Friday, July 30, 2010

Vaccinations are fun

So yesterday I stepped onto the deck to help move something and I got a very painful splinter in my left foot. I loath wearing socks, but I could have gotten a splinter wearing them (it's happened!) but the deck is one place where being barefoot isn't that big of a deal.

Unless you get a splinter of course.

I pulled it out and continued to move the object. One I was done, I inspected the area and couldn't help put notice a litle dark mark. I tried to get it out with tweezers and a needle, but couldn't. I thought maybe it was just my imagination and went on with it.

The next day my foot was still sore. I had soaked it in water, and kept a bandage on it. I had someone examine it, and it was determined that a peice of wood was still under my skin. Yuck. So I held up my foot and let my mom dig around it. When she couldn't get it out, and I couldn't take the stabbing anymore, I used the tweezers to push it out of the hole. I felt relieved.

Until I started thinking about tetnaus (Thanks to Twitter, <3 you guys haha).

I grew up with the idea that only rusty nails were the cause of lockjaw, and that you could get a tetnaus shot every ten years. But in most cases, they say any puncture wound from a dirty object should require a tetnaus shot if you haven't had one in 5 years, or can't remember your last booster.

I remember that shot. I remember the school sending a note, saying I could not return to class without getting a tetnaus shot. I remember showing my parents the note, and them calling up the doctor for me to get one that night. I remember panicking over stories about how painful the shot was. I remembe crying in the car on the way there and at the doctor's office because I was so scared. I remember it being winter, and dark outside when we got back. I remember it not being THAT bad. But I could NOT remember when I had. Was I 16? Was it January? Was it 2001? Or was it 2002? I tried counting back, and I determined it has to be 8 years. Maybe 9. But would that be enough? If you get it every 10 years, and it's been 8 is that good enough?

I have to admit, working as an embalmer for a year kind of enlightened me to mortality. I also am a bit of a hypochrondriac. My first reaction was I should get the shot tomorrow to be safe. I decided to call the Tele Health line to find out how long I had before I should get the shot. I was on hold for ten mintues and my mom was harassing me for being such a worrier over nothing. I decided that I wasn't going to wait to hear what the nurse had to say, nor would I wait until tomorrow. I would get the shot now.

I was told I was being crazy, but I stated I was an adult and I could do what I damned pleased. I knew the walk-in clinic where my doctor practices was open until 7:15. Living in the country can be a real problem when it comes to time limits. I got to the clinic to find that the walk in had closed at 6:10 PM. There was a sign on the door stating that they would be closed Saturday because it was a long weekend.

I told them my issue and asked if they thought I should get a shot and where I could go. The nurse said she would personally go get it. That was good enough for me. They told me of a clinic that was open until 8 not too far from where I was. I headed over there and was relieved that they were still open. I was the only one in the clinic. As soon as I gave my information, I was assigned a room. The doctor came in shortly and I explained what had happened. He asked me to show him my foot to make sure that everything had gotten out. He said it looked fine, and recommended antibiotic cream. I asked about the tetnaus shot but he didn't seem that concerned. He said it should be okay but he said the booster wouldn't hurt if I wanted to go ahead and get it done. I said I would feel better if I had it. He left and came back with it, and asked me how I felt about needles.

"I don't like them" I grimaced "but I'll be okay"

"Well, do you faint or anything?" he replied

I told him I didn't, and he told me to relax my arm and just make it limp. He then stuck me with it, and I did feel the pinprick, but it wasn't bad. It was over so quickly and I hardly felt a thing. I told him it wasn't as bad as I thought. He told me the trick was to keep the arm limp. When we are children, we are so nervous and tense, that the tension we hold in our arms makes the needle worse and painful. Then we learn to hate and fear needles. I thanked him and wished him a good holiday weekend. I had checked in around 6:40 and I was out by 7:00.

I left at 6:00 drove half an hour to town, and got home by 7:30. I came back and everyone was surprised how quick I was. They mocked me a little for being paranoid, but I told them the nurse agreed with me. Later I spoke to a nurse friend of mine and she also agreed it was better to be safe when it comes to something like that.

I feel silly when I get paranoid or start to worry about something as trivial as a splinter, but I feel better knowing that I've taken precautious steps that had a chance of becoming something worse. Now I gotta go slap on some more polysporn so it doesn't get infected, blah.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Food is such an important thing for us, both biologically and culturally. If it's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we like food and we have to eat. Culturally, food stands for many things and is often the reason for or part of the ritual of gathering. From Thanksgiving dinner, to going out for coffee, food plays an important part in our social lives. Growing, processing, and serving food also plays a huge part in our economy. Food can express many emotions - we cook or bake special meals for the ones we love, we often picture 'romantic dinners' in special occassions like anniversaries, and we turn to 'comfort foods' when we are upset. The type of food you choose to eat reflects one's wealth and status.

We can all agree, that we love food.

I was once a very picky Western child. My parents would often lament that there were people starving around the world who would kill for the food I refused to eat. I realize that the whole notion of being picky is a Western concept, as it is a luxury for us to be able to refuse food. We also live in such a cultural mix that we are able to sample different types of food any time we want.

As I grew older, I became more accepting of the foods I didn't want to eat. As a child, mushrooms and raw tomatoes turned me off. It took me a long time to enjoy these foods. I just recently started liking tomatoes. I also have had the opportunity to expand my palate, dining on sushi and thai food.

I once worked as a waitress at a chinese restaurant, and I would be appalled by some of the things I heard while taking orders. I had a family call and tell me that there couldn't be any sauces on the food, and absolutely no vegetables as their kids would not eat them. Being a past picky child myself, I do realize that some food can be unappealing. But my parents always made sure I would eat vegetables, and there were all vegetables that I did like like carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower corn, potatoes, lettuce, beans, cabbage and squash which I thought justified that I would not eat onions, radishes, raw tomatoes and spicy vegetables. I would get ragged on all the time for not eating onions. I just didn't like them. I didn't like their texture, whether they were raw or fried. I didn't like their taste. I just didn't like them. Why couldn't they accept it? I wasn't turning my nose up on vegetables - I loved most vegetables. I just didn't want onions. But for parents to allow theit children to eat anything but vegetables? No wonder our health is the way it is.

To this day, my elderly neighbor criticizes my parents for not making me eat onions. She said they should have forced me to stay at the table until I had eaten them. If that was the case, we would have been there all night. My mom tried to sneak onions into my meals but I always found them, and picked them out. If I ate dinner elsewhere, I would do the same. She once tried to tell me that boiled onions were cabbages and I refused to believe her.

I fully believe that picky children shouldn't be allowed to eat hot dogs and pizza for the rest of their lives, but I do think that everybody should be allowed a few leeway foods that they just don't like. If you avoid going to a majority of restaurants because you won't eat any of the food there, you are way too picky. If you just have an avoidable vegetable, I think that's fair. I think most people have at least one food they don't like. For me it's onions. It used to be more, but I've eaten a lot of foods I once didn't like and love them now... but I still can't eat onions.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crazy Day

I didn't have much time to think about what I wanted to write about, and even if I had a topic in mind, I haven't had too much time to write it!

Today I had the farrier and vet out to deal with some of the ponies, and those sort of things can take all day. I still want to keep updating my blog everyday to get in the habit of it, or I never will.

If you stay tuned for tomorrow, I promise to have something intersting up.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Field School Update

I'm going to have to start brushing up on my archaeology real soon, as I just got confirmation today from Louisbourg about my field school.

I'm a little sad though because I am flying out Sunday to Halifax and driving to Louisbourg and I just found out that we are all entitled to a free pass on Sunday to explore the site. The site closes at 5 p.m. and I won't get there until 4 p.m. so I won't have enough time. The letter does say that there will be other opportunities to explore to site during the week we are there.

