Results tagged “m” from kwc blog

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Sunday

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Sunday's stage is short largely ceremonial. Panels are sparse, most of the good schwag has run out, and everyone is generally exhausted.

Team Uni did several celebratory laps around the convention floor, picking up some last-minute sketch points and some goodies for the Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification (CRAC). bleusky, m, and ota hung together to hit up the Flight booth for additional sketches while parakkum and kwc struck out on their own. kwc focused most of his attention on James Jean sketches, purchasing a NYTimes science sketch and a Snow White and tiger sketch for his sketchbook.

ota and kwc made early exits to head to the airport, while parakkum, m, and bleusky celebrated at the team dinner along with parakkum's parents, who provided amazing support to our team throughout the Tour: lodging, transportation, food, and good company.

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Saturday

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Saturday's stage blew away Team Uni's expectations in many ways. A gameplan to ride the queen stage with a warmup climb of the Quick Draw Panel (Cat 4) and then over the Ballroom 20 climbs of Heroes (Cat 1), Battlestar Galactica (Cat 1), Futurama (Cat 3), and Joss Whedon (Cat 1) turned more adventurous than planned, at least for team member kwc. The team made sure to shed all extra gear for this event to ride as light and slipstreamed as possible.

The team went into Saturday's stage with a plan to avoid the convention floor, fearing that it would be even more swamped than in previous days. Instead, the team observed it was perhaps the least crowded that it has been all week. Points for the Credit Ruining Accoutrements Classification (CRAC) were easy pickings and kwc was able to pick up limited editions of a Transformers Rodimus and Hot Wheel Batmobile, neither for himself, and the former being an item that m has sought after the entire convention. Instead of having to do the usual wait in line to get a ticket to get a time to wait in line again, kwc was able to walk directly to the cash register. Perhaps it was like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: kwc was able to retrieve these items because he had no desire for it.

Why was the convention floor so empty? Perhaps it was because other convention go-ers were doing was most of Team Uni was doing: waiting in line to get into panels. The length of the Ballroom 20 climb was five times longer (if not more) than in previous years for nearly identical panels (e.g. Battlestar Galactica). There were enough people to circle the entire east wing of the convention center.

kwc bridged up to bleusky and m, who were far up in the line but still found themselves unable to join the Heroes panel. This is when things got a bit interesting for kwc. He made a brief stop at the bathroom, which he found was temporarily closed for VIPs. The bathrooms were reopened and he soon found himself passing by the kid who plays Micah on Heroes washing his hands at the sink. kwc noted VIPs meant there must be another path from the bathroom to Ballroom and formulated a plan of attack.

kwc told bleusky and m about the run-in and possible secret path, and then decided to go scout the route. He poked his head through the unguarded double doors to check the security and... walked right into Ali Larter and the rest of the cast of Heroes walking down a back corridor. The breakaway was forming and kwc knew that this was the one to go with. He jumped into their draft -- not that there is much of a draft walking behind Ali Larter -- and pulled out his iPhone to block his badge and blend in with the assistants. A bodyguard made fertive glances at this new rider in the break.

The composition of the break at this point: the entire Heroes cast—Jack Coleman (H.R.G.), Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders), Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman), Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), James Kyson Lee (Ando), Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), Zachary Quinto (Sylar), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh), Dania Ramirez (Maya), and Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli) as well as Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale, and Tim Kring. There were also the guests and family of the cast, including Rob Liefeld. It would have been a fun scene to take a photo of, but kwc could only think, "don't give away that you don't belong."

The group swelled up at the back entrance to Ballroom 20, then split as the cast,crew and people with black wristbands were led in. Quite a lot of the guests did not have these wristbands and as Jeph Loeb zoomed past he promised that he would send someone back to bridge them back in.

With the big names now gone from our midst, the security drones descended upon us, setting a mighty crosswind that threatened to expel the wristband-less chase gruop. An assistant bravely stood at the front and absorbed the blunt of the wind shouting, "I cannot move from this spot. If I do, I will lose my job." kwc cowered in his draft.

kwc briefly jumped on Rob Liefeld's wheel as he led a group over to one of the sidedoors, where a security guard was offering to let them in. The Liefeld group quickly dissolved as they noticed the others getting backstage, so they quickly sped back to that group, through the door, and backstage. kwc was in and quickly found that backstage was crowded, and all you saw was the cast's back -- he left backstage to find a better view.

The Heroes panel itself was actually boring -- the sort of panel where the moderator asks each panelist the same trite question, except that the entire cast was there, so this was quite tiresome. There was the occassional playful moment between members of the cast, usually led by Greg Grunberg, and there was the brief appearance of Kevin Smith, who was the first on the session to wonder if the Japanese characters on the show were gay. As excited as the audience was by his presence, he warned that might spell doom for the show as it did Veronica Mars. There was a clip at the end of the show that revealed little in the way of plot and more in the way of who was in the clip (I won't give it away here). kwc got a "Comic-Con Exclusive" first printing of the Season 1 DVD box, which is just a ridiculous piece of schwag. Maybe he can take advantage of the same people who buy PS3 boxes on eBay.

kwc was able to grab a fourth-row seat for m, who remained patient in line and got in for the Battlestar Galactica panel, which turned out to be a "Women of" sort of affair as Lucy Lawless, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, and Mary McDonnell were the cast members present. It was a more entertaining event than Heroes and Ronald Moore talked about the upcoming Razor episode, which will be a sort of bridging episode that goes all the way back to the first Cylon war as well as back to the original attack on the Pegasus.

bleusky returned from sketch-hunting to watch the Futurama panel. Team Uni originally thought of the panel as being the Joss Whedon camping event, but it ended up being kwc's favorite panel on the day. The writers wrote a thank you comic to the fans and Comic-Con came on and performed it. It's one thing to see brief clips of voice actors on DVD extras, it's another to see the actors working together and someone like Billy West single-handedly do dialog between Fry, the Professor, and Zoidberg. John DiMaggio's larger-than-life presence was not all that different from Bender, and he, West, and Maurice LaMarche were all able to entertain the audience with displays of their voice talent -- the best being when they showed how they blended different voices to come up with their Futurama character's distinct signature.

