Congratulations, Sierra on Graduation!

I’m a little early, since graduation is in June, but we’ll both be busier by then, right? Congratulations on winning the war (surviving high school)! I know you’ll aim high and go far, and someday the world will be clamoring to read your stories and poems!

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The looong wait for May 7 (or, feening for Iron Man2)

I was very late in seeing Iron Man (in theaters back in May 2008). I intended to see it in the theater way back then, but like many movies, it was the one that got away (yes, I miss a lot of things I intend to see). Then I got busy and never noticed the DVD release, either, so…. Suffice to say, I finally saw it in March 2010 (on vacation, and my boyfriend had the DVD). It completely bowled me over, and I became instantly obsessed with seeing the sequel.

Alas, I have a long wait. Yeah, I know, April 9 is not that far away from May 7, but when you factor in how obsession can make time drag, it can seem like an eternity.

Well, I have to run – the people who have been waiting since May 2008 are gathering outside, and some of them have pitchforks….

Games for BlackBerry

I’ve never been what you’d call a “gamer”, unless you count board games. I love Monopoly and Clue, especially, as well as Life, Risk, and Stratego.

Recently, a friend introduced me to two games I’d never heard of before that are fabulous: Red November, and a card game called Guillotine. I am also dedicated to Warhammer 40K. The only roleplaying success in my experience has been with Vampire: The Masquerade L.A.R.P.

For computer games, I like Dungeon Keeper, 7th Guest, and Myst (though I hate the puzzles in the last two; just let me roam around in the scenery, thank you). I do own a mystery game of the Titanic, but all I’ve ever done with it is enjoy the walk-throughs.

My one true computer game obsession, though, (and I’m darn good at it) is Dune 2000, and I refuse to own a computer that will not run it.

I possess a wonderful game called Spieluhr (it’s a game the band Rammstein had made) and I’ve only finished it once, but I enjoy letting it kick my booty while trying to best it a second time! I also like Jezzball, Ski, and that grand dame time-waster, Mahjong (for which I developed a secondary obsession years ago).

Along came a little device called a BlackBerry. Mine came with a game called Brick Breaker, which is very fun. I’ve only gotten as high as level 10 once, but someday….

For more than a year now, I haven’t bothered to acquire any other BB games because they offer nothing I care to play – until I found bplay.com. They have a Mahjong just for BBs! I went and grabbed it (pretty cheap at $4.99) and it is awesome, with animated graphics, special effects, and all. Yeah, the screen is a tad small for Mahjong, but it’s not too bad. Thus far, I get a kick out of the falling leaves, snow, and flying butterflies per background theme. I suppose they’re designed to be a distraction, but I just find them charming.

So what’s the point of all this? You guessed it – it’s another “Reasons I love my BlackBerry” post. Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve ever spent money on in my life. It beats the computer, the iPod, and even the car. Just plain bliss – and now, bliss includes Mahjong!

My latest obsession: BlackBerry themes

I had to stop in at the local Verizon Wireless store and have them upgrade the software on my phone (which they did for free, awesome) before I could successfully download and install themes.

Warning: These things are like potato chips or tattoos – you can’t install just one. And they are free! Seriously, does it get any better? A theme for every occasion, mood, holiday, or event! They aren’t even eating up much space at all on the phone. Ah, bliss! 

Just let me add one plea to those amazing souls who make these themes: Please make the icons on the home screen customizable. No matter how much I love a theme, if the home screen icons are static (and they aren’t the “right” icons) I delete the theme and keep hunting. Awesome animation tricks on these icons is not enough to sway me, either. For the record, these are the important home screen icons, in this order: Messages, Address Book, Browser, Call Log, Media, and Calendar. If you have more spots than that, Memopad and Tasks are next. Also, we need more Halloween themes (without Hello Kitty). Haunted house images are best, with icons that look like Jack O’ Lanterns. And thanks across the board for creating these wonderful things. It feels like Christmas morning when I find a really amazing one! 

For the uninitiated (to either BlackBerry phones or themes for them), let me first extend my condolences and urge you to take the plunge. They don’t call them “Crackberries” for nothing. Yes, any addiction can get ugly, but aside from sore thumbs and less sleep, this one’s pretty easy to live with.

To explain the theme obsession, think back to when you were a kid with your favorite toy. For the girls, it was probably Barbie, but why did we like Barbie? For the clothes. For the boys, how about those Matchbox cars? You wanted more than one, right? Yeah, that’s it – now you understand. No one wants to wear the same outfit every day, and neither should your phone.   

Alas, with most things that bring bliss, there’s a downside, as I mentioned briefly earlier. My BB has rendered me sleep-deprived by infecting me with Theme Obsession Acquisition Disorder (TOAD) combined with “Smart Phone Thumb Syndrome”. Factor in my OCPD (which kicks in hyper folder organizing compulsions) and you have someone who should have gone to sleep at 11 pm scrolling and clicking away past midnight, no matter how aching her thumb pads and joints are. On the other hand, I now have seriously kick-butt themes and a newly “pimped out” phone! This device is bucking for the “Best Thing I Ever Spent Money On” award…. I’m considering being buried with it.

Hey, if they can do knee and hip replacements, can thumbs be far off?

The Big Top

A new old tradition has been revived in my family: going to the circus. I have an extremely dim memory of the first time, so it must have been in California before my family moved to Texas.

