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Saturday, May 31, 2008

So I walk into the con, and who is the first person I see? Jerry "Call me Jerry" Doyle of Babylon 5 fame. Mr. Garibaldi himself. I did not fawn, but I WAS thrilled when he shook my proffered hand. He is also a Talk Radio Personage, an independent conservative. When I can drag in WBAP, I listen. He is sensible.

Tim Riley, a con pal from WAY back, is co-chair for this shindig. He's been doing web-comic style stuff before there was an active internet for the masses. His TR & Co. details the goings-on at sci-fi cons, and fandom in general. Wrath of Con sports an impressive list of guests, including both the blue chick and the grey chick from Farscape. Virginia Hey is the blue one, and is a willowy sweet thang, and actually remembered me from a Nawlins con five years ago. Gigi Edgley is the grey one, and cute. None of the guests exhibit Attitude in any negative sense. Richard Hatch, Apollo from the original Battlestar Galactica, and also in the new series, is here, and a popular guest, though not as pretty as Hey or Edgley. We printed the con shirt, and the artist even liked them.

Blam and dast...I am set up next to FABgear USA. I guess I could take out a second mortgage. They are the premiere source for Gerry Anderson and Irwin Allen related goodies. Go buy something. I have never been disappointed. Their service is excellent. Anthony Taylor helps run the thing, and has written an excellent book about one of the Anderson designers, Mike Trim. Check it out at the FABgear site.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today was a Doctor Day. I'm back from Animazement, which was triumphant, a huge success biz-wise, and a lot of fun, wenches aside. the AZ love us muchly, and the Aardvarks reciprocate. Bex, Sabrina, and the rest of the crew, THANK YOU!! I am already awaiting next year at the new digs, the Raleigh Convention Center.

While I was away, the Medical Research crowd called home and left the message to come in with a full bladder. One day I MUST inflate a pig bladder and take it in. Such a larf it would be.

Ran the gamut of basic exam stuff: heart, BP, reflexes. Got another blood sample from me, they did, then it was time for the whiz-quiz. Pee in the machine. The upshot: there is improvement. They did a bladder ultrasound immediately, and there was a 125 ml. remnant, half the previous amount. Either I'm getting The Stuff, or I'm REAL good at psyching my body out (so why the problem in the first place?), OR any one of myriads of other reasons, because Possibilities rarely come in pairs. Whatever the cause, SOMETHING is working.


Once again, I am not after the "Eeeeeeewwww" factor here, and am being as delicate as I can. Being part of a clinical trial is a good way to get some basic tests run for nothing (I do have Scots blood, after all I was MacLeod before MacLeod was kewl.)). It is also a good way to be of some help. Yes, Big Pharma, blah, blah. Sorry, do YOU have the bucks and facilities to research the Next Cure? Put up or shut up, or go to the Rain Forest and gnaw some random roots. Mmmmmmmm...herbal-ey.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Well, a week has passed. One teeny-weeny week. I am in Durham, NC attending the Animazement anime convention. It is huge, and it is run well, without a bunch of control freaks at its helm. It is probably my favorite con of the year. This also means Ragazzi's for supper!

Riatsila, Loen, Zoomerdog-the-Cousin, and Aaron-the-Practically-Adopted are here with me. They are at the table, and I am committing Reportage Most Foul. My aversion to crowds is rearing its ugly head, so I am in the room decompressing. Maybe I am just cranky.

On another note: I do not understand why women of A Sort delight in treating me as one dear, or at least one of interest. Maybe it is the Zeitgeist, or at least the Congeist. I am as flattered as the next guy by attention, but come ON. I do not enjoy tight hugs from total strangers of a wenchly sort (the Pirate thing has not yet run its course in fandom). Maybe it is their version of role-playing. I find the role unbecoming. The Dread Dormomoo is aware of my genetic predisposition to (social) flirting, and I am an affable guy, as well as Teh Hotness (haw), and ready with the avuncular hug, but ONLY when appropriate, and with them wot knows me. When I was accosted today, I literally cried "I need an adult!". (Riat can testify.) Fences make good neighbors, especially behavioral ones.


I have been to the research docs twice since last I reported in. No biggie. They drew blood, checked all the non-invasive checkables, and that is pretty much it. On the visit two weeks ago, I received the third shot. There may or may not be any effects so far. No adverse effects, to be coy about it. Possible UT improvement, that or I'm just psyching myself.

