Combination Of Pro-Wrestling & Theater, It’s FIGHTING OPERA

by Matthew Edward Hawkins

Well, another MoCCA Art Fest has come and gone. And as expected, it was a mixed bag.

MoCCA 2008: Enter… The Three

For starters, didn’t do all that well sales-wise. Saturday was decent, but Sunday? Man, don’t even ask. Actually, it’s hardly a surprise; with nothing new at the show (well, the third UNLUCKY preview mini did makes its MoCCA debut, but that book has been available online and at stores for almost a year now, so I guess it really doesn’t count), I really had nothing to offer. Though I supposed one shouldn’t feel too bad… from what I gathered, pretty much everyone suffered from less than stellar business. Though my tablemates did quite well, and not surprisingly; their shit, as expected, was tight.

And I also only realized at the very end how poorly prepared I was exactly; it hadn’t occurred to me at all beforehand to create a sign, even a little one, to tell everyone that the first installment had received an honorable mention in the Best American Comics 2007! Talk about being a poor businessperson.

Also, and I guess this was the biggest downer; many familiar faces passed on this show, for whatever reason, or simply could not make it. Folks like Farel, Todd Web, Toby Craig, Travis Nichols (who was at least around a few weeks back), Dalton Webb, and Matt Bernier to name a few. And one of the very best parts of MoCCA is having out of town bud around to entertain.

All of which contributed to, in my humble opinion, an extremely low-key affair. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I guess with APE, which is traditionally the first indie comics shows of the year, being delayed till the end of the year, I kinda expected something big. Also not helping was the truly oppressive weather, and especially the fire alarm on Sunday, but I’ll get to that in just a sec.

Though the show wasn’t a total washout; it certainly had its moments. First and foremost, I had an utter blast sharing a table with Katie and Hilary. We made quite the fine team! Here’s our “group shot”…

Hilary’s offerings included a totally awesome new mini, plus her usual array of ultra fine prints, which sold out actually, as did Katie’s second installment of Nurse Nurse!

Also quite nice was our change in location. Don’t ask me why or how, but originally we were supposed to be located on the 7th floor, due to the fact that I submitted my paperwork and payment so late. But when we picked up our badges the night before the show, we were delighted to discover that we were moved onto the first floor! I actually heard a lot of people who got shuffled around, and in their cases, they did not benefit from it at all. So we were just lucky. Actually, Hilary in particular was pretty bummed about being separated from the action, though I tried to look on the bright side… such as how when the AC went dead downstairs, the upstairs was nice and pleasant. Plus I assumed that this second time around, more people would know a 7th floor existed, and it would hopefully not be a ghost town like last time. Which was most certainly the case, the 7th was definitely booming. Problem was, the AC up there never worked, meaning it was really hot and uncomfortable. Again, lucky us!

But before going further, may as well start from the top: Friday after work, Katie and I met up with Pat Lewis for dinner (we went to Republic, this Thai joint in Union Square), and then went to Rocketship for a small pre-MoCCA party that was mostly a book signing event headlined by Jason… not my buddy Jason Sawtelle, but the famous Norwegian cartoonist who only goes by that name. Anyhow, that was fun… hadn’t seen Alex in ages, which makes no sense, since I’ve been working at home and not tethered to some office for over two months now.

I guess the only noteworthy thing from that part of the evening was how I was standing next to the line of folks waiting to get their book signed, and talking to Pat, who was in that line, along with Jammie Tanner, about my days of internet dating from many moons ago (which I find myself talking about a lot, since I find it so funny how I got so many weird looks about it back then, and now, everyone’s on OK Cupid), when I noticed someone directly behind Pat listening and sometimes chuckling. When I realized that he looked kinda familiar, but couldn’t put my finger on it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to investigate, and after talking for a bit, it finally hit me: it was Jackson Publick, co-creator of the Venture Bros!

