woman can only bear so much trash talk and when she attempts to defend herself, is instantly label a b*tch which only furthers the issue. It is the targeted mean-spirited attitude towards female gamers in online multiplayer gaming that turned me away from the online space and into a single-player gamer.”

Jessa’s feeling a little better about online gaming as days go by; more women are entering the field of play and more men are even coming to the defense of women getting a verbal bullying. She also has a final bit of advice for the loser whom deigns to dis her during her next round, “So I get pwned by a better player, maybe even targeted due to my gender. I’m a big girl, I can take it. Being the man trashing a women who just pwned you with your friends standing by? Just makes you come off as weak.”

Surprisingly, our very own Dr. Lucy is a rabid gamer girl and a dish, to boot. TGG, still looking for gamer models? Sure, she’s a Victorian gal at heart (died at The Del in 1904, in case you’renew here), but she shows up very nicely on camera, best with full-spectrum, infrared, HD cams. Full disclosure: sometimes she only appears as bright orbs … but, what a set of orbs!Ever since D&D was gifted to RPGs in the 1970s, and then a later introduction to Mech Warriors she’s been a gaming, ghostie girl. Although she can’t always be seen, she can make a presence when she really wants to. Eventually, she moved on to Renaissance Faire; the men can be just as annoying, but her Old School ways fit in better there.

“I’m not into Resident Evil or the highly competitive shoot-em-up games like Halo or intensive online reality games like WOW,” Dr. Lucy confided to me by the hotel pool one night. “I do however still have my Super Nintendo and tons of ‘old school’ games like Mario Bros and every Zelda game ever made. That has to be my favorite platform game of all time. I have gotten a new platform like Wii just because the new Zelda game came out.” (Where does a Victorian ghost find such games, plus a Wii, my skeptical friends might wonder? Craigslist and BestBuy, of course.)”The games I play now are Zelda Skyward Sword, Heroes VI, and Civilization. The game I am saving up for now is Diablo III, and was just released this week!”

Whether it’s Faire, Zelda, Civilization or her long-ago, Victorian parlour games of Whist, Cribbage, Crambo or Hot Cockles, Lucy maintains boys will be boys.

“Heaven help anyone who ‘lets me win’ or gets all condescending!” she went on after yet another poolside-absinthe. “As for sexism, men ALWAYS think they know best and it does leak over into gaming. I find it entertaining when people who don’t know me try to categorize me. They usually get it wrong and reveal more about themselves in the process than they perceive about me. I know people need to stereotype others to a degree to feel comfortable so it makes me value those people who are capable of recognizing and appreciating people for who they are and those with the ability to recognize that all people evolve and are multifaceted.” Well, not all people, Lucy. Have you watched The Jersey Shore on your Kindle lately? Ick.

In the end, after all the womens’ studies, political hashing and academic posturing, Nerdcore Night is just damn good fun. Similar to Disneyland, Renaissance Faire, Comic-Con and FOX’s Animation Domination, it’s a few carefree hours to congregate with fellow goobs and let off some steampunk. Nerdcore Night is a girls’ night out and even though that seems a little dated in and of itself, it’s become a nice, universally nerdy haven. For, even though it started as an IRL meet-up for San Diego-close gamer chicks, it’s happily become an all-inclusive, guys and dolls, hipster doofus et al function: geeks, nerds, dweebs, gleeks, word nerds, orch dorks and so on. Hail dorks, well met! If you recall, I covered this pandemonium of geek culture previously, White & Nerdy checklist and all. Into which category do you fit?

Whatever you do call yourself, however or with whomever you identify, you’re welcome at The Ruby Room, any night of the week. Bring your hip game, though; Hillcrest ain’t Kansas and it ain’t Dr. Lucy’s weekly Hot Cockles … although, I imagine there’s a bit of that, not to mention some Squeak, Piggy, Squeak going on somewhere in the club.

By the by, for the rest of you cats whom tend to booze ‘n cavort sans cape and sword and just want a good Irish whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, I.P.A. or BOGO penny wells, The Ruby Room serves up a wide swath of divertissements: vintage burlesque –sadly, no Dita Von Teese, yet-, live bands, righteous DJs, art shows, charity functions, fashion soirées and themed karaoke nights. Whether you wield a French corset dagger or sport a slick set of Zildjian drumsticks in your back pocket, chances are excellent you’ll find a Ruby Room bash that suits you and your motley crew nicely. As the good folks at The Ruby Room humbly claim, “Not trying to be everything to everyone, but everything that is us.” Awww.

