wellness day

I’m taking today off from work, as a “wellness day.” (Insert eye roll here.) Wellness days are a new thing at work. We get two of them each year. They’re just like regular PTO days, except there’s a whole separate workflow to request them, and you’re supposed to use them to work on… your mental health, or something like that. I don’t understand these things. But I’m grateful for the two extra vacation days, I guess.

San Diego Comic Con is this weekend, and once again, I’m not there. I thought I’d maybe spend some time today looking at the news coming out of the con, and I have, but there’s not much of interest to me. Due to the writers and actors strikes, a number of panels and appearances have been cancelled. I guess that actually means that there’s more room for actual comics stuff at the con, so that’s cool, but honestly I’m not really following comics news right now either.

I picked up a few interesting bits from browsing the #SDCC tag at Mastodon, including learning that Phil Foglio broke his foot. (Which reminds me: I have a bunch of Girl Genius comics in PDF format I bought in 2020 that I still need to read…)

I started the day with a mental list of things I might like to do today, and of course I’ve done almost none of them. I did do a few semi-responsible things, like finally make an appointment for an overdue oil change, and clean up some stuff in Evernote, and stuff like that.

I also read a few chapters in The Shadow Rising, the fourth Wheel of Time book. I seem to be reading this one more slowly than I did the first three. I’m still really enjoying it, but I’ve been choosing to do other stuff on weekends more often, so I’m usually only getting through one or two chapters at a time, rather than reading 10 or 20 over the weekends. According to Wikipedia, it’s the longest book in the series, so I guess I’m going to be working on it for a while, maybe the rest of the summer.


Kung Fu, and more water boiling

So, since Friday, we’ve got water service back, but with low pressure, and we still have a boil water advisory. The most recent update from the water company indicates that they’ve replaced the pipe, so that’s good.

My system, for now, is to use boiled water for cleaning my toothbrush and stuff like that, bottled water for drinking, and paper/plastic cups, plates, and forks/spoons/etc, so I don’t have to wash dishes. ShopRite had plenty of bottled water today and yesterday. I bought a gallon of Poland Spring yesterday, and another gallon today. They’re limiting sales to two gallons per customer per visit. If the advisory isn’t lifted, I’ll probably need to go back for another gallon or two at some point.

I did risk making myself eggs and toast this morning, which required washing some dishes afterward. I went ahead and used tap water for that, and I’ll just live with the risk, I guess. And I ate a couple of slices of pizza from the pizzeria across the street last night. I’m going with the theory that pizza is cooked at a high enough temperature to kill anything that might have lingered from using tap water anywhere in the process. That may be wishful thinking, but I guess I’m OK with it.

It’s been interesting to see which businesses on Main St were closed yesterday and today, and which ones weren’t. Both Starbucks and my favorite local coffee shop have been closed, but Dunkin Donuts has been open. There’s a local bakery that was open, but they posted on Facebook that their stuff is actually prepared offsite, in a “ghost kitchen” that’s in an area not covered by the boil water advisory.

Meanwhile, I’ve been on a Kung Fu binge this weekend. I watched Ip Man yesterday, and that reminded me that I’ve had a DVD set of Kung Fu Master sitting on my shelf since 2007 or so, unwatched, so I dusted that off and watched it too. Today, I’m watching the Ric Meyers commentary track for that. It’s bringing back pleasant memories of Meyers’ “Kung Fu Superhero Extravaganza” panels at San Diego cons, back when I was going to SDCC every year. (I’m fairly certain the reason I bought the Kung Fu Master DVD set is because Meyers showed some clips from it at one of those panels.) And some internet searching around Donnie Yen has reminded me that there are a bunch of his movies that I haven’t watched yet. And I have a box set of all of the Once Upon A Time In China movies, so maybe I should hold off on buying any more Kung Fu DVDs or Blu-rays until I’ve watched those

another weird week

Well, it’s the end of another weird week. July is almost over. It’s been hot all week, and it’s going to be even hotter this weekend. I just saw a notice that Duke Farms is going to be closed over the weekend due to the heat, including the Sunday farmer’s market, so I guess I’m going to have to buy all my food from Shop-Rite tomorrow, assuming I can survive the three-minute walk from my apartment (and back).

