Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thank You, Jewel Staite (Or...No, That's It)

I'm a nerd.

Take a moment to work through your shock. I'll wait.


Really, though. I'm sitting here in my Cardiff Rugby TeeFury shirt, listening to the Doctor Who score, spinning my Supernatural salt shaker in one hand, thinking about the stack of comics at my house that will take me at least 5 solid hours of reading to get through since I fell behind last month, and admiring the placement of my Dr. Keller action figure below my Malcolm Reynolds here in the office. And the thing is, I didn't have to make one part of that up to prove my point. I love the things I love. I study them, I'm inspired by them, and sometimes I can't help feeling like I've kind of been saved by them.

So it won't come as a shock when I say that I frequent fan conventions. These conventions almost always have signings and photo ops, which are great. I'm a big supporter of the official meet and greet, because I'm not the type of person who'd approach somebody out in the real world. In my mind, that's everybody's life living time, and it would be rude to interrupt. So rest easy, folks. I'll never stalk you. It'd be impolite.

Anyway, as a result of these events, I've had the wonderful and terrifying opportunity to meet a lot of the creators and performers that I've spent years admiring. Now, when I say terrifying, I'm not referencing the popular, "Never meet your heroes," adage. In the early days, there was a little bit of trepidation, because you do hear the horror stories. What if this person who has meant so much to me, whose character helped me through whatever life struggle, is actually a total tool, and this encounter forever taints everything I believe in? (That actually sounds like a lot of trepidation.) However, I can honestly say that I have never, ever had a bad experience at a signing. Ever. All the people I've met have been so incredibly generous and kind that I'm pretty much permanently inclined to trust that I have really excellent taste and should just expect the best.

No, terrifying, for me, is living up to the moment. It's picking something decent to say for my 30 seconds of face time so that an hour later, when the adrenaline rush is finally starting to ebb, I won't look back on the encounter and have to resign myself to feeling embarrassed for the rest of my life. 'Cause here's the thing, guys. I'm terrible at meeting people. All people. Give me a couple minutes, maybe a drink (fewer minutes if said drink is loaded), and we'll probably be okay. Throw me into the path of a stranger and yell, "Go," and I'll smile too much while secretly trying not to vomit all over myself. As the youngest of three girls, my running theory is that my older sisters both sucked all natural ability to carry on a casual conversation out of the womb, leaving only social awkwardness and an affinity for sci-fi and musical theatre behind for anybody else who had to room there.

When I go to a signing, the ultimate goal is to say something decent without gushing like a douche and to say thank you. Not just "thank you" for the time that person has taken to look me in the eye and be awesome, but "thank you" for whatever they've given me through their work. There's never really time to go into all of that, because you don't want to take away from other people's turns, but I try to communicate it as best I can. Still, a lot of the time, I wish I could've done better or said more. Which brings me to the title of this post ("Finally," you say, taking a sip of what I imagine is a frosty Coke because I don't know how old you are and let's keep things legal, shall we?).

Last month, when I was at Comic-Con, I had the ridiculously fantastic opportunity to attend the Firefly conversation at Nerd HQ with guests Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, and Adam Baldwin. This was all thanks to the magic of Twitter, which allowed me to connect with fantastic fellow Browncoat @TamelaBuhrke, who generously sold me her spare ticket at face value. It was a really fun hour that felt more like hanging out with friends than a convention event.

The post-panel signing was a big deal for me. Besides being a staple of my youth on Space Cases and Flash Forward, Jewel Staite gave me the first two female characters I really saw myself in. For someone who spent the first 8 years of her life wanting to grow up to be a boy or a dog (if I couldn't wear pants all the time, I was going to get a tail, damn it), and several years after that trying to define what being a girl meant if you didn't relate to anything girls were saying, this was huge. A little bit of this came out of me in the moment, but then I got a bit deer-in-the-headlightsy, so I'm just going to put it down here. Not really in the hope that it'll be read, though I'll throw it onto Twitter, because hey, why not? More to just put the positivity out into the universe.

Thanks, Jewel Staite. Thanks for Kaylee, who helped me believe I could be unabashedly cheerful in the harshest of times, let me know that I could be unconventionally feminine, and proved that intelligence and cynicism don't have to go hand in hand. Thanks for Dr. Jennifer Keller, who showed that courage didn't always mean running in with guns blazing. The honesty and sincerity you brought to these particular roles helped me understand myself better. They admitted when they were afraid, dared to show it, and didn't seem weak because of it. Instead, they seemed real, and that made their triumphs all the more inspiring to a shy girl trying to find some self-confidence.

Thanks for being so nice to me at that signing, 'cause I'm sure I was shaking and sweating and sounding crazy in an effort to not sound crazy.

Oh, and thanks for your blog. Though I've been a vegan for just over a year, which means that at this point engaging in any of your particular brand of gastronomic adventures would shock my system so much that I'd probably die, I read it religiously and usually laugh loud enough for people to start staring at least once during each post. Plus, wine is vegan. Thank the good Lord.

So there it is. Thanks for being awesome. It means a lot, to way more than just me.

And thank you, friends/family/strangers who got here through a random Google search. This is the end of my gushing. Next time, I promise to tell you about all the times I've been hit in the face by stuff while riding the bus.