All the deets:

@theRubyRoomSD

The Ruby Room

1271 University Ave.

Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103

619.299.7372

 
Thursday, 26 April 2012 10:51 Jennifer Devore
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Ciao, cats. C'est Moi encore, Hannah Hart, ghostdame. Summer’s a-comin’ fast and my lovely Hotel del Coronado haunt is prepping for San Diego’s best season of sun, surf and soirees. Springtime’s sweet, but summer’s sizzling. You know we ghosties are cold all the time and even though I'm lucky enough to inhabit this swinging, seaside resort, it's still bonkers chilly up in the rafters and down in the basements. Sure, I have my own suite; but I like to poke around late at night. What ghost doesn't? The tiniest rise in surrounding temperature is a beautiful thing for this chickadee and makes my nocturnal adventuring all the more delightful.

Folks in general are up to here with their winter blues and springtime antsy pants. Ergo, it's the best time to throw a swanky hotel riot. The only issue with a summer splurge, besides whether to host it at the pool or on the beach, is what theme? Real party hounds know you need a kicking theme and Dr. Lucy and I are tossing around a few ideas in our noodles. Regardless of theme, the very merry month of May is the perfect time for a Ghost Host Rag!


Swanks a lot for the booze, Micky!

 

Natch, Lucy wants to go steampunk; natch, I said cool it already with the Victorian adventurer gig for a bit. I mean, really. How many aviator helmets and goggles can a girl have? (Although, I do hear around the whiskey cooler there’s a pretty steamy -steamypunky- sex scene in The Darlings of Orange County by my pally Jennifer S. Devore. Who knew there were so many useful toys in Johnny Depp’s official Ichabod Crane Detective Kit from Sleepy Hollow. My, oh, my!)

Now, as far as planning this affair, I've been throwing shindigs since I was a wee thing. Dr. Harvey & Hildy love a good time, even if it does include way too much foxtrotting, so I can thank Mum & Dad for weaning me on teas and socials and letting big bro Hugh and me throw as many parties as the old Beantown bungalow could handle. So, it goes without saying that after nearly a hundred years of throwing fetes, my beachside blow-out is sure to be a blast. First off, it’s to be all ghosts, mostly. Plenty of folks to invite. You’d be shocked at how many ghosts there are floating about San Diego and beyond. Boy-zo! If you could actually see us all. You know that feeling you get on the back of your neck, when it feels like someone’s watching you? Someone is. Always.

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Thursday, 05 April 2012 18:14 Jennifer Devore
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Ciao, kittens! Hannah Hart, ghostdame here. Spring's in full swing and all's swell here at the Hotel Del. Dr. Lucy and I are in the early stages of prepping for San Diego Comic-Con 2012. Costumes are the projet du jour and Lucy's going steampunk with a mad vengeance. It's all Airship Pirates and Parasol Protectorate around here. Apropos to Comic-Con, my dear pally, Miss Jenny, is wringing her hands awaiting word on her article submitted to the fine editors at the official Comic-Con Souvenir Book: That Other Jane: 100 Years of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, Heartbreaker.

An accomplished author in her own right, Miss Jenny's got some opinions about the publishing world and I got to thinking about her and all the other poor mooks out there writing, publishing and turning bloody blue as they scratch and claw, day-in and day-out, for someone, anyone to notice them. Natch, I pondered further, might the keen writers of eras gone by, say, Laura Ingalls Wilder or Beatrix Potter, thrill in the elixir of today’s social networking opportunities? Or, might they flounder and panic futilely to extricate themselves from the inescapable tar pits of literary masturbation and personal promotion.

