Sunday, November 30, 2014

What I'm Thankful For - 2014

November comes to an end once again, and again I'm in an introspective mood. Thanksgiving was a few days back and every year around this time, I write down what I've been thankful for during the past year.

I think the only big thing I can be thankful for this year is life.

Yeah, kinda like that. I'm just thankful to be alive, I guess. This whole year I've had to deal with a lot of death.

An aunt and an uncle passed away within two weeks of each other back in July, the aunt from complications of various illnesses, and the uncle was a suicide. A very good friend and fraternity brother of mine also died unexpectedly in October, too. And that's not even counting all the deaths of people I knew vicariously; Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins you name it all decided to croak this year.

That's not counting all of the people in the public eye that passed recently like JewWario, Joan Rivers, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, James Avery, Jan Hooks, Don Pardo, the guy who played Doc on Fraggle Rock, but especially Robin Williams. That one came between the aunt and the uncle and that hit me pretty hard. I never knew the guy, of course, but he was just one of those people you never thought would go away, especially the way he did.

I guess that's true for all deaths, really. You're always surprised when they go. You're like "Really? HIM?! How?!" You're so used to these people being in your life, and no one knows what to do when they leave.

But all of those people, whether you actually knew them or not, taught you to value life. You remember how much better your life was for knowing that they were there, right?

And let's not count out all the people that are still here. Your family, your friends, the people you work with, everyone you've ever sent a message to (online or not), that jerk that cut you off in traffic today, even random people you meet on line at Comic-Con. They are all important to you for knowing them, just as you are to them. Each person makes every other person value life in their own way, the good or the bad. And it makes their (and your) inevitable exit that much harder.

But when they're here now? That's all golden. I want to be here as long as I can, and I'm happy to be here. I want to do more cool things next year that I did this year. I went to Comic-Con, Las Vegas, got to meet LeVar Burton, and I even went to The End of the World (okay, just Long Island).

It's quite a contrast from this time last year (and other years) when I was depressed and had thoughts about ending it. But the deaths, the people I know now, and even going to therapy (yeah, I do that now) pretty much changed that perspective for me.

And that's why I'm thankful for life. I'm not done yet, and I want to make your life the best that I can make it, as long as you're willing to do the same for me.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween and NYCC 2014!

Looks like Halloween is upon us yet again and that means costumes! If you remember last year (I certainly don't), I posted a collection of my favorite cosplays from New York Comic-Con.

And this year shall be no different, as I went to NYCC this year and saw lots of great cosplayers! And what's an even bigger trip was that for every Cosplayer I got pictures of, there were at least five I never even know were walking around. 

Like, I didn't get to see this guy, Ronald McThor: 

Not my pic

See, awesome, and I had no idea he was even walking around. The Javits Center is a big place, folks. 

But here's a good list of people I did see!

This was the first one I spotted, Jonah Hex. I thought to myself "I hope I see cosplays that are just as good!" Oh, you bet I did.

Because of that new show about Green Arrow, characters featured on there like Deathstroke became popular Cosplay choices this year. And a guy like Deatstroke finally getting his due just warms my heart, just look at how badass he is. And he had an equally awesome Red Hood in tow.

See, here's one of many, many Green Arrow cosplayers I saw that weekend. Lots of Green Arrow characters were represented: Classic, Arrow version, Speedy, Artemis. 

And Lady Deathstroke, looking amazing. She looks like she can kick my ass and I'd be just fine with that.

Link, and Legend of Zelda in general were also popular. I saw at least two Tetras walking around. Seriously, Tetra.

This Link was one of my favorites because he had an actual Navi hanging off his shoulder, it lit up and everything.

But here's a Link with a human Navi. Definitely a unique choice.

Since Smash Bros came out on 3DS earlier in the month, almost every character that appeared in that game was represented at least once. I don't know why it was so popular, but this was one of at least three Fox and Falco pairs I saw.

Little Mac, pink sweats and all, ready to kick (or punch) some ass.

You wouldn't dress as Captain Olimar unless you were part of a Smash Bros group.

Or Ike from Fire Emblem.

