Gloomy Bear

SacAnime Winter 2015!

The first weekend, this month, was somewhat of a milestone for me. Which is why I'm posting in well over a year. We made the not-so-lengthy trip up to Sacramento to:

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Why is it a milestone?

Well, five years ago, this month, I went to my very first anime convention (I had been to Comic-Con once before that, but not an anime-specific con before):

SacAnime banner

That was what started it all. A lot has happened during that time, to both me, and SacAnime (despite what the promo banners suggest).

January 8, 2010, I was just coming off of the year of hell. I was in a very strange limbo, unable to work, barely able to eat. I was no longer able to pursue culinary school (which I was supposed to have graduated from the previous semester; I actually did end up graduating next semester). I was left out of social scenes due to my fear of having even one drink of alcohol (which oddly did not have an immediate effect on me like caffeine or sugar did; nonethelss I avoided them both like the plague.) I had become beyond worn out with my roommates being @$$hats. I needed to get away from it all, from everything around me, and do something different, even if it was just for one day. I saw an ad for SacAnime. It looked like just what I needed.

But at that point, things only had one way to go: up. I had just finally received six months worth of retroactive UI, after delay upon delay. (In the scheme of things, this was not big money but at that time, what I suddenly had before me was spending money -- something I had not had in a very long time.) After seeing a bunch of useless doctors who drained me of my life savings -- perhaps it was my fault for believing they could help, but what other choice did I have? -- I finally found one who seemed to specialize in what could help me. I talked to him for no small amount of time before making an appointment to be sure he did not follow the current trend. The appointment was in the East Bay on Friday. Afterwards, I headed further east on I-80 out to Sacramento. It should have taken an hour and a half but due to traffic it took four. No matter.

I reached suburban Sacramento just before 6 and felt the need to be reminded of not being able to get a pick-me-up because I needed a mug, so I stopped by Starbucks across from the hotel. I was able to get a Sacramento mug and they offered me a free coffee. I asked if Wild Sweet Orange tea was ok instead since I couldn't have coffee; they happily obliged.

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I finally pulled into the Radisson Hotel (which later changed to the Woodlake, then the Red Lion) at 6, just in time to pay the $15 daily admission fee and miss the last panel. But, the hundreds-to-thousands of costumes were amazing, there were still evening events and the dealers room was still open, and I had never seen so many Gloomy Bears in one place before. I picked up my second one, a domo pillow, and a couple volumes of manga.

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Then I went over to one of the anime viewing rooms and hoped they were playing something new and silly to get my mind off of things. They were...Fairy Tail. I left to get dinner at a Thai restaurant where I had previously found and scruntinized the menu to make sure it would not upset me. It worked. I got back to SacAnime around 10 to see their Music fest; first, a not very good band called The Slants, and next, goth singer-lyricist Voltaire who was a significant improvement over the opener.

The last program of the night was a shadowcast of Repo: The Genetic Opera which I had not heard about before but it sounded cool. They played half an hour from the movie (mostly musical numbers) and had the real actors re-act the scenes while they were playing.

It ended after midnight, and it was the best day I'd had in a long time. I wished that I could have stayed all weekend. The con was full of a good energy -- something I had desperately needed. There was so much going on, and I was allowed to take it all in. No one there needed alcohol or caffeine to have a good time. But at that time, it was not prudent to spend $99+tax for an extra day...or spend the extra day's registration fee. Hence, I was thrust into my first bout of PCD: Post-Con Depression. I would attend all local cons I could for the next few years. I needed them. But few would match Sac-Anime. Driving back, the fog was very thick but I still noticed R5 Records -- the original Tower Records -- on the way out. I tuned into Sacramento's Smooth Jazz station on 94.7 and was envious (San Francisco's had flipped the previous year; little did I know that Sacramento's would flip later that month).

I got back at 3 AM, and my roommates (yes, the same ones who gave me grief for taking showers after midnight) were up playing drinking games.

--------

January 1, 2015. Mark and I are listening to Sacramento's Alternative station, Radio 94.7 as we pull into downtown Sacramento to attend one of its biggest events: SacAnime, which had grown too big for the Radisson/Woodlake/Red Lion hotel and moved to the Convention Center. We checked into our hotel right across the street, the Sheraton Grand. The convention starts Friday the 2nd and we're staying through the weekend, but we got in a day early to get a headstart and settle into things. We registered very early and got a great deal; free VIP SacAnime passes for every night you book the con hotel through their site.

I found a career that fits my aptitude better, pays better, and doesn't require spending all day running around in the kitchen or coming in at unreliable hours. I'm fine now. I have been for a few years. I recovered slower than I would have liked, but way faster than the doctor expected. I still have to take the correct vitamin supplements every day. Missing once a day won't mess me up, especially if I avoid alcohol/caffeine/sugar. But I like my daily cold brew coffee too much to give it up if I don't have to. And I can never resist visiting breweries.

SacAnime's guest list which has always focused on American voice actors has greatly expanded. Some of the panels we attended were the original Sailor Moon cast (3/5 + 1 from the new one), one where about 7 VAs read an old time radio script in different voices, a screening of the new Star Trek webseries, and the showcase on Peter Cullen. The dealers room was even bigger than before, and of course we picked up a few of the new products from the creator of Gloomy Bear -- All Purpose Rabbit...and another Gloomy!
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They also had karaoke, a game room, and tons more programming, but we did not have time for everything because we wanted to hit up some of the sights of Sac! We went to not one, not two, but FOUR breweries:

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Most of the beers from them were good, but our favorite was definitely the Mystery Airship Elizabeth Ginger Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Chocolate Porter! (The name could use some help, though...) and we got a couple of very nice pint-tulips from Track 7! Best of all, we had a very nice New Year's dinner with seabass and lobster ravioli at Moxie, which gets two thumbs up from each of us!