In an episode of Little House on the Prairie the television series, Laura Ingalls, as a burgeoning writer, contributes to and wins an amateur writing contest. The prize? She gets her stories published by a big city publisher: St. Louis or New York, I don't recall. The twist? She turns down the offer when she realizes the publishing pills want to jazz up her innocuous Ma and Pa tales. (Seems execs haven't changed much over the years.) Walking away, her moxie and integrity in tact, our pretty, perky and plain prairie protagonist eventually does earn a book deal and, thankfully for us, we have the Little House series of books today. Whilst her publisher and agent would sell her charm and tout her words around the country, Half-pint had to do her share, too. She wrote the books. That used to be the hard part. Were she writing today, her bloomers and corset would need a good starching to keep her steady on the course and stop her from doing a swan dive under Ma's quilt, grabbing her fave stuffed bunny, Mr. Sniffles, and giving up altogether, 'cause today's book business is brutal, babies.

Knowing a thing or two, about a thing or two where indie publishers and authors are concerned, not to mention those backed by traditional, big publishing houses, it's clear to this ghostdame that your worldwide, 24/7, omnipresent, vlogging, blogging, iReporting, YouTubing kind of social media and promo possibilities are the bane of the solitary writer. Around every proverbial corner there's some slimy crumb bumping his gums about how the worthless and pathetic can be better writers. Nasty and hateful industry insiders, bored readers and armchair critics tell the aspiring schlubs regularly how much they suck eggs. The need and ability to incessantly and shamelessly plug, ply, hawk, rationalize and apologize for one’s precious wares morphs the once-quiet and pensive writer into a mealy-mouthed carnival barker.

Now it seems to me most writers crave attention: needy little bastards. Whether or not they inherently have the ability to market their work to elicit that attention is another story. Miss Jenny did a number of book signings back East at good ol’ fashioned Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores, not to mention Borders and Waldenbooks shops. Remember those, kids? She was also a fixture in Colonial Williamsburg, schlepping her Savannah of Williamsburg books alongside more than few notable authors and historians. Jim Lehrer, Edward Cline, Dr. Phyllis Haislip and a gentleman whom is considered to be the worldwide authority on Thomas Jefferson, Dr. Alf Mapp, just to name a few.

With the exception of Jim Lehrer, being a tough bird to get close to, she spoke often with these folks and found many of them, even those traditionally published by the big houses, spent as much time as she did booking appearances, wrangling events, scheduling book signings and even printing their own event signage. Want a real-life sob story? Here ya go.

One of these prolific authors waited nearly a year for royalty checks, was eventually sent a pittance check and then the publisher filed for reorganization, a.k.a. bankruptcy. Amazingly, the bankruptcy court forced him to return the wee check, dismissed the royalties owed altogether and allowed the publisher to keep the titles. Zowie! Talk about getting whacked with a bag of nickels by a bunch of goons. To wit, some, but not the rightfully pissed off author in question, have dutifully joined the dance of the social networks to aid in their publishers' quest for the almighty review, movie option and American dollar.

For those whom deign to seek it, there exists more online advice and how-tos for the tentative scrivener than Spongebob had excuses to put off writing his driving essay for Mrs. Puff. Countless editing fora, manuscript submission no-nos, insider agent tips, the psychology of cover art, character development webinars and marketing strategies up the wazoo flood not just the search engines, but the writer’s tenuous and wobbly noggin.  From what I know about the delicate genius, writing-by-committee is painful. Seek ye just a single, golden thread to pull one over the wall and kapow! the poor, unsuspecting wordsmith is floored and buried with a dump truck of frayed, worthless bits of twine too short and thin to use anywhere.

Even Anne Rice –a moment of silent respect, please- comprehends the importance of Tweeting and Facebooking as she socializes and shares personal musings, liberal politics, current affairs, photos of her kitty, Little Prince Oberon, and, of course, updates of book signings and reviews. People of the Page, she dubs her fans and followers. Miss Jenny is an Anne devotee and thus, a Person of the Page.

Not only are Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Smashwords, SmartGirl, Blogger and the like literary campgrounds for amateur and professional writers alike, but the Wellborn of Wordsmithing have pitched their tents in cyberspace as well. Besides Anne, J.K. Rowling, Steve Martin, Peter Mayle, Bill Bryson, Brian Jacques, Sophie Kinsella, Gail Carriger and even Half-pint have succumbed.

I like to think Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beatrix Potter, Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Geoffrey Chaucer, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Wm. Shakespeare -or Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton or Sir Robert Cecil or whomever it is we’re learning might have "been Shakespeare”- would have not shoved their work in our faces at every turn. I also like to think that some of them would have loved the idea of social media. You just know Mark Twain, HST and Ernest Hemingway would have delighted in followers, fans and friends, from afar, and would have certainly used the proverbial 140 to its pithiest and volatile best.

