Fan Expo 2017

This belated post was original meant to be published back in May but Prairie Dog’s servers were getting upgraded or maintained or something and it has taken me forever to get back to getting this posted. In the time since there have been several other Fan Expo’s and Comic Cons. The big one San Diego took place in July and more recently the other weekend saw the big Toronto Fan Expo (by the same people who put on the one in Regina.)

Toronto had the likes of Tim Curry, Richard Dreyfuss and Kathleen Turner along with comic creators like Jim Lee, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Steve McNiven. This weekend will have the Sask Expo up in Saskatoon with Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow), John Rys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Cas Anway (The Expanse), Ruth Connell (Supernatural) and Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk). Voice actors Maurice Lamarche and Rob Paulsen (Pinky and the Brain) will also be there.
Continue reading “Fan Expo 2017”

Prairie Dog Writer Tortures Self By Live-Tweeting Experience Of Reading Entire 2017 City Of Regina Budget

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I live-tweeted the city budget. But I’m doing it again. I’m compiling my sessions into little storify session here on the blog.

Here’s Part 1: Budget Highlights! Enjoy. I know I am!

You can follow along in Real Time! by following my live-tweet twitter account, @PDCityHall.

Thoughts On The Cathedral Mayoral Forum

That was a pretty poor turn-out for last night’s mayoral forum, Regina. The Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre was barely half full. I get that the race for the mayor’s seat looks to be pretty much a foregone conclusion, but there are more reasons to attend a candidate forum than just checking out the horses and seeing which one you want to bet on.

Council agendas are highly regimented and you stray from them on pain of stern warning from the chair. A mayoral forum is your chance to set the agenda and make the mayor talk about issues that maybe haven’t crossed the council floor in a while.

And sometimes they’re fun. Last night wasn’t fun. Not exactly. But it did happen. And I was there. And the wifi in the Neighbourhood Centre is crap so I didn’t even try to live tweet. Instead, I came home and fired off a short twitter essay on the event. This is it.

More thoughts on the 2016 City Election are coming. In fact, Whitworth has me writing a thing for the next Prairie Dog. I will try to keep the number of “Oh, for fuck’s sakes” to a minimum.

The Justification I’ve Always Needed

XKCD (justification)I argue with our designer about text justification at least once a week. I want almost everything justified, Paul approaches things case-by-case (as if specific circumstances have specific needs, pffft). I like paragraphs to look like finely marbled rectangular blocks, he wants words to be readable first and foremost (the weirdo).

Little did we know there was a solution we could both agree on, thanks to the website XKCD. Thanks, XKCD!

Weekly Reckoning: Letterboxed Edition

weekly-reckoningPeople ask me if “recondite” is defined as “a reckoning so explosive that it’s like dynamite.” Which is a weird question! The answer, obviously, is no.

1 HAN SHOOTS FIRST, AGAIN For years, it’s been impossible to see the first Star Wars movie (you know, Episode IV: A New Hope) without George Lucas’ CGI tinkering and digital upgrading. Somehow, a group of diehard Star Wars fans calling themselves Team Negative 1 found a print of the original film, and now you can watch a restored version of the film! If you’re willing to go poking around on torrent sites, that is.

2 OKAY, BUT RIGHT AFTER THIS WE DESTROY THEM ALL Welcome to the “mosquito factory,” a lab where scientists perform research on mosquitoes to discover cures for Zika and so on. Apparently those terrible proboscis-bearing hemophages are useful. At least for now.

3 SWINGLINE SWEET CHARIOT Here is an article about one of the coolest objects of all time: the stapler.

4 IRAQ IS DOING JUST GREAT Corruption and falling oil prices are wreaking havoc on Iraq.

5 WHAT IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WITHOUT A BUSH? Jeb Bush has quit the nomination race, which is as good an indicator as any that the traditional Republican party of conservative American aristocrats in a complete shambles. It’s too bad, because he was probably the closest thing they had to a real candidate.

Queen City Catch Up: Chris Kailing On Engaging With Your City (Podcast)

Recently, Regina Advocates For Design wrapped up their Urbanity 101 discussion series about how people can shape their city.