Our July 4th security incident at work has basically turned July into a “lost month” for all of us. We’re coming out of it, but we’re still not at 100%. My development VM is still in pretty bad shape, since all outgoing internet access from it has been locked down, and most of my firewall requests don’t seem to have gone through yet.

I’d hoped for a quiet day today, working from home, but my internet was down, so I had to drive in to the office and work from there. It was still a quiet day, with very few people in the office, and the A/C in the office is better than my apartment A/C, so there’s that.

I was wondering if it would be hot enough tonight to discourage people from showing up for the usual Somerville Friday classic car thing. Looking out my window now, it appears to be a little less crowded than usual, but not by much. Personally, you couldn’t pay me enough to hang around outside tonight looking at cars. I was thinking about watching “The Gray Man”  on Netflix tonight, but the reviews aren’t great, so maybe I should find something a little lighter.

I had planned on blogging a bit about day two of SDCC, but I couldn’t find any news that I thought was interesting enough to blog about. I watched a few trailers and a bit of live coverage from Marvel and IGN, but it was all pretty meh. Dungeons and Dragons movie? Meh. Amazon “Rings of Power” series? Meh. I kind of wish I could watch some stuff along of lines of Mark Evanier’s panels, but nobody’s livestreaming that kind of stuff.

not at SDCC, day one

Wow, today is the first full day of SDCC. I’ve been so busy this month, since the July 4th incident, that it kind of snuck up on me. I had, at one point, though about taking a few vacation days to coincide with SDCC, and just spend a few days decompressing, reading comics, and absorbing whatever interesting news comes out of the con. But I didn’t do that. And, at this point, if I tried to take a vacation day, I’d probably get laughed at. I’ll try to take a few days next month, maybe.

I never seriously considered actually going to the con this year. I assumed it would be near impossible to get tickets (as it usually is), plus I’m still not comfortable in large crowds, nor am I enthusiastic about cross-continental air travel right now. The con is requiring folks to be both masked and vax’ed, so that’s good. But this BA.5 thing is scary, even with full vaccination. My feelings about COVID-19 at this point are mostly in line with this Jigsaw video from today.

Anyway, we’ve got record heat going on here in NJ right now. San Diego sure would be a nice place to be. Looks like it’ll be mid-70s there all weekend, while we might hit 100 here on Sunday. Maybe I’ll have time to watch a few panels over the weekend, or maybe read the program book PDF. Sigh.

Comic-Con@Home, again, day two

Today is day two of the second, and hopefully last, Comic-Con@Home. This year, the con is only three days, and not the usual four. The length, of course, doesn’t matter that much with this kind of thing, since the panels are all prerecorded and dumped on YouTube, so there’s not really much of a sense of participating in a specific thing that’s constrained in time and space. I can watch the panels whenever I want, and there’s not much of a “live” aspect to it at all. But I did take a day off yesterday to “attend” the con and tried to get into the spirit of things.

Comparing this year to last year, things seem a bit more organized but also a lot more subdued. All the folks who didn’t really know how to do Zoom panels last year have now figured it out, so the video and sound on those is generally a lot better than it was last year. I guess we’ve all figured out how to do Zoom (and Teams and WebEx and whatever else) pretty well over the last year and a half.

At the start of the pandemic, I made the decision to write a short post in Day One every day, and I’ve kept that going since. I just recently noticed that I’ve hit a 500 day streak in Day One. And then I noticed this blog post from Mark Evanier, pointing out that it has now been 500 days since the start of the pandemic lockdown/quarantine/whatever. I guess it depends on when you start counting, but, for me, I’d start from my birthday last year, 3/13/2020, and 500 days from then is 7/26/21, so we’re not quite at 500 days, but we’re close. Of course, things are starting to get back to “normal,” but COVID-19 is still with us, and I’m still working from home and wearing a mask when I go grocery shopping. Things will get much more “normal” in September when I’ll need to start going back into the office. (But that’s a topic for another post.)

Anyway, that 500 day mark, and the second virtual SDCC, has gotten me thinking about how long this has all lasted and where we are now and where we’re headed. But I really meant this post to just be about fun comics stuff, so I’m going to stop thinking about that and write up some notes on the panels I “attended” yesterday.