This Pokemon trainer shares his pain (and was a totally great guy to chat with).

I don't know what I'm more impressed by: that someone dressed up as Dr. Mario or that this wasn't the only one I saw.

Want a pic of a good cosplayer? Too bad, Waluigi time!

Holy crap it's a Skull Kid (as seen in Majora's Mask)! I was half-tempted to steal the mask for myself, but I know that wouldn't end well for me.

Seriously, someone dressed as R.O.B. Seriously. This was a female too, so now I have thoughts of "stupid sexy R.O.B." floating through my head.

Another popular choice this time was Guardiabs of The Galaxy. You'd think Star-Lord would be the most popular (and he was), but I was surprised to see all of the Rocket Raccoons of various quality. Different heights, genders, and makeup vs actual fursuits were all seen here. But for some reason I didn't see a single Drax. 

But I did see a great Groot. There was also a baby Groot in its pot walking around but it looks like I didn't get a pic with that one.

I love the originality of this one. Almost makes me forget that I was traumatized by Gremlins at age five.

This Zangief was a really friendly guy,

Powdered Toast Man! With a Quailman, too!

And here's the other, better Powdered Toast Man I saw the same day I saw the first one. He demanded that I grabbed onto his buttocks (both of them?!).

So many Thors, but there was only one Beta Ray Bill. 

I didn't know who this guy was supposed to be but he was awesome.

I asked these guys if George Clooney's Batman was worse than a Batman we haven't seen yet. It was an easy way to shut them up.

Gotta love Calvin & Hobbes.

This was one of my favorites, Dark Helmet from Spaceballs! He even had the Schwartz ring!

And here he is without the mask. He had a really good Barf with him, but I didn't catch that one.

Totally badass Swamp Thing with one of several Poison Ivy cosplayers. I certainly saw more Ivy cosplayers than Harley Quinn's this year, which was definitely a surprise to me.

And speaking of badass, out of all the Mortal Kombat cosplays I saw, this one's my favorite. That's not Scorpion or Noob Saibot, oh no. That's the human version of Smoke (with a female Ermac as far as I can tell). Definitely going for the obscurity points there.

Lots of great Steven Universe cosplays this year, too. For instance, here's Garnet. 

I couldn't get good pictures of any Amethyst or Pearl cosplayers, but I got a Steven.

And this amazing Opal, a giant four-armed woman that's a fusion of Amethyst and Pearl. She's voiced by Aimee Mann.

Brook from One Piece was another favorite of mine, I just love the effort that was put into this one.

One Piece itself was a VERY popular Cosplay choice, mostly of Luffy (you can see one in the background). I saw the entire Straw Hat crew with the exception of Franky. Probably like Drax, people that share his body type tend not to go to conventions.

Yes, I did see an Usopp, long nose and all, but didn't take a pic of him. Nor did I get any of the Zoro cosplayers and there were some really good female ones that pulled it off really well. Also caught a few Choppers and I can say that it's really creepy to see a full grown man dress up like a three foot tall reindeer person.

If anyone out there remembers the clusterfuck that was Dashcon, this guy went as the infamous ball pit. Pretty sure you'd catch hepatitis from those balls, just like the real thing.

It was cool to run into this guy again. If you recall, he was Inspector Gadget last year with the giant helicopter.

Dude was tall, like around seven feet or something. I might be exaggerating but the guy was taller than anyone else I saw.

Except maybe Sauron who was easily eight feet tall, but he was clearly wearing lifts.

I can't talk about cosplayers without bringing up Deadpool. 

So. Many. Deadpools. That's not even close to all of them, you can easily find videos of about twenty of them having an impromptu dance party, or the Chimichanga Conga Line. 

Here's my friend Rob as Real-Life Peter Griffin! Man was he popular, I talked to several people that were either excited to meet him, wanting to meet him, or sad that they didn't see him.

Did I mention that I came face to face with Triumph The Insult Comic Dog? Because that totally happened. He was filming his new Adult Swim show with Jack McBrayer, seen here:

Not the most flattering picture of one of the nicest guys in the world, but when he's standing three feet away you'll take whatever angle you can get.