Urbanity 101 was one of the things I was most annoyed to have missed while away so it was really important to me to get someone from RAD on this podcast. Fortunately, RAD’s Chris Kailing was willing to make the trek over to my place and endure my nerd-boy questions.

Now I’m just hoping RAD will put together an Urbanity 201 series this fall. And maybe even an Urbanity 222: Special Topics In Automobile Mitigation workshop.

Music for this podcast is from Malta’s Lost Voices, a collection of Maltese recordings from the early 1930s. You can get your own copy at filflarecords.com.

In the next episode of Queen City Catch Up, I’ll be speaking with Belle Plaine about what’s been happening in the local music scene. That will go up on Wednesday.

Watch The Skies Regina

An Alien Get-togetherThe aliens known as the Second Conclave gather after the game finished in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The aliens succeeded in their goal of creating mass mayhem in the world ultimately ending in nuclear war between the nations. (Photo by Megan Roth)
An Alien Get-Together The aliens known as the Second Conclave gather after the game finished. The aliens succeeded in their goal of creating mass mayhem in the world. (Photo by Megan Roth)

On Saturday April 21, 2015 the Queen City was subject to aliens known as The Second Conclave invading the city.

Aliens, presumably from Mars, came to Earth in what appeared at the time to be in the name of peace.

If you missed out on the spectacle, you are in luck! We at Prairie Dog were lucky enough to be on the scene the entire time, and we recorded everything that went on. Lucky you!

The leaders of the worlds and the United Nations were tasked with figuring out how best to deal with the discovery of extraterrestrial life here on Earth.

The day was full of crazy happenings. Everything from proclaiming aliens are not real, even with clear evidence, to threats of war, nuclear war between the world’s nations and even an attempt to blow up Mars.

Waiting and Watching Team China taking a break between all of the chaos of the day in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015.The nation of China held fans and spoke largely in fortunes from fortunes cookies. (Photo by Megan Roth)
Waiting and Watching Team China taking a break between all of the chaos of the day.The nation of China held fans and spoke largely in fortunes from fortunes cookies. (Photo by Megan Roth)

Players were strongly encouraged to dress up to increase their enjoyment as well as increase the overall experience of the game. As you would expect many took this prompt to heart and wore some crazy things, looking at you aliens.

Also to be expected were the different costumes of the nations. Some were tact, if drab. Many chose to wear the dull grey suit of a politician. Some expressed their nation through props.

The Russian team drank vodka, the Chinese team spoke in fortunes found in fortune cookies while waving paper fans, and the U.K. sounded like Australians making fun of the British.

One thing can be said about each player in the game; they were each very committed to the game and their character.

 Security Council A meeting of the U.N.'s security council at the Artful Dodger in Regina on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The security council's job was to assess global issues and crisis and decide what to do in order to make the world safer for everyone. (Photo by Megan Roth)
Security Council A meeting of the U.N.’s security council. The security council’s job was to assess global issues and crisis and decide what to do about the aliens. (Photo by Megan Roth)

This was the very first game of this caliber, and the first ever mega-game played in Saskatchewan.

Watch the Skies was a mega-game put on by Sask Games as the kick-off event for Play With Your Food 2015.

By the end of the game it was estimated roughly $40,000 had been raised for Play with Your Food 2015.

There was a registration fee of $25 to play in Saturday’s game, though all proceeds, minus production costs, were donated to Souls Harbour.

Aliens Invade Regina UPDATED

Prairie Dog has been tipped off to an alien invasion happening right here in Regina! Reports are currently sketchy but we will try our best to give the most accurate up to the minute news of this crisis.

The U.N will be meeting to discuss how the world will be dealing with this historic event.

Follow Megan Roth on twitter @MaygenRoth as she gives a blow by blow of events as they happen. 

UPDATE! The aliens have made contact! They claim to have come in peace. However one of their own was captured upon arrival to Earth. Could this be the start of intergalactic war?!

UPDATE 2! The aliens have made contact again! We now know they are called the Second Conclave and they seem to be very concerned with the earth’s wellbeing particularly in impoverish places such as Africa and South America. The aliens have even been working with some nations,but won’t say which.

