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Sunday, June 26, 2016

What's on a Celebrity's Bucket List?

What does a bucket lister do when given the opportunity to speak to some really cool guests at Comicpalooza? She asks them what's on their bucket list!
I was given the amazing experience of being able to interview some very talented people before and during the Comicpalooza comic convention, held annually here in Houston Texas, and I couldn't help asking them about their own goals and dreams. Here's what they answered - 

Livvy Stubenrauch (Young Anna from Frozen) - moving to Los Angeles, continuing to do voice acting and movies, and going to college.

Eva Bella - (Young Elsa from Frozen, Shimmer and Shine, Parenthood) - traveling to all 50 states. 


Ming Chen - (Comic Book Men on AMC) - it varies from visiting every country to becoming a Yoga instructor, going into space, hang gliding over the Serengeti, and swimming with great whites sharks in South Africa.


Anita Long  (President of Women in Film) - continuing to build her girls' program globally. 

Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk, Celebrity Apprentice) - would like to work on a TV sitcom on a weekly basis.

Chuck Huber (Star Trek, Dragonball Z, Soul Eater) - to make more movies, climb Mt Everest, and own a flying car or a flying machine and be able to use it legitimately to commute. 

Chris Kirkpatrick (N*Sync, Fairly Oddparents, Dead 7) - jumping out of a plane.

AJ McClean (Backstreet Boys, Dead 7) - flying in a fighter jet and playing with wolves in the wild. He just marked off swimming with dolphins 5 days before I spoke to him. Go AJ! 

Erik-Michael Estrada (O-Town, Making the Band, Dead 7) - being in any upcoming Star Wars movie. 

Kel Mitchell (Kenan and Kel, Good Burger, Game Shakers) - jumping out of a plane and being able to swim well.

Burton Bell (Fear Factory) - going into space.

Dino Cazares (Fear Factory) - as far as Houston, finding the best Mexican restaurant. Overall, making the band as big as possible.



I wish all of these great people the best of luck in achieving all their goals. Appreciation to everyone for talking with me!

(I was given four 3 day passes in exchange for my participation at Comicpalooza, however all thoughts, opinions, and experiences are entirely my own)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Comicpalooza 2016

Sadly my favorite time of the year has come and gone once again. I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of Comicpalooza again this year in Houston. I decided shortly after leaving the convention last year that I was going to dress up this time, and immediately started working on a concept for my cosplay. I ended up going with Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series of video games and movies. I was nervous, as a 41 year old mother of 5, if I could pull it off but the wonderful thing about Comicpalooza is that anyone can be who they want to be there and it doesn't matter what your age, physical ability, or appearance is. When you don your costume and enter the George R Brown, you are accepted and appreciated. One of my favorite cosplay I saw this weekend was a man in a wheelchair dressed as Super Mario and his chair was outfitted as a Mario Cart. The woman with him was dressed as Princess Peach. How wonderful is that?














I started off Friday morning by checking out the 22,000 Mars Orion mock-up that NASA brought to their exhibit. I was also able to speak with Darrel Raines about the Orion.



Although some of the guests were not scheduled to be at the convention until Saturday and Sunday, there were still plenty of people to get autographs and photos with, and the shorter lines were definitely a big plus. As I was standing at the booth of Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali with my friend Josh Barry, also a drummer in a band called Jealous Creatures, before the convention, I mentioned to him that Josh was a huge fan and asked if he wouldn't mind speaking to us on camera. He agreed and I let Josh do most of the talking as meeting Mr. Banali was on his bucket list.




In addition to the celebrities, there are numerous artists and vendors in the main exhibit hall. As tempting as it was to spend an entire paycheck on all the cool art and merchandise, I managed to restrain myself and only buy a few prints and an autographed X-files picture for my husband for Father's Day. My son was excited to be able to get autographs from Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and David Prowse (Darth Vader).