Afterwards, because Pat is totally into all things Tiki, we went to the Zombie Hut a few doors down, and brought some folks with us from Rocketship. I ended up giving one of the bartenders like $20 in tip for just two drinks, mostly because she looked like she needed it; aside from everyone being a shitty tipper that night, every creep in the house was hitting on her, to the point that she seemed to be on the verge of tears (and considering most bartenders are used to stupid shit in general, it must have been especially bad). Though I made sure that, you know, I’ve got a girlfriend, so I wasn’t trying to hit on her or anything. Anyhow her appreciation showed via some damn fine Blue Hawaiians!

As for the highlight of the next day, the first day of the show, it would have to be this one dude. Naturally, I have a tendency to attract the weird ones, but I got a whopper very early on that morning; this very nervous dude began to ask me if I was an animator or a marketing guy. He was sweating and stammering something fierce. I tried to answer him the best I could without getting too involved, if you catch my drift, and noticed he had a HUGE phonebook-think sketchpad that was devoid of any cover. It was explained that he was looking for someone to animated his drawings, and it felts like the manifesto of some madman even with just a slight cursory glance from afar. When I explained him that I could be of no real help, he moved along, and then Katie stated “Man, I’d pay $300 to have whatever that thing he has is.” And then my curiosity became very piqued… but mostly because he really reminded me of this one kid from SVA that Joe Simko and I talk about… who used to draw the absolutely craziest thing (man, I will NEVER forget the look on our drawing teacher’s face, the late-great Joe Orlando, as he asked what the deal was with the boob in the sky, and the response from the dude, who we both realized was a fucking genius but no one knew it, was “It’s a titty copter… and those are ninjas coming down from it.”).

So, wondering if it was indeed the same dude (he certainly had that same demented, cross-eyed look), I asked if we could take a look at his art. And here’s what we got…

… Just pages and pages of faces melting, most of whom looked to be in agony…

… But the best part was this…

… All of a sudden, couches began to appear. And soon there were more and more, and becoming increasingly abstract. So there you have it folks, the next big thing!

As for what the big book of the show was, to be honest, there were a few titles that people were talking about, yet nothing on the scale of a “OMFG, YOU GOTTA GET THIS BOOK!!!” like a Scott Pilgrim or anything. Then again, I’m kinda out of the loop… hell, there could have been a new Scott Pilgrim for all I know. Unlike shows past, I ended up spending a lot of time behind the table, which was actually nice. It’s nice to spend time with customers, you know. But on the flip side, it also meant that I didn’t get in as much browsing as I normally do (then again, I usually walk around so much that I get totally sick and tired of everything by the end, yet I still manage to miss some good stuff).

Though to be honest, I’m also a LOT more pickier these days… such as how I’m totally bored to tears with comics that deal with how shitty high school was, how it sucks to be single, or anything else that’s basically the author feeling sorry for him or herself in graphic novel format. Basically, my threshold for emo-riffic bullshit has officially met its quota. Another topic I’m bored to tears with? Comics about making comics. Again, I love how some indie cartoonists love to talk about all the pain and sacrifice they go through for “the craft”! Like every other artist, no matter what the field, doesn’t go through the same exact trials and tribulations. I guess it could be argued that cartoonists get no respect… actually, that’s pretty much what all the complainers have to say in defense… which of course is totally subjective. And totally not true. Tell that to the kid who spends every spare moment coding some dumb little game that no one will ever play, for example. Point being, it’s all relative.

Anyway, one book that kinda got buzz was the comic that beloved French music video pioneer, and one of my persona heroes, Michel Gondry himself wrote and illustrated. Gondry was actually on-hand to provide sketches of his customers, and I simply couldn’t resist the chance…

… Apparently, Gondry thinks everyone has big ears. Also at the same table was Snoopee, a large format comic printed on newsprint that features Snoopy fucking and peeing on Charlie Brown…

… It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.

As I do at pretty much every comic show, I went clothes shopping. Actually, this time around, the selection was kinda light. Though I did pick up these two fine shirts…

… I know that last one is rather low-brow and too scenester-ish/hipster-ish, but I’m sorry, it’s the type that totally sold it for me.

