Category Archives: ramblings

Gibb

It’s been a while since updating. I wish I had a happier entry to start back on, perhaps a post mortem about Sidekicks (which finished last night) or something stupid Errol did…but I got some sudden news, and there are thoughts that need to get out. So be ye warned. Manda is sad. Read the rest of this entry

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Geeky ramblings- Doctor Who- Kill The Moon

Things have been back to crazy busy mode this week for both Errol and I, and so it wasn’t until last night that we got to sit down with him and his kids to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who. Somehow despite the wait I managed not to be spoiled beforehand on this absolute gut wrench of an episode.

So…let’s talk about “Kill The Moon”. Oh yes, and this goes without saying, but spoilers ahead.

drwho1

Read the rest of this entry

Manda’s Workout Diary #6

I swear I’m just numbering these arbitrarily now. That’s what a lazy mindset does to you. At any rate, here we are! A couple of weeks later! And still managing!

 The Workout: Boot Camp and Jillian Michael’s Fat Burning Metabolic workout

Sadly, because my Groupon ended and I couldn’t afford even a discounted membership to the boot camp, my last boot camp class was last week. Read the rest of this entry

Manda’s Workout Diary #…5?…6?

Woah! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been working out. I have been. But it’s been rather sporadic with little results (other than the fact that I can run 5km now without dying, huzzah!).

BUT I want to start these little progress journals up again. Why? Well, I bit the bullet and decided to start up with a Boot Camp class. Boot Camp is hard. Which makes sense because why call it Boot Camp otherwise?

Yup.

Yup.

So I figured why not document this arduous process so that all of you, the people, can get amusement from my pain? So here we go:

The Workout:

Boot Camp. It’s Boot Camp. So far I have done both an Interval/Metabolic workout and a Circuit workout. Both are intense. The interval workout is usually a warm-up, then twenty seconds of some excruciating exercise (I’m looking at you, jumping jack pushups!) followed by 7 seconds of wishing for death on repeat for about 45 minutes.

My desperation levels though about match this

My desperation levels though about match this

The circuit training is another warm-up, then moving to different stations around the room like punching bag, chin-up station (surprisingly fun if not difficult), push-up station (blurgh), some weird weight thing you swing around and “The Ladder” (jumping in out and out of the rungs of a ladder) with a two minute break in the middle so you can wish for death.

The Fun Stuff:

I always like doing fake speed skating. And the chin-up station can be surprisingly fun…most of that is because you are hanging in a giant elastic band. Don’t ask me why, I love it. The punching bag is also one of my favourites. And I am slowly but teaching that bag who’s boss. One tiny punch at a time.

The Not So Fun Stuff:

I will always hate push-ups. Always. My weak little wrists can barely stand it. And anything with jumping. I am not the strongest jumper, so any movement that requires more than 6cm off the ground has me almost collapsing after ten seconds.

The Meal Plan Report:

I am also on a meal plan! Sadly, many of the meals on it are things that are either too pricey for me (weird ingredients) or require a blender. So I am making do as best I can and at the very least, I have changed my diet significantly. A lot more green veggies and fruit, a lot less rice and bread. And it’s made me very aware of what I consume, so that’s a plus! If I cheat, I try to limit it to once a week, figuring that it’s better to cheat a little bit every few days rather than binge when the agony gets to be too much.

Somebody in my office made Pop Tarts yesterday...POP TARTS...it was torture smelling them...I don’t even like pop tarts that much

Somebody in my office made Pop Tarts yesterday…POP TARTS…it was torture smelling them…I don’t even like pop tarts that much

Percent I want to Murder the Instructor:

Only 30%. Unlike Jillian Michaels, he’s not on a screen and so is a lot harder to hate. His name is Rob Gordy and he seems pretty groovy so far.

How Much My Body Hates Me:

A lot. I’d say about 85% of my body hates me. If it’s not the waves of nausea I’ll feel during the workouts themselves, it’s the sore muscles who are suddenly being made to work overtime. It doesn’t help that I haven’t quite figured out how much I should eat before a workout or WHEN I should eat it so I don’t feel like fainting. Most of the workouts take place over my normal dinner time so it’s been a tough go so far.

