Zoltán Kodály, Zoltán Korda and Cmdr. McBragg: Gesundheit!

Category : E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Music

Cmdr. McBragg Total Television Productions/Gamma Productions

Cmdr. McBragg Total Television Productions/Gamma Productions

- There! The Russian-Hungarian border! Did I ever tell you about the time I …?

- No, Commander, but I …

- The year? 1812. I had just defeated the Emperor Napoleon and rescued Empress Marie-Louise from his clammy, froggy clutches, winning her fair heart in the process. It was dawn, the sun had barely risen over the …

- But, but, Commaaaander …

- Yes! French cavalry all around me! I, all alone with naught but my bare knuckles! Man-to-man, hand-to-hand I fought off the Emperor!

- Yes, Commander. How riveting, Commander. Do continue. ~sigh~

Cheers, kittens! It’s me, Hannah Hart! Now, I imagine there’s a whole bushel of you numnuts whom have no clue who Commander McBragg is. (Note: “I wasn’t born then.” is not, I repeat, not an appropriate response. Where you born when Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte? Were you born when Thomas Jefferson wrote Notes on Virginia? Were you born when Wilbur and Orville Wright lifted off the Outer Banks? No. Now stop using that sad excuse. It makes you sound obtuse, oblivious and uneducated. This goes out especially to the bank teller in San Clemente whom declared proudly, with the look of a dumb turtle, “I Love Lucy? I don’t think I’ve heard of it. I wasn’t born then.” Idiot.)

Anyhoo, I digress, kids. Our own, kippy San Diego Symphony put on a doozy of a show last week and Yours Truly was there to soak in all the melodic goodness. Like getting Harvey Weinstein stuffed into a wetsuit, the concise one-hour and forty-five minute performance (incl. intermission and its $11 cocktails) was seeping and hissing at the seams with variety.  Whilst shorter than Yours Truly anticipated, it was most likely the perfect duration for a contemporary attention span: longer than a Disney animation, shorter than a Ken Burns documentary. Within these parameters, musical director Jahja Ling prepared for us a healthy feast of the classical.

  • Amuse-bouche of Haydn, Symphony No. 1 in D Major: light and refreshing like a crisp bit of apple, a little baroque violin and flute is the perfect bite-sized smackerel to whet the appetite.
  • First Course of Mozart, Oboe Concerto in C Major: always pleasing, never a bad one in the bunch, Mozart perfectly pairs with the incessant chatter of a know-it-all in the row behind you, schooling his friend on all things Mozart. Despite Mr. This was originally written for piccolo., Miss Sarah Skuster trilled her way into my brain with her lilting oboe solo, her elegant, nude silk-crepe and pewter sequined gown glittering and sparkling under the house lights as her form moved melodiously to Mozart.
  • Intermission: overpriced martinis and a de rigueur, long line for the ladies’ room. For once, the line was not an annoyance but a nice indication that live performance and The Arts might not yet be dead. Considering a notable attendance of the college-aged, to boot, perchance the symphony is not merely the realm of the dottering and the wealthy.
  • Second Course of Martucci, Notturno, Opus 70, No.1:  just as one would expect of a late-19thC. Italian, Giuseppe served up a hearty, family-style serving of boisterous joy. The serving was small, the smallest of the night, but like any good ravioli, all you need is a few bites, and a bit of Prosecco.
  • Dessert by Zoltán Kodály, Suite from “Háry János”: if Gammy Lippenstift -my paternal, Hungarian grandmama- was correct about anything, it was, Nem túl sok vacsoráznak. Helymegtakarítás a desszert! “Don’t fill up on dinner. Save room for dessert!” That we did. This was the longest piece of the night and, this is difficult for a Mozartphile to admit, the grandest piece of the night. (Entschuldigung, Wolfy!) Like Gammy Lippenstift’s rum-soaked Palacsinta (Hungarian crepes), Kodály and his own Cmdr. McBragg treated us to a rich and heavy, satisfying finale.

Before dessert was served, Navroj “Nuvi” Mehta, San Diego Symphony’s pre-concert lecturer and affable M.C., regaled the audience with the plot points, ingredients as it were, of our coming selection. He tells us of the old, Hungarian legend which says a story must be true if preceded by a sneeze. If one pays close attention, one will note the suite begins with one grand, “orchestral sneeze”: a great, instant crescendo which then swan dives six octaves throughout the entire orchestra.

Happily, too, for this old dame, he ever so politely offered a suggestion to the wet-smack, half-portions of the audience, likely the same ones whom never heard of I Love Lucy. As Kodály knows how to string together a tune and segue intriguingly from satire to drama and back again, Nuvi urged patrons to “please hold your applause between movements” and save it for the end. Thank you, Nuvi! What is this? Al fresco, Italian opera?! Hold your applause, jelly beans!

With libretto based on János Garay’s 1843 epic poem The Old Veteran and Napoleon, Háry János is an Hungarian singspiel -a folk opera, more a country musical than traditional opera- first performed in 1926 at The Royal Hungarian Opera House in Budapest. The S.D. Symphony’s offering was a suite of music from this singspiel: a purely instrumental performance of six movements, telling the same tale.

Háry János is an aging veteran of the Austrian Army, a cavalry hussar of the Napoleonic Wars. With little to do in his old age but drink and tell tall tales, he indulges locals with intricately-woven histories of his glory days: foreign foes, Herculean combat and lovelorn ladies left strewn across the land. This night at the smoky bar-tabac, he tells of the time he defeated Napoleon and his entire army, slashing and chopping his way through a thick Frog soup en seul  and rescuing the Empress Marie-Louise, whisking her away to glitzy, waltzy Vienna for a life of Austro-Hungarian riches and coffeehouses.

Soon though, the country lad tires of her needy and high-maintenance, City Girl ways, longing for the simple life back in his wee Hungarian village with his childhood sweetheart, Örsze, presumably buxom and beauteous with hay in her blonde braids, an apron filthy with blueberry stains and a devoted herd of goats following her lovingly across the farm.

The saga and its music float seamlessly between the foolish ways of the French and the flighty nature of coquetry, using brass and piccolos to signify silliness and satire and the deep, dark, dramatic patriotism of our Hungarian hero, employing strings, oboes and a cimbalom to elicit feelings of human heartache, true love and national duty. The story ending with what Kodály himself described as “an ironical march of triumph” as the Emperor of Vienna returns to his sycophantic court; Háry János returns to Örsze and the farm.

Now, back to the Cmdr. McBragg discussion. (See, the topic came full-circle.) If you are not aware of Commander McBragg, as chided previously, I can only assume you are equally unaware of Hungarian director Zoltán Korda and his 1939 film The Four Feathers. If you want to watch it, watch it. Suffice it to say here, it seems pretty clear that C. Aubrey Smith’s portrayal of Gen. Burroughs in the film had to be an inspiration for The World of Commander McBragg. Was Gen. Burroughs inspired by Háry János? Maybe, baby. The timing is certainly correct. Think on that over lunch.

With the current release of DreamWorks’ Mr. Peabody & Sherman, you might be aware of Rocky & Bullwinkle. (Please tell me at least you jelly beans know who Rocky & Bullwinkle are. Moose and squirrel?) Along with Underdog, (the canine adventures of Shoeshine Boy and Polly Purebred) Rocky & Bullwinkle aired cartoon shorts within their show, like Fractured Fairy Tales. The World of Commander McBragg was one of these shorts and today, the name McBragg is still synonymous with braggadocio blowhards. Like him or not, he does spin a ripping good yarn! If you see him at a steampunk party, stick close by … but leave yourself an easy egress.

Interesting story, both Zoltáns, director Korda and composer Kodály, served as Hungarian cavalrymen in their youth … just like Háry János says he did.

Orch dork extraordinaire. Photo: JSDevore

Orch dork extraordinaire. Photo: JSDevore

Now, many of you know my pally, authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore. Turns out she’s quite the Austro-Hungarian fiddler herself. (Not to mention a bit of a Commandess McBragg. Zip it, once in a while, Betty!) With a few, albeit unsuccessful, symphony auditions under her belt, she can still play a mean Irish jig, a mournful Mother Machree and a very pretty rendition of Little House on the Prairie‘s theme song. She is also currently teaching herself The BlaggardsDrunken Sailor.

