ComicCon-ing: Cons This Weekend

People, it’s a busy weekend for cons.  Here is a brief rundown of cons happening across the nation this weekend:

Connecticon XVI: This con held in downtown Harford at various venues has an impressive lineup of voice actors such as Troy Baker (who always has large lines), Nolan North, Steve Blum and Vanessa Marshall.

Florida Supercon: The Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale is home to the Florida Supercon.  Just a few of their guests include: Mike Colter, John Barrownman, Rachael Leigh Cook, Ryan Hurst, William Shatner, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, and Robin Lord Taylor. Comic guests include John Cassady, Howard Chaykin, Paul Mounts, Plus our favorite streamer, Jarad Weston, will be there in the video game ballroom. He will be hosting a Hearthstone tournament and might be doing a couple of panels.

Readercon: This is a literary con held in Quincy, Massachuesetts. They describe themselve as  a con that “features a near-total focus on the written word.” In other words, a con that I want to go to. If you love to read and near this con go and meet you new favorite author.

Anime-zing! Anime Convention:  This anime convention is in Davenport, Iowa. They have voice actors such as Dawn Bennett and Marissa Lenti. Our experience with Anime Cons, more than any other specific type of con, the real attraction is the attendees. The cosplay at these events are unreal. I’m sure this one is no exception.

Anime Iowa:  This anime convention is in Des Moines. Rachel Robinson and Joel McDonald will be at the con. Again, anime conventions are great to see the people that attend the con. It’s a place life long friendships are made.

ConGregate: This speculative fiction con will be held in the Greensboro metro area in North Carolina. This con has a list of literary guests and science guests. That last part is my favorite and makes me want to go!

Delta H Con: This is a gamer and anime con held in the Houston area. Tom Wyner from Power Rangers and VR Toopers will be there. Besides anime there will be gaming tournaments all weekend.

Tokyo in Tulsa: This con builds itself as Oklahoma’s largest anime, japanese, and pop culture event. Guests include Cassandra Lee Morris and Chuck Huber. This convention will have panels and a charity ball!

Wizard World Boise: Wizard World always puts a good show on! Some of the guests include Ron Perlman, Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, John de Lancie, Charisma Carpenter, and Jason David Frank.

Whatever con you attend, have a great one!

Listening: The Band

This will be a semi-regular feature where I pick a band I haven’t listened to more than what has played on the radio. I was going to try to make it weekly, but I quickly realized that was too lofty of a goal since I really want to listen to the entire band’s discography. 

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I’ll say it even though most of my friends will argue for Rush – The Band is the greatest band to ever come out of Canada.  Hell, it would be hard to argue if you wanted to expand that to all of North America.

The Band is actually the group that made want to start this project. The only song I really knew by them was “The Weight” even though I had heard others. I never actually dug into their albums.

I started with Music from Big Pink, which just had its fiftieth anniversary.  The first song just hit me in the gut. “Tears of Rage” song by Richard Manuel with such raging agony may be the greatest first song in any band’s discography. The rest of the album was just as good. I always though Helm was an amazing singer but really the three main singers – Helm, Manuel, and Rick Danko – keep making me switch my allegiance with all three.

That’s the great thing about The Band – they were more than the sum of their parts but each part is needed to make the machine work. Helm has that southern Shelby Foote type of voice that can transport you to the time his story is being told as he does on their second album standout “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” Manuel, to me, sounds like Cat Stevens if all Cat Stevens listened to was soul and blues. Danko, who along with Helm, could find a groove and work the hell out of it.  And when he sings, he emotes in a way that elevates the song.  Then you have Robbie Robertson who wrote most of the songs and is a great guitar player in his own right. Finally, you had Garth Hudson who could probably play any instrument you placed in front of him.

While Music from Big Pink and The Band get most of the press, the rest of the albums they recorded together are some of the best of any rock band. Stage Fright, in particular, is a favorite mainly because I like songs from bands that are about themselves.

I finally watched The Last Waltz for the first time. After spending two weeks listening only to The Band, I was fascinated and disappointed. It is a great rock documentary (probably top two or three ever made), but I actually wished it would have just been them and maybe Bob Dylan (who did write a few of their songs). In my mind, they were the main attraction, they didn’t need any help.

Now, I need to make room in the Bs in my record collection.