Oh, and here’s some dude who had a Cure tote bag that was also pretty fucking insanely rad…

I guess the real hotness, comics-wise, was found in a corner of the 7th floor, and entire table inhabited by Norwegians…

… Holy shit their books were awesome. Just loads of completely bat-shit insane, nonsensical, and most importantly, sidesplitting brilliance. WHAT IS HAIR? by a dude that goes by “Dongety” was easily one of the books of the show.

Also equally awesome was Bear Bear by Hana El-Assad…

Oh, so day one ended with myself, Katie, Katie’s friend Taline, and Pat all going down to Go Go Dim Sum, to once again feast on their Go Go Burgers, while everyone else had equally fanciful and weird Chinese food. Next was figuring out what to do our Saturday night; again, with so many peeps not present at the show, who have always been my primary motivation to go out and party in the first place, and also after growing sick and tired of all the party hopping that ensues after each and every MoCCA anyway (in which there’s too much shit going on, and you try to be at all places at once, but no real fun is had in the end), plus also being exhausted by the heat alone, I originally planned on going to the MF Gallery to catch Joe Simko make some art live at the space for the very last time, before heading off to Brooklyn. But Katie ended up convincing me to hit the Indie Spinner Rack party, which wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Highlights there include talking to Joe Flood about my killer new game idea (and he did an awesome job providing feedback… to be honest, I always appreciate it when friends ask thoughtful, but totally hardball questions, especially when its about a game and the person is not a gamer, offering a totally fresh perspective on things), Dave K, who coincidentally, told me all about the game he just made, and getting into an argument with one of the bitch bartenders at the place. Or course.

I think by the next day, the heat had finally taken over the show. It was okay inside, but outside, holy shit, it was BAD. Not helping was how the fire alarm went off around 2 on Sunday. At first everyone just stood there and wondered what the hell was going on… but with no real announcement, everyone assumed it was a false alarm. Then next thing you know, there’s a fat woman running up and down the aisles, telling everyone to immediately leave the building. That’s when people became extremely nervous, and even quietly began to panic in some cases. It was really funny see who valued their comics more than their lives, since some decided to stay behind to pack their shit up.

We all ended up waiting outside in the god damn hot weather for quite a while, and trying to figure out what the hell happened…

Hey, here’s Colleen, who couldn’t make it for the first day of the show due to moving, but she was at least present this day, with camera in hand (and Pat right behind her, who was supposed to be her table-mate)!

Some of tried to figure out what the next step was. Go to a bar and wait it out? Go home? Here we have Colleen AF Venable trying to teach Katie some game from her childhood daze…

A little less than an hour later everyone was slowly back in, and it was back to business as usual. Though a good deal of the customers who were there before and got kicked out did not make a return. And most sellers I talked to were already in the mood to go home anyway, so word came that the day had been extended to make up for the evacuation, instead of cheers, most kinda groaned.

But again, the best part of the show as talking to folks and various friends, like Alisa Harris and Allan Norico, and Zack Giallongo and Stephanie Yue. Also, guess who finally got a website?! And even though Farel wasn’t there, one of the other folks at Meathaus that I actually am friends with, Chris McDonald, was present for an entire hour, so I consider myself luck to have run into. There was also Dave Savage, whose mini is actually tied with WHAT IS HAIR? as best book of the show, and which totally floored both Katie and Hilary…

… Both Dave and Chris are actually moving back to NYC, like lots of folks. And on a somewhat related note, it would seem that many are coming back from Portland, Oregon, which became the hotspot for all uber cool, hipster cartoonists. So to hear that they’re all crawling back is definitely lulz in my book. Though Matt Bernier, who most certainly is not some hipster douchebag, is also making a grand return, and that is most excellent news!

