Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Extra Reality

I have a huge backlog of pictures not necessarily related to Comic-Con, some of the best of which I'll post now.

This is a pretty little river I walked across to get to the smaller convention centre to pick up my badge on Wednesday before the Con. It provides a path between the mall and hotel.

Looks like whoever owns the bridge could use a troll.

This place seemed like a nice place for kids to have a fort or something.

One of the big spiders was out making its web oddly early last Wednesday.

And of course Snow was afoot.

A strange bug I saw one night.

Amee spotted this spider in my room.

I've been watching plenty of movies, too--mostly familiar films I've been showing to Amee, The Philadelphia Story, The Misfits, Ponyo, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver, and Duck Soup. But at Amee's request, I rented Mike Judge's Idiocracy, which I thought was a nice social satire. It projects a future based on the fact that stupid, reckless people are more likely to reproduce than smart people, who take into account their own incomes and living situations before deciding to have children. This leads in the movie to a nation governed and populated by morons. Rather than the bloody, tribal chaos one would normally expect from such circumstances, Judge opts for a gentler, less realistic approach in order to lampoon modern culture. My favourite bit was the progression of the name of the Fuddruckers hamburger restaurant to Butt Fuckers

The weakest aspect of the film was its protagonists, played by Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph, written as being the sort of mildly dumb normal folks typically seen on sitcoms. In the environment of the moronic future, there really needed to be a straight man for contrast, but Rudolph and Wilson come across more like characters from another movie. A lot of the satirical culture was great, though, twisted guy I am, I think I'd have found it funnier if the people obsessed with brainless violence and sex were actually murderers and rapists. But I understand why Judge didn't go that route--in a sense, one could look at the world in Idiocracy as being a world of Beavises and Buttheads, and it does feel like Judge is accessing the same point of view here. Though I think the reason I find Beavis and Butthead to be a stronger work is that Judge clearly developed more affection for those two than he did for the people in Idiocracy.

Twitter Sonnet #167

Hardened paper passes plastic's front line.
Suspicious bread is halted by pastry.
Stale mint needles are woven into pine.
Sequoia has grown tired of history.
Purple eyes sink to the back of the head.
A long story spills into the spinach.
Whiskey packs into the girl on the bed.
Drowsiness is the fantastic finish.
Ultimate apples fly to the ceiling.
Clouds of paste stink as hot, melted rain drops.
Dead prosthetic tooth limbs lose all feeling.
Party arteries with confetti pop.
Grapes race round biomechanical tubes.
Carny satyrs fall asleep on soft rubes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Comic-Con Report, volume 4

This would normally be where I'd make the anime post, except this year some genius had the idea to move the anime theatres over to the Marriot hotel. It completely destroyed the whole point of most of the anime at the Con for me, which was that it was being shown in these nice, dark, cool rooms where you could sit and rest a while and maybe be introduced to some anime you'd never have watched otherwise.

This, however, didn't stop hyperactive cosplaying otakus from congregating in the same area, where they spent the whole time trying to find goofy ways of working off an apparently never ending sugar high.

I did finally take the long, winding path outside, through parking garage, up two flights of stairs, through cafe, past gift shops, outside again, and through lobby to the new anime theatres. Which, I have to admit, were much nicer theatres, bigger and with chandeliers. But probably not worth the walk. I watched an episode of a lousy series I'd never seen before called You're Under Arrest! and episodes of two old favourites, School Rumble and Hayate no Gotoku.

The things kids learn at Comic-Con.

Mostly on Sunday I wandered the floor, taking pictures of costumes.

When she wasn't doing volunteer work, Amee spent most of her time hanging out around the artist's booths. Here's some signed art she got from J. Scott Campbell.

That just about concludes everything I have to report about Comic-Con this year. Remember, new Venia's Travels to-day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Venia Versus the Na'Vi

The new Venia's Travels is online now, somehow, despite Comic-Con setting it back a little. Obviously I had no time for a Comic-Con report to-day, but there'll be more to-morrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comic-Con Report, volume 3

Saturday was the day I couldn't buy a pass for at Comic-Con because it was sold out by November. For this reason, I made sure to buy a four day pass for 2011 on site this year.

Those who don't have passes for Comic-Con have the option of volunteering for work, which is what Amee did for the entire Con. Halfway there on the trolley that morning, I started feeling sick and I got off the trolley at Fashion Valley mall, telling Amee to go on ahead without me so that she could be on time for the assignment she'd gotten the day before.

I felt better as I walked around Fashion Valley, and started getting irritated with myself for what seemed to me another imaginary sickness. I felt like it was starting to control me. Fashion Valley has a Tiffany and Co. Jewellery store, so I bought an apple danish and had breakfast at the Tiffany's storefront, building up my resolve.

When I got to the convention centre and went to the desk for an assignment, the woman told me there were none left that day and that she'd assign me one for Sunday. "But I paid for Sunday," I said.

"Then goodbye," she said, and just like that I got a free pass for Saturday. I'd like to thank Holly Golightly.