Saturday I decided to spend some time talking to various celebrity guests about what is on their bucket lists and how they were enjoying Houston. I got some really great answers from Greyston Holt and Steve Lund from Bitten, the metal band Fear Factory, Chris Kirkpatrick of N*Sync, AJ McClean of Backstreet Boys, and Kel Mitchell of Game Shakers and Good Burger, which I will discuss in my next blog post. The big highlight of the day for me was getting my photo taken with Bill Paxton, who was there for the big Aliens 30 year reunion, along with many other members of the movie's cast. I've seen Titanic and Twister probably hundreds of times, no lie, so I was giddy with glee over meeting him. He was incredibly nice and let me know that he didn't think it was crazy at all that I'd seen his films so many times (imagine that!). He started to tell me about a new series he has coming out, but the little girls in line behind me jumped in and he couldn't finish. I know I'm looking forward to it though.
I can't talk Julia, we've got cows!

Sunday I got my photo op with Norman Reedus, aka Darryl Dixon of The Walking Dead, and I attended two panels. One was for Michael Rooker of Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy and Mallrats. I arrived late due to having waited in line for Norman, but still managed to catch lots of fun stuff. The second panel I attended was the Boondock Saints Q&A. I've loved this movie for years so I was quite excited to be able to cover it. About 26 minutes in to the panel, Norman Reedus came out and sang Happy Birthday to Clifton Collins Jr and gave him a cake. Amazing moment!



If you have not yet attended Comicpalooza because you don't think there's anything for you, let me just put that notion to rest immediately. Yes, there are comic book illustrators, and there's also celebrity guests from various genres such as film and tv, wrestling, and music, there are panels on topics such as writing, paranormal investigating, obtaining scholarships, origami, drawing, film making, as well as celebrity panels. There's NASA, laser tag, costume contests, roller derby, Doomsday wrestling, BMX biking, and this year there was even a Japanese fashion show. The lineup changes from year to year, but one that that never changes is that Comicpalooza has something for everyone. And I am already excited for next time!

Charlie Hunnam AKA Jax Teller walked right past me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Salt Room Houston - Halo therapy and doing an Emotion Code Session

I had never heard of Halo therapy until I saw something in my local newspaper about a new place called Salt of the Earth Houston opening around my neighborhood. After  quick google search I discovered that sitting in a room full of salt and having salty air pumped in for you to breathe had amazing health benefits and I knew it was something I needed to try.  Salt is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.   Halo therapy is intended to be an all natural complement for people that experience any kind of respiratory issue(allergies, asthma, COPD, sinus, flu, pneumonia, colds, etc).  Halo therapy will also help with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.  Halo therapy will help with insomnia. I contacted the owner Sandy Hinderliter immediately and set up a session.

Upon arrival, Sandy showed me around a bit, including a great play area for children who have breathing related issues or are waiting for their parents to complete a session. We also spoke about how she had started Salt of the Earth Houston because she and her husband were looking for a way to more naturally treat his chronic bronchitis.  She knew that the number of times a year he was taking steroids and antibiotics was doing damage to his health.  There wasn't anything like this in the Houston area, and they wanted to not only help him but the other people experiencing respiratory distress.

The floor of salt room in the back where I had my session was covered in an inch or so of salt rocks, a
nd there were beach type lounge chairs to kick back in and relax. Sandy made sure my husband and I were comfortable and said she would be turning on the salt air. There was a censor at the top of one of the walls that would regulate the necessary amount of salt in the room, turning off or pumping more in as needed. The lights dimmed, some very soothing ocean sounds played over the sound system and soon enough the salt began flowing in. Although the salt mist was very fine and not irritating to the eyes or sinuses, soothing actually, I could see the clouds in the air and lightly taste the salt in my mouth. Laying back and closing my eyes, I could've imagined myself laying on Galveston beach, only without the annoyance of other people, birds, and traffic noise.

My 45 minutes went by much too quickly, and soon Sandy was back asking how we had liked the session. I told her it was crazy, but I had entered with a bit of a stuffy nose from mild allergies I was experiencing and already I was breathing and feeling much better. She laughed and told me that wasn't crazy at all. many clients feel relief from their respiratory issues quickly after breathing in the salt.  Although, for people with seasonal allergies they recommend 8-10 sessions prior to their allergy season to help alleviate the symptoms before they have a change to really cause discomfort, and for people with chronic issues like asthma, COPD and cystic fibrosis, they recommend 10-15 sessions to start and then they can monitor how they are feeling to determine how often they need to come in.  


