Wow, just wow. No matter how tough we New Englanders are, our insane winters always find a way to surprise and challenge us. This winter has already proven to be no exception. So, the question on my mind is: Is there a way to actually enjoy the winter as opposed to just surviving it?
In the interest of sharing more than just my methods, I reached out to my fellow ladies to get some of their ways of beating the winter blues. They should be following up during their weeks.
Disclaimer: I feel that it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge that both depression and seasonal depression are very real things. The methods we discuss here are meant to be fun and might be helpful to some, but are by no means designed to replace a doctor’s or therapist’s guidance.
Part 1: Smalerie
Last year I wrote an article about focusing on self-care when the weather gets you down. This still rings true, but when I really start to feel the winter blues, I actually require a bit more structure and frankly a bit of a push. So for my part of this article, I’m going to write a little about pushing these ideas a bit further.
- Goal Setting and New Skills:
Beyond just wacky projects, winter is a time when I actually benefit most from sitting down, creating a plan, and developing a new skill. Sometimes, frosting cookies to look like Muppets just isn’t enough. Instead, I need to stretch my brain, test myself, and strive for that sweet sweet feeling of accomplishment.
This winter, I’m taking a page from The Red Menace’s book and attempting some real bread making. There’s a lot to be said for the experience of kneading dough (meditative and stress reducing) and trust me when I say that baking fresh bread is great for the ego since it really impresses the friends and neighbors. When you think about how few ingredients you need to make bread, it’s really incredible. Not to mention how comforting a warm oven is on a frigid day. Seriously, if bread making interests you in the slightest – do. the. thing!
In fact, let us even point you to a great beginner’s recipe.
2. Join a thing and make yourself accountable:
During the winter, I can find it even harder than usual to follow up on things. It’s easy to tell a friend that you’re not up to heading out to brunch because it’s too cold or you just can’t seem to motivate yourself to change out of your flannel pj’s. When I start letting this happen, that’s when I know that I’m in trouble and can start to lose momentum. And then after a certain amount of time, the winter blues can really start to settle in for me.
I battle this by adding accountability to my activities. That’s right, I give myself someone or something to answer to. This can be as simple as buying tickets for things like movies in advance or even planning more events with timed tickets. I promise you, if I’m already in $20+ for that ticket, the weather is going to have to be pretty severe to stop me. Otherwise, I feel like I’m throwing money away.
Another method of accountability I use is leaning on the kindness of my friends and family. This might not work or even be necessary for everyone, but I will flat out ask people to push me and stop me from flaking out on things. Does this mean that people have shown up at my house unannounced and lured me out with promises of tater tots or even provided a bit of tough love via text message? Absolutely, but if it’s something I respond to, that’s exactly what I needed to battle the blues. And then once I’m out and about, I rarely regret going.
This week’s accountable activity is the Ladies’ first ever D&D campaign. We started last month and even if the weather is not great, I know that I must bravely fight my way to the castle beyond the goblin city to take back the…I mean, it’s going to be a lot harder for my team to finish up without me. So I will be there, and will even bring snacks. Hey, it’s the right thing to do.
So yeah, take that Old Man Winter! We’re not going to take your guff lying down. We’re gonna fight back!
Shameless plug: Looking for a way to punch Winter in the face? Like us on Facebook and sign up for our mailing list. We have a whole year of fun stuff coming your way. Join us and let Winter know that you mean business!
I once had a teacher in grade school who told me that she loved to read my essays because she could tell that I was enthusiastic about learning and the subjects I would choose to write about. There was just one problem though. If everything I wrote about was “the absolute worst” or the “absolute best” that wasn’t going to give me a lot of space or freedom to really make careful and thoughtful comparisons. So why is this little anecdote important to my recap of LadiesCon 2017? Because I’m about to throw that advice out the window and use superlatives like crazy. Wanna know why? Because LadiesCon 2017 was THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST.
