Next weekend, I’ll be going to C2E2 in Chicago. Going to a comic convention in Chicago is something I haven’t done in years. Kathy and I used to go to the Chicago Comicon which was something I looked forward to every year until a couple of things happened:
1) It moved from the late great Ramada O’Hare to the Rosemont Convention Center, where it lost something in the move, and
2) Wizard bought it, and lost everything else.
I tried going a couple of times since, but it just wasn’t the same. And I would look at what they had to offer each year, with nothing to entice me into making the trip. And there were the other elements, like my employment situation and not wishing to travel from home too long. As Harlan Ellison noted in one of his “On The Road” CDs, I have everything I want at home, why would I leave all that to come here?
When C2E2 first started, I’d give them a look and see if it was worth giving them a try. One thing or another would prevent me from doing so.
And then one of my new year’s resolutions was to get back into the swing of fandom, which is something similar to what Tom Spurgeon over at the Comics Reporter site resolved. Sure, the internet has rose in the interim of my fandom hiatus, but there is no substitute for actually getting out there.
I have been preparing these past few weeks for my trip. I got my tickets months ago, just before they announced Peter Davison as a guest, making me glad for taking the plunge. I opted to stay at the Hyatt Regency on site, just in case Kathy decided to come along as well. When we did go to conventions, her favorite part was getting to the room where she could kick back and relax while I jumped in the fray. But she chose not to come along. This is the first trip I’ve taken without her in years. Sure, there was Clixcon back when I started this blog in 2004, but it’s been even longer. Used to when I would take a trip with my family, there were the letters sent daily chronicling my adventures, and the one phone call about halfway through. But thanks to cellphones and the internet, keeping in touch is better and faster. Looking forward to trying it out.
I bought a bag of holding messenger bag from Think Geek to carry my stuff, and with the sale they had going on at the time I got a holster thing to strap on my left leg to carry more stuff. And while we do have a suitcase, that is too much for just a weekend. We couldn’t find our duffel bag, but it was getting ratty, so I bought a new one. All of these purchases should come in handy on future trips, though.
Right now, I have an idea of what I’m wearing each day. Friday I plan to wear my Iron Man shirt with the glowing chest thing from Think Geek with my Simpsons Pin Pals bowling shirt, and Saturday wearing my Mooby shirt since Kevin Smith is appearing that day.
Wow, I’ve gone over 500 words and haven’t even gotten to the tips yet. Tune in tomorrow for more.

Toren Smith RIP

When I started this blog thing back in 2004, one of the things I promised to talk about was anime and manga. That hasn’t panned out as much as I would’ve liked. I don’t know, I really followed it back in the early 90s (even going to AnimeCon 91 and Anime America 93, the only two times I’ve made it to California) but having life pull me in other directions as it is wont to do.
Kathy and I got into Downton Abbey this year, catching up on the first two seasons before the 3rd season started on PBS. There were a couple of manga that would be interesting to fans of the show called Emma and Shirley, each featuring a housekeeper from Victorian England that are from the same creator. I had the first volumes of each, with plans to buy subsequent volumes if it struck my fancy (and as usual, God laughed by having TokyoPop go out of business and driving up the prices of the later volumes of Emma, and only releasing the one of Shirley, the manga Kathy preferred)
So it was that I read of Toren Smith’s passing (from James Hudnall) at the age of 52, not too much older than Kathy and me. Anybody that got into anime in the 80s and early 90s is aware of the path Smith blazed in getting anime and manga out here in the States, not only dealing with Japanese companies being presented with exporting to the US in numbers that were the equivalent of books they threw away from being spoiled or ruined in their print runs, to introducing a new element to a genre that was considered kid’s stuff, Smith is the one to thank for bringing anime and manga from a very narrow niche to a recognized subsection of fandom. Nowadays it’s considered cool to be a fan, wasn’t so much so back in the day.
And back before the internet took off, it was good to be one of those in the know to realize that not only was Smith immortalized in the Original Anime Video (OAV or OVA) of Gunbuster! Aim For The Top! as tragic romantic interest “Smith Toren”, but that it wasn’t a reversal of his name: in Japan, the surname is presented first. Nowadays, everybody online just rolls their eyes when you present that fact.

The Kidnapper’s Foil

A filmmaker spends 40 years travelling the country making the same movie over and over again called The Kidnapper’s Foil. Was it all a scam to hoodwink people, or was it more? It ended up being more. Between archiving the many different versions of the movie ending up like an archaeological discovery, with more being learned such as local dialects that are now preserved, to those who starred in one of the movies made discovering a new-found notoriety makes this a fascinating story.

Super Best Friends Forever Experiment

Originally posted at The Bird And The Bat.

I’m going to try a little Super Best Friends Forever experiment here. Warner Bros. have put out some fantastic shorts during their DC Nation programming block on Cartoon Network. They are evolving one of those into a series – Teen Titans Go! It’s almost a continuation of the old Teen Titans animated series but either way, sounds like fun. I know a lot of folks were hoping SBFF would also move on to a half hour series as well but from what I’ve been hearing, it’s not likely and my question is – why?
Warner Bros. don’t believe a “girls” show has the same selling power as a “boys” show and I’d like to prove them wrong. I’d point them to the huge successes that were Lauren Faust’s Power Puff Girls (EDIT for clarity, I know Craig McCracken created PPG, Faust also worked on the franchise. Sorry if I confused anyone!) and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic were, I’d tell them women make almost all the purchasing decisions for their household (specifically entertainment), that they are seriously underestimating how much parents spend on their daughters, and that children aren’t the only consumers of animated TV shows and their related products. I could do that but what I’d like to see right now is all of YOU do that.
Reblog or like this post if you’d not only watch a Super Best Friends Forever television show but buy products based on it. (Money talks, remember?) Add your own commentary or not but let’s see what the numbers say.