The Encouraging:

As much as it hurts the next day, the sore muscles always give me some satisfaction that it was a job well done. And it feels good to be able to say “I’m trying” rather than complain endlessly about how out of shape I am.

The Results so Far:

Sadly, I have only been to 3 sessions in the 12 days I’ve been a part of the program. This isn’t so much due to laziness as it is the fact that I got sick with a serious sinus cold about five days after I joined. My sinuses got hit really hard and have been trying to explode out of my head for the last week or so. Today is the first day that my face doesn’t feel like somebody shoved a dirty towel inside it.

Or a hedgehog

Or a hedgehog

When I went last night, my body was clearly still recovering its energy from the week long battle with my sinus cavities and it was a pretty dismal affair.

Still it’s good to have someone who actually follows up with you and holds you accountable for your progress. Like the gym, most people don’t actually care what you look like in boot camp. They’re too concerned with themselves. Hopefully though it can only get better from here!

My Neighbour Errol: Kari

I have this friend named Kari.

Seen here in comic form!

Seen here in comic form!

I met Kari through Errol. Much like myself, it was a bit of a shock to be the subject of such enthusiasm from a complete stranger. And also much like myself, she was suddenly sucked into the vortex of Errol’s friendship. Read the rest of this entry

Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

Spoiler Warning: This episode is described in detail. Read at your own risk!

960

So hooray, we have a new Dalek episode. And this one breaks new ground by having the Doctor confront a Dalek in the most terrifying place imaginable: within the Dalek itself. It’s something we’ve never seen before and makes the Doctor question his nature and stuff…and… Read the rest of this entry

Fear of Finishing

I’ve had an epiphany lately. Finishing things is scary.

Yup, THAT scary

Yup, THAT scary

That may not seem like an epiphany. In fact, it might seem downright confusing. But believe me, it’s something that’s hard to admit to myself. Read the rest of this entry

ConBravo 2014

Way back in 2011 in the long, long ago, I went to a little convention called ConBravo. conbravo I didn’t normally go to conventions, somewhat afraid of the intense, crowded geekery out in the open. However one of my favourite performers, the Nostalgia Critic, was going to be a guest and my friends managed to convince me that when you go to a convention focusing on things you’re actually interested in, it could be fun.

It remains one of my favourite weekends of my life, and was actually part of the inspiration for me deciding to go out on my own and make videos. I’ve tried to make it out every year since, and every time I go it’s just as fun and inspiring.

This year however was different. I actually got to go as a guest and panelist. I hadn’t expected to be. I actually e-mailed the con runners to promote Debs and Errol as a musical act, meekly mentioning at the end that if they were also looking for other guests, I could do it but I’d understand if they couldn’t because Con Bravo has gotten big enough at this point to pull in some pretty heavy hitters from the internet celebrity world and I was under no illusions as to how much pull I would have as a guest.

About as much as pogs did after 1995.

About as much as pogs did after 1995.

But they said yes, which both thrilled and terrified me. And so after much anticipation and fretting on my part (resulting in Errol calling me a freak once again), I finally got to ConBravo this past weekend. So how did it go? So. Very. Awesome. Mabel-gravity-falls-31568104-500-257 Honest, I could not have had a better time. There were new friends, there were old friends, there were panels and events, there was extreme exhaustion after a while. I tried to think of the best way to talk about the weekend but…I think a simple recap might be the easiest way.

The Panels

This was by far one of my favourite parts of the con (and thus the longest recap :D) and it was probably the most successful I’ve been so far in running panels. Letters to Video Game Characters was the panel I was most nervous about. I was on my own. It was scheduled during the beginning of the con, a time when most people are registering in the insanely long line-up or stalking the main guest in the hopes he will declare his love for them.

But 15-20 people managed to trickle in, including a friend I have not seen in about 8 years! I was just happy people showed up, but my nerves got the better of me a bit. I had hoped to show a couple of my letters via Youtube on Errol’s ipad, however the wifi signal in the actual panel room was almost non-existant so I clumsily read a couple of them out loud to a somewhat confused crowd.

Thankfully it never reached Phoenix Wright levels of stress.

Thankfully it never reached Phoenix Wright levels of stress.

Once I opened up it up for discussion though, we started to have a lot of fun and I relaxed a lot more. Despite being cut off after only 30 minutes (more on that later), it was a good time.

