Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thankful - 2016

I guess this is that time where I usually write down what I'm thankful for this year. Well, I think we can all agree that 2016 pretty much sucked. But that just means that I have plenty to be thankful for.

1) I'm thankful to be alive. Simple.

2) I'm thankful that I have a job and a roof over my head. My job could pay better, but I'm happy that I have steady employment. And a house to live in.

3) I'm thankful for my car. It's fairly new, it needs new tires, but other than that it won't crap out on me any time soon. Living where I do, I need a car to get, well, anywhere. The fact that I have one in working condition makes me happy.

4) I'm thankful for the Simpsons. Yes, the Simpsons 600 marathon has been running for the past week and I'm sure it's been saving my sanity lately.


Also thankful for: Steven Universe, South Park, The Flash, The Goldbergs, MT3K, Rifftrax, plus Pokemon Sun. Little more than halfway through it and it's one of the best games in the series. There's an actual story here!

5) I'm thankful for my cat. She's a doofus, but she's my doofus. Just look at her.


I can't stay mad at this face.

6) I'm thankful for the weird, odd thing I collect. Either my Transformers, my Disney guidemaps, Funko Pops, Amiibo, whatever. I like the hunt. Lately I've been getting into enamel pins and I really wish I didn't. I picked this one up the other day:


I can't believe that they made a pin for this and I had to get it and I can't believe I bought it.

7) I'm thankful for my friends, family, and you: the readers. You folks are the reason I'm still around, why I do the things I do, why I continue to update here when I'm much more active on Twitter. I keep saying I'll post more but I think we all know that's not gonna happen.

So thank you everyone! I'll see you in December (hopefully before New Year's)

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Anything Can Happen At Comic Con!

I've been going to New York Comic Con for the past five years now, and each year I come home happy, broke and exhausted. From my past experiences, the best part about NYCC is just how BIG it is. It attracts nerds of all colors, sizes, and fandoms. And with a crowd this massive, you don't know what you'll find or see or do at this convention. This entry, dear readers, is dedicated to the crazy, random crap I saw at this year's con.


Starting with this giant bin full of dice I found at booth run by something called "Dude Games." It was a booth that ONLY sold dice. Traditional six sided dice, dice with odd numbered sides, really huge, expensive dice made from gems. And of course, your D20s. The centerpiece was that huge bin you see above. It was a hell of a deal: 50 cents per die, or $15 or $20 if you want a small or large scoopful. The few times I passed by it, it was swarming with people. Some were choosing which dice they wanted, others were pretty much going all Scrooge McDuck on it. And I would have as well, if I wasn't concerned with all the germs that thousands of dice in a bin touched by thousands of people held.


Still, I stuck my hand in and pulled out the first D20 I found, because for years I seriously wanted my own D20. It's a lame dream, I knowm but I finally have one. The other die was from a "just stick my hand in and buy whatever I pull out." I'll admit I'm not a fan of six-sided dice with the numbers actually written on them, but I like how it looks.


Only at NYCC can you find a TMNT arcade cabinet made out of wood. $425, but it looked really cool.



And speaking of TMNT, I went to the annual panel at the Hammerstein Ballroom. It was a great time, most of the cast was there and previewed some upcoming episodes (Super Shredder!) As you can see above, the wrestler Sting just happened to show up near the end. You see, they announced WWE crossover figures in the vein of the old Star Trek crossover figures from long ago.

 Leo was John Cena (because they're the lame ones), Mikey was Macho Man (awesome), Donnie was Undertaker (strange, but my favorite turtle as one of my favorite wrestlers is an automatic love for me), and Raph's figure had him dressed as Sting. And naturally, they brought him in as a surprise, entrance music and all, to do his thing and express his love for the turtles.

Of course we all ate this up, but it made the panel end about 20 minutes later than scheduled, so I had to utter the phrase "Sorry I'm late, the Ninja Turtle panel ran long because Sting showed up" to multiple people. Worth it.


