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ComicCon and a case of sore feet!

Days three and four:

Sorry about not posting last night, however I went to dinner with friends (more later) and stayed out well past my bedtime.

As for day three, it was a television kind of day. Hubby and I spent most of the day in Ballroom 20 watching panels on existing shows. First up -- Torchwood. Let me start by saying that I've never watched this show, but after this totally entertaining panel, I am going to go back and watch the episodes. This is a spinoff from Dr. Who. The cast/crew obviously loves each other and have so much fun making this show that it made me want to invest. On hand were John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Mekhi Phifer, Bill Pullman, Alexa Havens and the amazing Jane Espensen (writer). Let me tell you about John Barrowman and Eve Myles. The whole cast was amazing, but these two were such a hit with everyone. John has the most amazing personality. He's enthusiastic, funny, quick-witted, and passionate about this show. He's also extremely easy on the eyes. He did some episodes of Desperate Housewives, so some of you may know him from that show. Eve Myles had the same traits as well, and is truly lovely. Barrowman and Myles were so incredibly nice and cute with the fans (culminating in a rousing few bars of 'Tomorrow' which we all sang), that I must now watch and see what I'm missing.

Next on deck: The Walking Dead. I'm a huge, zombie-loving fan of this show. This also tells you what the show is about, zombie survival and human frailty. On the panel were Frank Darabont (fabulous director of some of my favorite movies and show developer), Robert Kirkman (writer/comic co-creator), Greg Nicotero (special effects makeup supervisor and a truly great zombie artist), Gale Anne Hurd (exec producer of this and many great movies) and cast Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, and Norman Reedus. It's finally coming back on October 16th on AMC. We got a nice trailer reel that had me on the edge of my seat. The series picks up exactly where it left off, with the gang escaping the now demolished CDC in Atlanta. They seem to be breaking up a bit, moving off in different directions, at least that how it seems in the trailer. Also, they seem to be moving more towards the forested areas. This could lead to some chilling scenes as the woods are scary enough. This was a nice panel, and it was fun to listen to Frank Darabont and Robert Kirkman discuss the show. It was also nice to hear what Greg Nicotero had to say about the makeup effects. He's a real artist, and I really respect his work.

Steven Yeun had a great story. The moderator, Chris Hardwick (a fave of mine and great nerd/stand up comedian), asked what a typical day was like, and Steven said it started with a tick check. They are filming in the woods now and he made a point of saying that ticks were very small and could really get anywhere. He then went on to say that a tick had "climbed his mountain" and "planted a flag on the top" during the evening. It wasn't an easy thing to handle, obviously, and since then he's been careful to do a tick check in the morning and evening. Darabont also talked off topic for a moment about a new museum that Robert Rodriguez is opening that is going to honor the artwork of Frank Frazetta who passed away last year.

Next up: The Big Bang Theory. On the panel were Chucke Lorre and Bill Prady (writers), Steve Molaro (co-exec producer), and cast Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, and Melissa Rauch. This was another fun panel, and the show is returning on September 27th. They showed a great gag reel first which had me cracking up. This is another cast/crew who obviously truly have love for each other. And for those who don't know, Mayim Bialik is actually a doctor ( a real one) of neuroscience. Chris Hardwick also moderated this panel, and there was great fan moment here. It's one I'm sure he'll remember. A lovely little girl named Madison got up to ask a question of the panel. It was a good question, and the panel answered and asked her some questions as well. Chris asked her how old she was, and she said she was 10. He told her she was adorable and then asked her if this was her first ComicCon. With a withering look and a tone of disbelief, she said, "No". The whole audience and panel fell apart, it was a perfect moment.

After this was Eureka. This is one of my favorite shows and airs on the SyFy channel on Mondays. It's currently airing new episodes. On hand were Jaime Paglia (writer), Bruce Miller (writer), and cast Colin Ferguson, Salli Ricardon-Whitfield, Neil Grayston, and newest cast member Felicia Day. The moderator was Wil Wheaton who has occasional appearances on the show as well. Wil's a personal fave of mine as he's a total nerd and generally cool dude. This is the longest running scripted series on SyFy (it just surpassed Stargate). We got a little footage from the coming season, a sizzle reel actually. This promises to be a big season for the show with some story arcs that will be very interesting. If you don't know the show, it's about a town named Eureka in Oregon that is home to the brightest minds. When you put that many brilliant people together, you know crazy things will happen. To keep crazy under control, there is a sheriff in town who is a normal guy trying to understand everything going on around him.

The news here for those who watch is that there is going to be another Christmas episode. This one will be animated, although not during the whole thing. Also, several different animation styles will be used. This sounds like fun already. Felcia Day joining the cast was also discussed, and she will be involved in a love triangle with Wheaton and Grayston. The question came up as to which one of the two she preferred...with Wheaton and Grayston moving to either side of her and giving her puppy eyes/romantic eyes for a long time. She's adorable, and goofy, and this just made her more so. It was a great moment. Also, it was Colin Ferguson's birthday, and we all sang to him. He also called another cast member (Erica Cerra) who couldn't be on hand and we said hello to her on her voice mail. A little aside about Colin Ferguson. This guy is totally cool. After I was done with the panels and left the room, I saw a small crowd gathered around someone. Being ComicCon, you check this kind of thing out. It was Colin Ferguson. He was alone, no security or handler, and he was taking pics with people and signing autographs. From what I witnessed, he was absolutely a gentleman and great sport. Another great moment.

After this was my last panel of the day, Warehouse 13. This is another of my favorite shows and is also on SyFy on Mondays. On hand here were Jack Kenny (writer), and cast Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, and Allison Scagliotti. Neil Grayston was the moderator as he has crossed over from his own show Eureka last season, and is doing it one more time this season. Aaron Ashmore has just joined the cast but was unavailble for the panel. For those who don't know the show, it's about two U.S. Secret Service agents who end up being transferred to Warehouse 13 where artifacts are kept. They need to hunt down the artifacts that are still out in the world. These items have a great deal of power and are very dangerous. This show has some truly outstanding writing, and has a tone I love. There will also be a Christmas episode of this one again, and the writers/producers are in very early talks about a spinoff for a the character of H.G. Wells (yes, that H.G. Wells), played beautifully by Jaime Murray. Jaime is a woman BTW, and this works great on the show. This was a fun panel as well. Eddie McClintock took a nice lap around the room and filmed all the fans, and this made for a fun start.