Originally, our team was going to excavate in the De la Valliere yard but this year we are going to be helping out on a two month rescue excavation project. The sites are threatened by coastal erosion due to the rising sea levels. The sites have never been studied before, and are facing the Atlantic Ocean.

This is going to be one crazy adventure for me. I have travelled to parts of the US and a couple of times to Quebec, but I have never been too far out of my own province, and I have never been out East before. I'll be flying to Halifax on August Sunday 22nd and driving the rest of the way, approximately 4 hours to Cape Breton Island, where Louisbourg is. I'll be staying at a Bed and Breakfast called Cranberry Cove. I originally wanted to stay in The Captain's Den but I'm going to be in a suite called Isle Royal that faces the harbor. I plan on trying to get some time to swim in the Atlantic Ocean while I am there, and maybe catch a couple of events in the town. Hopefully I make some new friends while I'm there, though I can be quite shy, haha. On Friday, the team will have dinner together and I'll leave for Halifax that night, and sleep in the airport. I'll be back in Toronto early Saturday morning, where I'll try to figure out if I want to go to Fan Expo that day, or on Sunday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Visual Proof of Nerd Status

This weekend I was bored and decided to take a couple of pictures that demonstrate how proud I am to be a nerd. I wish I had my own house where I could dedicate a room to my collection. A lot of my action figures, tiys and books are packed away in a small closet, and this is only the tip of the iceburg. It also only showcases books that I dug out recently because I think that they'll be needed in the up coming future, or I feel that they are closest to my heart. I do have boxes and boxes of books and wish they could be showcased.

I also have a couple of pictures of my DVD collection. A lot of movies I own are actually still on VHS, including my all night favourite "The Flight of Dragons" that hasn't gotten DVD release yet. I'm also missing a couple since they're on loan, or they're my CSI collection which got packed away.

Top of my book shelf, from Left to Right: Pictorial History of Horror Films, Star Watch, Evolution text book, Primate Behavior text book, Introduction to Anthropology, Standards for measuring bones, William Bass's Field Guide to Osteology, The Growth of Humanity, The Archaeology of Disease, Forensic Anthropology, Concepts in Anthropological Thinking, Here There Be Dragons, The Princess Bride, Whale Music, The Three Musketeers, Articles for Medieval Military Technology, Medieval Warfare, The Royal Book of Horsemanship, Jousting and Knightly Combat, Under The Black Flag, How the Horse Shaped Civilization, An Anthropologist on Mars, Horse Treats and The Ultimate Guide to Pampering Your Horse.

Second row on the bookshelf, from Left to Right: The Archaeologist's Laboratory, The Archaological Workbook, Pottery in Archaeology, The Archaeology of Aninal Bones, Understanding Stone Tools and Archaeological Sites, A Brief History of Archaeology, Archaeology and Anthropology, Archaeology, The Peopling of Bandelier, North American Archaeology, Archaeology of South America, Death by Theory, World Politics in a New Era, Microbiology, Clear, Correct and Creative, Echoes of the Past, The Art of Ancient Egypt, General Chemistry, Embalming, Human Anatomy, The Cell, and the Flight of Dragons. Also, my sad collection of McDonald's Happy Meal Toys of The Last Airbender.

Top Shelf - various horse figurines and a Captain Morgan glass, books from Left and Right: Le Morte D'Arthur, yearbooks, Dungeons and Dragons books in Second, Third and Fourth edition, Encylopedia of Mythology, Body Worlds, Mutter Museum, The Beatles Anthology, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, A Hard Day's Write, Last Mysteries of the World, Mysteries of the Unexplained.

Another top shelf with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles (I was young and vampire were kinda cool unlike today), Celtic Mythology, Lord Byron, A vampire book, Dune
Second shelf: Le Morte D'Arthur, Mists of Avalon, Canterbury Tales, The Myst Series, Body of Evidence, Uther, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Sleepy Hollow, Macbeth, The Dragon and the George, Frankenstein, Peter Pan and A Streetcare called Desire.

My Dune books, not in order at all. I know someone reading this will appreciate this photo haha.

My comic shelf with the entire Sandman series, Endless Nights, The Watchman, Batman: Red Rain, The Dark Knight Returns, The Long Halloween and the first three issues of The Return of Bruce Wayne.

Bottom shelf: Tarot books, The Penalty Killing, American Gods, The Tick: The Complete Edlund, July previews, Fragile Things, Domiknitrix, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Big Book of Canadian Ghost Stories, The Very Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction 60, The Last Unicorn, St John's First Aid (Haha) and The Life of Pi... oh and some previews.

My DVDs, with some interesting titles.

A close up so you can see my hidden Batman collection!

Indiana Jones is hiding in there too.

Jurassic Park, Dune, Star Wars, Willow, Van Helsing, Young Frankenstien, Krull, Stargate... jsut to name a few....

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Miss Saigon Review

It took me a couple of days, but here's my review of Miss Saigon at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

This is the first time I have ever been to the Four Seasons and I have to say it was a very interesting theatre. It isn't built like any other I have been in. It felt very roomy. The orchestra pit and orchestra ring weren't too elevated from each other, which felt kind of weird. Either way, we got pretty good seats.

For the review I'm going to break down the components of the musical, starting with the most important aspect, the story.

For those who don't know, Miss Saigon is an adaptation of the opera Madam Butterfly, with slight variations. Both the lead women of the stories are Asian (Madam Butterfly is Japanese while Kim, from Miss Saigon is Vietnamese). Both are promised to be married by American Men (Pinket and Chris) and taken back to America, the reason being for Pinket who just wants to marry a girl in every nation, and Chris,a G.I. in Vietnam decides Kim would be better off in the USA. They are both 'married' in their native country, but the marriage doesn't count in the US for different reasons. In Madam Butterfly, marriages in Japan are like leases that one can leave at anytime, and in Miss Saigon, they have a ceremony with the Vietnamese bar girls, but it is not a proper ceremony in both regards. Also, at the Embassy, it is made clear that Chris must marry Kim on American soil. Both the men leave for different reasons, and do not return for three years. During this time, M.B and Kim are pressured into marrying another man. Both refuse, saying they are already married, and produce a son, claiming that their husband will come back for their child. Both men have returned to America and have remarried since then. They are notified to return. Kim and M.B realize the man they have loved has moved on, and commits suicide.

Now, there is more to the story of Miss Saigon than that. Miss Saigon opens up during the Vietnam war. A man of French and Vietnam descent called The Engineer , who dreams of going to America, has a bar called Dream Land where many G.I.'s come looking for prostitutes. Kim, an 17 year old orphaned virgin is starting her first night as a bar girl. The Engineer holds a weekly contest called Miss Saigon where the men vote for the prettiest bar girl and crown her Miss Saigon. The girl with the title of Miss Saigon is then raffled off to a G.I. The winner of Miss Saigon this night is a bar girl named Gigi. After Gigi has been raffled off to a GI, she begs him to take her to America with him and marry her. The enrages the GI and the bar girls sing about how they want a better life in America.

At the same time, John and Chris enter the bar. John wants to buy Chris some fun but all he wants is a beer. When John sees Kim, he arranges with the Engineer to get a dance and a room for Kim and Chris. At first, Kim is reluctant and Chris is not interested and they share a dance. Chris tries to pay Kim to leave the club, and the Engineer interferes, thinking Chris doesn't like Kim. Kim then leads Chris upstairs to a room.

After they sleep together, Chris asks God why he has met Kim just as he's about to leave Vietnam. Kim wakes up, and Chris offers her money, but she refuses and admits to this being her first time. She then reveals that she became a prostitute because her parents had both died during the war and she did not want to marry the man she was promised to. Moved by this, Chris decides to bring Kim back to America and marry her so she will not continue to sell her body to survive.

