Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for July, 2010

Friday Fiction Project X : Inspiration

So this week I’ve been working on characters. Names, rough backgrounds, personalities. But I’m not going to share that yet. Sorry. But you know, there’s a lot of other stuff that I’ve worked on already that I thought needed documentation.

Inspiration comes from a lot of places for me. For the projects that I have notebooks for (and there are several) I have been inspired by television programs, dreams, movies, and even collaborations that fell through.

But this project? This one takes the cake. My inspiration came from a character that I’d worked up for a performance. And not just any performance… an ongoing performance that I did 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for almost 3 years. Read More…

Setá : Uptown Whittier

For our anniversary TheBoy and I went to Setá, a restaurant in Uptown Whittier. The chef, Hugo Molina, has gotten a fair amount of coverage for his work in the community- educating youths about healthy food and sustainability, as well as his use of organic, local and sustainable ingredients. Not only that, it’s been dubbed a must for Foodies, so how could we not go?

We made reservations, which I’d say are a must. It’s a small restaurant, with about a dozen or so tables. So if you’re there on a crowded night, you might be out of luck if you show up without one – though the lounge portion does have access to the full menu.

While the picture’s blurry, it’s pretty representative of the decor. Sleek, clean lines everywhere. Gorgeous.

We were seated by the window, which gives you a view of Philadelphia St, and a city parking lot.

It sounds like a terrible view, but it really isn’t. Uptown Whittier is made up of a lot of older buildings, and has a neat sort of vibe to it. A little old, a little hip, and all with a small town vibe- which is neat, as it’s not that far from Downtown LA.

Read More…

6 years ago today…

Six years ago, I married the love of my life.

(This is where using a pseudonym makes for difficult sentiment)

To TheBoy- you are my true love, and my soul mate. I can’t say that it’s been easy (marriage and parenthood isn’t), but it’s been fun. You know how to make me laugh, make me smile. You know what I need after a rough day, from In-n-Out to a Chai Latte. You never called me geeky for loving RPGs, memorizing the tiniest facts about Star Wars or dragging you off to Comic-Con for vacation year after year. You embraced me, all my weird quirks and all.

Here’s to the next 6 years. May I finally figure out how to stop procrastinating and start cleaning.

Love you,
W

Friday Fiction: Project X

I have something that I’ve been wanting to work on for awhile. A novel, with the first draft to be published serial style online. It’s a pet project, that I’ve been dying to write for almost 9 years now, featuring a storyline that is near and very dear to my heart.

Right now I’m working on the characters and design (there will be some illustrations), and I will occasionally need some help from you, my friends and readers.

So what am I working on? Well, here’s your weekly hint. Right now I have a brainy heroine who was formerly saddled with the last name Tremaine. However, I was looking for a name for an English Lord and his son… and now they’re the Tremaines. Currently I’m looking through French last names, and hilariously, I keep picking ones that I’ve used for characters in other projects. Yikes.

I’ve decided to ditch having the English Lord be an English Lord. Knighting a ficticious someone is much easier than creating a family that doesn’t exist. Sir Tremaine it is!

Me, just me.

In scrolling through a lot of my recent posts, I haven’t talked much about me. Mostly just my opinions on things.

I’d like to say that I’m just not that interesting, at least not to myself. You see, in my mind have worlds that are waiting to be written. So I spend any time not with my children in those worlds, trying to put them to paper. I have a big supernatural epic thing that’s been in process since I got married. A pirate epic that’s been in process for nearly that long. I wrote it, and apparently I was thinking along the same lines as the writers for Pirates of the Caribbean, because there were a lot of similar elements. So I’m still reworking that. The last thing I’d want is for someone to think I’d ripped off the movies.

I also worry that if I write too much about my kids, I’ll become your annoying internet friend. The one who writes about nothing but her children and is fascinated by poop. Poop! Rest assured, I am just as annoyed by poop as the rest of you are, though at this age in my kids’ lives, our lives revolve around it.