In addition to the halotherapy, Sandy is also a certified Emotion Code Therapy practitioner, so I asked if she would be willing to let me experience that as well. She agreed and we went into a saltless room to begin. She asked if I had any issues I felt I'd like to work on and I said yes, I have chronic fatigue and am exceptionally tired all of the time. She got out a pendulum and pulled up a chart on her laptop with columns and lists of emotions. Using the pendulum, she would discover which emotions I had trapped inside my subconscious and at what age they had become trapped. I wasn't too sure what to think until she pinpointed that I had very specific emotions that I had obtained at 18 years old. My jaw dropped. She asked if that made sense to me and I replied that yes, wow, it did. When I was 18 I was kicked out of my grandparents house (they raised me since I was very young) over an argument with my grandfather, I met my biological mother and siblings, and discovered that my grandmother/adoptive mother had terminal cancer. The feelings and age she landed on were precise enough that I left a firm believer in what she was doing. Sandy rolled a magnet along my back to release those emotions inside me. She said it may take more than one session to completely rid myself of the symptoms I was dealing with, as the body doesn't like to more than it can handle all at once.


I am pleased to report that after my halo therapy and Emotion Code session I did feel much better with my breathing, sleeping, and emotionally. My hair also had that great beachy feel to it, quite soft. I highly recommend trying this out if you are suffering from any respiratory complications or insomnia. This treatment doesn't interact with medications.  The only thing people might experience as their body is expelling toxins is coughing, sneezing, runny nose and a slight detox feeling.  Those symptoms though should be minimal and will subside.  Also, the salt is a different type of salt that is introduced into the system through the airway and doesn't effect high blood pressure at all, so no worries there. If you want to try Salt of the Earth Houston for yourself, Sandy is offering 20% off your first session if you mention The Houston Bucket Lister! Thank you Sandy!


(this is a sponsored post. I was given a free session for my husband and myself in exchange for this post but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ten Bucket List Items to Cross Off at Comicpalooza 2016 #CPHOU

 

 
I can't believe it's already been a year since I attended my first Comicpalooza convention. As a newcomer to the comic convention scene, I had little idea of what to expect. I knew I would have the opportunity to mark meeting a couple of people off my bucket list (George Takei and astronaut Stan Love, who turned out to be one of the coolest people I've met so far), but I didn't know just how much else I could do. To save you from the same uncertainty, I've created this list of 10 bucket list items you can cross off at Comicpalooza 2016. 
Comicpalooza tickets and passes can be purchased here


**This is a sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have received 3 day Comicpalooza passes in exchange for my participation.

Please note - guest and panel information is subject to change. Please check the Comicpalooza schedule.**

1. Meet a Celebrity - Oh boy will this be a great year to do that! With an incredible list of talent such as Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Norman Reedus, Kate Beckinsale, Eliza Dushku, Sean Patrick Flanery, Carl Weathers, Lennie James, Lou Ferrigno, Tara Reid, David Prowse and Peter Mayhew (Darth Vader and Chewbacca!), and many more with more announcements on the way, you would have to walk around with your eyes closed to not spot some serious talent in your midst. If you want to meet them, you'll need to purchase a photo opexperience pass, and/or autograph ticket  Prices vary by entertainer. With the bigger names you'll need to purchase your autograph/photo passes ahead of time, but with most you just walk right up to their tables and purchase there.

2. Be a Hero/Villain- I was pleasantly surprised at how many adults I saw walking around in costume last year. It was like the second Halloween I had been asking the Universe for since I was 5. It was clear some had spent hundreds or even thousands on their elaborate cosplay outfits, but many had gone with more budget friendly options. I will be cosplaying for the first time this year myself, as video game adventure seeker Lara Croft.
 
These were the droids I was looking for!

3. Learn a New Skill - Drawing, belly dancing, origami, sewing, photography, makeup application, website creation, lego building, gaming, and costume design are some of the new skills you can learn at Comicpalooza. 

4. Hone your craft - Budding actors, authors, directors, YouTube stars, comic book creators, prop builders, robotics engineers, podcasters, and voice actors - get one step closer to achieving your dream. The pros will be holding worships at various times to give you advice on the job of your dreams. 