After this, I went to a lovely dinner with a friend who was also attending Con. We went out to a place called The Wellington. Slow service but great food. We had fabulous gelato at a place called Chocolate. After this, I slipped into a coma in the hotel room, so sorry about not posting. The hubby did go to see Batman: Year One (animated). He enjoyed this very much, said it was worth buying on DVD but felt it was a little short.

The hubby also attended the panels for Ghost Rider (he's not so enthused and said Nic Cage was really flat during the panel, and the director(s) are insane), and The Amazing Spider Man (which he enjoyed). I heard Andrew Garfield won over the crowd with a three page speech on how important the Spiderman comics were to him as a young boy, how he connected with the struggles that Peter Parker suffered, how he felt weak and had to learn to overcome, and basically just read a love letter to the fans about the character. This was incredibly moving to the audience, and they gave him a great deal of fan love after this. Go to YouTube and check it out, it's really cool.

Day four: The two panels I attended today were for Chuck and the soon-to-premier Terra Nova.

Chuck is in its last season, so this was a bittersweet panel for the fans. On hand were series creator/writer/producer Chris Fedak, and cast Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Ryan McPartlin, Vik Sahay, Scott Krinsky and Mark Christopher Lawrence. This show owes a lot to ComicCon and the fans as it was the fans who saved it from extinction a couple seasons ago (this is an interesting story and has something to do with Subway Sandwich Shop -- google it). For those who don't know the show, Chuck (the wonderful Zachary Levi) is a regular guy who becomes "the intersect". Info is downloaded into his brain, very important and secret info, which means the government becomes involved and sends agents to protect and ultimately use him on missions. There's a lot more to this than I can encapsulate here, but it's worth watching. Zach Levi is a nerd, and very proud of this fact, and is a regular at Con, being involved not only in the Chuck panels but also other panels on nerd culture. He's also an attendee like the rest of us. There was a moment at the end of the panel where he said thank you to the fans in such a heartfelt and beautiful way that it brought him to tears, and it brought me to tears as well. It was an amazing moment of heartbreak and a rarity at con.

My last panel was for the coming show Terra Nova. It wasn't really a panel, but a screening of the pilot, which I wasn't expecting. It takes place in 2149. Earth has no resources left to give, and the world pretty much sucks. There's been a rift in time/space discovered that is used to send groups of people back 85 million years to start over. The whole "butterfly effect" thing is explained away quickly (you can guess they are in a parallel timeline). This could be a fun and action packed ride when it finds its legs. The dinosaurs looked really nice, and it has a good cast led by Jason O'Mara and the ever-fabulous Stephen Lang. There was a very brief Q&A with the show creators and Stephen Lang right after, but they aren't revealing much at this point. I won't spoil it either, just watch the pilot and make your own decision.

After the panels, it was time to walk the floor and spend some dough. I went a little nuts, buying a bunch of comics (signed), graphic novels, some artwork, and a few toys. And thanks to JonBoy Meyers for the nice conversation and artwork.

My feet started to literally revolt against me, threatening to walk away on their own and find a nice tub of cool water in which to submerse themselves. I had to find a place to sit and picked a lesser-used cafe area on the mezzanine level of the convention center. After ordering some truly nourishing and healthy nachos, I found a table. I was alone as the hubby was in the Immortals panel (which he gave a thumbs-up to), and eventually a few folks sauntered over and asked if they could sit at the same table. This is common as the cafes are kind of an open table affair here. There were two younger women and a guy with a nice crossover costume (Green Lantern/Boba Fett). We chatted for a bit, and the hubby came to join me. He saw the one woman at the table and talked to her, saying thank you for signing his book. I was confused but he said it was the crafter I followed on Twitter. It dawned on me that this was Bonnie Burton! I didn't recognize her from her pic, and I went all nerd on her when I found out who she was. She works for Lucas Online (yes, the Star Wars Lucas) wearing many hats there, including content developer. She is also an author and wrote a book close to my heart, The Star Wars Craft Book. It made my day meeting her..she was a very cool chick and you should get her book if you like both Star Wars and crafting. The hubby was kind enough to get me a signed copy as a keepsake (I already have a copy of course). He's so good to me.

The bummer of the day was that Nathan Fillion was at the G4 booth today doing an interview and I missed my chance to tag him with a GPS. But all hope is not lost. I'm going to the Castle panel tomorrow. I kid! I kid....maybe.

Tomorrow is our last day, and I've had a nice time, but I'm looking forward to my own bed in my own home. I'll post once more on Sunday night after we get home if I'm not in another sleep coma. Thanks for reading.

The rest of the day was spent shopping for things we don't need, including a cool Walking Dead poster that is totally going up someplace in the house.

And on and on

ComicCon day two:

And the real nightmare of lines began today. I truly did feel like I was at Disneyland, however it was made worse by the fact I actually didn't get in to the rooms I wanted this morning! At least at Disney, you EVENTUALLY get on the ride. And you can buy a speed pass. And you can buy fake ears. Oh wait, you can totally buy fake ears here too.

So after my unsuccessful attempt to get in on my first two panels of the day, I decided to walk the floor for a while. I got a chance to see some of the small press comics and art, and some of it was pretty darned good. I also saw a company that does cool 3D pics with fantasy and sci-fi backgrounds. We will be doing this before we leave as a nice memento of the Con. I know the hubby will be in because one of the backgrounds is a Stargate!

