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Wizard World Portland 2020

Friday, January 31st, 2020 No comments

This past weekend Wizard World Comic Con came to town. I didn’t realize it until the 1st day, but I hadn’t been to a Wizard World Comic Con since 2014. Something’s always coming up. They think they changed the time of year a few times and maybe it was cancelled one year, but I’m glad it’s back in January.

I went Friday late afternoon and the 1st thing I noticed how short the lines to get in were and how few people were there overall compared to Rose City Comic Con and to the last time I attended. They weren’t using up nearly as much of the convention floor and were not using the big rooms for panels. It makes me wonder if Portland just can’t support 2 big conventions like this or if of Portland is just more loyal to the locally founded RCCC. Whatever the case, I hope Wizard World continues to come back.

One thing I liked about this con compared to Rose City is that it felt far more laid back. You didn’t have as many people screaming orders and herding you the whole time. The celebrities seemed more accessible. I saw John Glover go watch the band play on the entertainment stage and he started dancing. The food court area was near the bathrooms everyone was using on the floor. Sometimes I would sit there and relax if I had a long break in my schedule. I saw people like Chandler Riggs, Sam Levine, Michael Rosenbaum, Erica Durance, and Laura Vandervoort go to the bathrooms that everyone else was using. No I didn’t bother them because I didn’t want to be creepy. I’m just used to the celebrities at cons being out of sight unless they were on a panel or doing an autograph signing or photo op and secreted off when they were done. There weren’t people or signs saying to not take photos of people at their tables and I feel like I could’ve gone up to anyone to say hi. I didn’t though.

They had an entertainment stage at the entrance where they would have bands playing, karaoke, trivia, etc. I didn’t realize until after the first day that the person MCing the events and dancing around was Kato Kaelin, who gained notoriety during the OJ trial. I went to see panels featuring Chandler Riggs, Ross Marquand, Holly Marie Combs, Emily Swann, Smallville cast members Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, John Glover, Erica Durance, and Laura Vandervoort, and Craig Parker. I had my picture taken with Thomas Dekker and the Smallville cast. I ended up missing panels with Thomas Dekker, Sam Levine, and James Marsters so I get my Smallville cast photo done on Saturday so I could skip the last day of the con. There just wasn’t enough going on and I needed a rest.

On Saturday night Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum did their Smallville Nights show that they have been doing in different cities. There’s no recording of any kind allowed at these. That apparently is the reason why Tom was convinced to do it. He’s more of an introvert and I don’t think he really likes conventions, but this allows him to be himself.
There were a couple of times where Michael was goofing off and would get right in my face and yell, but it was all in fun. They told stories, acted out scenes from the show, and then would direct audience members in acting out those same scenes. I got picked to play Lana Lang in the graveyard scene in the pilot while someone else played Clark. I think Tom thought it would be funny for me to wear a wig, not realizing it wasn’t my first time in a wig. They all thought I looked good.

I spent over $500 on Smallville experiences that weekend. I don’t regret it at all. The online communities around Smallville, Heroes, LOST, and other shows helped me get through hard times when I was feeling lonely and different back in Mississippi. I made many friends and continue to be friends with them to this day. I’ve met many in person, traveled with them, and we’ve stayed in each other’s homes. I don’t mind spending money to spend a little time with some of the cast members that helped make it possible.

I had a lot of fun at Wizard World Portland this year. It was low key and I liked that. The first day I didn’t even take my DSLR with me. Once I saw how low key it was, I decided not to bring it the rest of the weekend. All of my pics and videos were made using my Pixel 4. It was nice not having to carry my big camera around and not feeling stressed to get as many good pictures as possible.

Christmas 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

Wow! I had so little Christmas spirit this year! Between not working, being by myself so much, and the warm weather, it didn’t feel like Christmas. I didn’t start listening to Christmas music until Christmas morning and after that I was done with it.

