St Thomas, USVI, 2015

Rather than have another vacation blog post that no one will read, I figured I'd just have a few select pictures to show you how awesome my life is (er, rather, was, it's back to sucking now).

Scenes from New York Comic Con

This past week was a four day event known as New York Comic Con. I had only been there once before on a one-day professional pass (that’s right I’m a professional!) that I got through work. I decided to give in to a large experience and got a four day pass even if in the end I was only able to go to three days, skipping Saturday in fear of the even more massive, massive crowds. Comic Con is a fascinating event; a convention center filled with blocks of comics and toy dealerships as well as what's known as artist alley, which is more dedicated to independent comics and artist promoting their wares. This includes various steam punk, fantasy, and bondage outfits, weapons, sculptures, and toys. There is, of course, many problems with this event. The convention center is far too crowded making me feel bad for small children and handicapped people of which there seems to be an awful lot of, well, more than, say, at any sport or Rock concert event I’ve seen. So much of what is there is somewhat useless as New York City is filled with comic shops and toy stores. If there were bargains if I could understand, but some of the pricing borders on scams. The best thing for comic con is artist alley as there you can find actually unique items. The problem is that the same artists want to sell their material and sometimes they can be rather pushy. 

I did get some great stuff, unfortunately, at the same time, some not so great stuff. Bill Plympton’s handler made a big deal out how fast he did a sketch of me; well guess what, I rather have something good for my money than the shit he drew! FU Bill, try to treat a fan/paying customer with respect. And there are plenty of great and friendly artists who will do just that: CW, Jason Thomas, Jason Deeble, Ivan O'Neill, Fat Artist (not sure if that is his legal name), and Selina Briggs to name a few. Some of the artists want a crazy amount of money for their unknown work whether comics or art, and I can’t understand how they pull that off, but if you will do a sketch for me cheaply, or better yet for free, I will buy some of your work as well (although most people probably don’t do this, even if they should). This, naturally, lead me to getting into trouble such as when I got a sketch for a dollar and the artist kept giving me free stuff which I gladly took until the final item, which, after I express interest in, he wanted $20 for. It was hard to say that I was interested in stuff for free but that the crappy exploitative poster of a fake-porn comic was not worth paying for. This brings me to some observations.

It is also really cool to see so many people dressed as comic book characters. Despite what I might have thought, there is apparently no limit to how many Deadpool characters people will dress as or the degree of pseudo-porn you can have and pretend it is a comic. What makes this last part worse is the amount of young women that eagerly jump in on this. It seems that if you want to promote your work, just have a mostly naked chick with huge tits hawking your wares. The normally shy nerd will come out of his shell for these events and the one time feminists will see their sisters as empowering and try to act the same. I’m not sure if this last part is some ego stroking need for some women as there are many that probably wouldn’t get looked at twice in public but put their 300lbs in a sailor moon costume with their DDs and they are the bell at the ball. (Note: If you feel that you don’t match the standard of beauty, dress as a female superhero and finds some comic fans.) Yet at the same time there are incredibly attractive women going around in string but little else that couldn’t possible need the attention fix. The only thing I have to say to them is: “Where the hell are you when it comes to my life?! I’ve never met the model who is both a nerd and attracted to them!” Props to the women dressed as an original Star Trek doctor as you are very attractive but didn’t wear anything that crossed the line. 

Anyway, while I knew “Welcome to Nightvale" podcast was popular, I had no idea that it would have blocks long lines for meeting cast members—btw I just ordered merchandise to support you when I could have got it cheaper without waiting or paying for shipping. Speaking of lines, what is the interest in that? I just don’t want to wait two hours to meet Lucy Lawless for five seconds or spend $20 to shake hands with an 1980s wrestler or Mike Teevee (seriously, have you done anything else, child star?). 

As a means of socializing NYCC is a contradiction. On the one hand I ran into a few people that I have not seen in as many as five years (I’m glad they recognized me, because maybe I was passing by all sorts of people I once knew as I seem to be face blind). Since this is a group of “my people,” so to speak, you would think it would be easy to chat it up and make friends. Additionally, call a person by the name of the costume they are wearing and they are very excited to let you take of picture of/with them (this is where the creepy guys get to put their arms around the half naked with boob popping outfitted barely legal girls (here’s some math for you: increased breast size + lower clothing size = more popular (but I guess you can say that about anything in life)). Yet, on the other hand, I find NYCC to be rather isolating. The most fun I had was when I met up with Donette and wandered with her. It is something about having someone to immediately share the experience with that truly make the event, and yet to find a group of people that want to do this with me is ridiculously hard for some reason despite the hundred thousand people plus that attended and my own circle of seemingly comic loving friends.

