Nerd Con, Day 2: The Fourth Was With Us

The sun rose at 5:28 a.m. this morning. Me? More like 11:30. Still, that left lots of time to take in the second and final day of the first-ever Fan Expo Regina. And that’s what me and Carl Johnson did. Here’s a short recap.

FXR 2014 (marina sirtis-2)
Marina Sirtis says we have to pronounce it Re-GEE-na from now on.

-We got to the funky-smelling, overheated concrete warehouse Fan Expo had been slotted into around half past 12 and the place was packed — much busier than yesterday, far as I could tell. From what I could see this event was a gigantic success. I’m optimistic it’ll be back next year.

-After a quick walk around the floor, we went to the badly-lit auditorium where Marina Sirtis — councillor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation and breaker of hearts — was set to speak. She was great! Hilarious, brash, and happy to insult anyone or anything for a laugh. Topics she covered included menopause, football and its offensive team limricks (she shared a very un-PC one), playing a character who wrecked the Enterprise on the only two occasions she drove it, feminism, the Irish, the French, Star Trek movie directors who are proud of hating Star Trek,  punching fans, being placed on no-fly lists, Patrick Stewart being a flirt, how much she loves her ST:TNG co-stars, why she should be the next Dr. Who, the correct pronunciation of “Regina” and a lot more. She’s a hoot. Easily worth the price of admission on her own.

-Lots of cosplay on day two and holy nerd peer pressure, Batman: so many people were dressed as their favourite comic, anime, manga, science fiction and video game characters that I felt a bit out of place. Next year I’m wearing a Star Trek uniform. Maybe Shatner’s green “fat captain” shirt. Continue reading “Nerd Con, Day 2: The Fourth Was With Us”

9 Free Comics That Will Make You Go Holy Moley!

Mouse Guard Free ComicHappy Star Wars Day, everybody! Hope you spent your Sunday May The Fourthing it at Fan Expo, buying up anime merch and puzzling over the incongruence of the Grey Cup being the guest of honour.

Seriously gang, is there nowhere in this town you can escape the taint of football?

I opted out of going because I’m feeling a little under the weather and because my only real motivation for showing up would have been to maybe get a chance to corner Kevin Sorbo and interrogate him over that God’s Not Dead bullshit.

As hilarious as that might have been, I didn’t really care enough to bother.

I did, however, drag my carcass to this weekend’s other great nerd event: Free Comic Book Day! My kids and I brought home a pretty impressive stack of free reads which I’m going to review below in case you ever find yourself wondering which all-ages comics are worth picking up and which not so much.

Here they are, in order from my most favourite to my least favourite…

1. Mouse Guard, Labyrinth and Other Stories (Archaia Press): As you can see from the pic above, Archaia put out a hardcover anthology for Free Comic Book Day. This is the second time they’ve done that and once again it’s a beautiful piece of work. All the comics they feature are well illustrated and worth a read but the stand out is, no surprise, the short story that opens the volume, David Petersen’s “Mouse Guard: The Tale of the Axe Trio.”

Continue reading “9 Free Comics That Will Make You Go Holy Moley!”

Fan Expo Regina: Notes From Day One

Far as I could tell, Regina’s first major comic, science fiction and fantasy convention had a well-attended, sharp and professional first day. Oh yeah, and it was fun too. After a morning media scrum where we spoke to cosplay star Kay Pike and famous actress Tia Carrere followed by breakfast and a quick expedition to ComicReaders for Free Comic Book Day, me, Carl Johnson and Aidan Morgan returned and wandered the showroom floor to look at all the interesting, shiny things and people. Later, we hit the WolfCop panel.

Fan Expo Regina (artoo)
This is the droid I’m looking for.

Here are a few scattered thoughts and observations.

-Aidan took tons of photos, some of which will land on Dog Blog over the next few days. They will be great. Among his subjects: the oodles of people who came out in costume. We saw hobbits, stormtroopers, jedi knights, starfleet personnel, video game heroes, manga and  anime characters (including Savannah Hagin as Tyki Mikk from D.Gray-Man), a few superheroes (mostly Marvel, with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America especially well represented), and this one dude in an amazing He-Man costume. He had it all: the face,big muscles and yellow hair, the fur shorts and (minimal) armour, and the perfect shade of orange tan.  Great costume. If it was a costume.

-If WolfCop does well enough to justify a sequel — and I’m guessing it will — it probably won’t be filmed in Saskatchewan. Sounds like the team behind the movie had to bend over backwards to shoot their furry labour of love in this province because the Saskatchewan government’s cancellation of the film tax credit makes shooting any feature film here near impossible. As predicted, that political decision wiped out the industry. Everyone’s moved away now. Game over. Slow clap.

-Tia Carrere is exuberant, ridiculously beautiful and absurdly gracious. She asked me, repeatedly, for a copy of Prairie Dog. Hope she found something to enjoy in our silly paper.