  • Ducks All the Way Down: Metafiction in Comics – This was a weird one, to start the day. A nice nerdy conversation about metafiction in comics.
  • Stan Sakai and the Usagi Chronicles – This panel was about the new Usagi Yojimbo animated series that’s going to be on Netflix. There’s an article about it here. They haven’t announced a release date for it yet. I’m cautiously optimistic about it.
  • Max Allan Collins–Three Hard Cases: Ms Tree, Mike Hammer & Nolan – This was a good one to watch, since I haven’t really been keeping up with Max Allan Collins recently. I loved Ms Tree when it first came out, years ago. I should probably buy the new Ms Tree collections coming out from Titan. I don’t really need them, since I’ve already read all of those stories, but it would be nice to have the collections and reread them.
  • 35 Years of Dark Horse: Past and Present – I’ve been reading Dark Horse books since their early days. Boris the Bear #1 was probably the first Dark Horse book I ever bought. Dark Horse has a timeline up on their site that goes from 1986 through to 2013. (I notice that it doesn’t mention Boris though.) The company has had an interesting history, with some ups and downs. The panel was more about the present than the past though. It would have been cool to have a panel with some of the original Dark Horse creators talking about the early days of the company, but that’s not what this was.
  • Greatest Geek Year Ever: 1981 Week – This was a a fun panel from the guys who usually do Starship Smackdown at the con. The idea of this panel was, basically, to program a week’s worth of movies from 1981. They do a podcast called The 4:30 Movie where they do this for a different theme each episode. This one brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. I hadn’t thought about Dragonslayer in years. I should probably consider subscribing to their podcast, but I’m juggling too many podcasts right now.
  • Scott Shaw! Oddball Comics: The Batman Edition – Scott’s “oddball comics” slideshows are always fun. He did an all-Batman edition for this year.

There are two panels from yesterday that I haven’t gotten around to watching yet: the Frank Thorne Memorial Panel, and the Eisner Awards presentation. I actually started watching the Eisner one this morning, but didn’t get too far. Much like last year, it’s kind of dry. It’s mostly just Phil LaMarr reading out the nominees for each category, then announcing the winner. Since it wasn’t done live, there isn’t really any excitement or suspense in it. And there aren’t any acceptance speeches. I was hoping that maybe they’d find a way to make it more interesting this year.

For today, I’ve got a list of about a half-dozen panels that I want to watch, including a couple of Mark Evanier’s regular panels. So that should all be fun. As I did last year, I’m trying to disappear into the con a bit and escape from the reality around me, to some extent. I had a good day yesterday, and can’t really complain, but watching panels on my laptop or TV doesn’t really compare to the real thing. Hopefully, I can have a good “in-person” con experience at NYCC later this year.

SDCC, NYCC, Black Widow, and so on

Today is the Fan Verification Onsale date for NYCC 2021. Anyone who was “fan verified” for the 2019 con can buy tickets for this year’s con, starting at 10 AM today. The con is scheduled for October 7-10. Hopefully, it’ll be safe to hold a comic convention in NYC by then. I’d be reticent about going to something like NYCC right now. And honestly I’m not sure if we’ll be better off or worse off in October. But I’m probably going to attempt to buy tickets today.

Badges are pretty expensive this year, at $60/day with no multi-day passes, so going to all four days would be $240. Maybe I’ll just buy Thursday and Friday badges? I haven’t really decided yet. And there’s always a chance that one or more days will sell out before I get to the head of the queue, so maybe I won’t even be able to buy all four days. They’re supposed to be reducing the number of badges they’re selling this year, so the con won’t be too crowded, but I haven’t seen specific numbers on that. And there seems to be a good bit of interest in the con this year, but it might be significantly less than usual, specifically from folks who aren’t local. So, really, I have no idea what the situation will be. I guess I can buy badges today, then decide not to go if the situation in October isn’t good. Or maybe I’ll never make it out of the queue, and all this waffling won’t matter.

Meanwhile, SDCC’s Comic-Con@Home is coming soon (July 23-25). I’m looking forward to that. I’m probably going to take a PTO day on July 23rd and try to recreate a bit of the con experience at home, like I did last year. There doesn’t seem to be much excitement around this year’s virtual con, really. I think people are really looking forward to the next in-person con.

