A Comedy of Errors – WrestleMania 35

It’s completely bonkers to me that one week ago I was at WrestleMania. A million things feel like they’ve happened between now and then (which we’ll get into a little later). This was my second time going to the event, so I felt like I would have a little bit of a better idea of what to expect. Turns out I was completely wrong on that front, but still managed to have a pretty exceptional time.

Like last year, my travel buddies and I spent some time at Axxess. For those of you who don’t spend time at these things (99% of my followers. Thanks for clicking on this post anyway), it’s kind of a convention-like situation that the WWE puts on around the big event. It’s also highway robbery. Days are broken into blocks, some with several, others with only one, and those blocks each cost $55 for general admission ($77 with all of the taxes and fees included). That means, if you choose to go to all three blocks in a given day, you’re spending upwards of two hundred bucks a day to attend this thing.

Why go then, you wonder? I go to support/meet my faves and to hang out at the NXT ring, but other folks’ answers might be different. I also try to choose a max of three sessions to keep an already insanely pricey trip a little bit more reasonable. This year’s adventure included meeting three of my forever faves: Alexa Bliss, Candice LeRae, and Finn Bálor. All three spend so much time working with charities and elevating their fellow wrestlers (even when story suggests otherwise). Meeting Finn, unfortunately, came with a little bit of drama attached.

This year’s Axxess was run differently than last, which meant any knowledge I had gleaned about the process was completely useless. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a change for the better. Shout out to the poor volunteers and event staff who spent their whole weekend getting attacked by pissed of “fans”. The short version is that the WWE decided to have each photo op/signing include three super stars. Those three would switch out in the middle of the session for a new set. The thing was, the change never happened on time, and the staff was not notified who would be in what area. This resulted in complete chaos, particularly for the talent that had previously been at the VIP and Premium VIP levels (read: Finn Bálor and Alexa Bliss).

The line for Finn got moved four separate times (just from my experience, others got moved more). By the time things had finally gotten sorted, many of us were told there was no chance, but that we could go wait in the overflow line if we still wanted to try. Most of us decided to do so. Others decided screaming at staff would get them what they wanted when instead it just got the cops involved. Lots going on on the Axxess floor on Saturday, haha. Clearly, not being a jerk paid off, and both myself and everyone else around me were able to get through the line.

Don’t be a dick to event staff, fam.

Wrestling events always mean that I get to play with new makeup looks for the show. Whether I’m watching from home, or checking out a show on the road, it’s always my excuse to mess around with new glam. From right to left on the above is: Alexa Bliss, my variation of the Demon Queen (for Finn Bálor), and a look inspired by The Man, Becky Lynch. Lexi and Finn were both for Axxess, but Bex was for the main event. Which is exactly what she was.

We bought our tickets well before it was announced that the women would finally be in the Main Event of WrestleMania where they belong, but that didn’t stop it from being a major perk of attending. So let’s get on to the big show, shall we? Let’s kick things off with a simple question:

What. THE FUCK. IS WRONG. WITH YOUR GODDAMN STADIUM. NEW. JERSEY?!

MetLife Stadium is a purgatory level nightmare of which we were lucky to escape. No one knew where to go or how to get in. Event staff was all confused (likely because, once again, no one shared critical information with them). When we, by some miracle, finally made it INTO the damn thing, we then searched four our seats for forty minutes. Why? Well, because the levels at MetLife Stadium don’t connect for some inexplicable reason? Who designed this place?! I want to have a conversation. It will be an angry one.  

Eventually, we found our destination. Immediately, a nice woman told us that our seats have unfortunately been relocated, and that we’ll need to see the man standing at the back wall. Beaten, downtrodden, and at this point just hoping to find some stadium nachos, we see the man who hands us a new set of tickets. Offhandedly, I note that they were better seats than we had before, and we trudged our way through a new labyrinth trying to find them.

