Kai Reviews a Koncert!

Adam Ant – “Kings of the Wild Frontier Tour”
The Vic Theater, Chicago, IL
January 31, 2017

 

“This one’s for you, Tom.”

With that said, Adam Ant and his band, The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse started to play “Beat My Guest.” While not an Adam Ant solo song it was a favorite of Ant’s guitarist and music director Tom Edwards. Sadly, Edwards passed away two days into the tour. Ant is notorious for his high-energy shows, but this one was a little more laid back that the norm. Considering they lost their friend, I completely understand. However, despite the tragedy this it was still an excellent show.

The show started with the band playing Adam & The Ants classic 1981 album “Kings of the Wild Frontier” in its entirety. Even though this album is 35 years old, you wouldn’t have known it after seeing this concert. The band played like it was their debut album and had something to prove. The four-piece band (including Ant’s standard of two drummers) ripped everything to shreds and in a good way. They played with as much fire as a new band hungry for success. There was no stopping in between the songs except to grab a swig of water or something. This was fine as most of the audience was singing to every song or bouncing around in a total frenzy.

 

After the last chords of “The Humans Being” was played, Adam finally acknowledged the crowd with a pleasant “Thank you.” Ant wasn’t as chatty as he usually is, but as mentioned above we all understood. The remainder of the set was a mix of a few Ant solo songs like “Desperate, But Not Serious” and “Vive Le Rock” as well as Adam & The Ants standbys like “Stand & Deliver” and the set closer of “Prince Charming.” During the final song of the set Ant asked us to sing along and we did with just as much passion as he did. There were even a few people doing the dance as well. Opening the encore was a nice surprise when the played “Red Scab” which was the B-side of “Goody Two Shoes.”

All in all, this was an excellent show. I hope he returns to the states and does “Prince Charming” in its entirety.

The Posse:

Adam Ant – Vocals, Guitar
Will Crewdson – Guitar, Vocals, Music Director
Joe Howleger – Bass, Vocals
Andy Woodard – Drums, Vocals
Jola (pronounced ‘Yola’) – Drums, Percussion

Setlist:

Dog Eat Dog
Antmusic
Feed Me to the Lions
Los Rancheros
Ants Invasion
Killer in the
Kings of the Wild Frontier
The Magnificent Five
Don’t Be Square (Be There)
Jolly Roger
Making History
The Human Beings
Beat My Guest
Christian D’or
Stand and Deliver
Vive Le Rock
Cartrouble
Desperate But Not Serious
Zerox
Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
Lady/Fall In
Goody Two Shoes
Prince Charming
Red Scab
Get It On
Physical (You’re So)

Upcoming thingies on Middle-Aged Geek!

Yes, we are still here.  Had a busy few months which left us unable to do any updates, but we still have things going on in the upcoming months which will be a lot of fun.

What’s coming soon:

  • Review of “Time Stand Still,” the documentary about Rush’s “R40” tour. (Entry currently in progress).
  • Review of an Adam Ant concert we will be attending at the end of January in Chicago.
  • Review of this year’s Planet Comicon in April.
  • Review of this year’s Geekway to the West in May.
  • More game, movie and other geek stuff reviews.

See you soon with more ramblings from your middle-aged geek.

Kai and Friends Watch “Shin Godzilla” (aka Godzilla: Resurgence)

shingodzillabar640

To celebrate Godzilla’s 50th Anniversary back in 2004, Toho wanted to create the movie that would go out with the proverbial bang. What we got was a mix of “The Matrix” and a Godzilla film in “Godzilla: Final Wars.” Sadly, it went out with a whimper as Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” and Disney’s “The Incredibles” trounced the rubber monster and it became the least attended Godzilla movie of the franchise (behind 1974’s “Terror of Mechagodzilla”). Toho pretty much ended the series and has stated a few times that no new Godzilla film would be produced for “at least a decade.” Twelve years later, we were gifted a new film.

Released in Japan in July, we were presented with a new design for the big lizard, but Toho didn’t stop there.  We had at least three forms before mutating into the present one.  The first one we didn’t really get much of a look at except for its tail. The second version looks like a tadpole of some sort that just crawls on the land and pukes out blood from its gills. Yes, gills. The eyes it has are something to behold as they distract you from everything. It looks like it was done on purpose to be a curve ball for what comes later.

Those eyes! Make it Stop!

Those eyes! Make it Stop!

Before heading back out to sea, it evolves into another form, but this time it’s bipedal and walks back into the water.

I'm still dangerous!

I’m still dangerous!

The last form we see is close to the one we all know and love, but its arms look more like a Tyrannosaurus Rex than Godzilla’s.

Rawr!

Rawr!

It’s almost like a big Pokémon with all of the forms it has.

