Members Only

Ever had that one piece of clothing that you just could not part with? Sure you did, we all did that at some point in our lives. For me, the moment of truth has arrived. It is time to replace my 1992 members only Jacket.

I have literally had this thing for 20 years. What is more scary- that I have been the same shape, and size, since I was 13 years old, or that this thing is still wearable?

That is me on the bottom wearing the jacket in Toronto. It was 3 years old at that point. I can’t find a photo, but I even wore the thing on the Maid of the Mist in Niagra Falls.

This jacket traveled with me to Denver 3 years later for Star Wars Celebration, and was positively drenched with rain, and covered with mud. It was like woodstock. This thing has been through hell, but still protects me from the non-harsh elements.

As I look at the jacket, I can see the wear and tear of 2 decades on it. A few small rips now grace the arms, joined by a larger one on the back. The inner lining has long since failed, with numerous shreds of polyester hanging inside. The zippers and the buttons on the shoulders still work, but the pockets have holes in them. It has long since lost its ability to “break wind”, the chilly New England nights swoosh through the fabric as if it were cheesecloth. Forget about rain protection, that died in the late 90’s, just before Celebration.

So, why do I still have it?

Its the oldest piece of clothing I have continuously owned. All my shirts and pants from the early 90’s are now gone. Although I have purchased a few vintage ties online, they have really only been in my possesion a year or so. I got the jacket when I started High School. It was not even in fashion anymore, but the black MO jacket was still cool enough (unlike its blue and grey counterparts). Now, this May I will finally be getting m Bachelor’s Degree. No matter how hot it is that day…under my robes will be this Jacket, with me- its only member left.

Comix this week! 11-2-2011

No images this week, as I am feeling lazy, and the hour is late.

The Bad:

No bad this week! A sign that my culling of crap titles is nearing completion.

The Good:

Justice League International 3: The story of the “Giants” continues as the newly formed JLI learns to work as a team. Jurgens and Lopresti are doing a fine job, but the title is suffering from a lack of Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle. In fact, I would say the entire universe is suffering from his absence in the reboot. He seems to have never existed, at least as we know him, in the DCnU.

Red Lanterns 3: The slow boil continues as Atrocitus reliveves Bleeze of her bloodlust so that he may have someone else with a clear mind to help run the Red lanterns. This of course will end up biting him in the ass, as it appears that Bleeze has designed this series of events to steal leadership from Atrocitus. Good stuff, great Bloodbath cover by Ed benes.

Avengers 1959: This interesting series continues as Nick Fury and the 59 version of the Avengers deal with the Skull nazis, and meet up with Howard Stark. Great stuff here from Chaykin, but I gotta admit the art is slipping a bit in this issue.

Fear Itself: The Fearless 1 and 2: After hearing heaps of praise for Cullen Bunn as a voice to be reckoned with in comics, I decided to pick up these issues. They are really good stuff. The spin offs of Fear Itself are destined to far eclipse the series itself.

Fear Itself 7.1- Captain America: Just when you thought the hurt was over! I admit that this .1 by Brubaker and Guice was very good. It tells the tale of what happened with Cap and Bucky post- Fear itself. SPOILER: Bucky lives, and Nick Fury gives up immortality! By issue’s end, Mr barnes is going underground as the Winter Soldier once again, to right some wrongs from his past life as a Soviet Assassin. Brubaker is writing it, so sign me up!

X-Men 20: Storm and other members of the X-Men Blue team based out of San Francisco head off on a mission to Chechnya to track down some Sentinels, and run afoul of Government actions- leading to a showdown between Juggernaut’ed Colossus and War Machine. Nothing to spectacular here, but a decent first issue to a new storyline. The Adi Granov cover was a little underwhelming also.

Uncanny X-Men 1: Cyclops and his “Blue” team of X-Men face off against Mr. Sinister who has taken control of The Dreaming Celestial  to turn the people of San Francisco into…Mister Sinisters? Bizzare first issue of this relaunch. I will stick around a little while, but Gillen needed to be dropped from this title. Thus Far “Gold team” and Wolverine have my support.

