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

Magic Wheelchair creates incredible costumes for disabled children in wheelchairs.

What it’s like to have borderline personality disorder.

A camera store shows off gear wrecked by this summer’s solar eclipse.

Nintendo reveals that Mario of Super Mario Bros. fame is no longer a plumber.

Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods.

Half of digital media time is spent in five apps.

Clear-cut tropical forest revitalized with industrial orange peel waste.

What we saw in North Korea goes against everything western media wants us to believe.

The earliest known appearance of the F-Word, in a bizarre court record entry from 1310.

Six steps for dealing with cheapskate clients, especially if they won’t pay up.

STEFDIES is one woman’s amusing war against selfies.

13 most useless job skills employers don’t want anymore.

The two English cousins who fooled the world into believing in fairies.

Nine things you didn’t know were invented by women.

Stop waiting for Obama to fight for the DREAM.

Deceased 13-year-old girl breaks organ donation record by saving eight lives.

The Equifax Hack: What you need to know and how to protect yourself.

Former television news anchor is now an adult film star.

Breaking the unholy alliance between big money and mainstream media.

Nineteen girls in the last 67 years have worn the same handmade dress to school on the first day of kindergarten.

National Lampoon’s Presidential Vacation.

Researchers confirm that a Viking warrior discovered in Sweden was a woman.

The Voynich Manuscript appears to be a fairly routine anthology of ancient women’s health advice.

The United States didn’t just help topple the Allende government in Chile—we trained the economists too.

Lost languages discovered in one of the world’s oldest continuously run libraries.

The English alphabet used to have six additional letters.

Photos of people who have found their doppelgängers in museums.

We’re spending so much time trying to become robots that we’re forgetting how to be human.

Japanese robot dog sniffs your feet and faints if they’re smelly.

A short, handy visual primer on how to rescue a wet, damaged book.

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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.

Last week I had to take my car to a dealer in Silver Spring because there was a recall on the steering wheel. After I had that fixed and picked up that car, I decided to chill out at a nearby Target store in Silver Spring. I normally don’t go to this particular store, mainly because there’s another Target that’s located closer to my home but I decided to go there since it was on the way back from the car dealership.

This particular Target has giant red cement dots outside its doors (which is a feature that the Target that is closer to my home doesn’t have). Normally I don’t pay attention to those dots but I saw that two of those cement dots have been converted to resemble the heads of Mario and Luigi from Super Mario Bros. and other numerous Nintendo video games.

The heads were there to promote the recently released Nintendo Switch console system.

I stepped inside the store where I noticed that this store is larger compared to the one I usually go to. It also had items on sale that I’ve never seen at the other Target, such as American Girl’s Wellie Wishers dolls.

Those dolls were released last year but it was the first time I had ever seen them in person. That’s because it’s been a year since I last set foot inside an American Girl Place. The next photo shows the clothes and other accessories that one can buy for a Wellie Wishers doll, which are priced somewhere between $20-25.

The Wellie Wishers are smaller than the other American Girl dolls. From what I’ve read, these dolls were created for kids who are younger than the larger dolls’ target audience of girls between the ages 8-12. These dolls have vinyl bodies (compared to the larger dolls’ cloth torsos) and they are depicted as being somewhere between the ages of 4-7 (while the larger dolls are supposed to be around 9 or 10 years old). At $60 per doll, they are definitely cheaper than the larger dolls’ $115 price. But these dolls are more expensive than the 18-inch Our Generation dolls that Target sells as its alternative to American Girl. (The Our Generation dolls are generally priced between $20-35 depending on how many accessories are included with a certain doll.) I still find them to be pretty cute and their clothes are very lovely and colorful.

April 22 was not only Earth Day but it was also the day that a massive March for Science took place in downtown Washington, DC to protest the Trump Administration’s official denial of climate change while cutting funds for federal research. I thought about going myself because, as someone who was once married to a NASA software engineer, I know the importance of science in everyday life (even if science was never my favorite subject in school).

But then it rained like crazy and I decided to can that idea. I didn’t feel guilt over what I did because I had already previously participated in the Women’s March on Washington and the Werk for Peace dance protest. The People’s Climate March was scheduled to be held in Washington, DC on the following Saturday. In addition, there are more anti-Trump marches on Washington planned for the future which will focus on immigration, LGBTQ rights, and fans of the hip hop group Insane Clown Posse (that one is because, for some weird reason, the federal government has classified the fans of this group as gangs and terrorists).

And I’m sure that the longer Donald Trump stays in office, the more people will hold massive protest marches.

