Monday, October 31, 2011

August 2011

yeah, I know. It's kinda lame to put the bulk of a month into a single post. But, really, we didn't do too much. I got back from LA, Jonathan went from Florida to Las Vegas (for a conference) and then came home. Then he went back to Denver and I started furiously writing to catch up and create new things.

Jonathan graduated from the program that he was part of at work (the one that is the base for our moving around the past few years) and we had a party at our house for everyone. It was nice to see the twelve or so people in the program again, as I hadn't seen some of them since Denver in 2009. Because graduation was on a Thursday, some of Jonathan's colleagues stayed in the area for the weekend and we went up to San Francisco and did fun things.

We had fabulous Thai one night and delicious German the other. I ordered the Gegbratenes halbes Hunchen in Zwiebelsobe mit Reibekuchen (forgive me for not putting in the special characters). Thank goodness there was an English translation... otherwise I would've struggled! Jonathan went with the Wiener Schnitzel special. Everyone at the table shared two "boots" of Radeberger beer, which was pretty good. We shared pretzels, too. The other notable thing about the restaurant was the paper birds that were positioned throughout both rooms... apparently they re-do them a few times a year! 

taking a turn with the boot
Jonathan's Wiener Schnitzel
my dumpling-stuffed chicken with shallot sauce & potato pancakes

the birds
We also went to some other neat places in the city while we had friends in town, including a speakeasy, a pirate bar, and a trip to the American Grilled Cheese place again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Amy in Los Angeles

I got back from Comic-Con very late on Sunday night and had to leave Tuesday morning to drive to Los Angeles. If everything had been planned further in advance and we didn't share a car, I probably would have driven to San Diego and then spent an extra day either there or in LA between events, as they're not too far apart. But alas, that's not how it happened.

If you have been reading TheTalkingBox for a while, you've noticed that there's been a gigantic increase in output this year. I still do 90% of the writing, but in addition to Jonathan we now have a third contributor to the site. While non-recap posts have been rare in the past month, they are returning... it's just extra hectic at the beginning of the television season! Anyway, back to the point... it's my full-time job now, rather than the hobby it started as back in 2008. It had started taking an increasing amount of time, but after several bigger organizations in the field found the blog, I was encouraged to do a lot more. This included heading to the TV Critics Summer Tour in Los Angeles.

It was a two-week event, though I only went for the first five days - I was pretty late to register and was early in the process of figuring out how to do things as a member of the press. Luckily, I knew a few people who live in the LA area and contacted them to try and get an idea of where would be smart to stay (I had never been to Los Angeles). A very old friend of mine (we sat across from one another in 6th grade science class, to give you an idea) offered to let me stay at his apartment, and I gratefully accepted.

Jonathan was in Denver and would be headed to Florida while I was in LA, so I made the drive alone, which actually wasn't bad. I arrived during rush hour but didn't experience too much delay in getting to James' place. The drive was around 6 hours, which wasn't bad... though it was kinda strange to drive through desert for hundreds of miles and then hit mountains so steep that there are multiple signs telling you to turn off your air conditioner! The car was a champ though, and I'm glad.
a view of the road, mountains, sky, and ocean
Without saying too much (it was a private event, after all), I learned a lot and experienced various degrees of encouragement to do what I'm doing. I found out that the digital recorder I brought didn't work anymore (it gets used very rarely), so that left me out of doing individual interviews. I still got tons of stuff that's been feeding posts and articles and will continue to do so. The first three days were for cable networks and then PBS had two days to showcase things. There were events, panels, happy hours, and parties. The commute to the Tour from James' wasn't bad, it took about half an hour in the morning and fifty minutes at night. And those days were LONG. I was there by 8 or 8:30 every morning and didn't leave to head back until after 8pm or later each night. Fortunately, every meal was provided, as well as multiple snacks.
with Lady Macbeth, a bird at the Playboy Mansion
Part of the Playboy Mansion
Hugh Hefner's duplicate star with a Playmate
Synchronized swimming in a rooftop pool
another shot of the swimmers
The first of five courses during Sundance's evening
Second course
Third course

me with the real Elmo puppet, being handled by the talented  Kevin Clash
Sadly, I had a totally of about four hours to catch up with James, whom I hadn't seen since Jonathan and I got married. We did get to share a little about what we've been up to and what's new, and I met his girlfriend. She suggested that, if I only had time to do one touristy thing, to head to the Observatory, as it offered some beautiful views and was nearby. I went with it and stopped by on my way out of town. I'm glad I went, and you can see those photos below. I'm also glad that I took 101 back - it was easier and less nerve-wracking as the cities were closer together... less dessert!
the Hollywood sign!
the city in the distance
look at the smog!
Griffith Observatory

Friday, October 28, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con, Part 5

(aren't you guys glad that I take copious notes all the time? How else would I be able to write about an event I went to months ago, LoL?)

