Nerd in the City Book Club is on Goodreads

Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out in theaters, I attempted to make my way through the old canon of Expanded Universe materials. But since I only started in January of last year, I didn’t get very far. There is just so much to get through and I am a slow reader. I like to take my time with books and really live in them for a little while.

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So…my mission failed.

But I will not be discouraged by my lack of accomplishment. Instead I will embark on a new endeavor and I want you to come along for the ride. Over on Goodreads, I’ve started a Nerd in the City book club. 1 book a month…totally doable. And we are starting with The Phantom Menace novelization, which is the first canon book according to the Disney Reading Group.

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I know…it’s not original canon. And I know that some of you are still stinging from the pain of the disbanding of it. My very own cousin, Wesley, refuses to read any of the new stuff in solidarity with George Lucas’ vision for the Star Wars Universe.

But, reader…the past is the past. It’s time to move forward. The old canon isn’t going anywhere and if you happen to have about 15 years on your hands in the future, then you should definitely dive right in. I intend to finish that mission one day, when I’m old and gray and have nothing but time.

As for right now, I want to prepare myself for Star Wars: Episode VIII which will be released in December of 2017. If my calculations are correct and barring any unforeseen book releases, if we start reading The Phantom Menace in February, we should be reading The Force Awakens novelization by November 2017 which is complete perfection. What a great way to immerse in the SWU while we suffer the pain of waiting for the next movie. (Pain may be a bit strong.)

Anyways…the invitation is open. The virtual cookies have been baked and my virtual living room is very comfortable. So I hope you bring a friend!

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The Redemption of Kylo Ren

The question on everyone’s mind lately… “Is Kylo Ren Redeemable?” or as my guest blogger Michael Burgett queried yesterday: “Will Kylo Ren Be Redeemed?” If that question is not on your mind, then you just haven’t seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens enough! Go watch it again and then we can talk!

Reader, you know me by now. I’ve shared many an embarrassing story with you. I’ve told you about my dates and about my family and about my hopes and my dreams. I believe that you truly know me, in all my pie-in-the-sky optimism. So, of course, my answer to both the aforementioned questions would be yes. Yes, Kylo is redeemable and yes, he will be redeemed. In fact, I’d go further and say it is merely a matter of time till he is redeemed. And it is one scene in particular that gives me this hope for the son of Han Solo to find his way back to the Light.

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Han is leaving the Rebel base to go destroy Starkiller and confront his son who has turned so far from the path that Han, Leia and Luke had wanted for him. Leia and Han share a tender moment of goodbye, not knowing that it would be their last moment together. Leia says to Han “there is Light in him.” And as we know, this is a strong theme in the Star Wars universe. The presence of Light is more than just a touch of the good side…it is hope. Padme felt the Light in Anakin. Luke felt the Light in Darth Vader. That pull to the Light is a powerful feeling.

Often it is the Dark side that is given all the strength of power. And in the past we have witnessed the pull from the Light to the Dark in Anakin’s journey. Kylo’s journey, for us, starts out in the Dark with that sliver of Light still shining inside him. Light that he is desperate to eradicate and turn from.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. All that Light talk happened before Kylo kills his own father, our beloved Han Solo. Tell me something…does one deplorable act completely erase your humanity? Some might say yes, but I say no. (It’s a different story when it comes to the Emperor. Ask me about it sometime!) Kylo is still Leia’s son. And in the end if when Kylo comes back to the Light side, he will have to fully feel his actions on Starkiller base. The Dark side allows you to cloud your true feelings and boil them down into pure anger. But as any person who has experienced anger knows, there’s usually something else going on underneath it. And Supreme Commander Snoke knows this. He is pulling Kylo’s strings the way Emperor Palpatine pulled Anakin’s. The Dark side is manipulation and lies.

Now, I really like the point that Michael in his article yesterday. If this were just a villain, like Darth Vader was back in 1977, then we wouldn’t be having this argument. We don’t argue whether Hannibal Lecter will be redeemed or if Lord Voldemort will come back to the side of good wizardry in the end. But in 1983, when Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas taught us that even a bad guy as bad as Darth Vader himself could find redemption and bring balance to the Force. Let’s not forget that lesson just because Kylo Ren has no prophecy to bring about his redemption.

We, the viewer, had no idea what history lay underneath Vader’s mask till the prequels came out in 1999. With Kylo, we know a little of his history, but none of his motivation. Why did he turn? What drew him to the Darkness? What lies about Darth Vader’s legacy has he been told? And if he finds out the truth about The Chosen One, will that make a difference?