Most of my day is spent with my kids. Making sure that they don’t murder each other while wrestling, or that the youngest doesn’t ingest something that will kill him. They are hilarious. But I realize that everyone thinks their kids are brilliant and hilarious, so I don’t blog about it.

I want to blog more about food, but I have no camera. Food posts aren’t very interesting without a camera, and I could put together more videos, but that would involve me making myself look fabulous- and usually the days I want to cook, I’m all about hanging out in my pajamas. There’s nothing worse than killing a good pajama day by making yourself look fabulous.

That said, I hope that everyone’s having a wonderful week. Despite the fact that I’ve been worried about TheBoy’s hours, it’s been a good week here in the house. Our oldest is using the bathroom regularly without being hassled (the downside of boys two years apart is that the youngest was born just as we were starting to potty train the first and he became very defiant). The youngest is talking more and more, and saying the strangest things. I have actually gotten some sleep, despite the fact that the boys wake me up at 6 a.m.. I will invest in blackout curtains for their room.

Now I’d better get back to the kids. I’ve been writing this post for the better half of an hour, only because they’re busy wrestling and that comes with a fair amount of bumped heads and other “boo-boo”s. And there is no better medicine, for them at least, than a kiss from Mom.

Why mainstream is good, Comic-Con fans

You’ll hear plenty of people complain that Comic-Con has gotten too mainstream- that there are too many movie and TV panels that aren’t related to comic books at all, and that it isn’t what the convention was about.

I am not one of them. I admit, I complained about Twilight having a panel at Comic-Con- mostly because it brought a lot of people who had no idea about Comic-Con etiquette. Pre-Twilight, nobody would have thought about camping out for days for the panel. We all knew that it was private property, that they discouraged that, and most people simply lined up for big panels a couple hours in advance. And the noise… you could hear them from a mile away. Not only that, I felt bad for any panel that was in the room prior to the Twilight panels- the room was filled with Twilight fans and there wasn’t room for any of theirs- why they weren’t scheduled first in the day is beyond me.

That said, I was glad that a whole new group of people were being opened up to the Comic-Con experience. Because, the bigger it becomes, the more I can trust it’ll be there next year. Yes, Comic-Con is huge. But if hotel rates keep going up (as they have) and other behind the scenes fees increase, it’ll be harder to keep something going if it’s just geared towards fans of comic books.

I love comic books, and yet, I haven’t bought a single comic book at SDCC all the years I’ve gone. I’ve met vendors who sell online and bought from them later, but never bought anything that wasn’t from an individual artist on site. It’s too hard to leave and come back, and I wouldn’t want to carry around valuable issues with me. I’ve bought prints (and had storage for those with me), t-shirts and weapons.

Honestly, I hadn’t even gone to any panels until a few years ago. I enjoyed roaming the floors, and hadn’t wanted to tear myself away from the excitement there to wait in line. But it’s lots of fun.

Some of the complaints I saw is that it’s too crowded now, and that tickets sell out before you find out who’s going. I’m not sure about you, but I’d much rather be surrounded by people who wanted to visit Comic-Con for the experience than someone who only wants to go because Movie X has a panel.

I love the idea that networks and studios want their shows and movies to have panels. Because it means that they see people who go to Comic-Con as the audience they want. Those panels aren’t cheap to put together. While I don’t talk much about what TheBoy does, I can say that a good portion of his last week has dealt with material for a couple of panels- and the hours that went into making sure that someone has a 10 minute reel to show… it isn’t cheap.

Nor do I think of it as going mainstream or selling out. I think it’s more of an acceptance that geeks are everywhere. We’re awesome. We watch movies, play video games, read comic books and other printed materials, and buy merchandise. Because Comic-Con isn’t just about comics anymore. It’s a party that geeks of all backgrounds can visit, meet others, and have a grand time. And it’s one that’s being done with more style every year.

