Comic Con 2007

My husband and I went to Comic Con for the first time this year.  I bought us 4-day passes over the Internet, thinking that we’d be able to leisurely go about attending the conference.  I was so wrong.  Due to other life things we couldn’t go to the the preview party on Wednesday night, so we waited until opening day on Thursday.  The line to get into Comic Con basically began at my house in San Marcos as traffic was pretty bad, even at 10AM (!!!), through out the 30-mile journey.  When we got to downtown San Diego, the closest parking was at the Park Ball, which is a good 20-min walk to the convention center (not so bad).  When we got to the convention center we looked for the badge pick-up only to be told to get in line.  Which line?  This line?  And so we walked along the front length of the convention center and the line didn’t end.  At the corner of the convention center we asked a person in line how long he had been  in line.  He said he had been in line for about an hour, but that the line was moving fast.  My husband was ready to punt at this point, but we thought for fun that we’d see how long this line was, so on we walked along the side of the convention center, along the back of the convention center and finally into Seaport Village!  And this was the line for people who had pre-registered for the conference weeks, even months, in advance!  I was baffled.  At the end of line I asked the couple of young men that got in line behind us whether they had been to Comic Con before and whether it was worth standing in this line.  One of them said, “Well it’s big and it keeps getting bigger every year, but I really couldn’t say.”  Against my husband wishes we waited in that line.  And we waited, and waited, and it was 90+ deg F, and we had no beverage.  The only source of beverage appeared 30 minutes into the wait and it was a roach coach that had long ago run out of water.  The selections were milk, grape juice, cranberry juice, and clamato (I kid you not about the Clamato).  Sticky juice in hand, we waited in the hot sun for another hour before we got our badges.  Needless to say, my husband and I got nasty sun burns (I imagine most of the goths that were in line didn’t make it as they had burst into flames and were reduced to ash shortly after passing the roach coach).

And into the show … due to the unexpected traffic and the line to pick-up badges, we were 3-hours behind the schedule we had so carefully laid out the night before.  The first panel we attended was one on making plastic models yourself.  It was pretty interesting, but I know I’ll never do this.  After that we went on down to the convention floor.  We only got through 1/3 of the way down the hall before a lecture on MMORPGs started.  The floor was crowded!  Being a person of relatively short stature, it was difficult to see anything and when I stood still I got body slammed by overly enthusiastic fanboys (and girls) rushing off the floor, eyes glistening with joy about the purchase they just made.  Anyhow, the section I got to see was like a giant comic book flea market.  There were comic books, comic book and anime toys of all sort, there were “vintage” t-shirts (actually, more like someone went around to every Goodwill and Salvation Army sale and bought all the t-shirts), and fan art on sale.

The most interesting place to me was called “Artist Alley” and this is where various artists hawk there drawings to willing buyers.  Most of these artists draw fan art of their favorite comic book or sci-fi characters or they are artists who are trying to break in comic production professionally.  It was interesting seeing the different mediums the artists used to make reproductions.  They sold individual hand drawn sketches, drawings, and painting.  Most had sketchbooks to sell which were reproduced using laser printing (both b/w and color) or printed on a press.  Some sold some very nice books that ranged from spiral bound Kinko’s produced books to nice professionally printed and bound books (these were typically $25+ to purchase).  And a few of the artists sold short run lithographs for quite a bit of money each.  One artist had his art printed on what looked like semi-gloss photo paper.  I asked him what the technology was and he said it was some sort of Kodak process.  I asked if inkjet was used and gave me an indignant look and said, “I don’t think so, but it is archival if that what you’re getting at.”  I took a good look at the print and I could see no evidence of the printing technology (no screen dots or banding) and the colors were bright and the area fills were perfect.  Anyhow, most of the artists there were drawing away like their hands possessed a mind of their own as they did business and talked to potential customers.  I ended up buying one artists book of “Queen Amaidala” drawings for $15.  Apparently this guy really likes Queen Amaidala as reflected in the drawings in which she was so carefully drawn and lovingly imagined.  It’s a nice keepsake.

About the rest of comic con —

The rest of the show floor was crowded with booths from various corporations from comic publishers, to video game developers, to movie studios.  I looked though the ADV video booth, the Square Enix booth, and the Sony Playstation booth.  The ADV booth was co-sponsered by Best Buy and from it various anime DVD’s could be purchased.  The Square Enix booth was selling figurines from the Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts video game series (the items listed as show exclusives had already sold out.  I wanted a Bahamut figure, but they didn’t have anything small, but then again Bahamut is never anything small in any of his incarnations.  They also had some very nice FFX sword minatures.  Personally, I thought it would be more fun to have life size swords so we could experience the ridiculousness that characterizes FFX swords).

Basically this show has morphed into Hollywood’s testing ground for new Sci-Fi and action based blockbuster movies and TV shows.  A lot of movie and TV show announcements were made.  At its heart, though, this show is still about American comics and not being an American comic fan, I didn’t feel a real attachment to the show.  The crowd present was a mix of everyone — young and old, male and female, and all ethnic make-ups.  This was quite unexpected.  The other things to note are that these people are wired, the artists print, a large portion of them are gamers, they are very much the early adopters of new technology, and they are very forward thinking in terms of pop culture.  In other words, these are people that PRINT graphic arts and use computers, so of course we should care about them :).

