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SDCC, WonderCon Coverage


Friday, 05 July 2013 00:00 Jennifer Devore
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Cheers, kittens! If you'll kindly check your calendars, you'll see it's summertime and if you regularly follow the scribblings and adventures of Dr. Lucy Devereaux and Moi, you'll know summer here in sunny San Diego means just one thing: San Diego Comic-Con!

Summertime lists of entertainment alternatives for the geeky and the pale put SDCC firmly on top of the pile. It's air-conditioned fun where we ghosties and our fellow friends of pasty pallor can hide from the vile sun and retain our dewy freshness. It's a venue where geeks, dorks and nerds of every shade of pale can gather in costume, greedily clutching their comic books and collectible figures whilst dork-walking at revved speeds to snag front-row seats to panels such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Action Figure Showcase and I Can't Write, I Can't Draw, But I Love Comics!, all without fear of a wedgie anytime during the day ... as long as conventioneers don't wander too far into the neighboring Gaslamp District. The Gaslamp is no place for a lone nerd in costume, especially at night when the surfy sportos, apathetic hipsters and sloshed beach thugs roam, and own, the darkness. Travel in nerd packs if you must; but be assured, like any Star Trek exploratory mission, the one in the red shirt will be sacrificed. Don't be the red shirt.

Dr. Lucy, her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT in-hand, and I will be covering all the geeky goodness of SDCC 2K13 for you, just as I did 2K12, and Tweeting snaps, sightings, booths of note and nerdy news all weekend long from the floor and beyond the ether! Panels will be plentiful and will run the gamut of information and instruction from Inside The Big Bang Theory's Writers' Room to Steampunk 101, and Showcasing the Best in Korean Comics to Snoopy: A Retrospective. As always, SDCC is also a bit of a celeb trek and this year, expect to see the likes of James Spader (Lincoln, The Blacklist), Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) and  J. Michael Straczynski (Superman: Earth One, Before Watchmen). Of course, Dr. Lucy is always on the hunt for Seth Green and one can hope one bumps into Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, George Lucas or Adrianne Curry in one of the aisles. (Bring the smelling salts, Dr. Lucy!)

Of course, it wouldn't be a comic book convention if I wasn't interviewing somebody fabulous for your reading pleasure! (WonderCon offered Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) and Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak). Dr. Lucy and I will be squeezing our fine, cosplayed cabooses into the SyFy Press Room once again: this time, a table chat with the cast of SyFy's Warehouse 13. Interview and candid pics, à la last year's Being Human interview, will post after the Con concludes.

In past years, I've been ... I mean, my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore  has been fortunate enough have her articles selected for the official Souvenir Book: 60th anniversary of Peanuts (which earned her a citation in TIME magazine) and the 100th anniversary of Tarzan (which garnered her an invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall). One never knows what good fortune and opportunity this year's submission, if accepted, will bring her. Cross your fingers, kids!

The themes for this year's Souvenir Book are many and varied: amongst others, the 75th anniversary of Superman, 50th anniversaries of Marvel Superheroes and Doctor Who and 25th anniversaries of The Tick and The Sandman. Miss Jenny's selection? The 20th anniversary of Bongo Comics. Known as Bongo Entertainment since 2012, it is the comics publishing empire founded by The Simpsons-creator Matt Groening with three BFFs in 1993: Steve Vance (DC Comics, Disney Adventures Comics), Cindy Vance (Disney Adventures Comics) and Bill Morrison (Roswell: Little Green Man). Navigating twenty years of analog-to-digital waters is no easy task; yet, Bongo has flourished, combining classic comic core and the moving target that is modern zeitgeist.

The frosting on the Comic-Con cupcake? Getting to dress up months before Hallowe'en! Last year's costume was Steampunk, WonderCon was Abby Sciuto and this year's con will be Scooby-Doo's Daphne Blake. I thought about Velma. Surely, the scholarly, brunette geek girl does seem to suit me better. Still, Velma's sweater is ugly and unflattering and, quite frankly, she's too good of a ghost hunter. I can't abide that, really. Danger-prone Daphne, though?!  She's hot, she's nice, she's wealthy, what's not to like? Plus, I've always wanted orange hair for a day and what girl doesn't love hot pink tights, lime-green accessories and a purple micromini? Jeepers!


Abyssinia at the Con, kids!

*In fact, kids, JennyPop's article was accepted. Read Bartbarians at the Gate: 20 Years of Bongo on the Digital Frontier from the SDCC 2K13 Souvenir Book.

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet @Eslilay and @GoodToBeAGeek for SDCC floor updates!

 

 
Monday, 15 April 2013 13:37 Jennifer Devore
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Geeks Get Published: it sounds obvious. At first blush, with the exception of folks like Snooki, the Fifty Shades of Grey author and Penthouse letters, who else do you imagine is getting published? Mostly geeks, that's who! Bookworms, academicians, poetry goths, art nerds, amateur scholars, film dorks, scientists, comic book enthusiasts, pop culture obsessives, military buffs and historical reënactors are busily scribbling, publishing and selling the most important theses and musings of all: their own.

With a plethora of visual outlets today, it takes a geek to stick with the romance of the written word, I know. It takes a geek to write anything today, even a Thank You note. The real trick is not getting a geek published ... it's getting a geek read. All those non-geeks roaming the planet, unaware as they are of being thiiiis close to mankind's discovery of the God particle, have a Black Hole's worth of activity to keep them occupied without cracking a book. Authors' efforts are being slaughtered like Britons at the hands of marauding Vikings, slaying and slicing with a force of diversions no other generation of writers has ever suffered. Sure, it was probably easy for Chaucer to be a best-seller. What else was there to do in the Medieval era? Everybody just waiting around to die from a splinter, plus everything was dark by four o'clock. Today? It's never dark.

21stC. authors compete with a clip-mentality, 140-character world. The Internet is a shiny keyring and the babies aren't pulling themselves up by the bookshelf; they're doing it with the entertainment center. You can get a human to focus and read, but it's like getting a swordfish to hold still once you've brought him onto the boat. It's not impossible, but you will get the crap beat out of you trying.

