Category Archives: TV

Free Reading Friday: Fresh Off the Boat

Frest off the boatOnce again, I really had very little idea what I was getting into with this book. I vaguely remember hearing that Fresh off the Boat was the name of a TV series, but as I haven’t had any sort of cable in a few years, I’d never seen it. I actually just saw part of it at the gym earlier this week. I always bring music or a book to listen to while working out, but when I glanced up at the TV hanging over the Arc Trainer, I saw the intro for the show and found myself glancing up at it several times during my workout.

Before picking up this book I’d never heard of Eddie Huang or Baohaus. I actually bought the book after reading a short synopsis of it in a catalog I get a few times a year which previews books teachers might want to use in their classroom. As I am always looking for new, interesting works of non-fiction for my AP Language kids and I have only a handful of non-fiction books in my classroom by Asian writers, I bought a copy and added this one to my summer reading list.

At times I struggled reading it. It’s not that the book is hard to read, bu there is a lot of slang in it, and even when I was young, I was never extremely fluent in slang. Well, I did 80’s Valley Girl ok, but that’s because I actually grew up in Southern California in the 1980’s and mostly just picked it up from friends. East Coast street slang is an entirely different world to me. I also know next to nothing about sneakers and my hip-hop/rap knowledge could definitely stand to be better.

What I really enjoyed about this book was that I feel like Huang’s voice is authentically his in this book. He starts off as a young man, searching for himself, trapped in world where the only faces he sees that look like his are members of his family. As he grows up, he is caught between cultures and trying very hard not to become the “stereotypical Asian” he sees so many people around him becoming. His identification with hip hop and rap artists felt so real to him because like them, he felt like an outsider, looking into a world that didn’t really want him.

I think it’s great that Eddie is unapologetically himself in his memoir. He doesn’t try to turn himself into some sort of flawless hero. He shows the world who he is and was, warts and all, so to speak. He admits to mistakes. He talks about what he’s learned. He shares his frustrations and anger with his readers.

He also shares his very real disdain for a number of people in this book. While I do think he goes overboard with the way he airs his disdain, I haven’t lived his life. I am white and have never felt out of place in America. Disappointed in my country, sure, but never like I don’t belong here, which he has clearly felt, and been made to feel, countless times in his life. I think his anger is justified. I can’t imagine what it is like to grow up in a world where I barely see myself reflected in the media or where I feel pushed toward a minuscule number of professions.

I’m glad Huang wrote this book. I’m glad he started a business that truly reflects who he is as a person and gives others the chance to do the same. I’m glad I read this book and I hope several of my students read it as well. I think it may give some of them a perspective they’ve never thought of before. I love the line he has near the end of the book, “My main objective with Baohaus was to become a voice for Asian Americans,*” which he follows up with this footnote: *”Note that I say ‘a voice’ not ‘the voice.’ I don’t speak for all Asian Americans, I speak for a few rotten bananas like me.”

I think more voices like Huang’s need to be heard in our country.

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Free Reading Friday: The Handmaid’s Tale

HandmaidThe start of the school year means I have to get the summer reading I assigned to my Advanced Placement students finished. Don’t misunderstand, I never assign them a novel I have not read before, but before teaching any novel I re-read and annotate it.

I can’t even count the number of times I have read The Great Gatsby.

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in my early 20’s. As much as it disturbed me then, I never really thought of it as a reflection of society or any sort of actuality…at least not in the US where it is set. I saw it more as a statement against conservative politics and the danger of letting religion take too strong of a hold on society. I thought of it as a warning to women not to forget some very, very dark times of old.

And while the book is still all of these things, reading it again today, considering the current state of our government, it no longer seems a reflection of things past, but frighteningly of those that may come.

Now, I still don’t believe it could ever get to the disturbing, disgusting levels Offred describes, one message keeps jumping out to me: people can get used to anything if given no real choice and no real voice. Even as Americans, we are willing to sacrifice a disturbing amount of our freedom for “safety.” The Patriot Act is living proof.

We are also seeing scary cuts and changes to reproductive care in this country. Health committees, made up of entirely men, are making decisions about what health services women can receive. State governments are making laws requiring women to get their rapist’s permission in order to get abortions. Planned Parenthhod, the largest single provider of women’s health care, may be defended.