-I want a pet R2 unit.

-I’ve never before had a conversation with anyone who looks like what Kay Pike looks like as Jessica Rabbit. It’s somewhat weird. Still, we’re nerds. She’s a nerd. It worked. Also, turns out Pike’s been through Regina before — and she raves about Wonderland on Broad St. Another typical example of an out-of-towner recognizing a Regina treasure that’s inadequately appreciated by locals? Yup.

The food options were an embarrassment. Only two flavours of pizza: all-dressed and ham and pineapple? No veggie burgers? What about people who don’t eat meat? Your options for them are “French Fries”? Are you kidding? This is unforgivable in 2014. Total, classic, epic Regina 30-years-behind-the-times failure. Fix it!

-Related: Regina really needs a downtown convention centre for events that don’t involve trucks or livestock and are attended by people who might want decent food. Sigh.

Overall? This thing is great! You should probably go to it tomorrow.

Fan Expo Regina: Set Phasers To Heartbreak

deannaThe first annual Fan Expo Regina officially left space dock this morning, and Reginians dressed up as Boba Fetts and Iron Men and zombie hunters descended on Evraz Place to partake in an orgy of dork.  We conducted interviews with some of the celebrity guests and those will be up later today, along with some pictures.

Unfortunately, Marina Sirtis of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame wasn’t able to make it to the interview session and so the eternally tumescent teenage fanboy inside of me died a little more.  We did get some great interviews though (hint: sha-wing!). And Councillor Troi will still be at the convention, so all is not lost.

Win Tickets To Fan Expo Regina!

Deanna TroiHey! Prairie Dog is ridiculously pleased to be giving away tickets to this weekend’s Fan Expo Regina! You can win one of four pairs of Sunday passes over on our Facebook page!  But if that’s not enough for you, we’ve saved our best ticket packages for Dog Blog readers!

Here’s what we’re giving away:

ONE (1) SATURDAY FAMILY PACK! Day passes for two adults; two children and VIP seating VIP seating at The Walking Dead IronE Singleton Q&A Panel

ONE (1) SUNDAY FAMILY PACK! Sunday day passes for two adults; two children and VIP seating at Star Wars RayPark Q&A Panel!

TWO (2) WEEKEND PASSES!

That’s a total of FOUR (4) prizes for FOUR (4) lucky winners! Woo!

Want to win one of these three prizes? Make up a Regina superhero or supervillain! Describe them to us in the comments — their name, costume and powers! Also, tell us which prize package you’re entering for! We’ll pick four winners at random.

Simple!

Contest closes at 3:30. GO!

UPDATE: I will e-mail winners (at the e-mail address you logged in with) after 3:30. PLEASE be ready to e-mail me back ASAP!

Happy Pi Day!

Pi Day 2014 posterIt’s the 14th day of the third month and that means it’s time for free pie brought to you by the math students and faculty at the University of Regina! Flavours on offer this year: apple, blueberry, pecan, pumpkin pecan and cherry. I know all this because my wife’s helping with the festivities and so the pies have been sitting in our deep freeze all week. AND I DIDN’T EAT ONE SINGLE PIE AND THAT WAS VERY HARD!!!

The math folk will be gathering in the UofR’s multipurpose room starting at 1:59 to hand out that pie THAT I DIDN’T EAT. There will also be math crafts and a lecture by Dr Shaun Fallat.

I’m told the lecture will be “fun.”

Actually, I know Shaun. He’s really funny. If you’re going to attend one math lecture this year, make it this one.

Weird Canada Imprint – extended interview

WC Logo New lettering Illustrator

Hey, if you’re a geek like me, you wanna gobble up all the dirt on independent music. With that in mind, here’s the extended version of my Sound Check interview with Weird Canada about their latest and greatest happenings. – AG

Weird Canada says “we are northernly”. The popular website is a northernly force of nature.

Weird Canada (weirdcanada.com) is essentially a music blog championing underground, “weird” music. It’s got wonderfully hyperbolic reviews written by clever and musically adventurous musicians and music lovers. It also has reviews of underground publications, essays on underground culture, podcasts, and real live, human events — mainly music shows, of course.

Weird Canada’s latest feat of strength is bound to be a game changer: with the help of a $50,000 FACTOR grant they (amazingly) received last year, the website will now become an underground music distributor under the moniker Wyrd Distro. This makes it an invaluable resource for bedroom record labels and underground musicians looking to connect with audiences in a day and age when music distribution and promotion has become increasingly expensive and barrier-laden. Musicians and labels will also benefit from Weird Canada’s significant built-in readership.

For music fans, the one-stop-shop distro the distro will offer means that listeners can order albums from obscure musicians from all over Canada from one very awesome place.