The Great:

Swamp Thing 2 and 3: After deciding to not subscribe to Swamp Thing, I was inundated by questions about it, and even more comments on the high quality of the new series. begrudgingly, I picked up the latest issue and the one I missed…Holy mother of God. This is a fantastic title. It is honoring what came before, while treading new ground in the Swamp Thing mythos. I love “The Rot”, and look forward to many face offs with the Green….and…

Animal Man 3: Lemire continues to TEAR IT UP on this fantastic title. Animal Manand his daughter- Avatar of “The Red” (Swamp Thing concerns “The Green”) face off against agents of “The Rot”. There is a great shared universe going on between this and Swamp Thing. The inevitable crossover will be epic.

Detective Comics 3: The story of the Dollmaker continues as batman races to save Jim Gordon from getting chopped up, only to fall into a trap where he must face…multiple Jokers! Tony Daniel is phenomenal on batman titles, and I predict he will be here for a long long time.

Action Comics 3: We see a bit more of “crusading reporter” Clark Kent, and the powerful entities aligned to squash the truth of the corruption in the government and businesses of Metropolis. We also get a glimpse of some of the last moments of kandor City on Krypton, just as Braniac “bottles” it. The same situation plays out here in Metropolis, as Braniac’s robot minions prepare to collect Metropolis!

Pick of the Week:

OMAC 3: This is a great comic. Very “Jack Kirby” and not afraid to show it. Omac faces off against Psi-Fi man as well as the Maxwell Lord led Checkmate. There are some great things happening in this title, and I am proud to list it as my surprise hit of the DCnU.

Ah, to be young and lazy

If only I were as young as I was…

I apologize, non-readers, for the lack of updating here on wordpress. I have had a busy week and only now thought to get on here. Tomorrow shall bring the “comix this week” article, but for tonight I shall present to you my first tattoo!

It is a simple Masonic image that I have made “Mine”. The traditional version is a square and compass with the skull and crossbones in the center. Above this is the Moon and the Sun, denoting Light from darkness, with the all-seeing eye watching above. I kept the square, compass, and eye normal, but went crazy on the rest. It was done by Bob Goudie of Federal Hill Tattoo in Providence.

In place of the moon, we have the Death Star (That’s no moon!). In place of the Sun we have the Glowing Green Lantern symbol.

The skull and crossbones were made into Elvis Presley. Rather than go with 50’s slick Elvis hair, we decided that the shaggier 70’s Elvis was more appropriate. “WE” being me and my tattoo artist Bob. In finding references for the hair, Bob inadvertently used one of my favorite movies as a source… Bubba Ho Tep!

That’s right, my Elvis skull is actually the Skull of not ELVIS, but Bruce Campbell PLAYING ELVIS! Instantly 1000X more awesome.

Comix this week! 10-26-11

Welcome to another edition of Comix this week! My last entry was rather detailed, and as I do not plan on writing a 3 hours post again, today you get the 50 cent version. A hallmark of the “Classic” Comix this week messages I wrote 15-5 years ago was the “Pick of the week”. So, I am gonna start ranking these reviews from worst to best (in my estimation).  Enjoy!

WORST OF THE WEEK: Self explanatory

The art on this series, by Andrea Sorrentino is beautiful. The story, however, in incomprehinsible. I was hoping for more of a fleshed out story in this issue, but sadly it was not to be. This felt like another First issue, in that we are dropped into the middle of action, with no idea what is going on. There is more information about the story written on the cover of this issue, than in the issue itself. This is my last month with these vamps.

Nothing particularly outstanding here. The art is ok, the story transfer is good, but there is a problem. The TV show was better, and having freshly read the novels, this cannot help but pale in comparison. Winter has come….for this title. heh

AVERAGE OF THE WEEK!!!: The stuff that is generally good, not must read stuff.

I am intrigued by this issue, but it was not as good as #1. The storytelling was uneven, and harder to follow than I would like. I am sticking with this for a while longer though, as there is merit in the title, and the incredible cast of characters.

Green Lantern: New Guardians 2: Better than issue one, but still not completely there. By the end of the issue, things are starting to transition as Kyle becomes “Uber-Lantern”. The cover is still a bit misleading as not many of these characters are getting along at all, and the addition of the orange Lantern on the cover confuses me. This might be the first Lantern title I ever cancel if things don’t turn around.

