Since late last year, I’ve been working as a reporter for Rivet News Radio. As I work each morning to write and produce news stories, it’s critical that I pronounce every name, country and concept correctly. That frequently leads me to do a little online research.
A few months ago, I wanted to be certain I was correctly pronouncing the name of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. A quick Google search led me to a bunch of results, and the first video link on the page was this “pronouncer.”
It was wildly and intentionally wrong (the video’s incorrect pronunciation: Jeef BEE zohs; correct pronunciation: Jeff BAY zohs). I laughed my ass off and played it again. Then once more. And then I brought my co-workers in the studio to listen with me.
Fascinated, we started listening to other videos done by the creator, Run for the Cube. They were all completely insane. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the Run for the Cube’s “work,” such as it is. Besides pronouncing well-known names, he does on-demand pronunciations for five bucks a pop. I shelled out the cash to have two co-workers immortalized. Here, for your amusement, are Rob La Frentz and Chris Mezyk. (Rob returned the favor last week. Here’s my name mispronounced.)
Most recently, I’ve discovered that Run for the Cube has branched out to recording twisted, uncomfortable, “I’m not sure I should be watching this” product reviews. This one manages to be unsettling without doing anything certifiably inappropriate.
I needed to learn more about the Oz behind the curtain. I recently tracked down the man behind Run For the Cube and asked him for an interview. His response was the second best thing to actually getting the interview: he politely passed, and said he likes to use the free time he has to focus on his “craft,” and chooses to let his work speak for itself.
(My C2E2 audio wrap-up for Rivet Radio is at the bottom of the page)
Like Giant-Man or Colossal Boy, C2E2 just keeps … growing.
My legs hurt from walking the massive showroom floor. My feet resent me. Each year, C2E2 carves out more real estate than it had the previous year, creating more space to walk and explore. For those of us who eat lots of pizza while reading comic books, the brief flirtation with cardio fitness probably isn’t a bad thing.
Though the space was bigger this time around, the starpower wasn’t. Outside of Stan Lee, the celebrity guests weren’t necessarily “must-see” or “must-meets.” And from a “why wouldn’t they be there?” perspective, it seems strange that DC Comics was again absent from the showroom floor this year.
So what brings the (estimable) crowds to McCormick Place? Could it be that the idea of the event is bigger than the details? It’s certainly been enough to keep me hooked these past few years; the panels and autograph signings always seem like too much work to consider.
I went on Sunday this year: “Kids Day.” This was the last time my son could get in on the deeply-discounted $5 ticket (To his disgust, he absolutely hated the fact that the Kids Day laminate featured a Hello Kitty design). You take your breaks where you can get ‘em.
We went with another family this year (hi, Jack), which helped balance out the costs of visiting the con. I normally plan to spend a max of $100, and fail miserably. Between this year’s two-family entourage, and the fact that my son saved his money and paid for his own stuff this time around, I actually came in under budget. My total expenses for the day are itemized at the end of the post.
I tend to get the most out of walking Artists Alley each year. It’s an oddball mix of known professionals and totally green artists and publishers. There were hidden surprises in practically every row this year, like Eisner Award-winning writer Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, the Flash). I had him sign a Daredevil comic for me–five bucks all in.
As for the retail side of things, I can’t resist trade paperbacks. My favorite vendor at the con had a massive display of paperback and hardcover collections, all for 50% off. I walked away with three of the b&w, reprint-only “Marvel Essentials” titles–they’re my favorite cheap way to build up a nice reading library.
I’ve been tempted in the past, but this year I finally bought an autographed print from Neal Adams. The man pretty much created the modern Batman, so I figured $20 was the least I owed him.
Nostalgia’s a powerful thing. I stopped in my tracks whenI stumbled across this display of Mego action figures. I owned every one of them when I was a kid. Every. One. And now the Falcon’s worth $450.
And hey, let’s hear it for cosplay, a comics convention favorite. Is there a Deadpool in the house? Let’s hear it for Li’l Deadpool!
Batgirl was pretty fabulous:
Captain America takes his job seriously:
Walking on stilts at a crowded convention can’t be easy:
The Rocketeer squeezes out pulpy goodness!
Not the droid I was looking for:
Next year, I’m committing myself to all three days. I’m going to plan a sensible (but allowing for fun) budget, and wear much more comfortable shoes.
In case you’re wondering, here’s how this year’s expenses broke down:
|Admission (self)||Free (Press)|
|Essential Avengers Vol.2||$7|
|Spiro’s Greek Myths #1 (indie publisher/Artists Alley)||$5|
|McCormick Place parking||$21|
|Essential Peter Parker Vol. 1||$7|
|Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 4||$7|
|G-Man #1 (signed by Chris Giarrusso)||$1|
|Pre-show donuts at Glazed & Confused||$18|
|Signed Neal Adams print-Batman #244||$20|
|Signed Mark Waid Daredevil comic||$5|
Rivet Radio audio recap:
Previous years’ coverage:
I just made what had to be my 20th trip for barbecue this winter, and I’m pretty sure I need a break. I have pulled pork where muscle should be, and sauce pumping where blood once circulated.
My plan is to try to eat vegetables again, if only for a little while, before again throwing myself at the mercy of brisket and baked beans.
Chicago never used to be a barbecue town; at least not when I was growing up. The only place I remember from my youth is Russell’s in Elmwood Park; my grandparents used to take me there all the time. After making a few nostalgia-driven trips there over the past year or so, I discovered that the food doesn’t really live up to the memories (the sauce, while tasty, is thinner than water).
It’s crazy to me that there are now dozens of barbecue choices in the Chicago area. It’s as if the city finally came to its senses and said, “Hey, we’re a fat city, and this style of cooking involves lots of meat slathered in sauce, accompanied by high-calorie side dishes. How could have we ignored this for so long?”
