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On the Saturday during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I decided to check out this toy show that was being held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.

It was such a feast for the eyes as the toys and various other vintage items were displayed at various vendor tables. The whole show took on the air of a flea market with an emphasis on vintage stuff dating anywhere from the 1900s to the 1990s.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Someone had a jukebox for sale, which reminded me of my childhood when many of the local restaurants had them and people could choose songs to play for about a quarter each.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

The jukebox played music during the entire event. (Which proved that it definitely still worked.) I couldn’t help taking pictures of the songs that were available on the jukebox. The majority of them were hits when I was a kid.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

And speaking of music players, here’s a vintage 8-track player with an Elvis Presley 8-track tape. I once had a stereo system that included an 8-track player but I never owned one like that. But I could’ve sworn that one of my friends or maybe one of my cousins had a player just like that but I don’t know for sure. (Memory is one of those funny things where you remember something but you don’t remember when, where, or how you remember it.)

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Late last year I did a series of blog posts with accompanying photos known as A Tabletop Christmas (so-named because I limit my Christmas decorating to just a single tabletop in my living room). Among the items I showed off was a small plastic Santa Claus puppet that I’ve had since I was a child. I didn’t know anything about the origins of this puppet. It wasn’t until I went to the toy show when I saw a tiny plastic Santa puppet on sale that’s identical to mine.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

The only difference between the two is that this Santa still had its label at the base while mine doesn’t have any labels at all. (I suspect that whatever label it had must’ve fallen off a long time ago.) My Santa puppet is currently stored in a box with the other Christmas decorations in the attic but here’s a picture of my Santa puppet that I took last December.

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At first I thought the animal in the next picture was a stuffed animal until I saw the dog move his eyes around. He laid there the entire time I was at that show.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

This show also had examples of how the mighty had fallen. I found this book by disgraced former Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly on sale for only $1 at one of the tables. (LOL!)

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

There was one token of something new that I found. Someone was selling glow-in-the-dark versions of the hottest toy of 2017: Fidget Spinners.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

By the way, you can check out a video I shot recently where I unboxed and played with one of those Fidget Spinners for the first time (and, no, the one I bought didn’t glow in the dark).

Everywhere there were visual treats, many of which harkened back to my own youth.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

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Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

As I was walking back to the light rail stop I shot this photo of The Cow Palace building because it had a nice small garden.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

I didn’t buy a lot of stuff at that toy show due mainly to tight finances. But I managed to snag a couple of things at bargain rates. I found the second season of The Simpsons DVD set for only $6.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

I bought a Monster High doll for only $5. I was attracted to her pretty winter-themed clothes. At first I thought I may have purchased a relative of The Snow Queen until I did an online search and I was able to make a definite identification. Based on this web page, her name is Abbey Bominable and she’s described as the 16-year-old daughter of the Yeti.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

Here’s a closeup of her hair, which looks like it has glittery plastic pellets weaved throughout the strands. It gives a really cool ice/snow effect, especially when the light reflects off of her hair.

Toy Show, July 1, 2017

If you’re not getting interviews, here’s how to fix your resume and cover letter.

What happened when 165 street artists took over an abandoned building in Berlin.

Hedge fund pushes online crafts retailer Etsy to explore sale because the company’s sales growth has slowed while costs has increased.

Google’s open source DIY kit turns a Raspberry Pi into an AI assistant.

How the Fyre Festival turned into a disaster when organizers blew all their money early on models, planes, and yachts.

Man who was suicidal runs marathon with the stranger who talked him down from a bridge.

Makeup bloggers turn against consumerism.

Over 10 years, Martha Stewart has quietly become the perfect blogger while other lifestyle bloggers have come and go.

Make the ultimate embroidery wall hanging with these free printable designs.

A woman who paints tiny masterpieces in an empty Altoids tin (including instructions on how to make your own tin painting kit).

Wendy’s mascot gets turned into a popular smug anime girl.

From sex trafficking survivor to restauranteur.

The next generation of robots will be remarkably human-like.

The Museum of Bad Art has been celebrating failure since 1993.

American Airlines gave its workers a raise. Wall Street freaked out.

Dig through the world’s largest sketchbook library.

Closing the gender gap in computer science begins in kindergarten.

How will low-wage workers survive in the age of the robots?

What photography can tell us about power and prejudice.

KFC has just published a ridiculously raunchy and bizarre romance novella starring a Casanova Colonel Sanders and you can now download it for free.

