Friday, February 28, 2014

Con Nooga Day 1: Writing Panels & Drunk Big Wheels

I made a pretty last-minute decision to go to Con Nooga this year. What can I say? I had a free weekend, it's not that far of a drive (just under four hours), a few of my friends agreed to go, and it just generally looked like it would be a fun convention. (That, and it's one more for me to cover/write about both here and on The Geekiary.)

Although I got out of bed on time (a pretty big feat for me with how busy and stressed I've been lately) and got lucky in terms of traffic, by the time I arrived in Chattanooga, checked into my hotel, and changed into my Andrea (Walking Dead) costume, it was already well after 3 PM. Add to that the fact that they'd moved registration to the host hotel, which was at least a ten minute walk from where I was staying, and sadly I missed the 4 PM writing panel I'd planned to attend.

No worries, though! Once we had our badges it was time for drink refills, dealer room wanderings, and then a 5 PM panel about "Creating Great Characters". I took a lot of notes and the speaker gave out some great worksheets! Though this particular panel wasn't on my 'top choices' list, it was still good and I'm glad that I went. Immediately after, we also stopped by one of the author readings - though I was a bit late because I wanted another drink refill ;) (Thankfully my hotel was RIGHT across the street from the convention center) This particular reading was definitely an interesting experience, but one of my friends did buy a couple of the books that we heard snippets of, and I'll probably check them out as well when I have some more free time for reading.

And after that, well...first things first, pictures for Andrea and The Gov!




Second things second, a stop at the room for some snacks, drink refills (again), costume changes...and then off to the host hotel for some nightlife - Drunk Big Wheel Racing (for charity!), a bit of karaoke, and some general wandering around.

But not before I attended the "World Building in Fiction" panel! This one wasn't quite what I'd hoped it would be - I think the main issue was that there were far too many panelists (6? maybe 7? I can't remember). Again, though, I took plenty of notes and got some good tips, so it was still worth attending, for sure.

And once that was over, there was a quick stop at the bar and then the walk across the hotel grounds to the Drunk Big Wheel Racing...I even ran into some other BSG cosplayers on the way there!


We were a bit late for the racing, but did arrive in time to witness the tail end of one round - and for my buddies to get into the last race. I was shocked that there weren't more people there, because honestly this whole thing was just hilariously, over-the-top ridiculous. Basically, you chug a beer, drive a lap, chug a beer, drive a lap, chug a beer, drive a lap (or something along those lines; I can't remember if it was 2 beers, 3 laps, or 3 beers, 3 laps). I didn't participate but it was more than enough fun to spectate.




*And* both my friends won trophies! (3rd place...and Best Crash. Haha)

After that we just hopped back and forth between the hotel bar and karaoke, meeting new people, drinking plenty of beer, and just generally having a blast. Around one in the morning we realized that we'd never eaten a proper dinner, though, so at this point we headed out to The Honest Pint, a downtown Chattanooga pub that serves amazing food...until 2 AM! (No seriously though, good beer selection and delicious food that late at night? This place was an awesome, awesome find.)

Bedtime came far too late considering I wanted to make an 11 AM writing workshop the next morning...but day two of Con Nooga is another story for another time, so I'll continue writing about my adventures later! Pin It

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

OSU Game of Thrones Day

Late last year Ice & Fire Con was contacted about an event being held by Ohio State University's Center for Medieval and Cultural Studies - Game of Thrones Day! At the time I didn't think I'd be able to make it up to Ohio for that weekend (in the beginning of February 2014)...but not long after the New Year it became clear that the trip would be a possibility for me.

I contacted Graeme Boone, the director of this event, and after a bit of back and forth it was decided that I would be one of their presenters - alongside professors and professionals from several different states!

Just prior to my trip up to Ohio, I was also interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch for an article they were writing about Game of Thrones Day. It was great to see that the Columbus community seemed so interested in promoting this event. Of course I bugged my friends about attending as well, and in the end five of us gathered - in costume, of course - to celebrate this meeting of "people who study culture and people who do culture", in the words of Graeme Boone.