The best barbecue discovery I’ve made over the past year is Real Urban Barbecue in Highland Park. It’s been worth the trip up 41 for burnt ends and sides that are as good as, or better than, what you’ll find at most of the BBQ joints in the city.
I still like Smoque, though I haven’t been enjoying the sauce as much lately. Too much of it can kill a meal.
I liked the entrees, but hated the sides, at Rub’s Backcountry Smokehouse. It was recently and briefly shut down, but just reopened for business. Not a bad option for the far north side of the city, but the room fills up fast.
And what about Lillie’s Q? Holy crap, those homemade sauces are amazing (the “Smoky” is a killer, pleases-everybody-at-the-table, gotta-buy-some-for-home sauce).
To all the other places I’ve been in and out of, including Smokin’ Woodys, Smoke Daddy, Bub City and Hecky’s … it’s not you; it’s me. I just need a little break from barbecue. I swear I’ll be back.
(Update, 4/28/14-I don’t know who I was kidding. The break didn’t last long at all. I’ve probably had BBQ five times since I posted this last month.)
How fat is your Bitcoin wallet? What’s that? You still don’t “get” Bitcoin? You’re not alone. And you may just want to stay away from it at this point.
Just weeks ago, Mt. Gox, the web’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, was essentially wiped off the internet. At the time, it was learned that 850,000 Bitcoins were missing, adding up to over 450 million real dollars. This weekend, the blog of Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles was hacked, revealing account information from the Mt. Gox database. In a show of Bitcoin user solidarity, the hacker(s) wrote on Karpeles’ blog, “no user database dumps have been included … Lots of people, including us, lost money and coins.”
The message on the hacked blog opens with, “First and foremost, this is not Mark Karpeles. Fuck that bitch-titted motherfucker.” Yep, people who lost money are angry.
The CEO of another Bitcoin exchange was found dead two weeks ago. If you believe the internet, it was suicide. If you trust official sources, the death was “unnatural,” and “no foul play” is suspected.
And then there’s Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. Newsweek just outed him as the alleged creator of Bitcoin. He denies it. The Washington Post says that if he is the guy, he has good reason for denial.
The way I look at Bitcoin is this: imagine you meet someone that seems really attractive. The person is open, accessible–someone you think might have potential. The problem is, you’re not sure about the person’s parents, or where that person came from. And the person’s been linked to sketchy behavior and people.
The person may not be marriage material, and you know your friends will never understand. And that leaves you with a nagging concern, a voice inside your head that says, “maybe this isn’t for me.”
That’s Bitcoin. The promise never outweighs the evidence, or that gut feeling.
I can’t stand the sight of my winter clothes anymore. My boots, coat, gloves and hat just piss me off at this point. I resent any day when I have to layer up and see my breath within seconds of walking outside.
Thinking I wasn’t the only one who must be having these thoughts, I decided to have a “winter clothes burning” party; a chance for people to come by and purge apparel that will be forever associated with this year’s awful weather. Then I realized I can’t be trusted to control a bonfire of clothes. Further, there’s surely a more responsible approach to getting rid of our collective cold weather-wear.
I decided instead to do a “winter purge” for charity. Only problem is, that’s as far as I’ve gotten with the idea. I’m open to ideas as to how to coordinate location/charity. My goal is to do it before Opening Day, Chicago’s unofficial beginning of Spring.
I’d love your input!
(Some NSFW language and topics follow)
It’s impossible to keep track of Marvel’s X-Men universe and the endless series of X-titles that have wrestled for shelf pace over the years. I tried to keep track of the characters and titles at one point in my life, but realized I’d feel a lot better if I gave up.
This week, I stumbled upon a new X-Men “#1″: Amazing X-Men. The cover stood out because it featured an all-time favorite character (Nightcrawler), and the artwork took me straight back to the early days of the (Cockrum, then Byrne) “All-New X-Men.”
It wasn’t just the artwork; the story itself was a flashback to those days. Just as I had myself convinced that comic book publishers had forgotten that comics can be fun, I was thrilled to discover that Amazing X-Men was cover-to-cover fun. Take, for instance, this panel with the super-brainy Beast, chasing down some of the villainous, elfin “Bamfs.” They’re accused of stealing equipment and drinking Wolverine’s whiskey:
With panels and direction like that, creators Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness crafted a comic that could have worked for all audiences. All the elements are there: great story, great characters, and a sense of fun. However, because the book’s rating is “T+,” there are a few things that prevent children under…let’s say 15… from reading it.
That’s right–Wolverine and Storm talk about foreplay. Storm is a woman of needs, dammit, and Wolverine is sure as shit going to take care of them before they “do it.” Was this exchange necessary? NOT IN THE LEAST. In fact, the “T+” rating could have been taken down to a “12+” by simply, um, massaging the dialog a bit to not be as overtly sexual. The conversation was completely out of place with the tone set for the rest of the book.
And just so we’re clear: everyone’s banging at the ole Mutant Mansion:
Yep, Iceman’s added another cube to his freezer, and there’s another one lined up behind her. You da man, Ice-dawg!
I don’t get the need to sexualize comic book super-heroes. Further, I don’t get why children are being frozen out (Iceman-style) of the target audience. Would the comic have suffered without the sexual references? Of course not. Did it suffer because of them? Well, younger kids can’t read T+ comics, so you tell me. Should kids be allowed to read X-Men comics? What about when the new X-Men movie hits in 2014, and they’re dying to investigate the source material?
I had the same issues with a lot of the garbage flushed out by DC Comics’ “New 52″ line of books. It’s just not right to tell a young boy, “Sorry, son, you can’t read Batman until you’re much older.”