galaxy's edge batuu falcon wide
the geek life

Let’s go to Batuu: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is OPEN!

galaxy's edge batuu falcon wide

The wait is OVER. Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, aka Black Spire Outpost in Batuu, is OPEN! I got to go with a few friends on Monday, so I’m going to tell you all about it– which I know other blogs have done, but I feel like some of you might enjoy a first hand account of this. So here we go.

(Note to Jared*: STOP. DO NOT PROCEED. THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.)

*who has asked to not hear or see anything about it to maintain the surprise when he gets to go. This also applies to anyone who wants to go experience it without seeing anything beforehand. 

Are we good? Good.

galaxy's edge batuu photo booth
A photo-op at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland, where we checked in for our reservation.

Galaxy’s Edge is a fully immersive, brand new world at Disneyland (and, soon to be, at Walt Disney World in Orlando), set in a place called Batuu, on the outer rim of a galaxy far, far away. Batuu itself is not from any of the films, tv shows, or books, but is instead a fully created-for-the-parks space, in order to give it a distinct feel. The entire cast is in character, and everything about it feels like you’re stepping into a village somewhere in the Star Wars universe. What helps is that they’ve gone to such a deep level that you won’t even find “Star Wars” branded merch inside the area– because, after all, the characters IN Star Wars don’t know what “Star Wars” is! (Don’t worry, you can still get ALL the Star Wars branded merch over in Tomorrowland!)

There are three entrances to the new “land”– one in Critter Country, behind the Hungry Bear restaurant (no longer a dead end!), and two in Frontierland. For the reservation slots through June 23, guests are asked to enter via Critter Country. Though they ask you not to queue up before your time slot, people of course do. It starts to get pressed around twenty minutes before the official entry time.

(Important to note– if you’ve got a reservation, the first and last hour are the most crowded because that’s when you overlap with the previous and next group of people. If you are reading this after June 23, 2019….this is irrelevant haha.)

galaxy's edge batuu resistance ship
A Resistance ship sitting at the edge of the outpost.

Entering through Critter Country, you walk a long-ish (for Disneyland) path through the trees, and the immersion begins immediately from the lampposts to the animal tracks in the sidewalk. The walk opens up and you find yourself at a small resistance outpost, complete with a ship (that looks a lot like Poe’s) and kiosks selling handy things like Resistance MREs and other bits.

galaxy's edge batuu first look
First look at the edge of Black Spire, over the crowd.

From there, you go around a corner and the main settlement of Black Spire Outpost comes into view. From that direction, we were facing the marketplace to the left, and the path leading around to the cantina line to the right (I’ll get back to that).

galaxy's edge batuu chewie
Chatting with Chewie.

This area is where we also bumped into Rey and Chewbacca, who were hanging about and, I think, avoiding Kylo Ren….

galaxy's edge batuu first order
The First Order has taken over this side of the village.

…because when you walked around the marketplace and past the droid factory, suddenly you’re in the middle of a First Order encampment. (This is where the other two entrances into the land are, as well– and for the reservation previews, are the best exits to avoid the incoming crowds.)

galaxy's edge batuu kylo's ship
Kylo Ren’s ship.

Kylo’s ship is parked there (complete with PhotoPass photographers!) and he and the Troopers come out every so often to check the crowd for members of the Resistance.

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If you can slip past Kylo and continue your loop, you’ll pass Oga’s Cantina on you right, the path back toward the lightsaber making area on the left, and the high-end collectibles shop.

galaxy's edge batuu falcon

Eventually another wide section opens up and there you are, face to face with the Millennium Falcon in all of her glory.

This large plaza is excellent for taking photos (and there are more PhotoPass people here!) but is also the entrance to Smuggler’s Run, the new RIDE. This ride puts you in the cockpit of the Falcon as a crew of 6– 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers– with the task of recovering some, um, cargo.

galaxy's edge batuu inside smuggler's run
Walking behind the Falcon while in line for Smuggler’s Run.

