Bran and Josh discuss the best movies and shows of 2017 as well as their read list and Pokemon Go.
Christmas entertainment has a storied history from classic songs to classic movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. The modern idea of Christmas has been big business for almost every facet of our economy for decades so it’s no wonder that Hollywood keeps churning out new Christmas movies every year. Every now and then new movies become new classic like Home Alone or Elf, and sometimes we end up with turds like Surviving Christmas or something completely forgettable like… say, Unaccompanied Minors. Which will these recent Christmas flicks be?
Over Labor Day weekend I attended the first ever Geekinomicon in Oklahoma City. I’m going to be honest, I’ve been waiting for a convention to hit OKC for years, and though others have tried in the past they haven’t stuck. (Most of them due to lack of star power and pricing issues.) So when I heard about GEEK at Planet Comicon in Kansas City I was overjoyed and very optimistic that this might be the one.
The pitch for Geekinomicon is different than any other. They are hoping to change the way we experience a convention. We’ve all been there, strapped for cash but hoping to get our super sweet first issue of Rom signed by the artist. Or even just hoping that after paying $100 to get in he would just grace us with a smile from across the convention hall because we couldn’t afford the ticket to shake his hand. GeekExpos, the company behind Geekinomicon has been there too. And their ultimate goal was to focus on the individual experience, not the overall cash grab. “Revolutionizing the convention.” For geeks, by geeks. From my point of view, it was a success.
We’ll get the few things I disliked out of the way first. It’s a nasty business and I really hate nitpicking. For a first time convention… any convention… you expect there to be issues. Anything can and will and did go wrong. I can’t fault them for a lot of the small things, like the entrance changing last minute. (Shame on you OKC, Optimus Prime was suppose to greet visitors, instead we were all just confused.)
My issues were with the distribution of information. I’m a planner. I print maps the day before and I pick out the booths I want to go to most. Then I schedule the panels I want to see. (If I’m not already presenting some.) At the time of the convention, the website was should we say… lacking. It was not user friendly and the information was not detailed. Maps had booth numbers but no legends, and everything else was like pulling teeth to get to. A quick peek today reveals that this has changed drastically.
Needless to say I was left at the mercy of the programs and on site information the day of the convention. Which leads me to my other frustration. Upon arrival I received a beautiful glossy magazine style program. The inside however wasn’t so pretty. It was riddled with typos, terrible spacing and the floor plans were duplicated. I had no clue where the panel rooms were. There also was again no legend for the expo hall, so unless a vendor posted their booth number to their Facebook you wouldn’t know where to find them.
Those are my personal complaints though. They in no way reflect the quality of the convention and are already being fixed. Which says something in and of itself.
The number one complaint from others that I saw was the cost of a ticket. The convention was held at the wonderful Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. It is across the street from the Myriad Botanical Gardens and a few blocks away from Bricktown. It is definitely the premier venue in the city, and the bathrooms are amazingly clean.
After fees the ticket prices were just short of Wizard World. However add-ons, VIP tickets, weekend passes and extras were much much cheaper than WW. And then there was the all access pass. For $155 (before fees) you got three day passes, all paid photo attractions and access to a number of other things outside the convention hall; the Myriad’s tropical conservatory, whitewater rafting and zip-lining in the Boathouse District, Bricktown mini golf and laser tag… to name a few. So you weren’t buying a few hours a day at a convention, you were buying a whole weekend of adventure.
Since I live in town, I went an alternate route and got a groupon. Two for the price of one. Very rarely do I see conventions do groupon specials. Hats off to whomever thought of that on the marketing team.
Now on to the good.
The biggest difference I noticed is the way celebrity encounters are handled. At Wizard World my VIP experience with Bruce Campbell involved getting in line for an hour or so and being corralled in an area only those who had autograph tickets were allowed into, by volunteers who had no clue what was going on and didn’t care anyway. Then we had literally 30 seconds of face time before we were ushered off. All I remember is that I froze under the pressure.
Geekinomicon offers a much more natural, less rushed atmosphere. I witnessed stars asking people questions about day to day life. They talked about earthquakes, their favorite restaurants in the city, and moments from their respective shows/films/etc. I noticed them wandering from their signing tables more than usual, and interacting with those of us who would be considered plebs at other conventions. I even got called over by celebrities – to their tables – to talk costumes. Bottom line, you could hypothetically walk right up to Greg Grunberg with nothing for him to sign, shake his hand and say “It should have been you. Ello Asty for lyfe” and walk away without paying a cent extra.
