Ways the Supernatural Family Is Really Saving People

Part of what makes the Supernatural fandom so special is the huge emphasis that gets placed on helping people. For a show about killing monsters, we do a lot of good, and really look out for one another.familyUnsurprisingly, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles launched a new Always Keep Fighting hoodie campaign just in time for Supernatural Day. Here’s a video of Jared and Jensen introducing the new campaign:


I’ve talked before about how important I think Always Keep Fighting is. Mental illness gets such a terrible stigma, and as someone who has anxiety and depression themselves, I am so happy to see my favorite fandom do so much good  and offer so much help to those who need it. The fandom and the #AlwaysKeepFighting movement meant so much to me, I got a tattoo reminding me to always keep fighting:

I did a thing… #AlwaysKeepFighting @jaredpadalecki

A photo posted by Kendall Ashley (@kendallashley_0128) on Aug 3, 2016 at 6:48pm PDT

Of course you don’t have to go and ink yourself if you want to participate in the AKF campaign. Instead, you can just scoop up your own hoodie from the latest campaign by heading over to the Represent page to order your hoodie and get your special 12 pin. But don’t wait too long, the campaign ends on September 27th!

But of course AKF isn’t the only way that Supernatural looks out for its own. If you haven’t heard yet, Supernatural and Random Acts have also created an actual crisis hotline, and they have people working on the hotline 24/7 and at Supernatural conventions.

And Sheriffs Jody and Donna (Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster) have also started the Wayward Daughters Academy, which is a tee-shirt campaign that raises money to help homeless and at-risk women and girls. Not only that, but it’s become a bit of a supportive community among Supernatural‘s fans, allowing a place for them to really be themselves,  to help others, and to find others who love them for just being themselves.

Of course Wayward Daughters and several of Osric Chau‘s campaigns all fall under the BEHEMOTH that is Random Acts, a huge charity started by Misha Collins. You’ve probably heard of Random Act’s big event, the giant and crazy scavenger hunt known as GISHWHES. However, there is so much more to the organization that just that. Random Acts is working all over the globe to help those that need it most, promote kindness and generosity, and even do huge things like raising money to build schools and homes in areas that need it.

This is what makes the fandom so special–how connected we are, and how important it is that we help others. You can joke around about the show running for too many years, you can say you think the various Supernatural shippers are weird, and you can get confused at how meta the show can get sometimes, but at the core of all that, the fandom is just trying to do good in the world. That’s what makes this group and this show special, and it’s why we’re still talking about the show after all these years.

What’s your favorite charity or cause that the Supernatural fandom has rallied around? Tell me about it in the comments! 

How in the World Could Supernatural End Well?

Happy Supernatural Day, SPN Family! All week I’ll be talking about the show, extending Supernatural Day into an entire week of saving people, hunting things, and the family business.

If you aren’t caught up on the show, be warned that there will be spoilers in this post, so read on at your own risk! 

SPN title

If you checked out the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly–the one that has Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and the Impala on the cover–you might have seen the big news they shared about the 300th episode of the show. Namely, that they think 300 episodes, should the show make it that far, would be a great place for Supernatural to end.

no

Okay, I know talking about the end of Supernatural does kinda suck, but at the same time I really like that they’re looking at an end game to the show. For such a long-running show, I’m sure there is a great temptation (at least on the part of the network) to let Supernatural run its course until the viewership has utterly abandoned it. So I’m glad that Jared and Jensen, at the very least, are looking at a way to end the show well. If you’ll recall back at Denver Comic Con this year, Jeffrey Dean Morgan even mentioned in his panel how he’d love to return for the final episode of Supernatural (especially if Jensen directed). If the 200th episode is any indication, Supernatural knows how to celebrate big milestones well.

But how could they end the show on a note that fans could be okay with? After all, I’d hate to see Supernatural go out in a manner similar to How I Met Your Mother, with most of the fandom frustrated with–and straight up rejecting–the ending. Even worse, the season five finale–the original series ending that the show’s creator, Eric Kripke imagined–was kind of a solid series ending. So what could the show do to end the show well since episode 300 will take us into season 14, several season past the originally planned 5?

Leave the Boys in a Believable Situation

death

Except, you know, for the times you literally kill Death.

