ComiCONN 2017 (Foxwoods Resort Casino)

ComiCONN proudly boasts being “A Show for the Fans by the Fans!”, but can you feel it when you attend?

Whether your interests lie in sci-fi/fantasy, comedy, or pop culture, ComiCONN has something for everybody! It was my first time attending this con and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the guests & vendors to the venue itself (Foxwoods Resort Casino), it was packed with things to do, photo opportunities, and plenty of ways to throw away cash!

Primarily I was excited to attend this con because of their guests Paul Springer & Simon Williamson, both of whom I’ve never met. But the guest list goes on and on with cast members from Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Karate Kid, and V. Unfortunately Paul Springer (puppeteer for Ree-Yees in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi) had canceled just before the start of the con but I still got to meet Simon Williamson and plenty of others!

Also got to meet Mr. Timothy Zahn, who’s written many fine books, but one of the more popular ones today is Thrawn, a recent redone character from his work in the 90s. Grand Admiral Thrawn has been re-imagined for the Star Wars Rebels cartoon and he’s such a great antagonist. Since I missed my chance to see him at Star Wars Celebration, I was so glad I got my book, comic, and figures signed!

I was pleased to find that our initial entry into the show floor was fairly simple, as well as our first re-entry in the beginning of the day, but to get back in later in the day was a total nightmare. ComiCONN was quick to respond and fixed the re-entry issue the next day. If they didn’t, it would be Rhode Island Comic Con all over again (same company, actually).

But at least once you’re outside you can enjoy the show store and some more photo ops! (And of course all that the casino has to offer) Some of the additional photo ops included a Wonder Woman cosplayer on a prop horse riding off the success of the standalone film, the 501st Legion, and Speed Racer.

Even Speed Racer needed some cash for show exclusives! But by far the best ComiCONN exclusive was the exclusive G.I. Joe #241 with cover art by Ian Chase Nichols. I picked one up for $10 and got it signed by him for free at his booth:

The vendors on the show floor were very cool, with a lot of variety in products. Booths ranged from art to collectibles to freebies. I think one of my favorites was Foxwoods’ very own Cake By Franck. They normally have a state-of-the-art vending machine on the casino floor but it was shut down for repairs. Instead, they had a booth set up at the con on top of their retail store on the other side of the resort. They were serving up specialty geek treats for this weekend including, but not limited to, chocolate covered pretzel lightsabers, comic themed cupcakes & brownies, a chocolate throne from Game of Thrones, lemonade potion bottles, and a completely edible chocolate Millennium Falcon in 3.75″ scale!

How amazing! But as fun as that was, Sugar Factory takes the cake with jaw-dropping desserts & drinks. We had lunch here and we had a total blast with their Smoking Goblets. We realized that there are a few in our area but figured that with all the other places we could check out in NYC, we would never make the time to actually go to a Sugar Factory.

As our day started to wrap up, we made our way to Jason David Frank’s booth for his final signing of the day. After hearing about him being someone’s target at last month’s Phoenix Comicon, we were relieved to see he was still traveling to cons. Even though we saw him at multiple cons in the past, we only now made an effort to meet him.

JDF seemed like a fun guy who cares about his fans! But just before our turn, NBC Connecticut interviewed him for their ComiCONN news segment, where the anchor asked him about Adam West (who had passed away the night before, RIP). It was Jason’s first time hearing the news and was totally shaken up, so when he returned to his booth he wasn’t fully himself quite yet… You can tell by his smile in our photo. And also by the fact he signed my comic book: “To: John”!

Can you find us in his epic selfie?

On our way out, we got to say hi to Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on Netflix’s Stranger Things, and also pose in the Byers living room:

And a con wouldn’t be a con without a couple of freebies! We got a few DC posters for Wonder Woman and Justice League!

All in all, it was a great con and the venue made it even more enjoyable. It was their first time at Foxwoods, but hopefully not their last. I loved that you can enjoy this midsize convention but also venture out into the casino & outlet mall during your down time. I’d like to see how they handled the change in re-entry since that was my only negative experience. Looking forward to their 9th next year!

Wizard World Philadelphia 2017

 

We had a blast in Philly this past weekend!

Last year I attended Wizard World’s show in Richmond, VA and was slightly disappointed by the size so I was very much excited to attend one of their bigger shows in Philadelphia with guests like: Chuck Norris, Jesse Eisenberg, Rob Liefeld, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Jon Heder, and Ralph Macchio! I originally planned on attending to meet Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven from Stranger Things) but she unfortunately backed out a while ago.