Still, for whatever the problems, NYCC is a fascinating event and worth experiencing. Rather than continue to bore you with observations I'll let you see some of the creative and fun things you can see (I'm especially big on the little kids in costumes although I wonder how much of it is their parents forcing them to dress as the character verse because the kid's a fan). These two that you might not recognize are Pippi Longstocking and Kiki (as in Kiki's Delivery Service) which you should learn about (and, appearently, I like tales of girls with _i_i as their names).

Feminist Frequency

This blog and series of videos by a woman I'm so crushing on, deals with the portrayal of women in popular culture from Lego to video games to movies, etc in an informative, professional, succinct, and accessible way. While I don't always feel the same way she does on some of the issues (sometimes creators are not exploiting tropes because of male-centric views, but simply because they aren't competent enough to develop something new or are too desperate to cash in on the familiar), I feel that she does an incredible job pointing out flaws--such as the marginalization of women in movies and toy lines (often against the best interest of the producers!)--that are too often ignored. I have to cynically wonder if she wasn't so attractive would the videos resinate as much with me? Probably, 'cause it is awesome.

TWC Studio Tour

Ended January by visiting the TWC studio. The studio and tour was rather impressive, filled with beautiful tour guides and fun little activities, and explains where all my money is going 'cause it sure isn't going to giving me good TV service. You get to see the sets of and /or information about a variety of shows and channels, with the obvious purpose of self-promotion and unveiled attempts of getting visitors to post info on social media, which is fair in the end. They have a number of set-ups wherein you can make little videos of yourself as part of a show or pictures of yourself with props. I think this is a great idea, and you actually can find a whole new respect for on-air personalities as when I attempted to do a number of 20 second clips I invariably screwed up at one point or another. I was annoyed at the pictures as several of them were so off-center as to cut part of me out of and the green screen picture of me and Johnny Carson never came out for whatever reason (not that I really care, but once you do these things you want to see them come out). The hight of the tour was the Game of Thrones exhibit with props from pervious seasons. It's amazing that some of the items, like the weapons and dresses, were so well made and detailed, but some of the other items, like crowns and the throne, look like the plastic they are in person. There was a great "ride" wherein you are taken up the elevator at The Wall and you are in a 3D experience. Despite some blurriness due to the fact that the virtual glasses didn't fit well over my own, the experience was wild and I got very dizzy from the false sense of hight and movement.

St T 2014 XV

Sadly, my vacation is coming to a close. I could easily spend another month here before I would start to get bored. It is frustrating that I have to split my time (not 50-50 but still) between vacation and work, but it is certainly better to be here in the sun and water than in NYC in the cold and snow. Maybe I should work for the West India co. Didn't do anything monumental today, but that's the point, just sit in the sun on a hammock reading, and swimming in the ocean looking at fish and turtles. 

St T 2014 XIII-XIV

Sorry for the delay but I got the day wrong and realized an assignment of mine was due when I thought I had an extra day. Anyway, never mind that, instead let's focus on the awesomeness of the sea life here. Someone told me that it might have something to do with the full moon but I'm not sure. Either way, things are kind of crazy with the influx of pelicans, about 10 billion minos (give or take a billion), a seeming up tick in procupinefish, queen angelfish, and schools of 10 horse-eye jacks that got to be 4 feet long at least. Also saw more turtles than ever: what appeared to be a mother and father and baby--so cute!--(only the parents where together) and maybe grandpa who was pretty big but hard to get a clear picture of as he was over 20' underwater and covered with other fish snacking off his food (plus he took off so damn fast I couldn't keep up with him). Haven't seen any sting rays in a while, and absolutely no trumpetfish. While swimming along I came across a great egret and slowly floated on up to it. Got within 4' by being very slow and quiet and it was quite beautiful. Fascinatingly, when looked at face-on their very thin and long necks and beaks become an almost invisible line, which explains how they can so easily catch fish. Happy birthday, Mom!!!

St T 2014 XII

There are so many pelicans flying around it's crazy. 7 seems far too many considering that last time there were 2 (I guess we know how the increase happened). Going snorkeling I learned why this might be: There were so many minos (or whatever these little fish are) that saying in the tens of thousands seems to be a low call as they were so thick you couldn't see past them. Then, all of a sudden, they would part, leaving a path, through which the biggest fish I've ever faced would stroll on through. Easily 2.5-3 feet long and maybe a foot from top to bottom. I think they were Chub or Horse-Eye Jacks, and yes, I saw more and then 2-3 at a time. All this below and the pelicans on top, I was concerned I might get caught in the middle of a feeding frenzy. Thinking I might be better off deeper down, I took a tank out to go scuba diving. Just my luck it had a slow leak so I went through air faster than I thought I would, but I did see some cool fish like procupinefish and queen angelfish as well as a turtle that I got to swim around with and actually see from below rather than looking down from above. There was also a lionfish, but they are invasive and highly poisonous. And just for fun I played with Mango the "stray" beach cat for a while. 

