Magic City Comic Con, Ten Months Later

It’s good to take a break from the Japan posts every so often. With only five posts left from that trip, this seems like a good time to detour.

In January of this year, when I’d been back to the US for just over three months, Amelie and I went to the Magic City Comic Con in Miami. I took a bunch of photos while we were there, and I prepped them for posting in the blog. What happened next was that I got caught up in moving into my first new apartment in the U.S. since 2003, and I completely and utterly forgot to post the Magic City photos.

With that said, here they are, and only ten months late.  For the Flash, ten months is an eternity.

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Miami Beach party people.  Klingons.  Same difference.

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I feel like Rocky Horror is too easy for a Con, but kudos to this chick for finding that jacket.

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As with any costume from video games, there’s always a good chance I just won’t get the reference.  And if I never see another Harley Quinn at a con, it’ll be too soon.  Seriously, Harley Quinn and Deadpool are the new Crow – there are far, far, far too many of them at any given event.

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This was one of the highlights of the day-  a “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” dance party with Waldo, Ash, Spidey, and the dancing banana.

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Adventure Time’s Ice King needed a break from the South Florida heat.

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What did I say earlier about all the Harley Quinns? It’s a little more palatable when she’s with a Joker, Black Mask, and Doctor Freeze.

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Amelie, a TARDIS, and a Doctor.  I think that’s a Tenth Doctor, but it’s possible she wasn’t going for a specific incarnation.  The vaguely steam-punky TARDIS outfit was pretty nifty also.

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There were lots of video-game inspired costumes at this con.

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…and a larger than average contingent of DC Comics characters, like this excellent Huntress cosplay.  The Batman Begins Batsuit utility belt painted purple is a nice touch.

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A pretty decent Thor, with YAH.  (Yet Another Harley.)

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I caught this Airbender on the escalator.

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More DC Comics folks-  a Poison Ivy, a Robin, YAH, and a Riddler.

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Here’s the reason for all the DC Comics Batman characters-  Kevin Conroy, the voice of the animated Batman since 1992’s “The Animated Series,” was doing a panel.

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Also attending this con was Jim Cumming, the voice of Darkwing Duck, Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, and many more.

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…and back to the costumes.  I’m not sure what’s going on with Kitty-Thor, but it’s a very fun outfit. mccc-16

As we were headed out at the end of the day, we walked right past a very well done Spawn.

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Which do you prefer, Coke, Pepsi, or some other third brand?

So where were we? Oh, yes, Tampa Bay Comic Con!

For the last few months, it’s been increasingly more difficult to find the words for the little blank box of blogdom.  The painful truth is that this blog has always been primarily a travel blog, and I’m not really traveling any more.   Once I finish my photo sorting from Japan and I start those posts, I’m out of steam.  I took nearly 2500 photos while I was in Japan, and I foolishly didn’t sort them as I went.  Stupid, stupid Steven.  I’m nearly through them now, but it’s been crazy.

I have about three Minnesota posts to get out, and a dozen or so Japan posts, and then I’m done.  I have no travel planned in the near or distant future.  For me, that’s almost unheard of, but I needed time to re-balance my life and fix the financial burn that traveling like a fiend for the last few years has caused.

The blog needs a retooling, and I’m still not really sure what to do with it.  The people who came here for pretty pictures of faraway places won’t much enjoy me talking about the day to day grind of work-a-day life in South Florida.  If I blogged more like an old LiveJournal and started to talk about things like my terrible sleep habits, South Florida traffic, and regular day to day fluff, would anyone still want to read it?

Other things have been happening which have kept me away from the blogosphere-  On the bad side, things are happening with Mr. Company that make me more than a little uneasy.  On the good side, I’ve been spending oodles of time with my Amelie, and there’s nothing that makes me blog less than having a lot of happy stuff to do away from power outlets and Internet connections.  On the mixed side, my family is splintering again.  After six or eight months being close to all my siblings, my sister has relocated to Orlando for a new job.   Orlando is only a few hours away, but that really makes it difficult to continue our tradition of all four siblings getting together for dinner every few weeks.  This picture from about two weeks ago was the last time that all of us were together:

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That’s enough focus on the question of bloggery for right now, because I have lots of entertaining pictures!  The weekend before last, Amelie and I were in Tampa for the Tampa Bay Comic Con.  We just did one soggy day of the three-day event, choosing to visit only on Saturday.    We suited up in the traditional questing garb of our people (translation: geeky t-shirts and jeans) and set out to enjoy the convention.