5. Be a Paranormal Investigator - A big highlight of 2015 for me was meeting the Pasadena Paranormal Research Team at Comicpalooza where they had a booth set up, and joining an actual ghost hunt with them a couple of weeks later. I had been trying to mark that item off my bucket list for years! And you will have a chance to do some ghost busting yourself. Join my friends at PRT in panel room 11 at 7pm Saturday to learn more about paranormal research, then follow them out to Discovery Green park to take part in an actual investigation. Check the schedule for more fun paranormal research panels also! 
 
Myself and members of Pasadena PRT last June

6. Attend a fashion show - Not just any fashion show, but a J-fashion show. Fashion artists from Baby, the Stars Shine Bright will be presenting the latest Harajuku and Lolita trends from Japan Friday June 17th at 7pm on the fashion runway. There will also be panels you can attend to learn more about this fashion style throughout the weekend. 
 
Photo of Rin Chan used with permission from Comicpalooza. 


7. NASA - Most Houstonians know that one of the best bucket list items around is NASA. If you grew up here you've probably taken  field trip to Space Center Houston a time or two. Now you can kick it up a notch. Guest Shannon Walker, who was on the ISS Expedition 14 crew, and spent 215 days in space in 2006-2007, and also was co-pilot of Russian soyuz spacecraft in 2010 will be in attendance this year. The Mars rover will also be there to get your picture taken with, and learn more about. Celebrities are great and all, but you just can't beat the cool factor of someone who has been to outer space, and a machine that is going to Mars!
 Meeting astronaut Stan Love last year at Comicpalooza. Photo used with permission from Comicpalooza.

8. Learn Quidditch - Harry Potter fans, not only can you watch a match of every wizard's favorite sport, you can learn how to play! Just follow the golden snitch to the sports arena at the scheduled times, and you'll be well on your way to winning the next Quidditch World Cup.

9. RHPS - You may have seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show on TV, but you haven't gotten the real experience until you've watched it on the big screen with other Rocky fans and a shadow cast. So, come up to the lab (panel room 16), and see what's on the slab Saturday June 18tg, 10pm-11:55pm. 

10. Be a Sword Fighter - For the past five years ARMA (Houston's chapter of the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts) has offered mini lessons and demonstrations on sword fighting. Last year I was nursing a shoulder injury, but I'm going to let my inner Brienne of Tarth out this go round.

 It's hard to keep track of everything, but fortunately the Comicpalooza app (available in the app store and Google Play ) outlines the schedules, maps, and activities, even alerting you ahead of time so you don't miss a thing.

Join the Comicpalooza Twitter party June 2nd 7-9pm CST for your chance to win passes. Use the hashtag #CPHOU and follow @comicpalooza, @newcreate_write, @moneysvgparent, and me, @MarshaKRoberts to get in on the fun.

 






