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Since the winter holiday shopping season has officially started three days ago, I’d thought I’d post pictures of stuff I’ve seen lately on the store shelves. I took these photos mainly to show some of my friends on social media who would be especially interested in these products.

First, here are some photos I shot at Target over the past month or so. Target is selling the 3Doodler along with the DoodleBlock Kit.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target has a LEGO aisle filled with all kinds of LEGO kits for all ages.

Target, October-November, 2017

Last year American Girl came out with a line of multiracial 14 inch dolls known as Wellie Wishers, which cost $60 each. Target is now selling a line of multiracial 14 inch dolls known as Glitter Girls for $20 each.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target also sells a line of 3-foot tall dolls based on various Disney characters.

Target, October-November, 2017

You know Christmas is coming soon when you start seeing special gingerbread spice cereal like this.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target has been selling a line of STEM toys, kits, and games for makers of all ages. You can now make a variety of things including LEGO stop-motion animation, piñatas, video games, drones, Raspberry Pi computers, and more. Below are just a few of them.

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

Target, October-November, 2017

This is probably the most unique and off-beat product I found at Target: A Funko Pop! vinyl toy based on the late painter and television show host Bob Ross.

Target, October-November, 2017

I also found some Hot Wheels toy cars that seemed to be made with Baby Boomers in mind. How else can you explain cars based on The Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and Mad magazine.

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

What I Found at Target Today

Recently a new Guitar Center store opened up in Laurel, Maryland so I decided to check it out.

Coco Guitars

I saw these special edition Cordoba acoustic guitars for adults and children that are tie-in products to the Disney/Pixar movie Coco, which was recently released. (I haven’t seen it yet. All I know that it’s based on the Mexican El Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead holiday, which happened earlier this month, and which also explains the skull motif on these guitars.)

Coco Guitars

Coco Guitars

Coco Guitars

Last, but not least, are a few of the photos I took when I made my last trip to a local Five Below store.

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

What I Found at Five Below Recently

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I was in Dupont Circle recently to check out the DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School (which I’ll get to in a later entry). I was still suffering the effects of this nasty cold I got but I managed to do some walking around the area both before and after Dr. Sketchy’s.

First I stopped off at Krispy Kreme, where I purchased this Halloween-themed donut.

I checked out Fantom Comics, where I noticed some new additions to its mural in the stairwell leading to the store’s second floor location.

I also saw some posters that are decrying the blatant Islamophobia and racism that has occurred over the last few months ever since Donald Trump was sworn-in as president. It’s nice seeing more and more stores in DC openly defying the Trump Administration’s racist-based policies.

I purchased a new graphic novel volume of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl then headed off to The Bier Baron, where Dr. Sketchy’s took place. Afterwards I was in the restroom when I saw something humorous posted on the stall and I attempted to pull out my camera to take a picture only to find that I had lost it. I totally freaked out because I had just purchased that camera on eBay recently and it would suck if I had lost it so soon. I had to do some serious backtracking starting with the table I sat at while Dr. Sketchy’s was going on. The camera wasn’t there. Then I went back to Fantom Comics only to find that I had left my camera there. I was totally relieved because it would’ve really sucked if I had lost it so soon after buying it. Granted I had purchased it used but I paid $80 for it and it would’ve really been bad to lose something this expensive.

As I was walking back to the Metro I noticed seeing homeless people all over the place. Granted homelessness has been a problem since Ronald Reagan got into office and all the mental hospitals closed along with fewer affordable housing being built but it seems like it’s getting worse in recent years.

I would like nothing more than to have a complete reversal of the government away from the policies of the last 40 years and towards a more progressive one that makes providing homes for everybody as well as other social programs (such as jobs retraining program for unemployed and underemployed adults) a top priority.

When I was waiting to switch trains at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station I saw this woman sitting on the ground playing her guitar and singing loudly while other people around her were ignoring her and pretending that she wasn’t even there. It was such a surreal thing to see that I shot this short video for a minute until my own train arrived and I had to quit filming so I wouldn’t miss it.

I went to my first Baltimore Comic-Con in quite a few years. I attended that event the first time in 2012 and the second time the following year. Then I didn’t go for another few years until recently. The main reason was financial. I ended up going to other events, such as Intervention Con, and with tight finances being the norm these days, I couldn’t afford to attend those events and Baltimore Comic-Con as well. Something had to give and Baltimore Comic-Con was the one that I ended up not attending.

But then a few things happened. First, my utilities company informed me that they had made a billing error in my favor for the last several months so, for the next few months I’m paying a lower bill than usual. Then I found out that Intervention Con wasn’t going to happen this year mainly because the organizers decided to focus on holding two specialized conventions instead—PotterVerse for Harry Potter fans and (Re)Generation Who for Doctor Who fans. While I like both Harry Potter and Doctor Who, I don’t like them enough to consider spending time and money at specialized conventions. I’m more into conventions that cover things like art in general or comic books in general instead of a very narrow field.

I’ll admit that I miss Intervention Con because that was my favorite convention due to the fact that it’s smaller and more intimate than—let’s say—Awesome Con or Otakon. Getting a good seat at a panel was no problem, I found it easier to meet people, and I didn’t have to do as much walking because of the small size so I didn’t become physically spent as much as when I used to go to Otakon. If you want to know why I loved going to Intervention Con so much, check out my blog posts and pictures from the cons I went to in 2013, 2014 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3), and 2016 (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3).

