Category Archives: Books and Literature

SDCC 2017

SDCC was last month, and despite not getting tickets in the first round, I did manage to get a ticket again this year! I debuted a new full cosplay and a new pseudo-cosplay, which was very fun.

Antonio, gem, and I drove down Wednesday after work and had Berkeley Pizza for dinner. It was a short night, because we didn’t get down there early.

Thursday was the first time I wore my Tamatoa (the crab from Moana) cosplay. It was way too hot for it, but I enjoyed wearing it.

We met up with Tram and her friend Christian, and we spent most of the day with them. Maybe they’re good luck, because we got into Hall H for the first time. For reference, usually people line up overnight to get into Hall H. We heard an announcement that Will Smith would be in Hall H, which I just found silly. So what? It’s too late now. Antonio pointed out that maybe they announced it because it wasn’t full. He was exactly right. We walked right into the Netflix panel about Bright and Death Note. Will Smith was on the first half of the panel for Bright, and the whole thing was moderated by Terry Crews. It was pretty cool to be in there with them!

After Hall H, it was time for the Lick King’s Ice Cream Citadel! We got some tasty ice cream and posed with the Lich King! By then I was tired of my Tamatoa costume, so I changed into normal clothes because it was so hot. We had Greek fusion for dinner at Meze, at which we ate the last two years as well.

On Friday I wore my Magikarp Jump cosplay. It wasn’t 100% authentic at all, but it was fun. gem had the idea to use Boomerang for the video. Nice suggestion! We met up with our friends Krista, Kaitlyn, and David. I always run into Krista and Kaitlyn at the coolest places!

This was a day mostly for panels. I saw Robin Hobb: Beyond the Page first followed by Dare to Be Dynamite: Creative Vision with Pierce Brown, an author that gem loves. In the evening we watched a Mega64 panel and the Super Geeked Up Improv show, which was fun, although I wish there was more improv.

My favorite panel was Superstars in Children’s Fiction with Greg Grunberg, Lucas Turnbloom, R. L. Stine, Jarrett J. Krosocka, Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, and Molly Ostertag. We went because we thought it would be fun to see R. L. Stine, but we had no idea that Greg Grunberg, Parkman from Heroes and Wexley from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would be there and is now a children’s fiction author. He was super nice! We chatted with him after the panel, and when I asked to take a photo of him and gem, his son (I think) offered to take one of the three of us.

My favorite part of the panel was when Greg asked R. L. Stine about the future of Goosebumps TV shows or films. R. L. Stine said he couldn’t comment. Greg told him that he’d trade him information about the next Star Wars movies. Too awesome.

gem wore her Woody costume, which was modified since last year. Previously she tried to keep it authenticate. This year it was more interpretive with a dress. I think she rocked it!

On Saturday, Antonio and I snuck in as professionals to skip the line. Yay. gem took some cool photos of me by the water in my Tamatoa costume.

I had to fight Maui of course. Why wasn’t he transforming? “Well, well, well. Little Maui’s having trouble with his look…”

There were a lot of great Moana cosplayers! Thanks to gem for taking so many wonderful photographs 🙂 There are more on my cosplay page.

We went to another tokidoki signing as always where Simone signed my tokidoki x Overwatch notebook. We also chatted with Jaycee, who worked for tokidoki. She remembered us from previous years, and we followed each other on Instagram.

Let’s not talk about waiting in line over an hour for a Star Trek panel but not getting inside. At least I got to chat with some cool people in line!

Kaleigh joined us that night, although we split up for a bit. gem and I hung out while Antonio met with her at the train station. We all met up briefly, but then that evening gem, Antonio, and I went to see the best brothers around, the McElroys! We watched My Brother, My Brother, and Me live in San Diego! It was really fun to see them in person. Too bad we didn’t get to talk to them. I had a question ready to ask, but there weren’t microphones on the balcony where we were sitting unfortunately.

On Sunday I wore a tried-and-true cosplay, Fix-it Felix Jr.! During a panel, I ran into Erin, a Vanelope von Schweetz cosplayer! We took some photos together after the panel. Her car was super amazing!

After chatting with her, we went to a Disneybound panel with Leslie Kay, Kit Leitmeyer, Loni Clark, Neil A. Williams II, and Sara Katz-Scher. It was pretty interesting to hear about how they come up with their outfits.

I ended the convention at the Disney group shoot! It was organized by Robert T Photography, who also took the photo above. You can see more of his photos from the event here on Facebook.

One videographer took video of us for the end of his cosplay music video. I’m in it briefly at the end as I dance around 4:51, but I’m right in front so you can see me clearly, haha!

 

Look how amazing this little Dopey cosplayer was! He seemed to have a great time with the other Disney cosplayers.

Antonio took this photo of me and gem in her Steven Universe cosplay! I think she did a great job with this. A lot of Steven Universe cosplayers carry a ukulele just as a prop, but this cosplayer can actually play it! Yeah!

There are plenty more photos of my Fix-it Felix Jr. cosplay here.

On our way out of San Diego, we stopped at Kafe Sobaka Restoran Pomegranate for Russian dinner. This is the khachapuri, which was filled with delicious cheese. Oh my god, I definitely need to eat this again. I also had chanakhi (lamb stew) as my entree.

And for dessert, I had sweet vatrushka with sour cherry and farmer’s cheese. Yum!

Until next year, SDCC!

Looking back on 2016, and looking forward to 2017

I keep hearing about how awful 2016 was and how 2017 should hopefully be better. There were a lot of celebrity deaths in 2016, and I was devastated by the presidential election. More personally, I was laid off from Toshiba in a huge reduction-in-force, and my roommate had to put our two dogs to sleep. Yeah, there were negatives. And yet I’ll be lucky if 2017 lives up to 2016.

I traveled to Europe and saw eight countries with three of my closest friends, gem, Antonio, and Anela, and visited two great friends, Jessica and Andrew, who had recently moved to Paris. I saw Denmark, the UK (including England and Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Sweden. It was amazing, and I swear I’ll get to sorting photos and blogging eventually.

I saw Disneyland Paris and our hometown Disneyland’s Season of the Force. I attended Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary party that included a face-painted bar crawl and a 1920s speakeasy party. I saw Kristine’s first exhibit that she curated in LA – Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 70s.

I watched Anela dance a few times, including Shimmy Shakedown featuring her and Melissa. I saw the Wet Silk art exhibit, met Jon Klassen at the LA Times Festival of Books, and watched an LA KISS Arena football game.

The Holi Festival was a colorful blast of fun. Here I am with gem, Tory, Sean, and Nicole. I also went to the Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival!

I went to a number of photoshoots with Anela, including this Fourth of July shoot that I really enjoyed, a fairy photoshoot, cherry blossoms, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and train tracks in LA where I also got to shoot gem!

I took a bunch of friends to the Alpaca Hacienda for Anela’s birthday, and we got to see feed and pet alpacas and a llama!

I watched Sherlock Holmes and the Time Portal as well as Sweeney Todd, and gem surprised me with tickets to see Patton Oswalt. I’d been wanting to see his stand-up for a long time, and he didn’t disappoint. I had the three most amazing meals of my life – two at Frame in Paris and one for Edward’s birthday at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Pasadena.

I participated in a high-altitude sleep and cognitive ability sleep study at Barcroft Station, White Mountain Research Center where I witnessed some of the most beautiful views of nature I’ve ever seen. I saw the B-52s and Flight of the Conchords live as well as a number of local ska bands that I see regularly. I went to Allison’s awesome gaybut party and finally made it to one of Bryan’s parties where I participated in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve had in a while.

I cosplayed Luke while gem cosplayed Professor Layton at San Diego Comic-Con. I also cosplayed Fix-It Felix Jr., and a Pokemon Go trainer. I got to dress as a zombie later in the year as well! I attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary party and saw some improv such as Spectacles, ImprovCity, and more.

Two great friends, Gracie and Jon, got married, and I got to watch.

I worked for three months doing server and other hardware installation for California DMVs. While I was traveling across the state, I got to visit my friends Matt, Katie, and Marc. I also had the chance to have lunch with Chuck Sommerville, a game designer whom I’ve admired for a very long time. He’s incredibly fascinating and has done many interesting things, and he was every bit as nice as I could have hoped.

And I even got to meet Alex and Darnell’s beautiful new daughter, Meredith.

Now I’m sure I’m missing many awesome things about 2016, but that just proves my point. If 2017 is half as good to me as 2016 was, I’ll be very grateful. Happy New Year.

LA Times Festival of Books and Jon Klassen

LA Times Festival of Books

When Collin told me that he noticed Jon Klassen, an author and illustrator I really like, was going to be at the LA Times Festival of Books, I immediately told gem and made plans to attend. Among other works, Klassen authored and illustrated I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat.

LA Times Festival of Books, Jon Klassen

This weekend we headed up to USC to meet him. Klassen was really friendly, and we both enjoyed chatting with him. We showed him some Snapchat art gem made involving his characters and told him about the “I Want My Yoga Shirt Back” flyer gem put up at her yoga studio when she lost her shirt. He complimented her Snapchat art!

LA Times Festival of Books, I Want My Hat Back

Check out my sweet first edition copy now! Awesome. 🙂

LA Times Festival of Books, This Is Not My Hat

We even discussed how he hears his characters’ voices. Klassen said hears them all deadpan and imagines that if there were actors portraying his characters, they’d be the worst actors he could find. I love it! While they do all have different voices when I read the book, they’re all pretty deadpan too actually. I told him how I do voices and even made a puppet show. He asked me to send him a link to the performance!

It was a lot of fun. Besides meeting Jon Klassen, we also got to eat some Filipino food from a food truck and some Thai sweet sticky rice with mango. We played on some outdoor workout equipment and took plenty of photos and various little photo ops. There was even an archaeologist there answering kids’ questions. He had a dinosaur puppet with him that was half controlled by someone in a suit and half controlled by someone outside. The kids wanted to pet it – adorable! On our way out, we even ran into our friend, Katy!