For those of you familiar with our event last year, the first LadiesCon was essentially a testing ground to see if our vision of an inclusive Con would even be something that the community wanted to see. In a donated office space, we managed to catch lightning in a bottle and learned just how dedicated the Boston comics community was to making an event that was for everyone.
This year, we took that to a whole new level. We tripled the number of panels and doubled our space, guests, and vendors. We reached out to artists and creators who were making things that were original, beautiful, and even a little terrifying. The response from the community was once again warm and enthusiastic, and together we created a colorful and vibrant Con.
We are less than 2 months away from LadiesCon and things are getting crazy. Crazy in the best ways possible, but still quite a lot of twists, turns, and surprises. It’s during these times that we need to make sure we’re taking the opportunity to take a deep breath, brush up on your R’lyehian, and praise the Elder Gods.
If you haven’t read Kristen Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl, you should really do one of the following: a) buy it now so you have a copy for Kristen to sign at LadiesCon or b) buy it at LadiesCon and so you have a copy for Kristen to sign. Ok ok, I know I’m really driving the point a bit hard here, but there’s a reason we reached out to Kristen as a guest.
Without turning this post into a review, I will tell you this much. Henchgirl is such a charming and funny story. It’s filled with such great visual gags and puns that when I found myself faced with these panels…I knew immediately what I had to do.
Yes, I needed my very own Cthulu Burger!
Normally when I do these Food and Fandom posts, I like to post a recipe. I’m not going to do that this time for a few reasons. The main reason is that there are times when (due to the either the complications of your project or the limits of your own culinary skills) you know that you’re going to have to choose between something that tastes great but is visually plain or something that looks amazing but will NEVER WANT TO EAT AGAIN. I chose and well, um…you’ll see.
When making a burger based on Cthulu, octopus was the most obvious choice. I was able to find frozen cleaned octopus in my regular supermarket quite easily, as well as a recipe that would allow me to cook it in my sous vide. I had never cooked octopus before and using such a controlled temperature was a pretty surefire way to ensure that the octopus would be soft and tender rather than horrible and chewy.
So I started with something that looked like this:
Did some stuff to it:
And hours later, I found myself with this:
The recipe also informed me that I should clean, then either grill or fry up the octopus to get the legs and tentacles nice and crispy before serving. So I did that too.
Next, I laid out my ingredients on my sacrificial altar/cutting board and got to work assembling what might very well be my most horrifying creation yet.
BEHOLD AND TREMBLE WITH FEAR YOU FOOLS! *warning: prolonged exposure to this slideshow may result in madness
I’m really proud of how I was able to get his worshipers to bleed from the eyes just right!
I delayed as long as I could taking these pictures. It wasn’t because I didn’t think I would like octopus. I’ve had it before and liked it a lot. It was the idea of eating it with bread and the other burger fixings that made me start to back away towards the door.
I mean, does this cross section look appetizing to you?
Since I wasn’t about to go at this alone, The Boy and I each took a half, bit in, and well…
Do I get points for accuracy if it tastes like it’s been asleep under a lost city in the Pacific ocean for thousands of years?
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad. But dang, it tasted fishy. And the soft octopus with even softer bread was not something I found enjoyable in any way. No, it was not good. Nope. Nope. Nope.
In the case that you’re wondering what went wrong, I chatted with Tiny Doom and she believes it was a problem with the octopus recipe that I used. My recipe said that marinating the octopus before cooking was optional, so I skipped that step to save myself a little time. Tiny Doom has cooked octopus with great success but has always let it braise in red wine first. Perhaps that’s the key to removing the fishy taste? Maybe my frozen octopus wasn’t all that great? I’ll probably give cooking octopus a shot again, but will use a very different recipe.
Still, Lord Cthulu makes quite the dashing figure as a burger.