So, where can a bunch of bookworms safely go to lick their wounds and share the odd tales of literary victory? WonderCon Anaheim 2013 is a good start. Never been to a con? It goes like this. Go to the beach, open a bag of Doritos, fling them sky-high and watch flocks of frantic sea gulls descend upon the treats. This is basically a con, but with costumes and boobs: squawking, feathers and crumbs everywhere.

Rather late one Saturday night, upstairs at the Anaheim Convention Center, there sat an impressive, educated and loquacious panel called Geeks Get Published - and Paid!, moderated by vivacious and prolific writer Jenna Busch (Womanthology, Fanhattan, Cocktails with Stan). When not moderating or taking part on con panels, this Tinkerbell look-alike flits about the Internet with her wand-cum-quill scribing for over twenty sites, including Huffington Post, USA Today, AOL and Moviefone. Geek basement cred includes screen time with Stan Lee, Wil Wheaton, Grant Imahara and Bonnie Burton. A bi-coastal actress, writer and producer, she's as easy-peasy at home writing in her jim-jams as she is doing cheesecake pin-up for Cupcake Quarterly. She is also inclined to redo your up-do, should she spy you across a crowded party floor and give you the squinty-eye. If she does approach you, stand still, let her re-pin your locks and do not make eye contact.

This effervescent power girl's panel featured S. G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament), Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History), Alex Langley (The Geek Handbook), and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). Their task? To enlighten fellow writers and hem-hawing wannabes on the rituals, protocol and even plain ol' luck of finding a literary agent and publisher. Does one need all this, in today's world of epub? It turns out, it certainly doesn't hurt and advances can be awfully nice. Dr. Travis Langley pontificated, "Lots of people want to have written a book. Problem is, you have to want to write the book."

Author S. G. Browne (Lucky Bastard) spoke of his innate need to write. "If I go to bed without having written something, I feel like I forgot to do something." Easily the quietest of the panel, Mr. Browne reminds one of a less volatile version of Morrissey. Aesthetically, he suits a vision of what a Central Casting wordsmith might be: glasses, soft-spoken, rumpled sportcoat, probably drinks Earl Grey or Guinness and has, at least once, considered being James Joyce for Hallowe'en. He is so understated and unpretentious, his Twitter handle has underscores (S_G_Browne) because he felt "SGBrowne", no underscores, would be a little "full of himself".

All grown-up Dennis the Menace, a.k.a. Alex Langley, excitedly urged the audience to  Write, write, write! Write when you don't feel like it, write when you do. His identification with Calvin, of Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes is clear. A precocious, intelligent and affable demeanor tell me The Geek Handbook: Practical Skills and Advice for the Likeable Modern Geek is sure to be an pleasant read. After all, when asked about Calvin's imaginary tiger, Hobbes, Alex replied, "Well, imaginary? That all depends on how you view the world." Clap your hands if you believe!

The force is strong with this family, the Langleys. Besides Alex, the panel featured his father, vater, Vader, Travis Langley, Ph.D.. Dr. Langley is the author of Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight. (Little known factoid: an original title considered was Batman and Psychology: Batman's in his Belfry. Not a favourite of Mrs. Langley, apparently.) Dr. Langley, a clinical psychologist and, as far as we know the world's only superherologist, approaches Batman academically, focusing on his human behaviour traits and habits. He also has that geek devotion, to be sure. "Interesting how many have thanked me for writing my book ... I suspect it's about my looking seriously at something we all love." Be warned, his work is more grad school thesis than comic book devotion. You'll need your thinking caps for this book, kids. No pictures.

Of interesting note, there was a lengthy discourse, initiated by Dr. Langley, on "writing in the character's universe" vs. "writing about the character's universe". Ex.: writing a new Peanuts adventure, copyright infringement BTW, is writing in the universe; writing on how Charles Schulz came to create Peanuts is writing about the universe. The main point being there exist grave, legal differences betwixt the two. Ergo, mark one in the column for traditional-publishing vs. self-publishing: big publishing houses have attorneys, you do not.

Firebrand Alan Kistler (MTV.com, Crazy Sexy Geeks) weighed in authoritatively on the topic. Author of Doctor Who: A History, as well as The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, The Unofficial Spider-Man Trivia Challenge and The Unofficial Batman Trivia Challenge, he knows a thing or two about approaching legends. Non-fiction, it seems, leaves a pretty wide berth for usage; fiction is a tad more nebulous. This is when things got ugly and turned to "Homage or Blatant Rip-off?". Enter, stage-left: BBC's Sherlock and CBS' Elementary.

The very mention of the CBS title brought a collective snort of derision from the room. The loudest, most derisive snort of all, however, came from Mr. Kistler. "Fuck you, Elementary! Fuck. You." A succinct directive, surely. Flipping a double-bird aloft, northward toward Hollywood, he seemed pleased, having excised and settled a score, personal, artistic or otherwise. (Dr. Langley? Your thoughts?) See, geeks are not only bookish, when they get chuffed they can be downright hardcore. (Note to self: do not let Alan Kistler review the Savannah of Williamsburg Series.)

One bookish geek who doesn't seem to have a mean bone in her lithe frame is Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak, Fanhattan, MTVGeek). Her official moniker of "Action Flick Chick", plus having been designated as one of "The Most Dangerous Women of Comic-Con" (along with fellow dangerous broads Leah Cevoli and Adrianne Curry), left me mildly prepared for a sharp roundhouse kick to the ponytails when we met after the panel. Approaching carefully, I found Katrina, ironically, to be almost regal in her carriage - more Jane Austen than Guy Ritchie. Of soft voice and an uncommon politeness, her lovely quintessence is as ceramic as her pretty complexion. Still ... she's like the Thomas Jefferson of action film assessors. One might have to lean in to hear her speak, but once she puts pen to paper, step aside, folks ... and by folks, I mean men. I leaned in a bit after Geeks Get Published - and Paid!. Here's what she quietly shared about publishing, writing, the double-edged sword of social media and, well, Elementary and Twilight.

