Legend tells of a magical place, a land of wonder, that appears once a year…only for three days….in the tiny hamlet known as Ore-lahn-doe.
The local bards calls it “Mega Con”.
The rest of the world calls it……well, they call it “Mega Con”, too.
Since we started going to Mega Con, about three or four years ago, we’ve always just drove up for a day, walked around, then drove home. It’s really hard to get the “whole experience” that way so, this year, we decided to do it “right”.
We ordered advanced tickets and booked a room for the entire con that was, according to the description, only a block away. The Hyatt Regency has to be one of the nicest, swankiest, places I’ve ever stayed. Seriously. Our bathroom mirror had a t.v. in it, for pete’s sake!
There was also four restaurants, two convenience stores, two bars, two pools (a huge one on the ground floor and a terrace one on the third), a tennis court, and a coffee shop. The one restaurant was open twenty-four hours and you could also get room service pizza.
I didn’t take near enough pictures to do it justice, but it was a very nice looking place.
Chalk it up to my not getting out enough, but I was thoroughly impressed by this place. Now, as with things like this, nothing is for free and you really need to watch the budget or things can get out of hand and quickly. We did o.k, though, and still came in at a reasonable rate after it was all said and done.
Oh, I didn’t mention the best part. We were just a skywalk’s jaunt away from the convention building. That right there made it worth the price to stay.
We came up a day early to hang out and scope out where we needed to go the next day. My wife wound up zonking out for a few hours, so I walked up the road and did a little site seeing at the Pointe Orlando. It’s a little triangle section of about a city block where they had an IMAX theater, a bunch of restaurants and some overpriced “specialty” stores. For anyone from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Ohio area, it reminded me a lot of Newport On The Levee.
As for the convention itself, there were a few snags starting out (which I let the world know via my Twitter account, just as any self-respecting geek would do), mainly with the organization for the ticket lines. We had bought advanced tickets which meant we were supposed to just walk up to the window and then walk into the dealer area. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy.
We stood in line for an hour and a half, actually wrapping around in a circle, before we could even get down to the place where you picked your tickets up. We asked a few of the volunteers if we were in the advanced tickets line (because it was a huge jumble…no kidding) yet no one could seem to tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’. About an hour into it someone who actually knew something started directing us to the entrance….where we took the escalators down to another line to actually pick up the tickets. That line, thankfully, moved a lot quicker than the upstairs “hurry up and wait” line and was still quicker than the V.I.P. line….which I would have been hacked off had I paid all that money and they only had one window dedicated to servicing said ticket holders. Anyway, we get up there and they give us, for three days, an armband. Most other conventions I’ve been to give you a badge (then graciously sell you a lanyard to go with it) to wear, but Megacon give you a piece of thick paper to put around your wrist. Of course I started asking if they were o.k. to get wet…I mean, discouraging people to bathe is last thing you want to do at a sci-fi convention.
Trust me…there are stereotypes for a reason, when it comes to this one.
After the ordeal of collecting our tickets, the rest of the convention was pretty enjoyable. We saw some of the stars from the original Battlestar Galactica, my wife went to see James (Spike from Buffy) Marsters while I went to an…….interesting……panel revolving around the Nintendo 3DS game, Animal Crossing: A New Leaf. While I did feel just a tad out-of-place due to my lack of anime cat ears, it was still fun. We tried to make it to a World Building for Your Novel panel, but it was clear from the huge amount of people in line in the hall that we weren’t all going to fit in the extremely small room they had set aside for the event…..things were getting a bit cramped as it was, so I didn’t want to add to the claustrophobia. Instead, I went down and got a quick sketch by one of my all time favorite artists, George Perez. He was, as he had been last year, collecting money for The Hero Initiative which is a great cause. Last year we got a Wonder Woman for my wife. This year, we got a Batman for me. After that I checked to see if Darwyn Cooke was over at his table and he was. He was also engulfed in a mass of con goer flesh and had almost as long a line as George Perez. I figured I’d come back to get him to sign my copy of New Frontier. I should have just waited as we wouldn’t see him for the remainder of the convention. I’m not sure if something came up or he was just late, but on Saturday and Sunday we went by his table, at least, a dozen times and he was nowhere to be found. Oh well, maybe next year.