There’s a good article about the @Home con, and the upcoming in-person con in November, at Gizmodo. It sounds like most of the panels will be pre-recorded, like last year, which is a little disappointing but understandable. The panel schedule has now been released, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet. It can be found here. On first glance, it looked like there wasn’t much going on, but then I realized that the panel list was an iframe that scrolls separately from the rest of the page. (Sigh.) There’s actually quite a lot on the schedule, so that’s cool.

I’ve been getting into the mood for SDCC by listening to the Comic-Con Begins podcast. It’s a pretty good “oral history” podcast recounting the founding and early days of the con. It’s a fairly professional production, released by SiriusXM. I already know some of the stories they’re telling, but a good bit of it is new to me. Anyway, it’s fun.

One more comic-related (and COVID-related) note: I spent the $30 to buy access to Black Widow on Disney+ on Friday. It’s a pretty good movie, but maybe not worth $30 just for the privilege of watching it at home while it’s still in theaters. But I really wanted to see it Friday, and I didn’t want to go to a theater. I think I’m probably ready to go back and see a movie in a theater, theoretically, but I really just wanted to plop down on my sofa after work Friday and watch a new Marvel movie with my AirPod Pros in my ears, and my shades drawn, and forgot about the real world for two hours. There’s an interesting article about the business aspect of this release on CNN. And here’s an article from Wired about the timing of the release. I might watch it again tonight, though I started watching the last season of Bosch last night, so I’ll probably just watch more of that. (There’s way too much good stuff streaming right now.)

Comic-Con Special Edition and thinking ahead

As I mentioned yesterday, The SDCC folks are going to try to put on an in-person con in November. There’s been a lot of reaction to that online. Mark Evanier has a reasonable blog post about it. Rich Johnston has gone all-in and booked a flight to San Diego (from London) and an Airbnb already. I wish I was optimistic enough to do that. But we’re really not doing great with the pandemic here in New Jersey right now. In the US, overall, we’re looking at a fourth wave, and the director of the CDC is using phrases like “impending doom.” So I guess I’m not going to make any plans that involve traveling more than, say, 50 miles from home this year.

On This Day

I probably shouldn’t be writing a blog post today, on a Monday, during work hours, but I was poking around and noticed a few things that are too good not to mention. And I just solved a long-standing performance issue with one of my programs, so I think I can take a short break.

  • Two years ago today, I was at WonderCon in Anaheim. Yesterday, I was watching WonderCon@Home panels on YouTube, from my couch.
  • One year ago today, I was just finishing up my second week of working from home. I’m still using the old office chair that I said, in the linked post, was “OK for occasional use.” And I’m still using a single-monitor setup. If I knew then that I’d be working from home for a full year, I probably would have gone ahead and bought that $1300 Aeron chair. (Honestly, the old chair I’m using isn’t that bad.)
  • San Diego Comic-Con has just announced the dates for their November convention. They’re going to try to do a three-day con over Thanksgiving weekend. They’re getting some backlash on that, and I think rightly so. Thanksgiving 2021 may be the first chance that some folks get to have a big family get-together since Christmas 2019. So maybe asking a bunch of people to work a con that weekend isn’t a great idea. And expecting fans and pros to show up may be a bit unrealistic too. On the other hand, this con isn’t supposed to be a full, normal, San Diego con. It’s a “special edition” con. So maybe it’ll be a low-key affair, mostly for locals, with limited attendance, and limited programming. I can’t blame the con organizers for wanting to do something this year to pull in some revenue.

So that’s it for now. Back to work.

Comic-Con@Home, day four

Well, today is the last day of Comic-Con@Home. I attended two panels today, one on Will Eisner and the 80th anniversary of The Spirit, and another on Jack Kirby. I’ll admit I zoned out a bit during parts of both of them. The Eisner panel was hosted by Danny Fingeroth. I went to a similar panel hosted by him at NYCC in 2017, so there was a lot of familiar material in it. The other panelists were Denis Kitchen, Paul Levitz, and Dan Schkade. I’m very familiar with Kitchen and Levitz, and they were both on that 2017 panel, but I’d never heard of Schkade. His perspective, as a younger creator, was interesting. He does a strip on Webtoon called Lavender Jack, which I should probably start following. (Of course, I’m already following a couple of other strips on Webtoon, but I haven’t actually gone over to the site or opened the app to read them in months…)

And the Kirby panel was a “Kirby 101” panel, meant to be an introduction to Jack Kirby. That’s absolutely a worthwhile thing to do, but I’m not really the target audience for that, having already read plenty of Kirby comics and gone to several Kirby con panels. (I’m definitely not a Kirby expert, but I’m at least at the “Kirby 201” level…) Anyway, both panels were fun to watch, but I did zone out during both and found myself scrolling through Twitter on my phone and looking at links to other stuff. If I were actually at an in-person con, I’d probably have paid more attention. Going to a couple of good solid comics-related panels is always a good way to close out a con.