As I was typing this, I remember that another annual event I usually loved going to at this time of the year, the Silver Spring Maker Faire, has also decided not to put on another event in 2017. I hope it’s not some kind of a sad trend where the organizers of these fun annual events have decided to cut back on holding their events because it would be really sad if that was the case. (If you want to know why I’m sad about what happened with the Silver Spring Maker Faire, check out the photos I took in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

Like I wrote a few paragraphs ago, I found out that I had a little bit of extra spending money so I decided to go to Baltimore Comic-Con for the first time in four years. What made it really sweet is that the famed 1980s rapper DMC (from the group Run-DMC) was going to be there and he was not only signing autographs for fans (who paid at least $20 for one of his comic books) but he was giving two panels—one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Saturday was the only day I could go to Baltimore Comic-Con because of finances and the fact that I was serving as a substitute teacher in my church’s program that teaches local immigrants how to speak English the following day. But I managed to treasure every moment of my time there and I took a bunch of photos the moment I stepped outside of the Baltimore Convention Center and paid the $35 Saturday admission fee.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Baltimore Comic-Con

While I was waiting in line I witnessed this cute scene of a baby dressed in a Batman outfit (which isn’t apparent in the photo below because of the angle of the baby but I saw him wearing it in real life) looking at this man wearing his Spider-Man cosplay outfit.

Baltimore Comic-Con

Here’s the cover of the official Baltimore Comic-Con program book.

Baltimore Comic-Con

I even shot a short video when I first arrived soon after the convention opened at 10 a.m. that morning. Fortunately the ticket purchasing lines were shorter that morning, which wasn’t the case later in the day, so I was able to quickly purchase my ticket then go straight to the Dealers Room where I saw the convention employees actually clapping their hands at each guest who walked through the doors.

The employees only did that in the morning. When I returned to the Dealers Room at various times later in the day, the employees stopped clapping for everyone and simply looked at people’s paper bracelets (which served as our passes) before letting them in the room.

If Intervention Con is my favorite convention because it’s smaller and more intimate, then I have to say that Baltimore Comic-Con is my second favorite because the organizers are trying to strike a balance between focusing on comic books and having a few celebrities in attendance, but not as many of them as the gigantic San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve heard all sorts of stories as to how humongous and utterly exhausting it is to walk through that event and I’m pretty reluctant to even consider trying it. I had a hard enough time going to a three-day event like Otakon (which is why I’ve stopped attending in recent years) and I think San Diego Comic-Con would be even worse. I’m happy to say that finding a decent seat at a workshop or panel is still really easy at Baltimore Comic-Con. I never had to stand in any long lines in order to get to the panel of my choice (and I went on Saturday, which is usually the busiest and most crowded of the three days).

After I got my ticket I initially checked out the vendors room but I only stayed there briefly because the panel featuring DMC was scheduled to begin at noon. I found a few reminders that DMC was here at Baltimore Comic-Con this year.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I arrived at the panel early enough that I was able to get a front row seat. This panel was devoted to DMC’s comic book venture known as Darryl Makes Comics and it also had others who currently work on the comic book series including Greg Pak, Khoi Pham, Domo Stanton, and Amy Chu. DMC can be seen in the photos wearing the black Motörhead t-shirt.

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

DMC of Run-DMC Fame and Now Darryl Makes Comics

I learned that DMC has been into comics since childhood and this fascination even influenced his rapping days with Run-DMC. He said he started Darryl Makes Comics as a way of getting different voices into the comic book industry who tend to be overlooked by the larger companies—including not only people of different races but also people from different classes, older people, women, etc.

I was really enthusiastic by this panel and I found out that DMC was selling copies of his comic books with his signed autograph in the Dealers Room for $20. I wanted to buy it but, unfortunately I was tempted by a whole bunch of other stuff that was also on sale in that same room and I didn’t have unlimited funds. I took a bunch of photos of some of the stuff that was on sale.

There was a booth by a company called FigureThis who had this really neat idea where they will shoot full body photos of you with multiple cameras placed all around you then send those photos to a 3D printer where it will print a 3D figurine of your image.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I still have photos posted in older blog posts of various 3D printers that I’ve shot at various events over the seven years that this blog has been in existence. I have older photos of really large 3D printers that cost at least $2,000. At Baltimore-Comic Con I saw these smaller portable printers by a company known as M3D that were available on sale for only $295.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

What’s more, these printers were small enough that a visitor can easily carry the printer home with him/her after purchasing it. If I had more money to spare, I definitely would’ve purchased one myself.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

I was very impressed with the 3D figurines this small 3D printer was capable of producing.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There was this really cool looking computer from a company known as Chimera Computers, whose slogan is “They might have the flash, but we have the power!”

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

There were a whole bunch of other products besides comic books (yes, they had a lot of comic books available for sale) that were on sale ranging from t-shirts to drinking glasses to vintage Nintendo video games to realistic looking figurines to superhero stories written in chapter book form for children who are beginning readers. In short, there was a little something for everybody.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The cosplayers were out in full force and I took a lot of pictures of them as well. I saw a lot of people dressed as Batman this year because the day I went to Baltimore Comic-Con also happened to be Batman Day, a day which many comic book shops in the U.S. hold Batman-themed events to observe the anniversary that Batman made his first ever appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939.

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

2017 Baltimore Comic-Con

After wandering around the Dealer Room snapping pictures for a few hours, my legs were growing tired. I decided to check out the 2:45-3:45 p.m. (yes, that was the actual scheduled time) panel on “Baltimore Celebrates Batman Day!” (That panel was how I learned that there was actually such a thing as Batman Day.) I’ve been a Batman fan from way back starting with the time my parents gave me a Batman bank as a present and I still have those early childhood memories of putting loose coins in the slot located on Batman’s back. I grew up watching the reruns of the 1960’s TV series starring the recently deceased Adam West and reading whatever Batman comic books my mother happened to purchase during her weekly grocery shopping trip. (Sometimes she would buy Batman while other times she would buy comic books featuring Captain America, Superman, The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk.) So I was eager to check out that panel.

