WonderCon Saturday

I seem to be doing more blogging than usual during this con. Maybe because I’m an old man and I’m spending more time back in my hotel room than I usually would at a con. Anyway, I gave up on the con a bit early today, so here I am.

I got to the Tim Sale and Peter Tomasi spotlight panels this morning, as planned. Both were good. Sale mostly talked about his past DC work. He seems to have mellowed a bit since the last time I saw him at a con. I guess that was at least ten years ago, now that I think about it. He didn’t talk about any new or upcoming work, which was a little disappointing. I was kind of hoping he’d announce that he was working on something new. But I guess he’s mostly just doing covers these days. (Which is fine. I can always go back and reread Long Halloween if I need a Tim Sale fix.)

Tomasi also mostly talked about his DC work, though he did mention The Bridge, which I read recently, and is quite good. I’ve missed out on most of Tomasi’s DC work, since he started writing when I wasn’t actively buying books and his Rebirth-era work has all been on books that I’m not reading. But he started writing Detective recently, so I’ll be reading his work on that. I think I also have some of his New 52 Batman & Robin stuff in ComiXology, waiting to be read.

Later, I went to the DC “Meet the Publishers” panel, which was fun, but mostly just a reiteration of stuff I’d heard on DC panels yesterday. After that, I thought about staying in that same room for the Batman birthday panel, followed by Quick Draw and Cartoon Voices. But I decided I needed to get some air, so I skipped the Batman panel and walked around a bit. I thought I’d be able to come back for Quick Draw without too much trouble, but when I got back, the line for that panel was (literally) out the door and running along the outdoor balcony. So it didn’t look like I’d make it into that one. It was a big room, so maybe I would have, but it didn’t seem likely. So I gave up, and here I am back in my hotel room eating dinner and writing a blog post.

Again, I didn’t buy much today, but I did pick up the trade collection of Groo vs. Conan. It occurred to me yesterday at the Mark & Sergio panel that I’d never gotten around to picking that up. And, since Dark Horse lost the rights to Conan, I wasn’t going to be able to pick it up digitally, which is how I’ve been getting most of the recent Groo books. So I found somebody with a copy at half-price and bought it. Mark, Sergio, and Tom Yeates are all at the con, so theoretically I could get all three of them to sign it tomorrow, if I can find all of them. I probably won’t do that, but I’ll keep an eye out and see if I can.

It’s only 5:30, so I could go back to the con now and do some more stuff, but there’s not really much I want to do. The big event tonight is the masquerade, which would be fun, but it doesn’t start until 8:30, and I’ll be just about ready for bed by then. At this point, I think I’ll just do some reading and maybe watch a movie or something. (I wonder if the WiFi here is fast enough for Netflix…)

Tomorrow, I have a handful of panels I want to see, then after the con, I’m going to meet some old friends who live out here for dinner. So that’s cool.

WonderCon day one (really)

OK, so this post is going to be my actual “day one” end-of-day report. I got to the con at around 10:30, an hour before the exhibit floor opened. I kind of came in the back way, from the north, instead of from the “grand plaza.” That worked out well, since there wasn’t much of a crowd, and I badged in through an entrance with no line at all. That got me onto the grounds, basically. I was going to just hang around outside until they opened the main doors to the exhibit floor, then just walk in, but instead I wound up getting into the giant line in the basement. I probably would have been better off staying outside, but I didn’t mind hanging out in line. (Except for the guy near me who clearly hadn’t showered today, but that’s always a risk at any con.)

Anyway, the show floor wasn’t crowded at all. I expect it’ll be more crowded tomorrow. There wasn’t much that really interested me on the floor, to be honest. DC had a nice booth. There was no presence at all from Marvel. There were a fair number of back issue dealers. I didn’t buy any books today though. I might not buy any at all this weekend, since I don’t want to have to drag too much paper back to NJ with me.