Word is out and LadiesCon 2017 (or as I like to call it LadiesCon II: The Revenge of LadiesCon) is coming at you on Saturday, September 16th. The guest announcements have begun and our social media is buzzing with excitement. In the case that you’re itching for even more info about the Con, here’s a little something to help tide you over – 5 Fun Facts About LadiesCon.
1) LadiesCon is for Everyone
We’re often asked if LadiesCon is just for those who identify as women. While we do strive to highlight the contribution of women in pop culture and the community, you don’t have to be a woman in order to support and be a fan of work featuring women or created by them. This means that everyone is welcome, including all ages. Inclusion is very important to us whether it’s our guests or vendors.
2) LadiesCon is FREE again this year!
That’s right! Admission to the LadiesCon 2017 is completely free. There are a few reasons why The Ladies have insisted that it be this way. The first reason goes back to the previous fact – LadiesCon is for everyone. We don’t want high admission prices to prevent anyone from coming to our Con or even just stopping by out of curiosity. We want to expose as many people as possible to our guests, vendors, and panels. Letting people in for free helps us do just that. Another reason we keep admission free is that we want those attending LadiesCon to spend their money on our guests and vendors. Purchasing books, art, etc. from the creators directly is more than just a chance to get your hands on some really wonderful stuff. It’s also a chance to support them financially, allowing them to create even more wonderful things. So seriously, we want to you spend your money, just not on getting in the door.
3) LadiesCon is run by volunteers
LadiesCon is proof that if you get enough passionate people together, amazing things can be accomplished. By the time we open the doors at the Armory, dozens of people will have already contributed their time, skills, and community spirit to creating LadiesCon. In fact, a lot of those people will then be running around all day at the Con giving one last push to make everyone’s LadiesCon dreams a reality. If you see them in their Staff shirts or buttons, feel free to say “hi” or “thanks.” Without them, there would be no LadiesCon.
Want to know what else is fun about this being run by volunteers? It gives you a chance to get in on the action as well. The Ladies are always looking for people to partner with whether it’s for the Con, our blog, or any of our other events. Remember, you don’t have to be a lady to contribute. Warning though, once you’re in “the family” who knows what else we might try to rope you into… *wink
4) We have some big changes and surprises planned for this year
I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys spoiling surprises, but let’s just say that our new space gives us a lot of elbow room to add some more content. We are also reaching out to new potential partners and guests every day. We are reaching for the stars in hopes of making our little Con as special and fun as it can be. Who knows what goodies you might find yourself taking home with you this year?
Also, remember those VIP events we had last year? The early admission lunch and the after-party? Keep your eyes out for those as we have not only listened to the feedback we received last year, but are also hoping to make them even more fun and interactive this go round.
5) You can still support LadiesCon even if you can’t join us on Sept 16.
The Ladies work all year to support LadiesCon – this is especially true financially. If you can’t be at the Con this year, you can show your support by attending other events or fundraisers we host throughout the year. Looking for something more specific? Here are some ideas:
- Shop at Comicazi and maybe purchase one of our bracelets up at the register
- Attend one of the Comicazi Yard Sales and drop by our table (The next one is Sunday, June 25th!)
- Come to any of our upcoming events and purchase a snack or raffle ticket
A great way to stay up to date on what we’re up to is to get on our mailing list.
Not local or want to support LadiesCon another way? Easy, spread the word. Honestly, the more people who know about the Con and our mission, the easier it will be to have bigger and better events.
So, what are you most excited about this year? What would you like to see added? Let us know in the comments below!
Howdy True Believers! As you probably know, at the end of the month Boston Comic Con will be in full swing. Once a fairly small showcase of local shops and talent, the Con is now a major event, drawing attendees from around the East Coast and the country with an impressive selection of guests and vendors.
Since so many folks will be visiting our fair city for the first time, Tiny Doom and I thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favorite Boston attractions – restaurants, museums, and of course, comic shops for you to visit. This week we’ll focus on spots you can find both around the Seaport World Trade Center, where the con is held, and in other parts of Boston proper. Next week we’ll post some spots farther afield for those of you who either have a bit more time in our fabulous metropolis – or for you local readers who are looking for something new to visit.