Photo: JSDevore

It’s a double-edged sword indeed, kittens. In my day, if you could write like F. Scott Fitzgerald and you were fortunate enough to get noticed or have the right connections, you could be a superstar. Just sit back, drink your scotch, holiday in Paris and let the industry professionals take on the lion’s share of the legwork. Being an author had cache because it was a rarity. It was a nearly impossible title to attain because one had to stand out in the crowd. Today, anyone may write, whether or not they can write. Of course, there lies an upside to the barrage of opportunity available online.

No need for Algonquin Roundtable connections anymore. Can't get into the New Yorker cafe? No worries, dollface. You write it, you publish it, you sell it, you market it. Of course, there’s a lot of cut-rate writing out there; but there are a lot of great oeuvres, too, that we might have never seen without the Internet. The keys to the kingdom are no longer necessary and some of the unknown and worthy are busting through the front gates, pens blazing. The Internet, Amazon in particular, is like the Ellis Island of Bookland. Enter its turnstiles and leave the starched Old World with its stern Old Ways behind you. Opportunity beckons on every street corner, but, writer, beware ... so do the scams, cheats, sure-things and a nasty, blistering rash if you’re not careful.

Lucy's finding all kinds of goodies to buy at Clockwork and that got me thinking about another commercial marriage that might have flourished, but we'll never know. See, if Laura Ingalls could be prone to Tweeting, Mrs. Harriet Olseon could certainly embrace the new culture easily, culling “friends” and patrons from the world over and redirecting them to her Joomla website: populated with goods from Olseon's Mercantile as well as drop-ship, throw-away, plastic crap from Singapore and China. Nels, I’m pretty sure, would not have been allowed admin permissions.

By the way, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s current tweet @HalfPintIngalls: I know Almanzo is really into Morgan horses but... uh, should I be concerned that I found THIS in his stocking drawer?

 

Abyssinia, cats!

Hannah's fave place to haunt online? www.jennypop.net @JennyPopNet Facebook/Savannah of Williamsburg & Facebook/The Darlings of Orange County ... 'cause she kinda has to.

 
Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Jennifer Devore
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Greetings and salutations, cats! Gorgeous winter days still on the San Diego coast. So lovely, in fact, Dr. Lucy, Little Lindy and I have been whizzing around Coronado Isle in a juicy little breezer some wheat left running outside The Del. Fellow ghosties, want to cause some trouble? If you can get out of your haunt -I can for short bursts- snag a convertible, throw on a scarf and buzz the burg. Coppers won’t know from nothing when they see an empty flivver with nothing but fluttering silk flying down the flug! If you can get to a casino in that breezer for a little hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps (a separate, sipping glass for the schnapps) over a hand or two of invisible poker, even better!

Note to all wheats: don't leave it running! Photo: J.S. Devore

 

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Meet Miss JennyPop

Jennifer Susannah Devore

Jenny Pop is the acclaimed Author of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books and The Darlings of Orange County. In addition, Jen is a prolific consumer of media and pop culture. Never leaving the house without her journal and fave Waterman pen, an old-fashioned, analog book (usually Hunter S. Thompson) and a fresh coat of lipstick, she is constantly on the hunt for fun, espresso, animation  and comics of any kind and always ready for an impromptu day at Disneyland.  JennyPop.net is a natural extension of  Jen's World; so, spend some time visiting. You'll have fun, she promises!

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Meet Miss Hannah

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

So, here's the low down, all you Joes and Janes ... I'm Hannah Hart, dead girl. Don't fret, it's actually a sweet dish being dead. Having perished in 1934 in a terrifically vicious accessories incident with actress Ida Lupino, I reside where I died: San Diego's gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. It ain't a bad gig at all, really! Great weather, swanky guests (not to mention a few fellow ghosties), amazing amenities, my own private turret overlooking the sea and all the java juice and giggle water I can handle; plus, these bartenders know how to make a Planter's Punch like nobody's business! See, I've been waiting for this Internet thing forever ... now, instead of slamming doors and moving lamps, I get to wag my tongue all I like at goodtobeageek.com

Abyssinia, kids!