You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘anime’ tag.

Passover

There’s no glory in overworking. It’s just imminent burnout.

Tesla is now worth more than Ford and Elon Musk is already rubbing it in to everyone who ever doubted him.

14 stunning embroidery Instagrams.

Magic moments marking 170 years of British photography.

A Singapore man who lives with more than 9,000 Barbie dolls.

YouTube will now block ads on channels with under 10,000 views.

This robot will literally make you a salad.

A beginner’s guide to microblogging on Mastodon, the open source alternative to Twitter.

An interesting story on how writing on Medium each week has changed one woman’s life.

A 27-year-old entrepreneur talks about how he launched a seven-figure snack business in 18 months.

3D knitting brings tech to your sweaters—for a price.

There’s more to tech stock photography than hokey gold bitcoins.

3D printing in-store is very close and retailers need to address it.

A comparison of six free web-based SVG editors.

Nine anime things that Astro Boy did first.

Chinese man “marries” sex robot he built for himself after he failed to find a girlfriend.

Seven integral WordPress plug-ins.

White toddler girl defends her choice of a black doll to a cashier at Target.

Animated vloggers like Kizuna Ai could be the future of YouTube.

Chobani founder, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, stands by hiring refugees.

Brands see the future of fashion in customized 3D-knitted garments produced while you wait.

3D printing: Don’t believe all of the hype.

Five free graphic design tools.

Top 10 WordPress plugins for business sites in 2017.

Hollywood’s whitewashed version of anime never sells.

New robots just want to be your child’s best friend.

How to make a coin sorting machine from cardboard.

How Harvard Business School has advocated the propagation of immoral profit strategies.

Photos showing 100 years of people knitting.

Talking bendable Justin Trudeau doll for sale.

WordPress for Google Docs lets multiple users collaborate on content in real-time.

Six of the most innovative 3D printing companies.

GIMP is crowdfunding critical updates like high bit depth and layer effects.

This man makes amazing surreal animations from famous artwork.

Open Collective is a GoFundMe-like service for open source projects.

Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.

A look at one crafter who renders pop culture figures in embroidery.

Knitted knockers for breast cancer survivors.

A girl who lost her eye to cancer got the best lookalike doll.

Adobe is currently developing AI that turns selfies into self-portraits.

60 free and easy Easter crafts to make for this holiday weekend.

Improvisation is the heart of Cuban animation.

Researchers are working on robots that can monitor and care for the elderly, such as the animal-like MiRo.

As the ballerina moves, this robot paints the dance.

Passover

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.

I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.

Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.

There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.

Kamecon 2017

There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.

The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.

Kamecon 2017

There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.

University of Maryland

Google executive explains how fake news can be detected.

How a two-time Iraq combat veteran uses photography to help him deal with PTSD.

Are 3D printers overrated?

Major advertisers withdraw support from Google and YouTube over the posting of extremist videos.

Animation presents the beta release of Animation Wave, which empowers marketing professionals to create videos and ads in minutes for distribution on social media.

Things I managed to do with the $250 computer from hell.

Asia’s hottest art fair includes taking selfies with a lifelike replica of Mao Zedong’s corpse.

Starbucks CEO says that not every decision in business is an economic one because leadership and moral courage is not a passive act.

How to find your niche and build a photography career.

3D printing could usher in a revolution but small, local businesses are unlikely to benefit from it.

Here’s what it takes to make it as a financially successful podcaster.

No one can explain why YouTube bans some LGBT content.

The life-changing magic of tidying up your computer.

A billionaire collector of Rembrandt’s works said he started his collection with the intention to take art out of hidden, private collections and put it back into the public domain by creating a lending library. He’s doing this in an effort to build bridges between different groups and countries.

A woman who spends her time doing Lionel Ritchie-themed street embroidery.

The famous 1967 New York exhibit that transformed photography.

Adobe and Microsoft are working together on artificial intelligence.

14 hipster hobby ideas.

7 cool YouTube hacks you can use.

Hungry? Call your neighborhood delivery robot.

Ever since DreamWorks Animation was purchased by Universal, several films have been cancelled. So what’s actually happening?