I guess the best part of the show was finding out from various folks, some of whom I had totally lost contact with, that there is still a lot of interest in them contributing to UNLUCKY! So despite a less than stellar catalogue at MoCCA, perhaps SPX will be different? God willing.

Tis The Season For Wacky Jappy Cinema Once Again

Well, one staple of the summer has now come and gone, so what’s next? over at the forums for those who might be interested

It’s impossible to say what’s on the top of my list, since there’s so many good looking flicks to choose from, and from so many places. This year easily has the most stuff from the most places, and as already noted, I would have to assume it’s a direct result of the Korean film world being in such a state of shambles last year, which must have forced the folks at Subway Cinema to look elsewhere. Also a result, this year’s fest has easily the most eclectic offering yet.

Though it might come to no surprise to some that if there is one I absolutely have to check out, it’s X-CROSS!

Oh, and of course, since I’m all about video game cinema… even though its been a while since I’ve updated my GSW column… sorry about that Simon! But I know I say this a lot, yet this time I really mean it: look for new installments coming soon, promise! Including my review of the Onechanbara flick…

The Heat Is On

Back to this week… Right after MoCCA, the very next day, Monday, was not back to business as usual due to the intense heat, which forced me to finally nab an air conditioner for my new apartment. And… Very long story short, I ended up getting the biggest piece of shit AC ever. I know I’m kind of a tard with lots of things, but especially after owning several air conditioners over the years, I’d like to think most are pretty self-explanatory. Well, I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to get the fucking thing in my bedroom window, to the point that I had to refer to the worst instruction manual that I’ve ever set my eyes upon, so bad that I tried calling for help. So there I was, sitting around in my place, which was easily over a hundred degrees, when after being on hold for about fifty minutes, I all of a sudden got disconnected… And along with that, plus the frustration surrounding my inability to figure out how to assemble my new source of soothing coolness, which I so desperately needed, the aforementioned brain melting heat and humidity, with sweat just pouring down my brow and literally blinding me as it went into my eyes, which somewhat complimented my hands, as they were covered in blood… because the screw holes on the side, where one puts the sides on, was so small, I had to borrow the super’s drill gun, but they were so small, the gun lost its footing and slipped into my hands… I’m lucky I didn’t drill a hole in my fingers… I pretty much had a complete mental breakdown. I once again mostly blame the heat (and to think, I was already having a somewhat pleasant day due to enjoying quite the spectacle on the subway earlier that day… again, thanks to the heat). In the end, I managed to stick it in the window, despite how it looked as if it would slip outside and fall four stories at any moment, called PC Richards to give them a piece of my mind, and in the end, got them to come by and pick up the piece of the shit unit and drop off a much nicer AC (and from a brand I trust, from Korea, to replace the piece of shit Chinese hunk of junk), as well as one that was much more expensive, but got the price knocked down to make up for my trouble, which arrived earlier this morning and its totally awesome. So, much like that debacle involving the post office that I mentioned last time, it pays to bitch and moan kids!

Okay, Now I’m Getting One

Another thing that went down on Monday was the big iPhone 3G reveal. And even though I don’t blog about cell phones for a living doesn’t mean that I’m still not gay for them. And as being a fairly regular critic of the device since day one, I gotta say… I want one now.

Why? Well, they more or less fixed everything, right? The thing will have faster internet surfing, sans Wi-Fi, thanks to 3G, it’ll have better battery life, true GPS, let you use any headphones you want, third party applications… and the $200 price tag certainly does not hurt one single bit. My only concern is if the voice quality is still piss poor; hate to say this to all my iPhone using friends, but I can BARELY hear you on the phone, 90% of the time.

I’ve been using a Nokia N81 ever since one was passed along, for both my phone and music playing needs, and while it’s a fine little machine, that basically does what an iPhone does, it’s all been rather… inelegant. And hardly perfect; the interface is less than stellar, controlling music has always been a pain, syncing with my calendar all of sudden just stopped one day, among many other issues. One thing the N81 still does better is games, if only because there’s actual buttons, making playing old NES games far more fun than on an iPhone. Granted, games specifically for the platform are on the way, but for $10, I think I’ll pass… Though speaking of buttons, while they make typing really easy, I did find myself getting pretty good at using the touchscreen during my time with my former company’s iPhone. I also miss the really fucking nice camera.

