Friday, August 26, 2011

Jason Vs. The Laptop

Written on Thursday, August 26. Saved on a flash drive and posted from a hotel computer the following day.

This is Night Two in Toronto. I think the running theme so far is “Mixed Bag.” Right now, I am not typing this in my Blogger account, but rather on my laptop’s Microsoft Word program. Why? Funny story . . . yesterday, I was in my room, tapping away about yesterday. As I’m starting the part about the Blue Jays, the Rogers Centre and how it ain’t what it used to be, I get a blue screen with writing on it. A fraction of a second later, it reboots . . . and then I get the blue screen.

Oh. Fuck.

I had this problem before. I think I managed to wave it away by using System Restore, but now it’s back with a vengeance. As a result, I can’t get online anymore. Oh, I can go on the Net from somewhere in the hotel lobby, but I only found out tonight after it shut down. The good news is that by tapping F5, I can get into Safe Mode. The bad news: I can’t get online. I don’t know if it’s not possible to do that in Safe Mode, or if I haven’t checked the right boxes in terms of Firefox and proxy services. Last time that happened, I went to the library, got online, and did all sorts of searches for over an hour. I can probably get about 30 minutes in the hotel . . . and even if I can get on for longer periods, there is a matter of a comic book convention happening nearby. You know, the one I decided to hit as part of my yearly big solo trip.

Also, I can’t seem to get the DVD player to work. Check that . . . EVERY player doesn’t work. The gameplan heading north was that I’d bring one movie I got from the library (Black Dynamite . . . gotta see that before I go to Adult Swim’s website to check out the animated pilot), and a DVD I never got to watching at home (Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks). But I can’t see either one. Sure, there’s a TV set in my room, but there aren’t channels that I would really want to see. For instance, without MTV Canada, I can’t find out who won The Challenge: Rivals (my guess . . . not Leroy & Mike, because they’re good people, and good people don’t win on that show). No Space means that I have no chance to see the midseason opener for Doctor Who. One bright side is that I’m recording lots of stuff at home that I might miss up there (including the new episodes of Children’s Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV that are airing on Adult Swim now, which I reckon might pop up on Teletoon, another station I can’t get here). Also, if I’m in my room on Sunday night, I can watch the MTV Video Music Awards, which air on MuchMusic. I actually caught most of that when I was staying with Stephen way back in ’05. Yeah, it would be nice if I gave as big a crap about it as I did in the seemingly-distant past, but it’s a good way to kill three hours. I forget all of the nominees for Best Video, but I’m thinking Katy “Lookit Me, I’m Pretending My High Heel Is a Phone In My Proactiv Commercial!” Perry gets the honor for “Firework.” To beat out “Born This Way” (Lady Gaga) and “Raise Your Glass” (Pink) in the Best Video About How Things Really Do Get Better is a pretty big achievement.

I’m thinking that when I get online tomorrow morning, I’m just going to post whatever was saved on my blog at the time, explain the massive fuck-up, then finish it up with details about Wedneday – the Royals/Blue Jays game, the massive storm that awaited me as I left the Rogers Centre, the lightning hitting the top of the CN Tower at least twice to the awe of onlookers, the fucking honor bar where I’m expected to pay $5.50 if I open a damn bottle of Evian – when I get the time. Right now, I want to talk about today. Once again: Mixed Bag. For instance, I decided not to get an all-day pass, opting for tokens instead. Now I know how the government gets most of their money . . . they cost $3 per, and they are friggin’ teeny and look easy to lose.

I wound up getting to the Royal Ontario Museum. I actually bought a discount ticket from Expedia back in ’07, but dummy that I was, I left it in my hotel room (I just remembered that . . . I told Sylvia that I couldn’t find it, but I remembered the lobby). I wound up paying extra for their big exhibit about . . . water. Yes, for real. They said live animals were involved, and I basically decided that was enough for me. Yes, I am a dope. Worse, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, so I can’t scan through my camera to jog memories. There were a lot of interactive exhibits, though most of them had kids from camp frantically fooling around with them. It’s not their fault, but that gets annoying fast, especially when you’re grumpy already.

The rest of the trip wasn’t a complete waste. I haven’t been to the Museum of Natural History back home in a long time, but ROM would compare nicely. The textiles exhibit was a snore, though some of the stuff was picture-worthy. I got to see coffins made in Ghana that resembled a Mercedes-Benz and a giant fish. I saw interested work involving Buddhism, ancient Egypt and Rome (including high-quality busts) and lots of stuffed animals. I got to feel a raccoon and a beaver. Back home, seeing a raccoon would bring on a call to Animal Control. I couldn’t take pictures of an exhibit that had Bollywood posters and cards, but I liked it a little more than the one for water. And I checked out the dinosaur and extinct mammals skeletons. You know what I saw? An ancestor of moose. Only in Canada.