As it happens, these new seats were infinitely easier to find, and weren’t just “better” than the ones we’d had previously. They were about fifteen rows behind the seats that are considered ring side “better”. Like, worth hundreds more a piece than what I had initially spent on the tickets “better”. Our quest had paid off! We were victorious! Why were we upgraded? I’m not 100% sure. I think it was a visibility thing. I honestly don’t care because holy shit we were so close!

WrestleMania 35 ended up being the best event I’ve seen since I started watching a decade or so ago. I’m not going to go into specifics, because if you care about the details, you probably watched it already. The Beast was slain (and hopefully gone forever), Kofi and Becky killed it, and Finn is finally wearing gold (even if it’s the wrong belt). It was exceptional moment after exceptional moment, and I doubt I’ll ever walk away 100% happy with the outcomes of a wrestling event again in my time. Delighted, satisfied, and ready for some shut-eye, we vacated our seats to start the journey home. We were so innocent then…

Remember me mentioning that MetLife Stadium is purgatory? Yeah, I meant that shit literally. You expect a stadium to be a cluster when an event lets out. What you don’t expect is that the transit situation to be so hosed that the MTA issues an apology the following day (even if that apology rightfully blamed the WWE). Trains were backed up, there were no busses, and the Uber/Lyft areas were a disaster. It had begun pouring rain, but we were going to get drenched no matter what. So, my compatriots and I decided that we would simply walk a few blocks away from MetLife and catch a ride there.

Listen to me, people: you CANNOT walk away from MetLife Stadium. Why? I’ve already told you why. BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING PURGATORY.

We walked for hours. We tried every possible exit route we could. Everything is either dead ended, blocked off by police ensuring you don’t kill yourself, or leads right onto the medianless high way. Finally, soaked to the bone, freezing, and resigned to our fate, we return to the rideshare area. We then began the desperate dance of trying to find a driver that wouldn’t immediately drop our ride upon arrival because people were literally offering hundreds of dollars in cash to get the hell away from the stadium.

Finally, our savior arrived. Mohammad picked us up in a black minivan and turned the heat all the way up. He didn’t bark at us for getting his seats wet. He only kindly chatted us up to distract us from the fact that we were all freezing and had puddles of water in our shoes. He was tipped heartily and will forever be remembered as the best human to ever live. We finally made it home at 2:30 AM.

Miraculously, none of us caught pneumonia. I’ll have more on my New York/Jersey trip soon!

“One Bed” is Like A Hug for Shippers Everywhere

Anyone who’s looking for a fast and fun little shipper dream need not look any farther than “One Bed” by Alex Zalben. Some questionable pairing choices aside (sorry not sorry, Alex ^.~), this fun little short is the perfect quick read for a cozy Sunday afternoon.

“One Bed” manages to be cute and cuddly even when it’s focusing on a pairing that you may not ship. It balances hard questions with enjoyable fluff, and still presents a real and relateable story between Chloe and her new friends at the Exit One Bed and Breakfast.

You can check it out in print here.
And on Kindle here.

Be sure to follow Alex‘s nonsense over on Twitter. And, if you do pick up the book, remember that reviews go a long way on Amazon. Happy reading!

Just Another SDCC Wrap-Up

It’s been a week, and I have, no joke, just now gotten enough sleep where I feel like I have the energy to write this post. This year was my first adventure out to the fabled SDCC. The incomparable Kendall Ashley and I made a pact that we would go whether we got press badges or not after spending years dealing with Comic Con FOMO as all of our fellow journalists and friends covered the biggest show of the year.  So, we booked our flights, found an airbnb probably a little too far from the site, and eventually packed our bags and made our way to the convention.

And then we hardly saw each other.

You will hear story after story of how insane San Diego Comic Con is, and no amount of preparation makes you ready for it. Despite that,  we did a good job. “Ken and Amelia are doing the best they can,” definitely became the theme of the trip though. I’ll go over some dos and don’ts that this lil rookie learned on her first trip out, but first let’s talk about my favorite part of the show: my people.

