Tag Archives: toy story

European Vacation – Paris, France

After visiting Bruges, Belgium, we boarded a train to Kortrijk, Belgium as the first leg our day’s journey to Paris. Going to Paris was the motivation behind the whole trip – to visit our friends Jessica and Andrew in Paris. There transportation strikes happening in Belgium, but we checked in the morning and the trains were still running.

The train ride gave a little more time for some Papers, Please, but our luck ran out when we got to Kortrijk. By this time, the strike caught up with us, and trains were no longer running out of Kortrijk. And because we already used part of our tickets, we couldn’t get refunds. We ended up taking a taxi from Kortrijk, Belgium to Lille, France. Once in France, we took a train to Paris. We were late, but we got there!

I’m guessing we went to our AirBNB first, but I honestly don’t remember that. I just remember heading to Frame Brasserie where Jessica was waiting for us. Andrew was in the kitchen, preparing awesome food. For my friends who don’t know, the two of them used to live near me in California, but Andrew accepted a head chef position at Frame Brasserie, a restaurant in Paris inside the Pullman Paris Hotel.

Here’s Chef Andrew hard at work in the kitchen!

Here’s one of the dishes he prepared – foie gras on banana bread. I didn’t know those flavors would go well together, but it was amazing!

I don’t remember what each course was, but I know that I was impressed with all of it. So good!

After dinner, we went upstairs to a little balcony where we were able to watch the light show on the Eiffel Tower. It was pretty breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting to be as amazed at the Eiffel Tower as I was. It was beautiful.

Andrew gave us a little tour of the rooftop garden as well, including the chicken coop. The chickens were sleeping.

Jessica walked us back to our AirBNB, and we stopped to admire the Eiffel Tower more on the way.

Only gem and I were interested in Disneyland Park Paris, so we spent the day there.

We stopped for breakfast in Main Street, U.S.A. where I got a croque monsieur. (That’s not normally found on traditional Main Streets in the States, but I’ll forgive them. This little bird wanted some too and took a piece right out of my hand. Disney magic!

After eating, we went straight to Discoveryland, which is like Anaheim’s Tomorrowland. Instead of being purely futuristic, it’s themed after historical French figures’ visions of the future, making it retro and steampunk. It was awesome.

We rode Space Mountain Mission 2, Disneyland Paris’ Space Mountain, twice in a row. It had a great steampunk feel to it and was one of my favorite rides there. The wait was seriously just a few minutes. Yes, it was a weekday, but I don’t think we ever needed to wait longer than 15 minutes. I think the one-day, two-park ticket was only about $50 (US), which is nuts. I guess Disneyland Paris isn’t as popular as the original.

Next we went on a walk-through attraction called Les Mystères du Nautilus based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Apparently there was a similar attraction in our Disneyland in the 1950’s.

After a submarine, it was time to hop in some cars for Autopia. I’m completely uninterested in the Anaheim Autopia but enjoyed the Paris Autopia!

When we heard that Buzz needed our help, we rushed to Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast to defeat the Evil Emperor Zurg!

gem even found a planet with her name in it – Gemkurnz!

After finishing with Discoveryland, we went to explore Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

I like this photo of gem and the castle despite the people in the background.

The castle had many stained glass windows. I prefer the one of Maleficent, one of my favorite Disney characters.

There’s a little balcony area on top that you can explore too!

It’s a Small World’s tribute to America started with the old west. I really enjoyed seeing this.

It also included the New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hollywood sign (among other things).

For lunch, we stopped at Cafe Hyperion. I believe this was the Dark Vador burger. I couldn’t resist it. That’s also how I learned that Darth Vader is Dark Vador in French.

After riding Pirates of the Caribbean, we rode Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril. Unlike its California counterpart, this is more of a traditional rollercoaster. It’s also the first Disney rollercoaster to feature an inversion! While I enjoy our more story-driven rollercoaster, this was an awesome ride!

Frozen had a little section in the park with a photo-op and some sort of performance. We didn’t stay for the performance, but we did get our photo taken before we had to rush to the second park, which we didn’t realize was closing soon.

Walt Disney Studios is Disneyland Paris’ second park, and it’s based on a movie studio.

There were a number of neat things to see in the park, especially walking through the Toy Story section that was built to a scale as if you were a toy.

The park had an excellent rollercoaster based on Finding Nemo – Crush’s Coaster. Two seats face one direction and two face the other direction, leading to awesome drops in which you’re falling backwards!

While we were inside Disneyland Park, we were wondering where the statue of Walt and Mickey was and just assumed they didn’t use it in Paris. We were wrong! It’s in Walt Disney Studios!

My notes also mention salsa, rock, and line dancing in Disney Village, which is like Paris’ Downtown Disney. I don’t remember that. Did we do it? Did we just see it?

