King of Pops and the Yumbii food truck

25 09 2010


King of Pops, Yumbii food truck

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

The King of Pops couldn’t be hotter with his iced creations in the steamy heat of a “Hotlanta” summer. So much so that there are two Kings of Pops out in force today at the Midtown Festival of the Arts, the first one that I think we’ve ever had. (I skipped the more exotic flavors like orange basil and pineapple habanero in favor of a raspberry lime.)

Anyway, the event may not be super-huge, but it’s still a big deal for my neighborhood and surroundings. Peachtree Street’s main drag is closed to art and food booths. While smaller than the other festivals out, this one is decent and manageable, and of course a big milestone for our area. There’s even a mile run-walk, which I did not partake in but could have.

Besides the aforementioned Popsicle royalty, lots of food stands and trucks from local restaurants and food providers. Food trucks are a thing right now, you know, a Thing, and I spotted a Yumbii-mobile out serving Korean/Mexican/Southern fare. Ultimately we decided to try the YEAH! Burger stand just to say that we did. I had the beef, turkey and veggie sliders. The turkey and veggie were far better than the beef, but it was a bit odd to think that (arguably) Atlanta’s best burger joint was just a few yards away. I’m talking about the Vortex, yo. You know it. Word.





Dragon*Con redux: Part Deux: The Recap

9 09 2009
 


Thriller creep

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

So just a few days ago, I made my third expedition into Dragon*Con. As usual I was overwhelmed by the schedule, the possibilities and my own physical limitations. It is difficult to stand up for hours and wander around. Heaven forbid that you are wearing a sweaty Klingon outfit and carrying a bunch of memorabilia around. I’d hope these folks have a hotel room that they can retire to.

The impression that I get is the 2009 event was the largest ever. It was super-crowded. We got to do a few things and it was fun, but we had to fight a little and be smart about it. No doubt, the fact that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were making appearances must have drawn in the crowds by the thousands. It was, by all accounts, a magical exchange. I was at work, but I was there in spirit. Now, if only I cared about all these newfangled shows the kids are watching. Im an old-school Trek and TNG fangirl. Buffy, Babylon and Battlestar don’t really do it for me. And the new Star Trek movie? I have to admit, it was a bit of an affront.

I managed to get myself up for the parade (my second year doing this) and enjoyed it, although it was much harder to see than last year. After that, we objectified ourselves by looking at wings, masks, corsets, bellydancing suits and other geeky and nerdy thingamajigs. It was good because one of our non-Con-membership-$$$ friends was able to sneak in with us and buy some things, thus helping the tourist E-Con-omy — someone who otherwise wouldn’t go. That’s how we justified it; I think it’s just like how BART overcharges for travel to SFO airport — because tourist dollars are sought after more than resident dollars. When the Patrick Stewart line had gone through (our mouths were agape at the fact that it stretched through the Marriott and into Peachtree Center mall), I asked the ushers if I could get inside and we lucked out. Captain Picard was on fire, exchanging hot remarks with the Trek Trak show hosts with the sharp, barbed wit of a bald, Shakespearean science fiction actor. We sought coffee and were immediately besieged by geeks with cameras and horrible pickup lines. 

After that, we marched around some of the show areas where art is on display and went to see a concert by Abney Park that was right in the middle of the Hyatt ballrooms. The fire marshall was literally pacing back and forth like Darth Vader, and his D*C minions were adamant that people were to “keep moving” and not linger in the area around the concert. Clearly the demand exceeded supply. I don’t know why the fire marshall didn’t don a villainous constume, because it would have befitted his cretinous ways. I was tired at that point and could hardly see what was going on because the crowd of ewoks and other ridiculousness had gotten thick. I heard some clapping and cheering going on. Turns out, there was a marriage proposal during the concert. Too bad I couldn’t hear. But, congratulations to the lucky couple. We had run into a coworker who was working on a video piece about love and romance at Dragon*Con (not as much of an oxymoron as it seems) and we let him know about this as well.

The rest of the time around then is a little fuzzy. At a later point we were wandering around the art show. And at still another point, we attended a panel discussion by some people who worked at Battlestar Galactica (but were not key players like writers or actors). In the words of a friend, they “towed the company line” in regards to fans’ questions and disappointment about the series ending. I didn’t know what they were all talking about, but I enjoyed getting this sense of the kinds of reactions fans get to work that people put out, as well as a way NOT to act when receiving criticism and affection from devoted followers. It was enlightening nonetheless. I also remember we tried to sneak into the Leonard Nimoy panel just as we did with Patrick Stewart only to find that it was canceled. Oh well, at least we didn’t have to wait in line to find out.

