Monsterama 2016

So while at Dragoncon last month I sort of came to a realization: in addition to being more a scifi than fantasy guy, I’m also a very classic and older b horror movie guy. I also heard about Monsterama, a small con in ATL in it’s 3rd year, and right at the Perimeter Marriot, very close to where I grew up.


This year’s special guest was Caroline Munro. I had her sign a 7 Golden Voyages of Sinbad poster I got at Dcon for the occasion and had a pic with her. She was very swell and relatable, but unfortunately, when I asked about a biography admitted my wild imaginings of behind the scenes debauchery with co-stars like Christopher Lee, Tom Baker, Hasslehoff, or monster master Ray Harryhousen did not exist – at least not including her. Though she did meet David Bowie when he was little known and she yet to hit Bond girl status.

C SM and Caroline Munro

In addition to her panel, I attended one from a GA Tech lit teacher researching “real” vampires, i.e. those who drink blood for a feeling of power and fulfillment from willing doners; one on pulp writer Manly Wade Welman; and another on a subgenre some folks are trying to get going called Dreadpunk. My nieces came by briefly, since kids got in free, and we took pics with some of the monster statues. Also got some things from the merch room.

SpaceCat in light

Then waiting in line for the Spook Show before the screening of Star Crash (Spook show being a shlocky thing involving Jim Stacy and others, that at various times has gone on at the Plaza Theater and Drive In on Moreland), I took a pic of a kid in a space suit with a cat head. Her mom came over later to see the shot and I found out she was actually an 8 year old Special FX wiz, also speaking at a panel I had missed. Marvel the modern age! As mom was part of some Shining Twins cosplay, I got a pic of them too.

Shining Twins

In all, Monsterama was less organized than Dcon, thankfully smaller, and I’m not sure I missed anything by only attending one day instead of the three, but I’m not sorry I went and will look for it next year if I’m in town.

Train to Busan

It’s been a while since I’ve checked out any Asian film in the theater, much less horror. I heard a radio review about S Korea’s break out hit of the Summer, and first major zombie flick, plus a woman at Dragoncon told me where it was playing in deep Gwinnett.


It’s good zombie fun! They kept things nicely make up vs. CG, except for a few pile up scenes, but then I am heavily critical of CG. There is sort of a sappy father/daughter story through it all, but it’s classic Korean cinema to mix genres. And after all, they need some story to hang the monsters on. We need to care somewhat about these characters if we are vested in them staying “survivors”. I also sort of question if since Oldboy these films feel they need to have a “horizontal fight sequence”, but then on a train, such a fight would be logical.

There’s also a bunch of societal critique going on, trust of corporations and govt. reflecting current events in Korea, but it’s not so heavy handed and you can remain gleefully oblivious should you choose.

Dragoncon 2016

Several years I’ve gone down just to take pictures, but as the event has grown, security and the fire marshal have become more of a drag for free roaming. So I told myself the next time I was in the country over Labor Day, I’d get the pass and do it right. And even cosplay!

Steampunk Jedi

Uncle Iroh finds the missing piece

Staying at my friend's in nearby People'sTown, I biked down each day. I only dressed on Saturday, and in addition to people thinking I was Uncle/General Iroh, which I was, people also guessed Kung Fu Panda and Raiden. Saturday was the main party night and I was well rocked. Over the course of the con I saw Battlebots fight (smaller/lighter versions than on the show: #Season 3) and went to panel about that show, one on space colonization, the history of Sci fi, effective writing of SF, a collection of animated shorts, two panels on Hammer Horror films (one just the 70's), one on metal and horror, a short Korean film, and a live reading of a lesser known Tolkien work.

anime character with huge gun

DSA girls take aim

Shining Twins

The entire event has grown, the merch area now taking two full floors of the Merchandise Mart. I got a few goodies at the end, D+D artifacts and small movie posters. It was a blast and I'll do it again right if I'm in town next year. And also start my costume a bit earlier, so I'm not running to CVS hours in to try and save it with safety pins. Shout out to the Cosplay repair squad who hooked me up.

2016 Rio Summer Olympics

I enjoyed watching this year and was glad, despite all the gloom and doom talk before hand, there were no major glitches for hosts Brazil. I watched mostly volleyball and football (I often avoid the S word: there is football, the world sport, and then the theatrical, over-hyped war simulation called American football). Also nice to see Brazil saved face against Germany after their 2014 Wold Cup dismantling, though I missed that actual match.

So while things went reasonably well for troubled Brazil, some US athletes obviously have a lot to learn about sportsmanship and grace. I’m glad to see both Solo and Lochte “slapped” for their big headed nonsense.


Hope, you lovely redneck, Sweden actually won before the shootout, there was a bad offside call. They proved their laid back style by winning their next round as well. Not “cowardly”, just own it.


And Lochte, you hot mess, it’s called pre-planning. You couldn’t have pulled off a totally debaucherous private party in Brazil? Drop a little coin, a hotel room across town, hookers and blow, a false name… Even if it had gone wrong and ended in scandal it would have been a few levels above “common amateur fratboy”. Congrats on getting your mommy involved too.

Looking at the megastars, I’d give U Bolt more props than M Phelps. While Bolt does do his poses for the camera, there is something more playful about it, a sense of modesty and fun with the glory. A smile beats an “autistic death stare” every time…

Summer doldrums

I joined the union and have had one day of film work, doing craft service. I won’t say much there other than it was a long but well paid day. Looking forward to more. It’s frustrating to have a window out of my current routine but just not having more work really “come through”.