Game of Thrones Day was definitely a really interesting combination of activities - everything from a falconry and fighting demonstrations to presentations such as "Seven Kingdoms, Seven Styles: Power and Politics in Women's Costuming in Game of Thrones", "Ice and Fire:  George R. R. Martin’s Faux Medieval", "The Best Piece of Business in the History of Television", and more; additionally, there was a mead tasting and even a costume contest.

Falconry Demonstration

Fighting Demonstration

Costume Contest Winner!

I really did have a lot of fun - both with my presentation, as a guest at the event, and as a judge of the costume contest. (I know, little ol' me! haha) It was especially awesome for me to have this day of exploring the more serious side of this thing that I love, though of course certain things about my visit to OSU (being in costume, enjoying a beer in the campus bar, etc.) were pure entertainment.

In conclusion, if you're at all interested in what I spoke about - that being "Song of Ice & Fire/Game of Thrones Fans and Convention Culture", check out the video of my presentation!

Pin It

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...it's been a long time since I've felt this tired. But it was mostly worth it ;) Con Nooga this weekend was a blast, and staying up for last night's new Walking Dead episode was worth it as well.

I confess...I was wondering why I didn't have nearly as much fun at Dragon Con 2013 as I did at Dragon Con 2012, but this weekend kind of cemented the fact that as much as I love wearing costumes, that's not what I want the focus of my convention trips to be. It's just too time consuming, especially considering how much I've enjoyed panels and writing workshops at other conventions.

I confess...speaking of conventions, I want there to be a multi-genre con that's held in downtown Greenville. Wonder what it would take to make that happen... Pin It

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Writer's Block Wednesday: Episode Reviews Galore!

So as it turns out, I've suddenly started watching a lot of television.

Okay, maybe not a lot. But more than I usually do. Maybe it's the cold weather?

Regardless, I'm even watching shows that I'm not certain I'm all that into. Normally I don't have time for that. But to be fair, I'm enjoying writing reviews of them - and to be honest, it *is* easier for me to write reviews of things I don't really care for over things that I truly love ;)

This being "Writer's Block Wednesday" (and yes, I really do have writer's block, at least when it comes to blogging ::sigh::) I figured that it was past time for me to share some of my other writing, and as most of what I've been doing is the aforementioned episode reviews, that's what I'll be linking to!


Helix






Black Sails






Walking Dead




On that note, hopefully my 'blogger writer's block' will clear up soon...but hey, at least I've gotten plenty of other writing done recently, right? :) Pin It

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...I should have gone grocery shopping yesterday, but instead I was lazy, and today I'm going to pay for it because I'll have to go after work :-/

I confess...the curry mustard sauce from Tropical Chicken in Greenville is seriously dangerous. (As in, it's so good that I consume way too much of it and I highly doubt it's very healthy.)

I confess...that I've had this crazy Walking Dead revelation about Lizzie and Mika possibly being in line with the twin boys, Billy and Ben, from the comics. And I can't stop thinking about it. I mean, Carol has even basically 'adopted' Lizze and Mika the way Andrea and Dale 'adopted' Billy and Ben. Lizzie is clearly crazy like Ben. Mika is clearly 'weak' in Lizzie's eyes the way Billy was 'weak' in Ben's. The question is whether or not Carl will come into play here...I guess we'll see!

Pin It

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Greenville Snowpocalypse 2014

This is the sixth winter that I've spent in upstate South Carolina, and in all those winters there has only been one other time - way back in 2011 - when I missed more than one day of work due to snow and/or ice. So when I got two half days off from work when it snowed a couple of weeks ago (leaving early on a Tuesday and going in late on a Wednesday), I figured that was our allotment of 'winter weather' for the year - possibly even for several years.

But as it turns out, that little 'storm' was just a tease for the real Snowpocalypse 2014.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy the harrowing tale of what happened when Greenville, SC ended up coated in several inches of snow and ice...


It began on a Tuesday morning, but luckily it had been warm enough - and remained warm enough - so that the two or so inches of snow that fell that day didn't stick to the roads (and didn't last on the ground anywhere, for very long).

The problem was, it only let up for short periods of time.

And then the temperature dropped.

