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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.

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EasterPassover

Last fall I was doing some tidying up around the house when I found this fused glass pendant featuring a bunny rabbit that I made years ago when I took a workshop that was offered through Profusions of Glass. (I may have even still been married when I made this pendant. LOL!) Well, anyway, I found it back in November shortly before Thanksgiving and I now have it in the place where I keep all of my other jewelry. I waited to write about it until today because the pink color scheme along with the rabbit just seems more like it’s appropriate for Easter Sunday than last November.

rabbitpendant-webversion

Groundhog Day

Since today is Groundhog Day, I’d thought I’d post some photos I took at last weekend’s World of Pets Expo that took place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. I last went there in 2014 when I was battling a nasty chest cold. This year I was in much better health so I was able to enjoy myself at the expo even more. There were all kinds of vendor booths for both pets and their owners. There were various competitions for dogs including running through an obstacle course and jumping into a pool. I even went into a stall in the women’s restroom that had two toilets in the same stall.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

There were all kinds of animals on display including llamas. Here are the pictures I took at that expo.

This is where I went today. For only $10 admission I saw all kinds of pets on display. I loved seeing all of the animals.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.
What I saw at today's World of Pets Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

I recently checked out this free event at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, DC that was a cross between Alice in Wonderland and a 1990’s-era rave. Basically there were these giant inflatable bunny-shaped sculptures that were also lit up at night. The bunnies were created by an Australian artist named Amanda Parer and they are currently on a tour of the United States. (The installation is officially known as Intrude.) If that wasn’t enough, there was also music and street performers. It was a pretty wild experience to say the least. Here is a short video I shot of this event.

Here are the still photos I shot that night. The giant bunnies were located near this fountain that had lights that constantly changed colors.

photo1

Both the giant size and the light fixtures inside the inflatable sculptures made those bunnies stand out against the night sky.

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There was also a party event that reminded me of a 1990’s era rave. Spinning the tunes was a deejay known as DJ Manifesto. He not only played music but there were times when he would play the violin as well. He was pretty amazing to watch.

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There were also performers who did dance routines with lights.

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There was a giant Lite-Brite board where the general public can create their own designs using large light pegs.

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That even drew a lot of people of all ages. (There was an earlier late afternoon event that was geared towards families that took place before I arrived.) I saw plenty of people wear special bunny ears that flashed various color lights and I saw a few people dance. The temperature was in the 30’s but it was still a fun event despite the cold weather.

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I even brought my small sketchbook with me where I did this drawing based on one of the giant inflatable lit bunnies.

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Today is February 29, which only comes around once every four years. This means that it’s the first time that this blog actually has entries dated February 29. This month I only did three drawings in what I’m still calling my daily sketchbook even though I no longer do a new drawing on a daily basis. On Valentine’s Day I did this drawing, which I had posted in a previous entry (click on that link if you want to learn the story behind that sketch).

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Last Saturday I went to this free event at the Navy Yards Park in Washington, DC. It’s a massive art installation featuring giant inflatable lit bunnies. I brought my sketchbook with me and I drew one of the bunnies.

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I’ve also shot photos and a short video of this event, which I’ll write more about in a later post. For those of you in the Baltimore-DC area, this event will continue until this weekend then the bunnies will hop (or is it float?) away to a new destination. Here’s a local news story about the giant inflatable lit bunnies if you want to learn more about them.

And last, but not least, I did this drawing especially for today.

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Happy Leap Year, everyone! 🙂

It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Lately it seems like I’ve been writing new shorter posts about some other website that has interested me. I decided that I needed to do something a little bit more streamlined so I’m not constantly running back to this blog with new updates. I have to organize myself a bit more because I have other things that I also need to spend time doing.

So I’ve decided to start a new feature called Link-O-Rama where I’ll provide links to other places on the Internet that have interested me and I want to share with you. I don’t know how often I’ll do this feature other than I’ll do it once a week only if I have a link to share. If I don’t have other links in mind for a given week, I’ll skip a week or two.

So here are the first links for this new feature that I’d like to share with you.

FREE TUTORIALS

How to use leftover crayons to create small funky Valentine’s Day hearts.

Make a “no sew” bed for American Girl dolls or other 18-inch dolls.

MISCELLANEOUS LINKS

If, for whatever reason, you need to do some research on clothing, tools, toys, or furniture of the past or you just want to experience a quick trip down memory lane, Wishbook Web is a great resource. The site has scans of old store catalogs from Spiegel, Sears, Lord & Taylor, Wards, JC Penny, FAO Schwarz, Simpsons-Sears, and Eatons. The vintage catalogs posted at that site range between the years 1933-1988. This site also has a Flickr account full of more retro goodies like vintage greeting cards and obscure CD labels.

It’s never too late to code. A story about how people over 50 can learn to code and even start new careers.

I built my rabbit a cart and now he delivers me a beer! Seriously! That video is totally cute.