Next up: The Cars

 

 

Parenting: The Nola Nerd Baby’s Christening

We are a Catholic family. We might not be the best Catholics (we need to go to church more often), but being raised Catholic has had an unshakable impact on us. As it has been a positive influence in our lives, we wanted the same for our darling daughter.

I won’t lie; the baptism was as wonderful and stressful as our wedding. Wonderful in that the service itself and the family that gathered with us made for an amazing day.  Stressful in that a lot of work goes into making a wonderful day.

Of course, her godparents were there. Her godfather, my godson, will be known to her as her parrain since Mr. Nola Nerd Couple is a cajun. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were there for this special event.

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The Nola Nerd Trio

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Deacon Tully about to baptize the Nola Nerd Baby

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Receiving the Sacrament

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Receiving a final blessing

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With the Godparents

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With the Grandparents

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The Nola Nerd Baby with her godfather to the right. Mr. Nola Nerd is her godfather’s godfather. Nola Nerd Baby’s godfather’s mother is Mr. Nola Nerd’s godmother. In other words, this is a godly picture 🙂

After the ceremony, we had everyone over at our house for some food supplied from Rouses (because it’s good and for a good price). The Nola Nerd Baby did a great job entertaining everyone but definitely went to bed early that night.

The great thing about traditions no matter the culture is that it is often shared with family. She may not know it yet, but the Nola Nerd Baby is one very loved baby.

Star Wars-ing: Celebration Update

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There is not a whole lot of Star Wars Celebration news out there. Probably won’t be for some time. There are still a few rooms to rent under the Star Wars Celebration tent as of this writing (Tuesday afternoon), so check to see if there are still some. Star Wars Celebration is also reporting they are running close to running out of Thursday tickets. The Thursday tickets are called the Bounty Hunter Preview which allow access to show floor, some autograph session and famous Celebration stage. There will be no Stage programming as of now on Thursday.

Of course, today is Indpendence Day.  Have a Happy Fourth and May the Force Be with You!

ComicCon-ing: Con News

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Mississippi Comic Con (MS Trade Mart in Jackson, Mississippi, June 23-24):
We didn’t make it to the Mississippi Comic-Con this year because this little cutie had her baptism.

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We wanted to attend. Meeting Linda Blair would have been awesome, and we just finished watching The Office so meeting Kate Flannery would have been a great start to a collection for that franchise.

Since we didn’t make it to the con, here are a few links to stories about the con:
A set of articles from the Starkville Daily News (Hail State!) about a young man who operates a lemonade stand to make it to the Mississippi Comic-Con. (1, 2, and 3)
An excellent walk through the show floor! (Check out the youtube channel for more great stuff!)

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Louisiana Comic Con (The CajunDome, Lafayette, October 6&7): Ryan Hurst from Remember the Titans and Sons of Anarchy will be appearing at the con. We met him at the Space City Comic Con, and it was one of the highlights of that trip to Houston. Also appearing will be designer and illustrator Kathryn Shuff. You can see more of her stuff here.

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Gulf Coast Fan Fest (Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, October 13 & 14): Hercules! Hercules! – Kevin Sorbo will be making an appearance at Gulf Coast Fan Fest. He will be joining Ray Park, Sam Jones, Peter Davison, Jason Mewes, Denise Crosby, and Seth Gilliam. This is going to be a great con, and we can’t wait for it!

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Pensacon (Downtown Pensacola, Pensacola, February 22-24, 2019): I don’t know how Pensacon does it, but they get guests announced for their next con as soon as they present one closes. Ok, we do know how they do it. They treat their guests fantastically and equally. Artist Tony Isabella has remarked to us how wonderful he gets treated at this con. It shows in the guests that they get. I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of artists and celebrity guests spread the wonderfulness of Pensacon amongst themselves. Here are just a few of the guests announced for 219: Kevin Conroy, Jonathan Frakes, Catherine Tate, Orlando Jones, Timothy Zahn, Charles Fleischer, Sean Gunn, Paul Freeman, Julian Glover, Diamond Dallas Page, Karen Allen. This is about one-fourth of the people they have announced. We will go through them more as we get closer to the con. Also, it will be Nola Nerd Baby’s first birthday on the Friday of Pensacon! She will think it’s a giant party for her!

