Month: August 2012

5 Days to Dragon*Con: The Malazan Book of the Fallen

 

I’ve been into sci-fi and fantasy series since middle school, when I read all the Pern books and lots of the Ender books and all those other series, but I started hitting the heavy fantasy (Tolkien withstanding) in the later 2000s, when I picked up A Song of Ice and Fire one summer.  After finishing that series I realized that I had a Wheel of Time sized hole in my fantasy cannon, so I spent about a year reading through that and learning about how Nynaeve likes to tug her braid and how Elayne likes to smooth her skirts and, really, is that series going to be done anytime soon?

I picked up these long, epic fantasy series because I was pretty unhappy with my job situation at the time, and if I don’t do something useful I go into a huge, existential funk.  These series enabled me to escape into a fantasy world that I could live comfortably in for months at a time–I hated finishing the series, and saying goodbye to the books, their worlds, and the characters within them was fairly distressing.  So, I was always on the look out for the next unbelievably long epic fantasy series in which to invest.

And then several friends of mine told me to pick up the Malazan books, and I’ve been living in them ever since.   Since November of 2010 I have been working my way through Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont‘s Malazan series, starting with Erikson’s incredible Malazan Book of the Fallen and branching off into Esslemont’s parallel stories from the Malazan world (Yes I have taken breaks to read other things, such as The Hunger Games Trilogy, Tina Fey‘s memoir, and a few autobiographies of women who were raised in and then escaped the scary Satmar Orthodox Jewish enclave in Brooklyn, but mostly it has been all Malazan all the time!).

Malazan Book of the Fallen
Malazan Book of the Fallen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main core of the Malazan books is Erikson’s ten volume Malazan Book of the Fallen.   I can’t really summarize it for you–telling you too much information would give the incredible scope and breadth of the series away.  It is nominally about soldiers and their brotherhood, it is about trust and friendship, it is about gods who walk around as men and it is about alien beings from other planets who may or may not be gods.  It is about how one can become a god, if mere mortals believe strongly enough.  It is about magic, nominally, but also how that magic can be corrupted, or how that magic corrupts.  It is about broken things.  It is some of the most devastating, beautiful fiction I have ever read.

Erikson, like George R.R. Martin, isn’t afraid to kill his darlings.  People die, good people die, and that is no fun.  Erikson also trusts his readers, which I love.   Mid-series, I think it is book four or five, Erikson jumps us to an entirely new continent with an entirely new race of people and just trusts us to pick up his thread and go along with what he is doing.  And, because we trust him, we do, and it is great, and we are rewarded for our patience.

Erikson, Steven - Reaper's Gale (2009 PB)
Erikson, Steven – Reaper’s Gale (2009 PB) (Photo credit: sdobie)

The Malazan books are a dense read–there is a reason why it took me forever to get through the core ten.  Erikson’s prose is quite good, and you can see that he has fun with language.  I’m also a fan of Erikson because of his discipline–he produced one book a year for ten years until the series was done. None of this playing with our hearts (like certain authors we know and love).

Ian Esslemont’s writing isn’t as good as Erikson’s, but his stories are solid, and they expand upon the world.  It isn’t necessary to read his books to understand the core story of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, but they do supplement some character backstory and general world history, and it is nice to be able to fall into Esslemont’s books when you are done reading the Erikson novels.  I’m currently on Esslemont’s most recently published book–I’m happy to report that his writing has gotten much better and I am thoroughly enjoying the book (one of Esslemont’s books, The Return of the Crimson Guard, was so torturous to get through, oi).  However, this is the last published Malazan book, eeee!!!  When I finish this I’m going to have to wait awhile until Erikson or Esslemont produce something new–lucky for me, those plans are in the works!

In the meantime, I plan on starting The Kingkiller Chroncle.  And you should totally get a start on the Malazan books!

