Archive | July, 2012

Comic-Con, Atomic Testing and Hot Wheel Dreams – The Connecting Thread

26 Jul

(I wrote this Monday while flying home…)

Metropolis II

This time as I’m writing this, I’m about 34000 feet up and over the South San Francisco Bay. Comic-Con, Las Vegas and the return trip to LA is now behind me, with Portland in front. Let’s start off with San Diego Comic-Con International.

Picking up the badge for this year was astonishingly easy, compared to the 4 hours it took last year.  As usual, Comic-Con was pure madness this year as there were an additional 5,000 people attending pushing the total number of people there up to 130,000, and it showed.  Hall H is the largest room for panel discussions, holding something like 8,000 to 10,000 people, and like what has been happening the last few years, people line up the night before.  This year saw something new – people camping out for Ballroom 20, which seats about 4,000 to 5,000 people.  A lot of the panels I’m interested in are held in that room, so on Thursday, we weren’t able to get in. Such is the price you pay. However, here’s some of what I and thousands of others saw during the conference (yes, Comic-Con is a conference).

I left San Diego for Los Angeles on Monday via the train, got picked up at Union Station and immediately drove the 4 hours to Las Vegas, were my room at the Luxor was waiting, in the pyramid, on the 23rd floor. To get to my room, there were no elevators, but inclinators, since they went up at an angle.  A little discomforting the first time going up and down, but you get used to it. That night, like thousands of other people, we tripped around the strip, walking between the hotels north of the Luxor, all the way to City Center, which is pretty cool.

The next day, Tuesday of last week, was the Imperial Palace to see the auto collection. I have more than a passing interest in automobiles, so this was pretty cool, seeing some rare, classic cars.  And the price of admission was perfect – free. The rest of the day was tripping around some more via the monorail and having dinner with my family who live there.

Wednesday was the day we went to both sides of Las Vegas; Red Rock Canyon and the Hoover Dam. Red Rock Canyon is just outside of Sumerlin, on the western edge of the city, about a 10 minute drive from the nearest example of civilization.  Once there, the new visitors center, which opened in 2009, greets you. I was pretty impressed with the place and how it approaches educating everyone from children to nerds like myself with a lot of interactive tools. The canyon itself has a 13 mile loop through it for vehicular traffic and lots of view points, often with trailheads for hiking.  Since it was nearly 100 degrees that day and we still had to get to the dam, we decided not to take a hike; however, I would recommend doing so as some of the hikes allow you to see some pretty amazing sights. The one thing I really enjoyed was the near absolute silence.

Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

My friend Greg, who I was traveling with, kept telling me about this bridge that crosses over the gorge where Hoover Dam is, and was surprised I knew next to nothing about it since I tend to follow architectural stories from all around the world. I guess it was one of those things I just missed. To a certain a degree, I’m glad I did. When you cross the bridge, unless you’re in a very high vehicle, you won’t be able to see the dam. However, when you head down to the dam itself, you come around a corner and there’s the underside of the bridge.  And it’s MASSIVE.  The arch of the structure is the widest concrete arch in the western hemisphere and to be quite honest, it’s pretty amazing.

Our final day in Las Vegas found us at the National Atomic Testing Museum, part of the Smithsonian.  Again, this was another well thought out and interactive place. Don’t go expecting to learn much about area 51, though – that is a seperate exhibit to this one. Essentially, the museum is about exactly what it’s name implies – it’s about the atomic testing range Northwest of Las Vegas, nuclear technology and the history of the cold war.

After leaving leaving Las Vegas, we pulled off the main highway in Jean, and headed towards

The Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings, Nevada

Goodsprings. The reason I mention this is becasue as a kid, from the early 70’s through the early 80’s, we would make a trip here in June, after school let out, and again in November for Thanksgiving. My great-grandmother was the PostMaster in town and it had been nearly 30 years since I was last there. I’m happy to say, not much has changed. Except this time I got to go into the saloon, have lunch and get the history of the place, which I never knew as a kid.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, I finally made it to LACMA to see Metropolis II.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  I spent nearly a half hour in there, filming with my phone (it does pretty good 1080HD) the exhibit in motion from various angles.  As a kid, you couldn’t imagine this even if you tried, but it’s exactly what you always wanted to do with your H0t Wheels. The price of admission for this alone was worth it (more links to what I filmed at the bottom).

And now I’m on my way home, then back to the office in a few days.  I’m always amazed how fast the time goes by; at the beginning, it feels like it will last forever, then suddenly it’s over. This was time well spent.