I have had two different Vampirellas taking blood. My usual one is one of the best ever, virtually pain-free. The tech this week, though...there was absolutely no sensation that I could tag as "pain". There was a sliding sensation, and a sense of pressure, and that was it, and trust me, I'm a needle weenie. I think her super power is phasing the needle into the blood vessel.

Not a bad experience so far.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Your Aardvark began going to SF conventions in 1980. The Dread Dormomoo and I packed up shirts, paints, airbrushes other fannish oddments and her Craftsman air compressor (the one that sounded like a Harley) and headed to PhilCon, where she painted shirts ranging from unicorns to a portrait of Johnny Mathis.

Yes. Johnny Mathis.

Thus began 28 years of huckstering. (That is a story in itself. The dealers at SF cons originally sold books, fanzines, and doodads to pay their expenses at the con. They were called "hucksters". This changed to "dealers" sometime in the '80s, but with "Just Say No" and other cultural pressures, it became more acceptable to call them "merchants" or "vendors" or "exhibitors".)

I am a huckster. The soulless sanitizing of what was an organic natural thing is an annoyance.

It has long been my contention that SF cons act as a type of church, a gathering-place for lost souls with tangentially common interests. At work, these people could not gather around the office water-cooler whilst everyone was talking about The Big Game and ask, "Whadja think about Spock's mating ritual last night?", or if they did, they did so precisely once. The con provided a place of fellowship, AND a place to acquire goodies that were not available at Sears.
It was a time when "online" was where you hung the wash, so you went to the con, hung out and chatted and smoked and drank with your fellow fen ("fen" is conspeak plural for "fan"), and you bought books and 'zines and obscure model kits and fan art in the huxter room (more conspeak).

Enter the age of the mega-store, and mega-merchandising. Star Wars and Wal-Mart almost coincide on the scene, and it's a match made in...well, we'll see. Dime stores were still afoot, and Roses and Hills stores were places you could get toys like Star Wars or Space 1999, and you could order stuff from Starlog magazine advertisers, but for REAL hard-core SF goodies and garage model kits, you had to go to the cons, where you could also meet the authors, TV stars, movie stars, or at least the guy in the costume (no, Dave Prowse is NOT Darth Vader...he's the tall guy in the suit.)

Star Wars sparked the popularization of science fiction in Polite Society, and inadvertently began the burnout of trufandom (more jargon). The short version is: If I can buy it at Wal-Mart, then why go to the con? It further polarized the two wings of fandom: the FIAWOL branch (fandom is a way of life) and FIJAGH (fandom is just a G**d***** hobby). Since the the last three wretched Star Wars Anakin-is-an-emo-kid movies, the over-merchandising has been so over the top that Wal-mart will not be carrying Clone Wars toys. The joke around our house waiting for the Episode 2: "Why haven't they released the new movie?" "They're waiting for all the Jar-Jar Binks figures to sell at Wally World.".

This carries over to the other Big Budget Sci Fi extravaganzas. Overexposure has made SF not special any more. It's like Christmas every day; after awhile you run out of excitement, and places to put your stuff. Sci fi fandom becomes a mega-church, glitz and numbers. The gnosis of trufandom is lost to the hoi polloi.

Oooooh...the Aardvark sounds like an elitist.

A major reason for the decline of (ahem) "quality fandom" is that original SF fandom was literary-based. Reading was required, not staring at a screen, mouth agape.
"The Thing" was a good movie because it was based upon John Campbell's story "Watch the Skies!" Cons have devolved into a loose assemblage of competing fetishes (the costume contests tell all). The foundation has decayed, the structure totters, things fall apart, the center does not hold.

I have seen the same thing occur with anime conventions. When Japanese animation was an interest of a sub-culture, the cons were THE place to see new series, meet artists and voice actors, and buy videos, manga, and import model kits. AND prance around in cool costumes. Now, with the Cartoon Networkization of anime, everybody loves Naruto and Inuyasha and isn't Ed cool in Full Metal Alchemist?! Now it's Just Another Thing. The kids who were self-consciously polite in the Japanese Mode have been largely replaced by kids almost wearing costumes, and proclaiming their love of subtext.