So I ended up going to Silver Spring where I took place in the second annual Creator Con. At least it was held indoors so I didn’t have to deal with being rained on. Here are the photos I took during my time there.

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

There was one thing that blew my mind. There was a band consisting of teenage boys who did covers of classic rock songs like The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” and The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” I found it interesting that there were kids who did covers of songs that first came out decades before they were even born.

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con

Creator Con was held at Eubie Blake High School, which had these pro-LGBTQ signs on display. I’m old enough to remember a time when a teen openly admitting that he/she was LGBTQ would not only result in all kinds of bullying and harassment but many teachers would’ve been indifferent to that student’s plight. Now there are official signs making a LGBTQ teen feel welcome.

Creator Con

Creator Con

Santa Claus

Ever since my husband left me just three days after Christmas in 2011, I’ve been celebrating my birthdays by going out to all-you-can-eat Asian buffet places. While they were okay, I was ready for something a little bit different. I got a combination birthday/Christmas check from my mother so I could indulge myself a little bit. I originally planned on going to the Christmas Village that’s temporarily located in Baltimore where I would indulge in German food and do some shopping. But then I looked at operating hours and I found that the Christmas Village is closed on certain Tuesdays—including December 15.

Okay so that plan fell by the wayside. Then I decided on Plan B. I went to Tyson’s Corner Mall instead.

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Here are the first few images of the plaza area where Metro riders arrive at the mall.

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Käthe Wohlfahrt had a heated tent set up outside.

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The next shot is one of the two giant wooden soldiers that guard the entrance to the tent. There was a photography ban inside the tent but you can just go on the website to see the variety of German-made Christmas decorations that are currently for sale.

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Once again the mall has erected an ice skating rink on the plaza. It was empty mainly because I came on a Tuesday night.

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I saw that Jon Wye now has a kiosk in the mall. I can remember when Jon Wye was a regular fixture in many of the local indie craft shows (such as Crafty Bastards). One year I purchased this t-shirt for my then-husband, which he really loved. (My husband loved to cook, although in the later years of our marriage I did more of the cooking because he would come home from work totally exhausted.)

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I ended up eating my birthday dinner at Wasabi. It’s cool they deliver food on a conveyor belt plus the food is excellent.

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After dinner I walked around the mall some more. I saw these cute Christmas villages made from Legos at the Lego Store.

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A few months ago I wrote a rant on Why Kim Kardashian and Her Family Need to Just Go Away. I was exasperated over the fact that the entire family seem to have a knack at calling media attention to themselves even though most of them have no discernible talent. Even though I go through great lengths to avoid having anything remotely to do with Kim Kardashian and family, even I can’t avoid them completely. One example is this poster in a store window touting a fashion collection that’s promoted by two of Kim Kardashian’s younger half-sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

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Nintendo set up this temporary display in the middle of the mall. People had the opportunity to actually try some of the latest Nintendo games that are currently on sale for both their 3DS and Wii U systems.

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I saw these cute dolls made by the German company Götz in a Pottery Barn Kids store. Here’s a fun fact: Götz was the manufacturer of many of the early American Girl dolls, which ended when Mattel purchased American Girl and, in a cost-cutting measure, shifted all production to China. These days Götz makes its own 18-inch dolls that are sold in Pottery Barn Kids stores.

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I also saw this Star Wars display in the Pottery Barn Kids store right across from where the Götz dolls were displayed.

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In the middle of the mall was something called Those Animals, which were motorized stuffed animals that one could ride through the mall. Each animal is billed to carry a person up to 500 pounds. I thought about renting one briefly to try it out but I didn’t because I wasn’t sure if I would be considered too old to ride one. I later saw a group of teens riding those animals so maybe it would be okay for adults to ride as well. Maybe I’ll consider it again if Those Animals are still around the next time I go to Tyson’s Corner Mall.

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I went to the American Girl Place. I focused mainly on the Christmas related stuff this time around because I’ve already taken so many pictures of that store in the past. There was this store exclusive dress that was displayed on different dolls.

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There were also other types of holiday outfits for dolls available as well.

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They also brought back the horse carriage that I photographed extensively last year at the same store.

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Earlier this year I wrote extensively and posted a bunch of photos on Samantha Parkington’s gazebo. It was adorned with Christmas decorations when I saw that gazebo this time.

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Their Bistro area was all decked out in holiday ornaments. The doll on the counter is Kit Kittredge, who’s the BeForever historical doll representing America during the Great Depression.

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There were a variety of winter holiday decorations strewn throughout the store.