I went to the Mark & Sergio panel that I previously mentioned. It was a nice low-key panel, with Mark & Sergio gently ribbing each other and telling funny stories. After that, I went to DC’s “80 years of Batman” panel. They had a bunch of the current Batman creators on the panel, including Tom King, Scott Snyder, and Greg Capullo. Right after that, in the same room, was the “Spotlight on Jim Lee” panel. That was another fairly low-key panel. It was just Jim Lee on stage, taking questions and doing a couple of sketches, which he gave away at the end of the panel. After that, I thought about staying for the “DC Universe” panel in the same room, but I wanted to get up and move around a bit, and I had a feeling that the panel might be too much of a hard sell on the DC Universe service, which I’m still resisting. I might have to give in though, since they announced that they’re expanding the number of digital comics available on the service to, I guess, pretty much everything they’ve got. I ended the day at the “Greatest Cartoons Ever” presentation, featuring a bunch of great old cartoons selected by Jerry Beck and Frank Gladstone. They picked some great ones, including Bimbo’s Initiation, which is quite a doozy. After that, I left the con and headed back to my hotel. I grabbed a nice burrito on the way back for dinner.

I didn’t spend much money at all today, except to give CBLDF some money to renew my membership, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now, but never got around to. Breakfast was a $5 sandwich from Subway, lunch was a $10 rice bowl from a food truck at the con, and dinner was a $6 burrito. And there were a few $3 coffees in there too. So I guess I’m upholding the stereotype of the cheap-ass comic book fan.

Looking at the schedule for tomorrow, my must-see panels are Mark Evanier’s “Quick Draw” and “Cartoon Voices” panels, which are back-to-back in the same room near the end of the day (4:30 and 5:30). There’s also a DC “Meet the Publishers” panel and a “Happy Birthday Batman” panel in that room earlier, so I could conceivably plop down in that room at 2:30 and just stay there for 4 hours. There are a bunch of other interesting panels on Saturday, including spotlight panels on Andy Kubert, Tim Sale, Peter Tomasi, and Scott Snyder, all of which will probably be interesting. I might get to one or two of those.

I think I should be able to sleep reasonably well tonight, though I may have had a bit too much coffee today. We’ll see.

WonderCon day one (almost)

I managed to sleep from around 9pm last night until about 6:30am this morning, though it probably wasn’t really high-quality sleep. So my fear that I’d wake up at 4am and not be able to get back to sleep wasn’t really a problem. I’m definitely feeling some aches and pains from the travel yesterday, though I think it’s manageable.

I was too tired to do anything interesting for breakfast, so I settled for a bacon, egg, and cheese sub from Subway, which was not a great idea. But it got some food in me. I’m drinking the free K-Cup coffee in my hotel room for my caffeine fix.

I have everything I need and I’m all ready to go to the con, but the doors don’t open until 11:30, and it’s currently just 8:30, so I’ve got about three hours to kill. This might be a bit of an issue, since there’s not that much to do in Anaheim other than Disney. So I guess I’m either going to talk myself into going to Downtown Disney for a little strolling and shopping, or I’m going to sit in my hotel room and read a book.

I just checked, and Downtown Disney is a half-hour walk from here, so maybe not a great idea on a day when I’m going to be doing a lot of walking at the con.

I guess I don’t really have anything useful to say in this post. But writing it seemed like a good idea at the time. This is one of those posts that could just as well have been a Day One journal entry instead, but when I started, I thought it might have been going somewhere interesting. Sorry!

WonderCon day zero

I flew out to Anaheim for WonderCon today. After a fairly lengthy trip out here, I’m now happily eating chips & hummus in my hotel room and winding down for the day. Adjusting to Pacific time is going to be a little hard, I think. I got up at 4:30am Eastern time today, and I’m feeling like I want to go to bed right now, but it’s only 6pm Pacific, so I think I need to at least try to stay awake until 8 or 9, if I can.

A bunch of little things went right today, so that helped. The Uber driver for my trip to the airport showed up on time. I got through security at the airport pretty quickly. (Though I got a rather intrusive “inside the waistband” screening today after something about my ass looked suspicious on the scanner.) The flight itself was pretty smooth. (Though it took off an hour late.) The hotel I’m in is pretty nice. And I got a nice falafel wrap for dinner from a place that’s right around the corner from hotel, and will probably be my go-to dinner spot for the rest of the con.