I’ll be honest, I’d love to see the show end with Sam as a Man of Letters (maybe, anyway, I’ve got my doubts about that whole group lately), Dean happy and with a family (I’ll just say it, I liked him with his little family with Lisa), and Castiel either safe in heaven or hanging out in the bunker with Sam and Dean. But honestly, I’m not sure if that’s the most believable choice. After all, Sam and Dean always talk about things will end bloody for them, and every attempt they’ve made at a normal life has failed. So while I DON’T want one of them to die and the other to live, it might make more sense for the show to end with both of their deaths, and with them up in heaven–then they could hopefully hang out with Cas, Charlie, Kevin, John, and (potentially) Mary there. I feel like that is the closest to a happy ending that they could get. However, one of the things I loved about the ending to season 5 was that there were so many open-ended stories. Would Sam ever reunite with Dean? Would Dean hunt again? What would Castiel do now that the apocalypse had been averted? What was the deal with Chuck disappearing after he wrote “the end”? There were so many ways for us to speculate on what came next for everyone. While an open-ended finale like that could be cool, I do wonder if, after 300 episodes, we should get some sort of finality with the boys. I’m not sure, but for as much as I want the boys to live happy, “apple pie” lives, I think I’d feel a bit cheated if the show ended with them magically finding a way to live that life. I want as happy of an ending as we can get, but I want to believe it. After all, if we’ve all put in 300 episodes, I’d hope we could find a solid place for the show to land.

Don’t Force Any Romances On Them

amelia

I’ll be honest, my favorite part of the Amelia relationship was Sam getting to finally have a puppy.

I’m okay with the boys having romantic relationships, but I want them to make sense. I don’t want to see them paired up with someone simply to give the finale of the show gravitas or to introduce a woman into the story to inspire the Winchesters to action or create conflict. They’ve had some really great relationships introduced on the show, with Lisa (I know a lot of the fandom hates her, but I don’t know why), Jo, Jess, Madison, and Cassie. However, most of those women ultimately died or their relationship crashed and burned. The women the Winchesters date are often times plot devices rather than actual people. So if they want to end the story with the boys in a relationship, great, but for it to be a solid ending, it needs to make sense, be a healthy relationship, and portray the boys’ partners as actual people.

Answer Some Lingering Questions Definitively

adam.gif

Where are you, Adam?!?

Like I said before, I’m cool with leaving some loose ends. It lets us as the audience speculate and draw our own conclusions about what really happens once the cameras stop rolling. That’s awesome, and I’m for that. But for some of those lingering, nagging questions, like what actually happened to Adam and where is John Winchester, I’d like to finally get a straight answer. I’m probably alone on this, but I’d really like to know if Meg is in purgatory or if she was “redeemed” enough to go to heaven. I’d like to think she’s in heaven, but I always liked that crazy demon. I also am pretty sure Meg would hate heaven, but that’s another issue entirely…

Give a Final Nod to the Metasodes

supernatural

The fact that Supernatural can pull off having Supernatural on Supernatural in several different mediums from books to the show itself to a musical is a crazy feat. This show is incredibly self-aware, and the metasodes and meta-jokes are some of my favorite things that they do on this show. While I don’t think making the 300th a metasode like the “Fan Fiction” is the right call, I’d like to see the show give that part of the story one final send off.

Leave the Show Where it Began: Family

family.gif

I still ship Ellen and Bobby, I’ll admit it…

Family is the anchor to this show. It’s what keeps us tuning in, even when the stories get a little too crazy (like being able to incapacitate the oldest, strongest monster of all with cleaning supplies, for instance). Regardless of what happens when the Supernatural story finally ends, as long as it keeps the story rooted in the importance of family, it will do the show justice. It’s what made the end of season 5 so good. It left us with that wistfulness of Sam coming back from hell, but not wanting to take Dean away from his “normal” life, and Dean trying to make life work with Lisa and Ben because he promised Sam he’d try. The show’s “family don’t end with blood” through line is what gives it heart, and it’s what makes the show more than a campy monster hunting show. While I do hope the 300th episode gives us more straight answers on where Sam, Dean, Cas, and Crowley all end up, as long as they remember that this is a story about the family business, the ending will feel right.

What would you need to see in a final episode for it to feel “right”? What do you hope they avoid? Tell me your thoughts in the comments! 

