Picture of Today 6/6/2017, The 22° Halo

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I looked up during my lunch break and noticed a very large surprise in the sky….

A  22° Halo, also known as an ice halo, or solar halo, or just a halo. Whatever you call it, the sight is still special to behold with the slight grayness trapped within, and the rainbow tint on the outer edge. Such was hard to capture with my phone and bright, direct sun.

That is, according to this excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A 22° halo is an optical phenomenon that belongs to the family of ice crystal halos, in the form of a ring with a radius of approximately 22° around the Sun or Moon (in which case it is also called a moon ring or winter halo). It forms as the sun- or moonlight is refracted in millions of hexagonal ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. The halo is large; the radius is roughly the size of an outstretched hand at arm’s length. A 22° halo may be visible on as many as 100 days per year—much more frequently than rainbows.”

This phenom is the second one witnessed in my life which I have blogged about back in 2015. This time, being the first I have seen this directly above and uninterrupted by nearby structures. Such was a glorious, welcome surprise for an otherwise routine day.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 5/1/2017 – May Day

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Today was a calm May Day, for nothing too troubling happened here in the Emerald City of Seattle (or so I heard). There were many small marches throughout the day, and no riots.

But, I did happen to observe heavily some evening happenings in the Westlake Center Park of Downtown Seattle. Some pro-Trump supporters arrived and verbally clashed with anti-Trump supporters. Also among them, the usual anti-capitalists, religious promoters, climate-change activists, self-made superheroes,  anti-war groups (some were war vets, I was told), anarchists, and curious tourists. From a close distance and ready, were many armored police officers standing around with batons in hand.

But, most of the local attention circulated around the various tense confrontations between the pro- and anti- Trump groups. Though I heard much childish banter and expletives being thrown about, there was some intelligent talking and debate that occurred. Such civility was strangely refreshing. If we all can’t along, then lets at least talk.

– Orion T

The Commentary of Comic Cons – Part 1

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I love convention gatherings, especially those catering to alternative pop culture or as others may refer to these as gatherings of “geek.”

This con life is my best time to enjoy among others my odd taste in the strange realms of drama, fantasy, science fiction, a good story, etc. Such things I have no preference for in delivery whether by print or digital, motion, still, active or interactive. However, I love the comic serialized format, the constant in my life since childhood.

A good “geek” convention covers as much as possible of these realms, breaking boundaries between. From there, personal experiences are gained where I could deep involve myself in all related joys and obsessions. One could make many new friends, mine inspiration, renew nostalgia, or best of all; involve oneself by becoming a creator, a become a part of something larger in creation.

So now, I would like to share some experiences I recently (last month) had at the great San Diego Comic Con, 2013 year. The Comic Con International, as this is currently known, is special and now arguably the largest geek gathering of its kind. Over 130,000 now attend, not counting the estimated extra 50,000 without badges checking out the expanded festivities throughout the Gaslamp District and beyond. Now, the great San Diego Comic Con is more than comics, including all the relatives crossing into the wonderful, “geek” territories of film, games, books, toys, etc.

One product of my related joys and obsessions, is my growing passion for concept art and world building. Below is an inspiring example from a small press booth at Comic Con, featuring the work of the Aen Chronicles by Robert Carter (shades-of-shadow.com)

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So for me, the Con caters to my bizarre tastes from the familiar superheroes and mainstream counter cultures to the obscure oddities and curious collaborations. From vintage comics of generations past to the latest trash movies to the multi-articulate action figures to the odd video game, and so so much more in between. All of it, and more is here.  Also, this is my 19th consecutive year attending this great show. So, I am remain excited for every year as my experiences with goofy things expand.

For this San Diego Comic Con 2013, I spend much of this time in the grand Exhibit Hall. For which, I will focus on for the remainder of this segment.

The Exhibit Hall, or Showroom Floor, or “the downstairs,” of any convention is the heart of any “geek” convention. Here, a myriad of dealers, creators, artists, writers, producers, exhibitions, distributors, and companies representing product await. All from the mega-companies/publishers/studios/distributors to the little indie creative soul standing before a small table with a stack of books to sign and sell. For Comic Con, there are subjects divided from drama, humor, fantasy, Sci-fi and related including but not limited to literature, motion pictures, animation, collectibles, etc.

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(For a future segment, I will focus on the history and my changing observations of the Exhibit Hall, of which I have much).