I did eventually get in to see the fantasy writers panel which was very entertaining. I got to see George R. R.Martin (Game of Thrones), Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings), Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind), Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle), Peter Orullian (The Unremembered), K.J. Taylor (The Fallen Moon series), and Kevin J. Anderson (Terra Icgognita) with Michael Spradlin as moderator (The Youngest Templar series). I got in about 20 minutes after they started due to line issues, surprise surprise, but I can say I got some good information as an aspiring book writer. They discussed a lot about their process, do the outline, do they world build, do they character build, what is their "voice", etc..and this was all very insightful and of great help to me. I won't bore you with the details except to say that this was a spirited discussion on the nature of writing a novel.

After having some success with this one, I moseyed over to Hall H to check out the movie line-up. First up was Sony Picture Animation. I came in on the tail end and saw only a little of Arthur Christmas. It actually looks cute and has a great vocal cast (Hugh Laurie, James McAvoy, Bill Nighy). After this, Film District gave us two movies: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and Drive. I was really wanting to see more from Don't Be Afraid of the Dark as it's a remake of a 70's flick that is close to my heart. It's not the best 70's flick, so it was ripe for remake, but I have fond memories of the quiet dread it generated and the cool ending. Guillermo Del Toro is producing, with Troy Nixey as director. They had both there, but Nixey never said more than two words as Del Toro is a wordy mo-fo and a total movie nerd. The film stars Katie Holmes (ne' Cruise) and Guy Pearce. Guy Pearce showed up but no Holmes. From Drive came the director Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher, Valhalla Rising and Bronson), and actors Carey Mulligan and fan fave Ron Perlman. Missing was the lead, Ryan Gosling. I will see Drive looks like a good action flick, with Gosling as a stunt driver who doubles as a driver for crime jobs as a second job. He falls in love, of course, and gets into huge trouble as well. The scene we got was intense and showcased Gosling's amazing ability to shift gears quickly on screen. I will say that Del Toro and Refn were having a mutal admiration-fest for most of the session.

Next for Del Toro is Pacific Rim, and Refn may get the Logan's Run remake. Refn also told a great story about Gosling and their first meeting at Gosling's restaurant (a Moroccan place called Tagine I believe).

Fox was next on the menu and they brought Damon Lindelof (Lost) and something very exciting for the nerdlings: A first look at Prometheus! For fans of Ridley Scott (Alien), you know what I'm talking about. We got a little trailer, which was enough to drive me mad with curiosity, and the movie isn't even due for a year. Scott is shooting in Iceland, but he did a simulcast for the Con crowd and answered some questions, along with Noomi Rapace (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Charlize Theron was on hand at Con as well. She did say that she had been shooting Mad Max when she was offered Prometheus, and Mad Max is now pushed so it may not get done. Which is fine. The original stands on its own just fine. As for Prometheus, according to Scott, it will have just some DNA from Alien and that's all. It will be its own story. The film also stars Michael Fassbender (300, X-Men First Class).

Fox showed scenes from In Time as well. This one is due on October and is an action/sci-fi flick starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, directed by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca and The Truman Show). Niccol was there, and I could not believe it when JT himself stepped out on stage with Seyfried. The crowd erupted when they saw him, and I momentarily turned into a 16 year old myself. I'm actually excited about this one as well as it's a good premise. Basically it's a future piece in which folks stop aging at 25 and then live for only one more year unless they buy time. The poor scrape, steal, whatever they can to get time, and the rich live the easy life with lots of extra time. Timberlake is one of the poor folks who only has a short time left until he gets a gift that gives him nothing but trouble. The film also stars Matt Bomer (yowza!), Johnny Galecki, Cillian Murphy and Olivia Wilde.

Finally we got Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I'm actually a little worried about this one due to its release date of August 5th. Generally August and February are bad months for flicks as the studios dump their stinkers here. We did get to see several clips from the movie, and I do have hope for it after seeing a few scenes. On hand was Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings). He actually did all the motion capture for the main chimp in this movie, Caesar. He gave a great talk on motion capture in general and how it works. He did the motion capture for Gollum in LOTR and Kong in King Kong (the new one), so he knows what he's doing. The movie also stars James Franco, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow. Serkis also said he's doing Freezing Time next which is a biopic, and he's the second unit director on The Hobbit. They are 60 days into filming and have 200 to go. That's right, 200!

I also got to see PeeWee Herman who has a new TV show in the works, as well as a movie with Judd Apatow. The movie isn't set in stone yet as the studio is making a decision on whether they are pressing forward. He was actually very funny and engaging with the crowd and gave a big thanks for the fan appreciation he received during this panel.

For those nerdlings in the know, Quint from AICN moderated the PeeWee panel and the Drive/Don't Be Afraid of the Dark panel.

The last two things I got in on this evening were the History of the Modern Zombie panel, and the Star Wars Fan Films showcase. I suggest going to www.atom.com for the Star Wars stuff, which was really good. The History of the Modern Zombie panel was one I was looking forward to for a while as one of my literary heroes was speaking, Max Brooks (World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide). Also on hand were Matt Mogk, Steven Schlozman, Scott Kenemore and Bradley Voytek. Schlozman is an MD at Harvard as well as an author, and Voytek is a Ph.D. at UC Berkley and is an author as well. There were some serious minds at work here. It was a fun panel, and basically the discussion was dealing with the zombie since Night of the Living Dead. Max Brooks did get a question on the movie version of World War Z (if you haven't read this yet, you should, it's great). He said he's really got nothing to do with the movie, but he's really happy with the direction it's taking. Bradd Pitt's production company has it, and they are actually shooting all over the world and they are using local talent from those locations. This falls in line with the many stories told in WWZ that come in from everywhere.

Finally, I think my husband was replaced by a replicant. He showed up with a fairly significant purchase from the floor. My hubby. Large purchase. Two of these things don't go together. I looked at him and said, "Who are you and what have you done with my husband."

That's all for now..until tomorrow when I won't get into the panels I want.

The good and the annoying

We finally made it. We got through preview night of San Diego Comic Con fairly unscathed but really sweaty.

