San Diego Comic Con and the Haunted Hotel

That headline almost felt like an Indiana Jones title! Hey, everyone: as we gear up for San Diego Comic Con next week (!!!), I wanted to create a series of blog posts about the show, my favorite things to do in the Gaslamp district, and how to survive what usually adds up to five days on non-stop fandom. But first, an ode to my favorite hotel in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter: The Horton Grand.

While spots like the Hilton Bayfront, Hard Rock, and any nearby Marriott tend to be what attendees dive for first, the Horton Grand is a long-time staple of the Gaslamp that is absolutely worth a visit during your time at Comic-Con — if you manage to find a second away from the Hall H line or any of the offsites, of course.

the lobby, via tripadvisor

The Horton Grand is located on Island Avenue, between 3rd and 4th ave, right next to Fluxx,which is set to be a pretty active location for after-parties this year with parties from Geek & Sundry and Nerdist. The Horton Grand  was once two separate hotels — the Grand, later renamed the Horton, and the Brooklyn — and were merged together in 1970 after being saved from demolition by. The hotel often has fan events going on during the day, but even walking in to admire the gigantic glass windows and classic 19th-20th century architecture. The staff is friendly, the courtyard offers a wonderful place to rest, and the classic bar makes you feel like you’re grabbing a quick drink in another era entirely.

via California Through My Lens

The real reasons to stay, though, are the ghost stories. The rooms are nice, but half of the experience of staying at the big HG is the fact that — even as you’re riding the elevator up to your room — one feels a sense that something supernatural is afoot. As you pass each level, a vintage display appears in front, like a time capsule from years long gone. Old books, typewriters and dresses are arranged carefully within each display, as if they were once part of a young debutante’s glamorous wardrobe closet.

[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAXbN8ANegs” ]

 

The ghosts themselves — so legends say — are mostly friendly. Still, haunted or not, the ghostly charm of this hotel is all in the look. Take the staircase down to the bar to come face to face with a portrait of a woman whose visage makes you wonder if she might be the esteemed Ida Bailey, who ran a brothel nearby and once owned most of the land that the hotel sits on today.

Bailey herself is said to be one of the ghosts within the walls of the Horton Grad, and if that’s so, it makes sense: for a place that practically screams “I am Totally Haunted,” the atmosphere is as friendly as Disney’s very own Haunted Mansion. This may be because of the ex-landlady herself: some guests have recalled encountering Ida’s spirit, and came away feeling a “warm and welcoming” presence.

Another popular tale is that of Room 309, where a ghost believed to be a guest by the name of Roger Whitaker allegedly takes up residence. Activity in 309 is said to be high and frequent, with “strange occurrences” reported as recently as this past May. Over on Yelp, a guest named Jimmy C reported that his stay in Room 309 was more than he expected. Jimmy writes: “I know it sounds like I’m making this up but I have 2 guys who witnessed all this with me. One was when trying to get back into our room it was locked with the door chain from the inside. I checked it 3 times and saw the chain locking our door. The 4th time I closed the door, and opened it again, and sure enough the chain was off.”

There are two versions of Whitaker’s story told today, though the latter is more widely believed.  The first is that Whitaker was killed decades before anything had been built where the hotel stands today, and was buried there. The second told the story of a young gambler with a knack for cheating who ran out of luck: after swindling the wrong guys, Whitaker ran for his room – 309 – and hid in the armoire, only to meet an unfortunate end when his attackers found him and shot him to death inside of it. Yikes.

 

While I can’t fully say that I believe in ghosts, the spooky-scary is always a fun and exciting topic at face value. If you’ve got the chance, stop by the Horton Grand, grab a drink, and keep an eye out so that Roger doesn’t try to snag your glass.

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Artist Spotlight: Rhapsody Artajo’s Big Fig Wonder Woman Repaint

If you’ve been on the West Coast convention scene long enough, you’ve probably come across something Rhapsody Artajo has done. From the Club Cosplay stage to the streets of Downtown Disney, Artajo has proven herself a charismatic entertainer, skilled cosplayer, and all around really neat person. So, when she uploaded a gallery featuring this awesome repaint to her Facebook page, I knew that I had to feature it. Lo and behold, this blog now does artist spotlights, and the first one features everyone’s favorite superheroine right now.

Edit :SOLD Proud of this one. 🖤 #customdoll #repaint #wonderwoman #artist . DM for serious inquiries only please😘 #ArtRhapsody

A post shared by Rhapsody Artajo🇵🇭🇫🇷🇮🇪 (@artrhapsody) on

The project started with a JAKKS Pacific 19″ Wonder Woman Big Fig equipped with her coat and lasso. Artajo turned this simple figurine into a reimagining of Diana in the thick of No Man’s Land, or directly after the battle, when she has her photograph taken with her compatriots. Artajo says that the project took about six hours, completed over two days.