 

6 Days to Dragon*Con: An Eating Guide

 

I live in a locavore foodie area and I love great food and restaurant experiences, but this is not what Dragon*Con is about.  While I am not normally of the “food is just fuel” mentality, I go into that mode during Dragon*Con.  The weekend is an endurance test, and I want not-too-unhealthy things that will keep me up and running from panel to panel and into the night.  Additionally, if I don’t eat breakfast and if I don’t eat every few hours I turn into a raging hosebeast, so I need to make sure I have these things on hand.  Here are some of my tips and tricks for eating to feel like a human being at Dragon*Con.

1) EAT BREAKFAST.  Preferably, eat it in your hotel room if you can–it saves time and money.  It doesn’t have to be fancy and shouldn’t need to be refrigerated.  I bring a loaf of whole wheat or multi-grain bread with me along with a jar of low-fat peanut butter, and I throw together a peanut butter sandwich in the morning when I wake up (just don’t forget to bring some disposable knives with you).  Easy, cheap, healthy, and protein-packed–just what I need to start the day.  If I need an extra pick-me-up I grab an orange juice from one of the hotel convenience stores.

English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, m...
English: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made with Skippy peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly on white bread. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2)  BRING SNACKS.  We usually have a little cooler that we can fill with ice, so I throw some greek yogurt in there that I can grab as a snack when I’m in the hotel room to fix my makeup.  I also never go anywhere without a granola bar on me–you never know when hunger could strike, it might be in line at a panel or while you are at a party, and you don’t want to have to drop everything and shuffle off to the food court to get some food.  Trail mix and beef jerky are also great options.

3)  Speaking of the food court, it is your friend, and there are ways to eat healthily at the food court.  And also I generally love walking through the food court and seeing people in costumes.   I am a big fan of Moe’s, that sushi place (Yami Yami I think it is called?), and that prepared food place across from the evil Chick Fil-A (I think it is called Cafe Momo).  At Moe’s I usually get a rice bowl or a salad, fill it up with chicken, veggies, and black beans, top it with lots of salsa and dig in.  Yami Yami I typically only hit up once or twice, because it is a little pricey and the line can be long, but they have pretty decent sushi and lots of vegetable options to ensure that you get some green things in you.  And I love Cafe Momo–affordable, lots of healthy protein and vegetable options, and it is usually pretty quick and easy to load up at the prepared foods bar and to be on your way.   There is also a Middle Eastern-ish place somewhere in the food court that offers pita sandwiches and hummus platters, and that’s a solid bet as well, if a bit messy.   All of these places make it very easy to carry your food back to your hotel room so you can eat while watching Dragon*Con TV.  Multi-tasking!

This is what happens if you eat at Chick-Fil-A: You have to wait in line and then the zombie apocalypse comes and then you turn into zombies and eat people and just don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A they fry hate and serve it to you so you get fat. Hate will clog your arteries.

4) That being said, you are on vacation, and it is okay to treat yourself.  I always get at least one Dairy Queen Blizzard, because it is the perfect food, and I sometimes let myself get one fried-food meal although I usually feel pretty gross after, ha, so maybe not this year.  And definitely no evil Chick Fil-A this year.  I love their chicken nuggets, but I prefer my fried chicken to come without a side of hate and intolerance, thank you.  Avoid the pizza place with all your might because it is terrible (unless it has changed ownership).  I’ve also been wanting to try that little noodle place tucked in the corner because it looks yummy, but it always has long lines oi vey.

5)  There is no need to go to a sit down meal, unless this is a thing you like to do at Con?  I have plenty of sit-down meals in my normal life, I’d rather eat and run at Con–there is so much to do, and there is no need to wait for a table at the Hard Rock Cafe, or Fires of Brazil, or Durango.  I know lots of people who have annual dinners with their Con friends, which is cool, but I’d much rather be in the thick of things than going and having dinner elsewhere.  We had lunch at a sit-down restaurant my first year at Con, and my whole experience consisted of me thinking about all the time we were wasting, and how badly I wanted to get back to Con stuff.

But seriously, guys, try to avoid the fast food. I mean, look at what it does to you.

