Long Beach, Rarasaur, The Queen Mary, Milk, and Metro

On the third day of our Los Angeles visit, we took the Los Angeles Metro all the way out to Long Beach.  The whole ride took a little bit less than an hour, and once we got off the train, we went to a nearby Starbucks to have a little coffee and chatter with Rarasaur, a long-time bloggyfriend who we had never met in person before.  (Those of you who follow either Ra or me on social media have already seen some form of this photo.)

After a while at the Starbucks, Ra led us to Harvey Milk Promenade Park, just a few blocks away in downtown Long Beach.

I wanted to show both sides of the park in one shot, but I didn’t actually manage to take the right photo before  we left, so here’s a second view that includes the wall art.

The park includes a concrete “soap box,” on which you can stand and espouse your views. Or, in Amelie’s case, to express your displeasure about something.

There is a picture of me on the soap box, but I was Shatnering again, and nobody needs to see that twice.

After we went our separate ways from Ra, Amelie and I grabbed a Lyft across the bridge to the RMS Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary is permanently docked in Long Beach since 1967, and has been converted into a museum and tourist attraction.  There are a number of restaurants on board, as well as a hotel.  Nestled next to the Queen Mary is Scorpion, a Soviet submarine which has been a separate tourist attraction there since 1998.

The Queen Mary is a big, big ship.  We were on the deck, trying to find our way to a place to get some food.

There was a Princess Diana exhibit going on while we were there, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so here’s a life ring instead.

Inside the Queen Mary, we stumbled across a 25 foot eleven inch Lego model of the ship containing roughly 250,000 Legos.  There’s a sign off to one side that says, “Can you find the cat?”

I could not.

Before we left the ship, I snapped a photo of the Long Beach skyline as seen from the deck of the RMS Queen Mary.  It was a pretty nice day.

When we got back to Los Angeles, we walked through yet another Metro station with pretty nifty art.  This particular one contained all kinds of movie reference art, in themed sections.

It was not always clear to me how the sections were organized, but I liked this tile with Luke on a Tauntaun.

This section was all about classic sci-fi and horror, I think, but I’m not sure.

I don’t recognize all of the movies referenced in these tiles, only some of them.

I thought maybe this area was movie vampires, but the Joker isn’t a vampire, so again-  I have no idea what the theme was.

This area was clearly about robots, droids, tin men, and other automaton.

It kinda looks like Robby is dancing with a Dalek.  And why is R2-D2 always so far away form C3PO?  It’s almost like they don’t like one -another.

This section is clearly about space travelers, and now I really want to see a Spock/Ming The Merciless version of The Odd Couple.

Have you ever been to Long Beach?  Do you recognize any of the movie references in these Metro tiles?

Star Wars Celebration Orlando

This past weekend, Amelie and I went to Orlando for Star Wars Celebration 2017.  Long-time readers of this blog will remember that back in the summer of 2013, I managed to attend Star Wars Celebration Europe, because it was in Germany and I was already there.  That was a fantastic convention, and much fun was had by me.

This time around, not so much.

Let’s start with opening the first full day of the convention, Thursday morning.   Amelie and I walked to the convention center a short while before the doors were supposed to open, and about an hour and a quarter before the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Panel, which we were both very excited about.

When we got into line, it seemed to go almost the entire length of the front of the building.

Then we reached the corner, and it continued around the entire side of the building.  Then we reached the next corner, and it went the entire length of the *backside* of the building.   And then it looped back in the other direction.

The line for Celebration was literally one and a half times the circumference of the Orange County Convention Center.  Grand Admiral Thrawn was not amused.

11am came and went.  We were able to watch a few minutes of the panel on our phones because it was streamed, but it was hard to see in the glaring sun and when I tuned in, it was- yuck – Hayden Christensen.

Onward we schlepped.

After two and a half hours in the first line, we finally got indoors, where we were treated to yet another line.  The far end of this hall includes the nine metal detectors that were being used for everyone coming to the OCCC.

Reedpop, the showrunners for this convention, forgot to count their ticket sales.

Or the person responsible for logistics in their organization is just some sort of shrubbery with googly eyes glued on the front.

Somewhere around 12:30 in the afternoon, someone in charge realized that the people at the end of the line would not make it into the show floor before it closed that day, so they just started to let every one in all at once, security be damned.  The metal detectors were screaming like the proverbial lambs.