And then, sometime later in the evening, we went to go get some food and had some geeky conversations, and then we attended a panel on skepticism (a bit baffling to me coming from a crowd of folks dressed in Spandex alien suits), followed up by a “filk” concert by Tom Smith. I always forget what filk is, but it’s basically a geeky version of folk music. The music guests that I saw were a lot better last year. Voltaire and folk duo Paul and Storm were there. I know the latter joined the likes of Jonathan Coulton and Wil Wheaton at Penny Arcade Expo this year. Hey, I can’t blame them for wanting to go to Seattle. In fact, I’m thinking if I do a Con again, I might seek out a change of pace by heading out West instead of looking outside my back door.

After that, or maybe before that, my memory fails me, we had some time to kill and went in search of amusement. We found it in a tiny, dark room showing bizarre films. We watched the last act of “Black Sheep,” an apparently foreign film (Australian? I’m going to get myself in trouble here…) about evil mutant sheep that attack humans and try to turn them into additional members of their kind. Yes, I said evil mutant sheep. The film is a hoot. After that, we saw the beginning of a horrible movie about lesbian vampires. Meh. It was kind of entertaining, though.

We closed out the night with a rousing concert by Cruxshadows, a funhouse-mirror reflection of Depeche Mode; I would describe it as the band’s brooding, younger, goth-ier brother — the one who cuts himself for attention. No, but Cruxshadows rocked the carpeted ballroom floors in stylish fashion. The band isn’t all that well-known, so they were hungry to bond with fans. That made this a great show. The lead singer dude came into the audience right in front of us on a couple of occasions, standing on a chair in one instance and doing some sort of a dance in another. And then at the end, everyone jumped up on stage and the singer picked up a young child that had been sitting on someone’s shoulders (!) much to the crowd’s excitement. Everyone was singing along and it was awesome.

That was the conclusion of day one. Day 2 found me sleeping in, going to a brunch at Straits in midtown, venturing out to the Decatur Book Festival, and then heading back intown just in time to join the world’s largest thriller dance. It was chaos when I got there and I almost didn’t get to dance. They were only going to let the first 1,000 go in, and they weren’t giving out any more ribbons. I was lucky that someone in the gift shop heard my pleas for a ribbon and mentioned that her pelvis hurt too much (or something along that line) and soon I found myself with three ribbons in the 400 group. And thus I had admission for my friends as well. It was a good time. The way I see it, the count is MORE accurate this way, even if it’s not the same person.

The dancers included a giant Michael Jackson single shiny glove, Cookie Monster in an orange jacket, storm troopers, zombie Elvis and some other colorful folks. It was a good time. The dance was more involved than I thought. I tried to recreate it for my coworkers the next day when we went wading in a fountain near the office, but was not very successful. That MJ. So talented was he. And such a great zombie.

And then more dinner and talking and a little more gawking and soon I was back at home, celebrating and mourning the end of my Con experience at the same time. Maybe next year I’ll go to PAX in Seattle for a change of scenery. Maybe not. I’m certain that there’s something magical about Dragon*Con and I hope it stays that way.





Dragon*Con redux part I: My Con history

9 09 2009

Star Trek Experience
  

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

The wonderful magical microsociety of Dragon*Con, contained entirely within the mazelike confines of three connected hotels and one satellite a few blocks away, is something I think everyone should experience once. Do it, if only to get in touch with your inner geek and your secret furry. Everyone has one lurking inside, I like to think. There has to be a part of you that yearns to don a cape and prance around as if you were faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap freight trains in a single bound. If you don’t, you’re probably not much fun to be around anyway.

I remember being an outsider who had never been to a Con save for a couple Star Trek conventions when I was a preteen. It was all for research I was doing for a class, mind you. I remember stuffing myself into the circa-1970s orange bleachers inside the Phoenix Veterans Memorial Coliseum so I could listen to Garrett Wang from Star Trek: Voyager, and John DeLancey, who played Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I found both actors’ schpiels to be engaging and expected such from all cons afterward.

I also had high expectations from having seen “Star Trek: The Experience” at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel, long before the forces of economy and practicality took away one of these old holdovers from Sin City’s drunken flirtations with family-friendliness, whimsy and imagination.