All will be revealed in due time, reader. We may have to wait a few more months than we want to with Episode VIII being pushed from May 2017 to December 2017. But think of how happy your Star Wars friends will be to have another onslaught of delicious merchandise to acquire that Christmas. It’ll be so easy to shop! So in the end, the wait is worth it. And we can continue our speculation up until the very day when the truth is shared with us.

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In the meantime, I invite you to come join my Nerd in the City book club on Goodreads. So much delicious Star Wars Expanded Universe reading material to dive into and dissect!! Do not miss out!

Now What Do You Do?

If you haven’t yet seen Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, then I’d venture to say it’s only a matter of time till you do.

X-Wings Star Wars The Force Awakens recap blog

The biggest pop culture event of all time…even the Muggles want to be a part of this. There’s a lot of new people discovering the wonderful world of Star Wars. Maybe they just never devoted the time to watch all 6 movies before (or 3 if you’re a purist.) Maybe they thought it was kid’s stuff, but now are discovering the truth.

Inevitably they’re gonna reach a point where they’re going to wonder…”Now what?” It always happens after the excitement and fervor of a new movie dies down. It happens to me after binge-watching a show or reading a great book series or watching a new Star Wars movie. It’s hard because all you (I) want to do is immerse in the fictional world you’ve (I’ve) just been a part of. It recently happened to me after watching 4 straight seasons of Scandal. It happened after reading Harry Potter, but nowhere has it hit as hard as with the Star Wars Universe.

So…you’ve seen Star Wars. You’re in what Amazon likes to call a #Showhole. But there’s good news. This is where the fun begins. This is when you can start to discover what we die hard fans have been doing to stay in touch with that galaxy far, far away for years.

It’s called the Expanded Universe and it’s marvelous!

Here’s what you’re gonna do…If you’ve been living in a cave and have just emerged after 12 long years and haven’t had time to take a shower and get yourself to the movie theater quite yet…then Step 1 is pretty clear.

Complete Star Wars Saga. Episode I - VI

And if you haven’t gone back and watched the 6 movies that came before then…actually scratch that other Step 1… this is Step 1.

Star Wars Rebels Disney XD

Next up is the television universe created by Cartoon Network and Disney XD in the form of Clone Wars (seasons 1-6 available on Netflix) and Rebels (season 1 available on Netflix, season 2 currently airing on Disney XD.)

New Expanded Universe Novels by Disney Story Group

After watching all that, go to your local book store and pick up the newest novels in the Expanded Universe: Dark Disciple, Lords of the Sith, Tarkin, A New Dawn, Heir to the Jedi, Aftermath, Lost Stars, etc. These novels start to build the world around what you know and have seen on screen. They fill in the blanks and flesh out the questions. They also allow supporting characters to have rich story lines.

Star Wars Comic Books by Marvel

After you’ve read all that, head to your local comic book store and dive into the Expanded Universe created by Marvel Comics. The comic runs for Star Wars, Lando, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Kanan… The best thing about all this material is that is fits together like one giant puzzle. Each component working with the rest. It’s very impressive!

If you’ve done all that and are still thirsty for more. Go see Episode VII 2 or 3 or 12 more times so you know the dialogue by heart and then…

Go deep or go home.

Star Wars Legends Expanded Universe Timothy Zahn

The Star Wars Universe goes beyond Disney cannon. But I warn you, this step is not for the faint of heart. It involves heart break, misery and long hours reading amazing stories that are now considered mere Legend in the Star Wars Universe.

You wanted more and here it is! Silver platter not included!

5 Fandom Friday

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Fandoms I’m Thankful For

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A time to take stock. A time to examine life. A time to count your blessings. A time to be thankful…for FANDOMS!! These are the ones I’m thankful for:

#1: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. I grew up with Star Wars. It’s the first fandom I remember being crazy about. It makes me think of family. It makes me think of powerful female figures. It makes me think Hubba Hubba Han Solo. It’s the ultimate fandom for this nerdy girl!

#2: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. Ever since the announcement that Disney purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas, I have been counting down the days till the big day. Sure, every Star Wars fan knows that May is the pivotal month for the galaxy far, far away, but I kinda love that we are getting Star Wars for Christmas this year. What can I say, I’m thankful!