Chris calls John asking for leave time to spend time with Kim. John warns Chris that they'll be leaving soon as the Viet Cong will be taking control of Saigon. Chris asks for just two days, and John agrees to cover for him. Chris then arranges to take Kim from the nightclub and the Engineer tries to get a Visa out of the deal. Chris refuses and holds the Engineer at gunpoint until he agrees to a sum of money instead.

The other bar girls hold a ceremony for Kim and Chris. Kim's cousin Thuy, an officer of the North Vietnamese Army, arrives, claiming to have looked all over for her. Thuy reveals that he is the man she was arranged to be married to. Kim says that because her parents have died, they deal is off and she is not obliged to carry through with it. Thuy says she has disrespected her family and he curses her before he leaves. Chris promises Kim he will take her with him when he leaves Vietnam and they dance together.

Three years pass and there is a celebration in Saigon, now called Ho Chi Mihn City in honour of the third anniversary of the new government and the defeat of the Americans. Thuy has become a commissioner in the new government and is now looking for Kim. Thuy finds the Engineer and orders him to find Kim for him. Kim meanwhile believes Chris will come back for her and is living in an impoverished area of the city. Meanwhile, Chris is in bed with his American wife Ellen, and awakes from a nightmare calling Kim's name.

The Engineer brings Thuy to Kim. Thuy offers to marry Kim, but Kim refuses and shows him her three year old son Tam, the child of Chris. Thuy calls Kim and traitor and tries to kill Tam. Kim pulls out a handgun and shoots Thuy. Kim cradles Thuy as he dies, and then escapes with Tam. She finds the Engineer and tells her what she has done, and he agrees to help her once he finds out that she has a son with an American. He believes he can use them to get a passport to America and refers to himself as Tam's uncle. He takes them to Bangkok and they leave on a boat with other refugees.

Back in American, John is now working for an organization that connects child conceived in the war with their American fathers, called Bui Doi. He receives information that Kim is alive and has a son. He immediately finds Chris to give him the information. Chris is relieved to find Kim is alive, as he feels guilty for what has happened in the past. But he is now married to Ellen, and has not told her about what happened in Vietnam. John and Chris agree that it is now time to inform Ellen of what happened. The Engineer is hawking for a bar club in Bangkok and Kim works there as a dancer. John, Chris and Ellen arrive in Bangkok looking for Kim. John finds Kim and tells her that Chris is in Bangkok. John doesn't have the heart to tell her that Chris is remarried, and Kim believes she is going back to America with Chris. John tells her he will bring Chris to her.

The Engineer does not trust that Chris is in Bangkok and tells Kim to find Chris herself. Kim is then haunted by the ghost of Thuy and relives her nightmare of what happened three years ago.

In a flashback, Kim and Chris sign paperwork to bring her to the US. As things become chaotic at the embassy, Chris is asked to help. He tells Kim to pack and leaves her his gun. When Chris gets to the Embassy he finds that there is an order for an immediate evacuation of all remaining Americans and the Ambassador orders that no more Vietnamese are allowed in the embassy. Kim rushes down to the Embassy, trying to get through. Chris tries to call her at her home but gets no answer. He then tries to find her in the crowd but John punches him out to stop him from leaving. John and Chris are they ushered into the helicopter and Kim watches from the outside, pledging her love.

The Engineer has found the hotel room where Chris is staying at and gives it to Kim. Kim dresses in her 'wedding' clothes and goes to the hotel. When she arrives, Chris is not there as John had taken Chris down to the bar to see Kim. Ellen, Chris' wife is there, and reveals that she is his wife. Kim refuses to believe her. She then begs Ellen to take her son Tam so he can have a better life, the one she promised him. Ellen refuses to take Tam because she doesn't want to separate Kim and her son, and she wants children of her own with Chris. Kim demands that Chris tell her these things in person and runs off. Ellen realizes that Kim still loves Chris and when John and Chris return after not finding Kim, Ellen issues an ultimatum: Kim or her. Chris reassures her that he loves only her. They then agree that it is best for Kim and Tam to stay in Bangkok and they will support them from afar. John tells them that Kim will not find it acceptable to leave Tam in Thailand. Kim lies to the Engineer that they are all going to America and the Engineer imagines what his life would be like in America and living the American Dream.

Kim tells Tam he has a father now, and that she will be watching over him. The Engineer, John, Chris and Ellen arrive at the club, and Kim tells Tam to go meet his father. Once Tam is outside, Kim steps behind a curtain and shoots herself. Hearing the gun shot, they all rush into the room and find Kim mortally wounded. Chris cradles her in his arms as she dies, and Kim explains that the Gods have guided him here to his son. Chris begs her not to die, and she asks him to hold her one more time, then she dies.

The themes of this story are powerful; the American Dream, a Better Life, Sacrifice, Love and Tragedy.

The one thing I walked away with from this story was that men are jerks. Chris supposedly falls in love with Kim, but we are lead to believe that he more or less feels sorry for her and wants her to have a better life. Whether he truly loved her, as she loved him - I have my doubts. He explains that he tried to find her in the three years he was gone, but admits to being with Ellen for two years, and they had been married for one of those years. In a war ridden country, where not everyone has a phone and many people are poor, it would take a long time to track someone down. I just got the impression that Chris didn't try as hard as he could have, if he really loved her. His nightmares of her dying could have resulted in not only the guilt he had for not bringing her with him, but the lack of time he spent looking for her as well.

The story also stirs up a lot of stereotypes - the gentle, submissive and feminine East and the dominate, masculine West. The West feels that they need to protect the East. While Kim did need a better life than the one she had in Vietnam, there were many references to Chris guarding her from harm. It also reinforced a lot of female stereotypes like the jealous wife who refuses to allow Kim and Tam to both move to America, as she doesn't feel comfortable having her around since Kim still loves Chris. The other stereotype is the woman who is blindly in love with a man. After three years she holds out for him, even though (unknowing to her) he has moved on. Maybe it's because I'm not one for love stories, especially unbelievable ones, which is strange since I grew up with Disney, that I just couldn't get into the love part of the love story. A tragic one at that, and the tragedy was there. I cried three times during the entire thing. Would I see it again, like I would Wicked or Phantom of the Opera? Probably not.

The music was decent. There were a couple of songs that I really liked, but nothing that stuck with me as much as other songs in the past have. I probably would have bought the soundtrack, had they been selling anything at the theatre. The lack of merchandise at the theatre was a huge surprise for us.

The backgrounds, effects and dancers were memorable. I recall a couple of scenes I really enjoyed such as The Morning of the Dragon, and the scene with the helicopter. Some of the background dancers were fantastic. There were a couple of scenes where there were bar girls, and I was convinced every time that someone would take off their top and jiggle their tits around.

All the performers did an outstanding job, except for the actress who was Ellen. I mean, she wasn't a bad singer or anything, but she really belted it out. During the scene where she's in bed with Chris and singing about how much she loves him despite he never tells her what is going on, she's practically screaming in his ear while he has a nightmare (maybe it was her singing). She is a powerhouse for sure, because she did this in her other numbers as well. She wasn't a bad singer.. just LOUD. The Engineer was very well done. He was slimy but entertaining. Chris was good looking, a great singer but I felt nothing for the character. Kim was beautiful, talented and oh so tragic that she made the role so believable.

So in the end, I did have a good time. I had some issues with the story and some of the portrayal, but this is after all, a suspension of belief. I was glad I had the chance to see it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The 100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time

Not in a writing mood tonight, but I want to get into the habit of updating. Plus, it is after all, a weekend.

Here's 100 of the Greatest Movie Insults of All Time, according to the guy who made it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Hell

In all of my life, I never thought I would be one of those comic collectors. By that I mean, I never thought I'd be hunting down comic books. As mentioned before, I like trades. Trades just make everything so much easier. The story is all there, composed in book form. There's no fear of missing issues - even though you still have to buy them in volumes. They are easier to find and order than a single comic book (or so my experience has lead me to believe).