ABOUT THE SMUGGLER’S RUN RIDE: Because I am a person who doesn’t like certain kinds of rides and wants to know EXACTLY what I’m getting into, here’s the important stuff! First, this is a flight-simulator ride, kind of akin to Star Tours or perhaps Flight of Passage, but WITHOUT the 3D glasses, though the view port IS rendered in 3D so you may still have the effect. This ride DOES move around a lot and, if you are prone to motion sickness, could bring on a bout of icky feelings. There are SHARP and SUDDEN movements, but NO DROPS. (That’s an important thing to know for yours truly.) Finally, if you are prone to issues with any of these types of things, I’d recommend NOT being the Pilot– Pilots have the most screen-heavy roles. But if you sit toward the back as an engineer, you can concentrate on pushing buttons and not have to look at the screen.

galaxy's edge batuu falcon smugler's run
Hanging out on the Millennium Falcon, nbd.

There are fantastic Falcon photo ops both while waiting for your turn and directly after, and it feels like you’re really walking around the ship.

galaxy's edge batuu black spire

Walking around, this feels like the Disney answer to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The detailing in the shops is not to be missed. Even if you aren’t buying anything, the shopping experience reaches Wizarding World levels of detail.

galaxy's edge batuu collector's shop

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is easily where you can spend the most money, if you aren’t building a droid or lightsaber.

galaxy's edge batuu ithorian
Ithorian shopkeeper Dok-Ondar.

There are shopkeepers, creatures in habitats, familiar and not-so-familiar bits from all over the galaxy… Everywhere you look, there’s something else to see.

galaxy's edge batuu droids
Droids lined up outside of the Depot.

In the Droid Depot, feet wheel overhead and the walls are lined with custom upgrades for your creation, including personality chips to change the sounds and behaviors, and more.

galaxy's edge batuu milk

So about the blue and green milk. This is the Galaxy’s Edge equivalent to butterbeer at Wizarding World. I’m thankful before I went that others had recommended mixing the two together because individually the flavors are a bit strong, but once they are stirred and have melted a tiny bit, it was a nice cool drink in the heat of the day. Also– they are VEGAN so my non-dairy self could enjoy the whole cup!

galaxy's edge batuu marketplace
A wide-angle view of the marketplace “roof”

The marketplace feels like its own space entirely, which is very cool, and is lined with stalls selling individual merchandise, including a toy store (with wooden and cloth toys that any youngling or youngling at heart will love), clothing, snacks (you’ll find the popcorn here–I’d describe the flavor as “spicy kettle corn”), and even Jedi robes. There was even an adoptable creature shop that gave my no-buy year a serious challenge.

galaxy's edge batuu cargo bay
There are datapad scan codes on all of these bins of cargo.

Finally, if you have the “Play Disney” app on your phone (aka your “datapad”), you can use it to scan things all over Batuu, solving puzzles and have the shipping labels and more translated, further pulling you into the experience.

galaxy's edge batuu doorway
Hanging out, drinking a coke imported from…somewhere?

(I’m sure you can see what I mean about the Wizarding World similarities, if you’ve been there. But I don’t want to imply that any of this is a copy. Merely that much of what works in terms of immersion at WW is also at play here, because it’s good modern theme park design!)

Before I wrap this up, I can’t leave out Oga’s Cantina. The line for the cantina waitlist was actually our first stop upon arriving at Galaxy’s Edge, and it still took nearly 3 hours for our names to get called. (The line for the waitlist only took about twenty minutes. Then they texted when it was our turn.) You are seated in any available chairs (even in mixed groups) and if you are at a table, there is a 45 minute time limit. There is also a 2 drink/hour limit, and NO you cannot take them out of the cantina. Given that this is the FIRST place in the original Disneyland Park (Club 33 aside) to serve alcohol, I am not surprised at ALL at the level of care and restriction.

galaxy's edge batuu ogas cantina alcove

BUT. If you make it inside, it is VERY worth the effort! We got in about an hour before the end of our time, so we largely missed the press of the next wave of guests. The bar is set up in a horseshoe with the bartenders in the center, and alcoves along the walls. The drinks have a lot of variety, and the Batuu Bits were a nice snack mix of random things that paired well with the cocktails.

NOTE: There are 2 cocktails and 1 beer flight that come in collectible vessels, and you CANNOT order them except as part of the collectible. The “Yub Nub” is a rum drink in an Endor-themed tiki cup. The “Cliff Dweller” is a non-alcoholic mocktail in a PORG-themed tiki cup. The “Rancor Beer Flight” is served in a souvenir board with the four samples in “teeth”, all of which you also keep. I tried the Yub Nub and it was fantastic (but strong– it’s all you’ll need). (You can view the whole menu here.)

galaxy's edge batuu chatting by speeders
Chatting with friends by the speeder docking area.

