Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Anniversary #3 Level Up!

Three years!

And I am very comfortable living the married life :)

We've done a lot this past year, and I realize daily just how much I love Sak for being ever patient with his, uh, sometimes high-maintenance wifu. Like at Black Rock in Maui, when Sak ran around to find me a bathroom cause I really really had to pee but just couldn't go in the ocean.  He's also become an expert bunny wrangler, herding Mochi and Katsu back to their home quickly when I start squealing about chewed up shoelaces and purse straps.  And even though I was seething with unsightly jealousy the whole time he was gone on his business trip to Japan, he was thoughtful enough to bring me back a Sengoku Musou 3Z premium box.  As much as I love playing videogames with him, next time he should really just take me along. Ha!

We've been to three conventions so far this year, and have at least one more planned. He's helped me put together several costumes and projects - taking over whenever the silhouette gets jammed or a zipper needs sewing.  He's the best partner I could ask for, and I am so blessed to have Sak as a husband.

Here's to year four!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Comicon 2013: Part 2

(Part 1 here)

Saturday morning, Sak and I lined up with our bag of grocery store meals for Ballroom 20 again, this time about three hours before the first panel at 10 AM.  The lineup today would take us til about 5 PM.  At this point, we were pretty comfortable with the Comicon panel process, and we didn't even mind sitting in line, leisurely enjoying our breakfast.
Finally walking in!
The first two panels were for Once Upon a Time, for the spinoff and the main show.  Fradulent again, I have not watched this show! :P  But it was a nice panel, and we were pleasantly surprised with swag too - little velvet bags with pins inside.

The following two panels were for Futurama and the Simpsons.  Creator Matt Groening was there, along with the entire Futurama cast!  It's their last season, so I suppose that's why everyone was there.  I was so excited that they did an episode reading!  It was so cool to see :)  Voice acting seems like such a fun job, and they all made it seem so natural and easy.
After Groening's panels were Seth McFarlene's for Family Guy and American Dad.  Seth M wasn't there though, unfortunately, but many of the other voice actors were (Chris, Lois, Joe, etc).  The panels were pretty funny, but it was kinda disturbing when young kids would ask questions during the Q&A.  Even the actors were concerned about it! Not all cartoons are for kids - something you'd think modern parents would understand by now. >.>"

And finally, the last panel and one I was especially looking forward to - True Blood!  Yes, it's one of those very racy HBO shows, but I really liked the books, and..Eric!  It was a huge panel, with pretty much all the main characters other than Bill or Eric (boo!).  I was kinda amazed at how good looking everyone was in real life, haha.  At the end of the panel they handed out swag tickets, which we redeemed later at the fulfillment room for a backpack full of stuff - t-shirt, sunglasses, journal, and screen cleaner. Random, but a fun surprise!

Channeling Layfayette!
After panels, we checked out the Nintendo lounge, which had some really cute photo booths set up!

We also walked around some of the outdoor exhibits, looking for the Geek and Sundry lounge (which unfortunately was in the middle of watching a movie).  We did find some yummy crab cakes in a food truck though :)
Geek & Sundry lounge was on the top floor.
Viking boat races!

Big floaty Axe cop!
Teen titans
In my freshly made Star Wars dress, next to Jabba's barge and some troopers!
People pretending to get arrested for a photo op @_@. Not sure how I feel about this one, haha! 
For a lot of money, you could do a Walking Dead experience and run away from zombies in Petco Park!

Big lego hobbits!
In the back of this blow up castle were people singing karaoke in a cage @_@
Crab cake sliders!
Eventually walking back to con-center, we mulled around the exhibit hall again, getting lucky at snagging swag in the Fox booth (poster tubes).

There was a line just to get into the BBC store!

Different special effect makeup schools were running demos, so crazy!

GIANT harvest moon cow! SO CUTE.
Crazy pony leggings I bought my sister. Because she loves ponies.
Street Fighter Hello kitty. Because why not?
We had a little time to kill before the Masquerade started up, so I dragged Sak to another Gaia panel. It was good we went though, since I ended up winning a cute plushie in the raffle!  I felt really bad for the poor kid that asked during the Q&A if cutie chicky 1 was in the audience after promising to meet him there. No one answered, and he lamented that his dad was probably right about it just being a random dude online! :{  I hope things work out for him next time!

We decided to watch the masquerade in an overflow room, since we were tired of waiting in lines.  It wasn't a bad decision though, because our overflow room was full of hilarious hecklers shouting out random stupid things the whole time.  Up until this event, nothing had really been similar to the anime conventions we go to.  But the peanut gallery of immaturity - spot on. Loved it. But I still don't know what bat wolf means.
Friend S!
Anyway, the masquerade acts were pretty good! My friend acted in one of the skits too! She looked like a movie star on the big screen! And her husband played batman! The Star Wars musical skit with the can-can dancing jawas was another one of my favorites. It was pretty epic.

We left a few skits before it ended in order to get on a shuttle bus before all the crowds got out.  And like that we were on the last day!

