Kicking Tires

Buying cars seems to have changed a little bit since I bought my trusty Dodge Neon back in 2006.  I have been going to dealerships and looking at vehicles for a few weeks now and thus far the salespeople aren’t quite as pushy as I remembered back then.  I’d like to think that the Internet and social media have made it harder for bad dealers and salespeople to get unnoticed.

In any event, I haven’t had to raise my hackles at any pushy salespeople, even though they’re on a hair trigger almost from the moment I leave home to go looking around.  One guy made me wonder, though.

As I was shopping for a new vehicle last Saturday, I happened upon a Ford dealership and pulled in to check out what they had.  A younger gentleman introduced himself and showed me around the vehicle I was considering.  We went out for a test drive and started just talking about stuff.  I made mention of my job as editor of Original-Gamer.com and he made the comment that yeah, he had played World of Warcraft and League of Legends.

I figured, okay, I can talk shop with this guy.  As it turns out he, was either a poser or had been out of the game for way too long.  He asked me what “MUMORPUHGERS” were, barely batted an eye when I mentioned my beta invite to Mists of Pandaeria and didn’t know what E3 was.  Really?

I guess shopping for a car hasn’t changed that much.

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My 2012 Con Schedule!

Doing my thing at San Japan 4TW
Never forget your sanitizer!

Here is my con schedule for 2012.  Frankly, I’m surprised I never did this here before.  Unlike previous years, I won’t be ‘working’ at very many of these.

Ikkicon, Dec 30-Jan 1, Austin, Texas

Technically, this New Year’s Eve con is the first con of the year as well as the last one of last year, so there.  I’ve already done a writeup on it, so there isn’t much else.

Furry Fiesta, Feb 24-26, Dallas, Texas

Going to try something new this year.  Furry Fiesta will be my first-ever furry convention.  It will be interesting to see how similar and different this will be from all the other cons I’ve ever attended.

Mizuumi-con, March 31, San Antonio, Texas

Mizuumi con was one of the first anime cons I ever attended, and is a great place for newbies to dip their toes into the multicolored pool that is anime and manga.  At $15, its inexpensive to go to and the kids out at Our Lady of the Lake University make for a pretty enthusiastic crowd.

Aetherfest, May 4-6, San Antonio, Texas

Set in the beautiful St. Anthony hotel in downtown San Antonio and put together by the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association, Aetherfest is a three-day steampunk convention that truly stands out with its costumes.  Steampunk attracts a slightly older crowd, so those looking for an alternative to the manic pace of other cons will find plenty to like here. Dress-up is encouraged, but not necessary, or to borrow the words of a certain Mr. Collins, there is ‘no jacket required.’

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 5-7, Los Angeles, California

Of all the cons on this list, this will be one of the few that I will be ‘working’ at.  E3 is the Big One as far as videogame conventions are concerned, and I will be going there in my capacity as Editor of Original-Gamer.com to check out new games and talk to people and write.  It is an industry-only event, so not everyone can go.

Texas Comic Con, June 22-24, San Antonio, Texas

If anime isn’t quite your thing and you want to get your hero on, Texas Comic Con is the place to do it.  In addition to the loads of comic book, action figure and pop culture dealers there are a host of artists, independent publishers, and fan groups ranging from Whovians to Sith to Ghostbusters.  Guest of Honor Larry Hama and Lou Ferrigno are but a few of the names showing up to this one.

San Japan, August 10-12, San Antonio, Texas

Easily and consistently one of the best conventions I have been too, San Japan Mach 5 is upping the ante this year as they are moving into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center this year.  The already-biggest fan con in San Antonio is about to get bigger, which should mean even MORE fun stuff to do.  Sadly, I may be ‘working’ at this one as well for Original-Gamer.com, but we shall see.

RealmsCon, Oct 12-14, Corpus Christi. Texas

RealmsCon is currently (as far as I know) Corpus Christi’s only anime and pop culture convention.  While it is a 3-day affair, my experience is that you can go and see everything in one day.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad convention, just a smaller one.

There may be a few other events I go to, but this is what I have planned for so far for the year.  ‘Working’ or not, this year should be fun on a bun!

RANDOM REVIEW: 2010

The most telling thing that I can say about 2010 is that I spent the last third of it without a full-time job, after getting canned back in August. I’ll be honest, I have nobody but myself to blame for that; a friend asked me if my bosses had been looking for a reason to get rid of me awhile back.  I sheepishly replied: “Well, if they were, they didn’t have to look very hard!”

Thus, the whole “what am I going to do with myself” debate I’d been having since 2009 (and heck, probably earlier than that) took on a whole new meaning as I applied for tech writer, tech support, and even editing jobs in an attempt to get away from programming.  I am currently scheduled to start a new programming job on the January 24th…well, so much for that.

Of course, sitting behind a desk for 40-something hours a week hating my job was not the only thing I did all year.  I also continued to be involved in First Storm Manga, handing out flyers and manga at a couple of anime cons throughout the year and keeping the website humming.  We are also going to be hosting our first event, the “Mezasu mini-con” on January 22nd.  While I enjoy hanging out with the guys, and it is fun going to events, I’m not sure that I want to be as involved in First Storm next year.  I’m just not sure that I’m getting a lot out of it, but I’ll bottle up that angst and save it for a future blog.

Another new ‘side job’ that I picked up was that of Writer/Editor/Voice Guy for video game website Original-Gamer.com. I started out just providing narration for some of their videos but eventually got more involved in the site, editing articles for readability and even writing reviews.  Because of that involvement, I was able to attend the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in July, and it completely blew me away.  I also had the privilege of attending the “Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy” concert in Houston, and the pleasure of interviewing famed video game music luminaries Nobou Uematsu and Arnie Roth.

Speaking of music, I was invited to join a band called The Loliholix. It turns out they needed a drummer, and I just happened to know how to play drums and have way too much time on my hands.  After getting an electric drum kit and an big ol’ honkin’ PA to use as an amp, I was ready to rock.  Practicing and hanging out the band was fun, but playing our first big gig at San Japan was awesome.  Being part of a show, even if it is a small one, is just incredible.  The audience feeds off of your energy and gives more back to you.

All the while, I have continued with my creative endeavors, namely writing.  I completed some very short stories, even entering one into a writing contest, and am working with my friend Chris Holm on some comics.  I also have some longer works that I hope to finish soon.  I am hoping to get my stories, and even some non-fiction, onto the various e-readers and phones and pads that are all the rage these days.  Hopefully, I can make a few bucks on the side that way.

As if being a part time musician and writer wasn’t enough, I also read for a part in a short film that my friend Carey Martell is currently working on called “Deathfist Ninja GKaiser.” Now, I won’t be too disappointed if I end up as Man in Suit #6 but having a speaking part and being the first person in the show to get fried by the Big Bad Guy would be cool, too.

All the while, I managed to post to this blog and keep up a somewhat-regular schedule with my podcast: “300 Seconds.”  I figure that if I can get out one blog post a week and two podcasts a month on top of all the other stuff I’m doing, then I’m doing alright.

Overall, 2010 was a great year for me.  I got to meet a lot of cool people and had a lot of really neat experiences.  Sure, it sucked to lose my job, but with the help and support of family and friends (and some creative budgeting) I’m hanging in there, in fact, I already have a job lined up in a few weeks so things are looking up!. I have faith that things will turn around soon and 2011 will rock even harder.

Farewell and Godspeed, 2010.  You were one to remember.

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!!