Nearly everyone in attendance has a story about an encounter with Eric Roberts and Greg Grunberg. Paul Amos scarred me for life by sneaking up on me and then showing me a picture of “blue waffles” (DO NOT GOOGLE THAT). And Adrian Pasdar has a great sense of humor regarding moustaches. He’s also quite the artist.
The panels were very different from other conventions. I expected very sterile environments, impersonal presentations and lack of content that pertained to me. But the few panels I had the time to hit up were wonderful. One of them that sticks out the most is “Universal Remote”. It was entertaining, engaging and felt like it had my type of personality in mind when it was planned. Also, they gave us snacks. Well, not “gave” per se. They threw bags of chips at us… You had to be there.
Not interested in panels or celebrities? Only there to pick up that rare comic or look at the art? GEEK had you covered. There were plenty of vendors with everything from handmade items to film replica props. This convention was truly genre-less and would satisfy nearly any fandom. I saw a t-shirt shop, a sword shop, and a shop with comic books and memorabilia in one aisle. Down the next was a caricature stand and a purveyor of funko pops. There was a local shop with nerdy gifts that I have to be sure to hit up next time I’m on that side of town. There was a lady who makes custom billfolds and purses. There were painters and sculptors, and I believe even a haberdashery. This convention literally had everything you could think of. I heard rumors of a massage stand, but never found out the booth number. I stumbled upon a mini laser tag arena while searching for it.
On the other side of the hall was RTZ esports, running a call of duty tournament live from the event. Nearby was a small start up robotics company that aims at teaching children how to program. This one was of personal interest to me, because there was a small robot printing parts for other robots. It had Skynet written all over it.
The best deal of the con came in the form of a beverage vendor. You bought a mug/cup/tankard (I was hanging with a pair of Thors, so mine was a tankard.) and refills were free the rest of the day. They were also discounted the next day. Best.Convention.Booth.Ever.
Then there were the charities and clubs mixed in. The groups were very friendly and had engaging activities at their tables, not just charity donation buckets like I’ve seen other places. I spoke with a bunch of groups and they all have amazing causes. Unfortunately I can not feature them all, so I picked one that is quite fitting for the subject matter. They are called Pretty Awesome Gamers and they are like the Make a Wish Foundation. But they specialize in taking kids to comic and game conventions. They make them costumes and give them the whole experience that we adults often take for granted. Their motto is “Everyone should have the chance to be a superhero.” So if you’re inclined, be a hero yourself and go check them out.
On top of the awesomeness of the rest of the con the costumers, prop makers, and cosplayers were rockstars. Personally I have never met a polite professional cosplayer, but now I have. I got a chance to talk costume construction, and photography, and “getting your first booth” with people who were living it. I got to take part in some pretty cool photo shoots in costume and made some great new friends. Although I did not get to ride the luggabeast, or blast a trooper this time (sad face), I did speak to some very helpful folks at the 501st who told me just what it would take to finally join their ranks.
If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you. Geekinomicon was a wonderfully great time and I pray that next year is Geekinomicon 2: Electric Boogaloo because I don’t think I could take the heartbreak of Oklahoma City losing such a great convention. 10/10 would con again.
Edit: This review was written from the perspective of a convention attendee. It does not mention the supposed low attendance due to factors beyond my control. I personally took into account the fact that it was Labor Day weekend AND the two major college football teams had opening weekend. So I purposely chose not to mention it.
The much anticipated Suicide Squad film dropped this past weekend. It both bombed with critics and broke box office records, so which side will we take? We also continue our segments on Pokemon GO, Top 5s and new segments Speed Round and Read List.
In a continued effort to bring you thoughtful original content, TMS is proud (possibly indifferent) to present the first episode of Graphic Dudity by our own TMS staffers Josh X Henderson and Brandon Meseure!
Being born in the same great year as our heroes in a half-shell, I have been feeling the turtle power for as far back as I can remember. TMNT figures ruled my toy chest, the original cartoon series ruled the TV every Saturday morning and I had several trips to see Secret of the Ooze in theaters, even though trips to the movies were rare for me as a child.