Google unveiled a new set of features for its popular Maps app that lets users share their locations with friends and contacts in real time so they can quickly let friends know if they are running late to a meeting or stuck in traffic.

Washable heartbeat sensors can now be embroidered onto clothing.

A Pittsburgh non-profit is making tiny hijab headscarves for Barbie dolls in an effort to increase inclusivity and fight Islamophobia.

Adobe and Microsoft are sharing sales and marketing data.

Microsoft and Toyota sign patent deal for potential connected cars.

Robot company claims to create, not kill, jobs.

The most common grammar mistakes on Microsoft Word.

A step-by-step guide to making Instagram-worthy gold leaf Easter eggs.

Inmates crochet mats made from plastic bags then donate them to the homeless.

Little boy who misses his Royal Air Force father gets a huggable hero doll that looks exactly like his father.

Adobe interns don’t make coffee, they make apps. They also get paid as well.

Netflix snatches up the worldwide distribution rights to a Japanese anime version of Godzilla.

This new robot skin is more sensitive than a human hand.

Robots could help children give evidence in child abuse cases.

I saw this event that showed up on my Facebook feed that announced a Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot that would take place at McKeldin Fountain on June 18 and it invited both photographers and cosplayers to attend. I decided to check it out as a photographer. (I have a My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie but the weather was way too warm to wear it.) It was just as well that I made the effort because that fountain had been scheduled for demolition since last year and I found this Facebook post that had a photo of the construction site barrier that now surrounds that fountain so no one can visit it. Here is what the fountain looked like on my last visit.

McKeldin Fountain in Baltimore

The cosplayers and photographers gathered around the fountain at the posted time.

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

The event was more organized than the photos in this post show. Whoever organized this photoshoot had recruited a professional photographer who took individual cosplay portraits in the shaded area of McKeldin Fountain. Cosplayers who wanted a formal portrait waited in line for the chance to have their costumes preserved in photographs.

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot

Here are a few behind the scenes shots of the photographers and organizers.

The Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016
The Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Once all the individual portraits were shot it was time for group photographs, starting with one large group of everyone who arrived in costume.

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

There were a series of smaller group photos that were assorted into such categories as “heroes,” “villains,” etc.

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot, June 18, 2016

This was the first time I ever checked out a cosplay event that wasn’t tied-in with a convention (such as Otakon or BronyCon). It drew a relatively small group compared with what the conventions typically draw but I don’t regret going since it turned out to be the last time I would ever take any pictures of the soon-to-be-dismantled McKeldin Fountain. I could easily write a separate rant on why I’m sad that it’s going to be destroyed because I have taken numerous photos of that fountain ever since my college days when I got my first high-quality SLR camera (a 35 mm Pentax MX). I’ll definitely miss that fountain.

I also did some general walking around Baltimore, which I’m going to write about in a separate post because those photos have absolutely nothing to do with the Baltimore Cosplay Photoshoot.

Last year I participated in the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Parade for the first time and I still remembered that it was a very hot and humid day. I did it on behalf of the Greenbelt Cooperative Initiative, which is trying to start a few worker-owned cooperatives. (At the time I was tasked with potentially starting a thrift store. When I had problems with finding affordable space, the group suggested that I try running a flea market instead. I not only found difficulty with finding an open space that people can easily access by car or bike or walking, but I would’ve had to deal with two layers of bureaucracy–mainly filling out tons of paperwork on both the local and county levels. I was working on my own to begin with and starting a weekly flea market was way too daunting a task to do alone. Plus I’m dealing with other issues in my life so I decided to resign.)

So this year I didn’t have any parade-related responsibilities. There were a few groups who invited me to march with them but I ended up declining because the memories of the high heat and high humidity were still too fresh in my mind. So this year I brought a folding chair to the parade route and set it up in a shaded area. It wasn’t too bad in the shade at first but, by the end of the parade, the heat had shot up (it ultimately climbed to the high 80’s) so I was very happy that I didn’t participate this year.

