Friday, 31 August 2012

BLOG -- Recap of August

So, here is my recap blog for August. This month was crazy busy for me, work-wise and not! There were many times this month where I ended up working until 7 PM; sometimes until 8 PM; once until 9 PM. For about two weeks, I skipped lunch because I had a lot to do and I didn't want to stay later. Then I had stuff happening pretty much every weekend, so I didn't get much of a chance to rest. Craaazy! Anywho, if anybody is curious about my thoughts on anything, as always, please go ahead and ask. :)

Outings/Events in August:
- Attended the Black Keys concert in Toronto.

- Attended the How to Train Your Dragon live show in Toronto twice. I ended up buying a nightfury plushie.

- Attended Buyokai 2012. My friend was dancing in it. It was cool!

- Had a BBQ lunch at work. It was golf themed. It was so exciting and fun!!

- Took two vacation days and went to Fan Expo Canada.

- Had a drink with my co-workers after work. I spilt a bit of my beer.

- (beer) Coors Light Sub-Zero -- really light and smooth.

- (food) Otoro sashimi -- very light and refreshing. So good!

- (game) Foosball -- yes, I've never played foosball before until now. I suck at it, haha.

- (Anime): Master Keaton (for the 2nd time) -- This is a really cool series. I was listening to it more than watching it since I was so busy. I listened to the English dubbing -- it's pretty decent.

- (Movie): Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge (for the 3rd time) -- I like this movie a lot, despite its moments of cheesiness. I will blog about this one day.  

- (Movie): The Dark Knight Rises -- Very long, but very good.

- (Wii): Rhythm Heaven Fever -- It amazes me sometimes how Nintendo can make such a simple game soooo fun.

- (Comic): Old Man Logan -- Really bloody and cool.

Playing (not all at once):
- (PS3): Record of Agarest War Zero 
- (PS3): Persona 4: Arena
- (PS3): Folklore
- (DS): Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja 
- (DS): Professor Layton and the Last Spector
- (PSP): Persona
- (PSP): Hatsune Miku 2nd Diva  
- (Wii): Fortune Street 
- (PS2): Persona 3 (screw my OCD-ness of playing games in chronological order... this time)
- (PS2): Ape Escape 3
- (PS2): Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

- Nothing right now.
- (Novel): JPod by Douglas Coupland

That's it for August! Sooo busy... Here are some random photos:

 Otoro sashimi. Mmmmm....

 Buyokai 2012.

 A screenshot of Persona 4: Arena. I love Teddie's expression.

 The stage for the How to Train Your Dragon live show.

 My plushie at work. In front is my BBQ invite.

One of the golf courses for the work BBQ.

Thanks for reading! :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

BLOG -- Fan Expo Canada 2012

So... this blog should have been done on Sunday, to stick with my weekly blogging schedule. Buuuuut (and here's the but)... if you've ever attended a convention for four days straight, going from opening to closing time almost everyday, you'll know just how exhaustive and energy-sucking it is. Almost everyday when I got home, I'd only be able to putt around for a few hours before shutting down for the next day.

So I went to Fan Expo Canada last week. And I had lots of fun! Attending conventions isn't new to me -- I've been attending them for many years now. But even so, I'm still taking in new experiences. My interests are still growing, developing, evolving. What I look forward to nowadays is quite different from what I used to look forward to. It's always so neat to me.

Just to warn you: this blog will be quite long. I'll be covering each day of Fan Expo Canada -- what I did, what panels I attended, and any thoughts. That's four days' worth of blogging. At the end of the blog, I'll post pics of cosplayers and what I bought. So if you want to see that, just scroll down. :)

But before I start...

Me and My Convention-Going History
The first convention I attended was probably CNAnime (now called Fan Expo Canada) in 2002 -- it's been so long that I actually don't remember.

Back then, I was a huge anime fan, so that's why I went. Anime wasn't so mainstream and easily accessible back then, so it was very difficult to get exposure to new series, unless you went to conventions, had computer-savvy friends, were computer-savvy yourself, or you were close enough to a shop selling anime merchandise that you could keep yourself updated from time to time. I also attended conventions largely for the Dealers Room (a place were you could buy retail merchandise) -- there's a better chance of getting deals at conventions, especially for manga (Japanese comics).

Since then, I've been attending Fan Expo Canada every year. I also used to attend Anime North every year, but that's not the case anymore.

Around 2005, I somehow found myself among a group of people who actually helped out at those conventions -- running certain anime game shows and events. So from 2005-2010, I helped out with those things at the conventions -- prepping for the game shows plus an event. That was a very different experience. Still fun and tiresome, but different.