Comic-Con Int'l Presents WonderCon Anaheim, Geeks Get Published Interview with Katrina Hill, March 30, 2013

Good to be a Geek: Thank you for chatting with us tonight. Looks like we're the last ones in the hall.

Katrina Hill: Yeah. I think everyone's already at the Hilton.

GTBAG: "The Most Dangerous Women in Comic-Con" meet-up, right?

KH: (laughs) Exactly!

GTBAG: We'll make this painless so we can all get to the Hilton.

KH: (laughs) Sounds good!

GTBAG: You started by reviewing films and blogging. This lead to publishing. Did you seek publishing? As you mentioned in the panel, you were approached to write a book, yet, was this a shock, or something in the back of your mind, that this could happen?

KH: It actually was. I think even a few months before they asked me to write this, I was trying to figure out how to put all my reviews together somehow, but hadn't formulated it in my head, yet. Then, they were like, "We have this series of books … and we want you to do Action Movie Freak. I was like, "Ahhh! Yes! That's so perfect!"

GTBAG: I notice there's a horror flick book …

KH: Yes. Horror Movie Freak and Sci-fi Movie Freak and I think they might be coming out with some new ones. I'm not quite sure.

GTBAG: Did you contribute to those titles?

KH: I did not.

GTBAG: So, yours is your sole project? All you, to boot.

KH: Yes. I wrote every word. You know, I did a panel yesterday, Most Dangerous Women at Comic-Con, and we talked a lot about… people still think women don't like action movies, and we do! I still get a few men, and people in general, who say, "You wrote this?" and I say, "Yes. I wrote this." I actually had one person ask, "So, did you have an editor or a main writer and then they just put your name on it?" I was like, "No!" This guy came up to my table and asked me that. You fucki ...

GTBAG: It's like [Bernard] Lacombe, the former, French footballer who responded to a female caller, on a French, sports radio program I believe, "I don't talk about football with women … They should look after their pots and pans, that would be better." As a girl, you couldn't possibly talk about action films or gaming, right?

KH: I don't know. (laughs) It's 2013. Women like everything.

GTBAG: In that vein, in the way people think women don't read comic books in the numbers men do, do you have one statement for those men whom ask, "Did you really write that yourself?"

KH: Uh, words that I can actually say? (laughs)

GTBAG: Care to quote Alan Kistler?

KH: (laughs) Uh …

GTBAG: You use social media extensively. You Tweet an awful lot and post on Facebook. It might have been easier … to have been Jules Verne and just write, let someone else do the marketing. Yet, that's not the case today. It is 2013.

KH: That would be nice.

GTBAG: Do you find it's easier to be in charge of your own marketing, mostly. Or, is it a double-edged sword? Is it bittersweet … being such an obligation?

KH: Yes, it is a double-edged sword. Like, I like that I'm in control. Typically, if I make a mistake, if I get a quote wrong or a fact wrong … blame me. I did it. I take responsibility. But then, it is incredibly time-consuming. I've actually gotten to where my Tweets are not as often. I used to Tweet all day, but now I'm writing for so many more sites now, I can't keep up!

GTBAG: Do you set limits for yourself? Obviously one can Tweet twenty-four-seven. Do you find yourself setting parameters? This is my weekend, this is my evening. I don't have to Tweet the coffee I'm having, I don't have to tell everyone my instant thoughts on this episode of (pause) "Elementary".

KH: (whispers) You mean rip on it? (laughs) (inaudible) Alan Kistler?

GTBAG: No mincing Alan's words in the panel, right?

KH: Yeah! Well, setting limits. Absolutely! If I don't, I find I will spend two to three hours reading people's Tweets. I follow a lot of people.

GTBAG: You follow a bonkers-amount of people, like close to 100K.

KH: Like, 89K, but, yeah.

GTBAG: Plus, you have over 150K followers.

KH: Yeah. I like to give people a chance. I like to make friends. Why not? (laughs)

GTBAG: How do you keep everybody organized.

KH: I have lists, but sometimes they fall through the cracks. I have a timeline, but I get about 200 updates a second. I follow my lists though. You know, "Geek Girls" and "Movie Buffs" and …

GTBAG: "Going to Comic-Con"?

KH: Yeah! "Going to Comic-Con". Yeah, if I don’t set limits, I'm a mess. Three hours later I'm like, "What did I do with my day? It's 9:00 at night, I missed dinner, I didn't work out and I have three articles to write by tomorrow. So, yes. Limits are a must!

GTBAG: Do you worry that, with so many people following you, whatever you Tweet … be it political or an unofficial review, just a comment about this actress or that director, do you think about offending or, conversely, thrilling 50% of your readership?

KH: I do think about that. For that reason, I try to stay out of politics; it's not something I want to go into over Twitter. I also try to stay positive. Because, I know if I Tweet, "Blah blah sucks in this movie.", it's really not very constructive.

GTBAG: Miracle Laurie [Dollhouse]said this also in her panel earlier today, "All Shapes and Sizes Welcome". She said, and I'm paraphrasing here, there is so much negativity online and some of it is done with great humor. Still, to promote so much negative energy online helps nobody.

KH: Exactly.

GTBAG: Like Thumper. "If you can't say nuthin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all."

KH: Right. Or, I'll say, "This movie wasn't for me. I'm obviously not the demographic for Twilight - well, there are other issues with that (laughs) -but, if you like this and this and this, you'll probably like this movie. I'll try to spin a bad review that way.

GTBAG: Very diplomatic.

KH: Speaking of diplomacy, you know, going back to my "fucki ... " (laughs) Let me elaborate on that. (laughs) You shouldn't just immediately write off people. It's all about education and being a representative and being out there. Yes. I wrote this book. Why don't you look at it and see before you judge me?

GTBAG: That's much nicer. Thank you for your time.

KH: Thank you, too. See you at the Hilton!

