My Kind of Princess

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princessleia1This week has been a strange one for me. Some of the news I’ll share with you later in another post. For now, I have to find the words to talk about Carrie Fisher. My princess. My hero. My inspiration. Someone I had always hoped to meet. Her death has shook me in a way I never expected.

I am just one of a generation of women who had their outlook on the universe, and what being a princess means, when a young woman (with a somewhat unfortunate choice in hairstyle) grabbed a gun of one of the guys there to rescue her and saved them instead. tumblr_n1430cie4d1r09qfio5_r1_250We saw a woman who was as tough as nails, who didn’t take crap from anyone, was snarky and amazing. She didn’t use her looks to get ahead. She was as smart, or smarter, than the men around her. And, maybe best of all, the men accepted her for who she was and what she brought to the table – no one questioned her ability to lead because she was female. Princess Leia was the very definition of a badass in the best possible ways.

Up until then all the princesses we knew were rescued by a prince in shinning armor. They were bright, but not as bright as the men around them. They were pretty and important for what they could bring to the world as a wife and mother. They weren’t warriors. They weren’t heroes. They didn’t do the rescuing and they weren’t they weren’t leaders.

Princess Leia instantly became my hero. I wanted to be her in the worst way possible. I insisted on a homemade Halloween costume of long white silk and a black wig. My brother and cousin decided to do our own version of Star Wars and took my role as the princess very seriously. Princess Leia was, and is, my example of one of the best female characters ever to grace the big screen.

But it wasn’t just Leia, it was the actress behind her that made all the difference. Many other actresses could have played the part, but none of them could have combined the snark, the layers and the strength that Carrie Fisher did.

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For me, the admiration for Carrie Fisher didn’t stop with one character. She was a brilliant writer, and I studied her writing in both novel and scripts to try to gain some understanding of what made her writing so honest. Her dialogue was always so real, so funny, and so perfect it made me wish she could be in my head and feeding me smart and witty things to say.

I admired the way she talked about all the things she’d been through. She was so honest, and usually brutally so, about her addiction and her mental health. She did so much to help normalize the discussion of mental health care and overcoming addiction that it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like if she didn’t go there.

Most of us can’t imagine what her life was like from the very start. She was the daughter of America’s Sweethearts. She was watched and photographed from the day she was born. When her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor it made international news. She was only three years old and she in the media spot-light beside her mother. Her mother didn’t have the best eye for men and Carrie was there to help her get the family back up on their feet more than once. They fought, they didn’t speak, but they never really stopped loving each other. The difference between their story and most families was that they did it with the world watching.

When I heard that she was rushed to the hospital, my stomach dropped. When I heard she had passed I was stunned. She was a huge part of the world that captured my imagination in Star Wars. She changed the way I looked at writing. She wasn’t fearless, but she refused to let fear control her. I admired her in so many ways and it was a shock to the system to realize that one of my heroes was gone. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

Carrie Fisher, just like Princess Leia, was strong, she was brave, she was intelligent, she was witty, she was talented. Ms Fisher was a storyteller that made a difference on and off the screen. Something most of us could only hope to do.

Did I Ever Tell You About….My Strange Obsessions?

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I originally wrote this post a couple of years ago. As I was looking over my previous posts this one jumped out at me. Not because it’s no longer true (trust me it is still very much true); but with the influx of more obsessed Star War fans, and my daughters’ own geeky obsessions, I thought that it’s a good time to share this again.

The obsessions I discuss haven’t really changed much (the British version of Top Gear has fallen off the list completely and Antiques Road Show has started making its way on). I haven’t had the chance to watch a lot of television over the last year, so some of the active obsession has fallen off a bit. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just like something we thought we outgrew as a kid and we fall in love with again when we discover it as an adult, the obsession doesn’t stop, it just waits for us to find out way back.