Anyway, enough talk — check out the gallery below, and follow Rhapsody on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more of her work. This figurine IS up for sale, by the way, so get her before she’s gone!

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Where to Find Me at Star Wars Celebration Orlando

It’s that time of year again! I’m putting on my space pants and leaving my house to attend Star Wars Celebration Orlando with my trusty co-pilot,  and while this year came at us like a tidal wave, we’re more than excited to get down to the Orlando Convention Center (where I attended my first major con over a decade ago please shoot me im so old) and see everyone. I’m involved in all sorts of mischief this year, so I’ve decided to compile it all here into one post for you! Many of the events this year hold a special place in my heart, so I’d love to see all my Star Wars pals at them.

The Bounty Hunt

Sign up outside of Room W303
  • Thursday (3:00 pm to 5:00 pm)
  • Friday (5:00 pm to 7:00 pm)
  • Sunday (11:30 am to 1:30 pm) – Bounty Hunt for Kids!

The Bounty Hunt is an annual adventure that I can’t wait to be a part of! Find me along the way as you scavenge for some of the galaxy’s greatest items and prizes. Get all of the info here and remember to stay on target!

Drowning in Moonlight: a Memorial Gala in honor of Carrie Fisher

Rosen Center Poolside – Thursday (7:30 PM)

Carrie Fisher’s passing is still something that hits me (and several people, I’m sure) on levels that are surprisingly personal. I’ve been given the honor to speak on one of the podcast panels at this wonderful charity event, and I’d love to see you there. Come by for the good cause, stay for a night of dancing and dining on themed goodies. What better way to celebrate the galaxy’s most infamous rebel than by sharing stories and partying down in her name?

We Love Rebels! 

Star Wars University (W300, 3rd Floor) – Saturday (12:30-1:30 PM)

If you know me, you know that I’m obsessed with Star Wars Rebels. I’ve hosted podcasts about it, I’ve written endlessly about the show’s characters, and gone above and beyond to defend my faves. Now, witness all of that obnoxiousness in real life! Join a panel full of Rebels experts to talk about where we think the Rebellion is going after that incredible finale.

These Are Not The Writers You Are Looking For: Bloggers Discuss Writing About Star Wars

Fan Stage (W308, 3rd Floor) – Saturday (4:30-5:30 PM)

Some of my favorite Star Wars-centric journalists (and yours truly) are getting together for a very special panel!  We’ve covered Star Wars all over the web, and now we’re sharing stories about how we ended up blogging about a galaxy far, far away.

A Unifying Force: Keeping Fandom Safe & Welcoming

Image by Star Wars TFA Fan.

Star Wars University (W300, 3rd Floor) – Saturday (6:30-7:30 PM)

As our favorite franchise continues to grow, it’s important to keep the gates open instead of turning our noses up at other fans.  Join us for a special discussion on keeping the Star Wars fandom a welcoming, knowledgeable, fun place for everyone.

Women in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Fan Stage (W308, 3rd Floor) – Saturday (3-4 PM)

Join a panel ofdie-hard fangirls as we discuss Star Wars heroines from past, present, and future stories. If you’ve been waiting to hear my Patton Oswalt-esque pitch for a Padme book series (and I’m sure you have), this is probably the panel to head to.

Phew! Outside of this, I’ll be attending a ton of panels and haunting the local cantina spots in the evenings, because I’m attending with no other responsibilities! What will you be up to at the show? Follow me on Twitter and let’s connect for meetups!

 

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Excitables: Bioworld x Rogue One Winter 2016 Collection

The wonderful thing about being a Star Wars fan is that the community is so vast that no matter where you land, you’re going to find someone doing something of interest to you. Whether it’s theorizing on Twitter, collecting Topps trading cards, or putting your pride-and-joy 3D printer to use for armor molds, the Star Wars community has a hobby or interest for anyone. One of my “Star Wars Hobbies” happens to be collecting awesome clothes and accessories associated with my favorite film franchise. Recently, I’ve been given the chance to expand upon this (and couple it with my love of costume construction) for the official Star Wars blog with a column that I like to call Force of Fashion. So naturally, when something new and wearable pops up on my radar, I’ve got to check it out.

Leading up to the release of Rogue One, Lucasfilm and Disney have announced an initial batch of major partnerships for the Rogue One marketing campaign. Small hints of what to expect come this Fall and Winter have begun to pop upon social media (hint: you’ll want to check on my column over the next few weeks), and one particular new batch of products — which will release in December — has me intrigued.