#3: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. The Star Wars Universe is a vast and beautiful place. I have been reading books from the expanded universe for many years. So yes, I was initially disappointed that the canon was disbanded. (RIP Mara Jade. You will always be in our hearts!) But I’ve had plenty of time to accept the new Star Wars future. Which now includes brand new expanded universe books. And the beauty is that the old canon books are still highly enjoyable works. Bring on the

#4: Star Wars
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Ok…here’s why. Star Wars brings people together. Don’t believe me? Attend Star Wars Celebration sometime. Read up on the 501st and the charity works that they are involved in. Read the story of Daniel and the petition to allow him an early viewing of The Force Awakens before his death on. When Star Wars fans gather, great things happen, internets are broken and so are records. If you still doubt the power of the Star Wars fan base, just keep an eye on the box office the weekend of December 18th. You’ll feel the Force then, I can promise you that!

#5: Marvel, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, LOST, Star Trek, Flash/ Arrow, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Supergirl, Once Upon A Time, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead…
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Ok…ok! I like a couple other fandoms besides Star Wars and I’m just as grateful for them. When the prospect of Star Wars looms…everything else just pales in comparison. But each of these fandoms (and many more) all have their places in my heart!!

Come countdown to The Force Awakens with me on Instagram. Tag me: @nerdinthesand and use the hashtag: #StarWarsChallenge

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44 Reasons Why It Is Good To Be a Nerd

It is so darn good to be a nerd right now. And if you don’t consider yourself a nerd, let me go ahead and give you your very own, personal invitation. It is never too late to join our tribe.
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We may come off a little strong at first, but we love when people come to the Dark Side (or the Light, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Don’t mistake our passion and zeal for anything other than just that.

Sure…there are trolls. But trust me when I say, we take care of our own! Here are 44 reasons why right now is the time to join us…and together we can rule the fandom!!!
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1. STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (tickets have been purchased!! Internets have been broken. This is the big leagues.)
2. Star Wars Episode VIII (ok we don’t know what it’s called yet, but the script is written and the funds are already designated!)
3. Star Wars Episode IX (we don’t even know who’s directing this one, but trust us…we’ll be there!)
4. Star Wars: Rogue One
5. Rumors of a young Han Solo film (rumors are our bread and butter. Get used to it.)
6.Star Wars Rebels (It’s only on season 2, plenty of time to catch up!)
7. Anything else Star Wars that is in the Disney pipeline. (If you aren’t sensing a trend then there may not be hope for your induction into our society.)
8. Ok…we do like some other things too…try Star Trek (anything with Star in it makes the short list!)
9.New Star Trek TV show in the works
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10. Any and all things Marvel (ie: the next 14 items on the list)
11. Marvel’s Jessica Jones (this one premiers in 7 days so you better catch up and watch all of Daredevil on Netflix stat!)
12. Marvel’s Captain America Civil War (trailer will be dropping very soon.)
13. Marvel’s Doctor Strange
14. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2
15. Marvel’s Spider-Man
16. Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok
17. Marvel’s Black Panther
18. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Part 1
19. Marvel’s Ant Man and the Wasp
20. Marvel’s Captain Marvel
21. Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Part 2
22. Marvel’s Agents of Shield (currently in season 3 on ABC)
23. Marvel’s Agent Carter (season 2 starts in January)
24. Marvel’s Luke Cage and Iron Fist (both coming to Netflix along with season 2 of Daredevil.)
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25. DC has a lot of exciting things coming to our eyeballs soon as well (they just haven’t all earned their own number slot in this nerd’s estimation, but some are worthy like…)
26. DC’s Suicide Squad
27. DC’s Justice League
28. DC’s Arrow (currently in season 3 on The CW)
29. DC’s The Flash (currently in season 2 also on The CW)
30. DC’s Supergirl (kicking major butt in it’s first season on CBS)
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31. The Walking Dead
32. Once Upon a Time
33. Doctor Who
34. Game of Thrones
35. More Jurassic Park
36. Word of more Indiana Jones is in the ether.
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37. A little thing called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (translation: more Harry Potter)
38. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (translation: even more Harry Potter)
39. Netflix and Hulu are making it easier than ever to catch up on your nerd. In my day you had to wait for DVD sets to be released and either rent from Blockbuster (yeah that was a thing) or just spend the $29.99 to own it. You’ve got no excuses anymore! LOST, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Heroes, Supernatural, X-Files they can all be yours!)
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40. Speaking of The X-Files, you better get started cause new X-Files is coming our way in January. Jump on it and believe!
41. Star Wars Battlefront (if you aren’t a gamer yet, why not let Battlefront pull you in!)
42. Any and all things Disney (they make things other than Star Wars and Marvel movies as well. I know…crazy!)
43. Oh, speaking of Star Wars…there is so much amazing expanded universe literature coming out. (Start reading! Reading is cool! There’s a lot to catch up on!)
44. There are plenty of other awesomely nerdy things coming out before and after and in between all that’s listed above. But I’m trying to think past December 17th, 2015 and I’m finding it very hard to do.