Here's the breakdown:

We arrived at the DoubleTree in Mission Valley, which is a lovely property. The rooms are spacious and the beds invite you to immediately take a nap. The hotel just went through a major reno, so it's looking really good. They forgot to give us cookies when we checked in, and our bellman remedied that situation immediately. The thing is, he gave us carte blanche on cookies, which my hubby (who is also the cookie monster in disguise) has used to his advantage ever since. He has bogarted at least six cookies at this point.

After check-in, we headed over to the Town and County which has a convention center attached (a very small one). They are now offering off-site registration, which was new to us, but apparently started last year. This was a very good idea, although it seems everyone had the same idea and showed up at the off-site location. After some effort, we got our badges and headed off to the convention center!

Once there, they dumped us at the Petco Park stop and we took the new pedestrian bridge, which is pretty cool. We got over to the convention center side and noticed some tents set up outside to shade people from the sun, but we couldn't figure out what the line was for. My husband asked someone, and it turns out it was an early line for the the Twilight panel. The Twilight panel isn't until tomorrow. Needless to say, a few thousand (I'm not kidding) screaming teens will be mobbing this panel. I'm sure the smell of hormones will be rampant. I will not be at this panel. The last thing I need is teenage girl hormones sticking to my clothing.

We finally got inside and immediately headed to Ballroom 20 for the early preview of Alcatraz, a show I have some interest in seeing. We had to sit through two anime episodes of Supernatural first, however. If you like this show, you may not like the animated version of it. The live series on the CW is actually pretty good and is well cast. This new animated version is overly heavy on the drama, and has the usual shaky eyed characters common to most anime (Japanese animation for those not in the loop). If you like anime and Supernatural, this is for you, but be prepared for heavy-handed dramatic pauses and over-emotional moments.

Alcatraz was much more entertaining. The premise is that in 1963, 300 inmates and guards disappeared from the island as it was being closed. They are now showing up in modern day San Francisco (at least for now just San Fran). There is, of course, a covert government agency who is aware of the problem led by the ever fabulous Sam Neill (who is obviously both good and somewhat evil..I love this about him..he does both easily). I won't spoil anything else, but I dig the premise and think this one could be a crowd pleaser as long as the writing gets a little cripser. The cast is good, with genre-fave Jorge Garcia as an Alcatraz expert, and Sarah Jones in the lead as a detective who digs into the first case.

In the breaks of the shows, we got a couple little previews of the new Batman: Arkham City game which looks incredible. I don't know how it's going to play, but the graphics in the game play seem amazing. We also got some commercials for the Smallville complete set of DVD's coming out in the fall, which will be loaded with extras. We also got a nifty little commercial for a new live-action series based on the video game Mortal Combat. I realize there's been a few movies, but this is going to be a TV show. It centers on the origins of six of the Mortal Combat characters, and I can tell you I'm already in on this one. As a huge fan of the game, this is right up my alley. TOASTY!

After this, Keith and I wandered the sales floor for a bit. It was chaos, as per usual. We got to take a look at some of what Sideshow Collectibles has to offer this coming year, and I'm blown away by some of the new statues and busts they'll be selling. They are doing a new line of "legendary scale" figures that around 2 1/2 feet tall. They are truly works of art. I'll post pics when we get back and I can sync my camera. I'll try to post some on FB as soon as I can as well. Hasbro has a cool set of original Star Wars figures that they are selling as a set in a very nifty Death Star carrying case. We also spotted a giant Voltron, as they are rebooting the series. Lego had some cool stuff, including a full-sized lego Captain Jack Sparrow. Star Wars has a very large presence here this year as well, and we noticed that comic books are making a stronger appearance this year than I've seen in a while. I think the ComicCon folks got the message that the comics vendors were feeling a tad left out of a comic-oriented convention.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow is a heavy programming day for me, and I need a shower and some sleep. And my husband needs another cookie. And then probably one more.

I'll have a fairly lengthy post tomorrow and will break down as much as I can. Good night, nerdlings and not-so-nerdling.

Let the madness begin

Day 1 of our ComicCon adventure started with a five hour road trip and a stay at the Embassy Suites hotel in lovely Temecula.

The driving wasn't bad, hubby did all the work there and I played navigator. When we stopped in Barstow, we actually ran into someone we knew. Of all places to run into someone...some dinky little gas station in Barstow. I actually think we were stalked there, but I'm ok with that.

After we made it to the hotel, we trekked off to the San Diego Wild Animal Park in Escondido. We took a small journey through the San Diego County wine country, and got to see the meanest birds on the planet, ostriches. I'm not kidding. They are really mean. I got pecked in the head by one once for doing NOTHING! I was just standing there and the darn thing nailed me on the top of the head with that horrible weapon on the front of its face.

But I digress! We then found the animal park and ventured forth into the jungles of deepest Escondido. It was actually fun. We got to see some groovy wild animals, and watched something called the "Cheetah Run". They place a small child at the end of a 100 yard stretch of grass and release a cheetah. I'm joking. It's 110 yards. Actually, it's one of those stuffed weiner dogs from PetSmart. The handlers let a dog chase it first, a dog named Yeti, who is apparently good friends with the cheetah, Jabari. Dogs and cats living together...MASS HYSTERIA!!!

Anyway, the dog gives the cheetah confidence as apparently cheetahs are wusses. The handler even said that. They flee from conflict. Sounds like me. Although I don't really "flee", I sort of hobble slowly.

We then trekked around to the elephants. They were really fun to watch, especially when one of them dropped a table sized poop right in front of us. Then one of the males decided he had enough of the pen, and started literally pulling on the massive gate. I'm not joking about this, he really wanted out. He used his trunk to wrap around the metal bars and was slamming the gate. Keith started yelling, "Attica! Attica!"

We also saw a pancake sized (and shaped) bullfrog from Africa. And we saw two birds of prey, one owl with a bum eye and another one that wasn't an owl but looked like one. A fake owl. The impostor of the bird world.

We then left our wild adventure as the jungle closes at 7:00, as with most jungles.