As for the other 3-days of the show — we attempted to return on Friday to finish the convention floor, but after driving around downtown SD for two hours, we realized that there was absolutely no parking, so we punted and went home.  We did not go Saturday or Sunday either as the conference logistics, or lack of, utterly defeated our will to experience the rest of the convention.  Will we go again?  Probably not a for while unless they take the convention to a city that is better able to handle the amount to attendees and I or my husband suddenly get into American comics.

Movie Review: The Simpsons Movie

“The Simpsons Movie” is just that — The Simpsons on the big screen for about 90-minutes.  This is a very good movie, in general, so fans and people who are not so familiar with The Simpsons will enjoy this alike.  I don’t want to give away any of the story — not that there’s much to give away — so I’ll sorta dance around it.  Anyhow, all of The Simpsons characters you know and love show up at some point.  The story itself is standard Simpsons — a pretty simple story strung together with one-liners, sight gags, and the occasional moments of sweetness.  I caught more of the humor than my husband and the guy sitting next to me was giggling through the entire movie (he must have been a real fan of the show).  Should you bring children to this movie, well, most of the adult jokes will fly right over their heads.  However there is some Bart nudity, so it you aren’t comfortable with that sort of thing, then don’t take your children. 

If you do see the movie, hang around and watch the credits because there are some funny things to be seen and, for those of you into music, there’s a nice accapella rendition of “Spider Pig” and variations of the Simpson’s Movie theme done in the style of Copeland and Prokopriev (spelling?), with a little quote from La Mer.  I was intriqued.  I wonder if others will hear other styles, since I didn’t really pick up on it until well into the credits string.

Anyhow, I recommend the movie and for a snack get some nasty nachos. 🙂

Everything Has a Soundtrack

Yesterday, I was eating lunch at On the Border with my husband.  For some reason, I had this nagging feeling that something was different about the restaurant since we had last been there, but I could not put my finger on it.  I took a good look around and noticed that one of the walls was painted a very pleasant shade of blue and was decorated with clay sun-happy-faces, each illuminated with its own personal spot light.  I asked my husband it that was new.  He didn’t know.  Then I had this familiar feeling — what’s with the Banana Republic music in here.  Which led me ponder why a Mexican restaurant would want to have the look and feel of the Banana Republic and then, what exactly is the Banana Republic sound?

Music is everywhere it seems, with the exception of work.  I guess, though, at work some of us filll in the silence with our own soundtracks pumped in through earbuds and headphones from personal MP3 players or our computers.  Only recently, though, does it feel that the ambient music at a place is as much about brand as the company’s logo.  Thinking about the Banana Republic sound, here’s what comes to mind:  Imogen Heap’s “Loose Ends” and the Geico Caveman song.  Ah yes, the Cave man song … you all know the one.  It’s played at the airport where the caveman is on the moving sidewalk and wincing at a bad caveman poster.  Anyhow, it seems to me that Banana Repblic sound is at the light side of electronica with a distinctly feminine feel (I’m not quite sure what makes me say that, but it is what I feel).  What’s more is that this music seems to be very in-tune with me, so much so as to prompt me to buy Imogen Heap CDs.  Obviously the winner here is Imogen Heap and her record company.  But what about the Banana Republic?  Does it prompt me to buy clothes?  I suppose it’s a matter of providing a comfortable environment for me to shop with music that says this store is for me — it works at a very emotional level.  Oppositely, I’m repelled by music that is pumped in a store that sounds teenagely-poppy — say like Albecromie Fitch.  Automatically, my brain says, you’re too old for that.  However, I have observed shoppers my age and older in there.  Perhaps they are longing to still be very young … hmm.  Sadly, enough, the sound imminating from that store has kept me from entering, so I have no idea what kind of clothes they even sell.

It seems to me a lot of thought goes into music selection at some stores and I wonder about those people who spend their time crafting the playlists each week for these stores.  Is this a paid position?  Can I get this job?  Is this a service provided?  Satelite radio or a CD from corporate?  Hmm … And then there’s the local Marie Callender which seems to have some jokester creating their soundtrack.  I’ve heard such woeful songs as the Cransberry “Linger” and a few songs from “Jagged Little Pill.”  The music is soft, but it doesn’t exactly feel homey and warm.

What about your personal soundtrack?  How is that part of your personal brand identity?

Here are my most recently played songs on my iPod:

Glamorous (Fergie), Heretic (Trinity Blood Soundtrack), Neko-Mimi Mode (Tsukiyomi Moon Phase Soundtrack), SOS (Rhianna), U & Me (Cassie), Sow into You (Roisin Murphy), Do it (Nelly Furtado), and GBI — German Bold Italic (Towa Tei)

I sorta feel I’m too close to the subject to figure out what my music says about me.  Obviously, there is something to the “Jen Brister” brand, because those that are close to me can pick out songs that sound very “Jen Brister” instantly.  That is what my husband said of the music played at On the Border yesterday, and yes, it was quite true.  BTW:  My favorite song is Bjork’s “HyperBallad” followed closely by America’s “Horse with no Name” — for those of you who know the songs, make of it what you will :).