The panel was moderated by Jimmy Palmiotti and it had people who had worked on either the Batman or Harley Quinn comic books including Amanda Conner, David Finch, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV, John Timms.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel primarily focused on the Batman and Harley Quinn comic books that have come out in the last five years while also mentioning the feature films Batman had appeared in within the last ten years. I’ll admit that I was a bit lost. That was because I haven’t read a Batman comic book since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel series back in the late 1980’s. (I remember finding Miller’s interpretation of Batman as a very dark vigilante to be an interesting take but the story left me feeling so cold that I never re-read it. It didn’t help that, years later, Frank Miller was openly accusing the Occupy Wall Street movement as being a bunch of louts, thieves and rapists. Never mind the fact that my visits to the Occupy sites in Baltimore and DC indicated otherwise. I ultimately donated The Dark Knight Returns to an upcoming used book sale after my husband left me. Ironically Frank Miller was Baltimore Comic-Con’s 2017 Guest of Honor and he made his only convention appearance the day before. I wasn’t that inclined to even check him out in person and I don’t regret opting to go on Saturday instead of Friday.)

I watched the Batman feature films of the 1980’s and 1990’s but I stopped watching them after that because they seemed to emulate Miller’s vision of a dark violent vigilante anti-hero and I grew tired of that. The only Batman movie I’ve watched in recent years was this year’s The LEGO Batman Movie, which was excellent because it expertly combined the campiness of the 1960’s TV series with the darker interpretations of recent years and it worked extremely well. In fact, I purchased it on DVD when it was released. Maybe DC Comics should just let LEGO have exclusive rights to making future Batman movies because LEGO knows how to tell an entertainingly memorable Batman story.

My legs were a bit sore so it was a relief to sit down even if what the panelists discussed about Batman went over my head, with the exception of when they were discussing The LEGO Batman Movie. Although I was so intrigued by hearing the description of the Harley Quinn comic book series that I’m going to see if my local public library have the graphic novel reprints on the shelves. The high point of that panel was when the panelists asked if anyone had attended any of the Batman Day celebrations at a local comic book store in addition to going to Baltimore Comic-Con and someone got up said he actually went to such an event before he arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center. He had snagged some free Batman and Harley Quinn masks, which he gave to the husband and wife team behind the Harley Quinn comic book.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

The panel ended but my legs were still sore and tired. I decided to stay in the same room for the next panel that was about the legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Panelist Mark Evanier talked about his personal friendship with Jack Kirby, which he wrote a book about called Kirby: King of Comics. Abram Books’ Charlie Kochman was also on hand as the two of them discussed the book and Evanier’s recollections about Kirby. I found it to be a very interesting talk and it seemed like Kirby was definitely an interesting and unforgettable person.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

After the panel ended at 5 p.m. I thought about making one more return trip to the Dealers Room but my legs were really hurting by then so I decided to just take the next light rail back to the North Linthicum station (where my car was parked) and head home.

I had thought about buying one of DMC’s comic books with his autograph for $20 but I found something else in the Dealers Room that I ended up buying instead and I couldn’t afford to buy both.

Baltimore Comic-Con, September 23, 2017

It’s a plastic ocarina, which I purchased for $20, and it came with a free songbook that provided instructions on how to play the ocarina along with songs from the classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. I paid an extra $5 for a Star Wars ocarina songbook. I bought it from the STL Ocarina booth after hearing the person staffing it playing lovely music with that ocarina. I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself how to play it but I think it will be awhile before I can play songs on it that sound just as lovely as what I heard at that booth.

As for the Darrel Makes Comics comic book, I’ll go to the local public library to see if it has a copy of any of the issues on the shelves. I would like to read it at some point since I own a couple of old Run-DMC CDs and I’ve always been a fan of the group. This is one of those times when I regret having to deal with tight finances just so I can survive.

The Hillary Clinton obsession needs to end.

See images of unusual architecture (such as a restaurant in a building shaped like an airplane) through the Library of Congress’ John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive.

See Michelangelo’s handwritten 16th century grocery list, which includes some very detailed illustrations in the margins.

Germany confronts the forgotten story of its other genocide in Namibia.

Hōshi: a short film on the 1300-year-old hotel run by the same Japanese family for 46 generations.

When J.M. Coetzee secretly programmed computers to write poetry in the 1960s.

“Blasphemous” Brazilian artist under fire for turning religious figures into pop culture icons.

The obsessive art and great confession of Charlotte Salomon.

A feminist artist uses glitter, stickers, and other accessories as media for creating art that explores a typical girl’s adolescence.

Colorfully decorative storefronts reveal the story of Paris.

What’s the matter with Democrats? Thomas Frank explains.

Read tons and tons of amazing Golden/Silver age comic books for free.

This is Sinclair, ’the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of.’

There are now LEGO kits focusing on recreating obsolete technology.

View tiny nightmarish illustrations drawn on sticky notes.

How the so-called “revolutions” around the world are manufactured by trained and privately funded political organizations to force regime change by overthrowing governments.

Bus seats mistaken for burqas by members of anti-immigrant group.

16 invasive species sold at garden centers you should never buy.

Queen’s Brian May and his homemade guitar.

Automakers got big tax breaks to build in the U.S. but used European labor to do the work.

How classic cartoons created a culturally literate generation.

People are furious at these new shirts from Kylie and Kendall Jenner.

Kylie Jenner and Khloe Kardashian are accused of stealing ideas from indie African American designers. 

See photographs of figures in Russian history rendered in colorized portraits, such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, and more.

This artist is brining out the beauty in stretch marks.

The rise in art protests: how the gallery became a new battleground.

What it means to be on the left.

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements shows how the elements actually get used in making everyday things.

Someone called this white girl’s Japanese tea party racist on social media but then this Japanese user stepped in.

Gorgeous color autochromes of American women from over 100 years ago.

Creative mom dresses up in amazing cosplay to represent older women characters.

Fender custom shop recycles Hollywood Bowl bench boards to make $12k guitars.

Rural America is stranded in the dial-up age.

Director Michel Gondry makes a charming film on his iPhone, proving that we could be making movies, not taking selfies.

This man spent 6 years crocheting a Super Mario Bros map blanket.

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals.

Transgender soldiers of the American Civil War.

The 11 most unintentionally hilarious religious paintings.

Meet the unconventional family who lives in a 1940s time warp.