The parade consisted of different types of participants. There’s, Solange Hess, who was named as this year’s Greenbelt’s Outstanding Citizen.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

There are the police, firefighters, and military units (including ROTC). Some of them march carrying flags, some march playing musical instruments (like bagpipes), and some ride in the latest vehicles.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Then there were the beauty pageant winners. Not only were there people from the Miss Greenbelt pageant but there were also others from another pageant that took place in nearby College Park.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade. Then there are the various local businesses and community groups, such as the Greenbelt Elementary School PTA.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Greenbelt chapter of the Toastmasters.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Greenbelt Animal Control.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 Local Girl Scouts troop.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Local Cub Scouts troop.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 Greenbelt Boys and Girls Club.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Greenbelt Interfaith Leaders Association.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Mishkan Torah congregation.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Radio Communications.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

The New Deal Cafe, which is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Greenbelt Theater and the Greenbelt Museum marched together. At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Greenbelt Food Bank.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Greenbelt Arts Center

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Wells Ice Rink, located in nearby College Park.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Members of the Greenbelt Climate Action Network (GCAN) and the Chesapeake Education, Arts, and Research Society (CHEARS) dressed up as butterflies and bees in order to raise awareness on the importance of pollinators. Other participants held signs announcing the various programs that GCAN and CHEARS run on a regular basis, such as the Greenbelt Time Bank, the Reel and Meal movie series, and various recycling programs.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There were even a fleet of electric cars in the parade, who were there to demonstrate green transportation. At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There was a robot demonstration by members of the Eleanor Roosevelt High School Robotics Club.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Makerspace 125 had a float shaped like a steam engine in order to show its commitment to the STEAM movement.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

St. George’s Episcopal Church of Glenn Dale, Maryland marched in the parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There was an anti-abortion group.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The local anti-poverty activist group RESULTS participated.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The Communication Workers of America made a statement about its ongoing negotiations with Verizon.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The National Park Service participated.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Even the local Sunoco gas station participated.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

The local realtors, Town Center Realty & Associates, Inc.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Then there were the various performers who were intent on putting on a good show all along the parade route.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015 At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Since next year is an election year, the candidates running for public office were out in full force. There was Donna Edwards, who is running for Senator.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Senate candidate Donna Edwards shakes hands at the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

There was Chris Van Hollen, who is also running for Senator.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There was Paul Pinsky’s re-election campaign as Maryland State Senator.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Brian Frosh, who’s running for Maryland State Attorney General.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer, who’s running for re-election.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Congressman Hoyer’s rival, Kristin Beck, who hopes to unseat him in the Democratic Primaries next year.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Maryland House Delegate Anne Healey, who’s running for re-election.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Maryland House Delegate Alonzo T. Washington, who’s also running for re-election.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Sydney J. Harrison, who’s running for re-election to the Prince George’s County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court. At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Angela Alsobrooks, who’s running for re-election as State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

There’s Todd M. Turner, who’s running for re-election to the Prince George’s County Council.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

This trio of cars signified the end of the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade, September 7, 2015

Once the parade ended at noon, the last day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival started. I hung around the festival grounds after the parade ended because I needed to pick up my watercolor that I submitted to the Art Show but I had to wait until that show formally ended at 4 p.m. So I basically ate lunch, did some web surfing with the laptop that I brought with me, and uploaded a bunch of photos on my various social media account. A craft show was held on that final day so I browsed that as well while I took these photos.

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

Craft Show at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

Craft Show at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

Craft Show at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

At the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 7, 2015

I’m starting a new series of videos based on my experiences with a new doll that I’ve just purchased from Target. Her name is My Friend Cayla and she’s not your typical doll. She’s interactive and has both Wifi and Bluetooth connections. I’m only making the videos in the hopes that I can earn a little extra money through YouTube’s profit-sharing program. For the next week I’m going to release one new video per day in order to coincide with the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend in the United States. I don’t know if it will work out but, if it does, I could end up with at least a part-time revenue stream.

Below if Part 1, which is a basic prelude that explains what led me to purchase a My Friend Cayla doll from Target. It includes short clips from two other videos I shot years ago (2009 Barbie Convention in Washington, DC and 2010 Otakon Convention in Baltimore, Maryland). I also mention instances of interactive living dolls in pop culture such as The Twilight Zone‘s “Living Doll” episode, Chucky from Child’s Play, Mitsukazu Mihara’s Doll manga, Yumiko Kalahari’s Dolls manga, Rozen Maiden, and Chobits.