There you have it, my very long walk-through of my 4 hours at Galaxy’s Edge. If you are a Star Wars fan, this is a thing you are going to LOVE. It’s everything I wanted and now I just want to go hang out there all the time. But…y’know…after the crowds calm down. Ha.

Have you been to Batuu? Are you planning to go this year?? 

joanna irl, the geek life

It’s April and I’m back from my SoCal staycation

I’m really bad a titles, y’all. Blog post titles, anyway. But I feel like most of them are at least pretty informative about the content of the post.

We moved into our house in California back in late December, and Jared checked into his new command in early January, and in theory he was supposed to get 10 days to help get the house set up and us settled, but the Navy being what it is, he got to take his leave in….March.

Handily enough, I also had spring break in March so we lined the dates up and took a fantastic 10 day staycation in southern California, because sleeping at home and driving a little further is cheaper than flights and hotels. I won’t go into all the details, but here are some of the highlights! I might make more detailed posts about some of the individual outings (like the Food & Wine festival) in the next couple of weeks, but no promises.

Continue reading “It’s April and I’m back from my SoCal staycation”

the geek life

Four Days of Lines, aka San Diego Comic-Con 2017

A few weeks ago I got to attend San Diego Comic-Con for the first time as press. It was a vastly different experience than going as an attendee. I’m hesitant to say that one is better than the other, because it was just… different. There are trade-offs. But this is just meant as a recap of the event.

 

I arrived in San Diego on Wednesday, met up with my friend (and co-blogger) Meghan, grabbed some lunch, and headed downtown to the convention center for Preview Night. As press, we got to be inside the exhibit hall when they opened it up to the masses, which was an event unto itself, but I particularly enjoyed those few minutes to get our bearings and plan out how we’d cover that part of the convention. We stayed for a while, chatted with some exhibitors (and took photos of things for later), and headed out to a networking event.

I spent a good bit of the convention live streaming over at Geek Girl Pen Pals as I walked the exhibit hall floor and generally tried to provide an “experience” of the event for those who couldn’t make it. We are, after all, international, and California is a long flight, and convention badges are HARD to come by, so the goal was to make the event as accessible as possible for the community. (Random photo of the Batmobile is the actual, drive-able vehicle from the movie!)

Thursday afternoon, I headed to the Hyatt and checked in for our first big event– the Her Universe Fashion Show. You can read my full coverage here, but it was so much fun going to the fashion show. I had a clear view of the stage (in fact, seated right behind the judges, I had to work on keeping a neutral face in case one of them was on camera), the production quality was excellent, and the designers themselves put forth some amazing pieces. I can’t wait to see what new styles come out of the show, as the three winners get to collaborate on a spring line (Disney princess themed, no less!) for Hot Topic. (Winning styles pictured above in my blurry phone snap.)

Friday I covered the Let’s Get Fashionably Nerdy panel which included some of my favorite geeky clothing designers (not to mention Jordan Ellis whose Jordandene NYC tops I wear at least twice a week) talking about the shift from the “nerdy t-shirt” to actually fashionable attire that can subtly (or not) express the fandoms people love. Friday night is a bit of a blur but I feel like we had good food that night. Honestly, it starts to blur together. (WAIT!) Friday night was the Geek Girl Pen Pals meet-up! We went to a sushi place in the Gaslamp district and it was so fun! (See? Blurring together!)

Saturday morning Meghan and I got up pretty early because we covered some of the off-site events. San Diego Comic-Con is somewhat famous for these events, which are usually some type of immersive environment produced by a particular brand, production company (Netflix has one, for instance), or for a specific show. We started at the Game of Thrones experience, which was fairly neat. I have a lot of photos from it that I’ll post in a separate page about it, as the experience itself was pretty much one giant photo op. People waited in line for hours to get into this thing, and I have to say… it was cool, but not nine-hours-in-line cool. (I don’t think much is, to be honest.)

Next we visited the Netflix experience, and this is where the “cost” of being press starts to come in. I got to go through the Stranger Things themed part of the Netflix experience, but as I had to be at a press conference at 3:15, I couldn’t take the time to do the rest of the exhibit. I got an awesome photo– but I didn’t get to see everything. I don’t mind. It’s just the reality. (We get into these events at scheduled times but can’t always participate in the full experience.)