I wanted to stop for a photo with the magic broom on the way out.

And we got one of gem as well!

Next it was back to Disneyland Park to talk to ticketing about our tickets. We had purchased tickets online in advance, which means we had printouts and not physical tickets. She was hoping for physical tickets as souvenirs. At first they said they couldn’t do it, but when gem got sad, the man got creative. He printed out one of each ticket variation and voided them before giving them to her. How nice of him!

Back inside Disneyland Park, I took a photo of gem with the greeter at Phantom Manor, which is their version of the Haunted Mansion. How spooky and cool! We actually went through Phantom Manor twice.

gem also had an encounter with Abu, who ran up to her and surprised her!

We did some shopping while in the park too. I picked up some gifts for people, but there was one gift that was just too big – a blue Buzz Lightyear figure. I have no idea why he was blue, but I wanted it for Henley. Eventually, I knew I had a solution. I purchased a big Disneyland Paris duffel bag and the toy. Now I could definitely bring it home!

We ended our Disney evening with a fireworks and light show. It seemed like a combination of Disneyland fireworks and a show like Fantasmic or World of Color. There were fireworks, but there were also plenty of lasers and projects. It was awesome!

When the park closed, we walked through Disney Village to the train, where we waited at least an hour or so for the train to leave. We were really packed in there. Then it was hard to find our way home because of construction causing street closures. We eventually found a McDonald’s with Wi-Fi that allowed us to contact Antonio and Anela. We had a key to get into the apartment, but we forgot the code to the front gate! I told Antonio what time I thought we’d be back, but we ended up taking much longer. This could have been problematic, because without Wi-Fi, my phone wouldn’t work. Luckily he happened to see my message way late – just when we got to the gate. Great timing 🙂

The next day we headed to the Eiffel Tower. The base was much bigger than I expected.

Here’s a shot looking up through the tower.

Unfortunately, we could only reach the second story that day because the rest was closed.

That didn’t stop us from enjoying the view anyways.

After we came back down from the Eiffel Tower, we met Anela, Andrew, and Jessica at the FRAME Truck where we purchased some tasty tacos. Jessica did a lot of planning for us so we could squeeze as much in as we can. Her help was invaluable!

gem looks quite thug. I don’t know what she was doing here, but it’s great.

They also brought us these delicious macarons!

After lunch, it was time to jump in front of the Eiffel Tower! Here’s Antonio, Anela, me, and gem.

And here’s Jessica, Anela, me, and Andrew. Andrew looks a little derpy.

Lots of people seem to lounge near the Eiffel Tower.

Either Jessica or Andrew took this photo of the four of us.

Here’s all six of us in front of the Eiffel Tower!

What do you do after appreciating the Eiffel Tower? Explore some creepy catacombs, of course. We played some Heads Up on our phones and variations of charades while waiting in line, but then it was time to enter.

The descent! Jessica looks too happy.

gem looks scary in the catacombs.

Jessica, don’t be mean! Don’t worry; she didn’t touch.

Lots and lots of bones.

After emerging once more, Andrew took us to She’s Cake. They use She’s cakes at Frame Brasserie.

We split a few different delicious desserts.

After eating, we visited the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris at Montmarte, which was beautiful.

Even the drinking fountains are beautiful in Paris!

When it was time for dinner, we stopped at Le Consulat.

We shared an order of escargot, which tasted very similar to typical shellfish. I enjoyed it a lot!

I did, however, have to figure out how to eat it.

After dinner, we walked past the Moulin Rouge.

We finished our day with a visit to L’arc de Triomphe.

The next day, we visited the Eiffel Tower so we could climb all the way.

It was a foggy day, but I had fun.

Here I am enjoying that view, but I felt I needed a closer look.

That’s much better!

Just look at that amazing view! Okay, the view was nothing but fog, but it was still cool.

I forget if it was this day or the previous Eiffel Tower visit, but we talked to some of the soldiers at the base. Side note, it’s still very weird to me to see soldiers with huge guns just walking around. Anyways, we asked for Anela to get a photo with them. Their reaction was strange. Some seemed to say no, some to say yes, and one walked away. After a moment, I realized what was happening. They were smoking when they weren’t allowed to be smoking. Some of them put out their cigarettes and one just walked out of view of the camera. We got our photo!

We went to a market to get some lunch. This pastry was super good.

We also sampled some pink cheese. That doesn’t look like my hand though. Whose hand is that? Anela’s? Oh well.

I managed to purchase cherries in French! It was terrible French I’m sure, but a bit of Rosetta Stone helped. Here’s our haul that we ate in Jessica and Andrew’s apartment. Not shown was the McDonald’s that we bought as well, including the Le Croque McDo. How French! Man, I’m getting hungry.