I mean, Tuesday night wasn't so bad. I already knew that I didn't have to work the next day, so I broke out some champagne - a lot of it - caught up on some TV episodes I'd missed while out of town last weekend, and even watched Austenland (review and comparison to the book to come!).

Wednesday dawned cold and snowy and not surprisingly I woke up with one hell of a headache. I usually run/walk my dogs twice a day, every day, but with the snow coming down like it was and the fact that the roads and sidewalks were incredibly sick, I had a good reason to stay in and nurse my hangover.

With Bloody Marys, of course.

Unfortunately, these had to be special Snowpocalypse Bloody Marys - I only had bacon vodka, and had to substitute orange juice for lemon juice. Yet they were still surprisingly drinkable! (Or maybe I was just too hungover to care about anything but the vitamins and the kick that cure any ailment...)

I'd like to say that the day flew by. Thinking back now, it feels like maybe it did...but I'm not so sure I felt that way as I was actually living it. The guys got out their guitars at some point. Sounds like it could be cool, right? Until the chosen song to learn was "Angel in the Snow" by Elliott Smith. By the time I'd been listening to it for five hours straight, I was about ready to sacrifice myself to the cold. (Okay, maybe I wouldn't do anything quite that extreme. But trust me when I say that my sanity was being tested. Severely.)

Let's just say that I've never been so relieved to see a guitar put away.

Sometime in the afternoon the snow turned to sleet. I knew that there were already tens of thousands of people in the Atlanta area who'd lost power, so at this point it was time to plug in every phone and laptop in the house and fill pots and large drinking containers with water (that Bubba Keg of mine is useful for something, after all!); despite the insistence of some that we wouldn't lose water if we lost power, I can't stand the thought/idea of being thirsty.

Dinner that night consisted of the last of the edible leftovers in the house. Which, you know, oops...because at this point we knew that the weather was going to continue to be nasty through mid-day Thursday...and do you think the city plows the roads in little dead end neighborhoods like mine? HA!

And then while I was eating, the one asshole in my neighborhood who owns an ATV rode that damn thing by for what seemed like the millionth time. Is that even legal? Did he or she really not have anything else to do all day long?

Speaking of all the things I should have done, I'd finished next to none of them. I was proud of myself for braving the elements to walk my dogs, but other than that brief walk, by the time I was done eating dinner on Wednesday I hadn't left the house in about 25 hours.

I was starting to feel like Jack Torrance in The Shining.

And it didn't help that I'd wasted most of my time trying to import a video into iMovie for editing and it kept failing. And failing. And failing.

Finally, after several Bloody Marys and a few beers - no, not even good beer, of course I hadn't thought to stock up on that before Snowpocalypse - there was nothing to do but go to bed and hope that when I woke up on Thursday, the snow and sleet would be done and the temperature would rise and the ice on the roads would melt and I would be able to go somewhere. Anywhere.

No seriously, anywhere.

No such luck, though. Of course it was still sleeting Thursday morning, though it did eventually stop. And the temperature did eventually rise. I even sloshed through the slush early that afternoon to take my dogs on a nearly-two-mile-long walk, because if I was going stir crazy, they were even worse.

This is a face of a dog who doesn't want to go to the bathroom in her own backyard.

Really, the walk was as much for me as it was for them, because I was beyond tired of hearing them "tap dance" across the laminate flooring. Constantly. For two days straight.

Finally I worked myself up to a shower and began thinking about actually leaving the house - for more than just a walk, I mean. I was trying to wait for someone else to go out and let me know how the roads were, but by 3:30 that hadn't happened and I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had a bad feeling about whether or not I'd have anything to do if I went out - but something had to give. (And preferably that something wouldn't be my wits.)

Sure enough, despite the roads (especially the main ones) being perfectly fine, nothing was open. Well, okay, a few things were, but even they were closing early.

After an hour or so out and about, I had no choice but to give in and go back home to another evening of zoning out while watching TV and/or browsing the Internet. But hey, at least I'd finally figured out that video that had plagued me the entire day before!

As luck would have it, the temperature plummeted again that night, which made it impossible for me to leave for work until later in the morning the next day - and yes, I was ready to go back to work. More ready than I think I'd ever been before. Because at this point anything was better than sitting around the stuffy house, twiddling my thumbs and having two dogs and four cats crawling all over me because they were also going stir crazy.