Video 2, Video 3, Video 4, Video 5, Video 6, Video 7 (all are under a minute long)


Connecting Thread Vacation – Los Angeles

11 Jul
Levitated Mass

Me and Levitated Mass

So I’m on the train to San Diego as I write this. The first segment of my vacation is completed; however, not everything I wanted to do got done. On the plus side, I did a couple of things I wasn’t planning on doing so all got balanced out.

I did make it to LACMA to see Levitated Mass, and since it’s a permanent, permanent display outside, it’s totally free to check out, which I did (what? I’m on a budget). Overall, it was interesting. I don’t know if one of the intentions of the piece has to do with the juxtaposition of a very large rock in close proximity to tall buildings, but in that sense, it worked for me, as you have so many possible photographic angles. Some of the (poor) photos I took show off the possibilities.

I was also able to get to the Annenberg Space for Photography to see the exhibit “Who Shot Rock & Roll”. If you’re in LA very soon, are my age (I’m not disclosing my age, but I remember rotary phones), and appreciate music and photography, I highly recommend visiting. Plus it’s free. The images presented are amazing, no matter what genre music you like. What I recommend doing is walking though the space and viewing the images first. Then watch the multimedia presentation, which is about 45 minutes. It makes sense to do it this way as a large number of the photographs in the show are discussed in the presentation, so in essence, you did your homework ahead of the exam.

Next was Gallery 1988. All I can really say is…I haven’t wanted to purchase art work from relatively unknown artists as badly as I did here. The show I saw, and unfortunately, like the Annenberg, I wasn’t allowed to photograph anything, was called “There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand”, an homage to the MUCH beloved (by myself in particular) show Arrested Development. The minute, and I mean minute, I walked in, I was overcome with laughter and glee and genuine “Oh My God Cover My Mouth And Gasp” joy it was insane. I really don’t know where to begin. All I can say is, go to their website and check it out.

Finally, I went to the largest Vietnamese mall in America. Well, I saw it at night. At the one of largest night markets in Southern California. If you live in the LA area, go to Westminster on Saturday night during the summer. If for nothing else, go for the food. Outrageously good, if you know what to look for.

Now that the countdown for Comic-Con has begun, I have to get rested.  4 days with 125,000 people is exhausting.  But immensely fun!  And quite frankly, a little insane.

Comic-Con, Museums and Las Vegas; the Connecting Thread

2 Jul

Summer starts in the Pacific Northwest

Welcome to July!  Here in Portland, the weather has been doing it’s usual thing; raining.  Relief is around the corner though, with Summer “unofficially” beginning July 5th (ask any long-term resident the question, “When does summer start in the Pacific Northwest” and the reply will be, usually without fail, “July 5th”).  My summer will start the same day as everyone else here in Portland, but with a twist;  my vacation also starts on the 5th.  With that, here’s what I’ll be doing…

I have five segments to my vacation;  Los Angeles, San Diego, back to LA, Las Vegas, back to LA and then home (I don’t count coming home as a segment).  This has become sort of a yearly pilgrimage for me as I have friends living in all those cities and there’s tons to do in each place.

For example, in Los Angeles I’m going to check out LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  In particular, Levitated Mass, whose progress I’ve been following for over a year now, and Metropolis II.  Being a huge fan of the show Arrested Development, I’m going to check out Gallery 1988 and their show “There’s Always Money In The Banana Stand”.  That should be goofy fun.  And finally, the Annenberg Space for Photography and the only West Coast appearance of “Who Shot Rock & Roll”.  Those are on my list with more to come, I hope.

Then a train ride to San Diego for 5 days of insanity.  I’m talking Comic-Com.  Nerdvana.  125,000 people.  Hundreds of panel discussions.  Thousands of costumes.  Sensory overload guaranteed.  Not only that, but I’m also going to W00tstock on Thursday night, The Nerdist Podcast  on Friday night and then I’m watching The Walking Dead Escape on Saturday.  Oh, and maybe some sleep.  But just a little.

I then train back to LA, only to turn around for a road trip to Las Vegas.  In July.  I wanted summer, so what better place for that than Vegas.  I haven’t figured what all I’m going to do there just yet, but there’s always SOMETHING to see there.  Then back to LA to see Ray Davies perform and finally returning home to Portlandia.

I’ll be posting everything on Facebook and Twitter, so you should follow us.  Seriously.  Do it now.

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