Just look at this pastry! We stopped at Le Moulin de la Croix Nivert for tarte aux pommes et Paris Brest, two amazing desserts.

With full stomachs, we visited Notre-Dame.

Next we quickly saw the Fontaine Saint Michel.

By that time, we definitely some crepes, so we stopped at Creperie de Arts.

The best part of Creperie de Arts? Le chat! This cat was just chilling.

We also stopped at Amoroso Gelato because apparently we just can’t eat enough.

Of course we visited the Louvre, but we were unable to go inside. Due to the flooding happening in Paris at the time, they were moving all the works to higher floors in case the water got into the Louvre.

That didn’t stop us from having fun and goofing around!

Look at these two lovebirds. <3

Here’s a closer shot of the building.

Speaking of the flood, here’s a look at the water. You might not be able to tell just how much water there is from this photo.

I wouldn’t want to go sit on one of those benches.

Those are cars. The Seine rose so much, cars parked along the river were now under water.

May gem present to you… the Statue of Liberty!

Here’s a shot she took of me in front of it too!

According to the journal I kept, which was just a list of things we did, we also visited L’arc de triomphe du Carrousel, but I can’t find any photos of it. I can’t believe I wouldn’t take photos, so maybe I just got them mixed up. Oops.

Edit: I did just get them mixed up! I added a photo 🙂

For dinner, we went to Frame Brasserie a second time. On this visit, Andrew ate with us rather than being in the kitchen. He had his staff keep bringing us additional dishes until we were full. Amazing. As I’d expect, everything was so good. Here’s a collage of everything we managed to eat. Keep in mind there were six of us please :0

Look, FRAME has a foosball table! I don’t know who won, but I know we had fun – probably because gem and I were both terrible.

Sadly, this is where we said our goodbyes to Jessica and Andrew.

Before heading to our apartment for the final time, we walked around the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was near where we were staying.

It looks like it’s inside-out! It’s definitely an interesting piece of architecture.

While we didn’t go inside, we were able to appreciate it from here.

I’ll end this post with a final shot of the Eiffel Tower. The next morning we left our little apartment and traveled to the airport to fly to Rome. Thanks so much to Jessica and Andrew for spending time with us, showing us around Paris, sharing delicious food, and everything else. I wish I could see you regularly, but Paris is just a bit too far to visit for a weekend!

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

Atomic Ballroom’s Student Showcase was this weekend. Because gem’s loud and quick to yell when told that the loudest person wins tickets, she won tickets to the show. The theme was “Celebrate the Magic” featuring Disney music. It was pretty awesome! I particularly liked watching the shadows dance when these two were in the right position on stage. Besides this, I didn’t take many photos.

Atomic Ballroom Student Showcase: Celebrate the Magic

The performers were really good. It was nice to see people of so many different levels dance. I’m sure it took a lot of guts for some of them to get up there. I really enjoyed pieces such as “Kiss the GIrl” from The Little Mermaid, featuring a shimmery, mermaid-tail-like dress, “Strangers Like Me” from Tarzan, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan, and “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin with an awesome dance (that suddenly made me really sad when I thought of Robin Williams and then the closing of Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular. I just noticed while looking at the program that one of the dancers in that Aladdin piece, Jeff Glass, is a psychiatrist at the Long Beach VA. How cool! For all I know, he could have helped my father.

Oh, and I have to add that there was an adorable little girl doing some of the transitions. One time she was a mermaid, one time she ran across the stage dressed as Indiana Jones and running from a “boulder,” and one time she was Rapunzel.

After the showcase, there were complimentary refreshments. I ate too much, but the food was delicious. It was a lovely evening!

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!

It’s a Ska World After all! The 4th Annual Ska Day at Disneyland

It's a Ska World After All

It’s a Ska World After All! Sunday was the 4th annual Ska Day at Disneyland! I’m pretty glad I found this flier at The Skatalites’ concert at Slidebar last week.

The festivities actually started Saturday night. There was a pre-party at Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant in Anaheim. I went with Edward and gem. I guess there was a call-out, because there was some staffing and service problems. It was fun anyways! I noticed that we were sitting next to members of the ska band Half Past Two!

It's a Ska World After All

There was a hat dance, musical chairs, dance competition thingy! Basically, there was a circle of people, and one person had to wear a hat. As music plays, the person wearing the hat has to dance across the circle and put the hat on someone else. If you’re wearing the hat when the music stops, you’re out, and it continues to another round. gem made it to the last round!

It's a Ska World After All

The person with whom she’s dancing in the photos was the guitar or bass player (I couldn’t see) for The Pocketeers I think!