The story is essentially told from the Japanese government’s side. In previous movies, the monster attacks, other monsters attack Godzilla, military equipment is deployed to destroy the threats and Godzilla is defeated. All is well. With this film, we see the process the various agencies use and then bring to the Prime Minister. The main focus is military strategy and civilian safety. The main protagonist is Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) and he is a Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary who likes to think outside the box when it comes to procedure. Many of his colleagues consider him a rebel and that his attitude is preventing him from moving up in the government. Yaguchi is assigned to form a team to do some research and study the monster while his superiors make plans to destroy it before any more damage is caused.

The Amazing Rando!

The Amazing Rando!

While it is a Godzilla movie at its core, the real star of the film is the political drama and the teamwork presented. Despite their failures and stress, they continue to do their tasks in the hopes they can save not only Japan, but the world. The human side of the story has a big ensemble cast, but not all get a chance to stand out. Most are introduced during the first thirty minutes, but get pushed to the back almost immediately. There are some scenes spoken in English between Yaguchi and US Envoy Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara). Ishihara’s delivery of the English comes across more as reading the lines from a script and was a little too awkward. In her defense, she did find it frustrating speaking the lines while her co-star Hasegawa fared better.

Let's speak English, but still show subtitles.

Let’s speak English, but still show subtitles.

The film was co-directed by longtime friends Hideki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, in addition to Anno writing the screenplay and Higuchi directing the film’s special effects. Both of them also created the popular anime “Neon Genesis: Evangelion.” Higuchi is no stranger to monster films as he was also the special effects director the excellent “Gamera” heisei series and directed the live-action “Attack on Titan” films. Both wanted to present a more “fierce” version of Godzilla, but also give us an idea of what happens when a monster attacks.

One of the main things the two directors did was to not use the traditional “man in suit” that we are familiar with. Instead, they used motion capture technology with Mansai Nomura as the titular character.

Main in suit! Wait, what?

Main in suit! Wait, what?

This was a wise choice as the effects showed how intense the monster attacks were. While you did see some models getting trampled, the seamless insertion of the CGI Godzilla really shined in the wide shots and even some close ups. Higuchi’s influence was strong as camera angles were low to show the immense size of the beasts and gave you a realistic presentation in the details.

Overall, I liked the film. It’s certainly not the best, but its weakness is the political machinations. To fully understand what is going on with the cogs of government, you would need to have been born in Japan. Those in other countries may not get the society itself or how things are handled unless they studied the culture. Given that the movie was presented in Japanese with English subtitles, it was hard to keep up with EVERYTHING. However, what I was able to follow was a satisfying addition to the Godzilla mythos and I would gladly see it again once it is released on home video in a couple of months.

Kai Watches “Gojira tai Biorante” (Godzilla vs. Biollante)

Biollante Poster

The second entry into Godzilla’s Heisei Series comes five years after his return in 1984’s “Gojira” and this one is, well… probably my least favorite of the series.

A sequel to “Gojira” was announced, but producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was skeptical as there was no financial benefit to Toho Studios and the failure of “King Kong Lives” in the US and Japan convinced him that audiences were not ready for a continuation in the series. However, after the financial success of Frank Oz’s “Little Shop of Horrors” in Japan, Tanaka relented and proceeded to hold a public story contest for a possible script. Out of all of the submissions, Tanaka gave director Kazuki Omori the five finalists’ scripts and had him chose. Omori and Tanaka did not get along well with the former holding the latter responsible for the decline of the Godzilla series. Omori chose the entry of dentist Shinichiro Kobayashi, who wrote his story with the hypothetical death of his daughter in mind.

Our story begins as the cleanup from Godzilla’s appearance is still ongoing. Scientists are collecting newly discovered “Godzilla sells” (bits of his skin), but a team of foreign militants take some as well. As they try to escape they are gunned down by a lone assassin who takes the case of cells and departs. He takes them to the Republic of Saradia who wish to use the cells to merge with genetically modified plants in the hopes that they can convert the country’s vast deserts into farmlands and end the dependence on oil wells for wealth. Dr. Genshiro Shiragami and his daughter, Erika, are enlisted to aid with the ambitious project. However, a terrorist bombing destroys the institute’s laboratory, the Godzilla cells and kills Erika.

This is what people are fighting over - a Godzilla turd.

This is what people are fighting over – a Godzilla turd.

Flash forward to five years later as Shiragami has returned to Japan and lives his life in seclusion. He is merging some of Erika’s DNA with a rose in the hopes that her soul can continue living in the plant. Miki Saegusa, who possesses physic abilities, is helping Shiragami with his experiments. Meanwhile, the Japanese government is wanting to use Godzilla cells to create “anti-nuclear bacteria” and make a weapon out of it in case Godzilla returns. The want to enlist Shiragami to help in its development, but he refuses. While this is happening, tensions have increased between the major firms across the globe who want access to the Godzilla cells and they send agents to retrieve them. An explosion from Mt. Mihara (where Godzilla is currently resting) causes tremors in the area of Shiragami’s home which damages his rose plants. Desperate for something to save his daughter’s soul, he agrees to aid the government in creating the bacteria on the condition he can work at his home. The government reluctantly agrees and Shiragami secretly merges some Godzilla cells with the plant. Later that night, agents break into his lab, but are attacked by a large tentacle-like vine and killed. The creature then escapes into a nearby lake, transforming into a giant plant which Shiragami calls “Biollante.” The agents then set off an explosion freeing Godzilla and the battle ensues.

