Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Wales Comic Con. Fail.

Wales Comic Con is a relatively new convention in Wrexham, North Wales. It was the one convention I didn't want to miss this year, mostly because I've never been. We weren't 100% certain that we could go until the week before so I was totally geeked to find out that we could. Saturday was spent getting ready, cleaning the car, packing lunches, getting our con gear together... And then we headed off at 8AM, planning to get there around 11AM.

Yup, that's a THREE HOUR CAR DRIVE, just to get there. It wasn't a bad ride, actually. We cranked the radio up and stuck to the motorways. It helped that the weather was nice - a rarity in Wales. We were both feeling pretty good about the day.

Until we actually got there.

Jay and I have over 40 years and over 100 conventions worth of experience between us. We can usually tell, before we get out of the car, what kind of convention it's going to be. Wales Comic Con was no exception.

We knew that it was being held in a university's sports hall, and we knew it meant it was a relatively small venue. We also knew that it was in a location central to Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham so we were expecting it to be pretty busy.

We weren't expecting a queue that was over a mile long and in the region of two to three thousand people thick waiting outside. We weren't expecting there to be no parking available.

I knew in an instant, from those two things alone, that Wales Comic Con is a poorly run/organized convention. Why?

1. No one was outside controlling parking. If you have extremely limited parking spaces, you get someone outside telling people where to park. You have signs directing people to additional parking facilities nearby.

Speaking of signposting, If it wasn't for the mile long queue outside, we wouldn't have known that we had arrived. The convention wasn't sign posted either. No arrows, no nothing. Not very helpful.

2. With a few thousand people waiting outside, and the couple of thousand inside who'd managed to get early bird tickets, there was a ZERO chance of us getting virtual queueing tickets and therefore ZERO chance of us getting the autographs we wanted. A celebrity at a convention will sign somewhere between 500-800 autographs. Do the math.

3. The queue outside was as bad as it was because the sports hall was either already over capacity or because they were running very late. We got there at almost 12pm and the doors were due to open for normal tickets at 11am. Either way, that means they did a lousy job.

If you have more people showing up than you have room for, you didn't pick the right place. If you can't be there to open the doors when you said you would, things aren't running smoothly - meaning you either have poor time keeping or not enough help. Both things you should have complete control over.

So we did the smart but disappointing thing: we turned around and went home. When it comes to convention, we're both too long in the tooth to waste our time with poorly run conventions. It killed the mood going home - which was made worse by the fact that the satnav took us on a magical mystery tour through the Welsh countryside. All that way, money wasted on food, clothes, and petrol - all for nothing.

You could say, of course, that it was our faults for not getting early bird tickets but, like I said, we didn't know we were going to be able to go. Maybe, if we'd hung out for a couple of hours, we might have at least gotten through the doors. But what's the point? It was obviously going to be over-crowded and we both would have been extremely irritable by then.

I doubt we'll be giving Wales Comic Con another chance, at least not for a few years. Give them time to get their shit together. Their website says that the convention is run by 'Mercury Promotions (UK)' which 'consists of a number of experienced family & friends between them serving over a decade of event organising knowledge.' Maybe they have over a decade of event organising knowledge, but it was painfully obvious that, as of last Sunday, they knew fuck all about conventions.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Meme of the Week

With my current struggle against eating healthy - I mean my struggle against eating junk food... yeah... - there was only one choice for this week's Meme of the Week:

Yup! That's pretty much how I've been feeling the last three weeks!

(A very close second place goes to this meme! Oh yeah, baby!)

A Song for Sunday: The Script (ft. will.i.am) - Hall of Fame

The Voice (UK) has been airing the past few weeks. Jay and I have been watching it, even though we're not really fans of reality TV. Seeing will.i.am and Danny O'Donoghue reminded me of how much I love this song:

It's a wonderfully upbeat song, full of hope and potential. It's what could be. Sometimes you need that pick-me-up.

Danny and Will's voices sound like they were made to sing together. I'm not normally a huge fan of will.i.am but I like what he's done here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

World Book Night

I've been wanting to get involved in World Book Night for some time now but it seems like it's always been and gone before I remembered it was coming. Also, it's never really touched me here in the valleys of South Wales. No one has ever talked about it, it doesn't get any press coverage - it's like it doesn't happen.

All that changed this year. This year, I finally had my first experience with World Book Night (although I still forgot it was coming. Lol.)