I recall that my dad would play some of the games for prizes, after asking his daughters to decide what sort of prize they wanted. My sister usually zeroed in on stuffed animal lions and tigers, but this was so long ago that I was still in my doll phase. I remember coveting a pale “lady doll” who had black hair and blue eyes (in other words, she looked like my ancient hero Wonder Woman). She was way at the top of the dolls. My dad never had trouble winning the games, and after the prize was won, the guy reached for a blonde doll behind him. My dad wouldn’t take no for an answer – it had to be the one his baby wanted. So the guy had to take a pole with a hook on it to get the doll with the black hair, and I clutched her with glee as we all went off to win a stuffed tiger down the row. I wonder what happened to that doll? Someday, I’ll have to hunt for one to stand in for her. Maybe the next time I’m in the Oh Susanna shop in the French Quarter. But I digress….

We used to go to the circus every year when I was little, in California and later in Texas. We’d get cotton candy, popcorn, and chocolate malt balls (though after one night of far too many malt balls, I can’t even smell them to this day).

I suppose what broke the habit was when the family moved to Saudi Arabia for my dad’s job, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey couldn’t follow us there.

Last year, I was driving through Houston and saw a billboard for good ole RB and B&B, and called my sister to read off the information to her. We went with our mom on a nostalgic whim, but ended up having such a good time that we knew we’d want to go again. Well, that time is now – or actually, that time is tomorrow evening. We’re even planning to be there early enough to visit the performing animals in their cages before the show like we used to way back when. I won’t be scarfing down malt balls, but the cotton candy will not be safe from me!

Here’s a bit of circus trivia for you: Ringling Bros. used to be a rival of Barnum & Bailey, and sometimes the competition got out of hand. Funny that they ended up joining forces and still exist today when others have disbanded and disappeared long ago. When I’m watching the performances, I often think about the history of the show and how they used to travel by train with special cars. Watch “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, at the beginning – you’ll see one of these special trains, complete with a giraffe staring at you from a hole in one of the cars. Bygone times….

It’s terribly cool that the circus shows are still around, and even though a lot has changed, you can still see the lion tamer, the trapeze troupe, and the magnificent horses – and of course, those wonderful clowns and pretty acrobats. Good times.

Ancient City Con III Wraps Up

Jacksonville, Florida’s Hyatt (the one on the river) was once again host to the Ancient City Con for their third annual show. With more space (and hopefully more for next year) it was easy to move around and see and do many things. I don’t get into the table gaming or the video game contests, but many others did, and I know the panels were successful. They also had “Make and Take” projects going on, which are like classes that teach you to make a specific item.

I had some wonderful success with book sales, and most of the dealers I spoke to on one of my shopping rounds reported that they were making good sales, too. I wasn’t surprised, since last year this was the most successful convention for sales as well. However, after the dismal outcome (sales-wise, anyway) of one of my 2009 cons in Orlando, dismal for all of the dealers that is, it was nice to see all that happy commerce going on in Jacksonville.

My panels, “The Pillars of Writing” and “How to Beat Writer’s Block” were very well received, and I had book agent Gary Roen and author William Hatfield on those with me, as well as a few other esteemed authors for either one or both topics.

For the late night panels, we had MovieCrypt.com putting on both the “Vampires, Vampires, Vampires” panel, and the infamous “Occult Showdown” panel, in which the audience picks sides in versus-style match ups and helps “make the case” for how/why their pick would win over their opponent. The coup de grace was the last match: the Blob Vs. the Stuff. As a member of the audience, I was leaning toward favoring the Blob to win. In the end, it came down to a deciding factor of body count: the Blob had wracked up more bodies than the edible Stuff. Another popular one, early on, was Buffy Vs. Anita Blake. Naturally, Buffy won. It’s hard to beat someone who has already died twice and come back swinging both times! As Buffy herself said in one episode while comparing “stuff happens” with her ex, “Did you die?” When he says no, she replies, “I’m gonna win.”

The weather was a bit soggy, the hotel managed to have two waitresses in the bar area at lunch with two conventions in the building, and the Mongolian BBQ place I wanted to revisit is now a Gold’s Gym, but hey – the little Mexican food place at the Landing, Cinco De Mayo, made up for a lot of that. We were three tables worth of people, but it was great having about three waiters hovering and ready to fetch stuff and freshen drinks at any moment. Plus, their food was amazing!

For next year, our suggestion of a separate room for the panels is in the planning. They also want another separate room for showing a schedule of films. I think these plans will greatly enhance the whole experience for Ancient City Con IV.

And to some friends of mine who live in Jacksonville, I’ll call them “The Muses”, it was wonderful to hang out with you all again, ladies, and great to meet those of you who I didn’t know already on Saturday morning. Along with my other friends from Florida, you all made the weekend even better with fun conversation and excellent stories told. I look forward to doing it again next year!

A new name, new look, and a genius new webmaster!

I’ve been changing things up around here, and soon I will have a revamped (and vastly improved) website as well. How can this be? For my new webmaster is the Kwisatz Haderach! Ahem. No, that’s not his name, but yes, he’s a genius with amazing graphic art talents and computing powers.

In addition to this blog, we also now have a forum titled “Fiends Club”. It’s a social network over on Ning.com. When the new website is completed, these elements will all be linked there in one way or another. For now, you can find Fiends Club here:  http://fiends-club.ning.com/

The eventual goal is to have the website’s emails revamped, too. When that happens, they will be changed to “info@auntiemaim.com”, “zine@auntiemaim.com”, and so on. After the new emails are set up, I will announce it here.

So we have our work cut out for us, but it’ll be great when it’s done. For now, I’m just going to sit and stare at the awesome new blog name/banner for a bit…. (I have to say, I had fun whipping up the photo on the fly, too. Aren’t my new canopic jars beautiful?)

Huge thanks, Webmaster! And I promise not to call you the “Kwisatz Haderach” in public … much.