Oversized plant with soul of Japanese girl.

Oversized plant with soul of Japanese girl.

Director Omori spent three years taking Kobayashi’s story and making it into a workable script. Using his background as a biologist, Omori created a plausible plot involving genetic engineering and botany. He also took some replaced the journalist character that Kobayashi created with that of Miki Saegusa, a young woman with psychic abilities. Omori also added the spy and espionage elements as his strongest desire was to direct a James Bond film. Omori was also given considerable leeway in writing and directing the film, which Toho staff later judged to have been an error resulting in a movie with a very narrow audience.

My first experience with the film was back in 1992 when HBO Video released the film on VHS. As expected, there was bad dubbing and a few plot elements were changed. Watching it the first time was hard for me as I felt that the spy elements were tacked on and didn’t add much of anything to the plot. It was hard to follow who was the “bad guy” in this.  Also, the final battle was more stationary than others as it took place in a huge lake and neither beast moved that much. Yes, there is buildings that get stomped, but that is when the G-monster is on his way to the lake after being lured there by Miki Saegusa.

Gojira, go beat up big plant!

Gojira, go beat up big plant!

I put this one on the back-burner and paid more attention to the remainder of the Heisei series. When I made an order with Monster Island toys, I wanted to begin collecting the full series and since this was the second film in the series, I ordered it. I sat and watched it, this time with Japanese audio and English subtitles and tried to look at it again with a different mindset. Sadly, that just didn’t happen. It was and still is a hard watch for me and I actually consider it to be the worst of the Heisei series. The funny part is, many Godzilla fans and the Japanese press consider it to be one of the best. Oh well. This film doesn’t get played during my Rubber Monster Movie Festivals as I don’t want people to fall asleep that early.

Believe it or not, this movie actually performed much poorer at the Japanese box-office which prompted Toho to make a shift from a realistic science fiction line to a more family-oriented set of films featuring more iconic and familiar monsters. This would be evident in the next film of the series when Godzilla battles King Ghidorah.

The only positive in the movie, I think, is the debut of Megumi Odaka’s character “Miki Saegusa.”  Miki develops a psychic bond with Godzilla and in later films begins to harbor negative feelings when it is suggested that Godzilla be killed. Odaka would continue as the character in all remaining Heisei series movies which ended in 1995. Sadly, in 2000 Odaka virtually disappeared from the public eye and other than a rare appearance in 2001, she is remained in seclusion.

For the completion of your collection, you will need it in there. However, it may (or may not) collect dust as it does in my mountain of DVDs. Overall, your mileage may vary.

Kai Watches “Gamera Daikaijû Kuchu Kessen” (Gamera: Giant Monster Midair Battle) aka “Gamera: Guardian of the Universe”

gamera poster

I’ll start by saying I have never heard of Gamera until a few of the “Gamera vs.” movies were lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Who could forget the lyrics “Gamera is really neat!/Gamera is full of meat!/We’ve been eating Gamera!” In all seriousness, I just couldn’t take a giant turtle that seriously. Most of them had kids screaming “GAMERA!” throughout. That all changed when I found out that they gave Gamera his own Heisei series and watched them. I saw a really good rubber monster movie and gladly watch it repeatedly when I have the urge.

On the heels of Toho suspending the Godzilla series a second time with the Heisei series concluding “Gojira tai Desutoroia” in 1995, competing studio Daiei didn’t want to be left out. Work began on a new series of films and once released, changed the tone of not only Gamera, but future kaiju movies as well.

A ship transporting plutonium has run aground after hitting an atoll. Problem is, the atoll is moving. Meanwhile, on an island off of Japan’s coast, sightings of a giant bird are reported. Mayumi Nagamine goes to Himegame Island to investigate the disappearance of her mentor, Professor Hirata. She is skeptical that a bird could destroy and devour the inhabitants of the island. However, she soon discovers that the rumors are true. The birds are actually a very carnivorous blend of bat and bird called Gyaos and their appetite is ravenous. They will eat any living creature and there are more than one. Each time they feast, they get larger and larger in size.

gamera guardian of the universe_attack

Meanwhile, Yoshinrari Yonemori and Naoya Kusanagi are investigating what happened to the marine ship. Yonemori was the navigator for the ship and feels guilty for what had happen and insists on helping. The reef is still drifting and when they climb on it, it’s not your typical coral reef. Several comma-shaped stones are found as if they were some sort of jewelry. They reach the top and find what appears to be a metal jutting out of the atoll. They excavate the area and find what appears to be a monolith with some writing of some sort. However, their investigation doesn’t last long as it shatters almost immediately. Also, the atoll begins to fall apart. It appears that Gamera was sleeping in it. Knowing that Gyaos is a threat, the giant turtle heads towards Fukuoka where the military has devised a trap to capture and study the man-eating birds.

