Tuesday, January 23, 2018

calendar of 2018 events of interest to me

Every year I try to take a minute and go through various websites and figure out what's happening in and around my area that I might be interested in visiting, and this usually means comic book shows and record shows and antique/collectible type shows. Here's for 2018!

This list is by no means comprehensive or complete, and inclusion on this list should not be considered to be an endorsement of any kind. 

Jan 28 Ontario Collectors Con 2018 Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale – 6750 Mississauga Road, Mississauga

Feb 4 Ancaster Nostalgia And Antique Show And Sale

Feb 10 Saturday Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

Feb 18 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 

Feb 18 Canadian ToyCon Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre, 3063 South Service Road Hours: 10 AM – 3 PM 

Feb 18 ST. CATHARINES RECORD SHOW - Holiday Inn Parkway Convention Centre, St. Catharines, On $4.00 

Feb 25 Oshawa Record Show - Lviv Hall, Oshawa, On $3.00 

March 4 Ancaster Toy And Collectibles Extravaganza 

March 10 Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

March 25 Guelph Record Swap and Sale - Record Sale & Swap Meet, Guelph, Ont 

March 25 Toronto Downtown Record Show - Toronto Downtown Record Show, Toronto, ON - $5.00

April 15 The Toronto/Mississauga Record Show & Sale - Capitol Banquet Centre, Mississauga, Ont $5 

April 15 Ancaster Nostalgia And Antique Show And Sale April 21 Newmarket Card & Comics Show

April 22 Newmarket Vinyl Records & Collectibles Show - The Record Vault, Newmarket, On $4.00

April 22 Canadian ToyCon Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre, 3063 South Service Road 

April 29 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 
May 6 Ancaster Collectorfest 

May 25-27 Anime North 

June 3 Ancaster Toy And Collectibles Extravaganza 

June 8-10 Anime Next Atlantic City NJ 

June 23 Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

June 24 Ancaster Nostalgia And Antique Show And Sale 

June 24 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 

July 28 Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

August 18 Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

August 19 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 

August 19 Ancaster Toy And Collectibles Extravaganza 

Sept. 9 Toronto East (Scarborough) Vinyl Record & Collectibles Show - Heron Park Recreation Centre, Toronto, On $5.00 

Sept 20-23 Anime Weekend Atlanta 

Sept 30 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 

October 13 Newmarket Card & Comics Show 

October 21 Newmarket Vinyl Record & Collectibles Show - The Record Vault, Newmarket, On $4.00 

Nov. 4 Toronto Downtown Record Show - Toronto Downtown Record Show, Toronto, ON - $5.00

Nov. 13 Newmarket Card & Comics Show Nov. 25 Toronto Comic Book Show Toronto Plaza Hotel 1677 Wilson 

Dec. 9 Toronto West (Etobicoke) Vinyl Record & Collectibles Show - Ken Cox Community Centre, Toronto, $5.00 

Dec. 15 Newmarket Card & Comics Show

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

the first movie I ever saw

For no particular reason whatsoever, I've been trying to remember the first film I ever saw in a theater. Obviously as I am a white North American male in my 40s, the big cinema event in my early life was STAR WARS (1977). I believe we saw it the summer it came out. I was not sold on it at first; the ads seemed to involve a lot of people in robes standing around in the desert, and I believe there was some standing in line involved which I probably complained about a lot. Of course after seeing the movie, my brother and I  were all THIS IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE EVER!!! and we spent the next couple of years contriving to see the thing as often as possible. 

But what are some of the other movies we saw at the Miracle Theater, at the Belmont Hills, at the Akers Mill General Cinema where I'd wind up with a part time job? What was the first? 

I know we saw OH GOD - that one came out fall of '77, so it's post SW -in the Belmont Hills theater in Belmont Hills, at one time the South's largest shopping center, now demolished. It was already run-down when I was a kid, and I'd spend most of my Belmont Hills time in the Turtle's Records or digging through comics at the Book Trader than seeing movies there.  I didn't get to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS on its first release, we tried three times and it was sold out each time. There's a bunch of films from '77 that I've subsequently seen, but lord knows you wouldn't want a seven year old to see, say, SLAP SHOT. 