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I took one more token photo of the 2015 Girl of the Year, Grace Thomas, because by the time I make a return visit to the American Girl Place, she’ll be long replaced by the 2016 Girl of the Year.

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I took a few more photos of various store windows and displays throughout the mall.

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I saw the ultimately geeky Christmas ornament: Darth Vader wearing a Santa hat and one of those ugly Christmas sweaters featuring all kinds of Star Wars-related motifs. I didn’t buy it at the time because I didn’t have enough money on me (after eating at Wasabi). When I attempted to go to a Hallmark store located closer to me, I found that all of the Darth Vader ornaments had been sold out except for the display model.

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I finished with a visit to the Nestle Toll House Cafe. Instead of getting a birthday cake for myself, I opted to purchase a cookies and cream brownie. Boy, was it good!

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I purchased only one thing during my trip to the mall. I found this $9.99 miniature gumball machine that had the images of Anna and Elsa on it from the Disney movie Frozen.

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There is a coin slot but one can get the gumball just by twisting the handle. However, if you opt to pay with a coin, there is a lid at the bottom where you can retrieve your coins. (In other words, it functions as a bank as well as a candy dispenser.)

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As I went back out on the plaza in the direction of the Metro station (so I could return home), I saw an employee spraying the surface of the ice skating rink with water.

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I also saw some people sit on the outdoor couches by the tables with lit flames, such as this family in the next photo.

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A few days before my birthday on December 15 I decided to take the Silver Line Metro to Tyson’s Corner Mall in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia because I got some birthday money from a relative and I wanted to spend it on myself. I also heard that the mall was having something called a Christmas Market & Winterfest and it’s currently being held only on the weekends before Christmas.

This was my second trip on the Silver Line Metro since it opened. When I previously arrived two months ago, the plaza outside the mall greeted Metro commuters with all kinds of interesting stuff like giant sized chessboards. The chessboards and other outdoor stuff were replaced with the tents of the Christmas Market & Winterfest, an ice skating rink, and a large Christmas tree. It’s really cool that the mall does special things like this that makes it convenient for people who choose to commute via Metro instead of driving their cars to the parking garages.

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The largest tent belonged to a vendor that I recognized from going to the Christmas Village in Baltimore just five days earlier. The next photograph shows the back of Käthe Wohlfahrt, which specializes in selling handcrafted Christmas decorations from Germany.

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The next photo shows the front of the Käthe Wohlfahrt tent. As you can see, the front entrance resembles the entrance to the one in Baltimore.

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Like the Baltimore location, the one in Tyson’s Corner also didn’t allow photography but you can see what Käthe Wohlfahrt sells on its website. While I was there, I found this really small yet delicate looking lace moose ornament that I purchased for around $6. Here is what that ornament looked like after I took it home.

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I also walked past the ice rink, which was really big. It was opened to the public and I saw plenty of people using it when I was there.

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Inside the mall there were people trying out the free Microsoft Xbox demo of the video game Just Dance.

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Inside the mall there was a temporary Christmas store that was only opened for the holidays. There were plenty of cute items on sale, such as this Christmas stuffed animal based on the Internet celebrity Boo the World’s Cutest Dog.

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This next photo shows the ever-popular Elf on the Shelf, which brings to mind my own vintage elf decoration (which I wrote about last year).

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This Christmas store had a huge selection of ornaments and decorations for people with all kinds of various interests.

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There were even nutcrackers that represented various sports teams.

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There were also Department 56 buildings that represented all kinds of structures. There were even a few pieces based on the town of Springfield on The Simpsons.

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The next photo shows a temporary display where Nintendo was demonstrating its latest products to the general public.

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I finally arrived at the American Girl Place, whose front display had dolls decked out in the latest sparkly Christmas outfits that were on sale.

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The next two photos showed its special store exclusive Christmas outfit that were modeled by two different dolls.

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Every time I go to that store I always come out with a bunch of photos. I especially love the BeForever line (even if I’m not a fan of the name) because I’ve always been a history nerd and this line focuses on dolls representing girls who grew up in the past and it features historically accurate clothes and tiny accessories. I’m not quite as big of a fan of either My American Girl or the Girl of the Year (mainly because they represent modern girls wearing modern clothes—if I wanted such a doll, I would simply go to Target and buy an Our Generation doll for a quarter of the price of one American Girl doll) although they look lovely. But I definitely love BeForever. If money and space were no object, I’d buy all of the BeForever dolls along with the clothes and accessories. Since that’s not the case for me, I have to make do with these lovely photographs that I took.