The biggest news to come from this broadcast is the threat of war and annihilation. If the nations and governments of the world do not cooperate the aliens are willing and able to destroy the world.

UPDATE 3!  Officials have a huge gives! They are giving peace a chance. How? By ceasing all further military activity. The Prime Minister of India hope in the future the world would see an intergalactic federation of the worlds.

Peace has officially taken hold across the world. The aliens appear to have what they wanted.

UPDATE 4! The aliens have taken over the airwaves after refusing an interview with the GNN. The missive directed at the world leaders stated that they are happy with the resolve in conflict. However they were attacked and will be seeking retrebuation.

The aliens claim no one other than those who attacked them will be harmed. Can we trust their word? We will have to wait and see.

UPDATE 5! World peace was short lived as the world is now at nuclear war. Russia and the U.S are no more, the countries have been wiped from the map. Surprisingly France is taking responsibility.

Before Russia was hit they retaliated, taking aim at an alien base on Mars!

Watch the Skies is an all day role playing event happening at the Artful Dodger. All proceeds from today go to Souls Barbour Souls Harbour.

Meet Megan Roth

You’ll see a new byline in Prairie Dog and on Dog Blog for the next little while! Megan Roth, a journalism student at SAIT, has joined our editorial department (title: Intrepid Intern) and will be writing all kinds of stuff for the next few weeks (stuff specifics TBA).

To get to know Megan better, we asked her to interview herself in the third person. She has graciously allowed this nonsense to be posted online.

Let’s start with something easy. What is your name, age and where you are from?

I’m Megan Roth, I am 25 and I’m from everywhere but most recently Calgary by way of Moose Jaw.

Why did you come to Prairie Dog for your practicum?

Well, the idea that I wouldn’t have to pay extra rent was quite appealing as I’m staying with my parents. I also enjoyed reading it while I was in high school and thought I could probably do what I saw there too.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?

I like to attribute it to wanting to be like Lois Lane and Clark Kent as a kid, and later like Peter Parker. So basically I just wanted to be a superhero.

Is it true that you wore a Captain America sweater into the office this morning?

Yes I did. It was cold and snowy out when I left home, and I’m the wonderfully smart person who forgot her actual jacket in Calgary. I have no regrets though. I love Cap. It’s the closest I can come in everyday life to being a superhero.

If you weren’t a journalist or a writer of any sort, what would you be doing?

I’d be a costume designer. Put my cosplay skills to some actual use.

What do you like to do in your free time?

If I have free time, I like to read — even though I am technically an adult I do still enjoy young adult literature, play board games, design costumes for cosplay, and play Dungeons and Dragons. If I have time in the summer I also like to scuba dive.

What made you a nerd, you nerd?

Harry Potter when I was 11. That, even more than watching X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons was my first real foray into nerdom. Harry Potter showed me true fandom.

How do you think you’ll fit in at Prairie Dog?

I don’t see how it’s going to work; the people here say they hate nerds. But I’ll give it a try.

Do you have a question for Megan? Ask it in the comments below! She probably won’t answer because she’s very busy, but you never know. Maybe if you ask reeeeeally nice.

Armchair Travel Series

The Armchair Travel series is held most Monday afternoons at the Central Library film theatre from fall through spring. Typically, it features a local person who provides an hour-long talk with visual supports on a trip that they’ve recently taken to some far off (and often exotic) destination.

On Monday March 9 Nathan Seckinger will speak about a visit he made to Legoland in Denmark. From a quick visit to YouTube, it seems that Legolands aren’t confined to that Scandinavian country. But Denmark is the original home of the plastic block manufacturer, so it doesn’t get more authentic than that.

To whet your appetite for the talk, which will run Monday from 2-3 p.m., here’s the trailer for the 2014 Lego movie:

Academics Discuss Bullshit Numbers Used In P3 Referendum (But May Not Actually Use Word “Bullshit”)

Me, happy, waiting for the ferry between Valletta and Sliema, not thinking about P3s even a little bit.
Me, happy, waiting for the ferry between Valletta and Sliema, not thinking about P3s even a little bit.