Having long ago left my preteen years in another galaxy, seeing these geeks (an affectionate term) standing on the train platform took me back to those geeky days of my youth when I used to thumb through an encyclopedia of information about “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” There was a time when I could describe the plot of every episode in great detail and tell you all about the various quirks and life stories of each character. I don’t know what happened to that part of me, but I don’t have it anymore and I kind of want it back. Looking at these current-day con lovers made me wish I was one of them. Not to mention that marveling at powerful superheroes’ ordinary means of transit made me laugh. Hard.

Another thing that’s important to consider is that Labor Day weekend is a busy one in Atlanta, and it’s a time when you might find yourself with a decked-out football fanatic on one side and a storm trooper on the other. One year I passed the time on my 45-minute trip intown by making interesting conversation with a chatty pirate’s wench. She had a lot to say about piracy and about life in general. I wished I’d had the gumption to capture that moment on film.

At some point, I’d seen enough of this fantastic tomfoolery and decided I had to be part of it. I decided to give it a shot. The journey began by standing in line for about an hour to buy tickets onsite. Lucky me, I could by a second year’s membership to Dragon*Con for just $10 more (or some ridiculous sum like that). So I did, and by that point, I was locked in for two years of this wonderful nonsense.

My first year at Dragon*Con, I approached the scene with a lot of trepidation. I went by myself into the wild and wooly crowd, armed with a camera and the excuse that I was just a journalist passing through. I told myself, “This year I’m just documenting a scene.” I opted to remain a detached observer of the absurdity around me.

My second year was the best. I had a plan. I even brought an iReport kit with me and interviewed people. With the help of coworkers and friends, I saw quite a bit of things and had lots of fun. Not to mention, I took way too many pictures. Afterward, I made my television debut talking about the event with a viking hat on.

My third year’s expedition to Dragon*Con was predated by an exhausting run through San Diego Comic-Con, which is a totally different animal and yet much the same. The focus is on comics primarily and it’s about twice as big, but not necessarily as cool or fun. I think at some point I just got a little tired. I realized that the Con experience has its limits. I look forward to it, and at the same time, I know that I will be fatigued and frustrated by it.

I’ll want to kick myself, but I’ll go to another con, and I’ll enjoy it. That’s the way it goes. After all the lines and crowds and odoriffic science fiction costumes around you, the memories are what remain.

It’s a unique thing, something you can’t really get anywhere else, and a surreal exploration of that part of us that still likes to dress up and pretend to be someone else. I hope that we can all dig deep and find it within ourselves, even if we wouldn’t be caught dead in Spandex.





Marching abominable

27 04 2009
 


Marching abominable

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

My birthday always coincides with the delightful Inman Park Festival, so there’s always lots of quirky goodness to go around without me even having to do anything. I got there just in the nick of time to watch this “marching abominable” give an impromptu concierto in the middle of the park and it was truly grand.

The rest of the day was spent having dinner at Agave in Cabbagetown and then catching a bizarre and almost intolerable performance by the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at The Earl. Followed by drinks at Bazaar and then the newly opened “Firehouse” (formerly the Spotted Dog). Good times. Literally.





Working in the middle of a tourist attraction

18 04 2009
 


Order like an Egyptian

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

You never know what you’re going to run into in the CNN Center since it’s such a popular stop whenever a big event comes to town. People stop by to eat, to chat and to grab a cup of overpriced Joe.

The junior robot builders competition is always a real treat because the participants wear festive costumes to identify their team. This group really took it to the next level by dressing like pharaohs from Egypt. Good times.





Crazy hat

6 04 2009
  


Crazy hat

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Walking to the park on a weekend, you always see crazy things. But I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw this guy standing outside of OutWrite, the midtown gay bookstore. A crowd congregated around him and he explained that the hat was “for a contest next door.”

My neighborhood and its Piedmont Park surroundings are so fabulous and flamboyant… for people of all kinds. And that’s what I like about it. So unexpected in the South. Makes for comfortable living, although I usually head to other neighborhoods and places to socialize because the scene ain’t always my style.





Colors

14 02 2009
 


Colors

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This is a picture I took at our Sidebar outing to celebrate iReport.com’s first birthday. I think it might be one of my best architectural photos ever.





Getting me sport on

5 05 2008

Home of the BravesThis weekend, I did go to the Braves game vs. the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. I made the first of many bloopers this weekend when I bought tickets for the Friday and we had to buy again for Saturday. Ooops. The next blunder was when I lost my MARTA card but we won’t get into that… anyway, I think I’ve come up with solutions to these issues.