I previously explained my dilemma about The Last Unicorn comic. When I called to order it, I never dreamed I would have a problem. Even Sharyl mocked me, when I expressed a worry that the comic may sell out. "I really don't think people are clamoring to buy a comic on The Last Unicorn" she remarked. Oh how we were all wrong!

After not hearing anything for a month from my comic book store about the progress of my order, I decided to check IDW and was perplexed that Issue #1 was still available. Digging around the site a week later, I was even more surprised that Issue #2 had been released on June 30th, and was completely sold out in less than a month. I tried contacting my local comic book store but didn't really get an answer.

Instead I immediately tried to search down the first two issues online. I found that websites either had one or the other, or were completely sold out of both. I ordered Issue #1 from IDW directly, and ordered Issue #2 from My Comics Shop. The next day I received confirmation and shipping emails from both companies, within half an hour of each other. I didn't feel like springing on a huge amount for shipping, so I went with standard. My Comics Shop covered their ass by saying "up to 21 days" due to customs. I am hoping they both arrive next week sometime. I also hope that they don't get lost, or I don't have any problems, as I have decided to subscribe for the other issues and pre-order them with My Comics Shop.

Of course, after I placed the order, I found a Canadian website that had them both. I've booked marked them just in case.

But that brings me back to my first point, which is, I can't believe I've become so obsessed with finding this comic. After some research I found that the comic was being published in small quantities as they weren't too sure how popular it was going to be. Clearly IDW knows nothing about three things; Women, Female Nerds and Peter S. Beagle.

In my experience, a lot of women love The Last Unicorn, and women who especially love it, are nerds. Nerds like to collect things. I myself want this for my Last Unicorn Collection. I have the anniversary publishing of the book, the VHS, the first release DVD, the 25th anniversary DVD and the SF&F collection with Beagle's short story follow up to the original story: Two Hearts. I'd love to get the soundtrack, and the deluxe version of the book containing both stories but I'm not that willing to part with my money... yet. The first publishing of this comic will just fit nicely with my collection and the other comics I own. I don't have a large collection of comics, and most of them are just trades. For someone who loves Batman so much (more about that in the future), you'd think I'd have more.

For a final attempt, I went to the popular Silver Snail in Toronto while there for other reasons (Miss Saigon!). I spoke to someone at the store, who tried looking for Issue 2, but told me he was sold out of Issue 1. He said he was surprised it went so fast. He told me that there was a good chance that IDW will release the comic as a trade. I hope so, because you can bet your ass, even if I manage to get Issues 1-6, I will be getting the trade as well!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Tonight I am going to see Miss Saigon at the Four Season Centre for the Performing Arts. In honour of this occassion, I am going to recall my love for musicals.

I grew up in the Disney Renaissance. My first theatre experience was seeing The Little Mermaid. Up until 1998, Disney released an animated feature with beautiful scores and lyrics. By the time I was in high school, this trend stopped, as Disney released Tarzan, a movie with a soundtrack complete written and sung by Phil Collins. Now, the music was pretty good, and I love Phil Collins but this was a drastic change from Disney's earlier creations like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King for example.

Either way, I grew up with musicals... sorta. I was presented entertainment in musical form. The only difference was it wasn't a live performance. Because I knew and loved this formula, I was also a huge fan of any television show, animated or live action, that produced a musical episode. Musical episodes were always my favourite episodes.

So it is to no surprise that I love musicals. I love their soundtracks. I love their songs. I love their formulas. I love seeing them.

I was first introduced to a musical in the traditional sense when my parents went to see The Phantom of the Opera at Pantages Theatre in Toronto for my dad's birthday in 1994. We all went to my cousins' in Mississauga and stayed home with them while my parents and my aunt and uncle went downtown. My mom returned smittened, and purchased the soundtrack.

Once we got home, she thew it in our cd player in the sitting room, and that distinctive overture began to play. She played it over and over again, recalling the story to my brother and I. My brother didn't care much for it, but I was enthralled. I begged her to take me to see it. She told me at some point, she would. In the meantime, I bought the tape version (this was the early 90s after all, CD players were still expensive) and asked my mom for a cd/tape player for my birthday so I could listen to it over and over again. I found a beautiful black hardcover copy of the original Phantom of the Opera story. It had the most mesmerizing paintings throughout the pages. I read this tome in grade four, at the age of 10. I was hooked.

I didn't see Phantom of the Opera until 1997. But it was not the first musical I saw.

1. Grease was the first musical I actually saw. I didn't even plan it. When I was 12 I was spending the week with my friend from Toronto at a 'horsey camp' which was just the two of us staying at a friend of our parents' for a week in the summer. One night she was going to Grease, and her older sister didn't want to go, so they invited me. I actually thought they were going to Greece, and wondered how they wer eonly going for a day. She explained it was a musical. A musical about Greece? I inquired. No, she replied, high school. I was baffled. But I went and saw it, and I quite liked it. It's not my favourite but it's a good story none the less.

2. The Phantom of the Opera was the only musical I wanted to see. I didn't get my chance until 1997, when Pantage Theatre announced that the Phantom was going to be leaving that year, after a ten year run. I panicked. I told my mom she had to take me this year because we would not know if I would ever get the chance to see it. She agreed, and we went February 17th, 1997. I was so excited. I finally got to see the only musical I wanted to see. Of course, this did not become my last musical. It is still one of my favourites, and I'd see it again.

3. The Lion King was a school trip when I was in grade 11. I went with my best friend Sharyl, and it would not be the last musical we saw together. We are actually seeing Miss Saigon together. This musical was put together so well. The costumes were amazing. The opening scene with Circle of Life was mesmerizing. Just absolutely brilliant. I had already owned the soundtrack to the original Lion King so I didn't bother getting it from this production.

4. I saw Spamalot with my friend Kathleen for her boyfriend at the time's birthday. She wasn't really into Monty Python but he was. I thought it was alright. Some of the songs were hilarious, so I bought the soundtrack. The problem I had with it was it was a total rehashing of the original lines, and people were laughing at them like they were new. I mean, it was a good story, it was cute, there were some original funny moments, but when you've seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail over ten times, the swallow joke just isn't laugh out loud funny anymore.

5. Kathleen and I went and saw the Toronto University version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My mom introduced me to the movie version and I had always wanted to see it live. I had gone to some theatre showings of it at my own University. Seeing it live was great. They changed some of the costumes and themes around but it was the same story. I was a little put off that Rocky spoke a few lines, as I was more accustomed to him just grunting and staring. The funniest part was when a woman with a 8-11 year old boy was beside us. This version made a lot of references to S&M and other sexual fetishes. The woman and her child left at intermission.

6. I had the opportunity to see Evil Dead: The Musical when I was at Humber College. This was a fun, fun musical and a great soundtrack. I bought it immediately after the show. The lyrics are hilarious, the music was great, the story fantastic and the performers were just brilliant. What made this musical super fun was that the second act was interactive... if you sat in the splatter zone. In the first 5 rows you were likely to get splattered with stage blood. They do offer you ponchos if you don't want to get your clothes sprayed. I wore a white t-shirt just for the occassion. Sadly, my mom washed that shirt two years after it had been splattered and all the fake cornstarch blood came out. I do have a souvenir t-shirt from the show, and pictures of me covered in blood. If this ever comes to a town near you, see it immediately.

7. Another friend of mine and myself went to Ottawa for the sole reason to see Wicked at the Centre for Performing Arts. We did some other stuff in the three days we were there, such as check out the Marketplace, Parliment and ther Museum of Civilization but the musical was our main reason for going. I had read the book of the same title but I found it really, well, dull. It wasn't a bad story but just not what I was expecting. The musical was completely different. There were some of the same elements, but it wasn't exactly the same story. It was a beautiful musical - one I also bought the soundtrack too but I bought it at a store because I didn't feel like spending $30.00 at the theatre. I did buy a t-shirt though.