The definitive ranking of all 12 Star Wars movies.

Polish artist illustrates his fight against depression with these mysterious dark paintings.

A virtual holographic anime character named Azuma Hikari is a voice-powered virtual assistant who can also provide companionship for single men.

Happy Earth Day! Here are some links for you to enjoy! 🙂

Donald Trump’s modeling agency is on the verge of collapse, say industry insiders. It will be the latest in a line of failed ventures like the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Steaks, and Trump Vodka.

The original sculptor of the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street says that the Fearless Girl statue facing his statue distorts his work so much that he is considering filing a lawsuit.

Cannabis industry attracts more mainstream investors as business grows.

A mass-market shoe with 3D-printed midsoles is coming soon.

Eight-year-old boy learns to drive on YouTube then takes his little sister on a joyride to McDonald’s.

Microsoft Office vulnerabilities mean that no .doc is safe.

You’ll be working with robots sooner than you think.

Are you a photographer who needs a light box but you are currently short on cash? Here’s a video showing how you can make your own light box for less than $10.

Google’s new AutoDraw web-based drawing tool is a better artist than you.

It may be time to say farewell to the Pentax camera as Ricoh shrinks its camera business.

Chinese doctors use 3D printing to prepare for facial reconstruction surgery.

Microsoft to offer self-service refund for digital games.

How to stop Microsoft Office hackers from stealing your bank account.

12 ways to study a new programming language.

How Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffet adhere to the Five-Hour Rule where they set aside at least one hour a day (or five hours a week) devoted to such practices as reading, reflection, and experimentation.

Exiles from the war-torn areas of Syria, Palestine, and Afghanistan form a theater troupe in Germany.

Why Kickstarter decided to radically transform its business model.

How Steve Bannon’s multimedia machine drove a movement and paid him millions.

Microsoft will unveil the most powerful gaming console it has ever made on June 11.

Beware of “drive-by” computer scam.

Fake SEO plugin used in WordPress malware attacks.

Yes, some businesses still run Microsoft’s much-maligned Windows Vista.

Ohio inmates built and hid computers in prison using recycled electronic parts.

Dear Microsoft, stop blaming girls for not pursuing STEM careers.

Artist Hasan Elahi discusses racism in the digital art world.

Take a weirdly hypnotizing tour of America’s dying malls.

According to a recent survey, British women said that they prefer knitting to sex to help them relax from stress.

For photographers on a very tight budget, here’s a video showing how you can make your own DIY photography studio in your own home.

Disney files patents to bring humanoid robots to its theme parks.

Gizmodo reports on why people still use Microsoft Word.

Disney launching new animated Star Wars series on YouTube.

Black girls have been playing with white dolls for a long time.

Paper horror houses (including the Bates Motel) that you can download, print, and build for free.

It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

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Sakura Matsuri 2017
Sakura Matsuri 2017

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Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Sakura Matsuri 2017

Passover

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

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

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

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

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

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

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

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

Kamecon 2017

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

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

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

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

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

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

Kamecon 2017

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

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

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Kamecon 2017

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

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

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

University of Maryland

Santa Claus Baby New Year

In the wake of the recent presidential elections that resulted in Donald Trump becoming the next President of the United States, there have been concerns about his antics, especially regarding his tweets on Twitter, where he has managed to piss off China and declared that the U.S. will be creating more nuclear missiles and possibly using them. There are concerns about how suitable he really is to occupy the Oval Office.

The Electoral College was scheduled to meet on December 19. Usually they tend to rubber stamp the results of the elections. This time a movement known as the Hamilton Electors sprang up and they were urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of a more moderate Republican like Mitt Romney or John McCain. On December 19 these Hamilton Electors had called for rallies to be held in every state capital in the U.S. urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of someone more moderate and with more experience than Trump. (Donald Trump is the first president-elect in history with no prior military or political experience.)

Since I live in Maryland the rally was being held in Annapolis. I had thought about going there to make a stand against Trump. But then I remembered that Hillary Clinton had swept Maryland in the elections so Maryland’s Electoral College delegates had already pledged to vote for her instead of Trump or another Republican. On top of it, it was a cold day and I was less enthusiastic about freezing to make a public stand against Trump when my state’s delegates had already committed to Clinton. So I decided to skip the rally altogether and do something fun instead.