The final climb of the Ballroom 20 course was the Joss Whedon event. In prior years, Whedon was able to deflect bad questions with great ease; this year he seemed more eager to answer the "what makes you more creative than me?" sorts of questions that dominate these events. He talked about his new effort Sugar Shock (available online) as well as Buffy Season 8, feminism, etc... He also resisted chants from the audience to dance like a monkey.

parakkum took part in the separate Magic competition held on Saturday (parakkum's diary entry). He caught another opponent accidentally cheating and took that match, but bad draws and otherwise made for a tough event.

Ota rode the first Quick Draw panel with other team members and then rode a separate course through the Jim Henson/Tokyo Pop panel and the Hall-H-Category (HHC) Disney/Pixar event.

The full team grouped together to ride at the front of the line heading into the Sails Pavilion, getting a table up front and indulging themselves in the free nachos, cupcakes, and candy that the organizers generously offered. The first half of the event had some fun skits and costumes, but the team was passing out on the final stretch.

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Friday

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Schwag

Team Uni was riding at full strength for the first time yesterday as ota did a full course and there were temporary reinforcements from Temecula, as bleusky's friend jw drove in. The full team showed immediate dividends in the schwag competition: bleusky and jw were able to collect the popular Harry Potter bags, while ota did a blazing timecheck through the Wizards of the Coast booth to collect a Magic starter set.

The team's fast start was helped by a switch to The Cheese Shop for morning grub. There was no Guinness/coffee combo to be had, but massive carbs were delivered promptly.

Sketch Classification

Team Uni sent honeyfields, bleusky, and kwc to collect points in the sketch competition. bleusky collected several sketches, including a Stardust sketch from Charles Vess and a color painting from Scott Morse that earned her first in the sketch ranking on the day. kwc focused on collecting points at the Flight checkpoint, getting an excellent vampire from Rodolphe Guenoden, a beautiful fairy from Sarah Mensinga, and generally filling up the front of his Flight book with signatures. honeyfields added two more Sakai sketches to Team Uni's totals, with both a sketchbook sketch as well as a detailed sketch in the Art of Usagi Yojimbo hardcover.

kwc collected on the long-promised "Usagi Yojimo Charges into Battle on Bike," which was assisted by the Tour de France being on TV in Stan Sakai's hotel for visual reference.

Usagi commision from Stan Sakai Flight 4 Guenoden sketch

Panels

Team Uni made a wise decision to avoid the early day Hall-H-Category (HHC) sessions. The Whiteout session was reminscent of Paris-Roubaix as Kate Beckinsale was caught behind a the train tracks across from the Convention Center and her fellow panelists were unable to convince security of their status.

The team instead sent a big contigent to the Neil Gaiman talk, which did not disappoint. Despite have no prepared remarks or plan, Gaiman 'burbled' his way to many laughs with his Alan Moore ("he's very big and very hairy. And as he gets interested in something, he loooooms") and Guillermo del Toro (Neil's "Magic Dumbo") anecdotes. There were also some anecdotes of the early days of Comic-Con:

Gaiman: You'd sign for 10 or 15 people and then no one else would come
Audience: awwwwww
Gaiman: It was great!

Someone asked him why, if there was a God, why is there the Endless? "Isn't that like saying, if there was a God, why do you need to buy hamburgers?"

On Volume 2 and 3 of Absolute Sandman: "And of course you could kill someone if you dropped it on them. Useful. For the right person."

parakkum's diary covers the talk as well, including the Spectacular Spiderman panel beforehand. I like "Cheeks"' character design for the cartoon, but the backgrounds were crap.

m held fast in the Stargate doubleheader, taking many photos and reporting that the folksy girl from Firefly is moving to Stargate: Atlantis.

The strenuous course eventually helped Team Uni commit some missteps in panel selection later in the day. The very attendable HHC Star Wars at 30 punished ota, parakkum, and honeyfields with non-Star-Wars marketing, and the Jim Henson talk similarly punished bleusky. A Scott McCloud family slideshow had kwc gritting his teeth and pulling an early exit.

The team's spirits were lifted as parakkum's parents treated the team to a dinner at Nati's in Ocean Beach. The team stuffed its stomach with quesadilla crisps, jalapeno-soaked carrots, and Mexican-flavored carbs.

The ever-busy Saturday promises much in the way of panels. Just in Ballroom 20 is a string of Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Futurama, and Joss Whedon. The hopes to avoid crashes on the convention floor and ride a good race, though it will have to do so without honeyfields, who has made a planned early exit for this year's Tour.

Tour de Comic-Con: Thursday

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Nutrition is important to Comic-Con: eat enough calories at breakfast, you can hopefully hold off hunger until the floor closes for dinnertime. Fail, and you must choose between crappy convention floor food or losing a couple of hours to venture out into the Gaslamp district.

Just as important is where you get your food. Team Uni has traditionally eaten at Hennesey's on the weekday mornings and The Field on the weekends -- the The Field offers true Irish breakfast but is not open on weekdays; Hennesey's approximates Irish breakfast. The compromise has worked until yesterday, when poor service cost Team Uni an hour right out of the gate and set the team back in the CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification). Harry Potter bags were already gone; tickets for exclusive Transformers were gone. Shaun Tan advance reading copies were offered as consolation from Scholastic.