Nevertheless, her German-crafted, Pfretzchner violin awaits patiently in its leather case for her to pick it up seriously, daily, once again. Terrifying memories of stuffed-shirt auditions and creepy college tutors urging her to “run away with me to Paris where we”ll drink champagne and play violin!” still haunt her. (True story. Ick.) Come on, JennyPop! You owe your parents! How many years of expensive lessons? How many custom-made violins? Maybe a few more nights at the symphony will churn you into gear, you orch dork!

Beaded gowns, pricey cocktails, muted smartphones and the questionable tales of a mustachioed braggart? Sounds like many an evening I spent with Clark Gable. (Did you know that man had a 44″ chest with a 32″ waist? He was so uniquely proportioned only bespoke Brooks Brothers suits could fit that Heavenly physique. Zowie!) An evening of sophisticated, analog entertainment that doesn’t take itself too seriously oft makes for an excellent date.

The moral of this story? If you used to play an instrument, pick it up again. Don’t throw away that hard-earned talent, it’s still in there; muscle memory is wild thing. If you have tales to tell, tell them and do it with pizazz! Hold court and gather a crowd! Wear more silk and sequins; at least pretend you care about your appearance. (Good Heavens, you’re a schlubby generation!) Get over expensive drinks during a night out; it’s still just a ten-spot. Eat more of your grammy’s baked goods and always heed Grammy Rosalyn’s advice: “A story must be true if preceded by a sneeze.” Háry János never started a story without a good one.

“Yeah. Milhouse played the violin for years, until it turned out the vibrations were screwing up his bones.”

-Kirk VanHouten, The Simpsons

Achoo!

Gesundheit!

Ah, yes. Quite.

@JennyPopNet

*Une mille mercis to SD Symphony’s concertmaster Jeff Thayer, for spurring me on to play my violin again! Mesmerizing bow-hand, Sir!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Nerd Night Out: Nerdcore at Comicazi – WarRock & Tribe One

Category : E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Music

How do you spend Friday night? If you were one of the lucky ones last Friday, you were taking in a Nerdcore show.

Graphic Credit: Comicazi

Graphic Credit: Comicazi

Comicazi, a comic shop located in Somerville, MA, played host to Adam WarRock and Tribe One last Friday. While comics are their stock-in-trade, Comicazi is a pop culture emporium which often hosts events such as game tournaments, book clubs, and comedy nights. It was no surprise to find the back room full of nerds looking for a good time.

After braving hours of Boston traffic, Adam WarRock and Tribe One greeted the crowd at Comicazi and proceeded to entertain without delay.

Graphic Credit: Malibu Shark Attack

Graphic Credit: Malibu Shark Attack

Tribe One took the stage first and delighted the room with classic tracks, as well as selected tracks from his latest album as par of the two man team known as Malibu Shark Attack. Crowds will enjoy the new sounds from Malibu Shark Attack as Tribe One combines his flow with eclectic variations. The offerings on the self-titled Malibu Shark Attack may not sound like the hip hop you are used to; however, the variety is refreshing and you will be shouting “Malibu Shark Attack” before you know it.

For more about Tribe One, check his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @TribeOneWon.

 

Graphic Credit: Adam WarRock

Graphic Credit: Adam WarRock

WarRock is celebrating the release of his latest album, The Middle of Nowhere, which was released in November 2013. During the show, he explained how important it was to play comic shops whenever possible on this tour, explaining some of them (Comicazi among them) were the first venues to give him an opportunity to perform and reach out to build his audience. Is there any better backdrop for his nerdy lyrics which every comic geek and gamer can connect with?

For more about Adam WarRock, visit his website, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @eugewarrock

 

The music these men create is so much more than nerdy anthems and parody ditties. They both have their serious moments and use the opportunity music allows them to spread a message and make audiences think. It is embodied by tracks like “Different” from Tribe One’s album, titled Dirty South Swamp Thing, which attempts to encourage others to appreciate their differences and believe in their potential. While WarRock takes on the power of words when used to hurt others and how we can rise above.

Interested in seeing a live show? There’s still time. WarRock & Tribe One continue The Middle of Nowhere Tour on the East Coast through the middle of February before travelling around the United States. Check the website for tour dates and details.

Graphic Credit: Adam WarRock

Graphic Credit: Adam WarRock

Sharknado & Syfy Original Movies: Panel with Syfy Executive VP, Tom Vitale

Category : Arisia, Conventions, E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Movies, Television

It takes a certain kind of fan to enjoy Syfy Original Movies. The appeal of these films vary from person to person; whether it stems from an appreciation of the tongue-in-cheek nature these films embrace, to fans supporting actors they enjoy, to people who enjoy sharing these movies with a group of friends in a viewing party. Certainly, a major attribute to their success is the professionalism and earnestness each member of the cast and crew brings to each film. It is the ability to sell the story and action which allows these films to capture the magic of the B movie genre.

 

 
I am a self-professed fan of the Syfy Original Movie. Those readers among you who have seen me at a convention, know I can often be found behind the panelist table discussing these movies. My time at Arisia this year was no different when I had the opportunity to sit alongside Tom Vitale, Executive Vice President of Programming  & Original Movies for Syfy and Chiller. Along with my fellow panelists Randee Dawn, Bob “MovieBob” Chipman and Michael McAfee, we discussed the origin of Syfy original movies, the productions and the future of these films.

 

Syfy original movies take approximately 14 months to produce, from concept to wrap. In most instances, Syfy assumes about half of the production costs, splitting them with the production studio. While in their heyday, Syfy was producing two movies per month, audiences have no doubt noticed a decline in new titles. The network feels the market has become over-saturated, leading to the decision to cut back on production. The next original movie is slated to air in April. The schedule will then return with some regularity. Last year, Syfy made the decision to move original movies from their long held Saturday night time slot to Thursday night. This move seems to work in their favor and will likely remain the time slot for the foreseeable future. However, with the lack of fierce programming competition in the summer, Syfy may take advantage with marathons of previously aired original movies.

 

After-market distribution of original movies is one aspect where consistency is elusive. Licensing can be convoluted and governed by producing rights, filming location, as well as international sales and DVD release windows. This explains why some movies do not make it to DVD or will not be available through streaming sources, such as Syfy’s website, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.

 

Sharknado has been the greatest success Syfy has experienced with an original movie. The title was able to capitalize on it’s success with a theatrical release when Fathom Events approached the network to create a special one-night only midnight screening across the country. Syfy does field requests for original movie screenings for film festivals and large fan events, recognizing these films are often better viewed with a crowd.

 

With regard to the types of films represented in the stable of original movies, there is an inherent pull towards creature features. Whether it is a romantic nostalgia for the Creature Double Feature many fans remember, or the idea of facing an uncontrollable beast of nature is unknown. Undoubtedly, every sub-genre gets its day, depending on the mood of audiences – initially it may have been aliens or natural disasters, tomorrow it may be robotic animals. The interests of the audience dictate which foes will see the small screen.

 

Which Syfy Original Movies have you enjoyed? What about these films paying homage to the B movie genre appeals to you?

Watching the Web: 2014 IAWTV Award Winners

Category : E-vents, Entertain Me, Featured, Watching the Web

Tonight, the Web Entertainment industry got dressed up to celebrate their own with the 2014 International Association of Web Television (IAWTV) Awards.

Courtesy of IAWTV

Courtesy of IAWTV

The award show takes place during the New Media Expo (NMX) being held in Las Vegas. Carrie Preston (True Blood, The Good Wife, Person of Interest) took on the hosting duties with awards presented by fellow IAWTV members.