I’ve been curious about the economics of this virtual con, and about how much damage canceling the in-person con will do to the Comic-Con organization and to the San Diego economy in general. This clip from a local San Diego TV news report, from when the cancellation was announced, has some pretty big numbers in it. And this article talks a bit about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff involved in dealing with hotel cancellation fees and other financial stuff. And here’s a recent TV clip about the cancellation. I’m really hoping things work out and they get to have a real con next year (even though I probably won’t be able to go to it).

I tried to do my part to help with the economic situation, by spending some money at the virtual con, but I didn’t manage to spend that much. While they included a virtual “con floor” as part of Comic-Con@Home, it was hard to navigate and honestly kind of useless. There’s not really a good way to simulate the experience of wandering a con floor, browsing all the cool stuff and making a bunch of ill-advised impulse purchases. I bought a t-shirt from the official store, and I bought some Rob Hanes comics from Randy Reynaldo. That’s it though. I thought about picking up some stuff from Two Morrows, but every time I think about doing that, I remember how many books and magazines about comics I have sitting around the apartment, unread, and I realize that adding more to that pile isn’t a great idea, even if they’re really good books and magazines. (Ditto for Hogan’s Alley. I keep thinking I should subscribe to that, or at least buy some back issues, then I realize that they’ll just pile up, and I’ll never read them.)

Anyway, it was a pretty good con, given the circumstances. My mood has been up and down for these last four days, and I can’t say that the virtual con has had the same brain-resetting effect that a real con often has on me. But I had some fun getting lost in panels about comics and TV and books and movies, and I guess a little escapism is the best I can hope for out of a stay-at-home long-weekend vacation in the middle of a pandemic. (Speaking of escapism, I also read through most of The Escapist series this weekend too. That was fun.)

Comic-Con@Home, day three

Today is Saturday, and day three of Comic-Con@Home. I did all of my usual Saturday errands and chores this morning, and settled in to enjoy con stuff around lunchtime.

I’m continuing to watch a lot of panels. Yesterday, I watched panels about DC, Marvel, Ray Harryhausen, Jack Kirby, and Netflix’s Dragon Prince. I’m not too excited about anything that DC and Marvel are doing these days. There’s a bunch of stuff that I’m curious about, and might pick up when it gets collected, but nothing that I really want to pick up in single issues as it comes out. Both DC and Marvel and doing big crossovers right now, and I really can’t get enthusiastic about picking up stuff like that anymore. It’s too much of a pain to keep track of all the issues, and it’s too expensive if you buy them all. And they rarely come together as well as you’d hope. The Harryhausen panel was fun. The Kirby panel was Mark Evanier’s usual Kirby tribute panel, this time with Alex Ross as a special guest.

I watched last night’s Eisner presentation this morning. That was a little weird. It was mostly just Phil LaMarr reading the nominees and winners. I realize that there’s not much else they could do, all things considered. It would have been cool if they could have found a way to do it live, and bring in the winners in real time for acceptance speeches. The Hall of Fame inductees did get to make speeches, and I enjoyed Maggie Thompson’s speech. (And I might have teared up a bit. Don and Maggie’s CBG was a big part of my formative years.) It might have been good for them to acknowledge and apologize for the voting glitch they had too. Anyway, here’s a list of the winners. There’s a lot of good stuff in there. (Most of which I haven’t read yet.)

So far this afternoon, I’ve watched another DC panel, a Saturday morning cartoon panel, and an Inglorious Treksperts panel. And there are a few more I’ll probably watch before the end of the day. The Trek panel was fun. The guys from the panel have done a bunch of “Starship Smackdown” panels at past cons, and I’ve gone to several of those. I honestly didn’t realize that they’d started a podcast. I should probably subscribe to that.

Overall, I’ve been having fun with the con, though it’s bittersweet, knowing that I probably won’t be able to attend a con in person any time soon.