6)  Um, I know this is blasphemous, but I don’t really drink much at Con.  Actually, I don’t really drink much period, and I am such a lightweight that one or two drinks do me in, and I get sleepy so quickly when I drink, and I don’t really have fun or like the way alcohol makes me feel, and I’d rather be aware of my surroundings so I can process all the awesome costumes and remember every detail, so in general I don’t have more than one or two drinks a day.  I KNOW THIS MAKES ME WEIRD, sorry.  Don’t listen to my drinking tips–except for this one.  Buy booze before you go to Atlanta and make your own drinks in the room, and maybe also make a “party bottle” to carry around with you, because the alcohol in the hotels is EXPENSIVE.  Additionally re: booze, do whatever works for you, be safe, and remember to…

7)  HYDRATE.  OMG guys hydrate so much.  I drink a lot of water in my daily life and I probably double that at Con.  All the meeting rooms in all the hotels have water dispensers so make sure to bring a refillable bottle and STOCK UP SERIOUSLY.  Water is your friend.

I have lived by these eating rules and I have yet to get sick at Con (this is likely because I use a lot of hand sanitizer, wash my hands a lot, and generally have a very strong immune system).  Supposedly there are some other secret tips I might be missing, like another food court hidden in the Marriott (although that is only open on Friday), and maybe there are some tucked-away convenience stores I might be missing?  Did I forget anything?  Do you disagree with my tips?  Do you have some tips of your own?  Let me know in the comments!  We’re all in this together!

 

7 Days to Dragon*Con: Shall we talk guests?

ONE WEEK I CAN HARDLY STAAAAAND IT.  But onto today’s post!

As usual, Dragon*Con has a pretty fun guest list.  Here are some guests about whom I am pretty excited:

Jamie Bamber:  Hot Lee Adama goodness so say we all.

John Barrowman:  I’m watching Torchwood as we speak but I’ve been into John Barrowman for awhile because he is uber gay-rights, does musical theatre, and is incredibly handsome.

English: John Barrowman, photo taken during th...
English: John Barrowman, photo taken during the filming of Torchwood episode “Meat” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amber Benson:  OMG remember when Tara gets shot and is all “Willow, your shirt…” and then she dies and it is terrible?  It wouldn’t have been as terrible if Amber Benson hadn’t portrayed Tara so heartbreakingly well.

Billy Boyd:  Fool of a Took!

LeVar BurtonSee this post.  Also, this post.  Also, Kunta Kinte.

James Callis:  I always thought that the way Caprica Six pronounced “Gaius” was hilarious.

Vinent CasoTaste my pirate patty! 

Felicia Day:  Self-explanatory.

Michael Dorn:  I really just want to ask him if he actually likes prune juice.

Jane Espenson:  She’s written for basically every show I like ever, like Star Treks TNG and DS9, Buffy, Angel, Firfly, Dollhouse, BSG, Caprica, Game of Thrones, etc.  Girl power!

Jonathan Frakes:  “He’s my number one dad!”

Kat Graham:  I remember when I first saw her on The Vampire Diaries I was all “Oh wow she is so beautiful who is that girl.”

Anthony Michael Hall:  “I’m a fucking idiot because I can’t make a lamp?”

Juliet Landau:  “Miss Edith speaks out of turn. She’s a bad example and will have no cakes today.”

Sean Maher:  I know it is weird but any cool, chill actor who is out just gets so much respect from me.

Joe Manganiello:  Words cannot express how good looking this man is, for realsies.

English: Joe Manganiello at 2010 Comic-Con Int...
English: Joe Manganiello at 2010 Comic-Con International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Marsters:  I still refuse to believe that he is not actually British, despite having heard his real accent.  To me, he will always be Spike.

Rose McGowan:  Fact, I totally love Charmed I totally do.

Steven R. McQueen: I am also so into The Vampire Diaries and so am just going to be putting them all on the list, real talk.

Jason Momoa:  “Crown! A crown for Cart King!”

Kathy Najimy:  I re-watched Sister Act last night–how great was she in that movie?  Also, Hocus Pocus?  She’s so good in that.  “Burning rain of death” come on, y’all.

