There and Back Again
Now THAT was some time off. I took two and a half days off from last week and it was more than what I thought it could be. I saw a movie (twice), went to my first comic con, got a friend hooked on the show Arrow, and made a few feline friends (though, to be fair, I think one is a bit promiscuous when it comes to cuddling). I ate many a food I shouldn’t, was surprised by how much alcohol I didn’t consume, and basically nerded out for a full weekend.
It all started Thursday with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I really enjoyed the flick. Does it have its flaws? Sure. But the good outweighs the bad (the bad including a villain whose name could easily be Edward Nigma, and a third act that drags a bit in a spot or two). The good thing about being a nerd is even the bad things weren’t so bad when I saw the movie a second time, and there was no question I would see it again. The second time does have the distinction of being the first time in a long while I’ve paid to see a movie that was not IMAX or large format. Viewing number two was Friday evening with friends in another city, and not at the theater where I am employed.
I like that these new Spidey movies seem to have a cause and effect form of storytelling, where Oscorp is the cause of much of the issues facing Peter. I like the actors in this and the tone much better than the Sam Raimi films (though I did enjoy those flicks despite not prescribing to the notion Spider-Man 2 is the greatest thing since sliced bread). All in all I’m impressed and entertained by what they’ve done with the Amazing Spider-Man, and can’t wait to see where they go with it.
Before I could see the movie a second time, however, I had to make the journey from where I live to the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota where my friends live and where Wizard World Minneapolis would be happening. I took my sweet damn time, too. It’s really only two hours worth of travel, and I had stops to make along the way.
First I got a great deal on some comfortable shoes from the Fleet Farm as I was about halfway to my destination. Then there were supplies to be purchased to lessen the impact of my stay on my hosts. Like any good Minnesotan I walked into a Super Target for that.
Next on the journey was getting a CD from Best Buy. It was released last year, but of course I was a little late to the party. The album in question was Pop Evil’s Onyx, which I am happy to report was worth the extra effort of purchasing. Getting to the physical Best Buy building itself lead me to the discovery that an infamously shitty road/bridge had been redone. I was pleasantly surprised enough that I almost snapped a photo.
From there I was on to my next and last destination before heading to where I’d be sleeping and defecating for two days. In Minneapolis, right by where the Metrodome used to be (the former home of the Minnesota Vikings, now a ginormous hole where their new home will be), is a tiny, somewhat rundown store/museum called Dome Plus. Walking in there was like falling into the Metrodome’s garage sale. The walls and tables filling this tiny building were littered and lined with apparel and various gifts and trinkets bearing the logos of Minnesota sports teams. I got myself a few items, but more importantly got a few things for my father’s upcoming birthday. I didn’t have time to get to the museum as I had to pee, wanted to eat, and it was getting a little later than I had planned, but I think a return visit to the store/museum is in my near future.
I would like to note that this was the first time I used the GPS navigation on my phone because I wasn’t quite sure where this Dome Plus was. Aside from going around in a few squares and circles until I found it, the thing worked great. I’m guessing the errors in direction were on my part. The nav did take me on a little bit different route to my hosts’ home, but I got there next after all those stops. There I met up with friend Beth and was introduced to my new feline friends- Old Kitty, Creepy Kitty, and Cuddly Kitty. While we waited for friend Brian to get home from work, we watched some nerdy TV and movie trailers, and ate Papa John’s Pizza.
Once Brian got there, we got some grub at a great burger place called Junior’s (I had the Reuben), and went to said second showing of Spidey with some of Beth and Brian’s friends. Friend John met us there, who I have not seen for a while and don’t see often. It was a nice treat. But the best treat came Saturday when I went to my first comic con, the inaugural Wizard World Minneapolis.