I’m just hoping that using custom ringtones (and alert notifications) won’t be a pain (it most certainly isn’t with the N81), and that I can download files directly to the new iPhone (another great thing about the N81, the ability to simply download songs directly from the machine and immediately play it). I’m also less than thrilled with giving Apple more money for something other than a computer and what is basically a glorified iPod, especially after what happened with my last one; again, I forget if I went over it already, but it was an instance in which bitching and moaning did NOT net any results, as well as yet another reason why retail is dead, and why everyone who works at an Apple store in NYC needs to be lined up and shot in the head.

I Wonder What Kind Of Bangai-O Level Howard Stern Might Produce?

As for yesterday, a whole slew of game companies came to town to show off their wares, and I was around of course…

Starting with Capcom, I got my grubby mitts on Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. As everyone knows, this is Super Street Fighter II Turbo from oh so many years ago with a next-gen graphical face-lift. The word of which got everyone all hot and bothered, including myself, till word came that only existing frames of animation would be replaced, which made one wonder if things would look all herky-jerky and just plain weird.

Well, it does. Now, I can understand the need to stick to the source material… adding or changing the animations would change the game… at least for the purists, which this game is mostly aimed at. But, I would discover that new moves are being added to each character’s arsenal. Well, if you’re gonna change one thing, why not everything? Makes no sense. As is, the characters look nice, at least in still shots, but in motion, their idle animations for example, look totally spastic (as if the speed as been notched up to 11). Regarding how it played, fine I guess… Though in the end, I guess adding new frames wouldn’t work since the folks behind it, whether it be Backbone Entertainment who is handling the programming or UDON who is reworking the art, are apparently way behind schedule. Only four characters were available for play (though all the backgrounds are done).

Next I moved onto another HD remix of sorts, 1942: Joint Strike, a revamp of the old-school shump. And this one I liked much better. I know some hardcore shump fans (cough*cough*cough*Dave Mauro) might find the action a bit too slow for their tastes, since the pacing and patterns are reminiscent of the older games, it still offers a bit of new school technique; the system at play here is how, the closer you are to an enemy, the more points you get for shooting it down.

Third up was Bionic Commando Re-Armed, yet another XBLA or PSN make-over to a classic. And its more or less EXACTLY like the NES game, gameplay-wise. Meaning I couldn’t do jack shit! As neat as I’ve found the bionic arm mechanic to be, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it. But, if I’m gonna give it another stab, I may as well do so with this one. Oh, and I’ve been told that Hitler’s… sorry “Kilt” this time around… brain exploding at the end is especially awesome!

I then got a chance to not play but simply check out the next-gen sequel to the game in action, and it looked pretty fucking hawt. Though here’s a real shocker, something that diehard fans might find sacrilegious: there’s now a jump button! Which to be honest, is good news for me. But anyway, that means the gameplay has been changed somewhat, to emphasize Spider-Man-like action. Which was more than evident as I saw this new and improved Bionic Commando fly all over the air, latching onto anything, as well as everything, and swinging both up and down, left and right, plus every which else. Combat funny enough is somewhat reminiscent of Gears of War, with the camera going over the shoulder of Nathan Spencer (the same dude as in the NES game) as the player tries to aim. The boss battle I saw was particularly impressive, which was this flying robot-thing. As the thing flies around, you have to swing all around to avoid fire and get into position to shoot back. Pretty intense.

Multiplayer action was briefly touched upon; if playing alongside another player, you can use your arm to attach to the other person to swing to greater heights or hard to reach places, which does you both good, or one can latch onto someone to prevent progression. The whole arm mechanic is actually still being worked on, so there might be more in store. Oh, and I guess it should be noted that if you download Re-Armed, when you get the next proper game, it unlocks stuff on both ends. It’s like Nintendo’s GameCube/GBA connectivity all over again! Though unlike, say, Metroid Prime and Fusion, there will be quite some time separating the two Bionic Commando. Like over half a year.

