1. 5 Fandom Friday: Five Times I Totally Fangirled

    April 3, 2015 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Conventions, Geek Events, Journal by Kristina Horner

    Okay. I’ve had 5 Fandom Friday bookmarked for months and months, and even though it’s totally right up my alley — I just haven’t done it yet. So! That ends today! Today, I am delving into this blog link-up thingy! Woo!

    So this week, the topic is “5 Times I Totally Fangirled”. I am a fangirl of many, many things, but there are very few things/people that make me stammer and squee and lose my composure. Usually I can keep it together, but there have been those few moments in my life where cool-as-a-cucumber Kristina might have freaked out a little. Here are the ones I can think of:

    1. Meeting “Topanga” from Boy Meets World aka Danielle Fishel at VidCon. When I got word that Danielle Fishel was just chillin’ at the con, I dropped everything and ran. Seriously. If you weren’t born in the late 80’s ish, it’s probably hard to understand just how important Boy Meets World was to our generation. It was everything. It was life. Fridays meant new episodes of Boy Meets World, and I swear to god Mom if you try to make plans for me that conflict with TGIF I will scream. It was a good time to be alive. Anyway, I started by taking some creeper selfies with Danielle Fishel in the background, but then managed to get this gem, pictured below.

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    2. Meeting “Shirley” from Community aka Yvette at MyDamnChannel. I was asked to be on weird little show for My Damn Channel that involved being interviewed by a mildly inappropriate cat puppet, and lo and behold… so was Yvette Nicole Brown. Nevermind the extremely bizzare parameters of the situation; I got to sit in a green room and make small talk with Shirley from Community. And it was great.

    DSC051333. Meeting “Andrew and Tara” aka Tom Lenk and Amber Benson at LeakyCon. I’m just going to put it out there – after following Tom Lenk on Instagram for a few years, I can astutely deduce that he’s a weird dude. But he’s a weird dude in Buffy as well, where he’s also my favorite character. So meeting him was pretty awesome, and meeting Amber Benson was just a nice bonus.

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    4. Almost but not quite meeting R.L. Stine at New York Comic Con. I have no picture, because it didn’t happen. I’m still hoping to get to shake R.L. Stine’s hand someday, but that day is yet to arrive. I heard he was at New York Comic Con and I LOST MY SHIT. I realized I missed his panel, ran to his signing line, saw it was A MILE LONG and cried my way through the rest of the convention. Someday, Mr. Stine. Someday.

    5. Meeting Ken Jennings at a PAX after party. Most people laugh at me when I tell them meeting Ken Jennings was a highlight of my life, but let’s get real here – this guy is awesome. My dad and I were already avid Jeopardy fans, but we were ALL ABOUT THAT IT when Ken Jennings went on his 74 game streak. I think I watched every single episode during that time. I don’t even know why; I was just fascinated by watching history being made. He’s also hilarious on social media, and a nice dude in person.

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    There are so many people I’d love to add to this list, but I guess I have my whole life to do that! Really I just need to meet J K Rowling. I don’t know how, or when, but it needs to happen.

    Woo! If you’re interested in 5 Fandom Fridays, the official home for it is here. I hope you enjoyed this post and I am looking forward to doing more.

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  2. Bucket List: The Winchester Mystery House

    February 10, 2014 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Journal, Travel by Kristina Horner

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    Time for a bucket list post! Back in December, I took a road trip with Joe down the coast to LA, making a few choice stops along the way. One, of course, being the Winchester Mystery House. I had heard about this place before but never found a reason to stop – being in San Jose, it’s not exactly on the way to anything, so we factored an extra half a day into our trip and made it a priority.

    We were not supposed to take pictures inside the house, so this picture below is usually all tourists walk away with. Our tour guide, however, was a huge geek about the house and understood the need to photograph the experience. She told us if her back was turned, there “would be no way for her to know we were taking pictures”. So, blog post commence, am I right?

