Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Holy Ginormous Gathering of Geekery, Batman!

…or, Jarret’s ComicCon 2009 report.

ComicCon (formally known as the Central Canada Comic Con, or C4, clicky) has grown leaps and bounds the last few years, exploding out of the confines of the tiny Victoria Inn and onto the vast expanses of the Convention Center’s entire second floor.

Much like last year’s ComicCon (clicky) the place was chock-a-block full of games, toys, demonstrations, artists, cars, and being that it was also Halloween, that meant scores of superheroes, video game characters, and villains – or at least everyday Joe’s dressed up as those types of individuals – walking through the Convention Centre in all their geeky glory.

And here I am… having totally forgotten to wear my Christopher Reeve Foundation Superman dog tag. I’m such a superstar.

ComicCon is FULL of everything a geek could want. There’s action figures, sports memorabilia, books, comics, swords, clothes, the industry’s artists manning the floor signing autographs and doing sketches, television and movie stars doing the same thing (well, none of them did any sketches that I know of), famous movie props, live demonstrations, board and video game tournaments and demos, and more.

Basically, being there is like having died and gone to Geek Heaven.

So let’s start off with the costumes.

Note: All pics link to bigger versions.

First up, we had a great Doctor Octopus from Spiderman lore, and a second picture of Doc with a young lady dressed up as Storm:

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There was also a tremendous Scarecrow, from the Batman series:

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And keeping with the Batman theme, there were plenty of The Dark Knight, and various other characters from the show (with Spiderman thrown in a fight sequence for good measure):

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The best costume of the show was this young man carrying his own head around (sorry for the blurriness), and an honorable mention goes to Pac-Man:

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Two of the major attractions of ComicCon this year were for the vehicles. We had the pleasure of seeing the Batmobile from the original television series, and a restored Echto-1 from the Ghostbusters film series.

Echto-1:

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The Batmobile:

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Also, there was a gentlemen there with custom art on this motorcycle… oh my… this was some of the absolute best stuff I’ve ever seen.

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And what would ComicCon be without the celebrities? Every year, C4 brings in many stars from the world of television, movies, pro-wrestling, as well artists from the Geekdom.

This year, we had the pleasure of meeting Alex Milne, who, if you’re a Transformers nerd like I am, this guy worked on several Transformers comic lines, and did the movie adaptation of the 2007 movie.

I bought a couple of his prints, and he also did a custom colored headshot sketch of G1 Optimus Prime. My very own! It’s AMAZING!

Here’s a shot of Alex signing my prints:

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And here’s a shot of the Optimus Prime he did for me!

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This year, celebrities included Peter Mayhew, the man in the Chewbacca costume in the Star Wars movies:

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We also got a shot of Julie Newmar, who was Catwoman on the original Batman:

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And here’s a shot of Steph and I with the Mayor of Quahog, the original Batman HISSELF: ADAM WEST!

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An additional to all the glitz and glamour, C4 is also a gigantic retail space for vendors of all kinds, selling their geeky wares. I try to score a special Transformer this year, and boy did I ever score this year: A Takara Masterpiece Megatron!

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Another huge success this year, and I can’t wait to see what they do next year!

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Dear Uncle Bill…

… I’m going to take the plunge.

Now, I’m sure you haven’t got any idea what I’m talking about, and really, I may not either, since I “took the plunge” three-and-a-half years ago, and life’s been great ever since, nor do I actually have an Uncle Bill.

So what’s up?

The Uncle Bill I refer to is none other than Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, who, among IT circles and in organizations with a lot of Windows machines and servers, has been affectionately – or in a way with a lot more negative connotations – referred to as Uncle Bill for as long as I can remember.

Now, as for the meat of this entry…

I frequent some message boards, as do a lot of us during our daily travels on the interwebs, and invariably there’s people posting about how to do this and that with their computer, talk about a glitch they’ve run into or problem they’re having, or outright bitch and moan because they’ve gotten the latest virus, and because they’re novice users, they end up wiping their machine and starting all over because they have no idea how to get rid of the virus.

In these forums where I feel most comfortable, I offer up support and advice when I can, and in a few places I’ve become at least a little respected for my opinion, but what really grinds my gears (TM Peter Griffin) is how the moment someone posts that they have a problem and it’s found that user is running Windows, the answer that’s given (with all seriousness intended) is “switch to Mac” or “switch to Linux”.

I’m not going to get into the great debate about how Mac and Linux are “bulletproof” and virus-free and all that jazz, because it’s incorrect. Their systems are a little more protected by default, yes, but even the most securely built system is going to be susceptible to attack, viruses, or other calamities if the person behind the keyboard leaves the front door wide open.

In short, an unprotected system is an open invitation for disaster, regardless of which OS is running on the machine.

I’ve always maintained that a system must be properly guarded and maintained, regardless of OS, or else these situations will inevitably arise, no matter how knowledgeable the end user may be.

So, to answer the “switch to <insert your favorite OS here> critics, I’m embarking on a challenge.

Windows 7 is about to be released, and I was fortunate enough to be chosen to host a launch party, complete with a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (thank you Uncle Bill!!) so here’s what I’m going to do.

