Thursday, July 31, 2008

San Diego- Baseball

I've mentioned that we went to a baseball game twice now, but haven't actually talked about it. You might be thinking that that is because we didn't have a good time, but you would be wrong.

After arriving at USA Hostel, we discovered that the Monday night event was to go see the home baseball team, the Padres, playing in the local statium, Petco Park. So Claire and I signed up, and tagged along with 11 others from the Hostel, including some staff, to enjoy the game. The Padres were playing against the Arizona Dimondbacks, and so far, their season has been pretty poor, according to those that knew anything about the game.

We all had a blast! The group was sitting across two rows, covering six in one row, and seven directly behnd them, so we were all close together, having a god laugh. The game started slow, but we got to see a few homeruns, the bases were loaded twice and, in the end, the Padres won! This caused a lot of excitement, and really added to a great night.

But more than just the game, we had a lot of fun. I got asked to warn the guy sitting in front of me when I was about to make a smart comment, as my "Put him down like a $10 hooker" comment almost caused him to spray a mouthful of beer on the row in front of him.

And July was $1 coke and hotdogs!! So Claire and I had ourselves a feast for four bucks!

We experienced the "7th Inning Stretch", where everyone gets upand stretches and dances to "Shake It up, Baby". We threw ourselves about for the "Dance For The Cam" in an attempt to get on the JumboTron. We hurled (mock) insults at the opposing team, and cheered on a great game from the home side. In general, we had an incedible night!

Claire and I bought Padres shirts today (expensive, but worth it!), and plan on going to the game either Friday, when the old mascot, the chicken makes a long awaited return, or Saturday for free t-shirts!! Not sure which we want more. Which would you guys go to?

San Diego- The First Day

First thing we did Monday morning after SDCC was move accommodation to the USA Hostel on 5th Street. That's where we started meeting new people and got to see our first ever baseball game, which was great.

But before that, we went out shopping! This pretty much consisted of heading out to an escher-esk mall near the hostel, Horton Plaza. It's really worth seeing. Stairs and escalators criss-crossing each other, needing to go up to get down, seeing places you want to get to across the plaza, but not immediately seeing how to get to them, all sorts of crazy! But there are, like most American malls I imagine, a lot to see and do within it's boundaries, which covers the best part of two whole blocks.

In fact, it's pretty crazy. There was a Panda Express and Panda Restaurant, and two GameStops that I could see! Panda, by the way is a chain of Chinese food places, and the restaurant in Horton Plaza is really nice, with great, friendly staff.

Anyway, we spent a while shopping and eating. I picked up some nice t-shirts in Hot Topic, a store I've heard about many times, but never seen. Claire spent some time in Macy's. But generally, we just hung around and wasted time until we headed back to the hostel, where we ended up meeting three Irish guys, and joining a group for a baseball game!

*Although the image accompanying this post shows me drinking coffee, it is taken inside Horton Plaza, thus the relevance! It is also the first cup of Starbucks I ever drank. A moment worth capturing... sorta...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SDCC- The Experience

There really isn't much point in trying to describe what an amazing time we had at Comic Con International, San Diego, 2008. It's difficult to describe, and would take far too long to type. Besides, most of the stories will go up on my Flickr account as the photos go up. When it comes to the guests and people lining places like Artists Alley, lets just leave it at "Incredible, unbelievable, nice, friendly and warm" and move on. They'll get their time in the spotlight as the photos go up.

Instead, I want to talk about our fellow attendees. Over the course of the four days we met literally hundreds of people, either at the con, or on the trolly's or buses to and from the event. All of them were amazing, nice people who shared our enjoyment of the weekend and loved to exchange stories and tips with others. We had a lovely time meeting them all, and if any of them happen to ever find this blog, Claire and I want to thank them.

I especially liked meeting Daniel and his family, who we bumped into not once, but an unbelievable three times over two days! In an event with 125,000 attendees, this was astonishing. We also had a great time talking to Ryan and Taleya at the Adult Swim party. We were sharing a table, and ended up sharing some really great moments. Plus, it turns out that Ryan is a sculptor, and will be working for Hasbro in the near future! How awesome is that?!?