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It’s difficult to admit. And every time I think I get one beat, I just end up slipping into another one. I can’t even remember where it started. Probably with Empire Strikes Back. But it’s included Star Trek (both the movies and the TV show), Star Trek: Next Generation, Star Trek: Enterprise (but surprisingly not the other shows in that universe), of course Star Wars (yes – I love both Trek and Wars!), NCIS, Bones, Top Gear (British Version on BBC America), Holmes on Homes, American Pickers, Bon Jovi (Not my fault, they stalked me first), Doctor Who, Sherlock (again the BBC version but the others are cool too), the list goes on and on, but my most recent  and current obsession is the TV show Supernatural

And I do mean….

Supernatural Season 10 Poster

Supernatural Season 10 Poster (You know I don’t own this right? If I did…well…never mind.)

obsession in the truest sense of the word. It usually starts with my husband or daughter introducing me to something and grows to the point where I’m annoying people in line at the amusement park with my theories on the impact of turning Demon!Dean back into just plain Dean (may or may not be a true example). It eventually gets to the point where my husband and daughter refuse to listen any more and basically just walk away when I start talking about the possible meaning behind the change in Sam’s hair length (may or may not have actually happened).

Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes, he makes things right. In Canada

I follow members of the cast and crew on just about every form of social media (not necessarily under my own name, I don’t want to look crazy). I watch videos of panels at conventions YouTube . I try to schedule meetings around talk show appearances. Please note, not all of these apply to all subjects of obsessions…l mean Mike Holmes is from Canada and rarely makes US talk show appearances…that is to say I have enough control to not actually do all of these things. All the time. As far as most people are aware.

In the old days it was easier to keep under control. There was Entertainment Tonight and fan magazines. If there was big news it made my small town newspaper and I could clip the article. Living in Pennsylvania with no way to get anywhere close to anywhere that any of the shows were made meant hoping for a form letter response was about as close to anything as I was going to get.

Supernatural's Chuck Shurley at the computer in a bathrobe.

Chuck, The Profit, writing strange & wonderful things in a slightly drunken stupor. (Again, I don’t own it)

Today it’s a 24 hours non-stop source of information for the mildly interested and a feeding frenzy of data for the obsessed. It’s all fandom, all the time. And it’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole to where the weird and wonderful lives…mostly on Tumblr…where there are “ships” and interpretations of character and episodes that even the writers would never have dreamed of in their worst drunken stupor.

It’s freeing to know you’re not the only one out there wondering who would win in a fight if two of your favorite characters, both known for their love of pie, somehow ended up in the same universe with the last piece of pecan. No, only me? Well alright. But you get the idea. With it being so much easier to find like-minded fans it’s easier to get even more wrapped up in a show. It’s like that big dark thing in the basement that starts feeding on it’s own darkness that no one wants to talk about and Sam and Dean will eventually have to come gank…still only me? Ok. Moving on.

I don’t think these obsessions are necessarily a bad thing. At the very core they are a means to escape every day life. They feel a void of some sort (need for excitement, need for creativity, need for control, need to be the hero, etc.) and give people something to look forward, something outside confines of their normal lives that is…special…exciting…supernatural (couldn’t resist).

The 11th Doctor talking on the telephone.

The has been known to get a little obsessed from time to time too, but even he talks to people (Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor – still don’t own a thing).

I think as long as we’re not running around claiming to be someone’s spouse, or that we run a network, or sending death threats for killing off a character, it’s ok. When you start tweeting actors and calling them nasty names because of something their on-screen persona did or accuse them of harboring ill feelings towards groups of people because the show doesn’t support the relationship you want their character to be in…it is way past time to step back. Push away from the keyboard. Go meet talk to people the old fashioned way, on the phone.

My obsessions have never gone that far, thank goodness. Some have been much shorter than others. There are a few that are still there, they’re just in hiatus waiting for the next opportunity to drive me just a little bit crazy. Honestly it’s kind of fun. And, of all the kinds of things out there I could be obsessed with in the grand scheme of things, mine aren’t so bad. Actually, I can’t wait to see what I get obsessed with next (neither can my family, but probably for totally different reasons).

I want to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below what TV shows you’re obsessed with now, and what new shows this fall may be making your obsession list.

Did I Ever Tell You About…My Con Experiences?

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First let’s go back to the early 90’s….