The grand Exhibit Hall is the fantasy come true for the imaginative mind to be exposed to new things, concepts, passions. New comics, especially from lesser known publishers can be easily obtained with a personal touch by the creators. It was here some years ago, I turned on to a favorite comic series, Locke and Key (by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez), simply from browsing at the impressive cover display at the IDW company booth. I purchased the first hardcover at a discount.and a some years later, I met writer, Joe Hill  at the same booth, same room.

I love the Exhibit Hall.

This year, I obtained much on the free previews of comics and graphic novels of interest. A few looking forward to but not limited to are: the new upcoming The Star Wars (comic basing itself on the earliest film script by George Lucas), the new Sandman series by original writer/creator, Neil Gaiman / artist, J.H. Williams III (a dream combo come true), Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction (loved his Hawkeye series), Spera: Volume 3 (great ongoing fantasy story by changing artists).  Also, I have interest in some more recent award winning series including Bandette by Paul Tobin, Sabertooth Swordsman by Damon Gentry. And there, is so much more..

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Overall, the Exhibit Hall is great for exposure to the expansion of your tastes. If you close yourself to the unfamiliar around here, your not getting the most of your Exhibit Hall experience.

The Exhibit Hall is complement to gathering new experiences, meeting interesting creative souls or perhaps becoming one yourself with the right timing or inspiring motivation. Experiences also include the gaining of new collectibles, or the exchange of currency for some special treasure.

Could you spot the potential for new experiences below?

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Here pictured above, is one tiny portion of the SDCC Exhibit Hall. On average is this crowded the large room becomes in prime hours. The space is over 460,000 square feet. The estimated walk time when crowded between both far ends is around 20-30 minutes. The areas most claustrophobic-inducing are the movie or television studios booths, where often free swag is given or presenting the occasional celebrity for photo-ops and signings. Some fancy their booth with set props, or previews of related merch, sometimes a giant HD screen.

During one stroll, suddenly the entire cast of the Game of Thrones HBO TV series.

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Included with these surrounding crowds, massive lines coil around the popular booths. Many involve the sale of convention exclusives or pre-sale items (mostly toys). Popular 2013 exclusives include a glow-in-the-dark Jason figure from the vintage Nintendo game based on the Friday the 13th films, a Breaking Bad Walter White figure in Hazmat gear, a 1966 style Batman figure doing the classic Batsui dance pose. The typical line for Hasbro on the opening days could cost one 2-3 hours of precious con time, but could be worthwhile for the early release of the largest Transformers toy to date (Titan Class Metroplex about 2 feet, transforms into a city).

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Honestly, many present are for the flipping of such items to others for much larger prices elsewhere (like eBay). For example, the Power Ranger Gold Morpher (whatever that is) will cost you $100 and a likely three-hour wait at the Bandai Entertainment Booth. The eBay sold average is a sure $400.00. Now for those in line for the collecting thrill, such an insane wait can be still worthwhile, because of saved money and the experience of a more direct contact with the producing company.

For a different example of direct experiences, not related to money…

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This is the giant head of the Ice King of the popular Adventure Time cartoon. I will be honest, of my ignorance of this strange cartoon. I have never watched a full episode. Yet seeing this, and the fans in line, cheering with their Adventure Time apparel and hats (worn by the popular main character, Finn), I could only feel a sort of empathetic joy with them, to have their love given back with such a tribute in the clever form of this booth, and others like it.

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Above, is my favorite display of the Comic Con 2013; the Nickelodeon Studios booth known for kid-friendly cable programming.  It seemed no matter what angle, the crazy aesthetics of Nickelodeons whimsical appeal called to the child in us all. Such a display is refreshing as these presenters are seemingly having as much fun as the attendees.

For me, I most look forward to the DC Comics booth, a consistent to every San Diego Comic Con. Here, a familiar roster of super-heroes are official represented: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other Justice Leaguers. For them, new stories and introductions across multiple formats of digital, print, collectibles are displayed.   Here and often, cool freebies including pins and comics are given out. This year for the DC booth, featured props of Superman costumes worn from past movies and TV shows were displayed. Also, much meet and greet happened with the writers, artists, and creators of current DC reads.

A favorite was witnessing fan favorite artist Dustin Nguyen (Lil Gotham) live-drawing.

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(To be continued in Part 2 for another day, when I discuss and focus more on the creative talent of the great Comic Con)

Seattle May Day yesterday..

May Day is an interesting day for this great Seattle city.