Such missteps do not keep Team Uni down: the team recovered by heading over to the Wizards of the Coast area and making quick work of the giant d20. parakkum, honeyfields, and bleusky combined to win Axis & Allies: D-Day, an Axis and Allies Naval Starter Set, and a Magic core starter set with online CD. kwc picked up a Star Wars Bounty Hunters booster pack but wasted too much time collecting stamp bonus. Team Uni hopes to repeat its Thursday morning gameplan on Friday with better results; Hennesey's will be avoided and kwc has already pre-collected stamp bonuses to move through the Wizards area quickly.

bleusky showed she has good legs despite being a rookie, easily collecting all five cards scattered acround the Convention Floor for the Avatar competition, earning a sixth bonus card for her efforts. She and honeyfields also teamed up to do a privacy-for-schwag manuever, earning Eduardo and Samurai Jack cellphone accessories from the MMOG booth.

Sketch competition

Scott Morse "sketch"kwc had a very good day in the sketch classification. Scott Morse did a "sketch" that was, in fact, the first color painting that he's done for kwc in five Comic-Cons and two APEs, and an awesome one at that. kwc also got a Mike Mignola, and Stan Sakai sketch, as well as a Wolverine sketch from David Finch of Ultimate X-Men fee. The latter was a split category prize: 1/2 sketch and 1/2 CRAC as it was a paid sketch. A Stan Sakai Usagi commission should earn Team Uni full dual sketch/CRAC points but will not be ready until Friday's stage.

honeyfields scouted the Flight booth and racked up huge sketch points: Sarah Mensinga, Johane Matte, Kazu, Clio Chiang, Reagan Lodge, and Ryan Estrada all did drawings for her sketchbook. They are all fantastic, but the Mensigna sketch deserves special mention. The rest of Team Uni will be making passes by the Flight booth based on honeyfields scouting report.

m's big prize on the day was a Magic art print from the artist that shows off all the detail that is lost in the smaller card form factor. m got his first-edition Stardust hardcover signed by Charles Vess alongside a previous Neil Gaiman inscription. He also dropped back to help kwc get his Stardust signed after kwc's legs cracked on the first attempt.

m, honeyfield, kwc, and bleusky did a team ride through the David Petersen/Mouse Guard booth, picking up three copies of the hardcover volume one and many sketches -- Petersen humored us and shared stories of eating dinner with Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, and Stan Sakai. The moral:

Never follow a Sergio shortcut through the snow,
what lies beneath you do not know,
for saved time you try to beg,
you must sacrifice Mark Evanier's leg.

King of the Mountain (KOM) competition

Thursday's stage had an unprecented addition that is a sign of Comic-Con's growing popularity: a Hall-H-Category (HHC) KOM with twenty-or-so unlabelled switchbacks that cut across half the length of the convention center and around the sculpture garden outside the Hall. The Hall-H-Category climbs were added in 2005 (related: Team Uni's first Hall H experience), but the major-movie-studio events that are held there have typically only occurred on the more popular Friday and Saturday stages. The Thursday event was a bit of an unknown: a Thursday major motion picture event, with Neil Gaiman and JJ Abrams.

m and kwc attempted to conquer this HHC climb, figuring that it would be easier than typical HHC climbs due to it being a Thursday. Instead, the course was harder than any previous HHC climbs, including events with Natalie Portman and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Only the fabled Spiderman 3 event ranks more challenging. m and kwc were forced to abandon after being told by referees that they were outside the time limit. With this surprising early defeat, m has already decided to forgo the KOM competition; kwc has yet to determine if he will have the legs to make a solo attempt on Friday or Saturday.

Panels

Team Uni regrouped at the Groo 25th Anniversary panel, which featured everyone who has worked on Groo, i.e. all five of them. parakkum's stage diary highlights some of the entertaining bits. I also enjoyed the banter between Sakai and one of the colorists (Colorist: "You could read the completed issue" Sakai: "But then the color would ruin it").

You can also read parakkum's diary to find out more about the Bill Plympton event.

Doping report

Overheard: Charles Vess remarking to his teammate, "I just had gummy bears, I can do anything!"

kwc has been suspiciously consuming packages labeled "doubleshot."

Tour de Comic-Con/Team Uni: Prologue

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Team Uni limped (literally) into the Prologue Preview Night: honeyfields is sporting a fashionable cane and kwc visited the team doctor this week to get his patella taped due to a problematic kneecap. The team scouted the very crowded Comic-Con Convention floor and scouted the offerings in the schwag competition: starter sets and booster packs from Wizards of the Coast appear to have the best $$$:item ratio and Harry Potter Deathly Hallows bags from Scholastic are of good quality.

m came through with passes to the Stardust screening Thursday night; kwc was five minutes too late, even though he showed up five minutes early. m was less lucky in obtaining a CC-exclusive Transformers Ford GT Rodimus for the CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremounts Classification), but he plans on going in an early morning break to attempt it once more.

Team rookie bleusky gave Team Uni its first points in the sketch classification, picking up drawings from Stan Sakai, the Flight folks, and Owly. The Stan Sakai sketches are rumored to be more difficult this year as Sakai and Aragones are unhappy with the eBay aftermarket, so it could turn out to be important as the standings shake out.

parakkum rode in the wind and carried hardcovers to protect honeyfields and they focused on heavy CRAC so they wouldn't have to carry it on the longer stages ahead. kwc had a similar strategy and picked up a limited-edition Scott Morse Scrap Mettle, RD8 Mimobot, Isadore Vimobot, Usagi Yojimbo Vol 21, Penny-Arcade Birds Are Weird and Armadeaddon poster, and CC-exclusive pink R2-D2 (R2-KT) (to add to his collection of R2s). kwc has never waited in line at for a CC exclusive before and was exposed to the troubling underbelly of Comic-Con: parents forcing their kids to go around the convention floor with them to pick up exclusives (to game the item/person limit) and schwag.