We then scurried off to Tom's Farms near Corona. If you ever get the chance to stop here, please do. It's a farmer's market (a small one), that also has a giant wine/cheese shop with excellent breads, and there's a candy shop as well with all kinds of cool stuff. There's two restaurants and a carry out deli as well. On the weekends they do roasted whole ears of corn. There's often entertainment there as well.

After loading up with too much bread and snacks, we drove back to the hotel and promptly attempted to slip into a coma. I say "attempted" as we can never seem to sleep soundly in any beds but ours. Also, the room was about 85 degrees with equal levels of humidity.

We are off today to the DoubleTree in Mission Valley and then off to get our badges for ComicCon! Tonight is preview night so I'll be blogging later for those who give a hoot. Heh heh...hoot....owl...heh heh. Whatever.

Until later.

Haunted, but not so much

Hello, to anyone still watching. I have been away from blogging for a while due to many things, you know how life gets in the way, as does TV, movies, Facebook and general loafing about.

I wanted to share my experiences in taking the Haunted Vegas Tour a couple weeks ago. A friend of mine decided to celebrate her birthday by chartering a private excursion, although there is a regular tour as well which takes off nightly (see www.hauntedvegastours.com for more). Being me, I thought this was a fabulous idea as I love stuff like this, and I knew I would be learning some cool LV history, and I wasn't disappointed.

We arrived at the departure point, which was behind the Royal Resort on Convention Center Dr.. I have never visited this particular hotel, but they were playing great dance music at the pool, and they had a really nice bar area (also playing good music). After waiting for all our party to show up, we got on a comfortable tour bus that had AC, a TV, and Jack. Jack was our tour guide for the evening, and he was quite the character. Jack went to college to be a mortician, which he did for a short two years, and then did stand up comedy. He's in his 70's and now a tour guide for Haunted Vegas. I have to say, he found his calling. Jack was appropriately colorful, especially after he realized we were insane and could handle some good natured ribbing and dish it back.

We departed the Royal Resort at around 10:45 p.m.. There's a video presentation in which they discuss some of the haunted locations in the city. The first one mentioned was the Stratosphere. Apparently there have been a lot of suicides there, go figure, big needle like tower... Also they had video of the small motel across from the Stratosphere which has been the site of two celebrity deaths, including David Strickland from Suddenly Susan. There is a video they show of an "orb" (which is supposed to be ghost energy) traveling up the shower wall that was taken during an paranormal investigation on the property. I have my doubts about orbs, actually I have a lot of doubts about orbs as it seems most are just dust motes or dirt in the air that are capturing light. But who knows. This one was a little more interesting than that, but I still have my doubts. You don't get to go inside these properties, but you drive close to the Stratosphere. He also told us some stories about the Luxor, and some suicides that occurred there as well.

We then went to the Hilton where Elvis supposedly haunts the top floor, and we got some interesting stories about his performances (with video). We then hit the Flamingo for our first actual stop. There is a nifty jungle-like landscaped area that's got a marker where Bugsy Siegel's apartment used to be. We got some stories about him, his girlfriend/mafiosa,a little mafia history, along with an interesting story about his escape route through the apartment into an underground garage that's still under the property.

Our next stop took us by the part of Flamingo Road where Tupac's vehicle came to rest after he was shot. Jack showed us the light post where people tape pictures, memorial items, and break bottles in the desert area behind the pole. We also discussed the MGM fire (before it was Bally's), which brought back a lot of memories for me. I clearly remember my mother and I being in the car and driving up Sahara and seeing the giant smoke cloud. Jack showed us some pics that were taken inside that were quite disturbing and discussed the many safety changes that were made in hotels after that.

We then started off for the Henderson area to visit two parks that are supposed to be haunted. We started at Green Valley Park where there are supposed to be several ghosts, and we did get out here and take a lot of pics. We were also given dowsing rods to try to find "ghost energy". Jack told us to take pics with no flash and to try to catch orbs. One of our group got orbs all over the place. I just got trees, grass, picnic tables and a trash can.

We then took off for Fox Ridge Park, but we weren't allowed off the bus due to the problems in the park after dark with teenagers. Keep in mind we had a busload of law enforcement types who were all armed, and they still wouldn't let us off the bus. Which in retrospect was wise as any teens who confronted us may have been very sorry they did so. What's odd is Fox Ridge is in what I consider to be a nice part of town, so that's kind of sad. I've enjoyed many a Shakespeare Festival there, but I guess no more.

After this, Jack took us someplace that he wasn't supposed to, but since it was a private tour, he felt ok about it. It was the one place that gave me the willies and the one place I didn't snap any photos. There is a house, I won't say where, that was raided a long time ago. It was found to be a meth lab but also a den of satan worshipers. He said the body of a dead child was found inside and the body had been hollowed out and the internal organs used in rituals. There were symbols all over inside as well. Apparently the house has been on the market for over 16 years because no one will buy it. I'm guessing it has something to do with the chemicals from the meth lab, but I'm sure the story of the house drives some away as well. The haunted part is that the child who was murdered inside can be seen in the cupola window sometimes as you pass by. I got a really weird vibe from the place, and even the rowdy types on the bus quieted down when they heard the story. After Jack told the story, one of the other guests on the tour said, "Well, you can drive the hell away from this place anytime now!" I shared that sentiment.

After this, we drove to Redd Foxx's house on Eastern. I was very familiar with this property as this is near my home, and I remember driving by here as a child many times. It's now a real estate company. According to the story, after Redd died, the workmen in the house could hear people splashing in the pool although it was empty, and the doors would open and close on their own. It's since been owned by five different people or companies, and all have reported the same things. Finally when this company took it over, they brought in a medium to find out what the "ghost" wanted, as they were experiencing many weird things. They ended up putting two small red foxes on the sign and a large rock in front. What I found most interesting, however, was the story of Redd himself. We got to see a video of some of his performances, heard about the problems he faced with taxes, also heard how amazingly generous and kind he was, and we got some images from inside the house as well. The most disturbing part of the video was the last minute or so of footage that was shot right before his death. He was upset about an interview he had to give while shooting a TV show. The cameraman just so happened to be filming Redd, and he was clearly distraught about the interview. Shortly after this video, Redd had a heart attack and died. Very sad stuff.