$330,000 in financial aid bought this person a slot in the American meritocracy. He writes about the flaws in that system.

Not too long ago I decided to do some miscellaneous Facebook surfing by lurking on a group that has been set up for alumni of my old high school. Part of the reason was to keep my mind off my continuing job hunt and the latest political news. (I remember that was the night when new White House communications direction Anthony Scaramucci went off the profanity-laden deep end. Scaramucci was fired soon after that incident—after he had spent only 10 days working at his new job.)

While I was lurking on that high school alumni group on Facebook and scrolling through old posts that one recent night, I learned that my former music teacher, Tim Landers, had died last year of complications stemming from a liver transplant. He was either 63 or 64 (I was only able to figure out his age because he wrote this Facebook post on October 14, 2013 where he said that he was 61 so I did the math and, no, I don’t know the date of his birthday so I have no idea if he managed to celebrate his latest birthday before his death or not). In the comments section someone posted a video of a song that he wrote and sang about Ocean City, Maryland. I watched the video and I kind of liked the laid-back vibe of the song. It’s the quintessential summer song that’s perfect to listen to if you’re on a beach anywhere in the world. Here’s the video below, titled “It’s a Shore Thing.”

If you like “It’s a Shore Thing,” you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.

I also found another video he did as part of a trio known as The Landers and Heinz Project. It was a live performance of another song he wrote as he and his partners were playing on a local radio station in Ocean City. The song is called “Scotch and Soda” and it is just as laid-back as the other song. (Tim Landers is the guy in the glasses and mustache playing his guitar and singing.)

If you like “Scotch and Soda,”  you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby or iTunes.

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis would know that I don’t have too many fond memories of my old high school. In fact, last summer I went back to my old school for the first time in many years just so I could photograph my hand giving the middle finger to that school. I was on my way to the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Baltimore (link is NSFW) when I did this. Yes, I took advantage of the longer days so I could check out my old school quickly before driving on to Baltimore.

While I was mostly miserable in the five years I attended that huge school complex known as the Old Mill Educational Complex (one year in Old Mill Middle School-North and four years in Old Mill Senior High), there were a few teachers there who provided a few bright spots in what was otherwise a miserable existence. Like I wrote in last year’s post where I included that picture of my hand giving the finger:

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics.

Among those teachers who were dedicated at their jobs was Tim Landers, who taught music (mainly guitar). I took four semesters of guitar class with him until I had exhausted all of the guitar classes that my high school offered. The one thing I never realized about him until after I learned about his death and I started reading his Facebook postings is that he was only 9 or 10 years older than me. (I know it sounds kind of strange but it wasn’t that unusual to have a teacher who was close in age to the students he/she taught in my high school. When I was a senior I had an English teacher who had only received her teaching degree the year before and she was just five years older than me.) Mr. Landers bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Van Driessen from the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon series, more in terms of temperament than his looks. (He didn’t have a beard and he wore his long hair in the feathered style that was very popular back in the 1970s.) Here’s a photo of him I scanned from my sophomore high school yearbook.

Looking at his personal Facebook page, I found that he was a spiritual person like Mr. Van Driessen with the big difference being that he expressed himself as a devout Christian while Mr. Van Driessen was more into New Age spirituality. But he definitely shared Mr. Van Driessen’s hippie vibe in terms of his outlook on life and the funky clothes he wore to school. The main difference was that Mr. Landers was far less of a pushover than Mr. Van Driessen. He was the kind of person who was willing to help you unless you crossed him. If you did anything to push his buttons, he would not hesitate to send you to the principal’s office or to even fail you for not doing the required coursework.

Here’s one example of Mr. Landers not being a stereotypical pushover hippie. I remember it was the end of the semester when we not only took our final exams but we also were given an evaluation form where we could write about what we liked or didn’t liked about the class. Unlike the final exams, we were not required to write our names. The idea was that we could freely give our opinions without repercussions.

So we turned in our exams and the evaluation forms then returned to our seats while waiting for the bell that would signal the end of the class. Mr. Landers happened to glance through some of the exams and evaluations at his desk until he came upon an evaluation form where, according to Mr. Landers, someone had written “Mr. Landers can do something to himself.” (Given the fact that I saw that Mr. Landers was visibly angry at the time, I suspected that the wording was stronger than what he indicated—somewhere along the lines of “Mr. Landers can go fuck himself.”) By that point it was almost the end of the class but Mr. Landers was determined to get to the bottom of who wrote that evaluation form. He said that he would read what we wrote on the evaluation forms out loud and if he came upon something that one of us recognized that he/she wrote, that person was to go up to the class and pick up that form then bring it back to his/her seat. Mr. Landers eventually came upon my form (where I basically wrote that I wished he hadn’t done so many classical guitar songs because I prefer rock guitar) so I picked mine up. It wasn’t until Mr. Landers came to the last of the evaluation forms that a boy in the class confessed that it was he who wrote that nasty message on the evaluation form.

At that point the bell rang, we returned our evaluation forms to the teacher’s desk before we headed to the next class, and Mr. Landers escorted that boy to the principal’s office. (I’ve long since forgotten who the boy was or even what he looked like—other than he was a thin white kid with dark hair—mainly because I wasn’t friends with him.)

Fortunately I got along pretty well with Mr. Landers and I enjoyed his classes. I think he had a high opinion of me as a student. I managed to get him to sign my yearbook only once, which was during my sophomore year (the same yearbook where I posted that photo of him).  His signed it “Kim, Take care of yourself and be good. I’m sure you will. Love, Tim Landers.”

I remember that Mr. Landers’ real ambition was to be a rock musician and he only got into teaching to pay the bills. He turned out to be one of the many talented musicians who never quite made it to the big time and it was not due to a lack of trying. He would spend evenings, weekends, and school breaks writing new music and recording demos that he would try to shop around to various agents and record companies. (I remember the times when he would occasionally play one of his demo songs in class.) I remember that he was a big Beatles fan and he used to drop tidbits about the band and their music because he was such a fan. In fact I remember one of the first songs he taught the class in Guitar I was “Let It Be.”

