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When a Nerd Starts Over: “I Do” becomes “I will never.”

No Ordinary Nerd’s Daniel Dayao, is kind enough to again have me on his podcast to talk relationships. Exerpt: Francis AKA The Other Guy guests on this episode of When a Nerd Starts Over. Team R.K.D. (Rice, Karaoke, Divorce) discusses getting married again, romance dying, 90s R&B…and Ryan Gosling? (and a bit about Wizard World!)

When a Nerd Starts Over – Love, Speed Dating and Fanimecon! (Live and messy)

I was honored to guest on No Ordinary Nerd’s Daniel Dayao’s podcast, When A Nerd Starts Over as we talk about speed dating, love, and our Fanime Con experience.

Exerpt: (Sorry, this was live so please listen past the first 30 seconds of fuzz and soundchecks) This was a secret show deep in a hidden room at Fanimecon! We discuss love, nerdy speed dating with Francis and Chris.

Fanime Con 2017

Fanime Con, is a popular anime convention in Northern California. It has found a home at the San Jose Convention Center, as well as the Fairmont & Hilton hotels nearby. It is a huge event that doesn’t just cater to those who are fans of Japanese animation and manga, but has events for people who appreciate video games, podcasts, karaoke, and even has a few rooms for people looking for love. The Con is all about the fans, as one can see in it’s motto? “By Fans, For Fans.”

The sheer variety of things to do at this convention are what set it apart from most of the comic book and pop culture conventions I’ve attended and written about about in the past. This is not your senpai’s convention. (yeah, I winced at that reference too) There is a whole different feel at Fanime Con, with a vibe and atmosphere that’s hard to articulate, but easy to feel when you’re there. You quickly realize, it’s a whole new world. A dazzling place, I never knew.

For instance, the cosplay is important at a convention like this, and I’m not going to lie, I had NO idea who half of those people were. “What makes this different from other conventions?” you may ask. I just know there are a lot of school uniforms and dancing at this convention compared to the others I’ve been to. A lot of choreographed, cute dancing.

Anime is just a geek sub-culture that I know little about. I’ve watched my fair share of anime and read my fair share of manga, but these folk eat, drink, and breathe the genre. This show is tailor made for the fans, and that’s what Fanime Con prides itself in. It tries hard to bring a little of the Japanese culture & fandom to California. Which means that despite the gaming room with its array of console, PC, arcade, and board games, you may not get much out of this convention if you don’t love Japanese Animation. You may not understand why you’d want a body pillow of a scantily clad anime girl, or know what hentai is, and why they’d have late night showings in their screening rooms…

The adult content at this convention is interesting. Panels have age restrictions, and as I mentioned, they show some anime at night, that…I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with. I don’t know how to feel about it, but they do relegate a lot of the adult content for the night time and overnight crowd. Yes, there is an overnight crowd, as this convention, technically doesn’t close. There is always something going on, 24 hours a day, for all four days of the convention. I have no idea what goes on after 8pm. I’m an old man, I need my sleep.

There is so much to this convention, that it’s hard to put it all in one concise little write up. There’s a maid cafe, where women dress up as maids to eat and play games with patrons. The line for this maid cafe? Up to 4 hours. All for a bite to eat and to sit with a maid.

At the convention center, one of the main attractions was a stage where dance troupes and groups would dance to music, or lip sync to popular tunes. There were rooms where folk taught weapons and self defense classes and ballroom dancing classes for the convention’s big black and white formal, where you had to dress very proper. There was a karaoke room where you could sing your heart out, and yet another room for speed dating. So much to do for four days, so little time.

I suppose I should also mention why I even attended Fanime Con in the first place. The folks over at the No Ordinary Nerd podcast, who were kind enough to adopt me into their fold, asked that I be a part of their panel on mental health and mental illness. As someone who is familiar with both, I had to jump at the opportunity, and what a worthwhile experience it was. Despite it being the last panel on the last day of the convention, on a holiday no less, people were kind enough to come by. Connecting with those who attended, of which there were quite a few, and sharing our stories of struggles and healing, was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long while. We wanted to help people who fight with these demons every day, and I feel like they may have helped me, more than I helped them. The No Ordinary Nerd crew were incredible, telling their heart wrenching stories, and giving of themselves, in hopes to show that those who attended, were not alone, and that there was light and love at the end of the tunnel.

Fanime Con. A convention even for us geeks who aren’t all that familiar with Anime, but especially made for those who are. It’s an event worth checking out, with welcoming fans, talented artists, and, of course, worthwhile panels.