I wish I could say that there is some moral to my Snowpocalypse story, but to be honest it's only been a couple of days and the events of those few days - or lack of them, if you will - have already faded from my mind. And thank God for that, I guess.
Pin It

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Novel by a Greenville Author!

My friend Tyffani - who I met during NaNoWriMo in 2012 - churns out quite a few books a year. Seriously, she's inspiring! Her latest is one I can't *wait* to read, because the premise is definitely one of the more interesting I've heard...



Mariss Red is wholly devoted to her husband, Holden. Despite her fling with Sebastian Boaa few months ago, her husband has her heart. But Holden knows about Mariss' little indiscretion. Now, the three of them have a whole new set of rules. 
Their sex life isn't the only thing making waves. Things are further complicated by the return of people Mariss hoped were gone from her life for good. When dark secrets from Mariss' past surface, it puts everyone in her life in danger. The loss of the one thing that means more to her than life itself turns Mariss' life upside down in a way she never thought possible.

As The Red Wife struggles to put her life back together with pieces from a different puzzle, she must decide which picture she wants to paint.

There's even a trailer!


 

 To purchase The Red Wife, you can either buy the paperback on CreateSpace or pick up a copy of the ebook on Amazon. It's actually a sequel to Tyffani's previous novel The Man Without Rules, so I suggest adding that one to your library as well (and reading it first, obviously) :)
Pin It

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...after two months of waiting, last night's episode of Walking Dead was ridiculously underwhelming.

I confess...I need to start remembering to always bring my cozy slippers when I go on vacation.

I confess...I'm glad I have to work this Friday because if you know me, you know how I *loooove* Valentine's Day (and if you don't know me, that was sarcastic ;) )

Pin It

Friday, February 7, 2014

A "Yeah, THAT Greenville!" Bucket List

I've now lived in Greenville for over four years, and though I do tend to fall into the trap of doing the same things over and over again at times (because hey, I enjoy them!) - I've also seen a lot that the city has to offer. So with the help of some local friends, I've put together this "Yeah, THAT Greenville!" Bucket List. Some of the things on this list, I have yet to experience - but to be honest I'm hoping that in creating it, I'll eventually get myself out to check them off :)

Now, this list is long enough that I decided to split it into a few categories - Festivals & Events, Food & Beverage, and Out & About. So without further ado...


FESTIVALS & EVENTS


Artisphere

The less crowded and therefore slightly more enjoyable of Greenville's two big annual festivals, I actually stumbled upon this my first spring here. They have demonstrations and tons of [insanely expensive] art for sale, some [a.k.a. not nearly enough] food and and drink booths, etc. Artisphere takes place in mid-May and has won several awards (it's in the "Top 20 Events" for Southeast Tourism and was named one of the "Best Art Fairs" in 2013).


Concert at The Handlebar

I've been to The Handlebar several times, for everything from an 80s party with an okay 80s cover band to going to see awesome acts like the Silversun Pickups and The Roots. Tickets are usually affordable, and the venue itself is great in that it's very intimate.You'll stand the entire time, sure, but hey - there's a reason this place has lasted since 1994, and hosted so many awesome bands!


Fall for Greenville

Oh, FFG. I've had the best of times, I've had the worst of times...
Seriously though, when I went to Fall for Greenville in 2007 and 2010, I had a blast. So much food to try! And the beer garden in 2010 was the best - the 'tasting card' was soooo worth it.
I don't really know what happened, but starting in 2011 FFG became so ridiculously overcrowded that I was actually glad I had plans and missed it last year (2013). That, and don't even get me started on the weak-ass beer garden.
Still, if you want a chance to sample tons of local restaurants and hear everything from local cover bands to national acts, you should definitely experience Fall for Greenville at least once.
Though let's just say that if I make it back there this year, it definitely, definitely, won't be on a Saturday.