We are seeing news called “fake” and access to our government, one that is supposed to be “for the people, by the people,” restricted from reporters. We are demonizing single mothers and trying to restrict governmental benefits for them. We are also seeing a rise in people demanding we, as a nation, return to “Christian values,” and trying to mirror local, state and national laws on the Bible.

Our country and Gilead are merging in very upsetting ways. Now, more than ever, this is an important book for people to read. It is why Hulu decided, 30 years after its first publication to turn the novel into a modern series.

I’m very interested to see what my students think of its relevance to today’s world.

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Free Reading Friday: Vengeance Road

Vengeance RoadI am not generally a fan of Westerns. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. I LOVED Deadwood, but I think that might have a bit more do do with my overall love for Timothy Olyphant. I also really like Westworld, but it’s not exactly a typical Western.

I was, however, a die-hard Little House on the Prairie fan as a kid. I can’t even count the hours I spent reading and re-reading all of the books. I still remember trying to grasp how Ma’s waist could be small enough that Pa’s fingers could touch when he wrapped his hands around it. When I was 10 I had no idea what a corset was. I also spent way more hours than any child probably should in front of the TV watching reruns of the show pretty much every day after school. My mom was really strict on what I was/wasn’t allowed to watch and Little House was on the approved list. So I devoured it.

I dressed up as Laura Ingalls for at least three different Halloweens. I also have a picture of me, in the fifth grade in a very 70’s (it was a Goodwill find), very pink, very Little House inspired dress. Thankfully I left the bonnet at home. Probably only because it was yellow and even I knew it would clash. That’s right, I loved the prairie so much that I wore it as part of my every day life. I was sooooooo not cool. But I LOVED me some prairie life.

I think my love for those good ol’ Little House days was probably what led me to grab Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman from the stack of books that arrived at my school library right before the start of summer.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the cover hinted at nostalgia and it’s on the Eliot Rosewater nominee list, so I added it onto my already considerably large pile. As is usual, my eyes get a little bit bigger than, well, my time, during the summer. I always think I’m going to get more reading done than I actually do. While I was certainly no slouch this summer (so far I’ve finished 22 books), I still see 4 books sitting on my piano bench and I think realistically I’ll only get through one or two more before classes start.

Despite its wild west exterior, for some reason I was not actually expecting this book to be about the actual Wild West. I really like going into books with no preconceived notions at all. It’s often a delightful surprise.

And it was with this book. From the opening line, “It weren’t no secret Pa owned the best plot of land ‘long Granite Creek, and I reckon that’s why they killed him,” I felt myself being pulled into the old West, a genre I’m not entirely comfortable in, but as I’ve said, have some serious, specific love for.

The first chapter of this book reminded me more than a bit of True Grit, a movie I quite enjoyed. The plot is only similar at the root–a young girl sets off to avenge the death of her father and along the way picks up two men who agree to help her. Both groups track the killer through “Indian country” and violent shoot outs happen along the way. Like the movie, the main characters have to show a lot of “true grit” during their journey. Huh…that really does make them sound quite a bit alike, doesn’t it?

The big differences lie in the ages of the main characters–Kate is 17 and the Colten boys are far nearer her age; Kate isn’t looking to bring her father’s killer to justice and the Colten boys aren’t actually interested in her revenge; and like most YA novels, there is a love story thrown in.

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a tad hard to adjust to the outdated and horrific grammar (“I were supposed to think she were dead”), but since it added so much to the voice and authenticity of the story, I told the English teacher in me to “shut pan” and get on with reading.

One thing I really like about this book is that I think it has a wide appeal. I think freshmen would like it just as much as seniors and boys just as much as girls. It has a good balance of action, adventure, romance and coming of age to satisfy a variety of readers. If readers can get passed the old-fashioned setting (I know this can be a struggle for kids), I think they will find it a highly enjoyable read. I like that it is a great window into a genre which is not as widely known or read.

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Throwback Thursday: Strawberry Shortcake

Old School Strawbery SCWhen I was a child, there was not much I loved more than my collection of Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I can’t even count the number of hours I sat in my bedroom, Shortcake and friends spread all over my floor, creating elaborate stories of their lives. Although I saw all the 1980’s TV specials surrounding the Strawberry gang (Big Apple City being my favorite)* I preferred to have my dolls live out the adventures I came up with for them.