St T 2014 XI

Despite the weather reports the day started dark and drizzly. I headed to Havenside, which is a port for the smaller cruise ships (be aware that these are still the size of a small city, but the idea that there are bigger ones...), but also the home of a butterfly farm and a tropical garden. Some of the butterflies are absolutely beautiful and often deceptively so as with their wings folded they could be a dull brown but spread they might be an incredible electric blue. The garden was also delightful if the path was a little narrow and the signage minimal. I returned to the hotel and took a refresher class for scuba diving (considering the horrible ear trouble and near drowning I dealt with last time it seemed like a good idea to do so). I was disappointed as I didn't see anything (and maybe even less) than I would have if I simply snorkeled. Still, good to get back underwater. 

St T 2014 IX-X

 

I fell behind a day, not because of the Golden Balls or whatever its called wherein rich, famous, beautiful people get praised for doing their incredibly lucrative jobs while drinking champaign. Instead I was "distracted" to hear that a friend of the family had a horrific accident and may be paralyzed. So glad you actors got to basic in your own limelight. Anyway, on the brighter side of things (and yes, I realize that these posts are also somewhat self-indulgent), I enjoyed some great weather and spent a good deal of time playing with sea turtles, being called away to prep for next semesters work and the online class I'm currently taking. As a complete aside,while I'm used to seeing mediocre guys with hot women (maybe the guy has a lot of money) there are two guys at the hotel that appear to be very good-looking and in excellent shape, married to very mediocre women; it's throwing my world into chaos! It just dawned on me last night that my vacation is over half done and the great panic sets in about what I've done and what I still want to do (it's reasons like that which led me to write for this blog, even if the stuff "I still want to do" usually is sitting in the sun doing nothing). 

St T 2014 VIII

Probably the best weather so far with the clearest water. Spent too much time reading and finishing a YA novel that was on the NYTimes best seller list only to be rather disappointed. Much better in the water where I saw 8-9 cuttlefish at one time which was rather unusual and two Peacock Flounders hanging out together (spoting one of these camouflaged guys is hard enough. At one point I saw this 3 foot long fish and thought "cool, a shark, I'm going to get a closer look" until I realized "crap, that's a barracuda, I'm going away now." I suppose the second reaction should be applied to either case. 

St T 2014 VI-VII

Sorry for the missed day, but I started an online class about how to teach online (lesson one organize your time). I've slowed down some because of this class I'm taking (see prior sentence) and intermittent rain has thrown me off. Yes, I know, poor me, having a tricky time organizing my swimming, snorkeling, and book reading on a hammock time. Anyway, the water currants have been a little strong of late, which is bad as it turns up sand and hurts visibility underwater, but good in that fish are slowed and easier to watch. Went to the Ritz to see how the 1% live and wasn't actually impressed, but then my standards are all beach oriented. For whatever reason my snorkeling mask kept filling with water (a problem that corrected itself just as randomly), which made taking pictures more of a blind guess for a while. I did, however, see two sea turtles at one time yesterday, which has never happened and now shows me that there are at least 3 turtles in one area of the reef. I've also been seeing groups of parrot fish (groups meaning 3) which doesn't seem like a big deal but I never recall seeing them hanging out together (as opposed to cuttle fish which always seem to be in groups of 3). Does this mean anything? Probably not, but here's a picture of a pretty bird as a change from the fish. 

St T 2014 V

Today was a much better day in terms of sea denizens. Despite an earache that I'm hoping is only due to excessive exposure to the cool water, I got in some good snorkeling seeing two sea turtles with which to play with, a sting ray for too deep for it to even notice me, and a hermit crab that attempted a hostile takeover of another conch shell. Also did a little food shopping, and while I realize that the locals may know some great places to go, if they spend half of what I do, I have no idea how they survive. Note: use sunscreen on your feet, they get burnt just like the rest of you, but you have to walk on them. 

St T 2014 IV

A problem with staying here (especially when you are taking an online class) is the sporadic Internet access. Then again, it's worth the price to avoid the freezing weather throughout the US. So I'll just put up a little note saying that I went snorkeling a few times yesterday along with swimming and paddle-boarding. Haven't been seeing some of the amazing things from prior years, such as large schools of tropical fish, and haven't seen turtles since that first one. Not sure if it is just random, the weather patterns, or something else. Well, I'll keep looking. 

St T 2014 III

Decided to begin the day heading into the main town/capital of St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie, which is rather small considering that the population of the USVI is less than 20K. I mainly went to look around, stock up on food, gifts for relatives, etc. Somehow this took about 5 hours and I returned to the beach sleepy and much poorer. The water was still very murky due to the crazy cold front from the north and while I saw some neat sea life like scrawled filefish, rainbow parrotfish, rock beauty, queen angelfish, wrasse, and procupinefish, and a barracuda, I couldn't see them very well. There are a lot of stray cats around, but one that's not so stray is a black cat missing half an ear named Mango (No, I don't know why) who decided to shred my t-shirt that I was using instead of yarn to play with her. Trying to be good and get some work done, but well....