But the convention itself was set up much better than Richmond was, and it utilized its floor space more efficiently too! Upcoming 2017 blockbusters had their displays up and were perfect for memorable comic con photo ops. Despicable Me 3 had a prison cell with lifesize Gru & minions “giving tattoos” (plus receive temporary tattoos that come alive with their app), Spider-Man Homecoming had their theater standee with Spidey in his yellow blazer, 47 Meters Down had a giant shark cutout that you can pop out of, Transformers The Last Knight had a photo op with SQWEEKS, and Warner Brothers had a booth to promote their latest hits: Wonder Woman (which I stand by my decision that it’s a fantastic movie), King Arthur, Lego Ninjago, and the remake of It.

WB also had a raffle wheel where you could win promotional items from those movies. You could have won a plastic Wonder Woman tiara, some WW bracelets, a King Arthur patch, or a poster featuring Lego Ninjago or Wonder Woman. I could tell that the staff member wasn’t too thrilled to work at this station.

The vendors were pretty typical but I was able to pick up a few things for myself and some friends, including the rare first issue & first appearance of Batman Beyond which I got signed by voice actor & Boy Meets World star Will Friedle! In addition, I got my Deadpool #12 signed by creator Rob Liefeld, and my Marvel Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos #1 signed:

I’m excited to get them back once CGC grades them and add them to my collection!

In the middle of the day we needed a break from all the walking and standing in line, so we grabbed lunch in the ever popular Reading Terminal Market. The last time I was in here was 9 years ago and it was not nearly as crowded as a Saturday filled with convention geeks! I was disappointed that Delilah’s had closed a few years ago – I really wanted to try the 7-cheese mac & cheese that almost beat Bobby Flay in Throwdown. But thankfully, we found a delicious alternative with Beck’s Cajun Cafe! We got to dig into some cajun alfredo pasta, jambalaya, gator gumbo, and fried mac & cheese balls! If you’re ever in the area and you’re craving some spicy creole cuisine, definitely stop by.

I also had the privilege of meeting the talented Lex Lang who’s done countless voices in animation. He’s also done some great work with Lucasfilm, specifically Stormtroopers in Rogue One, Poe Dameron in Lego Star Wars, and Han Solo in Battlefront II/Rogue Squadron III. Maybe you’ve heard his voice in: Lupin the 3rd, Transformers RID, Digimon, Ghost in the Shell, Justice League Unlimited, Naruto, Avatar, The Batman, Bleach, Dragon Ball Super, One Punch Man, etc.

He signed my Rogue One Stormtrooper figure! We got a photo together and as he signed my Stormtrooper trading card, I asked him if he’d seen the new Rogue One trading cards by Topps. He said he hadn’t, so I gave him one of the extra ones I brought of troopers storming the beach of Scarif. He seemed to really appreciate it

But the highlight of the con was definitely being able to meet the legendary Chuck Norris. Twice.

He was fashionably late and was surrounded by Wizard World staff, security personnel, and local police. I think they all stayed close to him for their protection.

He & his wife Gena were very kind and the line moved very swiftly, like a roundhouse kick to the face.

There were a lot of people getting autographs on the provided 8×10’s from The Expendables or Walker Texas Ranger, but just as many getting rare memorabilia signed as well. Once I got my comic signed, we came back shortly after to line up for the photo op with him which was a lot longer than the autograph line.

Again, he was very courteous and was happy to pose with us despite posing normally with most others.

In the end, Wizard World redeemed itself in my book. I’ll keep checking on what they’ll bring to the table in the near future.

But for now, I’ll close with one of my favorite Chuck Norris facts:

Chuck Norris once killed 200 people with a grenade. And then it exploded.

Star Wars Day 2017 (40th Anniversary of A New Hope)

Today, Star Wars fans around the world annually celebrate the saga, the franchise, the life-changing experience that is Star Wars! Why today? Because it’s May The 4th, as in May The Fourth (Force) Be With You!

How does one celebrate Star Wars Day, you ask?

You could go to one of the many shops offering special once-a-year deals on Star Wars merchandise, you could cosplay as your favorite Jedi or Sith and duke it out with your friends in a lightsaber battle, or (if you’re like me) you can relax at home with friends and enjoy good eats & one of the current 8 films!