Like Thanksgiving, I thought I was going to be spending the day hanging out alone with the dogs. Two days before, my friend Nir invited me to a Chinese dinner and a movie night he was organizing. The day after this I was invited to dinner at my former co-worker Aaron’s house, but I had to turn them down. My friend Jer and a guy named Dallas who I had recently met at a PDX Gaymers event were there for Chinese dinner, as well as some people that I had never met. I knew that people went out to restaurants on Christmas, but I didn’t know Chinese dinner on Christmas Day was a thing. This dinner was an experience. Some people’s orders weren’t quite right. The water tasted bad. I was pretty much told I couldn’t have what I wanted and I was told what I would get instead. After dinner, we saw Little Women, which was really good. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did.

A few days after Christmas, we had a holiday party at Alex and Robert Lee-Olson’s house. It was a great time. I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in while. I’ve been a little bit of a hermit lately and some people’s schedules or location make it hard to get together often.

I don’t care what people say, presents are one of the parts of Christmas I still enjoy. What did I get this year? I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

  • dog treats for Max and Reese
  • a book on dog massages
  • Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair
  • The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss
  • a Black Panther build a bear
  • Astral Chain
  • a cross
  • Thor, Dr Strange, and Tony Stark pop vinyls
  • Reese’s candy
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
  • many wonderful cards
  • some stuff I treated myself to
    • a web camera
    • board games Pret-a-Porter, Ecos, 7th Continent, Shadows of Brimstone, Anomia

2019 was a tough year. Two of my closest Portland friends moved away, Xander and then Cody. I don’t think I ever wrote about Cody leaving. I lost my job a few months after being promoted. I got sick with a bad sinus infection in October and have been sick pretty much since. I’m feeling the effects of not eating well and not exercising. Sitting here at home all day has taken a physical and emotional toll on me. I remember writing about how optimistic I was earlier in the year, but all that optimism left for a while. I’m feeling optimistic again about the new year, but if things don’t change soon, I could be right where I was.

I decided to set goals for next year. Since I successfully completed every goal the last time I did this, I think one reason I stopped doing it for a while was so I wouldn’t fail. Here’s my list.

  • Lose at least 30 lbs
  • Go on at least 1 date
  • Arrange at least 1 dog play date
  • Leave the state of Oregon at least 3 times
  • Beat at least 3 video games
  • Learn at least 1 new board game
  • Attend at least 1 Meetup I haven’t been to before
  • Buy a new bike and ride it
  • Go to a convention or festival that’s new to me
  • Arrange a photoshoot so I can put my photography equipment to good use
  • Don’t be so self conscious about how I look. Post at least 12 pics of myself on social media

We enter a new decade tomorrow. This past decade has been great to me. I spent the first 2 years in Starkville and last 8 years in Portland. Deciding to take a risk, uproot my life, and move to Portland was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This decade has had some struggles: heartbreak, unhappiness with health and career, and some bouts of loneliness and depression. But overall it’s been great. Don’t they say your 30s are the best years of your life? So far I can’t disagree with that. Some of things I’ve done in this past decade:

  • moved across the country
  • met a lot of online friends, traveled with them, stayed in each other’s homes
  • became a social butterfly
  • traveled out of country for the first time
  • did a lot more traveling than I did before
  • became a leader at work and in the community
  • became a dog parent for the 2nd time
  • started podcasting
  • worked for one of the top tech companies in the world
  • dated a guy for the first time
  • started going to conventions
  • took up new hobbies
  • made many great local friends

I hope everyone has a happy New Year and a great decade! Take care of each other!

15th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019 No comments

The first weekend in October my friend Matt A. from California came up to visit. I know Matt through podcasting and I met him in person at the Twin Peaks festival a few years ago, but hadn’t seen him since. He had presented the idea a few weeks earlier of him coming up here and traveling to Seattle for the GPB Festival. I was all for it.

Matt flew in from Denver (I think) on that Friday night, where he had attended another festival. From what I understand, Matt works for a chain of stores and helps decide which beers and how much they stock. So this is like work for him. We watched that Stephen King movie In the Tall Grass, which had just debuted on Netflix.