 

And the award goes to…

Best Online Channel
WIGS

Best Original Score
Damon Criswell, Continuum

Best Makeup/Special Effects
Bianco Appice, Fallout: Nuka Break

Best Costume Design
Fallout: Nuka Break

Best Art Direction & Production Design
Eric Whitney, Continuum

Best Animated Series
RWBY

Best Female Performance in a Comedy
Hannah Spear, Versus Valerie

Best Male Performance in a Comedy
Brad Bell, HUSBANDS

Best Hosted Series (Live)
My Damn Channel Live

Best Hosted Series (Pre-recorded)
Tabletop

Best Documentary Series
Tailgate 32

Best Variety Series
Kids React

Best Directing (Drama)
Rodrigo Garcia, Blue

Best Directing (Comedy)
Scott Brown, Destroy the Alpha Gammas

Best Directing (Non-Fiction)
Tom Grey, Cosplay Piano

Best Interactive/Social Media Experience
Carrie Hayden, State of Syn

Best Supplemental Content
Super Geeked Up

Best Live Event
Comedy Gives Back 2013

Best Returning Series
Squaresville

Best Editing
Phil Bucci, Destroy the Alpha Gammas

Best Ensemble Performance
HUSBANDS

Best Host (Live)
Beth Hoyt, My Damn Channel Live

Best Host (Pre-recorded)
Wil Wheaton, Tabletop

Best Educational Series
AWEME/Man at Arms

Best News Series
AMC Movie Talk

Best Writing (Drama)
Nikki Racklin, CUCKOO

Best Writing (Comedy)
Brad Bell & Jane Espenson, HUSBANDS

Best Writing (Non-Fiction)
What’s Trending

Best Male Performance in a Drama
Milo Ventamiglia, Chosen

Best Female Performance in a Drama
Julia Stiles, Blue

Best Cinematography
Marco Mazzei, 10,000 Days

Best Visual Effects
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Best Drama Series
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Best Comedy Series
HUSBANDS

 

Star Wars, Steampunk and Smattering: San Diego Mini Maker Faire

Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Rants, Travel

Kittens, if the chilly, San Diego rain wasn’t a prompt to play indoors this December, the siren of invention, engineering,  technology and design was enough to lure a capacity-crowd of the curious to the first San Diego Mini Maker Faire. Ringing its knell from the warm beauty of the Spanish Mission-styled Del Mar Fairgrounds, this newest stop for the San Diego geek train proved bustling, hectic and promising. Besides, it’s Del Mar, kids! Even a permanent guest at the Hotel del Coronado needs a change of scenery once in a bit and this girl needs only an eighth of a reason to pop over “Where the Surf Meets the Turf”!

"In cosmological terms, S.D. Maker Faire was what is known as a big bang event." Photo: Jeff Kubina

“In cosmological terms … S.D. Mini Maker Faire was what is known as a big bang event.” Photo: Jeff Kubina

Billed as The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire is a congress of the imaginative and a place to share, and sell, ideas and wares. Known as the Maker Movement, this creative-following is gaining steam worldwide, with Faires staged from the Bay Area to New York, from Dublin to Rome, from Tokyo to Sydney. December 2K13 was San Diego’s initiation with its first ever, and hopefully annual, Mini Maker Faire. (Why Mini? Based on New York’s version, there is much room to grow.)

An all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors, Maker Faire worldwide is a cerebral wonderland for anyone with an imagination and the temerity to do something with it. Like a geeky cocktail party, minus the good booze (although some form of vile, domestic, beerwater was available at John Dillinger prices), the gathering is, as Maker Faire claims, a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness … part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.

Waiting in a very long, very slow, very wet line to enter San Diego’s first Faire, a talkative and cheerful USD student spoke authoritatively about the Bay Area venue, claiming it to be, with just a dash of good-natured condescension, “much bigger, way better and lots of actual symposia and lectures”. Fretting about the $12 entrance fee, wishing she had purchased the cheaper, $10 ticket online, she hoped San Diego’s effort would be worth it. Sizing up the hall’s exterior from under her fur-trimmed parka-hood, she sneered a bit and said with a twisted smile, “Kinda doubt it.”

Whilst the entry fee, plus $15 parking was relatively steep (Consider the Grand Dame of geek fests, San Diego Comic-Con, runs $12-$42/day) and the line was agonizingly slow (only two ticket windows), the cerebral and visual stimuli inside Bing Crosby Hall assuaged the lighter wallet and damp boots. Awaiting the rain- and line-weary crowds was a bevy of crafting booths, science experiments and technological demos, including a proverbial explosion in the popularity of 3-D printing: Yoda heads, TARDIS and Millennium Falcons proving the most popular products of the 3-D craze. The most inspiring, fascinating and useful of the 3-D buzz? Robohands: building appendages for those with hand anomalies, in mere hours! Don’t have $80K for a prosthetic? No worries. A set of blueprints and a 3-D printer (approx. $2K to purchase; a pittance to rent; maybe even one exists in your office) and you’ve got a hand by day’s end.

If one’s avocation, vocation or profession tends toward technology, real science, science-fiction or even steampunk, one would be pleased in the tightly-packed confines of the Faire. To boot, Comic-Con and WonderCon regulars would note some friendly faces on the periphery: San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club, to name a couple.

San Diego Star Wars Society: ask for Thomas! Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Star Wars Society: ask for Herr Thomas! Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club shared a space and, as one would expect of them, brought a fan’s enthusiasm to the franchises. SDSWS is like AA, for Star Wars geeks. If they put out a calendar, Tina Fey-as-Liz Lemon-as-Princess Leia-as-hologram would be their centerfold. Meet-ups are a way for fellow San Diego Star Wars freaks to gather and geek out over any and all things SW. From movie marathons to cosplay-and-props workshops, from collecting and gaming to convention field trips and even charitable events (notably Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation: Fighting Childhood Cancer, One Cup at a Time), the simple goal of this SoCal space sodality is to have a good time with like-minded dorks.

If Thomas, a kindly Swiss San Diegan manning the booth, is any indication of the folk you’ll meet at SDSWS, this coterie of Chewbacca connoisseurs would indeed be a pleasant diversion from the leagues of snarky, snippy, Star-savants out there, of both Wars and Trek. Welcoming, informative and inclusive, Thomas was anathema to so many Star Wars experts blitzing about the planet, propelled by their own hot air.  Smiling and eager to chat, hopeful to bring anyone into the fold, even the wholly uninitiated, Thomas offered no snorts of derision or condescending blinks when fielding even the simplest questions from children and adults alike. Enthusiastically, and with the slightest Teutonic accent, he shared the simple mission of SDSWS: “Come and join us to talk about Star Wars and have a good time!”

If the future isn’t your gig, but futuristic is, Gears & Roebuck: Rusty Junk Emporium and The San Diego Steampunk Community (including the Adventures of Drake & McTrowell: Perils in a Postulated Past) were on-hand, in very wee numbers, it should be noted, to hawk a few antique wares, tell some tall tales and share the collective mission of steampunkers worldwide: “We fight with invention, we fight with ingenuity. Full steam ahead! All aboard!” Our own Dr. Lucy, naturally was in Heaven; the gears in her own noggin whirring and ticking as she flitted between the two booths, trying on air-conditioned pith helmets and mechanized corsets, and testing the efficacy of thermometer-regulated moon backpacks and giant, sterling silver spoons for feeding her pet octopus Onslow, back at our Hotel Del.

Capt. D.D. Cumulus and Lady Opal Nightstream, I presume? Photo: JSDevore

Capt. D.D. Cumulus and Lady Opal Nightstream, I presume? Photo: JSDevore

Generally a well-read, sartorially-intense and whimsical crew, the Victorian votaries are tinkerers extraordinaire, taking cues from the likes of  Jules Verne to Bill Gates. Steampunk inspiration reaches back to Sir Charles Wheatstone and his stereoscopic imaging (predecessor to today’s 3-D imaging) and forward to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. If you’ve yet to explore the world of steampunk, do acquaint yourself. If you’re already in the know, and living in San Diego, the San Diego Steampunk Community just might have the perfect, Phileas Foggesque, space-age tool to scratch that ruddy itch.

Will the Maker Faire make it to San Diego again next year? The Maker Movement is gaining traction in metropoli everywhere.  Judging by the Mars-level heat generated in this sardine-packed venue, it seems plumb stupid to not capitalize again on the funky, inventive and creative nature of San Diego folk. However, like Kim Kardashian’s jeans, the Bing Crosby Exhibition Hall was packed to the seams and ready to burst if anyone took a deep breath. My recommendation, promoters? Bigger jeans and maybe some air-conditioned pith helmets.

Air-conditioned pith helmet: a necessary device for any con! Photo: JSDevore

An air-conditioned pith helmet with every ticket! Photo: JSDevore

Full steam ahead! Ahoy! Abyssinia and Merrie Christmas!