Welcome to Supernatural Week and the Season 12 Teaser

spn titles

On September 13, 2005, Supernatural first hit televisions. It’s been over a decade since the pilot episode aired, and to celebrate the show’s unusually long life the 13th has been officially deemed “Supernatural Day”. Well, the thing is, I didn’t feel like allowing one day for Supernatural appreciation was right. So here at Distracted Blogger, we’re going to be celebrating Supernatural Week.  I’ll be talking about the new season, the bomb Jared and Jensen dropped in the EW article (I won’t spoil that in this post), Always Keep Fighting, and more. I have been re-watching the entire season this hellatus, so I can’t wait to talk about All the Supernatural Things with you this week!

So let’s start this week off right with a first look at what’s in store for us in season 12. Take a peek. Season 11 spoilers ahead, obviously:

You guys, I have really mixed feelings about the UK branch of the Men of Letters. Sure, Sam and Dean have created (accidentally or not) quite a lot of problems for people on earth, but I feel like capturing Sam and torturing him is kind of an extreme reaction. It also feels like far too brutish a reaction for a group of people known for being chronically stuck between the pages of the book while they save the elbow grease for hunters. I really loved the idea of Sam becoming a full-time Man of Letters, but seeing some of the people that would be his UK colleagues has got me wondering if that’s a good idea.

Also: MARY WINCHESTER, YOU GUYS! I am so incredibly excited to see Mary back in action, and back in pants. I’m a bit worried about Sam and Dean spending actual, real time with their mom since she’s become this ethereal, perfect creature in their minds. Seeing a real woman with real flaws could be really hard for the boys, and put a rift in their relationship that doesn’t need to be there. We don’t know if Mary’s return is something that will stick, so I’d hate for her to be sent back through the veil (or worse, for her to be killed again) and the boys have this John-style relationship with her. Of course, things won’t just be hard for the boys. We know that Mary never wanted her children to be hunters, so it will have to be heartbreaking and infuriating for Mary to see her boys living the exact kind of life that she never, ever wanted for them. If the boys let slip too much about their childhood, you know Mary is going to be absolutely furious with John.

What do you think of the teaser? What are you most excited about in season 12? What do you hope to see this season? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Supernatural Hellatus Re-Watch: Am I Becoming a Sam Girl?

It’s been a while since I’ve re-watched the entire series of Supernatural (I think I’ve actually only done it twice, which is shocking to me since I’ve watched the entirety of shows like Arrested Development, The IT Crowd, and Bob’s Burgers like…seven thousand times). Since we’re on the summer hellatus, I figured this would be the perfect time to start over from the very beginning.

hunting trip.gif

I just have to say that I love, love, love the first season. It’s full of urban legends, MOTW episodes, and it’s way before the boys had to worry about stuff like the apocalypse, The Cage, crossroad demon deals, The Darkness, and all the craziness. It was a simpler time, wasn’t it? In fact, in the episode “Phantom Traveler,” Dean says that dealing with demons is way out of their league. Of course that’s hilarious since these days exorcising demons is so second nature that they’ve literally made a voice note on their phones to exorcise demons for them.

But apart from being reminded of how green the boys were when it comes to hunting really nasty monsters back in the early days, I’m starting to see something else: I might be morphing into a Sam girl. I’ve never had any animosity towards Sam, but out of the two Winchester boys, I’ve always related to Dean more than Sam. Dean’s super protective of his little brother like I am…of course, with both Winchesters any point that you “relate” to them is super amplified on the Winchester’s side of things. For instance, I’d say I’m protective and worry too much about my little brother, and Dean would say, “Yes, I too am protective and worry too much about my brother which is why I SOLD MY SOUL TO A CROSSROADS DEMON AND ROTTED IN HELL FOR 30 HELL-YEARS TO BRING HIM BACK FROM THE DEAD.”

…I just…I just like…worry a lot about my brother making good choices and not dying in car crashes, but yeah, Dean, I totally get you. Hashtag Older Sibling Problems, amirite?

