Posted in Autographs, comic books, Lego, Odds & ends

Borough Con 2018

Yesterday I went to Borough Con, a second-year comic and anime convention being held at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint. After a successful first year at St. John’s University, the show organizers hoped to transition to the new space and unfortunately, the crowds did not exactly follow.

There were a couple of dozen people waiting to get in when the doors opened a little bit before 10 a.m., and it took just a few moments to wander the show floor since the majority of the vendors and artists were still setting up. So, panel time… I went to “You are not the father,” a Maury-style examination of familial relationships in Dragon Ball, Naruto and Yugi-Oh… which ended up being a fun way to start the day.

I got to listen to Jim Starlin, Ron Marz and Fabian Nicieza talk about creating some of comics’ best villains Thanos, Parallax and Deadpool (yes, Deadpool started out as a villain until he got crazy popular.) That was fascinating, but it pivoted onto a topic that is sadly always relevant – what happens when you change a character in a way that pisses off some fans. At least when Hal Jordan became Parallax, it was before social media was around to amplify negative reactions to the degree it does today.

Then it was time for the one panel that I’d been planning to attend — Whoprov NYC: The New Adventures. Whoprov NYC is exactly what it sounds like – a Doctor Who-inspired impov group based in New York. And despite the group members outnumbering the audience, they put on an amazing show with two original “episodes.”  One was built around bubble tea, garlic and linoleum. The other featured Weeping Angels and alien chickens. Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall might not have much to worry about, but they were good fun in the spirit the sillier classic Doctor Who serials.

I went to one more panel before lunch, “Life as a Professional Cosplayer,” just because I was curious about how people managed to turn their hobby into a profession. This was the only panel that pretty much filled the room, which seemed like it could accommodate around 20 or 30 people comfortably.

The panel turnouts should have been a clue, but I was surprised how empty the show floor still was after I’d had lunch. I bought art prints from Jim Starlin and Mark McKenna, found a polybag to add to my Star Wars Lego collection, and looked at what everyone else had to offer.

By looking through the tables I discovered just how far out of the anime scene I’ve gotten… I think KonoSuba was the newest show I’d watched, and that’s from almost two years ago at this point.

I hung around for the media guests’ panel in the afternoon, which again was lightly attended. According to the BoroughCon program, the lineup was originally planned to feature Hale Appleman (Elliot on The Magicians), Isaiah Mustafa (Luke Garroway on the recently-cancelled Shadowhunters), and Jamie Chung (Blink on The Gifted.) As it turned out, only Chung made it to the convention. She was joined by Daniel Newman (Daniel in The Walking Dead.)

The panel was planned as a Q&A, but Chung and Newman ended up having a conversation with each other for most of it. And they were awesome. Chung told us about buying comics when she was a kid. She picked based on the cover, then put them away in plastic unread because she didn’t want to mess them up. Since this was the Death of Superman overproduction era, it’s probably pretty safe to open them up to read now.

Chung saw my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 t-shirt with Groot on it and told us about going for the part of Mantis in the movie. She didn’t get it, but she said she’s ok with that because she’s friends with Pom (Klementieff). I ended up with a unique inscription on my Blink photo when I got Chung’s autograph after the panel.

It ended up being a fun day… I got to see panels I wouldn’t have been able to go to at a larger convention and talk to guests in a way I wouldn’t have if there’d been a bigger crowd. It was a very nice change of pace from New York Comic Con, but I’d have to guess it will be tough to get vendors, artists and guests to come back next year based on the small crowd numbers.

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

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Posted in Nature Photography, Odds & ends, Toy Photography

Photos

I’ve got about a million things that I want to do, but I only have the time and energy for a fraction of them. So tonight I’m just going to show you a few of my favorite photos that I took in May.

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I took this photo of my Matt Harvey Oyo Sports minifigure after learning the New York Mets had designated him for assignment last month, bringing an end to an era where he was supposed to be the Mets’ ace. They later traded Harvey to the Cincinnati Reds, where he continues to struggle. For a brief period, Harvey was awesome and on the nights he pitched, every Mets fan had to stop what they were doing and watch to see if Harvey would do something for the history books.

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My other favorite photo subject is my flowers. This is an allium, a plant in the onion family that produces a round ball of tiny star-shaped flowers in the spring. I usually look at the whole ball of flowers, but this photo is a closeup that’s more interested in the lines of the flower stems than the flowers themselves.

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I think it rained on all but one Saturday in May… it kinda took the fun out of having them off for a change.

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Lego ‘me’ doing some gardening

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Actual me looking at a clover plant I’ve been growing since last summer. It’s gotten another six or eight inches taller since I took this selfie.

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A peony flower near sunset

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A nearly full moon

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An alternate of the highwayman photo I posted on my Instagram account… I like the lighting better here, but I noticed that Lego horses don’t photograph well head on.

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My Memorial Day 2018 photo

Do you have any cool photos that you want to share? Post them in the comments & I’ll take a look.

Posted in Star Wars

A quick review of Solo: A Star Wars Story

I finally made it to see Solo: A Star Wars Story today with my friend Vinny, and we both enjoyed it.

Solo is a fun, action-packed summer popcorn flick that can be enjoyed whether it’s your first Star Wars experience or if you’ve seen all nine previous live-action films plus all six seasons of Clone Wars and three seasons of Rebels. 