So I wandered the floor, feeling really good, taking pictures of costumes. This nice lady sells baby vampires online:

Upstairs, I ran into a great Rei Ayanami cosplayer who was wearing red contact lenses;

I'm not sure who this guy is, but a lot of people seemed impressed by him, so I took a picture.

All four of these ladies are dressed as Terra Branford, my favourite character from my favourite Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy VI

The Shadow! Fucking cool.

The cast of The Guild. I still haven't watched more than one episode, but it seems like a good series.

Nice to know there are more things than Twilight at the Con for straight women and gay men.

I saw two panels in the same room on Saturday night. The first was the Cartoon Network panel, which was mainly boring Ben 10 shit and shows that are essentially Ben 10 until Genndy Tartakovsky took the stage to discuss his newest series, Sym-Bionic Titan;

The clips he showed us were really beautiful. The only clip of the show on YouTube is good, but really doesn't capture a lot of what's integral to the show.

After this, I saw Ray Bradbury. He repeated a lot of the same things he said last year about the importance of love and living in the present. Some of the new ground covered in this footage has to do with Rod Serling, Mel Gibson, and the mall;

Twitter Sonnet #166

Breadsticks have shifted the soup rotation.
Coffee striped water swirls in pink funnel.
Negative space brains sow grain destruction.
The white truck has a small forward kennel.
A grey plane spooks an equine silhouette.
Messages jumble up window edges.
Winding up the glass is blushing numb sweat.
Truth splinters for what a joke alleges.
A word confines a man with a back brace.
Milk canals stretch on an old rubber band.
Off blue and white walls ricochets the ace.
Small dry grains run in open veins like sand.
Winnowed stars clatter about the skillet.
Pawns camped in the ravine dine on millet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic-Con Report, volume 2

On the trolley after Comic-Con on Thursday night, I was telling Amee about the BBC series Being Human. I said it was a good show, especially when the ensemble is together. Unfortunately, when the characters are separated, the show tends sometimes to drift into some phoney angst.

A middle aged woman sitting next to me started laughing weirdly, sort of bitterly and I said, "Are you a fan of Being Human? I hope I didn't offend you."

She said being human, apparently the concept of being human and not realising that I was talking about a television series, was very interesting and she explained to us that it was important not to get too caught up in your own problems, to think about the troubles other people have in their lives. Her fiancé, she explained, had tried to murder her but that didn't mean other people didn't have worse problems.

She rambled on a bit repetitively about how she was a writer, and how it was good to observe people and their problems, and she talked more about people getting stuck inside themselves.

"Like a bell jar," I said, finally getting a word in edgewise. "As Sylvia Plath might say," I thought, maybe being a writer, she'd appreciate the reference.

"Right!" she said and rambled on, accidentally revealing at one point she thought I'd said "bell curve" and hadn't actually understood what I meant at all. In fact, the more time she spent holding forth on how it was important to consider other people's problems, the more impressively she seemed to be wrapped up in herself. She didn't seem to understand much of anything Amee and I tried to explain to her about Comic-Con or Being Human, and she spoke with a tone of casual authority like a talking head on a documentary. It all kind of fit in with something that absorbed me for most of Comic-Con, that at the Con were thousands of artists with dreams only about 0.01% have any chance of achieving. Many of them to some degree like the lady on the trolley, more caught up in their self image than in any process that might lead them where they want to go.

On Friday, I was to have two accidental encounters with the Being Human cast, first when the flow of the crowd kind of forced me past their signing booth.

And I wandered into their panel later in the evening, after I gave up waiting for the Rifftrax panel. I guess the fact that Being Human's not so well known in the States accounted for the fact that I was able to get into the panel well after it started. It was the question and answer segment when I sat down, and I was impressed by the easy and sort of giggly chemistry the actors seemed to have, particularly Russell Tovey and Lenora Crichlow. Tovey joked a bit about his frequent nudity, and Aidan Turner carefully fielded a question about his character's, Mitchell's, mopier storyline, rather fiercely defending it as being a credible form of co-dependency. Crichlow ended it by interjecting bluntly, "Men do that."

I was sorry to have missed the Rifftrax panel. I actually caught two panels in the same room beforehand, but I kept leaving the room, feeling curiously impatient, and figuring since I'd had such an easy time getting into the room, for some reason it wouldn't be as hard as it had been all the previous years I'd done it. Both panels I saw in the room featured J. Michael Straczynski talking about his work for DC.

In the later panel, Straczynski was joined by Jeff Lemire and Grant Morrison and the moderator (Matt Idelson, I think) brought up from the audience people cosplaying as Darkseid, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman;

The Wonder Woman was dressed in the new almost plainclothes costume I'd gotten to thinking was universally reviled, as I saw quite a lot of old school Wonder Woman costumes at the Con. Idelson took an audience show of hands vote as to which costume everyone preferred that I think was skewed by the fact that no-one wanted to make the girl on stage feel bad. Straczynski, who's apparently responsible for the new costume, implored doubters to read the first two issues of his run, and he guaranteed he'd change our minds. I'm not sure about that, but I was happy to hear Straczynski say he was planning on incorporating more Greek mythology into Wonder Woman.