But not everyone’s life has been as great as mine. Some of you might be new to TMNT fandom, so here they are, my ranking of all the TMNT movies to date. Which, bee tee dubs, is the correct ranking.
#6 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
There is very little to like about the first installment of the latest run of TMNT films. I can appreciate that they tried to go a new way, but my laundry list of complains of why I don’t like this film is seriously a mile long. The only reason you should watch this movie is to get an understanding of what’s to come in Out of the Shadows. There is very little to like here.
#5 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Also a pretty lousy TMNT film. Very disliked by fans and critics alike. I only rank it slightly above TMNT 2014 because they at least tried to keep it tied to Japan and the turtles mythos. It also featured the return of Casey Jones. Plus, the time travel story reminds me of the best video game of all time, Turtles in Time!
#4 The Secret of the Ooze
This was my favorite as a kid. Lots of laugh, a little brighter than the first film and, of course. Ninja Rap. Looking back on it now it’s obvious it was rushed and is unintentionally a Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which was purposefully a parody of itself. It’s still a lot fun though, and thankfully saw the departure of Corey Feldman as Donatello.
#3 Out of the Shadows
The latest film about our lean mean green incredible team just came out today and it was a major step in the right direction from the last Nickelodeon film. It was a pretty major toss up for me to choose this one for #2 or #3 and what it really came down to is that while being vastly superior to the 2014 film, Out of the Shadows still suffers from a lot of the same pitfalls. Ugly, bulky turtle design, Megan Fox as April, Tony Shalhoub as Splinter, overblown & unrealistic action scenes, among other things. OOTS did jump a lot of the hurdles the first film tripped over, but still couldn’t finish the race.
What’s nice about 2007’s TMNT is that we are entering an established world. We know who these guys are, we know their story and most of the supporting cast. So let’s move on to the story. And a fresh story we haven’t seen before. A lot of the bad reviews criticized the story and plot as muddled and underdeveloped but I disagree. I felt it was a breath of fresh air. And the action and direction were fantastic. Not overblown, just right. It brought us so many cool things like Leo in the jungle, Leo fighting Raph as the Nightwatcher (you gotta see who wins), and a film where Karai actually does something! The supporting cast is filled out by fantastic voice actors while the principal cast of the turtles falls very flat. And that’s really about my only gripe. As far as the turtles being animated, this is where they looked their best. Not too cartoony, but not… grotesque.
#1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
As an adult I furthered my fandom beyond the series, the toys and movies into the comics, where it all began. And that’s why I rate the first film as the best. It is truest to it’s comic origins, with the story lifted almost straight from some of the earliest issues. It’s dark and mysterious, while still being humorous. We get our first look into the world of these fascinating characters (and the origin makes sense!) We get the best portrayal and appearance of Casey Jones. It is the gold standard all the films have been striving for since it was released. And with as far as CGI has come, the turtle suits still almost look more believable to me. Plus, Sam Rockwell.
Also, while these are not feature films, I highly recommend watching the animated TV film Turtles Forever and the documentary Turtle Power. These would have probably ranked after Ooze and before TMNT, perspectively, had they been feature films.
Do you agree with my list? Disagree? I don’t care. Go fight on reddit if you want be a jerk about someone’s personal opinions.
For some of us, ‘tis the season for eggnog and pine trees, sparkling lights and time with friends and family. For others the holiday season is a time of lonely, almost existential reflection. I tend to fall somewhere between the two. No matter what camp you fall into, we all have things we could be doing right now. So, I will keep this short. Go play Lost Constellation.
It’s time to come out of your vaults folks! The biggest game of the year is finally launching. Our five year wait is over! In celebration of such, I dusted off the most recent title in the Fallout series.
Sometimes when I’m bored I will peruse IO sites for games by small or indie developers. It’s a great way to break up the cookie cutter monotony being hocked through Steam, and see what ideas, graphics, controls, etc., are being created by brilliant people who don’t have a huge budget. I have found some enjoyable games this way and I’m often pleasantly surprised by the quality.
On one particular day, however, I stumbled into a slightly stranger than normal corner of the internet. Among the bunnies planting a garden, and heroes trying to solve puzzles, I found a game which proves Internet Rule #34 true. (If you can imagine it, it exists on the internet… as porn.)
Marshmallows are one of the greatest things about living. S’mores, one of humanities most endearing creations, would not be possible with them. I LOVE MARSHMALLOWS.