When I get old …

Yesterday, while out on our Sunday drive to the Best Buy to buy a cable, we found ourselves exiting the freeway slowly behind a lumbering Cadillac driven by a elderly gentlemen who, too, was out on a Sunday drive with his wife.  I turned to my husband and asked, “What will be our Cadillac, seeing as how neither one of us thinks a Cadillac is anything to strive for?”  T’is true, the Cadillac is/was the aim for my grandparents and some of my parents’ older siblings.  But now that is not the automobile aspiration of my parents or myself.   My husband was silent and contemplated it for a minute, and then after a stop light or two we saw a beautiful beast drive by — a vacation on wheels, and together we said, “Oooh, an RV …”  Yes, my husband and I want to the travel around the US in an RV when we retire and 30 – 40-years from now and when we do retire, that RV better drive itself, because I can’t even imagine how much worse my driving could get when I become a senior citizen (anyone who has been in a car with me, knows what I’m talking about …).  Ahh, I can see it now, living in an RV, plugging in waypoints into the navigation computer and waking up in a new place every morning like a cruise ship.  And we can meet up with other land cruisers we’ve met on the Internet and roam the land as one of the many bands of senior land cruisers (Ryans anyone?).  Of course by then, there will be no gas, so it will be fueled by waste or whatever clever fuel alternative emerges victorious from the research that is being done now.  It will be wonderful :).  But you know, if my dream doesn’t come true and my RV doesn’t drive itself within 30-years, then I’m going to be very, very disappointed.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter is back for his fifth year at Hogwarts and he angry, brooding, and apparently lifting weights in his spare time.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is quite good.  I don’t know how true it is to the novel, since I haven’t gotten past the first few pages of the novel myself (Dursley nonsense kinda put me off on reading further).  Anyhow, the pacing is good and the film has “grown-up”, so to speak, along with the characters.  This is dark and dreary movie both in scenery and costume and it adds to the impended turn for the worse at the end of the movie.  Daniel Radcliff is turning into quite a good actor and brings forth well the conflict and frustration within the Harry Potter character.  The story and the character of Harry Potter are getting more interesting and, in a way, I was reminded of Star Wars and the way we were cheated out of a good downfall story for Anakin Skywalker — that is to say, the Harry Potter story, so far, could be a compelling tale of how a good kid goes very very bad.

Anyway, the movie was well worth my $9 and lost sleep due to the midnight start time last night.  By the way it was very fun to see the movie at midnight with all the Harry Potter fanatics.  A good portion of the audience was in costume and my local theather was kind enough to open more theater houses than they sold tickets for so nobody got a bad seat.  The audience was very lively which heightened the movie going experience.

DS Lite Enables Interactivity at Baseball Games

This is really cool!  I imagine the pilot program is a success because lots of kids (and some adults too — including myself) have the Nintendo DS or DS Lite device.  This kind of application really shows the power of having a small wireless entertainment device.  An added advantage to DS and DS Lite proliferation is the cost, which is around $129, which is pretty cheap for a hand held wireless device.  I think it would be neat to have more interactivity like this in other places besides the baseball field, like theme parks and museums.  Can you imagine having additional information about an exhibit available to you or your child through their DS?  They could take the info home via the DS.  Or maybe content specific gaming (aka targeted ads) at various attractions — like a maybe a theme park ride sponsor’s mini-game or “entertainment” available while waiting in que for the ride.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2007-07-09-dslite-interactive-baseball_N.htm

Movie Review: Die Hard 4.0

Willis!!! Who gave Homer Simpson a gun? Doh! This is worst movie I’ve seen this year. The movie breaks down this way: Crusty and computer illiterate Baby Boomer (Willis) teams up with Gen Y wimpy whiner (Apple Boy) to kick amoral well-dressed egoist gen X ‘s(villain) behind. As you know, all of today’s woes are due to Gen X … blah, blah, blah, a pox upon Gen X … but I digress. There isn’t much of plot, and what plot they had going is undermined by inconsistencies within the scenarios and techno-babble of the highest grade of nonsense I’ve heard in a while. I also wasn’t too fond of the generally negative position taken on the USA and its citizens.  The undertones of and the stereotypes in this movie deeply offended me as an American and as a hopeful person. Anyhow, the action was good, although completely implausible and against the physical laws of the universe. But then again, when physics makes no sense, use your force of will. This is the McClane Doctrine and ultimately the lesson Gen Y must learn. Technology, math, and reason are bad. The way of truth and good are gained through brute force and man’s will.  Sigh … what a sad, sad, movie. I give this 1/5. 1 point for good action (if you can suspend disbelief) and Bruce Willis’ indestructible body and bald head. Long live Willis!