Now, I'm back to being a regular convention attendee. I'm still an anime fan, but just barely -- I'm so particular about what I watch. What's drawing me more to the conventions these days (Fan Expo Canada specifically) are the guests and the comic-related panels.

The Little Details
Dates of Fan Expo Canada: August 23 - August 26, 2012
Location: Metro Convention Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
Ticket Price Total: $103.00 (Deluxe 4-day admission)

Time Attended: 6:45 PM - 8:15 PM
Yeah, I wasn't at the convention for too long on Thursday. I mainly went to get J. Scott Campbell's autograph for a co-worker friend, to check out the little details with the guests, and to get some pics of cosplayers.

My personal aim for this convention was to get three autographs: William B. Davis' (cigarette-smoking man from X-Files), Gillian Anderson's (Scully from X-Files), and Matthew Gray Gubler's, AJ Cook's, Kirsten Vangsness' (Spencer Reid, JJ, Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds).

As I was wandering around the Dealers Room / Artist's Alley, I spotted the booth for Cyanide & Happiness. Instantly, my eyes were drawn to the cute plushies. I got plushies of both characters and the artists did a cool doodle for me.

Two of the artists from Cyanide & Happiness. I love their outfits.

Nothing much else to say for this day, 'cept that I bumped into a friend and we spoke about the convention for a bit.

Misc. Photos for Thursday

The Hulk in Lego form.

Some kind of vehicle from some zombie movie.

Remote controlled R2D2!

The Delorean from Back to the Future.

R2D2 in motion. You can hear my girly squeal close to the end.

Time Attended: 1:15 PM - 7:00 PM
This time I was slightly dressed up for the convention. I was wearing this black gothic lolita dress with yellow threading design. I forgot to take a picture of it, but I'll post it up in a future blog, along with my other gothic lolita dress. I was really tempted to wear my heels, but my toes are still recovering from last time.

I decided to check out the comics "section" of the Dealers Room. I was aiming to get an autograph for a co-worker friend, but he kept forgetting to bring the certain comic book that would get signed. So I decided to take a chance and get it myself. If it's so cool and bloody like he says it is, I may like it. So I bought Old Man Logan. And I got Steve McNiven's autograph -- one for me, and one for my co-worker friend. So far, Old Man Logan is really cool.

At 3:30 PM, I started lining up for a panel.

Create a Character 101 with Dan Slott & Ty Templeton -- 4:00 PM
I attended this panel last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was no different. A lot of the same points were made, but they're good points. This panel gives some advice on creating characters, either for your own version of an existing character or for an original character.

When creating a character, there are certain questions you'll have to answer. Depending on the answer, it will determine the kind of character you're creating, either psychologically or physically. The first five questions that need to be answered relate to the five senses: what does the character see the most? Taste the most? Touch the most? Hear the most? Smell the most?

For example, if you say that Spider-Man tastes his own blood the most, that version of Spider-Man would be one who gets beat up or injured a lot. Otherwise, he would taste something else the most instead of his own blood.

There are other questions, but I won't go further. One day, I'll answer these questions for myself -- I want to know what my "character" is like, hehe.


After the panel, I quickly went back to the Dealers Room / Artist's Alley to get two more plushies from the Cyanide & Happiness booth (and another cool drawing).

Anime Music Videos with Vlad Pohnert -- Mortal Combat Style -- 6:00 PM
For those who don't know, anime music videos (AMVs for short) are fan-made videos using anime / video game / some kind of animated footage and music (often licensed). Sometimes they're funny. Sometimes they're original. Sometimes they're dark and serious. If done well, AMVs are neat and cool.

This event pitted two AMVs against each other and the audience would vote for the winner. Some of the videos were decent. But I kind of had an ulterior motive for attending this event: I wanted to know if the host was actually Vlad Pohnert.

I was very into AMVs many years ago (as far back as my last year of high school). I didn't make any (though I would have LOVED to try if my computer was more powerful and I had the proper program), but I actively searched for them.

So... many years ago, while searching for AMVs, I stumbled upon Vlad Pohnert's AMV site. That was nearly 10 years ago... and I now see his name in a convention schedule.

Personally, I consider AMV-creating as a hobby -- an incredibly time-consuming hobby. To see somebody still sticking to this incredibly time-consuming hobby after so many years... It's really amazing and awesome.

Once I found out it was really him, I asked for his autograph (he created one of my favourite AMVs). His response to that was:


Misc. Photos for Friday

Daleks from Dr. Who. They moved and spoke!

The Sony section, showcasing a few of their upcoming games. 
I didn't get to try anything since the lineup was too long.

Time Attended: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Once I got to the convention on Saturday, I was determined to get my autographs. I went into the Dealers Room / Artist's Alley and made my way to the Celebrity Autographs section. The line for Gillian Anderson was already very long and I had a panel to attend to at 11 AM. The line for William B. Davis was shorter, so I got his autograph first.