After Capcom was D3, which I only swung by to take another look at Bangai-O Spirits. I forget if I already mentioned it, but I got another chance to check out the wacky means of passing along custom levels, which are expressed as audio files. Now, the thing is, I was under the impression that absolutely any audio file would net something… not sure if its just something I heard some random place, or maybe from D3 themselves last time, or if I simply imagined it myself… but it turns out, that’s not the case. Each level file will have a sound cue in the very beginning, to help signify that it’s system data and not just random noise. Bummer. Then again, I guess you could just take that sound and add it in front of whatever.

Because I was short on time, I didn’t have much time at Sierra, so I only saw bits and pieces of the new Spyro game (which looked unbelievably good btw… I also know that I’m one of the few folks that’s been genuinely impressed by the reboot of the series), and nothing of 50 Cent 2 (yeah, such a shame, I know). But I did get some time in with the new upcoming Ghostbusters game. And…

Holy shit, this game has the potential to be fucking amazing. First off, it’s basically the plot of a third movie if they had made one (though its not “Ghostbuster In Hell” which was supposed to be part three), taking place two years after the events of part 2, meaning the year is 1991. The script was written by both Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis, the dudes behind the movies, and every single character (pretty much) is included along with the actor or actress who portrayed them in the movie, including Bill Murray! Quite the shock since I figured it wouldn’t be his thing, given that he’s sorta become all serious. The only ones not involved is Sigourney Weaver (due to creative reasons… they wanted a new female lead… and when I asked if this meant a female Ghostbuster, I got nothing as a response) and Rick Moranis (they wanted him, but he’s retired from show business). Otherwise, you have Annie Potts and that guy who played Walter Peck, among many others.

No info was given out concerning a plot, but the game has both Slimer and Mister Stay Puff, and their returns appear to be somewhat relevant to the plot. Also back is the librarian ghost, the very first one from the first movie, aka “the one that got away”, so you go after her in the third level I believe, which meant a return to the New York Public Library. The setting allowed one to check out the awesome new physics engine the game utlizes, which has every single thing be its own object, to be moved and manipulated. So not only did you have tons of individual books flying all over the place, but they formed the body of the boss creature.

Gameplay is mostly zapping ghosts with the proton packs and then trapping them, but the packs can be augmented with upgrades and the such. One such offers a quick burst, much like a gun. Another was a slime attachment that allows one to grab something and then have it hung onto the wall or ceiling, as well as add other stuff to it, another fine work out for the engine. Again, details were sparse, but it was hinted at that this slime gun will play a major role in multiplayer. Speaking off, much like in the movie, crossing the streams is bad, for both you and the other guy. Though in the single player missions, if you do so, the other Ghostbuster will cease fire, and then bitch you out.

Graphics were fine, but what really sold the game was the sound. Aside from the familiar voices, the proton packs sounds just as they did in the movies, which in turn was music to my ears. Speaking of music, it features the same score as in the original… but more so. Apparently, Elmer Bernstein, who did the score, creating 75 minutes worth of music that went unused… till now! Controls involve using the left stick to swing and move your proton stream around, like one would imagine, though it was noted that the PS3 version will take advantage of the Sixaxis. In fact, it was hinted at that the PS3 version, since Ghostbusters is a Sony property, will have a ton of extra stuff on the disc. Though it was also mentioned that the 360 version will also have lots of downloadable content… which makes sense, given the difference in storage medium. Oh, and there is a Wii version, which will be the same basic game, though “streamlined” whatever that means. It tool will take advantage of the Wii-mote’s motion sensor abilities (and it had better), plus the graphics are supposed to be more “cartoony.” As in, the Real Ghostbusters? I guess we’ll have to wait and see… But yeah, I’m TOTALLY jazzed for this one.