Listening: Music Education starting with A for At The Drive In

Recently we had to make a surprise trip to Florida to be with an ailing family member. While there is a lot of stuff to do, there is plenty of downtime as well when a trip is unplanned. Plus there is the drive. I started to think about music. I realized that while my music listening is varied, I was beginning to stick to the same 30-40 bands. This came painfully apparent when I started to make a playlist with my new Apple music streaming account.  I was trying to put a list together for the trip of my favorite artists from their essentials series. My playlist is up to 1750 something songs.

But let’s face it.  That is a drop in the bucket of the music that is out there. One night I thought of a new idea for the blog. Every week I would use my Apple Music account to dig into an artist/band I haven’t heard anything beyond the singles. I’ve always been an album person so this a good way to have the soundtrack for the week.

Then I realized there were 28 weeks left for the year.  How about making this more of a novelty project and work my way through the alphabet while taking a break for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So I was confronted with choosing a band that started with the letter A. So I decided to start with At the Drive-In.

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At the Drive-In, live at Lollapalooza in 2012. From left to right, Omar Rodríguez-López, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Jim Ward, Tony Hajjar (partially obscured), and Paul Hinojos Credit: Shane Hirschman

For some of you, you will be head scratching.  Others, you will be thinking how haven’t you listened to them.

 

For the first group, they are often described as post-hardcore whatever that means.  I really can’t explain them. They rock, that’s all you need to know. For the second group, they were around at a time when I really couldn’t afford music, and my dial-up was too slow for Napster.  In fact, I didn’t know they existed until I got a work computer from New Orleans Parish Schools that hadn’t been wiped from the previous year. The person’s mom was dean of NYU Student Life, so the former teacher went and ripped a bunch of their CDs to the computer.  One that struck me was the Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute. It’s a prog album, and it became one of my soundtrack albums for my post-Katrina year.

The Mars Volta features Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bilxer-Zavala from At the Drive-In. I’ve always been one of those people that when they discover an artist, they like they want to learn everything about that artist. So I’ve wanted to listen to At The Drive-In for some time.

They didn’t disappoint.

Brief history, they made three albums and various eps in the late 90s ending with Relationship of Command.  They split into the aforementioned prog Mars Volta and the more alternative-rock Sparta.  We saw Sparta live about a decade ago opening for Old 97s.  The reunited for a few shows in 2012 and then came back together around 2015 minus only one member, Jim Ward. They have recorded one album in the new newly reformed lineup.

They rock very hard, and these albums contain some of the most vivid imagery in their lyrics (Tease this amputation/Splintered larynx) even if they are always cryptic. Bilxer-Zavala also has one of those voices that only about one percent of humans have and he can’t take it almost anywhere he wants. Musically, they sound as if their songs are well planned out, scripted even, and the result of jam at the same time. However, after listening to their albums and watching some live performances, I’m not sure they have ever been adequately captured in the studio. They are not a band that can be contained well.  They are a band that when they are together, they can make a glorious noise.

Next up: The Band

Star Wars-ing: Celebration News

Star Wars fans love Celebration. The five day passes for adults and kids have sold out! Saturday tickets as well. We had to go out of town for a family medical emergency, so we are thankful we bought our tickets before we left!

Celebration will bring back the stages and panels that have been a feature at the previous shows. The Celebration stage, which will be at Wintrust Arena, will have the stars from the saga as well as entertainment productions. The Galaxy stage will have some celebrity guests and other Star Wars entertainment. The Behind-the-Scene stage will feature those artists and craftspeople who make Star Wars. The Fan stage allows fans to be in control of the content. The Collectors stage is always a treasure trove of information from some of the greatest collectors of Star Wars memorabilia. One of our favorite stages, Star Wars University, will be back as well. Many of the presentations at this stage are workshop type panels where you can learn the finer points of crafts such as writing, art, vegetable carving(!), and more. Finally, the Live stage will be on the show floor. This area will often be streaming interviews and panels and usually draws great crowds.

As you know, we do podcasts as well as keep up this blog. Unfortunately, we had to put the podcast on hold due to the extreme naseau. We plan on bringing it back soon (hopefully before the end of June). Well, Star Wars Celebration has a Podcast Stage and we will be throwing our hat’s into the ring. We will probably focus on Star Wars autograph collecting but are brainstorming other ideas as well.  If you are a podcaster, you can fill out the application here.

Check back weekly for more updates!