03/31/2014

The Very Long Goodbye, Part 2

by Matthew Hawkins

Welcome to part two of my big rundown of 2014 thus far, in which I attempted to say goodbye to New York City, but was told by the Canadian government “not so fast now…”

In case you missed it, here’s part one, in which I had just begun my tour of Toy Fair 2014. Continuing now, at Bandai’s booth, here we have Mario…

And at Good Smile Company, you had his brother Luigi…

Way in the back one could find the headlining mech from Zone of the Enders

Though Kill La Kill’s star was much easier to spot…

Here’s a shocker: Attack On Titan was kinda popular at the show…

Tokidoki X Uncle Karl…

Not sure about MJ’s face, but at least they got the lean…

The Undertaker, pre his Dark Souls-esque makeover…

Get ready for a massive influx of Sailor Moon goods coming soon…

Heavy Metal Mazinger-Z…

While I wish folks would make toys out of Venom’s latest incarnation (believe it or not regular true believers, Marvel has managed to make the character cool again), I still dig this old school Venom as a Bearbrick…

God exterminate the Queen…

According to the artist behind I Heart Guts, many who purchase the stuffed testicle are <“em>girlfriends who like giving their boyfriends blue balls”…

And for the ladies you have…

Plus your dog Charlie, who is actually Captain Charlie of the USS Valiant (NCC-74210)…

Do you know how hard it is making a dog sniffing another dog’s ass/Prime Directive joke?

Around the time of Toy Fair was when I finally caught a Late Show taping, as tourist-y as it may sound. Though I simply can’t overstate what a profound impact the original Late Night With David Letterman had on me in my youth. Even though Letterman is not the late host that he once was, he’s still miles above Leno, Fallon, and pretty much everyone else out there (but I am becoming a huge fan of Craig Ferguson)…

Too bad the show Colleen and I caught was kinda lame. An Olympic gold winning snow boarder was on, and she was boring as hell. While Letterman didn’t phone it in by no means, you could tell that it was just another day at the office. At least the musical guest was Little Dragon, and that was pretty rad, as was the video birthday message for Dr. Phil that he taped during a commercial break, which was Dave at his best: totally surly…

Finally cashed in my ticket for a free bowl at Rai Rai Ken, perhaps my favorite ramen joint in the entire city…

That same day and a few blocks away as a shoot of some kind, and surprisingly, it wasn’t Law & Order: SVU! Was something that took place back in the day, when taxicabs looked much cooler…

Passed by the Anthology Film Archives on my way to a business meeting in the East Village, and they sure know how to pepper up a mediocre movie’s screening. By adding a fairly fab Japanese edition poster to help bring in the crowds. Though as someone on Instagram noted: ”Mediocre back then maybe. We haven’t seen much better sword & sorcery since.” Wise words…

Also passed by what I consider to be the modern face of St. Mark’s, the tanuki that protects Kenka…

And just around the corner, we have the guardians of Toy Tokyo…

Toy Tokyo is actually where said meeting took place. Can’t get into the details right now, so instead, enjoy these pics taken while I was killing time for my appointment to arrive…

Decided to swing by VideoGamesNewYork. Their collection cannot be beat, though their prices are another story…

At least what they charge for arcade parts are somewhat reasonable. After-all, Japanese buttons are the best buttons…

Round two of IndieCade East recently took place. And top to bottom, it blow away last year’s initial offering. And I’m not just saying that cuz I finally got to play Tenya Wanya Teens

The programming this year in particular was much better than last year’s (though, and this is always the case, the stuff that no one talked about was where it was at). Was especially fond of the talk ”When Indie Games Came In Plastic Bags”

… I particular, the following statement by speaker Laine Nooney: ”It’s like porn; I know [indie games] when I see it”. There was also a talk dedicated to video game zines and over 70% of the things covered were stuff the speaker found in the Attract Mode store…

Sticking with zines, John Pham’s latest arrived, and safe and sound, thank God. I can’t tell you how many zines I’ve ordered over the years have been legit destroyed by my a**hole mail carrier…