Our final stop was the Liberace Plaza. We got to go into his dressing room where he would change before performing at the Tivoli. There are stories that he's been seen inside sitting in the corner. We learned about his kindness and generosity within the community, got to see pics of his house and got to see some performance video. Jack also had a display set up for us of some of his old mortuary/embalming tools. Interesting stuff.

Overall, this was a very nice experience, and I learned some interesting stories about my city. I never did catch an orb. Ah well, maybe next time.

Oct. 8th, 2010

Don't get older. I cannot emphasize this enough. Don't get older.

One day I woke up and I was 45 years old. I think my ear fell off in the bed, and about 300 new gray hairs appeared overnight when it happened. I've been 45 for a couple of months, and there's a few things I've noticed:

I have new aches and pains -- I have little aches and pains where I've never had aches and pains before. They are in different places every day. They move about like ninjas, pulling their swords of woe and cutting me up.

I need reading glasses -- I realized this when I had to pull a book about three feet from my face in extremely bright light (not even the Sun was bright enough -- I had to wait for lightning).

My fat is moving -- It has lowered. Everywhere.

My skin is not as smooth -- It's turning into fine grit sandpaper. I could probably sand my wooden crafting boxes with my face.

Hair growth -- I have new hair growing in places no woman should have hair. If I really let it go, I could do the bearded (and mustached) circus freak show.

And then there's the other stuff that makes me whine -->

A girl in my Bible study didn't know who Asia was -- Shoot me.

Another girl I know didn't know what an eight track was -- No joke. Take a gun and shoot me.

Someone I work with didn't know who Benji was -- WTF?

I get called ma'am -- Pass me the Geritol and a cane.

The thing that sucks is that I have the brain of a teenager. In the body of a geriatric patient.

Ok, I'm done ranting now. And you kids! Get off my lawn!!!!

Sep. 23rd, 2010

Ok, a couple reviews here finally :)

I'll start with the movies in theaters.

Piranha 3D -- This one was totally crazy, cheesy, boob-infested, gore galore, off the chain fun. Alexandre Aja gives us a homage to every 80's schlock horror ever made, and it worked on most every level. Richard Dreyfuss makes a GREAT cameo in the opening scene, and there's a couple of very fun casting choices in staying with the 80's theme throughout. Look for the little-horror-filmmaker-who-could cameo as well. The movie was shot at Lake Havasu (a place close to my jet-skiing heart), but it's renamed Lake Victoria. An underwater eruption opens a tunnel to an underwater lake that's been covered since prehistoric times. Of course lurking in these now opened waters are the terrible critters in the title. As most of you know, this is a remake, and the piranha look MUCH better in this movie. That's really all there is to it. It's pretty much a one-note flick, but that one note is struck perfectly.

Jerry O'Connell is great as the porn movie maker (a'la girls gone wild) who is the sleaziest of the sleaze. I can only imagine how much fun he had making this movie. Steven R. McQueen is our young hero (and he's the grandson of Steve McQueen). Elisabeth Shue is his mother and the local Sheriff. Ving Rhames is her partner. I won't ruin the other great casting choice, but it will put a smile on your face. There was once scene that made me laugh so hard, I actually shed tears. It has to do with Jerry O'Connell and something very dear to him. 'Nuff said.

If you're easily offended by nakedness, don't bother. If you're easily put off by gore, don't bother. If these things don't bother you, go see this and expect to laugh.

Next up: Devil -- M. Night Shyamaln's production company backed this one and it was written by Brian Nelson//directed by John Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. This movie was actually better than I thought it was going to be. Anything with M. Night's name on it makes me worry. He had such winners in his first three flicks, but things really seemed to go downhill from there. This movie is much smaller in scope, but much larger in its idea. Since his involvement is not his usual full-on writer/director/actor thing, it makes for a better movie.

Basically five strangers get trapped in an elevator in a modern office building. Bad things happen. Very bad things. What I appreciated was that no one was written dumbly. The security officers aren't stupid and take a very honest interest in what's going on, the detective acts like a smart detective should, and the people in the elevator have an appropriate level of anger/frustration that morphs into sheer terror as things progress.

It's not a perfect film, but it has a nice, small feel that I like in this type of movie. Don't go expecting some huge big-budget horror with teenagers running about getting various limbs chopped off. It's a quieter film with the mega-themes of sin and redemption. Not everyone is going to like the ending, but I felt it was appropriate to the film's ideals. Some things are a tad convenient for my tastes, but it's sort of explained by the narrative that goes with it.

The cast is nice, with Chris Messina as our hero/detective. He's very believable in this role, comes off very smart and involved, and has a nice look. Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara, Bojana Novakovik, Bokeem Woodbine and Geoffry Arrend are the elevator residents, and all are more than capable actors. I was particularly impressed with Logan Marshall-Green and Jenny O'Hara. Jacob Vargas and Matt Craven are the security officers who are watching the action in the elevator via camera. Jacob Vargas has the narrative points in the movie. You've seen Matt Craven before in dozens of roles, and I've always felt he's been underused.

It's not for everyone, it's not a heart thumper, it's not particularly scary, but it's a nice little claustrophobic psychological thriller.

P.S. Look for the little nods to devilry and such (the address of the building, the painting behind the main office desk, etc.)

DVD -- Kick Ass. This is a must rent for me. For a film nerd who loves superheroes, this one hit all the bells for me. Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. did the comic) and directed by Matthew Vaughn.