We got up pretty early Saturday and got some donuts from Voodoo Donuts before heading to Seattle. We stopped at a brewery at met someone Matt knows, I think it was the manager. We then went to the festival which was a lot of fun. We drank sample after sample of pumpkin beer for hours. Since Matt knew some of the people there (I think they worked for one of the breweries), we got extra drink tickets. There’s a giant pumpkin beer filled with beer. Later in the day they had a costume contest near this giant pumpkin and later on a parade. After the parade they tap the pumpkin and served beer from the pumpkin. Leading up to them tapping the pumpkin, the excitement is building up. They had music playing. People (including Matt and myself) were holding cornstalks, dancing to the music, and chanting “TAP THAT GOURD!” It was kind of crazy, but fun to be a part of. After we left the festival, we had dinner with Jonathon Pope, a Washington resident who I know from podcasting but had never met before.

Sunday we drove back to Portland. We visited a couple of breweries around here. I took him to Powell’s. At this point Matt was feeling sick, probably from all the traveling, and I was starting to get sniffly too. He tried to get his return flight moved to Monday instead of Tuesday, but it was going to be too expensive. Matt wanted to play board games on this trip. We played one game at one of the breweries earlier and we ended the night playing board games with some of my local friends at the Lucky Lab.

On Monday, we didn’t do much. I remember going to a brewery, playing a game there, and getting a tour of the brewery’s expansion. That night we watch Hereditary and Midsommar.

On Tuesday, I had an interview so I had to take Matt to the airport earlier than I would have liked. We stopped at the library in Hillsboro and played a couple of games before heading to the airport.

I’m so glad Matt got to come visit, see Portland, meet my dogs, and play some board games. I wish more people would come visit -hint-hint-. The only negative is that once the sickness he gave me fully kicked in, I was miserable and out of commission for 2 weeks. Oh well, it happens.

ESPN Turned 40

Monday, December 30th, 2019 No comments

In early September, ESPN celebrated its 40th anniversary. I’ve hardly watched over the past 20 or so years, but in the 90s I watched it pretty religiously when I had access to it.

I especially enjoyed SportsCenter. I loved the anchors like Chris Berman, Keith Olberman, and Dan Patrick. I thought it was amazing when they brought on Linda Cohn. There were days when I watched pretty much every airing of SportCenter, even when it was on for hours at a time and they were pretty much just repeating the same stories each episode.

In addition to SportsCenter, I watched Baseball Tonight and a lot of Sunday night baseball games.

I guess it was sometime during or after high school that I stopped watching ESPN. Every once in a while I would come across it and watch it for a few minutes before moving on or if there was a football game I really wanted tosee, I’d watch it on one of their stations. Sometimes I would put a game on just for background noise. I never got around to watching 30 for 30 like I promised myself I would. A few months ago I actually did start watching SportsCenter a few nights a week while I was in bed. That’s how I knew the anniversary was coming up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Linda Cohn was still doing SportsCenter. My newfound interest in ESPN didn’t last long, however.

Now that Disney+ is out, I have the bundle that also gives you ESPN+ and Hulu. I think I have access to the entire 30 for 30 catalog. I’ll be giving that a try starting in the new year and possibly slipping back into some regular SportsCenter viewing.

Happy belated anniversary to ESPN. You were a big part of my childhood and will hopefully be a big part of my adulthood.

Rose City Comic Con 2019

Sunday, September 29th, 2019 No comments

Two weekends ago was Rose City Comic Con. It’s one of my favorite events of the year. I was glad that this year it wasn’t the weekend following PAX, so I got a weekend off in between.

I went all three days again, though I didn’t stay long on Friday. I was tired.

I went to panels featuring Wallace Shawn, Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, Dan Fogler, Billie Piper, Christopher Eccelston (lots of people are saying this is the panel ever at this convention), Zachary Levi, and Wil Wheaton.

I did photo ops with Jason Isaacs and Wil Wheaton.

I was lucky enough to catch Kelly Sue DeConnick at her table this year. I got a selfie and tried to do the mandatory duck face, but it was hard for me to not smile while I was doing it.

I bought a piece of artwork like I always do and I took pictures of a lot of cosplayers.