My LA Game Space shirts also showed up in the mail, on the same day…

As my time left in the Big Apple began to dwindle (or so I thought), I had to get in “one last drink” with assorted friends and colleagues, like Glomag here, who we see drunkenly texting; I believe my eyes were just as blurry as my iPhone’s lens at this point of the evening…

You what’s good for a stomach that’s almost entirely filled with booze, around 3am in the morning? A Donut Pub cruller, that’s what…

With the clock ticking, I also caught up with my ex, to pass along stuff that was left behind when moving out. Though it was mostly a chance to be reunited with mai dum baby…

Yet I also tried my best to sample some of the more recent delicacies to pop up around the city, like Petey’s Burgers near Dave. And while it can’t touch In-N-Out, it’s stil one of the better options for those craving a west coast fast food burger on the east coast…

Had to swing by my alma matter to pick up my transcript for the border. Come to think of it, I wonder if the reason why I wasn’t let in was due to my F in storyboarding class…

Being near SVA also afforded me the chance to grab a slice of Anthony’s, which was a staple for this broke ass art student back in the day. It’s by no means the best slice in the world, but I still love it…

Though George’s, which is down the street from where I live, might seriously be the best slice in all of Manhattan that no one knows of…

Speaking of home, the novelty of pulling in a full eight hours in your boxers died a long as time ago. Hence why I often work out of the New York Public Library…

An issue with my brand new MacBook Air meant a stop by the Genius Bar at the Apple Store; the one I’d recommend the most is at Grand Central (and the one I’d avoid like the plague is the Upper West Side location; everyone there is a bonafide f*cking moron)…

I had no idea that there was a designer toy shop in Grand Central…

Nearby is Kinokuniya, NYC’s premier (and only, at this point) Japanese bookstore. Figured I may as well pick up a couple issues of my fave Japanese periodical for the flight to Canada, despite the fact that A. the entire trip is like an hour, and B. I don’t understand Japanese…

Also with the Katsuhiro Otomo special, figured I might as well finally pick up the official Genga exhibition catalog also…

Back to Brutus; it’s by far my favorite Japanese mag. Each issue is dedicated to a particular theme, and this one is all about crazy collectors…

Like this woman who collects video games…

Or this guy who collects toy monsters…

Or this guy who collects nudie pics of women…

Or this guy who simply “collects” candy…

Swung by Peter Kassel’s one last time, while he was in the midst of reorganizing. Which afforded me the chance to dig deep into his collection of Japanese art and photography books…

… And is that it? Nope, still more to go, in part three!

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03/31/2014

The Very Long Goodbye, Part 1

by Matthew Hawkins

By the time everyone reads this, I will have officially said goodbye to New York City… is how I was going to introduce the following post, in its original form.

Basically, two weeks ago today was supposed to be start of my brand new life in Toronto, Canada. And, as noted in a recent, random video game videos round up, I encountered trouble at the border, you could say.

As also noted, am not going to divulge specifics online, though I suppose it can’t hurt to mention that the most surreal moment was being escorted to my return flight by a pair of immigration officers who allowed me to blow past all the security checkpoints, by telling everyone in line to get the hell out of my way, like I was either a celeb or a detained criminal. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to finding the experience hilarious.

But yeah, am still in NYC, and will be until the paperwork is processed. And since today marks the final day of the first quarter of 2014 (and today was the first day in which it feels like winter is finally gone, and spring’s finally here), may as well pass along what I was originally going to share once on Canadian soil, and that’s a recap of everything that’s happened in NYC this year thus far, albeit with some updated info.

It’s worth noting that I approached 2014 with the mindset that I’d bidding my home of almost 20 years a fond farewell, and dedicated myself to tying up loose ends. Had all these plans to see folks and to visit places, but it was made complicated by the brutal winter chill that wouldn’t leave the Big Apple alone. The only thing I really accomplished was eating a sh*tload; had to have “one last bite.” of all my favorite dishes.

And to kick things off, here’s a pic of Joe on the very first night in which snow fell on NYC in ’14, making a snow angel. Literally in the middle of 3rd Ave…

Little did I nor anyone else know that it just wouldn’t stop snowing, so I found myself cooped up inside and watching Netflix, like everyone else in my building, hence why I saw the following a whole lot…

As stated above, one goal during my final stretch was to have my fill of certain delicacies that I knew I’d miss up in the Great White North. And one of the main motivations for my departure is that is practically everything I love about NYC is disappearing, bit my bit (which I will detail at length at a later point).