It was a fun weekend, but on Sunday we were ready to head home and get back into the swing of things. Mark wanted to fill up at CostCo so we looked up the nearest one. As the shopping center where CostCo was came into view, I also saw a familiar looking Starbucks...and across the street...the Red Lion Hotel. Where it all began.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
  • Current Music: Oingo Boingo - Just Another Day
Gloomy Bear

Bay Area Woes: Ignored by Simple Minds

As if I needed yet another reason to want to move to LA:  Simple Minds announced their first North American tour in 11 years, and the dates are/were:

Oct. 15: Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Oct. 17: Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, NJ
Oct. 18: 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
Oct. 20: Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA
Oct. 21: Metropolis, Montreal, QC
Oct. 22: Massey Hall, Toronto, ON
Oct. 24: Roseland Ballrom, New York, NY

SO many things wrong with this: Only 7 dates, only 5 in the US, only 1 (ONE?!?!?!) on the West Coast...and only 1 that isn't on the East Coast for that matter.  Seriously, on their US comeback tour they skip the SF Bay Area, media market #4?!?!? (Chicago, #3, also, was ignored, but they had dates in smaller markets, DC and Boston.)

Now, I was rationalizing to myself that I wouldn't be able to head down to LA to see them.  I've not traveled outside of regular driving distance for going to a concert before, I didn't have that many days to take off (although I probably could have gotten a couple days), I didn't want to worry about having to fly and/or rent a car to go down there, and if I flew then having to worry about finding my way to the venue.  Also I figured that time of year had too much going on, it would have been hot off the heels of the Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys concerts (which were both awesome btw, so at least there's that), and not too far after my sis's wedding. I'd probably have been zonked.  And truth be told come around Oct. 15 I kind of was zonked.  But then the next day I saw the setlist:

1. Broken Glass Park
2. Waterfront
3. Once Upon A Time
4. Up On The Catwalk
5. All the Things She Said
6. Mandela Day
7, Let the Day Begin (The Call cover)
8, Glittering Prize
9. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
10. I Travel
11. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
12. This Fear of Gods
13. She's A River
14. Hypnotised
15. The American
16. Love Song
17. See The Lights
18. Don't You (Forget About Me)
19. Promised You A Miracle
Encore:
20. Theme for Great Cities
21. Sanctify Yourself
22. Alive And Kicking

To say that I was CRUSHED to have missed that, would be an understatement.  Let's put it this way: If I were to make an ideal setlist of the Simple Minds songs I'd most like to see in concert, in order of interest (not necessarily in what order I'd want them to play it in), it would be:

1. See the Lights
2. Theme from Great Cities
3. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
4. She's a River
5. Don't You (Forget About Me)
6. Glittering Prize
7, Promised You a Miracle
8. Mandela Day
9. Let there Be Love
10. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)
11. Love Song
12. Alive and Kicking
13. Sanctify Yourself
14. Hypnotised
15. All the Things She Said

THEY PLAYED 14 OUT OF 15 OF THEM!!!  All of them except for "Let there Be Love," which actually did make it into one of their later dates of this tour, although some of my other favorites "Mandela Day" and "Hypnotised" got cut out.  But anyway, they really did go into some of their more obscure singles and/or album cuts!  I was not aware they would be doing a double set; that would have made it that much more worth it for me (esp. not having to sit through an opener.)

They have to play "Don't You (Forget About Me)," in every set, of course, and will probably also play "Alive and Kicking"/"Sanctify Yourself"/"Someone Somewhere in Summertime"/"All the Things She Said"/"New Gold Dream".  I should hope they play "See the Lights" and "Theme from Great Cities" as from what I've read, those are their live standout tracks.  "Glittering Prize," "Love Song," and "She's a River" are toss-ups.  However, I'd really not like to risk not seeing "She's a River," since that was the single that caused me to buy my very first CD, ever, Good News From the Next World.  And I'm shocked that they actually played "Hypnotized" (the second single from said album) and "Mandela Day."

Sooooo...if I were to see them at another tour, they'd still probably play at least half of my top songs, but I can't imagine it will reach 14/15 again, or anywhere close.

Sigh..I could have, and should have, gone to LA.  The ticket would have been about $75.  I forgot about Megabus -- round trip tickets to LA are usually no more than $70, and usually on weekdays no more than $30 round trip, and it drops you off right downtown at Union Station.  If I had bothered to look up where the Orpheum is, it's right downtown also -- a couple blocks from Union Station.  I could have gotten a no frills hotel room for about $100 for a night (but realistically $200 for 2 nights as one night would have been cutting it a bit too close.)  And, I would have had to taken 2-3 days off of work, but it would have been more than worth it for this show.  Soooo...that means I could have gotten in and out for around $300, which is less than I spent on plane tix to visit my sis in Wisconsin.  (I'm not counting food expenses, since I usually eat out for cheap up here too.)

The only date left that I could realistically see them on this tour, and even that one is a stretch, is New York on 10/24.  But it will be a lot more expensive.  The cheapest airfare I can find at this point is $500 roundtrip.  Concert tickets and hotel price will probably be about the same as in LA, so that would make it around $770.  Also while I'm quite comfortable getting around in LA, I can't really say the same would be true in NYC.  And as much as I'd like to see them, I'm not sure it's a good idea to spend that much.  But if I do decide to do this, I better buy the plane ticket like ASAP because this close to departure it will only get more expensive every day. :-\

I know, I know, I should be happy with who I have seen this year (and quite honestly, I can't say I'm too disappointed to have seen Depeche Mode, The Pet Shop Boys, Iggy & the Stooges, and Wang Chung.)  But Simple Minds are different.  Many of these bands do consistent US tours.  Simple Minds...not so much.  This was their first North American tour in 11 years, and this one goes well they'll do future US tours.  But if it doesn't, they say they will never tour the US again. :-\  Also, these new wave bands are getting old and who knows how long it will be before they kick the bucket. :-\  Well, best case scenario, they do what New Order did after their first North American tour in many years, and that's go back to the US the next year and hit up all the places they didn't the first time.  Worst case scenario...I have to go overseas to see them.  Or New York, on Thursday.
  • Current Mood: crushed crushed
  • Current Music: Simple Minds - Theme from Great Cities
Gloomy Bear

SF Asian American Film Festival and KidRobot

It's that time of year again, for the SF Asian American Film Festival!  So we decided to make a run to SF.  But what good would a trip to SF be, without hitting up...KIDROBOT!