So the Braves creamed the Reds and that was great. I thought it was unusual that people are actually allowed to do Tomahawk chops and all that. In Arizona I bet someone would complain, but in Georgia there isn’t such a large Native American population. So Braves it is. There were some pretty fired up attendees, and I shot a video of the fans up top as well as the joyous crowd out beyond us. There were actually two groups of guys that were chanting at each other in a strange sort of manly solidarity. It was pretty awesome. And another guy was geeked out in American flag pants. Hey, to each their own.

But wait, there’s more from this oh-so-sporty weekend:

  • BULLET OMG: It was a big week for the Hawks, as they managed to not suck as bad as everyone thought they would. They tied the series vs. the top-seeded Celtics and gave sportswriters and angry forum commenters plenty of fodder for a couple days. I saw a good chunk of Game 6 and the Celtics were really sucking it up. Imagine if the Hawks had won Game 7… imagine all the people. It’s funny though, former Suns player Danny Ainge is a big shot over at the Celtics now (the Celtics was his former team besides the Suns). I guess in a way I don’t mind too much that they’re succeeding. I always liked Mr. Ainge and his Hat Store in the malls in Phoenix.
  • Of course, as you know, the Suns got kicked by the Spurs early in the week. For a while, it looked like the Hawks were doing *better* than the Suns. I would like the Suns to get a championship someday. They’re long overdue, but alas, not this year. Not with the current setup.
  • ANOTHER BULLET, HOLY HECK: My Suns fandom goes way back to even before the 1992-3 dream season, when the Suns managed to Not Suck enough to get to the NBA Finals. Back when we had Sir Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson and Dan Majerle and Danny Ainge and I could go on and on. Even back when they were playing in Veterans Memorial Coliseum instead of America West Arena, er, U.S. Airways Center. They even had one of the most thrilling games of all time as they stuck it out with the Bulls into a third overtime. But, alas, the Suns have never had a championship. I read an interesting article that said it pretty well as the writer mused on the demise of the Suns’ “Seven Seconds or Less” era: the Suns are that team you love to love, but you have to wonder what’s happening and if the success will continue. That said, I’m no sports expert and I’ll always be a fan.

So there you go. This is the most un-female series of postings/musings that I’ve had in a while. But computers and sports are for everyone, not just the boyz.





Rainy festival day

28 04 2008

Inman Park Festival rainHere’s a sampling of some of the fun that was had at the Inman Park Festival (referenced in my last entry). The patron at left, like many others, improvised a solution to the wet weather. I know others had better experiences than I did. I was out in the rain. It was still fun, and there were lots of people out there making do. I saw a child being carried in a waterproof stroller-trailer thing with clear walls. Strangely amazing; no photo. Wares that I took home: beaded hippie bracelets, a tiki sign, a PEZ sign and some refrigerator magnets with quaint images on them. All for $30. Pictures forthcoming. This is almost a holiday for Atlanta’s arts community. Joyful, wonderful and totally MARTA-accessible.





‘Evidence’ that spring is here

12 04 2008

pollenicooooleBefore I go into the pros and cons of spring’s arrival, I’d like to address an important issue. A recent comment on this blog suggested that my Peeps clip resembles footage that would typically be garnered from camera hidden in a flower stamen for potential criminal evidence in the Court of Law. This reminded me of that poor Zebra they found recently off I-75. (“They” being the overseers who control the Matrix and thus our thoughts.) The police kept using the word “evidence,” so the new caretakers were calling the Zebra “Evidence.” Anyway, can you imagine what you would say if you found a zebra on the side of the road? I guess you’d say, “I just found a zebra on the side of the road!”

In other animal news, it’s spring and that means spring-loving animals are out and about. Most “spring-loving animals” either have lots and lots of legs or the capability to fly. The giant bees are back to their typical antics and I’d like them to buzz off. They tend to not see the big picture window in my living room and thus fly straight into it, making a loud “smack” every so often. Another fun-filled feature of spring is the large amount of pollen scattered everywhere. But, thankfully, besides casting gloom and doom over the city, delightful spring showers are washing all the pollen away. This of course means that you never know when it’s going to rain. Tornadoes are still a vague possibility and I don’t know how well my apartment would stand up if one came through the north side. But it also helps the drought, so hey.

In other news, I’m finding that “Robot Chicken” is great to have on when you’re doing housework because the skits are so short that you don’t have to worry about missing too much. It’s also a good way to put some cheer, joy and offensive humor into your day. Cheerio!