 

 
Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00 Jennifer Devore
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The Wild West of 1850s southern California never saw WonderCon coming. Originally an agricultural collective of pious, German farmers and vintners, Victorian Anaheim would have plotzed at the site of The Joker, Jawas, Hobbacca and G-stringed Supergirls crossing Katella and Harbor, headed into their Anaheim Convention Center. Although, he might have appreciated some of the more inventive steampunk costuming, 1857 co-founder George Hansen must have just come to grips with Disneyland when WonderCon steamed into town last year. This year, it descended upon the O.C. once again and, if Hansen's ghost gets his wish, it should be headed back up north, to San Francisco's Moscone Center for 2014. If the rest of us get our wish, parent company Comic-Con International will permanently add this southern substitute, WonderCon Anaheim, to its regular menu des plaisirs.

 

WonderCon Anaheim (March 29-31, 2013) is best-known now to the O.C. public as the week of visiting geeks. The baby sister of San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon mixed with the usual, inland-Orange County population of Disney geeks and overran Hansen's "Home by the Santa Ana River: Ana-heim". The Anaheim Convention Center was a safe place to contain all the geekage, like a well-lit, glass-and-steel roach motel, keeping the community-at-large safe from countless iterations of Batman and, simultaneously keeping said-geekage safe from countless wedgies. 'Twas a few, relaxing days where being a pale, obsessive, Simpsons fan actually brought about accolades and wearing a rhinestone dog collar, mini-kilt and Manson boots brought compliments, rather than propositions.

Like most comic book conventions, behind the cosplay, superiority complexes and aisles of overpriced crap sitting alongside collector-worthy art, there are serious discussions happening: academic panels, legal seminars, artistic advisory groups and the like. True, a lot of them are more Family Guy table-read than Algonquin Round Table. Still, these all-inclusive chats in the upstairs meeting rooms are worth the convention entrance fee, even if the downstairs floor full of steampunk dorks, Star Wars tees and vintage action figures is not your cup of Darjeeling. (Captain Picard's space beverage of choice, duh.) I had the opportunity to cover a couple of these panels and interview some of the panelists for GoodToBeAGeek.com: All Shapes & Sizes Welcome and Geeks Get Published - and Paid! Industry insight is always good gossip!

Without a doubt though, the best part of any convention -and I've been to more than a few, including NAB, NATPE and the MIPCOM/MIPTV conferences in Cannes- is the après-mingling in the hotel lounges and nearby restaurants and bars. True, 'tis no Cannes or Nice, but Anaheim, my pretties, much to the chagrin of dear old George Hansen, has more than it's fair share of suitable martini outlets. The Anaheim Gardenwalk is replete with moderately-priced, chain dining establishments, but the king is P.F. Chang's. There is not enough space here to go on about their Chinese 88 martini (topped off with champagne) and their tofu lettuce wraps. ~insert Homer Simpson-style drool here~ Roy's Hawaiian serves a tangy, yummy, signature pineapple martini and offers a warm, sugary, tropical atmosphere, bringing the diner into the island spirit, not totally unlike being on Kauai, which is surprising, considering one's in inland SoCal. Of course, the best mixing by far is the hotel where the con sits. This one was Hilton Anaheim and its Mix Lounge.

Mix was crowded, dark and lively and the staff worked off their patooties to keep the Stella Artois, Sapphire gin and dried wasabi pea snackies flowing. Nice fellows and patient as saints, especially when a drunken, impolite, cabbage-waving, Flava Flav doppelgänger insisted on buying a round for nearly half the bar, rudely yelling the orders to the bartender. (Yours truly declined. Far too obnoxious, even for a gratis G&T.) Oddly though, the con cosplay at Mix was sparse. There were some costumed folk hither and thither; my companions even forced me into a picture with a sad-looking, all too fay, nervous He-Man. Why so few costumes, I wondered each night? I would later learn the Hilton was mostly where the journalists stayed; the Marriott was the place for the cosplay crowd. So, book your hotels accordingly next year, con-goers.

The whole event was nicely wrapped up with an unexpected dinner, especially for a vegetarian. My Viking, a deathly-tightly-corseted Dr. Lucy and I ended up at Morton's Steakhouse when my brother-in-law and professional pirate, a.k.a. Cap't. Maurice Bloodstone, -who some of you may know from my novel, Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates- happened upon an SFX idol of his in the Hilton parking lot, twice. The second, chance meeting with Mr. Cleve Hall proved too much serendipity for our excitable Bloodstone and a dinner invitation was proffered.

Best-known, currently, for SyFy's Monster Man, Cleve Hall is hardly a newbie in the Hollywood special effects game. Like Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches, Cleve and his immediate family have been lurking around the Deep South and the West Coast for eons; his family in the prop and SFX business, the Mayfairs in banking and real estate. For Cleve himself, above-the-line credits (incl. actor, producer and director) as well as hair & makeup and costume & wardrobe fall solidly within his ken. Cleve himself has a wide umbrella. How to Train Your Dragon, Ghoulies, Ed Wood and Pee Wee's Big Adventure are just a few titles under his Victorian, silver-handled umbrella.

Now, my brother-in-law is as taken with the master's oeuvres as he is generous. Ergo, it had to be, Bloodstone invited Mr. Hall to join us for dinner. Morton's Steakhouse was the closest option and, after three days in five-inch platform boots and too-tight ponytails, I was ready to sit and drink anywhere.

Mr. Cleve is, in a word, gentlemanly. He is, in my experience, quiet, pensive and, similar to an attorney I once interviewed in Philadelphia for a tech-boom documentary, careful about choosing just the correct word when telling a tale. He does not name-drop, although he certainly could, does not dominate the table, although this raconteur could. Instead, he answers queries succinctly and adds just the right embellishments to the conversation, like the perfect, silver, poison ring or red, contact lenses. He did not overpower our dinner; he did make it memorable. He was spot-on, to boot, when at dinner he talked of the popularity of Monster Man and Face Off. Quoting his daughter, I believe, he said "Family gets meaner and strangers get nicer." Thank you for your southern hospitality, but the pleasure was all these strangers', Good Sir.