Being an entertainment journalist in Colorado means that most of the people you work with and for are only known through the intertubes. I have worked with or known many of these people for years, and finally got to meet them fact to face at this year’s SDCC. There are many people that I missed, and some where we forgot to take selfies, but look at all of these wonderful people!

  • A wild Britt and Jon appeared!

It was also filled with a lot of experiences, many of which aren’t captured in pictures because I was too busy, well, doing them. In addition to the too-packed fancy parties, and lots of amazing adventures with the BMD crew, there were these–

  • They put two of my faves right next to each other. CHARLOTTE IS NOT ON THIS WTF.

Then came the coverage. SDCC is the living embodiment of work hard/play hard. I’m a small part of an amazing team that worked way harder than me, but I still found myself exhausted at the end of each day. Friday was all interviews all the time. Things kicked off with Clare Kramer, and then we made our way to our round tables where we interviewed The Defenders, Marco Ramirez, and Sigourney Weaver. Then came Saturday, with the CW Television gauntlet. They did Riverdale, Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Black Lightning, and Legends of Tomorrow all in one day.

Noticeably missing from that line-up is Supernatural. That’s because they get their own day, and aren’t in Ballroom 20. Some folks might be surprised that the boys are still big enough to occupy Hall H, but the gang came to the show with a stunt worthy of the biggest room at the con.

So, yeah. That happened. We were all very chill about our ability to get into Hall H Sunday morning. We figured if we didn’t get in, it would be fine. Thankfully we did with no issue at all, because HOLY SHIT KANSAS SHOWED UP.

This easily would have been my favorite non-friend-meeting moment of the show, had it not been for Stephen Amell and little Sarah making me ugly cry in the middle of Ballroom 20. Stand up dude. I’ll probably watch the show forever, even if it returns to S3/S4 levels of infuriating.

Here are some things I did right:
– Packed a water bottle and jerky each day.
– Stopped trying to plan outside of scheduled interviews/panels and just went with it.
– Packed comfy but cute shoes.
– Made exceptional memories.

Some things to learn from:
– Get an airbnb closer to the convention center.
– If you’re gonna be covering a room all day that isn’t Hall H, schedule a time to pee. You’re gonna have a bad time.
– Get in line earlier than you think you should.
– Get ALL of the pictures with friends.

It’s inevitable, roll with it:
– You will not get enough sleep.
– You will walk 25-40 miles.
– The press room closes at 7. You will be writing from a corner of the convention floor if your hotel isn’t close. You look a little crazy, its fine.
– If you’re an introvert, the parties will be stressful. Decide which ones are worth it and which ones aren’t.

Best advice I have to give:
– Find your tribe and have a blast. No one’s gonna tell you all the things you need to know. It’s going to be a trial by fire, and you will be busy ALL the time. Get the work done, then go have fun.

And that’s that! See you next year, San Diego!

Wonder Woman is both Messy and Perfect

Post contains spoilers for the film Wonder Woman.

Let’s cover something right out the gate: Wonder Woman has issues. The final battle left a lot to be desired and tasted way too much like something Snyder would do, there are strange editing choices, an overuse of slow motion in weird moments, some strange choreography/CGI woes sprinkled here and there, and some  downright odd directorial choices that left the actors looking… awkward.

And I don’t care about any of that.

Not at the end of the day, at least. That’s probably bad for me to admit as a critic. But me being a critic comes second to me being a woman. Before some BatBro goes out of their way to use this post against me in the future to counter my “crusades against DC”, there’s a reason this is happening on my personal website and not somewhere I’m paid to review media.

Wonder Woman has problems. Wonder Woman is also perfect. I know that’s an annoying pairing of sentences,  but most of you know where I’m going with this. Diana Prince is a hero I like, but has never been at the very top of my list like she is for so many others. No part of that changes how phenomenal it was for me to get to see a woman, unafraid of her power, kicking ass and taking names like we’ve watched so many male heroes do in the past.

