Friday, March 23, 2012

How (un)original

People are starting to get excited about the release of the "Hunger Games" movie. I have not read the book so I am not sure what all the enthusiasm is about but it reminds me of something I am grumpy about. Basically it is how Hollywood takes movie ideas from other countries and repackages them in less appealing versions. I am not saying "Hunger Games" is bad. I cannot say that as I have not seen it but the idea comes from a Japanese movie called "Battle Royale".

If this were the first instance of Hollywood taking movies from other countries I would be willing to let it slide but it is not. Remember the movies "Ring" and "Ring 2"? Yep, they were originally Japanese films called "Ringu". What about the movie "The Eye"? Yes, that came from Japan as well.

What is about Hollywood that has them scouring the globe for movie ideas? Can't they find enough here in this country? Americans complain about the outsourcing of jobs to other countries. Americans need to add the outsourcing of movie ideas to other countries as well.

While I am on the topic of movie ideas why don't they put out fewer movies each year? That would eliminate a large amount of drek that comes from this little part of the world. Or, before subjecting the people of America to what is called "cinema" today, have only a few people suffer through it with a small focus group. Consider it to be like animal testing. Lock a few people down in a room and play the movie. If they don't make it through, say the loss was in the interest of the world and that it helps make a better product. What are a few lives lost if it helps make a better picture? Isn't people testing worthwhile if a classic film comes out of it? Couldn't we forgive Hollywood for lives lost in testing for movies such as "Godfather"?

If the whole group of people die in the viewing of a movie, the movie should not be released. Instead show it to people on Death Row. That might actually be the humane way to put a person down. Of course, the ACLU is going to get involved and declare that forcing people to watch certain movies is inhumane and cruel.

This carries over into television as well. There is a little know show on a small network called "The Office". Yes I know most of you have not heard of it but it airs on NBC on Thursdays. It came from a British show called (are you ready for this?) "The Office".

One failed attempt to create an American version of a British show occurred with "Absolutely Fabulous". For some reason there is no comparable successful version on American TV. American fans took to the British version which is possibly why no American version flourished. Score one for the Brits.

Do not even get me started on sequels. I am so sick of sequels. How many "Friday the 13th", "Children of the Corn" and "Saw" movies do we need? And some sequels maintain the whole plot of the original but with a different cast. Look at "Cruel Intentions" and "Cruel Intentions 2". They are the same movie! Why does Hollywood do this to us? What did we ever do to them?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Convention Do's and Don'ts

I have recently read a blog by AllyCat Alisha who has done a great job listing do's and don'ts at cons. She approaches it from a practical viewpoint as one who cosplays at cons. I agree with her points (I cannot disagree as I have never cosplayed myself).  The link to her post is

To be honest, she is a very prolific writer, much more so than I am. Her post about behavior is well thought out and I am going to add some of my observations to her own. I have only been going to cons for a year now but I tend to observe and these are some things I noticed.

DON’T throw on a mask and a t-shirt and call it a cosplay and if you do don’t expect other cosplayers to want to take photos with you. 

That one should not even need to be said. Many people put a lot of time and effort into these costumes. I may not know all the characters that parade around but the time spent in creating impresses me. I will take pictures of people who have impressive costumes even if I don't know who they are cosplaying. If you don't know, ask. The cosplayer is usually happy to talk about their character. Like she said, I do not take photos of a person just wearing a Justice League t-shirt as anyone can buy those and put it on. That takes no effort.

DO wear undergarments. Yes this does need to be said.

Technically this should be a rule for life but...

DON’T be afraid to turn someone down.

This is a hard one to broach. The cosplayer always has the right to say no to the picture. It is as simple as that. You may not like hearing "No" and I have been told this on occasion but I have to respect their wishes. Would you want someone to take your picture without your consent? Hearing someone say no is rough especially if you love the character they are portraying. I love Zatanna (many people, such as Tiffany Perry are aware of this and have pointed out cosplayers in that costume to me) and am very, very disappointed when someone says no to a picture but I just move on. I do not like being told no but that is the cosplayer's choice. There are many, many other cosplayers at the con. The cosplayer may allow you to take a picture later.