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net  jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet #MakerFaire #StarWars #Steampunk

The Circus Pulls Up Stakes: Dr. Lucy’s SDCC 2013 Slideshow

1

Category : Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Well, cats, as Porky Pig struggles to declare, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”. San Diego Comic-Con 2013 is a wrap. The big burg with the filthy mayor and the small beachtown chill is back to it’s groovy, mellow, peaceful ways. (Save for trying to oust said-filthy mayor. What a loony, dangerous maroon!) The air around the Convention Center smells like salt air once again; the trademark smell of The Con hovering somewhere over Santa Fe by now. What is that smell, New Mexicans might wonder? It’s a simultaneously exhilarating, exciting and pathetic amalgam of anxiety, camping, body odour, latex, cheap polyester, sycophancy, Japanese perfume, cheap leather, desperation, domestic “beer” and nacho “cheese” sauce.

I seriously need a shower.

I seriously need a shower.

Seaport Village is back to hosting apple-shaped families from Minnesota and the humourless, tanned beach cops are re-focused on sunburned tourists frantically enjoying their last hurrahs of summer holiday. The “normal” clientele has returned to local strip clubs, replacing zombies, Zorg and Sheldon Cooper in the Champagne Room; alternately, barmaids about town have, thankfully, removed their faux nerd glasses and Hello Kitty “I Love Nerds” t-shirts. (Please, ladies. Leave hot nerding to the real hot nerds.)

The Gaslamp Quarter is still predictably lively with Happy Hours and summertime, bistro seating; but the dark-suited business folk of the downtown area are no longer treated to the  lunchtime spectacle and wonder, not to mention parking and traffic jumbles, of Comic-Con. No more Leeloos leaning over the bar at Lou & Mickey’s, no more Han Solos in line at Starbucks, no more Walking Dead at McCormick & Schmick’s and no more Transformers trying to work the fountain dispensers at 7-11. Like a birthday night in Vegas, we are left with sore feet, curious bruising, singed tendrils, oddly placed piles of sunflower seed shells, mysteriously depleted bank accounts, and a faint, pleasurable memory that it might be fun and/or nuts to do it all over again next year … but next time with an even better costume! (They’re called boobs, Ed!)

The Con will return, kids, no worries there. It has been speculated for years that it could move to Anaheim. Well, at least through 2016, Comic-Con shall remain in America’s Finest City; Hallowe’en in July is all San Diego’s. Until next year, enjoy a wee slideshow of this year’s scene, courtesy of our own Dr. Lucy and her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT.

All slideshow photos by Twisted Pair Photography with the exception of the following:

Rotten Tomato by Rebecca Lane; The Two Daphnes: Classic & Post-apocalyptic, all Conv. Ctr. exteriors and Once Upon a Time murals by J.S. Devore

  • BTW, because I know you care, each con, I treat myself to a wee something: a Chewbacca tank by WeLoveFine, a Bettie Page parasol by Retro a-go-go, a Jetsons tee, etc. This year, it’s my Evil Coffee Hour messenger bag by BeKyoot.com. Get one! “Cause Evil Coffee Hour is a brilliant idea and Christy Sanderson is a total doll who designs all the gear herself! It’s what Japanese girls and I call supa kawaii! Cheers, Miss Christy, Tuxie Cat and Momocheet!
Danger + coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Danger + Coffee + Time + ??? = Profit! Evil Coffee Hour! Photo: Twisted Pair

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Jeepers! What a Con! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

 

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame (a.k.a. authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore) contributes regularly to the official San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide. Read her articles here: The Simpsons, Peanuts & Tarzan!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? jenniferdevore.blogspot.com  JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore


When Tom Cruise Stops Singing: Comics Quietly Continue to Float SDCC 2013

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel, WonderCon

If San Diego Comic-Con was a geologic feature, it would be the Grand Canyon: strata upon strata of distinct, well-defined, colourful variants comprising an arresting, alluring travel poster for destinations Geekward. Every summer, America’s Finest City hosts Hallowe’en in July wherein layers of sci-fi, fantasy, history, science, IT, comics, gaming, cosplay and countless other substrata converge on the San Diego Convention Center to make each year’s Con more popular, more profitable and more prohibitive to entry than the last.

It’s arguable which strata top the bunch, but it’s clear the lone comic dork is at the bottom of the pile, at least where acquiring a badge or an independent press pass is concerned. Press passes, unless associated with a major outfit, are becoming more difficult to garner; online badge purchasing for the individual comes earlier and earlier each year and your clicking finger better be younger and faster than your competition’s. Badges sell out in mere minutes and second chance lotteries just play with a dork’s heart like a cat with a wounded bird. Still, if you can get in the air-conditioned doors, press or otherwise, the event will present you with an experience fantastic and powerful enough to drain you of all common sense, vacuum up all your hard-earned dough, morph your feet into Chinese feet-binding and deliver claustrophobic flashbacks for years to come … and leave you salivating and shaking to do it all again next year.

The joy of Comic-Con: meeting old friends! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

The joy of Comic-Con: meeting up with old friends! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

San Diego Comic-Con, the grandfather of all DorkCons and once a purist, geek Mecca, is now a Gigantor, world-class, Cannes-scale, multimillion-dollar, media bash of Big Bang proportions. Always something of a boon to the local economy, SDCC has become a veritable pot o’ gold over the past decade, the rainbow streaming in from Hollywood-way and infusing hundreds of millions of dollars into San Diego coffers and wallets, not to mention luring paparazzi, as well as legitimate photojournalists, to San Diego’s sunny harbor for five, titillating days. The byproduct of the manic, short-lived press coverage? Unquantifiable results in healthy tourism the rest of the year.

Although no exact figures have been released yet, attendance for 2013 threatens to easily top 130K. As far as local pockets? Last year’s Con delivered the area a vintage, Adam West-era Batman KAPOW! of 180 million clams. Add approximately three million more clams in local tax revenue and no wonder San Diego and The Simpsons‘ Comic Book Guy have been scratching, clawing and letter-writing to keep The Con in town and out of Anaheim.

Why would anyone want to move The Con, other than the obviously jealous Anaheim? (Anaheim, you have WonderCon for a bit; be happy with that.) The Hakken-Kraks, Buzz Killington and young and old biddies alike will complain about the crowds, the late-night boozing in the Gaslamp Quarter and the annual, predictable proliferation of Leeloos, Slave Leias and Sailor Moons. No worries though, Comic Book Guy. Leeloo’s ass, Slave Leia’s gold bra and Sailor Moon’s navel will remain in place, relatively firmly, in San Diego at least through 2016.

A lovely Leia, who goes by the name Lala. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

A lovely Leia, who goes by the name Lala. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Conventioneers and the correspondents covering them bound in from around the globe to gather and gawk at all Comic-Con has to offer: the costuming being the loudest Call of the Wild. Cosplay becomes more and more the focus each year. When Charlie Rose reads “The Babes of Comic-Con” on his Teleprompter with a stilted discomfort in his voice, the Con is reaching its alternative threshold. What used to be counter-culture and Mom’s Basement-nerdy, is now the pinnacle of geek chic. Comic-Con is, for now, the Hurley of Geekdom. Even though H-town seems to have taken over, the core elements are still there, like Spanx: tightly bound and working feverishly to hold the whole thing in place. Akin to the Colorado River, subtly trickling through the Canyon it created it in the first place, the Old School comic strip and graphic novel can still be found at Comic-Con. You have to walk your Duff Man off to find them, but they’re in there.

Clearly, Comic-Con’s focus is still based in comic-as-art-form; just look at some of this year’s themes. Superman, Sandman, Bongo and Aspen Comics are all celebrating milestones of great note. Still, H-town’s involvement, Hulk heavy-handed since the mid-2000s, turns the global focus over to the folks at Entertainment Tonight, Huffington Post and the heaving, final gasps of air coming out of the crew at Variety. Every one of their correspondents tripping over their own phone chargers to cover Halle Berry’s baby-bump, Hugh Jackman’s stubble and Tom Cruise’s impromptu, Rock of Ages serenade. Meanwhile, the Clark Kents of Comic-Con quietly and sagely keep the homefires burning in small, cheerful booths, oft near the lavvies, along the side doors or buttressing Café Express, the indoor, overpriced hot dogs-and-shady-nachos stand. The booths are manned by company execs themselves whom happily snap and post Instagram pics of their fans and heartily shake each and every hand that wends through the maze of aisles to seek their comic wares.