Here's a neat prayer candle I picked up from a booth selling all kinds of merch of various pop culture "Saints." The Dude of course was there, as were Scully & Mulder and Jules from Pulp Fiction.


Awesome.


It wouldn't be a convention without a guy in an inflatable T-Rex costume.


This was a poster I wish I picked up. There's not enough Food Fighter tributes in the world.


And of course since it was Comic-Con, Deadpool cosplayers were everywhere. But since there's so many Deadpools, the ones that stood out had to go in the mashup direction. You got Deadpope, Winnie the Pool, and Kawaii Deadpool there, plus this awesome Deadpool Galactus:


and even Left Shark Deadpool


But this year there was one cosplay that rivaled the Deadpools in popularity: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. I didn't get a picture with any even though I should've, but this picture is a pretty accurate representation of NYCC this year:


I'm Homer. Harley Quinn has always been popular, but THIS version of Harley was just pervasive. And like the Deadpools, the Harleys came in all shapes, sizes, genders, ages. Harley was popular among the young and the old and the less said about all that, the better.

But of course there were lots of great cosplayers this year, and my favorite were the deep cuts.


Like Squilliam from Spongebob


A girl as the Comedy Bang Bang mascot.


Bob aka Baseball Lapis from Steven Universe. Steven Universe was VERY popular this year. Not the only Bob cosplayer I saw, either.


Dippy Fresh from Gravity Falls. I apologize for the blurriness.


Spider-Ham!


When you see a seven foot tall Reinhardt from Overwatch walking around, regular Halloween costumes just don't cut it for me anymore. Hell, Overwatch cosplay in general was insanely popular this year, hopefully it eliminated most of the League of Legends cosplayers.


This parade of Luigis was actually a roaming bachelor party. The bachelor in question was the one guy dressed as Mario.


Plus...this guy. I saw him at the tail end of the con, but he was pretty awesome. He was mostly covered in zip ties and kept saying things like "stop the humanoid! Reload! Reload!" through a vocorder or something. Apparently he goes to lots of conventions dressed like this, mostly to satirize the security standards.


I couldn't forget these guys. They're not just the Powerpuff Girls, they're dressed as a trio of criminals that dressed up as the Powerpuff Girls from one episode.


The deepest cut I saw, I just love it.


Oh...I have to mention this. I found some guy dressed as Arthur, and had him act out the "clenched fist" meme,


We both had a good laugh out of it and he told me that I wasn't the only person to have him do that. So, I do what I do when I see great cosplayers and tweet about it and thought a few people would find it funny.

"A few people" turned out to be over 16,000 people. For a solid week my phone simply blew up every time someone RT or liked it. For the first time in seven years, I had to turn off the notifications on my phone to get it to stop. At first I was excited, this wasn't the first time one of my tweets had gotten some attention. Then scared, because it just wouldn't stop. The likes kept coming in waves. They would slow down for a few hours then blow up again. At first a few people liked it. Then, looking through my feed, it turns out Black Twitter found it first. Then Spanish Twitter. Then Gamer Twitter (gah). Then tv critic Alan Sepinwall RT'd it. Then a few other people with the checkmark next to their name RT'd it. You get where I'm going with this.

It's slowed down since then, but now I have newfound respect for the famous tweeters. How the hell do they handle all the attention? Well, they ignore it. But now I guess I will, too. But I'm not famous enough to ignore attention yet. But after a while, I started feeling regret. This guy became quasi-Twitter famous for a few days and I never asked him for his name.

It turns out, thanks to the magic of the internet, he started a twitter feed of his own and tracked me down. His name is Brandon and can be found here.


Onto other things, this is one of those "If I Won The Lottery" things. Those are actual cels of title cards from Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Pixie & Dixie. They even have Hanna & Barbera's signatures on them as a kicker. It's totaly worth $900, if only I had that kind of money...