In the past, the day seemed worldly focused more on festivities, associated with some kind of pole. Now and especially in Seattle, May 1 is part of the International Workers’ Day movement. So, there are big massive public gatherings of protest and solidarity. In most, the participant organize well with much shouting and marching with a focus on worker and human rights. However last year, the city had its troubled incidents involving the Black Bloc anarchist group, the Seattle Police Department and a local famous superhero.

Yesterday, I took an errand-filled evening walk on this bright and sunny day, almost forgetting the May 1st significance. Then, I heard the chanting and cheering. Streets closed, and a march through the downtown city streets happened. All seemed to move well, as I joined with curious intent.

For 2013, the majority issue was on immigration rights and reform. For this particular portion, the atmosphere was positive and feel good. I listened to the loud voices, chanting with the American flags waving and large signs held high. Not all was agreeable, some messages were unclear. Overall, I felt reassured and positive for this society where peaceful gatherings are allowed, encouraged, and attended with many participants.

Also noticeable, were the large number of people snapping and recording visuals. Many will spread online, especially to the great social networks where the message will go global and observed with inspiration. Also, much police stood aside and ready; keeping the peace as they should. Other places and times nearby not so much, as violence broke out and questionable tactics happened, ending with 17 arrests, 8 police officers reported injured.

Here below, are my low-res phone pics on the lighter side of Seattle’s May Day 2013.

photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens photo by Orion Tippens

Saturday!!!

Don’t stay home.

Especially, if the weather is bright and wonderful.

Get out.

Enjoy the day.

Walk around.

An unfamiliar scenic route is best.

Don’t plan your destination.

Unless, the destination is a good place to sit.

And do nothing,

except observe,

and relax….

photo by Orion Tippens

Comics convention fun in Seattle part II: The Rise of Cosplay

photo by Orion Tippens

In continuation of yesterday’s posting, the rest of my 2013 Emerald City Comic Con pictures are now posted on my friend’s blog, All Day Comics!

For this second half, it’s all for the love of cosplay, or the act of dressing up in some costume, usually based on a fictional property. Often at these conventions, many attendees will dress up as their favorite characters from books, comics, movies, games, etc. They usually do this for fun, and to express their current or nostalgic “geek” obsessions. Here are a few extra notes and observations on the nature of this wonderful culture:

  • Often, the costumes are hand-made. Some are sewn together, and/or made from gathered materials. The more work and details that go into a costume, the more appreciation is given. Also, using body or face paint accentuates a certain boldness in presentation of character choice.
  • Crossplay is a rising trend in cosplay convention visibility. This is the style of taking a familiar character and flipping the gender. This is usually done by females, in using their natural body shape and costume alteration to make that provacative switch. 
  • Often, a measure of popularity can be attributed to the frequency of cosplay choice. For example, Doctor Who exploded in popularity since its revival eight years ago, so expect to find many Doctors running around, wielding their Sonic Screwdrivers.(an easy costume). Star Wars is still very strong, so expect to find many Jedis, Stormtroopers at these gatherings. The recent Avengers movie (and related individual character movies) raised the presence of Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury at recent conventions. Rising the fastest are characters from the popular animated Cartoon Network series, Adventure Time.
  • The best-loved and most memorable costumes (for me, at least) are those of obscurity and lesser known. Sure, we all know our Batmans, Jokers, Spideys, Vaders, Spartans, Mario Brothers, etc. But who among us can spot the Ambush Bug, Castle Crasher, Trap Jaw, Radia, Duffman, and others not well-known? To identify, often puts a smile on the face of those making the obscure effort. And if not, ask who is that character. This could be your next obsession, or perhaps opening the mind to something new and exciting. For example, a conversation I had with a lady dressed up as a character exclusive to an obscure Tron video game. She had me far more curious about the expanded Tron world, beyond the otherwise limited movies. My later online searches also stretched my love for hardcore science fiction, just a little more.
  • Some costumes are recognizable by their style. Some are adorned in steampunk fashion, others in medieval garb, a few in heavy military gear. Often, the participants are part of a club or a scheduled gathering of similar attire. Many are also into live action role-playing or LARPing.

I could go on with these notes, but another day or perhaps the next convention to share on. For now, I leave behind a couple more enticing samples of my larger picture set for the All Day Comics blog. For the rest of my wonderful ECCC pics (and footnotes), please click here..

photo by Orion Tippens

Photo by Orion Tippens