A young man (Aaron Johnson) asks the question as to why there are no real superheroes, or people who at least try to be superheroes. He answers his own question by taking on the mantle of Kick-Ass. He promptly gets his ass kicked, but this only stops him briefly. He's later joined by two others, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nick Cage in his best role in a long time), and he later meets up with Red Mist (Chris Mintz-Plasse in fine form). Everyone's motives are different here, and it's fun to watch it all unfold. Our villain is Frank D'Amico, played by the fabulous Mark Strong.

There's a considerable amount of violence, particularly from Hit-Girl. The language is pretty foul, particularly from Hit-Girl. Watch for Nick Cage's very Adam West like delivery of his lines while costumed. It's priceless.

It's a total watch for me, but as with many films, it's not for everyone.

DVD -- Blindness. This is my last review and also my least fave of the four movies here. The novel was from Jose Saramago and Dan McKellar wrote the screenplay. Directed by Fernando Meirelles.

We start with patient zero, who goes blind in traffic. He's assisted by a scumbag who also goes blind. Then the doctor who examines patient zero goes blind (Mark Ruffalo) Then everyone starts to go blind except for one person, the doctor's wife (Julianne Moore) The blind are thought to have something viral and are put in what amounts to prisons. As more are affected, they also are thrown in this camp/prison. Our sighted wife goes with her blind husband under the pretense that she, too, is blind. There are NO services in these holding facilities and madness generally ensues. The third act brings us out of the prison/camp and into the world where all are blind, many are dead, and there is chaos.

I really could not get behind this movie. I understand where it was trying to come from, but I didn't feel it accomplished its goal. It was shot in Sao Paolo, which gave it a very international feel. The film style was actually pretty cool, with some nods to how a blind person, especially someone newly blind, may feel. There were a couple nifty camera tricks. What I really didn't like was the dystopian nature of it. It seems like it's supposed to be set in a different timeline or a slightly off future in which no one would possibly consider helping the newly blind, and would just throw them in what amounts to interment centers.

Our husband and wife are in one such center. As more people join them, they break up into wards. It seems all the nice folks are in two wards and all the horrible people are in ward three. The horrible people (all men, which was an obvious ploy) eventually take over and make the other wards pay for the small amount of food that they are given every day by the military guys who are guarding the perimeter of the camp. These guards are cruel and have no care of anything going on inside. The members of ward three make the other wards pay with items at first, watches and such, and eventually make them pay with women. No one knows (except the husband) that there is one sighted person in the place. She eventually uses this to her advantage to thwart the evil ward (along with help from another woman), but it comes late and after a hefty price is paid. The action then moves outside when she realizes there are no more guards and the gates are open. She and a small group of her ward mates go out and face a world of blindness, craziness and chaos. The end was interesting and appropriate, but murky.

This movie had many scenes that were difficult to watch, particularly and extensive rape scene that I actually had trouble getting through. Rape scenes have always been difficult for me, and I'm sure it's the same for many others, but this one was nastier than most. I haven't read the book, but I think this type of material would work better in print. I also didn't feel any real connection to the characters, and was confused by the Lord of the Flies type separation of wards. I really cannot give this one any kind of recommendation, and I feel it was a waste of a good cast.

That's all for now! Happy movie watching. :)

Random crap and the evil box of death.

So, a friend of mine got stuck in the elevator at work last week. She was only stuck for a few minutes, but she claims it was more like six hours. I would have to agree, it would probably seem like six hours. That elevator is an evil box. I have written about this before. It has a "burled wood" veneer that looks like little screaming faces of death. Who in their right mind picked this veneer? You know that movie "Devil" that's coming out that takes place in an elevator? They should have used ours. It's much more evil.

I wanted to go back to spin class, but I think I need to find a way to fool my butt. I should go on the pretense of a weight lifting class and then run into spin and grab a bike and hop on. My butt won't have time to revolt prior to the class, although I'll pay later. The realization may hit my butt as soon as we walk into class.

Me: *tunelessly whistling*

Butt: Aren't we going to the classroom where the weights are? Do you need to go to the bathroom or something?"

Me: *tunelessly whistling*

Butt: Uh, excuse me. Where are we going? The weight class is over...wait a second. Oh NO YOU DON'T. YOU GET OUT OF THIS ROOM RIGHT NOW...I MEAN IT. YOU'LL REGRET THIS, I'LL MAKE YOU SUFFER...OOOMPH...

Me: *now on bike* Ahh...ready for spinning.

Butt: *muffled* This isn't over! You better not eat any Fiber One Bars or I'll use them like a grenade against you!

Movie -- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This was a very fun movie. It was a mixture of a love story and a nifty action flick. I felt like it was about ten minutes too long, but that's a minor complaint. Michael Cera was in fine form, as was Kieran Culkin. Actually the whole cast nailed it. I don't want to say too much lest I ruin the fun, but think if it as a romance/action/video game. As I stated on my FB page, all movie should have VS. mode. You'll see what I mean.

DVD -- Repo Men. This movie was in and out of the theater pretty quickly, and I can understand why. It's not because it sucked, but because it was a little strange. Jude Law is Remy. He is a "repo man" for The Union, which is like a conglomerate bank/medical corporation. They make various mechanical organs and body parts that are crazy expensive. If you cannot pay for the implant you bought, then a repo man shows up and takes it back in whatever way possible. It's a fairly gruesome business, but Remy seems to be happy in his work. His partner is Jake (Forest Whitaker), who loves the job a little too much. The movie deals with what happens when Remy's life is changed irrevocably after an incident. His perception of what he's done has now shifted, and he's on the run after a while. This was one of those smaller under-the-radar movies that you either dig or hate. I dug it, and the ending was worth the entire movie. I don't want to spoil it, but it totally worked for me.

DVD -- An Inconvenient Truth. I finally watched this, and am now completely terrified. Actually, this wasn't new info for me as I keep on top of this kind of thing in general when I can, but it's still terrifying. Makes me want to go live in a yurt without any modern conveniences, except my phone and a laptop.

Fun TV -- Warehouse 13 and Eureka on SyFy rock. Totally fun shows, worth the rentals on previous seasons to catch up.