I was so beyond tired by Sunday morning that I slept in until about 6:30am, then grabbed some of the free breakfast that our hotel had been offering but we hadn't been able to enjoy. I also took some photos of the view from the hotel room, which I had been meaning to do all week.
I got to the Con and was surprised at the line for my first pick of the day - "Archaia: The Early Works of Jim Henson." We were allowed to sit though, which was nice. The special thing about it was that they were going to discuss and show some of Tale of Sand, a graphic novel that was never finished. There was a ton of background, a lot of great questions, and we were encouraged to take photographs of the various scenes shown to us on screen. They also aired some of Jim Henson's early works, which were brilliant. You may remember that I saw some of his rare masterpieces a couple years ago

I took the next few hours to explore Exhibition Hall some more, then went to two back-to-back sessions on learning to draw cartoons. I felt that it was a good way to end my first Comic-Con experience. First, they taught Simpsons characters... specifically Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Then, we got Peanuts characters, but the instructor rushed quite a bit there. We learned two stances for Snoopy, two for Charlie Brown, one for Sally, one for Woodstock, and the profile heads for Linus, Schroeder, Violet, and Lucy.

Captain Jack Sparrow... made of Legos

Peanuts heads
I took a long way back to the hotel so that I could see some more of the Gaslamp district. It was an area that I didn't get to last time I was in San Diego (Summer 2007). I got back to the hotel in plenty of time, and was able to catch an earlier shuttle to the airport. I even was also the only one in the van, so it was a nice, quiet ride. We hit no traffic getting there, and security was fairly quick. Shortly after I made it to the gate though, I began to get really tired. I changed into track pants and a sweatshirt and started writing.

I had a nice flight, chatting with the couple next to me who were also at the Con. It was late when I got in, and I had some trouble finding the car (while I was out of town, Jonathan got called to fly to Denver so he left the car at the airport for me), but made it home and fell asleep without much incident.

A few final pictures of the costumes...

from Avatar
the back of the Avatar guy

Thursday, October 27, 2011

San Diego Comic-Con, Part 4

By Saturday I knew what was going on and had a good idea of how things were done. Still, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what time to head out in the morning. I knew that I was going for Ballroom 20, one of the largest rooms... and the longest lines. I knew that I'd be in there for at least 4 hours, but I'd see five panels. I ended up getting to Comic-Con about 7:05am, but that ended up not being a problem, since I still had a good place in my line.
On the way to the Con I stopped and took some photos of the
South Park area that hadn't opened for the day yet.
So good a place, actually, that I got in for the first panel of the day - Chuck at 10 o'clock. I got my t-shirt and took a few notes, but since I wasn't familiar with the show, I didn't understand the clips or jokes. Then, at 11am, the Terra Nova panel began. It was one of the most highly anticipated events of the conference, and I had a great seat. The panel was only to be one hour, but they started with 54 minutes of the two-hour pilot. It was amazing, though by now I'm sure you've seen it if you cared to. They ran over by allowing a half-dozen or so questions, which didn't really shed much more light on the new show.

the start of the drawing smackdown
The next four panels were all animated, FOX shows. Futurama, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad were all decent panels, though some were better than others. Futurama treated us to a clip from the season finale. It ended with a "drawing smackdown" of Matt Groening and Peter, the guy who normally draws Bender, both drawing Bender. Matt was using his left hand as a bit of a handicap, and still busted out like six sketches in the time it took Peter to draw one. They were given to audience members who were dressed as Futurama characters, which was cool.

I sat next to a Zoidberg look-alike
The Simpsons panel gave us some short clips, shared some guests for the new season, and then took a TON of questions. The best part about it, though, was that Matt Groening gave away a Simpsons toy or collectible to each person who asked a question AND he tried to theme it to the question or to their outfit. I just thought that was really a step above and beyond. Family Guy  talked about some upcoming plots, showed some clips, and took some questions. American Dad gave us a pretty full episode, then took questions.

