Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Alternative Press Expo 2015

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
This weekend was the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose! The event is essentially an independent Comic-Con where independent artists come out with their comic books, illustrations, characters, and various other art implementations to hopefully hit into that market at an affordable rate for a booth & find new fanatics. Izzy & I went to APE last year when it was in San Francisco’s Fort Mason as guests… and it was pretty impressive. A plethora of great artists & comic book creators to check out and purchase their wares. You can read more about it HERE!
This year, the event has become truly independent and the founder of Slave Labor Graphics (“Invader Zim”, etc) has taken over the event from its Comic Con backing… and moved the event to San Jose, back where it originally began a few years ago in the San Jose Convention Center’s South Hall. Now… it was mentioned before that the process in getting a booth at the convention was… frustrating to say the least. Izzy& I went with three other of her friends/artists to go in on a booth & minimize the (in hindsight ridiculous) costs of the booth… but Izzy & I definitely kinda took the lead in getting everything handled with the planner… but to no avail. We didn’t get a whole lot of information ahead of time, and when we did it wasn’t in a timely manner. I understand… skeleton crews with no events and all that… I’ve been a part of a few… so please don’t get it twisted. However, when it resulted in us signing up MONTHS in advance… and then being placed in the worst-corner possible… purely because of incompetence… that’s when it becomes an issue. It felt a little fishy… but hey, we’re awesome & we’ll soldier on. 99% of the time, the experience is what you make of it!
So we set out early Saturday morning to get out there around 8 AM and get setup before the event starting at 11 AM. As luck would have it, there was a setup issue the day before so they had to move some things around… and as luck would have it, we were still in kind of an off-corner… but it ended up being between the Altspace Virtual Reality booth and the coffee / food court area… and directly across from where the speaker seminars were. GROOVY BONUS!!! Anyway, here are some pictures of us setting up…

After a few hours of having expo guests come check out our INCREDIBLY CUTE stuff… Izzy had to test out her new Umbreon outfit to help promote our booth and also just wander around and meet her fellow colleagues…


Then it was time for lunch…
One of the major benefits of having five people at our booth, is that we could keep two people there while the others checked out the event if needed, but as it really wasn’t my scene (and I’m the financial guy) then I was the last one to wander around but there was a lot of great booths… but they didn’t want us taking a bunch of pictures obviously, so here is what I have…
Oh… and then we found a booth on the far end that had our names on it… which is odd because they specifically directed us to our more convenient booth… AWESOME!!! There were also some great speakers about setting up Kickstarter projects, getting into the industry, and such…


After a long day, we chilled at the Ramada Inn nearby… and then did it again on Sunday for another six hours… which meant another run around from Umbreon… this time, with a special deal on prints!!!
Unfortunately it seems like most of the exhibitors that we talked with didn’t seem to do too well… for a variety of reasons. Attendance was okay, but not great… there was a lot of different things offered… with a lot of different price points, some not at all for the casual expo attendee… but yeah, based on what we were told… it seemed like most people lost a lot of money getting a booth. So with that… we felt FANTASTIC to break even at our booth! WE DID GRRRRREAT!!! Breaking even wasn’t bad for a first event of this scope… so congratulations to all the ladies! We very well may do this again next year… definitely if the booths are less expensive which it almost seems like they would have to be for most exhibitors to return. Overall, a fantastic weekend!!!
What does this mean for us? We’re going to probably be in a LOT more fairs and expos like this in the next year now that Izzy & her friends have free time (graduated) and I really like the process and think that we have GREAT stuff to offer to a variety of guests. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on where you can meet up with us. Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Twilight Tusk

