Entries for July 2011

July 18, 2011

San Diego Comic Con 1988

This week is the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, the largest fandom convention in the United States. If you’re heading to San Diego, there’s a very slim chance that you will pass through a time warp along the way and find yourself at the 1988 San Diego Comic Con instead of the 2011 event. But to better prepare you for that remote possibility, I am providing a few things that you may wish to review in advance.

[Note: you should know that the convention in 1988 wasn’t as big as it is today, when 125,000 people are expected to show up. In 1988, attendance was around 8,000 people. So don’t be shocked if the place feels deserted.]

First, here is a Progress Report newsletter [download the PDF]. These were sent out in advance of the convention to get you excited about who would be there, and let you know how to get around the brand new Omni Hotel.

Inside you’ll find that some topics being considered for panel programming include “Alternative Animation Techniques,” “Are Comics Too Realistic?,” “The Film Noir Approach in Comics,” “Japanimation’s Appeal in the United States,” “Martial Arts in Comics,” “New Directions in Comic Strips,” “The Physics of Super-heroes,” “Presenting Taboo Material in Comics” and “Why Aren’t Comics Fun Anymore?”

You’ll also find out where the masquerade is going to be held for the first time (spoiler: the Civic Theatre) and how to register for the masquerade. Please note that if you plan any acrobatics, swordplay, or special effects on stage, it must be cleared with masquerade coordinators in advance.

Here’s a sneak peak at who else is lined up to be there:

Once you’ve gone through the Progress Report, arm yourself with the actual Events Guide [download the PDF]

On page 16 you’ll find a complete listing of all the movie screenings happening during the convention. Don’t miss Condorman in the Silver Room on Thursday, or the rare 3-D screening of It Came From Outer Space on Saturday.

Here’s what else is happening:

If you can, go to the 4:00 screening of the new X-Men cartoon pilot on Thursday. It never got picked up as a series, but there’s a certain excitement in the air at the possibility that it just might. And you can participate in the discussion over whether Wolverine’s Australian accent ruins the whole thing.

In case you don’t make it to 1988, here’s the pilot courtesy of YouTube:

One more thing: Be sure to visit as many booths as you can, and meet as many people as you can. Instead of asking for individual autographs, it might be fun to get as many people as possible from, say, Marvel Comics to sign one piece of acid-free board. If they’re willing to draw a picture on it, even better. And if Todd McFarlane says, “I did draw a picture. I drew a spider,” when you really wanted him to draw Spider-Man, just thank him graciously and try not to be disappointed.

See if you can find all these people:

[Ron Lim, Archie Goodwin, Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald, Jeff Purves, Ian Akin, Tom DeFalco, Terry Kavanagh, Peter David, Todd McFarlane, Steve Saffel, and a couple more people whose names I can’t make out.]

Oh, one more thing. Before you go, pick up a copy of the Dark Horse Comics preview booklet [or just download the PDF]. It showcases some titles like Flaming Carrot and Concrete. They’re a relatively new publisher, but I predict big things for them. Here’s what it looks like:

Bonus:Now that I think about it, as long as you may be time traveling, perhaps you should look over the Wikipedia entry on 1988 in sports before you go, just in case you have some free time. And be sure to change your 2011 cash for 1988 or earlier bills so you don’t arouse suspicion.

July 11, 2011

Inventor Portrait: Ernest Nussbaum

[cross-posted from my photography blog]

This is Ernest Nussbaum, inventor of the Practicello.

The Practicello is a full height cello that breaks down to fit in carry-on luggage. It’s not intended to be good enough to play in a concert, but its just meant for cellists who want to practice while they travel without needing to pay for an extra seat on the airplane to bring their instrument. And since it doesn’t resonate as loudly as a cello with a full body, it’s not going to annoy the people in the hotel room next door.

Here are some more photos from our shoot:

July 2, 2011

100 Year Old Patriotic Song Revived for 4th of July

This bit of fun with the public domain happened over on my other blog SundayMagazine, but I thought it was cool enough to share here.

I posted an article from 1911 about a new patriotic hymn written by the Music Director of New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department (does that job still exist?). The article included sheet music and lyrics for the song:

[Click here to download PDF]

The man who wrote it was Arthur Farwell, and he had pretty high aspirations for this song, considering it more of a global than national anthem:

“It is a world-hymn rather than a patriotic hymn in the old-fashioned sense.

“I have strictly avoided all the paraphernalia of phraseology of the old sort of narrow and egotistic patriotic hymn, and doubt very much if there will ever be another successful hymn of that kind written.

“The cry to-day is world federation, and the ‘Hymn to Liberty’ is addressed to the nations of the world, especially in its first and third stanzas, in behalf of the idea of liberty for the race, as springing to birth in a new sense with the creating fo the American nation.”

I’m not very musical myself, so I couldn’t imagine what the hymn sounded like. And I couldn’t find any recordings or references to it anywhere else online. It’s not even listed in Farwell’s page at the International Music Score Library Project. It seemed to have been long forgotten.

But my readers are more savvy than I am, and now we have two versions to listen to.

First, a reader named SamECircle used Noteflight to create a midi version of just the choral lines. That was pretty cool and gave an idea of the melody.

Then another reader named Daniel Dockery made an arrangement which he posted on his site. He wrote, “No choir on hand, I’ve reset the four voices in a direct, one-to-one setting for string quartet following the traditional arrangements, so the music is the same though the instruments differ; the piano line remains unchanged.”

Be sure to visit his site and give it a listen.