Away from keyboard…

I’m sorry that I’ve been away again. I have a bunch of posts from my short trip to Minneapolis that I need to finish up.

There’s also this: 

Yup, I’m in Japan!  I’ve been here for two weeks, and I have another three to go. I’m here for work, but that still gives me the weekends to explore.  The picture above was taken at Osaka Castle.

Once I have some down time to sort my photos, I’ll talk a lot about what I’ve seen while I’m here.   Be seeing you!

Have you ever been to Japan? (Charlotte, you skip this question.) How about Minneapolis?

The 2015 Television Upfronts

Every May, the five main American broadcast television networks get together at a big party called the Upfronts to show their new fall shows to advertisers.  This is when we, the viewers, get our first taste of the new fall schedule.

Over the past several years, I’ve always talked about the Upfronts elsewhere on the Web.  In years past, I would write one post for each of the five networks.  In each post, I would list the network’s announced fall schedule and detail the new shows.  I would always come up with a big summary post at the end with a grid showing what programs I would watch in the fall.

Over the last few years, things have changed.  While I was in Germany, I couldn’t watch American television in real time.  My TiVo was back in Florida, and I had to rely on a variety of Internet technologies to keep up with my TV watching.

Another big change over the last few years is the television landscape itself-  I loved Community when it started, but now it’s not even playing on a normal network- it’s showing on Yahoo Screen.  The idea of an Internet company making television programming blows my mind entirely.

Add to that the fact that most of the new programming that shows up on television is total crap, and you wind up with a very dull screen.  Here’s a perfect example:  This fall, the networks are producing at least three shows that are either based on or continuing the story from a previous movie:  Rush Hour, Limitless, and Minority Report.  All three could be good, but I really kinda doubt it.

The days of the program grid and the scheduled television are over.  I’m not going to cover every announced new show, I’m only going to talk about the five new shows that I’m really excited about.  Only three of them are based on comic books, so that’s something.  Oh, and it worked out to one per network.

Going alphabetically, I guess I’m starting with ABC.

THE MUPPETS - "The Muppets" return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.  (ABC/Eric McCandless) KERMIT THE FROG, GONZO THE GREATThe Muppets – Bill Prady is one of the names behind this new television incarnation of the muppets.  It’s being set up as a “documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.”

I was skeptical about the format until I watched the trailer.  This looks like it will be a hoot, even though some of the new muppet voices totally take me out of the moment.

Next up is CBS.

new-tv-shows-supergirlSupergirl –  “Kara Zor-El escaped her home planet of Krypton amid its destruction years ago. Since arriving on Earth, she has concealed the powers she shares with her (ahem) “famous cousin.” But now, at age 24, she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be.”

The trailer for this appeared online a few days ago, and I think this is going to be a lot of fun.  It looks closer in tone to Lois & Clark than it does to Smallville, and that’s a very good thing.    Unfortunately, we have to wait until after football ends in November to see this one.

Next up, FOX.

Lucifer – “Bored as the Lord of Hell, Lucifer resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the gorgeous, shimmering insanity of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals. Based on characters from DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint.”

Slated for midseason, this is another show that I was very skeptical about until I saw the trailer.  Lucifer is a brilliant character, but I thought at first they were going to turn this into just another police procedural.  CSI: Hell, in other words.  This has potential, but only if FOX executives can keep their mitts off the production process as they move along.

NBC’s best new show is going to be:

new-tv-shows-best-time-ever-with-neil-patrick-harrisBest Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris –  This show has a 10 pm air time, and I saw it referenced once as a variety show.  I don’t really know what that means, but I’m assuming there will be singing and dancing because it’s Neil Patrick Harris.  I keep hoping he’ll be able to get some How I Met Your Mother gags in, but we’ll see.

I love pretty much everything that NPH does, and I have very high hopes for this one.

Last but not least, The CW has decided to spin a show off of their shared Arrow/Flash world.

DC's Legends of TomorrowDC’s Legends Of Tomorrow – “When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known? The cast includes Victor Garber (The Flash); Brandon Routh (Arrow); Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who); Caity Lotz (Arrow); Dominic Purcell (The Flash) and Wentworth Miller (The Flash).”

There is so much awesome in this trailer that I’m kind of amazed that it got pushed to television so fast- it’s a Justice-League-esque show without most of the actual comics Justice League.    Add to that a live-action Hawk Girl, live-action Firestorm, an Atom who actually shrinks, and a live-action Vandal Savage… I’m damned impressed.  I kind of wonder who they’ll get to play Savage, though.

