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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.
I’ve been attending a lot of local conventions lately and I found another one that seemed interesting to me. I originally considered going to it on Saturday because there would be special sceening of the animated movie Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie which would include not only the movie but also a live appearance by Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes that will include a Q&A that would be part of a live podcast. The only reason why I didn’t go was because of the price. A one-day Saturday pass cost $25. That’s not so bad except the Jay and Silent Bob event cost extra. The Saturday pass did not automatically give you an admission to that event yet if you wanted to buy the pass for the separate event, you were required to buy the Saturday Comic-Con pass as well. The regular Jay and Silent Bob pass cost $40, which meant you had to pay a total $65.
But that’s not all. There was a "Super Groovy" ticket for the Jay and Silent Bob event that cost $75, which not only netted you an autographed print but it enabled you to enter the event first before those who purchased only the regular $40 pass. Since the "Super Groovy" ticket also required that you purchase a Saturday pass for the rest of the Baltimore Comic-Con, anyone who wanted it had to pay a whopping $100.
I not only wasn’t crazy about paying extra fees but I had an issue with the idea of people who paid more for the "Super Groovy" ticket had the right to cut in front of people who could only afford the $40 pass. I was personally more in favor of the usual first-come, first-served policy that usually accompany a movie screening where people who line up early had the right to get good seats over those who arrived later. With this two-tier pricing, one who arrived very early to get in line but paid only the lower $40 price would see later arrivals get into the theater before that patient person simpy because the later arrivals had deeper pockets and could afford the higher ticket price.
On top of it, I was still smarting from having to pay a very high $1,600 health insurance bill. (Here’s some background. As a spouse of a federal government employee, I had long enjoyed being covered under my husband’s generous health insurance benefits. When my husband succeeded in his quest to divorce me, I filled out a form with the federal government in order to continue being covered under my ex-husband’s health insurance since I’m currently seeing a therapist and I also want some kind of insurance in case something unexpected happened to me. The federal government takes up to 90 days to review my request. In the meantime I would remain covered, I assumed that they would continue to deduct some of my ex-husband’s pay to keep me covered while the govenment reviewed my case. Imagine my surprise when I got a notice saying that I would continue to be covered but I needed to cough up $1,600 for the 90 days I was covered while the government reviewed my case.) I really didn’t feel that I could afford to be extravagant so I decided to skip the whole Jay and Silent Bob event and attend Baltimore Comic-Con on Sunday, when ticket prices cost only $20. Besides, the one panel that I was interested in (besides the Jay and Silent Bob event) was held only on Sunday.
Normally when I attend an event at the Baltimore Convention Center, I usually drive my car to the North Linthicum light rail stop then take the train to the Convention Center stop because it’s the cheaper option. However the one panel I was interested in was being held in the morning and the light rail system tends to start later on Sundays and I was afraid of missing that panel. So I ended up driving the car into the city and parked at one of the many parking garages. I arrived early enough to park in this one garage that had a special rate: If you leave before 4 p.m., you only have to pay a $15 parking fee. (The full price is $20 per day.) On top of it, that garage was just a short walk from the convention center, which was great since it ended up being so hot and humid.
I knew I was at Baltimore Comic-Con when I arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center and I saw all kinds of cosplayers waiting outside in line on a bright sunny September day that ended up in the high 80’s along with very high humidity. (It felt more like summer than fall that day.)
In the lobby of the convention center was this really awesome life-sized balloon sculpture of Dr. Who and a Dalek that was done by Starkey’s Balloons.
Everywhere at the Baltimore Comic-Con there were cosplayers and staffers wearing these interesting looking t-shirts.
I managed to make it to the one panel I wanted to attend. Toy designer Paul Harding and comic artist Mark Buckingham gave a very interesting presentation on the topic "Toy Design: From Paper to Plastic." It was a demonstration on how an original 2-D illustration gets translated into a 3-D statue and action figure. It was a very interesting topic that I enjoyed while I ate the lunch and drank the sodas that I brought with me from home. (I brought my own lunch rather than buy any of the overpriced food and drinks sold in the Baltimore Convention Center.)
I spent the rest of my time in the Baltimore Comic-Con in the Artists Alley. The high point was seeing this framed The Amazing Spider-Man comic book that once belonged to actor Nicolas Cage on sale for $250 on one of the vendor tables.
The rest of the area was a whirlwind of vintage comic books, dolls, costumes, t-shirts, vinyl figurines, DVD’s, and stuffed animals while various cosplayers were walking around the area and the various comic book artists and writers signed autographs for fans. There were some strange stuff on sale like a Jerry Garcia action figure (I’m old enough to remember when Jerry Garcia was alive and The Grateful Dead used to frequently go on tour) and Stan Lee Cologne (that’s right, you now have the opportunity to smell like the famous Marvel Comics comic book writer and editor <LOL!>). There was even a table that gave away free samples of PlowOn Energy Gum. (To be honest, I didn’t like the taste that much although it did a great job of keeping me awake since I chewed it at a time when I began to feel physically tired. I managed to keep on visiting every table in that room at least once. But I would rather drink Five-Hour Energy to stay awake than to chew PlowOn Energy Gum.) The next several photos should convey an idea of what the giant Artists Alley room was like.
I finished my day at Baltimore Comic-Con by sitting in on a cosplay costume contest for a few minutes. I didn’t stay long because, as you can see in the photo, the room was very crowded.
Thanks to my decision not to skip the Jay and Silent Bob event the day before, I treated myself to a couple of items from the Artists Alley. Believe me, it took a lot of discipline to limit myself to just two items because there were a lot of stuff sold in that room that I felt tempted to buy but I didn’t because I didn’t want to go further into debt than I already am.
I also found this DVD collection of vintage early 1960’s black and white episodes of Astro Boy. It’s definitely a blast from my childhood. (Astro Boy was definitely one of the first Japanese anime series I ever watched on TV but I was too young to realize that was anime.) Now I can relive my early childhood whenever I want.
September 8, 2013 turned out to be a momentous day for me and it’s not just because I attended the second and final day of Baltimore Comic-Con. When I came home I did the usually weekly Sunday cage cleaning of my pet hedgehog Spike. Little did I know at the time that this particular day would be the last day I ever saw Spike alive. When I finished with cleaning his cage, I saw that he went into the pink plastic igloo that he used as his bedroom. I never saw him alive again after that.