Keep in mind, I’m not even that much of a hardcore Windows freak as a lot of others, especially after being exposed to Solaris and AIX through my work. I just want to do this for the hell of it.

The challenge?

When I get my copy of Windows 7, I’m going to install it on my primary machine, my laptop, and from then on, I’m going to make that machine a Microsoft-only machine.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?, you ask? Certainly I’ve gone mad!

You heard me. I’m going to run that machine on Microsoft-only software. If I need to do it, I’m going to do it with software Microsoft provides.

With a couple exceptions: a graphics program who-shall-not-be-named for web design, the freeware application Pidgin for multi-provider instant messaging, Apple’s iTunes for my iPod (for iPod management only; I’ll be using Windows Media Player for listening to music), and a piece of freeware I have for converting iTunes files to MP3.

Everything else? Microsoft only.

And in doing it, I’m willing to bet that by properly protecting and maintaining my system, the problems that these other Nancy-boys are having will be non-existent.

Take that, you nay-sayers!

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Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen PREMIERE!

So Steph and I got to go to the new Transformers movie on Monday night (THANK YOU ADAM WEST @ HOT 103!!). After 2 hours of waiting in line, we got our favorite seats (middle of the first row of the main deck), and settled in for the action!

There were two people that dressed up in Optimus Prime and Bumblebee outfits. Pretty cool.

Now, on to the movie.

I was going to do a giant long review and talk about the whole story of the movie, but then I figured I’d let y’all see it first-hand.

That being said, there are MILD SPOILERS within, so take that into consideration.

Ok.

The main plot of the movie sees Sam Witwicky with a remaining shard of the Allspark cube used to destroy Megatron at the end of the first movie. Touching the spark fragment plants all this Cybertronian information in Sam’s mind, and the Decepticons need this information to activate an ancient Transformers machine that will harvest the Earth’s sun for Energon. Of course, the Decepticons are opposed by the Autobots and the human military, now working as partners.

The cons (not Decepticons):

The same problems that plagued the first movie are back in this one. The comedy involved in this seems pretty forced and out of place. There’s some that works. But there’s some that doesn’t. Bumblebee crying over Sam leaving for college is akin to him peeing in the first movie. We also didn’t need to see Devastator’s testicles. Sam’s mom hopped up on special brownies had some good moments, but she was way over the top for the most part.

Slighty less than neutral but not horrible:

There’s a major plot point in the middle of the movie that I won’t spoil, but once it happens and the next few minutes pass, you instantly have the end of the movie generally figured out. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it does take some of the suspense away.

The neutral:

The twins. We talked in the other thread how a reviewer ripped the movie for the Autobot twins who were “overly stereotypically black”. I’ll leave that there. I didn’t think that. I said in that thread that if their characters were human, we wouldn’t have heard a peep out of anyone, and after seeing the movie, I still stand by that. There was nothing blatantly racist or intentionally offensive. My problem with the Twins was that they were a little overexposed – a little too much screen time, but they weren’t as bad as I feared.

The Transformers don’t really WOW us this time around – with the exception of Devastator, of course. It’s like we’re used to them being awesome, but that really helps with hooking you in and taking in the entire movie on the whole rather than just oooing and aweing over the robots.

The good:

As expected, the visuals were fucking outstanding, and likely won’t be beat any time soon. The Transformers looked AMAZING, and I think they even got better in the animations. The fight sequences looked smoother and much more realistic.

NO MORE MICHAEL BAY SHAKY CAM!!! We weren’t overloaded with close up quick shots and “live” on the spot documentation of everything going on. The cameras just pulled back and let us watch the story, and that made watching the movie SO much easier to watch. It was tremendous.

The fight sequences: As I mentioned earlier, the animation seemed so much more realistic. Everything was smooth, and seemed like a real streetfight. The robots were busting out arm drag takedowns, and the fights were off the charts.

The story. Not so “teenagerish” as the first movie. There’s actually about a dozen minor plotlines woven in throughout the main angle, and we get a ton of Transformers history thrown at us.

Overall:

The amazing visuals, improved story, and no shaky cam made this much easier to watch, and when you take everything into consideration, the great thing about this movie is that you’re totally, 100% sucked in. You’re hooked. The Transformers don’t really “stand out”, and I don’t mean that in a bad way – they don’t overpower is a better way to put it. They meshed in, and in watching this, they feel like they’re “supposed” to be there, and that helps the overall experience.

The visuals, action, and shooting locations all make this a gem to watch, and you didn’t feel like you were watching a “movie”. You felt like you were taking part in a truly EPIC adventure, and when it was over, I just sat in my chair for a few minutes, just stunned. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, I was *that* taken in by the whole spectacle.

If you can forgive some of the campy comedy moments, this movie is paced amazingly, and you can’t help but feel like you’re part of it. People were actually crying in the theater in certain parts. They were cheering in the fight scenes, and OHHHHHHHHHH’ing when huge sequences happen. It didn’t “feel” like it was over two hours long.

Rating:

If you take into consideration the comedy and some of the over the top bits, I have to give this a 9 out of 10. Truly a blockbuster.