It’s been months — many, many GLORIOUS MONTHS — since I’ve even thought about P3s. You can’t imagine how rich a life you can have without thinking about Public Private Partnerships. It’s like all of a sudden you have all this extra space in your brain for things like joy.

Sadly, like loving the Riders, thinking about P3s and their implications on your municipality is something you simply HAVE to do if you’re going to survive in Regina.

It’s tragic but true.

So if you want to get your P3 freak on this week, the U of R is putting on a little talk on the subject by Bill Bonner and Morina Rennie from the Faculty of Business Administration. It’s called: “Regina’s P3 referendum: A vote hijacked by a war of numbers from nowhere.”

Quite the mouthful. I’d love to go but can’t because Malta. But otherwise I would because it’s right up my alley. Check these bits from the description…

Using Actor-Network Theory we focus on the enlistment by P3 proponents of numbers from the Value for Money chart… Despite the lack of verifiable substance these numbers were enlisted by P3 proponents and came to speak volumes during the referendum… This was aided by the public option proponents who challenged those numbers and added similarly unverifiable numbers of their own… We problematize the Value for Money calculations used so persuasively in this local referendum with the hope of providing others facing similar situations the ability to shine a spotlight in the lack of substance of such numbers…

Holy shit! Problematizing numbers with Actor-Network Theory!?! It’s going to be a THRILL-FEST! That’s the kind of academics kids can mosh to!

Somebody has to go to this thing and make a video and put in on Youtube so I can watch it. Please.

I’m serious.

The event is Friday March 6 at 10:30 am in the Education Building, Room 558.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention how Morina Rennie, one of the two profs speaking on Friday, was a guest blogger here on Dog Blog back during Regina’s Water War. Her post was titled, “The Uncertain Costs Of A P3” and is probably still a good background read.

Spidey’s Coming Home

Spider-ManWell that was unexpected*. Sony has decided to  share Spider-Man with Marvel. The deal will let Sony continue to distribute, finance, own and have final creative control over Spidey but Marvel gets to use and make their own Spider-Man movies. Disgraced former head of Sony, Amy Pascal will co-produce the films with Marvel’s Kevin Fiege.

This is a big win for Marvel, who sold the movie rights to the character back in 1999 for $7 million dollars when the company was bankrupt and trying to get back on their feet. Sony’s made $4 billion on the franchise to date, so it’s gotten more than its money’s worth out of the deal. Marvel has already shuffled around their cinematic movie slate to make room for Spidey which means there’s a strong chance for ole Web Head to make an appearance in next year’s Captain America: Civil War.

A new movie is slated for July 28, 2017 and it’s sounds like a new actor for Spider-Man too. Andrew Garfield is out along with, I assume, Sony’s crappy plans for a Spidey cinematic universe that included a Sinister Six movie, an untitled female character movie and a Venom movie.

This news brings Marvel’s biggest character home and just leaves Fox hanging on to X-Men and Fantastic Four, and out of Marvel’s reaches.

I haven’t been a fan of Sony’s last two Spider-Man movies so this is very welcome. Hopefully things don’t get screwed up.

*Well, not really. Bit of a surprise to hear about it late on a Monday night though.

The Force Awakens And Hopes It Doesn’t Suck

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens official trailer is finally in theatres and online. I’ve only watched it three times looking for hints on degrees of suckiness.

Hints that it might suck: 1) The Title. The Force Awakens? I didn’t know it went to sleep. I thought Luke, Leia and Hans saved the galaxy at the end of episode VI? Maybe the force needed some R and R and this movie is a Beach Blanket Bingo romp fest with Disney castaways. 2) Comic Relief. Jar Jar Binks completely ruined the first episode. Now they have a little Weebles Wobbles rolling robot. That’s not the droid we’re looking for. 3) JJ Abrams did Star Trek. What happened to the great nerd divide? Worlds are colliding. 4) Disney. ‘Nuff said but then again a Star Wars theme park might not be a bad thing. Hoth, Tatooine, okay maybe not. 5) Black Friday. Dark Side. Get it?

Stay tuned for the other trailers in The Star Wars Franchise.