Here’s my performance of I Want My Hat Back. It’s so embarrassing! I love this book so much, and it was a great pleasure getting to meet Jon Klassen!

The last day of gem’s twenties

gem's birthday

Last month we celebrated the gem’s birthday by celebrating the last day of her twenties! She wanted to do something that reminded her of her twenties (although we modified for out appropriate ages).

gem's birthday

We started with Jell-O shots! But as it was a work night, we started early… and used champagne. gem gave me the calorie count too, because that’s what’s important now, haha.

03

Dave & Buster’s was the perfect location for the celebration. We started with dinner (after snacking at her place). When gem couldn’t decide on a dessert, Edward and I insisted on ordering two.

gem's birthday

Squeezing into a photo booth, we did our best to all get in the frame. The birthday girl’s best wasn’t good enough. You’ll notice she’s the only one not visible in any of the photos.

gem's birthday

Round two was better. Now we can see gem! We’re a really gorgeous bunch.

gem's birthday

gem played some Kung Fu Pando Dojo Mojo by following along with Po and punching the sensors. She was a lot better than I was! We also played a few rounds of air hockey, some trivia, and my favorite – Pac-Man Battle Royale.

I think Anela’s ready to play professional football after this. She seemed to get into it! I played a game with Anela that involved hitting lit up sensors faster than your opponent that was pretty fun. gem and I also played a DDR knock-off. I didn’t catch the names of any of those games. Edit: Thanks, YouTube! It’s called Gridiron Blitz!

gem's birthday

After D&B’s, we headed back to gem’s to eat some macarons. We split them five ways, hence them looking all cup up and ugly here.

gem's birthday

It’s not a birthday without “Happy Birthday” hats! Most of us even sat up for the photo…

gem's birthday

Even some of gem’s stuffed friends joined in the celebration by wearing hats.

gem's birthday

Speaking of hats, my gift to gem involved hats in a way. These are characters from Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back.”

Okay, this is embarrassing. “I Want My Hat Back” is a children’s book that gem and I both like. I already had voices for every character, so performing it as a stick puppet was the next logical step. You should support Klassen by purchasing it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

It seems to me that gem ended her twenties with a pretty terrific night.

Thanks to 2015 and everyone who made it great

Crow on the lake

This was quite the year filled with many fun activities. It seems like a nice time for some reflection. I went to Michigan, which was beautiful, with Duncan. I’d never been that far north or east.

Niagara Falls

On that same trip, I left the country for the first time to visit Niagara Falls.

Lee's Palace

I also visited Toronto! It was an awesome city.

Holland Tayloe Gedney as Elsa

I went to San Diego Comic-Con again. Here I’m dressed as an Aquabat with Holland Tayloe Gedney’s Elsa.

The Aquabats!

It was also my first year cosplaying – not counting the Aquabats costume I’ve worn to SDCC previously for concerts. This is Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats (with the Aquabats)!

Snapchat magic by gem

And let’s not forget Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Bay Area friends

I visited friends in the Bay Area when I went to San Francisco for a conference.

SoCal Paddle Yoga

I did a lot of yoga, including paddle yoga. I started practicing yoga in the summer of 2014 and continued in 2014. Starting in June, I did yoga daily, never missing a day. I took over 130 yoga classes in 2015. My wrist is still healing but is feeling much better. I think the glucosamine sulfate (thanks to the pianist from Intergalactic Nemesis for the suggestion) and vertical mouse is helping quite a bit. I also hurt my knee, so for the past few months I’ve only been doing restorative or yin yoga. Honestly, I can see the good in this. I’ve learned to appreciate yin and restorative so much more, which helps give me a deeper understanding to my practice and myself.

dancing

Speaking of hurting my knee, I’ve also been dancing a lot more. I took 40-something dance classes this year. While I tried a lot of different areas, I like Balboa, Argentine tango, and Lindy Hop the most. I’m glad I have fun friends who like to go dancing.

Ooey Gooey Berry PieI baked an ooey gooey berry pie for Anela to celebrate the fact that she passed the bar. I also got to attend her bar admission ceremony and law school graduation. Folly at Dapper Day

gem and I went to the Dapper Day expo at Downtown Disney and to Folly, the afterparty.

gem on stage with Suburban Legends!gem and I were extras during the filming of The Big Day, and gem got this great photo of her with Suburban Legends. Free Comic Book Day and ImprovCity's Comic Book Day show!

I saw so much talent in my friends. This is Free Comic Book Day show at ImprovCity with my friend Alex Bower front and center. Besides some regular shows, I saw him in Scary Pants (which he wrote), Millennial Falcon at Second City, and HIStory/HERstory.

UntitledSpeaking of talented friends named Alex, I saw Alex Foster clowning around and got pulled on stage for more participation (just like the last clown show I saw before this one). Little Jimmy the Robot of the Aquabats

I painted a little Jimmy the Robot.

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_CoreI also painted this Adventure Time mug. Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

You have to see both sides.

That’s not to mention the cool Christmas gifts and cards I made this year. I haven’t given them all to their recipients yet, so I don’t want to show anything.

IMG_3833gem took me to a sushi class where we prepared sushi rolls! She’s the best 🙂Coup de Comedy 2015

We also saw Kindred Throats, an amazing musical comedy duo. She liked them so much, she baked them cookies. Twice.

Anela's graduation

I attended Anela’s law school graduation from Chapman.

bar admission ceremony

…and her CA Bar admission ceremony.

Kurios

gem and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS! Amazing!

Me and Anela at the Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show

I saw Anela dance a number of times, including the really fun Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show.

watson adventures

I helped solve a mystery at the Watson Adventures.

Blacklight Run

I ran (jogged/walked) a Blacklight Run with these two fun people.

Snow photo shoot with gem and Anela

I even got to see snow for the first time.

Heck, the year even started with my friends getting engaged.

I did so many other cool things too such as…

  • Reading all surviving plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides that I hadn’t read previously.
  • Having agents draft social media responses for me at work
  • Participating in a behavioral study
  • Becoming friends with Bryan Lackey, awesome ska trumpet player
  • Wakeboarding
  • Watching my brother perform in the Spectacles Improv Engine’s Student Showcase
  • Seeing a meteor shower
  • Attending a sand sculpture festival
  • Jogging/walking a Blacklight Run
  • Running the Walking Dead Experience
  • Seeing bands such as the Aquabats, the Interrupters, Starpool, Suburban Legends, LA Swing Barons, Imagine Dragons, Metric, Halsey, the LA Philharmonic, and Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox
  • Vacationing with my roommates and friends in Vegas
  • Swing dancing in Downtown Disney
  • Visiting the OC Fair and OC Night Market
  • Watching Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Lots of blogging (see my earlier post)

And I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a thousand things. Thanks to everybody who helped make 2015 such an amazing year.

Michigan Vacation

Cottage trip in MichiganEarlier this month, I spent a little over a week in Michigan with a day in Canada. Duncan visits family there and asked if I wanted to come this year. Of course! We stayed with his dad, Dan, who was incredibly accomdating. I’d met him previously, but it was nice getting to know him as well as Duncan’s brother, Griffin. There’s a sense of humor that runs in his family I think. After a layover in Denver, we arrived in Detroit early Saturday morning, went back to Dan’s house, and slept for a bit. That evening, we spent some time seeing Ann Arbor. Fairy doors of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor has these little fairy doors scattered around the city. We only saw one, but they seemed pretty interesting to me.

Fairy doors of Ann Arbor

You can read about them at Wikipedia’s Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor. If I went back, I’d spend more time looking for the others. University of Michigan We spent some time walking around the University of Michigan, which was pretty cool. I saw Tau Beta Pi’s Bent and had to get a picture with it! Ann Arbor had a really cool downtown area and was a great city overall. The weather was nice too; it was the first time I had ever been that far north or east, so it was quite a bit different. The day we landed, the high was about 15 degrees lower than Irvine’s low. Cottage trip in Michigan

On Sunday we left for the cottage. We spent a lot of time visiting cities near it, eating, taking in the sights, and playing board games. I like how quickly Dan and Griffin learned our inside jokes. Oh, Loaded Questions’ “Duncan questions.” There’s another picture of the cottage at the top of this post.

Cottage trip in Michigan

I know this isn’t a fantastic shot or anything, but it was cool seeing so much of the night sky there. Crow on the lake The cottage was right on the lake, so it seemed like a beautiful spot for some yoga. Thanks for the photo, Griffin! It was really amazing seeing the changing colors of the trees too even if they weren’t fully changing yet. I felt like every day I’d be amazed all over again. skipping stones One of the highlights (yeah, it was a highlight!) was learning to skip stones on the lake. Simple, yet fun. Mackinac Island

We visited Mackinac Island after driving to the Upper Peninsula, which was pretty cool. It was a fort used in the Revolutionary War (among other wars). It seemed surreal to be thinking about the Revolutionary War.

Mackinac Island

Cars weren’t allowed on the island, but there were plenty of horses. Oh, and there was fudge. I bought two pounds of fudge to take home. Unfortunately, most of it’s gone by now. Mackinac Island

Every fort needs some cannons.

Mackinac Island

Did you know that this region has black squirrels? Black squirrels! Mackinac Island

The island had plenty of trees.

Mackinac Island

Here’s a shot of me while I was there. Thanks, Duncan.

Mackinac Island

Birds totally bore me at zoos, but I learned that I like taking photographs of them. This guy really wanted our fudge. Lighthouse visit

During our mini-vacation to the cottage, we also visited this lighthouse.

Lighthouse visit

It was just a tad foggy but very beautiful.