Finally, I have an admission. I'm addicted to Twitter. Roll your eyes and sigh now, but I'm having too much fun. I follow friends, some celebs, some literary types, some music types, some funny folks, a few businesses, etc. I found out about a new car, called the Pulse, because of Twitter. I'm twitter-stalking Nathan Fillion (anyone you follow I guess you would be stalking), and he tweeted about the Arcimoto Pulse, which he test drove. See, it's a good thing, learned about a green car, electric, yeah. heh heh.. Just joking about the twitter stalking. I'm just following his tweets. Really. Stop looking at me like that. Geez.


Ok, it's been a reeeaaallly long time again. I do this thing called life that gets in the way of my blogging now and again. (insert sheepish grin here).

So I do have a movie review today for a film that's been out a few weeks now.

Inception -- This is a must see. I'll say it again, this is a MUST SEE! I will also warn you to use the bathroom and get all your snacks and drinks prior to the screening, because if you leave for five minutes to empty your bladder and get a refill on your soda, you'll come back and quite possibly be lost.

I'll give a quick plot breakdown without any give-aways. A small group of people have the ability to enter into a person's dreams (via technology) and obtain very secret info, like corporate espionage on a very personal level. They are retained by a man not to steal info, but place an idea in another man's head, which is exponentially more difficult than stealing something. They must use a very careful and nuanced approach to get into this guy's head. Now, that's about as basic as it gets, and I don't want to give away anything else. There are levels within levels of complexity here, so just go for the ride. Leo DiCaprio is fabulous, as is Joseph Gordon-Levitt (see Brick with Leavitt as well, amazing performance). Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Dileep Rao, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Pete Postlethwaite round out an amazing cast. Chris Nolan wrote and directed and completely got the win out of this one.

Splice -- Cool until the last act in which I sighed and rolled my eyes so much that I gave myself a headache. It's maybe a rental. Maybe. Just for Adrian Brody.

Predators -- Speaking of Brody, he is muy caliente in ths one, all buffed up and looking good. This was a fun one and worth the watch. The action was good and well punctuated with the info dumps necessary to keep on top of things. The cast was capable (Love you Danny Trejo, you never have enough screen time), and it was nice to see Topher Grace and Alice Braga in something so fun and bloody. It was so open-ended that a sequel is a foregone conlcusion if it makes enough beans.

Rental -- Book of Eli -- This was a movie with such potential, and it delivered in some respects, and did not in others. I love Denzel, and he does great here, as usual. As does Gary Oldman. It was really nice to see Jennifer Beals in a movie again, and I love Ray Stevenson (watch Rome, it was only two seasons on HBO, but it rocked). The only thing that didn't work for me in the cast was Mila Kunis. I dig her totally, don't get me wrong, but she was not right for this particular role. The general idea is that it's a post-apocalyptic future, and a man named Eli (you don't really get his name) is protecting something very special (which you'll figure out right away, it's not really a secret). Another man who runs/owns a small wasteland town wants this thing because it can be used as a weapon to control his subjects and expand his territory. Gun battles, foot and car chases, and general mayhem ensue. There's a nice little detail at the end that made me smile, but I felt this movie was missing something. I'm still not able to put my finger on it, but something was amiss. It's worth a rent but don't expect to be blown out of the water.

Coming Soon -- Machete -- Danny Trejo for two hours. 'Nuff said.

Coming Soon -- Scott Pilgrim vs The World -- Early screeners have been crazily well received. Edgar Wright deserves a round of applause for the warm reception so far.

Coming Not So Soon -- Thor -- Early stuff looks really nice, it better deliver or I'm gonna throw a hissy in the theater.

Coming soon, but not soon enough -- Tron -- Come on already, open. Geesh. I'm drooling as it is.

Coming soon to TV -- The Walking Dead on AMC -- Can't wait! This comic book series rocked, and I got the first four books signed by artists and writers when they first came out (SCORE!) Hopefully the TV series will do it justice.

I don't even want to post about ComicCon this year because I wasn't there. But of course I missed the one year...the only year...the only time...that Harrison Ford has EVER been there. Of course...of course I missed it. Nathan Fillion was all over the place too. *heavy sigh* Next year.

Until later..hopefully not four months later.

Random Crap

I want to tase one of the work buddies. He got that dratted Lady Gaga song in my head and now it won't leave. I don't even like her music. She's an alien, I believe, and the listening of her music and watching of performances will slowly suck out your brains and leave you a drooling buffoon. Sorry to all you Gaga fans out there, but your brains are already leaking out your ears so you may not read this properly anyway.

I got a Flip video camera. I call it my "blackmail videos of drunken friends which will garner me many birthday gifts" camera. It's already worked a few times...hahahahahah! Get one.

I still hear that stupid Lady Gaga song in my head.

A friend of mine doesn't believe I'm half asian. I told him it was only the lower half of me so it wasn't easy to see.

We had a lady who called 911 and asked about employment opportunities. She was advised she failed the first test. (this is not a joke, this really happened -- except the failing the first test part, we'd totally get in trouble for that)

I am addicted to Farmville on Facebook. I know, roll your eyes, judge me, go ahead. But have YOU grown 6000 pumpkins? Have YOU filled your coop with golden chickens? Have YOU gathered over 300 spring eggs and traded them in for various prizes? Hmm? Maybe you have. I also have a little addiction to Cafe World. I know, I know. Continue sighing and rolling your eyes. I enjoy making fake food for fake customers and making fake money that goes for buying more fake food and cool decorations. *sigh* I need computer intervention.


I was watching "To Catch a Predator" yesterday with Chris Hansen. He also did an interesting show on fraud overseas. I got into a discussion with work friends about this, and we all agreed that if Chris Hansen ever showed up at your house, you probably shouldn't answer the door because it won't be good. One of the last guys you want to see at your door is Chris Hansen. Or the guys from Cheaters. Or the COPS crew. Or a pitbull. It's all about the same level of bad.

Ok, I'm going to go put a needle in my ear to stop the Gaga song from playing.



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