My decision turned out to be a good one for two reasons: 1) the Electoral College decided to award the presidency to Trump anyway despite the Hamilton Electors movement and 2) I went to a place that I hadn’t been to in two years and it was nice to go there again.

I went to Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. It’s a long commute from the DC area but it’s so worth it because it has one of the most awesome Christmas shops anywhere in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. Here are some photos I took to show how awesome it is.

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And if you like these photos, check out photos I took of the same place in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Back in May I took part in the Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, where I braved the rainy weather to see some wonderful art made by local artists. There was recently another Open Studio Tour. This time there was no rain but it was pretty cold outside since it took place in December. I managed to cover more ground on this Open Studio Tour than I was able to back in May.

I started at ReCreative Spaces in Mount Rainier, Maryland, where I not only saw a small arts and crafts show on the lower level but I even saw some of the resident artists who were working on their latest masterpieces.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Next I went to the Otis Street Arts Project, where I took these photographs.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I also visited the Washington Glass School, which is located in the same complex as the Otis Street Arts Project. As you can guess from the name, this place specializes in glass art.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016
Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

After that visit, I got in my car and I drove to nearby Hyattsville. I was only able to briefly check out the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center before the Open Studio Tour officially ended for the day.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I stepped outside the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center just in time to see this moon rising over Route 1 in Hyattsville at twilight.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I ended my day by crossing Route 1 over to Franklins Restaurant, Brewery, and General Store, where I saw their Christmas windows.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

I did some browsing in the General Store part of Franklins before I decided to call it a day and head back home.

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Gateway Arts District Open Studio Tour, December 10, 2016

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah or both today, I hope you’re enjoying yourself. Today is the perfect day for me to share this link that I came across last month.

Ever wonder what a Nativity set would look like if Jesus had been born this year? Well, thanks to ModernNativity.com, you don’t have to wonder anymore. For only US$129.99 you’ll get a set that includes a stable with solar panels on the rooftop. Jesus is wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger while wearing a knitted white beanie. Joseph wears a man bun with a denim shirt and khaki pants while taking a selfie with Jesus and his wife. Mary, who’s all decked out in skinny jeans and a loose sweater, poses for the photo by showing off her duck face as she’s clutching a Starbucks coffee cup in one hand while flashing a peace sign with the other. A shepherd dressed in jeans is using his mobile device to snap pictures and post them on social media. A white lamb wears a red sweater, which is a nod to this trend of people posting photos of sheep wearing sweaters on Tumblr. A cow, who has been branded as “100% organic,” feeds from a manger that is marked “gluten-free feed.” Rounding out this Nativity set are three modern-day wise men dressed in hipster outfits who arrive to the scene on Segways while bearing gifts that they ordered from Amazon.com.

Here’s a video showing this Nativity set.

The first time I saw this I laughed out loud. If I didn’t have money issues, I definitely would’ve bought this. You can check out photos and another video of this Nativity set right here.

Here are a couple of Christmas sweaters I saw on sale at Target. This one was obviously aimed at men.

Christmas Sweater

This sweater is the saying “He thinks he’s God’s gift to women” come to life.

Christmas Sweater

Then there’s a sweater with Darth Vader’s image on it. The perfect way to wish people a Merry Christmas. (LOL!)
Now THAT'S a Christmas sweater. #StarWars

I’ll end this post with this video featuring Stephen Colbert singing “Another Christmas Song.”

Intervention Con Day 1

Even though Intervention Con was held in a hotel I decided to commute back and forth from my home because it was cheaper. That was how I was able to spend Saturday morning attending a meeting of a new Job Club for people who are either unemployed, underemployed, or just aren’t working their dream jobs because they have to pay bills that I had a hand in forming. I’m not going to write more about this here because it’s one of those topics that really warrants a separate post.

After that meeting ended I returned home to eat lunch and pack dinner and drinks for this evening then I headed to the Hilton Hotel in Rockville. I arrived at the Twinbrook Metro station, which has free parking on the weekend (I only had to worry about paying parking fees that first night) then walk one block to the hotel.