I loved his wacky sense of humor and his vast knowledge of famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. I still remember the time when it was the last class before Thanksgiving break and he played Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant” song and we laughed at some of the humor. (It was the first time I had ever heard that song. Up until that time the only Arlo Guthrie song I knew was “The City of New Orleans” and that was because it was a hit on the radio and my father had purchased that song on a 45 r.p.m. record.) He also introduced us to the original soundtrack to the Broadway show Grease as he brought the album to class one day and he played it for us. (This was about a year before the movie version came out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.)

I still remember the year when Frank Zappa came out with his disco parody hit “Dancin’ Fool,” which was played quite a bit at the major rock stations in my area. Mr. Landers brought in a couple of Zappa records where he not only showed us what a gifted guitar player Zappa was but he introduced us to an another disco parody that Zappa did just a few years before “Dancin’ Fool,” which was called “Disco Boy.” The lyrics to that one was even more hilarious than the “Dancin’ Fool” lyrics.

At one point he mentioned in one of his classes that he was trying to get the school to approve his idea of a new semester-long music class that he would teach. It would be called “The History of Rock and Roll” and it would take a look at rock’s beginnings in the 1950s all the way to the present (which would’ve been the late 1970s at the time). He talked about how it would involve listening to various records as well as watching movies like Jailhouse Rock, which starred Elvis Presley. I was really eager to take such a class but, for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to get the school to consider his idea so I never had the opportunity to take it. I don’t know whether that class ever happened after I graduated from high school or if it was something that the school administration refused to ever consider offering.

The most memorable thing he demonstrated was the time he went to the piano to demonstrate how classical music influences pop culture. I don’t remember the context in which he did this but I vividly remembered what he did to this day. He started to play the song “Chopsticks,” which is the one song that nearly all beginning piano students are taught as their first song. He then started to hum the tune to the theme song from the TV show My Three Sons while he was playing “Chopsticks.” We all laughed and chortled at his contention that this theme was based on “Chopsticks.” Soon afterwards I was home when I was changing the channels on the TV set when I happened to catch the beginning of My Three Sons rerun right at the moment the theme music was playing and I began to notice the underlying “Chopsticks” melody and I realized that Mr. Landers was right. Here’s the link to the full version of the My Three Sons theme song where you can clearly hear “Chopsticks” as the melody.

Despite the fact that he loved The Beatles and other rock bands of the 1960’s, he was a traditional music teacher in many ways. He was adamant that we learned how to read music, which was a skill that many of his favorite 1960s bands, including his beloved Beatles, didn’t have. Thanks to him, I learned the mnemonic method of music reading where I learned the lines of EGBDF as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge while the spaces between the lines spelled out the word FACE.

He was also adamant that we learned how to do chord building, which I quickly learned was not my strongest suit. Chord building involved learning the music notes that make up a certain chord and it involved a lot of memorization (which we later had to regurgitate on the final exam). The only reason why I still know that a D chord is made up of the notes D, F#, and A is because I made up my own mnemonic sentence that went “Dick Fucks Sharp Asses.” (I didn’t dare share that secret with Mr. Landers.)

During the time that I was taking those guitar lessons from Mr. Landers, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was frequently played on the local rock radio station for many years after it was first released back in 1971 and it would go on to become one of the biggest rock hits of the 1970s. Many people were turned on by Jimmy Page’s exquisite guitar playing throughout that song. Naturally many of Mr. Landers’ guitar students, myself included, wanted to learn how to play that song. Mr. Landers was frequently inundated with numerous requests that he teach us this song. Some kids wanted to go from a relatively easy song like “Let It Be” straight into “Stairway to Heaven” while they were in the first few weeks of Guitar I.

Eventually Mr. Landers relented sometime around Guitar III or Guitar IV and he handed out mimeographed copies of “Stairway to Heaven.” That was when we got a dose of reality about how complex that song really is as we struggled with the various chord formations. From that time on the students in the advanced guitar classes stopped wanting to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven,” while I’m sure that the students in Guitar I were probably still begging Mr. Landers to teach them how to play that song while they were learning how to play their first chords.

There was only one time I felt Mr. Landers was wrong about something. It was when punk rock became a huge such deal in the UK that the US media started doing stories about this new phenomenon. I was intrigued by the music I heard in snippets while watching news stories about this new punk rock phenomenon so I purchased The Sex Pistols’ debut album. I found that record to be a revelation in that it was so unlike the heavy metal and disco music that was prevalent on the radio at that time. A few weeks after I purchased Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Mr. Landers openly disdained punk rock in class and he felt that all of the punk bands consisted of untalented musicians who were destined to not last very long. A few other students piped up talking about how they disliked punk rock as well. I disagreed with Mr. Landers’ low opinion of punk but I kept my mouth shut because he was one of those people whom you could never provide a contrary opinion once he made up his mind strongly about something because he never attempted to listen to the other side. (In addition, I was having a hard enough time constantly trying to avoid being someone’s bully target and I didn’t want other kids to pick on me because I owned a Sex Pistols album. It was bad enough that there were kids who called me “retarded.” I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low in the privacy of my bedroom at home until college when finally I met other punk rock fans and I felt comfortable enough to admit that I liked punk as well.)

Okay, Mr. Landers was right about The Sex Pistols being a short-lived phenomenon because they disbanded soon after they hit the big time but he was wrong about punk rock’s longevity because there were other punk bands (such as The Clash and The Ramones) who had longer careers and who released albums that are now considered rock classics right alongside albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, and other punk bands have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which definitely proves how wrong Mr. Landers was about his assessment of punk rock.