We went because the Kidrobot x Kozik Chuckboy Cyborg Labbit: Nemesis Edition has just been released!  It's limited to 1000 and SO CUTE!



Isn't it ADORABLE?  However, we sadly passed on it as it was $60. :-\  We don't really want to pay that much for a big piece of plastic, even if it's really cute.  So we might wait until it goes on sale next year...that is, if it even lasts long enough.

I've seen this Labbit before, at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012!  But it had different colors; the ear and nose were pink and the eye was red.  And it was the same size, but cost $75 and limited to 300.



Well that's certainly cute too, but I actually like the purple/green one better.  That's a $15 price difference for essentially the same product -- that's supply and demand for ya!

But I did pick up a few blind boxes: 2 of the new 2013 Post-Apocalypse Dunny series, and 1 of the Kidrobot 'Bot (standard) series!



This is the Post-Apocalypse Dunny series!  These are actually my very first two Dunnys!  They are 3-inch and retail for $9.95 each,   but you don't know which one you get until you open the box.  There are about 12 different designs and most of them are pretty evenly distributed.  There's only one that's super-hard to find.  The two I got are the middle and far-right one in the picture!  Cute!


Aren't these cute too?  These are some of the blind box 'Bot figures, and I got the one in the middle, Drunky Bear!  That made me happy since it was the one I really wanted.  Like the Dunnys, none of these are absurdly hard to find either, with 11 different designs and most of them being around 1/10.  The hardest one to find is the 'robber' one which has a paper bag over its head! LOL!  But that one, 1 in about 27, comparatively isn't as hard to find as the 'chase' pieces in some of the other series.

Okay, time for the Asian American Movie Festival!



First things first, you can see that it is now called "CAAMFEST: Film. Music. Food." instead of "San Francisco International Asian American Movie Festival." This was an unnecessary change in my opinion for a couple of reasons.  First, there really were no, or minimal, "Food" or "Music" elements.  Even if there were, it's primarily a movie festival.  Also, the new name gives it less clout in my opinion.  It makes it seem like a generic Asiafest when it already has a reputation as being the SF Bay Area's premier Asian film festival.  Everyone is trying to jump on the food bandwagon these days and this one didn't need to lose its focus to do that.

Two more changes I want to write about before talking about the movie.  They didn't go to San Jose this year! *mad face*  In previous years, it was mostly in SF and Berkeley, but the final weekend they moved down to San Jose and had a few events here.  Sadly, I can't say I didn't see it coming.  The Camera 12 was a good host venue for it, but in 2011 the setup was kind of strange.  They blocked off an awkward portion of the theater and had everyone enter and exit there, rather than just have the festival set up in the main part of the theater.  Then in 2012, they moved to Camera 3.  Camera 3 is a small indie theater.  It's fine for what it is (and shows some great films) but having the Asian American Film Festival there just made it seem like normal Camera 3 programming rather than a special event.  This year, they just skipped San Jose altogether. :-\

Finally, the program books.  I have one from this every year since 2008 and I've been pleased with them, in general.  From 2008 to 2010, they had full size, full color, glossy program books free for the taking at various venues.  They ran out of them fairly early into the festival and definitely before the festival moved to San Jose for the final weekend.  In 2011 they reduced the size of it (book size rather than full-media issue size) and charged $3. I don't mind paying because I know it cost them money to print, and I like keeping them as references.  If a minimal charge helps keep them available for longer then I'm all for it.  In 2012 I got way lucky.  I stopped by the Camera 3 Cinemas at the very end of the festival and asked the volunteers at the table if they had any program books left.  They said they were pretty much done so they just gave me the one they had!  That was very nice of them.  But there was something kind of odd about it.  I got the sense that they weren't widely available because even though they had it right there, they weren't quite sure what I was referring to.  The program book was back to regular size, but pages were matte (and dual-color) instead of glossy.  Fast forward to this year.  I couldn't find them up for grabs anywhere, so I asked someone at the volunteer table.  Like last year, they weren't quite sure what I was referring to even though they had one at the table.  But after I clarified a little, they got one for me from a box behind the table, which was nice.  It also confirmed my suspicions that they didn't make them readily available as they did in previous years.  The books were also lower quality this year -- full size like 2012, but the pages were regular paper (not even a high-quality matte) and in black and white.  But, at least they still have them.  Later, I also saw a box behind the door after getting out of the movie.  I wonder if they were only making them readily available to volunteers (or whoever else asked) this year.

The movie we saw was Comrade Kim Goes Flying



This is a North Korean film!  (The director is British, though, and a lot of the production was completed in Belgium.)  I was a little hesitant at going this year because my record with this festival is pretty disastrous.  I've seen more "meh" or "horrible" films than good ones in the past and the 2010 festival was responsible for the two worst movies I've seen in my entire life ("God is D_ad," F-, and "Like You Know It All," F.)  But I was intrigued at the idea of a North Korean film, and in the description it said it was a surprise hit at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is a pretty respected one. Plus the screening was sold out! (But we got tickets ahead of time.)  So we went, and it was actually really cute!  It's about a country girl who wants to move to Pyongyang and join the circus.  It sounds a bit corny and safe, and it was, but there's nothing wrong with a cute, feel-good film if done well.  Also, since the film was shot in North Korea, it was interesting to see pictures of NK as they're usually so secretive.  I'm not going to go so far as to say that I saw a representation of what live is like there...because after all, it was just a movie.  But thankfully, it was much better than the average of what I've seen from this film festival.  I'd give it about a B+.
  • Current Mood: happy happy
  • Current Music: Capital Cities - Safe and Sound
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Gloomy Bear