8. I took a boyfriend to see We Will Rock You in Toronto. I had high hopes for this because we both loved Queen music. It was abit of a let down. Weak story, weird use of the songs, and some of the lyrics were changed to suit the story, which wouldn't have been so bad if the story didn't flop. I don't think I spent much on these tickets and I'm glad I didn't. My other choice was to see Jersey Boys, but for some stupid reason I went with this.

9. Taking a cue from my mistake, I then decided to go see Jersey Boys with my mom, our neighbor and Sharyl. It was supposed to be wrapping up, but it's still going on. Apparently it's going to be leaving this year but who knows! It lived up to the hype. I love the Four Seasons, and the music was great. The story was interesting and kept you entertained, and they had perfect timing with the songs. I love the music but I didn't see a point in buying the soundtrack of some performers singing Four Season songs when I could just get the original songs somewhere else.

10. For my 25th birthday, I wanted to see Young Frankenstein: The Musical. I went with the same people I saw Jersey Boys with. I have to say, I found it enjoyable but the music was rather dull. Usually a musical makes you want to listen to the song again, and recall the scene. This music was just.... forgettable. There were a couple of scenes I found hilarious, and three musicals acts I did enjoy. I liked the scene when Frederick falls asleep and there's a musical number "Join the Family Business" where all his ancestors sing and dance, encouraging him to make a monster. The "Putting on the Ritz" number was astounding. The final number was hilarious because Dracula makes an appearance. It was a silly musical.

There are other musicals I have seen in movie form, but I think I'll leave that for another day. So in 13 years, I will have seen 11 musicals. I hope to see more, if they come to Toronto or even Ottawa. Some musicals I would love to see or hope come to Toronto, or even come back to Toronto are: South Pacific,Rock of Ages, Les Miserables, Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and Xanadu. I am sure there will be others that come out that I'll also want to see.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For The Honour of Grayskull... the only costume I have ever made

My She-Ra costume started as a project in 2006 when I decided I would make a costume. I always wanted to make myself a costume but I lack the skills such as sewing, and over all creative thinking. I mean, I can draw but I have a hard time figuring out how to make something concrete. The hardest part of the costume was creating the head peice. This would have been easier if I was more crafty and maybe had a better grasp on materials that could be used instead.

I completed my costume around Hallowe'en which was my plan, but I sort of half assed the rest of it. At some point I would like to change some parts of the costume. I didn't wear it in 2006 because I never made it to any parties. I did end up wearing in 2009 at a party, and I recieved many compliments for it.

Here is what I did and how would change it in the future. I wish I took pictures of it as I made it, but oh well.

The first thing I did was buy a cheap white dress that somewhat was similar to She-Ra's costume. Her dress looks more like white bustier type top and a mini skirt. I found a white dress at Wal-Mart for $6.00. It had a halter like top with a cowl and an elastic band around the skirt.

I'm not much of a sewer but I was able to modify it. First I cut the skirt off and took out the elastic band. I sewed the skirt back onto the dress at a shorter length. I cut a slit at the top of the dress and sewed two bra cups in place to make it a more bustier like top. The bra cups were the kind you buy to stick on your boobs when you have a dress that you can't wear any bra type for. The helped shape the dress really well.

And while I am pretty bad at smiling, my breasts looked fanastic.

For the boots, I just spray painted an old pair of knee high boots gold.

I bought a square of gold fabric to construct the belt, the choker and the armlets. I used velcro on these items. The choker and armlets turned out okay, but I botched the belt, and used a gold coin belt my best friend bought for me at a yard sale. I think it worked out okay... a lot better than the belt I had crafted. If I wore this costume again, I would remake the belt and armlets, using real measurements. At the time, I half assed it. The belt wasn't thick enough, nor the right shape. It also wasn't very even.

I bought some flat foam and cut it out in the shape of the wings that are located on each side of the top of her dress. I spray painted them with cold paint and added the detail with a black felted marker.

The red cape needed to be either really long, or really short depending on the version of She-Ra you are using. I used She-Ra's cartoon version, and her cape is quite short. I used a red devil cape from a dog's halloween costume. I pinned it to the straps of the dress because the cape she wears does not tie up around the neck.

The sword was just a cheap plastic sword I bought in the Hallowe'en section, probably from Wal-Mart. I picked the most medieval looking sword.

I bought a couple of fake jewels, one red and one light blue, and some gold paint. I didn't do a very good job on the symbol. It's not as even as it should be. It kind of veers off a bit. I also think I made it slightly too big, or not big enough. I don't think it's too bad, but if I came across another cheap dress I could modify, I may re-do it.

The head piece was the hardest part, and the first thing I would re-do. I bought some wire and shaped it around my head. Then I shaped the wire into wings. I then attached rolled up newspaper around it to shape it. I used paper machie to cover the newspaper and then spray painted the whole thing using a can of gold spray paint, the same one I used for the boots. I gave it about two coats. I glued the red jewel on the helm and it was done. The problem though... the two wings didn't look exactly alike. And one bent more forward, and the other bent a little too far back. It's not perfect. But for my first try, I give myself some credit. I would probably re-make it with some lighter and less bulky material.

In the cartoon she appears to be wearing pink and purple eyeshadow, so I did my eye make up the same. I wore a bright red lipstick, and I straightened my hair.

Over all, it was a pretty cool experience. I felt accomplished that I made something, and now I know how I would approach it again. I know what needs to be improved, and even then, it was still a hit.

Summer Plans

Everyone knows that the best things always happen in summer. There's always so much I want to do, but I never seem to have the time. This summer, I will attempt to accomplish most of my plans!

1. Go the Toronto Zoo
I haven't been to the zoo in three years, and before that, I can't even remember. The Polar Bears are back, and going to the zoo is such a summer event. I hope to accomplish this sometime in August, or even in the first two weeks of September when the weather is still warm.

2. Go to Fan Expo (August 27th to 29th)
Being a nerd, I have always wanted to go. But Barrie Fair has ALWAYS fallen on the Saturday of the expo and I have never been able to go. There wasn't any reason for me not to go on the Sunday other than the Sunday has never been the best day. Barrie Fair was cancelled last year, but I was out of the country so I couldn't go. Barrie Fair is still cancelled this year, but I will be in Nova Scotia until August 28th. I am going to try to get to Expo the Saturday or the Sunday. I booked my flight back from Nova Scotia really early on Saturday so I have the option of going on the 28th. More on that...

3. Go to Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia for an Archaeological Field School at the Louisbourg Fortress. I would like to get some experience in archaeology to help me get a job in the anthropology field. I didn't go to field school when I was in University, but I was suggested to go to this week long field school. I am very excited about it. I am staying at a bed and breakfast that has a room looking out at the harbor. I'll be digging at an old french fortress part of Canada's history. And I'll be travelling out east - something I have never done before! I am going to trya nd catch a few events in the evenings. I'm renting a car to get around, as my plan is to fly to Halifax, drive to Louisborg and then drive back to Halifax Friday night, sleep in the airport and take an early morning flight back to Toronto where I will either take the TTC downtown to the expo or the Go Train to Oshawa. This is going to be a crazy week.

4. Go to the Royal Ontario Museum and see the Terra Cotta Army
I've been to the ROM many times, but they were redoing the dinosaur exhibit the last time. I really would like to see the Terra Cotta Army but they're going to be there until January so there's no rush yet!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Frustraion with Comic Books!

I started to collect comics. I don't actually like collecting comics because I am a very impatient person. What I do like doing is buying the trades. Trades for those who are not comic saavy are graphic novels containing the entire comic series in one handy book form. This makes it a lot easier than collecting each issue. I have the entire Sandman series in trade form.