So, like Christmas décor or Hallowe'en costumes, WonderCon Anaheim 2013 is wrapped up nicely and packed away gingerly in the rafters. What's next for this geek girl? Coverage of the upcoming X-Files Season 10 "premiere", in comic book form that is: Season 10 in comic book form, not my coverage. Meeting the IDW publishing team at WonderCon, those creating and distributing the new comics, makes interviews for this June post easy-peasy. Then, comes July ... San Diego Comic-Con!

I've submitted yet another article for consideration in the annual Souvenir Book. History says I should make it in; after all, the last two (Peanuts and Tarzan) made it and one of those was even cited by TIME magazine. (Hey, look at me! I'm a Peanuts expert!) Still, my goal this year is to garner the lead article for the "20th Anniversary of Bongo Comics" theme ... that's The Simpsons to the uninitiated.

So, look to me as your unofficial Bongo historian and for X-Files revival coverage and your insider to San Diego's summer antidote to the cool kids on the beach. Also look to our Dr. Lucy and her amazing Twisted Pair Photography. See you in the Sunday funnies, kids!

BTW, I ordered the chopped salad, sans the bacon and red onions, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive martini. Cheers!

 

All slideshow photography by Twisted Pair Photography ... loads more at their Flickr page!

 
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 14:44 Jennifer Devore
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Once upon a time there was a talented, sparkling, beauteous rocker named Leah Cevoli from the City of Brotherly Love. One day, in the historical land of Ben Franklin, The Barrymores, Will Smith and Liz Lemon, the fair Leah heard the Siren’s Song knell through Philadelphia’s brick corridors and colorful tulip gardens. Taking the form of The Black Crowes so she alone would hear it, the song trilled, lilted and riffed amidst the city streets, beckoning her independent and creative soul to the land of plenty: plenty of sunshine, plenty of sea, plenty of opportunity, plenty of cabbage, plenty of thee.

With blazing streaks of platinum and magical tips of royalist purple in her locks, our heroine fled her City of Brothers and set forth for the City of Angels, Los Angeles, a.k.a. “Hopeless Hole”, dubbed so by the dark and exotic, erotic Mistress of the Dorks, Ms. Adrianne Curry.

Upon arrival, the fair Leah was tapped by the magic wand of mediocrity. Shady agents and producers across the land chided the funky fair damsel. “Nay!,” screeched they, “You are too unique! Too different! Away, to Cookie Cutters Salon in the Valley we shall fly!” With a sprinkling of fairy smog, she did just this. The shady agents and producers then screeched further, like pterodactyls on new, weak prey, “Nay! You are too similar! You look too much like her! Average, Caucasian, brunette girl, take thee a number!”

Along her journey, she met like-minded, talented friends. A kindly lad named Collin would aid in her unConventional quest, a girl named Helenna would become a dear lass for life and in the land of nothing’s-too-odd, a robot chicken would scratch and peck and spin her gold. Yet, not only kindly elves, silky minks and futuristic poultry did she meet upon her trail. She also crossed paths with snakes, serpents and the insidious vendors of their oil. There would be dragons disguised as friends and weasels dressed as lawyers and vermin of every kind lurking on studio lots, in agencies and under the back tables of Starbucks along the rocky Wanderwegs of Lankershim and Magnolia.

One fine, California day, when feeling rather pleased with herself, the fair Leah posted upon her page of Faces, a happy, casual image of her likeness. Then, without warning and in one sharp strike, an evil serpent with whom she had once been acquainted in the tales of Deadwood, hissed and punctured her soul with the greatest of ignorance and insensitivity: I’ve seen you look better, Leah.

“Fie on thee!”, the Philly Beauty cried and away to Ana’s House she did go! “A panel at WonderCon I should like to plan!” she declared! “Where actresses, models, entrepreneurs and writers of all shapes and sizes may talk of slings and arrows besieging the women of entertainment! A panel I should like to form where bright damsels may speak intimately on body image, eating disorders, self-love, recovery and the curses of H-town’s poison apples! A panel where ladies such as these shall inspire and influence those younger damsels, those pretty rabbits and field mice speeding on Greyhounds, fresh from the pastures, meadows and mountaintops of Iowa, Georgia and Colorado, all ingressing to the land of the seedy and the greedy!”

 

With that, kids, All Shapes and Sizes Welcome: Body Image & Women’s Issues in the Entertainment Industry was birthed: a primal and proactive response to an insensitive Facebook comment about Leah’s weight gain. This may have been an epiphany for Leah. For, it was at this moment she truly realized what a duplicitous and presumptuous double-standard of beauty there existed in Hollywood and society en masse, no less. Why was it socially acceptable for a relative stranger to comment on her weight? Why was she told, “You’re too thin!” with the same pity as, “You’re too fat!”. Why did a period production like Deadwood specifically cast “curvy women”, then make certain all the lead girls were Santa Monica-svelte? This all got her head spinning. Of course, she’d also been on a forty-day Master Cleanse during her Deadwood days and that got her head spinning, too, considering she went from a 31-inch waist to a 22-incher. Oh, my, Scarlett!

Leah knew there had to be other women with Aha! moments like hers. What had they heard, endured and learned on their paths in and out of Hollywood, The Most Venomous Place on Earth? She wanted to know and to share. Was there truth in TV’s First Kiss? Were there antidotes to the poison apples that hang so lusciously and temptingly along the palm treed parkways to Burbank? Could the dragons, weasels and serpents be slayed?

A host of fierce and lovely ladies, inside and out, came to her side and in a meeting room filled to capacity at the Anaheim Convention Center, Leah and her glossy posse set about to tell Hollywood, Broadway and Burbank a thing or two about a thing or two.