With all of the news and nerdy goodness coming from San Diego Comic Con last weekend, I’m reminded of the cons I’ve been to. I’ve only been to three, but I had a blast. So, did I ever tell you about my con experiences?

Now before you, “Pix or it didn’t happen!” me, there are pictures from at least one of the first two cons, and a video on VHS of the second. Unfortunately, it’s been a lot of years and a bunch of moves since the last time I saw them. I think they’re in storage. I’ve slowly been sorting through boxes and I swear on my autographed Marina Sirtis picture I will add them to the post when and if I find them!

The first two cons I attended were in Pittsburgh, PA in the early 90’s and had a heavy Star Trek slant. If memory serves they were staffed by a local Trek fan group and most of the guests were Trek related, but there folks from all sorts of shows and movies there. I was in my senior year of high school, and while I had been a HUGE fan of Trek and Star Wars and Buck Rogers and other show and movies, I was a little more under the impression geekiness was family thing. I talked about it with a couple of female friends who liked that kind of thing but not as much as I did, and I didn’t really know any guys who like any of the shows I liked. My cousins and extended family could be counted on for conversations, but most of the time it was just me and my brother talking about episodes of ST:NG and whatever other geeky thing he would decide to introduce me to next. (I should make a note here: Yes, I firmly place all blame for my geeky ways on my big brother Ron Gindlesperger. Thanks Bro!)

Going to my first con was a huge eye opener. We weren’t the only ones! Remember folks, this was the days before that big beautiful web was stretching around the wide world bringing geeks together and helping us find our tribes and reach our fandoms. This place was like another planet! People were in all kinds of costumes (we never even thought of that)! They were talking Klingon walking down the hall! The vendors’ room was filled with things we’d only seen in magazines or on TV. It was breath-taking!

My parents paid for the tickets for my brother and I to have the full experience, we could get into main hall for the presenters. I think that my parents and sister just had access to the vendors and other areas. It was something special for just us. Money was often tight, so this made it an even bigger deal that we drove all the way to Pittsburgh and got to do something as unnecessary like a Sci Fi convention and spent money on gas and food and tickets. It was pretty huge deal for me.

Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi

Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi – Not the picture I got autographed, but will post it when I find it. Picture Credit: StarTrek.com

Marina Sirits was big name there that year and I can still remember some of what she talked about. Obviously it made a huge impression because 20+ years later and I still remember where we sat and where she stood and her talking to the crowd. We stood in line and I paid the extra $8 or $10 for an actual picture to get autographed (other wise I think it was free with the ticket purchase — my how those days have changed!) and I was so nervous. It was the first time I met a real life celebrity. Well one that I actually knew who it was (I met Jack Ham in our home town when I was a kid, but I didn’t know who he was then). It was amazing!

I went back the next year with a boyfriend, I think he paid for my ticket but my parents drove us and paid for my sister to come with. I took a video camera and mic from the school and said it was for a school video production class project and asked some people in costume questions…like I was trying to pass off to my parents that the only reason I went back was for an education experience. Don’t think they bought it. I had a lovely conversation a nice, albeit hairy, gentleman who told me he was Vincent’s cousin (from the popular TV show at the time Beauty and the Beast) who talked about being there because it was much nicer than the sewers, but it was a little odd for his taste and he didn’t care for the smell.

George Takei running in Los Angles

Don’t know if these are the missing shoes, but Takei looks happy to be running in them. Photo Credit: GeorgeTakei.com

The wonderful George Takei was the big guest and he was a great speaker. What I remember most was that someone stole his running shoes. He came back from jogging and left them outside the door (I think they were muddy and he didn’t want to track it through the room). He went back out for them and they were gone. We were waiting in line for autographs and heard him say, “But who would want my old, stinky shoes? Whatever. I hope they enjoy them.” The line was cutoff before we could get to him for an autograph, but a good time was had by all.

Then life happened and I didn’t get back to a convention until this year when I got to take my two daughters and my husband to their first. The oldest daughter is nearly 16 and the youngest 9 (for my husband’s sake I’ll leave out how old he is). The girls cosplayed as Castiel and Lilith from Supernatural for Sci Fi Valley Con in Altoona, PA in June. It was a pretty small con by most standards, but it was enough to give the girls the bug to want to go to more. They’ve already started planning on costumes for next year. One of them may have already enlisted help of a grandparent on their handmade long bow….yeah they’re kind of serious about taking home a prize in the costume competition.