Saturday afternoon I attended the press conference for the upcoming series, Star Trek: Discovery, and I have to say that it sounds like it’s going to be a great show. Here is my bad photo of the full cast. I borrowed photos from another blogger and the official press docs for my full coverage. But it was fun, and I’m looking forward to watching when it premiers next month.

After the press conference, I met back up with Meghan for our appointment to go through the Bladerunner 2049 experience, and I have to say that it was the best of just about any off-site experience I’ve ever done. (Sorry, HBO, the Game of Thrones one wasn’t this good.) Even though as media we didn’t get to do the whole virtual reality portion of the immersion, we still got to walk into a huge hangar that was converted into a street corner from the Bladerunner world. In-character actors inhabiting the whole space, “rain” falling, mist and puddles, a noodle bar (not to mention noodles and whiskey tastings for those old enough), and no rush to hurry through. It was SO well done.

After all of that I was pretty worn out, and I had to get up at 4am on Sunday to catch a flight to North Carolina for the next leg of a whirlwind two weeks. But I learned a lot and I covered a lot and I can’t wait to do it again next year when maybe I can just go home at night in between (or maybe figure out a way to get a hotel room downtown.)

Because this is the big thing I’ll say about going to San Diego Comic-Con as press– YES there are perks (like appointment times for off-site experiences), and we had a lot of fun, but we were there to work. I spent a lot of time moving as fast as I could through a throng of 200,000 people trying to make it to appointments on time. I bought new inserts for my shoes. I drank pedialyte like it was my job. I loved it. But it wasn’t the same as being an attendee.

Here’s an example: I didn’t have time to stand in line when I wanted to. This may sound weird, but bear with me. There’s a reason they call SDCC “Line Con”– eeeeeeverything has a line. But you’ve got to make a time commitment to get into certain things. If you, say, wanted to get into the DuckTales panel (and didn’t realize in advance that David Tennant, the new voice of Scrooge McDuck, was going to be there because you were at Comic-Con to cover, say Geek Fashion), you wouldn’t be able to get in line far enough ahead of time to make it into the panel room. As I keep saying, THIS IS OKAY. I did many amazing things. Being press comes with, y’know, appointments to keep. It’s all balance.

Summary: I can’t wait to do it again next year.

joanna irl, the geek life

SoCal, January 2016

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Before I had a chance to write about last January’s trip to Southern California, I made another trip out there! Last Tuesday I flew back to Chicago with sand on my toes and tan lines on my shoulders, after a glorious week on the west coast.

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It was what I used to consider “chilly” out most of the time, with highs in the mid-70s (23-24 C) and sunny… so I went to the beach! The locals thought I was ridiculous, but compared to the -5 degrees it had been just days before in Chicago, 75 felt amazing. We went to Coronado and hung out in front of the Del (Hotel del Coronado) on the golden shore for an entire day. I can’t even describe what it was like to not only not be wearing two layers of fleece, but to be in a bathing suit!

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We stopped by one of our favorite local taco places, and even though they’d redecorated, they still had really good food. I got fish tacos at another place, and just generally ate a lot of stuff in tortillas.

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Not only did I get to have amazing fish tacos and other local favorite foods, I got to spend a day at Disneyland with my dear friend, sans children! We’ve never been able to go together and do rides (or avoid princess meet and greets), so it was really a blast. And yes, it was actually chilly that day. Hence the sweaters.

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The first stop? Star Wars Launch Bay, which is where the old “Home of Tomorrow” exhibit used to be. And I got to hug Chewie! Whoo!

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Here’s a thing I’d never done before: we stood in the exact middle of Disneyland! It’s marked with a simple metal tack, right at the back of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and no-one else knew why we were standing there, taking photos of a spot on the ground. Ha.

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I even rode the carousel and took my customary carouselfie. Don’t judge. You think it’s cute. Notice how the horse and I have the same expression. That’s the trick: to find a horse with a really good facial expression. One day I’ll have enough of these to make a full gallery. You’re welcome, world.

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Anyway, I was stoked to get to see the castle decorated for the park’s 60th anniversary and all of the Diamond Celebration stuff, including the new parade called Paint the Night! (Click here if you want to watch the full parade. It’s less than 14 minutes and beautiful.) I also finally got the Disneyland “You Are Here” Starbucks cup! It was sold out every time I tried to get it before we moved away from California, but now it lives happily in my cabinet (along with the Diamond Celebration one..).

