Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do—especially when it comes to work. Working at a restaurant has a lot of ups, but one of the biggest downsides is the Food Safety Certification class.

Every two years, one must go through the utter hell of this class and every two years the people attending get dumber and dumber. This time around though, the instructor was even worse than the rest of the class.

This man was batshit insane.

He was dressed in his Sunday best; a pressed white shirt, pinstripe black slacks and a tie that you only buy from the D.I. to complete your homeless man costume on Halloween. You know the one—it's always the last tie on the rack and the one that's not classy but just not quite ridiculous enough, eother. The bottom, skinny side also hung down about an inch below the top. It complemented his slick, white hair and pocket protector nicely.

I didn't take notes on anything that actually pertained to the test (since I've taken it half a dozen times) but I did take notes on some of the worthless drivel that spilled out of his mouth. Allow me to share these things with you.

-- He began by showing a newspaper article of the plane that landed in the Hudson River earlier this year, and went on to talk about how that, 9/11 and the Bubonic Plague were all tied to Foodborne Illness.

-- NASA implemented a safe food program for the astronauts in space no more than a few years ago. I guess before that they just made a sack lunch of the tuna casserole they had the night before they left earth and only recently has that been deemed a bad idea.

-- Even Jesus Christ was prone to foodborne illness. Apparently, not only is the big JC unable to hit a curve ball, but he had a real problem eating undercooked chicken, too. No wonder he died so young.

-- A dangerous mutation of H1N1 (Swine Flu) will be hitting the U.S. this fall. Diseases run on the same schedule as fashion lines. Both of these will be huge topics for the blogosphere in a couple of months. (And I'm telling you now, soon after that hits, Birdswine Disease won't be far behind.)

-- On a family trip to Sea World a number of years ago, he noticed that the penguins were being fed raw fish and was concerned that they may get sick because of it. This man—while on a family vacation—took the time to seek out the trainers and inquire wether or not the fish the penguins were being fed was properly stored/cooked. The penguins. At Sea World.

-- In the late 70s, people in Africa were killing one another and eating the organs. Whichever organs they didn't eat, they ripped from the bodies with their bare hands, packaged them (rather poorly) and shipped them on boats the the United States. What happened because of this you ask?


That is how AIDS made it's way to America—via the poorly harvested, unsanitary shipping of inedible organs across the Atlantic.

*Fun Fact* When I Googled AIDS (That's right, I did my research) a few 'common misconceptions of AIDS' results came up. Did you know that one of those common misconceptions is that sex with a virgin cures AIDS? I sure didn't. So keep in mind that after you contract the disease from your African organ transplant (the organs that weren't deemed good enough to eat, mind you) that you purchase from a boat docked in New Jersey, just seek out a virgin and - BAM! - problem solved.

-- Foodborne illness is the number 2 threat to America right now. The number 1 threat? Terrorists, of course.

Public education at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.


This kid is awesome.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I saved the best for last. Well, maybe “best” isn’t quite the right word to use.

Any time the subject of a comic or sci-fi convention comes up—especially when talking to someone that’s never been to one—inevitably (and excusably, because people seem to think that anything they’ve ever seen on Entourage is a completely accurate depiction of real life) the first image that pops into their heads is thousands of nerds dressed up like Batman. And that’s only partially true.

While the ratio of costumed people : everyday clothes is fairly low, the ones that are dressed up are easy to spot—even in a sea of 115,000 other people. Some get really creative, some get really obscure and some dress purely for shock value–which usually become the most memorable costumes.

I’ll tell you a little secret: If you’re an attractive woman—scratch that, if you’re a halfway decent looking woman—and you want to be treated like a celebrity for a day, dress up and go to a convention. It doesn’t matter who or what you dress up as, so long as you’re wearing some sort of costume. You can pick a well-known character like Wonder Woman, or you can make up your own half-assed attempt. As long as you show a little cleavage and don’t mind 45-year-old men following and staring at you , you’ll be a hit. Camera flashes will be going off every 30 seconds, and you’ll be asked to pose for pictures all day long. If you want, you can wear the same thing for the whole convention and be famous all weekend. But be aware that there will always be a trashier version of the costume you’re wearing waiting in the next aisle to steal your spotlight. Prepare accordingly.