Well…you have a lot of homework to do so you better get started now. See you on the other side where I’ll be waiting with your Nerd membership card*. We will engage in an obligatory lightsaber battle and a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. It’s what we do!

*Membership card not guaranteed.

Finding Inspiration

I’m a pretty inspired person. I find inspiration in music. I find it in movies. I find it in books and blogs and friendships and in daily quiet time with God. Out here in California I find it when simply gazing at the sunshiney sky or a perfectly placed palm tree.
But sometimes the well runs dry.
So I made a list of the things that usually help me get my inspirational groove back.

Step 1: Turn to God
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This is usually the first place I turn. I admit, sometimes it takes a back burner in the quest for motivation and inspiration. But it should always be first. My favorite devotions are “My Utmost for the Highest” by Oswald Chambers and “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. I try to do these consistently. When I reach a stagnant moment, I will always have a place to turn.

Step 2: Make a List
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After placing my path back in God’s hands (time and again) I try and list the dreams He’s placed on my heart. The passions that I can’t shake. The “unreasonable,” “unaccomplishable” musings that fill my brain and heart constantly. In list form, they seem much more attainable!

Step 3: Watch any and all Marvel movies
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For some reason the MCU really sparks my imagination! I dream of being a superhero. I dream of saving the world. And after watching Captain America or Avengers, it just seems easier to accomplish.

Step 4: Walk, Run, Jump, Spin
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When I’m in a season of laziness and drought, it’s easy to forget or ignore the things I love most. Happiness doesn’t seem attainable in the darker moments. But I love working out! I really do. I had a guy at Crunch gym, a guy who was trying to sell me on a membership by the way, tell me that people work out to lose weight or gain weight or look better, but never because they love it. To which I responded, that’s nice…show me to my spin class. Cause I love spinning!! The feel of aching muscles, muscles that you may have forgotten existed is what keeps me moving.

Step 5: Read
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In addition to my Bible and my daily devotionals, I love to read biographies and autobiographies of inspiring people. People like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Bobby Kennedy and Mindy Kaling and Ellen Degeneres and Rock Hudson and Felicia Day and Amy Poehler and anyone else who strikes me as an inspiration. Their stories inspire my own.

Step 6: Write
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How can you expect to write about life if you aren’t living one. Staying home and catching up on 11 seasons of Supernatural may lead to some searing pieces about the show, but it won’t give you life experiences or insight into the greater struggle. So do all the other steps on this list and then write it all down. Share your life with people. Or take up a challenge like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) I’ve never written a book in my life…but I’m gonna try it!

How do you stay inspired when inspiration seems lost?

Inspowering

A couple weeks ago, I went to the #WomenofMarvel panel at the Santa Monica Public Library, celebrating the release of Margaret Stohl’s new Black Widow novel, Forever Red.
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(Which if you don’t have yet, you should go purchase immediately!) Also on the panel was a whole passel of kick ass ladies. Ladies who have succeeded in an industry that has long been dominated by men. That is changing. Maybe not as quickly as it should. And certainly not as quickly as some people would like.
But it’s only going to change if diverse, bold, creative, talented women step up and help make that change! And these women are doing and have done that.

So I’ve made up a new word: Inspowering! An inspowering person is equally inspirational and empowering. They speak of dreams as tangible things. They say dream bigger and they actually mean it! They think outside the box…hell, they set the box on fire and called it pretty!
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I aspire to be the kind of kick ass woman who is unafraid to be amazing. Margaret said something that really stuck with me. She said she grew up being told “bloom where you grow.” Meaning…don’t dream beyond your can. And I think I’ve felt this way for a long time, but couldn’t put words to the feeling.

But my quest to be inspowering to others includes listening to that still, small voice that says big dreams aren’t big enough…what else have you got…what else can you do!

Get ready world! This nerd is ready to conquer more than the city!
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My New Favorite Words…

I’d been begging D and H for weeks, to let me read Harry Potter to them. They hemmed. They hawed. They’d heard of Harry Potter, of course. Who hasn’t! But they just weren’t exactly eager to sit still for a chapter a night. However I persisted saying, “You’re gonna love it…I promise!”
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One night they finally relented and allowed me to read one chapter. Just one chapter. Which they fell asleep to. The next night they let me read another chapter and again…they fell asleep.
I was starting to despair. What if they didn’t like it? What if Chapter 2 was as far as we’d ever get? What if they’d never know the magic and wonders waiting for them at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry???
(First world problem…I know!)