And I had to come up with a LOT of stories because I had a lot of dolls. With the exception of Peach Blush and Banana Twirl, I had every single member of the Shortcake collection. I even had both villains, the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak (my mom loved to say his name) and Sour Grapes. My favorites were Mint Tulip (a world traveler from Holland) and every single one of the “baby” characters, but especially Lem & Ada because they not only smelled like lemonade, but came from England. Even in my early years I desperately wanted to be British!

I even had two of the large “blow a kiss” dolls, which really did live up to their names. Push on their tummies and they “blew” strawberry scented air at you. Plus, they were fairly cuddly, so I slept with mine.

I loved those dolls.

Sadly, when I moved in with my dad during high school, my mom decided to get rid of pretty much all of my toys. Out went my collection of Cabbage Patch Kids (including original preemies, astronauts, cornsilk hair, twins, and circus dolls). Out went all of my Barbies. Out went two first edition American Girl dolls and several of their accessories (Kirsten and Samantha). And out went my good friend Strawberry and all of her friends.

When I found out the fate of my beloved childhood toys, even though I was in college and married, the tears were real my friends.

Fast forward a few decades. I had a niece and while shopping for a present for her, I was delighted to see Strawberry Shortcake attempt a comeback. Sure, she wasn’t quite the same ol’ gal, but she still had a cute, if more modern dress and the delightful promise of a room filled with the light scent of artificial strawberry. Although my niece was a bit young for the dolls (she was born in 2003, same as the re-release), I was excited.

new strawberry shortcakeFast forward another decade later and I now had a daughter of my own. Not only that, she was just starting to hit the age I was when I got my first Strawberry Shortcake doll. I couldn’t resist. I had to get her one.

Even though Strawberry and her friends have been updated (their skirts are decidedly shorter I noticed), my daughter still loves them. She loves their brightly colored hair. She loves their yummy smells. She loves that I not only know the names of all of her dolls, but can tell her stories about playing with my own dolls…just like hers.

Strawberry classic in boxLast year when Kenner released the 35th edition Strawberry Shortcake, I thought I would lose my mind. Sure, she wasn’t the actual doll I played with as a child, but she looked just like her. She smelled just like her. With one click of a button, I was able to get a piece of my childhood back. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one nostalgic about her. My aunt, knowing how much of my life I devoted to the dolls, also bought me one. This meant that while I got to keep one, I could give the other to my daughter. Who loves her nearly as much as I did.

My happiness was increased while visiting Comic Con earlier this year. I came across a display of Pop! figures and found not just my beloved Strawberry Shortcake, but Lemon Meringue, Blueberry Muffin, Huckleberry Pie and even the nasty ol’ Pieman. I bought both Strawberry and Lemon (I’ve always been a sucker for lemon scented anything). They are both currently on display in my classroom. My students LOVE that the smell like fruit. That’s right, even the Pop! figures are scented.

I was even happier to find remakes of the original dolls on sale at Toys R’ Us. Although I haven’t bought them for my daughter yet, Christmas is coming and I think Santa might have to leave a pack (or two) in her stocking.

*I actually still can recall some of the lyrics to songs in several of the movies, specifically the movie song from Housewarming Surprise and the song Strawberry and Orange Blossom sing when they first meet each other in Big Apple City. My brain is a strange, strange place.

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Wildcard Wednesday: Game of Thrones PUB

GoT crying treeI know that the entire world has thrown itself into fits about the return of Game of Thrones. I’ll admit that I am one of those people who had palpitations at the mere thought of the return of Jon Snow, Daenerys and even bad ol’ Cersei.

While planning my recent trip to DC, I was over the moon when I happened upon a link to a newspaper article about DC’s latest attraction: a Game of Thrones PUB. Despite the word pub, this is not the traditional use of the word, but rather an acronym for Pop-Up Bar. These bars do exactly what their name suggests: they pop up for a brief time and then are closed, redecorated and reopened with new themes. This particular space, which is actually a combination of three bars, has also had pop-ups themed around Super Mario Brothers and DC’s beloved Cherry Blossom festival.