Now, for Sunday, the only thing I wanted to do was go to the Dr. Who 50th anniversary panel.  But that required lining up at 3 AM in the morning.  I didn't want to ruin my schedule, knowing I'd have to go back to work shortly after. Plus, I'm a pansy.  So I had to live vicariously though Cousin T, who did do the wait and did get into the Hall H panels.
Sharknado. @_@
Instead of cheering with an excited crowd at Matt Smith, we checked out and did one last swag pass through in the exhibit hall.  Then we drove home.  Stopping for a comforting bowl of ramen along the way. :)

My take-away?

Pros:  Loved all the free swag.  Loved all the bigger-than-life hollywood treatment throughout the downtown area.  Loved the quality panels. And definitely loved the well-organized lines and line staffers.  It also helped that a lot of the conventioneers were older (expensive con means less crazy teens).  People were generally well behaved and polite.
A little swag :)
Cons: It's too big of a convention.  There was too much going on, and we hardly saw any of our friends at all! I saw Cousin T twice in passing only, and didn't get to see Friend S in person.  We only saw Friend E at night back at the hotel room which we shared :P  Also, since there's too much going on, I got really frustrated reading blogs and twitter reports of all the cool things people did that I never even knew was happening! Especially with the events away from the main convention center, it was really hard to tell what was going on.  It's also a pretty long drive, and a very costly convention.  It was cheaper for Sak and I to go to Otakon last year, and that's including plane tickets to Baltimore.

So, although the experience definitely exceeded our expectations, we decided we probably won't go back.  I think we're just more comfortable with anime conventions. Or smaller conventions. Something like that :)
With all the high budget displays, this was a little lackluster! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Comicon 2013: Part 1

Comicon.  It certainly was an experience unlike any other. The four days we were down there is a constant blur of "what's going on" and "what's that line for, eh, stand in it anyway!"

Even though we bought our tickets six months in advance (since they sell out in like five minutes), I had no pre-convention excited jitters like I usually do.  It probably wasn't until we got to the badge pick-up line that I started to get interested.

I think it's because I didn't know what to expect.  I've only been to anime conventions, and I know them pretty well by now.  I felt kind of like a fraud going to a comic convention - I don't really read comics, know zilch about American superheroes, and haven't even watched Iron Man yet. I felt we posers would not fit in.  However, my mother assured me that I'd still be nerdy enough for a comic convention since I do have a Star Wars fandom, afterall.  Between that and anime it'd be enough. Haha.
Is this not the coolest car shade ever? I want!
Anyway, it turned out that all my worries were for naught, since the main theme of the convention seemed not to be extreme fandoms, inside jokes and references, but rather Hollywood marketing and whatever the latest thing is on theaters and TV.

But let's start at the beginning.  We drove down to Friend E's house in Camarillo Wednesday morning, and he drove us to San Diego.  Along the way, we saw a girl driving a Smart car with one foot and arm hanging out the driver side window. @_@.  We checked into our hotel (Four Points) which was a mile away from the main con center.  Luckily, there were free shuttle buses the whole weekend, and they were pretty nice! We checked out the main con scene before switching buses to go to another hotel to pick up our badges.
Sak and Friend E, on our comfy buses!
I am super impressed with their badge pickup.  20 minutes was all it took (and you have to remember that this convention is the largest comic convention in the US - 130,000 people. (For reference, the largest in the world is Comiket in Japan, with over half a million!).  The badge itself wasn't so impressive, just a slip of paper shoved in a sleeve. But I guess that's the trade off for being fast.
Reg line
No frills badges.
After getting our badges, we were handed our swag bags, and you couldn't see the design until you opened it up.  There were 12 designs in all, and the retro batman bag was the coolest.  Sak and I both got Godzilla bags, but I traded mine with poor Friend E who didn't want to get stuck with the Vampire Diaries, haha!  Anyway, the bag is super cool.  It's huge, and has two straps so you can wear it like a backpack. Inside there is a rolled up, detachable cape! So fun!

We ate dinner and wandered around downtown, marveling at how everything from the transit signs to the sushi menus had been changed in honor of the convention.
Train signs in Game of Thrones language?

Friend E got the Naruto roll! It was very orange.
The first day we grabbed some breakfast to go and headed to the Battlestar Galactica 35th Anniversary panel line, about 2 hours early.  These would be the best line spots we'd have all weekend. The panel was very nice, with Captain Adama and Zarek/Old Apollo being in attendance. Edward James Olmos is hilarious.  There were many fan questions regarding the real nature of Starbuck, haha.
First line! All the hallways are super long @_@
Bad phone pic, but we were very close to the front!
After our panel we parted ways with Friend E, who wanted to try for the Pysch panel.  We went down to check out the dealer's hall, which was coupled with the artists alley into one gigantic hot mess crowd situation.  Especially in the middle, where all the major network booths give our freebies, it was impossible to get through! So much pushing and shoving.  I had wanted to buy one of the convention exclusive DBZ scouters, but they ran out every day.  Maybe I'll get one online later :P
The Walking Dead booth had a fenced area you could go in an take pictures with zombies!
Ice King from Adventure Time!
Post lunch, we walked into the infamous Hall H (which for whatever reason, was easy to get into that day).  We saw a panel by Entertainment Weekly with some directors, and then a panel for the movie Divergent.  At that point, Sak realized his badge was missing! We freaked out, and the guy behind us said he saw a badge on the floor and that someone had picked it up and walked away with it. :(  So we ran out to check Lost and Found, to no avail.  Being that it was a $150 badge, they aren't returned too often.  Luckily he was able to get a replacement badge for $25, and we made it back to Hall H in time for the Ender's Game panel with Harrison Ford!  A stressful 30 minutes, for sure.

