Saturday, July 26, 2008

Possibly never again

I hate to be one of those many idiots at Comic Con who blog about Comic Con as it is happening, but in my defence, it is 7am local time and I have access to free internet at my hotel.

I have not enjoyed Comic Con 2008 and this can be blamed entirely on the organizers who over sold their membership badges. The simple act of walking within a block of the San Diego Convention Center, much less inside the actual building, has been an exercise in road rage. It feels much like being in the hottest club in town on a Saturday night except the clubbers are wider or carrying huge bags or pushing strollers.

If this was my first experience of Comic Con, I might well accept this experience as par for course. The problem is that I have my amazing 2006 experience to refer to. In 2006, the event was busy but not crazy. I was able to easily get into highly coveted events like a discussion by Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., and the "Battlestar Galatica" panel. Alex even ran into Joss Whedon. This year, extreme lineups prevented me from getting anywhere near Joss Whedon's event, and I was also barred from seeing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright for the same reason. On the plus side, I saw the actor who starred in South American martial arts film, Chinango.

Nerds are waiting behind me, eager to also type about their experiences so I will end this blog entry here. I can only hope that organizers will wade through the many gushing blog entries and heed the warning that is featured in this one: lower your attendance numbers or expect them to be lowered for you.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watch the Watchmen!

Check out the Watchmen movie website to see the trailer. It is as stunning and faithful to the original artwork as one would expect from Zack Sndyer, the director of 300, with Smashing Pumpkins' “The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning” serving as the perfect musical accompaniment. I am also pleased to see that the cast consists of lesser known character actors, as opposed to stars who are incapable of disappearing within a role.

Let's hope the movie - screenplay, dialogue, pacing, editing - is just as good.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Excitement unlimited coming soon

Tomorrow is my last day of work before I take off for a week of fandom madness!

Joe and I have purchased advance tickets to see The Dark Knight. We were tempted by the 3:00am (!) screening on Friday morning but decided to go for the much more sensible 10:30pm showing on Sunday night. We hope that this choice weeds out children and anyone with a job.

Then, later this week, we return to Comic Con in San Diego. After our great experience in 2006, we whimpered like puppies last summer because we were not at Comic Con, so we are happy to finally give in to our urges. This time, we are wiser:
  • stay in a hotel that is walking distance from the San Diego Convention Centre
  • plan ahead by looking over the events schedule and merchandise lists
  • bring snacks so that we do not have to endure 12 hours of starvation like Alex did in protest over convention food prices
  • bring a sweater because the convention centre is kept like a meat locker
  • do not go to Tijuana

Flocon and his partner, Royal Pinguo, decided to join us after we enticed them with our magical stories...and because they have friends to visit in Orange County. Surprisingly, it was Royal who suggested that we dress up for Comic Con.

Flocons proposed Dogwelder (seen as a puppet on the right), a hero so obscure that only true fan boys will be able to smugly appreciate the costume. Other ideas included Jedi knights, Star Trek officers, and nudity but nothing has come to fruition.

Now, with less than a week to go, I am scrambling to find something. After rummaging through my closet, I see only three options:

Burger King - My Burger King mask, which I got for free with coupon, is truly great. Creepy and made of sturdy plastic, it served me well on Halloween at the office. It sits patiently in my cupboard at work, waiting to be called into action again.

Anne of Green Gables - The Anne of Green Gables hat and wig combo, modeled by my friend Stephen on the right, was brought all the way back from Prince Edward Island for me by Flocons and Royal. The Japanese know comics, having a whole genre (manga) to call their own. They also love Anne of Green Gables and made an anime version of the classic novel. Plus, 2008 is the centenary of the publishing of Anne of Green Gables. This is making more and more sense as I type!

Platinum blond wig - There is no easy explanation for the photograph on the left but a platinum blond wig offers many possibilities: Emma Frost, Betty Cooper, or Jedi Knight? Why not all at the same time?

Delightful anecdotes are guaranteed in the next blog entry, even if I have to lie.