But I love how much of a mother hen-type Dean is. He looks out for Sam–often to his own detriment, but whatevs–he looks out for Cas, and don’t even get me started on his relationship with Charlie and Kevin…

charlie and dean.gif

But as I’ve gone through the first five episodes of the series again, I’ve really tried to watch the show with fresh eyes. Sure I know what’s going to happen, but it’s been forever since I’ve seen those early seasons of the show, so it’s a lot easier than I expected for me to leave my Supernatural baggage at the door and try to watch the show with a clean slate. As I’ve done this, I noticed that I’m starting to get some major Sam feels…and like, zero Dean feels. There’s really not much to Dean in those first few episodes, is there? Now don’t jump down my throat, I know the character develops, but I had forgotten how much time they spend developing Sam as a character. Really the most we get of Dean in those episodes is, well, this:

dean flying

Meanwhile, we see Sam build a life with someone he wholly relies on and loves…

sam jess

…he loses her (spoiler alert I guess, but it’s been literally over a decade so it’s your own fault)…

sam winchester.gif

…blames himself because he had dreams of Jess’ death days before she died (also giving us a first look into his psychic abilities)…

sam jess grave.gif

…and then completely uproots his entire life to avenge the death of his true love (and his mom, but mainly Jess).

we've got work to do

Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget where Sam has been on “the road so far”. For me, the stuff that have always stuck in my mind about Sam’s journey were things like his demon blood addiction, his Dean and John-less heaven, starting the apocalypse, not looking for Dean while he was in Purgatory, losing his soul, and the lack of bro-ments after Sam realized Dean let Gadreel use Sam as a vessel. Typical things for a Dean girl to cling to, but as I’m re-watching the early episodes, the giant train wreck of Sam’s life prior to learning about being “chosen” by Azazel, his horrible childhood, his terrible relationship with his father, essentially being kicked out when he went to college, then losing the only person in his life that anchored him to a safe life…Sam’s just got a shaky foundation all around. Really the only constant in his life is Dean, and Dean doesn’t always live up to that role.

dean tosses samulet.gif

Don’t get me started on where the Samulet has been since Dean trashed it (I won’t say since it’s an actual spoiler from this season)…

Sam has been through quite a lot, and he hasn’t always made the best choices, but getting to go through his journey again is showing me so much to Sam I’ve never noticed before. I’m also seeing HUGE ways that Sam is basically a shaggy-haired version of John Winchester. I know they say Sam is like John in the series, but I hadn’t picked up on the similarities my first watch through (which makes sense since all we really get of John for most of the first season is coordinates and sketchy voicemails). Sam starts the series with that monomaniacal drive to get Jess’ killer that John had, and we see him continue that singular focus throughout the series (though I’d argue that Sam loses John’s less desirable qualities as the series continues). Obviously, I’m only five episodes into my re-watch, but I can’t wait to see what else I see for the first time.

Have you re-watched Supernatural recently? What new things are you learning? Are you a Sam girl or a Dean girl, and why? Let’s talk about it in the comments! 

Supernatural Pi Day Marathon

It’s Pi Day (March 14…3.14…get it? Math humor, it’s a thing, y’all). So in honor of this special day, I’ve made a list of Supernatural episodes to watch in celebration of this mathtastic and deserterific day. After, all, we know how Dean feels about pie.

love me some pie.gif

Episode 1.11: “Scarecrow”

apple pie

This is an early episode of Supernatural, so it’s firmly planted in their urban legend phase. The episode centers around the boys investigating several disappearances in the same spot on a highway. Turns out a creepy town in Indiana has been kidnapping travelers and sacrificing them in exchange for a bountiful apple harvest–which they put in their world-famous apple pies. Ultimately, they take Dean as a sacrifice, and we see him do something he never does–profane the name of pie.

Episode 4.02: “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester”

dean winchester

This episode comes right on the tail of Dean meeting Cas for the first time. Sam gives Dean loads of homework to do in order to research the existence of angels, and Dean demands pie. Unfortunately, while Sam is out retrieving the pie, Sam meets Ruby who freaks him out about the possibility of angels existing, and Sam forgets to bring Dean pie. Oh yeah, and Sam, Dean, and Bobby get trapped in a house with with Witnesses who simultaneously herald the apocalypse and try to kill the three of them. Nbd.

Episode 5.16: “Dark Side of the Moon”

mary winchester
Your pie too sweet? Maybe add a bit of SALT FROM YOUR TEARS when you watch this episode. After getting shot by two hunters who are nervous about what power Sam holds, Sam and Dean find themselves in heaven. The entire episode is an emotional wreck as we see the memories Dean valued versus the memories Sam valued (hint: Sam’s most treasured memories were spent away from Dean and John). One of Dean’s memories includes mom offering him some pie. If the realization that Dean’s obsession with pie likely comes from missing his mom isn’t enough to break your heart, this episode is also where Dean drops the Samulet in the trash after Joshua tells them it won’t help them locate God.

