Feeding The Ego

It’s Tuesday morning and I am sitting at my desk just absolutely full of piss and vinegar.  I was forced to go home on Monday, using up one of my few days off by the head guy in our department because I came in just a little too sick.  Then,  I come in today to find the hag who is our second-in-command had my old chair removed, never mind that I can’t get comfortable in the stupid new overpriced “ergonomic” chairs.  To top it all off, the idiot sitting next to me keeps on harping about how I made everyone else in the office sick, never mind that he could have sent me home last week when he was in charge, and doesn’t go home himself to recover.  Everyone in the office is hacking and coughing, but I have to be the one sent home.

All that combined made me feel about two-foot small, and all I wanted to do for the rest of the day was sit at my desk, fester like a mushroom until quitting time and then unload at home with some good old fashioned videogame violence or Rock Band.  I fired up my laptop, put on some headphones, and turned up some Smashmouth, hoping it would drown out the constant cacophony of ringing phones, conferences and meetings that I have to work through.  It almost does the job.

As I sat at my desk seething while my PC took forever-and-a-day to download a new security update, I heard a chirp from my cell phone.  I picked it up, expecting to see an IM from one of my friends, but instead I saw a Twitter update.  Hm, I didn’t know it did that.  Neato.  The tweet read:  “Thanks to randomizer9 for making an ‘unofficial’ San Japan :3 commercial for us.  Now featured on our YouTube page”

As I read the screen, I smiled and felt so much better.  Putting something before the monkey house that is the Internet is always asking for trouble.  As a budding voice-over artist, I wasn’t sure how my latest effort would be received.  I have gotten very little feedback from strangers on all the podcasts, blog posts and articles I have thrown to the slippery walls of the Internet so far.   Knowing that The Guys In Charge Of San Japan liked it was very encouraging, and gave me a little ego-boost when I really needed it.

I like to think that I have a small ego, but the fact of the matter is that it is still there, and it likes to be thrown a bone every so often.  As a computer programmer, I am accustomed to being on the bottom of the totem pole.  As odd as it sounds; I actually like it there, because that is where the fun stuff is.  I read Dilbert and MyCage and joke about the people in charge just like everyone else, but being constantly stepped on does get old after awhile and I wonder if this is the “epiphany” telling me that I need to get out of Dodge.

But, you know what?  That angst can wait until I fire up Borderlands tonight and pump everything that moves full of hot lead or start up Rock Band and cue up some punk songs.  I’ll gladly ride this little ego-boost through the rest of my crappy workday and give it another shot tomorrow…after sending some resumes out tonight, of course!

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RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComicCon 2010

Bustin' makes them feel good!

I went to the Texas Comic-Con to support a new con, support my friends, and to check out what was there to see.  The con’s homepage featured a menagerie of guests ranging from indie comic artists, actors, and even The Honky Tonk Man.

I wondered what else awaited me on Friday after lunch as I turned left onto Marbach Street on my way to the San Antonio Event Center.  First-time events are something of a crapshoot.  At best, everything goes off with a minimum of fuss, at worst, it can be painful to both watch and to be a part of.

Even though I was fairly sure I was not going to make it out Sunday, I purchased a three-day pass.  I was disappointed to find that I did not receive a pass to wear around my neck, but instead I was given a red plastic wristband that I apparently would have to keep on my wrist until Sunday afternoon.  Ew.  To make that first impression even worse, the gentleman that took my money didn’t even help me put it on!

After I fumbled with the wristband for a few minutes, I entered the convention proper.  The San Antonio Event Center provided a fairly large space, but one could tell its glory days were far behind it.  As if to emphasize this point, I would find that some of the tables and chairs provided to the exhibitors were a bit on the rickety side.  As is often the case with cons, Friday was a slow day, and indeed, some of the exhibitors were in the midst of setting up their tables as I walked around.

The Texas Comic-Con can best be described in two words: Nerd Gumbo.  While the phrase “something for everybody” is frequently overused, it fits here.  Just off the top of my head, there were comics, videogames, action figures, Star Wars, Lego, Ghostbusters from two cities (Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth), costumers, tabletop gaming, one retired wrestler and a few actors, including San Antonio’s own Jonathan Joss of “King of the Hill” fame.  I wondered if “Comic-Con” was the right description for an event that had such a variety of things and people to see.  To be fair, though, there were a number of booths featuring comics, collectibles and a artist’s area which included my friend Austin “Redbeard” Rogers of redbeardcomics.com

Austin told me that in order to get a table, an artist had to submit examples of his or her work and if they were “good enough” then they were granted a table.  I don’t know if other cons do this, but it is an interesting idea and it seems like a good way for  con organizers to maintain a level of quality.  The dealers were the usual assortment of comic book stores, collector stores and the occasional person trying to make a few dollars by selling their personal collection.

Of particular note was Antarctic Press, a San Antonio-based comic company.  They had many books for sale and some of their artists were present.  I purchased some books and spent a few minutes chatting with Fred Perry and David Hutchinson about geeky things.  I must admit though, I felt a little bad telling Mr. Perry that while I had frequently seen his popular “Gold Digger” comic in stores, I had never purchased it.  What can I say?  I’m just not a very good liar, so I don’t even bother trying.

