Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Wonderful Wizard (World) Of Chicago

Here’s a song from the 1978 movie “The Wiz.” It’s called “He’s The Wizard” and this version is performed by Thelma Carpenter. I post this because she’s an awesome jazz vocalist and because this movie is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s a terrible film and I love it unconditionally.

Hey! Speaking of Wizards, I went to Chicago’s Wizard World Comic Con last weekend! It was awesome! Here’s my highlight reel:

The Buffy Part

I’m a HUGE “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fan! This con was billed as Buffy-palozza and it lived up to its name. Spike, Xander, Cordy, Harmony, Darla and Glory (not their real names) were all there and they all did Q and A panels! I got to see everyone but Cordy (Charisma Carpenter) because, for some twisted reason, they put her in one of the smaller panel rooms (everyone else got the big room). They were all warm, funny and fantastic but for me the highlights were Nicholas Brendon and his twin brother Kelly Donovan (they closed with the Snoopy dance!), Julie Benz ( Did you know she only did 4 episodes of Buffy? Doesn’t it feel like more?), and James Marsters (The man is a SUPER fan whisperer! When he talks to you, you feel like the most precious and special person in the room.)

A friend of mine also bought autographs from Nicholas and James. I leeched onto his moment so I got to make James laugh and shake his hand and then I got a Xander hug!!!! Just the Buffy part would have been well worth the (very reasonable) price of admission. But wait, there’s more!

The Star Trek Part

Sir Patrick Stewart and Levar Burton were there!! I’ve just started watching Star Trek TNG so I was thrilled to see them both. I was really looking forward to the Levar Burton panel because I’ve been a fan of his since “Roots” (“Club Kunta” is what Levar calls us). Unfortunately they put him in the small room too so by the time I finished the Patrick Stewart Panel and got around the corner to his it was already full. Patrick Stewart, who was in the big room, was fantastic!

The Miscellaneous Awesome

I saw a great panel with the ladies from “Stargate Universe.” I just got finished watching the whole Stargate franchise and I really enjoyed it so it was nice to hear their recollections.

The kids from “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory” were there! I was really looking forward to their panel and they did not disappoint! I loved watching kids and adults alike line up to ask questions and say thank you to them all. I even got to thank Denise Nickerson for her work on “Dark Shadows” and “Electric Company.” Huge thrill for this big fan!

I also saw a short one on Sunday with Peter Mayhew (Chewbaca) and his lovely wife the their son reading a children’s book they all collaborated on. The panel was so short only one person got to ask a question and guess who it was? Me! I talked to Chewbaca y’all! (Your weekend is officially invalid).

The Marriage Proposal Part

No, it wasn’t me, but two proposals happened that weekend. One I saw with my own two eyes and the other was witnessed by a good friend. The one I saw was at the Bruce Campbell panel which I attended because I couldn’t get in to the one I really wanted to see. The other, ultra cool proposal was this!! (nerdgasm!)

The Cosplay Part

I have “attention seeking issues.” It’s why I blog. When I went to my first Con down in Georgia last year and saw all the attention Cosplayers get I KNEW I had to be a part of that. I wanted something ethnically appropriate and ultra cool so I decided to go with 70s Blaxploitaion cop. I wore crushed velvet paired with red and yellow floral paisley, silver platform shoes and a GIANT afro wig. It was a hit! Some of the famous people even complimented me. I got stopped for lots of pics. My one regret is that I really never took the time to develop a bad ass attitude to go with my bad ass costume. In all my cosplay pics, I look more like my favorite aunt’s family photo album circa 1973 than a bad ass, foxy mama out to kick the man’s ass and take honky names! Ah well, there’s always next year.

The Hero Part

I got to see Pam Grier and Louis Gossett Jr. speak while I was there. Pam was funny and warm and amazing and still smokin’ hot at 62 (Black don’t crack baby!)

Attendance was embarrassingly low at Mr. Gossett’s panel (it was late Sunday afternoon.) But the up side was everyone who had a question got to ask it and those of us with multiple questions (me) got to ask them all. It was wonderful getting to spend time talking with an Oscar winner who was personable, funny and eager to talk about his craft. Seeing him was an unforgettable experience.