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Here’s some of the neat stuff we saw!  On our way in, we saw some great DC comics costumes, but it was a long line of people waiting to get into the building.   As a result, this is more a sneaky candid than a good prepped and posed shot.   I’m not sure whether this chap was Speedy or Red Arrow, but does it really matter? The weather was gorgeous for this part of the day, but it became an incredibly large monsoon-level storm system about an hour after this photo.

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I cannot get away from Frozen.  It’s everywhere.

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A very good Cap.  He loses points for using boot shams, though.  For sham, sir, for sham!  A real pair of boots would totally bring the whole costume together!

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I want this jacket.  I totally want this jacket.

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More DC characters-  Red Arrow, Black Canary, Green Arrow, and The Nefarious Frat Boy.  It’s almost like there’s a hit show on the CW with these characters or something.

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Miles Morales is a good father to his little princess.

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Optimus Prime’s got hairy knees.  This must be his summer look.  Not pictured:  The ridiculous Bermuda shorts visible from the back of the Autobot.  If you’re going to wear a full body costume, would it kill you to wear something that covers your knee-pits?

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Now this is what conventions are really for:  wizard-on-wizard violence.

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This was the first line-up for Carrie Fisher.  Everyone in this photo was in a very long folding single-file line.

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Carrie Fisher’s very short panel was great fun.  Not pictured:  Her little dog that goes everywhere with her now.  Including, apparently, the set of Star Wars: Episode VII.

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This girl’s Effie Trinket costume was kind of brilliantly done.

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The cast of Inside Out:  Sadness, Anger, Fear, Joy, and Homicidal Xenophobic Hatred.

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What would happen if the Venom symbiote latched onto Tony Stark?  Something like this, I guess.

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Russell from Up!  (Nice detail on the buttons, dude!)

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The Freema Agyeman panel was interesting, but not as interesting as Carrie Fisher’s panel.  On the bright side, I finally learned how to pronounce “Freema Agyeman.”  On a side note, the dude at the podium was an insufferable twit who made me want to kick him in the shins.

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I call this photo “Break room On The Watchtower.”

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We kept seeing this Avenger couple in lines for various panels.  I’m very impressed with their getup.  Bonus points: not a boot sham in sight!

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Every convention has its contingent of bizarre Deadpool costumes, but this one had a Dogpool puppet!  (Yes, Dogpool is a real thing in Marvel continuity.  Really.)

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They spook easily, but they’ll soon be back, and in greater numbers.

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This is one of the most interesting and innovative group costumes I’ve ever seen.  Amelie and I both especially dug these intrepid post-apocalyptic Muppet hunters.

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Agent Venom and probably-Scream.   They’re getting a lot of mileage with the original black costume these days

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Meanwhile, at Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman Emporium and Warehouse in Weekapaug, Rhode Island…

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Captain Spider-merica?  Spider-Cap?  American Spider?  Red White And Blue Bug?  What do you even call this mash-up?  (Cool reflective silver eyes, though.  And nice job on the shield.)

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There were surprisingly few Harley Quinns at Tampa Bay Comic Con.  Megacon in Orlando was just lousy with ’em.

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I didn’t have the good camera with me for the Jena Malone panel.

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After the day’s geekiness, Amelie and I ate dinner at Columbia House, and then walked around a bit.   We did manage to find the fabled Tampa Bay Lightning.  Shocking!

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Have you been to a convention recently?  What were your favorite costumes?

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?

Carnival in Cologne

On Rose Monday, I was in Köln for the Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) Parade. This was part of a slightly larger trip which included Karlsruhe and Stuttgart-  I’ll talk about those in another post, because Cologne during Carnival is more than enough for one post.

