There is so much genre television right now that it’s hard to remember how sparse the landscape once was not all that long ago. And how it seemed like you could only really have one subgenre at a time, horror or science fiction for example, but not usually both. Now there’s plenty to chose from, ranging in style, flavor, and quality. No longer do we have to sit through a craptastic hour of television just because it’s the only thing on the air with superheroes or vampires or whatever your favorite is.

Which is a roundabout was of saying I’ve been watching a fair bit of Netflix lately.

Person of Interest is my current obsession, basically taking the spot in my heart previously occupied by Fringe. The two series are very different in a lot of ways but both fill that action-thriller spot, have interesting explorations of ethics and morality, and manage to build a strong ensemble cast with excellent female characters. They also both share a clever approach to ideas that are not entirely novel but haven’t been explored quite so well previously on television. I do hope POI stays on target better than the latter seasons of Fringe did, though.

In superheroics Arrow has built from a workmanlike action hero series to a pretty decent comic book series, allowing itself to relax into the inherent absurdity of its genre. It’s still serious and angsty and often soapy as hell, but they seem to be having more fun with it and expanding into a shared universe both internally with more heroes and villains and externally with crossovers.

The Flash needed no long build up, maybe because of the groundwork already laid down by Arrow, and has more great comic book stuff per episode than you can count. The other thing it has going for it is a much lighter tone and a solid sense of humor, which is appropriate to the title anyway but has also always felt more like DC’s strength anyway. I loved the Mark Waid era of the comic back in the nineties and am enjoying the fuck out of the series so far.

Gotham is a bit more frustrating. I loved the first half dozen episodes; a little grotesque and a little weird but mainly focused on the story of the struggle to control Gotham by criminal syndicates, the corrosive effect of that struggle on the city’s public servants and citizenry, and the start of a crusade to clean it up by Gordon. It’s not quite in the superhero genre as we now know it more in that pulp era masked crime fighter sensibility of The Shadow or Dick Tracy. But towards the end the season there seemed to be a loss of focus, some clumsy writing in regards to several female characters, and just a general loss of focus. Hope they get back on track next season.


Con-volution: Legion of Fandom

Convolution was excellent, everything you could want from your regional convention. I was not the only one to remark that it felt a lot like Baycon did once upon a time. Convolution is still relatively new and not yet as large as Baycon at its height but it certainly had that high energy,  the evening scene in particular, and that feeling that everyone you know is there.

Comparisons aside here are some of my thoughts on the convention, in no particular order;

The theme. This is a place Convolution excels. They come up with a theme and then use it as a guide to build their guest list, programming, and so on. Legion of Fandom was a “big tent” appeal and meant good representation of various fandoms and fun stuff like the Ambassador’s Ball. Part of that is the effort the con puts into decorating the space thematically, I’ve said it before and will say it again; more conventions should really do this.

The Art Gallery was very well run. It looked great, the staff was on the ball, and a concerted effort had clearly been made to make things run smoothly but also to bring folks in and encourage participation. There was a lot of good art ,including some really fun new pieces by my friend Bryan Little, who needs a damned website or something already.

The dealer’s room had a nice variety of vendors including at least one who mentioned that they normally sell at Anime Conventions. Fitting given the theme, but also just a good idea generally; cross-pollination!

PARTIES. This was a highlight for me, obviously. The hotel is a good one for parties, with wide hallways, large rooms, and none of that depressing plastic-wrap nonsense. There were four or five parties each night, which is not a huge amount but seemed to be the right number for a convention of this size. San Jose in 2018 (and its Barbarella-themed Saturday incarnation) was of course at the top of the list and packed from beginning to end, but the Red Room Twin Peaks party was a nice surprise, BASFA was the last to close on Saturday I think, and the always reliable Klingon Black Hole plied it’s trade nicely. The Firefly LARP had a nerf-war room that I didn’t go into but sounded amazing as well.