I learned that The Last Unicorn was getting a comic book form. I had to get it. So I decided to give my local comic book store some business and order it through there instead of ordering it online. Besides, I thought, it would save me money as I'd be paying in Canadian dollars at the store, instead of US and I wouldn't have to buy any shipping. I ordered around the end of June. I'm still waiting!

I talked to one of the guys at the store, and I had myself put on file so they would order me the entire series. I assumed it would take about a week or so for my comic to come in. Wrong. I was told I would probably be waiting 4 weeks, as the issue was back ordered. I wanted to know if that meant it was sold out, because I would cancel the order and just buy it online. I was told it was a matter of shipping, as the publication would be shipped from one location, to another, back to another and then to the comic book shop. I figured I was okay with this. I'm still waiting.

I decided to check on the status of the comic on the publisher's website. The first issue was still in stock. But the second issue has come out... and it isn't in stock! How did it get sold out so quickly!? It was released last week! I am floored. I hope they get more, or that I was on some automatic list and I'll get issues 1 and 2 together. I might have to speak to my comic book store sometime soon.

I have also started ordering The History of Bruce Wayne, where Batman gets transported back in time and lives through an incarnation through each century he turns up in. So far he has been a caveman, a witch hunter and a pirate. Next up is cowboy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scary Movie Scenes From My Childhood

A few months ago, I read not one but two lists of childhood trauma inducing movie scenes, and watched the Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 Scary Nostalgic Moments. Some of these were a part of my childhood, others not so much. Some I didn't even find scary or disturbing at all.

Most of us have these moments in our lives. Children movies have scary scenes. Some claim that children like to be scared, and it makes for a more enjoyable movie. However, I recall a different childhood memory from theses scenes - hiding behind couches when they came on, laying awake in fear, hiding under the covers (A habit I have to this day, as I can't sleep without covering my head with the blankets) and the nightmares. The worst part was that you LIKED the movies, and you continued to watch them, despite the fears. Sometimes you grew out of it, and began to appreciate the scene. Other times you just tolerate it. But sometimes... you still have to look away.

So, on a topic that has been done to death, in no particular order, here is my personal childhood hell.

1. The Last Unicorn has two scenes that sent me cowering behind the couch. I love this movie. It is one of my favourites. But my little mind just could not handle Mommy Fortuna being killed by the Harpy. It wasn't the fact that the Harpy killed her, it was just the manner it played out. Mommy Fortuna is laying on the ground as a limp hundle of clothing, what appears to be her back to the camera. And the Harpy is picking at her with her beak, like it's trying to eat her! The other scene that terrified me was the entire scene with the drunk skeleton. I already had my issues with skeletons, so this raging alcoholic with his red eyes, screaming "UNICORN!" caused me to complete skip this part when I watched the movie. Today, I can watch both scenes and they don't frighten me anymore, but 15 years ago was a different story.

2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit's dip did me in more than Judge Doom. Yea, he was scary when he reveals himself to be a googly eyed, squeaky voiced bastard, but the part where he's melted into a puddle of goop by dip? Ugggghhh. Then Mickey almost steps in it? Uuugggggh. Much like the Last Unicorn, I am 100% fine with this today.

3. The Neverending Story was a personal hell for me as a horse lover and owner. Artax giving up and sinking in the Swamp of Sadness was a horrible scene for me. I never watched it. I always had to go behind the couch or walk away. While I doesn't scare me, I still cry when this scene comes on, and it's probably the reason I don't tend to re-watch this movie. The fact that a rumor circulated that the horse portraying Artax died by drowning in that scene, as they had to chain it onto a platform made the scene even more unwatchable. The actor playing Artreyu confirmed that the horse did not die, but he himself was injured during the filming of the scene and was rather traumatized by the whole thing, refusing to film for two days.

4. Pee Wee's Big Adventure and its infamous Large Marge scene. Either this did or did not frighten me. The only reason I say this is because I don't actually remember watching the scene as a kid. It's possible I just blocked it out. As a kid, I do not remember being scared by Large Marge. BUT! As an adult, I CANNOT watch it. I've tried. And it gets me every time. I have to look away. And the worst part is, it's not even that scary looking. Maybe it's the motion. Maybe it's the eyes. But at 25, I cannot, repeat, cannot watch or look at Large Marge.

5. The Secret of NIHM's Nicodemeus. He didn't look like the other rats. He was gnarly, skeletal, raspy and had red eyes. He creeped me out. I can handle him today. The owl too, was a bit disturbing.

6. Dumbo's Pink Elephant Parade. Today it's just weird.

7. Care Bears In Wonderland is a bit like Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I loved the movie as a kid, and watched it all the time, without any problems. A couple of years ago, I found the villian's song on youtube and watched it with great delight. I don't remember this movie being scary -at all-. Near the end of the song though, something happens. But it's very quick. So quick at first you don't really notice it, but Alice gives a bit of a reaction, and I had to watch it again. And then I did the most terrible thing I could think of. I watched it in slow motion. And there it was. The scariest cartoon face I had ever seen. I was 23 and it scared the hell out of me. I took a screen shot of it, even though I couldn't bare to look at it, and showed a few people. How the hell did I miss this? Nostalgia Critic remembers it too, and made me have to re-live that scene. Much like Large Marge, I cannot look at it to this day. If you want to see for yourself, watch it for yourself, at 2:05.

8. The Dark Crystal's opening scene with the dying Skeksis emperor is quite disturbing. I haven't watched the movies in years, and I probably would avoid this scene. Two other Skeksis are waiting greedily for the king to die so one of them can claim the crown. As the emperor begins to slip away, one of them grabs the crown. The emperor jumps up in his bed, clawing at the crown screaming "MINE, IT'S MINE! MINE!" in a horrible voice. The emperor is skeletal and gnarly looking, making this scene a childhood nightmare.

9. Disney's Legend of Sleepy Hollow was an absolute favourite of mine. It was narrated and sun by Bing Cosby. I know all the songs off by heart, and love singing "The Headless Horseman Song". The Horseman himself isn't that scary... He is after all just a headless black figure with a cape, on a wicked awesome horse. But the scene leading up to his arrival? Absolute, sheer terror. The eyes in the night. The gnarly trees (gnarly is the word of the day in this post as you can tell). The eerie sounds. This movie doesn't scare me, but if I watch it, and I have to go outside, in the dark, my heart races a little faster.

10. The Black Cauldron is one of the darkest Disney films, and a great one at that. But, as a child with skeleton issues, the Horned King and his undead army that come storming out of the black cauldron itself made me run for mommy. Now that I am mostly over my skeleton fear, I can watch this again. I actually should get it on DVD as it is a wonderful movie.

11. Ferngully: The Last Rain forest helped reinforce my skeleton fear. Hexxus, the evil embodiment of pollution starts out as a skeleton, and in his climatic battle at the end, returns to being a skeleton, surrounded by fire. I had to hide behind the couch for that. Evil skeletons were worse than drunk ones. I can sorta watch it now. It's a little more creepy than the other animated skeletons.

12. Disney's Fantasia 's final scene Night on Bald Mountain, where the Devil himself summons the undead, the demons, skeletons, witches and ghosts. Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. And the way they animate these horrors? Ugggh. The Disney Hallow e'en special would use footage of this scene. The music just adds to the pant wetting terror. A scary scene for everyone.

13. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory's tunnel scene wasn't that bad for me. It was when Violet began turning violet, and swelled into a balloon. They rolled her off into the dejuicing rom, and I rolled away from the tv in terror.