It's a Ska World After All

She technically came in second, but they gave her a prize anyways. She got this sweet 45 of David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7’s cover of “Evil” by Moondust Records. Pretty cool!

I found this article about it:

New Single: David Hillyard & The Rocksteady 7 “Evil” : Moondust Records.

It's a Ska World After All

On Sunday, we started the day by trying on some hats.It's a Ska World After All

Next we went on Space Mountain. We didn’t even realize it was already Ghost Galaxy!It's a Ska World After AllWe had lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for the meet and greet. After we sat down, we noticed we were sitting next to some of the members of Half Past Two again. Cool coincidence or destiny? We chatted for a bit with out new friends and took this photo!It's a Ska World After All

While in line for Splash Mountain, we met two women from Sacramento here on vacation. We had fun talking to them, and then I got soaked on the ride. We also gave them our fast passes to Indiana Jones because we were running late for the group photo.

It's a Ska World After All

This is as good as a group photo as we were going to get, because we were a little late. Oh well.

It's a Ska World After All

Look how many security guards it takes to deal with ska fans! There were actually a few more here at one time. Let’s skip over the negative part of the day.

It's a Ska World After All

After the group photo, we all went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad together! We had a rather large group. The plan was to ride It’s a Small World together as well, but gem and I decided to go on Indiana Jones instead.

It's a Ska World After All

This is not a good place to leave a diaper.

We also managed to go on some rides that didn’t involve photographs. For example, we had to go on Star Tours of course (twice!) as well as the Haunted Mansion to see its Nightmare Before Christmas version. We played a lot of Heads Up, a game gem introduced to me, on our phones while in line. It seemed to be a popular game with other people as well, and we even told others about it. There was a woman in line with us for the Haunted Mansion who downloaded it after we told her about it, and then we played with her and her son too!It's a Ska World After All

I also battled the Evil Empereror Zurg!It's a Ska World After All

Pew pew pew!

It's a Ska World After All

And another Toy Story shot.It's a Ska World After All

Before the concert, I just had to play some Fix It Felix Jr.It's a Ska World After All

While we were waiting for the show to begin, we saw that the latest It’s a Ska World SKAvenger Hunt goal was near us. We headed there and got there first, winning some Dulce Cookies by Melo! Oh my goodness, they were so amazing. We gave two to Remy, the host, for him and girlfriend as well as one to a woman who got there after us. Then I ate some more of them. They were really tasty!

It's a Ska World After All

Next it was time for the highlight of the evening, Suburban Legends! They’re so amazing. Their sound is great, their choreography is stunning, their ability to engage the audience is always superb, and their sets consist of covers and awesome originals.

It's a Ska World After All

There’s gem with the band!

Here’s a clip of them playing DuckTales. Very awesome.

I danced a lot, and boy was I exhausted. I even got to be a firework. The crowd all crouched down. They began to count to eight, using “cicero” to switch to a “Cell Block Tango” reference, and then went back to counting normally. When they reached eight, we all jumped up, threw our arms in the air, and yelled, “boom!” It was fun!

Also, you know how gang fights always involve singing, dancing, and hand snapping? Yeah, the audience split in two for one of those fights. Super rad.It's a Ska World After All

After the concert I wanted to try on this helmet even if I looked dumb.

It's a Ska World After All

After a break, The Suffragettes, an all-girl cover band, played at the Tomorrowland Terrace. They were pretty good, but they just didn’t do enough for us. We listened to a few songs before heading back to Main Street, U.S.A. We had some delicious ice cream before calling it a night.

It’s too bad that this was the fourth annual Ska Day at Disneyland and that I missed three of them. I’ll be going in the future!

Dapper Day Fall 2014 at Disneyland

Dapper DaySaturday I went to the Fall 2014 Dapper Day Expo at Disneyland! I didn’t actually go into the park, but I went to the expo in the Grand Californian Hotel and hunt out at Downtown Disney.Dapper Day

gem went with me. High five!Dapper Day

Besides gathering together many dapper people, the expo mostly consisted of retro and vintage clothing for sale.

Tie haul

One woman was selling ties for a dollar each. There were a few ties I was considering, and when I learned they were a dollar, I had to grab a few. I ended up with three ties and a bow tie.

Look, I'm Woody! Howdy, howdy, howdy!

Once I was done with the expo, I spent time wandering Downtown Disney. I even got to pretend to be Woody! Wearing the hat makes me think of the line from Toy Story when Mr. Shark wears Woody’s hat in the toy box and says, “Look, I’m Woody! Howdy, howdy, howdy!”Dapper Day

Roar! Who wouldn’t want to be Sulley from Monsters, Inc.? I know I would!

And that’s pretty much Dapper Day.

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!

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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!