Cue rubber monster battle!

While the original Showa series of Gamera films was geared towards children, the new series takes a 180 and presents us with a more serious and darker movie. The Japanese were never the ones to explicitly show much emotion and death in kaiju movies, but this one seemed more real. The tones given were the fact that one of the monsters would EAT people. While it is not shown much, it is heavily implied with sounds and cut-away shots. However, there is one scene where a Gyaos attacks a subway car and you pretty much see the remains of people fall out of its mouth as it’s gorging on the mass transit buffet.

Is there trampling of models? Yes, there is. However, the film makes good use of moving shots and low angles to give the viewer a good idea of the immense size of the monsters. While some of the composite shots look pretty weak, the ground work and battles over the miniature buildings and cars is great. Much attention was paid to the details.  Shinji Higuchi and his crew really did their best to make everything look seamless and the accolades they received were much deserved.

1995c

This movie also introduced us to the character of Asagi Kusanagi. She shares a spiritual bond with Gamera as she feels what he does. It’s hinted that she can also read his mind. Want some trivia? Asagi is played by Ayako Fujitani and she’s Steven Seagal’s daughter. Yes, THAT Steven Seagal. You see, Seagal lived in Japan for a bit and married a Japanese woman named Miyako who was teaching Akido. They had two kids before he left Japan to return to the U.S. Anyways, Fujitani would also appear in the other two films of the Heisei trilogy before it was ended in 1999.

This movie should be required watching for anyone who is a fan of kaiju movies. The Heisei series of Gamera really raised the bar to show that these are not funny kids movies. They are serious in tone and show that even “man in suit” movies can be made better. This movie is a definite experience.

Kai Watches “Gojira” (aka “The Return of Godzilla” or “Godzilla 1985”)

1985

One summer night in 1977, I was watching TV when NBC started showing “Godzilla vs. Megalon.”  They had a guy in a suit doing the bumpers as the movie went to and came back from commercials.  Later, I found out that the guy in the suit was John Belushi. The affect it had in my nine-year-old self would stay with me forever. Godzilla became my biggest guilty pleasure and I didn’t (and still don’t) care who knew. Any time a Godzilla film came on cable TV I would watch it. As a kid, you really don’t care about how cheesy everything is.  You just like it.

In 1985, New World Pictures obtained the rights to the newest film in the franchise. In Japan, it was simply called “Gojira” and served as a direct sequel to the original 1954 film. The US version was a direct sequel to the US version of the original film (Called “Godzilla: King of the Monsters).  Toho Studios agreed to let the movie be released theatrically in the US as they hoped to make some of the money they lost back.

The film review you are about to read is for the Japanese version of “Gojira.”

Our story begins with an eruption of a volcano on a small island. A fishing vessel, named Yahata-Maru, is caught in strong currents. Suddenly, the entire island erupts and a giant monster appears. A few days later, a reporter comes across the ship intact, but no one is aboard. The reporter is suddenly attacked by a giant sea louse, but is saved by Hiroshi Okamura, the only survivor.  While in the hospital, he sees some pictures and confirms that the giant monster he saw was, in fact, Godzilla.  The reporter who found him, Goro Maki, writes an article about the incident, but is told it can’t be published for fears it will cause a huge panic.

Meanwhile, a Soviet submarine is destroyed in the Pacific.  The Soviets believe that the American military sunk the sub and a diplomatic crisis ensue.  The Japanese intervene and tell both countries that the sub was destroyed by Godzilla.  They also reveal that the Japanese military is put on alert and that they have a new weapon, called Super X, will defend Tokyo. While the countries are bickering, Godzilla attacks a nuclear power plant in Ihama. Destruction ensues and you can imagine what happens for the rest of the film.

It’s been close to nine years since any new Godzilla film was made in Japan.  The last entry for the Showa series, “Counterattack of Mechagodzilla,” has widely been considered one of the worst films in the series. Due to the decline of the genre as a whole, Toho put the production of monster films on hold even though they had no intention of doing so. For the rest of the seventies, several stories were submitted to Toho in the hopes of continuing the series, but none were made. It wasn’t until 1984 and Godzilla’s 30th anniversary that Toho would start production on a new Godzilla movie.

As mentioned above, this movie serves as a direct sequel to the original film. Tomoyuki Tanaka, considered by many to be the creator of the Godzilla franchise, wanted to disavow the heroic and anthropomorphic version in the previous films. He insisted on making this movie a sequel. Ishiro Honda, director of the original film, was approached to direct, but he was unavailable and also said that after the death of co-creator Eiji Tsuburaya the franchise should have stopped. Composer Akira Ifukube also declined as he did not like changes to the monster and overall decline of the series. Koji Hashimoto, who served as assistant director on many Godzilla movies, was chosen for the helm.