Anyway, if this prelude video isn’t your cup of tea, wait until I start uploading more videos, all of which will deal with my direct experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll. (By the way, if you’re intrigued by the doll, check out the official website.)

So, without further ado, here is Part 1 of my new multipart series about my experiences with the My Friend Cayla doll.

American Flag
Even though today is Thanksgiving Day, there has been a trend among the big box retailers to open their doors on the actual holiday itself. This is definitely a change from the old days when most businesses were closed and even the few that were opened on the holiday (such as supermarkets) would close their doors by 4 p.m. so their employees can spend the holiday with their families.

Now the big box retailers are not only forcing their employees to either spend less time at home or skip Thanksgiving entirely but they are also trying to entice their customers to give up more and more of their holiday time by having hot doorbuster deals on certain consumer items.

You can spend less time with your loved ones or eat Thanksgiving dinner unusually early so you can put on your coats and step out in the usual cold November weather while fighting other like-minded shoppers to grab some consumer items.

Or you can do the alternative. You can stay in your warm home surfing the Internet and go holiday shopping in my online Etsy shop. You don’t have to worry getting into the car and the online shopping experience is so quick and convenient that you can just order something quickly then go back to preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s a sample item that I’m currently selling online now that you can buy while you’re wearing your pajamas or casual clothes.

Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote Bag
Souseiseki/Suiseiseki Tote BagThis is a customized one-of-a-kind tote bag that I painted by hand. To learn more about how I created this bag, you can read the post I originally wrote on February 14, 2013. If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you can order right here.

 

Recently David Letterman had this teenaged Japanese pop singer named Hatsune Miku on his program. Except she’s not a real human, as you can see in the clip from the show.

This appearance, coupled with the awkward interaction between Letterman and Hatsune at the end, went viral online.

As I watched that clip, I thought that I could’ve sworn that I’ve seen that Hatsune Miku somewhere else before. I went through some back entries of this blog and I realized that, yes, I have encountered her before in one form or another, starting with this cosplayer at Otakon 2010 in Baltimore.

Cosplayer at Otakon 2010

A figurine at Otakon 2012.

Japanese PVC Collectible

Some more figurines from Otakon 2013.

Otakon 2013, Day 1, August 9, 2013

Otakon 2013, Day 1, August 9, 2013At the time I took all those photos, I naturally assumed that this blue-haired girl was a character from an anime that was popular on Japanese television. I was wrong about that assumption. (LOL!) It turns out that she was created as a virtual pop star by Crypton Future Media. Despite her cute girly presence, she is just a computer software program that was based on Yamaha’s Vocaloid program. She has gained worldwide popularity with lots of spin-off products (that are sold on sites like J-List, Play-Asia, and Amazon) and she has even appeared in a number of video games. Her appearance on David Letterman’s show was timed to coincide with the two American Hatsune Miku Expos in Los Angeles and New York this month.

While I was reading about Hatsune Miku, I found Mikufan.com, which has the latest news regarding the virtual pop star. Through that site, I discovered that there is a photo app available for both iOS and Droid called Mikuture. I downloaded the Droid version when I saw that it’s a free app.

Even though Mikuture is called “an augmented reality app”, it’s basically a photo app where you get to pose Hatsune Miku (you can choose from various poses, facial expressions, camera angles, and even lighting), snap her in your photos, then share them with the social media of your choice. I played around with it, starting with Miku standing in the dimly lit foyer of my townhouse at night.

My First Photo of Hatsune Miku

The following morning I attended Sunday service at my Unitarian Universalist congregation. Before the service began I took this quick photo using the Mikuture app.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

After Sunday service ended and the coffee social hour began, I really cut loose with that app as I put Miku in a variety of poses.