It was our first time hosting a Star Wars Day Party since getting engaged in Disney a couple weeks ago, so we were excited to hang out with friends and have a good time! To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Episode IV: A New Hope, we popped in the Blu-ray and ate Episode IV specific food (with minimal prep)! If you’re in a pinch for time, here’s an easy way to enjoy Star Wars Day!

First, a Star Wars Day Party isn’t complete without a game! It keeps things social while you’re watching the movie and there’s always a new game to try out! I always love playing a version of Star Wars Monopoly. There are tons to choose from, whether it’s the Saga Edition, the 1997 20th Anniversary Edition, or this year’s 40th Anniversary Special Edition!

And what’s a game without some prizes? Lucky folks got to walk away with a nostalgic piece of collecting with a 1990’s Star Wars figure!

I luckily got to keep the Snaggletooth!

But onto the food!

The cups, plates, napkins, and tablecloth were from Party City. They seasonally cycle through new styles & designs but currently they carry many Episode IV-friendly designs (in addition to the existing Episode VII prints). Plus using this party-ware makes cleanup easy and keeps dish-washing at a minimum!

The signs I made for the dishes were inspired by the classic Star Wars silver “double racetrack” with the 40th Anniversary logo. Once you have the art & font, they’re easy to make and you can print a few on a page (preferably cardstock).

The menu (clockwise from top-left):

Vader-ade: Not necessarily Gatorade! Simply mix your favorite drink together, add coloring to a Sprite/Sierra Mist type soda, or purchase a pre-colored drink for effect. I chose red because of the Sith Lord’s lightsaber, of course!

Mos Eis-Tea: Mos Eisley’s most popular sweet drink (maybe not)! This can also be your favorite recipe of iced tea, sweet tea, green tea, etc. or pre-made tea drink.

Greedo’s Doritos: Green tortilla chips. You may get lucky and find avocado chips but any green chips will do! Spinach, lime, etc. But if they’re not green, then you’ve missed the point. Stay on target.

Sorry About The Mess: Accompanies the chips! After Han fries poor Greedo, who knows what kind of Rodian guts spilled… but everyone can enjoy salsa!

Jek’s X-Wings: Honor fallen X-Wing pilot Jek Porkins and enjoy the wings of your choice. We went with Korean style soy garlic wings.

Tatoo-weenies: Simply pigs in a blanket… or is it? Unlike Luke & Tatooine, you’ll be sure to return to these over & over!

Potato Wedge Fries: Named after multi-battle survivor Wedge Antilles, this side can obviously be potato wedges, steak fries, or any fry of your choice.

Yavin 4 Cheese Mac: This was store bought, so I don’t know how accurate the “4 cheese” is… but you get the idea! Bonus points if your mac gets closer to the orange/red color of Yavin!

Han Burgers: White Castle slider case is cheap & quick, and it’ll help you make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs! (This is not actually guaranteed.)

Pad TIE: We picked up a container of Pad Thai from one of the many Thai places near us… “There’s too many of them!”

Chewie Cookies: In the past, I baked Wookiee Cookies with a Chewbacca cookie cutter. But this year we cut corners and bought a pack of S’mores Chips Ahoy! Quite chewy!

Imperial Suckers: These Stromtrooper lollipops were a last minute addition for fun. I tried thinking of a name like Luke’s Lollipops but it made no sense. Finally, I realized that the Empire sucks!!

Multi-Leia Chocolate Cake: And finally, the pièce de résistance… a delicious chocolatey cake in the name of everyone’s favorite Princess. I cannot stress how *vital* it is that your cake truly has multi-layers!

As the movie wrapped up, we all took turns taking pictures with our Polaroid camera with special Star Wars film:

With lightsabers as borders and a different graphic at the bottom with every photo, everyone had a little souvenir to take home.

And some extra parting gifts in the form of a goody bag!

Yes, actual vintage 1977 Topps trading cards, a Funko Pop Stormtrooper pin, a pen/stylus, and some Jelly Belly sparkling Chewbacca jelly beans!

Of all the years I’ve had a Star Wars Day Party, this was the one to go all out! 40 years and going strong! It’s a thrilling ride to be a part of this amazing Star Wars culture and to be able to celebrate with a galaxy full of fans who are deeply into it as much as it is in them.

But there’s more than one way to celebrate! How will you enjoy Star Wars Day today?