The early-morning Thursday gameplan for kwc and honeyfields is to pick up Harry Potter bags from Scholastic and possibly head over to Mimobot. kwc will head from there to pick up his Stan-Sakai-commissioned "Usagi Yojimbo on Bike" and to the Wizards booth to start collecting schwag points.

ota rejoins Team Uni today, straight out of a five-day stage race in Vancouver.

APE 2007

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I try to make it to APE every year so I can buy some indie comics from the creators themselves and find stuff that would often fall below the radar at my local comic shop. There are panels -- this year included Art Spiegelman -- but I find that I really only have energy to do those once a year at Comic-Con. This mostly makes APE a shopping experience for me, so without further ado, here's what I shopped for:

Ancient Book of Myth and War

This was the only item I went in intending to buy. It is a themed art book that Pixarians Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank, and Nate Wragg put together. I had read about it on Scott Morse's blog and figured that at least Morse would be in attendance. It turned out even better than expected as Morse, Shank, and Romano were all on hand to do free sketches (in the case of Morse, a painting) in the inside cover. The result is pretty awesome:

AncientBookOfMythAndWar.Morse.Romano.Shank.500.jpg

A great book and what you see above for only $20.

Kitosan Tea . an Eastern Beauty Tea Brewing Instruction Book

I know a fair bit about tea already, but this clever packaging of a tea bag was too good to pass up. Contained within is a single tea bag plus cute illustrations that take you through the proper steps for brewing tea, including how to brew the same leaves up to four times. I don't see how you can order them online, but I'm sure if you e-mail her arrangements could be made (only about $5). Afterworks 2 features the story of Kitosan.

Too Much Coffee Man

Shannon.APE2007.200.jpg

Friends of mine are fans of the book and I couldn't go yet-another APE without buying an issue -- I was lured by the Too Much Coffee Man guitar picks.

Gallery Nucleus/Christopher Appelhans: Last of the Unicorns shirt

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Who knew unicorns could be so big, ugly, and cute? I picked one of these shirts up for d.

Super7 T-Shirt

Super7 had at least 3 t-shirts I wanted. I ended up going with an camo-silhouette of a AT-ST, Star Wars dork that I am (not listed on Web site right now). I almost got the Star Wars spaceship lineup or the Godzilla lineup instead (also not listed on Web site).

Kazu Sketch

left: APE 2007 sketch, right: Comic-Con 2007 Amulet sketch

Kazu.APE.2007.250.jpg Kazu.Comic-Con.2006.Amulet.250.jpg

Kazu Kibuishi of Flight/Daisy Kutter/Copper fame does amazing sketches. I didn't buy anything this time around as I pretty much own everything, but Kazu was kind enough to do this sketch and also let me read through an Amulet draft -- there were some amazing pages in there (as expected). Amulet is an epic effort for Kazu. Book 1 will come out in Spring 2008 and will weigh in at 200+ pages. If I recall correctly, five whole books are planned, though Scholastic has only committed to two so far.

Bean's Song (Book 1)

This was one of those books that just caught my eye. Artist Travis Hanson was working on inking a print, it caught my eye, and next thing you know I have a book to read. It is an illustrated novel (think Stardust). Book 2 is coming out in a couple weeks, so if I like what I read I'll have even more to read. I was told by a Super-Con organizer that Travis Hanson will be there.

Lemony Snicket and The End (San Bruno, CA)

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Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler
Originally uploaded by mhuang.
Yesterday we went up to go see Lemony Snicket's book reading for The End, which continues my initiation into musically accompanied book talks (see John Hodgman at Codys). I wasn't sure what to expect from a Lemony Snicket reading -- with such a mythology of secrecy surrounding the character of Lemony Snicket, I wasn't sure how the actual author, Daniel Handler, would maintain that mythology in front of a crowd of mostly children. The answer was that it was fun, entertaining, and worth the trip, but you'll have to click through for specifics as I don't wish to spoil the details for those that wish to discover for themselves.

Update: added last of the videos (introduction, "This Abyss")

I'm still chuckling over the John Hodgman Areas of My Expertise talk at Codys SF. Some of you may already be aware that musician Jonathan Coulton accompanies Hodgman for his talks. I've never seen a book talk with an opening theme song and musical accompaniment, but I am now convinced it is a practice that should be adopted by every author. He is also the only author I have seen talk a brandy break (necessary due to the performance nature of his talk) as well as use walkie-talkies to do the Q&A (which works, for a bit).

Hodgman riffed on Benjamin Franklin, hoboes, Big Rock Candy Mountain, and more. If I didn't know better, I would think that Hodgman had been hanging out with metamanda, though I don't think she is nearly as knowledgeable about the Mall of America.

With the help m, who offered his tripod, I managed to shoot much more watchable video this time around.

Update: here's the video for the first half of the talk. After this, Hodgman and Coulton took a brandy break and then did Q&A. I only have a bit of the Q&A, which was hilarious in itself.

This is as much of the Q&A as I could record:

Talk: Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

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Fragile Thingsupdate: all videos from the talk are online now

The Villa crew went out to Keplers tonight to watch Neil Gaiman speak. It was very nice to actually see Gaiman at Keplers: last year Keplers went out of business just before he was going to speak. I would hate to think that Gaiman is somehow cursed. It was charming to see Gaiman reading Anansi Boys from a church pulpit instead, a but one-minute drive to my local bookstore has its benefits. It was also special because Gaiman helped promote the Save Keplers cause.

The Fragile Things talk was charming as Gaiman talks are. I like to argue that it is important to hear Gaiman speak if you are to read his works: much of what he writes, especially his children's books and short stories, make much more sense if you can imagine a Neil Gaiman voice in your head speaking with the appropriate rhythm and inflections. It is also fun to hear Gaiman speak because he can make a story about buying a pair of pants at Armani yesterday amusing. littlestar was entertained enough that she went and bought a copy of Fragile Things immediately afterwards, going against her inclination to wait for a smaller paperback edition. I, of course, am a whore for Gaiman product: excluding individual comic book issues, my current count is 24 plus an autographed backpack. My count is only impeded by my desire to acquire my Sandman within the same printing vintage.