Jackie and Kenneth

After returning to Ann Arbor, we met with Jackie and Kenneth. I know I should have visited sooner, but at least I did eventually!

Jackie and Kenneth

We all went out to eat at the Jolly Pumpkin, which was amazing, except I ate way too much pizza. It was really wonderful talking with Jackie and Kenneth again. I’m glad it just felt like old times. It’s funny how many nights I spent talking with Jackie back in college. It makes me all nostalgic!

Robot Supply and Repair

Duncan and I had to represent Robot House by doing the robot in front of Robot Supply and Repair.

Graffiti Alley

We also saw a ton of cool street art!

DetroitOn Thursday, Griffin got us lost in the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. I thought we might have to live there when the elevators wouldn’t let us back out. Detroit

What’s with Detroit and secret places? We walked all around Slows BBQ before realizing this was the door.

DetroitAt the John K. King Used and Rare Books store, I bought a book called The World of Odysseus. I’m excited to read it! White Castle

That night we had White Castle for dinner. Um, you know how frozen White Castle food sucks? The fast food joint is actually pretty tasty! Granted I felt sick the next day (as I was told I might), but I’ve already found myself craving it again.

Niagara FallsIt was time to head to Canada on Friday! I hadn’t left the country before this and was super excited. Even if Canada isn’t that culturally different, it was still thrilling. I rented a car, and we started by going to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls

See, I guess I like birds now.

Niagara FallsI was surprised that it wasn’t louder. It was breathtaking though. Give California some of that water, jerks. Niagara Falls Here’s me and Duncan courtesy of a friendly stranger. Duncan had been to the US side before and said the view was much better from the Canadian side. Niagara Falls

Before driving to Toronto, I had some coffee and a Canadian Maple donut from Tim Horton’s. I had to be cliche. It was good, and there really are a ton of Tim Horton’s in Canada.

Dr. MarioToronto doesn’t make a big deal about this, but apparently Dr. Mario lives there. Amazing. Lockhart We had dinner and drinks at The Lockhart, a bar inspired by Harry Potter. The food was good, and the cocktails were amazing. I had The Captain Picard, “(2oz)Earl Grey Infused (Bombay) Gin, Agave, Lime, Tonic,” and a Cafe Moscow, “(3oz)Espresso infused Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, Agave, Choc. Sprinkles (opt.), Coffee Bitters.” Untitled

The next day we spent most of the day looking for sights from Scott Pilgrim, although we also went to the University of Toronto and a few other places.

Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom is a record store at which Scott Pilgrim shops. It was pretty cool, and I bought a shirt.

Toronto Public LibraryHere’s the library at which Scott sees Ramona rollerblade up the counter. Park

This park was used in the movie, although there was a lot of post-production done on the scene.

UntitledWhile not super recognizable, the house with the bit of blue was used at Scott Pilgrim’s place in the film. Casa Loma

Casa Loma was where Lucas Lee was filming in Scott Pilgrim.

Casa LomaThink I could do a grindy thingy on that rail? Pizza Pizza Scott Pilgrim and friends eat at Pizza Pizza, and now I do too. Not bad. Pizza Pizza

Pizza Pizza also served poutine, which killed two birds with one stone.

Lee's Palace

Lee’s Palace is where Sex Bob-omb opens for The Clash at Demonhead. We didn’t go inside, but it sure had an awesome exterior!

Lee's Palace

Here’s one final shot for the vacation, me standing outside Lee’s Palace.

It was such a great trip! I wish I could have done more, but honestly, we really packed a lot into the vacation.

I have plenty more of my photographs posted on Flickr, and I’ll have more up on social media too. Thanks to everybody who made the trip great – Duncan, Dan, Griffin, Jackie, Kenneth, and a lot of others!

September! 30 yoga classes, 24 dance classes, 12 dances, and lots of friends

 

atomic ballroom

Happy October! While I didn’t get as much reading done in September as I wanted, I did a lot of other things. I took 30 yoga classes in 30 days at Purple Yoga, which was fun! When I realized I was close, I decided I could totally do it. And it was easy!

dancing

I also got the New Student Special at Atomic Ballroom, giving access to unlimited classes for a week. I took 24 dance classes and went to 12 dances, including evenings at Atomic Ballroom, Folly at Dapper Day, and dancing in Downtown Disney. You can see a lot of wristbands in the photo at the top. Alicia took this great photo one of the nights we went to Atomic. Yoda tried to squeeze into the photo too.

Atomic

I don’t know who Cynthia is, but I’m stealing Luke’s Snap since I’m in it too.

I tried 6-Count Lindy Hop, 8-Count Lindy Hop, Salsa, Country Two Step, West Coast Swing, Country Line Dancing, Collegiate Shag, Bolero, Foxtrot, Milonga, Argentine Tango, Cha Cha, and Charleston classes. I already like Lindy Hop, and it’s still my favorite, but I found that I really enjoyed Argentine Tango and Country Line Dancing too – all for completely different reasons. Oh, and I might have tried to belly dance too. There’s totally no video. Thanks gem, Anela, Luke, and new friends for making the week fun! I ran into old friends and acquaintances and met a lot of new, cool people at Atomic too.

And I did squeeze in two tragedies by Euripides and some of The Aeneid as well as picking up Super Mario Maker. My body’s ready for tomorrow’s vacation! Time for Michigan with Duncan! I’m going with him on his yearly trip, leaving Friday and returning a little over a week later. Plans include a cottage, dinner with old friends, Canada, Niagara Falls, and Detroit – a nice combination of staying busy while also resting. Let’s go!

 

San Diego Comic-Con 2015

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 was super awesome! It was my first time cosplaying besides wearing my Aquabats costume one day last year, and it was really fun. My favorite part of these conventions has always been looking at the cosplayers and getting photos with them; it’s interesting to participate now. I attended with gem and Antonio as usual. I cosplayed an Aquabat, Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats, and Fix-It Felix, Jr. from Wreck-It Ralph while gem cosplayed Sadness from Inside Out, Woody from Toy Story, and Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph. Here are some of the cosplay highlights! Thursday I wore my Aquabats costume. It made the most sense because I was going to their concert later that night. 19679329421_208dc2019a_o The first photo I was asked to join was this one, shot by Kenneth Yeast. They were posing near me actually! The photographer took a photo of my business card and was nice enough to e-mail me the photos. From left to right, that’s me, @freeddc, @kaitlynfreed, and @lilbelle74 from Instagram. I’ve seen them on Instagram through Aquabats tags and concerts for a while, so it was especially cool to get photos with them. Aquabat and Elsa at SDCC 2015

This is @hollandtayloegedney (Instagram) who won an award this year for her Elsa cosplay. She was really nice, and it was fun talking to her.Aquabat, Finn, and Fionna at SDCC 2015

After I posed with Finn and Fionna from Adventure Time, gem worked her Snapchat magic to turn them into Aquabats!Aquabat versus WalkerWalkers can’t stand the might of an Aquabat.Aquabat, Joker, and Harley at SDCC 2015


I wouldn’t want to be hit with that hammer! Aquabat and Dangerous Pixie Harley Quinn at SDCC 2015
*boink* Ow, my head! Edit: When I first posted this, I didn’t even realize that was Dangerous Pixie!Daredevil and Aquabat at SDCC 2015


I also met my favorite hero, Daredevil! Edit: This is Tony Rios, @EL_LOBO209Aquabat headstand at SDCC 2015
I got in some yoga too.Aquabat crow at SDCC 2015


And a little more. On Friday I cosplayed Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats.Professor Monty Corndog of the Aquabats
While in line for a panel, some Aquabats lined up behind me.Professor Monty Corndog, Woody, and Minions at SDCC 2015


Woody (gem) and I posed with some minions too!

Clay Carmine of Gears of War chainsawed me in the neck! gem performed some Snapchat witchery again. Professor Monty Corndog of the Aquabats
Professor Monty Corndog of the Aquabats meets Professor Utonium of the Powerpuff Girls!Professor Monty Corndog and Breaking Bad at SDCC 2015


Breaking Despicable? I guess this minion found someone despicable to follow. When I asked for a picture, Jesse said “yeah, bitch.”Professor Monty Corndog of the Aquabats
And here I am with the Aquabats! Professor Monty Corndog is much more obscure than just the Aquabats costume, so I knew no one would really recognize it. Luckily the Bat Commander said, “Professor Monty Corndog… is that you?” It was so worth it to get this photo with them!

My final cosplay was Fix-It Felix, Jr. from Wreck-It Ralph, which I did on Saturday and Sunday.

Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015


More Snapchat voodoo from gem. I really love this.Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 with Mario Kart
Here I’m fixing up this kart. Awesome Mario Kart cosplays!Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 with Companion Cube and Chell


I also fixed this adorable Companion Cube while posing with her and Chell.Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 with Maleficent
Speaking of adorable, isn’t this Maleficent just the cutest? I think this was my favorite cosplay of the con. My heart kind of wants to explode.Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 with Fix-It Felicia


I high-fived Fix-It Felicia!Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 with luchadores
Later I got in a wrestling match.Fix-It Felix, Jr. at SDCC 2015 and the Flash


I even tried to fix the Flash right in the head!

I wasn’t in costume for these, but I saw some cool cosplays while I eating dinner too.Seymour Krelborn at SDCC 2015
Feed me, Seymour! Feed me all night long! Check out that Audrey II!Globo-Gym Purple Cobras at SDCC 2015


I couldn’t resist a photo with the Globo-Gym Purple Cobras!

Woody and Dhalsim
gem even did yoga with Dhalsim!

The Aquabats concert was amazing. Here they performed a cover of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind. They also showed a video they’re going to pitch to TV execs to try to get The Aquabats! Super Show! picked up. It showed the MCBC begging a cloaked wizard to help. He reveals himself to be Jack Black, absorbs the Commander’s powers, and transforms into an Aquabat. He agrees to help and talks about how we’re all Aquabats before using his magic to transform a bunch of celebrities into Aquabats, including Weird Al Yankovic, Tony Hawk, and more. It was very cool.