After tooling around the vendor area a bit more in search of the card game, Love Letter (the limited edition version…which we found), we went back to the room and prepared to meet my wife’s nephew and his new girlfriend for dinner. This was one of the big highlights of the weekend for my wife and I. Christopher is someone we don’t get to see as much as we’d like. He’s a very bright young man with a level head and an eye for the future. His girlfriend is, truly, a gem and I can see that they really have something special between them. A good time was had by all.
On Sunday, we checked out and headed back over to the convention for one last pass. There were fewer people in the vendor area then on Saturday, so we were able to check out more of the booths that we had skipped on Saturday due to the throng of people pushing and shoving. We picked up a few games we had been eyeing, including another version of Love Letter and some tee shirts before heading back home.
Going up and staying a few days, in my opinion, is definitely the way to go to a con if at all possible. We had a great time and will probably being doing the same next year, if we’re able.
With that, we watch this mystical place fade into the distance once again. The magic, the wonder, and a good chunk of our funds fading with it.
Until next year, Megacon, until next year…..
Not much going on here at the Means Ranch (still). The wife went south (literally) with her sister to celebrate her birthday (the sister) and brainstorm some business ideas, as they’re having some issues with the state of Florida.
That left me in a quiet house with some writing, editing, and blogging.
Sometimes it was too quiet, so I was forced to turn on the t.v. to help alleviate the lack of sound.
As a lot of you probably know…at least anyone who knows me, even just a little bit…I’m not a big fan of what passes for “programming” these days, so I started checking out what Netflix had to offer.
Surprisingly enough, there were quite a few things that caught my eye. It looks like the Cartoon Network has opened their vaults and Netflix is now offering some of my old favorites such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Dexter’s Lab, Batman Beyond, and Samurai Jack.
I’m five episodes into Lilyhammer and I’m really liking it. I never saw Lil Steven Van Zandt (that’s how I still think of him) in The Sopranos, but I think he does a bang up job as Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano. Lilyhammer is just the right blend of ‘wise guy drama’ and ‘fish out of water comedy’ entertainment. There’s been a bit of ‘colorful’ language, but nowhere near a Sopranos quantity of the stuff.
If I didn’t know it was from Netflix, I’d think it was from a major cable network.
I also watched the first episode of House of Cards and, while it didn’t grab my attention like Lilyhammer did, it was still a pretty solid show and, well, anything with Kevin Spacey in it can’t be all bad. I’ll be getting into that more once I get caught up with Lilyhammer.
We were off Sunday, and boy did I need it, but yesterday and today the A to Z Blogging challenge is still in full effect.
Check ’em out!
Until next time….
My wife and I got an…odd…Christmas present last year from her sister.
Tickets to the comic book/anime/game/pop culture fest known as MegaCon.
The interesting thing was that there was just the two of us….and she gave us four tickets. As we both figured, though, it was a sort of ‘back door’ set up so we’d take her son and a friend of his to the convention. It’s up in Orlando, only about an hour and a half away, so not too bad and our nephew was pretty stoked to get to go.
His first question to us was….”Who are you guys dressing up as?”
Yeah…spandex and me, we’ll we’re not on speaking terms…especially at this point in my life. I’ve been to dozens of conventions, from GenCon to BotCon to Origins to ToddCon (a friend ran his own gaming convention one year in his basement…don’t ask) and I’ve yet to dress up for any of them. This time was to be no different.
He was excited, though, and that was cool. His original idea was to go as the Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctor, but he had issues getting the long scarf so he shelved that idea. I didn’t know who he was going as until he and his friend showed up at the house this morning, dressed as Castiel from Supernatural. I also learned that the character of Castiel’s tie is always turned around and messed up…something I’d never noticed before. The things you can learn from cosplaying.
