Hallelujah, friends and neighbors, it’s been one hell of a week. I’m feeling the need to vent and since it’s my blog, that’s what I’m going to do. Some folks may be offended by what I have to say, but I’d challenge you to read to the end. Everything’s not as black and white as people would like to think. Black and white would be easy. This situation is anything but easy.
On Tuesday, America elected itself a racist, fascist, misogynist, megalomaniac narcissist as our new leader. I could not have been more stunned. I knew we the people were smarter than that, we’d evolved beyond believing that Mexicans are rapists, all Muslims are bad, and women are sub-humans to be objectified. How could this happen?
Before you go getting all defensive, understand that I can’t stand Hilary. For years, I swore up and down that I’d never vote for her. I think she’s the very definition of greed and avarice, of selfish ambition and ‘win at any cost’. Enter Donald J. Trump, with his message of hate and intolerance. The man bragged about sexually assaulting women. Billy Bush got fired. Trump got elected President. What the ever-loving fuck?
So, shortly before Election Day, I took myself to one of the early voting sites, choked back the vomit, and voted for Hilary Clinton. Because I knew that whatever she was selling, it wasn’t the hate and vitriol that Trump has been spewing for the last year and a half.
I still can’t wrap my head around the results. Can’t imagine anyone I have less respect for than Trump. And there’s that nagging fear–Holy shit, what if he makes good on his promises about reversing gay marriage, about deporting undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims, about all the other bat-shit things he said?
There’s a movement afoot, a peaceful protest aimed at sending a message to those folks Trump would marginalize. Like-minded people are wearing a safety pin indicating support for those at whom Trump has aimed his special brand of hate. If you see me around, I’ll be wearing the biggest safety pin I can find, and I’ll do it until everyone is safe.
So tonight’s serenade… We lost Leonard Cohen this week. Maybe his heart just couldn’t take it, I don’t know. But we need a little healing up in here.
Hug those you love. Remind them that hate and prejudice are never okay. Maybe reach out to someone in Trump’s cross-hairs. Hallelujah. Happy Saturday night!
We’re celebrating Independence Day here in the US. It’s a day for family, cook outs, ribs, fun, and fireworks. A bit of a shadow over the whole thing is that we’re seeing a lot of reports in the news recently about ramped up security in cities all over the country, trying to head off some kind of ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attack related to the holiday. That’s unfortunate.
This is the time for us to celebrate our freedom, who we are as a nation and a culture. If we change our plans out of fear, the bad guys win. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are those around the world who agree. So…ultimately I believe that hate doesn’t get to win. Love is too strong, and there are too many of us.
I’d like to invite everyone to celebrate the 4th of July, no matter where you are. Because all of us are thankful for independence.
On to the serenade. Here’s an oldie from John Cougar Mellencamp. I know, he hates the ‘Cougar’ but if you’re of a certain age, it is what it is. Is it just me or does anybody else hear a hint of the Ramones?
So tonight we’re gonna R.O.C.K. in the USA! Happy Saturday night!
This post was originally published back in August, shortly after Mr. R. and I returned from our adventure at Tampa Bay Comic Con. To say that we had a blast is an understatement. We pre-purchased three-day passes to the convention, but having media passes was the cherry on top. The distinctive lanyards afforded us easy access to celebrity events for which we would otherwise have spent hours waiting on line. The celebrity photos would have been off-limits without our having purchased a very expensive photo package.
You may be wondering why I’m choosing to repost this article now. On the second day of the convention, Mr. R. and I used our media passes to get early admission to and preferred seating at the only Q&A session featuring both Richard Madden and Pedro Pascal from Game of Thrones.
So in honor of the Game of Thrones Season 5 Premiere Eve, I present to you:
Tampa Bay Comic Con: Day 2 (At Last)
There was so much that happened on Day 2 of Tampa Bay Comic Con, I’ve had trouble deciding how to organize the information. I’ve decided to create sections with headings. Celebrity photos are at the end of this post. Here goes…
General Observations: On Saturday, as we waited in line to park (and an exceedingly long line it was), we watched herds of people moving along the sidewalks towards the convention center. Many were in costume and everyone moved with purpose and confidence. My thought was, “I love Comic Con.” This is a place where everyone can unapologetically proclaim their fandom for whatever floats their boat. It’s extremely liberating. Speaking of costumes, before we left home I read about San Diego Comic Con on someone’s blog, and she described attending in costume as a cross between the most humiliating moment of your life and your fifteen minutes of fame. As we watched crowd reactions to costumes, I could see that comparison. Random strangers stopped costumed attendees to ask for pictures. “Hey, Wolverine, can my son get a picture with you?” In terms of costume categories we saw plenty of Poison Ivys, Batman characters in general, some Star Wars, Dr. Who, a couple of Oberyn Martells, and not as many Game of Thrones characters as I expected.