In the past, I've generally taken lengthy notes at book talks at spent hours upon hours transcribing them into blog form. Now that I'm slowly coming to the realization that my camera takes video and therefore is also an audio recorder, I've decided to make life easier by just including video with short summaries.

NOTE: all of the videos are of crappy quality shot with my ELPH. I was more concerned with just getting audio -- think of the video as bonus ;).

Intro

See the extended for more videos

Tour de Comic-Con: Sunday's Stage

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Sunday is a day to explore the floor, break out the wallet, and fill up the bag. Yes, today is the day that Team Uni goes out in search of a high ranking in the Credit Ruining Accountrements Classification (CRAC).

Before getting started in the CRAC, there was some loose ends with schwag and sketch points to get out of the way. Team Uni started off with a quick stop by the Wizards of the Coast booth to see if they had restocked any Attack on Endor sets. They hadn't, but there were new prizes and Team Uni managed to pick up some Magic starter and booster packs. Then it was off to Scott Morse's booth, where I got a Triplets of Belleville-style sketch of Tom Danielson drawn with sharpie and honeyfield's water brush. The sketch combines a bit of the alien-ness of time-trial cycling gear with impossible Spiderman-like body positioning and the elongated Triplets form. It'll be posted soon with the other sketches I got. I didn't commission a painting this time around as I got one at APE and I wanted to wait until I've had a chance to hang up the ones I have in my new place before I decided what I want next. Morse should have a new book out with Lou Romano and others at APE, which I'm looking forward to.

The wandering gets a bit more difficult-to-remember from there. We won some hats from Viz Media, I got a sketch from Adrian Tomine and Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Push Man), and we got some sketches at the Flight book from the always super-nice and talented Johane Matte as well as Dreamworks storyboardist Phil Craven.

The big purchasing came when honeyfields picked up nearly every book in First Second Books catalog -- and I do mean nearly every (five out of the six spring catalog books and two out of the six fall catalog books, the latter were only available as gifts for buying the spring books). I also picked up a bunch of New X-Men issues for daveextreme, which was fairly easy to do for cheap once the Sunday fire sale began in earnest. It's always fun to see what you can buy on Sunday because some dealer doesn't want to ship stuff back.

Sunday ended earlier than normal as I wanted to get back home at a more reasonable time given the dearth of public transit options on a Sunday from San Jose Airport. m and I took off at 3, tired and happy.

Tour de Comic-Con: Back Gearage

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In parakkum's photo above you can see a shot of honeyfields and I walking the convention floor, which is deceptively clear of traffic. You can see honeyfields with Timbuk2 bag and me with backpack, poster tube, and camera strap. Next year I may switch to a setup more similar to honeyfields. The camera strap will stay but the poster tube and backpack will probably go. A backpack is hard to get access to, especially with poster tube and camera strap wrapped around your neck. You end up having to memorize an intricate order of strap removal in order to avoid strangling tangling. I've previously carried a Chrome messenger bag, which is a better than a backpack for breaking out the sketchbook, though mine is too big to easily swing around from my back to my front. I've wanted to get a medium-sized messenger bag for cycling, so now I will shop with Comic-Con also in mind.

Tour de Comic-Con: Saturday's Stage

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I spent most of the morning killing time until Quick Draw, which is really the highlight of every Saturday for me. More will come on the Quick Draw panel later, but for now I'll say that it was as fun as expected. A bit more repetitive than usual with the types of prompts, but this panel always delivers year after year.

Next up was the Brisco County panel. Due to poorly managed long lines I got into this panel late, but I got to see a lot of the Q&A with Bruce Campbell, Carlton Cuse, John McNamara, and Julius Carrey. There weren't as many entertaining verbal ripostes as the Bruce Campbell one-man Q&A show, but it was full of plenty of fun moments in the semi-reunion. I may actually try to get the DVDs, though $65 ($100 list) is a bit steep to try it out.

After failing to get into the Spiderman 3 session, the day ended with watching the Masquerade on the projection screen in the Sails Pavilion. I don't know who won, but I think our favorite was the Nintendon'ts, which featured humorous interactions between various Nintendo characters, punctuated by the decapitation of Pikachu in a Highlander showdown.

Inbetween this was the usual schwag and sketches, as well as my first big points in the Credit Ruining Accoutremonts Classification (CRAC). I got a doodle from Dave McKean and sketches from Chris Mitten and Ben Templesmith -- the Oni booth is always fun to stop by and dangerous on the pocketbook, as I picked up three more comics: Julius (Antony Johnston), Past Lies (Weir and DeFilippis), and Wasteland (Johnston and Mitten).

Team Uni picked up some of the last available Attack on Endor sets. After winning two in the morning, we went back to the booth in the afternoon to discover that the prize heap had been reduced to worthless figurines. We considered it a job well done, walking away with seven sets by my account, for a total retail value of $140.

The big CRAC points came from buying an Usagi Yojimbo original drawing that has Usagi jumping up into the air. Next year I might commission a drawing from Sakai as it's the same cost, though it's not very important as I'm really happy with what I have. I'll scan and post it in a later entry.

Tour de Comic-Con: Friday's stage

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I haven't really posted about yesterday's stage, but today's stage was so awesome that let's just leave it at my "Tired" entry for now and move onto this morning and afternoon.