Episode 7.3 “The Girl Next Door”

cake isnt pie.gif

This is the episode where Sam learns a very important lesson–cake isn’t pie. Sam also learns an important lesson about being honest with Dean about his childhood crushes that are also monsters. When Dean realizes that Sam has known a kitsune with blood on her hands for years–and let her live–Dean ultimately tracks the girl, called Amy Pond (and played by Jewel Staite!!!), and kills her.

Episode 8.22: “Clip Show”

need pie.gif

This episode actually doesn’t have Dean directly interacting with pie. Instead, it’s Cas attempting to buy Dean pie. Cas has been acting sketchy, running around, losing the angel tablet, and getting injured. Dean’s super angry, and Cas tries to make amends by going on a supply run. Unfortunately, the store is out of pie, and Cas simply can’t accept it. And Sam and Dean learn about curing a demon, Sam is feeling worse after starting The Trials…blah, blah, blah. The real hero of this episode is the missing pie.

What are some of your favorite Supernatural episodes with pie in them? Let me know in the comments, and tell me about your Pi Day celebrations!

Supernatural Returns Tonight: Prepare Your Fangirl Hearts for The Cage, The Darkness, Sam and Luci, and Dean and Amara

Supernatural is back tonight, and it’s not a moment too soon. The mid-season finale was INSANE and left me INCREDIBLY concerned for Sam’s safety

…I suppose now’s a good time to warn those who aren’t caught up on Supernatural: SPOILER. ALERT. 

Alright, everyone here okay with talking Supernatural season 11 part 1 spoilers? Well then…

dean

We left both Sam and Dean in rather precarious positions at the winter finale. Dean was with Amara, and by with Amara I definitely mean with Amara…

dean amara.gif

Seriously, first Sam and Ruby and now Dean and Amara? These boys suck at finding nice girls…

Okay, to be fair it’s not like Dean is head over heels in love with Amara, but the two of them definitely have a connection. While Amara is the one who does the big talk of “we’ll become one”,  Dean does a lot of posturing as though he plans to kill her, but he never actually does–and not for lack of opportunity. He’s had quite a few chances to kill Amara, but he’s never actually done it. In fact, in the moment that leads up to their kiss, Dean tries to stab Amara and doesn’t–they make out a little instead. Just as we’re trying to figure out if we want or should start shipping Dean and Amara (Damara? Deara?), and while we try to ignore the parallels to Sam getting with Ruby while Dean was in hell, Amara is attacked by a group of angels. She wipes them out fairly quickly, but then realizes that the angels have another plan of attack. Every single angel smites her at the same time, but before we know if the attack is successful or not (I’m gonna guess not since we still have an entire half of the season), Amara zaps Dean to safety. I guess you can’t say that The Darkness isn’t loyal.

Dean’s situation with The Darkness is certainly heavy, and her presence on earth has wreaked quite a lot of havoc. However, the big mid-season cliffhanger had to do with Sam. Ever since the boys unleashed The Darkness, Sam has felt a calling from someone–someone who Sam believes can truly help them defeat The Darkness. Of course, the visions Sam had weren’t always great. While he had a vision that he was speaking with a young version of his father (because Jeffrey Dean Morgan is busy being the Worst Person In the World over on The Walking Dead), he’s also had pretty vivid visions of his time in The Cage. While I was stoked to hear mention of The Cage again–especially because I thought it might mean we get a clear answer on what’s up with poor Adam–it didn’t take long for Sam to decide that 1) the visions were from God, and 2) the visions meant he needed to return to The Cage. Of course Dean was NOT on board with this “visit The Cage” plan, but since he was busy snogging The Darkness, he wasn’t around to smack some sense into Sam. Instead, Sam finds Crowley and Rowena, and they work to bring Lucifer up for a bit of a chat to see if he’ll be willing to help them defeat The Darkness.

Can I just stop and say, if the King of Hell and his mom think your plan to visit the Devil in hell-prison is a good plan, FIND ANOTHER PLAN.