Whilst the Craigslist-hire, brand-ambassador models and bouncers working the behemoth, Hollywood studio booths poorly hide their sneers and eye-rolls at overzealous fans and, with tight-lipped smiles, begrudgingly hand out buttons and bandanas for shows they will likely never watch, the head honchos, chiefs and veeps at smaller media companies like IDW, Diamond Comics and GoComics are happy to stand with a fan for a picture (Plus, help her find the last X-Files: Season 10 comic book in the booth … sadly sold out, though.) or enthusiastically proffer pro subscriptions “for special folks” and other goodies produced from behind the curtains and posterboard.

Whether they be creators and publishers like IDW Publishing (X-Files, Star Trek, 30 Days of Night, Doctor Who) and SLG Publishing (Haunted Mansion, Tron, Gargoyles), distributors like Diamond Comics Distributors (Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics) or syndicators like GoComics (Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Get Fuzzy, Foxtrot) and its parent company Universal Uclick, these folks are the lifeblood of any comic book convention, the River to the showy Canyon walls. Without their conveyance, nobody gets Wolverine costume claws, The Big Bang Theory t-shirts or Sandman annotations. Even within the river, notable and gifted creators like SofaWolf Press fight the current of mass media, straining and mushing like sled dogs just to get the Kudos they so deserve. Read Caterwall or Nordguard? If not, acquaint yourself with the Disney-level artwork and storytelling of Jack London proportions.

True, the course of the river has shifted dramatically; it’s more of a culture-con now, and that’s fine. Most folks love some glam, some flash and even boobies, naturally. To boot, when more eyeballs seek a curiosity such as Comic-Con, it can mean a lucrative, pleasurable outcome for all. Art and the creatives will always progress, should progress; it’s the nature of the beast. Still, amidst the après-hours, high-end hotel-bar, cocktail parties, the Gaslamp pub networking circuit and even the intrageek debates about cosplay inaccuracies, it’s nice to recall the original trickle from whence such a gathering came.

Peanuts. That is all. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Peanuts. That is all. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Comic-Con International has a mission statement. Brief and to the point, it reads:

Comic-Con International: San Diego is a nonprofit educational corporation dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artforms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.

Clearly, the hot Poison Ivys, the intricately detailed Walking Dead, the frenzied sightings of Halle Berry and Neil Patrick Harris and the rumours of surprise appearances by Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro will always win the gaze of amateur phonecams and AP entertainment reporters alike. Yet, even when the Con is gone, if years down the road the flash and dash dim, all our fave comic characters will remain: Betty & Veronica, Citizen Dog, Sherman’s Lagoon, Calvin and Hobbes, Vampirella, The X-Files, Peanuts, Haunted Mansion, My Little Pony, Wonderland, Gargoyles, Foxtrot, Get Fuzzy, The Simpsons, Sandman, Superman, Spongebob Squarepants, Dick Tracy, Savage Chickens, The Avengers, The X-Men, Pearls Before Swine and so many other familiar, longtime and new-found friends. Tiny, tireless warriors one and all, they will surge ahead quietly, like the greenish-grey Colorado River forever playing second fiddle to the colour-saturated travel posters of breathtaking, Canyon sunsets. Diligently they will trudge so we might enjoy their quirky company all year long … until the Con, the crowds, the chicks and the claustrophobia return to San Diego next year, at least through 2016. Better start getting your clicking finger in shape now.

Pray away the Poke! Not everyone loves SDCC! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Pray away the Poke! Not everyone loves SDCC! Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame (a.k.a. authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore) contributes regularly to the official San Diego Comic-Con Souvenir Guide. Read her articles here: BongoComics/The Simpsons, Peanuts & Tarzan! She also loves a Pikachu!

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online? @JennyPopNet  JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

All photos by Twisted Pair Photography

Bartbarians at the Gate: 20 Years of Bongo on the Digital Frontier

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Category : Candid Conversations, Comics, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, Literature, San Diego Comic Con

So, for those whom did not make it to San Diego Comic-Con this year, or did and unwisely tossed your official Souvenir Guide, my pally, author Jennifer Susannah Devore, made it into the book once again! She tells me this year’s is her favourite thus far: article and Souvenir Guide in toto. Sandman, the cover art commemorating twenty-five years of Neil Gaiman’s Gothic oeuvre, has hit Miss Jenny’s radar anew, having not read it since the glorious, gloomy, gringy Nineties. After reading the Sandman articles and delighting in the accompanying gorgeous and ghoulish artwork, The Annotated Sandman has made her very particular birthday and Christmas lists: as there are multiple volumes, it is worthy of both.

For now, enjoy a posting here of Miss Jenny’s article, Bartbarians at the Gate: 20 Years of Bongo on the Digital Frontier.

 

Research at WonderCon 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Research at WonderCon 2013, J.S. Devore Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Bartbarians at the Gate: 20 Years of Bongo on the Digital Frontier

By Jennifer Susannah Devore

 

‘Cause he’s an old [comic junkie] and he don’t know what to do.

Should he hang on to the old, should he grab on to the new?

He’s an old [comic junkie], this new life is just a bust.

He ain’t trying to change nobody, he’s just trying real hard to adjust.

-David Bellamy

 

November spawned an empire. Like an impatient, petulant newborn, Bongo Entertainment spewed forth, squealing and sliding into our arms like a greased up Spiderpig. Present in the room for the birth were Radioactive Man, Bart Simpson, Itchy & Scratchy and, naturally, The Simpsons. Waiting in the hallway, anxious friends and family would queue up for years to administer the requisite welcome-slap on the bum: Bender, Comic Book Guy, Leela, Professor Frink, Ralph Wiggum, Fry, Li’l Homer, Zoidberg, Maggie, Poochie, Mr. Burns, Akbar & Jeff, all the denizens of Treehouse of Horror and dozens more.

“Welcome to the world of print comics, you magnificent bastard!” the masses cried outside the gates. “It’s about time!”

No matter how you manage the journey, it’s a long and sketchy trip from the overcast, damp alleys of Portland to the sunny, ocean-misted offices of Santa Monica. Matt Groening and Bongo the Überhip Rabbit are no longer hawking Macintosh computers for laser printers. With a Lewis & Clark deftness, Bongo Entertainment has successfully navigated the choppy, brackish waters where analog and digital converge.

The 1990s came flying at us like those imminent asteroids Dr. Michio Kaku warns will eventually slam into Brooklyn. Many smart folks, especially those in print journalism and book publishing, are getting nailed regularly by turn-of-the-century fallout, like digital mosquitoes carrying a cheeky, cutting-edge virus which grows more and more immune to the amusingly ineffective slaps of indignity and Old Guard pride. The likes of newspapers, authors and artists who remain certain newfangled progress is for guys with neck tattoos and film school girls sporting Boy Scouts shirts, are likely to go the way of the original dinosaurs, especially those living in Brooklyn. Happily, Bongo knows better, even if Comic Book Guy is still lamenting years-old chatter about San Diego Comic-Con possibly moving to Anaheim.

The precise number of ventures poorly judging a turn-of-the-century is up for debate. Victorian gas proprietors loathed Thomas Edison as much as the fading Vaudevillians did. John Henry fought tooth and railroad nail against the steam engine, whilst across the Atlantic, Luddites vilified machines taking labor from textile artisans. The 21stC. Technological Revolution is no different, in theory, than the 20thC. Industrial Revolution. In both wakes lie more dead ideas and failed executives than Jack the Ripper had bad dates. (R.I.P. Kodak Film and Thomas Bros. Guides)

What is certain is that each era is replete with dogmatic examples subscribing to the maxim: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Surely, some monk complained about the lack of work for illuminated-manuscript artists when that hipster doofus Gutenberg and his skinny jeans set about developing the printing press; and if there wasn’t a Neanderthal grumbling about Cro-Magnons and their fancy, sloping foreheads, I’ll eat my Bluetooth.

