Monday, April 11, 2011

My Adventurous Day Meeting Amber Benson and The Bean…in Chicago

April 9th, 2011 has got to be one of the most funtastic, best days I’ve had in a long, long time!  I had planned to ride into Chicago for a book signing by the fabulous Amber Benson at Challengers Comics (great shop and very friendly employees by the way), and to earn my exploring/adventure badge as well.  My Partner in Crime on this day was (I don’t like using real names without permission), we’ll call him Chewie, cause of course I’d be Han Solo…in female form. Han Sola maybe?  Any who, Chewie also fits because he (my PiC) is so tall and usually sports a badass beard. So he’s, tall, hairy, and rocks a wicked ammo belt across his chest, it’s only natural to refer to him as Chewie in this story. *BTW, Chewie if your reading this, I hope you’re not offended, be proud I consider you among the Wookie Class*

Chewie and I started our day out taking the blue line CTA into the city. I live in a suburb not too far away, so I could’ve easily driven, but I can never find parking in the city, and my stupid high school didn’t teach me to parallel park cause they figured “Why would they need to learn that?  Waste of Time. Waste of money. They live in the suburbs, parallel parking doesn’t exist here.” …..Jerks.  *Side note, since I use “Jerks” in pretty much all my blogs, Imma pull a Charlie Sheen and try to copy write it, so I don’t wanna hear about anyone using “Jerks” but me, or I’ll have to start a one-woman tour where I sit on stage and allow people to laugh with me when in actuality they are laughing at me.  Who wants that? Not me, so leave “Jerks” alone!  Thank you*  Whew, I think that was my longest…sidebar…ever!  Any who, again, so the train it was, it was a lot less stress then driving and it kinda felt like being on a really boring roller coaster, so it was a win-win!  So the train ride was fun, nothing exciting happened, except that we found out, thanks to the many posters hanging up, that there is a sequel to ‘Hoodwinked’ with Cheech and Chong in it.  I think I might see it just for those two! 

 So now finally, we arrived at Western and walked the 10 feet to the front door of Challengers Comics, at this point I was super excited.  I’d become a huge Amber Benson fan from ‘Buffy’ of course!  But then one day, I’m minding my own business when the ‘Ghosts of Albion’ web series, co-created by Amber Benson and Christopher Golden, suddenly pops up on my screen. Now it may have been a beer hallucination (don’t make fun of me people, I don’t drink that often, so when I do, weird things happen, okay?  Let’s just move on!), or a ghostly presence trying to send me a message, or it may have been the fact that I typed in the site address and hit play, but whatever caused it to cross my path, I got hooked on in! It was amazing, the animation reminded me of watching a comic book, very cool! The story takes place in the 1800’s and can be very dark at times.  It’s about a brother and sister who are inducted into a family legacy to protect the mythical Albion.  I won’t go into more detail cause I really think you should watch the series and read the books, but one thing I wanted to mention is one of the things I love most about this series, the ghosts. There are three in particular that make up part of the hero circle in the story, they fight beside William and Tamara to protect their beloved land. See I like this, because I’ve always had a fascination with anything paranormal, and in most books, movies, and TV programs, they give ghosts a bad rap.  They’re usually always in the bad spotlight as the monster, demon, or plain old bad guy.  As someone who believes; there are many different kinds of spirits, entities, and ghost, what ever you want to call them.  It’s just nice to see them in a good helpful kinda role for once.  * To watch the series, just Google ‘Ghosts of Albion’, for the books, buy them, or check them out at your local Library*  

So now that I learned Amber Benson can also add great writer to her long listed resume.  “Is there anything she can’t do?” you may ask, I honestly don’t know people; we’ll just have to wait and find out together.  Any who, so then I found out about ‘Death’s Daughter’ and after reading it, I was hooked…again!  I think I love it so much because it’s got all the elements I love in the genres of books I read.  I could compare it to the ‘Percy Jackson’ series, but that wouldn’t be fair to Callie.  Her adventures are much more exciting, and this is definitely not a kids book, I personally like the “dirty bits”.  ;)  It’s a new world I was introduced to and the best part of this series is the mythology.  I’m pretty well read on Greek mythology, so when I read about some of the Hindu mythology in ‘Death’s Daughter’ and Egyptian Mythology in ‘Cat’s Claw’, it opened a whole new world of information for me to lose myself in.  Just read the series, if you don't like it, you can punch me in the arm.  Seriously.  Come and punch me in the arm, I bruise easily and may cry, so for me to be willing to take that risk, it means something. But now I’m babbling, which I tend to do in type form.  So….