I’ve gushed about going to this in the past. Instead of running down what the experience means to me, why don’t I just go through the shit that made me jump, and squeal, and geek out? First up, the effing DeLorean was the first thing you see when you walked in the door. Not A DeLorean, THE DeLorean. Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s stylish time machine tricked out with the exhaust, Mr. Fusion, time circuits, and the Flux Capacitor (which makes time travel possible). It was $20 to sit in it, with the money going to a Michael J Fox charity of some kind. I saved my pennies for other things, but got a few snaps on the old phone camera.
The next thing to strike me was the sheer number and type of people there. These were my people. Nerds, some dressed up, crowded around booths selling comics, t-shirts, toys, posters, comics, and more. It was like a comic book store threw up in the Minneapolis Convention Center. There was quite possibly everything a nerd could ever want to purchase at this thing, some items more affordable than others. Case in point, some Ninja Turtles and Super Friends toys I had when I was younger were going for over $100. Thems for Beverly Hills nerds, I think.
My people buying all these products representing pop culture icons of page and screen were also dressing the parts. I’ve seen photos and television shows devoted to Cosplay, but never have I been in a place where there were cosplayers, and so many of them, too. To my delight there were quite a few Star Trek costumes, Ghostbusters, and Gotham City residents. A gaggle of Sith and Mr. Inspector Gadget were some of the highlights, but I don’t think there was a bad costume in the house. Except for this whole Steam Punk movement. What the hell is that about? No, it’s not an interesting twist on a character’s look. To me, they all look like rejects from the Disney flick Treasure Planet.
There was one subset of costumes that had me feeling like I was out of touch a little with nerd culture, and that was all the Doctor Who running around. There were Doctors with their Tardis, weeping angels, and more. It was one of the few times in which I though perhaps I should start watching the show.
Fans weren’t only able to dress up as favorite characters, but able to meet some of the actors bringing those characters to life. My personal highlight? THE Incredible Hulk Mr. Lou Ferrigno. Again, saving my pennies for other things prevented me from getting a photo taken with him or getting his autograph, but I snapped some pics of him as he was less than 20 feet away from me. I also got a glimpse of William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin (the d-bag was wearing an LA Kings hat), and Minneapolis native, and all around Asian go-to, James Hong. Ralph Macchio and Michael Rooker were within shouting distance, and Gilbert Gottfried walked so close to us he could have farted on Brian.
Oddly, besides Ferrigno, the person who gave me the most nostalgic warm and fuzzies was an unexpected one. I knew Crow creator James O’Barr would be at the con, but once I came upon his table, with all his artwork, I started to reminisce about the 90’s when the movie starring Brandon Lee came out. I was fairly big fan of it and to a lesser extent the television series. It wasn’t til I looked at the art on his table that I remembered I had had a graphic novel or two of The Crow, and had since lost it to time and circumstance. I got a pic of Mr. O’Barr sketching his signature character, one that had been a favorite of mine to sketch when all other subjects lost their luster. It was my go-to for sketching.
If I had any regrets about the con, it would be that I didn’t get any art from Mr. O’Barr and didn’t get it signed. There was also some art by Rob Prior that was awfully neato (Friends Beth and Brian both got prints of his). Lastly, I wish I had shelled a few more pennies away to get my photo with, or an autograph from, someone like Lou Ferrigno. I get wallet sized copies of that shit and carry it around with me. Not to say I didn’t walk away without any souvenirs. I have a shirt as I always seem to find, and I framed my program with my wristband for the day. Oft-mentioned pennies will most definitely be saved for next year’s event (I’m fairly certain there will be a next year given the sheer number of people packed into the convention center).
After the con we went to Grumpy’s in Minneapolis for some burgers (I had the buffalo chicken sandwich), and it was yet again another great little burger place. That was pretty much the theme for the dining- bar and grill or just grill.
Oh, one more thing. I did get to see an episode of Doctor Who titled “Blink.” Color me intrigued, and color my DVR set to record some BBC America. After that episode I had Friend Brian watch Arrow, and by Monday evening he and Friend Beth had reached about episode 17. I consider that a successful weekend…