Mr. Ford is a very grumpy man, at least in these types of events.  I suppose I can't blame him since after all this time, he is still only associated with Han Solo and Indiana Jones.  He was pretty sarcastic to the fan questions, which ironically only makes fans love him more.

After Ender's we lined up for the South Park panel with Matt Stone and Trey Parker.  They were talking about their upcoming videogame, which I didn't know was going to be RPG! Kinda makes me want to play it.  I know South Park is really disturbing/bad sometimes, but they are pretty hilarious guys.  Of all the stars we saw that weekend, they seemed the most down to earth and comfortable with their fans and questions.

Before boarding the shuttle back to the hotel, we grabbed some pizza and went through the Ender's game tent, curiously sponsored by HGTV.  Inside were many of the movie sets, which was pretty cool.  I loved the book, so I hope the movie is good!

The next morning (Friday), Sak and I woke up early to walk down to the panel lines.  Friend E had other plans, and Cousin T and her crew were in line for Game of Thrones in Hall H, so it was just us again.  We stopped at Ralphs along the walk for some breakfast and lunch to-go, and I grabbed a coffee from a Lions shop! (I am excited because this is a Hawaii brand coffee, haha).  The line was dauntingly long by the time we got there, but after a hour and a half wait we got in for the panel starting at 10.

It's interesting how the panel and lines work. While they move the line, they block regular foot traffic so no one can cut (LOVED that).  People were all very well prepared to stand in line, with mini chairs and DSes and card games and books.  And food of course.  Once you get into a panel room, you can stay there all day if you like, as they never clear the room between shows.  If you need to use the restroom or get food, you can leave and get a ticket to return within an hour.  It's quite nice if you can get in!
Anyway, that day we stayed in ballroom 20 from 10 AM to 4 PM.  The first panel was for Big Bang Theory.  I don't watch the show regularly since laugh tracks bug me, but we knew enough to follow the panel.  Bernadette was the moderator for the writers, and then when Q&A happened this guy got up in a Boushh costume and asked a simple question.  After the panel gave their answers, he said it was an unacceptable answer, to which the audience started thinking, who does this guy think he is?! Lol.  Turns out it was a cast member, Leonard, wearing the costume! Big surprise, it was pretty funny.
The second panel was for Avatar, Legend of Korra!  This was the one we went specifically for, I am so ready for the second season already >.>".  The voices for Korra, Mako and Bolin were there, and then! They showed the first episode of the new series :)  There were a lot of very happy fans in attendance. My prediction is that the Korra x Mako pairing won't last. I'm team Bolin, lol.
L-R - Bolin, Mako and Korra!
Third panel was for Bones, on it's 9th season now.  I hadn't watched Bones before the panel, but since the end of con that's all Sak and I have been watching lately. Haha. My mom and aunt are big fans, and I guess I can see why, it's not a bad show. Kinda gory though.  Anyway, Booth's actor is hilarious, and he started the panel with a proposal.  I guess that's a good sign, if you can find a panel thoroughly funny and enjoyable despite not having seen the show >.>"
And finally, the last panel was for Agents of SHIELD, the post-Avengers Marvel TV show.  Though I'm not big on superheroes, I want to watch the show (starts in sept) since it's a Joss Whedon :P. He was there, along with most the cast and writers, and they also showed their first episode! It was pretty good :3
After panels, we went through the exhibit hall again and got signed comic prints from Bill Amend, creator of Foxtrot! One for Sak and I and one for my brother.  Since we were little we'd always read the comics page in the newspaper, and Foxtrot has always been one of our very favorites. So I kinda freaked out and rambled/gushed/fangirled embarrassingly. It's not everyday you get to meet someone whose work you've admired for so long! Now I just need a frame to hang it up!

With nothing left on the agenda for the day, we stood in line to go on the Assassin's Creed pirate ship docked just outside the convention center.  Originally a maritime museum, I was kinda amazed that they opened all the exhibit cases and "rebranded" everything so it'd fit with the game theme. Marketing money is no joke! I still haven't played Assassin's Creed (I know!), but I will eventually :P I hear nothing but good things about it, and of course the costumes are pretty cool looking.

After all that we found Friend M for a little bit, and sat around resting our old people feet. You need a lot of stamina for comicon cause the place is HUGE. After Friend E had found us they decided to go out to dinner with some other friends, and we parted ways since we were more tired than hungry. :P

Downtown Gaslamp Quarter.
 And that wraps up half the trip! This is already quite a long post, so I'll break it into two. :3