 Ok, I think I was at the part where Chewie and I arrived at the store.  We were early which was a good thing, cause we just barely made it into the crowed room where the reading and Q&A took place.  I’m so glad I made it for that.  Amber is very entertaining when she is reading a passage from her book, especially when she stopped for a second to point out all the sports analogies she’d unknowingly wrote in that particular section. (When Callie and Marcel are fighting on the platform..for those who’ve read the book) That little conversation turned into her talking about how her editor told her WWF (for wrestling) doesn’t exist any more, it is now WWE, which brought about how WWF stands for World Wildlife Fund, which strangely segued into talking about panda’s pile driving each other as the real reason there aren’t too many around anymore.  I’m just gonna say, the banter between her and Patrick Brower (Co-owner of Challengers) had the whole crowd in tears (of laughter, not disappointment people, don’t put words in my mouth!).  I want to make one quick mention before I move on the signing part of this adventure.  During the Q&A a gentleman asked a question and stated he worked as a librarian for middle school age kids.  Amber stopped him for a second to 1) give him a nice round of applause for his occupation, and 2) to state how important libraries are to a community….she is a card carrying citizen after all.  I just loved that; I’m trying to get myself as fast as I can through my remaining classes so I can get my Librarian Technical Assistant cert.  I’ve got lots of love and respect for all types of Libraries, so I just thought it was really cool of her to mention the importance of them.

 Any who, well now it was time for the signing portion of this day’s entertainment.  I’d been telling myself all week, “don’t act like a dork!” “don’t fangirl out”  “don’t act like a spaz or she’ll tell you that you can no longer be her fan”  Um, I’m hoping I didn’t act like a dork, but I probably did.  I’m pretty shy and quiet in person, especially when there are lots of people i don't know around. I express myself better through typing, and the whole experience went so quick, I honestly don’t remember what I said.  I remember mentioning my cat that looks like a reverse skunk, so yeah, I probably did act like a dork.  In fact yeah, I know I did, when taking a picture of her and Chewie, I actually said “Say Cheese” ~ face palm ~  Wow! No ones ever said that before! (Imma Dork)  I have to say she was way cool though, she signed my Viagra wall clock “To Tina Lot’s of love to a “stand up” gal, love Amber ‘Tara’ from buffy” and when I asked if she wouldn’t mind signing one more book for me, she immediately told me “bring em all out, I’ll sign them all!”  I had to listen to her, I mean come on its Amber Benson, she tells you to do something, you better do it!  So basically every book of hers I own and my Viagra wall clock have her name written all over them!  I don’t think I’ll ever let anyone touch them now, second thought I don’t even want anyone to look at them. Look away people! (Sorry, Spinal Tap reference) Ok, so the moral of this portion of my story is, if you love all things comics or graphic novel, go to Challenger Comics when in Chicago, you won’t be disappointed!  They are located on Western near Milwaukee.  Also if your not a fan already, seriously consider becoming an Amber Benson fan, she is super sweet, what the definition of “Keeping it Real” should be, very down to earth, you can tell she loves and remembers her fans, and meeting her didn’t feel like meeting a celeb at all, it was like chatting with a friend. On that note, I just want to say that she was my first celeb meeting, I was really, really nervous and I do appreciate the fact that she was very gentle with me. 
                      I would like to point out that i am not a photogenic person,
                               Especially when standing next to Amber Benson.
                                                  I would also like to add,
                      that this camera adds just me...for some reason....

So the second, and probably much shorter part of the story of my and Chewies adventure will continue here.  We decided since we had an all day train pass, that we would go exploring.  I wanted to see The Bean (real name ‘Cloud Gate’) cause I haven’t seen it up and close yet.  I knew we had to get off on Washington and walk a few blocks to get there, I just didn’t know which direction to go.  I took a not so educated guess, and we ended going the right way.  Us Cancers have pretty good intuition at times.  So we came, we saw, we took pictures…of the Bean. After walking around a bit, trying to find those walls with the animated faces that spit water at you, and not finding them, we decided to head back toward the train.  Oddly on the way back, we ended up walking right towards the giant creepy faces.  After having our fun of trying to figure out how it worked (it has to be projected from the inside), we for real this time headed back to the train. 
                                                                                                    *under the Bean looking up
But not before a roving gang of Segway riders in matching colored helmets (that’s how you know their a legit street gang) came barreling towards us. There had to be at least fifteen of them against the two of us.  I didn’t know what to do, I looked at Chewie and he just stared at them with a look of terror in his eyes.  It took us a minute, but then we realize, what the hell are they gonna do to us? So we had a laugh and continued on.  But the Segway people were still lurking around the area.  Turns out they stopped at the Bean, to harass tourists I assumed, which was right by the intersection we had to cross. The two wheeled hell hounds came barreling right for us again.  I just thank the powers that be, that the green hand on the traffic sign waved us across the street and out of harms way of the hurtling 10mph machines of death.  Whew, that was enough excitement for one day.  We boarded the train and rode back to Rosemont where my car was waiting like a good little puppy, and drove into the sunset.  It was hard to see because of that, I’m just glad we made it home alive to tell the tale. Lola is now over and out. Later peeps.