Watch your step, Hollywood! These ladies will get Medieval on your ass! The March 30th, 2013 WonderCon panel featured Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse), Adrianne Curry (Adrianne Curry’s SuperFans), Helenna Santos Levy (founder, MsInTheBiz.com), Amber Krzys (founder, BodyHeart.com) and Lynn Chen (founder, www.theActorsDiet.com). It was my pleasure to attend this panel and, afterwards, chat with Ms. Cevoli, her pals and fellow panelists, Ms. Helenna Santos Levy and Ms. Amber Krzyss. Please enjoy my interviews and read what these energetic and powerful chicas had to say.

 

Comic-Con Int’l Presents WonderCon Anaheim, All Shapes and Sizes Welcome Interview with Leah Cevoli and Helenna Santos Levy, March 30, 2013

 

GTBAG: So, thank you both for taking time today to chat with us. Your panel was very intimate! (laughs)

Leah Cevoli: I’ll say! (laughs)

Helenna Santos Levy: (laughs)

GTBAG: You really covered everything so thoroughly in the panel, I just want to ask you to expound a few things, if that’s okay?

LC: Absolutely. Let’s do it!

GTBAG: Great! Being in entertainment, what do you both find to be the most pressing issue against women, besides the body image?

HLS: Okay, one of the things we just skimmed the surface of, that Miss Representation [.org] deals with a lot and which I’m really passionate about, is the whole sexualization of women. This is really interesting to me, what we’re kind of doing right now. It seems to be since the Spice Girls, or what I call the Christina Aguillera Dirty version of feminism, where we think that by putting on the heels and making ourselves look sexy … see, I’m caught in the middle of it. I don’t pretend to be outside of this issue, I’m caught right in the middle of this issue and I’m trying to search my way through it. So, we’ve taken that on as the version of female empowerment: “I’m going to use my sexuality. I’m going to be in charge of that.”

GTBAG: So, what is modern feminism to you?

HLS: It’s funny, my husband and I had this discussion and it actually feels like the new version of feminism looks like the old Penthouse

GTBAG: Unshaved?

LC: (laughs)

HLS: (laughs) No, it feels like we’ve gone so far past it all that we’ve come all the way back around and we’ve developed our own new version of feminism that’s actually just the old form of sexism, but we’re re-branded.

GTBAG: It’s like the political spectrum. You can go so far in one direction, you merely end up back where you started, the point from where you thought you were progressing.

HLS: Right. So, the question is, for me, if I know all this exists and I’m in an industry where, at the moment, it is what it is and, in order to work you have to accept the system, how do you work in that system while keeping your own voice and be strong enough that you can then change the system? I think that’s the ongoing struggle.

GTBAG: What’s your answer to that?

HLS: Do I have the answer to that? Absolutely not! Trying to figure it out every day, but I think by having panels like this and creating more of a dialogue that women who are strong and sexy and powerful, that we can then figure out how to do this and feel good about ourselves, and it’s not just because we live in a male-constructed society.

GTBAG: Is there an element of becoming successful enough where you don’t have to take that role, you don’t have to take that gig?

LC: That’s interesting, because it goes down even to just things like your hair and makeup. When I first moved to Hollywood, I had a tongue ring and blonde streaks in my hair with purple at the ends, but I was going into the acting industry and I heard, time and time again, “No. You need to look like everybody else. You need to look like that Girl Next Door.” Which is interesting, because now I’m that “Girl Next Door”. I’m in my thirties and all I hear is, “There’s so many Caucasian, 30 year-old brunettes. Pick a number.” Okay. But, when I was more unique with my piercings and my colors, they were like, “Oh, no. You have to look more cookie-cutter.” So, there’s always mixed messages.

GTBAG: How do you affect these messages, change them?

LC: One of the things we didn’t touch on in the panel, and that’s been kind of rolling around in my head is … so, if we’re saying, “Accept everybody, all shapes and sizes”, no matter what industry and if you want to be an actress or a model, all shapes and sizes, then, yay! Let’s get more women of all shapes and sizes on mainstream television. Then, the flip side of that is, what are we teaching our youngsters? Is there a point when it’s actually unhealthy when we’re saying, “You’re very heavy, you’re obese, you’re this, you’re that and it’s acceptable.” We’re putting this in our commercials and ads, as well. So, what are we saying? Are we promoting unhealthy things? Are we promoting it’s okay to sit around and eat McDonald’s all day long as long as you love yourself? Because, now we’re promoting heart disease and diabetes and high cholesterol and everything else.

HLS: Right. We’re not promoting a healthy image, one way or the other, and everyone is confused right now. We had this discussion earlier, why Girls and Lena Dunham are so polarizing to people. She’s not going with the typical, Hollywood norm. She’s doing something completely opposite of it. So, if it’s not appealing to men, they’re like, “Ugh! I could never handle watching this!” Whereas, women are like grabbing onto it. But then, people are like, “Is she healthy? Is she promoting a healthy body image?”

LC: In her case, I think she is.

HLS: I think she is, too.

LC: I think she’s like, “Hey, a got a little bit of meat on me and I’m okay with it because I’m having sex as well and here’s my butt!” What’s wrong with that?

GTBAG: So what is sexy, what is feminine to you?

HLS: Your own inner quality. It really shouldn’t matter what we look like, what we’re wearing, what we’re doing, because it’s our own inner quality that shines through.

GTBAG: Still, it does matter what you look like, in entertainment.

HLS: Well, the irony of this all isn’t lost on us because we’re in a pin-up magazine! (laughs)

LC: (laughs) Yeah! We just came from an autograph signing! We were both featured in Cupcake Quarterly magazine, which is a pin-up shoot, right? So, now we’re about to go speak about body image and here’s this magazine. I had lingerie on! I posed in lingerie and garters! Helena’s got garters and a bra on! (laughs)

GTBAG: Isn’t that a healthy body image though? Because it really is all shapes and sizes.

LC: It is. But, at the same time, could it be sexploitation?

Helena: Of course it is, because that’s inherently what pin-up is. But then, we as women are taking back that title.

GTBAG: Yes, but do they have to be mutually exclusive?