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    The Winchester Mystery house is less of a house and more of a RIDICULOUSLY HUGE mansion that resides in Northern California. The property once belonged to the late Sarah Winchester, the window of William Winchester, of prestigious Winchester Rifle fame. Sarah Winchester was also certifiably nuts. She placed the fate of her existence in the hands of a psychic after the death of her husband and only child. She asked this medium why she had suffered such a terrible loss, and the medium told her that the Winchester family was cursed. Sarah Winchester believed this, and felt the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles were pursuing her family. The medium told Sarah that she could confused the ghosts by building a house that was always changing. Sarah took this advice, moved to California, and begin to build. The house stayed under construction until the day she died. She had a permanent team of builders that worked on the house, and she kept many of the same ones for most of her life.

    One of the first things she had constructed in her new house was a séance room,  which she used every single night. Each morning she would give her builders new plans based on what the spirits had told her the night before, which led to a lot of crazy building plans. Well, that and the fact that Sarah Winchester had very little architectural experience herself.

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    This is a second story door that opens to nothing but a straight drop off outside. Other doors open to blank walls, staircases lead to nowhere, and windows were installed in floors.

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    We were warned multiple times on our tour not to wander off, since it’s totally possible to get lost meandering around for hours in the confusing mess of rooms. Staircases and doors weren’t even the strangest features – probably the craziest part of the house was the “Switchback Staircase”, a flight of stairs that only went up nine feet but includes seven different flights of two inch steps. There was also a staircase that went up and immediately back down to take you to a floor just mere inches higher than the one you were just on.

    Also, despite the 160 rooms in the house, 40 bedrooms, 2 ballrooms, 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys – the entire house only has one shower. Bet that makes dorm life seem a little easier now, doesn’t it! The house also included an incredible amount of technological innovation. For the late 1800’s, it was quite rare to have furnishings such as steam and forced air heating, modern toilets and indoor plumbing, push button gas lights, and a hot shower. The house also contained three elevators, as well as stained glass windows created by the Tiffany company. These stained glass windows still reside in the house, specifically one designed by Tiffany himself that’s value is said to be inestimable. It was carefully designed so that when light hits the crystals in just the right way, the room would be engulfed in thousands of rainbow prisms. Of course, Sarah Winchester chose to install the window in a room facing a wall with no direct light whatsoever.

    IMG_3709Before the giant earthquake in 1906, the Winchester House was seven stories high. Sarah Winchester never bothered fixing most of the damage done to the house, so the house remains to be merely four stories to this day.

    As I said, there was round the clock construction on this house for 36 years from her team of loyal builders. She paid them quite well, as she was well-equipped to do so. She inherited more than $20.5 million when her husband died, as well as fifty percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Her income was around $1,000 a day, which, back in those days was more liked $30,000 a day. THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. PER DAY. I’D PROBABLY GO CRAZYTOWN TOO.

    Sarah Winchester died in 1922, at which point construction on the house immediately stopped. The total amount of money spend on the construction has been estimated around $5.5 million, which in today’s terms would be more than $75 million.

     

    Nowadays, of course, the staff at the Winchester Mystery house still believe the place is haunted. This man in overalls (pictured below), one of Sarah Winchesters esteemed builders, is said to be seen walking around the house, doing maintenance and continuing to work on the house even after all these years.

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    I don’t know if I believe it, but the house sure is crazy. You can feel the vibe of crazy thick in the air as you walk around, ducking so as not to hit your head and you wander through tiny doorways, secret passageways and stairways meant for incredibly short people. I immensely enjoyed my tour through the Winchester Mystery House, but then again, I do love a good haunted house. Sarah Winchester’s story fascinates me, and I am so glad others felt the need to preserve her life and allow us to experience a small piece of it.

    Have you been to the Winchester Mystery House? Have you driven by it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Also, please recommend other haunted houses or must-see locations for lovers of spooky and unexplainable things!

    Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ll be back soon to cross another thing off my bucket list!

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  3. Bucket List: The Night of Writing Dangerously

    November 22, 2013 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Geek Events, Travel, Writing by Kristina Horner

    For 7 years now, I have dedicated my Novembers to pounding out novel after novel, fighting against the odds to prove that I CAN do anything I set my mind to. And for nearly as long, other Wrimos across the country have gathered in San Francisco for one night of that month to experience this challenge together, with food, drink, and merriment.