There are other movies that scare me - some not exactly marketed as horror movies, some are actual horror movies. But these stand out. These were beloved childhood movies, with a pinch of trauma. And I know I'm not the only one who was frightened by these... which makes it all the more comforting!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Star Wars and Her Universe Review

Star Wars wasn't a big thing for me growing up. My parents didn't watch much movies, and my brother and I didn't go to our first movie theatre until 1989. I knew some kids who liked Star Wars, notably the son of our babysitter, who used to watch The Empire Strikes back while we were there. I wasn't even in kindergarten yet, but I do vividly remember the Tauntaun scene, and his many action figures. But I knew of Star Wars. Many of the cartoons I watched as a kid would reference, or even parody Star Wars, such as Muppet Babies. By the time I was 8, I had a grasp on what Star Wars was about, without even watching the movies. I knew who Luke, Leia, Yoda and Vader were. I knew all the spoilers as well.

I was always a nerdy kid, absorbed in a world of Batman and cartoons, with no interest in being popular, clothes, sports and dating like the other girls in my class did, yet how I never was into Star Wars at this age is mind baffling. But, because I was a nerdy girl, by the time I started dating, every boyfriend I had loved Star Wars (except maybe one - the topic never came up). Most of them wanted to watch the movies with me, but only one actually succeeded.

I was going to get around to watching them. When the Prequels were announced, I decided I would watch the Star Wars in order, from Episode 1 to Episode 6. Now, this meant waiting a few years to watch the Original Star Wars, but I thought this was a good plan and I was in no rush.

Episode 1 came out, and my mom and I went to the theatre to see it. Going into the movie, I knew Anakin was going to be Darth Vader, but that was about it. After watching it, I didn't exactly hate it, as I hadn't seen the Originals. But for someone who knew very little about Star Wars, I didn't find the movie thrilling either. When Attack of the Clones came out, I sort of had lost interest in my project, and never went to see it.

Then Revenge of the Sith was coming out. I had to see it, as it was Anakin becoming Darth Vader. That had to be awesome. But it meant I would have to catch up on the story, and I would have to go back to my original plan. The Star Wars movies came out on DVD in its trilogy set, and I bought it after Christmas, vowing that my New Years Resolution would be to watch them in order like I had planned.

The guy I was dating showed great interest in my goal. He had Attack of the Clones on DVD, and he wanted to watch the entire trilogy with me but he didn't want to wait until after ROTS came out in May. So, we sat down and I got through AOTC, and then we watched the entire trilogy. When ROTS came out, we saw it in theatres. My Star Wars promise had been complete, although not in the order I had planned.

So do I like Star Wars? I did like the stories. I wasn't thrilled about Episode 1 and 2, but I did like Episode 3 despite its cheese. I really likes Vader's last line, even though MOST hate it. But from what I saw in the Original Star Wars, it was over the top, and his NOOOOOOO really did fit the series. Return of the Jedi was probably my favourite. I came out really liking Darth Vader, Han Solo (Mostly because of Harrison Ford. I was an Indiana Jones fan before I was a Star Wars one - go figure), and tauntauns. I wouldn't say I am a rabid fan. I don't plan on reading the Extended Universe books. I don't have many collectibles. All I have is a Han Solo action figure, until now.

I always wanted a Star Wars shirt. Not anything from the Prequels, which was what most places were selling at the time. But finding a Star Wars shirt for girls was impossible. The Star Wars store sold everything in Men's sizes, and I had already had to deal with this when I bought a Fox Mulder shirt, which was in Men Sizes, no Women, and was way too big. I happened to be in Zellers one day, and I found Star Wars shirts - for boys. I took a chance and bought the biggest size Boys shirt I could find - a size 6, with a cartoonish Darth Vader on it. It looked a lot like the Baby Tees that were and still are popular at the time. It's the shirt I am wearing with Vader at the top of this post. It's a cute shirt but oh man is it tight. Vader has to stretch across my bust, and because it's cut for little boys, it's not very long. My midriff and lower back gets exposed when I wear this, so I tend to throw a zip up top over it to keep my skin from showing.

The only Star Wars shirt I could find

Then one day, I read a post on Topless Robot about a new company called Her Universe, headed by actress Ashley Eckstein who voices the character Ahsoka Tano on the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. After becoming involved in Star Wars, she was disappointed about the lack of merchandise for women and girls who were fans of the series. Shirts were all sold in Men sizes, and lacked a lot of merchandise related to of some of the prominent female characters. She took it upon herself to begin a company to design and sell shirts strictly for female fans. There is some talks about the company branching into other series in Science Fiction, since there are a lot of Sci-Fi female fans, but Sci-Fi has always had a 'Boys Club' mentality to it. The website debuted in the middle of June, with 8 shirts that are made to fit the female form, with promises of more merchandise coming in July and in later months, including jewellery and maybe even light sabre lip gloss.

I followed the Facebook group, awaiting the arrival of these shirts. I hummed and hawed after a few days, debating on buying the shirts. I don't really like buying clothes online because sizes run different for every single company and make. I can fit smalls and mediums, depending on the style, the brand, the fit, etc. On the website, they give the size measurements of the chest width and t-shirt length, which is helpful but doesn't answer many questions. Do the sizes fit big? Are they snug? Is the material stretchy? Will it give over time? Will it shrink? Where would you take these measurements? Each shirt had different sizes too. A small in one shirt was a medium in another. The other thing was the prices. The prices of the shirts aren't bad, and they are a good quality shirt. The shirts ranged between $30 and $40, so I figured with shipping it was going to be $100, in USD.

I decided the best thing to do was to measure some shirts I already owned. Many of these t-shirts ranged from small to medium. The shirts on the website have a difference of one inch between a small and a medium in chest width. I wanted to order two shirts. One was a fitted tee and the other was a thermal hoodie. The small for the fitted tee was 16 inches in chest width, and the small for the thermal hoodie was 15 inches. I was getting a measurement of 15 inches on the t-shirts I had previously wore, and decided to go with two smalls.

When I placed my order, I got the choice of $8.00 shipping, or $50.00 shipping. I wasn't in a huge rush to wear the shirts, so I went with the cheaper price. I was sent an invoice to my email. The next day I decided to log onto the website to see if the shirts had been sent. They hadn't, but I noticed my invoice had went from $80 to $120! I had the email of my first invoice, so I took a screen shot of the email and the account invoice and emailed the company. I received an email the following week explaining there had been a glitch and all international shipping would be around $50 and not $8. I was then asked if I wanted to go ahead with the purchase, which I thought was very considerate of them. I decided why not? and confirmed the order. Because the shipping was $50, it came very fast - three days from my e-mail confirmation.

While I was waiting for my shirts, other women around North America were receiving their shirts, as the store had now been open for one week. The facebook page filled up with reviews and pictures of girls happily posing in their new shirts. But some of the reviews I read made me panic slightly. Some described the shirts as fitting rather snug, especially if you had a large chest, which I do. Others said some were a bit loose. Ashley, who runs the Facebook page, was very helpful with inquiries made on the page. I confessed on the page that I was a bit nervous about whether the shirts would fit or not, after reading the some reviews that said the sizes ran small. She asked which shirt I had ordered. I told her, and explained how I decided on the shirts, using measurements of my own. She said they probably would fit, but I could return them if they didn't. She also encouraged photos of the shirts and to tell her how I liked them when I got them. Ashley's dedication to her company and brand is very admirable. She blogs and asks for suggests. She tries to help customers with sizing questions. She comments on every photo, appreciates every purchase and gives the impression that she really loves what she is doing, and this personalization is how this company will succeed. Friday July 2nd, they arrived. Of course, I had to drive to Peterborough to get it, because the Fed Ex delivery guy didn't knock on my door. I didn't want to wait until Monday to get the package, because I wanted to know if they fitted right away, plus I wanted to wear one to a party that was going to have a lot of Star Wars fans there. I am a bit of a show off! Plus, I wanted to advertise the site, for a lot of girls I know like Star Wars. I had recommend Her Universe at least four times since it opened. On top of the shipping charges, I had to pay $35 in duty fees. Such is the life when you order online from the US!