words of the moment

A Dustland Fairytale beginning
With just another white trash county kiss in '61.
Long brown hair, and foolish eyes.
He'd look just like you'd want him to
Some kind of slick chrome American prince.
Blue Jean serenade
Moon River what'd you do to me
I don't believe you.
Saw Cinderella in a party dress, she was looking for a nightgown.
I saw the devil wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown.
I saw the minute that I turned away, I got my money on a pawn tonight.
Change came in disguise of revelation, set his soul on fire.
She said she always knew he'd come around.
And the decades disappear
Like sinking ships but we persevere.
God gives us hope but we still fear what we don't know.
Your mind is poisoned.
Castles in the sky sit stranded, vandalized.
The drawbridge is closing.
Saw Cinderella in a party dress, she was looking for a nightgown.
I saw the devil wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown.
I saw the ending when they turned the page, I threw my money and I ran away.
Sent to the valley of the great divide
Out where the dreams all hide.
Out where the wind don't blow,
Out here the good girls die.
And the sky won't snow
Out here the bird don't sing
Out here the field don't blow
Out here the bell don't ring
Out hear the bell don't ring
Out here the good girls die
Now Cinderella don't you go to sleep, it's such a bitter form of refuge.
Why don't you know the kingdoms under siege and everybody needs you.
Is there still magic in the midnight sun, or did you leave it back in '61?
In the cadence of a young man's eyes.
Out where the dreams all hide
  • Current Mood: hopeful hopeful
  • Current Music: The Killers - A Dustland Fairytale
Tags:
Gloomy Bear

Comic-Con 2012!!!!!

Oh boy, oh boy, it's the event of the year!



Yeppers.  After a five-year hiatus, this fan triumphantly makes his return to the Holy Grail of Conventions, San Diego Comic-Con!  I went back in '07 for Thursday, and it was pretty big back then too (that was the first year it completely sold out, but on Thursday and Sunday you could still buy tickets that weekend) but after becoming more familiar with the convention "circuit," this time I really went with a different perspective.  I imagined it to be COMPLETELY crazy, as in long long lines for anything remotely interesting.  It really was not...until Saturday.  Sunday leveled off a little.  But each day I was able to get into plenty of interesting panels without having to line up too early (longest I ever waited for a panel was an hour, and there were only about three that I even had to wait at all for), and run the exhibition hall picking up free swag and not-so-free-but-totally-awesome goodies!  And, I would like to thank back2real for letting me stay with her and waiting in line with me at the exhibition hall to pick up free stuff!

Where else are you going to see people dressed like this?



Without further ado, it's panel review time!

Thursday

Bill Amend:
My very first panel of the weekend was my most anticipated one, Bill Amend, the creator of FoxTrot, my favorite comic of all time!  He talked about how he got into creating FoxTrot (he was living @ home at age 22 and not really doing anything else! LOL!) and how it took off.  He displayed a bunch of his favorite episodes, and a few new ones!  One thing I've noticed the past few years, esp. now that the comic has gone from daily to Sundays-only: Jason has mellowed out quite a bit whereas Paige has become more geeky.  He said that was because when he created it, it was based mostly on stereotypes--the geeky younger brother (which was loosely based on himself) and a somewhat irritable middle sister who cares about things like how her hair looks.  But now that he has kids, the characters are shifting more towards being based upon his kids.  He pretty much described the comic as a play-it-safe, inoffensive comic strip that everyone could like.  That's probably true, but that description doesn't account for how good the comic ended up being, in my opinion!  A 



Disney: Frankenweenie, Oz, & Wreck-It Ralph:
I got my Hall H fix out of the way on Thursday!  This was right after the Twilight panel, and I figured most of them would leave (which they did), so I only had to wait in line an hour to get in, which is quite good for something from as big of a name as Disney!  They showed clips from the movies and had a brief discussion and Q&A with the director and a few of the actors from each panel.  It was a little obnoxious to try to stuff these for all three movies into one hour, in my opinion.  Tim Burton was there for Frankenweenie, and while the clips looked cool, his main point was, to me, unconvincing and that's that he hasn't worked this hard on a project like this in a long time.  It seemed a little "ehh" to be saying that about a movie about a dead dog, but whatever.  Oz actually looked cool, and I liked that it was going to be more of an origin story of the wizard, as opposed to a remake of the Wizard of Oz. (No red shoes in this one, too, since they were trademarked by the classic movie.)  Now, Wreck it Ralph, THAT one looked cool.  The premise was there's a video-game villain that doesn't want to be bad anymore, and he goes to a support group that features other villains such as Bowser and Zangeif!  LOL!  The ten minute preview looked very cool, although there was an incredibly annoying little girl who looked like she was going to be one of the main players, that I really wish she wasn't.  B+

Jackie Chan's Chinese Zodiac 12:
This is the upcoming Jackie Chan movie!  Jackie Chan himself was there, and said that while he's not retiring, this is probably going to be his last really big production.  He said most of the actors were in some far off country and could not come by, but he brought in "Laura from Paris."  So Laura walks in...to little fanfare.  Then Jackie Chan said, "now, Laura, introduce yourself!"  Laura was like, "Hi, I'm Laura (last name), and I'm happy to work with Jackie Chan and to be here at Comic Con."  That got even less applause.  LOL. :-X  Poor Laura.  There was some dude who came in who was wearing what looked like an armour covered in rollerblades and did a few tricks for us.  Not really sure what that had to do with anything.  Maybe he/she/it makes an appearance in the movie.  They showed the trailer twice, which looked like something that would not disappoint any Jackie Chan fan, and did Q&A.  B

Friday

Lynn Johnston:

How cool was it that the artists from my first and third favorite newspaper comics were here!  (#2 was Calvin and Hobbes, but Bill Watterson was not present.)  She talked her comic, which was, of course, For Better or For Worse, her background as a medical illustrator (which was quite interesting) and how it was influenced by her surroundings.  One point she made was that she stuck her first husband in the comic strip as a dog.  LOL. :-X She also put a new character in the strip because she wanted a baby, but didn't really want a baby!  Haha!  She also had an obsession with buttcracks which was a little obnoxious and I wish that would have been left out, but whatevs.  She talked about how she stuck controversial elements into her strip (i.e. the Lawrence episode, the family dog dying) and the smorgasbord of letters she got in response.  A-

666 Park Avenue:
At 999 Park Avenue, your dreams can come true...for a price.  They showed the pilot of a new episode and had a brief Q&A with the director and actors, including Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams.  The pilot was a little oversaturated in my opinion but I guess I'd rather have that than too little.  Acting was good from both O'Quinn and Williams, the show's "evil" couple.  The protagonists weren't quite as skillful but that's more difficult.  Vanessa Williams made the audience sing Happy Birthday to Terry O'Quinn. LOL  A-

Robot Chicken:

The most irreverent claymation series is back for season 6!  Seth Green and a bunch of others were there to preview a bunch of clips from the upcoming season and discuss the series.  The previews were awesome, but sadly, in my opinion, the discussion wasn't as funny as I hoped they'd be.  It's kind of like, they are just a bunch of people that get along well and they thought they were funnier than they actually were.  Getting along well is good, but is not a substitute for substance in my opinion.  But at least they were nice.  It made sense, though.  The story about how they got the name "Robot Chicken" from a Chinese take-out menu was pretty funny.  If they tried making an entire TV show then in my opinion it would be even more obnoxious and less funny than Family Guy/American Dad/Brickleberry (see 2 entries below).  But, since it's little snippets at best, it works.  B+

Black Dynamite:
It's unfortunate that they introduced the panel with "we only have 45 minutes, because that's how they treat the black man!" (they were probably being facetious but that's not a good way to begin) because aside from that, everything else about this was totally ace.  They showed a Michael Jackson episode, which was the most ridiculously hilarious thing I've seen.  Discussion was funny and insightful.  The original movie is a blaxploitation spoof, but they brought up the point that blaxploitation did make a lot of people famous that would otherwise not have had the chance.  A-

Brickleberry:
A new Comedy Central show, which is pretty much the exact same show as Family Guy or American Dad, but it takes place in a fake national park and is even more obnoxious and less funny.  It has an equally low-brow sense of humor and derivative set of characters with a talking animal/martian/whatever.  In this case, a bear named Malloy.  The writers/actors were pretty much what you would expect from something like this.  It was kind of cool seeing the entire pilot here, and it was even cooler getting a free Brickleberry T-Shirt (yeah!) but it's not the type of show I would go out of my way to watch.  B-

Funko Fundays:
This wasn't an official panel, but took place at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.  It was Funko's annual meeting where they preview new stuff and give away a bunch of stuff (mostly to diehard fans.)  It was $60 to sign up, but it included three exclusive Pop figures (retail $15 apiece, but on the black market they go for upwards of $60 apiece) and dinner and drinks plus whatever else you win, so it's more than worth it!  It was cool to see an industry event like this, and even cooler that it was open to the public.  Here's my takeaways: Freddy Funko Mars Attacks, Kiss, & Abominable Snowman, and plain Freddy Funko!  And, prototypes of Gonzo and Miss Piggy Pop figures!  NR (since it wasn't an official panel)



Saturday

Save the Date: Your New Favorite Film

Save the Date was NOT my new favorite film, in fact, it was, sadly, the only dud panel I went to all weekend.  The premise is that it's a movie that's inspired by comics, but not based on any particular one.  It was supposed to be Scott Pilgrim-esque, but it lacked any sort of humor or nostalgia or dare I say, even relateability that SP had.  It just looked like a boring, slightly cool looking (but not even that cool looking) movie that would be silently screening in the background of Urban Outfitters.  The bright spot was that they had comic sketches, which they later explained how they turned into real characters in the movie.  The discussion should have been more interesting had had backing from such entities as the AV Club, but was, sadly equally boring as the movie itself.  C-

The Following
A new show from Kevin Williamson/Marcos Siega, were a bunch of people (and dogs) get murdered and an investigator has to solve it.  There's said to be some paranormal bent to this too, although it wasn't completely apparent from the pilot.  This show was totally disgusting and bloody and has unnecessarily ridiculous twists, but I have to give them credit for being skillfully suspenseful.  Also, Kevin Bacon as the detective is scary looking, but the villiain was oddly charistmatic, in fact, so much that I almost want to root for him instead.  Along with 666 Park Avenue yesterday and Revolution (below), the actors and directors in the brief Q&A said pretty much the exact same thing, which is "we don't know what's going to happen next."  B-

Revolution
Another new show, this one which takes place fifteen years after all electricity goes out and stays out.  This is totally B-movie or C-movie material.  It's a little too ridiculous to be believable (i.e. 15 years is too soon to completely degenerate into the wild wild esque setting this movie has become...and swordfights? really?) and the combo of main characters just seems a little odd (the girl, her step-mom she doesn't like, and one of her now-late dad's friends), but it was, in a way, delightfully tacky.  Apparently there are a few people left in the world that still have electricity.  B

Action Figure Insider's Behind the Plastic
This panel brought a bunch of executives from companies like Mattel, and a few designers to talk about the toy industry.  What a reversal this was from the Funko event--@ Funko, they gushed about how awesome their fans were.  Here, they make it clear that they're in it to make a profit, and you shouldn't be in the business because you love toys, you should be in it because you want to make a profit (wtf) and even though it's more profitable to make something else rather than Comic-Con exclusives, they "make it work."  Ugh.  Well, if nothing else, at least it's good to know that these types of execs are just as much jerkoffs as any execs.  D