Then we got into- you guessed it-  ANOTHER FRELLING LINE to pick up our badges for the rest of the convention.

By 1:30 in the afternoon, after four hours in various lines, we were finally on the show floor.

Some of the neatest stuff we saw on this trip was in the first section on the first day… there was a custom BB-8 car…

…and a Mandalorian Veloster.

There were lots of great costumes, including this magnificent Luke-a-like.

Partway across the floor was a big droid racing set-up, including this maze for Spheero BB-8s.

As with the other Celebration, there were giant models of things from the movies in various places.

One of the highlights of the day was Amelie getting hugged by (a) Chewie.

I call this photo “Han shot first.”

There were big presences by Disney, Hasbro, Funko, and, of course, Lego.

The new properties were represented by the Droid Builders, too… someone made a Chopper from Rebels!

There were quite a few BB-8s rolling around, too.  It’s kind of amazing how far the technology has come.  This little guy was rolling around, being chased by kids the entire time.

Ultimately, almost everything on my camera is from that first day.  The second day, we weren’t able to get wristbands for the Last Jedi panel because people camped out the night before and, you guessed it, the lines weren’t managed very well.

This was the worst convention I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to a lot of conventions.  We didn’t manage to make it to a single high profile panel, because their bizarre wristbanding method means you have to be on hand at 6am (or earlier) or you get nothing.  Other conventions I’ve attended allow you to simply line up a few hours early, or to pay a little extra for high demand shows.  If you miss the line, you miss the panel.  That would have been preferable to this nonsense though-  at least we would have had a chance to see things.

I appreciate that Disney didn’t want to charge people more for the high profile panels than their original (very expensive) show tickets, but this was just shenanigans all around.    At the Celebration in Europe in 2013, there were loads of panels that were interesting to me.  At this Celebration, at the height of Star Wars being super energized again, there were only a handful of panels that were even marginally interesting, and we couldn’t get anywhere near the really important ones.

At the end of Star Wars Celebration, all we left with was our con crud. (I’ll take “Sinus infections and Antibiotics” for a thousand, Alex.)

At least this guy had his Dianoga.

What’s the worst convention you’ve ever attended?  Or the best?

Hours could seem like days.

Today’s Nanopoblano post is kind of a cheat, because I feel like I have only a few words today. (Few words and kind of a head-ache.)  Numbers, on the other hand, I have lots of.  My brain doesn’t spin down much.

this-is-fine

From today, it will be:

1 day to the Pet Shop Boys concert.

6 days to my elder brother’s 50th birthday.

7 days until I start my last week of On-call for Mr. Company.  (And another few days after that until I get a full night’s sleep again without interruption.)

9 days to Thanksgiving.   Earlier in my career, I usually had to work Thanksgiving.  That doesn’t happen any more, but I kind of miss it.    There was always a camaraderie among those who were tapped to work a holiday.  Plus the food was always provided by management.  Those mashies were delicious.

13 days until the start of the four-way Supergirl-Flash-Arrow-Legends crossover event on the CW.  I am so fricking excited to see Supergirl interact with more of the established Arrowverse characters, you have no idea.

17 days to my birthday.  I’m not super enthused about this one.  I’ve got bigger things on my mind right now than reaching 44.

18 days until Amelie and I go to see the B-52s!  That’s gonna be a fun show.

21 days until my niece turns 6.  I could swear she was a toddler about five minutes ago.  I have no idea what to get her this year-  for a little while, I could just get something related to Frozen and it would be a winner.    I think if I got her another Frozen-themed gift, her mother might lynch me.

22 days until I move out of my apartment.  At this point, my to-do lists have their own to-do lists.  I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff.

25 days until the next time Amelie and I visit a sci-fi convention.  There’s a little one here in Ft. Lauderdale, which should be fun.  The guest list for this one is not bad, including James Marsters, Summer Glau, Sam Jones, Judge Reinhold, Tim Russ, Billy Dee Williams, and Joey Fatone!  (I’m enthused about all but one of those.  Betcha can’t guess which one!)

30 days to the end of my job.  Which means I should really go to fewer concerts and whatnot.    (In reality, I am working far fewer than thirty days until the end-  it’s just thirty calendar days.)

And, as a final treat,

30+1 days until the next Star Wars movie, Rogue One, comes out.   This is the first feature film set in the Star Wars universe that isn’t about the Skywalkers and the Solos.   I’m pretty jazzed about it.