The worst part about going was getting there. I guess we picked the wrong time to head up because the traffic by the Orange County Convention Center was terrible. I took us about forty-five minutes to get from the exit to the parking lot. It should have taken us only about five…..ugh! Once we got there, though, things picked up a bit. There were a ton of cosplayers….you know…people who dress up as their favorite comic book or anime character and stroll around. I’m not big on asking people to pose so I mainly just snapped some pics on the fly of some of the ones I thought looked cool.
My only regret was not asking the group dressed as The Thundercats if they’d stop for a pic as we were leaving. They looked pretty darn cool.
A few of the cosplayers….
Usually, when I go to a Con, I tend to look at it as just that….a con. At least when it comes to some of the prices. As per usual with events like this, everything seems like it’s overpriced. We bought a half of a roast beef sandwich and a bottle of water for $13.00. Well, when they got ya…they got ya. Had we been more prepared we would have smuggled some snacks or sandwiches in with us….like when we go to the movies… *ahem*
One thing I did think was worth the price was one of my all time favorite comic book artists, George Perez, doing headshot sketches for $40.00 to help The Hero Initiative. We thought it was a great cause and asked Mr. Perez to do up a Wonder Woman for us. As I mentioned in my post about the last time I went to MegaCon, Mr. Perez is great and a real prince when it comes to the fans. He looked as busy as all get out, but still posed for pictures, shook hands and chatted, even as he worked.
He did this up in about five minutes. The man is fast and amazing.
Well worth the price and for a great cause. We also watched him draw a Zatanna for a guy and signed his name backwards. If you know anything about the character, you’ll get it 🙂
We also picked up a few other nifty things….
A couple of Doctor Who posters….
And a few nerd shirts…..
While I wasn’t too thrilled about them, my wife just had to have these magnets, so…..
All in all we had a pretty good time, though the place was packed. I will say that the crowd was pretty polite. I had quite a few people bump in to me and the vast majority of them, at least, offered a “sorry”, if not an “excuse me”. After years of going to conventions, you start to notice these small details. Another small detail I tend to notice are the smells. Way back when, body odor was the most prevalent scent wafting through the air, but I guess the crowds have matured and evolved as I think I might have smelled it just once. I know….strange…but still, it’s a part of the experience.
Unlike the last time I attended MegaCon, this year they had all the celebrities and faux-lebrities (yeah Wil Wheaton, I’m looking at you) behind curtains so you couldn’t even get a look at them unless you paid for the privilege. This, at least to me, wasn’t worth the price.
To be totally honest, this really turns me off about the convention experience. I mean, honestly, do they think some guy, taking a pic with his phone camera, at fifty feet, is going to cut into their “Have A Picture Taken With Harry Potter’s The Weasley Brothers for $60.00” business? I have no doubt that people will still pay for the up close and personal experience, but I guess the convention organizers weren’t as confident.
Oh well, those kind of things are to be expected when there’s the potential for money-making and, as I said, we still had a great time and the ride home was so much nicer than the ride up.
Maybe we’ll go again next year, so check back then and I’ll let you know.
Until next time…
Well, as the title hints, I don’t have a lot to talk about today so I’ll probably just make this post short and sweet, with a few updates.
A small follow up to my last post, about my automotive woes, no progress has been made. I went down for my appointment…at 9 a.m, no less, and the place was already packed. At least fifteen people were standing in line, waiting on the three clerks to check them in. I didn’t have all day to hang around, so I just left. I”ll call and reschedule for a better time. Being less patient than I should be, I really don’t like waiting. Especially when I’m paying to do so.
In the Garden
Our tomato plants are at an….odd…stage, I have to say. So far, we’ve gotten a few pretty good blooms off of them. They tasted good, but weren’t huge though, honestly, I’m not sure just how big they’re supposed to get, anyway. The one plant, that wasn’t doing much in the beginning is now blooming like crazy.