May the 4th be with you!

East Coast Comic Con 2017

This is our second time attending East Coast Comicon and we came back because the first time was so much fun & was a meaningful trip for us. Again at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ, there were some great guests, vendors, and vehicles for attendees to experience.

The Guests

As always, ECC had some amazing comic guests who have left their mark in comic book history: Michael Golden, Mike Zeck, John Beatty, Jim Salicrup, Marv Wolfman, Fabian Nicieza, Yanick Paquette… the list goes on and on! But I did get to meet Batman The Animated Series’ Kevin Altieri who was seated right next to Ren & Stimpy’s Bill Wray:

Kevin signed the cover of my Batman: Mask of the Phantasm VHS (yes, VHS, you read that right). He was an… interesting guy, to say the least.

But on top of all the pro comic book guests, there were tons of up & coming talent in the artist alley like my go-to favorite CreeesArt (check out the Minion-Captain America art at the end of this post). I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen him at cons now. But check out his work, he’s fantastic!

But the media guests were of particular interest this year: Dawn Wells (Mary Ann of Gilligan’s Island), Penny, Don, Judy & Will from Lost In Space, Danny Trejo, Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters), wrestlers Kevin Nash & Ashley Massaro, and of course Daniel Logan from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones!

At first I was worried because when doors opened at 10am, he wasn’t at his booth. In fact, he didn’t arrive until after 11am. But we stuck through it! While waiting on the online queue to buy NYCC 2017 tickets, we patiently stood first in line at his booth. When he finally arrived, the energy of the place totally changed! While he was setting up his table with 8×10’s and Boba Fett trading cards, not once did he ignore the crowd. He kept telling stories, connecting with fans of all ages, and went above & beyond. I can’t say enough about Daniel!

He explained that he was late because of airport luggage mishaps and needed to go clothes shopping with his manager Saira. It was quite funny, all the while he was putting his Boba Fett helmet together for display. Then I got to talk to him about being in the low-budget “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” film, Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) & Tem Morrison (Jango Fett), how some other celebrities are just so cold towards fans, and why he’s so blessed to come to cons! Then later on (since we were first again at the photo opp) he talked to us even more, congratulating us on our Disney engagement right before we attended Celebration, and how he & his wife also had a special proposal at Walt Disney World (but with Mickey & Minnie too)!

I wasn’t a fan of the company running the photos this year. It was a single photographer with a single SD card running one booth. The camera wasn’t wirelessly connected to the printers and would take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to receive your print. Previously (and at every other con I’ve been to), the photos print instantly! We came back after an hour only to find that someone had taken our print (??) but the photographer was by the vehicles for the Lost In Space photo opp, so my photo could not be immediately reprinted… I had to come back in another hour. Also, digital files were also not offered. It was a major hassle. But when I told Daniel this story, he offered to sign our photo at no charge – what a guy! He also signed my Clone Wars Boba Fett figure and a photo of Jango & Boba I already got signed by Tem at Celebration. Plus he threw in a free selfie & signed card!

On our way out we also ran into Tony Todd from Candyman, Star Trek: TNG, the voice of Zoom on CW’s Flash, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Super nice guy!

The Vendors

On top of the obvious booths filled with vintage & modern comic books, there are always a lot of interesting vendors at ECC. Various prints & posters, collectibles, cosplay items, etc.

With the 40th Anniversary of A New Hope coming up, I thought it would be fitting to share these cool Star Wars coasters:

And who can resist Lego mini figures!

But thanks to a little smart shopping, I was able to finally get a 6″ Black Series Sabine Wren, a cool comic book adaptation of Michael Keaton’s Batman, and more!

The Vehicles

Another highlight from this con is the collection of vehicles they bring in. This year they had the Munster Koach, The Monkee Mobile, Christine from the Stephen King movie, the Lost In Space Chariot, the Ghostbusters Ecto-2, and 3 Batmobiles (Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale)!

On top of all of that, we did eventually score tickets to this year’s New York Comic Con online! So all in all it was a great con. Fantastic cosplay, delicious food (check out the mac & cheese bites, jalapeño poppers, and chicken nuggets below), and amazing swag haul. What more can you ask for?

Kellogg’s NYC Cereal Cafe

“Just follow your nose!”