First, a brief administrative note-  I took more than 600 pictures, and I whittled them down to around 180 or so that were worth sharing with anyone.  From those, I picked 32 for this post.  If you want to see the ~150 that aren’t in the post, they’re in this gallery over here.

Second, there are a few things to bear in mind while looking through these pictures:

1) The best thing about the Carnival season for a big kid like myself is the costumes.  There were so many costumes-  I noticed a high count of bees, giraffes, and pirates.  The people who wore full body fur suit costumes had the right idea though.  The temperature wasn’t bad, but it was windy. Unless you were standing directly in the sun, it was kind of cold.

2) If I ever go to one of these things again, I totally need a costume with a helmet.  Flying bars of solid chocolate hurt when they hit you in the head.  Even a packet of Haribo gummi bears can be unpleasant if you get beaned right in the forehead.  The candy was being thrown for hours, and after a while I started to shrink back like a kicked puppy any time someone made a throwing motion.  The kids standing on either side of me made out like bandits from all the noggin-bounce candy castoffs, though.

3) These pictures actually span two parades.   When I arrived in Cologne on Sunday afternoon, there was a different parade going.  This parade featured more children, and wasn’t quite as large as the official parade on Monday, but it led to almost a quarter of the more than 600 pictures I finished the weekend with.

On to the pictures!  The first one is an off-duty Superman, looking like a 70s pimp with that furry coat.  I think the guy next to him is wearing a Batman costume, but I can’t be sure.  This costume is particulary daring with the chilly weather.

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Next up, a few Gnomes.  The Gnomes aren’t what I love most about this photo, though.  It’s the walking shower behind them… the curtain, the faucet… I think the shower costume is both creative and hilarious.

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One of the many giraffe costumes I saw.  I can pretty much guarantee that this guy was not nearly as cold as I was.

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This next couples costume won’t make much sense to my American friends without context, but I spotted it right away-  there’s a series of very cute commercials here for Kinder Riegel milk chocolate.  I’ve embedded an example below, so you can see what the costume is all about.

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When it’s time for lunch, you can’t go wrong at a snack bar with thiscast of characters.

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During the first parade, I was particularly amused by this entire family of bears, each equipped with his or her own Honig (honey) pot with which to catch candy thrown from parade floats.

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Another chocolate-inspired group costume.

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There were so many great costumes that I put nine more into an image collage.  The full sized individual shots of each of these are in the gallery linked near the top of this post.

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On Monday morning, the parade started at 10:30, but I found a place closer to the end of the parade route than the start, so the streets actually looked this empty at first.  Also, you can see that the windows on the parade route are often boarded up.  I’m not sure if this is because of drunken revelry or if it’s because of flying chocolate bars, but this is a pretty common sight along the parade route during Carnival.

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The empty streets didn’t last too long though, and before long there was plenty to see.

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There was a lot of NSA/Google/Facebook/Data-Security themed stuff.

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I made these six pictures into a collage because they were all together, and there’s a theme here.  The green wigged, blind-folded people have eyes on their hands to represent the constant watching of data leeches like Facebook.  I think the NSA camera stick holders in the previous picture were also with this group.  Plus the green wigs were conga-lining, which was kind of fun.

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I don’t know what this one was supposed to represent, but I thought it was neat looking.

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I have no earthly idea what the story is with this group.

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The German on this golden knight translates to “Your cellphone, your freedom.”  I’m not entirely sure what they meant by that, but I think it was another one talking about data security.

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There were lots of marching band and drum corps types of groups in various ornate uniforms…

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…and one group playing marching washboards.

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Some of the floats were single-rider deals, like this one.  The head was turning back and forth.

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More marching bands…

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More single-rider floats…

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I think after about six hours of playing the same song, you start to go a little crazy.  Like this guy.

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Once again, I have no clue at all what the deal is with the giant yellow heads that all have soul patches and deerstalker caps.   I bet they’re heavy though.

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There were lots of horses in the parade, but these two had the longest manes of any horse I’ve ever seen.  Usually, parade horses have their manes trimmed very short- not so with these two.

