Friday, June 27, 2014

6 Easy Tips for Surviving Your Next Outdoor Music Festival

Because you don’t want to be this guy.

Source: Flickr

My first time attending a three day outdoor music festival I went alone, slept in my car, and almost had a run in with the police.

Let me back up a bit.

Once I had freshly graduated college, I moved to Austin to work as Production Assistant.  That did not work out as planned but I did get introduced to the outdoor festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

The first two times I went, I went for one day only.

My first year to brave (and afford) all three days, I had moved back to Dallas (where the jobs are).

Thus I packed up some supplies and drove south to Austin.  My plans to stay at uncles’ house overnight were quickly dashed as well as my backup plan to crash on the floor of my cousin’s apartment.

No matter – I would just sleep in my car.  The way drug dealers, the homeless, and/or truckers sometimes do.

You don't know discomfort until you've slept in your car.

I survived on just a few hours a sleep per night, absolutely certain someone would alert the cops to my presence or the fear that I would pass out due to a lack of oxygen. 

Sealed windows still let air in right? Maybe I should roll down the window an inch?

A noisy party Saturday night at my old co-workers apartment, lead to the cops knocking on the front door.  Which wasn’t a big deal, except we had several underage drinkers and a few pot smokers perched on the balcony.  Everyone froze until the cops left.  Crisis averted.

Since those crazy days of my youth, I have learned some useful tips for the average outdoor music festival goer.   Some a mixture of common sense, and other methods more tried and true. 

I now present – 6 Easy Tips for Surviving Your Next Outdoor Music Festival!

YAAS! Let's Do This!

Tip #1 – Don’t Bring Your New Sandals

Look ladies, I know there are several cute sandal options out there.  You may be totally tempted to wear them brand spanking new to the music fest and wow everyone with your on point fashion sense.


Those girls that do?  They are plastering themselves with Band-Aids by end of Day One.  Most times the distance between parking and the festival gates are usually a few miles away.  You’ll be soooo excited to get there in a hurry, your new sandals will already be rubbing raw spots on your feet.
You can bring the sandals with you in a backpack to throw on once you enter the festival but towards the end of the night, you’ll either be covered in mud, or dirt or spilled beer.  Your cute sandals deserve better.

Tip # 2 – Come Prepared

Plan on bringing a poncho, a bandana and some hand sanitizer.  Each work wonders.  The porta potties will inevitably of supplies to wash your hand with. 

Also depending on the weather, which can vary wildly in Texas, you may be faced with drenching rains or hot dry heat that can turn the festival grounds into the post-apocalyptic setting of the Mad Max/ Road Warrior movies.

Trash bags work as ponchos too.....mmmyes, that's me!

Tip # 3 - Locate the Free Drinking Water Stations

Most festivals provide free drinking water stations, in which you can fill up at no charge.  At first, most people typically pass right on by but by Day Three, there is line of festival goers waiting up to 50 minutes and totally missing the whole Tune-Yards set just to get some dang water that doesn’t cost $7 a bottle.
Locate the stations early and strategically swoop in at opportune times to ensure you have an adequate water supply.

Tip # 4 – Locate Some Shade

Standing in the sun, watching Matt and Kim tear it up, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  Standing in the sun after 4 hours straight is literally torture.  Regardless of which band is currently playing.  Make sure you find some shade and take a rest.  Even if you can’t see the band, you can still hear them and in your chillaxed pose can actually enjoy the music for what it’s worth.

This year I didn’t actually see the band Kongos perform, but I heard them live while stitting under a tent providing shade and man, they were just as awesome!

Tip # 5 – Avoid Running From Stage to Stage

My sister loves to do this but I do not recommend it.  Most music festivals purposely book two massively popular acts at the same time on stages on the opposite ends of the fairgrounds or park.  Most first timers moan in agony that they can’t watch both acts at the same time but that’s done on purpose so that the crowds are evenly spaced around the stages.  You wouldn’t want everyone crowding around each other at one end of the park while the other end is completely empty. 

Running from stage to stage in theory allows you to see both, but you are most likely going to miss the band’s performance of your favorite track or their awesome cover of a well-known classic.  You will miss the best parts, is what I have experienced chasing after my sister.

Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear and 2 Chainz play at the same time? Tha fu#k?

Tip # 6 – Stash Snacks in Your Car

Stash snacks in your car for after the festival.  You’ll either be running low on cash monies or you may be looking forward to grab a bite to eat someplace nearby.  Problem is, most of the festival attendees will have the same idea and you will find yourself in a bit of a gridlock on the way out.  Not to mention wait times at the closest restaurants, diners, or pancake houses still open nearby.  

You will most likely be hangry and/or thirsty, walking back to the parking lot so why not stash a little something in your car to tide you over?  I recommended trail mix or dried fruit. 