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
The other night, Izzy & I watched the horror anthology of 1983’s “Twilight Zone: The Movie” which is… basically a movie where four of Hollywood’s best directors at the time rebooted four old episodes of the legendary 1950’s Rod Serling TV series. I hadn’t seen this movie in a long, long time… and the only thing that I really remember from it are that the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes have parodied them… and my dad used to give me the crazy Dan Aykroyd look every once in a while and say “Do you want to see something REALLY scary?” and I’d immediately respond, “No, I do not. Not interested at all. Thank you.” That’ll be explained in the Proglogue starring Dan Aykroyd& Albert Brooks in the first few minutes. However, because this is an anthology… I’m going to review this movie by its four sections… since they have different directors. You’re welcome.
Segment 1: “Time Out” – Directed by John Landis (“Blues Brothers”, “Animal House”, etc) – A bigoted man meets up with a few friends of his at the bar… and he just missed out on his promotion at work… and basically the reason he believes that it happened was that the guy who got the promotion was Jewish. From there, he basically goes into a rambling racist rant and even pisses off a few people at the bar… and then he leaves in a huff. Well, when he steps outside… he’s magically transported to Nazi-occupied Germany in the 1940’s. Now he will know what REAL prejudice is! Overall a good segment… good message of racial tolerance, keeping everything in perspective, judging people by their actions and not their race, creed, all that stuff… give it a watch. Not incredible, but fairly memorable.
Segment 2: “Kick the Can” – Directed by Steven Spielberg (“Jaws”, “A.I.”, “Munich”, etc) – If there’s a segment to completely skip because it’s pretty damn boring AND it doesn’t really fit into the whole Twilight Zone thriller theme, it’s this schmaltzy bit from Spielberg about a retirement community who has a mystical, magical stranger (played by Scatman Crothers) who is trying to cheer up the locals… but they’re a bit on the crotchety side. Well, what if they could be young again? Although the segment is well-shot (even if a little slow), acted well, and all that… it’s basically just a shortened version of “Cocoon” and there’s really no intrigue in my humble opinion. It seemed REALLY out of place.
Segment 3: “It’s a Good Life” – Directed by Joe Dante (“Gremlins”, etc) – A young woman (prime Kathleen Quinlan) is on the road going… somewhere… when she stumbles into a diner ran by character actor Dick Miller. While leaving, she accidentally back into a kid named Anthony on his bike… and offers to take him to his house. When she walks into the house, the family invites her to stay for dinner… but things seem a little off. The family is on edge… cartoons are playing on every TV… in fact, the whole house kind of seems like she’s in a cartoon… but why? Short of giving anything away, I’ll stop there. What I really like about this segment was the growing sense of suspense during the buildup portion… and then the (somewhat dated but still) great use of physical effects with the various creatures that pop up during this segment. Also, fun fact, this segment was redone in a Simpson Treehouse of Horror episode… and the voice of Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) is Anthony’s sister in this show. You’ll be able to tell which one as soon as she opens her mouth.
Segment 4: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – Directed by George Miller (“Mad Max” movies & “Babe”) – This was my favorite segment! The TV version stars the great William Shatner in the main role, but for the movie version it’s the great John Lithgow… and he stars as an airline passenger who is having a bit of a panic attack while mid-flight during a bit of turbulence in the heart of a lightning storm. The stewardesses offer him some sedatives to help him calm down… but he takes a few deeps breaths & says that he’ll be fine. Throw in a few creepy passengers (especially that little girl, WTF?) and suspension is being built beautifully… and then he glances out the window… and sees some one out on the wing of the plane! He calls for the stewardess… but she doesn’t see it… no one else does… neither does he… is he losing his mind? Long story short: It gets crazy from there! Also, Simpsons did that one too… but yeah, check out the big screen version. I love everything about this segment… even the creepy little girl with the doll. It totally makes sense that this part was from the director of the Mad Max movies. Overall, basically see this whole damn movie… but if you only have an hour to spare, skip the old folks home. Great stuff!
Monday night, I watched another horror flick that had been recommended to me called “Tusk” starring Justin Long, Michael Parks & Haley Joel Osment and directed by Kevin Smith (“Clerks”, “Mallrats”, “Jersey Girl”, “Dogma”, etc). This is apparently the first in a horror trilogy that Kevin Smith is doing (not unlike “Devil” was for M. Night Shyamalan a few years back) which peaked my interest… mostly as a “can he really pull it off?” interest. Now, I’m a big fan of most Kevin Smith movies… but what seems to work best in his movies (dialogue, humor, occasional touching moments, cameos by big stars like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon or Will Smith) doesn’t typically translate well to the horror genre… unless it’s a kind of tongue-in-cheek horror parody or something… and even then, it’s tricky. So yeah, interested! The movie is about a podcaster named Wallace (Long) who travels the world in search of stories to share with his co-host (Osment) on their show, the Not-See Party (always make sure to spell it out over the phone). Well, his travels take him to the Great White North (Canada) where he wanders into a bar after a failed interview… and finds an interesting invite on the bulletin board from an elderly gentleman (Parks) who wants to share his stories. PERFECT! He calls the man up… and they arrange an interview. The evening starts off at his palatial estate about an hour from anywhere… and then things take a sickening turn when it seems that his beverage has been drugged.
Now, I don’t want to give too much away… but let’s just say that what follows is very “Human Centipede” inspired. For the rest of this paragraph, there are going to be spoilers… so if you’re interested in seeing this movie, then by all means, please skip to the next paragraph about Softball. Seriously, I’m going to reveal some things that might ruin the experience if you’re looking at it with fresh eyes. Okay, now that they’re gone… this movie was a little odd-fitting to me. The performances were pretty great. Michael Parks was amazing as the protagonist! Genesis Rodrigues as his girlfriend had some VERY impressive moments… and she’s obviously easy on the eyes. Even the addition of Johnny Depp as Canadian detective Guy LaPointe was convincing… even if it’s Depp in a LOT of makeup with a crazy accent as what seems to be his MO the past few years. However, I couldn’t really tell if this movie was supposed to be horror… or a parody of horror. If it was supposed to be a parody, then it wasn’t really funny… barely a few chuckles… even though there were a LOT of jabs at Canadian stereotypes & Justin Long rattling off the typical Kevin Smith dialogue in the first act or so. The whole premise is a crazy old man who’s trying to surgically turn abducted people into a walrus, and then live with them as his loving companion for the rest of their lives. If that premise doesn’t SCREAM parody of horror… then I don’t know what does. It’s pretty f**king ridiculous. That being said… the movie is pretty well shot for the eerie atmosphere of a horror flick… well-acted… and as long as you can get past the whole ridiculousness about the walrus (which the final transformation costume looks like Frankenstein Fat Bastard with two parking cones shoved in his mouth) then it can be a pretty harrowing tale. I don’t know… it’s just a weird mid-genre movie… and in doing so, it doesn’t really pull off either. Definitely an interesting movie… and I kind of enjoyed it… but yeah, just a little off to me. Apparently he’s following up this movie with “Yoga Hosers” later this year (involves two teenagers from this movie teaming up with Guy LaPointe to battle an ancient evil) and “Moose Jaws” next year (actual tagline is “Like Jaws, but with a moose”) so it might be interesting to see how they all interconnect… but only mildly curious based on this movie. Again, I enjoy Kevin Smith movies… but I understand that sometimes they’re a little weird with his dialogue, inside gags & stuff like that when he’s trying to do a serious genre flick. There are definitely great elements of this movie (again, Parks, f**king boss!!!) but may have missed some points in the delivery overall. Okay, back to non-movie stuff…
Tuesday night, we had a surprise doubleheader in softball (apparently a makeup game that nobody knew about until the umpire asked us as everybody was leaving) but as per usual… we f**king crushed it. Final scores were something like 13-1 & 14-3. Our defense is solid as always and our bats were finally catching fire too… well, by our bats I mean the team’s… my perfect batting average came to a crushing halt with a 1-of-4 performance over the two games… but yeah, the team is 7-0 still and we’re just catching stride.
This weekend, in spite of pretty obvious mishandling / incompetence by the powers that be over the event, we will still have a booth at the Alternative Press Expo in San Jose on Saturday & Sunday. Though because of the mishandling / incompetence / prejudicial behavior, we will be that awesome booth in the far-back corner away from everything… even though we booked the booth several months ago. Yeah, obviously I’m a little pissed at the piss-poor performance of the event coordinators... and I’m not even going to get into how they’ve “promoted” the event to absolutely no one… but f**k ‘em, we’ll be there, we’ll sell a bunch of art in spite of them… and then they may or may not get a flaming bag of human excrement on the way out. Come take part in the fun! On the real though, there’ll be a LOT of great independent artists & comic book people (billed as the Indie Comic-Con but you’ve never heard of it due to lack of promotion) and it’s definitely worth a stop… or at least it was. Worst-case scenario, I’ll be there… so you know that’s f**king awesome 24-7. See y’all there!
Aside from that, more to come after this busy busy weekend… have a great weekend yourselves!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Scary Oktoberfest