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Wondercon 2017

I’ve been covering Wondercon for the past five years, and I never seem to get bored talking about it. Each year its something new and something different. So before I get to my five favorite things about Wondercon 2017, let me wax poetic about the Wondercon of yesteryear.

In 2016, Wondercon relocated to the grand city of Los Angeles, at the LA Convention Center. It was an attempt to accommodate it’s ever growing attendance, and Anaheim was getting a face lift. It only lasted the single year, but if Los Angeles had it’s way, Wondercon would grace it’s streets again. But, personally, I have a problem with that.

The Los Angeles Convention Center is located in the heart of one of the busiest sources of entertainment in the city. Right by the convention center is the Staple Center, home of the Lakers, the Clippers, the Sparks, and the Kings. Across the street from the Staple Center is LA Live, and the Microsoft Theater, where a bevy of concerts are held, along with various clubs and restaurants. This all adds up to a tsunami of attendees from all these events congregating into the cold, metallic melting pot of the city, therefore removing that…je ne sais quoi.

So I am happy that Wondercon is back in Anaheim. I mean, it’s across the street from Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth! There is an atmosphere of joy and mischief that is uniquely Wondercon. Now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk the best of what this year had to offer.

5. The Panels

With Wondercon being the little brother of the San Diego Comic Con, you can believe that there is a level of clout that brings the celebrities to this event. The panels throughout the day give way to your favorite stars from shows like Agents of SHIELD and The Magicians. Though I’ve only attended a few panels this time around, for a reason I’ll talk about later, the panels I did see, did not disappoint. The cast of the upcoming show Midnight Texas were on hand, not only to give us a sneak peak at the first episode, but also giving us a chance to know the cast, before the show premieres this summer. Midnight Texas also seemed to be sponsoring on the Con, and though I may be biased, it looks like a show worth looking into.

Other panels thought to go a different route, and delve into the societal issues that were ripped from today’s headlines, while keeping it light hearted. APB, a show I’ve never heard of, had Ernie Hudson on hand with his costars and show creators to talk about the real life challenges being faced within Chicago communities and their relationship with the police. There was the Anti-Bullying panel who had the likes of Anne Wheaton & Brandon Routh, sharing stories of inspiration and calls to action to help curb and prevent bullying online and in real life.

Whatever corner of the geek world you reside, there’s always a panel for you. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the annual Dr Horrible Sing Along that usually caps the weekend with some frivolity.

4. The Lines

I hate lines. Lines were invented by people who liked to torture other people, with boredom. Luckily, I only had to stand in one, and it was hidden away from the world, which is why I loved it and think it’s worth mentioning. A room dedicated to the lines for other panels, was a breath of fresh air, because you don’t have to rub up against people when you just wanted to get to one side of the convention center to the other! So thank you Wondercon for making the lines a tolerable experience.

3. RFID badges

It’s hard to avoid riffraff and rabble rousers at a convention. Not everyone agrees with what a comic book and pop culture convention is all about. But ever since they added the RFID badges to enter and exit the Con, those nuisances that would normally hound you as a heathen for taking part in this event, are far enough away not to notice. Whew.

2. You’re right by Disneyland

If Anaheim gets to keep Wondercon, you get the pleasure of being just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Magic Kingdom. Even if you don’t go into the parks, you have Downtown Disney, a worthy substitute for anyone, who may be exhausted after a long day of walking through Artist Alley and buying all the Funko Pops that can fit into your backpack. There’s food, live entertainment, and more Disney branded products than you can shake a mouse ear at. You can’t help but find a little joy when you’re that close to Disneyland.

1. The People

This is where I’m most biased, because the quality of the convention experience can be swayed by the quality of your company, or lack thereof. I normally attend conventions alone, which means I spend less time taking pictures of cosplayers and wandering the exhibit floor, and more time absorbing what I can from the many wonderful panels. Lately, for some out of this world reason, I’ve been actually attending conventions with other people, that I know or sort of know. So Wondercon for me, was amazing, because I had the opportunity to make new friends. A huge shout out to the crew of No Ordinary Nerd (Danielle, Daniel, Chris, Nico, JD, Kali), for not only tolerating my presence during the time we all spent together, but for also being some of the nicest, friendliest people, I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Check out their podcast all about geek and pop culture and using that to break the stigma of mental illness, on their show No Ordinary Nerd.