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I still love those human clothes based on the BeForever dolls. I still wish someone would make these clothes in adult sizes because I definitely would buy something like the outfit in the next photo that’s based on Kit Kittredge’s Meet outfit.

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There was a funky Christmas tree in the store.

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The most awesome Christmas item that’s currently available for 18-inch dolls is this horse-drawn carriage. It looks incredibly gorgeous in real life. However, this carriage would take up a huge amount of space in my living room so there is no way I could ever buy this even if I wanted to. Besides, this is way out my tight budget. According to the American Girl website, the Pretty City Carriage costs $275 while the horse is sold separately for $98. I have to admit that I’m totally impressed by the attention to detail on the carriage.

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Despite the glittery mall with its upscale shops (such as Michael Kors and Coach) I saw at least one store that was having a going out of business sale.

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Last year I went to my first ever Intervention Con in Rockville. I was only able to afford one day because, having attended both Brony Con and Otakon, I was too low on funds to afford the entire weekend. I really enjoyed myself at that con because it was relatively small and intimate and I managed to meet all kinds of interesting people and attend some really cool panels and workshops.

This year I skipped Otakon (I basically contented myself with taking pictures of Otakon cosplayers outside the convention) so I could afford to attend a full weekend of Intervention Con. (Although I still had to commute to and from the Hilton—where Intervention Con was held—because money is still too tight for me to stay in the hotel. I also had to pack my own meals and drinks for the same reason. I was able to get this deal at the Hilton front desk where I could get a weekend parking pass—yes this particular Hilton Hotel charges for parking in its garage—for $18. I took it because the breakdown would be $6 per day, which is a relative bargain compared to the usual $15 per day on the weekday.) Because of the convention’s relatively intimate size, I felt comfortable enough with getting a full weekend pass since I knew I would be doing less waking than if it was held in a large facility like either of the convention centers in Baltimore and DC.

The first of the events started at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon but I didn’t arrive until later because the panels I was interested in were held later. I managed to arrive a little bit early so I could pick up my pass, which is pictured below.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

I was also given my choice of these plastic balls and I picked the blue one. I never figured out the significance of these balls.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

The setup at Intervention Con was pretty much the same as last year so I quickly remembered where everything was located.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

I spent some of my free time playing video games, many of which were classic late 1970’s-early 1980’s video games that were put on Free Play the entire weekend.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

I also spent some browsing the Dealer’s Room but I couldn’t afford to do much shopping. I managed to take this panoramic shot of the room.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

The next two photos are of the Intervention Con table which had a variety of extra things for people who paid a little extra money in order to gain “Enabler” status. Among the goodies given to such generous people were hand-crocheted amigurumis that resembled the Intervention Con’s owl mascot.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

I came across some workers putting the finishing touches on erecting a life-sized model of the Tardis from Doctor Who.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

There were a few cosplayers at Intervention Con such as this woman in the photo below.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

I also brought along my latest creative project with me to work on during some downtime. I was currently working on a crocheted piece. I had every ambition to attend the “Early Stitch and Bitch” that was scheduled for 9 a.m. the following morning and I wanted to start my crocheted project before attending this event.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

The first workshop I attended was on “Designing Your First Book,” which I found pretty enlightening. (Every now and then I have fantasies of one day publishing my own e-book even though I haven’t thought of what I wanted to write about yet. LOL!) It started at 5 p.m. and ended at 6 so I ate the dinner that I brought with me.

At 7 p.m. I went to another panel that I was the most interested in attending, which was titled “Comics Rehab: Overcoming Creative Depression.” It focused on the challenges of retaining your creativity in the challenges of real life (such as depression). That workshop really resonated with me because there are times when I’ve had a hard time getting going on anything because I was dealing with the emotional fallout from both my hip surgery in September, 2011 followed by my husband’s walkout just three months later (and three days after Christmas) followed by revelations that he left me for a friend who also has severe mental health issues. I got some helpful tips (the most important one was to go out and be with friends if depression is too overwhelming—don’t stay home alone). Near the end of that panel, a man who cosplayed as Jesus sat down next to me.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

The reason why Jesus arrived was because he was involved in the next panel that was taking place in the same room. I stuck around in that room where I was treated to a spectacle that was titled “Cosplay Candidate: The Political Game.” Basically four cosplayers were asked questions about politics and they gave pretty hilarious answers while they were sticking in character to the character that they were portraying. One of the participants, standing next to Jesus in the next photo, was known as King Drunk for obvious reasons.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

So I sat in on this panel for a little while until I grew pretty tired around 8:30 p.m. and I decided to call it a day and drive home.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

As I was walking towards the parking garage, I saw this guy playing the guitar near the Tardis.