Some people take a lot of time preparing, while others look like they threw something together that morning. Both ends of that spectrum are equally fascinating.

Besides splitting time between the costumes, the weird booths, fallen idols and pseudo-celebrities, I did manage to catch a few panels. Iron Man 2 looks spectacular, and Robert Downey Jr. knows how to work a room. Kevin Smith said Bruce Willis misinterpreted his invitation, and thought Smith was attending something called “Commie-Con” and declined to attend something so un-American. Marvel announced that they finally acquired the rights to a character named Marvel Man (once called Miracle Man) that’s been in legal limbo for decades. People claimed Twilight fans ruined the convention (they had home-made signs and everything!), and Twilight fans were mad that there wasn’t a bigger presence. Geoff Johns is back writing Flash at DC and since I no longer have a beard I wasn’t mistaken for Ben Foster a single time this year.

Until next year, San Diego…


Monday, July 27, 2009


The floor of ComicCon is literally packed from wall to wall. I couldn’t even give a rough estimate of how many exhibitors are in the place, but it’s a lot. Pretty much anyone can get a booth or a table to peddle just about anything, provided they fill out the paperwork and brave the two-year waiting list. Some people do this, and they bring with them the most random things that people end up loving.

One small booth that I saw a few years back, but hadn’t been able to find again until this year, was the Asylum Press booth. One of the company’s specialties is a magazine called Girls with Corpses. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s filled with pictures of girls and dead bodies. Some of the models were mildly attractive, and because they were posing next to dead bodies that probably helped up their overall status. But at the same time, they were posing next to rotting corpses trying to look sexy, so that dropped them right back down. There were people there every time I walked by—some appalled, some intrigued and a few women wondering how they could apply to be models. There were also multiple back issues, which means the magazine sells well enough to warrant a new one every so often. What kind of world do we live in when quality magazines are on the chopping block, but Girls With Corpses is rolling along unaffected?

While looking for relatively quiet place to rest , I found an escalator that led to a weird half-level that not only had booths and entire rooms set aside for Japanese card games (i..e. Pokemon and what not) and obscure video games, but also a booth for being fitted for (and ordering) chainmail, and some truly jaw-dropping live action role-playing going on just outside (jaw-dropping because I’d only heard about it and never actually seen it, not because I was amazed at the talent that it took, which didn’t look like much at all). The San Diego Film Festival had a booth also, but it was sandwiched between another medieval recreation society and The Dented The Dented Helmet is the definitive Boba Fett costume resource—because apparently there are many different occasions for such a thing, and like any good outfit, you shouldn’t wear the same one twice.

There were more booths that I just didn’t have time to explore, but one of them had a table offering autographs from Extreme Karate (I think MMA is the proper term, but let’s call it what it really is) fighter Cung Le and Sober House "contestant" Amber Smith. Anything goes at ComicCon and everything has an audience—even if it is only five people.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


ComicCon has become the go-to place for movie and TV studios to pimp its upcoming stuff, show off new footage and to try and build as much of a grassroots fanbase as possible. That means that big name directors and popular stars may take their chances roaming the halls much to the delight of those that recognize them.

That’s what makes the autograph area of the show so damn depressing.

Normally I avoid that part of the con as much as possible, but yesterday I wandered through it on accident and was oddly fascinated by the people sitting behind the tables. There was one woman ready to pose for pictures with fans beneath a banner that read “The Most Talked About Model in the World!” But before that moment, I had never heard of her and now, hours after leaving, I can’t remember her name for the life of me. That might explain why she was sitting all alone without a single person in line—apparently no one else was talking about her either.

On the other side of the dividing curtain, The Honky Tonk Man, Virgil, The Million Dollar Man and one of the Bushwhackers (I’m not sure which one but I doubt it would make much of a difference) stood in front of the table signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans—all charging a fee of course. There were only a handful of people willing to pay, and I’m convinced it they were only doing so out of guilt. They feel bad that their childhood heroes have been relegated to charging $10 a pop to help pay the bills while still convinced (only in their minds, of course) they’re as big of a star today that they were in the early 90’s. It’s got to be hard to see your stardom fade away right in front of you like that.