Sunday

LEGO: Ninjago

I first saw this TV show called "Ninjago" months ago and thought, hmm, that's odd that they're legos, even though the TV show itself makes absolutely no mention to legos.  Well, at least now I know after attending the panel they officially are legos!  This was one of the panels I had to get there early for.  It started at 10:30 and I got there around 9:45...by shortly after 10 the room was full.  They had people from the TV show as well as from Lego to talk about how they designed the characters and incorporated them into the TV show, which was cool.  They also showed a clip of an upcoming episode.  A-

Comic-Con Talkback (AKA the Shitshow Panel)
Now THIS panel was pretty friggin' hilarious.  I nicknamed it the shitshow panel, because all it was was one of the directors sitting in front, and eveyone else lined up to complain about how they didn't get exclusives/tickets/security was being rude/etc etc.  It was actually pretty hilarious.  Some of the more hilariously bad complaints were:
  • My daughter is in a wheelchair, and she could not get the Lego exclusive that she really wanted because everyone else ran to the front of the line before she could!  The only reason she did get the exclusive, on Sunday, was because they opened the doors for people in wheelchairs before everyone else!  If they would have done that earlier, she would have not had to wait until the end of the weekend to get the exclusive! (Okay lady, there are many people NOT in wheelchairs who didn't get the exclusive at all.  Your daughter actually got one, which makes her luckier than most, and I doubt she's complaining either, so neither should you.)
  • I've been going to Comic-Con every year since 1984, but I'm not very technologically savvy, and now that the only way to get tickets is online, I'm afraid I won't be able to get one next year! (Uhh, okay, but this isn't 1984 anymore.  This isn't even 1997.  It's 2012.  Buying a ticket online is a little nerve-wracking but not difficult; learn it.)
  • I saw lots of screaming kids that didn't have parents watching over them.  I think they should make kids pay the full price too!  If parents had to pay $150 for kids to attend, maybe they would think twice before taking them along! (HAHAHAHA.  Well, this chic got a lot of jeers, but I guess kudos to her for being ballsy enough to say something like that.)
  • Security was really mean to me and told me my cane was too bulky and I had to get out of line! (Okay, this one actually is a valid complaint, but it was still kind of funny. :-X)
Last but not least...THE STUFF!  Yeah, I'm unabashedly celebrating consumerism.  I spent about $500 solely on vinyls and plushies, but there's no other time of year that I can get so much satisfaction from spending so much!  HAHAHAHAHA!  Here's a bunch of my stuffs:

Left: Golden Domo Bobblehead, SDCC DKE Exclusive Android Set, some free android plushy & chicken, free vinyl bags!  Right: 2 more Domo plushys, Kidrobot Ice Cream Sandwich, & SDCC Toynami Exclusives Dark Knight Skelanimals & Chun Li Hello Kitty!



Left: Free T-shirts! (I really wanted the Nintendo one, but wasn't able to snag it...oh well.  It's not too expensive on eBay)  Right: A bunch of sweeties!  Somewhere in there, there's the giant 2-foot tall emote "Hype" (only available at conventions), stuffed liver from I Heart Guts, stuffed Nosellot Lyle Bean, SDCC Exclusive Angry Pink Panda, little Ox Uglydoll & Uglydoll hat, and SDCC exclusive Uglydoll Power Babo!  Ahhhh, the cuteness has completely taken over!



Oh, and I must share with you the story of the Homer Golden Buddha from Kidrobot!  This was one of the things I really wanted from SDCC, but it's limited to 500 and they were only selling a small number each day.  I tried to get in line first thing W, Th, & F and pretty much got to the booth within minutes of them opening the doors, but they were sold out! Ugh!  Well, on Saturday, I got there RIGHT away, like, within seconds, but they weren't done setting up and told us to come back later to get a raffle ticket for the chance to buy it.  I was a little peeved, but there was no guarantee I would have gotten it to begin with, even though I was literally there within seconds.  Well, guess what?  I got it!!!



OMG, isn't that awesome?  And the Chinese take-out box it comes in makes it even more worth it!

There were a bunch more things that I got, some for puchase, others for free, but I couldn't possibly take pictures of everything! (Including a TON of free posters)

And, to finish this post here's a few pics..one with my friend Christine & I in front of the Lego Hulk, and another with the Uglydolls!  Enjoy! :D

  • Current Mood: exhausted exhausted
  • Current Music: The Fixx - Red Skies
Tags:
Gloomy Bear

Some more awesomeness from B&N

Ok, so I should be saving my $$$ (and apt. space) for Comic-Con, but I just hit found some awesome vinyls at B&N that I just couldn't pass up! (Esp. with the coupons, the total was about $15 inc. tax for BOTH of them put together, which is probably cheaper than each individual item at Comic-Con, so...:P)

First...Bane!

Isn't that the cutest villain ever!?!?! Haha.  Bane is normally annoying looking, in my opinion, but translates SOOOOOO incredibly well into a Funko Pop figure (the same which cannot be said about many others.)  I was also ecstatic that Stevens Creek had these.  I had been to just about every other B&N and they had the Dark Knight edition Pops of Batman and Catwoman, but not Bane. Maybe they figured he wouldn't be as popular?  Well, when I went in the other day, they had a full display with Bane!!!  List price was $8.95 (for some reason, B&N lists them as a dollar cheaper than everywhere else, but I'll take that!), then with my 15% all-purpose coupon and 10% member discount, it ended up being $6.84 + tax!  Wheeeee!!!!!

Next: Tokidoki Sabochan 6" vinyl!


Who wouldn't want a bright pink prickly cactus figure, right?!?!  Now this one was an absolute steal!  List price was $19.95, but it was in their clearance bin for 50% off!  SCORE!  Then I got the member discount, and the cashier was nice enough to let me use my 20% off coupon on top of that!  (They don't always let you for clearance items, but it works in the computer, unlike Borders, so sometimes they do if you ask nicely!)  So it ended up being $7.02 + tax.  This goes well with the Tokidoki Captain Coco vinyl I got at Borders for 50% off a few years back!