Speaking of stuff I wish I got, here's a funky movie poster from the 60s. Looks like Vincent Price in his campy phase, and it only cost $85. Sadly, I didn't have the money nor do I have the space for it. Also, it turns out you can just find a print online for around $15, but the authentic poster is RIGHT THERE.


And here's something I DID get. This is a sweet print of a poster for the classic Year Without A Santa Claus special, drawn by the great Tom Whalen. He and another great artist named Dave Perillo share table space every year and I urge you all to check them out. Be warned: Tom Whalen's stuff isn't cheap, that poster set me back $65 but worth it.


I finally got Stan The Man's autograph! This was his last NYCC appearance because, well, he's getting old and this was the first time he actually sat at a table. Usually some booth hosted him and you had to pay an outrageous amount of money in order to meet him, but this was the first time his line was open to the public so of course that line was really long every day of the convention. Seriously, it took me three hours to get to the front because he took half hour breaks but I was okay with it because he's 94 so he can do whatever the hell he wants. I gotta admit, he's looking kinda frail these days, I'm almost sure that the good people at Marvel will never tell us that he's died, they'll just do a "Weekend at Bernie's" thing with him so he could keep making cameos in movies.

But I was excited to get his signature on this pic I got with him at 2013's NYCC. That Funko Pop Stan Lee I'm holding in my hand was the one they sold at that year's convention for $25. He goes for about $80 now,


And speaking of photo ops, I finally got to meet Matt Smith aka the 11th Doctor! MY Doctor, and I finally got to meet him! He was rad, as were Jenna Coleman (Clara) and Alex Kingston (River Song, who I already met). Peter Capaldi (the 12th Doctor) was also at the convention, but he was was only attending a panel at MSG and I didn't think I'd ever encounter him.

Well, it turns out, I was walking around the show floor on Friday looking for one booth selling old toys, when I run into this:


Eep. Turns out he was trying to find the live stage that's on the show floor and was on his way there. I just stood there like an idiot and trying my best to not attract any unwanted attention to the guy. He probably would've signed something for me (which would've made 7 Doctors I had signatures from), but I just froze and forgot I had something for him to sign, Next time, I guess.

It took me two hours to come down from that high of a random celebrity encounter. I said above that Matt Smith was MY Doctor, and he is, but I didn't feel much of anything whe I met him and got his picture. Maybe because I knew I was meeting him?

Anything can happen at Comic Con, folks.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Grail Mail

Everyone who collects has their own "Holy Grail," the ONE item that's either rare or special that you search for years to find and you won't feel like your collection is complete without one. Ususally the term "holy grail" means that it's the rarest thing a collector can get, like a one-of-a-kind prototype or a rare issue of a comic book that was made 70 years ago or an autograph from a celebrity that died before you were born. These days, the term "grail" seems to have lost that meaning, now it's just something you really, REALLY want to get, but it keeps escaping your grasp. Spamalot illustrated this perfectly.


The past few months I've actually been getting lucky and managed to snag a few of my own.



This is my most recent acquisition. If you don't already know, I like to collect guidemaps from amusement parks. This is my personal grail of that kind: an authentic 1971 souvenir map of the Magic Kingdom, its opening year. Disney maps are pretty easy to come by...except early Magic Kingdom maps, especially a 1971. They're on eBay every once in a while, usually for an outrageous price. I managed to snag this one for $40. Sure, lots of people will claim to have one, but early maps lack two attractions: Space Mountain (opened in 1975) and the Swan Boats (1973). If your map has those, it's not from before then. Sorry. 

I got the urge to get it after seeing this one at New York Comic Con a few years back:


According to the guy running booth that had it, this was a 1971, complete with a spiffy frame. It cost $1000. "How much for just the map?" I asked. The guy laughed. Well, I showed him. For one, it's not even a 1971, due to seeing Space Mountain on there clear as day. I'm really glad I saved my money.