We probably have about twenty, small, green tomatoes on it, but they’re not turning red. The leaves started getting these white spots on them…most likely powdery mildew..which can be caused by quite a few things. The interwebz tells me some sulfur dust is in my plant’s future.
The other tomato plant looks like there’s a totally new sprout coming up. I’ll have to keep an eye on that one and see how it develops.
How exciting is my life when some of my best material involves tomatoes that I’m trying to grow in a bucket??
World of Warcraft
A topic I really don’t talk about as much as I should, even though it’s something I play quite often. My characters are still chugging along through the new (relatively speaking) expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I have two max level characters and am working on about three more (they’re close). Heirloom gear, and the x.p. boost they give, really help a lot with this. A new patch dropped yesterday and that meant new content which I started on, then decided to wait for the ‘newness fervor’ to die down. Way too crowded, which made it not fun at all. I’m in no rush.
As strange as it is to say, I’m kind of proud of myself in that I’ve been able to keep my blogging schedule that I set up in January. Between this and my writing blog, I’ve been putting something up six days a week. That will change during April and the A to Z Challenge. More on that later. I find blogging terribly interesting. In some cases it’s like an online diary and, in others, it’s like a soapbox or a ‘how to’ manual for…whatever. In my case, it’s for the exercise of writing which I need quite a bit of. Which leads me to….
O.k, let’s not talk about this topic….next!!
Oh, there aren’t any more topics?
Just as well, I said I wanted to keep it short so….
Until next time….
Have you seen any good movies lately? I mean really good movies. The kind that leave an impression on you. The kind that fire up your imagination. The kind that have you saying “Wow!” under your breath.
I haven’t. At least, not in a long while.
Now, granted, I’ve seen some ‘good’ movies in the respect that I didn’t really mind spending the money to catch them in the theaters, but it’s been a long time since a movie has grabbed me by the shoulders, kicked me in the gut, and really knocked the wind out of me.
I promise this isn’t going to go off into another rant on Hollywood, but there really just hasn’t been much out there to capture the imagination (at least for me) like a Star Wars, or Back to the Future, or Raiders of the Lost Ark did back in the day.
Sure, there have been some “blockbusters” out there…The Avengers being a prime example, but even that wasn’t much more than Joss Whedon bringing his formulaic writing to the big screen with some Marvel ‘retreading’ and flashy (albeit awesome) special effects. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Buffy, Angel, and Firefly fan…and Whedon told the tale of the Avengers well…but there was nothing earth-shaking in the film. Nothing that made me say “Oh..didn’t see that coming…”.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just the genre of movie that I most frequent. The sci-fi/fantasy genre seems to be big these days and there’s a good chunk of that genre that seems to rely on retreads and ‘retelling’ stories I’ve seen a few times before…..Planet of the Apes and The Amazing Spider-Man, for starters. Both enjoyable flicks…just nothing very “original” from my viewing.
I think one of the best films I saw last year was The Hobbit, which was surprising.
I tried reading the book years ago and was bored to tears. I also gave the Lord of the Rings trilogy a shot….Zzzzzzzz. To those who worship at the altar of Tolkien, my hat’s off to you….I don’t know how you do it….honestly.
I think I’m too low-brow for his brand of descriptive story telling, honestly. Still…I enjoyed the movie.
Maybe I should start watching romantic comedies? (Don’t tell my wife I just said that!)
Anyway, it’s not like I’ve given up on the movies. I still hold out hope that something will come along and knock my proverbial socks off…..but the wait, in the meantime, is killing me.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
How about you? Seen any good movies lately?
Until next time….
When I first started getting interested in music and, by “interested” I mean seeking out stuff I wasn’t hearing on the radio, the first place I went was to my dad’s stereo set. It was back in a day before the CD and even the casette. Vinyl and eight tracks ruled and my dad had a lot of vinyl.