Codemaster was also in the same hotel, but since I was out of time, didn’t get a chance to stop by. Plus, I don’t think they were showing off GRID anyway…

Get Inside, NOW!

Yesterday was also June’s birthday, so I met up with Joe in the afternoon and headed off to the Brooklyn Museum, to check out the Murakami exhibit. And… It was closed. Which sucked. At least I got to take this pic…

… Now, I can fully appreciate it when a museum forbids one from taking pictures of art inside, but when the security goons starting giving me dirty looks and coming over for taking pics of stuff on the outside, that’s just fucking gay.

Anyhow, June really wanted to cool off in some water, so both her and Joe decided to hit Coney Island, and as tempting as it was to join them, not for the water (since, you know, I am scared to death of the ocean) but for some Ms. Pac-Man and Nathan’s (I was totally starving at the time too), I also had work waiting for me back home, and thus we parted ways. Though later on I met up with them, along with Katie, at Sake Bar Hagi, which Joe and June had heard about a while back and have been dying to check out ever since. And it was indeed a nice little does of Japan that the three of us have sorely missed as of late! If you’re reading this Matt B, you’ll be happy to know that the menu has expanded! Though I totally burned the fucking shit out of the roof of my mouth when I dug into one of their hot dogs, which was right out of the oven. I’m playing with the dead skin with my tongue as I type this!

Afterwards we all drunkenly took the train north, to head on over to Joe and June’s, to enjoy some desert. But once we got to go out of the train, at their stop, it happened. First off, out of nowhere and from above, all of us got hit by some nasty street juice. Disgusting. As we exited the turnstiles, we saw people entering the station with the look of shock on their faces. One girl who passed up by told us “If you’ve got a place to go, GO TO IT NOW.” We wondered if it had been storming… it had been humid all day long… but we didn’t see a river going down the steps which is often the case of a sudden storm.

But once we got topside, we found ourselves in the eye of the storm. Never had any of us been in the midst of strong winds. Shirt, large shit, was flying all over the place, with lots of tiny shit getting in our eyes, further blinding us. People were running around and screaming. We quickly headed towards Joe and June’s place, but slowed our pace as we went around a quiet corner with calmer winds. That was when a guy stuck his head out the window yelled at us to “Get Inside, NOW!” The air were relatively relaxed, but I all of a sudden got the feeling that shit was going down… and also realized that my windows were left open, and was afraid of all my shit being drenched by the oncoming storm, primarily my MoCCA stash that, for whatever reason, I had left in a pile near the window. That’s when Katie and I parted ways and tried hailing a cab. I was scared to death that when the shit went down, we’d be stranded, but thankfully a livery car snatched us up. And immediately we got stuck in traffic, which was annoying, till we realized the source of all the cars standing still or going all sorts of wacky directions; fallen trees in various roads. Eventually we hit the Henry Hudson Parkway and were able to soak in the electricity in the air, which was most spectacular. Including a forest fire that began somewhere in Jersey as a result. Got home just in time to close the windows… no water damage on my books or video game stuff, though there was a fine layer of dark dust on everything, which kinda sucked. But yeah, I have no idea what the fuck was happening, and when I turned on NY1 for some breaking news, they had some shit on about Yankee baseball. Naturally.

Oh, so I did some cleaning this morning, and while dusting off my DS Lite, I noticed a crack on the hinge! The same crack that many other had when the system came out. And since mine is from that generation, I have to wonder how long its been there yet hadn’t noticed!

The Jeep 4X4 Who Wanted To Fly

So today I decided to stop by the Jacob Javitz to check out Licensing Fair 2008, yet another summer staple. As expected, there was tons of wacky shit to soak in…

… Ghostbusters was pushed rather heavily. Not surprising I guess.

As was, surprise!

… Am I complaining? Nope! The more Iron Man, the better, I say. So I hear they’ve added some Tony Stark to the upcoming Hulk movie? Now I have even more incentive to check it out!