On the first day of Intervention Con the weather was warm outside (it went up into the low 80’s) but some of the hotel conference rooms were a bit chilly because they had the air conditioning way up high. I solved that problem by wearing my Rainbow Dash hoodie. It also has the additional benefit of helping with blending in with the cosplayers who were there at that convention. Here’s a rare selfie below.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

It was a pretty funky outfit since I wore a long-sleeved hoodie with a pair of summer shorts. (LOL!) I didn’t arrive at the convention until around 3 p.m. The first workshop I went to was called “Button down for WHAT?!”, which was devoted to making buttons. It was hosted by Stephanie Byrd of the local button making firm Red Fish Rue Fish. Each participant could make one button for free.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

The needed supplies to make a button were already provided so all one needed is his/her imagination.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

I decided to do the legendary Goat Man as a baby, which I previously wrote about here. I did this initial pencil drawing.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Then I colored it and provided the lettering using colored pencils.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Once I was done I took it to this button making machine where it was made into a button.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

After I finished making my button I immediately headed over to this workshop on “Thriving Artists” that was given by Rob Balder. I learned a few helpful hints (like how you’re more likely to have a successful Patreon page if you have a popular YouTube channel and how self-education is very important and there are a lot of free college level courses online that one can take without having to go thousands of dollars into debt). That workshop also had this excellent quote from the late tennis star Arthur Ashe that goes:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

After going to two workshops in a row, I decided to just take it easy. I ate the dinner I brought with me in the hotel lobby at this table that had plugs and USB ports available for charging various electronic devices. I charged my smartphone while I ate my dinner. Afterwards I walked around the convention. I headed into the video room for a few minutes. I played a couple of video games myself (mainly the classic arcade games that were loaded on to this X-Box) but I mostly took photos and looked at other people playing games.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

I spent the majority of my free time in the Artists Alley.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

There were tables in the Artists Alley where the celebrities were there at various times to sign autographed photos and pose for photographs. I took all my photos of these celebrities from afar because I was too cash-strapped to pay for the privilege of meeting with my favorite celebrities. The prices of the signed photos ranged anywhere (depending on how popular this celebrity is) from $5-$55. If one also wanted to pose for a photograph with his/her favorite celebrity, those fees not only cost extra but they ranged from $20-$55. I managed to take this faraway photo of an autograph/photo session featuring Gigi Edgley of Farscape and Alex Kingston of Doctor Who.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

There was a live Internet radio broadcast at Intervention Con.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016 Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

A person dressed as Boba Fett stalked the lobby of the Hilton Hotel.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

I attended “The Social Media: BEST and WORST” panel with Mary Ratliff, M. Sieiro Garcia, and Steven Archer. They discussed some of the excesses of some people on social media and they provided advice on how to protect your personal identity online. (The best advice they gave was to sign up for a free Google Voice number that would be tied in to your personal phone but you wouldn’t have to give out your private number. Instead you could publicly give out your Google Voice number and if you start getting harassing messages you can ditch that particular Google Voice number.)

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

I went to one more panel on “The Comical Side of Elections Season” where Joe Wos shared his memories of working with Pat Paulsen during the times he ran for President as a satiric act. He also mentioned other hilarious campaigns, such as Howard the Duck (which I actually reviewed this past summer).

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

He has a version of this presentation that you can listen online right here. I highly recommended it because it is really interesting.

I grew tired after that last panel so I decided to head home. On my way out the door I took one last photo of this cosplayer.

Intervention Con, Day 2, September 17, 2016

Intervention Con Day 3

Previous post in this series.

Continuing this summer’s series of Throwback Thursday posts dedicated to Howard the Duck.

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Howard the Duck #23
Star Waaugh
April, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Val Mayerik, artist; I. Watanabe, inker; Janice Cohen, colorist

This issue is the second of a two-part Star Wars parody that was created as a result of a reunion of the original co-creators of Howard the Duck, Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik.

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Synopsis: This issue picks up where the last one left off as Bzzk Joh manages to enter the castle through the Waters of Eternity and kidnaps Jennifer Kale while threatening to make her bald if anyone tries to rescue her. Bzzk Joh mentions that he’s the head of the Imperium Imporium, which has been buying up property all over the galaxy in order to build a giant shopping mall that will be the ultimate in crassness.

Bzzk Joh sinks back into the Waters of Eternity with Jennifer Kale as his hostage. As she sinks after Bzzk Joh, she raises a hand out of the water and quickly conducts a spell before she is entirely submerged. Korek attempts to dive into the Waters of Eternity only to have that water turn solid and Korek crashes his body on the hard surface.

Jennifer Kale’s last-minute spell results in the creation of two druid-droids (which are the magical equivalent of robots) known as NAAC-P30 and 2-2-2-2, who is nicknamed Tutu and resembles a trashcan. NAAC-P30 and Tutu were created to serve as guides for Howard, Korrek, and the Man-Thing.