I know we saw SNOW WHITE ('75 re-release) and PINOCCHIO ('78 re-release). We saw MESSAGE FROM SPACE ('78) at the Cobb Center theater with a gang of friends and we all thought it was just as good as STAR WARS, an opinion I still hold. I saw ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (1974) starring future Good Morning America host David Hartman, and that's a good three years before Star Wars. 

A similar picture, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS (1978) starring Doug McClure was screened with friends at the Town & Country theater that was in the Town & Country shopping center behind the Miracle on South Cobb. Actually it was more directly behind the old Dairy Queen. That's also where we saw the quasi-documentary THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH (1979), planting within me both an apocalyptic no-future worldview AND a healthy regard for the work of Hal Lindsey. The Miracle, on the other hand, is (I believe) the theater where we saw MOONRAKER (1979), the first James Bond film I ever saw. Strangely enough, the film's amazing badness didn't prevent me from seeing other Bond movies. There was yet ANOTHER movie theater in this vicinity, the free-standing Cobb Cinema, built behind the Miracle, and that might have been where we saw Moonraker. 

FLASH GORDON (1980), on the other hand, was seen in the Belmont Hills theater, a crumbling edifice that dated from the shopping center's construction in 1954. I loved that movie in 1980, felt it was rubbish in 1990, and came to realize its campy glory again later in life.

I never saw FREAKY FRIDAY (1976) or THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976) but I did see GUS (also '76), the Disney film about the mule that kicked field goals. GUS was screened in Cobb Center Mall - not in the theaters outside the mall, but in a small auditorium INSIDE the mall that appeared to be a community room that showed kids' movies during the summer. I have distinct memories of seeing THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1975) starring Kurt 'Snake Plissken' Russell, but where or when I cannot say.

I am pretty sure I saw Disney's ROBIN HOOD (1973) in a theater. It may have been in a drive in that was showing a Planet Of The Apes picture on another screen - I never saw any of the Apes movies in the theaters, but the TV show scared the bejeezus and fascinated me at the same time, and I can remember turning my head to watch the apes go about their apey business. I did not see the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978) theatrical compliation film - though I watched a lot of the TV show - but I did see the BUCK ROGERS (1979) pilot film in a theater and liked it fine. Hey, I was 9. I did not see JAWS (1975) - would you take a 5 year old to see that? - but I did see JAWS 2 (1978) and was appropriately scared to go in the water even though I had not previously been under the assumption that the water had been in fact safe.

The whole family went to see STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) at Akers Mill and I fell asleep at some point when Spock was mind-melding with V'Ger. That summer me and every kid I knew saw THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) over and over again - it was the default babysitter that year. I saw THE BLACK HOLE (1979) and enjoyed the great visual design and the ending where the bad guy is shown suffering in Hell. More movies should end that way. 

We actually got out of school the day THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) premiered, because our parents loved us deeply. I think we saw it at Phipps Plaza. SUPERMAN II came out in 1980 as well and I enjoyed it more than the first SUPERMAN (1978). 

I never did get to see INFRAMAN (1975) or GODZILLA VERSUS MEGALON (1973) in theaters, though I desperately wanted to and probably made a pest out of myself about it. Of course, as soon as home video made them available, I immersed myself in the ultra-bionic world of Princess Dragon Mom and her legion of Inframan-fighting monsters, and to a lesser extent the cheesy Jet Jaguar badness of Godzilla Vs Megalon.  At the time I also really, really wanted to see LASERBLAST (1978) but thankfully did not. Sheesh. I know I have seen BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (1971) but in a theater? I hope not. Don't take your 2-year old to movies.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017 events for us

Every year I try to put together a calendar of shows and sales and events that are of interest, just to have 'em all in one place for my reference. Here's 2017!