Where to begin?

Even in 1984 you would think that movie studios in Japan would have improved their special effects departments, but after watching this movie you probably wouldn’t notice. However, that’s the point in my opinion. In a giant monster movie from Japan, you EXPECT the effects to be hokey.

Most people have probably only seen the 1985 American Version.  In that one, many things got changed because of the Cold War at the time. The main scene that got altered (thanks to dubbed dialog), was when the Soviets fired a nuclear missile to destroy the beast. The Americans were given a more heroic role when emphasis is placed on the US launch of a missile to destroy the missile that the Soviets “deliberately” launched. In the original version, the missile was accidentally launched and a Soviet military man was trying to stop it. Still, it was the Cold War and we can’t have the US look weak cuz, you know, ‘Murica!

Godzilla-1985-Dr.-Pepper-2

While it was meant to be the big return for the big G-Man, I felt it was lackluster. The main thing I missed was Akira Ifukube’s march for when Godzilla appears. It’s slow start to announce the arrival and then the increased tempo at the start of the destruction just made everything mean something. Reijiro Koroku’s score just didn’t hold that. Just boring and didn’t add to any sense of danger. If I was a kid, I know I would have enjoyed this film. However, now that I’m older and more critical of films, I look at them differently. The Return of Godzilla just couldn’t hold my attention or get me excited. Overall, it is just a dull movie and even fans in Japan agreed as it did not perform well at the box office.

There you have it. A bad Godzilla movie and not even a “good bad” one. This one would be one of the ones I would watch the least until the next movie that came out five years later would be release.  More on that one next time.

Kai and Ginny attend Planet Comicon

Planet Comicon is a great independent comicon that is held in Kansas City, MO every May (sometimes other months). While not as “big” as the Wizard World chain of conventions or the ever popular San Diego Comicon, it holds its own in the annals of convention. In the last post, I gave opinions on what to do before, during and after a con. This post is my summary of this year’s Planet Comicon which me and my lovely wife attended.

At first, we weren’t sure if we were going to go. When the first guests were announced, both of us were kind of “meh” in regards to them. Nothing against them personally, but it just wasn’t enough for us to go. Plus, the previous year we spent WAY too much money. However, as time went on more and more guest were announced until one day I got a text from my “sister” A.J. It stated that Maurice LaMarche would be attending. Mo was the voice of The Brain (from “Pinky and the Brain) and other popular cartoon characters. He is a premier and talented voice over artist whom I have a ton of respect for. I immediately text my wife and simply said “We’re going.”

In the next two day, they completed the foursome by adding Rob Paulsen (Pinky, Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko) and Tress MacNeille (Dot, Babs Bunny) the list of guests who will be appearing. That was enough for me to by a weekend pass. Four of the best voice actors would be there and I was giddy as a little school girl. Over the next few days, Planet Comicon would add new guests, but also repost previous guest announcements.  I noticed that the voice actors were not included and started to worry. My fears were realized when all four of them had to cancel for “personal and professional obligations.”  Crap.

Cancellations happen, but now my wife and I were stuck with weekend passes for a convention that we no longer wanted to attend. Then one Friday, Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter movies) was announced.  This was my wife’s “squee” moment as it now made us want to go again. However, our elation was ruined when she cancelled as well.

More and more guest were announced and while we weren’t all that excited, we reserved ourselves to that we wasted money and would not be attending. The announcements of George Takei, Arthur Darvill and Jenna Coleman just didn’t do it for us.

“But Stan Lee is going to be there!” a friend told me. I told him that I refused to go into why I have a disliking for Stan Lee and even he was not enough to get me to go. Other guests were being announced even up to about two weeks before the convention. The Hillywood Show and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter) were enough for us to realize that we may actually have a good time.

We arrived shortly after the gates opened on the first Friday and started walking around. Most celebrities wouldn’t be there until Saturday and/or Sunday, but there were a few. We browsed the warez that were on display, ran into many of our close, personal friends and took in what was around. We also browsed the panel schedule to plan out our weekend and whatnot.

We went back to “Celebrity Alley” and saw that Arthur Darvill was there. He was originally planned for just Saturday and Sunday, but changed his schedule. It was a nice surprise and we went to go talk to him first. He is a really nice guy. I congratulated him on Legends of Tomorrow and he said “Thanks!” and then said “I love your shirt!” (see the photo). Kimberly said that she will always remember him as Rory from Doctor Who and then mentioned Broadchurch. He was pleased about that.