Mr. Landers also formed the school’s official folk rock group known only as the Old Mill Folk Rock Band. (Yeah, I know it sounds original. LOL!) The group performed at school assemblies. Each year they would go into a local recording studio to make an EP record, which consisted of four songs (which were all covers of the big hits of that era). Once the record was printed, the members would sell copies of that record among the student body. I wanted to join that band as a guitarist but competition was intense. (I had a few friends who were in that band.) While I was an okay guitarist, there were other students who were far more talented than me and, to be honest, I was too intimidated to every try out.

I didn’t know much about his personal life aside from a few times that he mentioned that he had a wife when I took my first guitar class with him. By the time I took my second or third guitar class he briefly mentioned that he was separated from his wife a couple of times. Then he briefly mentioned that he was divorced once or twice by the time I took my last guitar class with him. (He never mentioned why he got a divorce nor did he ever say anything nasty about his ex-wife during any of classes I took with him. He also never mentioned having any children from that marriage.) When I saw his Facebook page for the first time and he listed his marital status as “single,” I thought that my memories were wrong. But then I read an interview he gave with a local newspaper (which I’ll get to in the next two paragraphs) and he briefly mentioned “my wife at that time.” I guess he must’ve gotten married sometime in his early 20’s and it only lasted just a few years until the two of them decided to go their separate ways. It’s very likely that, by the time he created his own Facebook page, he probably felt that he had been divorced for so many years that he might as well list his marital status as “single.”

I looked on his personal Facebook page and searched his name on Google after I learned about his death and I found that he later transferred to a different high school as a music teacher before leaving the teaching field entirely in order to work as a full-time musician and songwriter. (Of course all this happened years after I graduated from high school and moved out of Glen Burnie.) He had a professional Facebook page focusing on his music career but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. At one point he had his own website, which basically had a short biography and dates of upcoming performances, which I was able to access thanks to the Internet Archive. (The last update was done after his death, which announced that he was deceased.) He even wrote a Christian musical called Walk With God, whose official website can only now be accessed through the Internet Archive.

I saw on his personal Facebook page that he had adopted a Golden Retriever puppy just a couple of years before his death. He frequently posted pictures of that dog and it was obvious that he loved his dog. I only hope that this dog found a new loving forever home after his owner died.

Recently I came across this extensive interview Mr. Landers did with a local Ocean City publication called The Coconut Times in 2014 where I was not only able to catch up on whatever became of him after I left school but I even learned about his early life before he became my music teacher. This interview is so extensive that it’s divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It’s really quite a fascinating read that I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of whether you actually knew him personally (like I did) or not. I learned that he grew up in Baltimore (in the same neighborhood where the since-demolished Memorial Stadium was located) in a very large extended family that included numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of his relatives were singers and musicians and he even had a cousin who was a singer whose main rival was Patsy Cline. He landed his first job at 12 helping out in a local music store where he met professional musicians who played with the big acts like Buddy Holly.

Mr. Landers totally opened up about his life in that interview, including admitting that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s due to a tainted blood transfusion he received in the early 1970’s. (Which probably explains why he underwent a liver transplant in the first place.) He also mentioned that, when he was 21, his father took him to a bar so he could have his first legal alcoholic beverage while engaging in some father and son talk. His father would suddenly die of a heart attack just nine months later. (Reading that interview and seeing his old Facebook posts, it seems like longevity wasn’t exactly a family trait. Not only did his father pass away at 45, he had a brother who died in a car accident at 52, and a cousin who also died an untimely death as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War. And that’s not to mention Mr. Landers’ own death while he was in his early 60’s.)

Amid the bad times there were plenty of good memories as well. He mentioned in the interview that he had recently ate lunch with a member of Pink Floyd whom he did not identify. (I can safely say that it wasn’t with Syd Barrett or Rick Wright since they were both dead by 2014, when the interview took place.) He also mentioned meeting many famous musicians, such as the band Danny and the Juniors, who is best known for the big 1950’s hit “At the Hop.”

As I read that extensive interview, I realized that Mr. Landers lived a very interesting and fascinating life and I found myself wishing he had written a book or even started a blog about his memories. That 2014 interview is about as close as we’ll ever get to an autobiography and I’m glad that it exists. (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

As I look over that three-part interview and those Facebook posts, I have to admit that the saddest thing about his death is that it seemed like Mr. Landers was at a point in his life where he was basically content with the things that was going on in his life over the last two or three years before he died. He had a thriving music career despite never becoming a major recording artist who sells millions of copies of his music. He was spending his summers in Ocean City where he was doing gigs at various bars and nightclubs throughout the Delmarva region. The rest of the year he was in Nashville where he was recording music and meeting people in the music industry. He had even contributed a song to this independent movie called Patapsco Valley that, as far as I can tell, only exists as a location camera test on Vimeo. (That is his song, “The River,” playing in the background of that video.) He had a dog whom he seemed to have loved very much. He achieved a point in his life where he was basically happy and content then he dies while he was in his early 60s. Yet there are a lot of loathsome people who are still alive and kicking and many of them are older than he was when he died. (I don’t want to elaborate on this any further or else this post will veer into something that would be as inappropriate as President Trump’s recent notorious speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.)

I had pretty much cut myself off from most of the people I knew back in high school mainly because I wanted to protect myself from reliving any painful memories. (I went to my five-year reunion and that was enough for me.) I have to admit that Mr. Landers is one of the few people from my old high school I wished I had a chance to re-connect with before he died. I would’ve loved to have visited him in Ocean City (where, in his remaining years, he had spent his summers while living in Nashville the rest of the year) and I definitely would’ve brought my guitar with me so we could’ve done a jam session or two.

Ironically I used to go to Ocean City with my then-husband, his sister, her son, and an invited guest (some years it was a friend of my nephew’s while other years it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s) for a week-long family vacation every year until 2011 (just a few months before my husband left me). If I had known that Tim Landers was also there as a performer, I definitely would’ve made the time to at least spend one evening attending one of his shows. (My then-husband and sister-in-law could’ve either come with me or stay behind in our rented condo.) It would’ve been really cool if I had brought my guitar with me and we could’ve gotten into a jam session. If only I had actually taken the time to thoroughly read those various free publications that used to list various events that went on in Ocean City, I would probably have come across his name and gone to one of his shows to see if he was actually my high school teacher. Oh well. It’s my loss and I have to deal with it.