LC: For me, this was actually a cathartic experience, because I did it a couple of months ago, at the heaviest I’ve ever been and I’m invited to do this and I said, “Yes!”. The night before I was like, “Oh, my God!” I mean, I’m okay taking photos, I’ve been taking photos since I was a little girl, but in my underwear?! I’ve never taken photos in my underwear and I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and am I really doing this?!

GTBAG: How did you get through it?

LC: I had to trust that Elisa [Jaeger], who is the editor-in-chief and creator of Cupcake, I had to trust in her and her vision and I’d seen her work and I know she’s very body-positive. (She wanted to be on this panel with us.) I had to trust in that and, you know what? I like the way I looked! I put them on my Facebook page!

GTBAG: Did you send them specifically to the gentleman whom was the impetus for this panel?

LC: (laughs) No. I think he’d already been deleted from my Facebook page by that point. Isn’t that interesting, though? What gives anybody a right to comment on anybody’s Facebook photo like that?

GTBAG: Well, there is a prevalent mechanism for comments on Facebook.

LC: Well, yes. And that got me spinning on, what if I got more mainstream, if I was on a show like Dollhouse, like Miracle [Laurie] was?

HLS: If you were Melissa McCarthy?

LC: Lord knows, right?! Lord knows what would come up if you Googled my name?!

GTBAG: I imagine there’s a level of personal dissatisfaction. Like the fellow with the broken-down Porsche on the side of the road. Everybody laughs because there’s dissatisfaction they don’t have a Porsche and never will.

LC: Exactly! It makes people feel good to tear us down and we accept that to some degree, being in this industry.

GTBAG: There is constant critiquing. You’re not wearing enough, you’re wearing too much. You don’t have enough flesh, you’re too fleshy.

LC: They like to build people up to tear them down.

GTBAG: I’ve seen horrible Tweets to your other panelist, Ms. Curry.

LC: Oh, Adrianne! Yeah. I love that she takes care of herself. She’s doing it in a healthy way and she doesn’t care. She just doesn’t care what people say. I have to say, sometimes, I just can’t look. I can’t look at her Twitter feed because she gets it on a daily basis.

GTBAG: She gets ripped to shreds, by men and women alike, no matter what she says or posts. She’s a Porsche.

LC: Yeah! And why? Because she’s a sexy, confident woman who overcame a drug addiction and now works her ass off like crazy to keep her sane, keep her off drugs, does it in a healthy way and they rip her apart, why? Because she’s got a better ass than you!

HLS: Exactly. They hate her because she’s doing it.

GTBAG: Plus, they’ll never have her.

LC: They wish, right?!

GTBAG: I know you ladies have a busy afternoon ahead of you. Is there anything you’d like to add before we finish?

HLS: I just think it’s important we’re having this discussion, that we have options in this industry. It’s changing.

LC:  Yeah, options! It’s not just a bunch of old, white men calling the shots anymore.

GTBAG: On that note, thank you very much, ladies.

HLS & LC: Thank you!

 

Comic-Con Int’l Presents WonderCon Anaheim, All Shapes and Sizes Welcome Interview with Amber Krzys March 30, 2013

GoodToBeAGeek: Thank you for taking a moment to chat. I just have a few questions not covered in the panel, if you don’t mind.

Amber Krzys: Not at all! I love to talk about this stuff! I think humans want to help each other and that’s what we’re doing here today!

GTBAG: Okay then! So, what drives you to speak publicly, to be actively passionate about body image and women’s issues, specifically in the entertainment industry?

AK: I love women! So, who’s determining the rules, is what I want to know? The rules in this industry. I think women are incredible! Our innate gifts – our nurturing, our sensitivity, our feelings, our caring. I think, at this point, women actually outweigh men.

GTBAG: No pun intended?

AK: No! (laughs) I think, in actuality, women are 51% and men are 49% in our country. But we don’t know that yet. We don’t have our voices out there yet. So, that’s for me, the big reason I’m doing it.

GTBAG: So women need to back each other? Do you tend to seek and support women in the Arts, in business, even in politics, strictly because they’re a woman and overlook a qualified male for the part?

AK: Not necessarily. No. No. Not necessarily. I’m a believer in doing your research and I think there are a lot of men pulling for us. There are women out there who aren’t, too. Women who believed that in order to succeed they needed to become a man and they forced through these things. So, no, I’m not advocating that at all. Do your research, whatever is most important to you. You go with that.

GTBAG: Most important issue facing women in entertainment, specifically?

AK: (pauses) That’s a really good question! I have two things. First is the body image and feeling this pressure to look a certain way because the media is dictating this. But, the second thing, I think, is the roles. You know, how often are you watching a movie and the woman’s taking her clothes off? She’s a mistress or the sex queen? It’s rare to have a really meaty, nice role that’s basically not focusing on the woman’s body.

GTBAG: The roles are defined by their sexuality, then? Defined by the men they’re with in the film?

AK: Exactly! If you think about it, the media is a reflection of where our society is. How does the world see a woman? How does the world see a man? It goes back to what Helena [Santos Levy] was talking about in Miss Representation [.org] during the panel. The fear and insecurity for a man comes from power and providing. It’s the money thing, right? It’s the status.  ”I drive this car.” It’s the status. For women, it’s, the way they get to us, it’s the body style. “Be thinner, no acne, wrinkles are bad, growing old sucks.” So then, what does the media do? Even the entertainment industry? They realize these are real fears and concerns and they heighten that, you know?

GTBAG: So, what role would you write for yourself? How would you take back that power?

AK: I’m no longer pursuing acting.

GTBAG: If you were, if you could create that “meaty role” on stage or screen?

AK: I don’t know. I think, to me, a role that represents a real woman today. So, her real struggles. Yes, facing her body … but also like having to choose between work and family. For me, I’m thrity-six. I’m single. My family’s like, “Are you ever going to get married? Are you ever going to have kids?” The clock is ticking. I only have a certain amount of time if I want to have kids.

GTBAG: Like Liz Lemon and Murphy Brown lied to you?

AK:  Totally. Raising a child, working alone, those things make a good role.