But see, one of the great joys of nerdom is sharing favorite fandoms with the next generation. It’s the closest we can get to reading a favorite book or watching a favorite movie all over again, with fresh eyes. The kids had adored Back to the Future, were properly obsessed with all things Star Wars. But at 9 years old, they were the perfect age for Harry’s adventures! I didn’t want to miss this chance to introduce them to J.K.Rowling’s masterpiece.

But I repeat… they weren’t having any of it. Until one morning…right around chapter 5… I came downstairs, as usual. I grabbed my big cup of tea, asked the kids how they slept and what they wanted for breakfast, when D said these musical, magical, new favorite words….
“Lizzie, can we start reading more Harry Potter everyday?”
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I almost dropped my teacup out of pure shock and joy.

“Really?” I said hopefully.
“Yeah!” he said. “Could we even start now? And read this morning before school?”

I’m pretty sure my body did an involuntary, celebratory jig. Best…words…ever spoken by a 9 year old boy to me!!

They’re both hooked (D more than H, but I’ll take what I can get! The girl will get it soon!) They’re waiting with baited breath as we read chapter to chapter. They already love Hagrid, are intrigued by Harry and can’t wait to hear more about Hogwarts. D even said to me,

” Lizzie, you do really good voices. But if you need a goblin voice, I can do it. Cause I’m really good at minion impressions.”

Life is good. The torch is passed and I’m a happy little nerd!!

5 Fandom Friday

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Favorite Things about Halloween

I love Halloween!! What’s not to love?? There’s no better prompt than that for the season of ghouls and goblins! Thanks to The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick for their weekly blogger link up! It’s a favorite part of my Fridays!!

#1: Costumes
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If you’ve been following me for any stretch of time, you’ll know how much I love a good costume. Or costume hair or costume make-up. Dressing up is just so much fun. And an entire day dedicated to the pursuit of the pretend…sign me up! In fact my whole family loves dressing up so much, we decided one costumed holiday wasn’t enough. So now we do it for Christmas too. Why not extend the joy!! (Stay tuned for more about this year’s family Star Trek themed Christmas adventure.)

#2: CANDY
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I have a major sweet tooth. I love Skittles and Starburst and 3 Musketeers bars and chocolate and caramel and sugary sweet substances of all kind! Except those non-distinct orange and black wrapper candies that always end up at the bottom of the candy bucket. The ones you try and convince your younger siblings are the best candies ever invented. (Was that only me??) I don’t eat much candy these days…my dentist would not approve. But I still enjoy the occasional piece of candy. Halloween is the perfect season for a little splurging.

#3: Spooky Decorations
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I need to clarify. I love walking around neighborhoods looking at spooky house decorations. See that waving skeleton up there…that’s as spooky as I can take! I do not enjoy haunted houses and I really hate being scared! Scary movies? Nope. Haunted insane asylum? I steer clear. Creepy abandoned mansion? Never please!
But jolly pumpkins and happy, waving skeletons…yes, I will enjoy that. Thanks you!

#4: Trick or Treaters
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When I was a kid, my great joy of Halloween was going Trick or Treating around the neighborhood with my brother and our little cousin. We lived in a great neighborhood too. One where the street would turn into a block party and where most of the houses gave out full-sized candy bars. One neighbor even baked these amazing oatmeal cookies that we looked forward to every year. Nowadays, I love to stay home with a giant bowl of candy and watch the tiny Trick or Treaters come ask me for candy (just the minis, I’m not made of money!) Tiny Iron Men and adorable Cinderellas. Homemade ghosts and store bought witches. I guess when I was little, I never imagined that it could be fun to be on the other side of the door on Halloween night.

#5: The Inevitable Harry Potter Marathon
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Once a year I dive head first into the wonderful world of Harry Potter. Tis the season for Hogwarts adventures. Witches, wizards, goblins, dementors, etc. Harry Potter was practically made to be enjoyed around Halloween. Makes sense that ABC Family would have their Harry Potter marathon at this time! I look forward to it every year. Sure…i own all the movies. Sure…i can watch them whenever I want. But I absolutely still watch them on ABC Family everytime they’re on!
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(Here’s hoping #Freeform keeps the Harry Potter marathon alive!!)

What are your favorite things about Halloween? Share on social with the hashtag #5Fandom

Check out these other delightfully nerdy bloggers and what they love about Halloween:

The Nerdy Girlie
Super Space Chick
Melificent
The Geeky Burrow
Distracted Blogger
Meghan Sara
Geeky Loot
Cateaclysmic
Dezpresso
Keysmash Blog