Darvill Rip Hunter

Afterwards, Kimberly wanted to go speak with Paul Roger Amos who played “Vex” on the TV show “Lost Girl.” Kimberly is a huge fan of the show and last year got to meet three other cast members of the show. Since Kimberly was more of a fan of the show than I was (to be fair, I like it, but never watched the full series) and Paul was a great guy to talk to. He held court and would talk your ear off if you let him. At first, he wanted to know of some good places to eat around town and was taking notes, particularly on which BBQ joint to hit up. We both told him simply “Joe’s.” Kimberly got a selfie with him and that made her day. Real cool guy and seems like a guy you could just hang out with.

vex

We then went up to talk to some of our favorite authors. We met Todd McCafferey (son of Anne who wrote the Pern series). He was cool and talked about a book that he wanted to write and was told by his mother that if he didn’t write it, she would. Also talked with Jim Butcher who is the author of my favorite series “The Dresden Files.” This was our second time meeting him and, like the first, was really nice. We talked about Dresden, a few other series and whatnot. Still a nice guy and we are now impatiently waiting for the next Dresden book.

Lastly, we went to go see our close, personal friends that make up the nerd band “Clearly Guilty” and bought their new CD. Also, they were taking quicky videos of people holding signs stating why they are a “Bad Nerd.” This was to accompany the song of the same name of their new CD. Bonus: I’m in it!

YouTube Video Linky Thingy Do:

That was it for our Friday.

Saturday was more “action packed” for us. The first thing we did was stand in line for Tom Felton. His line was long, but worth the wait. He did show up a little late, but talked with fans in line while they were finishing the setup of his table. He also ran over to the concession stand and got a Pepsi. Kimberly didn’t want a selfie, but I surprised her with one. When I told Tom he went “Fuckin’ right!” He has proclaimed himself the “Selfie Master” and took the pics with my phone. Lots of funny faces were made.  Great guy. Was very appreciative when Kimberly said she liked the short story he narrated. He said it was his first one and didn’t know how it turned out.  Overall, I think he won “Coolest Celeb at PCC 2016.”

Dracofelton angryfelton

Next up were sisters Hannah and Hilly Hindi, also known as “The Hillywood Show.”  They create some awesome parody videos and put them on Youtube.  Their parody of the TV show “Supernatural” became their biggest hit and they were celebrating the one year anniversary of its release. Hannah was dressed as Castiel while Hilly was dressed as Dean. Hannah and Hilly LOVED Kimberly’s shirt she was wearing and we showed them our AKF tattoos and they gave us high-hives. Took some selfies and then did a photo op with them. They also did a Q&A panel which was great. They are so tiny you could just put them in your pocket at take them home!

hillywood Hillywood Hillywood-Car

Next up, we went to go talk to Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow on The Flash), but she seemed VERY tired. Sadly, she didn’t make much eye contact and was almost like she wanted to be elsewhere. Congratulated her on the show and all. Guess she was having a not-so-great day. Hopefully it was better for her the rest of the convention. Stuff happens.

Panabaker

Kimberly wanted to go talk with Clare Kramer (Glory from Buffy) as well and got a selfie.

kramer

After that, I went to speak to Edward James Olmos. Told him I was about to do my annual watching of “Blade Runner” which he chuckled about and then when I said we needed to catch up on Galactica, he said “You should! It’s very good.” We don’t doubt it. He was super nice. Didn’t get an autograph, but he didn’t mind. He was appreciative with just us talking with him.

Lastly, we went to go speak with Jason Mewes and he was a riot. When we got up to him and said “Sorry about your mom’s car.” He said “I know, right?” (watch the episode of The Flash that Kevin Smith directed to get the reference). Got some selfies with him. Glad to see him in good health and in a good place.

mewes serious mewes tongue

Sunday was the “short” day for us. Kimberly’s back was bothering her, so I knew that we wouldn’t be at the Con that long.

First up, we sat for Tom Felton’s Q&A panel. He was a riot and had a good time. Did our photo op with him after his panel. Still showing that he was a wonderful guy and I hope he comes back again.

Lastly, I went up to speak with Bill Farmer who is the current voice of Goofy and can mimic many other cartoon characters. I told him that I was a fan and he said “Gorsh” like Goofy does. Told him I loved the script reads he participated in and he smiled and laughed. He was also appreciative of just talking as well.

After that Kimberly said that it was time to go. Her back couldn’t take too much more of the walking and standing that we had to bail early. We had to miss a few panels and such, but I wanted to make sure my wife got as comfortable as she would for the drive home.

A good time was had by all. We were glad we decided to go even though there were cancellations of the ones we REALLY wanted to see. I hope they can come next year.

So you’re going to a con…

Please note that the following is just my opinions. It is not to be taken as fact nor is it considered “the gospel” when it comes to attending fan conventions. Take if for what you will.

Going to a fan convention can be an enjoyable experience. The sights, the sounds, the celebrities and the swag will fill up a huge convention hall for fans of pretty much any genre. While you are going there to have fun, there are a few things to consider before attending and during the event itself.