What do you think about these new shows?  Are you getting burnt out on all the comics on television?

 

Megacon 2015, in Orlando, FL

In the second weekend of April, Amelie and I headed to Orlando to attend Megacon, the third largest sci-fi/television/gaming/anime convention in the United States.   I’ve been to many Megacons over the years, and my favorite things about them are primarily the panels and the costumes.  They’re pretty crowded.

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I love the panels because you often get to hear backstory about the filming of things, as well as bits of interesting life stories from the people on the panel.  Plus the jokes… oh, such jokes!

This year, we attended four panels that were interesting.  The first is Cary Elwes, best known for playing Westley in The Princess Bride.

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The second was a special “Companions” panel which featured three Doctor Who names- Tony Curran, Karen Gillan, and Alex Kingston.

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Next, we had an Arrow/The Flash shared panel, featuring Robbie Amell, Danielle Panabaker, and David Ramsay.   In this photo, you can see that Robbie is wearing Batman underwear… and David is taking a picture of it.

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Next was a Firefly panel, with Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, and the cardboard head of Nathan Fillion.

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Lastly, we got to hear a nice chat with Stan Lee.  About ten minutes in, Lou Ferrigno crashed the panel, followed by Michael Rooker (not pictured.)  I’d like to point out that Lou Ferrigno is in his sixties, and he looks like he’s in his forties.

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The rest of the photos in this post are all costumes.  I took hundreds of pictures at this convention, but these were some of my favorites.

This is most of the Belcher family from Bob’s Burgers.  They were only missing a Gene.

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Oswald Cobblepot, at your service.

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This gold Lamborghini was parked at the convention hotel, covered in Walking Dead stickers.  I’m pretty sure it belonged to one of the Walking Dead cast members who was attending the convention.

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Beetlejuice!

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Griff Tannen.

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A pair of scientists from Veridian Dynamics. (Science.  Better.)

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He was just killing time!

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Run, Geordi, run!

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Eddie Valiant and Roger.

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Tetris!

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A quiet moment between Joker and Harley…

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This was one of my favorite cosplays-  The Flight of the Navigator.  He even had Max’s interface and the Puckmaren.

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Jay and Silent Bob.

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Bender Bending Rodriguez.

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Doctor Strange, pre-Cumberbatching.

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A rather astonishingly well done Silence and Madame Vastra.

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Lando Calrissian.

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Green plastic army men, complete with little foot-bases.

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Number 9 from Futurama’s “Into The Wild Green Yonder.”

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Anna of Arendelle.

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The Arrow, Black Canary, and Arsenal, CW TV version.

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I must confess that I’m not sure who this character is.  I thought I knew, but when I checked the Internet to confirm, I discovered I was wrong.

Edit: A sharp-eyed friend spotted that this is Bishop, from the X-Men.  I was so close!

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A nearly full Serenity crew.

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A tiny Eleventh Doctor, Rory, and Amy, along with a pint-sized Tardis.

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A spot-on (and adorable) Jinx.

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Static!  I love this character.

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Skeletor.

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Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.  Yes, this is a real character- he first appeared in 1983.

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Gru! (with a tiny Minion)

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Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers.

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Jeoffrey and Khaleesi?  I don’t know for sure, because I’ve never watched (or read) Game of Thrones.

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Hawk-Girl.

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The guy in the middle is Kuzco, and he’s carrying a tiny model of his summer home, Kuzco-topia.  The lobster’s just a lobster.  (Actually, I think he’s Sebastian from the Little Mermaid, but I’m not positive.)

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This is a little dragon that I bought for Amelie.  He’s super-cute, isn’t he?

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Have you ever been to a Con?  What was your favorite costume?

I totally stole this photo from Yelp because I didn't know I was going to write about this while we were in the store.

First Time In A Trader Joe’s

I went to Trader Joe’s today for the first time ever.  I’ve heard people raving about this store for years, but the big expansions into South Florida didn’t’ take place until I was already in Germany.

It’s kind of funny that I never had a chance to try any Trader Joe’s food until now, because some Trader Joe’s food is sold in Aldi stores in Germany.  (A quick history:  Trader Joe’s started out as a California-only store under a different name in the 1950s.  It was renamed Trader Joe’s around 1967, and was American-owned until Theo Albrecht purchased the chain in 1979.  Theo Albrecht is the owner of Aldi Nord.)