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The Zugordners (parade marshals) were utterly fascinating to watch.  They all had these bright red jackets with the little black hats that were vaguely English Bobby shaped.  I have no idea what they actually did, though, because the parade sort of moved itself along without any special pointing from this guy or his brethren.

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…and on to the floats.  The German on this one reads, “Fun Ghetto.”  Inside the jail is someone drinking, a pair of humping dogs, and other forms of caricatures of fun.

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I’m not sure if this one had a meaning other than just being Carnival-themed.

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This next one might need some parsing from my German friends.  I think the German text is supposed to translate to “Upgrade you will.”  The goat has a rocket strapped to his back.  And Yoda’s wearing a scarf for what I’m pretty sure is a local sports team.   I don’t really get the full meaning.  Any locals care to fill us in?

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This one says “The Death Star, Washington” on the side.   There were a few floats that had anti-American sentiment.  All the NSA spying stuff has really caused some friction between our nations.

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See?

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About an hour after the parade ended, I walked over to the courtyard between the train station and the Cathedral.  There were still an incredible amount of people moving through the city back to the train station.

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I was wondering how the city recovered from something like the Rose Monday parade so quickly, and now I know.   As soon as the parade was done, the cleaning crews came out.  A veritable army of people with brooms gathered the majority of the debris into small piles, and another group came by with giant vehicle-sized vacuums.  That giant white tube is a huge vacuum, sucking up piles of garbage from the street.  I’ve never seen anything like it before, but I think it’s pretty nifty.

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Have you ever been to a Carnival Parade?

Halloween In Germany

Halloween isn’t really a traditional German celebration, but it has become more popular in recent years, especially with children.  Most people seem to think this is partially from seeing it depicted in American television and movies, and I suspect that’s a big factor.  Here, costumes are more commonly seen around Fasching.

German youngsters only go trick-or-treating (“Süßes oder Saures!”) in certain areas.  Yesterday, I saw only three children running around with pillowcases, and that might not have been for candy-  they might have just been running around with pillowcases.

I did find that there are a few traditions that are similar to Halloween’s origins in Europe, without being exactly Halloween.

  • In the regions of Bavaria and Austria in Southern Germany, Catholics celebrate the entire period between October 30 and November 8 as Seleenwoche or All Souls’ Week.
  • November 1st is Allerheiligen, or All Saints’ Day. Catholics attend church services in honor of the saints, the martyrs and those who have died for the Catholic faith. People may also visit their family’s graves to beautify them with wreaths and small lanterns. Sometimes a mass is said at the gravesite and the grave sprinkled with holy water.
  • In some areas, November 2 is observed as All Souls’ Day. Catholics attend a special Requiem masses, where they remember those who may be close to them that have died. Prayers for the dead are said and votive candles are lit to honor their memory.
  • In Austria, there’s an entire pumpkin (Kürbis) festival in late October, Kürbisfest.
  • Jack O’Lantern decorations have become more common in Austria and Germany in late October.

Meanwhile, those of us who grew up with Halloween look for places to observe the holiday, and most of those places turn out to be bars and pubs.

Last night, I visited two in particular.  Murphy’s Law, the better of Regensburg’s two Irish pubs, was having a Halloween event.  The Piratenhöhle (Pirate’s Cave) was having a Zombie Halloween party.

In both locations, I saw lots of vampires, zombies, and pirates.  There were a few people dressed as Warcraft characters, one amazing Peter Jackson styled Orc, and more people with random fake bloodstains than I can shake a stick at.

My costume was not as well known as I expected-  roughly 90% of the Germans I ran into had no idea what I was dressed as.  Amusingly enough, only Americans and Canadians call him Waldo.  In the rest of the world, he’s Walter or Wally.  I also learned last night that I can walk around the Altstadt in powder blue pants, and nobody will bat an eye.  Oh, Germany, you make me laugh.

A few people I passed exclaimed “Hab dich gefunden!” (Found you!) as I walked past, so that was gratifying.  And kind of hilarious.