My biggest concern going into this film was  that they would miss the point of Diana’s character and simply make her a warrior. They missed the mark so extremely on both Superman and Batman that that wasn’t an unfair concern. While not unfair, it was unfounded. Diana’s empathy is front and center through the entirety of the film. Her deep desire to help and heal people is the driving force in all of her actions. She’s curious.  She’s naive but not stupid. She’s a fierce warrior who also loves ice cream and babies. This won’t be the end to boxed in, boring, “strong female characters” who aren’t really characters at all. But I hope that it’s a start.

Diana discovers the joys and hardships of man’s world quickly, but not in a way that seems rushed. The pacing was done well through most of the film,  save the aforementioned struggle of a third act. Through it all, Diana discovers that there is no black and white to good and evil. Man is flawed. It’s broken, and messy, and terrifying. Man doesn’t deserve Wonder Woman, but as the film so poignantly drives home– it’s not about what we deserve.

In the big, climactic moment, Diana finally understands that. For the first time in the DCEU, we see one of our heroes choose hope over destruction, and goddamn what a feeling. Her closing monologue is about that hope. About that love.

Mankind doesn’t deserve Diana, but I spent damn near a whole film weeping about the fact that she’s here. Wonder Woman is fictional. She has no direct power over the world we live in, the choices we make, or the mess  that is humanity, but to think any of that should matter is silly.  So many turn their noses up at superheroes and their messages, but  times like now are when those messages mean the most.

Diana and the rest of her counterparts may not be real, but they inspire real people every day. A little girl sat in the theater last night and met her hero. She learned that it’s okay to be both fierce and frightened, and that she can acknowledge the darkness of the world while still choosing to save it. Wonder Woman is messy, but so is man.  Diana is fake, but the heroes  she helped inspire last night and in the future are very real.

We do not deserve her, but I’m damn glad she’s here.

 

 

 

A Jurassic World Adventure

I’m totally calm over what’s about to happen. Totally.

Hi new (and old) friends! For those who have known me for more than three seconds, you’re pretty aware that I have an obsession with dinosaurs. For anyone who hasn’t, yes, hi, hello. My name is Amelia and I really love dinosaurs. I think a big part of this can be attributed to the fact that the first movie I ever saw in theaters was Jurassic Park. I was four. Thanks, dad! Anyone who remembers the dinosaur situation in 1993 can tell you that We’re Back, A Dinosaur Story came out that year as well. Little me + lots of dinos = life long obsession.

With all of that in mind, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the opening  of the Jurassic World Exhibition would be starting at the Field Museum in Chicago the day that I left to fly back home. I had had a terrible week, so I decided to drop the cash to rush through the exhibit. Anyone who’s been to the Field Museum can tell you that it’s not a cheap endeavor, but they’ll also tell you that it’s absolutely worth it. Bear in mind that I say that as someone who literally only had the chance to see two things while I was there.

My mission was clear. I would rush to the Field Museum as early as I possibly could, and then gobble up all the dinosaur related content I could before I needed to speed to Midway to get on my blessed flight home after a miserable week in the windy city. As a notorious early-arriver at airports, I was a little stressed about the whole thing, but that all cleared up once I got to the museum.

Before we delve into the rest of this, I just need to say that if you’re in Chicago or its surrounding areas, have the means, and aren’t spending every moment you can in this museum, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?! I know, I know, I’m not a local and when you’re local things are less interesting but goddamn  that place is like 20 times the size of our museum out here and I want to see all of it! Traveling to Chicago is never a “because I chose to” situation, but damn, I’d fly out there to spend a weekend in the Field Museum if I had the funds.