Things That Were Annoying: If you don’t want to hear me bitch and moan, skip this section, because although overall we had an amazing time, there were a few things that were very wrong at Tampa Bay Comic Con.
First of all, parking was problematic, which shouldn’t be surprising given the number of people in attendance, however, we prepaid $61 to Parking Panda for guaranteed valet parking a short walk from the venue. When we arrived on Friday, the parking garage was full so we were sent to another parking garage a short distance further down and we had to self-park. On Saturday, the line going to the valets was blocking traffic, so once again we were sent to the other garage to self-park. We arrived on Sunday, truck loaded with our bags for the return trip home, prepared to self-park and just as glad about it at that point. But since the crowds were much thinner, we actually made it to the valet who informed us that if we chose to park ourselves, we’d probably be charged $20 when we left. Unwillingly, we let him park us. It seems petty, I suppose, because we always did have a space to park, but the whole situation really chapped my behind.
Then there was the heavy handed way convention staff treated guests. Entering and moving around the complex was unbelievably complicated. You could never get where you wanted to go from where you were. Someone was always yelling at you that you were going the wrong way, out the entrance or in the exit. Or you had a wristband for re-entry, but there was ONE re-entry door in the entire complex. One of the most infuriating rules was that from where you entered the building, you had to press through the crush of the exhibit hall in order to go to the other end of the complex, rather than use the empty walkway immediately outside the exhibit hall, and again, the traffic flow was one way only. We heard the word “flow” a lot as we (read, Mr. R.) expressed displeasure with being treated like errant school children. They really could do better.
Food and drinks were difficult to find and the facility had precious few places to sit. At any given time, there were masses of people sitting on the floor in odd places like beneath the escalators and along the walls, hunched over slices of pizza or cardboard holders of nachos. I nearly crushed countless smartphones that were plugged in and sitting on the floor next to their owners. I kept thinking, this is a convention center. Conventions are what they do. Do you suppose Rotarians have to sit on the floor under the escalators? Now, I’ve gotten that out of the way…
Weary fans with nowhere to sit
Sometimes you’ve just got to sit.
Interesting Folks: Luckily, Mr. R. and I were able to snag a table about forty-five minutes before we went to the first Q&A panel. We had two extra chairs and were happy to share with people looking for a place park their weary behinds. The first to ask were Holly Moran and Jeremy Druley, a local couple in subtle gothic dress on their first visit to Comic Con. She wore a top with a pattern of rainbow skulls, accessorized with a bat pendant. He wore a cannibal t-shirt and silver anchor ear gauges. They told us they were just checking it out and people watching, being fans of horror more than comics, but they said they were having fun.
After Holly and Jeremy left, we were joined by Ed Padilla and Danielle Myers, dressed as Ned Stark and Daenerys Targaryen, respectively. I was glad to see them since up until then I has seen very few Game of Thrones costumes. This was their second Comic Con and they offered some interesting information. It seems that last year, organizers expected ten thousand attendees and ended up with thirty thousand. I’m thinking that poor planning on their part resulted in big fines, which perhaps explains their inflexible rules regarding “flow.”
Did I Mention Celebrities?: Let me just begin this section by saying that press passes rock. This is because they can get you into unbelievable places. Case in point, celebrity photo ops. The average attendee was invited to purchase photo op tickets for $30-$50 dollars apiece, depending on the celebrity, then at the appointed time wait in a huge line to have a picture snapped with said celebrity, and take home a personalized souvenir of the event. Press passes allowed us to bypass the line completely and walk right into photo sessions with Evan Peters of American Horror Story and Brighton Sharbino and Kyla Kennedy of The Walking Dead.
The official line for celebrity photo ops
Brighton Sharbino & Kyla Kennedy cutting up with fans
Evan Peters of American Horror Story poses with Coven fan-girls
Brighton Sharbino & Kyla Kennedy of The Walking Dead pose with fans
We didn’t want photos with the actors, we just wanted to see them, and we did, up close and personal. I practically bumped into Brighton Sharbino. It was amazingly cool. Mr. R. tooks photos of people taking photos while I took copious notes.