There were a lot of great hall costumes,including some excellent Fury Road cosplay.  There were some Convolution 2015 masquerade entries but I didn’t see any of the skits performed since Jade Falcon and Bill Howard roped me into being a warm body for their Hawkeye entry. It won Best in Show: Presentation though, so it was totally worth it.

One thing that bears mentioning even though it happened “offstage” so to speak from my personal convention experience is that the convention handled a Code of Conduct issue expertly, without hesitation or undue fuss. This was not for something that happened during the con but rather for a persona non grata who showed up despite being banned. So often we only hear when conventions drop the ball, not the least because a well-handled situation of this sort is practically invisible. So well done Convolution!

As with any convention there were one or two areas that could use improvement, these were pretty small in my experience.

First one was the lack of a printed pocket program. Yes, the guidebook app is cool but not everyone has the best phone (or any, kids for instance?) and keeping your phone charged in a con/hotel environment  isn’t the easiest. I missed having a newsletter as well, I still feel they add to the sense of community and are useful for party info.

Second was the television in the consuite. The spread and volunteers were great, but where at most conventions the consuite serves as a social space to chat with folks, this one had a TV tuned to science fiction programming on television (commercials and all). So of course there were always people watching and no chance of talking with them, the staff, or your friends except maybe about the movie. Perhaps a TV with subtitles (which worked nicely in the Twin Peaks party) would have served better?

But these were the only things that I could point to offhand from my weekend. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in ages, I had conversations with people I’ve seen around over the years but never really spoken to at length, and I met entirely new people. Which is to say it was a damned fine con.


Convolution is this weekend, so I’m busy getting art done. Since I don’t have most of my supplies I indulged myself in some new pigma micron pens on the basis that those are always good to have more of. Luckily I’d also bought a small watercolor set to do a dinosaur poster Sasquan’s fanzine lounge, so that’s handy.

Unfortunately the scan of the Sasquan piece has some issues (I’m told the poster looked better) but in any case here is a hastily edited jpeg until I get a chance to clean it up further.


GGC Episode 84: Favorite Animations

In our latest episode we talk about recent animation that we’re digging on the small screen and the large, plus of course Jade and Sandy discuss their latest crafting projects.

Download links, shownotes and more over at the Geek Girl Crafts Podcast website.

Bye bye cinnamon rolls

This week is my last working at the cafe near my house after being there about six months. It is a terribly convenient job in many ways and I certainly enjoy the free pastries, but I won’t miss waking up before the sun is up nor working in a place without air conditioning.

What my other gig lacks in convenience it makes up for in not having to deal with the public. While the customers at the cafe are nice enough, I’m far happier not dealing with humans directly and listening to podcasts while I go about my work instead.  It will be nice having weekends off again, I need to prep artwork for Convolution for starters, and just generally not working seven days a week.

Add in some proper Fall weather finally and I’d say this week is starting off just fine.

Labor Day weekend.

After working nonstop for far too many days in a row I took Labor weekend off and headed down to San Jose to help celebrate Bryan and Mette’s 15th wedding anniversary. The event had been a long time in the making since busy friends means difficult scheduling, but it was definitely worth the wait.

It started off (for me) less than ideally when my “quick” errand on Friday afternoon turned into a multi-hour ordeal for reasons too tedious to get into. However I eventually arrived in San Jose in time to help a little with setting up for the next day. On Saturday morning everyone met up at Psycho Donuts and things kicked off with a treasure hunt! We were split into teams and given a couple of hours to solve some clues and hunt for locations across downtown SJ. It was a ton of fun even if the team I was on came in last, alas. Mexican food (and drinks) followed while everyone rested their feet and chatted, and then we were led to the Hotel de Anza for a lovely recommitment ceremony and champagne. Finally we all headed over to their home for drinks and conversation. It was a really wonderful day and they really are the cutest couple.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling quite rested despite the running around and the drinking, I guess getting a proper eight hours makes up for all sorts of sins. We had some excellent Indian-Mexican fusion food at a place called Curry Pundits and then they dropped me off at Caltrain and off I went back to the city.