Jan. 22 - Woodstock Nostalgia Show & Sale
Woodstock is a little far for us to get to. Probably won't make this one.

Feb. 5 - Ancaster Nostalgia Show
Ancaster is just the other side of Hamilton and is much more 'doable' for us.

Feb. ?  - Eyesore market, Eyesore Cinema 1176 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON
Eyesore Cinema is doing vendors markets and there's one in February we're going to be at selling Mister Kitty zines and kitschy junk!

Feb. 12 - Record Sale & Swap Meet, Guelph

Feb. 19 - Toronto Comic Book Show
This is the comic book show held at the hotel that hosted a few early Anime North conventions.

March 5  - Ancaster Collectibles Extravaganza 

March 12 - Hamilton Record & Music Collectibles Show 

March 26 - Toronto Downtown Record Show 

May 13-14 - TCAF 
This is downtown and free and we might just drop in!

May 26-28 - Anime North 
Going to be doing Anime Hell and some panels at this one!

June 9-11 - Anime Next
There's been some talk about us attending this show, so stay tuned for further developments. 

July ? - Liberty Village Yard Sale
No date announced yet, but this was a fun neighborhood thing we did last summer and hope to do it again this year.

July 28-30 - Con Bravo 
We missed this one last year but we might swing by this year.

August ?  - Zine Dream
No date announced yet but our intention is to get a table & sell some zines!

Sept 28 - Oct 1 AWA 
Gonna be doing Anime Hell and panels at this one too, obvs

Friday, September 2, 2016

Anime Hell 2016 for AWA!

My freeform clip show Anime Hell returns for its 19th iteration at Anime Weekend Atlanta, which is a fact that fills me with both pride and horror. As does much of what I'll be showing this year!

If you miss it you'd better be dead or in jail! And if you're in jail, break out!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Tokyo 2009 part 5

continued from part 4...

Thursday our plans were (a) shop in Shinjuku including the Sekaido art supply store, and (b) meet K. for dinner somewhere and (c) not much else, because we had to be packed and ready to go on Friday, and to be honest after a week of marching all over Tokyo we was tired. I got ahold of K. using the hotel's lobby computers which were still equipped with Windows 95, and then we set out for breakfast and Sekaido. 

Sekaido is a great art supply store, and I'm not just saying that because they have three aisles of screen tone. It's three floors of just about everything; pens, pencils, brushes, inks, papers, wood, glue, computer software, light tables, guidebooks, hot glue, plaster statuettes, and official Toei animation company brand cel paint. 

Because they still use cel paint! I dunno, maybe they do. Their three aisles of screentone includes screentone of buildings, clouds, cityscapes, rural and urban backgrounds, interiors, crowds - as Ed Wood would say, "Why, you could make a whole comic with this stock footage screen tone!" And there was always somebody shopping in the manga accoutrements aisle, too. You can pretend it's famous manga-ka stocking up on supplies or a gofer from a big studio stocking up on supplies for famous manga-ka. 

After that we went to the Shinjuku Tokyu Hands. (We went to the Shibuya one previously with Roy on Wednesday night but I forgot to mention that). Tokyu Hands is the local Target/Wal-Mart/Honest Ed's - hardware, sporting goods, toys, stationery, small appliances, USB drives that are little mechanical humping dogs, you name it, they got it. So if it's coming close to Halloween and you do not yet have a costume, Tokyu Hands can supply! 

This being the knockoff Detroit Metal City costume it was just a wig and face makeup. The official DMC costume comes with a mask and is more rockin', IMO. Either one will likely shock and horrify your friends.

After Tokyu Hands we figured it was time for some nature, so we headed to Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens and joined other picnickers with our combini box lunches. Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful breath of fresh air after the noise and confusion of Tokyu Hands and Shinjuku in general. I
t's another one of those spots that's quintessentially Japanese. You're literally walking through souvenir postcards here! 

And the carp... when they see you coming towards that bridge they come from all over the pond. You can see their fins leaving wakes as they charge desperately for a few crumbs.