Captain Cold rocking the parka. I love those goggles so much. That's a bit of Jack Kirby's art that I feel is never touched upon.

Definitely gets one of the top spots on my favorite list this year. I have to applaud the originality and commitment of cosplaying as Tetris blocks. I have no idea how they got through the doors but they did anyway. They're such little troopers.

Interesting to note that there was an I block Cosplayer with them but he wasn't there with the others at the time.

Now the one is by far my favorite one I saw this year. Originality, the awesome quality of the costume, plus obscurity points galore. Captain Melonhead from Ed, Edd n Eddy was one of the last characters I expected to see at this convention, but here we are, with Plank and everything.

Doesn't hurt at all if this one's easy on the eyes. It's one of those weird feelings since Captain Melonhead was the alter-ego of Johnny 2x4, the resident weird kid of the show.

And this looks like a good place to end things. This isn't even close to all the free stuff I saw, but I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my life.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

At The End of The World

It's been a heck of a summer, folks. I lost two different relatives over the span of two weeks in July and it's taken me a while to get over that.

Since then I've finally done what I've been meaning to do and go into therapy. It's been going pretty good so far and one of the things I got off my chest was my desire to travel., run away from my life, just not being here. And back in August I did just that.

As you might remember, I live on Long Island and I decided that the perfect one day getaway was Montauk Point, the easternmost point on the Island.

But to get to what is known as The End, I had to drive through 2 1/2 hours of an unfamiliar part of the island. You see, I had not been that Far East since I was a young child so as I drove through southern fork of Long Island I would've sworn I went to other parts of the country, let alone part of an island.

Seriously, the journey from here to there looked like this: Suburbs > Forest > Farmland > More Forest > Suburbs > More farms > Wineries > New England > Even More Forest > Beaches > End of the world.

"New England" describes that weird creature known as The Hamptons. Tiny cars and expensive stores as far as the eye can see. Frankly there was too much khaki and collared shirts for my taste. 

And that's not even getting into neighboring town called Wainscott, which is a Native American term meaning "This is where white people come from." I saw actual garden parties going on! Some inside upscale stores that had more windows than shelves. I thought those only existed in movies, but I learned something that day.

I took a quick detour in South Hampton to look around and I kept having anxiety attacks over a cop for being too poor for this part of Lobg Island.

Remember, I look like this: 

So you can imagine my disappointment when nobody really have a crap that I was wearing a Legend of Zelda tshirt and denim shorts. 

I also ate lunch at a place called Townline Barbecue, which gets on lots of those "Best of Long Island" lists.

I'll be the judge of that.

While it looks good, I must confess that none of what you see there had any flavor. It was moist and a nice, tender texture, but that's it. I couldn't taste anything. The ribs you see there were covered with a spice rub that was admittedly pretty good, but I'd expect that they'd have no flavor either of it wasn't rubbed.

It sure explains all the bottles of sauce that's at every table. You're going to need them.

But enough about that, time to see Montauk Point and its famous lighthouse.

I've gotten lots of compliments for this photo. You really couldn't ask for a more perfect day to look at this thing. Let's get closer, shall we?

Inside that house is a museum about the lighthouse and the history of the surrounding area. It's a pretty neat walk around. 

There used to be much more land, but erosion made the point much smaller. But let's look at the pretty surroundings. 

Those bluffs look so much bigger in person, pictures don't really do it justice. That big tower that you see in the middle of the second picture belongs to the infamous Montauk Laboratory, home to several weird projects that I'm not going to go further into in case anyone from the NSA is reading this. Hey, Carl. Nothing to see here.

Click to embiggen
Here's what the view from the top of the lighthouse looks like. Again, an amazing day. 

Here's the guestbook I signed. I thought I climbed it when I was younger but it turns out I just looked at it. It's a scary ass climb up there, lemme tell you. I actually hugged the ground the second I got out of the lighthouse. I just don't trust a steep flight of stairs held up only by a thin rope.

And here you have it, The End. Beyond that sign is a long long drop into the Atlantic Ocean. You can't get more east than that, guys. I hope you enjoyed this little travelogue, and I hope to bring you more in the future.