But despite having to work Monday and Tuesday both my weekend wasn’t over. I had made Joe Price promise we’d go to Death Guild and after flaking the week previous I had no excuses this time. I napped in preparation and we got in a solid two and a half hours at the DNA, about half of which I spent on the dance floor.

All in all a very good weekend.

Hugos, Helsinki Part II

Sasquan has passed and the Hugo vote went about as well as could be expected, which is to say that the slates got no awarded and there were some solid winners outside of that. I watched the ceremony on Ustream from the comfort of my bed and was impressed, it was top notch, the best Hugo ceremony I’ve seen in fact. Its a credit to everyone involved that (most of) the audience seems to have come away invigorated and optimistic.

All that said it bears remembering that the slaters did achieve one of their aims all the same. Every year after the ceremony, the convention always releases the full nomination and voting statistics. This means we can have a look at what the ballot would have looked like without the slate, and it would have been a strong year with a diverse and wonderful list of works and nominees. A few I have read already, the rest I will seek out now.

Beyond that, Helsinki won their bid for 2017 so I’m looking forward to that. My next convention will be Convolution in Burlingame over the first weekend in October. I’ll be doing some panels and maybe some Geek Girl Crafts stuff with Sandy and Jade, and with any luck it’ll be my last shindig before taking off fold colder climes.

Hugos, Helsinki

I vacillated for a bit but eventually paid my money and voted for the Hugos and the 2017 Site Selection.

The Hugos were of course a mess but ironically it made them less work that most years since there was so little to read. That said, I really enjoyed the Graphic Novel category and was also glad to have the ballot remind me how great the semiprozine landscape is currently.

As for 2017, I was happy to rank Helsinki first. It’s no secret that I was a bit meh about their initial run, which I felt started off strong and enthusiastic but seemed to lose a lot of momentum. This time around things have looked much stronger and better organized. Plus the team has been better and getting across reasons to go to Helsinki specifically. Fingers crossed they’ll win, though aside from the weather DC could be pretty great too.

I’ll be sad missing Worldcon this year, especially with it being (relatively) close, but it’s good to get swept back into its gravitational pull;  voting, reading online discussions, watching friends start their prep for the con, and then eventually following the social media chatter during the con and the reports afterwards. Even if I can’t be there this all makes it harder to drift too far out of the loop with work and other mundane distractions.

Netflix fix

Catching up on old shows seems to be the name of the game for me right now. I finally finished all of Fringe, which I had seen the first three or so seasons of a couple of years ago but decided to start from scratch. It was definitely worth the rewatch, although it’s also true that I found the final season underwhelming. The characters and humor kept my interest, but I found the central conceit of the first seasons much more compelling than the dystopian future element. Still, it felt satisfying to see everything wrapped up. I wish the show had gotten more attention when it was on the air, Olivia is a fantastic protagonist, John Noble deserved a boatload of Emmy’s, and the supporting cast was gold. Ah well.

Currently watching The West Wing, which I am having a bit of trouble with. The cast is great and the first season whizzed by alright… but as it goes on I find myself half enthralled and half irritated. The dialogue can be brilliant but is also distractingly loaded with authorial tics, particularly that cutesy repetition gag. And the fact that the same verbal style is shared by all the characters starts to wear after a bit, I like mannered dialogue fine but a Mamet movie only lasts 90 minutes and then you’re out. It doesn’t help that most of the female supporting cast is starting to really annoy me. Giving it till the end of season 2 to pull me back in.

And finally; Forever Knight, which I’m watching with my roommate. We just finished off season 2 and it’s still quite entertaining in a mid-90s vampire police procedural sort of way. It’s a relic from an era when genre television had smaller budgets and far less ambitious goals story-wise but its also fun to see how many things it actually did first which we’d later see in Angel and other vampire shows. Plus Nigel Bennet pops in regularly to keep things from ever getting to serious.

Next up, maybe some M*A*S*H?