The actual sales floor is full of the same kinds of “celebrities,” only the ones downstairs aren’t as far removed from the spotlight and are still a few years away from the autograph area where they have to realize that it’s finally over.
Lou Ferrigno still knows how to work the fans and while you still have to pay to take a picture with him, at least you wouldn’t have to explain to people who he is. The rest of the floor is littered with models and Playmates from 10 years ago, another day past their prime but still saddled with those 8x10 glossies they printed up in 2005. One playmate—who’s in the same spot every year, tucked between an overpriced anime dealer and a booth selling vintage G.I. Joe action figures—still manages to charge $30 for a photo with her and an autographed picture—and people are still paying.

But I can’t decide which is sadder, the fact that she’s selling the same pictures year in and year out and looks completely miserable the entire weekend or that I remember exactly where she is every year and recognize all the photos she has.

Probably the latter, because at the end of the day she’ll leave the Con a few hundred bucks richer and I’ll ride the trolley back to my hotel in Old Town trying to figure out clever things to write about her on the internet.

You’ve won this round, Miss November.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Oh San Diego, how I love you.

Don’t get me wrong, Salt Lake is where my heart is, but every day my planned 2014 exodus to Southern California gets closer and closer. Until that day comes however, I’ll settle for an annual trip down here for the biggest nerd paradise in existence—San Diego Comic Con.

Five years ago—when I made my first Comic Con excursion—Preview Night was the best part of the weekend. It was quiet, relatively empty and exclusive to four-day pass holders—a nice little bonus for shelling out the $60 early. Sure, there were people here, but you had room to breathe, space to walk around in and plenty of time to catch all the good Con exclusives (whatever those might be) without fighting anyone.
Not anymore.

With four-day passes having sold out months beforehand, Preview Night is just like any other day—packed. By the time I finally got to the main floor at six PM (having been herded up the escalator, around the entire upper level and back down another escalator directly across from where I began), I was already worn out. I definitely was not ready for the line of people clamoring around the Warner Bros. booth for an exclusive Harry Potter bag or the hundreds of screaming tweens huddled around the Twilight booth for an eight second clip of New Moon.

Once I finally made it out of the “Hollywood Con” area that covers the entire middle of the floor and into the less crowded outskirts—where the small press booths and starving artists set up—the night got much better. Most people were too preoccupied and overwhelmed to notice anything truly good. Peter David (who wrote a legendary 10+ year run on The Incredible Hulk) was just wandering around and Brian Wood (writer of the excellent Northlanders and an accomplished artist) was selling freshly silk-screened prints and chatting up anyone that stopped by.

As crowded as it is already, Preview Night is relatively tame (and short) compared to the rest of the weekend when the costumes and the crazies start showing up. But rest assured they will be here—and that’s when the real fun starts.

*These are being written for the City Weekly blog. I'll have a new one up every day (if everything goes according to plan).

Monday, July 20, 2009


Today is July 20, 2009 and it's the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing. Or the moon landing hoax. Whichever you prefer, I guess.
I've never been big on conspiracy theories so in the grand scheme of things, I don't really care what evidence there is or what the experts think.
I think we landed on the moon (and by "we" I mean a bunch of guys that were far more intelligent and dedicated than myself. They were U.S. citizens just as I am, but that's really all we have in common. That and Aldrin was balding).
Of course, that might just be because I want to believe that we landed on the moon. I want to believe really, really bad. I won't argue with anyone one way or another because the thought of outer space is far more interesting than hating fun. Plus, as a Gentleman Explorer, a sense of adventure is required and there's nothing more exciting than the thought of a manned mission to outer space.
I've always had an obsession with space (and not just because the first movie I remember seeing as a kid was Return of the Jedi. That might have a little something to do with it, though).

...I had somewhere I was going with this, I promise. But the guy next to me at the coffee shop is browsing porn sites and I kinda lost my train of thought. I'll get back to this.