There were some differences this year that I wasn’t a fan of. Construction outside meant that entry was different and one day we ended up walking around the entire building before we could get in. It was raining on the third day so thankfully they changed things up a bit. They cleared out the room after every panel, which meant you had to get in line each time if you wanted to see consecutive panels. The queuing procedure for photo ops was weird and sometimes it was hard to hear what was going on.

Overall, I had a great time as always. Next year I hope I remember to pay the little bit extra to get fast pass tickets.

PAX 2019

Sunday, September 8th, 2019 No comments

This past weekend was PAX West in Seattle. I rode up with Cory and Chris. We met up with mutual friends and friends of just theirs throughout the weekend. We decided to go only Sunday and Monday this year instead of all 4 days.

We drove up on Saturday. We left that morning because Cory and Chris had been invited by a friend to attend the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton, Washington. We arrived there around 1:30. We met up with our friend Justin, one of his friends, and one of Cory’s friends. We had fun walking along the boardwalk taking in the sites and food. I had some good blackberry cider and tasted some wine. I bought a bottle of wine to take home. We also met 2 groups of random strangers and had a good time talking to them. We took the auto ferry across the sound to Seattle. We had sushi with a friend of Cory’s and her boyfriend. I think we made it to the hotel around 10. The hotel was about 7 blocks from the convention center.Blackberry Festival

Cory and Chris left early for the convention center Sunday so they could get in line to get tickets to play a game. I think they both got to play the ones they wanted to. I think I made it there around 10, which was 30 minutes after the convention center opened. Because of all the shootings around the country, they had a different procedure for entering, which involved going through metal detectors. It was so great being back at PAX. Since we were only going to be there 2 days, part of me felt like I needed to hurry to see everything, but it turned out to be plenty of time. I tried to check out every square inch of the main floor. I didn’t make it to any panels this year though. Friday and Saturday are the best days for cosplayers, so I didn’t get as many pics of them as I normally too. I played a game called Code Vein, which I think I want to buy. I saw a lot of indie games, which I still need to go through my notes and further research many of them. I got to meet the guy the guy who created Gloomhaven, a popular board game. There was an indie game expo a few blocks from the convention center that day. I went later in the day. I bought a game because it reminded me of Deja Vu, a game I played on the NES. I met up with Cory, Chris, and our friend Tyler James there. I didn’t feel like being out late, so I went back to the hotel room and ordered Subway on Uber Eats while they went out to dinner.Code Vein

On Monday I got there a little earlier than the day before. I had gone back and forth the day before about whether or not I wanted to get there early to get tickets to play the Final Fantasy VII Remastered demo. I had finally decided not to when I went to bed. When I got up I got a text from Cory saying we needed to check out before we left. They were downstairs getting breakfast. After we checked out, we starting heading toward the convention center and met up with Tyler James along the way. The 3 of them wanted to do some XP thing that requires you to go to certain locations in the area, so I went to the convention center by myself. I arrived right as they were about to start letting people in. I decided to stop by the FFVII booth even though I figured they would be out of tickets. Luckily, they weren’t. The ticket gave you a time range to come back and line up to play the demo. I hope this system becomes popular at PAX. I know several companies were using it this year, if not all of them. During my first few years at PAX, I remember hearing about people waiting in line 8 hours to play demos of some of the more popular games. This was my first time trying to play one of the more popular games and it was pretty painless. I went back at my allotted time and had to wait about 30 minutes before I could finally play. First they played a short movie for us and then we got to play. It was awesome! Before I went back to play the demo I went to the annex to check out some PC games and the console free play section. I watched a little of the Rocket League tournament in the arena on both days. Other than that, all I did this day was play board games. I played Wingspan, which I had been interested in for a while. I’ll buy it some day most likely. I met up with Cory, Chris, Justin, Tyler James and his husband Shawn Tyler, and a friend of TJ’s. We played a couple of rounds of Coup before we called it a wrap. Cory, Chris, and I left for Portland. We stopped for pizza along the way. I made it back home around 10 that night.