Flash 2 was an interesting issue, as it explored how Barry can not just move fast, but think fast. Overall though, Barry is just a really boring character. There is nothing that really makes this guy pop other than “I can move fast! and I’m a cop!”. This title needs to shift gears and develop the Flash Family again. The only thing that ever really defined Barry Allen was his death in 1986, and the legacy he left behind with the Flash legacy characters. They are sorely missed.

I do not know what to do with this title. So far, it is pretty much a T&A show. There is nothing wrong with that, but this needs something else, a hook, to drag us into the world. I will probably stick with the current story line and re-evaluate.

BEST OF THE WEEK: Now we get into the REALLY good stuff.

Star Trek returned to comics last month, and I missed it! I therefore picked up both issues 1 and 2. This series is overseen by Bob Orci, writer of 2009’s Star Trek Reboot. This is the retelling of the original series episodes, in the new Star Trek universe. Things are different, sometimes not so much, other times drastically. It is an interesting idea, and I look forward to future issues.

What a great issue this was. #1 re-introduced us to Aquaman, and addressed his ranking as the lamest of the Justice League. In this issue, we see WHY is a JL member. He kicks so much ass in this title, but not enough to escape the fish monsters! #3 cannot come fast enough.

George Perez crams SO much into his work. This feels like 2-3 comics in one issue. There is so much happening here, and Perez is a great storyteller. I will be sad to see him leave the title after its first arc. The plot of this issue was great, an invisible (to superman) monster, that he uses cameras and tv to track and fight. Great stuff.

This is the story of Bucky discovering a Concentration Camp in Germany. Great stuff, and really evokes the rage Bucky feels at the horrors of the camps. Brubaker needs to stay on Cap forever.

All Star Western 2: A genius idea. Lets take Bounty Hunter Jonah hex, team him up with the first Dr Arkham (of the asylum), and have him fight bad guys in the young Gotham City. The Crime Bible makes it’s re-appearance in this story, and Hex has a hell of a time shooting up the cult members. great on so many levels.

PICK OF THE WEEK: Technically “Picks of the week”

Incredible Hulk #1 and Wolverine and the X-men #1

By Jason Aaron.

Arron is awesome. two #1’s this week and they are easily the picks of the week. Hulk is normally about Banner trying to control the Hulk, now that they have physically split in 2, it is the Hulk who must be brought in to control banner- who has become some sort of Mad Scientist. Marc Silvestri’s art is beyond reproach.

Wolverine is now the Headmaster of the Jean Grey school, at the former Xavier School. What a great first issue. It reminds me in many ways to Morrisson’s New X-men of 10 years ago, with a re-emphasis on the school, and its functions. SOOOOOOOOO good.

Bathroom is clean!!

I don’t know what it is about cleaning a bathroom, but getting it to the point where it is completely spotless is almost a religious experience. It’s tough to attain perfection when you have a few cats using the area for their sandbox. The litter gets everywhere, and my mood rapidly decreases similarly to the moodlets in Sims 3 (I must have cleanliness!). While we are discussing cat poop and sandboxes, Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) gave the world some fascinating information last night. Apparently Cat Litter contains some sort of microbe that can cause miscarriages in pregnant mothers. Who knew? Remember dads- be a good husband…change your cat litter!

Today was a relatively productive day. Besides cleaning my bathroom and catching up on homework, I headed over to Federal Hill Tattoo in Providence to visit Bob, tattoo artist. Bob was “Marshall” last year when I was the Master of Redwood Lodge. He is an awesome guy, a trusted Brother, and a fantastic artist. When deciding who’s art I want to wear for the rest of my life, Bob was obviously at the forefront of my mind.

I have been spending quite a while brainstorming and researching tattoo designs. Last night, I had the “Eureka! I have found it!” moment. I knew I wanted something utilizing Masonic Symbolism. I also wanted it to reflect my love of the Comic Art form. I was considering just doing a straightforward Mason tattoo this time out, and have more whimsical follow-ups, but that is not the Ponte way. As the old saying goes: “Go Big, or go home.” I decided to roll my love of freemasonry, Comics, Sci-Fi,  and Rock and Roll all into one design.