Monday, June 1, 2015

Texas Beer Bus Tour

Most of the time when I do things it's because I'm marking it off  my giant bucket list, but other times I do things that just seem fun. This past Saturday I did the Texas Beer Bus Tour just because it seemed like a fun thing to do. Now, I'm not a big drinker, though you probably couldn't tell by my list. But my husband loves beer, and I thought he would really enjoy this adventure. I contacted Neil, the Beer Bus Tour owner and asked if we could set something up and he was more than gracious.
There are several different tours to choose from, ranging from $89 to $117 per person, not including the $15-21 a person drinking fee. While I was on the Katy tour, the Texas Beer Bus also stops in Midtown/Heights, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land. You can check their calendar for specifics on the dates and places that the bus goes to. I know the different tours have different spots.
 I was afraid with all the bad weather we've been having here in Houston I may miss my reserved spot, but thankfully the weather was clear (until we got home) and I was able to meet a ridiculously fun group of fellow tourists out in front of World of Beer in Katy Saturday morning at 10;45am. Given the weather report for the day I didn't think many people would show up, however as more and more people piled on, I saw that even with a flood warning it was pretty much sold out. My fellow passengers were a great mix of male and female, younger and older, couples, singles, friends and coworkers all out for some good beer and good times. So if you're considering going but worried you  may be the only female, or everyone will be older or younger, don't be. The Texas Beer Bus Tour is truly for everyone, provided you are over 21. While the tour is educational in nature, less drunk taxi service than informative adventure, the group and tour guide were full of boisterous laughter and banter.
Due to flooding, our stop at Texian was cancelled, and we headed out on the comfy air conditioned bus to Yellow Rose Distilling instead. Having just done the tour at Yellow Rose the weekend before (I'm really not a big drinker, I swear), I skipped the tour and decided to indulge in their amazing Bloody Marys instead. If you haven't previously been though, the tour is great and you will learn some really cool facts about how they make their whiskey and vodka. For instance, did you know the reason older whiskey is expensive isn't just because it's smoother and better tasting, but also because so much of it is lost each year due to evaporation? Just one of the interesting little tidbits you'll discover on your tours. You will also be able to ask questions and talk to one of the owners of Yellow Rose, which is a must if you are considering starting up a brewery of your own or are just interested in the process. If you aren't a drinker, there are sodas, ginger beer and more things you can drink there.  Next we all scooped up our souvenir shot glasses, boarded the bus again, and made our way out to No Label Brewing. We were told ahead of time by our guide that it was a very family and pet friendly place, and boy was he not kidding. It was packed to overflowing with families, kids playing ball, dogs of all kinds on leashes, and a great fun Summer vibe. Several picnic tables were available, food trucks were serving hot dogs, tacos, burgers and cupcakes, cornhole type games were set up if you fancied some competition, and a live band was playing. When we entered we were given a green wristband that had three tabs on it that we could exchange for cups of beer, as well as a glass we could keep and reuse. As my amazing cousin is the man behind Gilley's beer, available at No Label, I have to highly recommend trying it if you go. Since it is family friendly, there are plenty of other things there to drink if you don't like or want beer. I think we had an hour at No Label before hopping back on the bus and leaving for The Growler Spot. As soon as we entered there, we were presented with three sample cups of beer to try, and a koozie to take home. The Growler Spot served pub type fare and had large TVs playing sports, but I wouldn't classify it was a sports bar at all. It is not a brewery or distillery but it is a great spot to try some new beer. If you don't drink, Saint Arnold's root beer and are sodas available. After our time there ended we all headed back, some in a considerably lighter mood than before, to World of Beer Katy. During the course of the day we made quite a few new friends, learned a lot of things about the making of alcohol, tried some delicious new drinks (seriously guys, that Bloody Mary,,,) and visited some pretty cool spots in the Greater Houston Area that we plan to visit again in the future.  I asked my tour mates at the end if they had a good time and everyone gave a resounding yes. A few people were regulars who do the tour all the time.  If you think you may do a little too much sampling on the tour, it is recommended to take an Uber car, taxi or have a driver who can take you home.
I would recommend the Texas Beer Bus Tour for anyone wanting to start their own brewing journey, as gifts for your favorite beer connoisseur, for people wanting to explore fun new places to drink in the area, for people wanting a cool thing to do with out of town visitors, team building groups, and anyone generally wanting a fun outing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Comicpalooza 2015




Attending Comicpalooza has been on my Houston bucket list for years, but every year it seemed like something would prevent me from going. This year I was invited to be an official blogger for Comicpalooza, and I wasn't letting anything stand in my way.
Now, I'm a proud nerd who grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends every weekend throughout high school, but my husband isn't so much into those sorts of things. He reads the Game of Thrones books and has a passionate crush on Wonder Woman, but he just doesn't get excited over the rest. He probably doesn't know the difference between Thor and Aquaman. I admit, I was concerned about how much fun he would have. However, I not only convinced him to tag along for one day, but three. Friday we went solo, Saturday we took our two daughters and Sunday we took our two younger sons. Monday we let our oldest son and his friends use the passes. The first day it wasn't as packed, as I assume many people had work that day. Some of the bigger name celebs weren't there, but there was still plenty to do. Saturday was insanely packed, Sunday less so but more than Friday. My son said Monday was not crowded, but again, many of the celebrities weren't there.
Neither of us really knew what to expect, but the Comicpalooza app helped us plan what we wanted to do and mapped out where the interesting things were. The George R Brown is gigantic! Without some sort of direction, we'd probably still be walking around trying to find our way. I was awed by the elaborate costumes most of the 'Paloozers were wearing, many home made. We weren't the only ones who weren't dressed up, but it seemed like most people were at least wearing some sort of costume, and quite a few had stunning, professional looking outfits. I saw a large number of women dressed as Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell was a guest), as well as people dressed as Deadpool, Harley Quinn, Spiderman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, Captain America and, for some reason, pirates. If you plan to dress up next year and want to stand out as an original, maybe steer clear of those, but they were quite popular with the public. Be prepared to be stopped often and asked for photos if you do dress up, especially if you put a lot of effort into your look. If you are quite conservative, be forewarned that many people wear next to nothing, but my husband had no complaints about it.