The Bad Part

Traffic control around the panel rooms was a nightmare! They had no game plan for lining people up safely and no clearly marked and accessible walkways for through traffic and that made moving from one room to another nearly impossible when the bigger panels let out.

I hope next year they’ll find ways to put all the more popular panel speakers in bigger rooms. I missed Levar, Charisma, and the zombie musical because they were all being held in a room too small to fit all the fans.

The vendor floor really didn’t have much variety for folks who weren’t into comic books (yes I know it’s called COMIC Con). I did find a great sword cane for my cosplay though so I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much.

The Very Very Bestest Part!

At various points during the weekend, I got to spend time with 20 of the best pallies on the planet. All of us came from the MSTie fan base and but, obviously we were there pursuing other interests.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the people who make these gatherings so consistently groovy. Even without a CT or RT in sight, my MSTies peeps are like a warm plate of cookies for the soul.

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Driving Topless On Route 66

“(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66” was composed by Bobby Troup in 1946. He wrote it while he was on a cross country drive from Pennsylvania to California. Almost every city mentioned in the song is listed in geographical order. Only Winona, AZ is out of order for rhyme convenience. The highway passed through 8 states and the song lists cities from every one of them except Kansas. Gee… can’t imagine why he skipped that one. Nat King Cole recorded the song first and his is my favorite version.

I picked the song because it has numbers in it but I would have LOVED to have taken a road trip on Route 66! The road is almost gone now but there are a couple of long stretches left in Oklahoma, Arizona and California. Someday I’m going to rent a cool convertible and put the top down and drive them all! I want to get a tan so rich and deep that people will think I’m from the islands! And I would too if I hadn’t spent the first 12 years of my life as a red head. What will actually happen is I’ll put on a ton of sunscreen or I freckle and burn like the fairest lass from the Emerald Isle. Yeah, I know, I really just need to rip up my Black Person card and load up my Bing Crosby, Corrs, and Shaquille O’Neal CDs and embrace my inner Erin go Braugh!

Friends!

This is the Rembrandts. They’re singing the “Friends” theme song. I know. I’m sorry but I’m doing it anyway.

I’m hanging out with friends tonight! I’m going into the big city. I might even have to pick the hay out of my hair and put on shoes! (I said “MIGHT”)

Chad And Jeremy A Summer Song

Chad and Jeremy are a British folk rock duo but they achieved their biggest commercial success here in the US. Their first hit was called “A Summer Song” (1964). Since March around these parts has meandered in like a sweet if slightly wobbly new born lamb, we are filled with hope for an early spring and pleasant summer.

March is the time when I start to make serious plans for my summer fun. Even though March has just started I’m starting to have angst! Most of my favorite nerd events have little or no news about summer happenings yet. There’s no word from Cinematic TitanicRifftrax, or w00tstock.  Dragon*Con is a go but so far there’s no one on the guest list that seems worth making the effort to travel down to Atlanta to meet. So far the only bright spot is the North American Discworld Con coming up in July. Other than that it looks like I may be facing a horrifyingly geek free summer! I sure hope events start getting announced soon or I may have to turn to drugs. or worse yet, SPORTS!

Pure Michigan Tweet-Up Part IV

As promised, here is the final chapter in my riveting travel saga. Even though India Arie is a 21st century artist, she was born in the 70’s so I decided it counts! Plus I have a total girl crush on her. I picked the song “Little Things” because I want to talk about a couple of little things that made me smile in Michigan.

I am absent minded. Again, it is part of my charm. I’ve never burnt anything down or blown anything up with my forgetfulness but I did once take off on a road trip without any shoes. That should give you some idea of just how “charming” I am. One thing I almost never seem to forget is my camera. I have lugged it to nearly every nerd gathering I’ve been to for the past 2-3 years and I have yet to snap a single photo. A couple other people have snapped pics on my camera for me (usually with disatrous results) but I haven’t taken one… until now. Were they photos of the fantastic friends I met along the way? Why no of course not! Were they photos of the stars of the fantastic show I saw? Don’t be silly. Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you the two photos that I, the right Reverend (yes, really a reverend) Beautiful O. Mind, took during the Detroit Tweet-up:

First up, this beauty from the night table in my hotel room:

It’s a No-Smoking ashtray. That’s right, a No-Smoking  ASHTRAY! It just… I can’t… huh?