Intervention Con, Day 1, August 22, 2014

So it was one day of Intervention Con down and two more days to go.

I first learned about the existence of this convention when I was at Otakon because the people behind Intervention Con had a table in the Dealers Room promoting it. I went to the official site online and I found that there were a couple of panels that I was interested in. However, since I was still trying to recuperate from the massive convention monster that is Otakon, I really didn’t think I could handle all three days of Intervention Con. The good news was that, unlike Otakon, an individual had the option of buying a one-day pass. After going through the schedule online, I picked Saturday to go because that day had the most panels I was interested in.

So I packed a lunch, dinner, and a few sodas and drove to Rockville. I found that, compared to Otakon and BronyCon, Intervention Con was smaller and more intimate. I didn’t have to do as much walking and there weren’t huge crowds like the other recent conventions I attended. While there were cosplayers at Intervention Con, there were far fewer of them and they were definitely in the minority. (The vast majority of Intervention Con attendees wore jeans and t-shirt and eschewed costumes.) The few cosplayers I saw had interesting costume, like the person in the photo below.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

When I got my pass, the first thing I did was sit down in a hall chair and eat the lunch I brought with me. Once I finished, I proceeded to tour the entire Intervention Con, starting with the LARP Room, which provided pretend weapons for anyone who wanted to engage in live action role playing.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The Internet radio station Tau Radio Independent Broadcasting did a live broadcast from Intervention Con.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The Video Gaming room had a variety of the latest video games for computers and consoles that convention attendees can try, such as Rock Band. There were also a few of the older consoles (like one of the first Nintendo consoles) that one could use to play older games like Super Mario Bros. I had fun trying out some of the games, such as Fruit Ninja for the X-Box Kinect.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

Walt’s Cards & Board Gaming Room was named after one of the sponsors who provided the games for this room. There were a lot of board games and card games that one could purchase. However, if you weren’t sure about purchasing a certain game, there was a Game Library on one side of the room where people could borrow a game and play it on one of the tables in the room.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The Art and Music Studio room was a place where people could create art and/or music. When I was there, people were drawing on the boards using the dry erase markers.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

I have to admit that my favorite room at Intervention Con was the Arcade Gaming room, which had a variety of classic arcade games from the 1970’s and 1980’s. What was really cool was that all of the machines were on Free Play so I was able to take a trip down to my high school and college years as I played games like Tron, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Tetris, Arkanoid, and Wizard of Wor.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The biggest room at Intervention Con was one that housed three different things—a guest area where some of those who gave panels and workshops signed autographs, the Artists’ Alley where aspiring artists tried to sell their handcrafted stuff, and the Vendors who sold t-shirts, buttons, and similar geek-oriented items.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The same room also ran a Charity Auction, which was a silent auction where people could bid on various items ranging from t-shirts to plushies. The proceeds from that auction went to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013, Maryland, August
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The first panel I went to was on "Making Makers" and it was given by Mark Frauenfelder, the person behind both Make magazine and BoingBoing.net. It was a very informative panel on how there is a trend towards people making their own things, which has been spurred on by the rise of 3D printers.

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

After that panel, I walked around where I found this flyer touting the official Twitter hashtag for Intervention Con (#interventioncon).

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

The last two pictures I took were of cosplayers (one was wearing a neat red dragon tail and the other was fully dressed as one of those Transformers robots) before my smartphone battery totally died. (Yes, I stupidly forgot to fully charge my phone before I headed to Rockville.)

Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013
Intervention Con 2013, Rockville, Maryland, August 24, 2013

Despite my dead cell phone battery, I did plenty of other things (like frequently returning to the Arcade Gaming room so I could play those old arcade games I used to love so much). I managed to check out Mark Frauenfelder again as he was among those who sat on a panel I attended titled "Revenue Streams: How to Make Ten-Tenths of a Living". It was basically advice from professionals on how one could potentially make at least a part-time income through their own original creative product/idea (like a self-produced comic book). That panel recommended an online essay, which I later read, titled 1,000 True Fans, which showed that a creative person would only need to cultivate that amount of true fans in order to make a living. There’s also a book, called The Art of Doing, that the panel also recommended reading. The panel was basically positive and upbeat and it also had this message, it takes time to cultivate being able to make a full-time living off of what you create and you shouldn’t feel like a failure if you have to get a day job to pay the bills. I enjoyed myself watching the panel while eating the dinner I had brought with me from home.