Walking in to the main area on the first floor and walking to the right, you find yourself amongst an assortment of celebrities signing autographs and posing for pictures, from film and tv to wrestling, voice actors, musicians, and more. Featured guests this year included Jeremy Renner, Stan Lee, George Takei, Haley Atwell, Colbie Smulders, Laurie Holden, Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Shada (the voice of Finn from Adventure time), The Comic Book Men, TMNT creator Kevin Eastman, several cast members from Gotham, Barry Bostwick, Patricia O'Quinn and Lil Nell from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Summer Glau, Linda Blair, Peter "Chewbacca" Mayhew, John Schneider, GWAR, Marky Ramone, Henry "the Fonz" Winkler, wrestling legends such as Roddy Piper and Sting, Larry "The Soup Nazi" Thomas, and so many more that I will get a finger cramp listing them all. In order to get autographs and photos from the most popular celebrities (Stan Lee, the Avengers, and Haley Atwell) you needed to first purchase pass for that person or group, or stand in a mind numblingly long line to purchase a ticket before lining up in an equally horrible line to meet the celeb. For any other celebrity you could pay cash at their specific table. The lines for George Takei, Kevin Eastman, Laurie Holden, Summer Glau, Jason Isaacs and some of the Gotham cast got pretty long, but many of the other people had very short or no lines at all. Although some celebrities had assigned photo op times and said no photos at their tables, I discovered that if they didn't have a line and you were very polite, they were more than happy to take several pictures right then and there. Barry Bostwick, Larry Thomas, Marky Ramone and GWAR were especially friendly and chatted with us for awhile. While we did not get a chance to talk to Henry Winkler, every time we walked by we saw him up interacting with his fans, doing magic tricks for them and being extremely personable. There are ATM machines nearby the autograph tables so don't panic if you find yourself wanting a few more than you planned.

On the other side of the autograph section there are vendors set up as far as the eye can see. Again, many of these dealers (but not all) are cash only, so keep that in mind. The majority sell comic and anime related books,toys, and t-shirts, but we also found authors, artists, medieval looking weaponry, cosplayers, haunted houses, handmade soap, beauty products, ecigarette vaping products, samples of Virus vodka, and even a table where you could win tickets and t-shirts from the Texas Ren Fest (we got 4 tickets and two shirts, yeah!), There is a little something for everyone, even if you aren't a comics lover, like my husband.
Past the vendor tables are the food courts, options being Chick Fil A, sandwiches, stir fry, and snacks. The tables and chairs were all taken so you may need to find a spot on the floor to camp out and eat, but don't worry, you won't be the only ones doing so, unless more seating is added next year. Directly across from the food area are games and interactive areas for younger children, Our kids were older so we didnt really venture over too far into it, but I did see an area where kids could play with some fun robots, and sign up for classes to learn to build them themselves. There was also a spot where kids and adults could fence/swordfight with wooden swords and PVC, and an instructor on hand to teach them a few moves.
Now that alone sounds like plenty to keep you occupied, but believe it or not there was even more to do upstairs. All day there were panels and classes you could attend in any number of the rooms in the George R Brown, from Q&A sessions with the celebrities origami classes, advice on becoming a director from Houston's own Larry Wade Carroll, tips on writing, gaming and blogging, art, and a little bit of everything. If you are a gamer of any sort (video, computer, live action, board, role playing) there are areas set up for that as well. On the third floor, all the way to the left we were able to see my good friend Josh's band Jealous Creatures, roller derby, and wrestling exhibitions. Friday night Jackie Earle Haley (whom I had the pleasure of taking part in an interview with, which I will have up on this blog soon) showed a premiere of his upcoming movie Criminal Activies (more on that in another post), and Saturday night there was a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (though I don't think attendees were lucky enough to have Barry Bostwick, Patricia O'Quinn and Lil Nell as the shadow cast).
If you are under the impression you can come to Comicpalooza one day, stay for a few hours and see all there is to see, you are mistaken. I urge anyone interested to at least plan for two days, and get the four day pass if you can afford it. Your feet and legs will ache and your wallet will be empty, but you will have an absolutely incredible experience. My advice to new Con goers is to wear comfy shoes, bring lots of cash (or map out the ATMs), eat before you arrive, download the Comicpalooza app to keep track of when and where the many upstairs events occur, and plan to stay late to catch some great shows. Dress up and let your inner nerd roam free if you'd like, you will be in great company. If you are coming from out of town, or for what ever reason don't wish to drive back home at night, there is a Hilton hotel connected to the GRB and you may run into the celebrities at the bar or in the hallways. And if you are curious how my non-nerd husband enjoyed it, he's already planning for next year with me. I think I'll go as Lara Croft.