Next up was Storytelling in Videogames which was very much my favourite panel. I was joined by guests Derek Burrow of Chasing the Muse, Joey “Roo” DeSena of Clan of the Grey Wolf, and Satchell Drakes of Normal Boots. They were incredibly wonderful and we simply had a blast delving into the world of video game narrative.

Me preparing for the Storytelling panel/feeding off the power of being in charge of the mic.

Me preparing for the Storytelling panel/feeding off the power of being in charge of the mic.

 

The audience had a great time too, and it was fantastic to have attendees come up to us after the panel to want to continue the discussion. One woman even commented that she didn’t realize how interesting the topic could be. This is pretty much the best reaction I could hope for, and I left on a geek high.

My last panel was on Sunday. This one was probably…my scariest in terms of anticipation. It was Gender Roles in video games. First, my fellow panelists didn’t show up. The staff asked me if I would be alright handling the panel on my own. I looked at the surprising number of people in the line-up, many of them guys, and nervously answered that I would be fine.

Inside though...

Inside though…

And thankfully I was. Gender in video games is a hot topic right now, and although there were moments when the audience got more lively and heated, we had a great time discussing and most of my job simply involved controlling which raised hands I chose to speak (the POWER!) and commenting on whatever they had to say. Again, the fact that people were coming up to me after to continue discussion and sincerely thank me for the interesting discussion was so worth it.

Finally, there was the Audition for the Worst Movie Ever, which was a panel hosted by the awesome Tom White in which we, the panelists, would read a terribly written script with members of the audience. It was a ton of fun, but about midway through my exhaustion finally caught up with me and the other guests and by the end we were definitely eager to get to our beds. Still, there were a lot of highlights and it was fun to see the audience given the chance to act ridiculous with us.

The People

It was great to meet up with old friends. Devin, Dan, Jen, Brian, Brian, Conal, Debs, Errol, Shawna, Amanda, Lindsey, Dave….so many others I am probably forgetting now…you guys rock. Whether it was hanging out in a hotel room having a couple of relaxing drinks or partying in the middle of a hallway with stuffed Lumas, it was so great to see you and be reminded of the awesomeness that is my friends.

But there were also new people to meet and get to know! Like the people of Fandom Musicals, a theatre troupe who devote their time to creating geeky musicals. We missed their big show, but managed to catch their improv, of which Errol became a part of.

Note the looks of worry

Note the looks of worry

 

There were also the 404’s and the Dandies, geeky improv troupes who have gone to cons far and wide.

I got to meet and chat with a few of the guests who all have awesome channels. I did not however take pictures with them. Because I am a shy fool. I DID however get interviewed by some awesome people, including Dan the Video Ninja, Gerald Kirby and of She Got Game which is an awesome cause and you should definitely check out.

I did however take the time to photograph these awesome balloooons!

I did however take the time to photograph these awesome balloooons!

 

And of course there was the staff, who were running around all weekend to make sure things ran smoothly. They were nothing but friendly, helpful and accommodating and it meant a lot especially considering that I was one of the more “nobody” guests on their roster. I really hope they are getting well deserved rest now.

The Events

Sadly, I didn’t get out to as many panels and events I wanted to. Most of my spare time was spent hanging with friends, preparing for the next panel, shovelling food into my mouth, or checking out the dealer’s room.

I managed to catch some of the Super Audio Land II concert, which despite the late start was great! Debs and Errol were awesome as usual. Alas, I had to head out shortly after that because I had to prepare for a late night panel…and by prepare, I mean “nap before”.

I did manage to get out to the Nerd Music panel though!

I did manage to get out to the Nerd Music panel though!

The Improvements

As I said, I’ve been to a few ConBravos now. It’s grown a lot since it’s humble beginnings and it’s good to see the staff have learned from past kerfuffles. The biggest improvement I saw was to the schedule structure itself. Rather than have panels back to back, there was at least half an hour in between each panel. While this resulted in less programming, it was a godsend to those of us who no longer had to rush between panels.

I hung out with Spiderman for much of the weekend. He was unable to fly me anywhere though.

I hung out with Spiderman for much of the weekend. He was unable to fly me anywhere though.