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that Twilight won’t be there this year. Take a deep breath. Not because I’m secretly a fan, but honestly, it seems disrespectful to the fans not to. I know that Eclipse just came out and they haven’t started filming Breaking Dawn- but would it have been too hard to put together a Q&A with some of the cast? What I took away from it was that Summit doesn’t really care about the fans themselves, they’re more concerned with how much money they can make from them. But hey, it opened up space for someone else to show.

If you still aren’t sold- for those who’ve struggled to get a friend or significant other to come with you because they think it’s too geeky, just show them who have panels and who is exhibiting on the floor. It might be just enough to get them in the door and lure them to the geek side. Next year, at least. Comic-Con is completely sold out of tickets and has been for some time. So if you want to go to San Diego in 2011, make sure you visit Comic-Con.Org regularly. And start saving up!

Fan Entitlement

Sorry, I didn’t want to rant. But yesterday, Jeph Jacques of Questionable Content posted this tweet:

And I agree with him 100%. If there’s something that baffles me, it’s fan entitlement. If you are someone who enjoys a free service, you are entitled to nothing. Especially when it’s artwork. Now, Questionable Content is Jeph’s job. He puts out strips 5 days a week for most of the year, and only takes a couple breaks for holidays and conventions. He makes his money through advertising on the site, as well as merchandise. For the webcomic artist, visiting comic conventions is a crucial part of self-promotion. It gives him the chance to sell merchandise in person, meet fans, meet other artists… and to introduce his comic to people who might not have heard about it.

I’m declaring this an Emily Post of the Internet moment- where we define just what’s appropriate:

Artists, whether webcomic artist, author or musician, are not performing monkeys. Simply because you visit their site, they are not required to submit to your every whim. Now, if you commission someone to do work for you, then you can complain if they don’t deliver it as promised. But when you’re visiting their site because you enjoy what they do, you cannot email them or use twitter to complain that they’ll have a week of guest comics. Nor can you complain if they’re too ill to put up their work. Have you ever been too ill to go to class or to go to work? Guess what, they’re human and get sick too.

Why don’t we, as the Internet, agree that we’ll just enjoy what they offer. Buy books, artwork and merchandise that they make, and click on ads that we find interesting. And if you don’t like it? Find something else to enjoy. All you do by sending angry emails and tweets is make everyone else look bad.

Tips for Comic-Con

Never been to Comic-Con? While I’m not going this year, I can pass along some tips.

Make a Con kit. While most of these things are readily available, it’s good to carry them on you. I always carried two bottles of water, and three energy bars. Helped me while waiting for panels and keeping hydrated on the warm convention floor. I also only carried what I needed – photo ID, a credit card for emergencies, some cash for shopping and food (while they do take debit at lots of places, cash will get you through faster), some feminine hygiene products (just in case) and a pair of flip flops or small sneakers. Since I usually was in costume, the shoes were in case I got tired of wearing 4 inch heels. (I have a messenger bag with a comfy strap that I use, and if I’m in costume, I make sure I have a someone who doesn’t mind wearing it.) Also, if you’re in costume and your costume requires makeup, bring it with you- you’ll have to retouch at some point in time. Bring extra bobby pins, and a small sewing kit just in case. Read More…

Worst Service Ever.

Last night, TheBoy and I slipped out for dinner. Nothing fancy- it was Sunday night, and rather late at that.

The location: Chili’s at the Puente Hills Mall

We arrived, a little on the late side (it was around 7:30). The restaurant didn’t seem to be very crowded and we were told we’d be seated “soon” (they took our party size, not our name). We began to chat. People left, and tables were cleared and still we weren’t seated.

After about 10 minutes, we were seated. We looked at our menus for about another 5 minutes before our waiter appeared. We ordered our drinks and an appetizer, and he assured us he’d be back in a few minutes to take our order.

Time passed, and we hadn’t see any waiters near us to flag down, nor were we able to see our waiter. About 20 minutes after we ordered our appetizer, another waiter came out with our appetizer, and in desperation, TheBoy asks if he can take our actual order. He did, and we dug into the spinach and artichoke dip. Well, TheBoy dug in, I devoured. About 10 minutes later, our waiter emerged to ask if everything was alright. Then vanished. Again.