As an added dimension, the website is launching the Weird Canada Imprint feature, a monthly blog series which will profile micro-independent record labels from across the country, some of whom will be represented by Wyrd Distro. I spoke with the Weird Canada Imprint editor, Josh Robinson, about his new gig. Josh, conveniently, also lives in Saskatoon, and he had a few Sask. label suggestions to share.

Continue reading “Weird Canada Imprint – extended interview”

I Blame You For This, James Brotheridge

Okay, this hardly ever happens but once in a while, a music writer forgets that readers — also called “normal people”— don’t know all the obscure lore they do, and therefore won’t understand their clever jokes and references.

So once in a while, their editors have to look up something a music writer wrote that seems to make no sense, since the editor doesn’t want readers tossing Prairie Dog across the room in frustration.

This happened today. One of our esteemed writers — I won’t embarrass James by naming him — mentioned a “Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise”. Huh? What’s that? Never heard of it.

So I Googled “Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise”. Turns out Florida Georgia Line is a band and “Cruise” is one of their songs.

Since I had to watch this (well, I made it through the first third of it) I think you should have to, too.

“And this brand new Chevy with a lift kit /Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it.” UGH.

Complete Interview With MythBusters’ Adam Savage

JamiewithHammerandAdam

In the current edition of Prairie Dog we ran an interview with MythBusters host, Adam Savage. But as things usually go, there wasn’t enough space in the paper to print the entire thing.

So, here is a complete transcript of our conversation…

Prairie Dog: How do you feel about Mythbusters becoming this big phenomenom?

Adam Savage: It’s funny, every time I’m asked about that I just want to quote Rilke from Letters To A Young Poet. In that he says, it’s vital that you remain ignorant of your best qualities. You know, the fact is the ways in which MythBusters has become successful, almost none of them were ways in which we intended. All I set out to do at the beginning — and it’s not… MythBusters wasn’t our idea — but all I set out to understand at the beginning was how we’re telling a story. And over the years, the different ways in which people reached out to us and explained the significance of the show to us – whether it’s a PhD graduate student telling us that he got into the field because of MythBusters or people describing that we’re at the intersection of critical thinking or that we got their autistic child interested in science — the ways in which MythBusters has been demonstrated to us to be significant to people, the way we deal with it is by merely taking that seriously but still doing our very best when we’re shooting the show to remain true to what we think of as the cause, which is our enthusiasms and our curiosity.

Continue reading “Complete Interview With MythBusters’ Adam Savage”

Happening Now: Book Signing, Art Show And Fun Timez

Elaine WillSaskatoon cartoonist Elaine Will is at ComicReaders downtown (2115 11th Ave.) signing copies of her book, Look Straight Ahead. She’s there RIGHT NOW. I haven’t read it yet but it’s about a bullied teenage artist, which sounds like a good topic to me. She’s at the store until 7:00.

Also: ComicReaders has an opening tonight with lots of nerd-themed original art. I hear that reclusive Regina doodler/very occasional Prairie Dog contributor Puty has a drawing in the show called “Godzilla Vs. Fancy Feast”, which several people have politely described as being “very nice”. There’s lots of other stuff too. The art opening runs from 7:00 to 9:30, so if you time it right you can get a copy of Elaine’s book AND see the art.

The show runs until Nov. 7, and all the art is for sale.

Get Dressed: Enter The Crone

From Advanced Style

Hark! Old is new again, y’all. Now one can be vintage down to the roots. Out with traditional interpretations of advanced age signifiers (ill health, grouchiness, frailty) and in with the celebration of wisdom, self-knowledge and freedom – and grey hair! According to articles like this one in American Voguegrey (and white) hair is in. But here on the Dog Blog, we’re not into trend-watching cuz we recognize that there are as many ways to get dressed as there are to grow old, whether one chooses to “age with grace” or decidedly without, or fake advanced age until you make it a little further along your mortal coil. With this in mind, I’ve decided to take this trend and amplify it by suggesting going Full Crone. More after the jump!

Continue reading “Get Dressed: Enter The Crone”

You Know A Movie Has A Good Villain When You Hate Him Just From The TV Commercial

Here’s the Superbowl commercial for Star Trek: Into Darkness. Benedict Cumberbatch’s bad guy looks like one smug, evil fucker. I’m going to enjoy watching Kirk and Spock kick his smirking ass.

(They WILL kick his ass, right? He’s kind of scary.)

So, What Is This? Does Superman Go To Thor’s Tailor Now?

The upcoming Superman movie Man Of Steel has a new poster and it’s not making me less cranky about the typical lame Hollywood decision to tamper with the classics — in this case, Superman’s iconic costume. What is that, grey? Why’s the yellow in the crest so faded and anemic? Why is the iconic red “S”  PINK? And where’s the GOD DAMNED RED SHORTS?