So, the Seaport! This is an up and coming neighborhood – formerly a wasteland of wharves and factories, it’s now one of the hottest properties in the city. That means there’s plenty of options for food and great sites to explore once you’ve had your fill of comics culture. We’ll start off with eats, because no one wants to live on convention hall food – do they?
The first thing you should know about Lucky’s is that it’s basically unmarked (no outside signage), so pay attention to your map or GPS. This is all part of the Rat Pack/speak easy vibe they have going on. Given this, it’s not a bright and airy place. It’s dark, subterranean, and may remind you of your grandparents’ downstairs. None of these are bad things, but if you are hoping for patio dining after being at the Con all day, this isn’t your spot. That said, if you are looking to settle in with pals, drink cocktails, and partake in food that may be a bit splurgy for your diet, this is one of the better spots in the Seaport. When Tiny Doom went on her Mac and Cheese tour of 2014, this spot scored very well. For this area Lucky’s would be considered “moderately priced” and the portions are ample. If you are going on a weekend, make reservations, and be aware that this place gets PACKED.
It’s well-known among my friends that I have an affection for things that are old, kitschy, and weird, particularly when they relate to gender roles and pop culture. Heck, it’s well-known by the readers of this blog – I wrote about this topic just last month. What you might not know is that a semi-regular event at Comicazi is a board game night with the slightly unwieldy moniker “Super Happy Fun Game Night.” (Don’t ask.) And recently my friend Gary came across a board game that he knew would be right up my alley. He bought it for me, and when he presented it he had one stipulation – that we would play it at the next Super Happy Fun.
I readily agreed and true to my word, brought it along to the last game night. The name of this gem? “What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game for Career Girls.”
In lieu of our regularly scheduled Cartoon Sara update, we’ve decided to post a super secret message to all you Ladies of Comicazi fans.
On Sunday, June 1, you can come meet the Ladies at Comicazi’s semi-annual charity yard sale!
We’ll be selling trinkets, baubles and toys to help keep bringing you great events and content. Word on the street is that The Red Menace might bring some baked goods for sale, too.
It all goes down from 9-1 in back of Comicazi, 407 Highland Avenue, Somerville. You’ll be able to see us from the Davis Square T stop! We look forward to seeing you (and selling you our awesome, gently used goods.)
The game they play is Pathfinder – a modified and enhanced version of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons. There are four ladies in the group (just like this blog!) and they chat together like they’ve been friends forever. While two of them have, and each lady knew at least one other before joining the group, some of them had never met before a few months ago when they started playing together.
There’s Sam, who introduced me to the group, and who in many ways is the lynchpin of the entire enterprise. While the idea for an all-lady game had floated about for a while, it was Sam who got the ball rolling and made the idea a reality. It is her fiancé, Jay, who is the gamemaster (GM) for the group. Her character in the game is a half-elf ranger with a longbow specialty and an abiding hatred of the undead. She also wields a mean war-hammer.
Then there’s Caitlin, an avid gamer. Prior to joining the team her medium was video games, from first person shooters to role-playing games. The party gives her another way to engage in the latter, and she recently purchased her own set of dice due to continually bad rolls. She may or may not have been influenced to get into tabletop gaming by a certain episode of Community. Caitlin’s character is also a half-elf, a rogue who wields two swords at once.
Next to her sits Bethany, who introduced her to the group. A former roommate to Jay, she’d been interested in table top gaming for years, but hadn’t had a good entry point until now. She’s clearly a Doctor Who fan , as she literally wears, rather than her heart on her sleeve, a tattoo over her heart reading “allons-y.” (I have a fondness for this sort of subtle yet right out in the open sort of declaration.) She plays a human cleric, in part because she wanted a character who uses magic without being a wizard, and her character has a horse named Bill, who comes in handy in transporting the party’s gear. Both cleric and horse are a bit fussy about who they choose to befriend.