What’s the next thing you’re counting down to?  Where will you be in 31 days?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Cardiff

On my last trip to the UK, we took a day trip to Cardiff by train out of London’s Paddington Station. This makes Wales my fifteenth country visited! (Not including the US.)

cardiff01

Cardiff is a fascinating little city.  We didn’t see even a third of what the city has to offer, but we did take a stroll past this nifty clock down Queen Street.

cardiff02

At the end of the street are the outer walls of Cardiff Castle.

cardiff03

Through the main gate of those outer walls is the original Norman shell keep, flying the flag of Wales.

cardiff04

The red dragon motif is everywhere, as the symbol of Wales.  It’s also the symbol of the Brains brewery, which makes a pretty tasty beer.  I had a Brains Green Dragon at lunch when we were back in London later in the trip, and I wish I’d had a Brains while we were closer to the brewery- I’ve been told that the flavor loses something in transit.

cardiff05

Our goal for this jaunt to Cardiff was actually in Cardiff Bay.  From the Cardiff central station, we took a small local train to Queen Street a few stops from the main station, then changed to the smallest train ever to go to Cardiff Bay.  Seriously, it’s only got the one wagon and it just goes back and forth between Queen Street and Cardiff Bay.

cardiff06

From Cardiff Bay’s little train station, it’s a short walk to the Bay.  You’ll pass  the very pretty Pierhead building.

cardiff07

…and you’ll walk past the Wales Millennium Center.  If you watched Torchwood, this will look familiar.  This is an arts center which hosts events like concerts, opera, ballet, and so forth.  The dome is clad in steel that was treated with copper oxide, to represent Cardiff’s steel making history. It was designed to withstand the weather conditions on the Cardiff Bay waterfront.

Inscribed on the front of the dome, above the main entrance, are two lines written by Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis. The Welsh version is Creu Gwir fel gwydr o ffwrnais awen, which means “Creating truth like glass from the furnace of inspiration”. The English is In These Stones Horizons Sing.  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

cardiff08

Walking further along the bay is the World Harmony Peace Statue. You hold the handle of the torch, and make a wish for world peace.

cardiff09

After a little bit more walking, we arrived at the goal for this side trip:  The Doctor Who Experience, situated in Cardiff Bay until 2017.  The first part of the DWE is an interactive walk-through adventure with the eleventh Doctor in which you get to fly the TARDIS, so that’s pretty fun.  Also, you get to learn how to walk like a scarecrow soldier or a Cyberman.

cardiff10

After the interactive part of the Doctor Who Experience, there’s an exhibition.  I took a bajillion photographs, but I won’t bore my non-geeky readers with all of those.  I selected just seven pictures to give you a sense of the place.  If you’re not into Doctor Who, just skip down to the picture that has me in it, and we’ll pick up the post from there.

The first picture is the outfit of Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor.  This was part of a row of outfits worn by each of the first ten Doctors.

cardiff11

Similarly, the companions each had outfits in the exhibition.  Here’s Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith outfit.

cardiff12

There were several TARDIS control rooms in the exhibition.  I’m pretty sure this was the fourth Doctor’s control room.

cardiff13

…and this was definitely Nine and Ten’s control room, brought over to the DWE in its entirety after the regeneration into Eleven.  They cleaned it up a bit, but you can still see smoke and fire damage from Ten’s fairly explosive regeneration.

cardiff14

No Doctor Who exhibit would be complete without  my favorite robot dog of all time, K-9.

cardiff15

Most of the Doctor’s adversaries were represented, but I particularly liked this Cyberman.

cardiff16

Of course, there were friends of the Doctor present as well.  Here’s me, hanging out with the Face Of Boe.

cardiff17

Ok, that’s enough geekery for this post.  Once we were done at the Doctor Who Experience, it was time to walk back from Cardiff Bay.  I had to force myself not to walk like a Cyberman.

Cardiff Bay is really a very pretty place.  Here’s a view out from the dock.

cardiff18

There’s a number of fascinating sculptures around the Bay.  This was my favorite- the Merchant Seafarers’ War Memorial, by sculptor Brian Fell.  It’s designed to look like both a face and the bow of a ship.

cardiff19

Walking back up the wide sidewalks from the Bay to the little rail station, we couldn’t help but notice all the spiders that were out.  I think they were collecting food and preparing for the winter.

cardiff20

Last but not least, on our way out of the Cardiff Bay area, this little cutie walked right up to us, flopped over, and demanded to be loved.  Who could say no to those little paws?

cardiff21

Have you ever been to Cardiff? Did you learn to walk like a Cyberman while you were there?