Some of the earliest stuff I remember listening to was Herb Alpert and the Tiajuana Brass, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Ventures. I absolutely loved “Walk Don’t Run” and would listen to it over an over. When I first saw the t.v. show Hawaii Five O, I knew the theme was by The Ventures even before I read it.
The Ventures had a very unique sound, even for back then. I didn’t have a clue that they were pioneers in a musical genre called “Surf Music”, I just knew I liked their sound. To this day they’re still the most popular rock group in Japan.
With tunes like:
Walk Don’t Run
And, of course, the theme from Hawaii Five-O
It wasn’t very hard to see why The Ventures were so successful.
They weren’t the only pioneers of the Surf Sound, though. Legends like Dick Dale and The Bel-Airs really brought the instrumental surf sound to prominence. Other groups took the sound and added a vocal component. One of the most famous of these were the Beach Boys. Jan and Dean, The Rivieras and Ronny and the Daytonas also had vocal surf hits.
About five or six years ago, I rediscovered the surf sound and would fill my Rhapsody and Live 365 stations with those type of tunes. Great music to work out or mow the lawn to.
Personally, I can’t listen to this sort of music without picturing a sunny beach, tiki huts, and drinking out of a coconut shell.
Hang loose dudes and duettes and, until next time….
Back when I had a steady RPG (role-playing game) group, a friend and I were talking about a concept he was thinking about called “Neo Pulp”. Basically using the template of the old pulp characters, such as Doc Savage and The Shadow, in a more modern setting. The background would be modern-day, or close to it, where it was almost “street level”, but things like bionics and light magic/’weird’ science also existed.
Most of the characters would be men and women of action…using their wits and whatever gadgets they might have to combat the threat of evil, lurking in the background.
Some of the names bandied about were :
The M.A.N.T.I.S team
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
Briscoe County Jr.
Jonathan Chase: The Manimal
There were a few other names thrown in there, like Charlie’s Angels, Michael Knight, The Misfits of Science, Remington Steele, characters along those lines. Obviously, a lot of it was based on old 70s and 80s television shows and that was all right because our gaming group, besides me and the friend discussing it, never really “got” just what pulp was. At least they could never seem to come up with concepts to fit the genre any other time we attempted. T.v. shows, they did get though.
Unfortunately, the game never happened as other things came up, but it’s always something that has stuck in the back of my mind as a fun, little campaign.
I think my ‘dream’ neo-pulp group would consists of:
- Steve Austin: “The Six Million Dollar Man”–With his bionic advantages as well as ties to the government (the O.S.I)
- Angus MacGuyver: “Mac”–Improvisational in the field skills as well as resource contacts (the Phoenix Foundation)
- Emma Peel: “The Original Avenger”–Cool under fire, martial arts prowess, British government contacts.
- Lara Croft: “The Tomb Raider”–Archaeology expert, wealthy, familiar with field work.
- Remo Williams: “The Destroyer”– Willing to ‘get his hands dirty’ if needed, master if Sinanju, resource contacts.
Like I said, I think the Neo-Pulp concept would be great fun for a ‘street level’ campaign as well as a blast from the past in getting to play one of your favorite characters from an old t.v. show.
How about you? Who would your ‘dream team’ consist of in the Neo-Pulp genre?
As many of you probably already know….because I talk about it all the time….I live in central Florida on what they call the “Treasure Coast”. I’ve always wanted to live in a town that had the word “beach” in it…and now, I do.
Vero Beach is a great place and, besides the sun, temperate climate, and nearby beach (see?), it’s only about an hour and a half from Disney World.
Before I moved down here, I had never been to DW before so, after my first time there, I was hooked. It’s an absolutely awesome place and I don’t think I’m exaggerating (much) when I call it “magical”. Now, the first time we went there I was expecting to see all sorts of Disney characters from the past and present. I mean, they still have Goofy there and he’s been around forever. In keeping with this line of thinking, I figured I’d also see one of my all-time favorite Disney characters….the Terror That Flaps In The Night….Darkwing Duck!