Attendees also had more of a chance to line up for the more popular panels (most of the big name events would have people lining up over an hour in advance) instead of being denied access. The bigger dealer’s room was great too and didn’t feel nearly as claustrophobic as it has at other cons (the venue was the same as last year, but I didn’t really get a chance to go to that ConBravo).

Best of all though was the GROCERY STORE ATTACHED TO THE HOTEL. Holy crap, I couldn’t have been more thankful for this. As well as being able to eat fruit at a con, there was also a marketplace style restaurant with pretty cheap food. And there was dim sum. DIM SUM! I may or may not have made sure to get myself some custard buns on my way out… That being said though…

The Not-So Improvements

I have learned this about myself: I will never organize or run a con. It is an incredibly tough and thankless job and when you have a monumental amount of vendors, guests, events, registration, volunteers and all sorts of stuff to keep track of, obviously one of those various spinning plates is going to fall at some point. So I’m actually pretty forgiving of cons and “stuff that just goes wrong”.

Like when you're denied the joy of corn.

Like when you’re denied the joy of corn.

The concert started late, sure, but part of that was because the Q&A for a major guest went over. And when it’s a major guest, yeah, you kind of feel obligated to give the people what they want. But there were a couple of things that sort of stuck out to me that could possibly be improved on:

1. The schedule layout: The schedule was unfortunately difficult to read. Most con schedules are, but this it was difficult to determine when exactly panels started and finished. This worked against me, as I said, for my Letters panel. About 30 minutes in, the volunteer assigned to my panel came in to cut me off. At the time, I was food deprived enough to not fully comprehend what was going on and simply apologized for going over time and began to gather my stuff, amazed at how fast time went by.

For a second I thought I was Amy Pond.

For a second I thought I was Amy Pond.

It wasn’t until a couple of the other attendees pointed out that the panel should be an hour and end at 7:30, not 7. My brain finally stopped concentrating on “WHERE FOOD?!” to focus on the issue. The volunteer was adament though. We argued for a couple of minutes, squinting at the tiny lines on the schedule, comparing them to the online listing, myself mostly confused and the volunteer growing increasingly nervous and stressed he would get in trouble for letting this upstart guest get her way. In the end, I relented, not wanting to cause trouble. It didn’t bother me too much and I certainly don’t blame the volunteer. But next year it might be good to get a slightly easier to read schedule to avoid confusion.

2. The lack of water stations and the banning of outside food and drink: One staple of any convention is water stations. You’ve got 4,000+ people rushing around trying to get in all of their activities and they need to stay hydrated. Unfortunately ConBravo this year surprisingly had zero water stations around.

I began to fear zombie apocalypses next...

I began to fear zombie apocalypses next…

I don’t think this was really the staff’s fault as much as it was the Hamilton Convention Centre’s which has a baffling “No Outside Food or Drink” policy. I understand on one level. The convention centre had a concession stand which they wanted to make money on. But on the other, if you’re going to deny anyone access to outside drink, you’ve got to have some sort of water. It’s not even a privilege thing. It’s a health risk thing, especially during high action activities such as the dance.

As a guest, I was lucky. I had staff and volunteers who would bring me bottles of water and I would often go to my panel rooms early to sneak in some contraband lunch. But for the 4,000+ attendees who had no such luxury, I can imagine it was frustrating.

The Conclusion

Despite these kerfuffles though and despite some of the scheduling falling through and running late, this ConBravo was so wonderful to be a part of. It was exhilarating to see people not only listen to what I had to say, but to join in with me with equal amounts of passion. It was fun to learn new things and get to know new people. And of course, the swag.

It pained me..PAINED ME...to not buy this...

It pained me..PAINED ME…to not buy this…

It was pretty hard to return to the office yesterday, and that if anything is a sure indication that this convention is one I will not forget soon. Thanks everyone who came out to my stuff and met up with me. I can’t properly express my gratitude to the con staff for giving me this opportunity. I’m still tired, but I can’t wait to recover and get all my new ideas down to paper. Later this week we’ll return to your regular Sidekicks schedule :D.

30 Sucks. An Apology.

Rushed post. No pics, because I’m moving in 2 days!

When I was 13, I made a vow that I would never swear.