I presented my ideas to Bob this afternoon, and he seemed to enjoy it. He is a quiet man, but I could see the devilish glee in his eye when I mentioned certain things I wanted incorporated in the tattoo. By the end of the meeting, we had hashed out a preliminary design. I ams scheduled to have the outline done next Monday- Halloween. Which is somehow fitting.

I have been careful to not give away any details of the design of this thing. I will only say that it is epic. It is a great amalgam of Superponte: What I love, and how I live my life as a Mason. I cannot wait to share it with everyone!

“Just when I thought I was out…”

Sweet mother of God…

I got into Warcraft somewhere around July 2005. I tinkered around and eventually created my Warlock “Dubiel” (named after a friend) later that year. In the past six years, I have worked my way through more content than I can possibly recount. When the latest expansion “Cataclysm” was released, I was right there at midnight, ready to play. Then something unexpected happened…I lost interest. I played through all the new content on Dub, but once it was finished, there was little to hold or interest me. I took several months off. When the firelands patch was released, I came back and enjoyed much of that content, but the Guild I played with had mostly fallen apart, and I was alone out there. I took more time off. Now today at Blizzcon, they announce Mists of Pandaria- the new expansion to The Game. There is a new class for your character to be- Monk (as in Shaolin). The new race this time around?

Yup, an awesome Kung Fu Panda called a Pandaren. It can be either Horde or Alliance- your choice at level 10. Not only did they drop this awesome bomb on me, they mentioned that all those lovable pets we have been collecting for 6-7 years will be able to have battle in “MoP”. That’s right…they have brought Pokemon to WoW. I bow to my masters…

Well played Chris Metzen…well played.

New York Comic Con 2011

Another October is nearly past, and with it my latest trek down to New York for their version of Comic-Con. I attended for a couple of hours last year on a Sunday, just to get a flavor of what the show is about. My 2010 reaction was positive, but overwhelmingly Video Game and Anime Centric. This makes sense as this show started as an Anime festival which then morphed into a full blown Comic Con. When I decided to return this year, I made the commitment to spend at least 3 days at the show. Luckily,  my old friend Justin decided to travel with me, our first real convention (together) in over 6 years.

Justin and I left Massachusetts at about 9:30AM on Friday the 14th. The drive down was relatively uneventful. We did the usual 95S activities of stopping at McD rest stops and catching up on the last few years of our lives. Surprisingly little has changed, and we remain the same cynical asses we have always been. Traffic was at a standstill in the few miles preceding the George Washington Bridge, but once we got over it, and onto 9A, it was smooth sailing straight down Manhattan to the Javitz Center.

In preparing for the trip, I decided that it would be best to stay in New Jersey and park in the city every day. Now, I have driven in cities before, but I have heard so many horror stories about NYC that I was getting rather nervous about driving in and out every day. Upon arriving, we immediately noticed a parking garage literally 1 block from the convention center. Deciding that this was too good to pass up, we drove in and walked to the show. By this time it was somewhere around 2PM, and as I had been to this show before, I led us to where we needed to go. Unfortunately, the 2010 convention layout was nothing at all like the 2011 floor plan, and I got us lost. After consulting a map, we found what we were seeking- the Autograph Hall.

Most Convention goers attend the panels and do the company booths as a primary goal, while the purchasing of autographs and collectables are secondary. We, and many others, are different as we head straight for the celebrity autograph areas and try to get that done as soon as is possible. So, basically all of Friday was spent in the Autograph Hall. We got autographs of Eliza Dushku, James Marsters, Jerry “The King” Lawler, David Blue, and Erin Cummings with little real trouble. As we were doing this, however, I began to notice one line in particular growing to mammoth proportions. Deciding that the monster line tonight was preferable to a possibly longer one tomorrow, we jumped in for an autograph of Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh of The Guild and Legend of Neil fame. This was a long line. I estimate we were there at least an hour, but once we arrived at the front, that old comic-con magic happened. You see, I was wearing a Boston Red Sox shirt (a dangerous thing to do in NYC), and it turns out Sandeep is from New Hampshire and is a true blue Sox fan. He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a weathered BoSox cap that he was hiding from the locals. We posed for a picture together…

and talk a little more Sports and New England. At this point, I sort of realized that I was totally ignoring Felicia Day, a sin for true geeks, and promptly said my goodbye to Sandeep and greeted Felicia. She was very pleasant, and looked a bit confused at my sports talk with Sandeep, but was cool about it.