I think I learned some lessons about my limitations when I went to Redmond on business last year. That was the first time I’d been on a trip to the west coast in several years. This time, I took my Claritin with me, so I can hopefully avoid allergy problems. And I took some melatonin, in the hope that it’ll help me sleep. And I have some Breathe Right strips, and Flexall, and Advil. So I hope all that will get me through.

I took a walk to the convention center this afternoon, to make sure I knew where it was. It’s only a ten minute walk from my hotel. There were a few people milling around , since they were open for badge pickup today. (I got mine in the mail, so I’m all set on that already.) I’d never been to the Anaheim Convention Center before. It’s pretty big. Not San Diego big, but still pretty big. And I’m pretty sure the con uses the whole thing. So WonderCon is definitely a lot bigger than it was the last time I went, back when they were in San Francisco.

I’m looking at the panel list for tomorrow, and there’s a few really good ones. The one I’m most interested in is the Mark Evanier & Sergio Aragones panel. I’m also hoping to get to Scott Shaw’s Oddball Comics panel. These are both panels that have existed, in some form or another, for 20 years or more, at SDCC and/or WonderCon. (So, yeah, I’ve got a little nostalgia going on. I’ll try to find something current to get interested in too, to balance it out.)

So I guess that’s about enough incoherent rambling for today. I was mostly writing this to kill time, to be honest. I’ve managed to kill about an hour, so that’s something. Now I just need to read or watch TV for an hour or two, then I can go to bed.


In my post about WonderCon yesterday, I mentioned that Marvel didn’t seem to have much of a (comics-related) presence planned. Now that I’m looking at the news coming out of C2E2 this weekend, I guess it’s because they’ve got a lot of stuff going on there instead. They made some (relatively) big announcements there.

I’ve never seriously considered going to C2E2. It’s run by the same people who run NYCC, so it’s similar to that convention, only farther away and in a city that’s generally colder than it is here. I’ve been to Chicago, and I don’t have anything against it, but, in March, I’d rather be in Anaheim, where it’s going to be in the 70s, rather than Chicago, where it’s currently in the 40s. It’s probably a great convention to go to if you’re already in (or near) Chicago.

more Apple stuff

Since this post in December, I’ve replaced my iPhone and Watch, but I’m still limping along with my five-year-old iPad Air. I had been considering buying a 6th gen 9.7″ 128 GB iPad, since Amazon has been selling them new at a $100 discount. (Still on sale at $329, as of this morning.) But I knew that new ones were coming, so I waited.

The new 10.5″ iPad Air is tempting, and I’ll probably buy one, but I’m not sure. The 64 GB version is $500, and the 256 GB version is $650, so that’s a lot more than the discounted 9.7″ one. (And there’s no 128 GB option.)

I’m also starting to think about buying a pair of AirPods. I’ve resisted the urge to get these, or any Bluetooth headphones, so far, but I’m tempted now. The two things that are still stopping me are the (probably non-existent) cancer risk and the short battery life (along with the impracticality of replacing the batteries). So I’m still a bit reticent about buying a pair of these expensive little things if they’re only going to last for two years before the battery dies.

Either way, I’m going to wait on any new purchases until after I get back from WonderCon. It would have been nice to have a new iPad for the six-hour flights to/from California, so I could spend that time reading comics. I can probably use the old iPad for a couple of hours, but I’m pretty sure the battery wouldn’t last through the whole flight. (Which is fine, since I have more than enough stuff to read on my Kindle, which will have no problem lasting through a six-hour flight, assuming I remember to put it in airplane mode.)

Getting ready for WonderCon

I’m leaving for WonderCon on Thursday, so I need to do a little bit of prep this weekend. I’ve gone through the schedule and picked out some stuff that I’m interested in. WonderCon is using some third-party system called “Sched”, so I had to register an account with them, and go through their interface to create my “schedule”. As these things go, it’s not that bad, and signing up for it doesn’t seem to have opted me in to anything horrible. I took a quick look at their TOS and privacy pages, and I guess they’re not too bad? Anyway, the old days of printing out a PDF and going over with it a highlighter are gone, I guess. (That was so much simpler…)

Here’s an article with some coverage of the TV and movie panels at the con. I’m interested in a few of those, but not necessarily the big “blockbuster” ones. And here’s an article about DC’s plans for the con. I’ll probably go to one or two of those panels. And here’s one more, about Marvel’s plans (mostly just the TV stuff). I might go to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and/or Cloak & Dagger panels, if it’s convenient. (I’m not interested enough in them to wait in a long line though.)