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International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

What was really funny about the next photo is that at the same moment I took a photo of Miku in that pose, my friend Carol, who’s in the right background, lifted her hands in a similar position to Miku’s. In addition, Carol is wearing an outfit in the same blue and black combination as Miku’s.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

I even played with the app’s camera angles by taking this next photo while I was standing on the deck overlooking the wooded glen below. It was so easy to make it look like Miku was actually in the woods below and I was looking down at her.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

Only a virtual person would have no problems with kneeling on a wooden deck the morning after a heavy rain storm swept through the area.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

After I took that last photo, I was planning on leaving until a man from Papa John’s Pizza arrived with several pizza boxes. I remembered that a group of people were trying to have a series of all-ages pizza lunches in the glen once a month. I was invited to come last month and I really enjoyed myself. I decided to delay going home for a while and go into the glen. I paid $5 towards helping with defraying the pizza cost while I ate food and took some more photos with the Mikuture app.

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

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International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

International pop superstar Hatsune Miku arrives at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. #IAmUU #UUSunday #PBUUC

I had fun with that app. The only reason why I played around with it on the church grounds is because it’s a Unitarian Universalist congregation. If it had been a more rigid and straight-laced house of worship like a Roman Catholic church or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, I definitely would’ve been leery about using that app. I really liked that app’s ease of use. It’s something that I could use again if I ever reach a point where I need new material for this blog that I could whip up pretty quick. Since I live near Washington, DC, it would be cool to try having Miku pose near such landmarks as the Lincoln Memorial or the White House.

Prior to Otakon I mapped out a plan where I would try to keep costs down as much as possible. I opted to commute to and from Baltimore instead of getting an expensive hotel room.. I parked my car at North Linthicum and took the light rail train the rest of the way to the Baltimore Convention Center for only the cost of a $3.20 round trip per day instead of driving all the way into the city and park into a nearby parking garage for $20 per day. I packed my own lunch, dinner, and sodas instead of purchasing the overpriced food and drinks sold at the convention center. I even budgeted a maximum of no more than $100 for any purchases made at both the Dealers Room and Artists Alley.

I’ll admit that I went $30 over budget on that one but it was for a very good reason. I purchased some Deleter Neopiko2 markers. For a while I have been thinking about a major art project in my head and I wanted to get some higher quality markers. I originally thought about Coptic markers until I took the workshop ond the Neopiko2 markers during Otakon and I was impressed with the quality. On top of it, unlike the Coptic and Sharpie markers, you don’t have to throw away a Neopiko2 marker when you run out of ink. One can buy refills especially made for them and, when the nibs wear out, you can even buy replacement nibs. From an environmental point of view, I think it’s a great product. I was only able to afford the basic colors but, if I had more money to spare, I definitely would’ve gone all out and bought the larger sets with even more colors. (Some of those sets reminded me of the Crayola 64 color crayon set that I once had when I was a child.)

The Swag I Got at Otakon

I purchased these two very arty t-shirts that I literally fell in love with. They are based on characters from My Little Pony but, on first glance, you wouldn’t know it. There are a couple of upcoming festivals in the fall that I’m going to wear them to. I’ll definitely blend-in with the tye-dyed t-shirt crowd who aren’t necessarily familiar with My Little Pony.

The Swag I Got at Otakon
The Swag I Got at Otakon

I rarely bother with buying anime DVDs mainly because of the cost. At around $25-30 per disk, the average price of an anime DVD is higher than buying a non-anime DVD. On top of it, most anime tends to be a multi-episode series so an average anime DVD may have around 4-6 episodes per disk but the average anime series consists of at least 20 half-hour episodes so you frequently have to buy more than one volume if you want to view an entire series. By the time you buy all the disks required to complete an anime series, you could spend at least $100. A lot of times I tend to read the manga version because an average volume costs between $9-15. (Although I confess that it has been a long time since I started reading a new manga series because of space and money issues.) One example is Chobits, which I learned about through posts on the Den of Angels forum. I read the manga version because the anime series were released on multiple DVD’s and buying the entire manga series was cheaper. I really loved the storyline and I really liked the doll-like design of the robot Chi. Imagine my surprise when, at Otakon, I found a re-released budget version of the anime series where, for $40, all of the episodes are on one disk. I snatched the only copy that was in the Dealers Room instantly the minute I found it.

The Swag I Got at Otakon

I purchased this incredibly cute tea cup ring from one of the tables in the Artists Alley.