This is one of mine, Do ask to take a picture and say thank you afterwards. This is one thing I see a lot. People just whip out a camera and start snapping shots without even asking. Show some common courtesy. Please and thank you are good words to use (even if they are not used as much anymore). Plus, if you ask, you may get a better shot since the model will be ready and pose.

DO expect people to take photos with you.

Sometimes people come in some of my favorite characters (Zatanna!) and I like to get a picture with them. I ask first. Here comes one thing that I think should be a golden rule. Watch where you put your hands. Have the model set the tone of the photo by letting them decide their comfort level of physical contact. I mean do not assume they want your hands on them. Let them put theirs around you/touch your shoulder, etc. before you touch them. Most likely they do not know you and they may not appreciate the touching. I think this is another piece of common courtesy. Meagan Marie (another cosplayer) uses the phrase "hover hands" and that is good a phrase as any. Some of the female cosplayers look horrified in the pictures where guys just walk up and wrap their arms around the woman.

DO carry an emergency sewing kit.

This is simply pratical advice. Here is a story from New York Comic Con. A woman was dressed as Power Girl. Later, I saw her running for the exit holding her cape around her waist and legs. Obviously something went wrong and she made a quick exit. I do not know if she was able to fix it but I did not see her again. Having a sewing kit might have helped.

Here is something that I feel needs to be said:

Do not ask/take a photo while they are eating. I have seen people walk up to cosplayers who are having lunch and start snapping away while the cosplayer is putting a hamburger in their mouth. Consider it this way: Do you want to work while you are on your lunch break? No, you want a respite from the day. That is what lunch is. Also, do not hover around their table waiting for them to finish lunch. That is just creepy. Especially if you have a camera in your hand and you keep staring at the cosplayer.

Don't block aisles to get the photo. People are always trying to move around and shooting across the aisle can stop traffic completely. Just stand on the same side as the person you are planning to photograph. This way no one has to stop as you take the shot.That just seems like common courtesy to me.

I love watching what I call the pageantry of the conventions. People come in some fantastic costumes that display time spent making it and a love of the character. Looking is probably my favorite thing to do at conventions. I have not actually done a cosplay myself but I have considered it. I have not committed to anything but if I were to do a costume it would be Brainiac 5 from Legion of Superheroes.

If you have any other suggestions on good con behavior, let me know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Someone who I have not seen in over two decade saw me today and knew who I was immediately. She said she read my name as her sub for the day and remembered it from the old days. I am still a little freaked out that this happened. It is great that she has a good (excellent?) memory but I am used to people trying to forget who I am and that is a long, long list. Of course, the person who I mentioned in a recent blog who cannot remember me still confuses me. This person is one I met three times last year and I interviewed for this blog yet had no idea who I am when we ran into each other at a recent convention. That makes no sense when compared to the person who I have not seen in 20 years. She has married since then (many people do this) and her name had changed so I was not aware it was her.

The teacher asked if we went to the same school and my fight or flight instinct almost kicked in."Run!" I thought or at least lie to her. But I didn't. I told her yes, that was me. I usually don't say yes. I have no twitter or Tumblr accounts to track me through. Looking for me on social network sites is like trying to find  a needle due to my common name. One of my little jokes is that I am not an Al, I am the Al.

I like it this way, remaining anonymous. In a way, it means no one can touch me. It has always been the way I see myself, as the guy behind the scenes, the one who never catches your eye. Physically I will never stand out in a crowd. There are various reasons for this. Mainly due to my height. It is tough working in a middle school where most of the students are taller than you are. Another part is that I am never going to win a beauty contest which I made my peace with a long time ago.

I prefer working behind the scenes. Fame has never been a great motivator to me. People who want to stand out in a crowd are fine but I prefer to remain basically invisible. A generic name and a nondescript physical appearance really helps with that.

So basically my theory of being forgettable is now shot. I cannot blame anyone else. I accepted that job. Allen Ryde also contributed to the destruction of my theory. We met briefly in the middle of last year and yet he recalled who I was in February. Basically the above incidents destroyed my forgettable theory. Darn your good memories!

I am not going to post a picture of myself here since showing myself would be contrary to what I am saying here.