Episode VIII: The Force Orders A Double Double

Episode IX: The Force Tries Parsec Speed Dating For The First Time

Talkies

In the 1960s Italian filmmakers had some success doing knock-off versions of old-school Hollywood Westerns. Spaghetti westerns is what those films were called, and with the likes of Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach involved, some of the flicks are considered classics of the western genre.

That’s not the direction Jayden Pfeifer is pursuing with the next installment of his popular Talkies series which goes Tuesday, Oct. 21 at the RPL Theatre at 9 p.m. Instead, he’s screening the 1979 Italian flick Starcrash which is in the vein of a spaghetti science-fiction movie since it derives a lot of its “creative inspiration” from Star Trek/Star Wars/2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF classics.

Similar to the spaghetti westerns, Starcrash features some mid-range English-speaking actors including Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Christopher Plummer and the immortal David Hasselhoff — and is of dubious merit, which should make it ripe for Pfeifer’s satiric venom.

Tuesday’s screening is free with a donation to the Regina Food Bank, and to get everyone ready for blast-off here’s the trailer (pathetic special effects and all):

Pub Trivia: A Fun Thing To Do Tonight

Pints and prose triviaFriend O’ The Dog Brad Joyce co-hosts Pints & Prose Trivia tonight at O’Hanlon’s and he asked me to get the word out. Well, why wouldn’t I? Trivia is a hoot! Brad is tolerable! There are prizes!

The fun starts at 8:30, and it only costs five dollars to play (plus all the beer you’ll drink). Check it out! 

The End Of Cosmos

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Here’s a thing I should’ve been promoting for many weeks: the Centre for Inquiry Regina has been hosting regular Sunday night meetings at the Industrial Park Café (101 Hodsman Rd) to watch the new Cosmos series.

This Sunday is your last chance to join them as it’s the final episode. Show starts at 8:00 but people will start showing up at 7:00 for drinks and food. I’ve met the CFI Regina crew and they’re pretty cool so it should be a good time. (I’d like to go but I’ll be in Winnipeg this weekend.)

Frankly, I’ve been very impressed with this new incarnation of Cosmos and if I ever get a chance to blog again I’d like to write up something on it. My thoughts in short: It’s great but not as great as the original.

I’m really missing the Vangelis score from the Sagan version, which surprises me because I always thought it sounded just too… 1980. But now with this genero-symphonic thing that the new series is using I’m looking back with new appreciation for the original’s genius.

Also, as much as I like Neil deGrasse Tyson as a host, he’s no Carl Sagan. But hey, who is? And I’m sure my fondness for Sagan’s sonorous delivery has a lot to do with the fact that I was just a wee, impressionable kid when I first saw the show on PBS.

Speaking of, having the show on network television — while it guarantees a ginormous audience — means commercials, and they’re really breaking up the flow of the show and they also mean that there’s about 15 minutes less time to work with per episode. And that means less science.

But apparently the DVD release will have two hours more content though, so once I own those, the advertising critique vanishes.

So… beyond those trifles, I’m loving the new Cosmos. And last week’s episode totally knocked me out. It was the update of the original’s “Heaven And Hell” episode which compares Venus to Earth and it tackled environmental issues. And, big surprise considering this is airing on a Rupert Murdoch network, it took on human-caused climate change. It was probably the best, most succinct explanation of the issue I’ve seen on television — what we know about global warming, how we know it, how we know that humans are the problem, and what are a couple possible solutions. It was kind of perfect. Bravo.

Anyway, if you haven’t watched the series up to now, the DVD will be out June 10. And if you’re looking for a group of science buffs to watch the last episode with, check out the Industrial Park Café this Sunday.

Warner/DC’s New Batman TV Show Won’t Have Batman In A Costume Because “Superheroes Don’t Work On TV”

Could the people who run Warner Bros. be more stupid and awful? The studio launches a new DC universe TV show, called Gotham, and they hire a guy (it’s always a guy, never a woman) to run it who says things like this:

“When thinking about how to enter the DC world for TV, certainly on network TV, to do shows about superheroes — about people who wear spandex costumes — that doesn’t work very well. We want to see people’s faces. TV is about emotion and character, not stunts and special effects. This is a way of entering that world in a fresh way.”