Alden Ehrenreich may not be Harrison Ford, but he ably brings a younger version of Han Solo to the screen. (Solo primarily takes place 10 years before the events of the original 1977 Star Wars film.) He’s got good chemistry with his co-stars, particularly Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca.)

Veteran actors Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany created wonderful new characters in the Star Wars universe, though Newton’s Val was shamefully underused. Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian and his co-pilot L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) stole the show for me, though.

There are some amazing action sequences (including the best “car” chase in a Star Wars film) and a lot of fun Easter eggs and cameos.

I hope that Solo’s disappointing opening weekend won’t prevent us from seeing some additional adventures involving Ehrenreich’s Han, Glover’s Lando and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra.

What did you think of Solo? 

Entertainers, drug dealers, fans and junkies

I’ve been reading Saga, a critically acclaimed comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Think about a cross between Romeo and Juliet and Game of Thrones by way of Star Wars, and you’ll have the general idea.

Alana and Marko are our star-crossed couple, members of two warring species in a conflict that has lasted so long that the origin has largely been forgotten and the actual fighting is done by proxy through conscripts and allies on different worlds. Yet somehow, they end up falling for each other and have a baby… and that puts them on the run from both sides. Can’t have someone showing that it might just be possible to not be at war, after all.

While they’re on the run, Alana briefly works as an actor on the Open Circuit, a kind of virtual reality successor to television. And she has this conversation with Yuma, a set decorator for the bad soap opera she works on:

Alana: We’re not soldiers, we’re entertainers.

Yuma: Like hell. We’re drug dealers.

Yuma: It’s true, the Circuit has only ever existed to pacify an angry and hopeless population.

Alana: Maybe shitty shows like ours, but what about actual good ones? I got into “Filament City” when I was young, changed the way I thought about poverty.

Yuma: And what did you do? Join a nonprofit organization? Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Or did you lock yourself in a tiny room, shut the blinds and mainline every transmission like a junkie?

Yuma: Some art might have the power to change people, but the Circuit can only ever change the way we feel, and never for very long.

— Saga Chapter 20, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

And you know what? It kinda hits home, not just about television but about a lot of our entertainment in 2018.

Art can change people and give them something to aspire to… just look at all of the folks who ended up in science because of Star Trek, for one example. People have found love through fandoms. People went on to become authors and artists after starting with fan fiction and fan art.

But Netflix, Hulu and the internet put so much entertainment at our fingertips that it’s easy to get lost in the escapism. And as someone who’s managed to watch whole seasons of a series in a weekend, I do wonder what I might accomplish if I pulled the plug.

But that’s just it… I wonder. And odds are pretty good that I’ll go back to watching Lost in Space shortly after I hit the “publish” button.

So yeah, I might be a junkie…

(But check out Saga and Lost in Space, they both look pretty good so far.)

Posted in Gardening

Getting ready for a spring that waits to be

I spent a good part of my free time last week trying to get the yard ready to plant our garden, although I always insist that I keep more of a plant menagerie than a proper “garden.”

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This year’s big project is the construction of a raised flower bed, approximately 16 feet wide by two feet deep that will be home to eight Astilbe plants that we’ve been growing inside since late February. A couple of them are now around 15 inches tall and they’re more than ready to go outside, as soon as the weather cooperates.

While a love of baseball was something I could share with my father, I got into gardening to have something I could share with my mother. And by now, I need to see pretty, colorful signs of life to help get through winter just as much or more than she does.

Posted in Autographs, Star Trek, Star Wars

A few new autographs…

I’m loving the New York Mets’ start this season (9-1 is the best in franchise history), but I haven’t been having a ton of luck with baseball autographs lately. I went 0-for-5 with the requests I mailed out to spring training camps and just got a return to sender from Dusty Baker last week.

I started working on my non-baseball autograph collections more this year, and I’ve gotten four new photos to add to my albums this week.

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First up is a signed photo of two of the members of the cantina band from the original Star Wars film. Speedy Turtle Autograph Service ran private signings with Kim Falkinburg and Jibralta Merrill, two ILM staff members who were drafted to play band members and my dual-signed photo arrived on Monday. Continue reading “A few new autographs…”

Posted in Baseball, New York Mets

Where have you gone, Willie Harris?

The other day I was talking to my friend Bart, who is excited about the start of the Minor League Baseball season. He was telling me about how he did getting autographs at the Trenton Thunder’s annual meet & greet event on Tuesday, and about some of the teams that are coming in to Arm & Hammer Field in April.

First on the slate are the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. “Guess who’s their manager?,” Bart asked.

I had no idea. (I think I’m doing pretty well to know Jay Bell is managing the Trenton squad.)

Willie Harris.”

“Oh, yeah, I remember him with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals,” I said.

“I’ve got a photo to try to get signed,” Bart said. “In fact, it was one you took when he was one of your guys.”

“Are you sure you don’t mean Lenny Harris?,” I ask.

“You wrote Willie Harris, 2011 on the back,” he said.

“But Willie Harris never played for the Mets,” I say, even though I’m not sure any more.

A quick consultation with Baseball-Reference.com reveals that Harris played in 126 games for the 2011 New York Mets. A check of my photo archive showed that I attended at least one of those 126 games.

And I still have no memory of anything that he did as a Met.

I wonder how many other Mets I’ve completely forgotten about since I started following baseball.

Don’t get old.