The point is: familiarity breeds contempt -and cliche. Overexposure has rendered much of Fandom, (or perhaps Con-dom) contemptible. What was the province of the thinker has become a realm of mindless amusement.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Your Aardvark is rediscovering why he does not do Science Fiction conventions anymore, because he is at one as he writes.

Allow a detour, here. The guys and gals who put this con on, MobiCon, do a stand-up job. Great guests, camaraderie...like that. They are personal friends, and are always thrilled to see the Aardvark, especially when he brings the con shirts! They have little control over their attendees, beyond basic security functions to forestall mayhem. MY BEEF IS NOT WITH THEM.

What a self-absorbed, petulant, hyper-opinionated lot, always ready to correct, complain, and regale you with the fascinating details of their favorite book, their mostest awesomest D&D campaign, and how your t-shirt should really read thusly; unpleasant, really. Lots of bad attitude, and it rubs off emotionally. Your Aardvark is grumpy.

There is one guy who has been after me for years to do a loathsomely tacky shirt for him. He has money, and would likely buy a wad of them...but it is so-o-o-o-o tacky. I finally said "NO". I don't need to do smutty stuff. It feels better having shut it down.

Anime conventions are where the shekels are. I do on a Friday what an entire weekend of SciFi con will gross. SF con-goers love to stand around and talk about the same old movies, books, and memorable parties they've experienced. Anime con-goers like to stand around talking about the same old anime series,OAVs, and Raves they've experienced, whilst throwing money at dealers for shirts, costumes, toys, and the new series that they will talk about at the next con!

Food is arriving. If you are ever in Mobile, order pizza from Hungry Howie's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just shut the frak up!

Where is the frelling world of sci-fi taking us, beyond the use of outstandingly stupid invective? Importantly, we find that no-one in the future(s) can control their mode of speech, and that only bad words have drifted into some bizarre phonetic alternate reality. Now we are being given weird treatments of SF standards:

Transformers: Animated

Ummm...wasn't it always animated?

Ahhh, I'm just missing the days before the SciFi channel became the drain line for the best of subsidized Canadian film-making. At least Michael Dorn and Kevin Sorbo still have work.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I heard a disturbing bit of news. A man of good character told us of a bit of intel: that the Treasury, in March, stopped keeping count of the bills they are printing.

This seems totally in character with Helicopter Ben Bernanke's predisposition to dispense Largesse Not His Own. His study of the Great Depression has not yielded a glaring fact: most of the remedies the Givemint tried did nothing but exacerbate the problem.

I cannot confirm the news on the net, and it seems the sort of thing the conspiracy types would be all over. To me, it seems in character with the rest of the fast-and-loose of this Administration.

I would welcome any input.

I learned tonight that it was reported on 321gold...a YEAR ago. I haven't found it in their archives yet. They REALLY need a search function.

I hope there won't be a run on wheelbarrows...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Public School WORKS !

One of the most detestable practices in public pedagogy is "classroom management". This is not merely seating arrangements and who-gets-to-clean-the-blackboards; rather it is a vicious psychological tool utilizing pressure and ridicule to keep the kiddies in line. Making the class miscreant "an example" is key, holding him to scorn before the rest of the class, so as to make him think twice before his next infraction. This has been around for awhile: my sixth-grade teacher was a master of the technique. Don't ask how I know....

We attended MTAC a couple of weeks ago. We print the con shirts, as well as selling our designs in the dealers room. Now, most anime conventions make it VERY clear that
vendors are NOT to sell bootleg merchandise (Hong Kong imports of DVDs and soundtrack CDs, f'rinstance.) We had a phenomenal weekend of sales, and Saturday afternoon was rockin' along when one of the staffers bullhorned for all customers to clear the room. "There has been a Dealer Infraction.", he bellowed. I snagged the con chair as he walked by, and he told me someone had been selling bogus goods, and that by punishing the whole room , pressure would be brought to bear on the bootleggers. When the room cleared, the con pooh-bahs met with all the dealers, explained the situation, and this was their one-time warning. If the illicit sales continued, the bootleggers would themselves be booted. I was all set to focus my Ire and Righteous Indignation upon the scofflaws for halting my Getting of Gain, but was frustrated. I had the hammer pulled back, finger on the trigger, but I had no target . Their little exercise in Classroom Management was likewise rendered pointless.

They did not ID the vendors. All that irkedness gone to waste from every honest dealer.
No target, and thus, no point.

It is sad when government schools do something -anything - better than anyone else.