Later we attended two back to back Q&A panels, the first with Evan Peters and the second with Pedro Pascal and Richard Madden from Game of Thrones. With the press passes, we once again avoided the long lines and were ushered into the VIP section, literally the second row in front of the stage. We could have chosen the front row if we’d liked but I preferred the end of the second row for the angle it afforded. Ultimately, I sat taking notes while Mr. R. moved freely around the stage snapping photos.
Evan Peters answering fan questions
Just after showing his boxers
Evan Peters answered fan questions for half an hour, gamely responding to questions he’s undoubtedly heard a thousand times, at one point even dropping trou in answer to the predictable question of ‘boxers or briefs’ (for the record, pastel plaid boxers). Mind you, his parents were in the audience, directly in front of Mr. R. and me, making this particular follow-up request from a young fan-girl even more inappropriate than it would have been under any circumstance: “Thank you. Also please sit on my face.” Obviously, Peters is promoting the new season of American Horror Story: Carnival, due out in October. I, for one, am looking forward to the premiere.
After this session, the room had to be emptied out to accommodate the long lines waiting to get into the Pedro Pascal/Richard Madden panel, but if you had a press pass you were allowed to sit tight and wait. So wait we did. When they finally opened the doors, it was to admonitions of, “Don’t run! Don’t run!” They seemed to be letting fans into the ballroom a few small groups at a time and eventually the entire room filled. The crowd went crazy when Richard Madden and Pedro Pascal were announced and they strode out onto the stage, and there were hearty shouts of “King in the North!” throughout the hall. I have to admit to being a bit starstruck for a few moments, even writing in my notes that I was having trouble focusing.
Allow me a bit of snark, if you will. When the questions began, the first one up was an annoying blogger (also with a press pass) who sat in front of us and during the previous session, she really buddied up to Evan Peters’ mom, simpering and acting like a big shot journalist. So little Miss Annoying steps up the the mic and welcomes Pedro Pascal and Richard Madden to “our country.” Mind you, Pascal was raised in California and Texas. A serious journalist should do a little research. The two men simply looked at each other and shrugged.
Pedro Pascal & Richard Madden
View over my shoulder
Getting a sense of the crowd
Pascal and Madden also answered questions with good natured enthusiasm. They said they hadn’t met before that day, and at first I thought they were kidding. It’s true that they never shared any scenes. Pascal was in the process of auditioning for the role of Oberyn Martell when the “Red Wedding” episode aired. Not having read the books, Pascal described his reaction as, “Just. Fucking. Traumatized.”
Some of the most interesting moments of the panel came when the two men conversed between themselves.
RM: Did you ever sit on the iron throne?
PP: Yeah. (smiling) It wasn’t comfortable. It was very uncomfortable.
RM: I never thought I should.
PP: And look where it got you.
Another conversation stemming from a question about whether they’d kept anything from the set:
RM: I kept a dressing gown and I kept one map piece representing each family.
PP: They wouldn’t let me have anything.
RM: I suppose I sort of stole them. (laughing)
PP: I was stupid. I asked. (shrugging and grinning)
Up next for Richard Madden is the role of the Prince in Disney’s Cinderella. Pedro Pascal is working on a series for Netflix called Narcos, about the takedown of Pablo Escobar. I can truthfully say that sitting in on these sessions was the coolest thing I’ve probably ever done. I can’t wait to do it again.
So, overall, my impression of Tampa Bay Comic Con? Despite the militant rules and regulations, I had a great time. Having tickets for all three days eliminated the pressure I’d have felt to ‘see it all’ the first day. Having press passes made for the coolest moments, and I don’t think I’d want to go without them. I would definitely go again, hoping that the convention organizers will spend the year getting their act together to make for a more pleasant experience.
*Note: With the exception of the postcard at the top of the page, all photos are by Mr. R.
I’ve had this song on my mind the last few days. It seems like every time you turn on the news, another great local gathering place is being plowed under to make way for another big-ass shopping complex slash condo community. In the past six months we’ve lost Tiki at the Riviera Beach Marina and Panama Hattie’s and Rum Bar in Palm Beach Gardens, which were two amazing places go meet friends and chill. Word is that Tiki is going to reopen in West Jupiter. As in, waaaayyy far from the water.