Any tips ya'll have to share?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Lessons Learned from Gargoyles: The Animated Series

While out shopping last night for some mouse traps and cereal (mine is a life of glamour and luxury), I came across a DVD of the Gargoyles: The Animated Series.  I had to stop and send a picture to my sister.  This show used to be our hardcore jam and introduced to me Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a Midsummer’s Night Dream.

All for the low, low price of  $9.96

If you have not watched the series, stop reading and move on the next delightful post on my blog.  I have some cute ones about comics and crafts.

However if you ever have watched Disney’s Gargoyles: The Animated Series during your youth or during some random late night marathon session, then onward ho, friends!

Gargoyles came during a time when the Disney animated series swung a little into the dark side.  Airing alongside similar cartoon series such as Darkwing Duck and the rival Batman the Animated Series, Gargoyles followed the adventures of Goliath and his fellow companions, as they went from stone during the day to live flesh at night.  Teaming up with a female cop, Elisa Maza, the gargoyles enjoyed adventures in modern day New York City, mostly adventures about saving New York City from criminals. 

Like a demonic butterfly, emerging from it's cocoon.
Looking back, Gargoyles shared some pretty progressive viewpoints for young children.  The show never played down or played dumb for its young viewers.  This October will mark the 20th anniversary since its premiere episode.  In its honor, I present five lessons learned from watching Gargoyles: The Animated Series.

Lesson One – New York, New York

 By naming main characters after landmarks, children can become familiar with New York City.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Spiderman and Daredevil well enough and through those characters know about New York neighborhood Queens and Hell’s Kitchen, which isn’t a cool restaurant that, like, puts hot sauce on everything (which is what I totally thought as a kid) but I didn’t start reading comic books until I was a little bit older.  Everything I knew about New York as a child came from watching the movie Annie and watching Gargoyles.  Goliath notwithstanding, the other gargoyles chose names from New York City landmarks, and thus became known in their new home as Brooklyn, Hudson, Lexington and their dog-like companion Bronx.  This way years before celebrities picked up on the same idea for naming their own offspring.  This was my first exposure to the streets, neighborhoods and river of New York.

Of  course ....Bronx is the dog....

Lesson Two – To Be or Not To Be

Kids will understand Shakespeare if it’s presented in a cartoon.

Other characters were named after several characters from Shakespearean plays such as MacBeth, Othello and a Midsummer’s Night Eve.  Scottish and English mythology was featured heavily in the second season of the Gargoyles series.  Characters were constantly plotting against and double crossing one another, mainstays of the Shakespearean plays.  Before I entered high school I was aware of names like Othello, Desdemona, Oberon and Macbeth.  Alluding to mythology gave the series depth and complexity that is still rarely seen in cartoons today.  It was specifically because of this, that I loved Gargoyles.  The plot was not afraid to dive head first into material that is mostly Shakespearean in origin.

Also, King Arthur.

Lesson Three – Biracial is Beautiful

One of the lead characters, Elisa Maza, was of African American and Native American descent. 

Now my sisters and I have pretty fair skin.  I usually burn in the summertime if not wearing sunscreen. We grew up in a pretty standard middle class, white neighborhood and fit in.  However as my last name suggests, ironic since my dad is the white one, we are half white and half Mexican.  To see my mom, you would probably guess she is an accent less Italian-American woman with large dark eyes and olive skin.  Still, as a kid I was subtly aware that all the Disney princess were white until Jasmine and Pocahontas came along and even though Ninja Turtles were mutants, their best friend was still a white reporter April O’Neil.  Ethnic characters appeared on Captain Planet and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers but biracial lead characters weren’t really a thing.  You were either black, white, tan, green or whatever but Elisa was a badass.  Yes she was pretty, but even more so she was level-headed, brave, and strong.

Lesson Four – Our Love is Strong

No damsels in distress here.

Much like the relationship in Beauty and the Beast, NYC cop Elisa Maza and head gargoyle Goliath gradually became a couple.  Although it was always thinly veiled, obviously Disney didn't want to take an inter-species relationship too far.

Until this happened......I'm looking at you Treasure Planet

What I liked is that both Elisa and Goliath were pro-active, tough and smart.  Both were genuinely tolerant and open minded of each other species, bringing out the best of each other.  I remember when Beauty and Beast came out, my sisters fell in love with Belle.  Not only did they have the same brown hair and hazel eyes, but they loved Belle because she was proactive and smart.  Her priorities were always about her family and true love was at the bottom of her list.  Elisa and Goliath are cut from the same cloth.  Both put the welfare of others before their own desires and have come to recognize that quality in each other.  They started out as true equals and progressed to a power couple.  Relationship equality is heady stuff for children’s program but it stuck with me, nonetheless, probably for the betterment of my future.

She's got a gun and wearing JNCOs, baby I'm in love.

Lesson Five – Bitches Get Stuff Done

Demona is a bitch. 