Anyway! Now to the adventure. As I mentioned, I had very little time. About an hour in total if I ran real, real fast, but I wanted to keep it under that if I could. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay the exhibit the full attention that it deserved, but I did still get to see some pretty amazing stuff. Are spoilers for an exhibit a thing? I probably wouldn’t want to know if I had the opportunity to see it in person, so with that in mind, SPOILERS AHEAD!

I didn’t take pictures of everything,  but you kick things off in a boat room. They shut everyone in with a bunch of monitors that show you the water as you sail over to Isla Nublar. Your tour guide pops on the screen and gives you the spiel, and then it’s off to Jurassic World. As you can see from the header, you get to walk through the big archway. I was definitely super normal about that and didn’t tear up in the slightest. Much calm. Very chill.

*I’m sorry I took this video in portrait mode like an asshole. I was excited and distracted.

The animatronics that they’ve used to bring these creatures to life are exceptional. Going to this exhibition is genuinely the closest you’ll come to ever seeing these creatures in real life. Even their eyes move! The only exception to this rule is Blue (YOU. MEET. BLUE), presumably because they couldn’t get the animatronics to move as quickly as a velociraptor would. Still, unless you’re paying very close attention to the legs you can hardly tell that there’s a person in there. She almost bit me! It was the best! Since I was rushing through, I actually had the opportunity to meet the gentleman controlling the raptor. He, and all of the rest of the staff were lovely and sympathetic to my lack of time and pointed out anything fun and must-see that they could think of off the top of their heads!

While the dinosaurs are obviously the biggest draw, there’s more to the experience than that. Your walk through includes the innovation center and an InGen lab. My photos of the innovation center turned out fuzzy because I was in such a rush, but I did manage to get a few of the lab!

Amber fossils!

BABIES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many fascinating details throughout the exhibit, but I didn’t take pictures of all of them. Honestly, I wouldn’t include all of them here even if I had. Some of it you’ll just have to read for yourself when you go! I will say that there are more incubators in that lab, and that’s only a fraction of their amber wall. I’m going a bit out of order here because I want to save the best for last, and it’s definitely nestled pretty solidly in the middle of the exhibition.

The two attractions at the very appear to be just one if you don’t know where to look. You round the corner to the Gryosphere Valley and its inhabitants, and then there’s a little tunnel that you walk through to make your way to the gift shop. The valley is just as you’d expect. It’s filled with lush greenery and herbivores munching away on their dinner. I’m glad I poked around a little bit, because hiding where you’d least expect her is the Indominous Rex. I’m unsure if she does anything if you go through the exhibit at the rate of a normal person, but when I walked through she was just chillin’ out and lookin’ ominous.  I won’t tell you where to find her! You’ll have to dig for yourself!

That’s a stegosaurus hidin’ over there!

Peekaboo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve spent as much time gobbling up everything you can in the Jurassic Park franchise as I have, then you know where I’m going with my favorite part of this little adventure.  Paddock 9 is a part of your journey through the exhibition, and you get to meet the real hero: Rexy. How do they fit the monstrosity that is a tyrannosaurus rex in an exhibit? Fam. There was a brontosaurus earlier in the exhibit, and the indominous is just chillin’ out. SIZE IS NO MATTER LOOK AT REXY IN ALL OF HER GLORY!

*This one is in portrait as well, because, as mentioned, I’m a monster. I’m sorry!

Queen of the side-eye

I’m just really excited, okay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the adventure was very worth taking, even for all the money I spent to do so. (We won’t talk about the gift shop). For those keeping score, I did manage to make my flight on time and get back home uneaten. Though, let’s be honest. If getting eaten by a dinosaur is how I go, that’s just how I go.

Before heading on my mini cinema inspired adventure, I made sure to make time to go see the real deal. If you’ve never met SUE the T Rex, she’s every bit the spectacle she’s built up to be. Even if the Jurassic World exhibition is gone next time you make your way into the Chicago area, she, and the rest of the Field Museum, certainly deserves your attention.