But I digress…

Of course, things don’t go as planned, and it turns out that not only are the visions from Lucifer, not God, but he manages to snag Sam and lock him back in The Cage (where Adam and/or Michael is noticeably absent, but whatevs). That’s how we were left. Merry Christmas, kids, Sammy’s back in The Cage. Happily, the wait is over and the show returns today. I don’t know about you, but I’m really hoping Sammy’s second tour of The Cage is about as short as the so-called “year of the Deanmon” which actually turned out to be approximately three episodes. However, I really fear that Sam will have to wait it out in The Cage a bit longer so Dean can do his worried brother thing and fight to get Sam out of hell. Here’s Jeremy Carver talking a bit about the second half of the season:

So what do I want out of the mid-season premiere?

First off, I want a clear answer on Amara’s fate. If she’s dead–which I highly doubt–then I want to know what is going to happen now. Does life just go back to normal? Are there any aftershocks from her death? Of course in the highly likely event that she isn’t dead, I want to know what she’s going to do now. I also really want to know how she can be killed. If the biggest angel smiting in the history of the world doesn’t get her, I highly doubt that anything like Dean’s demon blade or an angel blade will be able to get her.

I also want to understand more about Dean’s relationship to Amara. She’s been going on and on about how she is bound to Dean, but apart from her bearing the mark and Dean inadvertently freeing her (though, if we want to get technical, wasn’t it really Sam and Rowena who freed her since they were working on the spell?) I’m not sure how they’re connected. She’s clearly got plans for Dean, and I want to know what they are. I’m super nervous about what could be in store for him.

I also want to understand what is really in store for Sam. Okay, so Lucifer has him in The Cage, and he plans to use Sam as a vessel to get out of hell. So what does that mean for Sam? Not that hell is the best place to spend a weekend, but it’s gotta be more low key without Lucifer around to torture him, right? Ultimately we know Sam will manage to be rescued somehow, but I really want to understand what’s in store for him in the meantime.

Will we see Adam? Like I said, the cage was very noticeably lacking any signs of Adam, so it’s safe to say we won’t see him again. Still, I really hope they at least tell us what happened to him so we can finally get some closure on his story.

What’s the deal with the Reapers? Okay, we probably won’t hear about this in the mid-season premiere, but I just want to go on record that I haven’t forgotten about this and I want more info. I was super freaked out by the Reaper who told Sam that, since Death is dead, any time a Winchester dies they’ll not only be dead for good, but they’ll be “lost” forever. That isn’t true, right? The Winchesters won’t die and have their souls lost by the Reapers, right? Once The Darkness is taken care of, the natural order of things will be restored, right? RIGHT?!?

Happily, we won’t have to wait much longer for some of our answers since Supernatural comes back tonight. Take a peek of an extended trailer for the mid-season premiere:

What questions do you have about the second half of the season? What are your theories on Sam in The Cage, Adam, The Darkness, and Dean and Amara? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to tune in to Supernatural tonight–as well as the premiere of the amazing new show, Legends of Tomorrow–on the CW!

First Look at the Supernatural Premiere!!!

Supernatural premieres next week, friends!!!

jensen excited

It’s time to get excited–and probably a tad bit concerned–about what the HECK is going on now that the Darkness has been released. To help get you into the fall premiere spirit, take a peek at this first look into season 11. Enjoy!

Got any initial theories? Let me know what you think in the comments, and be sure to catch the Supernatural season 11 premiere on Wednesday, October 7, 9/8c on the CW! 

Geeky Travel: You Stay Weird, Austin

When I started college, I kicked off my journey towards higher education at a university in the tiny town of Abilene, Texas. It’s not the biggest town in the world, and is crammed full of college kids attending one of the three universities in the city, or military families living at Dyess Air Force Base. Like most small-ish towns in west Texas, there wasn’t a lot to do there. To play off of that sleepy reputation, a local coffee shop called Monks started selling shirts that were emblazened with the phrase “Keep Abilene Boring.” It was funny and cute, and mainly a response to the shirts you’d see many Austin-ites wearing around town that said “Keep Austin Weird”.

I had a “Keep Abilene Boring” shirt at one time–and now that I think of it, I have literally no clue what happened to it–but I was always so mystified with the Austin version. What made Austin so wonderfully weird that locals and tourists literally wore articles of clothing praising its weirdness? Well, last weekend I got to witness Austin’s wonderful weirdness first hand–at least, I got to see a portion of it.