    When I started NaNoWriMo, I was in college. So not only was I writing an obscene amount of words in a month, I was doing it amidst homework! Amidst tests and class periods and my part time job! And each year I thought, “Maybe I’ll make it down to San Francisco this year,” but each year threw new obstacles in my way, and traveling for the sake of writing never fit into my crazy schedule.

    But on this, my eighth year of reckless novel abandon, my friend and writing cohort Liz and I decided THIS. This was our year.

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    I have many blog posts already about the road trip, so for this, let’s focus on the event itself. This is also my very first bucket list post! If you want to see the other things on my (still growing) bucket list, you can check that out here.

    Anyway, Liz and I got dressed up (the theme was Noir) and arrived at the ballroom via Lyft. Let me just tell you, this ballroom was gorgeous. It was located in the Merchant Exchange building right in the middle of the city, and the view was fabulous. There were tables everywhere, a little podium up front for speakers, and raffle prizes along the wall.

    The open bar had fun novelty drinks such as the Noveltini, Cosmonovelton and GimLit. The Noveltini was my favorite. There was also a candy bar, where writers could refill a little white bag with enough sugar as they would need to get them through the write-a-thon. Dinner was fabulous and consisted of too many delicious things for me to even remember, and of course, throughout the night, they also served us donut holes and had a late night milk & cookie bar. The food was by far one of the best parts of the evening.

    As far as activities went, sometimes it felt like there was almost too much to do! There was food to eat (as I mentioned), writers to mingle with, staff to meet, booze to drink, and a professional “author portrait” studio set up in back. Anyone attending the gala could get their photo snapped for use on our NaNo author pages, potential book jackets someday, who knows! That was a lot of fun. There were also timed writing sprints over the course of the night, as well as table wars, which encouraged the different tables of writers to get as many words written as they could so as not to let down your other table mates. It was a good motivator.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    I was too excited about everything going on to take many pictures, so instead of seeing the gala itself, you get this selfie.

    Let me talk about the tables for a second. It was a beautiful sight. The people running this event clearly know what they’re doing, as every single table in that ballroom had a powerstrip beneath it for attendees to plug their laptops into. Just try and imagine a gorgeous banquet room filled with people dressed to the nines with their laptops in a circle around their fancy tables. It was a sight to behold; especially when laptops were favored over other items and no one knew where to put their plates, wine glasses or candy bags. It was a juggling act, but made for great conversation. And, as far as I know, nothing was spilled on anyone’s computer.

    After the food, another big highlight for me was getting to finally meet the people behind NaNoWriMo. This event has literally helped shape the last eight years of my life, and so much of that time was spent alone in my room, fingers poised above a laptop. Getting to not only meet and hug the people who created this crazy project, but to be in a room of 250 others who so completely understand what this project means to me was overwhelming. I might have gotten a little emotional.

    I first met Shelby Gibbs and Tim Kim back at LeakyCon this summer, and they are the ones who convinced Liz and I to make the trip to San Francisco for the event. It was so lovely to see them again, and to get to meet Chris Angotti, the Director of Programs, Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director, Tavia Stewart-Streit, the Deputy Director, and so many others! And everyone knew who I was! Writing that NaNoWriMo song was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I had a lot of people come up to me and tell me they listen to it every year to get pumped to start writing. That meant more than anyone could ever imagine.

    I also got to announce the second table war, as well as saying who won when it was over. I had a blast, especially because it meant I got the microphone for a small amount of time. Of course I used that opportunity to ask for a show of hands for who pronounces it my way, “na-no-wree-mo”. I lost, overwhelmingly, but hey! There were at least twenty or so people who raised their hands!

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    Getting to attend this event was something Liz and I have only ever dreamed of doing. We both managed to write about 2,500 words over the course the evening, made friends with our tablemates, stuffed ourselves with food and drink and went home exhausted but so, so happy. The crazy long road trip we took to get there was completely worth it. I am extremely happy with my very first bucket list item, and if everything on that list is as fun as this first one, then I highly look forward to starting to cross them off over the rest of my life.

    There’s still 8 days left of NaNoWriMo! Who’s still in? How much would you like to be able to attend an event like this, dedicated solely to writing and to raising money to help empower others to write books? It was a dream come true, for me. Thanks for reading, and hopefully my next bucket list item won’t be too far off.

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