Nearing 10:30 AM, I decided to leave the Dealers Room to get in line for the 11 AM panel -- a panel I've been looking forward to all weekend: a Q&A session with some of the cast from Criminal Minds. Squeeee! I get to see Matthew Gray Gubler in person. And I get to hear him talk. Squeeeeee!!!

When I reached the line, though, my cheerful, girly-happy mood fell. The line was soooooooooooooo long... Where I was in line, it wasn't certain that I'd be able to get in. And more people lined up behind me...

As the line slowly moved, I was thinking, Maybe I'll skip this and wait in line for their autograph session instead. Then I overheard a conversation between an attendee and a convention volunteer that those who attend the Q&A panel would receive a ticket -- and only those who have a ticket would have a chance at getting an autograph.

With only about 10 people between me and the entrance, the doors slammed shut. The room was at full capacity. To say frankly, I was very sad.

I decided to attend another panel.

So You're a Gamer and No One Understands You -- 11:00 AM
This panel was okay. It was a talk about some gaming issues: the perspective of video gaming from different generations; not being taken seriously by male gamers if you're a girl gamer; video games in the media (still being blamed for encouraging violence).

I don't remember much from this panel, except this:

Whenever a person says, "When I was your age...", that life experience is not comparable. Because -- when they were "your age", they were "your age" at a different time, when things were different.


It was noon, and I was back in the Dealers Room. The next panel didn't start till 2 PM, so I had some time. I decided to walk through the booths a bit more thoroughly, seeing what was on sale.

As I got close to the CTV booth, I saw a very large crowd. Immediately, it hit me: the autograph session with Criminal Minds cast. These people are crowding around with the hope of catching a glimpse of them. I wanted to continue walking, but my feet wouldn't move. They were firmly planted, the thought running in the back of my head: I might get to see them!

Around 12:15 PM, the crowd started to scream and cheer. I looked all around and saw Matthew Gray Gubler's head for a split second. It was a magical split second, hahaha. I was trying to take a picture, but I was way too far away.

Thankfully, the employees at the booth next to the CTV booth were being nice and taking pictures for us.

Where I was standing in the crowd. The ones on the chairs were the nice employees.

A really far shot of Matthew Gray Gubler and AJ Cook.
(Thank you, kind employee)

Sketch Duel with Greg Capullo, David Finch, and Tony Daniel -- 2:00 PM
This was really neat. At a sketch duel, two or more artists have 15 minutes to draw a character, and sometimes the artists give tips or advice on drawing / illustration techniques while doing their stuff. Then, at the end of the panel, those drawings get raffled off to the audience members.

At this sketch duel, Greg Capullo was acting as the emcee while David Finch and Tony Daniel were the artists. The first character they drew was Nightwing (no idea who that character is); then Catwoman. Greg Capullo was awesome as an emcee.

Tony Daniel's Nightwing.

David Finch's Nightwing.

David Finch's Catwoman.

Tony Daniel's Catwoman.

They just had to slide the drawing up a bit. Heh.

AMVs with Vlad Pohnert -- Game show Style -- 4:00 PM
This was a trivia style game show with AMVs. An AMV is shown. Then contestants try to answer questions about the AMV. The game show has a neat structure, but I personally prefer to watch and enjoy an AMV instead of taking mental notes.

When 5 PM rolled around, I left the room, and got ready to line up for my next panel (I will NOT miss another panel that I really want to attend).

The Truth is Out There... But Where? With The Smoking Man -- 6:00 PM

William B. Davis! Kyaa!~~

This was mainly William B. Davis talking about how it was like being a cast member for X-Files while being a skeptic of the paranormal.

I never realized just how science-minded he was (I must have sounded so stupid when I got his autograph -- I was so nervous). William went on to talk about the dangers of climate change, and then he answered questions from the audience.

Two things I will remember from this:

1. Conducting hypnosis to find repressed memories is not sound. You already remember unpleasant memories, so any "repressed" memories found through hypnosis will most likely be constructed memories through suggestion.

2. Studies show that if one has a firm opinion about something and is shown physical, hard evidence stating otherwise, one would tend to believe in their "incorrect" opinion more strongly. I am quite guilty of that sometimes, so I gotta be careful.

Misc. Photos for Saturday

Halo character in Lego form.

Some Portal station. You can try out the arm apparatus thing.

The Daleks in motion.

Time Attended: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
I probably caught the first train that morning, since the subway starts running at 9 AM on Sundays. I got to the convention at 10 AM. The first thing I went to was the Dealers Room: I had to get Gillian Anderson's autograph.