Like responsibly farmed, Whole Foods mussels, Bongo’s road to sustainability began with integrity, tenacity and probably a lot of ice. Briefly, Groening created “Forbidden Soaps” in 1978, a lengthy, Life in Hell soap review for Wet magazine and founder Leonard Koren. His soapy stories seduced Tracey Ullman Show producer James L. Brooks and by 1989 The Simpsons were standard TV fare.

Like Toulouse Lautrec’s 1880s cabaret art, Matt Groening’s 1980s Apple art is collector-worthy. Early advertising material for Apple featured Life in Hell residents. If Lautrec’s 1889 La Danse is worth a pretty centime, 1989’s Dream Dorm is sure to be worth half that. Bongo’s Dream Dorm: Macintosh. Part of Every Student’s Wildest Dreams (full title) features the original Bongo, “jungle passion” offspring of Binky, living large in a four-story dorm, complete with helipad, moat, robot chef, pet octopus and a Mac, naturally.

In 1991, fueled by rabid Simpsons fans, Groening with Steve Vance (DC Comics), Cindy Vance (Disney Adventures Digest) and Bill Morrison (Futurama) co-published the fan mag, Simpsons Illustrated. Naturally, this led to more frothing Bartbarians at the gate and in 1993 they published a one-off: Simpsons Comics & Stories. Finally crying Uncle! in November 1993, Bongo Comics Group was birthed: slippery Spiderpig and all.

Today, twenty years later, on the hip side of Santa Monica where crunchy, lunchtime surf sessions beckon, and after infinite Pantone #116C, Bongo Entertainment thrives, more Monty Burns than Comic Book Guy these heady days. Their catalog encompasses an impressive compilation of calendars, trade books and comics: Futurama, Simpsons Classics, Summer Shindig, Lisa, Milhouse, Krusty, Futurama/Simpsons Crossover, Treehouse of Horror and Professor Frink to list a few.

Adding Futurama in 2000 and with reprints of Simpsons in Mexico, the U.K. and Australia, the amount of print around the globe is growing at a fungal rate. Bongo has produced and distributed at least twenty different series for Simpsons comics alone. Currently, at least ten of those original titles are ongoing. Add trade books, calendars and the occasional beast, like the 1,200-page omnibus Simpsons World: The Ultimate Episode Guide Seasons 1-20, and it’s a wonder the streets aren’t as coated with Bongo mags as Charles de Gaulle’s runways are with Gauloises cigarettes and absinthe bottles.

Like any sage impresario, Bongo Entertainment has brought fellow artists to its stage, recently adding Spongebob Comics and Mylo Xyloto to their catalog. Moreover, to please burgeoning generations of readers allergic to paper, Bongo Digital offers select issues alongside traditional, print format: at least two per week, they pledge.

Although you must wait one month after newsstand-release, download versions are available via comiXology for iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows 8 and Windows RT. Bongo Entertainment partnered originally with comiXology to develop the Simpsons Comics app for iTunes. Along with the freshest issues, Bongo pledges to reach way back into the dairy case of archived content to bring readers tasty treats from the past.

How does an enterprise prosper throughout a lifespan of Apple IIe to iPad5? Quality, intelligence and old-fashioned zeitgeist. Plus, though Bongo Digital makes instant gratification easy, Bongo understands there remains a tactile courtship with comics that is unlikely to fade in the wash.

If you’re Old School, subscribing to your comics via Snail Mail, you’re one of the few delighting in a fed outside your door. Whether you haunt your local comic store or scour eBay, there is visceral happiness in holding that paper. Carrying it in your purse, backpack or briefcase, it’s your secret to be enjoyed throughout the day. Everyone has a ritual with a new issue. Maybe it’s de rigueur for business flights; maybe it’s summer beach reading. If you’re proud and loud, it’s at Starbucks with an espresso. If you’re the rare, outdoorsy geek, Treehouse of Horror is great, camp reading. Whatever your liturgy, it helps breathe life into the likes of Bongo. There’s a reason we attend Comic-Con; in the end, it’s Comic-Con, not Culture-Con.

In the new age of distribution, be it anti-copyright love-ins, or “everybody-is-an-artist” curses, the ancient, runic tablets of publishing are crumbling. This means your shelves and devices are bursting at the seams, like Slave Leia’s bikini, with more content and ways to blow your day than imaginable. Solution? Choose wisely. Anyone can sketch a doodle, add some Japanese space boobs, slap on a knock-knock joke and call it a comic. The point is, even if it’s free –and so many are- is it worth your time?

Bongo is the New Yorker of comic books. Thus far, only Bongo has proffered a truly funny iteration of Jack the Ripper (finally) in From Hell and Back, Or: The Truer Story of Jack the Ripper (Treehouse of Horror #9). Bongo also stepped up with a “Yo Mama So Ugly”-style poetry slam in Rhymes and Misdemeanors (Simpsons Comics a Go-Go). I additionally wager they solely have recognized the obvious humor in Olmec vs. Aztec traits in The Return of Xt’tapalatakettle (Simpsons Comics #98).

Thirty-four years after “Forbidden Soaps” and 1,669 strips later, Groening ended Life in Hell syndication on June 15, 2012. The groovy rabbit who started it all and the rest of the wonky and fez-capped crew are on extended leave. As if to assuage the masses, February 2012 saw the resurrection of long-dead (1991-1993) Simpsons Illustrated: now a quarterly with catalog reprints.

Choose intelligently, folks; there’s a lot of shlock out there. Anyone can pick a comic book worthy of T&A; pick one worthy of an M.F.A.

 

Novelist, correspondent, geek. SDCC 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Novelist, correspondent, geek. J.S.Devore SDCC 2013 Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Reprinted from the official SDCC 2013 Souvenir Guide

Read Miss Jenny’s previous SDCC articles on Peanuts and Tarzan!

Abyssinia, cats!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net  amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore


When The Anime Girls Start Looking Old: Sobering Up, SDCC Day 4

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Category : Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

The Borg Queen’s makeup is starting to wear, Arthur the Moth’s white bodysuit has nacho cheese stains and Slave Leia’s posterior-veil is flaking away from the glue that has, thus far, kept it titillatingly adhered to said-posterior. It must be the last day of Comic-Con.

 ... and you thought you'd met your soul geek last night. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

… and you thought you’d met your soul geek last night. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Cheers, kittens! What a weekend! DorkCon has been an absolute blast! Day three, Saturday, was sheer bonkers and, despite my attempts to Tweet and report to you directly from the Con floor, the villains at Sprint communications did their best to vanquish my valiant efforts and blocked all ghostly transmission to the non-Con masses. What you missed will come to you soon, via my annual SDCC wrap-up post, complete with a fantastic (in the truest sense of the word) slideshow, thanks to our own Dr. Lucy and her EOS Canon Rebel! For now though, it’s Sunday; and, like Vegas in the early morning hours, things are starting to look pretty sketchy and the broad you thought was your dream gift from Fortuna looks like an old drag queen impersonating Sailor Moon.

Cases of unused, 2013 Souvenir Books, Event Guides and Con bags sit bored and stacked up in blue-curtained, administrative corners of the Convention Center lobby and the degree, and quality, of costuming has dwindled significantly. Of the four days (Thurs.-Sun.), Friday and Saturday were the days for cosplay. It’s like showing up for a party, a little uneasy and nervous for the first hour or so; then, you have a drink, loosen up, lose some inhibition, gain some confidence and next thing you know you’re leading the conga line with a G-string on your head that you found in the hamper of the upstairs lavvy. Of course, after the Sambvca is all gone and the host is passed out on the lanai, you realize it’s time to go home.

Even today’s rainy threats are coaxing along the end of Comic-Con 2013, as if entreating the cosplay ladies to don some pants and plaguing the Pokémon-picketing, Jebus fanatics to go away. San Diego loved hosting you, folks, really; but America’s Finest City cannot remain that way if the streets are clogged, the Gaslamp District is unapproachable to the more timid locals and there are 12-stone cosplay chicks on street corners with dimpled ass-cheeks hanging out of their very poorly chosen Poison Ivy costumes. Folks, it’s Sunday and the host is unresponsive on the lanai … time to go home.

All right, folks. Let's move it along. Show's over. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

All right, folks. Let’s move it along. Show’s over. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography

Follow @JennyPopNet

Hell Yeah, It’s Friday at San Diego Comic-Con! Thanks, H-town!