Aquabats Set List


They even signed my set list!

The MCBC
I also met this guy who isn’t wearing a costume because he’s a regular guy. It couldn’t be the Bat Commander. The Bat Commander doesn’t wear normal shirts like that. He was really nice, and he talked with me about getting more involved with the Aquabats. It probably helped that gem gave him a bunch of snacks! And speaking of gem giving snacks, she gave care packages to other people, such as Todd from Toddland. He was super cool. Technically gem got his number!

gem and Allie Brosh


We saw Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. Her panel was moderated by Felicia Day, and it was super great. gem gave Allie some cookies and snacks, and Allie was very appreciative and nice. They hugged and took a photo together. We also saw a panel about Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Invader Zim. He was very down to Earth and discussed how scary it is that some people identify with parts of his crazy comics.Aquabat and walkers
We ran the Walking Dead Experience, and I did it in my Aquabats costume. It was really fun.

We arrived in Petco Park as survivors, and someone escorted us inside, claiming it’s safe. Of course, walkers showed up, and we had to run. They’re all played by volunteers who couldn’t really hurt us, but I got into it and definitely ran hard and dodged walkers. Eventually we met a second group of survivors who weren’t as friendly. They killed our leader when they found out we didn’t have supplies. Our talks were cut short when walkers approached, and we all had to run again. At the end, they decided to cull the weak. They chose someone from our group to kill, and it ended up being Antonio. They had him kneel as they raised a club to kill him. Luckily for him, walkers arrived once more, and we ran for it. Antonio said that as the walkers arrived, someone (presumably staff) lifted him to ensure he didn’t get trampled. It was so much fun!19648644496_d9eee621fa_o


Let’s see… what else. We ran into Bryan Lackey, a fantastic trumpet player. I know him from Skapeche Mode and Failed to Victory. He was really friendly and stopped to chat with us for a while before taking a photo and friending us on Facebook!

Spaceship Warlock
We also went to an art exhibit called Super Video Game Land by Anthony Bulcao at the Mission Brewery. He paints scenes from video games and is really talented! He had two painting from Spaceship Warlock, an old adventure game I loved as a kid. I was most excited for those two. He said he wasn’t confident about including them, and that I was the only person who talked to him about them. I’m glad I did!

I also participated (badly) in a kazoo and ukulele play-along, met Rikki Simons, voice of Gir (and more) from Invader Zim, played games at the Nintendo Lounge, and sang along with gem while she played Martian Girl in a line. Such an awesome weekend!

I know they’re not going to read this, but thanks to all the people who asked for photos and appreciated my cosplay – the Aquabats group photo, the jedi, the dude with the swords, and the three or four other people who liked my Aquabats costume, and the Nintendo employee, Quailman, the little Captain America, Ariel (who was excited and wanted a photo after I asked her first), and the other 14 or so people, especially the little kids, who liked my Fix-It Felix, Jr. It made me very happy!

Welcome to Goon Holler!

Welcome to Goon Holler

Welcome to Goon Holler, a new book from Parker and Christian Jacobs, came out a few days ago, and today there was a signing at Barnes & Noble in Huntington Beach. These two guys are amazing: Christian Jacobs is the frontman of The Aquabats, and Parker, his brother, is the frontman of GOGO13. They’re also responsible for The Aquabats Super Show! and Yo Gabba Gabba! (What a rad family, because their brother Tyler is one of the creators of CinemAttack!)

I forgot to add when I first posted this that I came across a really great interview with Parker Jacobs. Check it out.

An Interview with Parker Jacobs!, Anthony Sansone, 11/12/14.

Welcome to Goon Holler

Here Christian is reading the story, standing in front of the table, while Parker sits and provides voices.

Welcome to Goon Holler

Look at that turn out!

Welcome to Goon Holler

When we lined up for autographs, a kid behind us wanted to try gem’s ukulele. I think she was a little worried, and he was a little rough, but it was fine! Speaking of ukulele’s, I knew that Parker uses one in GOGO13, but I wasn’t expecting him to bring one and play it at the signing. Now that would have been cool all by itself, but in addition, there was a ukulele song with chords in the book! Super rad!

Welcome to Goon Holler

There was a family in front of us with four kids. We had a good time chatting with them. The woman was actually the singer in Los Pantalones, a band that contained a lot of people that later went on to form Save Ferris!

This is her daughter, Scarlett, who was very sweet. She looks like such a natural with gem’s ukulele. (Also, check out that awesome cats-in-space dress.

Later while we were in line, we ran into our friends Remy and Tawney who run Pizza Beat Entertainment (of It’s a Ska World). I love running into people I know from the ska scene.Welcome to Goon Holler Signing

Here I am with Tooba the hungry bigfoot (from the book) and two of the three Parker brothers! Parker told me that he and Christian are like peanut butter and chocolate. I asked how Tyler fit, and after thinking about it, he said that Tyler is the wrapper that holds them together.

San Diego Comic-Con Day 0 and Day 1: John DiMaggio, Martian Girl, the Aquabats, Geek & Sundry, and more!

Day 0 – Wednesday

We headed to San Diego on Wednesday after work. After checking in at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter, we took the shuttle to the Town & Country to pick up our badges. By the time we got back downtown, we were feeling hungry and at the Meze Greek Fusion. It was amazing! So many tasty things to eat. We ordered a ton, and everything was great.

Day 1 – Thursday

We started the day with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Literature panel that included Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) and Marie Lu (Legend). It was pretty interesting.

We also headed to the I Know That Voice: Insights from the Cutting Room Floor panel. I hadn’t heard of I Know That Voice, but it’s a documentary produced by John DiMaggio (voice of Bender, Finn, and a bunch of other cool characters). It was really awesome to hear them talk about voice acting. gem even got a high five from John DiMaggio!

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We tried lining up for a panel about NASA, but we didn’t get into it. Buzz Aldrin was there! Too bad I didn’t get to see him. However, there were people dressed as knights battling outside, and gem met one.

Martian Girl

Martian Girl

When we were done with SDCC for the day, we headed to the House of Blues for the Aquabats concert! The Aquabats have a song called Martian Girl about a green-skinned, blue-haired Martian. This woman was cosplaying as the Martian Girl, and she was nice enough to take a photo with me. She looked amazing!

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I also posed with the Battle Tram of course! The Aquabats played with Koo Koo Kangaroo as part of their twentieth anniversary tour. It was a great show! I bought a 20th anniversary tour t-shirt too. Antonio escaped to the back when the Aquabats took to the stage and the shoving started. I stayed with gem for a while but then let the crowd push me around. I also joined the circle in the back to do some moshing.

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There was a battle on stage too as usual.

I had to record it.

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After the concert, we showered and then headed to the Geek & Sundry Lounge for drinks and dancing. Now I’m best friends with Wil Wheaton. (Or it might have been a cardboard cut-out. Who knows?)

Check out my other adventures!

Valentine’s Day comics

Happy Valentine’s Day! My Valentine was Alakazam Comics! Okay, it actually had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but I went to check if I had anything to pick up. The clerk usually asks for my name, and I just give “A-N-A-R.” One in particular always asks in a way that implies he’s trying to remember even though I never expect them to know my name. However, today he said, “it starts with an ‘A’, right?”

I said, “yeah, and it’s a long one.”

He replied, “right, it’s… A-N-A-R… G-I-R-O-U?”

I was pretty surprised honestly.

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And then I was more surprised because I didn’t realize that Serenity: Leaves on the Wind had released! It’s the first Serenity comic (or any media) to depict the events after the film. Sweet.

bookshelf

In unrelated news, I also reorganized my bookshelves. They fit a lot more books when the books aren’t placed all haphazardly.

Besides that, I also played some games, watched some TV, and watched Smokin’ Aces. Fun day.

Scalzi’s Redshirts will be an FX limited series

FX Adapting ‘Redshirts’ Scf-Fi Novel As Limited Series, Nellie Andreeva, Deadline, 2/7/14 via John Scalzi’s The Whatever.

Exciting news! John Scalzi’s novel, Redshirts, is set to become a series on FX. Redshirts is about a group of red shirt-wearing people on a spaceship that realize they’re always the ones to die and that their lives follow strange rules. Eventually they realize that a TV show from hundreds of years earlier seems to be ruling their lives. It was a very fun novel, and I’m looking forward to the TV show now!

Scalzi seems to have a lot happening. Old Man’s War, another of his novels, is being made into a movie. In addition, he did the writing for an upcoming iOS first-person shooter called Midnight Star and its interactive graphic novel tie-in, Midnight Rises. And we can’t forget that he’s one of my favorite authors and bloggers. There’re lots of Scalzi-related things about which to be excited!

Goodreads | Peter Anargirou’s 2013 Year in Books

Goodreads | 2013 Year in Books.

I read 32 books last year according to Goodreads. Boy, a lot of it was crap.

Six books were for teens – Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, the last two novels of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, and a novelization from Surviving High School (the iOS visual novel I play a lot) by M. Doty, How to Be a Star.

Thirteen were actually episodic releases of John Scalzi’s The Human Division. It was later released as one novel.

Four were short stories (and most weren’t great) – The Time Traveler’s Wife, Skinny Bitch, Dead(ish), and I Will Be Your Dominatrix.

Two were based on World of Warcraft – Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and Stormrage.

The other eight were more substantial – The Ocean at the End of the Lane, John Dies at the End, This Book Is Full of Spiders, The Time Machine and the Invisible Man, The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

I’d talk about which ones I liked, but honestly, I really enjoyed a lot of them. It was nice to see John Scalzi return to his Old Man’s War universe with the Human Division, and I really liked the episodic release. John Dies at the End and its sequel, This Books Is Full of Spiders were both fun. I really loved Kafka’s stories, as weird as they were. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for teenager dystopian novels.