I digress.  Amelie and I were trying to go to Target today, not realizing that all of the Target stores would be closed for Easter Sunday.  It’s astonishing how quickly I have forgotten about everything being closed on Sundays now that I’m back in the United States.  The Target we were trying to visit was only a mile or so from the Trader Joe’s, and it seemed like as good a time as any to have my inaugural visit.

I totally stole the next two photos from Yelp because I didn’t know I was going to write about this while we were in the store.

I totally stole this photo from Yelp because I didn't know I was going to write about this while we were in the store. I totally stole this photo from Yelp because I didn't know I was going to write about this while we were in the store.

I’ve heard many people say that the Trader Joe’s aesthetic is very similar to the Aldi experience, but I think that Trader Joe’s is much closer to a Whole Foods type of store than Aldi.  Still, the pricing of all the Trader Joe branded items is much closer to Aldi levels than Whole Foods.  I was expecting Trader Joe’s to be more upscale than it was.

I liked the bag they put our stuff in.  It’s been ages since I’ve been given a paper bag at any kind of a grocer.

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We originally went to the store in search of some body wash for Amelie, and we found one that she likes in the store.  The cookie butter cookies and the power-berry juice blend were total impulse buys.

It is not for nothing that they call cookie-butter “cookie crack.”  That stuff is super-delicious.  Some of you will know it as Speculoos or Spekulatius.  It’s the same stuff.  It is delicious, delicious stuff.  The juice is also really tasty.

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We also decided that we’re going to try some not-at-a-restaurant Indian food for dinner.  We’ll probably trade rice- Amelie wants the Paneer Tikka Masala but doesn’t want the spinach basmati rice.   We both want the naan though.   I have been known to make a meal out of just naan and a mango lassi.

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I don’t really have a well rounded closing for this post, so I’ll just show you a picture of this amazing dog we saw in Boca Raton today.  He was so tiny, and he looked kind of badass with his tiny sunglasses on.

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Have you been to Trader Joe’s?  What do you think of it?

A rare post about my job.

I don’t usually talk about my job online for a bunch of different reasons.  For one thing, I deal with confidential data.  For another, I think that “what do you do?” is the least interesting question anyone can ask me when they first meet me.  For the two or three of you who don’t actually know what I do, I’m a Systems Administrator for a hosting company.  When most people ask me what I do for a living, I usually just say, “computers.”

Despite the low frequency of my work-related posts, my job is an incredibly large part of my life.  I’ve worked at Mr. Company1 for almost thirteen years, starting in the summer of 2002.  I was 29 when I started working for the company.  When I started working there, my cell phone was new and large and awkward, and I still had a pager for emergencies.  (Remember pagers?)

The company sent me to Hong Kong for two weeks in 2008.  This was my first trip outside of the United States other than Canada and the Bahamas.  My employment there is the very reason that I lived in Germany for three years, working for our European office in Germany.  Working for Mr. Company is what allowed me to travel all over Europe for the last few years.

In a week’s time, however, the company won’t exist.  Not in its current form, anyway.  We’re being merged into our sister company, and we’re taking their name.  My health benefits are switching companies.  We’ll have a new CEO.   I’ll be given a new e-mail address.

On the first of April, the name of my employer will cease to exist in North America.  That’s a hell of a thing.

I’m excited though.  So far, the changes coming down from on high have been good ones- they’ve separated our different offices into separate product lines, which means that our Utah office gets my least favorite platform, while I still get to play with my favorite products every day.   My department has also gone from a 24/7 schedule to a 24/5 schedule, with nobody in the office on Saturday or Sunday.

Since my return from Germany, my responsibilities and workload at my job have increased a great deal.  The company keeps me very, very busy, and that’s going to continue.  Some time in the next few months, the newly merged and re-named Mr. Company will be sending me to Tokyo for about a month.  In theory, I’ll go in May or June-  the schedule isn’t fixed yet, so it could be later.   Alas, it will likely be far too late to see the famous cherry blossoms.  It will be my first trip to Japan.  It will also be my first trip to another country for the new-and-improved Mr. Company, and I think that’s going to be pretty nifty.

In just five more days, it will be time to say goodbye to the company that I’ve always known, and hello to more or less the same company in a newer, shinier form.  More or less.

Mr. Company is dead.  Long live Mr. Company.


1I always refer to my current employer as Mr. Company online. Always.