Good night, dear Generalissimo

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a comic superfan all my life. I didn’t grow up getting new comic books every week. I didn’t spend hours in comic book stores – there weren’t any near me in the suburb of Houston that I grew up in. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Avengers or pretend that I knew who the hell the Guardians of the Galaxy were before the movies came out. But I did grow up watching the X-Men on Saturday mornings. I glanced through the Spider-Man strips in the newspaper every morning when I had my breakfast before catching the bus to school. Even though I’d never read a single Captain America comic in my life, I could recognize his iconic red white and blue uniform with the shield and ask “ok, so he has a goofy ‘yay America’ uniform, but what does he do??”. Before I knew Iron Man’s real name was Tony Stark, I was able to point out the classic red and gold flying suit. I grew up with the common knowledge of what it meant if someone “hulked out.” You didn’t need to be a superfan to see Stan Lee’s influence everywhere.

Stan Lee’s story isn’t about a man who achieved his dreams. When I saw his panel at Alamo City Comic Con I remember a teenage boy excitedly asking Stan for advice on how to get started in comics because he wanted to become a comic writer himself. Stan’s answer was a telling one in terms of a generational divide in choosing career paths. Stan didn’t write comics because he wanted to, he did it because he had to. He was an aspiring novelist, but because he needed to put food on the table for his family, he took on the job as a comic book writer as a teenager and the gig stuck. He never became that best-selling novelist that he wanted to be, but he became something so much more than that.

He made comics relatable. DC had their own successes with Batman and all the lore surrounding Gotham City, but at the end of the day Gotham City was a fictional setting. In 2003 I skipped out on studying for an organic chemistry exam in college to see Stan Lee speak at the University of Texas, and one of the things he mentioned in his talk was that he made it a point to make his stories take place in real life cities, so that readers could imagine all of these adventures happening in their own backyards. New York City had been his lifelong home, and he couldn’t imagine his characters being anywhere else. He wanted his characters to be flawed so that they could be more human. He wasn’t writing superheroes for the sake of creating a good guy and calling it a day. He wanted to make it seem like we could all be heroes, and that heroes could be all of us.

In 2014 I wasn’t able to see Stan Lee’s panel at Comicpalooza, but I got a photo with him because I knew it’d be one of the few opportunities for me to get a picture with a living legend without having to wait in line for hours at a larger convention. I also made a last minute decision to stay up late the night before and crochet a Spider-Man to give to Stan Lee. Here’s the excerpt from my previous blog post about giving Stan his little Spider-Man critter:

The next morning I sleepily waited in line for the photo op. Once the line started moving, the photo op went BLAZINGLY fast. Stand in, smile, and you’re gone. Not even a chance to say anything more than a quick hello. So when my turn came around, I kind of became that asshole who held up the photo op line, even if it was just for a few seconds. I told Stan I had something for him and handed him little Spidey, and after exchanging thank yous (no, thank YOU, sir, for influencing so many generations!) it was all shouts of “ma’am, look at the camera” before I had to scurry off. My tiny little victory was when I saw his handler try to take the little Spider-Man away from him and he snatched it away and put it in his pocket as if to say “NO, MINE.” Stan Lee now has one of my critters in his possession. VICTORY!

It was that split second of watching him tuck little Spidey into his pocket instead of handing it over to his handler that touched me the most in that brief interaction I had with him. He appreciated the work of his fans. He didn’t just say thanks and let his assistant toss it into a pile of other pieces that he would undoubtedly get throughout his time while sitting for photographs. He kept little Spidey with him, and that meant more to me than any thanks that he could’ve said to me.

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Thank you, Stan, for creating such a vast universe of heroes that were still human at heart. For reminding us that while we may just be people, we can be so much more. And that at the same time while you could be the strongest, fastest, and smartest person on earth, it’s still okay to have flaws. We can all be heroes, but heroes aren’t invincible. You may not have ever published that “great American novel” that you dreamed of writing, but you created a pathway of dreams for so many generations of kids and adults alike. Thank you for giving us so many heroes for us to look up to, learn from, and remember for years to come, including yourself. While you may no longer be here on this earth, you’ve given us all a gift that we could never repay. Good night, dear Generalissimo. May you take your place with the greatest names in history. You’ve earned it. Excelsior!