When I got to work yesterday, one of the women in my team told me that someone stopped her as she was getting off a bus and gave her a copy of The Eyre Affair in honour of World Book Night. Finally! WBN has reached Newport!

Maybe next year I'll remember to volunteer? (Probably not... But it's a nice thought!)

(World Book Day is still to come... March 7th - but I get the feeling from the website that it's intended for children while World Book Night is for adults. *shrug*)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Meet Crash.

Castle Vanian welcomed a new addition to the hoard last week. Meet Crash:

Crash is about a week and a half old. We're not certain whether or not Crash is a little girl chinchilla or a little boy chinchilla yet but it takes after the mother a lot in colour and temperament. 

And if you're wondering why we called it Crash, it has to do with Maggie giving birth on the second shelf, right by the drop to the bottom shelf. Whoops!

As of right now, Crash needs some place to go and live in about six weeks or so. If you know anyone in the South Wales region who might be a taker, let me know.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Meme of the Week

Hard to pick this week! Some great memes happening on facebook... (I'm fairly sick of all the "click like because this is a cute dog"ones, though.) Memes about Beltane, memes about my home state of Michigan, and memes about Johnny Depp... Pretty hard to beat!

But I think, out of all the great ones I came across this week, this is my favourite:

Who thinks I need to turn this into a magnet and stick it to my refrigerator so my husband can see it every day?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Song for Sunday: Static X - Cold

The 2002 adaptation of Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned wasn't exactly a hit - with critics or the fans. Personally, I love the film. (But, since I dislike Anne Rice, that should kind of make sense.) Sure it has NOTHING to do with the book but it's a sleek, sexy, kick ass film. I mean... hello! Guys in leather pants.

It also helps that it has a fucking awesome sound track. I was listening to it again this week and decided that my Song for Sunday just had to come from the album. Which song wasn't hard to choose- "Cold" by Static X is by far the best song on the soundtrack. And the music video is awesome too.

Is there anything not to like about this? Nope.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

'Have you thought about what it means to be a god?' asked the man. He had a beard and a baseball cap. 'It means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people's minds, like the tune of a nursery rhyme. It means that everyone gets to recreate you in their own minds. You barely have your own identity and more. Instead, you're a thousand aspects of what people need you to be. And everyone wants something different from you. Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable.' 

America Gods, Neil Gaiman (p. 457)

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Crafts and Crafting: A Shimmering Star

I'm happy that this was received yesterday so I can post about it today! I came across some Paint-Your-Own wind chimes recently and picked a couple up. As soon as I saw the one shaped like a star I knew exactly what I had to do!

A custom creation for Jessica at a Shimmering Star. Because... it's a shimmering star. (I'm childish sometimes, I know.)

I had to buy glitter for this project - which is dangerous, if you know me. Things tend to... explode with awesomeness when I glitter. If I was @whatsherf8 I'd be worried. Very, very worried. (Mwah ha ha.)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The road to being healthy is a bitch.

As you know, I'm trying to get a bit healthier. I've enlisted my husband's help because I have no will power of my own. At least where food is concerned.

So Jay has instructions to pack my lunch - which has to be healthy. He's doing a great job, too. Every day I have a couple of lovely sandwiches with fruit and low fat chips. (Crisps, whatever.) I've been really good at sticking to just my box as well. (I cracked and two cans of Coke last week.)

I've even been really good about getting exercise. Every day I've gotten up and gone for a walk of about half a mile in the morning before work. Twice we've walked the dogs together after work.

After all this, how am I feeling?

Fucking awful.

Seriously. I've felt like death for over week. Four times I went to bed with a migraine and three times I've gotten such a stomach after dinner that I've been doubled over. I'm constantly exhausted and irritable as hell.

So when does this whole getting healthy thing stop making me feel so damned ill?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Meme of the Week

Considering the fact that I've been trying to eat healthy (more on that later in the week) there was only one choice for Meme of the Week:

Now that's my kind of aromatherapy!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Song for Sunday: Dragonforce - Through The Fire And The Flames

 This week's A Song for Sunday spot goes to "Through The Fires And The Flames" by Dragonforce.

This is some old school, hardcore, metal awesomeness. Imagine having the best, most wicked game of D&D ever. This would be the soundtrack.