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Category : Candid Conversations, Conventions, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

“Samuel”, we’ll call him, an affable, casually t-shirted executive at a prominent, East Coast-based comic book distributor, sat next to us last night at Jolt ‘N Joe’s in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, after the Con closed its doors.

San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Convention Center Photo: JSDevore

San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Convention Center Photo: JSDevore

“Let’s see,” he started, looking up and to the right as he counted silently in his head, “I guess I’ve been coming to Comic-Con since 1994. It’s nuts. Each year when you think it can’t get any crazier, the next year is worse. Each day gets worse. Friday will be crazier than today, Saturday crazier than that.”

“When did you notice it start to grow so wild?” I asked over my Dirty Shirley, a Shirley Temple with Vodka.

Again, he looked up and to the right, his lips counting the years. He swirled his Budweiser bottle and, upon settling on an answer, set it down with a clink.

“2004, I’d say. When Hollywood started paying attention. That’s when it really changed. Hollywood realized, ‘Hey. There’s a key demo here and they’re trapped.”

My cohort took a sip of his G&T and said, “Totally trapped. Nowhere to go but Mexico.”

 

Follow for SDCC updates @JennyPopNet!

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Under A Simpsons-Blue Sky!

Category : Comics, Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Travel

Not much time to post today, kittens… it’s Day 1 of San Diego Comic-Con! The weathers is bonkers-gorgeous and I am chock full of comic book glee for my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore! Third year now (Peanuts & Tarzan marking previous articles), she’s published in the Official Souvenir Guide! This year’s theme? The 20th anniversary of  Bongo Entertainment: the fine minds behind The Simpsons, Futurama, Bartman, et al.

Souvenir Guide 2013, Bongo article by JSDevore Photo: Rebecca Lane

Souvenir Guide 2013, Bongo article by JSDevore Photo: Rebecca Lane

So, off to the Con! Will certainly post more later. In the meanwhile, follow @JennyPopNet, @Eslilay and @GoodToBeAGeek for up-to-the-minute Tweets and snaps! Now, so much to do today, like buying one Rebecca Lane of Rotten Tomatoes a G$T for snapping this shot of my article for me and Tweeting the following:

“Some pre #SDCC reading; penned by my talented friend @JennyPopNet Souvenir Guide pg 164…check it out!”

Cheers, Beki!(Look for her at SDCC; she’ll be the one in giant tomato suit!)

 

Bongo and Jeepers, Kids! Danger-prone Daphne Heads to SDCC 2K13

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Category : Comics, Conventions, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Television, Travel

Cheers, kittens! If you’ll kindly check your calendars, you’ll see it’s summertime and if you regularly follow the scribblings and adventures of Dr. Lucy Devereaux and Moi, you’ll know summer here in sunny San Diego means just one thing: San Diego Comic-Con!

IMG_20130212_132925

Bits of Hannah’s private Bongo stash. Photo: JSDevore

Summertime lists of entertainment alternatives for the geeky and the pale put SDCC firmly on top of the pile. It’s air-conditioned fun where we ghosties and our fellow friends of pasty pallor can hide from the vile sun and retain our dewy freshness. It’s a venue where geeks, dorks and nerds of every shade of pale can gather in costume, greedily clutching their comic books and collectible figures whilst dork-walking at revved speeds to snag front-row seats to panels such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Action Figure Showcase and I Can’t Write, I Can’t Draw, But I Love Comics!, all without fear of a wedgie anytime during the day … as long as conventioneers don’t wander too far into the neighboring Gaslamp District. The Gaslamp is no place for a lone nerd in costume, especially at night when the surfy sportos, apathetic hipsters and sloshed beach thugs roam, and own, the darkness. Travel in nerd packs if you must; but be assured, like any Star Trek exploratory mission, the one in the red shirt will be sacrificed. Don’t be the red shirt.

Dr. Lucy, her EOS Canon Digital Rebel XT in-hand, and I will be covering all the geeky goodness of SDCC 2K13 for you and Tweeting snaps, sightings, booths of note and nerdy news all weekend long from the floor and beyond the ether! Panels will be plentiful and will run the gamut of information and instruction from Inside The Big Bang Theory’s Writers’ Room to Steampunk 101, and Showcasing the Best in Korean Comics to Snoopy: A Retrospective. As always, SDCC is also a bit of a celeb trek and this year, expect to see the likes of James Spader (Lincoln, The Blacklist), Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Coraline) and  J. Michael Straczynski (Superman: Earth One, Before Watchmen). Of course, Dr. Lucy is always on the hunt for Seth Green and one can hope one bumps into Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, George Lucas or Adrianne Curry in one of the aisles. (Bring the smelling salts, Dr. Lucy!)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a comic book convention if I wasn’t interviewing somebody fabulous for your reading pleasure! (WonderCon offered Leah Cevoli (Deadwood, Robot Chicken) and Katrina Hill (Action Movie Freak). Dr. Lucy and I will be squeezing our fine, cosplayed cabooses into the SyFy Press Room once again: this time, a table chat with the cast of SyFy’s Warehouse 13. Interview and candid pics, à la last year’s Being Human interview, will post after the Con concludes.

In past years, I’ve been … I mean, my pally Jennifer Susannah Devore  has been fortunate enough have her articles selected for the official Souvenir Book: 60th anniversary of Peanuts (which earned her a citation in TIME magazine) and the 100th anniversary of Tarzan (which garnered her an invitation to meet Dr. Jane Goodall). One never knows what good fortune and opportunity this year’s submission, if accepted, will bring her. Cross your fingers, kids!

The themes for this year’s Souvenir Book are many and varied: amongst others, the 75th anniversary of Superman, 50th anniversaries of Marvel Superheroes and Doctor Who and 25th anniversaries of The Tick and The Sandman. Miss Jenny’s selection? The 20th anniversary of Bongo Comics. Known as Bongo Entertainment since 2012, it is the comics publishing empire founded by The Simpsons-creator Matt Groening with three BFFs in 1993: Steve Vance (DC Comics, Disney Adventures Comics), Cindy Vance (Disney Adventures Comics) and Bill Morrison (Roswell: Little Green Man). Navigating twenty years of analog-to-digital waters is no easy task; yet, Bongo has flourished, combining classic comic core and the moving target that is modern zeitgeist.

The frosting on the Comic-Con cupcake? Getting to dress up months before Hallowe’en! Last year’s costume was Steampunk, WonderCon was Abby Sciuto and this year’s con will be Scooby-Doo‘s Daphne Blake. I thought about Velma. Surely, the scholarly, brunette geek girl does seem to suit me better. Still, Velma’s sweater is ugly and unflattering and, quite frankly, she’s too good of a ghost hunter. I can’t abide that, really. Danger-prone Daphne, though?!  She’s hot, she’s nice, she’s wealthy, what’s not to like? Plus, I’ve always wanted orange hair for a day and what girl doesn’t love hot pink tights, lime-green accessories and a purple micromini? Jeepers!

Iconic Daphne Blake: a variety of iterations, from sexy to saucy to classic.

Danger-prone Daphne is on her way! Let’s go, Freddy!

Abyssinia at the Con, kids!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet @Eslilay and @GoodToBeAGeek for SDCC floor updates!

“The X-Files: Season 10″: Taking Scully Under The Covers

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Category : Candid Conversations, Comics, Entertain Me, Featured, Geek Out, San Diego Comic Con, Television

The dark, dicey harbors and grand, Georgian suburbs which spiral outward from the nation’s nexus of Washington, D.C. maintain a consistent ripple of clandestine rendezvous and the hiding-in-plain-sight, double-dealing that keeps the Capitol flowing. Amidst the briny, back alleys of Annapolis and Fell’s Point, and the wainscoted, chintz-covered parlors of McLean and Georgetown, secret lives meet with secret identities in an effort to keep us safe from government conspiracy and monsters lurking in the shadows … maybe. Even D.C. has room for only so many two-faces; lucky for us, the X-Files have been reopened.