Advance Ticket Purchase: Many cons will give attendees a discount if they purchase tickets in advance. So, instead of paying $100 for the weekend when you get there, paying $80 in advance may be the best bet. Always refer to the con’s website for more details.

So-Called “VIP Passes”: Check to see what the advantages to getting one are. The most common benefits are the “line skip” where you get moved to the head of the line for autograph signings, photo-ops and better seating at Q&A panels as well as you may be let in 15-30 minutes earlier than non-VIP. Some even include some neat swag. Again, refer to the con’s website and determine if getting the VIP pass is worth the extra money.

Bring cash: There are lots of vendors present as well as celebrities and artists.  For some, attending cons is their bread and butter. Most sites will have the price lists for autographs and photo-ops. While many vendors will take plastic, most celebs will only take cash for autographs and stuff.

Concessions: Yes, there will be food vendors there, but as with most public events the prices can be astronomical. A bottle of soda may cost up to $5 and a candy bar may be up to $3. Some cons will allow “outside” food in, but check with them first. Most will be understanding if it’s for dietary reasons (diabetic, gluten-free, etc.).

Parking and/or hotels: Most cons will partner with area hotels and offer discounts for attendees. Check around if you need a hotel. Most can be in walking distance from the event. If you are local and don’t need a hotel, parking lots/garages are generally close, but can charge $20 or so for a spot. Plan accordingly.

Schedule: Most cons will publish panel and event schedules. Plan accordingly, but be prepared that there might be times where you want to see two things, but they are running at the same time.

Cos-play: If you are going to cos-play, have fun with it. If you aren’t, no biggie. However, there are some things you will want to remember:

  1. If you think your cos-play is awful, don’t worry. Others will enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be perfect in every way.
  2. If you think someone else’s cosplay is awful, keep it to yourself.
  3. Cos-play is NOT AN INVITATION. Sure, you like the man or woman who dressed all sexy like, but it doesn’t mean he or she is into you. Most cons have anti-harassment policies in place for a reason. Don’t be stupid. If you like the cos-play, tell them that you do. Hitting on the person is not an option.
  4. If you want a picture with someone, ask. Most will allow it and even appreciate it. Give them a nice complement, but above all tell them “thanks.”

Walking the Floor: Yes, it will be crowded. Keep that in mind as it may take awhile for you to get from one side of the complex to another. Mind your surroundings. There are lots of other people there too. Some things to consider:

  1. Move the conversation out of the main aisle. Move it to the side as other people are walking the floor as well.
  2. Don’t just stop in the main aisle to “window shop.” Go to the booth and look at the warez, but remember that others want to look too. Don’t just stop and stare.
  3. If you are carrying large objects or wearing a large costume, make sure you don’t run into people or block access to booths.
  4. Be mindful of the people taking photos. If they are, stop or go around so that they can take a picture. If you are taking the picture, don’t take forever and stay in the main aisle. Move it off to the side.

Hygiene: It’s great that you go to the gym every morning, but remember to take a shower. This goes for everyone, too. Clean up. Use deodorant and wear clean clothes. If you are cos-playing, this goes for you too. Bad B.O. is awful and can make people puke.

Interacting with guests: Cons are attended by many artists, authors, celebrities and so forth. Don’t be shy as far asking questions. Many of them are there to show off their warez and love talking to fans of their work. Just remember to be brief if at all possible as others may want to meet their favorite artist as well.

Celebrities: Yes, there will be lots of famous (and not-so-famous) people there from all genres. Let’s take a look at quite a few things to remember:

  1. They are human beings. Many of them probably just got into town the night before or that morning. While they may be tired, they will do their best to interact with you. If, however, they seem a bit grumpy, put yourself in their shoes. Cut them some slack as they might be running on vapors.
  2. Be prepared to wait in line for a bit. The most popular people will have longer lines, but just be patient. You will get to meet them.
  3. Keep the conversation to a minimum. If there are lots of people behind you, keep the questions brief. You will get your answer, but others want to talk as well. If the line isn’t long, you could get your ear talked off.
  4. Yes, they will charge you for autographs and pictures. This has been a sore spot for a lot of people, but this is how some cons keep their ticket prices low. Bring cash as most do not take plastic.
  5. If you don’t have cash for any swag, go talk to them regardless. Thank them for coming out and that you appreciate that they took the time to talk. You don’t have to buy anything, but most celebs will be cool with just a simple thanks.
  6. No question is a bad one. Yes, they probably heard it before and they will answer you, but you would be very surprised if you ask them about something no one has really heard of as would the celeb.
  7. If you think a celeb is being a douche-nozzle, find a con person and let them know. As above, they could just be tired, but if you think they are truly being an asshole to fans, let con management know.

Panels and Events: As mentioned above, plan accordingly and be aware that thing may be running at the same time as another panel you want to see. It will be a difficult decision, but it can happen from time to time. Get there early if you want a good seat. Also, have your question ready if you wish to ask one, but remember that no question is dumb. While they do get asked the same question at every con, they will answer it. They are there to have a good time and they want you to have a good time as well.