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I really can’t get enough beach time. Ever.

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I’ve barely skimmed the surface of what was an amazing week, but really what made it so great was spending time with some people I love. Sunshine and warm weather and beaches didn’t hurt. I’m thinking this end-of-January thing might be becoming tradition, and I’m not in the least bit sad about it.

the geek life

Return of the King: I got my Middle Earth Groove Back

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about how I’d started re-reading Lord of the Rings for the first time in close to a decade. I’d gotten burned out on them, and the ubiquitous nature of things related to the movies (which, to be clear, I love dearly, but maintain they are their own entities, though that’s probably another post for another day).

At any rate, because life is busy and because it’s been nicer outside, it took me two months to read through the whole trilogy. I’m not sorry about that, either. It gave me the time to rediscover things about the story, things I’d forgotten or maybe never noticed in the first place (hey, those are some dense books and the more you learn about Middle Earth lore, the more you find in the novels). And the best part of the whole trilogy? Return of the King.

Why? Because I had forgotten nearly all of it. Oh, I definitely remember what happens in the book, and I remember certain aspects distinctly, but the details (and entire interactions with characters) and humor (yes! there is humor!) and the beautiful way Tolkien switches from the colloquial conversations and observations of the hobbits to the epic style (and I use “epic” in the literary sense here) is just wonderful.

I know it’s old and I know some people think it’s boring, but I really love these stories. They are classics for a reason. And I’m glad I was able to finally finish them (again) and make them fresh in my mind in a way they haven’t been in years.

Thanks, Professor.

End note: In the spirit of this, and after how much I enjoyed these books, I’m going to give Harry Potter a go to see if I can get a fresh reading on it. I’ve read it much more recently, but it’s also been shifted in my mind to be mostly movie imagery, so I’m hoping I can go back and recapture my own imagination’s version of Harry and Ron and Hermione and the rest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

the geek life

Rediscovering Tolkien: Confessions of a Middle Earth Hipster

image source: lotr.wikia.com
image source: lotr.wikia.com

So here’s a confession: I suspect I might be a Middle Earth hipster.

Now hear me out! Before you go rolling your eyes and ignoring the rest of this post, let me explain a bit.
I read Lord of the Rings before it was a movie.

This is true of a lot of people. A whole lot of people! People in fandoms and online RPGs and book clubs and Led Zeppelin and Stephen Colbert and the list goes on and on and on. I know this because the internet kind of happened around the same time I was first geeking out over Frodo and Lothlorien and trying to learn Elvish and all of those other things geeky kids do. There were fan sites! Other people passionate about Lord of the Rings! Who, like me, had an Annual Reading (Christmas break, every year beginning in sixth grade).

People who remember the last line of The Two Towers (“Frodo was alive, but taken by the Enemy.”) and who probably flung the book across the room like I did and scrambled for Return of the King.

image source: lotr.wikia.com
image source: lotr.wikia.com

I remember the thrill of first finding a small website, LordoftheRings.net, with just a handful of images and a couple of maps… and the news that they were filming a movie. A MOVIE. Middle Earth was coming to the big screen! I was in high school then, and being the dorky kid I was, I printed out all of the teaser posters and handful of pirated images of sets and covered my notebooks in them. (I wish I could find that first image, of a single Nazgûl looking down over Bag End.)

To be clear, there were a lot of other fans out there.

But no-one I knew.

My mom had read the books years before, and it was her copy I first borrowed, but otherwise I knew no-one who’d read the books. And then, in 2001, that all changed.

The Fellowship of the Ring came out December 19th of that year, when I was a Freshman in college. I saw it no less than 8 times in theaters, and even though I had some terrible NerdRage over the changes made to the story, mostly I was enchanted.

And there were tie-in products! For the first time in my memory, I could buy Lord of the Rings merchandise! Keychains! Book marks! A replica of the One Ring! It was like a dream came true!

And then….

Suddenly it was everywhere.

Everyone had seen the movie (and saw the other two installments). A lot more people read the book. I was excited to have other people share in the magic, but at the same time… shared magic seemed to make the whole thing a little less magical for me.

Maybe it was because I went so long with nothing but my own imaginings of the characters. Maybe it was simple over-saturation (much like with Frozen these days). Maybe it was something else. But suddenly this wasn’t my thing anymore.

And I found I couldn’t read the books anymore, either.