As I was running close to the opening of Fan Expo, I figured that I wasn’t going to have time to properly explore Casa Loma, a massive castle in the city. Going into my trip, I wanted to see at least one locale in the city related to the Scott Pilgrim books by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Unbenowest to me at the time, Casa Loma was the place where Lucas Lee (Evil Ex Boyfriend #2, played in the movie by future Captain America star Chris Evans) beat the shit out of Scott. Scott wound up defeating him by tricking the one-time skateboarding star to grind the rails of the long staircase outside. Lucas wound up over 300 kph/hr and killed himself in the process. Yes, that did make the movie . . . but I forgot about that. What did I remember from the books? Honest Ed’s.

In a scene that didn’t make the movie, Scott and Todd Ingram (Evil Ex #3, psychic powers coming from vegan lifestyle, played in the movie by Brandon Routh, who would be considered the worst Superman ever if not for Tom Weilling) did battle at Honest Ed’s, a way-too-big discount store. Both guys were struck at the existential horror that was the overwhelming deals. The fight ended when Todd’s psychic mojo overloaded, imploding Honest Ed’s on top of them. In real life, it’s still up, and it is insane. While I only got some Gummi Life Savers, I can see how it became popular. Apparently, “Honest Ed” Mirvish was a local celebrity, given that the area in Toronto was listed on the map as Mirvish Village. Loads of pictures dotted the walls, with A-list celebrities checking the place out back in the day (one example from 1970: “To Ed, I love your Warehouse! Please come and see mine! [signed,] Liberace”) Signs dot the inside and outside, such as “DON’T JUST STAND THERE!!! BUY SOMETHING!” and “HONEST ED’S HAS HOLES IN HIS SOX! BUT HIS BARGAINS ARE DARNED GOOD!” And for the Scott Pilgrim diehards, there’s the clock hanging over a flight of stairs with a very disturbing deer head on it. I don’t know if it’s real or fake, but it was enough to scar Scott senseless in the book.

After taking a breather in my room, I set out to the Metro Convention Centre. I wound up taking a few detours along the way. On the plus side, not only did I not hit any lines, but I managed to get in before the 4 p.m. opening. I think it was because I paid for my ticket in advance. Sadly, I was too slow to jump on the deluxe package, which includes a badge (wound up getting a bracelet I’m supposed to keep on my wrist until Sunday), a deep carrying bag, use of a VIP room, and other goodies. Once again . . . I’m an idiot.

So far, it’s been a more positive convention than not. Marvel and DC Comics have presences there, meaning that they’ll have talent to sign and sketch for free, which I always like. The Warner Bros. area had the “corpse” of Abin Sur that was used in Green Lantern. As a fan of the superhero (Kyle Rayner, not Hal Jordan), I would’ve had my picture taken of the alien, but I thought that was too morbid. On the downside, the video game booths don’t have demos of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and I managed to pay $15 for – and immediately lose -- a “logbox” from the anime One Piece. I bought three at AnimeNext a few months back . . . the deal is that you get a random set of parts that you put together to form a diorama from the show. I paid $10 for something similar involving South Park. I think I hit the jackpot . . . I wound up with a what I think is a rare figure of Butters as Professor Chaos with a smaller version of his main minion, General Disarray. Ironically, I printed references of both characters out back home, because I had been getting sketches of characters from the “Coon & Friends” arc (Cartman as The Coon, Kenny as Mysterion, and Mintberry Crunch). I wound up giving the references and figures to Agnes Garbowski, who churned out a really cute sketch in under an hour . . . with color! Before that, I got a good deal from artist Niall Eccles, who did a nice watercolor of Blue Jay (a seldom-seen knockoff of Ant-Man used by DC) with the CN Tower and Rogers Centre in the background. Yes, I thought of that weeks in advance, and I think it’s pretty clever.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention what happened not five minutes into the con for me. My cell phone rings, and I see a familiar number with a Manhattan area code. Turns out it’s the temp agency where I’m registered. The guy found a customer service gig in Long Island City. While it would be a long commute, I would stand to make the most money per hour than I’ve ever gotten. My resume is being sent, so I have that going on for me.

That’s about all for tonight. I’m a little chafed, and the laptop problem is aggravating the hell out of me, but I’m hanging in there. If I can make it without the laptop exploding in my face or getting struck by lightning, I will be in good shape. Here’s hoping, right?

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