 ** I do want to add one quick plea to parents with toddlers.  I almost had a heart attach at one of the train stations.  We were walking towards the stairs and there was a wall that blocked our view of the rest of the platform in front of us.  I’m about to climb the stairs when I see a little boy about 2 or 3 years old.  I didn’t see any adults within 5 feet of him, I couldn’t see past the wall.  He started to step closer to the edge of the platform; he was well into the blue line and inches from the edge.  I was preparing to move and pull him back and see where his parents were, when I saw a hand shoot from behind the wall and grab him before he got any closer.  People please, please watch you little ones.  It’s probably not my place to say anything, because I’m not a mother, nor do I have any inclinations to be a mother (no offense kids), but please, common sense, keep your toddlers and little ones with in eyesight and arms length when near potentially dangerous situations. **

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chicago Wolves Hockey

So recently my family and I went to our yearly Chicago Wolves Hockey game. March 26th, The Wolves vs. The Hamilton Bulldogs. Every year my dad’s buddy “Uncle” (I don’t like to use real names without permission) gets a huge group together and we take up a few rows on center ice behind the penalty box.   I have to say this year was one of the best so far.  I’m not a huge hockey fan, I do enjoy it, it does not bore me like baseball does, but I have to say going to a Wolves game is so much fun.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re all Blackhawk fans in my family, us Chicagoans are very, very, loyal to our teams (Cubs anyone?)  I’ve also never been to a Blackhawks game before because the only tickets I could afford would be in the nose bleed section, and I would imagine that it would just look like a bunch of red ants running really fast back and forth.  So I don’t have the comparison to say this, but I will, Wolves games are a lot more fun to go to then Hawks games.  No matter what seat you get, you get a great close view of the rink, and it doesn’t take long to walk to the concession area for more beer and dippin dots.  Yummm those go great together.  So I’m gonna go over some of the nights highlights.

First, the team introduction is just amazing.  There are lasers, fireworks, and lots o’ pyrotechnics being shot from the scoreboard and the wolves paws they use as an alley to introduce the starting players, all to the soundtrack up Motley Crews, Kick Start my Heart.  It is A-Maz-Ing!  I especially love the pyrotechnics, I have a love affair with fire, I’d be content staring at a bonfire for hours (easily amused).  When the flames shoot out of the paws, you can feel the heat hit you immediately. I always wonder how it doesn’t melt some of the ice. And if that wasn’t enough, large flames and fireworks are blasted from the top of the scoreboard that hangs over center ice. The only thing that worries me every year is that the stadium ceiling is wood…..what if the flames shoot too high?  If a fire started, someone would scream, then I’d scream, we’d all scream, I’d be anarchy.

The game started out with a bang.  20 seconds in we had the first penalty of the night, 7 minutes in we had the best Hockey fight I’ve personally have ever seen.  Don’t know what started it, and I don’t care, I just saw the gloves come off and immediately jumped up to shout my support, which I probably shouldn’t repeat right now to keep this clean. Now I’m not a fighter, I’m a lover ; ) I try to avoid fights or arguments like they were STD’s (in case my sisters and brother are reading this….Shut Up! I do not argue…jerks) but when it comes to hockey and players fighting, I turn into Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother.  It was a great fight though, jerseys were grabbed, rabbit punches were thrown, it lasted about a minute before our guy got the enemy down on the ice and the refs were then forced to break it up.  It was awesome while it lasted!  That was probably the most exciting part of the game except for the overtime shootout to end the game.  I loves me a shootout!

Since the rest of the game was relatively calm, I will now include my highlights of observations during the game, one being, seeing a guy two rows up who totally resembled George Clooney.  It wasn’t him.  I shouted George!! a few times and quickly looked away.  My friend told me he didn’t turn around, so sadly I don’t think it was him. On second thought, I’m starting to think maybe it was him, so now I think the only thing I can do is to officially start an internet rumor that George Clooney is deaf……or he’s just really good at ignoring annoying-people-that-just-downed-a-beer-when-they-really-don’t-drink-very-often-so-this-person-was-like-really-really-totally-buzzed-at-the-time-so-you-can’t-blame-her-for-trying, that shout his name really loud and then quickly look in the other direction….at a hockey game.  Yeah, I bet it was that second explanation.