Her name literally means “She demon”.  As one of the main antagonists of the Gargoyles series, Demona is a female gargoyle that used to be Goliath’s mate and the mother of their daughter, Angela.  Unaffected by the spell that places the rest of the gargoyles in an animated suspension by turning them to stone, Demona lives through the centuries in which the other gargoyles sleep through.  By witnessing the humans’ potential for cruelness and destruction, Demona seeks to take over the leadership of the gargoyles and to rule over or wipe out humankind.  Voiced by Marina Sirtis, of Star Trek fame, Demona spoke with authority and elegance.  An accomplished fighter who dabbled in sorcery and later in spinoff sequels was the CEO of her own company, Demona proves herself so much more than a wife and a mother.  A warrior, a leader, a sorcerer, an ally and a supervillan, Demona was that rare foe that had believable motivations for her actions.  Demona wasn’t totally wrong, she was the Magneto to Goliath’s Charles Xavier and every bit as strong, smart and capable.

She also wore a crown of sorts....LIKE A BAWSE!!

Now you totally want to watch an episode, riiiiiiiiiiiiiight?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Must Watch - SyFy's "Heroes of Cosplay"

I’m currently watching the second season of SyFy’s reality series “Heroes of Cosplay” and I gotta level with you guys, I actually really like this show.

I have never done cosplay, which for those that are not familiar, is when fans of any genre dress up as their favorite characters from books, video games, movies, tv, anime, cartoons, websites, you name it.  Most times you see cosplayers that either commission or make their own costumes, at conventions around the world. 

Even cat memes

I have a lot respect for cosplayers.  Unfortunately it’s something I probably wouldn’t do myself.  Hell we didn’t even pay full price for Halloween costumes as a kid, so costumes are not generally something I would invest time or money in.  However, one day I do see myself wearing a Wonder Woman or Applejack from MLP costume, but never mind that.

I do like seeing how fans interpret well known costumes but I hate going to conventions.  They have become so overpriced these days and I usually buy a bunch of crap just because it has some random anime character on it.  I hate that being a nerd these days means dollar signs for movie marketing execs and others.  So I do not attend conventions much but I still like seeing the costumes.  This show lets me do that from the comfort of my own house.

Now, I do want to warn you that this ABOVE ALL ELSE is a reality show, and thus ironically is scripted and many of the convention competitions are faked or altered.  Heavy editing makes drama out of the dumbest situations and makes everyone appear like an asshole.  All the hallmarks of reality TV are alive and present in this series.

This has given the Cosplaying Community bait at which to moan and bitch about, as evidenced by these articles, Seven Reasons Why Heroes of Cosplay Is Terrible and 5 Things I Learned From SyFy's "Heroes of Cosplay".  I get that this show is an unreal representation of actual cosplayers but you know what?  I don’t care.  I’m still not going to pay $60 and up to stand in line with a bunch of sweaty people in elaborate costumes just so I can gawk and then shell out another $50 for a picture with Nathan Fillion.  It ain’t worth it, mmmmkay?

Out of all the cosplayers on the show, my favorite is Jesse, who coincidentally, is the only male cosplayer in the cast of Season One.  Yes, as you can probably guess all the female cosplayers are thin and young, half of which sport impressive racks.  (Yes, those too are fake)  I like the fact that Jesse is quite laidback and dresses like a pirate to walk the streets of Portland with his girlfriend and their friends.  His segments are refreshing change of pace from all the cat-fighting and drama that occurs.


Source Heroes of Cosplay Confessions

And the cosplayers that the show follows aren’t even the best part.  The best parts is slowing down the B-roll footage to spot impressive costumes of your favorite characters worn by convention goers in the background.


Most of the drama, although entirely manufactured by the shows, stems from the tight deadlines the cosplayers set for themselves, like say making an elaborate costumes in just two weeks.  Obviously this plays off super fake but it is amusing to see the female cosplayers ring in their significant others into helping out.  The husbands and the boyfriend literally become super-competent sidekicks that end up making costume magic.  Despite seeing this inequity, these relationships are more functional and supportive than anything you usually see on reality tv.



The show also edits the footage in a way that paints some of the cosplayers as antagonists such as Yaya Han and Monika Lee.  I actually respect Yaya for putting so much effort and craft-making into her costumes.  The show makes her seem kind of an elistist, but the things she says aren’t wrong.  She participates as a cosplay judge in most of her segments, and tends to judge based on the craft-making aspect, such as hand-sewing, embroidery and custom fabrication of props.  She seems to be an accomplished seamstress and works long hours on all her costumes.  I respect her hustle and her business acumen.  Monika is somewhat her protégé and is much younger.  Monika says things that make her seem super bratty but I feel that is just a symptom of her age.  That being said, Monika is my least favorite.  



Ultimately what this show boils down for me, is nerds making costumes, and I love them all for it.  I don't doubt that in real life all the cosplayers are superchill and friendly people.  If you love cosplay and have aspirations for being a renowned cosplayer I would suggest that you avoid this show.  However, if you're like me and get giddy with excitement at spying someone doing a Avatar; The Last Airbender cosplay without clicking around the internet feeling vaguely like a perv, then this show is for you.