Beyond that, there are just far too many to name that we met on buses and trolleys, or indeed, while queuing for stuff. We spent over an hour chatting to various people while in line to meet Hideo Kojima, and while meeting him was cool, meeting those fellow con attendees was actually far cooler. We got chatting with people from all over the world, including a large group from Ireland that were working at the con as event staff. We met a great person on the way in to the con on the first morning that walked us to the door and gave us loads of tips and recommendations. She was so incredibly helpful, and we can't thank her enough for helping two very lost looking Irish holiday-ers. Or the couple from New York that we got talking to on the way back from the con on Saturday, only to realise they were getting off at the same stop, then discovering they were staying in the same hotel, and they were in 206, while we had 207!! And the nice person on the bus on Sunday morning that took us to a Borders to buy me a new sketch book. She was great fun, and Claire and her swapped email address'. Also, she recognised my Jamie Madrox Multiple Man t-shirt, so that was cool!!

And then today we arrived in USA Hostel and ended up in a room with two guys from Dublin, Gary and Niall!! We ended up going to a baseball game with a big group from the hostel and having a great night!! I only wish we could have spent more time in the hostel during the con, but we have six more days ahead of us to meet and make new friends.

Looking good so far!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Publicity Stunt, Or Real Deal?

This is just a bit too close to fiction to be fact, but you never know:

Warp Drive Engine Would Travel Faster Than Light

It is possible to travel faster than light. You just wouldn't travel faster than light.

Seems strange, but by manipulating extra dimensions with astronomical amounts of energy, two Baylor University physicists have outlined how a faster-than-light engine, or warp drive, could be created that would bend but not break the laws of physics.

"We think we can create an effective warp drive, based on general relatively and string theory," said Gerald Cleaver, coauthor of the paper that recently appeared on the preprint server

The warp engine is based on a design first proposed in1994 by Michael Alcubierre. The Alcubierre drive, as it's known, involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.

The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.

That means that the ship would arrive at its destination faster than a beam of light traveling the same distance, but without violating Einstein's relativity, which says that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light, since the ship itself isn't actually moving.

Read more at the Discovery Channel new site:

SDCC- Video Games Live

One of the big events we booked months in advance was Video Games Live, a full symphony orchestra and choir playing video game music. Because we booked and paid for the tickets well in advance, I splashed out and got the best tickets available, which turned out to be pretty damned good!! Front row, dead centre! We got dinner served, and free drinks! Amazing.

But nothing on the music itself. This trip has been incredible already for Claire and I, and it seems that there is some greater force ensuring things just... work out in our favour. We spend all Thursday meeting the nicest people, getting amazing sketches, spending real time talking to people I only ever dreamed of meeting before, and then, Thursday evening, VGL seemed to choose it's pieces and guests only for Claire and I.

Here's how te night went:

  • Opening Medley
  • Metal Gear Solid- Incredible! An amazing piece to kick the show off with! And everyone loved the guard and box wandering around on-stage. The box stayed on=stage for the whole piece, and the following one, before revealing VGL creator Tommy Tallarico, who joked that he was the only one short enough to fit inside!
  • Metroid Medley- They covered the entire series, but got the biggest reaction to the Super Metroid piece.
  • Civilisation IV- Beautiful and powerful.
  • Tron- Got a huge reaction! Great piece.
  • Legend of Zelda Medley- as with Metroid, they covered the entire series, but as soon as Ocarina of Time appeared onscreen, the crowd went wild! This was introduced via recorded video by the original composer of the Mario and Zelda themes, Koji Kondo.
  • Kingdom Hearts- I was blown away! Disney kindly allowed the video playing to use the cartoon footage instead of game footage. It was spectacular.
  • World of WarCraft- Seriously. Playing just for us! Claire nearly died. And they had the original composers on-stage... who we knew we could meet later, as we had back-stage passes! You can only image how Claire felt about this.
  • StarCraft II- The perfect follow-up to the WarCraft stuff. They played a new piece, introduced by it's composer, as well as playing the piece used in the trailer, while the trailer played! Nice. I loved this one.
  • Super Mario Brothers Medley- This started with Martin Leung playing the Mario Brothers theme on piano, blindfolded!! Awe-inspiring stuff.
  • Guitar Hero Competition- Before the show there had been a Guitar Hero competition, and the winner was brought up on stage to play Sweet Emotion on the game, with the symphony backing him, and Tommy Tallarico on guitar assisting. It was incredible. The guy was amazing, and when we met him back-stage later, he told us that he doesn't own Guitar Hero, and had never played Sweet Emotion before! Regardless, he managed to play it on Expert, and score over 200,000 points, winning a tonne of stuff!
  • Halo- The crowd went ballistic! Everyone loved this. A girl in Cortana costume came on-stage to do some of the voice bits, and they played my favourite Halo piece, the teaser for Halo 3. As the piece ended and Cortana said "This is the way the world ends", Master Chief arrived on-stage!
  • Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroths Theme- Halo was the final piece, with this standing as the encore. Once again, the choir blew everyone away with the power and beauty.
  • Castlevania- I don't know if they always do a two song encore, but they did for us, wrapping up the night with this. What a way to end!