Christmas time!

Christmas Tree

Christmas time is always great! I hadn’t really talked about it yet at all, so I’ll mention everything briefly in this post! Even though I was taking my family’s presents to my aunt’s house, I kept them under my tree. I like having a lot of wrapped gifts under the tree.

Ready for the Aquabats!

I went to two Christmas shows. The first was the Aquabats holiday show, which I talked about previously. They played with Emily’s Army and Kepi Ghouli; it was a great show.

Gogo13

After I posted some photos of the show on Instagram, user gogo13band liked some of my photos. The user’s description says they’re the “literal brother band” of the Aquabats. I looked into them, and it turns out that the lead singer of the Aquabats’ brother is the lead singer of a ska band called GOGO13. They played with the Vandals and Knock-Out at “The Vandals 18th Annual Christmas Formal.” It was a great show too! The Vandals played music from their album Oi to the World!

The Beet Goes On

Alex and Darnell were in Brea at her parents’ house, so I came to visit too. Devin and Lorena gave me a bottle Beet that they infused themselves! It came with recipes for two mixed drinks. That photo is of a drink called The Beet Goes On, which was great!

Bread and lemon curd

Alex and Darnell gave me cranberry orange bread and homemade lemon curd. Wow, it was all so delicious! I put blueberries in the lemon curd a couple times, but it was so flavorful and tasty that I definitely ate a lot without anything extra!

snuggie

gem gave me a Snuggie and The Geek’s Guide to Dating. While I haven’t read much of the book yet, it’s pretty interesting and funny too. gem knew I wanted a Snuggie and called a bunch of stores trying to find one. She could only find one store that had any in stock, and when she got there, she could only find a single Snuggie. She told me I could exchange it because of the print, but I definitely wanted to keep it. It’s very comfy 🙂

Mitch

I spent Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house and Christmas day at my parents’. Here’s my cousin, Mitch, collecting all the gifts to him in one place so he could open them quickly.

I got all my cousins board games. I gave Apples to Apples, The Logo Board Game, and Munchkin Legends. On the subject of board games, I also bought Edward Arkham Horror. My brother got a video game from me instead – Super Mario 3D Land. I gave gem a Tokidoki x Sanrio clutch.

Cirque du Soleil's Totem

I also took gem to see Cirque du Soleil’s Totem. I talked about that yesterday, but it was excellent!

New jacket

Edward gave me a new leather jacket! I was very surprised, and it’s pretty great. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a leather jacket.

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On the subject of unexpected gifts, my brother got me a Harman/Kardon soundbar and subwoofer. I was pretty amazed. It’s connected to my TV, and I’m listening to it right now. When it put it on top of the TV stand in front of the TV, it blocked the IR receiver on the TV. I moved it to the shelf underneath, which looks a little odd but works. It’s a great sound system! Notice the bow on the present? My mom added that.

Sumo

Duncan moved the bow to Sumo. He’s quite festive with it.

Dogs

We tried to turn the box into a dog house, but Angel and Sumo really didn’t want to hang out in it. We’ve put their beds in it, hoping that would entice them to enter. Well, they’re not really going for it.

Anyways, that was my Christmas time! Yay!

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

Before I do anything else, maybe I should explain the title of this post. John Dies at the End is a great comedic horror novel written by David Wong, a pseudonym for Jason Pargin. It got more attention when it became a movie, although the general public probably isn’t aware of it. You should be though, because it’s really fun. (And really, the novel is so much better. Go read it!)

On October 14, the John Dies at the End Facebook page linked to this recipe for Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes inspired by the book/movie. In the novel, there’s a street drug that’s called Soy Sauce because it’s black like soy sauce. It kills most people who come into contact with it, but it also gives some “lucky” individuals the ability to see things that most can only see out of the corners of their eyes – shadow men, monsters, etc.

The recipe does actually use a bit of soy sauce, but I suspect the tiny amount was really just an excuse to tie the cupcakes to John Dies at the End. That’s okay with me.

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

Sorry for the terrible iPhone photography. I’d never really baked besides ruining some pies with a friend back in high school, so I decided to take a try at it. There’s chocolate on top of the cupcake, but you can’t really see it under the delicious raspberry sauce. They turned out really well. They weren’t necessarily amazing, but I was very happy with them, and they were fun to make.

John Dies at the End Vegan Chocolate Soy Sauce Cupcakes

This also reminded me that the sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch It, was released slightly over a year ago. Why had I never read it if I loved the original so much? I don’t know, so I bought it and read it. I prefer the first, but the second was great as well. I hope we see a film adaptation of this as well as more novels in the future.

San Diego Comic-Con 2013

Hotel roof view

With San Diego Comic-Con 2013 behind me, I better hurry and talk about it before I forget. It was an amazing convention as usual. I had so much fun. SDCC is a great combination of so many forms of popular culture. I’ll be talking about most parts of the convention here, but I’ve already posted about anything related to video games at Polygons and Pixels. You can also view my photo album on Flickr.

We stayed at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter very close to the convention center itself. There was a bar on the roof called Altitude Sky Lounge that gave a pretty nice view. The photo above was taken there. The bartender and bouncer were both cool, and I had a John Daly and glass of wine. I’d never heard of a John Daly before, and it was delicious. I’ll definitely order them in the future. We enjoyed some conversation, a view of San Diego, and the fire before going downstairs to meet with our friend Mike.

Mike lives in San Diego, and we wanted to make sure to hang out with him, choosing to do so on the very first night. He took us to University Heights, which is the area in which he lives. He pointed out a great Mexican restaurant to us, El Zarape. As it turns out, we ate there before leaving Comic-Con last year! Anyways, that’s not where we ate. We went to the Soda & Swine, a fantastic meatball restaurant. It’s connected to Polite Provisions, a bar next door, so I took my meatball sub there to eat. I also had another glass of wine, and then I couldn’t resist an order of more meatballs à la carte as well as a delicious slice of pie. Next Mike took us to a local bar, Small Bar, that’s very popular. It seemed like a cool enough place and definitely more of a dive bar. I didn’t order anything because apparently three drinks is more than enough for me now.

After hanging out at Small Bar for a while, we walked back to Mike’s apartment. We hung out a little bit, and he showed gem his drums. I think I just slept on his couch. After a little bit, and I can’t specify exactly how long, he drove us back to our hotel.

Thursday!

What's on her head?!

The first thing we did on Thursday was head to the exhibit hall, going up and down the aisles to look at everything offered. gem found this nice octopus that was definitely not a hat, but that didn’t stop her. I bought a book called Home for a Bunny. I’m a sucker for children’s books. (Interesting fact: That was the only thing I purchased besides food and drinks at SDCC!)

Bump it!

gem stopped by Kid Robot to work her chalk magic on a huge Dunny!

The first panel we attended was Ode to Nerds, which was about science fiction authors and their relationship to geek and nerd culture. It featured io9’s Charlie Jane Anders as the moderator eith Cory Doctorow, Chuck Palahniuk, Patrick Rothfuss, Austin Grossman, D.C. Pierson, and Robyn Schneider. While I hadn’t heard of most of these people, I definitely knew Chuck Palahniuk. While he was most assuredly interesting, he was also surprisingly reserved. I also didn’t realize at first that Patrick Rothfuss was the moderator of the Spotlight on John Scalzi panel last year. There was mention of the idea of branding yourself online as a writer, and he even mentioned something like, “well we can’t all be John Scalzi.” They discussed the kinds of things you’d expect: you shouldn’t try to brand yourself in a certain way. You should write what you like. You shouldn’t write under the assumption that Hollywood will make a movie of your book.

For lunch we ate at Royal Thai, also in the Gaslamp District. The food was delicious! However, the service wasn’t stellar. They didn’t bring us utensils with our food, and despite asking for it spicy and being told they’d bring us extra hot sauce, we didn’t get any. Regardless, I’d still eat there again. The food was very tasty. I love tom kha kai so very much! Wow, I really want some now. (Spoiler: I’m writing this hungry.)

We also checked out the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop in the Gaslamp District. Apparently it’s a well-known hat shop that gem was excited to visit. Besides a large assortment of hats, they also sold an “official collector’s edition Heisenberg hat & box set.” In other words, Heisenberg’s hat from Breaking Bad. It came in a yellow box with a certificate, Breaking Bad packing paper, and a picture of Heisenberg’s face on the box. It also came with a $200 price tag. Their site states that only 1,895 were created. The store said they had limited quantities and that it was only going to be sold at Comic-Con, but I highly doubt they sold anywhere near that many. It was a cool idea, but I bet it flopped. If it was significantly cheaper, I’d be interested. Or I’d jump at the chance if actor Bryan Cranston, who portrays Walter White, actually wore it!

Soon it was time for another panel, Not Guilty Due to Zombification! Law and Forensic Psychiatry in a Zombie Apocalypse. It featured the forensic psychiatrists of Broadcast Thought, H. Eric Bender, M.D., Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., and Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., as well as attorney James Daily of Law and the Multiverse and attorney and professor Jeff Trexler. I saw Broadcast Thought last year doing a panel about the Joker and whether he should be accountable for his actions. This panel was similar. They imagined a universe in which a person would begin to show symptoms of becoming a zombie three to five days after being bitten. The symptoms would be minor at first, but after a few hours they’d become a zombie. In this universe, zombification was also curable if treated quickly enough. They discussed the idea of a man who killed the guy with whom his wife was cheating. However, there was reason to believe he was a zombie at the time. Should he be held accountable? He showed some signs earlier, such as being cold, but he walked home, which meant he was coherent. He broke into his home despite having a key, found the man, and killed him.