Nichelle Nichols:  I’m still holding out hope that George Takkei will make a surprise appearance with her.  I thought these two were basically a matched pair!

Amy OkudaThe Guild is great, so everyone who is on The Guild will also be on this list.

Sandeep Parikh: See above.  He also did The Legend of Neil, which is one of the funniest things I have ever seen ever.

Robert Picardo:  I have a soft spot in my heart for Voyager’s Doctor.

Carrie Preston:  I love that she’s married to Michael Emerson, what a power couple, for realsies.  Her Arlene is one of my favorite parts of True Blood.

David Prowse:  So the man who walked around in the Vader suit actually does conventions, amazing.

Darth Vader and The Guild (sort of)
Darth Vader and The Guild (sort of) (Photo credit: krysaia)

Patricia Quinn:  The lips that launched a thousand midnight shadowcasts.

John Rhys-Davies:  “I cannot jump the distance, you’ll have to toss me.”

J. August Richards:  Gunn!!!

Tim Russ:  Tuvok!!!

Katee Sackhoff:  A million, billion girl crushes.

Ian Somerhalder:  They don’t call him Smolder-halder for no reason.

Robin Thorsen:  Duh, The Guild.  Clara has some of the best lines, and she also locks her babies in a kennel.  Amazing.

Michael TrevinoVampyr Diareeeessss.

Paul Wesley:  See above.

I’m also pretty thrilled about Adam West and Burt Ward because, hello, Batman, and also that scene where Batman runs around the docks with the bomb and he has to decide whether to throw it at nuns or at ducks.  I’d throw it at the nuns myself.  J/K.

Obviously I won’t get to see panels with all these lovely people, because Dragon*Con has somanythings going on at once, so one has to pick and choose.  Luckily, this is a pretty good and large list, so I don’t think I can go wrong, y’know?

So which guests on the list made you go “eeeee!!!!” when they popped up on the Dragon*Con site?  Let me know in the comments!

8 Days to Dragon*Con: Band Profile, Eryn Woods

EIGHT DAYS Y’ALL!!!   So excited I can hardly stand it.  And we’ve reached the end of our band profiles!  I know these haven’t been the most insightful musical analyses of all time, but hopefully they have given you an idea of who the bands are, what they sound like, and how to tell all the Steampunk bands apart (probably less successful on that account).  I know who I want to see D*Con weekend (Calabrese, Cruxshadows, Freezepop, I: Scintilla, Valentine Wolfe etc.) and, uh, who I don’t want to see.  How is your band list looking for the weekend?

So, onto the last band profile: Eryn Woods, who has an amazing red mohawk.

Look at her!  She’s totally hot.  And her music is totally great.

Ahhhh that was fun and filmed at Dragon*Con and I actually remember seeing them during the parade and being like: “Who are these dumb bitches in dumb clothes just dancing alongside the parade?  They totally suck!”  Now I feel like a total bitch because they were clearly just filming their video, duh.  But those leopard-print leggings are still sort of dumb.  Actually, leggings in general are just dumb–is that trend over yet?

I like the cute squeaky little voice, I totally do.  I’d dance to this so much you guys.

Her face really is quite striking–this is more of a clubby song, but I WOULD STILL DANCE TO IT.

Eryn Woods is great!  According to her Dragon*Con profile her music has been on hilarious MTV/VH1 shows like Jersey Shore and Mob Wives, and she has also performed for (maybe opened for?) ROBYN.  WHO I LOVE.  Need we revisit the “Call Your Girlfriend” phase of my life?  We must, oh yes we must:

Man, Robyn should come to Dragon*Con.

Okay, Eryn Woods talking points:

–Red mohawk

–Pop pixy princess but sort of punk but very squeaky in a good way

–DANCEY DANCE DANCE.

Two thumbs WAY UP.  So pleased to end the band profiling on a POSITIVE note!  I hope y’all enjoyed this series–is end means that Dragon*Con is just thatmuchcloser!!!