04 May 2011

Remembrances of Comic Cons Past

Those weren't the droids I was
looking for.
Back in those woebegone days when I was a teenager, before the invention of sand when everything was in black and white, my family used to make an annual trip to San Diego for Comic Con. This was before it turned into a haven for Hollywood movies to whet the appetite of the viewing public and instead focused on the thing that was in the name: comics.

That's not a knock on what the San Diego Comic Con has become, mind you. Over the last five years, especially, the number of movie studios appearing in San Diego has grown by leaps and bounds, all hoping to get some buzz going for their movies that are often a year away from premiering. Accordingly, the number of attendees and vendors has also grown, but, in doing so, it's squeezed out many of the longtime comic book aficionados in favor of Twilight or other flavor of the month fans hoping to get a glimpse of Robert Pattinson sitting at a table on a stage a football field away from them. That growth, while seemingly good for the properties I have an affinity for (*), has made it difficult to take part in what was once a hallmark of my youth. 

(*) There's a Thor movie coming out this week. This is madness considering that the highest profile superhero movie from my teenage years, Batman & Robin, effectively killed and salted the earth of the genre for over half a decade. I can't understate enough how amazing it is that we're staring down the  barrel of a Green LanternThor and Captain America summer.

From the ages of 11 to 17, I attended Comic Con in San Diego every year with my folks and brother for vacation. Then from 19 to 25, I made a point to travel down there for at least one of the four days, if not more. Since then, hotels have been harder to come by and days for the event have actually sold out. That never used to happen. Heck, my wife and I were going to make a point of actually planning our full-fledged vacation for a Comic Con trip this summer when every single ticket, one day passes and four day passes both, sold out inside of 15 minutes of the on-sale.

Comic Con in San Diego got away from the comics, which is one of those "get off my lawn" statements I never saw myself prone to making before. However, over the weekend, I decided to try out a smaller scale convention over in Orange County called the Anaheim Comic Con. This was the kind of event I remembered from that first time I attended San Diego and contained everything I like about it: people dressed in weird costumes, artists plying their trade at rows of picnic tables, and lots of great deals. The rising cost of life has prevented me from regularly buying single issues of comics, so I tend to catch up on things by purchasing larger collections, or trade paperbacks. At shows like this, they're usually priced more reasonably than one can find at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, so I wound up getting about nine of them, all for half-price. 

It was impossible, though, to escape the convention's need for some mainstream attention as there were some D-list celebrities in attendance, charging way too much for autographs, 8x10 head shots and "photo opportunities." This is the kind of thing my wife, who is not a comics fan, would normally enjoy. When I started walking down the tumbleweed lane that was the celebrity row, I sent her a text message that Steve Sanders from Beverly Hills 90210 was in attendance. "GET ME HIS AUTOGRAPH!," she replied. I responded, "It's $20 bucks for just his autograph."Her reply was succinct, "Ew...don't get me his autograph." While Ian Ziering wasn't the most obvious sore thumb in the pack of what usually amounted to a large grouping of genre related character actors, he was pretty close.

Ultimately, it was nice just to soak in the ambience a place like a comic convention provides. I wasn't made to feel weird spending an hour looking through 15 long boxes to find the right collection of Ultimate Spider-Man or stopping to snap a photo of a procession of Star Wars droids. And that's the way I like things to be.

Here's the part where I discuss what went on in class, but since I'm behind, I'm going to split the catch up portion into a few different posts.

On Friday, April 22, we started reading chapter twelve of To Kill a Mockingbird after you turned in your Character Chart and Themes worksheet for chapters one through eleven. The book takes a bit of a turn here as we enter Part Two because there is less of a focus on childish games and more attention given towards the trial of Tom Robinson. 

Tuesday, April 26, we took time in class to revise thesis statements that you created for chapters 6-10. Understand that I'm expecting you to be able to create a coherent subject and opinion combo to lead to a claim. Take a character and then tell what the book is trying to say about the character or what the character is going through in that section of the book. Your incorporated sub-topics should include events that are examples of your claim in action. 

We went over one more thesis statement and then took the time to read through chapter 15 on Wednesday, April 27. Unfortunately, fourth period decided that they had all of the information they needed for the the thesis statement assignment and wished to socialize instead while I attempted to explain and correct a statement on the board. They then received the opportunity to read silently as a result.

Last Thursday, April 28, I was at a GATE vertical planning meeting where we determined next year's curriculum for the honors program. You received a work day.

Finally, our shortened rally period on Friday, April 29, was spent beginning the trial of Tom Robinson during chapter 17. Heck Tate establishes several things that happened after the alleged crime took place at the Ewell house. He's largely a credible witness, so we can take what he says at face value. That's not the case for everyone else who testifies, though.

On Friday, April 22, we read through a paper that explained the positive signs of schizophrenia. The big question to ask stemming from the reading is does Chief qualify as a schizophrenic? In an attempt to answer that question, you received a bonus assignment that dealt with finding examples of Chief suffering from the various positive signs detailed in the paper.

You received questions on sections three and four of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest that you answered in small groups on Tuesday, April 26, for the purpose of having an in-class discussion on the following Wednesday and Friday. The discussion went well, and I'm glad that we heard from more than just the usual suspects of talkers. 

Thursday, April 28, I was out, so you received a reading day.

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