Fan Of A Fan Of Something

Remember the heady days of HBO, Showtime and others back in the early 80s? When it seemed like they would show certain movies over and over again. I’ve heard jokes about CHUD and Beastmaster being in heavy rotation, well worth the money you’d pay to get the channel.
Some people would watch certain movies more than they would otherwise because of their availability. Andrew Weiss first wrote about Grease 2, and his latest entry is about Tank.

Video Releases 8/7/12

There’s a lot of good movies coming out on blu-ray this Tuesday. If any catch your eye, each link will take you to the Amazon page where you can order it, and I’ll get a few cents to help keep the lights on around here.
First is the Adventures in Babysitting: 25th Anniversary Ed [Blu-ray]that is making it’s blu-ray debut. I’ve looked forward to seeing this film since I first saw the lobby display of the movie poster in the theatre lobby all those years ago. What caught me was Maia Brewton’s Thor helmet. Even better was the reason for her wearing it back in those dark days when comic book references in film was rare to non-existant. Even without that, you have an enjoyable story that was way better than the attempt The Sitter (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)made not that long ago. I read that Elizabeth Shue’s hot boyfriend was portrayed by Bradley Whitford pre-West Wing. Can’t wait to see that for myself. Prepare for other surprise appearances from before they were stars.
Also, there’s a couple of good John Cusack ones coming out this week that I plan to get. The first is High Fidelity [Blu-ray], or better known to me and a lot of people as the movie that put Jack Black who portrays a smarmy sarcastic clerk who works in Cusack’s store that cemented his on-screen personna. But while Black’s performance was a revelation, the story centers on John Cusack’s breakup with his live-in girlfriend and going over his romantic history to figure out what went wrong. While I don’t want to spoil the movie, I will say that Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe” plays over the end credits, adding discovering a beautiful song I didn’t hear before to everything else I liked about the movie.
The other John Cusack film I’m looking to get is Grosse Pointe Blank: 15th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] where Cusack is a hitman who goes back to his high school reunion. This was one of the two films about high school reunions that made me want to go to mine, but I didn’t pull the trigger until I went to the last one last weekend. The other is the plot point of Cusack’s old home became a convenience store that I got a kick out of because one of my boyhood homes was demolished to build a CVS Pharmacy. Look for Dan Ackroyd as a fellow assassin in the film.
Full disclosure: I am not getting any of the aforementioned discs from Amazon, as Best Buy is running the final week of their “Upgrade And Save” sale, where you take a pre-recorded (no porn) DVD to get a $5 credit on a blu-ray. I bought a bunch of $1 DVDs at WalMart to trade. They run this sale every 3 months, so I’m stocked up on trade discs to use in the future.
One disc I already ordered from Amazon because it looks like Best Buy won’t have it in store is Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion: 15th Anniv [Blu-ray] which came out the same time as Grosse Pointe Blank, this one with Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino as two BFFs whose lives didn’t turn out as planned who plan to attend their high school reunion.
And on the rental front, it looks like the Superman Vs. The Elite will be available on Netflix and Redbox, and I plan to watch it that way. And I plan to buy Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 (Blu-ray) when it comes out.
A very good week for videos, not so good for my wallet.

Summer Of 1982

From time to time, Ain’t It Cool News trumpets the fact that the Summer of 1982 was one of the best times for movies, either writing about them, or some event that is showing any of them on the list. I would agree with that assessment, especially combined with where I was at that point in my life and how I was enjoying them. Usually taking a road trip up to Kokomo to see them at the Kokomo Mall or Markland Mall cinemas. But here’s a list of them that includes more than genre selections. Take a look and decide for yourself.

Andy Griffith RIP

I was sad to read the news of Andy Griffith’s passing yesterday. Everybody has certain things that are a given that those around them should like, or at the very least, tolerate. Long time readers might guess some of the things it would be for me, but it might surprise some of you that The Andy Griffith Show is one of them for me. But as The Week points out, there are other things he should be known for. I haven’t seen A Face In The Crowd, but I’ve got it set up to record on my DVR. I don’t know if it’s because my family’s from the South, or my grandma loved the show as well. She had one relative that she quoted as saying he didn’t like it, but acknowledged that “he sure could whistle”. Yes, I know he didn’t whistle the theme song (it was composer Earle Hagen) but he did sing the theme song before the producers “decided to go in a different direction”:

And The AV Club has a list of 20 Wonderfully Irrelevant Andy Griffith Show Conversations. Yes, there were some times when it seemed like the show would take its sweet time telling the story or just marvelling at something that wasn’t much, which would probably cause some network executives to wig out in this era of No Theme Songs, They Might Change The Channel, Do Something Now, GoGoGo; but anyone with a lick of sense would point out that was what we liked. That’s what caused people to enjoy the show, to bond with the characters. As Griffith was quoted as saying, if it sounded like a joke, throw it out. That’s why the show is still on TV over 50 years later when even in the era of 500 channels the only other program of that era that can be found is I Love Lucy, even in black and white. Especially in black and white. Any Andy Griffith Show fan will tell you that the show jumped the shark when Don Knotts left and it went to color.
Mark Evanier has a good appreciation up that’s worth a read.