At 20, I am certain sailors would call me just a bit over the top.

When I was 14, I swore I would never become one of those women obsessed with her looks, that I would be completely happy with who I was no matter what my shape or size.

At 22 I would be crying to the heavens wondering why I could not be gifted a waif-like body that all the men seemed to crave.

And between the ages of 25 and 28, I was completely content at where I was in life. And I was certain that I would never be one of those stereotypical 30 year olds who freak out that they have accomplished nothing in life.

Then I turned 30. And proceeded to go crazy.

Turning 30 sucks. It’s like a crazy switch is activated in your head. I don’t think it matters where you are in life. If you’re married, you wonder if you wasted your 20’s. If you went back to school, you wonder if you’ve made too many errors and whether it’s too late to correct them.

If you’re like me, single, not exactly rich, still trying to figure out what sort of path you’re walking, suddenly it seems as if you haven’t accomplished anything. And then you go crazy trying to accomplish all of life’s tasks in one year. You know, before you’re 31.

In my 20’s, I was confident. Oh, not 100% confident, but far more confident than I had been as a teen, and far more comfortable with myself than I had ever been. I had learned a lot about myself. I had learned to take things in stride, that it was okay that I wasn’t perfect, that imperfections were far more interesting than perfections and that I could use those imperfections to my advantage. And I was happy with myself.

But then 30 came along and ten years of hard work was sucked into the black hole of insecurity.

There were other things that happened, of course. I broke up with a boyfriend. I realized that acting, that thing I had been pursuing my entire life, perhaps wasn’t for me after all. But mostly I can trace back that crazy trigger to a few days after the big 3-0.

I began to question my accomplishments. I began to wonder what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t further in life. I doubted each and every friendship around me. I feared that everyone around me secretly hated me, that I was no longer interesting enough to be their friends, that they were only doing so out of habit.

Then I started to doubt my own talents. I thought I had nothing to offer. I lamented that I wasn’t better at activities. 20’s Manda would have sucked it up, maybe taken some lessons, tried things out, joked about the inevitable failure afterwards. 30’s Manda simply spiralled into despair and hopelessness that nothing she did was valuable.

I complained to friends. I vented. I ranted. Once or twice I even cried. I was bitter that I was not better than who I was, that so many around me had found their niche, that it was far too late for someone like me: chubby, single, with only an ability to time a good joke and maybe the logic skills to solve an adventure game.

In short, I was the most stereotypical 30 year old ever.

And then two months ago I realized I really missed 20’s Manda. And that I was extremely ashamed of 30’s Manda. I saw myself through other eyes: whiny, petulant, entitled. Everything I had promised myself I would never be.

I don’t write this to get sympathy. Far from it. I also don’t write it as an excuse for my behaviour.

I write this because even though I’ve mostly sorted myself out, even though I feel far better and far more like my “old” self, I know that many of my family and friends had to suffer through my whining for 7 months. Perhaps even longer, who knows.

And I know that there was probably some damage done in that process, damage that is even more difficult to repair than my own belief in myself.  Patience became thin, reassurance dwindled, and worst of all, trust was lost. And I had been positive that it was because I wasn’t worthy rather than “You’re being a whiny brat. Shut-up”.

And so this is both a thankyou and an apology. Thanks to everyone for putting up with my very ridiculous insanity and anxiety. And apologies for any negative effect that had on you. It’s a shame that I am living with every day. And it takes every ounce of my being not to apologize profusely to my closest friends ten times per day.

Am I still shy? Yup. Does my confidence waver? Of course it does. But I’m really glad to be looking at the future and at myself with far more optimism and hope.

I’m also glad I never got to the stage of writing bad poetry. That might have marked my demise.

Thanks again guys. I’m looking forward to having fun again.

CheezWhiz

This week I open a show with Screaming Monkeys, a theatre company that focuses on providing a theatrical outlet to the marginalized communities of Toronto. I’ve been working off and on with them for about six years now, and wouldn’t you know it, this year is their 10th anniversary! To celebrate they’re performing a sort of clips show of favourite scenes and skits they’ve done over the past ten years.

Here is our poster! Wheee!

Here is our poster! Wheee!

I am reprising a couple of my past roles. I am nervous. Read the rest of this entry