The movies’ images got too ingrained in my mind, and I found that I was mixing up details from a book I’d read more than a dozen times. (to see the difference, this some of the only Middle Earth art I’d ever seen, and it largely colored my imagination.) It was frustrating and just not… fun. So I put the books away.

image source: lotr.wikia.com
image source: lotr.wikia.com

Over the last twelve years, I’ve tried a few times to re-read Tolkien, but without success. Several years ago I just plain gave up on it. I donated many of my duplicate book sets (though not the fancy anniversary editions, nor the 70s era paperbacks just like the first set I ever read, complete with yellow pages and Tolkien’s own illustrations.). It made me sad, but maybe that was part of becoming an adult. When The Hobbit‘s movies came out, I saw the first two. The third came out in December and is now on Blu-ray, and I still haven’t seen it. It bothers me a little that it doesn’t bother me.

And then something kind of amazing happened.

Last week, I was fishing through my To Read pile of books for a new something to begin, and I found that really all I wanted was to read The Hobbit. I picked it up, expecting to read a few lines and then to get restless and put it down again.

I didn’t.

I read half of it in one sitting.

Bilbo in the book is quite different than Bilbo in the movies. This isn’t bad* at all. Instead it was refreshing. This was the story I remembered! The magic was all still there. The trouble was just with me and my reading of it.

image source: lotr.wikia.com
image source: lotr.wikia.com

Suddenly I care about these books again, and I’m slowly making my way through the whole series. I might even dust off my copy of Silmarillion, just for fun.

What a wonderful surprise.

………………………….

*Incidentally, the Lord of the Rings movies were the ones that taught me to separate the books from the films. People will claim the “books are always better” and in many cases this might be true, but I prefer to look at them as entirely separate things. Changes happen because words on the page don’t always translate well onto screen. They have to be adapted. Sometimes this even works to improve the story; I like the Hunger Games movies a LOT better than the books.

the geek life

Today’s a good day to Marvel: Peggy and Ultron and SHIELD, oh my!

If you haven’t seen it yet, Marvel released the third official trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron today and it’s a doozy. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a moment.

 

See? A doozy. This is the villain trailer, starting right out of the gate with the foe for this installment, and the full cast of Avengers heading into battle with it. It looks to me like now everyone must face Tony Stark’s inner demons, which could prove really interesting. They’ve also got the two “miracles” (which is what they’re calling mutants because they sold the licensing for the word “mutant”). I also highly approve of Natasha’s new toys: Black Widow is one of my favorite parts of these movies.

image source: imdb.com
image source: imdb.com

This trailer comes the day after the mid-season return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the beginning of the Inhumans story arc. It’s an exciting turn for the story which struggled in its first season before the reveal of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s infiltration and fall in Captain America: Winter Soldier. This series now stands on its own two feet, solidly planting itself in the same world as the movies and yet carrying its own plots and twists that could wind up playing heavily into future features. Of course, there is an Inhumans movie in the docket, but as of now it’s not scheduled to be released until summer 2019, so there’s a lot of TV time before that for the show to build a foundation.

image source: marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com
image source: marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com

In the meantime, we’ve all fallen in love with Agent Carter. Very wisely listening to the fan base, Disney and Marvel gave Peggy Carter her own mini-series that was intended to be a one-off run, but proved to be so well written and well received that there is chatter now of a season two. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that! We barely scratched the surface in this eight episode arc, and didn’t even touch on the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D., which could be so fascinating to watch.

What I’m really interested in is seeing how all of these will tie together. The shows and the movies have done a good job of blending seamlessly together without having any huge impacts on one another, and the cross-over characters work in both formats to establish this as one big universe. And that’s the amazing thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe: it all seems to work together so well.

I know there are decades of comics to draw from, but that can prove to be a distraction or too much of a burden. Look at the problems faced by the X-Men movies; they struggle with consistency, and with different time periods not fitting together with different parts of the story. Heck, in the most recent film, they effectively had to undo everything that happened in X-Men: The Last Stand because it was ridiculously awful. But the Marvel properties coming out of Disney have a consistency that is impressive and that I really appreciate.

image source: marvel.wikia.com
image source: marvel.wikia.com

Full disclosure: I didn’t read Marvel comics as a kid, and I still don’t for the most part. I’ve enjoyed the new Black Widow comics and I’m interested in the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman comics but for the most part all I know about this world is from the movies and TV shows. I know that a lot of the adaptations are distressing to the old guard, the fans who’ve been reading these things their whole lives. But I have to say, as a new fan, this has been fantastic. It’s something I can get excited about and has made what is often a very difficult fandom to enter so much more accessible, and at least in my option, any time good storytelling can be more accessible, the better.