PAX was a blast again this year. As usual, it lit the gaming fire in me again. I play Overwatch almost every day, but my goal is to make time for other games. We said that next year instead of going 2 consecutive days, we may skip a day in between and do some things in Seattle. There is a small part of me that wants to go to PAX all 4 days next year. Crazy, right?

Christmas 2018

Saturday, December 29th, 2018 No comments

Overall, this Christmas has been much better than last year. We actually decorated a tree this year, which we didn’t do last year. There were times when I wasn’t feeling the spirit much, but it always came back. One of the things that helped me get back into it was Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland event. The music, skins, and map decorations are so festive it’s hard not to feel happy, at least until the match starts.

I won’t go into too much detail, but someone close to me is having a hard time and it has put a damper on my mood at times, but we can usually turn things around.

I took a 2-week vacation from work and 1 week is now over. I think I think this is the longest vacation I’ve ever had professionally. So far I’ve done exactly what I planned: played lots of video games, watched a lot of TV, worked on my podcast websites, worked on projects at home, and spent time with friends. I listened to my Christmas mix all the way through this year, but I don’t think I heard “Last Christmas” at all, which is a shame.

I know material things aren’t the most important part of this time of the year, but gifts are still one of my favorite parts of Christmas even though the excitement isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid. I always feel fortunate that people think about me. Here’s my haul this year:

  • Princess Mononoke on blu-ray
  • Marvel trivia box
  • Dancing Groot pop vinyl
  • Lucio and Junkrat pop vinyls
  • Jupiter’s Legacy Vol 1
  • Lunch bag for work
  • Card game and emoji toys (I regifted these)
  • Rainbow socks
  • Tardis fish tank ornament
  • Many Christmas cards (I’ve forgotten to mention these in previous years)
  • Some stuff I treated myself to:
    • Gloomhaven, Founders of Gloomhaven, and Spirit Island board games
    • a new car (post coming soon)
    • an Instant pot

Overall, this has been a fairly good year. There were difficulties, but I think I got through them okay. Professionally, I was thrust into a leadership position around mid-year, and recently I got great feedback about how I’ve been doing. I think I surprised a lot of people. Health-wise, there have been ups and downs, but I’ve done well these past few weeks. I’m eating more home-cooked meals and less junk food. I think I’ll have a workout partner in January, so that should help keep me motivated.

I’m so ready to take on 2019! I think some good changes are coming! I know that January 1 is just another day and it doesn’t mean that anything is going to change, but I think it’s a good opportunity to start over or make a course correction.

As always I hope everyone has a happy holiday season and a great new year! Take care of each other!

Rose City Comic Con 2018

Sunday, September 30th, 2018 No comments

Three weekends ago (the weekend after PAX). I went to Rose City Comic Con. I went back to work after a week long vacation after then and was swamped, so I didn’t have time to write about it.

I won’t do a blow-by-blow as usual, but I will say that this convention, unlike PAX, was more about panels.  There was some cool stuff on the exhibit floor (such as a Dragonball Z exhibit), but I spent most of my time there taking pictures of cosplayers.  I did some artwork from local artists like I normally do.

I went to panels featuring Kristen Bauer, Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Star Trek: The Next Generation cast members (Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, and Michael Dorn), David Tennant, Felicia Day, Overwatch voice actresses Lucy Pohl and Charlet Chung, John Barrowman, Catherine Tate, Karl Urban, Smallville stars Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, Michael Rooker,  and Evangeline Lilly.

I didn’t get any autographs this year, but I did get photo ops with Tenant and the TNG cast members.

They had a board game section which I didn’t check out because I didn’t see anything being played that I was interested in.  Maybe next year.

I ran into my friend Daniel on the second day, but we didn’t hang out long before we got separated.  Again, I kinda like doing my own thing at cons.

I really enjoyed being at RCCC again this year.  It was a exhausting having cons 2 weekends in a row, but I don’t regret it.  I think RCCC is later in the month next year, so that won’t be a problem. I’m so glad to have an event like this right in my back yard.

