May your wheels never break. 

BigRed
Goodbye, Big Red, your time in my life is at an end.

I purchased Big Red when I was about to move to Germany, and I knew that I would have to live out of a suitcase for a month or more while the rest of my stuff floated across the Atlantic Ocean.  This suitcase is gargantuan-  it comes up almost to my waist, and I’m a fairly tall individual.  It has a strong extensible handle, and four spinning wheels that make it a dream to maneuver around airports.

For most of my time in Europe, Big Red sat in the corner because it’s just too huge for most trips. For a suitcase this large, it’s just far too easy to break the fifty pound limit the airlines impose.

The first year I visited Florida after moving to Germany, I used Big Red. I had rented a convertible for my birthday, and the suitcase couldn’t be loaded into the car unless the top was down.  It was just that big.

Since I returned to the U.S., I’ve been storing other suitcases inside Big Red, like those Russian nested dolls.

The thing is, I’m never going to travel in quite the same way again. I will never need a suitcase quite this large again.   That part of my life is over.

I’ve found you a home, Big Red- a home with someone who is only now discovering their wanderlust, so that you will still get to travel on.

Goodbye, Big Red. May you continue to be Samsonite-tough for many years to come.

Home, Soon.

I’m in my fifth week in Tokyo, my final week. This week will be fun.

Fun thing #1: I get to see some old friends from Germany. Tuesday is dinner with Tuuli and Henri, friends from Regensburg, who moved to Japan a while before I left Germany. Wednesday is probably dinner with Charlotte and some of her friends.  Charlotte lived in Frankfurt, moved back to the UK a while back, but she’s traveling through Japan for two weeks on vacation with a friend.

Fun thing #2: My supervisor from Mr. Company is replacing me here, and she arrives on Wednesday night. We overlap for two days, which means I get to show her around. I like playing tour guide, and I forgot how much fun that can be.

Fun thing #3:  In five days, I’ll be back in the air, headed home.  I’ve missed home so much.  I’ve missed my girlfriend Amelie a ton, and I’m looking forward to having proper snuggles.  The most human contact I’ve had since my arrival in Japan has been the occasional handshake.

I fly out of Narita on Saturday, and I’ll land in Detroit an hour before I left.  International flight time travel for the win!   Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to:

  • I mentioned Amelie up there-  I’m super stoked that I get to go see movies with her again- movies and dinner are one of our favorite dates.  I missed out on Pitch Perfect 2 and Tomorrowland.  Ant Man is coming up though, and that’s excellent.
  • I’m looking forward to catching up with my family in real time.  I missed a lot of things while I was here-  my oldest niece had a birthday dinner at Melting Pot with almost all of my family, and I hate that I missed it.  My youngest niece had a recital, and I hate that I missed that too.
  • I get to go back to Tijuana Flats!  After five weeks, I’ve got Taco Lust like you would not believe.
  • I miss driving my car.  I kinda forgot what it feels like.  Last week, I remembered very suddenly that I have satellite radio in  my car.  I’d forgotten.

In a week or two, I’ll start to post more about my time in Japan.  I saw a great deal here, and I have a lot to share.  Until then, I’ll leave you with this picture of me at the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) in Kamakura, just outside of Yokohama:

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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?