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Suicide Squad: Better than Dawn of Justice, but FAR from being Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Yay! You didn’t suck in the movie! HARD WORK JUSTIFIED.

Alright, so I watched Suicide Squad over the weekend. Remember when I made that little Harley Quinn for Comic-Con? I spent a lot of time on that little bugger. And it made me nervous. I normally wait until the movie comes out before I take the time to make a critter from a new movie, because what if the movie sucks? Then I end up bitter that I spent all that time making something that I ended up not liking. Even with Star Wars: The Force Awakens I had people suggesting left and right that I should make a little BB-8, but I wanted to hold off on it until I saw the movie myself. That being said, I made a little Harley anyway because I loved her new look in Suicide Squad, and hoped for the best when the movie came out. Good news! The movie itself wasn’t anything great, but Harley Quinn was good. Here are my thoughts:

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

 

 

 

I’ll start with the caveat that I don’t know much about the characters in Suicide Squad outside of Joker and Harley, so I watched it more or less as a layperson. Otherwise let’s start with the good:

  • Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn: Margot Robbie’s acting skills were severely underutilized here, but for what little they DID make of her, I loved it. She got the flirty-killer thing down, and I feel like she managed to show Harley’s conflicted romantic feelings for the Joker really well in just one short scene.
  • Viola Davis as Amanda Waller: Loved her too. I also loved the parts where people would start babbling on to Colonel Flagg before he’d interrupt them and say “you need to be talking to her, not me.” That used to happen to me SO MUCH at my old job. The struggle is real.
  • Will Smith as Deadshot: Deadshot was probably the only other character who helped hold the movie together. Classic “badass who did bad things but HEY LOOK he’s a daddy awwwwwwww,” but it worked.
  • The bar scene: The movie needed so much more of this. We got some backstories (because OMG bad guys are people too), we saw the characters finally start to find some common ground…and then it all quickly went back to their disjointed “squad” that doesn’t really act as a squad. Sigh.

And then the bad:

  • Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn: See above. They could’ve done so much more with it, and they didn’t.
  • ENCHANTRESS. WTF: The introduction to Enchantress was pretty cool. Then it all went downhill, FAST. I feel like the director told Cara Delevigne “Okay, stand here and flail your arms around like one of those inflatable waving dudes you see at car dealerships. Yes, YES, WAVE MORE! FEEL THE EXCITEMENT ABOUT THE 0% APR.” No. Just no.
  • Too much in too little time (or inefficient use of time):  I still don’t know who the hell most of these characters are or why I should care about them. Harley and Deadshot were the only ones who had backstories that were fleshed out beyond an ineffective 1-minute montage. Keyword being ineffective. Ocean’s Eleven introduced ELEVEN people and still managed to make me like them for one reason or another.
  • Boomerang and Katana: They didn’t need to be there. At all. Also as much as people gripe about Harley’s hotpants and stiletto-boots, can we talk about those long-ass ribbons on Katana’s outfit? Girl, you’re going to get tangled in that shit in no time. Also Katana sobbing to her sword seemed out of place and awkward. You know what? Killer Croc could’ve been taken out too and the movie would’ve been exactly the same.
  • There was no “squad moment”: Look, movies like this follow a formula. Gather a bunch of misfits, introduce all of their individual abilities and personality quirks, and then towards the end you have a big “OH SHIT THAT’S HOW IT ALL WORKS TOGETHER” sequence. It’s cheezy, it’s predictable, but it works. Suicide Squad completely missed the point of the “squad” part. Deadshot shoots things. Diablo sets things on fire. At no point do any of them do these things in a concerted effort. They do their jobs individually at the same time, but none of it meshed together well enough to make it feel like everyone’s roles were falling into place.