Meanwhile Uber driving continues it’s downward spiral: an over-saturated market meaning fewer good fares, continued AC problems which seem to confound my mechanic – who at least isn’t charging anymore with attempted fixes, which only seem to last a few weeks. And I still owe plenty on the car. I’ve got a feeling huge problems are going to arise before it’s even paid off. Saw several negative reviews I hadn’t looked at until now. These fucking people: getting a great deal on a ride, the company working me against my car to give the privilege and hey, you get to write an review too. So the car seats in the used car I have (for now) aren’t clean enough for you? Well thanks, your majesty for the $3.75 I most likely got for your piddly ride. Feel free to go fuck yourself and your comment.

But this “give your feedback” trend is biting plenty these days I’m sure. All power to fleeting consumer opinion. The more rides you give, the more likely you are to accrue negative feedback and more likely the car gets more run down. I do vacuum from time to time, but the floor mats go instantly back to their former state. The seats had stains when I got the thing, 3 months and 13,000 miles ago…

Bitching about the 80’s and Nerd Culture

I was writing a review of David M. Ewalt’s ‘Of Dice and Men’ just now and spiraled to topics beyond D+D. I’ll re-purpose some of that here…

It’s strange how I love seeing references to things my former nerdy self did, as it felt so isolating at the time, even though I had a close group of friends also involved. On the other hand, it drives me nuts how EVERY nerdy pursuit, comic, character which was a secret joy for the outsider/underdog has been drawn out into the the mainstream and gone blockbuster. Thanks to the nature of the game, this can only happen so much with D+D. If you were doing it right, no one could ever interpret or capture your unique characters.


In a way, young people can never fully appreciate how much the 80’s generally sucked and how special underground culture of the time was. I’m tempted to make some analogy about how hardcore punk wasn’t something you could lazily research or download, “put on” with a uniform you got at Hot Topic in the mall. (Wait, do they even have Hot Topic…or malls…anymore? Jesus, how old am I?) And nerd culture wasn’t on TV or the big screen calling out to you, if not shoved down your throat. Pixels were too big. Hobbits were animated with pen and ink, not green screens. Computers were expensive, didn’t actually do much, AND you had to program them. But I’m just an aging Gen x’er ranting. And it wasn’t as great as drug-fueled orgies I was too young for in the 70’s. But maybe as those attend-ies would make claims to REAL partying, we are want to make claims to REAL nerd culture. But as much as I might sneer at kids born into the developed world since the nerd has been on top, calling the shots, I definitely envy modern level of female involvement. Playing video games and watching Adventure Time a “date”? I hope you appreciate it Youngblood! And I’m certainly glad things didn’t swing the other way and what I lived wasn’t the heyday of Nerd Culture, even if in a way it seemed more genuine/less commercialized.



Uber Driving

I’m over 250 rides in and have been keeping brief audio journals to remind myself of certain days and passengers. Uber has been a nice landing from China, but I won’t do it too long. Weekly pay is nice, but you put plenty into the gas tank and repairs on the cars itself. I had some AC issues, which in GA heat and summer humidity will not do. It seems my first few weeks had some circumstances which have proven to be unusual now that I’ve gotten more into the routine – long rides etc. I only do around 20-25 hours a week and in the 3-8ish time slot. I borrowed a gopro camera I’ll use with night rides, but…I’m in no hurry to start dealing with drunks, or amateurish ones.


Some things you wouldn’t expect: most everyone has a smartphone these days and I’ve dropped off in trailer parks and people living in hotels. It’s really annoying when people expect to make multiple stops for errands before their destination. And people will leave you waiting far too long when you are there ready to begin the ride, but I read in an article just now the company will start automatically charging after 2 minutes of your arrival. It seems the company is committed to tweaking things in the name of improvement. They send a bit too many texts and emails but overall it’s fine. Airport runs are where the real money is and I end up going several times a week. I’m also not as adamant about refusing tips as I was at first. The company also gives discounts on car maintenance, phone plans, and a gas credit card, which saves me a dime a gallon. Most riders are pretty cool and I’m learning new routes all over the city, which is nice as Atlanta is constantly reconstructing itself. I see more highway wrecks than I used to. That’s actually one thing I’ve had to readjust: being a native born Atlantan vs. Uber driver, when someone not in the know says “let’s get on the northeastern side of 285 at 4:45 on a Thursday”, but it’s not as bad when you are being paid to sit there in the mess.

Nav apps are another issue. I’m choosing Waze over googlemaps, but there are still times when a street shown as a cut through isn’t anymore, esp. in Buckhead, or it will recommend a route the passenger complains about. Some people seriously get off on backseat driving…”turn on your signal, now go here, now do this”, but they are out soon enough. And drivers get to rate the passengers too. I’ve actually gotten to use my pathetic Mandarin on 4 different occasions and generally like how international ATL has gotten.

The Lobster

I met this guy at my gym in those final days in Beijing. Peter ran an intl film festival. We did a huge media swap: music and film. He’s a bit burned out on the film unfortunately, but I guess when you organize a festival, you just get reams of submissions. Most of what I got from him I considered to be “obscure European stuff”, and this certainly qualifies. But when I started hearing reviews for The Lobster, I realized…”wait, I have this”, so watched. Excellent black comedy. Excellent for the happily single, or maybe the not so happily so. An examination of how society treats “the single”, taken to an absurd level.


I can’t remember when I last laughed aloud at a representation of child cruelty in a film (its not THAT dark). The end devolves into something I can’t completely absorb or explain and will need future re-viewings. Definitely a unique vision, but not for everyone…

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