And now for another good one, my personal Transformers G1 grail, Reflector. For those not in the know, Reflector was a special mail-away Transformers figure, back when you had to send in a few proofs of purchase to get it. This was a three pack, where all three robots combined into a camera. Cumbersome, yes, but it was the only "big" G1 figure I didn't have. I was born after G1's heyday but in my time I already had a Soundwave, a Megatron, an Optimus Prime, a Shockwave, a Jetfire, but not Reflector. I also have an affinity for the Transformers that turned into the odd things, like the guns or the microscope (that was Perceptor, which I also have), and a weird looking camera was at the top of my list of gets.

Much like the William "the Refridgerator" Perry GI Joe figure, you couldn't get it in stores and they're not easy to come by, and the few you see on eBay were going for, yes, crazy amounts. I bought this one at NYCC last year after searching for a set that was as mint condition as possible. It didn't come with a box, so finding it in the original styrofoam is definitely the next best thing. Wasn't expecting that at all, and by god, this was as good as I was ever going to find it. It sey me back $120, but it now sits proudly on my shelf, collecting dust. My dust.


And if you've been reading these past few months, you know that I've been collecting those stupid Funko Pop figures. I've actually been slowing down on buying them, but then they keep making more to suck me back in. Case in point, I didn't buy this Conan O'Brien figure, I won it from a contest his show was running back during San Diego's Comic Con. I was just as surprised as you folks were when I found this in the mail. I entered that contest last year and came up empty, but this year it seemed like EVERYONE won at least one of these things. And I'm gonna make a confession: This is not the one I won. I actually won this one:


The Stormtrooper. Thankfully, the Funko fandom is large and diverse and I was able to find someone who wanted to unload a Ghostbuster on some poor schmoe that had the Stormtrooper.

My OTHER Funko Pop grails are any of these:





I'm a sucker for mascots, folks, especially the old Monster Cereals from General Mills. Now they made Dorbz, weird little chibi figures that look dumb but oh my god they made a two pack of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy.



I needs them. Bad.



This is not exactly a grail, but something cool that I have. An authentic cel from Ren & Stimpy, specifically from "Stimpy's Invention," not only one of the best episodes of the series, but in my book it's one of the best cartoons EVER. I bought this at, yep, NYCC last year from Bob Camp, one of the animators and producers on the show. The guy had loads of cels, mostly from "A Visit to Anthony," an episode where Ren & Stimpy meet their biggest fan (and his giant lout of a father). But this was the only one he had of Ren in the iconic Happy Helmet, and I went with that one over, say, one with both Ren and Stimpy on it.

My dream is a cel from the Simpsons, but I haven't found a good one that I want yet. 

So folks, do YOU have any grails?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Boston!

A few weeks back I went on a long weekend to Boston! I'd never been before, and I gotta tell you, it was weird and exciting being in a city that wasn't Manhattan.


You see Manhattan's layout? That perfect grid, where directions go along an X and Y axis and include "if you hit water, you went too far?" 

Well, here's Boston.


Gigantic clusterfuck. It's like the streets are laid out like the spokes of a wheel. Overlapping with other wheels. Radiating a harbor. It was pretty confusing to drive around, but luckily I didn't do much driving that weekend. Hey, blame the colonials, they just paved over what trails were around at the time. Then again, Manhattan did that too, but like I said, it was all a grid, Broadway aside.

And while Manhattan's architecture is mostly either Art Deco or sleek modern, Boston's known for bricks.


Lots of brick, lots of red buildings and cobblestones. You really get a feeling that Boston is a working class city, with a few modern high rises here and there. Most of that brick is original, too. 


You read that right, that building has been here since 1755. Boston was where a good chunk of American history took place, and it doesn't let you forget it.


Pictures is a map of (among other points of interest) the Freedom Trail, a red brick line that goes through a good chunk of North Boston that guides people to famous revolutionary landmarks.