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Dancing With The Stars

Well, ok… that post title may be a *little* bit misleading.

You see, I don’t dance a damned lick.

BUT, this post is all about the stars.

Today was Day 1 of the Manitoba ComicCon (clicky), and I gotta tell ya, it was a star-studded afair to be sure. There were tons of tv and movie stars known all over geekdom, and the people came out in droves to see them.

So, donning my Christopher Reeve Foundation dogtag, Stephanie and I braved the crowds to meet our favorites and peruse the merchandise.

The list of guests is on the site, but just to name a few: Smallville’s Justin Hartley and Erica Durance (Green Arrow and Lois Lane, respectively), Lou Ferrigno (the Original Incredible Hulk), John DeLancie (Q on Star Trek: TNG), Helen Slater (Supergirl), among many others. The ComicCon crew did a fantastic job of assembling a fine cast to grace us this year.

But before we get on with the stars (okay, I lied… this post isn’t ALL about the stars), the GeekDom was out in full force. With any kind of GeekCon, you have to expect that there’ll be people dressed up as their favorite actor/actress/tv show rep/alien/furry creature, and today surely didn’t disappoint. There were Jedi’s, superheroes of all sorts, video game characters, and fuzzy beings of all shapes and sizes. Take a look at some of these pictures that we took, and click on them for a bigger image:

Random Fuzzy Creature:

Indiana Jones

Halo’s Master Chief

We also saw a really hot girl (well, her body, anyways) in a black Spiderman suit, a girl dressed up as Wonder Woman, many Batman outfits, Jedi’s, Bobba Fett, and all kinds.

Did I say there were celebrites? Of course I did.

Our friends Angie and Karen joined us at ComicCon, and Angie is a gigantic Hulk fan, so she was there to see big Lou Ferrigno. The guy is still massive and looks like he hasn’t changed in 20 years. He has arms the size of my legs (well, almost). Did I say he was huge?

Here’s a pic of Lou at the autograph table:

Stephanie and I got to meet John DeLancie, who was AWESOME in his recurring role as “Q” on Star Trek: TNG. He was often the best part of the show, and he played his character very well. In person, he seemed a little eccentric – he made everyone wait while he gobbled down some yogurt, lol.

Our friend Karen, besides being a Star Trek geek, is also a monster Stargate fan, so we got a shot of her with Stargate star (that’s a lot of star in this sentence) David Palffy:

Now, on to the two big reasons we were starstruck today. Steph and I are big time Smallville fans (I’m a glutton for anything Superman, and it’s a great show), and ComicCon featured two of the show’s stars – Green Arrow and Lois Lane.

One thing I have to say… even though there was a huge line up, Justin Hartley (Green Arrow) is very personable guy. Seems very down to earth and guy-next-door. He had a big shiner under his left eye, and he took time to tell us the story of how he got the shiner working on a stunt on the show. Top-notch guy, and I’m glad we got to meet him. We were going to leave, and then Steph said we should go see him. Good call, hon. Here’s a pic of us with him:

Steph thinks he’s dreamy – black eye and all. ;)

The main reason I wanted to go today was to see Erica Durance. If Steph can think that Justin Hartley is dreamy, then I can think that Erica is smoking hot. And, I gotta say, she’s much better looking in person as compared to the show – and she’s AMAZING on the show. We got to talk for a couple moments, and one thing that struck me is that she’s a lot smaller in person than she seems on the show. She’s actually tiny. Did I say she was smoking hot? Here’s a pic of us with her:

We’ve got others, but then this post would be incredibly long, if it wasn’t already.

Did I mention Erica is hot?

And finally, we go to ComicCon for the merchandise. Steph dabbles in Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter, but she usually doesn’t buy anything unless she finds something really cool. This year, she didn’t buy anything, but came away with a really cool shot of her and a Yoda statue:

And for me, I always try to make one special Transformers purchase every year. This year, I made a HUGE score, with a boxed Japanese Masterpiece Skywarp! He was always my favorite of the Decepticon jets. Here’s a couple pics of the box:

So there you have it, ComicCon 2008. I’d say it was a huge success, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year. If you’re into any kind of video game, comic, movie, toy… I suggest you take this in if you can.

Good times.

And no dancing involved.

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More Than Meets The Eye

Held on the past weekend in Winnipeg, it’s the 2006 Manitoba ComicCon. I won GOLD passes from the radio, so it’s free admission, plus I got to go in 30 minutes before anyone else did. There’s tons of shit there – thousands of comics, all kinds of Star Wars, Star Trek, multitudes of other action and sports figures, and comic artists showing off their stuff. I of course went for the Transformers, and I picked up some good stuff…

Slugfest Cassette: (my wife actually bought this for herself):

Titanium Jetfire:

Titanium Optimus Prime:

Classics Optimus Prime:

And the score of the day: a 100% complete Metroplex

I ALMOST bought a boxed, complete Fortress Maximus, but I couldn’t part with the $500. I will be back next year though, and that sucker’s going to be mine. MINE!! I just wish I had a money tree growing in my backyard, cause there was all kinds of great stuff there.

Ah, there’s always next year.