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Wednesday night, Izzy & I watched the movie “Pet Sematary” which… personally is one the creepiest Stephen King properties that I’ve ever seen. I hadn’t seen it in many years, so I wanted to see if it stood the test of time (since I’ve been disappointed by more than a few like “Maximum Overdrive” & “IT” when watching as an adult). In fact, I may make a Stephen King Movie List one of these days after rewatching a few more… and playing the Stephen King Drinking Game… but yeah, this was made in the late 80’s so peak Stephen King popularity & probably one of his most famous. The story is… wait for it… set in rural Maine, and follows the tale of a young family of four who just moved into their dream house (along a freeway full of speeding semi-trucks) and they had a giant, elderly neighbor Jud (played by Fred Gwynne aka Herman Munster) who befriends them… but seems a little on edge. The family starts having weird dreams & hallucinations… but nothing major. Well, the family cat dies… and rather than just tell the daughter & have her deal with her first loss in life… Jud suggests “another way” and leads the father to an ancient Indian burial ground… and he buries the cat. The next day, the cat comes back… but he’s not nearly as nice… and the daughter is having prophetic dreams of what happened… and I’ll just say that sh*t REALLY hits the fan when (during some of the worst parental supervision since “The Walking Dead”) their two-year old gets plowed by a semi-truck! Long story short, the movie holds up pretty damn well! There’s a side story about the wife & her crippled sister (though played by a dude) and the events of her death… and it’s pretty damn terrifying. Two-year old Miko Hughes makes his debut as the demon child… and there’s obvious creepiness around that in the finale. Some of the acting is questionable… but overall, I’d definitely recommend checking it out… and watch your Achilles tendon. Sequel review probably coming soon…
Thursday night, we followed that up with another Stephen King written classic called “The Dead Zone” starring 1983 Christopher Walken as English teacher Johnny Smith whose involved in a horrific car accident… then wakes from a coma… FIVE YEARS LATER… and then finds out that he has psychic abilities upon touching people’s hands. There was a fairly popular TV series made about this story in the 90’s starring Anthony Michael Hall… but I never really watched it so… pass on that for now. You’re probably all familiar with the premise… I think it’s been parodied… I don’t know, everywhere. This movie is pretty great in setting the parameters for some mental injury because… well… Christopher Walken is in it… and he’s a little off kilter to say the least. Well, the real turning point in the movie is when Johnny touches the hand of Senatorial candidate Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) and foresees him becoming President and bringing on a nuclear apocalypse… so then the question becomes “If you could go back & stop Hitler before he came to power… would you do it?” It’s pretty awesome… and directed by David Cronenberg who brought you memorable movies like “The Fly”, “Eastern Promises”, “A History of Violence”, “Dead Ringers” & “Scanners” so you’re in for a treat. I definitely say check it out.
Friday night, Izzy & I met up with her aunts and their friends for the last of this year’s Point Richmond Summer Concert Series where we had some nice free soul music in the city square… and then we ate some great Thai food. I was not aware of this area at all… but it’s actually a pretty sweet little town off the freeway and railroad adjacent… yet very 1950’s Americana feel to it. Here are some pictures of the great times with the ladies…