The Swag From Otakon 2013
The Swag From Otakon 2013

Last, but not least, I got three packs of Magic the Gathering cards as a reward for paying $5 to play the pachinko machines in the Video Gaming room. (The proceeds from those machines went to a non-profit organization calledAbleGamers.) I took the cards even though I don’t even play Magic the Gathering or any similar card game (like Pokemon). The following Saturday I went to the local STEM center in my neighborhood, which happens to be the day that an outside group rents the facility for a weekly day-long playing of Magic the Gathering, and donated those cards. One of the people there told me that the decks I gave to them tend to be basic starter decks and they will come in handy should a first-time player wish to join in.

The Swag I Got at Otakon

As for my thoughts about this year’s Otakon, I have to admit that they were mixed. Like other years, there were plenty of things to see at the 20th anniversary Otakon. But I was so exhausted that it took me at least a week before I fully recovered. I have to admit that if it weren’t for the fact that it was an anniversary year, I would not have bothered attending this year because I began to notice that my stamina wasn’t what it used to be when I was at Katsucon earlier this year. Otakon 2013 confirmed it for me.

On top of it I felt a certain amount of frustration with not being able to attend as many workshops and panels as I wanted due to both fatigue and crowds. I looked at older blog entries and I found something revealing. At Otakon 2010 I attended 2 workshops, panels, and other events. At Otakon 2012 I attended 6 workshops/panels/events. At Otakon 2013 I attended only 1 event—the screening of the anime Wolf Children. (I skipped Otakon 2011 because it was just two months before my hip surgery and my hip had deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t even do a lot of walking.) I felt like I got far less for my money at this year’s Otakon than other years.

I also learned that it wasn’t my imagination that this year’s Otakon seemed more crowded. According to the official website, a whopping 34,100 people attended. Holy cow! I can remember when I used to complain about the crowds when Otakon drew 22,000 people.

I can still remember a time when Otakon used to allow you to purchase individual one-day passes, which was great for people who couldn’t attend all three days. Now if you want to go to Otakon, you’re required to purchase an entire weekend pass even if you can’t attend all three days. With my decreasing stamina (due in large part to getting older) I’m now at the point where I get totally exhausted after one day at a convention and I literally have to force myself to go with my tongue dragging in order to get my money’s worth. With more attendees, it’s getting harder to get to workshops/panels/events because they tend to fill up much faster even if you make every effort to show up in line a half-an-hour early.

While I’m not going to say that this will be the last time I ever go to Otakon ever, I will say this: From now on I will attend Otakon only if there is a workshop/panel/event that I’m really dying to get to and my life would feel incomplete if I miss it. Or if Otakon starts offering one-day passes again I’ll go because I know that I can handle Otakon for one day. Otherwise, I’m just going to stay home. After all, if I get a hankering for Japanese anime or other Asian-imported goodies, I can always surf the Internet.

In any case, that’s it for my experiences of Otakon 2013. If you want to see photos that others have taken at that same event, visit the Otakon and Otakon 2013 Flickr groups. Unlike other years, I didn’t shoot any video at this year’s Otakon but others did and you can view them right here on YouTube.

The final day was pretty short compared to the other two days. (Of course usually the third day of a weekend convention tends to be the shortest of all because people are busy with packing their suitcases and returning home.) The only reason why I attended the final day of Otakon was because I had submitted two items to the Art Show and I would find out whether both pieces sold and I would get paid or I would have to bring my art back home.

I had originally wanted to attend a panel featuring The Last Unicorn author Peter S. Beagle but that one was scheduled for 10 a.m. and I was so exhausted from the night before that I overslept. There were no other videos, panels, or workshops that interested me so I took my time eating breakfast and getting dressed. After a full day wearing compression socks yesterday I decided to go back to wearing my regular cotton socks because I knew I would have a short day at Otakon. That day I brought only a lunch, two 16 ounce bottles of Diet Pepsi, and no dinner so my thermal bag was lighter than the other two days.