"The X-Files: Season 10" #1 Cover by Carlos Valenzuela, photo courtesy of Denton J. Tipton

“The X-Files: Season 10″ #1 Cover by Carlos Valenzuela. Photo courtesy of D. J. Tipton

Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder are back in town as The X-Files: Season 10 returns to us that which we lost so long ago: haute conspiracy theory, paranoia and the dry snark of runway model-ready Fox Mulder. It’s been a long time since we’ve peeled into the grey matter of an agent hell-bent on exposing and combating the tightly-woven, non-existent, government syndicate. Surely, if anyone understands the pebble in Washington’s loafer today, Edward Snowden, and his supporter, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, it is Spooky Mulder. It’s also been a long time since we’ve been mesmerized by the marmoreal, porcelain skepticism of Dana Scully, M.D., tossed regularly to Mulder via beauteous, sideways glances. You may not be able to watch Scully’s enhanced, ginger beauty by TV’s blue haze this time around; but you will be able to take her under the covers with a flashlight at lights-out, just like summer camp, and read the continuing, cloak-and-dagger, comic book adventures of the F.B.I.’s Most Desired.

"Believers" #1 Interior Art by Michael Walsh, colors by Jordie Bellaire. Photo courtesy of Denton J. Tipton

#1 Interior Art: Michael Walsh, Colors: Jordie Bellaire. Photo: D. J. Tipton

Serving as a “Where are they now?”, The X-Files: Season 10 picks up alternatively, which suits it well, in comic book form: hence the summertime, undercover, late-night delectations. Set in  present-day D.C. Metro, our favorite agents in navy blue are living, à la Rob and Laura Petrie in Arcadia (S6e15), as a married couple in suburban bliss under the aliases Dr. and Mr. Anthony Blake: Scully working in pediatrics private practice, Mulder writing his memoirs, I Want To Believe. Many a fan “just want to see Scully and Mulder hook up”. Well, we got our wish, kind of.

“They are indeed living under the same roof as a married couple,” divulges IDW Publishing editor Denton J. Tipton. “The relationship between the two has always been the heart of The X-Files, and we will carry on that tradition. But things are far from “happily ever after.”

Winter has come and gone nearly a dozen times since we last spied on our basement odd couple: Mulder forever nursing his neuroses, Scully forever rolling her baby blues. 2013 brings them well into the 21stC., giving them a whole new arsenal of wireless weapons to fight. Walter Skinner, now Deputy Director Skinner, knows this and arrives in the burbs to alert Scully and Mulder that someone, or something, is systematically picking off those formerly associated with the F.B.I.’s X-Files division.

“I’d call you DD Skinner, now, but that just makes me feel dirty.” Mulder gives us what we want, as his revived character is spot-on from the first moment we see him in print, interacting with neighborhood kids playing baseball in the street, proffering advice in form and philosophy. “Play deeper when the big guy hits.”

Some will note Mulder’s alias, Anthony Blake as a nod to The Magician (1973/4): a short-lived mystery series, starring The Incredible Hulk‘s Bill Bixby. Centered on playboy philanthropist Tony Blake, he was a  “master of magic, romancer of women the world over and solver of even the most stubborn crimes”, as Mulder explains the origin of his new identity to a clueless Skinner.

A bigger fan of the supernatural than duplicitous, government syndicates? Fret not. Season 10 will weave in classic MOW’s (Monsters of the Week) “to let things breathe, explore other mysteries, and give us a break from the mytharc,” assures Tipton. “There will be some direct sequels to fan-favorite episodes, and lots of new threats and thrills for Scully and Mulder.”

“But rest assured that many other familiar faces will be returning in the comic,” Tipton continues with a tease. “Krycek is a favorite of the writer Joe Harris, so I suspect that he’ll [Krycek] turn up in some fashion sooner or later.”

“Who doesn’t love Alex Krycek?? Maybe Skinner, I guess… ,” ponders Harris.

A collaboration of 20thCentury Fox Consumer Products, IDW Publishing and 1013 Productions (a.k.a Ten Thirteen Productions, founded by Chris Carter in 1993), The X-Files: Season 10 has the ultimate blessing of original-creator, now-executive producer Chris Carter.

“He sees and comments on everything we do, from outlines, scripts, art, to final product. Nothing will be released without his final stamp of approval,” relays Tipton. “The X-Files remains very near and dear to Chris Carter’s heart, and it’s been an honor to collaborate with him. I don’t think he’ll ever truly have Scully and Mulder out of his system.”

XFS10 commences with Believers, a five-part segment within the series. It seems a quizzical turn, this continuation of such a storied series in comic book form, versus television. Still, in the new age of mobile and personalized media, who needs broadcast television? To boot, the artists behind this endeavor bring most everything we need to the inked page. The spooky docks, the robed villains, the dead-eyed children, Mulder’s smirk and Scully’s cheekbones all come through gorgeously through the art and colors of Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire, respectively. If you’re curious as to how different Scully and Mulder (originally played by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in The X-Files TV series and films) will look in pen and ink, fret not.

“Gillian Anderson (Bleak House, Hannibal, The Fall) and David Duchovny’s (Goats, Californication, Things We Lost in the Fire) likenesses are being used in the comic, and all our artists must be approved by both. We’re as official as official can get!” guarantees Tipton.

The X-Files television series aired for nearly a decade, spawned two feature films and birthed a regiment of rabid fans known as X-Philes, most of whom would be shocked and amazed to know there actually exists another Chris Carter. (What?! ‘Tis true. A sports figure, it seems.) Will the franchise sustain as a comic book? Just as this year’s San Diego Comic Con celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Sandman graphic novels and the 20th anniversary of Bongo Comics Group (The Simpsons et al), might we be celebrating a milestone anniversary of The X-Files Comics in cons to come? When asked if IDW and 20th Century Fox will be proffering spin-offs like, perchance, The Smoking Man or the one-season, television series The Lone Gunmen (2001), Tipton handed over this hopeful prognosis.

“That all depends on the demand for such a spin-off. As it stands now, the debut issue is selling very well, and the reviews have been great, so I want to believe that there will be!” (See what he did there? ” … I want to believe … “)

"The X-Files: Season 10" #3 Cover by menton3, photo courtesy of Denton J. Tipton

“The X-Files: Season 10″ #3 Cover by menton3. Photo courtesy of D. J. Tipton

Despite the fact that reading issue #1 causes involuntary, over-and-over flips of the book to see how the tale continues, then an obsessive countdown until next month’s issue #2 hits the shelves, there is still one component missing from this satisfying new series: the azure candescence of TV. Minus the hypnotic glow of tel-e-vi-sion, however, XFS10 is a welcome, long-awaited return of the crew on the Potomac.

Going to San Diego Comic Con this year? Do yourself a favor and stop by IDW Publishing (booth #2643) and give the other X-Men & Women a little of your own glowing kudos; I certainly will.

Barenaked Ladies sang it best: Watching X-Files with no lights on, we’re dans la maison, I hope the Smoking Man’s in this one.

Then again, indie musician PB3 sang it pretty well, too: Scully looks so hot, just a-standin’ there, and Mulder never seems to care. And I wonder, what must be wrong with Mulder … ?

 

The X-Files: Season 10 #1

Story by: Joe Harris with Chris Carter

Written by: Joe Harris

Art by: Michael Walsh

Colors by: Jordie Bellaire

Editor: Denton J. Tipton

Letters by: Robbie Robbin

Executive Producer: Chris Carter

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? JennyPop.net and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

Follow @JennyPopNet #xfiles #xfs10 #comicbooks #idw #sdcc

Good To Be A Gamer Podcast – E3 2013 Wrap Up

Category : Conventions, E-vents, E3, Featured, Game On, Good To Be A Gamer

Jessa Phillips is joined again by Chad Julian as they discuss the next generation of consoles, new games and what they are looking forward to from the E3 Expo!

 

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Good To Be A Gamer – E3 2013 Wrap Up

 

CONTACT

Questions? Comments? We want to hear from you! Feel free to post a comment on the podcast entry at http://www.goodtobeageek.com, or email us at gamer@goodtobeageek.com. You can also email David at dlucier[at]goodtobeageek.com, email Jessa at jphillips[at]goodtobeageek.com.

Special thanks to Sterling for the use of his music in the podcast. Be sure to check out his Magnatune profile page to learn more about him and discover more of his music.

Good To Be A Gamer is sponsored by Good To Be A Geek – let your geek run wild! Opinions expressed on Good To Be A Gamer are those of the hosts and/or guests and do not necessarily represent those of Good To Be A Geek.

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