Despite warnings of long lines, my best friend and I decided we were going. Thankfully our host, a long-time DC resident and one of our closest friends is also a die-hard GoT fan and was willing to join us in our potentially foolish endeavor.

And potentially foolish it was…at least at the start. We decided to go on Sunday, hoping that getting into line close to the 1 pm opening time would secure us a decent spot. Unfortunately only two of us are regularly rise before noon, so we got to the PUB closer to 1:30 and the line was all the way to the front of the Metro stop. My friend went to check on the estimated wait time and was told that optimistically speaking, it would be at least 90 minutes before we got in, however, the bouncer seemed to think it would be closer to two hours. We all decided that even though our love for certain Lannisters is strong, since it was already close to 90 degrees outside, there was no way we could stand in that atrocious line that long. We vowed to try again later.

We found another bar to drown our sorrows at, spent some time walking around the National Mall, where there was a Folklife Festival going on*, got a close up view of the Washington Monument, and then met up with my friend’s girlfriend and headed back to the PUB.

This time we had much better luck. There was still a line, but it was only about half the size. It probably helped that it was five and the bar is only open until 7 on Sundays. This time the bouncers were estimating an hour until entry, which we’d all agreed was our limit. Thankfully it moved quicker than expected and after only 40 minutes, we were in.

GoT dragonAlthough the PUB is actually 3 buildings, they are rather narrow buildings and there was hardly any room to move around. In fact, we were told that in order to get in, we had to go straight to the back of the first bar, into the area known as Mereen where it was the least crowded. Unlike the actual country in GoT, this version is quite dark and the floor amazingly sticky, even for a bar. At one point, after getting my first drink, a Dothraquiri (fitting considering our location), I actually had trouble getting out of the way for others to order because my feet were so stuck. Still, it was fun to watch the dragon spew forth smoke as I sipped my very tasty drink. It was also amusing to watch the bartender yell at patrons who thought reaching up to try to climb inside the dragon’s mouth was a good idea. I asked her how tired she got of telling people not to touch the dragon and she said it was the first time she’d had to do it, but that they’d kicked someone out earlier for trying to hang from it. Clearly people have not learned their lessons about dragons from the show.

My friends and I hung out with Dany’s dragon long enough to get our second drinks (this part of the bar really was less crowded) before heading off to explore the rest of the PUB. Because we’d arrived at the PUB so late in the day, we’d missed our opportunity to sit on the Iron Throne. They give out tickets on a first come, first serve basis and allow people to get their pictures taken on the throne both wearing a fake fur and holding a sword. We got GoT banners.jpgto glance at it, but had to spend sip our drinks in the banner room of the Red Keep. That was ok with us as we had drinks and good company. I was enjoying exchanging sips of my The Lannisters Send Their Regards with my best friend’s Lady Mormont. Although I liked my drink, it was not quite as sweet as I’d hoped. I loved the red color, the gold paper straw and the swords with a strawberry stabbed through it. However, it was not quite as awesome as her drink which came served in a glass bear jar, was a perfect blend of honey and fruit and had an actual flower in it.

Passing over into The North, we got a glimpse at the House of Black and White and all took pictures of us making faces next to the faces ensconced in the walls. Turns out we are all pretty big dorks. The North not only features the red tree of the Starks, complete with blood dripping from its eyes, but also a portion of the wall with the lone pick ax an unfortunate Wildling left behind. It’s also where we tried a few more drinks. Our least favorite was the Dracarys, but it did come with a little plastic dragon, which slightly redeemed it in my eyes. My friend had to temporarily surrender his driver’s license in order to get The North Remembers because it came in a kick-ass mug, very similar to the ones the brothers of the Night’s Watch use at the wall. While we thought the drink was decent, what we really liked was taking pictures of us drinking it. The undisputed drink winner of the evening was Milk of the Poppy, which freaked us all out a little with its list of ingredients (what is clarified milk?), but was simply delicious! We all wished we’d ordered one.

Although Milk of the Poppy was the best drink, the best delivery of a drink has to go to the very first one my friend and his girlfriend ordered, Shame. Not only was it pretty tasty, but as the bartender handed each drink out, she rang a bell and yelled “shame,” which we all then repeated  three or for times. No matter what anyone was doing in the bar, the second a bartender hollered “shame,” well all joined in to great communal joy.