When I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail station I noticed that, unlike the other two days, I didn’t see any costumed cosplayers waiting for the next light rail train. That’s one indication that today was the final day of Otakon. Once I arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center, I walked over to the front doors where I saw this violinist serenading people entering the building.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

Once I got inside I took a few more pictures of cosplayers.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

The Art Show shared the same large room as the Artists Alley. Due to the Otakon staffers’ crowd control methods, the best way of getting to the Artists Alley was to enter through the Dealers Room then enter out the other side and enter through the Artists Alley doors next door. I walked around the Dealers Room and dawdled around a bit while I took these photos.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

Here’s a poster for the anime feature film Wolf Children that I saw at Otakon the night before. This poster was signed by the voice actors who did the English language dubs on that film.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

Here’s a photomosaic that was on display in the Dealers Room the entire weekend.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

The big disadvantage of attending any kind of large convention on the last day is that the schedule is truncated and you have to get everything done by the official 3 p.m. close. It didn’t help that I arrived at Otakon sometime between 1-1:30 p.m. nor did it help that I had to constantly dodge tons of people who were in a similar frenzy to see and do everything before the show closed for the year. I went out the exit doors to the hallway where the entrance to the Artists Alley was located (the Art Show shared space with the Artists Alley). I decided to go up the escalators up to the 400 level. My original plan was to eat the lunch I had brought with me in an area that was directly above the Artists Alley doors then take the escalators back down to Artists Alley, go to the Art Show, and pick up either unsold artwork or cash. I found a bench only to look at both the guidebook and the watch and discovered that I only had 15 more minutes to pick up my stuff from the Art Show because the Artists Alley room was scheduled to close. So I decided to delay eating my lunch a while longer and went back downstairs into the Artists Alley.

I’ll admit that I didn’t visit the Art Show while my art pieces were publicly on display. I was afraid that I would be so disappointed by the results of the bidding that it would’ve affected my enjoyment of the rest of Otakon. It was only on the last day just minutes before closing before I learned the outcome. I had both pieces up for auction with a minimum $25 bid on each. I was curious to see how much my pieces were really worth and I had hoped for some bidding war on either or both pieces. I learned that My Little Robot Unicorn Pony Attack went as high as $35. It sold but I’ve seen people at last weekend’s BronyCon sell customized My Little Pony figurines for far more in the Dealers Room. On top of that I had put so much work into it that, if you break it down by the hours I spent on that piece, I would’ve been better off financially had I worked at a McDonald’s for $7-8 per hour. The one good thing I can say is that at least I got a high enough bid that I earned back the money I originally spent on supplies plus a tiny bit of extra profit.

As for the hand-painted tote bag featuring Suiseiseki and Souseiseki from the anime Rozen Maiden, it failed to sell.

I was told that the check to the sold piece will be sent via mail (which I got in the mail today as I was typing this entry) so once I picked up my one unsold piece, I went up to the 400 levels of Otakon where I found some available benches so I could sit down and rest. I finally opened my thermal bag and ate a late lunch. I ate in the area that was directly above the now-closed doors to the Artists Alley and it was relatively quiet compared to the rest of the Baltimore Convention Center. Once I finished eating, I decided to just leave. On my way to the escalator I saw these people cosplaying as the main characters from South Park.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

As I made my way down to the front of the Baltimore Convention Center, I saw a lot of people sitting on the floor waiting for rides that would get them started on the trip back to their homes. There were some cosplayers willing to do some last-minute poses for photographers but the majority were just waiting to get out of the Baltimore Convention Center.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

I took one last photo before I walked over to the Convention Center light rail stop. It shows a couple trying to raise $4 in order to be able to afford to pay the parking garage and get their car out. They were standing next to an overflowing garbage can. In some way, I think this photo makes a fitting end to my efforts at photographing Otakon 2013.

Otakon 2013, Day 3, August 11, 2013

As I took my final light rail trip from Otakon, I was surrounded on the train by a bunch of people wearing purple clothes with the logo of the Baltimore Ravens football team. I learned through one of the purple-clad riders that the Ravens were holding a pre-season exhibition game. Once the train reached the Hamburg Street station (the one that’s closest to the M & T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play), the car quickly emptied of all those purple-clad riders and things were much roomier for me on board that train until I reached the North Linthicum stop (where my car was parked at).

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