I'd never heard of Dragonfroce when I stumbled across this video (which is not new) on YouTube. The rest of their music did not disappoint me. A lot of their lyrics have a fantasy theme and those roaring guitar solos fucking rock. This is probably the best metal coming out of the UK right now.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some head banging and air guitar playing to do...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

What I'm Watching Now: Babylon 5

Jay and I have spent the last couple of months watching Babylon 5. Normally, we have one episode of a TV show a night. With Babylon 5, it was hard to stop at four.

He insists that Bab 5 is "the best sci-fi series ever", beating Star Trek, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica and everything else. Since I'd only ever seen the first series before I couldn't agree. Now?

Yup. I agree. (Don't tell Jay that, though.)

I'll start with what I don't like. The CGI may have been state-of-the-art back in the 90's but now it's a bit hokey. Aside from that, it still holds up very well. 

One of the things that I love about Babylon 5 is that it didn't have one set style; each episode could be very different. Scattered throughout the normal episodes were ones that played out like news reports and episodes that you thought would be action packed turned out to be introspective. It kept me on my toes.

For character development and story arcs, yes, I believe it is the best sci-fi out there, even almost twenty years on. No character was exactly who you expected them to be and relationships formed between the unlikeliest of people. I've cursed at the telly, stomped my foot, and cried my eyes out. I've even had nightmares about the Vorlons and the Shadows.

And we're only up to season 5. I've been told not to expect too much from this season because it was never meant to be. Also, without two of my favourite characters, how can it be as good? (I should have known Marcus was too good to let him live. Sniff.)

Even if season 5 is less than epic, I still think Babylon 5 is some of the best television out there.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

How We Spent Our Weekend.

Now that it's warming up a bit the doggies can go out for longer walks. (Poor short haired babies.) We wandered over to the fields surrounding The Burial Grounds again this weekend to take advantage of the nice weather.

Dylan is a pain in the butt in cars because he whines the whole trip. Blodwyn is very good; she just sits on my shoulders and watches the world go by. They were both happy to get out and have a run when we got there. We plonked ourselves down and let them have a good wander.

Blodwyn the Bloody Naughty managed to wiggle out of her collar and her shirt within two minutes of getting out of the car. Dylan gets very excited when he sees his clothes because he knows it means he's going for walkies. I guess Blod hasn't figured it out yet.

Even though it's been sunny all week, the walk up to The Burial Ground was not exactly dry.

Jay and I both got what he calls "booters" but it was worth it to see the dogs running up and down the field.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Meme of the Week

Not a whole lot to choose from this week because I wasn't on Facebook much but, of the few I saw, this was my favourite:

Yup. This is me and... Well, pretty much all of my friends. :)

(Also, thanks to @eyeslifted for the lengthy discussion on the "right" way to say "meme!")

Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Song for Sunday: Gym Class Heroes - Clothes Off!

I needed something light and cheeky this weekend. This song by Gym Class Heroes seemed like a great choice:

Like I said, fun. And... Travie McCoy. Need I say more?

(Oh, just shut up and dance!)

Friday, 5 April 2013

Crafts and Crafting: Crochet Monkey Hats

A friend's little boy turned one recently and I wanted to craft him something fun. Since he likes monkeys, I thought I'd have a go at making this monkey hat that I found on Pinterest. I encountered a couple of small problems: 1. I have zero experience with children and have a hard time judging what size they ought to be and 2. even though I paid careful attention to the gauge, it didn't come out the right size. So when I finished with the 6-12 mo. pattern, it looked like it would fit a newborn. The toddler looked like it would fit a 6-month-old.

And aren't kids suppose to have bomby heads at that age, anyway?

The pattern itself is easy and fun. Figuring out which one to send? Not so much. So I sent two: one that I thought would be a little small (or quickly become too small) and one to grow in to. Turns out the one that I sent to "grow in to" almost fit his dad! This whole child thing remains a mystery to me.

(And no, I didn't do a swatch - which may have fixed the whole problem with the sizes being off. I've already gotten a lecture from @drewhilda on that one.)

(Also... I may have to make one of these for ME!)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Scent of Spring.

I don't claim to be a health and beauty guru - but I know what I like. Bath & Body Works products, though difficult to get here in the UK, have been my favourite choice for hand and body lotions since I was a teenager. I have favourite scents for Autumn (Spiced Pumpkin - yum!), for Winter (Vanilla Bean!), for Summer (Cucumber Melon!) - but, until recently, I never really had a favourite scent for Spring.