But it wasn't the end for Claire and I. We got to then head back to the VIP Area and meet Jason Hayes, composer of World of WarCraft, Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall themselves, Martin Leung, and some of the special guests, including the girl dressed as Cortana! We also talked to the guy that played Guitar Hero, who was visibly shaking still, some 30 minutes after his performance! Nice guy. And, we got to meet Dee Baker!! He had been up on-stage earlier and did a live voicing of the monster for Gears of War, the blind one that you have to orbital strike. He voiced it in-game, and recreated and matched the scenes as the game played! But more importantly for us, he voiced Appa and Momo in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it was a real honor and pleasure to meet and talk to him. While wandering the VIP area, we even got a copy of the just released Video Games Live CD!! Woo!!

After all that, we grabbed a taxi and headed home. This was our first day at SCDD, and we thought it couldn't get any better. We were wrong. So very, very wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

SDCC- The Good Times Don't End

Let me update you guys on some of the stuff we've done or seen so far!

  • The sketch-book I brought over for the entire trip, including all the amazing people I'm sure I'll meet at PAX, is, with a day still to go in Comic Con, full. Completely! And I can't find a suitable replacement for tomorrow.
  • We have already met and held conversations with, among others, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Jackson Publick, Ben TenNapel, Gabe and Tyco, Peter David, Orson Scott Card, Raymond E. Feist, Larry Hama, Wil Wheaton, Rob Liefeld, Greg Pak and countless more I'll try to mention once I'm not using a tiny keyboard and touch pad instead of a mouse. We've met and got autographs or more from Hideo Kojima, Gerard Way, James Stewart & Gabriel Ba, as well as many more.
  • I've bought way to many books already!
  • I'm very proud of how few action figures I've bought!
  • We have, so far, attended a total of one panel, and even then, it was because we met the guys it was all about outside and spent ages talking to them... also, it was the Marvel/Hasbro Action Figure Panel... so, you know. Some interest there...
  • We have met and exchanged email address' with the most incredible people, making friends with folks from all over the world!
  • So many photos. So, so many photos.
  • San Diego is beautiful and friendly.
  • My feet hurt.
  • Good (or even passable) tea does not seem to exist here.
  • Everyone wants to visit Ireland, particularly the writers and artists.
  • Dear Joss Whedon: You are awesome. You are a funny guy, and seem very natural and honest. But I am not willing to queue for six hours just to sit in a room with 6,000 others and listen to you talk. Sorry. There are far to many things to do at SDCC than to make that worth considering.
  • Claire got a drawing of herself by Yoshitaka Amano! It is as incredible as you think it could be, and more. She nearly cried. He drew it without prompt. Apparently he liked the hat she was wearing.
  • By 1pm, sitting down for ten minutes becomes more important that seeing the next line of writers or artists.
  • Skype is a wonderful invention.
  • People recognised and complimented me on my t-shirt (which is meaningless to most readers until I post pictures!!)

More updates soon, but nothing detailed until I have a real keyboard with a mouse. Also, photos may take a little while, but I have lots!! And no Picasa to run them through.

Friday, July 25, 2008

SDCC- 24:1

What does the title ratio refer to I hear you ask? Well, it means that, after one day, I can safely proclaim that so far, for every one hour spent awake and active in San Diego, twentyfour incredible things have happened to us!

From getting amazing sketches for free, to meeting the most incredible people face-to-face, to just constantly talking to nice, genuine locals always happy to help dazed looking strangers, this trip has been nothing short of spectacular!! And I haven't even gotten to the part where we not only attended Video Games Live (front row seats, dead centre!), but also got to meet the creators and chat to them and the various special guests in the VIP area!! Or that on the way back, we actually met and talked to Ryan and Dorkman of Ryan Vrs Dorkman 1 and 2!! Amazing, nice, cool guys.