Saturday, Izzy & I started up our annual tradition of our Pumpkin Amber Ale… and this year’s edition looks pretty amazing… and it should be ready in time for Halloween festivities. Here are some pictures of the process…
Sunday, we met up with Big Ben & Lone Cicerone to enjoy an afternoon at Oktoberfest at Spiesekammer in Alameda. This is the 2nd Sunday of four consecutive Sundays where this German restaurant goes all out with oompah music, over a dozen authentic German festbiers on tap, and all kinds of amazingly delicious cuisine to pair it with. I played the role of designated driver… but here are some pictures of the WONDERFUL things that I got to put in my mouth…

We were there for a couple of hours, enjoyed a few liters of beer a piece, watched some football (mostly the Niners get destroyed by the Cardinals) and when it was all said & done… they decided to treat us to the whole thing! Truly some of the greatest people on Earth, am I right? A HUGE thank you to Big Ben & Lone Cicerone (plug of her blog yet again, check it out) and we’ve got next round!
Also, we had some blood moon thing... here are some horrible pics of that too...

Well, that’ll do it for this round… we’ve got a busy few weeks coming up with Alternative Press Expo in San Jose coming up this next weekend, Meal on Wheels event coming up soon, a few competition results that should be coming through, Izzy’s mom moving back to the Bay Area, and that’s all before Halloween… and let’s face it, stuff always just pops up… and we’ll be brewing some new deliciousness in between too. I’ll certainly keep you posted… but in the meantime, have a great week everybody!!!

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