I found this very amusing, listening to my sweet very passive sister-in-law yell at the player; she’s a big hockey fan.  It was entertaining for me, because she has conditioned herself to watch her language, not that she normally uses foul language, so she doesn’t pass any bad words or thought on to my handsome little nephew, and my “getting more gorgeous everyday” niece.  - Side note, my niece will be turning 15 this summer, she was born the year I graduated high school, that doesn’t depress me.  Watching the cute adorable little girl turn into a beautiful young lady is what does it.  I miss my cute little toddler niece, but I couldn’t be prouder of the young lady she’s turning into. - Any who back to my sis-in-law.  Since she never ever uses obscene language, I was getting a kick out of hearing “Oh goodness gracious, what are you doing?  Go after the puck!” “Oh for Pete’ sake! Get the puck! What are you doing?!”  “Gosh darn it, do you even know how to play hockey?!”  I may be exaggerating a little (a little) but I found it cute and hi-larious.

 Watching a man try to lift his 3 or 4-year-old son over the seats while holding a beer, and spilling a bit of the beer on the poor kids head.  He quickly “brushed” it away, and all was good.  The only thought that popped into my head was him being stopped by security “Sir why does your 3 year old boy smell like beer?  Has he been drinking?  He’s not walking so straight.”(You know, cause little kids walk funny.  Come on I’m not the only one to notice that, they walk around like little drunk babies most of the time.  BTW I have weird scenarios that would never happen, coursing through my brain ALL THE TIME.   At least I find them entertaining)

 The Chuck a Puck promo. You can purchase these orange pucks with numbers on them before the game starts for a promo.  During the second intermission, the officials put some targets on the ice and tell every one to “chuck their puck”.  If it hits a target, you win a gift certificate for a certain amount of money.  Ok, I don’t know who invented this promo, but it is a lawsuit waiting to happen.  I admit, it was pretty cool to look up and see hundreds of orange pucks flying high above my head like a gaggle of round orange arrows, but people were having their kids throw them, and come on kids can’t throw for crap.  There was many a puck that didn’t even hit the ice at all, and probably hit some poor fan in the head instead. Seriously, I know hockey fans are the toughest fans out there (except for the world wide Soccer (in the US) football (everywhere else) fans) but WTF were they thinking with this promo?

 All night long they were pimping out cute little pups and doggies that need a good home, I think there were only 5 left that weren’t adopted by the end of the night.  But it was just too cute watching the pups walk out onto the ice, then decide right away “crap I don’t like the cold on my paws” There were some very cute critters, and if I had a bigger apartment, or preferably a house with a big backyard, I would have scooped up the remaining pups for myself.  On that note, there are tons of good loving pets just waiting to be adopted by a loving family.  If you are thinking of sharing your home with a furry little creature, please, please consider looking at a shelter first.  Adult critters need some love too!

During the first intermission they had the Pink Panther youth hockey league play a quick 10-minute game.  I’m assuming it is an all girl league, or there just happened to be a lot of longhaired boys. So basically, Rock On girls!  The whole “this” is for boys and “that” is for girls thinking is finally becoming extinct.  Do what you love no matter what “gender” you are.  Boys go learn ballet or play with Barbie’s if it makes you happy, girls, go play video games and hockey, it’s what you love and want to do that matters.  Don’t let TV or society at large tell you what you should or shouldn’t like.  Wait I should probably add, do what you want as long as it doesn’t harm, maim, or disfigure anyone else.  The point is for you to be happy without making others feel bad.

The Kiss Cam.  I love this bit!  I’m sure you’ve all seen it at stadiums around the world.  They show two people up on the scoreboard enshrined in a heart shape boarder, and practically pressure people to make out on command.  The best ones are when it’s an older couple and the guy goes to kiss the girl, but she turns away or pushes him away, it always cracks me up (easily amused).  Every time I see this bit though, I can’t help but wonder, what if the camera centers on a brother and sister who happen to be sitting next to each other.  Awkward!

That’s it for the highlights now.  I just want to add one tiny dislike of the night.  The music they play is great; it’s mostly Rock with a bit of Pop stuff here and there.  I’m a rocker, always have been, always will be, but I consider my music taste to be pretty eclectic.  I was nodding my head and tapping my foot to songs that I normally don’t listen to, but when they played Miley Cyrus ‘Party in the USA’ that was the grossest thing I have ever experienced at a hockey game!  Come on, Miley Cyrus? You can do better then that!  Well folks, that’s about all I gots to say about that. Oh yeah, I should probably mention that The Wolves won 3-2 in an overtime shootout.  Thank you for reading, Lola out.