Entertainment along the route picked up throughout the stage. After Snoop Dogg and Lando failed to show up for their session, things picked up dramatically with a rollicking Battlestar Galactica session. They probably gave away too many Season 3 spoilers, but Edward James Olmos and Lucy Lawless added a lot more entertainment to this year's panel. The day ended with the New Line Cinema event. Kenan Thompson was a hilarious host and things got great once the Final Destination 3 promo was done. They showed a clip from the upcoming Tenacious D movie (hilarious rock opera clip with a Meat Loaf and Dio) and then, what we were waiting for, Snakes on a Plane, featuring Samuel L. Jackson, live snakes (anaconda!), a 10-minute clip, and a hilarious mashup of some of the fan parodies. Samuel L. Jackson played his bad-ass part well, kinda like a Bruce Campbell session but with a lot more muthafuckas thrown in.

The schwag points in this year's Tour have been much more difficult to come by: the movie studios aren't giving away schwag at their presentations, there's a lot less t-shirts, a lot less posters, a lot less of everything, which doesn't make much sense as this is the biggest Tour de Comic-Con ever. Or perhaps it's so big that companies don't want to give out that much anymore. m and I are probably going to save some crucial weight tomorrow and leave our poster tubes behind as they are fairly empty.

Nevertheless, this year's Tour has some of the best schwag booths ever -- so good that I hestitate to call it schwag. After trying yesterday and only coming up with a Magic Booster pack, Team Uni got five Star Wars Attack on Endor sets that retail for $20 each. Team Uni also picked up three Boba Fett limited edition Bust-Ups, which non-limited versions retail for $4-5.

The sketches also went very well for kwc, who has been working since Thursday to get a Mignola sketch but has failed repeatedly. Today, success, as I now have a Hellboy sketch to add to my collection as well as a Stephen Silver sketch. honeyfields and my sketch books are much less full this year, but the focus has been much more on getting sketches from specific people and it has paid off. kwc has gotten sketches from Mignola, Kazu, Silver, Sakai, Guenoden, Kurtz, Aragones, and Gabe, which is a happy haul.

For both the schwag and sketch point competitions, this year's strategy has been much more in the style of Michael Rasmussen and Richard Virenque: ignore the piddling Cat 4 and Cat 3 climbs, go hard on one of the stages and take all the big climbs. Today's stage was that stage for us. With over $100 in retail with about an hour's effort each, Team Uni can coast to the finish, though we may pick up an extra Endor set or two just in case.

Tour de Comic-Con: Prologue

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Team Uni bonked like Floyd Landis on the opening day of Comic-Con. m and I got off our Southwest flight and went straight to the convention center with parakkum and honeyfields. I thought of picking up a pizza in the airport feed zone, but I figured that we were taking an early dinner after and I could power through a light and easy preview night. Preview night is only open to pre-registered attendees, and as there is no actual programming and it only lasts three hours, the convention floor is fairly open and an easy course to manuever. We weren't prepared.

Every year attendance Comic-Con gets larger and larger, but for the past couple years the size of the venue has not. The number of people on the convention floor at this year's preview night was as bad as a Friday or possibly even Saturday of last year. Instead of a nice easy prologue stage to get the legs warmed up, it was hectic right out the gate, or rather, right through the double doors that thousands of people were squeezing through. I was dodging strollers, stormtroopers, and camera crews as I tried to swim like a salmon upstream to the Kinokuniya booth to buy a large sketchbook and then over to Mike Mignola's booth to grab a small Hellboy print and book of sketches. Mignola politely refused my request for a sketch, so my new sketchbook remains blank front to back.

We kept our run of the floor to a short one hour, but by the end I was exhausted, wishing I had carbo-loaded like I would on a regular stage. parakkum's parents treated us to Mexican dinner afterwards, which I gobbled like I had just ridden a stage through the Alps.

Take note Tour de Comic-Con riders: preview night is now just like any other day in the Tour. It may be shorter, but that just sends people flying around the floor faster. Watch your nutrition, stretch, and remember to draft to save energy. Luckily, this was just a prologue stage. My sketchbook may still be empty and I may have no schwag points, but I'm hoping for a nice easy start to Thursday's stage as a lot of people will be at work or in sessions instead of on the convention floor.

FYI: Samuel Jackson, Robert Rodriguez, Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino, Snoop Dogg, RZA, Edward James Olmos, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Nicholas Cage, and many others are guests this year. It's going to be crazy. Even Marvel put its name on a booth this year (shared with Activision), which is an odd move for them. It's a different event this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

And the winner is...

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Entry 2000, "Shooting cycling photographs with a Canon Digital Rebel," was just posted over on my spare cycles blog. I think the cycling-related post is rather appropriate for entry 2000 as it was the Tour of California that seemed to throw off the guesses the most.

The winner of the contest to guess the correct post time is .... HORIZONLINE! who wins a threadless t-shirt with a guess of March 13th at 12:45:07 -- only four days off. Of the other guesses, honeyfields seems to think that I am capable of posting as fast as ln m -- puh-lease, no one but ln m can achieve such blistering rates.

You're free to accuse me of collusion, but with the regular Tour of California entries making up the bulk of February, it would have been harder to rig. If you feel like protesting, you can try to guess which Threadless t-shirt horizonline will buy and buy it first instead :).

I have no retrospective for entry 2000. Mostly this was a good excuse for me to get some entries finished or deleted from my drafts, slighly update the kwc.org frontpage, and break off two new blogs: mythbusters and cycling. I will say that 2000 entries is a lot for MovableType -- my new blogs build so much faster!

Reconsidered Materials at the Exploratorium

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Reconsidered Materials-Silk waves Reconsidered Materials-01 Reconsidered Materials-Exodus

Reconsidered Materials Styrofoam Hummer Reconsidered Materials-Fossil Fueled Reconsidered Materials - Rubber Horses-1 Reconsidered Materials-Quilt

There's something about an art show at the Exploratorium that just works really well. Perhaps it's the fact that it's hard to tell the difference between the art pieces and the Exploratorium exhibits (hint: the art pieces came wtih pink labels). Perhaps it's the fact that a mostly adult crowd gets unleashed in a children-oriented museum to play. Whatever the reason, I hope that there are more shows at the Exploratorium. At least this year, while I'm a member.