Several of my in-laws live in Austin, so this trip was long overdue. Last weekend, we finally made the journey to the weirdest city in Texas to watch my husband’s cousin marry the girl of his dreams. The wedding was lovely, of course, and they had fun little infusions of geek and pop culture, which I loved. They used songs from both The Princess Bride and Star Wars in the ceremony, and they had this fantastic cake-topper:

photo 3

But in addition to the wedding festivities, we also packed a few extra days into our trip to make sure we could really experience what the city had to offer. I had a few plans, but left most of the trip unplanned so we could sort of go wherever the Austin winds took us. I didn’t want to try to fit every single Austin sight into this one trip, and I figured if we planned out every moment we wouldn’t get to actually enjoy the trip, instead we’d be too focused on seeing ALL THE THINGS. So while we didn’t see everything Austin had to offer–and we also spent a day in San Antonio visiting family, seeing my old house and school, remembering the Alamo, and eating Mexican food on the River Walk–we did get to see some pretty great stuff. Here were some of the highlights:

EMERALD TAVERN GAMES & CAFE

Unbeknownst to us, Emerald Tavern was within a few minutes from our hotel. Because of this, we spent quite a bit of time here. The atmosphere was great (loved the section dedicated to Tabletop), the staff was friendly, and they tons of demo games you could play as you sipped your coffee. It made Emerald Tavern SUCH a rad place to lose a few hours. We also played a new card game called Gloom.

Gloom

This game is ridiculous, and a ton of fun. The object is simple: make your family suffer terrible (and ridiculous) fates, until they finally experience the sweet relief of death. I know. It doesn’t sound like a fun and hilarious game, but it totally was. Pick yourself up a copy–you won’t regret it.

GAME OVER VIDEOGAMES

Game Over

This place was great–and like Emerald, it wasn’t too far from our hotel. Game Over had TONS of games to browse–even Atari games–and a few demos you could play. It was tough to not buy any game that sounded interesting for our N64 and our Nintendo NES–I mean, where else can you find a store filled with games for those consoles–but we managed to resist. I did, however, walk out with a copy of Fable II for my 360. I just couldn’t help myself.

DRAGON’S LAIR COMICS & FANTASY

photo (1)

Another one very close to our hotel–which, the hotel’s proximity to so many fun places was a total accident–was Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy. This place is a comic book store, a game store, and as well as a “geek miscellany” store. Collectibles, clothes, and cosplay makeup? You name it, and these guys probably carry it. This was another one that had a cool section devoted to Tabletop decorated with tiny Wil Wheaton dolls, which almost made it feel a bit more like a Wheaton shrine than anything else. These guys also had several demo games you could try out in-store in addition to the TONS of shiny things you could look at and buy. We didn’t spend as much time here as we did Emerald (no coffee at Dragon’s Lair, so, you know…), but the store was AMAZING and made us wish we had something like it back home.

UNCOMMON OBJECTS

uncommon objects

This store was AMAZING. I have never been in an antique/thrift store like this one. Not only did Uncommon Objects have your normal antique fare like china, phones, and books, it also had totally random stuff like pictures (I came thisclose to buying a creepy picture of two Victorian ladies standing on a fence that looked like they were actually levitating), medical slides (from the cellular-level stuff to gross decomposing bodies), deeds, and really anything else a person from the past would have used. There was SO MUCH to look at, and I wish I could show you some of the magic that I saw, but they had a no photography rule. While I’m sure I could have snuck a photo or two in, I decided not to rock the boat. #RuleFollower. But seriously, this store was the COOLEST, weirdest store I’ve ever been in. Loved it.

Austin MISCELLANY

photo 4 (1)

Of course, we also just walked around and enjoyed the city. We ate on Lake Austin, we explored downtown, we played at a video arcade in a shopping center ominously named The Domain, and we checked out the shops Congress Avenue.

photo 5

We only saw a fraction of Austin, to be certain, but I LOVED what we got to experience. The city has so much culture and life, and it felt like every place we went had a bit of a different flavor to it. Really, the only thing that could have made the trip more exciting would have been getting a Jared Padalecki or Jensen Ackles sighting out of it (they were at VanCon that weekend). Celeb sightings or not, this city is fantastic, and it was as wonderfully weird as I hoped. You’re my new favorite, Austin. I can’t wait to go back.

Have you been to Austin? What’s your favorite thing to see there? Where have you traveled lately? Tell me about it in the comments! 