A few months ago, my mom sent a... few bottles of Bath & Body Works lotions.

Did I say a few? I meant A FUCKING BUTTLOAD. (Epic Mom Win.)

Among the hundred or so bottles I received were my usual favourites - but also some I didn't even know had come out because it's been way too long since I've been able to hit up a Bath & Body Works store. A couple had to be given away as gifts to fellow junkies ("Hello. My name is Wondra and I have a problem.") and a few had to be sold to make up the cost of getting the Royal Mail to release them (money hungry bastards!) but the rest were all fair game.

Two of my new favourite scents for Spring are Pink Chiffon and Carried Away. It's hard to choose but I think Pink Chiffon is my favourite of the two. Carried away is sweeter (must be the whipped vanilla) but Pink Chiffon is more feminine (I love the hint of pear.)

I love both of these scents. I'm not very fond of the traditional scents, though. Scents like Cherry Blossom and Wild Honeysuckle are either too bland or too old for me. I think they're more suitable for older women. Another range that is suitable for Spring that I do like is the Paris range.

Sweet on Paris is my absolute favourite because it smells like candy. Seriously. (Or, "pure sugar" as Jay would say.) Paris Nights is next. It's also very sweet but also a little powdery and is perfect for Spring nights. A fresh, fruity scent for Spring mornings is Paris Amour. And, finally, there's Paris in Bloom which is probably the "oldest" scent of the four. It's light and floral with just a hint of pear- suitable, I think, for women of any age. I absolutely adore this range and hope I can get some more next year. (Hint, hint. Lol.)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

How we spent our Spring Break.

Jay and I spent most of our long weekend watching Babylon 5 but, on Easter Sunday, we bundled up the doggies (I can't believe it's SPRING and it's still so cold!) and went for a long walk.

We went to one of my favourite local places: The Old Burial Ground. Not as creepy as it sounds! It's actually a very peaceful, serene place. The Burial Ground is where the men and boys who died in the collapse of The Black Vein mine way back when are buried. It's surrounded by tall grass and forest, with a great view of the mountains across.

Of course, after the long, hard winter we had this year, it hasn't exactly sprung back to life yet but it was still very pretty. And the mutts enjoyed themselves! (In case you're wondering or offended or whatever, no we don't let the dogs into the cemetery itself. That would be rude.)

We all would have enjoyed ourselves a lot more - but it seemed like everyone in South Wales had the same idea we did! A family was leaving just as we were arriving and, barely half an hour later, another family (with great big dogs!) arrived. Our trip was cut short but the fresh (if slightly nippy) air did us all good.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

April is National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month and, this year, Wondra's World is getting in on the action. A separate (but not separate) blog has been launched so head over there to see what I'm doing to celebrate National Poetry Month 2013.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Meme of the Week

With marriage equality on the table in the Supreme Court, it was impossible for last week to pass without a million memes bursting into creation. My friends list was dominated by this image last week, a symbol for the support of marriage equality:

Personally, I went for something that said the same thing but was a bit geekier:

But the best one I saw all week was this (which is so, so perfect):

I was impressed by the number of people on my friends list who took the time to show their support of the HRC. It gives me hope for the future.

There were plenty of other related memes last week - take this one by Condescending Wonka and this Harry Potter themed one. It's nice to see memes working toward something other than fluffy animals and bacon. (Not that bacon isn't important.)

A Song for Sunday: Tokio Hotel - Pain of Love

This week I want to share a song that was a total surprise for me: "Pain of Love" by Tokio Hotel.

I came across this song almost completely by accident. A friend shared this photo of the band's lead singer, Bill Kaulitz on twitter and I was, naturally, intrigued. (Come on... Yum!) Even though that friend is, in her own words, a total "raging fangirl" over this band, I'd never heard of them. So I popped "Tokio Hotel" into You Tube and followed the first link that caught my eye.

What a nice surprise! "Pain of Love" has an almost hypnotic rhythm and a smooth sound. The lyrics are simple but catchy. The video had me enthralled because of its darkly tragic story - I'm sure I watched it the first time with my mouth wide open.

The band's sound can only be described as '80's Goth reborn. With that in mind, I sat the hubby down and played this song for him and - surprise! - he liked it. How often does that happen?? Music that my husband and I both like is very rare!