I would be a terrible friend and co-host (of Back When We Were Interesting) if I didn’t thank Shelley Rossell, for hanging out and doing the panels, and just being grand. She even donated the rest of her lasagna which I promptly (almost) spilled all over myself. She is, without a doubt, cool beans.

It was another successful and memorable year of Wondercon. Great cosplay abound, friendly and helpful staff everywhere, and a great place to have your first, or continued convention experience. This has begun my convention season, as next week, I’m off to Oaks Pennsylvania for the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Hope to see you there.

Wondercon – wondercon.org

Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con 2016

This year, the convention formerly known as Comikaze, gets a name change, and becomes the Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, a Comikaze Expo Presented by POW! Entertainment. I love long titles for things. Despite the new name, this convention continues to be the one that seems to fly under the radar of most people. This is my fourth year going to this event, and it’s probably one of my favorites. It has the right amount of everything that I love, from celebrities, to panels, artists, and vendors. And it’s probably the biggest convention where there aren’t any reveals from the big studios or any exclusive videos or clips from upcoming movies. It’s just a place to go and enjoy being a fan. One sad change, was the absence of Cassandra Peterson. It looks like Elvira is no longer associated with the Halloween timed Comikaze/LA Comic Con. She will be missed.

Personally, I love panels at any convention and LA Comic Con continues to deliver a great variety of panels to sit in and enjoy. I’m always impressed with the variety, as they try to cater to every geek, not just the cosplayer or the comic book aficionado. This year, I went to mostly voice acting and podcast panels. Speaking of which, another plus on the side of LACC is the friendliness towards podcasts and allowing them to host said panels. They’re a variety of lesser known podcasts, but none of them are amateurs. Quite often they’re sponsored by someone, but it’s still cool to see the next generation of talk radio getting some lime light.

I’d be remiss not to mention some of the more notable panels, like the Darkwing Duck anniversary panel. Here, some of the surviving voice actors got to reminisce about their time working on the show and sharing stories of those voices who are no longer with us. There was even an impressive Darkwing Duck cosplay that had me thinking of my own ideas of dressing up as the Terror who Flaps in the Night. Voice acting panels got me excited in finding new ways to get my voice out there and I really enjoy hearing the stories from those in the industry.

The final panel of the night was one I love going to every time it’s available at this convention. LACC is the only con I know of that actually provides this opportunity to the single geek. It was, the Super Single Geeks Mixer. After four years of not participating, and having had no sleep throughout the week leading up to LACC, I decided to participate. I found myself in a situation where I was outgoing and trying to help people find connections, friendly or otherwise. I had, what I now call, a “Meet Up” moment, where I tried to take on a weird leadership role. This was made easier as one of the moderators of the panel didn’t show up, and the people looking to interact were left to play a game on their own and also fend for themselves.

It was an interesting experience as I encouraged people to exchange social media contacts, and to not leave the event without making one new friend. I hope I wasn’t forceful, but I was excited to help people. And for those who know me, my biggest accomplishment of the night, was that I actually made some new acquaintances and connections on my own. A rare situation that I’m relieved happened, as it proves to me that I may not be as socially inept as I think I am.

From my understanding, most conventions have after parties. I don’t really know much about those, as I’m normally told to avoid them because they’re lame. The Los Angeles Comic Con had an after party that I figured I’d at least take a look at. It was totally for journalistic reasons. Despite just standing around watching performers on stage and the people on the dance floor and listening to the DJ, I had a good time. There was impressive live music, some lovely dancing by the dancers on stage, and the people who attended were having such a great time, that you can’t help but feed off that energy. I was there for three hours just taking in all the sights, sounds, and music. The highlight of the evening had to be the guy who sang the original Pokemon theme song coming out on stage, getting the entire club to sing along, and then listening to the sound engineers behind me mutter, “Wow. That sucked.”

I won’t harp on about Sunday, but know that there were still quality panels and events to go to on the last day of the convention. The ones I went to were so good, it left me feeling positive about my own aspirations of making my dreams a reality. There were also plenty of photo opportunities and chances to admire the outstanding cosplay.

It’s difficult to grade a convention, despite me trying to do so all year long. It’s really the experiences you have when you go to a con that truly defines it’s quality. It’s getting to meet that actor you love, or finding that cool Ironman helmet you’ve been pining for, for ages, or connecting with your fellow con-goers in a panel or two, that shapes how great a convention is. And for me, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con is one of the best conventions I’ve been to in 2016, and a great way to end the year long, convention season.