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Riddle: What kind of garden is still fragrant and beautiful in February in Michigan?

I bought two ridiculously expensive truffles and savored them a nibble at a time all the way home.  I am now of the opinion that all of life’s journeys should end with expensive chocolate. Look for my self help book with the same title out next Fall.

Pure Michigan Tweet-Up Report Part III

What’s that? You say you’re looking for a band to satisfy all your jazzy, bluesy, soft-rock needs? Look no further than Steely Dan, the gnarly band with the naughty name. I chose “Peg” to introduce the show portion of my report because of its references to pictures, names in lights, big debuts, and favorite foreign movies. Also, I really like the song.

I try to catch the good folks at Cinematic Titanic (CT) whenever they come through the midwest because they are hilarious! Also, all my favorite nerd buddies tend to gather there so it’s totally win-win! For those unfamiliar with CT, some of the folks from the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 have reunited to mock terrible movies in a live show. Yes, it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.

The warm-up showcases the individual talents of the performers. Mary Jo Pehl opened the festivities with some stand up then Frank Conniff came out and did some more comedy. They seem to have given Frank a bit more stage time for his stand-up act this year which is great. He was always funny but I definitely prefer this slightly longer set (I think ‘set’ is the right word). Next came the very funny Trace Beaulieu reading selected poems from his new book “Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children.” Follow the link to pick up a copy! Then came J Elvis Weinstein doing his fantastic Elvis Costello impersonation. Next came Joel Hodgson (he of little web presence) who did a fabulous magic trick! Finally J Elvis and Joel wound up the opener with a sing along of the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” theme song which was, of course, a real crowd pleaser. The best part about the opening act was the fact that they let folks record it! You can watch the opener for the second show on YouTube.

The stinky movies of the evening were “Alien Factor” and “Rattlers.” I’d seen the both before but they always change the jokes up a bit to make things more topical or replace jokes that didn’t work. They get funnier every time you see them. The second look at “Rattlers” was especially helpful because the first time I saw it I think there must have been something wrong with either the copy of the film or the projector because large sections of the movie were completely black. This time I could see the whole thing in all its crappy glory!

After each movie the Cinematic Titans do a meet and greet for the fans. You can shake hands and get stuff signed and take pictures with the cast. I’ve been to so many of these shows they know me by name. I had planned to go through the receiving line twice. Once just to say ‘Hi” then again to ask a couple of questions. I wanted to ask Frank how he became a jazz fan and I also wanted to know what got Joel interested in magic. I went through the line after the first show and said my howdy but, unfortunately, I was cross-eyed tired by the end of the second movie so I didn’t feel up to standing in the line twice. Instead I spent the rest of my energy gabbing more with the fantabulous crowd I came with. I even got to talk with the dear and charming RAD, hubby to Mary Jo. None of us wanted the evening to end but I was getting too tired to stand and I still had a short drive back to the hotel. We all reluctantly said goodnight and thus ended our fantastic Detroit Tweet-up adventure. But wait! There’s more! Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion modestly titled “Tweet-up: The Journey Home.”

Pure Michigan Tweet-Up Report Part II

I may shamefully hide my Manilow love in the closet but I wear my Phoebe Snow fandom with pride! The song in the video was not on the CD I was listening to this weekend but I chose it because we most definitely “Let The Good Times Roll” in Detroit!

Twenty (mostly) middle aged nerds gathered, hugged, ate, laughed and basked in each others’ company to begin the evening’s festivities. Some of us already knew each other but many of us had just met for the first time. It didn’t matter of course. There aren’t any strangers at a MSTie meet-up. One of my new friends leaned over to me and said “It’s like I’ve known you for ages!” I took that to mean she was comfortable in my presence though I suppose it could just as easily have meant every minute in my company is like an eternity in hell… Nah! Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening with me?? We could find a karaoke bar with “Mandy” on the playlist and sing it over and over and over …Hello?

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