NOLA's Dirty Dozen Brass Band performing at FFG 2011


FOOD & BEVERAGE


Barley's

First things first: for some reason this place was voted 'best pizza in Greenville'. It's not. Yes, I'm picky about pizza. The food here isn't terrible, but it's not great either. The beer selection, on the other hand, isn't matched by any other bar in the area. That, and Barley's was actually named "Most Arrogant Bar" in the US by Stone Brewing Co.! (And I've actually run into some pretty 'arrogant' bartenders here, but hey, it's part of the, erm. charm, right? haha)



Coffee Underground

Okay, so if you can get past the fact that the service here is slow as molasses (especially if you're actually being served by a waiter), CU is one Greenville staple that is not in any way, shape, or form overrated. The coffee is awesome. You can get mixed drinks and beer, too. And every food item I've tried - from chocolate chip scones to the "Pancakes Plus" to breakfast scrambles to their Garden Grill sandwich - has been exemplary. Not to mention that this is the place to go for comedy shows, poetry readings, and live music by local artists.


Dark Corner Distillery

While the moonshine is something of an acquired taste, Dark Corner's quaint Main Street store and visible distillery are great for a quick stop - and tasting!



Greenville Breweries

Okay. So I'm being kind of bad here and lumping Greenville's three breweries - as well as our downtown brewpub - into one category. But hey, I have my reasons (mainly the fact that this blog entry is going to be insanely long as it is).
What I really propose is making up your very own Greenville Brewery Tour (preferably with a DD! don't be stupid, people) - either starting at Quest and then stopping by Brewery 85 and Thomas Creek, ending at Blue Ridge for food as well as beer...or starting at Thomas Creek and continuing on to Brewery 85, Quest, and BRBC. (Thomas Creek and Brewery 85 being back to back either way is a location thing.)
Generally, Thomas Creek is the best for tours, because along with having good beer, they're really laid back there.


Brewery 85 is new - it actually just opened up last weekend (2/1/2014) - but I'm already pretty impressed with their beers. I'd say they are the most 'drinkable' of the three main breweries ;)


As for Quest, it's mostly just a tasting room, but it has the most comfortable atmosphere, and their BPA and Coffee Stout are awesome. Finally, while I'm not a *huge* fan of BRBC's main four beers, they do sometimes have great seasonals, and the food here is awesome (I'm particularly fond of their "Steak Bomb" sandwich and french fries, not to mention their homemade ketchup.)
So I guess the next question is, who's up for doing this with me sometime soon, and who can I hire to be our DD? :D



OUT &ABOUT

BMW Zentrum

I'm honestly not the biggest 'car' person. I love my VW GTI and that's that. But BMW is huge in this area - due to the, you know, giant plant in Greer - and they even have their own museum. Additionally, at certain times you can tour the plant (though tours are suspended at the moment, they are expected to resume later this year [2014] - possibly in the summer), or take part in their 'performance driving school'.


Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery

If that's not enough, I can throw a few names at you: Rubens, Veronese, van Dyck.
Whether you're an art aficionado or just looking for something to do on a rainy day, you should really brave BJU to see this gallery.


Caesar's Head

The overlook of this park sits atop the Blue Ridge Escarpment.
There's a 420 foot waterfall, Raven Cliff Falls, here as well.
Not to mention the "Hawk Watch" from September to November, when birds of prey are migrating over the area.
Caesar's Head is just under an hour from downtown Greenville, but it feels like a world away...making it a great 'escape', of course :)



Children's Museum

If you have kids, this is a must for obvious reasons ;) My sister even had an 'annual pass' for my niece and nephew at one point, they loved it so much. As an adult, it's not somewhere I would necessarily frequent - but they do have several adults-only events throughout the year, including Grown-Ups Only Night and (I think?) the Chocolate Soiree. Nothing like eating a bunch of yummy food, having a few drinks, and pretending you're a kid again, amiright?