Bridget sits across from Bethany. Friends with Sam since high school, she’s always like fantasy fiction and the like but is a self-described “closeted geek” – she seems to have the most separation between her groups of friends in real life. In the game she plays a Halfling bard, apparently much to the chagrin of the GM – Bridget had excellent dice rolls and he was concerned she was “wasting” them on a non-combative character. However, Bridget felt she could “get into being little.” Rather than a great fighter, her character is incredibly persuasive thanks to a hefty charisma score, and has come to be seen as the comic relief of the party.
The group has been together for about three months, and they’ve played about two full games together – they admit that it can take a while to get started on an adventure because they’re all very detail-oriented, spend quite a bit of time on things like like selecting supplies – debating the need for tampons, for example, since their in-game party is also all female, or making sure they have enough food for Bridget’s Halfling’s prodigious appetite. I get the sense that this is the root of the appeal of adventure gaming for the ladies – not tampons and food, but the ability to completely customize their experiences, to have a game and indeed a world that belongs wholly to you and your friends.
Caitlin points out that, in most games, the choices you make can shut off entire story lines to you – for example, if you decide to be amoral or immoral in a video game, you become ineligible for certain bonuses or plot lines. In Pathfinder, the group has control over what direction the story takes, rather than a programmer, and they can decide that rewards are not merely for the virtuous.
The other women in the group also appreciate the creative outlet. Though it can be difficult to schedule the time to play in person (each session takes several hours), the four regularly exchange emails about decisions they’ll need to make the next time they play, attributes of characters they might create for future games, and in-jokes related to their experiences. Bethany has even designed a logo for the group:
I asked what their friends not in the group thought about the game and them playing it. All four ladies had been quick to point out that people don’t really understand what table top gaming actually IS. Since people’s perceptions of it are largely influenced by what they see in movies and TV, the image in people’s minds when you say “Dungeons and Dragons” or “role playing” tends to be awkward teenage boys in a basement, wearing capes and getting into arguments over hit points. Or they confuse it with Live Action Role Play (LARP) – asking if they’re going out to the woods with foam swords. So there’s an element of simply explaining what they do when they get together, which at its heart is collaborative storytelling. That said, most of the ladies said their friends were unsurprised to learn that this was something they were into – they almost all hear some variation of “oh, you didn’t play already?” Only Bridget, in her “closeted geek” stance, said that she doesn’t tell all of her friends about the game – but those she has told seem interested.
One of the main reasons I was interested in talking to the ladies was the fact that, apart from the GM, they ARE all women – are there any advantages to that? Sam mentioned that she plays in another group as well, a co-ed group, and she’s noticed that the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party is more collaborative – they will go out of their way to help the other members out of a jam in-story, while the co-ed group is much more every man for himself. Bridget points out that the all-female group eliminates the fear of being called out as a “fake geek girl,” for not being as hard-core a fan as some men. It’s a safe space to explore the game and wear your fandom on your sleeve – something I think is really important if we’re going to break down these ridiculous, false gender barriers.
I don’t personally play role-playing games, but talking to these ladies made me see the appeal – it’s a chance to be creative, spend time with friends, and even test your personal boundaries at times. The four women of the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party are smart, creative and funny – this article really doesn’t do justice to our conversation – my secret wish is that they start a podcast or vlog (possibly with our ladies – think about it!). Thank you for sharing what you love with me, gals!
The No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party would like you to know that they are searching for a fifth lady – specifically, they’re in need of a bad-ass fighter! If you think you’ve got what it takes to join this merry band, leave a comment below or on the Ladies of Comicazi FB page – I’ll make the connections.
Also, if YOU know a lady or group of ladies doing something cool, or if you ARE a lady of that description – let us know! We’d love to chat with you.