Okay, I have to promise to myself, no more toy or vinyl purchases until Comic-Con. 

In other unrelated news, I just made the most awesome dinner ever.  It was a humongous wrap with chicken, grape leaves, cherries, mint, and sauteed onions, red & sweet peppers, with lebni and avocado spread on whole wheat lavash.  YUMMMM!
  • Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
  • Current Music: Walk the Moon - Anna Sun
Gloomy Bear

Barnes & Noble & Starbucks: Weekly consumerism news

Barnes & Noble continues to take over where Borders left off, on the designer animeesque (& other geeky) toyfront.  Last time I was thrilled to see a full line of the newest Tokidoki/Footzeez/Kidrobot/Uglydoll plush AND Dark Horse glow in the dark Domo!  It's still kind of surreal to see these types of products at a retailer as mainstream as B&N.  I had to pick up the Tokidoki Donutella plush:



OMG, isn't that the cutest thing ever?  Tokidoki is an Italian designer, but their stuff is very anime-influenced and has become popular in those circles.  At $19.99 minus discounts plus taxes it ended up being slightly over $15, which is still a little pricy but whatever.  This matches the Kidrobot Yummy Cupcake that I bought at the Borders going out of biz sale!  Sigh, how I miss Borders.  But Barnes & Noble, which I rarely went to while Borders was alive, is doing an amazing job at filling the void in my life that Borders left.

Barnes & Noble also has blank Dunnys/Labbits AND many of the Kidrobot blind boxes--Dunny Azteca, Futurama, Street Fighter, AND Simpsons Vinyl!  And, Yummy Donut & Dessert mini-plush.  The unfortunate thing about having a full selection of blind boxes at a place like B&N whose customers include 12-16 year olds is that people go through and open up the blind boxes. :-\  Even the ones like the Yummy Donut plush blind box, which includes NO special editions, most of them were still opened.  Ugh.  At specialty toy stores they're behind the counter and/or monitored very closely.  B&N can't do that...I'm afraid they'll stop stocking these altogether. :(  (Although at $9.99 apiece for a 2-3" vinyl figure, I don't buy too many of these regardless.  Even at Borders I never bought them unless I had a 40% or greater coupon.)  Anyway, here's a picture of some of the blind boxes!



Also last week noticed a bunch of the Kidrobot special edition Kozik Labbits, which were cool, but not cool enough for the $17.99 price tag (unlike Donutella, which was very cool for the even more expensive price tag!)  I would love to see them stock more of the "Yummy" series.  The 12" donuts/fruits/pie/ice cream sandwich would be pretty awesome--and even more awesome with the use of COUPONS!

One major reason why I love seeing these at B&N (and loved them even more at Borders) is the coupons!  Granted it was much better at Borders, where they sent out multiple 30-33% off coupons every week and even 40% off more than occasionally.  About once a year they got up to 50% off.  B&N's coupons aren't quite as good (which is one reason I preferred Borders), usually only 15%.  But lately, they have been doing more 20% off coupons.  AND--with B&N coupons, they take them off of the lowest marked price, not the list price, so that's one plus that Borders didn't have.  My Dad buys a membership each year, so I get an extra 10% off (that's 10% off already discounted price, not list price.)  This makes things 23.5% and 28% off respectively, so closer to the 30% off that was common at Borders.  Without the extra discount, it may not be worth it.  Once in a blue moon B&N sends out 30% coupons, but these are as uncommon as the 50% off coupon at Borders.  Also, sometimes, although this is very unlikely, they will go on clearance for up to 50% off, but it is even MORE unlikely at specialty toy shops.

Next on the agenda: Starbucks!  The handmade Refreshers are finally coming, in Summer Phase II!  Most of the stores already have the ingredients but they won't serve them until launch...sad face.  Oh well, I waited an entire year, I can wait a few more weeks. :P  Also Friday 7/13 from 2-5 PM they will be serving _FREE_ Refreshers at all Starbucks.  I will be at Comic-Con, but should I sneak out to wait in line for a free Refresher?  Hmm...it's tempting! 
  • Current Mood: good good
  • Current Music: Enigma ft. Ruth Ann - Gravity of Love
Gloomy Bear

Words of the moment, redoux

When it seems
Like the world around you's breaking
And it feels
Like there's no one else around you
And it's quiet
There's a silence in the darkness
And it sounds
Like the carnival is over

As you walk
In the crowded empty spaces
And you stare
At the emptiness around you
You wanna go
To the city and the bright lights
Get away
From the sinners that surround you

Cause I will be there
And you will be there
We'll find each other in the dark
And you will see
And I'll see you too
Cause we'll be together in the dark

Cause if it's coming for you
Then it's coming for me
Cause I will be there
Cause we need each other in the dark
And if it terrifies you
Then it terrifies me
Cause I will be there
So we've got each other in the dark

As I look into the sky
There's sparks bright as ice
You want me to take you over there
I want you to stay with me
Cuz you're not the only one
The only one

No, no
Don't worry
You're not the only one

Cause if it's coming for you
Then it's coming for me
But I will be there
Cuz we need each other in the dark
And if it's panicking you
Then it's panicking me
But I will be there
So we've got each other in the dark

In the dark
In the dark
We'll need each other in the dark

In the dark
In the dark
We'll hold each other in the dark

Now we're saved together in the dark

Cause we've got each other in the dark
  • Current Mood: touched touched
  • Current Music: Tiesto ft. Christian Burns - In the Dark
Lamer

Tax week trash

The three months of getting paid a very liveable wage for not really doing too much too difficult are over, for now.  It's back to school through mid-July and I'm not excited about it.  We had the first class yesterday, and it seems ok but I'm not in the mood.  At least now I only have four hours a day rather than eight...but I don't like that they start at 7:45 rather than 9-9:15.  That hour makes a HUGE difference.