With that I’ll sign off, but at least you’ll know where to find me May 1: at the theater.

joanna irl, the geek life

As seen on… September 2014

meadow near El Capitan

Happy October! It’s time for another monthly roundup of stuff I did in other places. Yay!

Newsy things:
Heyheyhey, I got invited to join the staff of International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club as a “Ninja.” Whoop! Just means I’ll be doing more behind-the-scenes stuff, really, particularly in January once I’m (theoretically) unpacked and a bit more settled, because…

This is moving month. EEP. The movers come in less than two weeks and I’m trying to clear things out (which is hard in a small space) and use up consumables and all sorts of things.. Expect not much posting between now and then.

For our last weekend roadtrip, we went to Yosemite National Park this weekend! I’ve got a ton of gorgeous photos to go through asap and try to get posted for you, but the photos in this post are a sneak peak.

Half Dome, overcast day

Things I wrote:
As usual, I’ve been posting stuff in other places. Over at IGGPPC, I’ve got two movie reviews, a Hobbit Day celebration, and an everyday cosplay post.
The Giver was excellent, and much better than any of the other dystopian teen world movies I’ve seen of late. It ought to be because the source material is fantastic.
The Maze Runner was enjoyable and I’m interested in what’s going to happen next. I like that we don’t have all the information going in, and that we learn things as the protagonist does.
Huzzah and Hooray, it’s Hobbit Day! We celebrated Sept 22 over at the site, too.
Everyday Cosplay: Some things happening this month and links to other articles. Just a roundup of stuff I liked this month.
I was also featured as part of the September Staff Picks, which you can check out over here if you like.

Tunnel View after storm

So that’s about it for September. Internet might be patchy in October, but I hope to have some fun things to share about the Great Moving Adventure. See you soon!

the geek life

International Hobbit Day is here!

hobbit day, Bilbo's birthday party

It’s September the 22nd! That means it’s solstice day, or the official start of autumn (or spring, in the Southern Hemisphere). It’s also the 77th anniversary (plus one day) of the publication of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. And it’s Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday! Huzzah!

Hobbit Day began back in 1978 when the American Tolkien Society decided to celebrate the occasion. They start on September 17 with Tolkien Week, a chance to celebrate all things Middle-earth and beyond, and it culminates in the Birthday Party. Many people around the world do things in honor of Hobbit Day, from hosting movie marathons to having costume parties or even just eating a slice of cake and raising a glass to the health of the Bagginses.

Tolkien and the world he created have been enjoying a second renaissance, if you will, the last fifteen years or so. Ever since Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring was announced, there has been an interest in Middle-earth that hasn’t existed since the 70s. Whereas I knew no one (other than my mom) who’d read the books when I first encountered them in fifth grade, now almost everyone at least knows what “Lord of the Rings” is and has heard of “Hobbits.”

As a hobbit-loving kid, I didn’t have anyone to really talk to about the books, but I was that special kind of nerd who would still wish her friends Happy Hobbit Day. It’s no wonder I carried the “quirky” label as a kid.

If you want to read more about Hobbit Day, or my childhood memories of being a Tolkien fan, or find some fun ways to celebrate the day, here’s the post I wrote for Geek Girls Pen Pal Club. Happy Hobbit Day, everyone!

the geek life

The Five Stages of Grief…for the 11th Doctor

Capaldi Doctor Who Listen

Listen, here we are, four episodes into a new season of Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi is here to stay, and I have to say, I’m thrilled.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Matt Smith’s Doctor, but I like the grumpiness and the alien-like qualities of the Doctor, and how much it hearkens back to the older shows. The beauty of a show like Doctor Who is that it has such a rich history and so many things to draw from to include in the stories, and yet can always bring something new.

The staple, of course, is that every so often the Doctor changes. Everything about him changes, from his face to his personality to his teeth, and all that’s left is his memory. This is traumatic for his companions, and it can be for the audience, too. Especially if you’re (to use the BBC’s phrase) fairly new to Who, it can be jolting to go from the actor and persona you fell in love with, established a relationship with over (especially in Tennant and Smith’s era) some emotional story arcs, to suddenly be handed Capaldi’s Doctor with a “Here you go, good luck now!”