Like Faneuil Hall, a famous meeting place, now a gift shop and a museum.


Paul Revere's house.


The Old North Church where Paul Revere saw the lanterns that started his famous ride.



And Paul Revere's grave.


After Tom Brady, Larry Bird, and that Big Papi guy, Paul Revere is high on the list of people Boston holds in ungodly high esteem. He's also not the only famous person buried here.

Like Samuel Adams, of the famous beer (I got to visit the brewery, the beer is quite good)

And John Hancock.


Yeah, no shock that his tombstone was the biggest one there.

On a good day, you'll see lots of vendors and historians dressed in revolutionary-era garb, like this awesome guy:


I joked that he was a Team Fortess 2 cosplayer. Please don't make me explain that joke if you don't get it.

Boston's also known for being the final resting place of Cheers.


Of course this wasn't the real bar the one from the show was based on, that would be the Bull & Finch Pub, which is located in a different part of town that I didn't get to go to. This one was in Quincy Market, Boston's historic shopping district. But make no mistake, the bar was a pretty exact replica of the one from the show. If I actually watched an episode of it, I would've been impressed.

There's lots of old bars and pubs in Boston, and these things are EVERYWHERE in Old Boston, where I stayed.


See, here's the view from my hotel room. Around that one building there were at least five bars and pubs, not counting the one in the actual hotel.


Here's a pub I actually went to, the famous Bell in Hand Tavern, founded in 1795. Yes, you heard me, it's that old and it's one of the oldest pubs in the country. I don't think I sat in the original section of the bar, but drinking beer in a place that predates most of our ancestors was interesting enough.

Of course while I was in Boston I had to have some authentic "chowdah."


Or "shaudere" as certain characters from the Simpsons would say. It was quite good. 

Right next to it is the Union Oyster House, also one of the oldest bars/restaurants in the country.


1826. Damn. Sadly, I didn't go in because I wasn't in the mood for oysters, plus it was really tiny and crowded and I kept hearing it was overrated.

Turns out I was in the historic pubs district, I knew this because I was seeing people on a bar crawl with "Historic Boston Pub Tour" pins on them. I'm kinda jealous of those guys, that sounded like a fun tour.

That's not all the cool historical stuff I saw while I was there.



Like this old state house. Half of it is a museum, and do you know what the other half is used as? A subway station. I kid you not. That wouldn't fly in New York. I'm conflicted if that's a good thing or a bad one. At least the building's preserved?

It's also the site of the Boston Massacre:



Sorry for the awkward shot, but that was taken in the five seconds where there weren't a dozen feet on it. I've been imagining that ninja turtles would open that up like a manhole cover and crawl out of it, having Boston accents and everything.



This is only historical in the sense that I don't see 1980s fonts like that in signs these days. If I passed by that place when it was open there was no doubt I would've went inside to see if there were any other cools signs like that.



And I have to mention how much stuff there was to do in Pokemon Go while in Boston. I might not have blogged about it here, but I got into the game just as much as everyone else did, then lost most of my interest when Niantic fucked everything up. This just happened to be my favorite Pokestop. Yes, there were a bunch of bronze newspaper embedded into a road, and I was only able to get a picture of it via the game BECAUSE the road it was embedded in was covered in traffic.

And while typical towns like mine look like this: 


Boston looked like this: 



Pokestops and gyms were EVERYWHERE. This was only the tip of the iceberg. I went through level 18 just from going through Pokestops. There's that many. Hell, I was able to get to two just from sitting in my hotel room! And if I go to Manhattan again I know I'd encounter just as many. 

Back to the historical stuff, there was also a walkway that had markers for several odd events that happened in Boston over the years. This was my favorite:


A plaque commemorating the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. I can't believe there was a marker for that one, and as a lover of weird history that might've been my favorite thing I saw the whole trip.

All in all, I thoroughly recommend visiting Boston, I hope I can go back...eventually.

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