On the fence:

  • Jared Leto as the Joker: Still not sure how I feel about this one. Jared Leto did pretty well to make his own Joker, which is a pretty difficult feat when you’ve already got two VERY different bars set by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, but something still felt a little off about it. It was never QUITE where it needed to be. Not scary enough to be dread-inducing. Not crazy enough to make you say “oh holy shit, what’s wrong with you??” The end result was a mafia boss in clown makeup. Supposedly a lot of footage was cut and the Joker was meant to be much darker, but look, what matters is what’s actually IN the movie. You don’t buy a shitty chocolate chip cookie and then have the baker tell you “oh, the original batch had higher quality chocolate in it, but we had to cut it out” – what matters is the freaking cookie that you bought.

Overall impression: there were loads of flaws, but I actually liked it. It was pretty much what I expected it to be: nothing ground-breaking or particularly distinctive, but fun enough that I wasn’t constantly asking myself “are we done yet?” It’s a superhero (villain?) movie for crying out loud, you’re not going to find anything deep or substantial here. Compared to Dawn of Justice Suicide Squad did FAR better in keeping things relatively consistent (none of that “Superman can hear Lois Lane all the way in Africa but can’t hear his own mother in the same city” crap), and at the very least it didn’t take itself too seriously. On the other hand while Dawn of Justice dragged things out, Suicide Squad crammed in too much. DC needs to find a happy medium soon, or the upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League movies are going to be a rough time for everyone.

“Ohana.”

IMG_9082 stitchAloha, Stitch!

Stitch has been hanging around here, but he doesn’t quite have an ohana yet. I know we don’t have the crystal-clear beaches of Hawaii, and the weather here in Houston has been pretty dreary…

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But worry not, my friend. You’ll be back to your sandy beaches soon enough!

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My fiance’s cousin asked me to make a little Stitch. He’s been kind of lonely around here, but he’ll have a new ohana soon enough, in sunnier climates in California. 🙂 It’s still not Hawaii, but there’s sunny skies, blue beaches, and one way or another he’ll find himself a new home as long as he’s got a good family to take care of this little troublemaker! 🙂

SIGNS OF LIFE!

Hi! I’m not dead! Just uber-busy. Turns out they weren’t kidding when they say planning a wedding is practically a full time job in itself. Throw in the fact that I’m a stubborn DIY type and I end up creating a LOT more work for myself than necessary. I really need to learn when to put down the hot glue gun.

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HALP.

Otherwise, life’s been good and I’ve been trying to make some new critters. Key word being “trying.” The short ‘n chubby limbless look has been working out pretty well for me so far, but I kind of want to change things up and add limbs to my critters. The only thing is that I’m picky about how they look, so the trial and error is going to be a long process. Because dammit, sometimes my critters need arms and legs! They’ve been limbless for too long. Otherwise, how’s life for all you geeks out there?

The dirty thirty

Today’s a day I’ve been dreading for a while. Today I kiss my 20’s goodbye.

30th edit

But dammit, WHY do I need to be so anxious about turning 30? What’s with this weird self-imposed sense of doom just because I’ve managed to survive 30 years in this crazy world? In a lot of ways I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough, but you know what? I like to think I’ve done some pretty cool stuff before hitting the age of 30. To take a page from my dear friend Linda (who loves to categorize things into numbered lists), here’s 30 things that I’ve managed to accomplish in my 30 years on planet earth:

  1. I’ve had the privilege to eat some of the best barbecue in Texas, and therefore, THE WORLD.
  2. I ate a balut and liked it.
  3. I’ve eaten grasshoppers and they were delicious. (grasshopper tacos at Hugo’s for anyone who’s interested)
  4. I’ve jumped out of a plane. But I WON’T go bungee-jumping.
  5. Went to a drive-in theater!
  6. I auditioned for a reality TV show (along with Linda!) and was immediately eliminated before even getting a chance to tell the producers about myself.
  7. I’ve watched a brain surgery where a tumor the size of a golf ball got plucked out of a dude’s head. A few days later I’m chatting with the guy and all I could think was “oh my god, I watched your skull get sawed apart just days ago!” Amazing.
  8. I managed to sucker a dude into putting a ring on my finger! HA! HE’S STUCK WITH ME NOW.
  9. I’ve lived through all the right decades to see video games progress from cheezy 8-bit goodness to the crazy cinematic beauties that they are now. AWESOME.
  10. I’ve had the privilege of going to San Diego Comic-Con (aka the mecca of geeks) not just once, but THREE times. Hoping for more in the years to come.
  11. I’ve seen the Dalai Lama speak. Missed out on seeing the pope when I visited Rome because I took one look at the line at 6 am and was like NOPE.
  12. I’ve successfully grown a Chia pet! Yes, I own a Chia pet.
  13. I’ve traveled to 14 countries and hope to add many, many MANY more in the future.
  14. I’ve eaten ramen in six cities. Hoping to add many more to this because I WILL EAT FRESH RAMEN ANYWHERE.
  15. I busted my head open and got 6 stitches. I wish it was because of something cool like a bar fight, but I actually tripped while going up the stairs. Because I’m SUPER talented like that.
  16. I managed to close a car door onto my own head. Again, because I’m SUPER talented like that.
  17. I learned to play the piano (and have mostly forgotten by now)
  18. I learned to play the violin (and have completely forgotten by now)
  19. I learned to figure skate (I can move around on ice just fine, but don’t expect me to do anything fancy)
  20. I tried to throw a ninja star and failed horribly.
  21. I shot some guns (oh, Texas) and actually did pretty alright.
  22. I’ve raised a butterfly from a caterpillar. It didn’t die! Hooray!
  23. I’ve seen Anthony Bourdain speak. He’s just as much of a badass in person as he is on TV.
  24. I bought myself something nice from Tiffany’s to reward myself for slaving away at a rough job for 1 year.
  25. I made an impulse visit to the science museum at 1 am to see (and sniff) a rare blooming corpse flower.
  26. I hiked for 3 days on foot to see Machu Picchu!
  27. Related: I ate a roasted guinea pig in Peru.
  28. I’ve visited a reportedly haunted location. Actually, I’ve visited two. Being a skeptic, I didn’t see anything happen, but the haunted hotel I stayed at WAS pretty creepy.
  29. I taught myself how to crochet!
  30. I’ve made enough mistakes to know better, but still have enough curiosity in me to go out and make more.

I’d say I’ve done pretty well for the first thirty years of my life. My teens were full of awkward growing pains, my 20s were a time of self-development, and now in my 30s I can reap the benefits of all the time spent cultivating who I am today. Today I turn 30. And I’ve never felt better.

Something old, something new, something crocheted, something blue

This is my best friend Vince:

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He’s been my best bud since college, he’s my obnoxious brother from another mother, and somehow he managed to sucker a poor girl into marrying him. So when he asked if I could make some cake toppers for his big day, the answer was “Uh, DUH. OF COURSE I WILL.”

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A happy little bride and groom!

Okay, so Vince’s part is missing a giant orange foam finger. But whatever. Details, man. 🙂

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Pretty flowers in a pretty bride’s hair.

The wedding’s next week in Puerto Rico and I couldn’t be more excited to see my best bud get hitched! Part of that excitement might be from the prospect of embarrassing him as much as possible with stories of his college hijinks. 😀 Super congrats, Vince and Theresa! Can’t wait to see you guys tie the knot!

Dye-ing to know…

So when I go on long crocheting marathons, I wear this hideously ugly “comfort glove.”

glove

Lookit that skin-tone hawtness.

Yup. Pretty freakin’ ugly, and I never wear it if I’m crocheting out in public. I’ve been hoping to maybe dye it brown and paint a Triforce onto it so it’ll look something like one of Link’s bracers in the Legend of Zelda. So something like this, but on that ugly glove:

I don’t know the first thing about dyeing fabrics. The closest I found to trying something at home without blowing money on dyes that I won’t use again is something along the lines of boiling it with some coffee grounds, and that sounds HIGHLY iffy since I don’t know anything about how different fabrics react to boiling water. Here’s a shot of the care tag:

glove tag

WTF is “Med-a-likra”??

Anyone have experience in fabric dyeing? Any words of wisdom? Or if you just want to say hi and geek out over something, that’s cool too. 🙂