It was pretty interesting. They discussed a lot of details that I don’t remember now, but the idea was to show how small facts can become the major focus that determines a man innocence or guilt. When the man was cold in the bar, was that because he was cold or was that because was showing early symptoms of becoming a zombie? He was a full zombie when the police arrived, but was he a full zombie when he killed the man? It sounds silly talking about it now, but it was very fascinating and fun.

And then! Dinner! Dinner was so good! It was late, but I wanted to eat anywhere. We found a place called Bolillo Tortas. I ate a milanesa de res torta. Only too late did I realize they also had horchata, the most delicious drink to grace dinner tables anywhere.

Friday!

On Friday we headed back to the exhibit hall to see the rest of the hall. One interesting thing I saw was a booth showing off Two-Headed Cop! There was an interesting clip playing a noir film with a style I liked about a two-headed cop. They didn’t really say anything about it, but I looked it up online later. It appears to be a short film about a half-asian, half-caucasian two-headed cop. I don’t know too much about it, but I’d like to check it out more in the future.

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We reached the video game section, which included the Ace Attorney photo-op shown above! We also headed to the Nintendo Game Lounge. I won’t talk about the video game things I saw here because I already talked about them at Polygons and Pixels. Check it out there if you’re interesting in the games I played or cosplay I saw.

After hanging out in the fantastic Nintendo Game Lounge we headed to Petco Park to try to get tickets for the Adult Swim Fun House. We waited in line, having a nice chat with the person in line in front of us. We sampled some free coffee drinks, and the line moved quickly. After getting our tickets, we decided to check out what else was happening there at Petco Park.

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At that point I ran into the Man Without Fear himself, Daredevil! I couldn’t find any Daredevil merchandise, but at least I found a sweet cosplayer! I love Daredevil, so that was exciting.

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That wasn’t the only interesting person in a costume. Outside the Fun House, I ran into Robot Chicken! It was time for lunch after that. Antonio ordered a burger and an ice cream sandwich, and we split some deep-fried Oreos. gem had crab cakes, and I had a huge, delicious burger.

It was back to the Convention Center after eating for Syfy Presents the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. We could only stay for part of it because we wanted to go to the fun house, but it was very interesting. They gave out copies of A Life Force and Minor Miracles both by Will Eisner. I read Minor Miracles, which was a collection of four short graphic novels. All four were interesting but strange at the same time. They reminded me of Kafka’s literature a bit. I haven’t yet read the other book, but I plan to do so soon.

Adult Swim Fun House

The Adult Swim Fun House was fun as you’d expect. There were a decent number of strange rooms. One room contained a masked performer who required us to reach into one of the many holes in the room before we could leave. They were filled with slime and goo of course. In another room there was a sleeping Santa Claus in a chair next to a box full of gifts. I actually wasn’t sure if he was real. We all took gifts, but then Santa suddenly woke up and jumped at us, startling some people. By the way, my gift was a thermos. In one room a masked performer wordlessly mimed to us to reach into the box he was holding and draw one ticket. Some were blank indicating losers while others indicated that the person won a poster. Antonio and gem each won a poster, but I didn’t.

Another room had a hole in the wall through which we were required to crawl to proceed. It led onto a giant crib in which lied a hairy man dressed only in a diaper shaking a rattle and crying out for his daddy. It was eerie, but I told him it was the best moment of my life. He shook his rattle at me.

I took a photo of my favorite room above. I’d like to say I imagined those cords were deadly lasers, but if that was the case, I would so be dead. That room led to a hall of mirrors which led to three different exits.

Adult Swim Fun House

One exit mimicked being born! Another led to a cage in which you’d need to sing before being allowed to leave. I found my way a steep incline and a rope. After climbing, I was at the top of a big slide. I decided to roll down it. Funny? No, stupid. I scraped my arm and didn’t notice until a few minutes later that I was bleeding. Sucks for me, but also gross for the people who came down after me when there was a bit of my blood on the slide. Now that we were done, Antonio and gem collected their posters from a man who decided to give me one too. I’d be more excited, but they were actually kind of lame. Still, I put it up in my cubicle. It has a picture of a weird man in front of a bunch of stars with the words “Adult Swim Fun House.”

Saturday!

We started off Saturday by heading back to the Nintendo Game Lounge in an effort to earn Mario and Luigi hats. You got them for playing Super Mario 3D World, but they were out the previous day. Having earned them (and playing Just Dance 2014 again), we went to breakfast. We ate an amazing breakfast buffet at Marina Kitchen. I had an omelette, multiple kinds of bacon, sausage, half of a waffle, oatmeal, and half of a bagel. As you might conclude, it wasn’t a good weekend of my diet, but the breakfast was delicious. The omelette maker also mentioned in Spanish that white people can’t decide and are too picky about food. Thanks to Antonio for translating. Of note, some other Spanish speaking staff at another location made fun of white people because only white people cosplay.

The Scarlet Witch

At Comic-Con I saw someone dressed as the Scarlet Witch. It was a good costume, but every time she posed, one particular photographer got in the way.

Inspector Gadget

I also ran into Inspector Gadget! If you don’t Inspector Gadget, you’re a fool!

I wanted to see the Star Wars vs. Serenity panel so lined up early. Antonio and gem went to the bathroom, so I waited in line. Right after they left, the line moved, and I found myself in the preceding panel, We Are BOOM! BOOM! Studios is a comics publisher, and their panel consisted of founder and CEO Ross Richie, editor-in-chief Matt Gagnon, and vice president of publishing and marketing Filip Sablik. It wasn’t very interesting, and sadly hardly anyone left after the panel. I’m pretty sure everyone was in that panel just to see Star Wars vs. Serenity.

The Star Wars vs. Serenity panel was about Dark Horse comics, and it wasn’t really versus. However, it was incredibly interesting! Luckily Antonio and gem made it into the panel, and while we sat in the back, at least we were there. The panel consisted (according to the programming guide) of PR director Jeremy Atkins, editor-in-chief Scott Allie, “Dark Horse resident Jedi” Randy Stradley, and others. I really enjoyed the panel. There were two main things they discussed, one related to each intellectual property.

First, they pitched Whedon the idea of a monthly Serenity comic, but he thought it would water down the property. He wants to continue building that universe, but he only wants to create graphic novels when there’s a good story to tell. That’s a fantastic idea, and I commend him for it. There are more graphic novels planned, and Whedon just gave the go-ahead to create a story taking place after the film. They weren’t giving out many details about the graphic novel, but it will take place very shortly after the film. It sounds like Zoe will still be pregnant, and it’ll be dealing with the fact that the crew of the Serenity are now very highly wanted criminals.

The other interesting announcement was regarding Star Wars. There’s a new graphic novel titled The Star Wars based on George Lucas’ original script for the first movie. While it’s true that it must have had problems because it was changed drastically before filming, the graphic novel still sounds incredibly exciting and interesting. It’ll be a fascinating look at Star Wars history. Anakin and Leia appear to be nearly the same age. As far as I can tell, Darth Vader and Anakin are different people. In place of a Death Star is a Space Fortress. Star Destroyers still look the same but are far smaller; they’re two person fighters. The capital of the Empire is Alderaan. R2-D2 talks. I think the aspect about which I’m most excited is that in place of Obi-wan Kenobi’s role, Luke is actually a Jedi general who is rumored to be over two years old and is a veteran of many battles. It’s comes out in September, and I’m very excited to read it.

We stayed for the next panel as well – How to Get a Job in the Video Game Industry. I’m not particularly looking to do that, but it was still interesting. The panel consisted of Capcom senior director of creative services Francis Mao with a group of people in a variety of roles at Capcom. I thought Mao’s story of breaking into the industry was pretty funny. When he was a teenager he bought a game and received a free issue of Game Pro. The magazine advertised a contest to draw your favorite video game character. He created what he considered a really awesome air-brushed graphic involving multiple characters. He sent it to the magazine and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks later he received a call from the magazine. He was excited and asked, “did I win?” They replied, at least according to him, “no, you idiot. It was a contest for kids, you know, with crayons. But we did love your artwork and were wondering if you’d like to do some paid work for us.” Now keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here, and he’s probably embellished the story. However, I’m sure he used the phrase “no, you idiot,” and he definitely mentioned the crayons.

They gave a few general tips that I think can apply to many things. Be willing to work for free for the experience and contacts. Network as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to try. Say you can do it, and then work to learn it, even if you’re not sure you can do it.

I think the thing people forget about industries that are idolized like the games industry is that they usually don’t pay as well as comparable jobs. I want to do something I really enjoy and make a difference, yes. But I also care about my well-being and the well-being of my future family. Salary, benefits, 401k all matter. I love video games, and I can purchase them thanks to my nice salary. I really wish one of these panels would tell us how much these people make!

We killed a little time after the panel before gem asked us to go watch a movie they were screening called Warm Bodies, apparently a zombie romance flick. I didn’t expect much out of it but thought it’d be fun. I absolutely loved it. Some of the effects were a little less than totally realistic, and it was definitely corny, but it was great, a ten out of ten. Without giving too much of the story away, the film takes place in a universe in which there’s one known human city left. It’s surrounded by a large wall, and life inside is generally decent. They have electronics, power, plumbing, and a clean environment. Outside the wall are hordes of zombies. Warm Bodies is narrated by a zombie that seems to be cognizant of what he is. It opens with him thinking about his life, complaining about how he moves so slow, and mentioning that his best friend is a guy that sits next to him while they groan back and forth. When he meets a young girl named Juliet he falls in love with her and slowly becomes more human. If you like zombies at all, I’d really recommend watching it!