By the this was accomplished, it was after 6PM… How did we spend 4 hours in that room, I do not know, but it went by fast. We walked around a little bit more and made some purchases. In my case, I bought a Ghostbusters “Slimer” bank, a Tardis and Green lantern Bobble head, and a copy of Octopus Pie the comic by Meredith Gran. We would have explored more, but the day of travel had left us tired, so we went back to the car and negotiated Friday Night traffic in Mid Town Manhattan. It was surprisingly not as bad as I expected. There was a little bit of a traffic jam, but I attribute this to the convention drivers not knowing where to go. We made it into the Lincoln Tunnel, and within 5 minutes were at our Hotel. Now, this was by no means a 4 star place (Hojo) but for Jersey standards it was good. The one distinctive feature of this hotel is that there is a main lobby building near the entrance, but all the rooms are on this 40 degree inclined hill behind it. Below is a stock photo I found of it.

Photos of Howard Johnson North Bergen, North Bergen

Now it was that bad of a driveway, but boy was it fun to drive down! I was having Dukes of hazard moments every morning. We checked in and immediately fell asleep, being the Old men that we are. The next day brought a continental breakfast, and a crazy comic-con attendee dressed very goth, with those vanity “zombie” contact lenses. She was ahead of us in line, and was trying to get a cup of coffee. There was probably some issue with her lenses, as she stood there staring at the coffee pots for several minutes. What followed was a hilarious exchange with the Hispanic kitchen attendant:

KA: (pointing to coffee pots) That one decaf, this one regular.

Goth: Thank you.

She continues to stare, without grabbing coffee.

KA: (pointing) Decaf…Regular.

Goth: I know!

This continued for a couple minutes, with the Kitchen Woman insisting to remind the young girl of which was which several times in a row. Finally, the fool decided what she wanted to drink. Following this, we headed out in the car towards the city. What little traffic we faced the night before had completely vanished by morning. It was a quick 10 minute drive, and we were back in the parking lot near the convention. Day two began right where Day one left off: Autograph Hall! This was the day we dedicated to finish out autograph collecting. For starters, I purchased some prints from C Martin Croker- Animator on Aqua Teen.

Yes, I bought a Balloon Hitler print, he signed and posed with it.

Following this we got autographs from Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang, and Jason O’Mara- all of who did not take free photos with fans 😦

We then headed back onto the floor and procured an autograph from Ian McNiece, whom I had met 10 years prior.

Yes, he was absolutely cool, and gladly took a photo with us.

We then spent the remainder of the day dedicated to exploring every inch of the show floor. We started with Autograph Alley and worked our way up and around. We bought some cool posters (though we call them oversized prints), a making of Jaws books, and a few other random trade paperbacks and a Bettie Page statue. After all this, it was somehow closing time, so we headed back to Jersey and had a nice dinner at La Fusta steakhouse.

Day Three had even less traffic than the previous day, this is mostly because we left early. We parked our car and took a cab down town to the 9/11 memorial. We got our passes and walked about a bit, seeing the sights. We walked St Paul’s cemetery, and well as Trinity Church, where we saw the grave of Alexander Hamilton. We headed over to the memorial, proceeded through more security than I have ever seen, and made it inside the park. Much of the area is still under construction, but the spaces were the towers stood were completed with the beautiful waterfall memorials.

Following this, we returned to the Convention Center. These final few hours were spent meeting Bill Amend of the comic strip Foxtrot, and walking the con floor for some last minute deals. I got a bunch of trades, a Bruce Campbell bust, a Boo-Berry Plush, and The Captain America Bust I have been salivating over for a year. FINALLY at a decent price.

The drive home was quiet and sleepy, for Justin at least, and we made it home around 6PM. It was a good trip. We spent too much money (as usual) but it was a good experience. Conventions are a funny thing. Each one has its own personality, and this one reminded me a lot of San Diego back in the early 2000’s before it exploded into the behemoth it is today. I will be back in NYC next year for at least the weekend.

Here is a link to my Facebook album containing all my photos from the show. Enjoy!