Must say, this is a pretty damn god representation of Harrison Ford, a la Legos!

… Oh, so I caught up with my buddy from Warner Bros, whom I had been dying to tell in person who much I loved the Speed Racer flick (and in return, I was delighted to hear that my positive response was a big hit at his office). Anyhow, Warner had a million and one things on-hand to promote, such as Harry Potter 6, so Radcliffe’s face was plastered about, but where was the Hermione love? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, over at Hasbro…

… Gotta say, that Snake Eyes looks pretty boss.

So imports from Asia had a bigger presence than ever…

… Yeah, that’s a dude in some costume.

You know, it’s always funny when you run into folks you know at trade events. While passing by some other dude in a costume walking the floor, this one a monkey, promoting some monkey cartoon, I thought I heard my name whispered. I turned around and the monkey approached me, who then said in a slightly more audible, yet still clearly hushed tone “Hey Matt!” It was Keith, one of my Japan cohorts! Guess it was his new gig… and they don’t like it when you break character, hence the hush-hush. So I did the best I could to interact and also pass along code that I knew it was him and to say hi to Anney for me.

Hey, it’s the Wizard of Oz, ALL FUCKED UP!!!

… lulz.

Easily my favorite stupid thing at the show had to be this…

I don’t know what’s worse; making a buck off of some kids’ questions to their creator, or calling said deity “hot”…

Perhaps the most interesting product on-hand was something called Musical DNA. Created by someone who wanted to teach himself the guitar, he discovered that all sound can be summed up as mathematical equations, and basically developed graphical representations of basic sounds to help master the fundamentals and then use that knowledge to master more advanced techniques…

… I know it sounds like bullshit, nor am I even going to try and repeat what was explained to me, but you’ll just have to take my word for it: it all made TOTAL sense, and the software seems to hold a ton of potential, ESPECIALLY as a game creation application (that is, if the game in question utilizes sound as a primary part of its gameplay).

So I made a new friend at the show! A fine fellow who works for Kyoraku, an operation that pushes both pachinko machines and Japanese wrestling…

… They represent HUSTLE, which describes itself as a “Combination of pro-wrestling & theater… It’s FIGHTING OPERA”! I guess they’re testing the waters to see if there might be some interest in their product here in America, and I explained that there’s been some since the late 90′s, the last great wrestling boom, when those who were hardcore into wrestling, like those into ECW, were also into tape trading, mostly of King of the Deathmatch stuff from Japan. And if you go to any major anime con, there’s still a small wrestling contingency. Basically, I kinda impressed the guy when I mentioned how I knew what FMW was

Meanwhile, the dude wasn’t so much trying to sell pachinko machines in the States as he was trying to sign up licenses for machines back home (like those Speed Racer and Planet of the Ape machines I saw during my visit). Well, I passed along his info to some folks I know, who in turn seemed to be interested, so hopefully if something comes from that, I will be rewarded with a trip to Japan, to be part of an angle on HUSTLE, maybe as Hard Gay’s American cousin?

And on the other side of the world, yet sticking to the squared circle, we have an upcoming animated film featuring Mexico’s premier wrestling organization, AAA…

Oh, and I stopped by the Garfield booth, and asked them about the Nine Lives of Garfield and if it’s ever gonna come out on DVD. And like every year, I got no real answer. Bummer.

The Time Is Near

Ok, in less than an hour will be the release of Metal Gear Solid 4! I was actually kinda supposed to be at the midnight launch happening at Time Square, at the Virgin Megastore where Kojima is supposed to make an appearance, if only to meet up with some folks at NeoGAF, but after running around the convention center all day long, plus this fucking heat, I simply said screw it. That and I’m seeing the guy tomorrow at UNIQLO.

Well, with the game finally here… I’m picking up my copy, despite not having a PS3 of my own… I’m seriously fighting the urge to actually rectify that. Stay tuned! For at the very least, I report of tomorrow’s happening.

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