I got out around 3pm and headed back to the hotel to rest and write for a couple of hours before coming back for the big evening event, the annual Masquerade. It's the formal costume contest. I also said goodbye to Kelly, who was headed to her friend's for the night and then back to Oklahoma. I stopped to get Quizno's on the way to Masquerade, which was great. I had a very difficult time entering the building for it, as only one entrance was open but nobody could give clear instructions. Once inside, however, I found a room to watch pretty easily (I didn't get tickets to the actual event so was watching it simulcast) and enjoyed my dinner as the event went on. It was shorter than I expected, and several comments were made about how there were fewer entries than normal because of how difficult tickets had been to obtain.Afterward, I tried the shuttle, which worked out pretty well but not something I'd rely upon. Anyway, here are some photos.

the announcers
Clone Wars Season 4 Wolfpack Clone Trooper
Mad Hatter

Brak-est Night


Ugly Stepsisters - Drizella & Anastasia

San Diego Comic-Con, Part 3

I promise we're going to get caught up, folks. I'm embarassed to say I'm still talking about July when next week it'll be November! But, almost nothing happened in August or September, so that should be like 1 post, LoL.

Friday I started off by getting in line for the 2012 pre-registration. I was in line by 6:30am and was told that I was 100+ people past the point of "guaranteed registration." That was a bit frustrating, but I decided to stick it out. I made small talk with the guy next to me while texting Kelly (who was in line for Hall H). They scrunched us up and moved us a bit. Eventually they herded us toward the building and gave out our tickets as we entered. We were put into corrals (4 lines per corral) by 7:30am and it was announced that, if we were inside, we would be guaranteed the opportunity to buy tickets for all four days next year. There were three ways to purchase tickets, and those of us in my area (there were only 6 lines or so behind us, and 60+ in front of us) quickly accepted that we'd probably have to get the days individually, but at least we'd get them. Turned out, Saturday morning folks had to be there before 6am to get in, and hundreds camped out overnight by Sunday's sales, so I was glad I hit it on Friday. We sat for two and a half hours before movement even looked possible, but like every line, once it got going, you flew through the rest of the process. I did have to buy the tickets individually for each day, but I was able to do it, and Jonathan is excited to be joining me next year, as I got tickets for him as well.

I then made my way to Exhibition Hall, where thousands of booths display art, comic books, figurines, accessories, apparel, and all sorts of pop culture stuff. TV networks, movie studios, individual shows, all sorts of people had booths. I spent an hour and a half or so exploring before I headed out. 

that's right, a comic about tofu
a giant Batman made of Legos
A look into Exhibition Hall
Two different DeLoreans graced the floor
of course you have to have a photo of a comic book stand!
there was a guy drawing on this car constantly! what a neat idea!
 I got in line for my most-desired panel of the day: Falling Skies in 6BCF. The line was long, but I had over 2 hours to go, so I felt confident. That was, until the workers made it clear that the line for this particular room had never before been this long... they ran out of space at the end. I started chatting with the girl behind me, since it turned out she was also hoping to see the same panel I was. This line was very stop-and-go for twenty minutes or so, and we moved from sun to shade to sun again. We stopped for a while and each brought out our lunches - cereal and an apple! We laughed about our common interests and the other things we were excited about at the Con. We got to the sign that announced there were 2000 people in front of us. We made it to the 1500-person sign. And then, strangely, the line took off! We made it all the way inside to the room and were seated a full panel before the one we wanted, so that was pretty cool.

We sat through a panel for Green Lantern: The Animated Series panel, which was interrupted when Conan O'Brien showed up as a surprise guest. I didn't care too much. It was fun, but not amazing. But, then the panel I longed for came to life...

Falling Skies had tons of cast members there and I had a great time hearing them talk about the show, seeing some upcoming clips, and receiving a ticket that I would later turn in for a zip-up hooded sweatshirt, that has now become one of my favorites. The actors talked about their favorite episodes and we learned about what'll be coming in the second season (next summer).

I made the decision to stay in that room, since a major interest of mine in the evening was the 7pm panel in that same room. So, I saw a thing for Marvel TV: Anime on G4, which was actually pretty interesting. We got a few great clips for stuff that hadn't even premiered yet, but I would have preferred different clips overall. Then, there was a panel on Spartacus: Vengeance, which I didn't even take notes on. Instead, I pulled out my computer and wrote for an hour, getting some stuff up and posted and whatnot. My final panel of the day was Teching out with NCIS: LA, which was, sadly, a letdown. They began with a nice video that included many of the gadgets used on the show. They told some stories about how they come up with the things they use, and what was real. I particularly enjoyed one tale about how Lockheed is a consultant for the show.

I am honestly not 100% sure what I did after that, though I'm fairly positive that I made my way back to the hotel, stopping for Wendy's on the way.

And, I'll end with a few more Costume Pics. 
Ice Climibers! from the NES game!

Cheetara and Snarf from the original ThunderCats