Like the Gray’s Papaya on 8th Street & 6th Ave; I still can’t believe a place that sold $2 hot dogs wass been kicked out in favor for a business that sells $200 juice cleanse. Anyhow, once I got wind of the shut down, I immediately made a b-line for the last remaining location, on 72nd Street & Broadway…

Also made sure to visit Menkui Tei (the one uptown, near MoMA) as much as possible, because of its curry ramen…

I made it a mission to take as many pictures of the city as possible, and that particular day after lunch, I stumbled upon a super high-end designer toyshop…

Because I was talking so many pictures, and had recently acquired an iPhone 5S (as other owners know already, the camera is amazing), and was also interested in taking my photography to the next level (plus I was getting sick of the default Instagram filters), I began using VSCOcam shortly after the new year.

Here’s my first attempt as using the app, in Times Square, while en route to check out Gravity with Joe…

Speaking of movies, another shot taken while killing time at the Anthology Film Archive, cuz I showed up to the Totally 80’s Movie Freak Out a bit on the late side…

At least I did get to catch the raging climax of White of the Eye

Later that weekend, as highlighted in Cinema Obscura Part 2, was a viewing of Shreck. Not the CGI big budget blockbuster staring the lovable ogre, but a SOV (Shot On Video) no budget obscurity starring the ghost of a real life Nazi. And on VHS! Here’s what the box looked like…

Those who follow my posts on Attract Mode should be familiar with the combination laundromat/pinball arcade in Greenpoint that’s become a new favorite haunt of mine…

Their selection of machines is pretty boss, with Indiana Jones being perhaps my top pick…

And on that particular day, all the games were free, to celebrate the birthday of the owner’s dog…

Again, it snowed a LOT this year. The snow depicted in the very opening snapshot eventually did melt away; the following photo set are from the first legit storm to hit NYC, and the results of which would linger for many weeks. The first storm is always the prettiest…

Had to take my gloves off for this shot; I swear to God, I thought my fingers were going to freeze off…

Figured the flurry was the excuse needed to capture the Empire State Building; after living in New York for over 18 years, I guess it couldn’t hurt to finally take a picture…

No, that’s not a homeless guy, just a statue of one…

Finally got the swing by the Scott Eder Gallery, which is this comic book art gallery in DUMBO. Went with Joe & June on the final day of the Kim Deitch exhibition (had no idea June was such a big fan of his work)…

Eder himself was present, getting ready for a trip to France for a show, and was putting together a large assortment of originals from an insane number of artists. Thank goodness he was nice enough to let us be nosey…

Speaking of comic books and France, for Christmas, Dave gave me this French comic about a video game dork who sports more than a passing resemblance to me in my younger days…

Speaking of sports, the Super Bowl took place in New York this year (k, technically New Jersey). Which was a real sore point for many New Yorkers, but not me, mostly cuz it afforded me the chance to check out the Puppy Bowl…

Even went to a Super Bowl party, which I normally don’t do, mostly since I could give a rat’s ass about football. But Steve mentioned that most folks in attendance would only be there for the commercials as well. Plus his sister was going to help with the deserts, and I’m a big fan of her cooking…

Was a packed house that night. So much so that Mister T could only find a seat in the freezer…

And here we have Donkey Kong, in ice sculpture form at the Nintendo World Store, at a press event to promote the latest DK game for the Wii U. I recall the turn out being pretty poor cuz it was so damn cold that night…

Was also invited to the Lego movie premier. And, like most everyone else, I thought it was pretty swell, and this coming from a guy that kinda can’t stand CGI flicks (unless it has the words Toy and Story in the title)…

They even had tables for kids to build stuff with…

On the subject of putting things together, finally played Settlers of Catan for the first time, courtesy of Dave Mauro and Peter Kassel. Yeah, I know, I know. And what else can I say, other than it lives up to the hype…

Some shots of Chinatown, on Chinese New Years, with Joe & June…

… That place the dragon is going to pretty awesome btw (which I will be sure to include in the fort90 Guide To NYC, which is also forthcoming).