It doesn’t look like Marvel is doing much at the con, outside of the TV stuff. I’m not seeing any comic book panels from Marvel on the schedule at all. DC has a few, mostly related to Batman’s 80th, and a “Meet the Publishers” panel with Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. So that kind of works out for me, since I’m not currently reading any Marvel books, and I am reading a handful of DC books, including a few Batman family books.

I’m glad to see some old familiar favorites on the panel list, including a few Mark Evanier panels, like the Mark & Sergio one, Cartoon Voices, Quick Draw, Cover Story, and a Jack Kirby tribute panel. I think he did all of those at the last WonderCon I went to, in 2008, and they were all great. And I just followed a link on Mark’s site to the WonderCon Quick Guide, which is a PDF including schedule grids that I can print out and go over with a highlighter, so now we’ve come full circle. I should spend more time looking at the Toucan blog today, since there seem to be a few things on there that I’ve missed.

SXSW 2019 and streaming music

I’m not paying a lot of attention to SXSW this year, but I’ve run across a few references to it. NPR has a good bit of coverage, which can be found here, along with their Austin 100 playlist. They used to make that available for download as a big file of MP3s, but this year, it’s just out there as a streaming playlist, on Spotify or Apple Music or a couple of other streaming services. I’m a little disappointed by that, but I guess that’s the way things are going lately. Back in 2005, you could download 750 MP3s from SXSW, via BitTorrent (legally).

Also, I think it was called “South by Southwest” back then, and SXSW was just an acronym, but I guess now it’s officially just SXSW? I’m getting too old to keep up with this stuff. Anyway, there’s some good music coming out of that. Today is the last day.

I’m still a holdout on this whole $10/month streaming music thing, but it’s getting harder to stick to my guns on that. Spotify has a new deal where you can get a free Hulu subscription with Spotify for $10/month, though it’s the ad-supported Hulu option, not the ad-free one. And honestly there’s enough stuff in my Netflix and Amazon Prime Video queues to keep me busy for years, so I don’t really need another streaming video option. But it’s tempting.

I’m seeing some interesting things, like this Austin 100 playlist, that are only being made available as Spotify and/or Apple Music playlists lately. It seems like the assumption is that everybody is subscribing to one of these services now.

My own tastes, right now, are leaning more towards stuff that can be found on Bandcamp though, and they’re still going with the old-fashioned “give us money and we give you MP3 files and/or a CD” model. (Though they also let you stream anything you buy from them. And, technically, they let you stream almost anything on their site, even if you don’t buy it.)

I do listen to Amazon Prime Music sometimes, and there’s some good stuff on there, but that’s part of the overall Prime subscription, which I’d probably pay for even without the music. So I guess I can still hold off on giving Spotify (or Apple Music or whatever) ten bucks a month for streaming music.


WordPress and PHP

I got a bill from 1&1 / IONOS last week for PHP 5.6 Extended Support. I was a little surprised by this, since I thought I’d already taken care of updating PHP to a supported version, but it turns out that I was remembering updating from 5.4 to 5.6 three years ago. (Tempus fugit.) It looks like 5.6 reached EOL at the end of 2018. So I guess I’m paying $7 now for not having upgraded PHP in a while. I went ahead and updated to 7.2.15, so I should be good now for a while, though I guess I should update to 7.3 at some point. And I’ve got WordPress updated to 5.1.1 too. Everything still seems to be working, which is nice.

Every once in a while, I think about switching to some kind of managed WordPress install, so I don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore. Maybe just the $5/month plan from wordpress.com or something like that. But I still like futzing with this stuff a little, so for now, I’ll stay with the traditional web hosting plan, where I’m free to mess things up and forget to update PHP and stuff like that. But I think I’m getting close to the point where I’m going to want to hand this stuff off to somebody else and just concentrate on the blogging and not worry about the sysadmin side of things. Maybe in another three years.