All photos copyright Kendall Ashley

Why You Should Totally Support Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting Campaign

If you’ve been around the Supernatural fandom for the past few months, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “always keep fighting” tossed around. I even mentioned it in one of my recap posts from this year’s San Diego Comic Con. So what’s the deal with it, and why should you care?

sam shrug

Well, I’ll tell you, shrugging Sammy. What is Always Keep Fighting? Essentially, its a campaign Jared started to raise money and awareness for mental illness. After dealing with his own struggles with depression and losing friends to suicide, Jared decided–with the helpful urging from his buddy and everyone’s favorite activist vigilante, Stephen Amell–to make some positive changes in the world. So in a similar style to Amell’s crazy-successful campaign to fight cancer, Jared did a tee-shirt campaign with the slogan “Always Keep Fighting” for mental illness. In fact, he did a couple round of campaigns, selling a shirt with just Jared on it, and one with Jared and Jensen Ackles, which was lovely.

moose and squirrel 1

moose and squirrel 2

*heart eyes*

Of course, it wasn’t too long after this campaign that Jared himself sent up red sparks, asking for support from the Supernatural family…

While the entire fandom was intensely worried about Jared–especially since he had been so open with his own struggles with depression–he set a really great example for his fans, showing them it’s okay to admit when you’re overwhelmed, ask for help when you need it, and take care of yourself. Basically? He showed them how to always keep fighting. Because the Supernatural fandom is great, everyone offered Jared the support and love he asked for, and when he showed up at San Diego Comic Con this year, the crowd held up candles to give him a visual of how much he was cared for.

Always Keep Fighting

The gesture didn’t only move him, but it also seems to have inspired his next campaign:

On his birthday, Jared launched a third Always Keep Fighting campaign with this shirt design, that included a wink to the SDCC candles:
Always Keep FightingSo sure, that’s all great, but why should you care? Why should you go out and buy a shirt from some random dude from the CW. Maybe you’re even a Supernatural fan, but you just don’t really get all of the excitement.

Always Keep Fighting is a big deal because it is shedding some much-needed light on mental illness. There are so many of us struggling with anything from addiction to mild depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders, PTSD, severe depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, and other mental illnesses. Unfortunately, there’s often a significant amount of stigma that goes along with mental illness, so it’s not uncommon for people to go untreated, suffer in silence, or decide that it’s too big of a fight. Jared’s campaign, along with his own personal narrative, is showing people that they aren’t alone in their fight, it’s okay–and good!–to seek help, and that every day is always worth fighting for.

I’ll be honest, y’all. I love Jared and I love Supernatural, but I’ve not really had the desire to have a shirt with a celebrity’s face on it since middle school (for those curious, my last shirt with a celeb face on it was a Hanson tee). So I haven’t bought a shirt yet for that very reason. However, what these shirts represent are far greater than just a fandom or hero worship. These Always Keep Fighting shirts are reminders to each of us to keep pushing, even when things are unbearably difficult. They are reminders that we’re not alone, and its also a sort of beacon to reach out to one another when we’re out and about in public. It’s also hella perfect for cons, but that’s a different story… So why should you care about and join in on the Always Keep Fighting campaign? Because it’s more than just fandom, it’s about supporting and loving each other. After all, remember:

family

I’ve bought my Always Keep Fighting shirt. Be sure to buy one for yourself if you haven’t done that yet, and let me know what the campaign means to you in the comments! 

Everyday Cosplay: Everyday Team Free Will

I’ve seen a lot of outfits that are Castiel, Sam, or Dean-inspired, but since their looks are largely modern, it’s tough to not want to just copy-and-paste their outfits. So I decided to create some everday cosplay looks inspired by Team Free Will, with a bit of a different take on what you normally see for Cas, Sam, and Dean outfits. Take a peek!

Disclaimer: I am well aware that the messenger bag I’ve included with the Cas outfit is inspired by Daryl Dixon’s vest, and has nothing to do with Castiel or Supernatural. However, the rough-looking angel wings were just too perfect for Cas for me not to include here. I also included FBI badge wallets for the boys, because it’s always good to be prepared. 
Everyday Castiel

Everyday Sam Winchester
Everyday Dean Winchester
What do you think of these looks? How have you brought your fandom into your everyday wardrobe? Let me know in the comments!