I also attended a panel titled "So You Wanna Be an Artist?" and it was given by a former Disney animator named Raul Aguirre, Jr. He gave a really upbeat talk on how he managed to make a living as an artist despite being the son of Mexican immigrants. He has a webstie called Man vs. Art where he has a podcast series that’s designed to provide insipration to would-be artists and urge them to not abandon their dreams. After that panel, I attended another panel titled "Sh!t Gets Real: A Conversation With Frustrated Artists" that provided a sobering counterpoint to Aguirre’s previous panel. (It was too bad that the powers-that-be at Intervention Con couldn’t combine the two panels into a point/counterpoint on the issue of trying to make a living as an artist. That would’ve been cool to see.) This panel was pretty funny while the participants provide their horror stories (complete with gallows humor) on trying to make a living as an artist. Basically the message is that many artists may have to get side jobs to pay the bills.

After that panel I grew tired so I drove home. I learned a lot at Intervention Con that day. I also liked the fact that it was a smaller convention because I didn’t wake up with my body hurting the next day (unlike Otakon).

The night before the start of the first day of Otakon I took a plastic grocery shopping bag and reused it in order to pack a few extra things to bring to Otakon with me. I had heard of various meetups that were taking place and I decided to pack a variety of small items just in case I happened to run into a meetup already in progress. The items were a mix of tiny Asian ball-jointed dolls, My Little Pony figurines, and a couple of Japanese-imported Arpakasso plushies I purchased at previous anime conventions. The below photo shows what I brought. The figure in the foreground is Derpy Hooves. In the back are (from left to right) a small pink Arpakasso plushie, Rainbow Dash, Orient Doll Ji, Soul Doll Kimmy, Soom Mini-Gem Uyoo, Bobobie Sunny, and a larger light beige Arpakasso plushie.

What I Brought With Me to Otakon 2013

I didn’t get any opportunities to open the bag on the first day but on the second day I found one meetup where I could display what I had brought.

Anyway, I had every intention of checking out this panel titled "Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland’s Effect on Anime & Manga" even though it was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. (which meant I would’ve had to get up really early for the commute to Baltimore). But then I woke up in the middle of the night with total muscular pain throughout my whole body. I tried shifting around in bed but it was no use. I finally had to get up and take some ibuprofen before the pain finally stopped. As a result, I overslept so I not only missed that panel but also another panel that was scheduled for 10: 15 a.m. that I wanted to go to titled "Nintendo: Entertaining Since 1889." I was so tired and stiff that it took me a while to get my body into gear so I could do something simple as to take a hot shower (which helped loosen my tight muscles). I also decided to put on some compression socks that I originally purchased when I underwent my hip replacement back in 2008 and I suffered from edema in the immediate aftermath of that surgery.

I arrived at the North Linthicum light rail station where I saw these cosplayers.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

By the time I arrived in Baltimore I managed to miss the scheduled 1 p.m. showing of a video that I really wanted to see titled Beijing Punk. I managed to get into the Baltimore Convention Center through the front doors because the line of people waiting to register and get their badges was way smaller than the last two days.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

Once I got in I went up to the 400 level of the Baltimore Convention Center where I found one of the many Asian ball-jointed meetups that were being held throughout Otakon weekend and they were all organized through the Den of Angels forum. I’ll admit that I had my trepidations about attending because I still remember this bizarre incident from last year when, at the first meetup I attended on the first day of Otakon 2012, these two women came up to me, claimed that I had posted a photo I took of a bag that belonged to one of them on my own Kim’s World of Art website five years earlier, asked me to remove that photo, then walked quickly away before I had a chance to ask them any questions (like "Do I know you?" or "What photo are you referring to?"). While the other doll meetups I attended last year were all free of similar weirdness, I was still unnerved by that incident.

Fortunately the meetup I attended on the second day of Otakon 2013 was free of such weirdness and everyone present were pretty nice and friendly. I also got a chance to take a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls while I took my own dolls out of the plastic grocery bag and displayed them in public.