In the summer of 2016, Kellogg’s opened a very unique and very sweet cereal cafe in NYC’s Times Square. After missing the Pop-Tarts pop up cafe last month, and the Pop-Tarts World Cafe a couple years ago, I finally got to visit the shop and try some of their famous concoctions (in collaboration with founder & owner of Momofuku Milk Bar: Chef Christina Tosi)!

You’re immediately greeted by unique signage, neon lights, and Kellogg’s packaging, followed by their creative menu worked on by Tosi.

Though the location is seemingly in a “permanent” location, the menus clearly say “limited time!” and “limited quantities!”… Is it only a matter of time before this establishment also ‘Flakes’ and goes away?

I quickly noticed that workers were few and seating was scarce, but there were tons of treats to go around!

All around, your favorite cereals are on display: Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Rice Krispies, Krave, and of course Pop-Tarts!

And once you’ve decided on which sweets to consume, you hit up one of the workers who has a tablet containing all the possibilities they offer at Kellogg’s NYC. While you’re doing that, take a look at what hasn’t sold out yet, including their available cereal donuts and L’eggo my Eggo sandwiches (look out, Eleven!):

We ultimately decided on the Life In Color (Froot Loops) donut, Double Chocolate (Cocoa Krispies) donut, Smack “Burger” (Honey Smacks, Cocoa Krispies, Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tart Patty, Pineapple “Cheddar”, and Corn Flakes “Lettuce”), and a Dem Cookies, Dough milkshake (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tart, Vanilla Ice Cream, Blueberry Jame, Fresh Strawberries, Milk, Whipped Cream).

Once ordered, you receive a buzzer that will display the cubby number to pick up your order.

And surprise! Your treats are waiting for you. And wow, everything was so sweet… like SO sweet. You’d better absolutely love (slightly chewy) cereal if you’re considering coming here.

As the days get warmer, look out for how the workers handle your food. If not gentle, their tongs will crush your cereal donut. And if not in the perfect temperature, your milkshake will start to melt & fall apart way too fast! So be warned: photograph quickly, people!

In the end, it was quite an experience and the entire place is beautifully colorful, but we couldn’t wait to get to dinner and indulge in some salty dishes next!

Whole Foods Mochi Ice Cream Bar

Just a few weeks ago, Whole Foods Market announced that they would be rolling out a new self-serve Mochi Ice Cream Bar featuring a variety of flavors. The news went viral!

Being a big mochi ice cream fan, I just had to try it for myself so naturally I tracked down the closest Whole Foods that launched one of these self-serve stations. Disclaimer: Your local Whole Foods locations may have 0 idea what you’re talking about.

Right next to the usual ice cream section is a giant sign that signals you over to grab a container and help yourself to these Japanese goodies!

mochi

If you don’t already know, Mochi is pounded sticky rice that is then molded into a rice cake confection. It can be filled with red bean, strawberries, or in this case: ice cream.

Here you’ll find a pair a tongs and 3 different container sizes with lids so that you can take your treats to go! This particular store was $2 per mochi or $20 for 12. There were 6 kinds available: Vanilla, Double Chocolate, Red Bean, Black Sesame, Matcha Green Tea, and Coffee. (Special note: the black sesame actually has black sesame seeds!) Your mileage may vary.

I’ve tried all sorts of mochi ice cream – Japanese made, American made, you name it. The ones found here at Whole Foods were delicious. They stayed perfectly cold (but not so frozen that you can’t bite into them) even with the strange warm weather (are we sure it’s still winter?) and the consistency of the mochi itself was perfect. The preservation of the temperature may be due to the fact that the takeout containers are kept in the freezer alongside the actual mochi!

Anyways, I’m so ready for warmer days, and I’ll be back. Again and again.

ICHIRAN NYC (Solo Booth Ramen Restaurant)

ICHIRAN is a branch of solo booth restaurants serving up Japanese ramen. I got to try their East Williamsburg location in Brooklyn, NY.


The booths are neat and spacious. You’re greeted with a set of chopsticks, an order sheet, and pen on a chain. Pretty simple, right?

My initial thought when hearing about this place was what if you wanted to enjoy their quality ramen, but not necessarily solo?

Only a handful of ICHIRAN locations have communal dining rooms and this was one of them. However, if you’re thinking the menu will be different, think again. So we decided to stay with the booth experience. Luckily, there is a way for adjacent booths to “link” by unlocking the panel in between:


Overall, the dine-in time was extremely short. They weren’t kidding when they said that the booths would minimize wait time and maximize ramen freshness. It goes from kitchen to table in record time. Had we not ordered the noodle refill (Kae-Dama), we would’ve been in & out in 20 minutes!