But this is by no means new to fans of the show. Even those who have been around the TARDIS a time or two can go through difficulty accepting a new Doctor, not unlike the classic 5 Stages of Grief. So let’s work our way through this new rendition of the Doctor together, shall we?

Stage One: Denial
This stage is when you don’t want to believe the Thing That’s Happening is true. You find out that there’s going to be a new Doctor.
“Matt Smith is leaving? Don’t be ridiculous! I refuse to accept this! It’s just another rumor, or another instance of Moffat trolling* everyone. That’s it. It’s just Moffat again.”

Moffat Trolling

Stage Two: Anger
At this point, you suddenly find yourself irrationally angry that you’re getting a new** Doctor. The anger might be directed at Steven Moffat.
“NO. You CANNOT take away Eleven. You have RUINED this show! NO ONE ELSE WILL EVER BE THE DOCTOR AGAIN.”
Or you might be angry with Matt Smith.
“How DARE you leave us and go pursue your CAREER?”
Or you might be angry at other fans. I don’t know how your mind works. But you’re probably going to be angry.

Matt Smith Doctor shrugs

Stage Three: Bargaining
At this point, you’re trying to change the inevitable outcome. You want to make things go back to the way they were, or at least to some facsimile of how you perceived them to be. Bargaining may be with the person leaving.
“But Matt, if you stay we’ll be even more rabid fans of yours! We’ll cosplay with things other than your fez!”
Or the bargaining might take other forms. Sometimes it can involve roping other people into the equation in the hopes the person will listen to them.
“Jenna, can’t you make him stay? Just talk to him!”

Jenna Coleman Clara Doctor Who

Stage Four: Depression
By now, the loss of Your Doctor is making you feel very down in the dumps. You’re convinced the show just won’t be the same*** without Your Doctor, and that you’ll never love another Doctor as much as you did this one. Your Doctor was the Best Doctor There Ever Was and no one could replace him.

David Tennant Doctor Who crying

Stage Five: Acceptance
When you finally come to terms with the fact that there’s a new**** Doctor, you’ve reached acceptance. This usually happens some time in the first several episodes. For some, it happened when he dueled Robin Hood using only a spoon in “Robot of Sherwood.” For many of the fans, it seemed to happen with the most recent episode, “Listen.” (Some people got behind Capaldi much earlier, of course. We’ll come back to them.) Maybe some are still waiting for their “Oh, this IS the Doctor!” moment. But it’s coming.

Not every fan likes every regeneration of the Doctor the same. People have their affinities, and for many it’s the first Doctor they ever watched that is “Their” Doctor. For me, I might just be falling hard for Capaldi. I’ve been excited about the change since they announced who the next actor would be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Matt Smith and his silliness and affinity for children, but I like that with Capaldi we can go a little darker, a little more serious, and a little more alien. He seems a lot more like some of the classic regenerations (a lot of people reference Pertwee’s Doctor, but I see a lot of Baker in him, too) and it’s a very nice change of pace.

Matt Smith everything ends sometime

The main thing to take away from this is that this cycle happens every single time there’s a “new” Doctor. The first time it happened the show runners weren’t sure it would work, but for some reason it did. And it continues to work. That’s the essence of the show, and what keeps it on the air. Change brings a fresh start, and brings new fans and new stories and new monsters and the whole deal. It’s not bad. It’s the lifeblood of the show, and what keeps it from getting stale all these years later.

And y’know what? I’d bet that I can pinpoint the moment when the last main holdout decided this guy was all right. Here you go.

Doctor Who Capaldi once upon a time dad skillsDoctor Who Capaldi the end dad skillsDoctor Who Clara looks upDoctor Who Capaldi dad skills

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*Steven Moffat is notorious for teasing hints as well as outright lies about the shows he runs, to the general frustration of the fan bases.
**To be clear, it’s always the same Doctor. He is the Doctor, just with a new face. Same guy. So Capaldi isn’t really the “Twelfth” Doctor, he’s just THE Doctor.
***It won’t be the same, but that’s the beauty of the thing, and rather the point, after all.
****Do we really have to go over this again? SAME DOCTOR. Just a new actor playing the SAME GUY. You don’t have to pick just one, they’re all the SAME TIME LORD.