The developers try to sell it as job creation, a nice boost for the local economy. Here’s the thing. By the time they get these places built, local patrons need not apply. These will be condos and shopping centers for the wealthy snowbirds who come for the season.
Out here in the country, we’re awaiting the groundbreaking for a new mega planned neighborhood on what used to be citrus groves. It’s meant to be a self-contained (read gated, so keep out) community of 5,000 homes. Five. Freaking. Thousand. It has the distinguished name of Mintos. Aren’t those the little mint candies you drop into a 2-liter of diet cola to make a geyser?
Most of us moved to the country to enjoy the peace and quiet. Guess we’re going to have to start looking out in the Everglades.
Y’all better get out and see the trees while they’re still there.
When Mr. R. first told me about you, I didn’t believe him.
“Hey, check out the naked guy ironing,” were his exact words.
“No way,” I answered.
“Way,” he replied, in that tender way that married couples have of communicating with each other.
I looked out the back window and across our lawn to see you, indeed, standing in your house in front of your window performing this mundane task in flagrante delicto. Which was perhaps your point. Naked ironing is less mundane than the regular variety, I suppose.
Butt, (snicker), at what cost? Imagine your unsuspecting neighbors, girding their loins (snort) for battle as another day dawns, looking outside simply wondering what the day may bring, and what do they see? Your heinie, shimmying back and forth as you diligently press the wrinkles out of your Van Heusen. Nobody wants to see that.
Al-ass, (guffaw), lest you think my reasons completely selfish, think of the safety issues. Should you and Mr. Johnson be that close to potential disaster? I mean, you wouldn’t cook bacon in the nude, would you? Maybe you would, but, sheesh!
I never like to point out a problem without offering potential solutions. That would just make me a whiner. Here are some ideas:
Take your shirts to the dry cleaners. They almost always work fully clothed.
Replace your natural fiber shirts with the permanent press variety. As promised in the name, they remain permanently pressed.
Continue to iron your own shirts, but do so the night before, when you still have clothes on.
Put up curtains.
Hopefully I have communicated this issue to you in a respectful manner. After all, we’re neighbors. And I’ve always thought that good curtains make good neighbors.
Downtown West Palm Beach is a terrific place for outdoor activities. For example, every May the city hosts SunFest, an art and music festival along the Intracoastal waterfront that lasts the better part of a week. There’s a juried art show and performances by local bands and national acts, too. We’ve seen performers like Train, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and last year, we missed Kid Rock but caught the Dropkick Murphys.
And because for every Yin there is a Yang, each October the city celebrates MoonFest, a free one-night Halloween bacchanalia that shuts down several blocks of Clematis Street. Costumed revelers enjoy live music by local bands on the handful of stages placed along the way in the middle of the street and there are vendors selling everything from beads to t-shirts to alcohol. There’s a costume contest and the bars and clubs have special indoor events as well.
Mr. R. and I have enjoyed ourselves at a few MoonFests in our day. Who doesn’t love to dress up in costume and barhop with thousands of your closest friends, listen to all kinds of music, and, let’s face it, drink a little?
One year, Mr. R., who at the time was sporting the shaved head look, painted his whole head orange and black, and went as Jack Lantern, International Gourd of Mystery. I went as a dark fairy. Word to the wise–if you plan to join throngs of people out on a crowded street, deep-six the fairy wings. You could put out someone’s eye with those things.
Several years ago, on our last excursion to MoonFest, Mr. R. went as a Chili Miner (if you keep up with the news, you can figure out just how long ago that was) and I went as a drunk flapper. Well, I didn’t start out that way. It’s just sort of how it ended up. Probably those last five shots had something to do with it.
We haven’t made it out to MoonFest since then, though. It’s not because we didn’t have a good time–we had a blast. But MoonFest changed after that Halloween. Apparently, at some point after we staggered on home, there was some kind of a ruckus and somebody ended up getting hurt.
Enter the nannies (don’t get me started) who “just want to keep it safe for the public.” It’s no longer a free event. Not that it’s super expensive, it’s about $10 a ticket. But it’s irksome that you need a ticket at all. Because all that $10 gets you is in. You still have to buy your food and drinks, and you still have to pay covers at the bars and clubs.
Additionally, of course, how do the powers that be make sure that everyone attending the event has a ticket? They erect fencing and gates all around the area. MoonFest has lost it’s ‘block party’ feel, which for me was a huge part of its appeal. Now it’s just another money-making event for the city of West Palm Beach.