It was pretty pricey, but I wanted it. When I got the autograph, I was so stupid and nervous again. I noticed that she was chewing gum, so I asked what flavour she was chewing.

She said: "What gum am I chewing? A licorice, mint gum from London."

I said: "Oh, okay!"

She said: "Why?"

I laughed and said I was curious. Sooo embarassing!

 My poor attempt at a photo of Gillian Anderson. Darn my shaky hands!

After getting her autograph, it was 11 AM. I decided to check out the Artist's Alley since I didn't do that at all yet. The Artist's Alley is an area where independent and comic artists sell their stuff, ranging from fan-made stationary and trinkets, to hand-drawn commissions, to original comics, to elaborate novelties and accessories. From 11 AM - 12:30 AM, nearly all my money was spent. Artist's Alley is like a mini vacuum, sucking up my wallet. 

Celebrity Q&A Session: Gillian Anderson -- 1:30 PM
This was really neat. Gillian was answering audience questions about various things, mainly about the X-Files.

From the way she spoke, I got the impression that she's an honest person. It didn't seem like she had prepared answers for anything, which I can respect. Honesty is something I value greatly.

I also got the impression that Gillian's pretty hard on herself and that she's modest.

AMVs with Vlad Pohnert -- Comedy and WTF videos -- 4:00 PM
Yes, again with the AMVs. This time the videos shown were comedy videos and WTF videos. Out of all the AMVs, this one was very memorable (and enjoyable to me):

"Ballad of the Nice Guy". I love the song here, and the ending.

Overall Thoughts
Overall, I really enjoyed Fan Expo Canada this year. I got cool autographs, I attended neat panels, and I got to see some cool costumes.

Personally, I find being an attendee is a much more enjoyable experience over prepping for game shows. The priorities are soo different.

Besides my sad moment with Criminal Minds, I greatly enjoyed myself and would definitely go again next year -- if the guests are cool.

 The convention at 5 PM on Sunday (a.k.a. the convention is over).

Photos of Cosplayers
As mentioned earlier, here are some photos of cosplayers:

Rogue & Gambit from X-Men

Black Cat.

Ace from One Piece.

Marceline from Adventure Time

Chun-Li from Street Fighter.

Hatsune Miku. I'd like to cosplay as her someday.

Some steampunk outfit.

From Yu-Gi-Oh. I think the dress and staff made of Yu-Gi-Oh cards is original.

Mickey Mouse and... other Disney characters?

Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

G.I. Joe characters.

Main girl from Lollipop Chainsaw.

Jigsaw puppet from Saw.

Star Wars characters. They were dressed up like that to get David Prowse's autograph.

Princess Peach from the Mario series.

Piranha Plant from the Mario series.

Mechanized version of Pikachu. I think this is full-on original and cool.

Marvel characters group photo.

Mitsuru Kirijou from Persona 3. I've cosplayed as her for two years before.

Main character and another character from Persona 3.

Main girl character from Persona 3 PSP.

 Akihiko from Persona 3.

 DC characters group photo.

My Convention Purchases
At conventions, I'm usually a spendthrift, so I gave myself a budget: $400 for all four days. It soon became apparent while in the Artists' Alley that $400 was too low a budget.

Here is what I bought:

William B. Davis' Autograph.

Gillian Anderson's Autograph.

Cyanide & Happiness Plushies. One of those green ones is my sister's.

Old Man Logan Graphic Novel. This is a good read.

Geek soaps.

Some cute buttons.

Some more cute buttons.


More keychains.

A fan comic.

An original comic.

Some posters.

Another poster.


Cute postcards.

A postcard for my sister and two stickers. Yes, that postcard is Lady Gaga.

Tons of memo pads and sticky notes.

Small prints of lovely artwork.

More prints of lovely artwork.

An artbook filled with drawings of female characters in elaborate outfits, and cover art.

Another artbook of the same ilk.

So, to calculate the "damage" to my wallet:
William B. Davis' autograph: $30
Gillian Anderson's autograph: $60
Cyanide & Happiness plushies (for 3): $60
"Old Man Logan" graphic novel: $30
Geek soaps: $45
Buttons: $10
Keychains: $6 (rectangle ones were free)
Fan comic + original comic: $7
Posters (I had some regrets buying these): $67.80
Bookmarks: $3
Postcards: $5
Lady Gaga Postcard + stickers: $3
Memo pads + sticky notes: $45
Lovely prints: $35
Artbooks: $40

Total "Damage": $466.80

And you know what? There were still things I wanted to buy...

Well, thanks for reading (if you made it this far)! If you have any questions about anything I experienced at Fan Expo Canada, or just comments and questions on anything, feel free to comment!

I'm looking forward to this upcoming weekend -- so I can sleep and be lazy. My body is still aching.

Have an awesome rest of the week! :)