I became a member as a result of the very, very long line out front. I don't know if it was the Jello SF posting on BoingBoing, a summoning of the Burning Man crowd, or what, but there were a lot of people at the Reconsidered Materials exhibit. Far more than the Exploratorium planned for. They were offering memberships as a way to get to the front of the hour long line, but I resisted as there was no way to get all three of us in on one membership. Or at least I didn't think there was until I talked to the possibly inebriated museum staff. It was a good night for the Exploratorium.

Jello SF was the reason I was there and it didn't disappoint, though we were surprised by how small it was. I guess we didn't take time to think that the artist was doing SF piece-by-piece. The piece that she made for the exhibition was in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and was at a slightly smaller scale than the downtown model. The artist's mom was there to hold a container of dry ice fog over the entire model while it was regularly given earthquake simulations.

There were eighteen installations and I particularly enjoyed the full-size styrofoam Humvee (American Detritus), the blanket pigeons (Exodus), the quilted tea bags (The Quilt), and the Rubber Horses, all of which you'll find photos of in the flickr photoset. I also liked Arp Forms and Strobe Flower, which I've posted movies of below (I forgot to take a movie of Jello SF). Arp Forms was a mixture of corn starch inside of a vibrating cup that caused the corn starch to congeal up into a blobular, dancing form. Strobe Flower was a plastic bag hooked up to a variable speed motor and a strobe -- you could put your finger into it to push it into different forms. click on the photos to access the movies, apologies for rotated strobe flower movie:

Reconsidered Materials-Arp Forms Reconsidered Materials-Strobe Flower

See also: horizonline's and m's posts from the exhibition

Post-rally

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ota, ln m and I were at the Save Keplers rally today were, according to the Palo Alto Weekly, there were 450 people. Judging from the statements made by the speakers at the rally, it appears that there is a strong chance that Keplers will be saved. The main component of the rescue plan appears to be a consortium of 'qualified investors,' where 'investor' is something more akin to 'donor.' With the large number of dot-com millionaires in the area one would think that there should be plenty of people who fit that bill.

Other components of the rescue plan appear to be a membership program as well as focusing on the Keplers online presence (one speaker mentioned buying books on the Web site multiple times). At the very least they will need to revise their business model to better deal with Amazon. Part of their concern and planning seems to be that they want to make sure that the efforts of this rescue attempt allow Keplers to be viable for many, many more years.

As parakkum taught me today, 'Hope is not a plan,' but today's rally did provide hope and soon we should find out if these shadowy investors will step in and save a Peninsula cultural institution. The speakers recommended that we monitor www.savekeplers.com for updates.

Tour de Comic-Con: Thursday's Stage

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threadlessGood news for Team Uni today. honeyfields started in the yellow t-shirt jersey after her superb efforts in the CRAC. She continued her efforts today, picking up a variety of comics, Gagne's Odd Numbers, and a limited-edition painted version of Scott Morse's Little Book of Horrors.

  • sketches: honeyfields, ln m, "Mega-Calves" neverthere, and kwc all picked up sketches today, including ones from Ted Naifeh, Mike Norton, Michel Gagne, 'Gabe', Ryan Claytor, and Ken Steacy. kwc also got four mini sketches in his copy of Flight #2 by some of the many contributors, including Kazu.

  • schwag: kwc, honeyfields and ln m scored the coveted Lego mini schwag, taking three sets in an early morning attack. kwc attempted to score more points with later attacks, but was turned away. Team Uni scored five Adult Swim blank journals late in the day, so kwc will be wearing the green t-shirt for tomorrow's stage as he tries again to collect more Lego mini schwag.

parakkum went on an early breakaway to protect jamesq's spot in the DC and Disney artist portfolio reviews. Today was mostly jockeying for position in those classification: tomorrow will be the big day where jamesq will have to put the portfolio hammer down.

Team Uni morale continues to be high. A panel by Bruce Campbell kept everyone in stitches for an entire hour (a partial transcript of his remarks will be posted at a later date -- update: here are the notes). The full team of dlf, ylf, h.o.b., jamesqq, parakkum, ln m, honeyfields, kwc, "kitchen" neverthere, MC neverthere, and jay had dinner in the opulent backroom of Rama, ordering far more Thai food than could be called reasonable. Fun was had, though anytime h.o.b. mocked a Robert Jordan panel he attended, items on the table seemed to mysteriously fall over. The day ended with a meeting in the hotel to strategize for tomorrow's stage.

The Hollywood star power for Friday's stage has greatly increased from previous years. Warner Bros will be previewing Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire, V for Vendetta, The Fountain, and Corpse Bride, Disney will be previewing Cars and Chicken Little. The presence of Natalie Portman in the convention center will likely drive things into a frenzy that hitherto has not been seen on a Friday stage. Perhaps it will equal the madness seen for Sarah Michelle Gellar's appearance at last year's Saturday Stage. Team Uni will to ride carefully, perhaps going for some of the coveted Hollywood schwag, but they will have to avoid spending too much time in the long lines associated with these events.

Tour de Comic-Con: Prologue

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Team Uni made it through the first climb up the escalator to the registration booth in record time. The entire field was moving at a much faster pace than last year, which bodes well for this year's Tour.

The prologue stage was a quick circuit around the convention floor. There were no talks, movies, or other entertainment to worry about, so Team Uni focused on schwag and sketch points, as well as the extremely dangerous CRAC (Credit Ruining Accoutremounts Classification).