GoT facesAlthough the bar was a bit cheesy (cosplayers dressed as Daenerys and Jon Snow walked around and took pictures with guests) and the drinks pricey, it was a great way to spend an hour and a half. We stayed until last call, which came earlier than I would have liked, however, our bar tender told us that they are under contractual obligations with HBO to close early on Sundays so that patrons have enough time to finish their drinks and get home to watch the show.

The bar is only open until mid-August, so if you get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. It was a great time spent with some of my besties, paying tribute to one of my favorite shows and getting some tasty drinks to boot!

*which oddly seemed to be 100% dedicated entirely to the circus. We heard some very strange clown jokes, saw an actually funny guy do a juggling demonstration and one of my friends got 1/2 a barbeque chicken.

 

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Fandom Fest

I make no apologies for the fact that I am a geek. Always have been, always will be. I like comic books and superheroes and comic books about superheroes. I like Star Trek and Star Wars. I love Buffy, Angel and Firefly. I go simply ga ga over Dr. Who. Back in the day I was even known to play some D&D (that’s Dungeons and Dragons for all you non-residents of Geek Town U.S.A.). So, it’s really no surprise that I like Cons.

Until this year my conning has been fairly limited in scope. Ok, it’s been extremely limited…to one Con. However, I’ve gone to Wizard’s World Comic Con in Chicago for five or six years now and I’ve loved it. This year my friends and I were all set for another great round of conning when my best friend had to go and get herself a professorship in Georgia. Although we still really wanted to go, the university expected her to show up for pre-teaching meetings the Friday we’d normally be heading to Chicago listening to Florence and the Machines and having a grand ol’ time chit chatting. Since she wasn’t willing to skip her first day on the job (her priorities are so messed up), a dark cloud fell over our plans. That was until another friend of ours (who we meet up with every year at Wizard’s) told us about Fandom/Fright Fest in Louisville. In the blink of an eye, we were making reservations at the Galt House Hotel.

We should have known there was gonna be trouble the moment we tried to find parking. The Galt House is pretty darn huge. So huge it actually takes up both sides of the street (with a fun little bridge on the third floor). We weren’t sure which side to park on and when we tried to ask the attendants, they didn’t know what to tell us either. My BFF finally went in and asked and we were directed to the right parking garage. Our room was nice and the place was swamped with fellow conners. In Chicago we never stayed at the official hotel of the con, but at the lovely Aloft hotel, which was really modern and fun. We’d grown really comfy hanging out at “our bar”–the only one in the joint. The drinks were good and the seating was plentiful, at least for the clientele. That was not the case at The Galt House. The place was packed! The main bar which spans the bridge on the third floor was the place to be. I think at one time every single person staying in the hotel was there.

Friday night when we rolled in there was a movie playing on a huge screen on end of the room and a side bar set up selling beer and popcorn. We’d already had a few drinks at a really tasty bistro we found while walking around downtown (that is one HUGE plus Fandom Fest had over Wizard’s–location–there were so many awesome places to eat all within about 10 minutes walk of our hotel, whereas the only places to get food at Wizard’s are in other hotels or by ordering carry out which takes forever), so we didn’t quite mind all the people and the waiting. It was fun to watch. That’s one great thing about cons, there is so much people watching to do. There was some sort of drunken pirate show going on and a very nice gentleman in full steam punk regalia tried to get us in, but unfortunately since we didn’t have tickets for Friday night, the event was closed to us. We did, however, have a truly fantastic time talking to him before the show and then again after the show when we saw him in the lounge area.

That’s another great thing about cons, you meet so many fun and interesting people. Suddenly all 10,000 or so people attending the con become your new friends. Everyone  you meet in line talks to you and since they have similar interests (in a lot of cases), it’s easy to talk back. Now, don’t get me wrong, some of them are total douches, but you can usually weed them out pretty quickly and start up a conversation with someone else more interesting. And, I have to say, if you are a girl at a con, even one who maybe has never felt really been very popular or has been self-conscious about your looks in anyway, cons are the place to be! We always manage to find cute and quirky boys to talk to. While I’m married, one of my friends isn’t and we are always trying to find her a nice geek boy, so we end up talking to a lot of them and their equally geeky friends. This year was no exception.