Much to my dismay, I never saw him that first trip. Or on any consecutive other trips. I couldn’t even find any merchandise featuring the Crimefighting Quacker. Not to be beaten, though, I sent an e-mail to the Disney people, asking why Mr. Mallard (Drake Mallard…DW’s secret i.d.) was nowhere to be found on the premises. To this day, I have to wonder if they thought they were letting down some young child, as opposed to a middle-aged geek, when they wrote back (and quite quickly and politely, I must add) telling me that some characters were retired after a while, as other characters came to the fore.
So, I filed it under “Oh Well” and went on. I still enjoyed going to Disney World and we even had year passes for a while. I still thought of it as a ‘magical’ place where dreams can come true and age doesn’t matter when it comes to having fun.
As my previous posts have told, we recently took another trip back to the Land of the Mouse with my mom and sister who were visiting from Kentucky. There was still no sign of Darkwing Duck on any type of merchandise and, trust me, I still look.
Yesterday, we dropped them off at the airport and, as we usually do, were waiting until after the plane had taken off to leave….just in case something happens, such as a missed flight, etc. We were in the Disney store at the terminal (called the “Ear-port”…lol) and I was browsing through the pins when, lo and behold I saw……
Yep…a Darkwing Duck pin.
Pin trading is a pretty big thing at Disney. All the cast members wear them and if you see one you want, they have to trade with you. After all the visits, though, I’ve never seen anyone with a DW pin or it being on sale anywhere in the four parks. It was like a scene from a movie where a ray of light shines down on someone’s “holy grail” and a chorus of angels sings in the background.
Of course, I snatched it up quicker than the human eye could follow. My wife got a good laugh out of it, too.
“You’re such a kid.” she said.
And, yeah, I guess she’s right…a kid with a Darkwing Duck pin!
Until next time…
In my last post, I mentioned how my mom and sister came down from Kentucky to spend some time in the Sunshine State. Of course, that also means a trip to Disney World up in Orlando. Being only about an hour and a half away, it was a pretty quick jaunt up there and that’s how we spent our Tuesday.
First off….the prices. Ugh! Roughly $100.00 a person…just to get into the place. On the plus side, we had some gift cards from birthdays and Christmas which offset the price a bit. I can see why this guy is smiling, though….
Getting into the park, my mom decided she wanted to rent a wheelchair to help her get around a bit better. She has diabetes and it’s really been playing havoc on her feet lately, so we headed over to the rental place. She figured she’d just get a motorized scooter and be on her way. Well, besides all the scooters being rented, they also cost $70.00 while a wheelchair only cost $12.00. I told her I’d be glad to wheel her around the park….of course, she had to endure me calling her “Ironsides” for the day. We got a good laugh out of it, if nothing else.
Then, the crowds. Originally, my mom wanted to go on Valentine’s Day (Thursday), but I figured it would be way too crowded so we moved it to Tuesday. In all honesty, I don’t think it made a difference. The place was jam packed and I was in a unique position to notice just how much people don’t pay attention to wheelchairs being pushed along the sidewalks.
Mom had been to the land of the Mouse before, but it was my sister’s first time and I think she really enjoyed it. I guess no matter how old you are (she’s only six years younger then me), it’s one place that can still make you feel like a kid.
Here are a few shots via the handy, dandy, camera phone….enjoy.
Until next time….
My mom and sister are visiting from Kentucky and, like many out-of-towners, they wanted to see “The Happiest Place on Earth”. No, not the closest gentleman’s club….I’m talking about Disney World.
My original intent was to come home and post about the day, but after walking around The Magic Kingdom for six hours….and pushing my mom around in a wheelchair, to boot….I’m just too beat to put something together.
Besides, I think it’s going to take me a few hours to sort and organize all the pics I took for this post. The above isn’t one I took, by the way.
Check back Thursday for some pictures from our Magic Kingdom journey and how I came to call my mom “Ironsides” for most of the day….