Entrance is 200 yen, a bargain at the price; if you're in Tokyo I highly recommend getting a bento and wandering through Shinjuku-Gyoen. 

After a lazy afternoon in the park we dropped our stuff off back at the hotel and then set out again for the Studio ALTA sign to meet K. for dinner! On the way we wandered around Shinjuku/Kabuki-cho again and got some Chip Chop at the combini based solely on their hallucinatory TV ads. We also witnessed a karaoke bar apparently endorsed by Satan.

We met K. right under the ALTA screen, and after hellos and some discussion we hopped onto the train and went back out to Shimokitazawa, which is even trendier at night! Dinner was curry and lots of beer at a funky place three floors underground that has a giant lizard on the ceiling. Oh, you don't believe me? 

We kept K. out way too late talking and catching up, but all too soon it was time to get back on the train for our last trip through the maze of Shinjuku station, time to get back to the hotel and get packed up and ready to head out. 

In the morning we checked out and took a taxi to the Airport Limo bus stop outside the Keio Department Store in Shinjuku. It was a beautiful clear day and it was sad to say goodbye to our vacation and return to the 'real world'.

That's a Friday morning photo of the Cocoon Tower, one of Shinjuku's newest landmarks and a controversial architectural choice in a city filled with questionable architectural choices. As a Toronto resident I quickly learned to orient myself downtown with a quick glance towards the CN Tower, so it's nice to have something distinctive on the skyline to get your bearings with. 

The bus ride took us through downtown Tokyo, past the Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Disneyland and generally a lot of the city we hadn't had a chance to see. We had time to kill at the airport so we got lunch at McDonalds, which for a limited time was serving the "Tomago Doburu Mak Setto", a combo meal featuring a Big Mac enlivened with an egg. That's one thing that stands out about Japanese cuisine, if they can put an egg on it, they will put an egg on it. This particular sandwich is advertised with a friendly-looking, slightly dorky Caucasian man.

Not a bad burger, but you can feel the cholesterol surging in your bloodstream within minutes. I would not recommend this on a regular basis.

Anyway, we boarded and the flight was uneventful, for the most part.  We landed in Toronto at around the same time we left Tokyo. Customs informed me my Permanent Resident card has expired, which was an oversight on my part, really, and then we got back in our car and drove home and went to bed, which wasn't really the best plan because of JET LAG KICKING OUR BUTTS.  It took me the better part of a week to get back on a normal sleep schedule. 

Big thanks go out to Roy for being our guide and spiritual leader, for Tim and his essential shopping information, and to Jim and K. for taking a little time out of their lives to be a friendly face to a couple of tourists. You are all wonderful people. Look out Japan! When our bank balances have recovered and our jet lag combat techniques are more developed, we will return!

We did return to Tokyo in 2012 and you can see a little bit of our trip at Let's Anime. Our next trip is hopefully not too far off!

Tokyo 2009 part 4

continued from part 3!

On Tuesday our mission was to investigate the Used Bookstore neighborhood of Kanda/Jinboucho (or Jimboucho or Jimbocho, however you feel like spelling it, we saw all three)! We slept late again but were out of the hotel by noon. So, after consulting Tim's information we hopped onto the train and soon we were walking down Hakusan-Dori past bookstores and record stores and a coffee shop where we had a light lunch. Kanda Jinbo-cho is a university neighborhood and there are a lot of publishers there so it's just a real booky sort of place. The record stores have a lot of jazz LPs. And of course the streets were filled with political candidate sound trucks: 

There is a tall thin building near the intersection of Yasukuni-Dori and Hakusan-Dori that is called the Kanda Kosho Center; it contains a record store, a shop filled with movie stills, posters, program books, and other paper ephemera, and a store called Nakano Shoten which was mind-blowingly awesome; walls decorated with original manga artwork, original manga pages for sale (including a Tezuka page), tons of old manga tankubons and weeklies dating back to the 1960s, anime magazines and books, anime cels, LPs and 45 singles, and more incredible stuff than I can describe. 