PAX 2018

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 No comments

Finally, I have returned to PAX!

This past weekend, I went to PAX for the first time in 4 years.  I think it was still referred to as PAX Prime the last time I went.  Now, it’s officially PAX West.  I wanted to go this year if I could get badges, but when I missed the onsale I resigned myself to staying home. Luckily, my friend Cory had bought extra badges and sold me one of his sets. I went with him, his partner Chris, and our friend Cody. We rented an airbnb in Burien, which is right outside of Seattle.

I drove to Seattle Friday morning on my own, parked at CenturyLink Field and took a Lyft to the convention center.  I met Cory and Chris to get my badges and headed off on my own to a Life is Strange panel.  This ended up being the only panel I saw that weekend.  There weren’t a lot interesting panels as far as I saw on the schedule.  Gearbox, Major Nelson, and Destructoid, some of my favorites from years past, weren’t on the schedule this year. Does Destructoid still exist? There was a Giant Bomb panel one night, but I think we went out as a group that night.  I spent the rest of the day at the convention center wondering around, taking pictures of cosplayers, and checking out video games.  I met the others (Cody had arrived by bus in the meantime and had been picked up by Cory and Chris) at the airbnb, and we went out to a brew pub for dinner.
D.Va cosplay

The next day we all went together to the convention center.  We split up shortly after we arrived. I really liked going around on my own.  If I’m trying to keep up with others, I might miss something I’m interested in, like an interesting cosplayer.  I did more of the same as the day before and I also played some video games and board games.  I actually waited in a long line to play a game, which might be a first for me.  I bought one of board games I played – Dice Throne.  We went to Pike Place (my first time) before heading back to the airbnb. That night we took a Lyft to the PAX Pink Party, which is an LGBT event.  It was an okay party.  Cory and Cody met friends of theirs.  I briefly met with somebody I’ve known online for a few months – the president of Seattle Gaymers. We stumbled upon another party downstairs, which was much better than the Pink Party.  I actually danced and sang in front of other people.  After this we got some food at Sizzle Pie and headed home around 2 in the morning.  I think we were all feeling old at this point.
Group Photo

On Sunday I was very tired and sore.  I tried to find activities that would allow me to sit down.  I did wait in another long line to play a game and get pictures of cosplayers.  Also, I played more board games, played some Jack Party Pack, and watched some fighting game competition in the Arena area, which was in the main exhibit area this time.  That night, they went out to eat with a friend of Cory’s, but I decided to go back to the airbnb.  I was pooped.
Cosplayers

I decided to drive back early Monday morning.  Xander had to leave Reese here by himself Sunday night because he had another dog to sit. This was the first time I’ve ever gone out of town and left Reese at home and not at a kennel or dogsitter’s place.  I didn’t want Reese to be here by himself too long. Also, I was exhausted and I don’t think I had another day in me.

It was so much fun getting to go back to PAX!  I’m glad that I went with people I know this time.  Just being around so many people who share the same passion as you is amazing. It was great rediscovering my way around the convention convention center. There’s so much there and it seemed like each day I found an area I had forgotten about, though some things had moved or changed.  I’m 4 years older and a lot more out of shape than I was the last time I went and it showed.  I was tired and sweaty a lot.  I needed to rest often.  When I was with the group, I had a hard time keeping up. I ended up skipping parties and panels I was interested in because it would be hard for me to get there.  I guess that’s motivation for getting in better shape before next time.  I’m really hoping that next time will be next year.

Goodbye Portlandia

Saturday, March 31st, 2018 No comments

Portlandia

Last week I had to say goodbye to another long-running show that I really enjoyed watching.  I started watching Portlandia when I found out I was moving to Portland. Their second season was about to air on IFC.  They did a 8 seasons total. It wasn’t the funniest show around, but there was something funny in almost every episode. It didn’t just make fun of Portland. It made fun of modern life in general. As always, it was great seeing my city on TV. I even got to be an extra in one episode.  Check out the first sketch in Episode 7 for Season 3 or google ‘portlandia gay wedding’ if you want to see it.

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