The two druid-droids eventually lead the others to a spaceship known as the Epoch Weasel. The ship flies right up to a giant tractor trailer that’s flying in outer space with the words Imperium Imporium on the side. The tractor trailer attacks by releasing a bunch of various men’s products (such as electric razors and watches) followed by all kinds of housewares (such as blenders and cast iron skillets). The items crash into the Epoch Weasel. The Imperium Imporium also uses psychological warfare in the form of a customer service agent who’s unleashed into space shouting “NO!” repeatedly.

The Epoch Weasel’s engines die so the spaceship lands on a planet known as Boorbanq. They enter the Hollywok Canteen, which is noted for its “Plastic Szechuan Cuisine,” and see that it’s full of Californian men wearing leisure suits. Korrek is sent to hobnob with the people inside because he’s the one person in the group who could blend in the best with these Southern Californians, despite the fact that Korrek is a barbarian from a time period hundreds of years before the 1970’s. Korrek schmoozes among the people initially until he meets with a hamburger-headed man known as Big Mack and Korrek totally loses it by punching Big Mack’s hamburger head while saying “Have a nice day!” The California men start to surround Korrek. Howard tried to defend Korrek by using the Farce, which turns out to be a joke flag gun that shoots out a flag reading “Down With Peacocks!” It leads to the California men suddenly collapsing under the weight of their own pretensions because they couldn’t understand that the Farce is really a joke flag gun.

Meanwhile Bzzk Joh looks over the inventory of the Imperium Imporium and decides that it’s time to approach a bound and gagged Jennifer Kale. He starts to tickle her.

Howard and the others somehow manage to borrow another space cruiser where they find the Death Store—the Imperium Imporium itself. Tutu manages to find an entrance to the Death Store by detecting irregularities in the store’s bookkeeping department. They find Bzzk Joh in the middle of his tickle session with Jennifer Kale. The subsequent battle begins, complete with Bzzk Joh’s people hurling perfume bottles, office supplies, and sporting equipment at Jennifer Kale’s would-be rescuers.

Howard and the Man-Thing catch up with Bzzk Joh, who unleashes his two secret weapons—the Dearth Vapors—who turn out to be a wholesome-looking duo with bright smiling teeth who resemble Donny and Marie Osmond. When they start to smile, their teeth shoots out saccharine, which covers the Man-Thing and Howard. The Man-Thing becomes so angry that he bursts out of his saccharine covering, lays his hands off the Dearth Vapors, and melts the pair.

Howard finally uses the Farce on Bzzk Joh. The flag message, which reads “You Have No Sense of Humor,” is enough to neutralize Bzzk Joh as he starts to break down and cry. Howard frees Jennifer Kale.

Everyone races back to the space cruiser because Tutu had activated every item in the store’s toy department and the Death Store is on the verge of exploding. As the space cruiser flies away, the Death Store explodes, presumably killing Bzzk Joh and everyone else who was on board.

Topical 1970’s Reference: Like its predecessor, this issue is also a parody of Star Wars. At the time only the first movie had been released with simply the Star Wars title but it has since been renamed Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. The biggest irony is that years after this issue was released Disney would buy both Marvel and the Star Wars franchise so they now co-exist under the same corporation.

NAAC-P30 begins to pilot the Epoch Weasel by pressing the button marked “Bat Out of Hell,” which also happens to be the title of Meat Loaf’s first album that was released in 1977 and it became one of the best-selling albums in the history of recorded music. Here’s a vintage video of Meat Loaf performing the title track from Bat Out of Hell.

The planet Boorbanq is modeled after Burbank in California, which is frequently billed as the Media Capital of the World. The clientele is modeled after the stereotypical 1970’s leisure suit-wearing Southern California men. One customer, Big Mack, is a hilarious riff on Mayor McCheese from those McDonald’s ads.


The two Dearth Vapors resemble Donny and Marie Osmond, who had their own hit music variety show, Donny & Marie. While I was doing some online research while I was writing this, I came across this clip from an episode of the Donny & Marie show that is a Star Wars musical parody.