GTBAG: There are a lot of women talking openly via Facebook about single-motherhood. How do you approach a role like that then, to speak to those women?

AK: Right. Rather than buying into the fairy tale of, “I’m going to get married and he will save me because I need saving, I can’t do it on my own”, I’d do something that’s completely opposite of that. You know, “I may not know what the ‘F’ I’m doing, but I’m going to figure it out ’cause I’m smart enough and I’m good enough where I am today.”

GTBAG: I think that’s a good way to end this.

AK: You’re so welcome! I love having this discussion! I’ll be sure to share this with my community.

GTBAG: Thank you, Amber. We’ll be sure to share it with ours as well.

Have any questions or comments for our interviewer? Contact Jennifer Susannah Devore @JennyPopNet or jennypop.net Want more fab panel pics? Check out Dr. Lucy’s Twisted Pair Photography!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt on-line? Jennypop.net @JennyPopNet & Jennifer Devore’s Amazon Author Page

 
Monday, 01 April 2013 15:41 Jennifer Devore
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WonderCon Anaheim is a fait accompli. These California comic book conventions are like a Tequila Sunrise: equal parts fun, tequila, sunshine and just the right amount of tart. The bar in the Anaheim Hilton, Mix Lounge, was a bit too much fun. Of course, like any trade show or con, those après-show mixers also serve as yummy networking juice. Having an affable, excitable, confident pirate in your corner also helps the networking process.

This con was chock full of crucial contacts, old friends, new Geek Meets and enough pop culture goodness to make the wait for summer's San Diego Comic-Con nearly unbearable. I met a Batman Ph.D., dined with a Monster Man, met a smarmy yet kindly fellow from Bongo Comics and missed meeting Seth Green, again, by thiiiiiis much. As I covered the event for GoodToBeAGeek, there shall be a full wrap-up and slideshow coming soon. There shall also be interviews. Whilst there, I attended a few panels, including All Shapes and Sizes Welcome and Geeks Get Published - and Paid!.

All Shapes and Sizes Welcome, moderated by power chica Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) featured Miracle Laurie (Dollhouse), Adrianne Curry (Adrianne Curry's SuperFans), Helenna Santos Levy (founder, MsInTheBiz.com), Amber Krzys (founder, BodyHeart.com) and Lynn Chen (founder, www.theActorsDiet.com). Without giving up too much booty here, the panel was an intimate, inspiring and touching look at the effects of body culture on women in Hollywood and media. Moreover, these strong femmes shared their histories and personal tales of how they came to be the ladies they are and what pivotal, Aha! moments got them there.

Geeks Get Published - and Paid! was moderated by the sparkling Jenna Busch (Cocktails with Stan), with whom I shared a lovely chat on our mutual fondness for James Michener over Stella Artois and gin martinis at Mix. Jenna's panel featured S. G. Browne (Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament), Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who: A History), Alex Langley (The Geek Handbook), and Dr. Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight). This panel was partially selfish on my part. Learning how to grow cabbage out of words? Yes, please! Perchance next year, or even at SDCC, she might like this published geek to sit on her panel.

The GGP panel was also a lovely chance to meet the quietly sweet Katrina Hill (her kind demeanor being totally anathema to her Action Flick Chick persona), the boyish Alex Langley (His love of Calvin and Hobbes and, I'd bet, Dennis the Menace happily shines through.) and his brother Dr. Travis Langley. Having gifted the good doctor's Batman and Psychology to my own psychologist-father, it was my pleasure to meet Dr. Langley, discuss secure attachment theory with him and have said-book signed for Dear Old Dad. To boot, Katrina and the brothers Langley and are affiliate-partners with GoodToBeAGeek and its editor, Jessa Phillips. My articles there are syndicated via RocketLlama and soon Nerdspan. It was very nice to finally shake their hands.

I also took part in one of the oddest, strangest, most memorable fine dining experiences of my life. Suffice it here to state merely the following: Morton's Steakhouse, Monster Man Cleve Hall, homemade rum, an à la carte-meat travesty, a renegade pirate and Night of the Evil Dead Corset that nearly killed Lucy.

After I my Con Haze lifts, I shall regale you with full coverage of WonderCon 2013, Morton's Horrorhouse and my interviews with Katrina Hill, Leah Cevoli, Amber Krzys and Helena Santos Levy. In addition, there will be a powerhouse slideshow by our very own Eslilay Evoreday of Twisted Pair Photography, a slideshow of such proportions that it will take longer to import and load these snaps than it will to write up all the articles. You're welcome.

 
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JennyPopcorn: Netflix New Releases

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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!

Meet The Darlings

The Darlings of Orange County

The sexy, cashmere beaches of southern California aren't always what they seem. The dirty little secret here is what it takes to survive. Everyone has a trick up their silk sleeve. Liz Lemon meets Parker Posey, Veronica Darling is smart enough to know what it takes and is willing to soil her soul to bring Hollywood to the California Riviera. The Darlings of Orange County is a salacious, hilarious, harrowing romp chock full of eco-terrorism, horse-racing scandals, weed deals and the obligatory lipstick-lesbian affair that inevitably leads to murder. It all climaxes in a white-knuckled, glitzy, celebrity-stacked Laguna Beach Film Premiere that spells success for Veronica Darling and trouble for her friends and family.

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Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Meet Miss Savannah of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Equal parts Amelia Earhart, Lucy Honeychurch, Scarlett O'Hara and Miss Piggy, Savannah is a scholar, adventurer and a lady. Moreover, she is a pebble in the silver-buckled shoe of injustice and with her best pals she is not a squirrel to challenge. She carries  the Magna Carta in one paw and the latest Parisian silk bag in her other. Whether fighting to end slavery, arguing for freedom of the press or scheming to end a duel, Miss Savannah does so with wit and persistence. Read more to meet her best friends and accomplices: Ichabod Wolfgang and Dante Marcus Pritchen. Prepare to also meet pirates, a Venetian fox and an Irish gull, The Commodore!

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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!