Delicious Ice Cream Sandwich

What’s next after a great zombie movie? A delicious ice cream sandwich from Crunch Time, right across the street from our hotel. We had no idea it was going to be so huge. You could choose from a variety of ice cream flavors layered between two cookies, either chocolate chip or brownie. We chose one brownie cookie and one chocolate chip cookie with butter pecan ice cream. We even had a heath bar chopped into the ice cream. We split it three ways, and it was super tasty. Another unhealthy treat!

At some point I picked up two free, promotional comics. I don’t remember exactly when, but I’ll just mention them now. One was Ip Man: The Grandmaster of Kung Fu, apparently based on a movie of the same (or similar) name. I didn’t care for it. It wasn’t interesting, the art wasn’t particularly great, and the plot kept changing suddenly. The other was Vikings, published by Zenescope and created in conjunction with the History Channel. I think it’s promoting a new TV show about vikings. It suffered from the same problems as the other comic. I guess that’s why they were free.

It was beginning to get late, but it was also the last night at Comic-Con, so we headed back to the Convention Center to watch anime. First, we saw most of an episode of Mayo Chiki. Okay, this is sound weird, but it is anime. It’s about a young man who is afraid of girls and gets nose bleeds whenever a girl touches him. He accidentally discovers that a butler he knows is actually a girl pretending to be a man. Somehow he gets entangled in the personal lives of Subaru, the butler, and Kanade, her mistress. In this particular episode there was some sort of crazy hoax kidnapping. It was odd.

Next we caught the ending of an episode of Dirty Pair Flash. The two women are police officers or detectives or something, and they deal with criminals. Maybe. The art is terrible, and I think the show is mostly an excuse to show off their breasts. I didn’t care for it.

Finally, we watched Needless Shorts. At least, that’s what the programming guide called it, but I was an am kind of confused. I saw an anime that didn’t include “Shorts” in the title screens at all but were short, five minute (or so) episodes. It was about a young man named Cruz Schild who transfers to an all girls school to try to find his sister. To do so, he has to pretend to be a girl. There’s a lot of hilarity and a bit of fanservice. When I tried to look up the anime later, I could only find mention that Needless is an anime set in the future after World War III. Tokyo is destroyed, and people who live in the crater have gained powers. At this point, I’m thinking I’m reading about the wrong anime. But then I see the name “Cruz Schild.” Antonio mentioned that before the show actually started, he saw someone go into the extras menu. He thought that maybe we were watching an extra. This made me realize that Needless Shorts was probably referring to short episodes based on Needless and not needing to wear less shorts like we originally thought. It wasn’t until just now (as I was writing this post) that I found a page at Anime Planet that mentions an anime related to Needless, Needless: The Secret of Saint Lily Academy (DVD Special). It all makes sense, and I’m actually interested in watching it now!

Sunday!

Pirate Ship

Sunday was the last day of Comic-Con. We started the day by getting in line for Hall H where there was to be a Breaking Bad panel. I grabbed this photo of a pirate ship while in line. Antonio’s not up-to-date on the show, so we suggested he leave so as to not spoil it for himself. We had a good time talking to the person in line behind us, Adam. He mentioned that while he was trying to find the end of the line, the line was also moving, and it would have been easy for him to sneak and cut in line. He said he realized later, “if you want to see Walter White, you have to be Walter White.” I reminded him that bad things happen when you decide to break bad. We also discussed food quite a bit. His girlfriend managed a restaurant called Sea and Smoke that sounded good. He also mentioned two other restaurants he recommended, Barley Mash and Urban Solace, as well as a restaurant in Orange County he recommended called Mr. A’s. Sadly, we didn’t end up eating at any of them. We also mentioned Soda & Swine and Small Bar, and he was familiar with both!

While we were in line, there were people standing near the lines with signs declaring us sinners and telling us to save ourselves through Jesus. I’m never quite sure why those people believe Comic-Con attendees to be sinners. Anyways, two interesting things happened. First, someone took it upon himself to lead us in song to drown them out. This included the Pokemon theme song. A girl continued the idea with some Journey. We sang Queen as well! Second, some people cosplayed as the people with signs. However, these signs said a variety of things such as “Bring back that show I like” and “Galactus is nigh!” They were pretty funny, and they followed around the other people with signs, driving them away. That was nice!

The time the panel was supposed to start came and went, and we were still in line. However, they also told us that the panel was delayed. We weren’t sure how long to stay. A half hour after the scheduled start time, gem and I decided to leave. Just as we were leaving they came out to announce that the hall was full and that the panel had started. We walked near the front of the line anyways to ask how long the people at the front, who still weren’t inside mind you, had been in line. It was 11:45 or so at the time, and they had been in line since 6:30 AM. That’s crazy.

After finding Antonio, we went back to Bolillo Tortas for lunch again. This time I actually got horchata, oh, and a torta too. I had a decent torta ahogada, but I actually liked the milanesa de res torta more. However, gem got an order of chilaquiles that we all shared, and that was absolutely amazing. So good!

sdcc 2013

The Nintendo Game Lounge was going to do a group photo of fans at 2:00, so we thought we might be able to make it over there. We were just slightly too late, but I did run into Quail Man and Woody! Totally worth it. After that, we decided to try to see Neil Gaiman at a panel. We waited in line for 45 minutes or so, but we didn’t make it into the panel. At that point we decided to call it a day and head home.

Duck Dynasty

As we were walking down the sidewalk outside the Convention Center, I saw this group of people – Duck Dynasty cosplayers! I don’t watch the show, but my stepdad does, so I had to grab a photo! It’s amazing to think that such a wide variety of interests are represented at Comic-Con! Finding interesting cosplay that was so different than most of the other things I saw over the convention was the perfect way to end the convention. With that, our vacation ended!

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Having recently finished Journey to the Center of the Earth, I can say that it’s fairly entertaining once the characters get somewhere interesting! For the first section of the book, which felt like roughly a third of it, the explorers were simply traveling to the point at which they were going to begin their descent into the Earth. Following that section, they begin their descent through an inactive volcano, hiking down tunnels. This part as well drags for quite some time. Truly it’s only the final third or so of the book that deals with interesting discoveries, and once I reached that part, the rate at which I read greatly increased.

There’s something about an underground world that seems strangely exciting. We see it over and over in literature and other media. Reading this novel continually made me want to play Dungeons & Dragons. I can’t say exactly why, because I’ve never played in a campaign that featured much underground exploration.

The choice of narrator in the novel is particularly useful in framing the story in a context that’s sympathetic to the reader. While Axel’s uncle, Professor Lidenbrock, continually believes in the validity of their journey and never waivers, Axel questions it constantly. He believes in the accepted science and doesn’t think they’ll succeed. There are times that he flips his feelings and gets excited, but he’s still the voice of the current knowledge and status quo.

It took me a while to finish the novel, but I’m glad I did. I probably won’t be reading more Jules Verne immediately, but I’d be happy to read some of his other novels in the future.

The Invisible Man

It took me over a month to read H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, mostly thanks to Scalzi’s The Human Division. I was familiar with the basic idea – a man becomes invisible and becomes a murderer. Through watching the story of Griffin, the Invisible Man, unfold and hearing him recount his earlier actions, the reader gets to see how he was driven to madness. However, it still seemed to happen too rapidly.

I would have liked to understand it a bit better. As terrible as it sounds, I wanted to feel like I could understand how one would end up doing the things he did. While I learned why he felt that way, I didn’t truly get to experience it. It also makes me wonder whether Griffin was unstable before his adventure even began or whether the disconnect between an invisible man and the rest of humanity naturally would create these feelings and tendencies in the invisible man. I suspect, due to Griffin’s early actions before becoming invisible himself, that he had inherent issues, but it’s interesting to ponder.

The Human Division final thoughts

John Scalzi asked for feedback on the serialized run of The Human Division. As long as I was providing it on his site, I’ll post it here as well. It serves as a good final review of The Human Division.

John,

I consider The Human Division a huge success. I want to collect your novels, and the novels in the Old Man’s War series in particular, so I definitely thought about whether I wanted to buy a physical release. However, there was no way I could pass up purchasing the episodes. Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week. I couldn’t wait to download my new episode and give it a read. Every Tuesday I would eat lunch alone so I could sit while reading or walk around the block while reading.

The episode lengths were perfect. I enjoyed being able to read each episode during a lunch break. The first and final episodes worked well as double-length episodes. If you choose to continue with a similar format in the future, I’d be fine with the occasional longer episode, but I’m also just fine with the current length. I don’t care about the quantity of words; I care about the quality. If a particular episode is shorter than normal, that’s fine too.

The pacing of The Human Division was excellent, and the order of the episodes worked well. We didn’t stay far away from the central story very long, and the auxiliary episodes were always interesting and related. I particularly liked seeing settings with which I was familiar but hadn’t seen – Earth, Phoenix, and the Conclave. I’d love to see more of all three. I also enjoyed seeing the points of view of different characters.

Walk the Plank was the perfect second episode. After the long introduction episode, Walk the Plank set the expectations. It showed that not every episode would be about the same characters and that some episodes might not even seem related at the time. It also made a point that episode length could vary as well. Walk the Plank always stood out as particularly odd to me. How was it related to the story? In the final episode you bring us back to the Eerie Morningstar. Not only does this give Walk the Plank context, but it also reminds us that we do in fact know a little about the Colonial Union’s enemy.

After finishing Earth Below, Sky Above, it was evident that you were at least hoping to continue. I’m very pleased to learn that you already have something planned. You might not have answered all my questions, but this is just the first season of The Human Division. Even if not everyone fully grokked that The Human Division was modeled similarly to a television series, it still worked well. I hope to see a similarly structured second season that answers some of my questions and leaves others open (for a third season of course).