Right. Superheroes in costumes don’t work. No one would like that. No money to be made that way. Jesus Christ, how much can a corporation hate the thing it sells, anyway? At Warner/DC, the contempt for comics and superheroes is palpable.

Here’s a trailer for this show that will supposedly be more “colourful” and “vivid” than Christopher Nolan’s  “visually stunning, but not particularly visually pleasurable”  take on Gotham. There’s lots of shitty computer animated blood splattering and a second-rate rip-off of Hans Zimmer’s Batman trilogy score.

The Amazing Spider-Man’s Canadian FX Roots

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Paul Giamatti as the Rhino in Park Avenue, before and after Imageworks doing.(Photos: Sony Pictures)
Paul Giamatti as the Rhino in Park Avenue, before and after Imageworks doing. (Photos: Sony Pictures Imageworks)

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Audiences and critics’ may not be in agreement regarding The Amazing Spider-Man 2, yet almost everyone concurs on the excellence of the craftsmanship. The quality of the special effects is beyond reproach: Very few movies manage to destroy Times Square without making New York look like Cleveland (wink wink).

The Vancouver-based FX and animation company Sony Pictures Imageworks has been involved with the Spider-Man movies from the beginning (including the Sam Raimi trilogy). With every incarnation, Imageworks has corrected and improved the looks of live-action Spidey: His suit, web, movement and displacement. “Everything can always look more authentic” seems to be their motto.

I had the chance to hang out with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 senior visual effects supervisor, Jerome Chen, the digital effects supervisor, David Smith, and the animation supervisor, David Schaub. Chen was nominated for an Oscar for Stuart Little. Smith was also up for an Academy Award thanks to his work in Alice in Wonderland.

Main photography for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took five months, while post production lasted nearly eight. Unlike most movies today, TASM 2 was shot in film, not digitally (in the words of Jerome Chen, “it’s just beautiful”). Visual effects were finished in March, just two months ahead opening day.

According to the digital FX supervisor, David Smith, the film tried to merge the fantastical with the physical: “What works in comics doesn’t necessarily work in movies. Every pose has a purpose and must be motivated by an action behind.” Here is the reasoning behind the special FX work in the movie. Continue reading “The Amazing Spider-Man’s Canadian FX Roots”

Fan Expo: More Photos

FXR 2014 (con floor-12)You’ve seen Aidan’s Saturday photos from Fan Expo Regina. Oh sure, they’re good. But what about Sunday? Huh? What about Sunday? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT, AIDAN. Fortunately, I have a camera too. Here are my pics from the second and final day of Regina’s Big Nerdapalooza. Okay, there’s one photo by Aidan here. But he took it Saturday, not Sunday. AIDAAAAAN! Continue reading “Fan Expo: More Photos”

Fan Expo: My Photographic Odyssey In Photographs

This weekend I went to the Fan Expo Regina with Prairie Dog’s CNB (Chief Nerd Bullier) Steve Whitworth and MSE (Marina Sirtis Enthusiast) Carl Johnson. I was there as the official Prairie Dog photographer, and it soon became clear that Steve expected me to actually take out my camera and depress the shutter. Then, just to exert his will, he wrote on Sunday:

Aidan took tons of photos, some of which will land on Dog Blog over the next few days. They will be great.

And they are great. After all, what could be greater than Kay Pike/Jessica Rabbit, Kevin Sorbo, IronE Singleton and Tia Carrere in a row? Maybe if they threw in some cupcakes.

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This is a blurry photo, but it shows the unmitigated glory of IronE Singleton’s jacket, which he showed off with unironic glee. “Should I twirl?” he asked. Then he twirled.

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Do you have a mental image right now of IronE Singleton driving around town in an airbrushed van? DO YOU? You do.

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Also also of note: I can’t post pictures of Tia Carrere because certain people whose names rhyme with Schmeve and Schmarl want to use those photos for their own dark amusements blog posts.

The real attractions at the Fan Expo, of course, were the fans and their incredible costumes.

Continue reading “Fan Expo: My Photographic Odyssey In Photographs”