*disclaimer - I received four 4 day passes in exchange from Comicpalooza, but all opinions and thoughts are strictly my own*

Monday, May 4, 2015

Living Below the Line

This past week I participated in a challenge called Live Below the Line where participants agree with live off of $1.50 a day of food for five days straight, just like so many impoverish people around the world. You may remember Gwenyth Paltrow was in the news recently for doing this challenge on $29 a week. I raised $100 for a charity called American Foundation for Children with AIDS thanks to my amazing friends and family who supported me, which gave me a huge boost going into it. I started the challenge on Sunday, so Saturday I went shopping for my meager rations.  I shopped around at Kroger, HEB, Aldi and Fiesta, but Food prices ended up a lot higher than I expected them to be, so I purchased most of my items at the 99 Cent store. I chose dried pinto beans, white rice, a 5 pack of beef flavored ramen, a box with 6 packets of apple cinnamon oatmeal, half a dozen eggs, and a can of Vienna Sausages. Lesson number one - it's extremely difficult to eat healthy when you don't have much money to spend. No fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, or basically anything but starches, carbs and processed junk. The first day, Sunday, wasn't too bad because I discovered you can make a decent lunch out of just the free samples at HEB. My husband and children were kind enough to have pity on me and give me their free samples of sushi, guacamole and chips, crackers with different cheeses, and banana nutella crepes. My husband remarked at how crazy I must have looked to everyone else, gobbling down 4 helpings of every freebie the store offered. Lesson number two - never judge people eating all the free samples. They may not be greedy pigs, they may just be starving and not knowing when they will get to eat decent food again. At some point during day two I began to tire of eating the same bland overprocessed junk, a feeling which did not abate for the duration of the challenge. My kids would come to me to complain that there wasn't anything good in the house to eat, and I became irrationally angry knowing there was more than enough. And the waste, oh god the waste. Seeing their plates of dinners half eaten, snacks thrown in the trash, barely consumed drinks left out on the counter, things that never really bothered me much before caused me to completely lose it. Lesson three - we waste more food than most families get to eat all week. On day 4 my wonderful, amazing neighbor, who had no idea I was doing the challenge, brought over a plate of barbequed meat. I wasn't sure if it was allowed or not to eat this gift so I refrained, but it opened my eyes at just how huge a simple plate of dinner can be to a family who is struggling. Meat is so expensive, fruits and vegetables a luxury, and dessert, unheard of. Lesson number four - one small act of kindness could mean everything to a hungry person.
     I completed the challenge without cheating and felt pretty good about myself. It wasn't all that bad. And that is the difference between me and those who are struggling with this in real life. It wasn't that bad for me because I had the choice to do it for 5 days. I could've stopped any time I wanted. I was able to sit in a nice house, watch cable TV and Netflix to get my mind off of the hunger pangs, and I knew that come the weekend, I would be able to go to a restaurant and pig out on anything I wanted. Millions of people today don't have the luxury of telling themselves just a few more days and I'll be eating steaks and ice cream again. Although the real prize in completing this challenge is the $100 I raised for the children living with AIDS, the perspective I gained about people living in poverty will be invaluable for a lifetime.