Falls Park

Nestled right smack in the middle of downtown, this award-winning park and its signature bridge are pretty much the first thing I show people when they visit me in Greenville. It's beautiful, it's clean...and my dogs love it too ;)




Fluor Field & the Greenville Drive

I went to my first Drive game in May 2007, and I've been in love ever since.
I've even been a season ticket holder since 2010.
Why?
The field is beautiful. Tickets and concessions aren't overpriced.
The games are fun and the fans really get into it.
Plus, I'm a Red Sox fan, born and raised, and this is a Red Sox farm team...what's not to love?
(At least for me...haha)




Greenville Zoo

Here's the deal - I'm not a zoo person. And Greenville is a small city, so as zoos go...well, admittedly, this one is pretty weak. But...it's also inexpensive and my sisters and their kids love going. Additionally, there are a couple events held here annually - most notably Brew at the Zoo and Sippin' Safari - that are 'after hours', adult-oriented, and often a lot of fun.




Main Street

Ahh, what is there to say? Main Street in this fine little city really does speak for itself. Wide, tree-lined, with many of its older and really cool-looking buildings still intact...restaurants, bars, and awesome little locally-owned shops galore...there's truly something here for everyone, and I know that every time I walk down this road on a nice day I'm once again reminded why I fell in love with Greenville in the first place :)




Mice on Main

This is a fun little game to play, whether you print out the clues and make an afternoon of it or just try to catch sight of the mice as you're wandering around downtown. If you've got kids, buy the book that these mice inspired and really make a thing out of it...
...and if you don't have kids, there's always the option of doing a "Mice on Main Bar Crawl" :) Basically, print out those clues, find those mice, and each time you find one stop and have a drink in the closest bar.
But hey, don't expect me to give away their locations!
(This Flickr album has some great pictures and additional hints about where to find the mice - check it out!)



Paris Mountain

Though I *have* been to Paris Mountain, due to a late arrival and some cold weather I never did make it to the top :-/ Needless to say, I know that it has some great views of Greenville, and it's actually IN the city (technically) - so I can't wait to go back :)


Swamp Rabbit Trail

So I'm a bad Greenvillian and despite my years of living here, I've never stepped foot on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
Okay, maybe I've technically stepped foot on it, but never to actually walk, run, or bike any decent portion of it. Sad, I know - especially as one end of it is located not that far from where I live, *and* it goes straight through downtown Greenville! It's well-known and very popular, so walking/running/biking a good portion of it is definitely on my Greenville bucket list...and hopefully I'll get to it sooner rather than later!


Table Rock

Located out in Pickens, Table Rock is a reasonable drive from Greenville and offers some great hiking and beautiful views. While I've driven out to the area, I've never hiked to the top or seen the waterfall at Carrick Creek Overlook, so this is another thing I'd like to check out and check off (my list) in the near future.


...well, folks, that's all she wrote...for now, anyway. New things to do are constantly popping up in this booming little city - and that's another one of the things I love about it. So until next time...go check some things off your Greenville bucket list! ;)
Pin It

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: When my cats were kittens.

It really shouldn't be any sort of secret or surprise that I love animals - particularly my own pets. Yet somehow I let my cats' 10th birthdays go by without any sort of mention, last spring!

I adopted Lilo & Stitch from the Lynchburg (Virginia) humane society and a southwest Virginia rescue group, respectively. True to form for me, neither one of them was an 'easy' kitten - Stitch was jumping into cereal bowls and clawing his way up my legs soon after he came home, and Lilo was undersized and clearly not well from day one. But they're both still here today (even if sometimes I want to wring Stitch's neck, and even though Lilo was in and out of the vet's office God knows how many times in the first month I had her)...so before they turn 11, here are some Throwback Thursday photos of them as kittens...in the summer of 2003, if you can believe it (I can't! haha)...









Stitch is still the hellion that he always was, and Lilo went from being a sickly little thing to a big fat happy cat. They are my babies, truly - they were my first pets as an 'adult' (when I had my own place and no parents around to feed and water them and clean their litter boxes and take them to the vet or pay for any of the above), and they've been with me through thick and thin. Through some good times, and some really really bad ones. Through countless moves (seriously, poor things, I think I've dragged them up and down the east coast over half a dozen times) and a couple of relationships. Yet somehow they still love me and still want to cuddle with me the moment I come home (from work, vacations, you name it).

Though I really wish Stitch would stop trying to steal food off plates all the time. (Seriously, I don't know where he learned that, because I'm not one to feed my pets 'human food'.) Pin It