There you have it. Not to be taken as the gospel or anything, but just some suggestions for attending a con.

Until next time…

We’re still here!

Yes, it has been over two month since your friendly neighborhood middle-aged geek has posted stuff.  That’s because I have some rough drafts for stuff that will get published over the next few weeks.

Here’s what we have planned:

  1. Final summary of Pandemic: Legacy Season 1. We saved the world!
  2. Summary of our trip to Planet Comicon 2016! We met famous people!
  3. Speaking of Comicons, there will be a large list of dos and do-nots to make sure your con experience is enjoyable.
  4. Ren Faire time! Some tips if you are traveling back in time!

That’s what is on tap.

We will be back soon!

Kai Watches “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” So You Don’t Have To, But You’ll Watch It Anyway

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Yes, there will be spoilers…

Okay. I must admit that my expectations for this movie were low. I consider myself a die-hard Batman fan, but never was that into the Superman character. I was doing my best to go in with an open mind, but each trailer lowered my hopes. The final trailer that was released showed more “meat” and got me excited enough to where I said that I would be able to view with an open mind. That being said, this film both met and didn’t meet my expectations. It had some really good parts, but also had some which almost made me want to walk out. To really discuss this movie, we’re going to divide it up into sections, so here we go:

THE GOOD

Ben Affleck – Yes, he was great as The Dark Knight and as Bruce Wayne. They balanced out the screen time between the two characters well (Yes, I consider them separate). We got to see a Bruce Wayne that was the detective, going under-cover to obtain some information. We got to see the “Billionaire Playboy” side of him waking up with a model in his bed. As Batman, we got to see the costumes flow well and were used the way they were supposed to. The banter between Alfred and Bruce/Batman was way up there with Alfred being the smart-ass I expect, but also show that he cares about Bruce.

Gal Gadot – While we didn’t get to see her as Wonder Woman until the end, she looks like she will do great on her own and future movies. This is a Wonder Woman who shows she can stand with and hold her own with the big boys. She IS the warrior princess we expect her to be. While her screen time is brief, it is filled with guile and plenty of mystery. I look forward to seeing more of Ms. Gadot as the Amazon.

THE MEH

The Fight – The “fight” was WAY too short for my tastes and started a tad too late in the film. While it borrowed elements from Frank Miller’s excellent “The Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel, it was more of an “add on” than central to the plot.

Dream sequences – Again, the one at the beginning made me want to walk out. The second dream sequence made more sense, but adding the third dream sequence was too much. Adding The Flash in at the end was over the top. Seeing him at that point and then seeing him with the computer information was too much – since all we saw of Cyborg and Aquaman was on video, it should have been enough for The Flash as well.

Superman – I’m not blaming Henry Cavill for this. He, like any other actor, has to deal with what he was given. Superman has always been presented as a “boy scout” or as I call him a “whiny paladin.” They tried to present him with conflicting emotions, but there isn’t much you can do with the character that isn’t already known. There was no development with him (or others for that matter) and that’s what I didn’t care for in “Man of Steel.” Here, he is presented as this Christ-like figure and that is NOT how to handle him.

THE BAD

The pacing – Terrible. It started off ok, but then had to branch off in different directions that were boring and brought everything to a halt. This drug on and on. When it was all brought back together, it felt like a jumbled mess that got thrown together because they writers backed themselves into a corner and needed a quick way out.

THE DOWNRIGHT AWFUL

Jesse Eisenberg – Who the hell was he trying to be? He certainly wasn’t Lex Luthor. It was almost like he was trying to be three characters in one. He was WAY too manic. It seemed like he was channeling the Joker AND the Riddler instead of Luthor. Luthor is methodical genius who believes he is smarter than Superman. In this, while we did see some signs of high intelligence, we didn’t see enough. Granted, he said that he was Lex’s son, but no…

Doomsday – He looked like a freaking cave troll with an upset stomach that finally farted it all out in a bit blast of energy. This was the escape the writers needed to get out the corner. Just felt added on and did nothing to help move anything along. Luthor combining his DNA with Zod was just dumb. They could have got the three heroes to unite differently, but not this way. Felt too rushed and out of left field.

Zack Snyder – What the fuck is with him and wanting these guys to kill people? Superman killed in “Man of Steel” and now Batman kills in this. No, no, no!!

OVERALL

This movie could have been SO much better. From what I understand, the R-rated cut that we will get on DVD is 30 minutes longer. No one seems to know what was cut, but maybe it can help us understand what this messy and erratic movie was SUPPOSED to be. I know this is the springboard for the planned Justice League movie. However, if this film is any indication then my hopes will be about the level of how I feel about BvS. Hollywood just doesn’t know how to handle the DC universe on the big screen. Disney and Marvel seem to have set the bar pretty high and DC is just that little kid that keeps jumping for it, but never quite reaches it.