I still have those mimeographed ditto sheets of guitar chords and song lyrics that Mr. Landers handed out in class stashed away in folders. They have survived various moves over the years. Writing this post has inspired me to pull out those old ditto sheets, take a look at them, pull out my guitar, and start playing it using those old sheets from years ago.

R.I.P. Mr. Landers.

Need a Valentine’s Day gift idea but you’re cash-strapped at the moment? Check out this this cool “You Rule Valentine” free tutorial using a cheap wood ruler and other supplies that you can find at your local dollar store.

If that previous Valentine’s Day gift idea isn’t up your alley, here are some more free tutorials for other Valentine-themed crafts using materials that you can find at your local dollar store.

Are you interested in learning how to play a musical instrument but you can’t afford to buy or rent one? Check out these free tutorials on how you can build your own guitar, ukulele, banjo, and even a violin out of cigar boxes.

Here’s a free tutorial on how to make your very own neon sign that says whatever you want it to say.

Are you itching to crochet something to wear? Check out these free patterns where you can make variations on the pineapple bolero crochet jackets.

Do you find yourself in this scenario?: You’re in the mood to watch a movie. You’re too broke to go to your local movie theater and pay the ever-increasing ticket prices (let alone buy anything from the concession stand). You can’t afford to pay for Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Video rental stores don’t exist anymore. You only want just a couple of hours of escapist fun. What’s a broke person to do? Here is a list of the best free movies that are currently available on YouTube, including such classics as Night of the Living Dead, Carnival of Souls, Nosferatu, Detour, and His Girl Friday featuring stars like Cary Grant and Vincent Price. Yes, they are all completely legal for you to watch online without having to deal with torrents and things like that.

Feeling frustrated with President Donald Trump? You can take out your frustration with this free video game called Super Trump Run, whose gameplay is reminiscent of Super Mario Bros.

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

For the latest installment on my series about celebrating Christmas on a tabletop, I’m going to devote this entry to the Christmas tree ornaments that I’ve had since I was a child. All of them were given to me by my parents for either my birthday or Christmas. (Both days are only 10 days apart.)

Here’s a brass bell-shaped ornament engraved with my first name.

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Here’s a bird’s nest that includes two birds—one red and one blue—whose beaks are opened as if they are about to burst into song. I still have the remnants of the original blue bow towards the top of the strings but that bow has mostly fallen apart.

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Here’s a Hallmark ornament that my parents gave me. It’s marked “Christmas, 1980” and it has these words:

A Daughter is the sweetest gift a lifetime can provide.

The ball’s image has a couple of white cats (which is pretty ironic because I’m allergic to cats) and a bunch of plants including poinsettias, a spider plant, a Norfolk pine tree, and a coleus.

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Here’s a brass ornament that’s shaped like a guitar. I took guitar lessons throughout my teen years and I still play it occasionally.

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This next photo shows a Santa Claus whose arms and legs are jointed so one can put him in a few poses (mainly looking like he’s running while swinging his arms).

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I have a wooden block ornament that has the same picture of Santa Claus on all four sides. The top of the block is mainly red with the letter “A” and the bottom is mainly red with the letter “B.”

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Last but not least is this white harp-playing cherub angel. I think it might have graced a wrapped package as a decoration (I don’t remember off-hand) and I decided to use it as an ornament since it had string attached to it. All I know is that I’ve had that one since my childhood.

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Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Recently some people at the Electric Maid, a community based art and music space located in the Takoma area of Washington, DC (located just over the state line from the adjacent Takoma Park, Maryland), have started a series of music jam sessions on the first and last Saturdays of the month from 4-6 p.m. The idea is that anyone with a musical instrument—no matter what level he/she is currently playing at—is invited to come and join in. Even if one doesn’t bring a musical instrument, there will be extras provided for that person to join in.

I was invited to this event recently and I was asked to shoot some video of some of the jam sessions and post it on YouTube. Here’s the result.

One of the people in the video, Phil Shapiro, has his own YouTube channel and Twitter where he talks about all kinds of issues, especially about open source software.

I decided to go to BronyCon again this year because it’s such a kick seeing grown men dressed as their favorite pony from the TV show My Little Pony. Not even the Baltimore Uprising a few months ago in the wake of Freddy Gray’s death could stop this convention that’s full of positive vibes. The cheerfulness began when I was close to the entrance of the Baltimore Convention Center, where I saw these sidewalk signs.

#BronyCon 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

#BronyCon 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

#BronyCon 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.

For years I’ve been down on people doing upskirt photos or doing bizarre creepy closeups of strangers. I did that thing I’ve always disdained by doing a closeup shot of a stranger’s ass while I was close to the convention center but I had an excuse. This guy had a large Fat Albert patch on his back jeans pocket. Seriously!  Hey, hey, hey! It's Fat Albert at BronyCon in Baltimore.

I grew up watching Fat Albert cartoons on TV each Saturday morning. I remember they were mostly morality plays featuring Fat Albert and his circle of friends in an inner city neighborhood and Bill Cosby used to do the live action intro to each episode. It’s too bad that Bill Cosby had to give in to his worst impulses when he drug women’s drinks then did all kinds of sexual abuse to them. That is the main reason why I haven’t been looking for old Fat Albert cartoons in an effort to relive my childhood.

Well, anyway, I ran into a couple of like-minded cosplayers right outside the doors of the convention center.

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

The previous two years I was able to get in an out of the Registration line in about 15 minutes. This year it was much more crowded and it took me over an hour before I was able to get to the front of the line.

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

People in lines started tossing balloons to each other. It was cute at first but, as I got closer to the head of the line and I had to encounter balloons in my directions, the novelty wore off for me.