Here are my reviews of the shirts purchased, and the company itself. I apologize for the photos. I think I look rather blagh in all of them. It isn't easy taking pictures of yourself!

Star Wars Burnout

I really liked the simplicity of this design, and the color. It is a soft fabric, but it stretches. It is a very form fitting tee though. The chest width for this shirt was 16 inches across the bust, so I figured it would be the looser fitting of the two shirts. When I put it on, I was worried that it would be too tight. It is a little tight across the chest, and makes it look huge. If I were to order a shirt in this style again, I would get it in a medium, mostly due to my bust size. As mentioned before, it is rather stretchy, so over time I think it'll stretch out. I wore it to a party and everyone loved it. Ashley said that this shirt may look like it has shrunk after being in the dryer, but it will stretch back out. To be safe, I'm going to hand wash this article and hang it to dry. The only other complaint I have about this shirt (and both of these things are rather minor, the shirt does fit, albeit snugly, a lot of shirts fit that way) is the burn out lettering. The only problem with it, is that it is very sheer. You can see a bra right under it, so you need to wear a dark coloured bra, or one that matches the colour of the shirt. The one I wore in the picture above was a dark grey, but I wore a navy blue one to the party. Wearing a lighter bra really brings attention to it, while a darker one blends in a bit better. Because this material is so thin, it should be treated carefully.
Star Wars Burnout - $30 USD from Her

Empire Strikes Back Thermal Hoodie

This is the shirt I really wanted when Her Universe first opened its doors. Vader is just a great, classic character. This design is perfect. There are silver foil highlights in his helmet, and in the stars surrounding him. I order this hoodie in size small, which had a chest measurement of 15 inches. Another issue with ordering bigger sizes is that bigger sizes usually mean they are longer. I have a short torso, and I'm a short person, so I like my shirts preferably not down to my butt. This shirt is a good length, as it isn't too long to make me look like I'm wearing a dress, but it's also long enough that you can move around without the shirt raising up and giving everyone a peek of your midriff or lower back. This shirt despite being smaller in chest width, fits a bit looser than the Burn Out Tee. The material isn't too thick for being a thermal, and it is very comfortable. The material is kind of serrated, which I am guessing is part of the thermal design. It's also softer than I expected. The hoodie is the same thickness of the rest of the shirt, which I really like. I like when hoods lay flat against your back, not bunch up against your hair. It makes putting on a coat in the winter a lot easier when you don't have to move the hood around so much. The minor problem I have with this shirt is the arm length of the shirt. This is the small size, and I'm glad I didn't order it any bigger, as the sleeves bunch slightly at the wrist which you can see in this picture. I think if I got the medium, this wouldn't fit as nicely as it does. I think it would be looser around the waist, and the sleeves would make me look like I was 6 years old, wearing my mom's sweater. This is an elegant design for a Star Wars shirt. I can't wait until the days and evenings cool so I can wear this!

Empire Strikes Back Thermal Hoodie - $40 USD from Her Universe.Com

Final Thoughts
Her Universe is going to be a successful company, especially if they continue to expand their line of female orientated Star Wars merchandise. They already plan on adding more designs, jewellery, and possibly lip gloss. There are also talks about getting licensing rights for other Sci-Fi venues. My personal dealings with Her Universe has been pleasant. Everyone I have spoken to has been informative, polite and considerate. The fact that Ashley puts in so much time and effort into this makes it even more worthwhile, because she genuinely cares about the brand and its customers. The prices for the shirts are fair considering the quality. I was a little disenchanted by the shipping charges and the duties, but I knew I had to pay those. It would be nice if the shipping wasn't as expensive, but most shipping from the US tends to be. The nice thing about expensive shipping meant they came faster. I hope that the company does well, and that it comes out with more designs. I will probably hold off on buying anymore, unless there are a couple I like. I am not sure how much it costs for one shirt to be shipped, but if it is at least $20-30, I'd rather just place an order when there are two designs I like. I am hoping they make a Han Solo shirt. I know a Chewie shirt is in the works, and maybe I'll consider it. It will be exciting to watch this company grow. If you love Star Wars and don't mind the prices (US shipping is cheaper I imagine), I highly recommend this store, and I'd shop there again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Websites and Blogs I thoroughly enjoy

I'd like to raise some traffic for some sites I really enjoy visiting everyday. They keep me entertained and thus should do the same for you!

Humor Sites

Most of all, I love funny sites. Here are a couple that you should check out if you enjoy a good laugh. If you don't enjoy a good laugh, then there's probably something seriously wrong with you.

List Of The Day is a wonderfully funny site that re-posts some funny lists from other websites without actually having to visit those websites (like Maxium, for example). Full of funny photos, some which readers contribute, Craig List postings, videos and Engrish, this is a place that I check regularly throughout the day. I have found other funny sites through this blog as well.

White Ninja is a comic that follows the adventure of White Ninja. As described by its creators

"White Ninja Comics are not for the weak of mind. They are a brilliant satirical commentary on controversial worldly issues. They can be enjoyed on many levels. Scholars, Philosophers, and the like, who possess the intellect to analyze and break down the comics to their hidden, and often devious, roots, will enjoy White Ninja to its fullest degree. Others, like you and I, however, can still enjoy the comics for their light-hearted surface humour and funny drawings."

Cake Wrecks should be a household name by now. A showcase of some magnificent looking cakes, as well as some very sad, sad looking attempts - many from bakeries.

11 Points is a blog of lists, all which go to 11. Ranging from sports, to pop culture, to the obscure, there are some interesting facts amongst these lists!

The Oatmeal mostly consists of comics about grammar. And T-Rexes.

Mudtown is another comic without continuity. It is hard to describe as it has no theme, except a lot of references to pop culture. The Beatles and Jim Henson tribute comics are a must see.

Awful Library Books proves that not all books are for the academic and smartsy type people.

Hyperbole and a Half is a blog full of new product ideas, market strategies, a spaghetti noodle with a speech impediment and the childhood stories of the author. Also, a wonderful post about Cake Vs Pie (Pie is the winner by far).

Cracked is hit or miss. Some articles are geninuely hilarious, others not so much. The biggest highlight is Wednesday for their lame version of a photoshop contest.

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel highlights the colourful wardrobe of the Canadian National Treasure, Don Cherry. This blog is only active and valid during hockey season.

Nerdy Sites

Nerdy sites and humor sites go hand and hand. A lot of these sites are actually really funny as well, but are more geared towards nerdy persuits!

Topless Robot is my favourite stop for nerd news. With weekly contests, daily lists, apparel, and Fan Fiction Friday, it is one of my staple sites throughout the day.

Superdickery reminds us that Super Man, and other comic book heroes are, indeed, dicks. It also showcases some strange, and non sensical comic book covers.

Epbot is a blog by the wonderful blogger who brings us Cake Wrecks except this blog is all about her geeky pursuits.

Kindertrauma reminds you of all the movies that scared the hell out of you as a kid.

The Great Showdowns are drawings of the showdowns faced in a movie. Very witty!

College Misery is a newer blog that stemmed from Rate Your Students, where professors laid down the smack to their students. A lot of it is about academic complaints, but every once and awhile it has some great rants.

Great White Snark is another website for nerd news.

Nimoy Sunset Pie is exactly that.

Girly Pursuits

These are sites that are read by both men and women, but tend to be geared more towards women.

is a blog site with interesting news stories and encourages discussion. A lot of topics are women orientated.

has step by step receipes for baking delicious desserts. I haven't tried one yet but I will... one day!


I couldn't really think of a category for these!

Sociological Images is a thought provoking site that explores gender and race construct in images we see everyday.

Escape To The Movies With Movie Bob is one of the places I go for movie reviews. Other than Rotten Tomatoes.