One of the books I purchased was “Oz: The Manga” by David Hutchinson.  I finished reading it last night, enjoyed it immensely and look forward to purchasing the additional books in the series.  It follows L. Frank Baum’s story more closely than the movie “The Wizard of Oz” and was a great read as well as an interesting visual take on the classic tale.  Next, I will take my first step into the world of Fred Perry’s “Gold Digger” as I start reading “Gold Digger MAX Vol 1.”

The con also held a Street Fighter contest on Sunday which I did not see, but they did have a few videogame consoles set up where folks could take a seat and play a round or two of Street Fighter or even some of the old classics like Mrs. PacMan.

Just like the anime conventions I have been to, there were plenty of folks dressed up in costumes, however, these were more recognizable, there were quite a few Green Lanterns, Imperial Stormtroopers, Jedi, and even GI Joe’s Baroness and Street Fighter’s Cammy.

Aside from the dealers and the artists were what I could call the “enthusiast” tables, these represented a variety of fandoms including a Stormtrooper platoon, a Halo costuming group, two Ghostbusters fan groups, the Texas Lego User’s Group and even a group of Sith that I apparently overlooked.  Everyone seemed to be glad to be there and enthusiastically posed for pictures.

Some panels were held, but the lack of a room to host them in made it difficult to hear and see what was going on, especially when the more popular guests were presenting.  There was also no seating set up, hopefully this is something that will be addressed for next time.

I think that the Texas ComicCon got off to a good start.  There was a wide variety of things to see and buy, lots of great artists and fun guests.  With some minor tweaks and adjustments (*cough* BADGES *cough*), I think this could be the start of something big, and look forward to attending next year.

NOTE: The author received no compensation for this review.

PRE-3

I’m at the airport with just an hour until my flight leaves and I am starting to get really excited.  I understand some of the boys had a few hiccups getting to LA but its all good now.  I look at the “golden ticket” inside my laptop bag and smile.  As I go to a news website to see what’s happening in the world, an eyebrow raises as I read about a 5.7 quake near the California-Mexico border.

“This ain’t gonna be Texas.” I think to myself.  This is only the second time I will be in California, the first being a forgettable trip back in college to a conference I really could have gone the rest of my life without attending.  I think the amount of suck involved makes it more of a “symposium.”  Any way you slice it, it was a waste of a weekend and I also didn’t get to see much outside of the hotel.

It wasn’t for lack of trying, though, I remember the Saturday night when we all hopped into a cab to go somewhere.  Upon asking the driver what was in the area, he told us that The House of Blues was nearby. I was excited, I have never been to The House of Blues and it sounded new and exciting.  If nothing else, live music is always a treat.  Sadly, it was not to be, the jackasses I was with wanted to go to a crappy club that was just like every other crappy club I’ve ever been to in my life.  I don’t know, maybe I was supposed to be excited and be all “Oh my gosh, we went to a crappy club but its a crappy club IN LOS ANGELES!

Whoop-dee-freaking-doo…okay, maybe I’m just a little bitter.

Luckily, I have more in common with the crowd I will be hanging around with this time.  That is to say, we’re all a bunch of socially awkward weirdos.  Actually that probably isn’t completely true, I think we have one or two “cool kids” in the group, you know, balance of the universe and all that.

The thought of occupying the same place with over forty-thousand other socially awkward weirdos is a pleasant one, though, and I can’t wait to get there.

WHEEE-3!

A few months ago when I got the e-mail from Oscar of original-gamer.com saying that I was part of the crew going to E3, I got excited.  Soon, the feeling had died down.  The constant stream of emails from various and sundry game and peripheral companies served as constant reminders that I was going to E3, but they failed to get me excited again.  As I opened my credentials in the mail, I got hyped up again, but once again, the excitement slowly ebbed away.

The stream of “Please come to our booth!” emails continued, and before I knew it, this past Sunday was the planning get-together and pre-E3 podcast.  I was happy, but not quite “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD I’M GOING TO E3!” excited.

Yesterday, I received an email asking me to go to a booth to check out a certain music game.  I’m not sure if I can say the name or not, so I will say that it does involve rock but won’t make me a hero.

“OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD I’M GOING TO GET TO PLAY THIS GAME AT E3!”

I drove home yesterday with a big-ass smile on my face as I banged the drum beat to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves on the Reliant’s steering wheel.  I was excited again, and I still am.  By this time next week, I will be in the midst of forty-thousand plus fellow members of the industry checking out all the Cool New Stuff and helping to report on it to all the happy-shiny people out in Internetland.

It feels a little odd to think of myself as “part of the industry” though.  In my mind, I am just the “voice guy” for original-gamer.com, and a writer and editor for them as well.

Then again, maybe it isn’t that big of a stretch.

Despite the fact that I will admittedly be (big finger quotes here) “working,” next week’s trip to E3 is my summer vacation.  I had recently been grousing about how I haven’t taken a ‘real vacation’ to somewhere far and/or different in a few years.  Well, if going to California to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of developers, peripheral makers, Really Important People and fellow website multi-hat wearers doesn’t fit that bill, I don’t know what does!

Ready or not, here I come!!