Not a joke. You're welcome. In advance.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How to Be a Browncoat and Make a Difference (Or, Do This Thing I Say)

I came to Firefly much later than I will ever admit to any stranger, or most friends for that matter. Even saying that much was a big deal. See how close we are? I've been a devoted Whedonite since I was 12, but it was always that thing that I was going to get around to and, like a jerk - albeit a jerk who was a full time student, but no excuses here - never did. Take a minute to judge, maybe an extra 30 seconds to call me names. I'll wait.


Anyway, the silver lining in all of that is that I did start watching it at a very significant point in my life, and it will always be extra special because of that. However, even if I'd started on an average day, it still would've changed me forever in really poignant and important ways that I don't have time to discuss right now but probably will in the future.

The point is, though I took my time, I'm a passionate and devoted Browncoat, and it would thus be criminal of me NOT to talk to you about Browncoats: Redemption.

"But CDog," you ask, "What the hell is that?"

Calm down, gorramit, and I'll tell you.

Browncoats: Redemption is an independent non-profit movie made by fans for fans featuring an original tale from the 'Verse with all new characters, sort of like a Firefly: The Next Generation, if you will. Proceeds from the film go to five charities close to the Browncoat community which are supported and/or helped by Firefly/Serenity cast and crew members. To date, over $70,000 has been raised by the project.

Set three months after the signal about Miranda is sent out, the movie follows Captain Laura Mathews and the crew of her Firefly, Redemption, as they unintentionally get caught up in the fallout. Featuring cameos by some original cast members, an original piece of music by series composer Greg Edmonson (in addition to the Redemption score, which was composed by Carl Hayes), and a fun and compelling story, the film is an awesome way to stay connected to the 'Verse while doing something good for a worthy cause. Five worthy causes, actually: Equality Now, The Dyslexia Foundation, The Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Foundation, the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, and Kids Need to Read all benefit from the sale of the film.

But wait, there's more!

Browncoats: Redemption also carries the blessing of Firefly/Serenity creator Joss Whedon and has studio permission to be sold, provided all the proceeds go to charity, until September 1, 2011. No other fan film in history can say the same, and it's kind of badass that Browncoats got to break that ground.

"Wait, CDog. What did you just say? It's only being sold until September 1?"

That's right, and unfortunately, that's not too far away.  Now, I'm not really one to jump on the interweb and yell, "HEY, BUY THIS STUFF!" at people, but I got the chance to hang out with some of the Redemption folk while volunteering at the California Browncoats booth during San Diego Comic-Con, and their passion and enthusiasm about this project that benefits both fans and the world at large has led me to break that rule.

Please consider heading over to the Redemption store and picking up a copy. I've been advised that the limited edition original release DVD has sold out, but the remastered edition is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD combo. These discs are region free, meaning they can be played on any machine in any country, and they do ship globally. They also come with the score and all sorts of special features.

For more information about Browncoats: Redemption, its mission statement, and the charities it supports, check out You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for your consideration, friends.

Stay shiny!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guess Who's Back? (Or, Sorry, I'm Back)

And they said it couldn't be done.

Nobody said that, actually. Not even once.

Let's break it down.

I had a blog and was pretty honest from the beginning about the fact that I'm terrible at keeping up with blogging. I posted pretty regularly for about a month, congratulated myself for my consistency, then stopped.

Then I moved to Tumblr, which has its pros and cons, and repeated the process.

The thing is, I've always operated under the assumption that nobody actually reads any of the things I post. However, it has recently been brought to my attention by no less than two people that this is not the case, and two is good enough for me. So I reevaluated my situation and decided that moving back to a more traditional blog would be a wise decision. This does not mean that I'll be giving up my Tumblr (which can be found at: The Last Werebender), but the party will primarily be based over here for the foreseeable future.

The last time I decided to start blogging, I was a little over a year out of college, making slightly more than nothing at a job that I hated and trying really hard not to feel like I was a massive life failure. Rather than light a creative fire, the black pool of misery and life suck that I was wallowing in made me not want to write anything at all. I know. I'm as shocked as you are. The few things that did come out were, at best, really angry and, at worst, insanely mediocre. Not an easy sell for a writer.

Fast forward to RIGHT NOW: Life is beautiful. I quit the Sad Job of Pain (note: I made some really awesome friends there, so don't let my affinity for hyperbole give you the impression that there was no silver lining) to claim a Shiny Job of Excellence at a non-profit children's musical theatre group I used to spend my summers working for until the SJP (note: This means Sad Job of Pain, not Sarah Jessica Parker. I wouldn't want to give you the wrong idea, as she seems lovely.) made that impossible. I'd been writing scripts for them in my spare time, and earlier this year they approached me about office managing/writing/teaching drama for them full time. It's been a little over a month now, and I can honestly say that my soul has kind of been revived. Sometimes pure joy is what it takes to make you realize just how viciously unhappy you used to be, and fortunately for all of us, I've got that now.

The point of me telling you all that was not to humble brag about how great my life is (note: It is, though.) so much as it was to let you know where I'm coming from now. Eliminating the bone crushing rage and moderate depression that was clouding my life for so long has made me happy, and being happy has kind of helped me reconnect with all the things that I'm passionate about and, as a result, makes me want to share things with the world (a.k.a. at least two people) again.

So I'm going to do that. Here. Whenever I want. And you can't stop me.

I tell stories and I like stuff. If you like stuff too, stick around.

- CDog