I like the scene depicted in the poster. It’s clearly inspired by a pretty good Geoff Johns/Gary Frank comic from a few years back — which Man Of Steel screenwriter David Goyer wrote the forward to, perhaps not co-inka-dinkally. But Supe’s gimmicky, “ooh we’re all cool and dark now” costume undermines it. The camerawork isn’t doing it for me, either: Superman should be photographed by someone with an aesthetic like Annie Leibovitz, not some goof with an iPhone3. Boo.

Star Henry Cavill looks good though. But still, they should’ve put Emmet Matheson in charge of this Superman movie. Boo again.

*Maybe not. Cosplayers seem not to have discovered professional photography, judging from a quick Google.

Okay, The Next X-Men Movie Sounds REALLY Exciting

From Dark Horizons:

There’s been murmurs that X-Men: Days Of Future Past, the upcoming X-Men: First Class sequel, would include time travel and alternate dimensions. Well, that talk has now just been given a lot more credence. Director Bryan Singer just tweeted: “I’d like to officially welcome back James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult to X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Also thrilled to announce Sir Ian Mckellen and Sir Patrick Stewart.”

I had a blast watching X-Men: First Class (except for the implicitly racist scene where they kill off the lone black character) but my enthusiasm for this sequel, due in the summer of 2014, is now reaching Danger Room levels. The X-Men story arc this movie appears based on was pretty damn grim and compelling (well, for a kid in grade seven or whatever grade I was in). Dark alternate future stories are some of my favourite genre baubles and now Patrick Stewart will have two to his credit: this movie and the absolutely killer Star Trek: TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise”.

Can’t wait! Hey, look at this, it’s great.

Teenage Fangirl Moment: How To Destroy Angels

I’m the one wearing a pink shirt…and red wig. My head was shaved at the time.

Trent Reznor’s music project How to Destroy Angels is streaming a new EP called An omen on SoundCloud. All the usual music website-suspects announced the stream this morning and my teenage self looked down through these older eyes into the Twitter glow cupped between my palms and promptly wrestled me into a pair of headphones. The resulting listening session was a pleasant surprise: the tunes are still industrial-tinged electro but more minimal, delicate and…optimistic-seeming? A quick Google-search revealed to me that Trent may have found happiness in 2009 when he married Mariqueen Maandig, vocalist on the An omen, which behooves me to jump to the conclusion that domesticity and fatherhood may have softened some of The Black Crow’s angst (Trent’s longtime collaborators, Atticus Ross and Rob Sherdian are also involved in HTDA). However, the lyrical content is classically Nine Inch Nails in style (“The beginning is the end, keeps coming around again”…) as is some of the gently atonal instrumentation and minor key vocal harmonies, so modern teenagers and goths-for-life can rest easy. There is even word of a new NIN album in the works, hurrah!

Here comes the part where I tell you about the time that teenage Amber and buds camped out all day on a sidewalk in Montreal to be the first ones running into the stadium to see NIN up close and personal (think it was for The Fragile tour). We succeeded in our goal and were pressed up against the metal barriers, hundreds of black-lipsticked folks breaking like goth waves against our backs. I woke up the next day with bruises from the metal barriers all up and down the front my body. But I touched Trent three times, so there. Then there’s the time, earlier in my teens, when I was in a band playing in a suburban basement and someone requested Hurt and I, not knowing the lyrics, improvised them shittily to the disappointment of the crown and my own eternal shame. Thank Brandon Lee social media didn’t exist back then.

Teenaged Trent

Now, lest we forget, here’s some The Fragile-era NIN:

PS: Trent and Mariqueen’s son’s name is Lazarus Echo…how perfect is that??!

Nerds > Republicans

This is hilarious. Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz won Maine’s Senate district 25 on Wednesday, defeating a one-term Republican senator.  Republicans had vilified Lachowicz because she has an orc character in World Of Warcraft. “Colleen Lachowicz spends hundreds of hours playing in her online world Azeroth, as an Orc Assassination Rogue named Santiaga,” said one Republican ad. “We need a Senator who lives in OUR world, not Colleen’s World.”

There was even a website that “exposed” Lachowicz’ harmless and amusing chat comments, I suppose because Republicans thought people would care.

Shockingly, this tactic didn’t work out so well for Republicans.

Playing video games is something normal adults do. Trashing gamers makes you sound like an out-of-touch freak who has trouble separating reality and make-believe. It’s the 21st century analogue of complaining about Elvis Presley’s hips.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fight the urge to renew my WOW account.

This Guy Just Won All The Halloweens

It’s a guy dressed up as the loader from Aliens. And the little Ripley in there is his baby daughter.

Best. Costume. Ever.

I found this on The Mary Sue. And you should check out their update on it because it includes a message from the father who built the costume. He saw their original post on it and wrote in to say how much he loves their site because he wants to raise a proud girl geek.

I’m right there with you, man.