At any rate we spent a lot of money in that shop, and then we wandered around the neighborhood and went to another of Tim's recommendations, a shop called "Book Dash" next to a crazy lookin' movie theater. Book Dash had a lot of 80s anime books and magazines and manga; their prices seemed to be a bit higher than elsewhere, but they did have neat stuff and it's worth a look if you're in the neighborhood.

Afterwards we went back down to the train station and got some lunch. I looked at the map and noticed that if we just walked up the Sotobori-dori next to the Kanda-gawa (river), we'd be in Akihabara again! The river is in a steep ravine and is lined with trees and the cicadas were ear-splitting on occasion, but it was a gorgeous walk. We went past a truck apparently owned by a Miyazaki fan:

There was only one shop I really wanted to hit again in Akihabara, a store called "Golden Age", but of course it was closed on Tuesdays. So we wandered around some more and watched the packs of foreign otaku tourists investigate the vending machines, and then we went back to the train station and back to Shinjuku. We had dinner in a little place near our hotel that was all pork dishes: we established early on that the wait staff did not speak English, but they had a menu with English and handy photos for us barbarians. Afterwards we wandered around Kabuki-cho and got a bit lost but found our hotel by approaching it from the other direction, which was kinda neat. Saw the first vending machine with beer. And that was Tuesday in Tokyo!

So on Wednesday we got up and over to the station and met Roy in front of that ubiquitous Studio ALTA sign. And it was off to Mitaka Station (named after the Maison Ikkoku character) to go to the Ghibli Museum! This mecca for anime nerds is of course on the must-see list for every stinking roundeye tourist and we're no exception.  Fun fact:  buy your Ghibli tickets way in advance. Don't just fly to Tokyo, take the train to Mitaka station, take the cat-bus to the Ghibli Museum, and expect to walk right in! Here's the bus, by the way.

They don't allow photos inside, and unlike the Schulz museum I actually obeyed their instructions. I was a GUEST in that country, soldier! So you don't get pictures of the amazingly gigantic zoetrope, the enormous soft cat bus that children can play in, the huge pile of every single drawing that went into making PONYO, the reproduced studio and office, or the iron staircases, little cubbyholes, and whimsical platforms to nowhere that give the building character. On the roof they do have a garden accessible by a spiral staircase, and this garden is guarded by... 

AAAA! Giant Laputa robot!! It's a great reproduction, it's not just a solid cast but is metal fitted around parts, so when you thump it it feels just like a real robot. So if you make it to the Ghibli Museum don't forget to go to the roof. There's also a gift shop and a cafe, of course. 

After the museum, we took a stroll through Inokashira Park (you used to be able to see Miyazaki jogging in this park on a regular basis!) and boy, the turtles are totally looking for handouts in this park.

It's a popular cherry-blossom viewing park in the springtime and it's right next to Kichijoji, where we wandered around the shopping arcade and got some lunch. We then went across the tracks...

...yes, the pedestrian crossings you've seen characters waiting around in every anime show ever, the ones you do not want to try and beat because those trains are FAST... to Shimokitazawa, "one of the trendiest and most looked-after area to live for young Tokyoites." This funky hipster neighborhood features trendy boutiques, coffee shops, and toy stores owned by guys who will follow you out the door giving you free Ultraman finger puppets. It's also home to a store called "Grown up Tabatha" which has a giant mural of the "Bewitched" character as an adult decorating its storefront and sells fashion and fashion accessories. We hit three toy stores and then had very good coffee in a wood-paneled coffee shop accented by the owner's collection of lanterns and dolls. 

From there we got back on the train and went to Harajuku. Harajuku, of course, is the crazy young people fashion capital of Tokyo. It being a weekday there wasn't a lot of public exhibition going on, but the crowds were still overwhelming.

Yeah, that's just people, all the way down. Harajuku is home to extremely fashionable shops and high-end botiques of all kinds, as well as "Kiddyland", a multi-story toy wonderland for kids of all ages. We picked up some gifts and learned that Monchichis are back and this time they're dressed as your favorite cartoon characters! 