I did my taxes last night (Despite working at a tax firm I waited until the last minute...HA!)  I am pleased to report I am getting a whopping forty-seven bucks back.  Oh well, it's not like I really made that much last year anyway.  And it's better than the previous year when I owed a few hundred bucks.

Anyway, I've been thinking about when/where to begin my job search.  People say that it's never too early...but quite honestly, it is too early.  Most places want someone to start right away.  They won't look at you if you can't start for another three or four months.  And they're not going to the resumes in a file and look at them every month to see when you can start, they're just going to toss them.  So I may not start seriously applying until the beginning of June.  School goes through mid-July, and graduation is at the beginning of August.  (I can skip graduation, if need be.  I'm not particularly dead-set on attending that.) 

I was mulling over where exactly to focus my job search too.  I wouldn't mind going anywhere within reason (meaning, on my Tier I list...maybe Tier II but that might be a stretch), but it doesn't hurt to focus on the area I like best, right?  And that's L.A.  After getting back from Seattle, and realizing how much I like it & feel at home there every time I go there, I was thinking on switching to focus over there...but after thinking about it, I don't think I'd be able to put up with nine months of grey. (Everyone I talk to says, yes, really, there are nine months of grey.)  That, and while the average temps don't ever get too low...it never, ever, ever gets warm in the winter months either.  Like, the average high/low in January is around 47/37, which could be worse, but the record high in that month is 64.  Why settle for that when in LA there are multiple 70-80 degree days every January, ya know?

So, here's my list, for now.  Unsurprisingly all big cities in the western part of the US.  One thing to mention -- in addition for all the other reasons I love the western U.S., I've realized how important it is for me to be in PST.  It's not something I can exactly put my finger on, but it does give me a lift psychologically.  I just feel better getting up later and starting my day later and staying up later and going to bed later than the rest of the country.  Also, even though I'm not too political it is fun to be able to see who wins in the rest of the states before going to bed & making the rest of the country wait for us when seeing the results of an election, y'know?

Tier I:
  • 1. Los Angeles
  • 2. San Jose (It's very nice here, for all the reasons I like, but being a one-industry town makes me nervous.  SJ is getting a bigger head than is warranted.  Seriously, it's as expensive as SF and NY, and more than LA!!!!!  One of the benefits about SJ, in my mind, was specifically that it was supposed to be close enough to SF yet far enough way to avoid most of the problems, such as being ridiculously expensive.  Still, at this point salary, esp. for money-related jobs such as accounting, actually does keep up quite well with the cost of living,  I wouldn't mind staying here.)
  • 3. Seattle (I'm not much for scenery but I gotta admit it's absolutely gorgeous.  Great food.  Politeness is still alive and well here.  It's the major city of the NW US, a region that I can appreciate in general.  Figuratively, I have never met so many people in a city as here that speak the same language as me.  Reasonable distance from other major hubs, Vancouver BC and Portland OR.  Although I don't love grey, I do enjoy the rain.) 
  • 4. San Francisco (Awesome in so many ways, and yet overrated in so many others.  For all it has going for it--which to be fair it does have a lot--it still feels like a dinkytown on steroids.)
  • 5. San Diego (SD is a very nice place, but for me, for every reason I like SD, I like LA even more for the same reasons.  Except one--SD is safer, although even LA on average is not that high crime for a big city.  I actually do prefer LA's slightly hotter temps though.)
  • 6. Orange County (I'm punching this out from Los Angeles because even though it's technically in the same market...the vibes of this place are way different.  If I were to live here I would still be counting my blessings, though.)
Tier II:
  • 7. Sacramento (For being an affordable California city, it's actually pretty vibrant.  But, since this is the capital city of a state that a lot of nonsense takes place in, it's only going to make it that much worse.  And, being directly east of the Bay Area and in a valley it gets all of SF's pollution. :-\ )
  • 8/11. Dallas/Houston (These are the only two places on this list I haven't been to yet, but I'm going with what I know.  I think I'd like how everything's bigger in Texas, including the awesome skylines.  Dallas's being slightly more awesome.  From what I've heard Dallas, & to a slightly lesser degree Houston, is as cosmopolitan as any major US city.  I mean DFW was the first place outside of LA to get a Sprinkles cupcakes.  And for some reason Dallas used to have a KidRobot.  Dallas also has the longest running anime convention in the US, A-Kon.  Most jobs, especially in the private sector (but not gov't) pay almost as much as here in San Jose, but cost of living is literally half.  But the drawback...I'd have to live in Texas. :-\ )
  • 9. Albuquerque (I actually like ABQ for many reasons, the only problem, and it's a huge one, is that it's the poster child for middle of nowhere.  There's Albuquerque, which has about 500,000 people, and then...there's nothing else.  The metro doesn't even have 900,000.  The entire state of NM only has 2M, despite being the fifth biggest in land area after AK, TX, CA, and MT.  There's more than that within an hour of San Jose.)
  • 10. Portland (This place does suffice in many ways but it tries a little too hard.  Actually way too hard.  Too many hippies, too.  Also, like SD/LA, every reason I like Portland applies even better to Seattle.)
  • 12. Phoenix (By default, although I wouldn't be too thrilled about having to live here.  This place is huge and has everything that should go along with it.  It also doesn't get too cold, ever.  But OTOH while I'm not as picky on hot temps, I think AZ might be too hot for me.  No daylight savings time is also a bummer.  Also, whether it's been overblown by the media or not, I see AZ going through a lot of civil unrest & I don't see that stopping anytime soon.  I know, I know, CA's just as messed up, but I'm willing to put up with it.  I'm not sure how much I'd be willing to put up with AZ.)
  • Current Mood: tired tired
  • Current Music: Collective Soul - December