Cosplaying Castiel and Lilith fighting in the parking lot at Sci Fi Valley Con

“Castiel” and “Lilith” fighting in the parking lot at Sci Fi Valley Con

They had a lot of movie vehicles there. More recognizable vehicles than recognizable people, but hey they’re in their 3rd year and have more than doubled in size each year, so awesome for them! There were a lot of graphic artist there too – one of them was a guy I used to work with, it was kind of neat to see his work (even more amazing than I remember). There was still a lot to see and do, neat vendors and games and definitely doable in one day for us. It was also the day after our latest move (yeah us for putting together the cosplay costumes for the girls the day of a move so they could wear it the next morning!) so we were all tired and probably wouldn’t have been able to handle a huge event. This was the perfect place for their first con!

A Car named Christine

Christine

Man in Superman shirt standing by a TARDIS

My husband wants to know why the “War Doctor” isn’t with his TARDIS

Castiel and Lilith cosplayers with Ghost Busters Cosplayers

Castiel doesn’t like the Ghost Busters, but Lilith does

Castiel and Lilith in front of a Batmobile

I’m not sure if Castiel is more confused by Lilith or the Batmobile

We went to a session about Geek Girls hosted by the awesome ladies at The Geek Girl Project (if you haven’t checked it out you should). It was full of great information on everything from ideas on where to get cosplaying costume ideas and materials to what it means to be a geek and to be a geek girl. And no, it’s not always easy to be a geek girl, but it’s ok because you’re not alone. Which is something I wish I would have know before I went to my first con.

I’d love to hear about your con experiences. I know mine are kind of tame, but I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. Feel free to share in the comments below!

I’ve got a lot more stories to tell. Tune in next week…Did I ever tell you about….

May the 4th Be With You; Revenge of 5th

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Happy Belated  Star Wars Day! (I wrote this last night but forgot to publish) I flew my sci-fi geek loud and proud yesterday. After all,  that galaxy far, far away not only introduced me to science fiction, it’s also where I found my calling.

Mini Storm Trooper

A gift from a friend, my little Storm Trooper helps me edit.

It’s fascinating to me to see all the people who really do get excited about this kind of stuff. Let’s face it, it’s a little goofy. I’m sure that some would say more than a little. And that’s ok. What impresses me are the number of people who you see on-line that are all excited about it that you wouldn’t think would be. That or I just am naturally attracted to Star Wars fans. Either way, it’s fun.

I think what really makes me smile is the idea of community. Of shared knowledge and experience I have with people all over the world. We may have seen the movies at different times, and in different places. We may have differences of opinions on characters or  plot points, but we love the movies.

And sure, things like Star Wars Day are geeky, or nerdy, and maybe even lame. But for just a moment we get to recapture part of our youth. We get some of that feeling back we had when we were younger and more idealistic. Where you could tell the bad guys by the uniform they wore and the ship they flew. Where good defeats evil, where right defeats might – usually with a little help from the universe and some cool weapons.

Personally, I love that little jolt I get when I start thinking about movies like Star Wars. Not just that taste of nostalgia, which was just what the doctor ordered on a long Wednesday. For me it reconnects me with the reason I do what I do. Granted, corporate video is a far cry from the masterpieces that stole my heart, but it reminds me that I can make magic. I can still take bits and pieces of dialogue, graphics and video and turn them into something. I can use my version of the Force to make pictures move, change colors, and give people a voice.

No, I’m not going to go down in history for the projects I’m working on right now, and I’m ok with that. You see, I’m doing what I love. I’m making something out of nothing. This is what I dreamed of doing when I was a little girl sitting in that theater. It’s really easy to lose site of that when there are deadlines and clients, and headaches. But now and then a little something comes along, like the 4th day of May, and reminds me how cool it is that I do what I do. Dreams do come true. And that I still kind of want to be Leia when I grown up.