Having dispensed with Harajuku, we got back on the train and went to Shibuya and wandered around gaping at the love hotels and the seedier side of the Japanese Economic Miracle, including this adult accessories shop whose warning sign was really amusing: 

We hit Mandarake again and I found even more cool stuff that I'd missed the first time around, and then we got some dinner, and then we said "goodnight" to Roy and got back on the train and went back to Shinjuku and went to bed because we were beat! And that was the way it was Wednesday August 26 2009.

More to come in part 5!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tokyo 2009 part 3

Continued from Part Two

After Sunday's long march, we were determined to take it a little easier on Monday. And we did. We slept late and took our sweet time getting out of the hotel and wandered through the neighborhood towards the train station, passing lots of closed up nightclubs. Including this one which apparently has a "Rose Of Versailles" theme:

We never did see this place during operating hours, so who knows what kind of establishment this is? Lesbian bar? Transvestite bar? Transvestite lesbian manga cafe? Fencing school? Historical manga re-enactment society headquarters? We shook our heads and moved on to Mr. Donut, who not only has a decent donut, but the coffee is also OK and unlike Tim Horton's, they will come by your table with refills. 

From there, acting on travel advice given to us by darn near everybody but fleshed out into action-plans for us by the mighty Tim "The Hammer" Eldred, we hopped the train to Nakano Broadway, (warning, link has embedded music so turn your speakers down) a "Holy place for Otaku in Tokyo." For once the internet hype isn't lying. This building is filled with fairly normal business establishments on the ground floor but above is honecombed with shops selling toys, figures, manga, doujinshi of all stripes, video games, animation cels, records, DVDs; much like Akihabara but with less moe and more Showa. Oh you don't believe me. Well, look.

The first place we went into had a case full of Prince Planet memorabilia. That's right, the show I watched when I was 2 that began my obsession with bug-eyed Japaheeno cartoons, all rendered in plastic and screen-printed metal still life. 

I am still deeply psychologically moved by my experiences at Nakano Broadway. We bought some cheap cels and old 45 singles and manga and spent most of the afternoon shopping, and then we went downstairs to the coffee shop and had some drinks, and then we went back upstairs and made sure we didn't miss anything. We then got back on the train and went back to Shinjuku and dropped our stuff off at the hotel and rested a bit, and then we went back out to Ikebukuro on the advice of Shain's research which had uncovered several manga/anime type shops in the area. Long ago a turtle came out of a lake carrying a bag on its back, and hence Ikebukuro ("pond bag") got its name. Today it's home to a giant Seibu department store, the Sunshine City entertainment complex, and a Wendy's. 

We did not go in the Wendy's. I am still sore on them for their terribly misleading "boneless wings" advertising. At any rate, we wandered around looking for "Otome Road", didn't find it, found a four story manga/anime superstore (first floor, anime DVDs and doujinshi for ladies. Second floor toys and kits. Third floor doujinshi for men with lots of porn. Fourth floor - big warning signs informing us that beyond this point only those aged 18 and up will be admitted. BELIEVE THOSE SIGNS, people, because if you think it can't get any worse, IT DOES.), found another shop that was tucked away around a corner and was nothing but doujinshi for the ladies, and from there got directions to the Animate store, four floors of anime stuff including the customary floor jammed with deviant transgressive homemade comics about cartoon characters learning more about themselves. Also cool Ultraman merchandise and merchandise from darn near everything else. 

We had dinner at the Denny's, where I found the Grand Slam and the Moons Over My Hammy to be completely nonexistent, though Shain did get the "American Club Sandwich", which contains that basic ingredient of Japanese cooking, an egg. Of course this invalidates it being a club sandwich, but whatever. And then we went back to the hotel for a good night's rest. Tomorrow: Jimbocho/Kanda! Oyasuminasai, inflatable Prince Planet! 

More to come in Part Four