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LINKS: Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con

San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Through a series of fortunate events, I found myself at the San Diego Comic Con, and I learned very quickly, that the hype was real. Considered to be one of the largest, if not THE largest convention in the world, SDCC 2016, despite not having any huge reveals, was still the largest, most exciting convention I have ever been to. And, there is no doubt in my mind, that if you have the opportunity to go, I would tell you to GO, with the fury of a hundred suns, GO!
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Emerald City Comic Con 2016

IMG_1169In the heart of the Subway and coffee capital of the world, sits the Washington State Convention Center; and in that convention center, is the Emerald City Comic Con. A four day pop culture and comic book convention housed in five floors and three, separate buildings in the middle of the Seattle metropolis. This is where our adventure begins.

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The Los Angeles Comic Book & Science Fiction Convention 2016

2016-02-28 12.51.49

2016-02-28 11.21.53Everyone has heard about the San Diego Comic Con or the New York Comic Con, because they’re huge pop culture conventions with celebrities, and sneak peaks, and everything a geek/nerd/regular person could ask for. Those are amazing and worth going to, but sometimes you can’t beat the “intimacy” of the small convention. In Downtown Los Angeles, at a location called “The Reef”, a giant wooden chair greets you for a one day, seven hour event, called the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.

2016-02-28 11.21.57For a mere $12, or $14 if you want to go in before the general public, you are treated to a large room full of vendors and celebrities. That’s what makes these small conventions special. You are given the opportunity to not only avoid the huge crowds of larger affairs, but to actually meet and greet with your favorite comic book and sci-fi TV actors in a more casual setting.

This year, the guests were on point with Ming-Na Wen from Agents of SHIELD, Katrina Law from Arrow, and Helen Slater from the 1984 film, Supergirl. Now, you may be wondering, “Where are yer pictures, mate? Why don’tcha have any photos?” Well, it is because this writer is poor, and I didn’t feel quite right, sneaking pictures in a small venue, where people are in line, judging me for my poor life choices. So let me just say, that these women were having fun. There were conversations and hugs and pictures where these ladies had genuine smiles on their faces. They were happy to meet the fans! The last time I was at this convention, 8 months ago, there was only one celebrity, Hayley Atwell, and I think she got overwhelmed by the fan response. There were lines for miles, and you could not get a picture with her. So, it was very cool to see these actresses just enjoying themselves amongst their fans.

2016-02-28 11.55.00Other big names at this show were Marvel and DC artists Chuck Patton and Jim Starlin, voice actress Veronica Taylor, Star Trek Voyager’s Ensign Kim, Garrett Wang, and convention mainstay, Herbert Jefferson Jr, from the original Battlestar Galactica.

Aside from the celebrity aspect, there were rows of vendors selling wares you were probably not a”ware” of. Heh. And that’s why, I feel, you would want to go to a convention of this size. You go for the chance to actually meet an actor from one of your favorite shows or movies, and you get to find a hidden gem amongst the rows of pop culture, vintage, and nostalgic goodies. They had action figures, comic books, pop vinyls to the ceiling, hard to find toys and collectibles, books, and random objects like an old, plastic, Batman ruler. I was particularly drawn to the old, 80’s Transformer toys, a Megaman plush, and a BB-8 Matchbox car. If you’re looking for something in the more audio/visual realm, there were also old soundtracks, older films, and some “specially” obtained DVDs and Blu-rays.

2016-02-28 12.01.38At the LACBSFC (that’s a mouthful) you can peruse to your hearts content, the myriad of old and new comic books in it’s pantheon of long boxes. This is where the real comic book deals are, and you can find yourself going home with a long box or two of some Golden Age Superman, or some Silver Age Fantastic Four. Last year I came home with at least two dozen older comics.

2016-02-28 12.25.02I always have a good time at this convention (two for two so far), because I usually find at least one thing I want to get, or one celebrity I want to meet or see. But if you’re not actually looking to buy something or meet a celebrity, it’s hard to recommend an event like this. There’s not much for a person to do outside of buying things, picture taking, and autograph getting. And if none of these things catch your fancy, you might want to wait for Wondercon.

Website – The Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention

Comikaze 2015

2015-10-31 08.16.32Five years ago, a pop culture convention was born. And like all fledgeling conventions, they start off small and intimate. Then, two pop culture icons noticed this convention, and wanted it for their own. Stan Lee, of Marvel Comic Books fame, and Cassandra Peterson, the Mistress of the Dark, stepped up to the plate and purchased this show and it was good. It felt appropriate that these two would join forces for a convention all their own, the convention known as, Comikaze!

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