Over on The Wookiee Gunner, my pal Johnamarie Macias has a complete run-down of the upcoming Bioworld x Rogue One accessory line, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like. I recently fell head over heels for their Poe Dameron Dome Bag, which I STILL need in my life, very badly. The silhouette images of each product must be what has me so jazzed. I’m more than excited to see what kind of products they have in store for their line, including the Jyn-centric accessories. Here are a few that I can’t wait to see:

star-wars-rogue-one-death-star-crossbody-bagDeath Star Cross-Body Bag ($39.95)

Step aside, Ramona Flowers, there’s a new circular cross-body bag in town. The first intimidating Death Star will presumably grace the outside of this bag, making it easy to proclaim your loyalty to the Emperor and still keep all your things on you. The chain strap is a great touch, but unlike a few other Empire-style accessories that I own with chains, it also offers a comfortable shoulder strap on top. I’ve been wanting something like this for a while, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

Rebel Mini Backpack ($39.95)star-wars-rogue-one-mini-backpack

I don’t travel often, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m doing a bunch of trips at once. For this reason, I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect “everybag”. Something durable, small, but efficient enough to throw in a tablet or a small laptop if I have need for it during my day. I fell in love with Loungefly’s Rey Backpack ($60), but I might hang back and see what this one looks like before I make my decision.

star-wars-rogue-one-rebel-dome-satchelJyn Dome Satchel ($49.95)

Remember how I said I’m super-lusting after that Poe bag? Bioworld’s dome bags are cute and perfect for a day out that requires a little more space on the inside. I’m interested in seeing what design Jyn’s costume inspires, since she has no helmet or major outstanding logos/patterns on her outfit.

 

The whole line is set for release this December, and you can get the full details on pre-orders over on The Wookiee Gunner.

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What’s in My Bag? Disneyland Summer Edition!

I’m going to Disneyland again tomorrow, and I wanted to jot up a list of what I’m bringing in hopes that it’ll help others figure out how to pack lightly and efficiently for a day at the parks. I spent a lot of this summer out of town, so it’s  nice to be back home and closer to Anaheim in order to escape for little trips like this. I’m not very good at coordinating the colors and cuteness of what goes into my bag, but I’m pretty sure I’ve covered all of my bases (for my needs), so I hope this helps you too!

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First off, I want to address the one thing missing in the big photo below: a water bottle! I have one packed (pictured above) and I definitely recommend that everyone heading to the parks has one handy. Whether it’s summer or winter (though in winter, bring some tea bags to mix it up!) being at the parks means that you’re going to be active, and you need to keep your water up.

With that out of the way, here’s my list:

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Backpack – thrift store find with extra pockets inside! It’s light-wearing and pretty tough, but small enough to fit into the pockets provided on the big coasters.

Wallet – Can’t leave home without it!

Phone + R2-D2 case – My trusty Samsung Galaxy S5 has a totally busted screen but a cute case to make up for it. I kill time in lines by reading books and playing games on this thing. (Tip: get the Disneyland app to scope out line wait times, shows, and more)

Sony a5100 Camera + Bag – I’m in love with this camera! It’s great for capturing natural light and learning how to work with a lens (it doesn’t come with one, but the one I have is crafted for the camera) if you’re still a beginner like me.

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Coppertone SPF 50+ Sunscreen – A great, light-wearing sunscreen with very little fragrance.

Star Wars Pencil Case – I bought this and 3 others at Target last year when they were all on sale for $1! It is now my makeup bag.

Makeup – Ulta BB Cream (SPF 15), Maybelline Fit Me Set + Smooth Powder, Daiso Eyebrow Duo and Eyeliner pencil, Wet & Wild Max Fanatic Mascara, Wet & Wild natural blend lip balm, Covergirl Star Wars Lipstick #30, Wonder Woman Lip Gloss in Dark Cherry, Daiso Eyelash Curler, Concealer Brush, Powder Brush.

Nail Polish – Forever 21 Gel Look in Silver. (I’m using this with my outfit tomorrow)

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I love my lip trio! It doesn’t melt off easily and only really needs a few touch-ups after eating.

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mimobot Star Wars Rebels Sabine Portable Charger – this little charger has seen many conventions and road trips!

Compact Mirror – for adjustments and blinding my enemies using the power of the sun.

Lady Speed Stick – This stuff works great for me, so I keep a travel-size stick in my backpack for the parks.

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Paper Fan – Daiso’s fans are for light use, but since there were tons and they were all cheap, I bought a bunch to use until I break them all, haha. I love the falling stars design on this one!

Keychain + Lanyard + Annual Pass – Got the lanyard from Home Depot for free when I made new keys! I use the card holder it came with for my Annual Pass.

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To top it all off, my bag is sporting a cute Skywalking Through Neverland button, which is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to while waiting in line at the parks.

What do you keep in your bag at Disneyland? I’m always looking for useful tips, so let me know below in the comments!

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