  • schwag: There weren't too many schwag points to be had on this stage. kwc attempted to go for bonus Lego Mini schwag that was hidden in a bag at the Star Wars booth, but they were too closely guarded. Now that they have been spotted, though, they should be easy takings in tomorrow's stage. The easiest schwag takings were dwarf mercenary DnD miniatures: parakkum and kwc both took two and ln m picked up another. No one on Team Uni plays DnD miniatures, but they have five dwarfs.

  • sketch: kwc got two sketches from Michel Gagne, but it was a bad day for honeyfields and ln m, who both forgot their sketchbooks. honeyfields plans an early assault tomorrow on Sakai and Gagne to get back into contention.

  • CRAC: The best showing for Team Uni today was in the CRAC. ln m and honeyfields tore through the Kinokuniya booth, purchasing two copies of the Art of Cowboy Bebop, as well as a Final Fantasy digital concepts book and a FLCL animation sketchbook. kwc added a set of Copic cool grey markers and Michel Gagne's Odd Numbers to the collection. Other teams spent a huge amount of time in line for mini Megatron statues and Han Solo busts, but Team Uni feels its nimble strategy focusing on more useful purchases will yield better results.

The nevertheres will be competing in all the stages contrary to earlier reports, which is a big boost to Team Uni morale. h.o.b. was spotted in the Viz booth but returned to his hotel room before this reporter could get comments.

Tour de Comic-Con: Team Roster

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Team Uni's roster for Tour de Comic-Con:

  • parakkum: Tour veteran. He's been doing this his whole life. If there were a comparable cyclist, it would be Viatcheslav Ekimov, who has finished all 13 of the Tour de Frances he has entered. There isn't a curve or a bend in the convention floor he doesn't know, and his knowledge of Tour history will keep the Team Uni in the right position for the right opportunities. He'll be looking to ride well for himself in the writer's competition, but he'll also using his veteran skills to help his teammates ride high in their classifications.
  • kwc: This is his third year riding with Team Uni and he'll again be looking to collect the schwag points jersey. The need to avoid all knowledge of the Other Tour will put a burden on his fellow teammates to keep him protected. Last year's effort was ruined by an inopportune radio snippet, "..Armstrong in yellow..." This year's strategy will be to place a teammate between kwc and all newstands, TVs, and anyone wearing yellow. It's a 946 mile course, but hopefully he'll be able to finish this year's Tour without any mishaps.
  • honeyfields: honeyfields possesses multiple skills that will be crucial in keeping the pace high in this year's Tour. Her uncanny knack of befriending fellow artists, even the geeky antisocial ones, should make it easy to get good sketches and her ability to find parking spaces quickly should shave off minutes from their overall time. She's a proven ally of kwc in the schwag points classification, so look for good performances there as well.
  • jamesq: Tour rookie and designated penciler, he is Team Uni's Popovych. parakkum will be trying to help jn to ride into a good place overall in the artist portfolio review competition. His inking style is bold, the form is clean, he should do well in his debut.
  • ln m: Tour gearhead and new member of Team Uni. His nose for sushi and complete collection of Apple-emblazoned gadgets should keep Team Uni in good spirits. His impressive collection of Asian cinema will also be important at the Kung-Fu Extravaganza.
  • h.o.b.: He's a last-minute entry, a Tour veteran that's been away from the sport for several years. He and parakkum used to ride together and hopefully he can quickly come into form. With him and parakkum riding together again Team Uni should be unstoppable. He's a hometown boy, so he'll be looking to impress.
  • dlf: Recently back from several years in Japan, he's another hometown boy who should return from foreign competition with an edge in the Tokyo Pop and other anime-related courses. As a veteran of the San Diego Comic-Con, he should be able to pull off an impressive run.
  • nevertheres and tooches: They'll only be competing in a couple stages, which should make their efforts even more frenzied and impressive. The tooches will be arriving with the Tour bus which will hopefully provide Team Uni with some much needed rest.

Movie: Batman, the IMAX Experience

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I don't know if I need to add my voice to the chorus of parakkum, ln m, and o.t.a., so I'll try at least to be short.

I saw Batman: The IMAX Experience at The Tech, which has a dome-style IMAX screen. Very early in the film, when there's this wide shot of Himalaya-ish mountains, I thought to myself, "Now THAT's IMAX!" Later on in the film, I started to get a little twigged at the fact that one eye on each actor's face was always bigger because of the fishy effect of the dome (we weren't seated dead center). There were also problems following the fight scenes. It was just too big and too close. I thought this was the fault of the IMAX projection, but from the reviews, it appears that even on a normal screen you really can't tell what's going on.

Overall, I thought this was the best of the Batman movies, though they definitely emulated the Spiderman model. Batman Returns still has the best villains, but this felt like the better story.

Katamari Damacy (Evil Cute III)

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honeyfields, ln m, and I teamed up to beat Katamari Damacy (actually, it was honeyfields who did most of the work, we just came in near the end). Unlike Grand Theft Auto, Katamari is family friendly because it makes horrific death and destruction of animals, people, and towns cute.

Our sentiments exactly

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iMac comic

ln m, honeyfields, pqbon, and I got into a long discussion over the aesthetics of the new iMac (with some Powerbook tangents). This comic succinctly summarizes much of our 30 minutes of conversation, right down to the post-it notes.

I would also like to add that IMHO, it looks like the iMac got hit with the stupid stick (I'm sure Jay Leno likes it). I also boldly assert that this is the least user friendly computer design manufactured by any company (including PCs) in the past five years (no easily accessible USB ports, headphone jacks, or power button -- in fact, everything is equally inaccessible).

Any other praise/not-praise?

Samurai

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samurai

parakkum, m, and honeyfields are coming over tonight for some RoboRally/LotR RISK madness, but I may have found a game for our next game night: Samurai. You get ten free games before you have to pay $20, and it comes with single player, multi-player, and multi-player networked play modes.