Also caught the Sochi opening ceremony with the Wax Eye crew. Which was super lame, as we all know; no Russian dolls, no Yakov Smirnoff, and no Tetris blocks (at least they addressed that last bit for the Paralympics). Even Lumi was bored…

At least I got to check out June’s medals, from the 1996 Summer Games! Back when she was a show runner for the Today Show…

Back to the mountain of food I consumed over the past three months; had lunch, and dinner, more than a few times at Go Go Curry, an old standby…

I prefer the Times Square location myself. Sure it’s often packed with pathetic animu dorks, but otherwise, the ambiance is quite nice…

Me, basically…

Time for some more sweets; here’s desert being served someplace near Dave Roman’s stomping grounds in Astoria, called Sugar Freak. That’s deep fried banana pudding, FYI…

And some homemade s’mores brownies that Colleen whipped up…

As mentioned in Cinema Obscura Part 1, on of my latest cinematic obsessions is Skatetown USA. And here we have an Instragram of Colleen Instagramming the majesty that is Patrick Swayze’s motion picture debut…

Colleen has pretty much the best tattoo of all time. Can you connect the dots and figure out what it is?

Sticking with legs is something elicited Dave to state: ”The world has officially jumped the shark”

So yeah, went to Toy Fair, perhaps for the last time? Aside from the fact that I probably won’t be around for it next year, it’s also becoming increasingly difficult to gain admittance (though that’s entirely due to the increasing ineptness of the show’s staff). Anyhow, a quick tour, starting with some more Ashley Wood goodness…

At the ThreeA booth, they also had the gynormous Metal Gear Ray replica. At least the colors seem to match far more than their Metal Gear Rex…

Meanwhile, at Kotobukiya’s booth, you had the much smaller (and far more affordable), Rex model kit…

Not far away, at the Funko/Super7 booth, was the inspiration of Solid Snake himself, Snake Plissken…

… And that’s it for now! But we’re just getting started; to be continued in part two!

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Without boring everyone with a long story (and it’s not like I can really share the details anyway) it’s been kind of a sh*tty week. So at this point, all I feel like doing is easing into the weekend by vegging out on some silly, random video game vids. And perhaps some of you out there are in the same boat?

Ever wondered what it’s like for Cloud, of Final Fantasy 7 fame, to go grocery shopping? Probably not, but Let Animation Domination High-Def show you anyway, and shouts to both Heather Anne Campbell who wrote the following, plus Mariel Cartwright, who was the storyboard director…

As neat as Surgeon Simulator might be, I’m far more interested in playing this buggy version that the game’s developers are putting through the paces here…

Speaking of iOS, the one game I’m currently addicted to (though it’s actually played in a browser) was the best thing to come out of the Flappy Jam that took place a while back, aka Ridiculous Glitching (which you can play right here)…

On a somewhat similar note: Princess Punt is an RPG with Angry Birds-esque gameplay. So you’re basically a princess, as the title implies, who kicks soldiers at enemies, again like the name of the game indicates. Though the Japanese version (the game’s on iOS, btw) allows you to kick members of the Survey Corps at Titans, from Attack On Titan. Okay…

Back to Flappy Bird: back in the day, when I used to regularly write for MTV and Guyism, I used to post wacky Grand Theft Auto 4 mods all the time. And I had either of those gigs, I would have passed along the following…

You’re probably familiar with Team Rocket, but what about Team Rogket? BTW, this Destructoid link should answer any questions. Maybe…

Here we have the Many-World hypothesis illustrated in the form of a video that details 134 separate attempts to completing a level from some Super Mario World hack, one that’s been around for ages (Discover Magazine has the 411 in this instance)…

And finally, an extremely DIY rap song that utilizes my favorite track in Sonic 1. Kotaku just posted this one, which means it’ll probably have a million views by the time anyone sees it here, but given that he’s from my old stopping grounds, Sea-Tac, I kinda have to pass it along. I wonder if he’s friends with Sir-Mix-A-Lot?

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