My father suffered a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair for the last several years of his life. Geoff Raismen says that his research has come up with a new way of beating paralysis. It’s too bad that my father, who passed away in 2000, didn’t live to see this.

A musician’s tale about the hard choices she’s facing regarding putting her music on YouTube and the response from YouTube after her post gained media attention.

An awesome video by Creavite using kinetic typography that also has a serious message about the current state of education: I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate.

Pictures of LEGO Minifigs designed as hipsters.

Here’s a really beautiful yet informative graphic on the development of the various world’s languages, which visually show why some languages (like the ones spoken in the Scandinavian Peninsula) seem so similar to each other.

Jane Perkins is a British artist who creates stunning works of art using everyday objects she finds in recycling centers, second-hand shops, and junkyards.

A brief excerpt from an open letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do you REALLY want to help your party and your country? If so then stop sucking all the (financial/political) oxygen out of the system giving other (genuine) progressives a shot at the White House.

A two-minute educational video on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) narrated by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Here’s a cat’s perspective on the Superbowl, which is this coming Sunday.

I made a return trip to Clark’s Elioak Farm this year, which is notable for being a farm that has many of the old attractions from the former Enchanted Forest amusement park, which closed years ago. For this trip I added an excursion to the site of the original Enchanted Forest park.

I’ve already written extensively about the history of The Enchanted Forest before so I won’t go into too many details here other than to say that it originally opened at a location that now houses The Enchanted Forest Shopping Center.

Old King Cole originally pointed the way to the amusement park and he continues to point the way to the shopping center.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

The castle, which not only housed a gift shop but also provided the main entrance to the park, is still there.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

The lute playing dragon still remains at the top of the castle waiting to see visitors.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

Here’s the front entrance to both the castle gift shop and the park itself, which is now permanently shuttered and locked.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

If you walk off to the side of the shopping center, you’ll see a wooded area surrounded by a fence with “NO TRESPASSING” signs. In some places there is additional heavy rope to discourage people from even coming up to the fence. If you look in the background of the photo really close, you’ll see the old Gingerbread House.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

Here’s a very close-up shot of the Gingerbread House. Even though the official name was Hansel and Gretel’s House, many kids dubbed it the Gingerbread House because of the fact that it looked like, well, a gingerbread house. That building was one where parents could rent for an hour so they could hold birthday parties for their children. I’ve always wanted to have my birthday party in the Gingerbread House but I never had one mainly because my birthday is in December, when The Enchanted Forest was closed for the season. (The amusement park was only opened six months a year.) Nowadays no child can have a birthday party in the Gingerbread House and that structure looks like a shadow of its former self.

Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, October 18, 2014

As for the rest of the shopping center, it’s a typical suburban shopping center. Without Old King Cole and the castle, it would be pretty indistinguishable. I shot this video a five years ago showing the jarring juxtaposition between the site’s origins as a fairy tale theme park and its current incarnation as a shopping center.

And here’s an old Super-8 movie of The Enchanted Forest when it was still operating that someone uploaded on YouTube. The colors in the film are faded and it’s mostly a silent film but it gives you an idea as to what The Enchanted Forest was like.

I ate lunch at the bagel place in that shopping center (BTW the food is pretty good) then I drove three miles to the place where many of the old attractions from The Enchanted Forest are currently displayed, Clark’s Elioak Farm.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

I had taken extensive photos of the place last year so I’m just going to focus on some things that I haven’t photographed before, like this display of pumpkins that the farm is currently selling.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

One of the teacups from the old Alice in Wonderland Teacup Ride is now permanently stationery as a funky chair among the other plainer wooden chairs.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here’s are a few landscape shots of the old Enchanted Forest attractions that sit side-by-side with the farming fields. (Yes, Clark’s Elioak Farm is a working farm.)

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

The one new thing I noticed is the addition of a dinosaur family. I don’t recall seeing any dinosaurs at the old Enchanted Forest. Maybe it’s something new that was put up because dinosaurs remain a perennial favorite among children. This attraction was among the more crowded ones as children clamored for their parents to take their pictures in that area.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here is one of the trucks used for the hayride. I didn’t go on it because the lines to buy tickets were so long and that ride was frequently packed with people.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here is the birthday cake which used to be the centerpiece inside the old Gingerbread House (as I wrote earlier, that building was the ones that parents could rent for birthday parties).