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015I basically tried to make the time I spent in line more enjoyable by taking photos of the various cosplayers in line, beginning with this guy who brought a very tall Rainbow Dash-themed missile. (I regret not taking a photo with the panoramic setting instead of the two pictures I did take in order to get the whole thing. )

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

I saw a plushie pony peeping from a backpack. BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

Here’s Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen.

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

One of the organizers (wearing a purple hat) was instructing people which register to stand in front of, depending on whether they had pre-registered or not and whether they were paying with cash or credit card.

BronyCon, Baltimore, August 7, 2015

After standing in line for an hour, I finally made it to the front of the line.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

Here’s the front and back cover of the BronyCon program book.

BronyCon 2015 Here’s my pass. I only purchased a one-day pass because of tight finances.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015 One innovation that was introduced at this year’s BronyCon was these special communication cards that con attendees can put on their passes to indicate how socialble they were willing to be with others at any given time. This was done in an attempt to reduce complaints of harassment among con-goers. I think it’s a great idea myself because everyone could avoid awkward situations (as long as everyone cooperated with this). BronyCon, August 7, 2015

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BronyCon, August 7, 2015

Another innovative idea was to have specially designated Gender-Neutral Bathrooms, which is great for transgender people or people who are questioning their own birth gender. Having tried one of them for the first time, I have to say that it wasn’t bad. After all, it’s not really that much different from having gender-neutral bathrooms at home. There were still separate men’s and women’s bathrooms for those who were uncomfortable with this.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

There was a non-stop rave featuring lots of dancing to electronic music that went on both day and night in one of the areas of the Baltimore Convention Center. BronyCon, August 7, 2015

The next photo shows just two of the many DJ’s who kept the music going for people who just wanted to get down and dance the day and/or night away.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

I shot a short video that shows just a small portion of that dance party, featuring all kinds of awesome dance moves.

The one thing about going to BronyCon is the vast array of cosplayers with their handmade creations. The creativity behind these costumes is just astounding to me.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

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There was a vast array of My Little Pony merchandise available in the Marketplace area with prices ranging from $3 (for very small cheap toys) all the way to hundreds of dollars.

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

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BronyCon, August 7, 2015  BronyCon, August 7, 2015 BronyCon, August 7, 2015 BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7 2015 The most memorable item that was on sale at BronyCon was this unique handmade My Little Pony-themed diorama that was on sale for $1,600. It was an amazing work of art to behold. BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

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BronyCon, August 7, 2015

 

BronyCon, August 7, 2015

There were a few people who have become quasi-celebrities in the Brony world because they work on My Little Pony and some of them were at BronyCon signing autographs. Among them was My Little Pony artist Andy Price.

Andy Price at BronyCon 2015 I made a brief stop inside the video arcade. There were not only people playing various video games on a variety of different consoles and platforms but there were also various My Little Pony items displayed and I even saw some people playing My Little Pony-themed card games. I liked the Video Arcade sign, which is a really cool mash-up of My Little Pony and Tron. BronyCon, August 7, 2015There were a whole array of video games but I didn’t get a chance to try any of them because that room was so crowded. I ended up just watching other people play instead.BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7, 2015

BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7, 2015

BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7, 2015BronyCon, August 7, 2015 Here’s the rundown of the swag that I got from BronyCon. One of the vendor tables were trying to entice me by giving me a tiny button for free. But if I wanted more buttons, I would’ve had to pay. I wasn’t really that interested in obtaining any more buttons but the guy was insistent that I choose one button for free so I picked one that was based on Spike, Twilight Sparkle’s baby dragon companion. The vendor then turned his head towards another potential customer and I walked away from that booth pretty quick. I have to admit that the button is nice looking. The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015One of the vendor tables was for the Brony Thank You Fund, a non-profit 501c(3) group that was raising money at BronyCon to benefit groups that are active in fighting cancer. If you make a small donation of at least $1, you received this tiny pin. The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015 For a minimum $12 donation, you got both a pin and a 2016 calendar. I sprang for both because I figured that the calendar will definitely come in handy in five months. The new calendar is movie-themed so there’s all kinds of mashups between My Little Pony and various films like The Shining and Cinderella. Here are a few excerpts from that calendar. The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015If you like that calendar and missed BronyCon (or went to BronyCon but missed getting the calendar), you can order it online right here.I purchased a few things and I managed to use my Brony Thank You Fund button to get discounts on all of them. Despite the discounts, I was still very restrained in my shopping (due to both financial issues and my desire not to clutter the house filled with all kinds of stuff). I picked up a paperback book that has re-printed some issues of the My Little Pony comic book series. The Swag I Got at BronyCon 2015 I have a confession to make. I’ve been reading the My Little Pony comic books ever since I won the first issue of the series in a contest that took place during a session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School that was held in Washington, DC way back in 2013. (Link is NSFW.) Yep, Dr. Sketchy’s hooked me in. (LOL!) Each month I would go to a comic book store and buy the latest My Little Pony issue. But then I started to hit some financial turbulence for a bit and I stopped buying the comic books for several months. When I felt just financially solvent enough to start buying back issues, I saw that the comic book stores either didn’t have back issues or they had them but they were missing one or two issues (which screws up the continuity of a storyline). But then I found that the publisher has been reprinting back issues in paperback form so anyone who missed out on them can buy them altogether so one can get the entire story in one purchase instead of waiting for a new single comic book issue to come out. So I was mostly caught up until I found the last paperback book I needed at BronyCon. I’m now caught up in reading the comic book (I think). I found this really cute vinyl figurine based on a minor character in the My Little Pony series named DJ Pon-3. That pony is totally cute. The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015

 

The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015

The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015

 

The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015

The Swag I Got From BronyCon 2015 Well, anyway, that’s it for BronyCon. Unlike last year, I ended up not going to any of the workshops or panels because I didn’t find any that interested me very much. I basically hung around the Marketplace and Video Arcade. I still had a good time even if the Registration line was way longer than previous years.

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