Fortunately the meetup I attended on the second day of Otakon 2013 was free of such weirdness and everyone present were pretty nice and friendly. What was cool was the willingness of one meetup participant to help another meetup participant re-string her doll after her doll literally fell apart during transit. (That’s why some of the photos include doll parts.) I also got a chance to take a lot of photos of gorgeous dolls while I took my own dolls out of the plastic grocery bag and displayed them in public.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

It turned out that the 400 level terrace was a very popular place to hold meetups so there were usually many of them going on at the same time. In addition to the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup, there were also meetups for Star Trek,

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

Dr. Who,…

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

and furries.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

In addition to the meetups, a group of cosplayers (including one dressed as Santa Claus) were playing cards in the same area.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

When the Asian ball-jointed doll meetup began to break up, I headed down to the lower levels. I wanted to visit the Artists Alley but I found the best way to reach it is through the Dealers Room, where I took this photo, which is a bit on the NSFW side.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

I didn’t spend much time in the Dealers Room because I really wanted to visit the Artists Alley and I didn’t get a chance to do so yesterday because my feet grew very tired and sore after all that walking in the Dealers Room. I finally made it to the Artists Alley, where I ran into someone cosplaying as Luke Skywalker standing next to R2-D2.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

The Artists Alley focused on aspiring artists and crafters who sold a variety of handmade items including drawings, jewelry, plushies, hats, lolita dresses, and self-published zines.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

While I was in the Artists Alley, I looked in on the progress of this giant work of art that Eric Maruscak of Pepper Ink was working on throughout Otakon.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

I wanted to go to Video Gaming room but it became a challenge to do so because the security would block off certain stairs or escalators in the name of crowd control. I found that walking around outside then going back inside the Baltimore Convention Center was the quickest way of going to the Video Gaming room. While I was outside, I took a photo of the bleachers that were recently set up in advance of the upcoming Grand Prix of Baltimore, which will be held on Labor Day weekend.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

I managed to re-enter the Baltimore Convention Center where I found these cosplayers.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

After much maneuvering around the security’s maze-like crowd control efforts, I finally made it to the Video Gaming room.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

There were a variety of video games that were all on Free Play. However getting to a video game console was difficult because nearly all of them were occupied with small lines forming behind the current players.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

The one video game I was able to reach wasn’t working and one of the Otakon staff told me that he thinks that someone had beaten the game and the game became inoperable as a result. One interesting tidbit about this busted game: it used a vintage pre-Wii Nintendo controller. (I’ll admit that I didn’t realize I was holding the controller upside down until a few days after Otakon ended.)

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

I managed to try my hand at one of the pachinko machines because they were less crowded (I had never used one before and I couldn’t find instructions in English on how to play one so I just shot the metal balls at random and I have no idea if I did well or not) but that was the extent of my hands-on experience. The proceeds from the pachinko machines went to a charity called AbleGamers and I was given three free unopened packs of Magic the Gathering cards as a "thank you" gift for paying to play pachinko.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

There were smaller less-known video game companies who were showing demos of their latest video game.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

Even though it was the Video Gaming room, there were plenty of card games and board games as well. The non-electronic games were just as crowded and popular as the video games.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

There were plenty of cosplayers in the Video Gaming room.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

After a while I left the Video Gaming room and just took pictures of cosplayers in the hallways and outside the Baltimore Convention Center.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013
Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

After my earlier failed attempts at attending workshops and panels, I finally managed to get to one scheduled Otakon event but I had to really go through all kinds of obstacles to get there. I saw the English-dubbed version of this feature-length anime titled Wolf Children. I hadn’t originally planned on seeing that movie until I saw a description about it in the programming booklet while I was eating the dinner that I had brought with me while sitting in one of the comfy chairs in the hallway. I thought the plot of the movie sounded interesting. On top of it, when I pre-registered a couple of days ago I had a choice of a variety of designs for my badge (most of which were anime scenes) and I picked this one design because I thought it looked really cute. When I looked at my badge and saw "Wolf Children" on it, I thought it would be really cool to see the movie behind my Otakon badge.

Otakon Preregistration, August 8, 2013

I know that crowd control can be a challenge for a really big convention like Otakon but there were times when I questioned some of their methods of crowd control. The event I wanted to get to was held in a room that was located on the lower floor of the convention center and I was on the floor directly above that room. Normally one could take either the escalators, the steps, or the nearby elevator to get to the lower floor. I had no argument with reserving all of the elevators only for people with major disabilities. But access to the steps and the escalators was also closed off. In order to get to the lower floor, I had to exit the building, walk around the building from the outside until I hit the front doors that led to the lower floor, then re-enter the building. I have no idea why people had to leave the building in order to get to the lower floor.

Once I got to the lower floor there was this scrum of people that I had to literally push my way through in order to get into another line so I could get into the theater showing the film that I wanted to check out because the synopsis intrigued me. In this case the term "line" could be used very loosely. It was almost like you had to pick a large group at random then endure more waits as the security alternated between letting each group get into a more organized line that led to the doors where the movie was being shown. There were so many people trying to get in that the movie ended up starting a half an hour later than originally scheduled. At least the room was very large so there were plenty of seats for a giant crowd like the one that I was a part of.

