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A Week At A Time

August 11th, 2005

I usually try to update this blog about once a week, but this week it’s been tricky, as I spent the better part of two days home with a crummy cold. Thus, I’m going to try to cover a lot of ground here.

Last Friday, I went to the Chicago Comicon, which these days is known as Wizard World Chicago. However, as I have no particular love for Wizard magazine (which now owns the convention) nor desire to tell non-geeks that I’m going to something called “Wizard World,” I prefer to stick to Comicon.

I arrived shortly before the scheduled opening time of 10:00 am, only to find that the line for those who had preregistered was far, far longer than for those who had no tickets at all. At least the queue moved quickly, and I had a nice chat with my neighbor.

It took all of a minute between the time I arrived at the site and the time I saw my first trenchcoat. While I don’t recall many trenchcoats last year, this time they were plentiful, in both “Silent Bob” and “Neo” varieties. Fortunately for them, it was hotter outside the Rosemont Convention Center than inside for a change.

I quickly made my way to the autograph area–or, as I have come to think of it, the “petting zoo.” I had decided that I wanted to add Margot Kidder’s signature to my Superman II DVD, alongside those of Sarah Douglas (Ursa), Jack O’Halloran (Non) and Valerie Perrine (Miss Teschmacher), and to do so before I was weighted down with a ton of convention loot. While I hate paying twenty bucks for a signature, especially when I’m bringing my own item, I understand the economics of the situation; besides providing an income source for B- and C-level celebrities, it also helps ensure that they don’t spend all of their time signing stuff for those who simply intend to turn a quick profit on eBay. So, I sucked it up and plunked down my double sawbuck for my 20 seconds with Margot Kidder, whom I was pleased to see looked much better in person than she has on some of her recent TV appearances. There was a surreal moment when she noted a couple of nearby geeks in white facial makeup, and for lack of anyone better to ask, asked me what that was about. And so I found myself trying to explain Insane Clown Posse to Lois Lane.

With only one day to expend, I had to move quickly in order to thoroughly cover the exhibitor and dealer areas. However, I did take the time to sit down at the WizKids booth long enough to demo the upcoming Rocketmen game. While it’s definitely derivitive of (though not identical to) their Pirates of the Spanish Main, I love the retro-future designs and I’m looking forward to actually buying some at next week’s GenCon gaming convention in Indianapolis. They didn’t have any free swag for it aside from a nifty decoder ring.

For the most part, I got through my day at Comicon without incident, and even managed not to pick a fight with any of the dealers. As I went on Friday, the aisles were a good bit less crowded than they would’ve been on Saturday, significantly cutting my stress level.

Not too many costumes aside from the usual stormtroopers and Jedi. I honestly can’t recall a single person in a superhero outfit, aside from a couple of gals with Superman capes and the usual goth schoolgirls. (I’m not entirely sure that Goth Schoolgirl is a superhero, though I think she must be, considering how many of her I saw.)

The tackiest thing I saw that day was a toy dealer booth which had seemingly employed two busty and half-dressed women to sit down with their legs spread wide and boxed action figures set in a place where one would normally not expect to see action figures, boxed or otherwise.

Saturday evening, Vicky and I had dinner with David Newell, who played “Mr. McFeely” on the PBS kids’ TV series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. (Before you make any McFeely wisecracks, the character was named after Mr. Rogers’ real-life grandfather. Fred Rogers’ own middle name was McFeely.) This wasn’t our first dinner with Mr. McFeely, though the previous time was about a decade ago. In both cases, he was in town for a WILL station event. We spent a couple of hours at Silvercreek restaurant in Urbana, talking about Fred Rogers (whom all three of us still greatly miss) and having a wonderful meal. Newell is a wonderful person, and during our open house event the following day, made every effort to talk to every person who came to see him. While he’s now closer in age to the character he portrayed on TV, still looks quite different without the wig and delivery man’s uniform.

Sunday was the aforementioned open house, and here’s a photo of me from the event:

No, I am not the little girl.

In the past, I’ve played Arthur the Aardvark, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Purple Panda, Sparky the Firehouse Dog and an insect monster, but this was my first Muppet, so I was very excited. I had a lot of fun meeting the kids, even though a fair number of the smaller ones were too frightened of my big, blue furriness to approach.

That night, I could tell that I was coming down with something, but it didn’t hit full on until late Monday afternoon, and I wound up taking all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday off. Head cold aside, it was nice to spend a couple of days watching DVDs, cleaning old episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and the animated Tick off the TiVo-Like-Device (TM), and finally cracking open some of the Playstation 2 games I bought but never played. Some observations from those two days:

  • Dogora the Space Monster is not an unfairly-overlooked satire combining the Japanese gangster and monster genres, unless you like your satire devoid of humor. (And no, I don’t think it would have played significantly better in the original Japanese.)
  • The Dukes of Hazzard never really was a “family show,” despite what the guy who played Cooter (or, as The Daily Show‘s Stephen Colbert dubbed him, “Snatchter”) would have you believe. In the pilot episode, there’s the following exchange between one of the Duke boys and Daisy: “If you weren’t my cousin, I’d marry you!” “That never stopped anyone in our family before!”
  • No matter how much affection I have for the original Battlestar Galactica series, those skimpy outfits that Starbuck and Apollo wore during their “Triad” matches were the most ridiculous costumes since Sean Connery sported a diaper in Zardoz.
  • I no longer have patience for games in the Resident Evil series. I’d borrowed a copy of Code: Veronica many, many months ago, but kept putting off playing it. Finally, I decided that Tuesday would be the day. About twenty minutes into fighting a roomful of zombies armed with only a small knife, a poor control scheme, unhelpful camera angles and doors which can only be unlocked by finding the Eagle Crest and putting it in the Eagle Crest-shaped hole, I decided that even my sick time was better spent elsewhere. (It’s not that I didn’t enjoy some of the previous Resident Evil games, despite these same issues; it’s just that I expect my next-generation console games to be a bit more, I don’t know…next generation?)

That’s all for now. It’s good to feel up to date at last!

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