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Baby Bear peeks out the window of the Three Bears’ Home while Goldilocks looks terrified.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

A framed portrait of the Three Bears inside their home.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

The ceiling of the Three Bears’ Home provides an interesting picture.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

A line of gingerbread men.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Another new thing I noticed this year is the re-creation of the old Mt. Vesuvius attraction at The Enchanted Forest. Mt. Vesuvius was a giant manmade mountain over a giant lake where the Little Toot boat ride used to ride through an opening in the mountain. There was a giant sliding board on the side of that mountain. While Clark’s Elioak Farm’s version of Mt. Vesuvius is way smaller than the original, it is still a sliding board and the kids seemed to enjoy going on it.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

There was a hay maze added that the kids seemed to enjoy.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Another addition was that some of the trees on the farm now have faces on them.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here’s a really cool artsy shot of the Crooked House.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here’s another artsy shot of the Easter Bunny’s Home and Mother Goose. I especially loved the clouds in this picture.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Here’s a painted map of the old Enchanted Forest.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

The biggest addition is this mining attraction where people can either mine for gems or do some geode cracking. (There are separate fees for each option.) This attraction is only in operation on the weekends. The seven dwarfs from the Snow White story are at this attraction, which is fitting since they were depicted in the Disney movie as being miners.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

I also had some more fun with that new Mikuture smartphone app where I managed to insert a few photos of international pop superstar Hatsume Miku having fun on the farm. Here’s Miku rolling down the hill alongside Jack and Jill.

Jack and Jill and Hatsume Miku at Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Here she is sitting on a mushroom.

International pop superstar Hatsume Miku sits on a mushroom at Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Hatsune Miku is risking being swallowed alive by Willie the Whale.

International pop superstar Hatsume Miku gets eaten by Willie the Whale at Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Last, but not least, she’s sitting in front of the Crooked Man.

International pop superstar Hatsume Miku and the Crooked Man at Clark's Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Here are the animals on the farm.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

The last photo shows the two bars of handcrafted soaps that I bought at Clark’s Elioak Farm. I’m keeping one bar for myself and give the other to my mother since her birthday is this month.

Clark's Elioak Farm, October 18, 2014

Like I wrote earlier in this post, I had taken extensive photos of Clark’s Elioak Farm last year so if you want to see those, click here.

UPDATE (April 24, 2015): The current owners of the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center have just announced that they plan on moving the original giant storybook and the castle with the lute-playing dragon to Clark’s Elioak Farm while razing both the Gingerbread House and Cinderella’s Castle. Once these changes are complete, Old King Cole with his pointing finger will remain the only vestige of the shopping center’s theme park past.

Last night, while I was looking up information about the Russian animated film “Hedgehog in the Fog” after seeing a reference to it during the Opening Ceremonies to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, I found a YouTube clip of that animation. On the side of the page, there was a list of similar videos that I may be interested in and I found several clips that were marked as “Russian Winnie the Pooh.” These videos aren’t simply Russian dubs of the Disney Winnie the Pooh cartoons, they are original Russian animations based on the same source material (British author A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books) as the Disney cartoons.

According to the Wikipedia, the Soviet animation company Soyuzmultifilm created and distributed the Russian Winnie the Pooh in 1969. For those who are used to the Disney animations or the illustrations of E.H. Shepard (which accompanied Milne’s books), these renderings of Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, and Eeyore may seem jarring at first. And there are some notable absences from Tigger, Kanga, Roo,  and Christopher Robin. (Gopher is also absent but he was an original Disney creation who wasn’t in the original Milne books) These animations definitely have a Russian flair about them from the exteriors of Pooh’s home to the insides of Rabbit’s home to the stylized trees in the forest.

All the clips I have posted here are in Russian with English subtitles. It’s really a fascinating treat to compare these animations with the Disney version.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3.1

Part 3.2

Here is some additional background about the Russian Winnie the Pooh.

American Pooh vs Russian Pooh

15 Reasons Why The Russian Adaptation of “Winnie The Pooh” Is Undeniably Better Than The American Version

Last Saturday I had an afternoon outing with my pet hedgehog, Spike. We initially arrived at the Greenbelt Pet Expo but I found that the expo is pretty small and it catered mostly to dogs and cats. So I decided to take Spike and walk over to the nearby Greenbelt Green Man Festival, which was being held at the same time as the expo.

Spike the Hedgehog at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Spike was pretty oblivious about being at the festival but I managed to do some shopping among the local vendors and say hello to some of my friends who were also at the event. We stayed at the festival for a couple of hours until Spike began to frantically claw and scratch at the sides of his pet traveler bag and I had a feeling that Spike wanted out of the bag. (When I returned Spike back to his cage at home, the first thing he did was hide inside his pink plastic igloo that he normally uses as his bedroom but he also uses it as a safe place if he becomes upset or gets in a foul mood.)

On the following day, Mother’s Day, I made an emergency run back to the Greenbelt Green Man Festival when my original idea of giving my mother special home-baked cookies turned into a total disaster and purchased some bars of goat’s milk soap from one of the vendors (who runs the websites Natural Image Botanicals and Crystal Sage) as an alternate present. (The soap was a hit with my mom by the way.) I didn’t stay as long on the second day because I was literally on my way to visit my mom.

During my time at the festival I took a few photos of the festival with my smartphone camera. It was a pretty fun event and the weather was perfect both days. I’ll admit that of all the wonderful crafts that were available for sale, the one that caught my eye the most was this Day of the Dead themed chair that was made by BoxBoy. I wished I had extra money available because I definitely would’ve bought that chair.

Day of the Dead Chair at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Here are some more photos of the festival. If you weren’t there, you missed a fun event.

2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival
2012 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

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