Typing on Claire's new tiny laptop is going to take some more getting used to, thus the lack of links, or any of my usual touches. I'll try to update properly soon, with photos! Oh, so many photos!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Fabled City Of Atlanta

It would seem that using Bender in my good-bye post is almost prophetic! Our flight to JFK is arriving too late for us to make our connecting flight to San Diego, so instead we're off to Atlanta for our connection!

We still arrive in San Diego at the same time, so no worries there. But it is a little adventure. Plus, Atlanta is easier to connect through anyway, and it will make the return trip a little different to the outward one... assuming we don't get redirected away from JFK again!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Are Outta Here!

Keep one eye on this space for ongoing updates, live blogging (yeah... right!), and all the best of Epic Holiday, 2008*.
*Setting the precedent for EH '09, '10, '11, etc.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Turning Death Into A Fighting Chance To Live

On the cover, it looks as though Star Trek has, after 42 years, five live-action series, one animated offering, making up an astounding 726 episodes over 29 separate seasons of television, ten movies in the bag, countless fan productions, computer games, a library worth of novels, comics, action figures and merchandising of all shapes and sizes, finally run it's course. Thank you Wikipedia for the informative facts there!

Of course, as on a book, covers are often deceiving, and Star Trek is currently attempting to rejuvenate itself with a new movie, based in the golden era of the franchise. Yes, Kirk, Spock and company are coming back. Younger, slimmer, and sexier fitter than ever before!

Let me say, straight up, that I am not a Trekkie. The only series I've ever enjoyed was Next Gen, and that was because, at the time, it was the only thing remotely like it RTE aired. I didn't have very much to compare it against, but for better or worse, it still holds a place in my heart. Plus, unlike later incarnations, RTE managed to show all of Next Gen at a reasonable hour! The Original Series was too old for me. RTE inexcusably stopped showing DS9 right before it got, according to those that know, good. Voyager was only ever shown at some ridiculous hour like 11pm, or later! And I don't think we ever saw Enterprise here. From what little I saw of Voyager, I liked it. It had the "boldly going where no one had gone before" vibe I enjoyed from Next Gen, and two of the handful of episodes I caught featured Q (they were a two parter I saw together), my favourite recurring "villain" from Next Gen.

I did, however, enjoy the movies. The classic ones, starring Shatner and Nimoy are still great fun to watch. Yes, even the whale one... maybe not the one with God, though. I love First Contact. But after that... I had to look up what Insurrection was about, and even after skimming the Wikipedia article for it, I just can't remember much about it at all. I seem to recall Data going berserk at the start, and then... nothing. That's it. Even after reading the plot synopsis. I still have yet to see Nemesis, and am in no hurry, really.

So that puts what I am about to say in perspective. Ahem.

Damn!! I am starting to look forward to Star Trek 2009 (formerly 2008. Accursed delays!). The cast sounds really strong, and when J.J. Abrams is reigned in and forced to do a movie-length plot, it can turn out great, unlike when he's let loose with a multi-season series (I would link to the official home-page but, "Yo! ABC dudes!! Spoilerific homepage!!")! Plus, I love their idea of minimalism in web design! Awesome! So, when Abrams stated upfront that there would be no big news for San Diego Comic Con (Have I mentioned yet that we'll be there?!? I have? Oh... well... we will), I was momentarily disappointed. Only slightly. But then, Paramount went and released these to brighten up all our days! Click to embiggen.

They'll be available at the Paramount booth at San Diego Comic Con.
Which I'll be at.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Is Worse Than One Of Me?

Six of me! In one room!! Crazy!

Lots of Photoshopping here, obviously! Not very well done, just took lots of photos of me in various places around the room using the tripod, then used the lasso tool to carefully cut each of the clones out and paste them into a single image. It shouldn't be hard to work out which clone belongs to the full background. Things look great until you blow it up and start looking closer. But I'm just nit-picking! For a first attempt, self taught, with no masking or other neat PS trickery, it's not bad at all!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where The Hell Is He Now?

Continuing my limited series of cheap posts with yet another YouTube video. I've been following Matts exploits for some time now, having seen his original video a few years back. This new one is awesome!