Bzzk Joh, an infamous real estate developer with his frequent tendency towards being a loudmouthed braggart brings to mind another infamous real estate developer with an equal tendency towards being a loudmouthed braggart who is currently running for President of the United States as I’m typing this in 2016—Donald Trump. Even though Trump wouldn’t become famous on the national stage for another few years (with the publication of his first book, The Art of the Deal, in 1987), he became a local celebrity in New York City after he moved to Manhattan in 1971 while getting involved in larger construction projects that used attractive architectural design to win public recognition. What’s more Donald Trump started to court the New York media in the 1970’s by using his two publicists named John Barron and John Miller. Recently it was revealed that the real identities of the two publicists named John were none other than Donald Trump himself. Since Marvel is based in New York City, it’s not that big of a stretch to think that it’s possible that Bzzk Joh was modeled after The Donald.

As for Bzzk Joh’s Imperium Imporium, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it was based on Walmart. At that time Walmart founder Sam Walton had been aggressively expanding his stores into rural areas of the U.S. by both buying up regional discount chains like Mohr-Value and buying land to build his stores, which grew increasingly bigger.

The Bottom Line: The second part of the Star Wars parody is even funnier than the first part as this issue not only skewers that movie but also every single aspect of 1970’s pop culture. The only time the jokes fell flat was when it came to naming one of the druid-droids. The shorter druid-droid’s name, 2-2-2-2, is a hilarious take on R2-D2 along with its nickname, Tutu. As for the C-3PO parody, it’s obvious that NAAC-P30’s name is patterned after the NAACP. That one falls flat because there’s really no logical reason why the NAACP (which is the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. and it stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) would have anything to do with science fiction other than an opportunity to riff on the acronym. Fortunately that’s the only joke that’s pretty off because the rest of the issue is funny as hell. Even if younger readers don’t get the reference to Donny and Marie Osmond, they’ll still laugh at all of the Star Wars references. It’s sheer genius to parody Star Wars’ famous Canteen scene as the Hollywok Canteen that’s located on the planet Boorbanq with the stereotypical 1970’s Southern California men dressed in leisure suits (you couldn’t get more stereotypical 1970’s than men’s leisure suits) standing in for the aliens from the original Star Wars Canteen scene. This is yet another memorable high point of the original 1970’s comic book series.

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Howard the Duck #24
Where Do You Go—What Do You Do—The Night After You Save The Universe?
May, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Gene Colan, artist; Tom Palmer, inker; Joe Rosen, letterer; Janice Cohen, colorist

Synopsis: The spaceship that Howard rides in after Bzzk Joh and his Imperium Imporium were both destroyed in the last issue lands on top of the apartment building where Howard is currently staying at 2 a.m. Howard bids farewell to his comrades from the last two issues before the spaceship heads back into outer space.

Howard arrives at the apartment that once belonged to his former boss (and Beverly’s uncle) Lee Switzler and he looks at the calendar. He sees that the ship S.S. Damned is due to dock in New York City many hours later. That’s the same ship that he was on with Beverly, Paul, and Winda until Doctor Bong abducted both Howard and Beverly. Howard begins to look forward to being reunited with Paul and Winda. (Beverly was forced to marry Doctor Bong and stay at the compound in the Himalayas in order to spare Howard’s life.)

Howard goes to bed and tries to get some sleep. He soon has a nightmare involving Doctor Bong and the Kidney Lady that’s so intense that he wakes up.

Howard goes to the kitchen to see if he can find a post-midnight snack and the only thing he could find was a box of slightly chewy potato chips. He takes the chips and goes to back to the bedroom where he turns on the TV set. He ends up turning on a Western where a cowboy shoots another cowboy named Howard.

Howard turns off the TV and ditches the potato chips. He decides to go outside and take a walk.

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He begins to recount the experiences he’s gone through since Beverly and Winda were abducted by a magic carpet in Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1. Howard trips over a drunken man who’s laying in the middle of the sidewalk. The drunk mistakes Howard for a woman named Marie (who’s probably either his wife or girlfriend) and grabs hold of one of Howard’s legs. A group of would-be robbers talk openly about how easy it would be to go after Howard and the drunk. Howard decides to free his leg from the drunk’s grasp by burning the drunk’s hand with his cigar. The drunk emits a scream that’s so awful that the would-be robbers run away. The drunk hangs on to Howard’s leg for a little bit longer until Howard decides to just slide his foot through the man’s grasp and manages to free himself.

As Howard walks away from his encounter with the drunk he accidentally walks into a woman carrying a bunch of bags, which results in the woman spilling the bags’ contents all over the sidewalk.Howard apologizes to the woman but the woman responds by spitting in his face.