The highlight of my whole trip actually happened Friday night as we were talking to boys trying to make a love connection for our friend. Although we hadn’t even picked up the tickets for the con yet, as we were sitting sipping on cherry vodkas and diet Cokes, John Barrowman walked through the lobby. I won’t lie, I totally fan-girled out. If you don’t know how John Barrowman is, you obviously are not quite my kind of geek. He played Captain Jack Harkness on Dr. Who and then later on the spin-off Torchwood. While I’m not sure if he is my favorite Captain (it’s a toss up between him and Captain Reynolds), he is simply fantastic! As I was slightly hyperventilating over his presence, one of the guys we were talking to asked him if he would take a picture with me. He said he couldn’t stop because he’d already told someone else no and that if he stopped for me he’d have to stop for everyone. I totally understood and told him so. I think I babbled a bit about being a huge fan and thanking him even for talking to me. After he left, I just kept gushing about how I’d seen him. Seriously, I was a mess, which is not me at all.

Of course, I was an even bigger mess when two minutes later he snuck up on me from behind, put his arm around me, leaned close and said, “ok, pretend we are talking about something and tell your friend to get her camera out.” As I sat there with a Cheshire cat sized grin, babbling on about how much I love his work, my friend struggled to get her camera out. He laughed and said, “My God woman, take the picture!” and when she did, he was sweet as can be. I couldn’t stop smiling all night. I even did a little happy dance in our hotel room. And I’ll admit it, I told anyone who was interested my story. What was really cool was so many of them had stories too. Since the actors and artists were all staying at the Galt House, they had tons of similar run-ins with fans and were all super nice, willing to stop and talk and take photos. It was kind of awesome. allan tudyk

That, however, is where the awesome ended. The con itself was a bit of a nightmare. I’ve never been in a more unorganized situation in my life. No one knew which line people were supposed to go in, including the workers who were supposed to be directing people to lines. Despite arriving well before the con floor opened, we waited in line 30 minutes for tickets we’d already purchased. Then, we waited in line 30 more minutes to buy a photo opportunity with Adam Baldwin (Jayne from Firefly). I waited about 30 minutes for John Barrowman to sign my copy of his book Anything Goes, which wasn’t too bad since the people in line were super friendly and included a little boy who was about four and the spitting image of Matt Smith’s Dr. Who. It was also cool because I got to snap this cute (and illegal) picture of Alan Tudyk on my phone.

The rest of the con was a let down though. There weren’t that many vendors. Not that I usually buy a lot, but I like to look at the wares. There were hardly any artists at all, which is actually a really cool feature of Wizard’s–all the independent artists who have booths there. In fact, our first year at Wizard’s, we met an artist named Josh Johnson and not only did we buy some of his art, he became our friend. The layout of the place was nuts. There were no real maps to figure out where events were going to be held. The staff, aside from being clueless, actually forgot several actors at different places around the city. They left John Barrowman at the airport. They forgot to pick Alan Tudyk up from the hotel to bring him to his signings (and when he managed to get there, security didn’t seem to understand he was an actor, despite his celebrity badge–fans had to badger them to let him in), Colin Baker was never picked up for his panel, so he tweeted to his fans from his hotel room, John Barrowman’s panel had to be moved because they scheduled it the same time as his photo ops, Stan Lee’s panel ran over, so they cut the Firefly cast’s panel short, the director of Monster Squad wasn’t told he had a panel until a few hours before he had to host it and other panels were advertised but didn’t take place and had no cancellation notices.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the lines were atrocious. We didn’t actually get to see any of the panels we wanted to because there were two lines to get in to each panel, the VIP line (for people who paid $175) and the regular line. Before they let any regular ticket holders in, the VIP’s got first dibs, so panels were filling up 1/2 and 3/4 full of VIP’s only. The photos from Saturday weren’t ready by the time they shut it down at 8pm, so they told everyone to come back the next day to get their photos–the only problem was we didn’t have tickets for the next day. Luckily I managed to find the only helpful employee (who was 6 months pregnant) who let me in and then made our picture a priority. The lines to see some of the celebrities were outrageous. There were a slew of actors from The Walking Dead there and the line for Norman Redus was over two hours for VIP’s and over 5 hours for non-VIP’s.