This guy in a rather impressive suit of plate mail that made clanking noises when he walked was quite a ways from the sort of Renaissance Fair ghetto terrace, where I recorded this duel;

I saw a lot of nice costumes on Friday. Here a Lum from Urusei Yatsura poses with some Super Mario Brothers characters.

But the costume I know I'm going to be dreaming about is this Morrigan;

She was clearly extremely worried about coming out of her top, and somehow that was more exciting than the girls I've actually seen lose their tops at Comic-Con.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Comic-Con Report, volume 1

I'd just begun to think this Na'Vi upskirt shot was the only Na'Vi imagery I was going to be able to bring back from Comic-Con, but I finally ran into these two on Friday;

I have to admit they were pretty cute, even if they didn't have nipples. I was expecting a flood of Na'Vi at Comic-Con this year, but it turned out these were the only three I saw.

Overall, my Comic-Con experience wasn't quite as exciting as last year--I never bothered trying to get into Hall H, none of the panels in there struck me as interesting. I was kind of sorry I missed Harrison Ford's appearance on a panel for Jon Favreau's upcoming film until I heard one guy got stabbed over a seat to see the panel. On reflection, I'm kind of glad to have not been part of that scene, especially since it was probably just to hear Ford drawl out something like, "Yes . . . it's a good film . . . I liked working with Jon Favreau very much, he gives a lot to the actors . . . he was incredible to work with . . ." and so on. Though I might like to see the movie.

I did, however, speak to Chewbacca again, Peter Mayhew. My project on Sunday was to find a celebrity to read my twitter sonnet, but Mayhew gave me a flat "no" that completely communicated to me layers of reasons why an actor of any prominence wouldn't agree to be on camera for some random guy. But that didn't stop me from asking Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch, who was kind enough to actually read the sonnet over before telling me that he couldn't do it because he couldn't connect to it emotionally as an actor. I came close to asking Lindsey Wagner, since she was another one who never seemed to have a crowd around her. But it felt sort of wrong asking her, since the only work I've actually seen of hers had been Sleep Therapy mattress commercials.

I thought I'd have a good chance getting LeVar "Reading Rainbow" Burton to do it, but I think the look on his face clearly tells you what kind of luck I had with that;

A lady in front of the table was loudly telling anyone who didn't want an autograph to step back. I could tell not many people were talking to Mr. Burton. Amee, who's been staying with me, pointed out I'm amassing quite a collection of photos of depressed celebrities from Comic-Con. I think any B-List celebrity ought to be advised not to attend Comic-Con unless they want a harsh confrontation with reality.

On the other hand, Richard Hatch, who was there all four days this year and last year, and who I saw wandering around a few times, seemed irrepressibly chipper. I guess it's all in your perspective.

I picked up Amee from the airport on Thursday morning. So I was happy this year, for the first time, attendees were allowed to pick up Thursday's badge on Wednesday from a smaller convention centre in another part of town;

There I was given badge, schedule, and bag. Every year, the bag's gotten larger with more prominent advertisements. This year's was practically a billboard, heavy and full colour, modelled here by Amee;

I said to her the thing was so big that someone could make a dress out of it. On Sunday, I met this girl who'd made a dress out of it;

Though I guess she probably used at least two. I doubt the ads made much impression on anyone, though, any more than the one SyFy used a whole building to show off;

Just thinking of all the other ways SyFy could've spent what must have surely been a ridiculous amount of money reminds me again of why I hate SyFy so much.

Here's the main floor of the Con on Thursday;

I guess the coolest thing I saw on the floor that day was the Ecto-1, which was hard to get good pictures of because of the large crowd around it;

There was also this guy in a coffin at the Warner Brothers booth that had something to do with Green Lantern;

He did not appear to have junk, in case you're wondering, but the towel made me feel morally secure. Speaking of morality, here are some folks Amee and I spent some time talking to that day;

They weren't the infamous "God Hates Fags" group, but they were still pretty obnoxious. The girl we spoke the most to seemed more willing to engage with Amee who demonstrated a far better knowledge of the bible than theirs, as theirs didn't seem to extend far beyond what could be contained by a few note cards. Beginning a spiel on how a good judge wouldn't allow a murderer to go free and therefore God wouldn't allow sinners to, the girl was stumped when Amee brought up the story of Abraham being told by God to kill his son.

My argument was a bit different. When the girl informed me a judge who took bribes was a corrupt judge, I said, "Say a guy goes to jail even though he didn't do anything wrong, say he just lived in a nice neighbourhood and he decided to offer a service to the businesses of the neighbourhood, protection, for a price. If a smart judge was paid off, and he let this nice guy go, can you really call that corrupt?" I also told her I'd met God at Comic-Con and that He agreed with me. I think if I'd been willing to put in the time, I could've gotten them to admit protection rackets were okay. Though it's probably best I not give them any ideas.

That's about all the time I have for Con stories to-day. I'll have more to-morrow.