Howard walks by a phone booth, where a payphone starts to ring. Howard answers the phone only to find that it’s an obscene phone call.

Howard walks past a woman at a bus stop. He hears that same woman scream so he races back to the bus stop. It turns out that the woman was being attacked but she managed to throw her attacker to the ground. The woman tells Howard that the attacker is her husband and they’ve been playing some kind of a kinky game for the past two weeks where the woman waits outside late at night, her husband tries to attack her, and she fights back by knocking him to the ground.

Howard walks into a donut shop that’s open all night only to find it deserted. He hears mumbling from behind the counter, where he discovers a donut shop clerk whose hands and feet are tied up with a donut stuffed in his mouth. Howard frees him and the donut shop clerk tells Howard about how a dissatisfied customer had demanded his money back because he claimed that he broke a tooth biting into a donut he purchased at that shop.  When the clerk refused, the customer punches the clerk, ties him up, puts the donut in his mouth, and empties the cash register before walking out of the shop. Howard offers to call the police but the donut shop clerk refuses because he says that the customer only took a couple of dollars because it had been a slow night. The grateful clerk offers Howard a free donut and a cup of coffee. Howard turns down the donut but drinks the free coffee. Howard talks with the clerk until it’s close to the time where the S.S. Damned is due to dock.

Howard rushes to Pier 43 just in time to see Paul and Winda disembark from the ship. Once Howard greets them, he falls asleep in Winda’s arms. As the couple walk away with a sleeping Howard they remark that Howard’s fortune is going to change when he wakes up (while providing a cliffhanger for the next issue).

Topical 1970’s Reference: Howard walking past a payphone, which is definitely a throwback to an era before most people carried around their own cell phones. I used to frequently see payphones everywhere but now I can’t even tell you when I’ve last seen a payphone anywhere. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve even seen a payphone, let alone a phone booth.

The Bottom Line: This is one of the more surreal issues (yet nowhere near as surreal as issue 16) as Howard, who’s fresh from his recent adventure in outer space, walks around the streets of New York City in the middle of the night due to insomnia. While Howard encounters ordinary people with no superpower or magical ability of any kind, they are still in situations that are either bizarre, dysfunctional, or both. This issue is an okay issue in that it’s entertaining seeing Howard encounter New Yorkers of all types in the middle of the night but it lacks the wicked satire of the two previous issues (which was a two-part Star Wars parody) or the classic “Howard for President” story arc (as depicted in Howard the Duck #7, Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck, and Howard the Duck #8). It is a pretty interesting glimpse of what a Marvel character does during his downtime between dealing with super villains or strange situations, which is pretty rare in comic books. (I don’t recall ever seeing a story on what Spider-Man or Wolverine do when they have the day off from fighting super villains.)

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Howard the Duck #25
Getting Smooth!
June, 1978

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer/editor; Gene Colan, artist; Klaus Janson, inker; I. Watanabe, letterer; Jan Cohen, colorist

Synopsis: The story begins in the Boys’ Department at Macy’s where Howard is trying on various outfits while Paul and Winda look on. Once Howard decides on a new suit, Paul pulls out a wad of cash and pays for the suit on the spot. Howard chides Paul for flashing cash because he’s concerned that it will make him into a mugging victim. Paul then buys a box of expensive cigars with cash and gives Howard one of them.

Paul hails a taxi where the three of them ride to a luxury hotel. During the drive, Paul recounts his time on the S.S. Damned after Howard and Beverly were abducted by Doctor Bong. Paul spent much of his time drawing in his sketchbook. One day Paul decided to draw a woman who turned out to be a wealthy socialite and heiress named Iris Raritan. Paul offered to give Iris his sketch but she insisted on buying it instead. She told Paul that she wasn’t the only affluent passenger on that ship and that there were others willing to pay for his sketches. Paul started getting more sketching commissions on that ship due to Iris’ connections.

The three enter the hotel lobby only to have an employee point at Howard and say that the hotel does not allow pets. When Howard verbally protests, the employee drops the subject and leads the three to the room where Iris is holding a special reception. Iris introduces the three to a circus owner and ringmaster named Mr. Thraller, who plans on having his circus perform at Iris’ Friday evening party. Iris also tells the three that they are invited to the party as well.