Thank you for continuing to explore the Old Man’s War universe. The delivery and format of The Human Division worked exceptionally well. It’s nice to see some experimentation. In fact, I also really enjoyed the format of Redshirts. I’m sad to hear that the hardcover will have a time-exclusive extra story, but the trade-off allowing me to read the episodes weekly (along with the fact that I will eventually be able to read the story) is worth it to me. While I’ll continue to purchase your books (and any other creations) in any formats, I hope that you continue releasing episodically.

Thanks again, John!

– Peter

As you can see, I was a big fan of the way it was presented. I wish more books were released using this method, and I look forward to The Human Division season 2!

The Human Division concludes with Earth Below, Sky Above

In episode 13 of The Human Division, Scalzi concludes his tale with Earth Below, Sky Above. It was one of the most exciting and emotional episodes in the novel. Earth Below, Sky Above didn’t answer all my questions, but it definitely satisfied me and left me wanting more.

The episode really brought things full circle. There were mentions of the main characters being the B-team, referencing the first episode, The B-Team. Before reading Earth Below, Sky Above, the second episode, Walk the Plank, seemed completely out of place. While it seemed like it could eventually relate to the plot, it hadn’t yet in any way. That changes in Earth Below, Sky Above, and suddenly the odd episode becomes central to the plot. It was positioned perfectly as the second episode of The Human Division.

I mentioned in previous reviews that the plot was building oddly. If the last episode was going to be a large confrontation, surely a substantial reveal must come before that. By the end of the novel, Scalzi still doesn’t answer all the big questions, but the story concludes rather nicely anyways. The structure of the plot progression made a lot more sense once it was clear that we weren’t getting those answers.

If I thought the universe was ending with The Human Division, I’d be rather frustrated. However, upon finishing novel, I had no doubts that Scalzi would be continuing. I immediately tweeted at him asking him for the reveal of the next Old Man’s War book. This morning he revealed on his blog that there would indeed be a second season!

The Human Division worked extraordinarily well. I’m sad to see it end, but I’m looking forward to a sequel. Even if you haven’t read the other novels in the series, it would be enjoyable, but I highly recommend you read the other novels first to get the full experience. As always, Scalzi continues to impress and amaze me.

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads brings us nearly to the end of The Human Division

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads CoverI was expecting the twelfth episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division to finally reveal who has been behind the acts of war described so far. While The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads provides some great new information, we still don’t know who the antagonists really are. Danielle Lowen, who you might remember from episode nine, The Observers, is back in the United States. She witnesses a terrorist attack and while trying to puzzle together who could be behind it, receives some interesting information.

I’m happy to hear that the final episode next week will be double-length. This was an exciting episode, but it didn’t have much of a cliff hanger. We get a nice reveal at the end, but it’s only about one aspect of what’s been happening and still doesn’t show us who did it. I expected a big reveal in this episode so that we could be left salivating at the resolution in the final episode. Scalzi hasn’t let me down yet; I’m still excited to read the finale, but The Human Division’s structure has been building oddly to the climax.

The Colonial Union and the Conclave discover a possible mutual enemy in A Problem of Proportion

Scalzi’s eleventh episode of The Human Division has the Conclave and Colonial Union meet in an officially unofficial backchannel discussion. Unfortunately, they’re both attacked. It seems likely that whoever set the attack wanted each side to think it was the other. While they investigate who was behind the attack, they come across some interesting finds aboard the enemy ship.

Any episode that features the Conclave is interesting because it’s a different side than that which we normally see. Not only do we get the Conclave in this episode, but we get Conclave interaction with the humans, which is always interesting. While we still don’t know who’s behind the attacks or their motivation, we’re getting closer. Now that the Conclave and Colonial Union each realize that someone is attacking both of them, I expect the tensions to rise. Of course, the fact that there are only two more episodes left in The Human Division make that even more evident! I suspect we’ll get very close if not find out directly who it is and their motivation in the next episode. If only Tuesday could come faster.

Scalzi shows us Phoenix in This Must Be the Place

In This Must Be the Place, episode ten of Scalzi’s The Human Division, we get our first look at the human capital of Phoenix. In the Old Man’s War universe, humans are the only species that have used a planet other than their homeworld as their capital. We’ve known about Phoenix since the original novel, Old Man’s War, but This Must Be the Place is the first time we’ve seen it.

Hart Schmidt travels home on leave to Phoenix to spend a holiday with his family. We meet his politically powerful father and rich family, and through them, we see Phoenix politics. I love that we get to see so many new aspects of the universe Scalzi has created in The Human Division. The episodic nature of novel allows Scalzi to jump to different areas and show us different perspectives. We’ve been back on Earth, seen Phoenix, and listened to debates within the Conclave. These three episodes have been my favorite of the novel so far. I don’t know where Scalzi will take me next, but I’m looking forward to it.

The Human Division #9: The Observers

In Scalzi’s ninth episode of The Human Division, The Observers, some Earthling observers come aboard a Colonial Union ship and watch Abumwe handle negotiations with an alien race. Unfortunately, one of the Earthlings dies and it appears to be a murder. If they can’t figure out what happened, it could be bad for the Colonial Union.

We’re nearing the end of The Human Division with only four more episodes, and we still don’t know who’s causing all the trouble. However, there’s definitely an overarching plot, and we see it here again. This episode continues the juxtaposition of Earth and the Colonial Union, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Old Man’s War universe. In addition, we see the continued escalation of the unknown threat. Of course, we still have a number of questions. Who would want to kill one of the Earthlings? Who posed as Earthlings and wanted to blow up the ship previously? Who killed the radio host on Earth? Who tried to set up the CDF to look like the aggressors in the first episode? I’m hoping for some basic answers to these soon so that we have a few episodes full of action. We’ll see what we get tomorrow.

Scalzi’s The Sound of Rebellion sets focus on tension

In this week’s episode of The Human Division, The Sound of Rebellion, John Scalzi contrasts last week’s humor with a captive soldier and a lot of tension. We might not see the main characters, but we get some cool Colonial Defense Forces action!

The Sound of Rebellion continues the trend of giving clues as to who the antagonists are without revealing it just yet. Without spoiling the plot, I can also say that we get another interesting look at the abilities of the CDF and of BrainPals in general. One of the most fascinating aspects of Scalzi’s Old Man War universe is how Scalzi has explored what having a powerful, implanted computer in your mind would allow you to do.

Hopefully next week we’ll get a little closer to finding out just who is fighting against the Colonial Union.

The Time Machine

I decided to reread The Time Machine recently because I hadn’t read it since high school. I finished it yesterday, and I was very impressed with the novella. Most people probably already accept the fact that it’s a classic, so I don’t think I need to discuss its merits here.

However, I particularly like some of H.G. Wells’ notions on time travel that I forgot. For example, one of the time traveler’s guests remarks that if the machine simply travels along the fourth-axis, time, faster (or in reverse), shouldn’t they still see the machine sitting there? The time traveler responds that just a fast moving thing barely makes an impression because it moves through your vision too quickly, a time machine traveling through time doesn’t make a deep enough impression on three dimensions to be seen.

In addition, Wells makes some interesting observations about class structure in societies and human progress. What’s our goal? Can we go too far? I don’t have answers, but they’re good questions to ponder.

Ally Condie reaches her conclusion in Reached

In Reached, many questions about the Society, the Rising, and other peoples are finally answered. The title and cover art are very appropriate with Casia breaking free in her red dress. In fact, if you’ve never paid attention to the covers to the previous books, you really should!

Things don’t go as smoothly for everyone as they would have liked, and there are some large changes in play for the population. I repeatedly wondered how there could be a happy ending for everyone. This is something that plagues any story of a love triangle in which you care about all three. Not every character gets his or her happy ending, but many do.

Condie answers a lot of questions, but she leaves some unanswered. She does, however, reinforce Casia’s grandfather’s statement that it’s okay to wonder. Are there other far away countries, and if so, what are they like? What’s the final outcome? Casia’s story comes to a nice conclusion by the end, but everything isn’t spelled out for the reader. There’s plenty more about which to wonder, which is, I suspect, just how Condie wants it.

And who knows? Maybe she’ll write more in this universe!

Cross-posted on Goodreads.

The Dog King delivers a large dose of humor to the Scalzi’s The Human Division

Scalzi’s seventh episode of The Human Division, The Dog King, returns to the main characters of the novel, Wilson, Schmidt, and friends. When the diplomatic team gets a new assignment and Wilson is assigned to watching a dog, he gets into a bit of trouble.

The episodic nature of the Human Division allows Scalzi to use a different tone in each episode. While the novel and the Old Man’s War series as a whole has always had some humor, the Dog King seems like more a comedy than previous episodes. I think it’s great that with the Human Division we get a variety of types of episodes. Consider that “Everyone dissolved into a puddle of awwwww” is an actual sentence you can read by experiencing the Dog King. Awesome, right?

Crossed by Ally Condie

Following the dysopian future shown in Matched, Crossed explores the fringes of that society. More importantly, it shows what’s outside of that. While it was exciting, a story becomes less dystopian once it’s outside of the society proper.

When I discussed Matched, I compared it to other novels in the same genre. The series especially reminded me of The Hunger Games. Fortunately, things deviated. First, there was the secret. I won’t give it away, but it raises the tensions a bit. Second, the ending of Crossed definitely paves the way for Reached, the final book, to be quite exciting (and different)!

I’m starting Reached tonight.

Scalzi’s The Back Channel reveals the Conclave

With the sixth episode of the Human Division, Scalzi finally gave me what I really wanted. He showed me the Conclave.

While the Back Channel shows humans as well, it really showcases alien members of the Conclave and the Conclave itself as a political unit. More than anything in the Old Man’s War universe, that’s what I wanted to see next, so I was thrilled to find myself before a large political body of the Conclave.

The Back Channel raises some tension in the story while reaffirming that while the Conclave might be at odds with the Colonial Union, they’re not villains (at least not to the readers). Without giving anything away, we also see that we still have a missing puzzle piece.