P.S. To would be thieves, I have a house sitter who collects knives, enjoys sitting in the dark, and has a nervous twitch. Think about it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No great white hope for Runner's World

Just based on the cover alone, you might suspect Runner's World of having a thing for attractive, white models. After subscribing to the magazine for two years, I can attest to having seen only two cover models of colour: Olympic marathoner, Meb Keflezighi and triathlete, Lokelani McMichael. McMichael appeared twice but is half Scottish so I guess that still counts as one occurrence.

RW's white bias could be shrugged off as superficial if it did not also affect their editorial content. The magazine frequently focuses on born and bred white Americans runners that will put "American distance running back on the map" (oft cited with brave optimism by RW writers): Alan Webb, Galen Rupp, Ryan Hall, and Alan Culpepper - Eritrea-born Meb Keflezighi is the lone exception. It would appear that the editors of RW are still pining for the days of Steve Prefontaine, America's last great white running hope.

To their credit, RW's feature article on Meb Keflezighi focused on the disconnect many Americans feel towards Keflezighi because of his immigrant status. Keflezighi has had to continually prove his love for the American flag and defend his ties to Eritrea, which he left in the midst of a war. Yet, for all the support that RW puts behind Keflezighi, it is as if there is not enough to go round to other American runners with stories similar to Keflezighi. Keflezighi is the U.S. distance running field's Naomi Campbell - the poster child for racial balance in the industry.

In recent issues, the magazine has focused on Beijing contenders including Kara and Adam Goucher, and Gabe Jennings. With the exception of Kara Goucher, the magazine's spotlights were misdirected: Adam Goucher and Jennings failed to make it onto the U.S. Olympic Team, as did RW favourites Alan Webb, Meb Keflezighi and an injured Alan Culpepper.

In the competitive 1500m field, three immigrants will represent the U.S.: Kenya-born Bernard Lagat, Mexico-born Leonel Manzano and Sudanese refugee, Lopez Lomong. Bernard Lagat, an undeniable force in the 1500m distance, was profiled by RW but the other two runners have been virtually ignored by RW.

Ryan Hall and Galen Rupp recently earned their places on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field roster. It will interesting to see how RW, and its American readership, will distribute their hopes and dreams between two of their favoured sons versus the athletes who have chosen to carry the American flag without fanfare.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hello from outside

I don't mean to neglect this blog but summer is here and I don't have much to say. Well, there are a few topics that come to mind:

Summer of anticipation
This has been an excellent summer for movies. Iron Man and Wall-E have lived up to expectations, and while The Incredible Hulk, Wanted and Hellboy II have not, they were not terrible. In fact, my anticipation of this summer movie season has been about as enjoyable as watching the films themselves; I'm pretty sure the trailers for Hancock and Get Smart are more satisfying than the actual products. Next up: The Dark Knight and all the delicious anticipation that a sequel featuring a buzz-worthy performance by a dead actor can generate.

The iPhone soap opera
The iPhone drama in Canada finally proves that Apple enthusiasts have neither self-control nor dignity. While Apple consumers took a stand in protest when Rogers first announced their stingy data plans, they quickly folded when Rogers offered the equivalent of a cheap bouquet and a half-assed apology. As in any abusive relationship, Rogers is guaranteed to go back to its old ways and after August 31, will resume reaming its customers once more.

Infestation of hacks
I had not read Metro News in a while when I discovered that their resident film reviewer, Norm Wilner had been replaced by a teenage boy named Steve Gow. I base this assumption of immaturity on the quality of the writing alone: childish, derivative and colloquial. Some may attribute these same words to my writing though critics should keep in mind that this is a blog and not a nationwide newspaper. It may be too much to hope for Pauline Kael in a free newspaper but I do expect more from a published and credited writer than "Genghis friggin’ Khan, baby!" Another revelation of clumsy writing at Metro News: Sandy Caetano. It is not a stretch to imagine Sandy dotting her 'i's with hearts when she gushes about Canadian Idol. Thankfully, Metro News has retained Rick McGinnis. The day that budget cuts force Metro News to let Rick McGinnis go is the day their publisher should hire me. I guarantee all the finesse of both Steve Gow and Sandy Caetano at half the friggin' price, baby!