Meanwhile Beverly makes her first appearance in this comic book since issue #18. Not surprisingly she’s unhappy about her forced marriage to Doctor Bong and it doesn’t help that Doctor Bong has been more involved with working in his laboratory than spending any time with his bride. It’s implied that since Doctor Bong has won Beverly from Howard, she has become just another possession that he can neglect in favor of more recent interests and pursuits. Beverly finally becomes fed up with being the neglected wife so she barges over to Doctor Bon’s laboratory and demands that he removes his bell mask so the two of them can, in her words, “play house.” The scene ends with the couple kissing while Doctor Bong’s mutant minions watch and clap.

The story picks up in New York City a few days later as Howard, Paul and Winda are in the apartment that was once rented by Beverly’s uncle, Lee, but Howard is allowed to stay in it until the end of the month because Lee had already paid the rent. Lee calls Howard from Cleveland and tells him that he has just lined up a new business opportunity and he wants to take Howard in as a partner. Howard accepts the offer and hangs up the phone. Paul, Winda, and Howard take a taxi to Iris Raritan’s Long Island mansion where her party is being held. When the trio arrive, Iris formally introduces Paul to her other guests as her latest discovery while introducing the other two as Paul’s companions. The wealthy guests are suddenly shocked at seeing a well-dressed duck.

While Iris is showing Paul around to the other guests, Winda and Howard attempt to schmooze the other guests only to have these guests look down on them. One guest made a snarky remark about Winda’s lisp and how she finds Howard’s presence to be distasteful because she thinks he’s a midget in a duck costume. Winda snarks back at that guest.

Mr. Thraller’s circus begin its performance inside of Iris’ mansion while introducing Cannonball, Princess Python, The Clown, and The Great Gabonnos. The circus performers do their initial routines then Mr. Thraller tells the guests to look his way while he hypnotizes them. As the guests are hypnotized, the circus performers start to steal the guests’ valuables including money, wallets, and jewelry.

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Mr. Thraller decides to take a hypnotized Howard by the hand and lead him to the circus truck where the circus kidnaps the duck. As the truck heads towards Pennsylvania, all of the guests at Iris’ party eventually regain consciousness and they realized that they had been robbed. Howard regains consciousness inside of a trunk in the circus truck where he bangs on the lid until Mr. Thraller opens the lid. He tells Howard that the duck is now part of the circus and if he refuses to go along with his new situation, he will tell the authorities that Howard was an accessory to the robbery at Iris Raritan’s party and he will end up in prison with the rest of the Circus of Crime.

Topical 1970’s Reference: Howard’s frequent warnings to Paul that he could become a mugging victim for showing off wads of cash was a reference to the really bad crime problem that New York City had back in the 1970’s.

The Bottom Line: I cringed when I saw Beverly demanding some quality time from Doctor Bong, especially since she didn’t willingly marry him out of love. (She only married him because he threatened to kill Howard if she refused.) If I had been forced into a marriage like that, trying to beg my husband for attention would be the last thing I’d do. In fact, I would be way more bitter at him for forcing me into such a horrible situation. It’s possible that the writer Steve Gerber was trying to either demonstrate Stockholm Syndrome or have Beverly simply try to make the best out of a bad situation. If either scenario is the case, it’s such a vague and poorly written scene. It just left me with an unfavorable impression of Beverly as someone who is weak enough to seek affection from her own kidnapper who forced her to marry him instead of being an independent woman with enough of a mind of her own to try to think of ways of escaping from that castle in the Himalayas.

The rest of the issue is pretty interesting. There’s the classism strewn throughout that party scene from Winda facing the wealthy snobby woman who looked down on her for her lisp to Iris parading Paul around like he was her latest possession. There’s the excessive throwing around of money where Iris was able to actually hire a circus to give a private performance at her party. And then there is the circus itself, which is really run by a gang of thieves who use the circus as a cover so the ringmaster can hypnotize his audience while the rest of the circus performers rob the audience of their valuables. The idea of a Circus of Crime is pretty unique and very funny.

These issues were reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2, which can be purchased onine at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, Half.com, IndieBound, Indigo, Powell’s.

Next post in this series.

The Howard the Duck Series

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1

The Early Stories
Howard the Duck #1-3
Howard the Duck #4-5
Howard the Duck #6
Howard the Duck #7 and Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck #8

Howard the Duck #9-11
Howard the Duck #12-14
Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1 and Howard the Duck #15
Howard the Duck #16

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2

Howard the Duck #17-19
Howard the Duck #20-22
Howard the Duck #23-25
Howard the Duck #26-28
Howard the Duck #29-31
Howard the Duck Magazine #1

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