Around this point, we could hear laughter and celebration coming from the back of the restaurant- back meaning the kitchen. I don’t care if there’s some sort of birthday party, someone’s last day… it shouldn’t stop the operation of wherever you work if it’s in the service industry. Yes, offices can stop work, but restaurants and Disneyland can’t.

Then, he arrived with our food. TheBoy’s steak and jalapeno quesadilla and… a bowl of blackened chicken alfredo pasta. Which wasn’t what I ordered. I calmly mentioned that fact, though I wanted to wring his neck by this point in time and told him what I had ordered. He walks back to place the order, and I force TheBoy to start eating without me. The waiter comes back with my plate and tells me that he’d grabbed the wrong one, but it wasn’t his fault because he wasn’t the one who put in the order.

That’s right. He tried to blame the guy who covered the table for him, who did put in the right order, when he (our waiter) didn’t bother to see what our order actually was. He checked on us numerous times after we got our food, and refilled our beverages (though he didn’t know that I was drinking water, he asked if the nearly full glass was Sprite).

I’ll say this, having worked at Disneyland, and having a father who put himself through grad school by waiting tables and working in a kitchen, I am far more accommodating than the average person. Normally I wouldn’t have minded him asking what I had to drink, but after not knowing what I’d ordered for dinner, I expected him to at least look at our ticket to see what we’d had to drink. It would have been a small act to restore goodwill. But with everything combined, I was upset and honestly, I don’t know that I’ll go back to that Chili’s for a good long while.

So yes, I’m writing about this experience. I plan on emailing Chili’s as well. I’m not asking for an experience where waiters spend all their shifts hovering and asking how my meal is. All I expected was for our waiter to at least make sure that our table was covered if he was unavailable, and to make sure he knew what our actual ticket was- to try and make sure that we got our food in a timely manner.

Update: Okay, Worst Service Ever is a bit harsh. Our food was warm, and we did not fall ill. But we were neglected.

Old Spice, and why I don’t agree with @Alyssa_Milano

I loved the Old Spice campaign. I loved the original ads and think that this week’s web campaign of personal responses to bloggers, Twitter & Facebook users… was brilliant. It’s raised the bar for any company and ad agency mounting a web campaign, and got people actively involved in a way never seen before. Not to mention that the sheer feat of producing 170+ videos in two days is something that would normally be considered impossible.

Honestly, the only part of the campaign I didn’t like was Alyssa Milano using the ad campaign for activism. Yes, it’s a good cause. But her actions are essentially bullying them into donating. How so? The Old Spice twitter account and videos seem to be the work of W+K, an ad agency. They can make all the silly videos they want, and send flowers to Alyssa, but a $100,000 donation would need to be made by Procter and Gamble. Word would have to be passed along to the company, and because it was being funneled through marketing, that takes time. And as time passes, it only makes the Old Spice team, not Procter & Gamble look bad. Admit it, not many of you knew that Old Spice was made by Procter & Gamble.

How should she have done it? She could have posted a video asking for Old Spice to bring attention to Gulf Coast Restoration and the charity- and given all the lovely people watching the video the information to donate themselves. Then, she should have contacted Procter and Gamble directly and let them know about her video, and ask them to match donations made by Old Spice fans. They would have little reason to say no (as she’s pointed out, $100,000 is not much money for a large company like P&G), and everyone would have won. Everyone would have looked good and even more people would have been aware of the charity.

I’m sure I won’t be very popular for this post, but honestly, having a large amount of followers on Twitter does require some sort of responsibility. Charity isn’t charity if you’re bullied into donating. Good cause or not, she could have asked P&G in a manner that wasn’t putting them in a corner- and making the wonderful team behind the Old Spice ads look bad.

It does look like she’ll get her donation. The Old Spice guy tweeted “Apologies for dlay. I’m saving village by damming flash flood w/left pec while typing u this msg w/right pec. My ppl 2call.” I just hope that in the future, she is a bit more careful in her actions.

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