August Break: Star Wars Celebration Europe

I’m on an August Break from my regular blogging schedule. Here’s today’s pictures.  There are 43 of ’em today, but I promise, this is still August Break.  Most of these won’t have commentary.

I went to Star Wars Celebration Europe in Essen, Germany during the last weekend of July.  There were cool panels with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Anthony Daniels (C3P0), Ian McDiarmid (the Emperor), Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok), and many many others.

When it comes to conventions, everyone goes for different reasons.  My friend Lorrie goes partly for the panels, but mostly for the vendor tables.  Some people go to show off their costumes.  Some go because they want to hear the panels.

I like the panels, and sometimes I come back with a fun geeky t-shirt or two, but the one thing I always do at a con is to walk around with my camera.  I love seeing other people’s costumes, especially if they’re really creative or accurate or just funny.  I took hundreds of photos in Essen.  Here’s 43 of my favorite shots from the weekend.

This was before the event.  I call this “Off-duty Bike Scouts.”

starwarscelebration-1

There were a lot of Leias around.  And more than a few Padmes.

starwarscelebration-2

The Hasbro area had recreated several scenes from the movies in incredible detail using their action figures.

starwarscelebration-3

This half-scale model of Vader’s TIE-fighter was on display.

starwarscelebration-4

You could also get a picture of yourself in the cockpit of this snow speeder.

starwarscelebration-5

Bavarian clone trooper.  This man had the most amazing mutton-chops under that helmet.

starwarscelebration-6

Wutini!

starwarscelebration-7 starwarscelebration-8

I thought about posing in this scene recreation, but I forgot my giant diaper.

starwarscelebration-9 starwarscelebration-10

The wampa was at least eight feet tall.  And very fast.

starwarscelebration-11

This girl did an amazing Barriss Offee costume.

starwarscelebration-12 starwarscelebration-13 starwarscelebration-14 starwarscelebration-15 starwarscelebration-16 starwarscelebration-17

Even a princess has to eat sometime.

starwarscelebration-18 starwarscelebration-19

There were so many Mandalorians.

starwarscelebration-20

…not to mention Angry Birds.

starwarscelebration-21 starwarscelebration-22

I didn’t understand this gag at first-  Lorrie reminded me of all the people fleeing Bespin toward the end of The Empire Strikes Back

starwarscelebration-23

Lorrie shot first.

starwarscelebration-24 starwarscelebration-25 starwarscelebration-26

This was on the leg of the AT-AT in the main hall.  I didn’t even notice the sign until the third day.

starwarscelebration-27

I only saw four or five slave Leia costumes.  It was refreshing to see so many more Leia variants that didn’t involve the bikini.  Don’t get me wrong; I love this look (as all heterosexual geek males do,) but it’s getting a bit overplayed.

starwarscelebration-28 starwarscelebration-29

One of these Imperials is just a mannequin.   See if you can guess which one!

starwarscelebration-30

These two did a hyper-accurate cartoon Clone Wars version of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano  Very impressive.

starwarscelebration-31

Lots of droids.

starwarscelebration-32

An AT-AT driver!  I was amazed at the variety of costumes people chose- it wasn’t all main characters.

starwarscelebration-33

“I’m a Mog!”

starwarscelebration-34

I snapped this picture because of the Dengar costume.  I didn’t realize until I saw it on a larger screen that Kenny Baker (R2-D2) is in the corner!

starwarscelebration-35 starwarscelebration-36

Surprisingly few Vaders- only two or three all weekend.

starwarscelebration-37

All four of these men have played Boba Fett at some point or other.  The youngest, Daniel Logan, was “Young Boba” in the prequel trilogy.  The other three were from the original movies.  The one wearing the costume is Jeremy Bulloch, the original Boba Fett, and the one who spent the most time in the role.

starwarscelebration-38 starwarscelebration-39 starwarscelebration-40 starwarscelebration-41

It’s a trap!

starwarscelebration-42

Ikea’s computer expert revealed:

starwarscelebration-43