They seemed completely taken off guard by the number of fans who showed up for the con, which I find odd considering most of their sales were pre-orders.

Although I loved many aspects of this con, I’m not sure I’d ever go back. The shear lack of order and the hours wasted in lines was just a bit too much for me.

 

 

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Chocolate Monday: Chocolate FX

chocolate fxA few weekends ago I attended Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY. While I’d been to several comicy type conventions before, this was my first trip to Fandom/Fright Fest. I was actually scheduled to go to Wizard’s World Comic Con in Chicago, but my darling BFF had to go and move halfway across the country and wouldn’t be able to go to Chicago with me because she’d be starting her new job. Since the con is always our big girls’ weekend, we opted for Fandom/Fright fest since it was within a day’s drive, was held two weeks sooner and had the added bonus of being the hometown of a friend of ours.

While there were quite a few things about Fandom/Fright Fest which disappointed me (I’ll have another blog about that on Wed dear readers), I was super excited to find a little chocolate booth set up in the vendor’s hall. In all the years I’ve been going to Wizard’s World, there has never been any sort of edible treat to purchase (aside from some damn tasty twisty cones at the snack stand). I’ve always reserved my chocolate buying for Ethel M’s (before they abandoned me) and Vosges on Armitage Street.chocolate fx package

Fandom/Fright Fest not only boasted John Barrowman (of Torchwood and Dr. Who fame) and three cast members from Firefly (Wash, Jayne and Kaylee), but also Chocolate F/X. This seemed inspired to me. My friends grabbed a package of the toffee to split, but being the sucker for truffles that I am, I had to go with the fancy decorated chocolates. I mean, I love toffee and all, but who can argue with chocolate that has Dracula, Godzilla, Frankenstein and other horror classics on it? Not this girl. Turns out that despite the fact that one type of toffee was clearly labeled as bacon toffee and the other wasn’t, my poor BFF, who has been a vegetarian for like 12 years now, accidently bought toffee that also had bacon in it. Our other friend lucked out as she loves bacon, so she got all of the toffee. Bad marketing.

chocolate fx godzillaThe first one I tried was the dark chocolate Godzilla. I was not at all impressed. The filling was a caramel of sorts, but it was overly sweet in a really artificial way. Now, I know I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but that is usually because I don’t like the bitter taste (and after taste). This one was not at all bitter. In fact, it was sort of cloyingly sweet. The caramel was super chewy and had a vaguely liquorish taste. I don’t mean licorice like the candy, I mean liquor as in alcohol. The only problem was that I couldn’t place the specific spirit it seemed to be trying to replicate. All I know was that I did not like it. No sir, not one bit.

The other dark chocolate offering, which looked a bit like Dracula’s dune buggy was a bit better. It was still sweet and not bitter, but it wasn’t as sweet. It had a rather non-descript chocolate filling. It was a bit like a brownie, both in texture and in taste. It was a bit chewy, but overall, not too bad. Nothing to write home about, but also nothing like that caramel I didn’t like.

Since I’m a save the best for last kinda girl, after I got rid of the dark chocolate, I moved on to the milk, hoping that the overly sweetness of the candy hadchocolate fx skull something to do with the darkness of the chocolate. My hopes were quickly dashed. The first milk piece, which had the sort of zombie skull on it also had a chocolate fudge-like filling. It was also better than the caramel, but still too sweet for even my sweet tooth. The second milk piece nearly killed me. When I turned it over, I noticed the salt on top of it and figured it was a sea salt caramel. Well, it was a salted caramel all right…a spicy salt and a pepper caramel. And not the harmless black pepper kind either. One bite set my mouth on fire. I like the combo of sweet and hot, but when my lips are tingling after 8 ounces of water, I like it much, much less. I think the caramel itself would have had a better flavor than it’s dark companion, but it was too hot for me to really figure out.

The final piece was the white chocolate piece. It was my favorite, but the flavor was a bit indistinct. There were definitely some sort of coffee hints, which really shocked me as I don’t like coffee one bit. Coffee pieces are usually my least favorite, but this one was a bit more chocolate mocha than straight coffee, which made it better. Not great, but better.

Overall:

Taste: 2/10
Appearance: 10/10 (come on, this was clever and cool)
Value: 2/10

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