The movie was worth the wait. It’s got a similar "human female student meets fellow male student who’s a supernatural creature" story to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series except I thought that Wolf Children was way better than Twilight. The main female character, Hana, faces (and eventually overcomes) all kinds of obstacles that would’ve brought Bella Swan to a total nervous breakdown. The animation is incredibly beautiful and the story was very well written. I saw the dubbed version and I thought that the dubs were done very well. It’s too bad that a film like Wolf Children doesn’t get a wider theater distribution because I think that movie would definitely hold its own against the likes of any Pixar film.

Since the movie started a half an hour late, I ended up arriving at this workshop that I wanted to check out late. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in at all because over the last few Otakons, the conventional wisdom is that if you want to guarantee of even getting inside the door, you should arrive at least a half-an-hour early. If you want to guarantee of getting inside the door and getting a seat, you should arrive at least 45 minutes-1 hour before the start. But, amazingly, I was able to get inside and get a seat with no trouble at all. The workshop was titled "Introduction to Deleter Neopiko2 Marker" and it was a hands-on demonstration of the Japanese-made Neopiko2 markers that many artists use when creating manga. I was very impressed with the quality of the markers and I felt that they were way superior to Sharpies. (FYI, in case you were wondering, I didn’t do that drawing below. It was originally a black and white photocopied drawing and I only colored it with Neopiko2 markers.)

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

After the workshop ended I did a little walking around the Baltimore Convention Center. For once I was actually at an anime convention past sundown and I noticed that one of the hallways of the Baltimore Convention Center was bathed in this really pretty blue light that reflected on all the people walking down it.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

While there were a few late night panels and events that intrigued me, I was totally exhausted. The good news was that the compression socks I wore the entire day helped my feet alot and I was able to physically last longer on my feet than the day before. However, even with the compression socks I had hit a point where I couldn’t take Otakon any more so I decided to leave. As I was on my way out the door I took this one last photo of Otakon’s second day.

Otakon 2013, Day 2, August 10, 2013

Passover

Last Monday I headed up to The Wind-Up Space in Baltimore for another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. I almost didn’t make it because last Monday was also the day that a freak snowstorm that no one had predicted actually hit my area beginning sometime in the middle of the night and it laid down enough snow to cover the ground, trees, and cars yet it didn’t lay on the sidewalks or in the streets. It kept on snowing throughout the day and I made the decision that if the weather outside didn’t stop snowing by 3 p.m., I would’ve cancelled the trip to Baltimore out of safety concerns. As it happened it snowed up until 3 p.m. then it switched to rain. The accumulation wasn’t any bigger than about an inch or two and it never snowed in the streets or sidewalks so I decided to make the drive after all and I’m glad I did.

A burlesque performer named Sucre à la Crème travelled all the way from Montreal to serve as the model that evening. Some of the drawings in this entry are definitely NSFW.

Each session of Dr. Sketchy’s generally begins with a series of 10 one-minute poses followed by 5 two-minute poses. For that phase I usually tend to use only a black-colored drawing pencil and I put these quick drawings on the same page in order to save paper. My drawings of those quick poses are usually not much to look at so I normally don’t bother with scanning them. But I drew a series of two-minute poses that didn’t turn out so bad this time around so I decided to scan the paper containing those drawings for a change. (My drawings of the one-minute poses still looked too crude and haphazard for me to bother scanning and uploading them.)

Sucre à la Crème

For the longer five-minute, ten-minute, and twenty-minute poses I used one sheet of paper per pose and I switched to using colored pencils.

Sucre à la Crème
Sucre à la Crème
Sucre à la Crème
Sucre à la Crème

Midway through the event Sucre à la Crème performed a routine while dressed as Link from the Nintendo video game classic The Legend of Zelda. Afterwards she posed still wearing her Link costume.

Sucre à la Crème

The one contest I took part in that evening was inspired by Sucre à la Crème’s Link costume: Try to incorporate a Nintendo video game character other than Link or The Legend of Zelda. Having recently played the Nintendo Wii version of WarioWare, I came up with what a screen would look like if Sucre à la Crème was somehow incorporated into one of the many microgames that are usually included in a WarioWare game. My drawing ended up among the four finalists but I didn’t win anything.

Sucre à la Crème in WarioWare

That contest was the last one of the evening (I didn’t take part in the other two) so I finished out my time by doing these last two drawings of Sucre à la Crème.

Sucre à la Crème
Sucre à la Crème

UPDATE (October 20, 2014): Here’s the official video from that event including some of my own work.

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