The call button is convenient but when your server arrives, it’s very difficult to hear them. You’re also given a water refill card to hand to them to reduce the amount of conversation with them. This is an introvert’s ramen dream come true!


The ramen itself is pricey, almost double the amount of a typical bowl you can get elsewhere. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. They don’t dress it up with fancy toppings like I’d usually get like egg, mushrooms, or bamboo shoots, but the broth is hot & flavorful and the pork is incredibly tasty.

I love that on the order sheet there are so many customization options available like the firmness of the noodles. And the awesome thing is that you can switch up the firmness on your noodle refill!

Ordering a refill of noodles is easy and requires little to no talking to your server. Simply order it ahead of time when placing your meal order, or use the call button and order more on your chopstick sleeve. Be sure to save some broth if you’re ordering extra! (And a little chashu too!)

The ambience is great and the booth section is fairly quiet, unless many others in your row have opened up their partitions as well. And the communal dining area seemed equivalently quiet.


By the way, this is a no tip establishment which is probably a factor in the high cost of the food. But we enjoyed the experience and the food was delicious, just not a “best bang for your buck” ramen joint. I’d definitely come back though because of all the available customization for the ramen.

Parking isn’t difficult, though you may need to walk some depending on street availability. And with all things considered, if this is still too much human interaction for you, grab a ramen kit to go and make some at home!

Pixel Forest At New Museum NYC

“Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest” marks the first New York survey of the work of Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist. It covered 3 floors of the New Museum in NYC. It was a lot of fun and if you have some time while in the Lower East Side, I’d recommend visiting.

Every now and then you’d encounter a section where you could sit or lay down to enjoy the various video collections. Wait time wasn’t terribly long, since one could only watch these clips for so long… And the music playlist is set on repeat. But above is a room full of beds with two projectors displaying on large screens on the ceiling. Shoes were not allowed on the beds and there were security guards to make sure of it.

Forgive me if there are names to these pieces but we were just immersed in the entire exhibit to pay that much attention. There was a plethora of sights and sounds: projectors displaying large close-up videos on walls, curtains, and ceilings, or a “chandelier” of lit underwear. You read that right.

One of the best parts of the exhibit, and probably the most frequently posted on Instagram is the actual “forest”.

If you’re a seeker of photo opportunities, this is the one for you. There was plenty of space to walk between the “vines” (which change color and flash), but it’s still easy to knock into them. But don’t worry, more security guards are there to make sure you don’t get tangled or cause the vines to swing.

(Be sure to check out a few more shots from the Pixel Forest in my Facebook album.)

While in the East Village area, we also got to enjoy some good eats. Yonekichi and their riceburgers (we had eel & chicken) & furi furi fries (we paid the 50 cents for the spicy salmon roe mayo), TsuruTonTan and their udon noodles (pictured is my cold uni udon!), and Laduree’s macarons.

All in all, a fun & delicious trip! For a deeper look, check out the video!

Rhode Island Comic Con 2016

In a bold move that may come as a surprise to you, I drove to Providence, RI for Rhode Island Comic Con – “The Biggest Show In The Smallest State”.

At this point, I’ve attended a fair share of cons and I’d like to think that I have a pretty good handle on things. But RICC really threw some ideas out the window for me. I underestimated the disorganization and venue size. Here’s what happened.

We arrived at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center at 10:30am, thirty minutes after doors opened. The line was still a couple blocks long, with the line winding towards the entrance for the security checkpoint. The bag check & metal detector may have contributed to this, but I feel like doors opened late to begin with. But we finally got in at 11:30am.

Prior to arriving I understood that RICC took place in two separate buildings, yet there was no information to help me understand anything further. No helpful maps, no helpful staff, no signs, and definitely no book. This is where NYCC is king in comparison. I overheard some attendees calling RICC the San Diego Comic Con of the east coast, but clearly they haven’t attended NYCC yet. (Granted, NYCC has its faults as well but at least navigation isn’t a nightmare)

I should clarify.

There were maps but you had no idea where you were in relation to where you need to go. Booth numbers and room names were there but no map key. No “you are here” star.

There were information booths but the staff were using the RICC app, which was not updated throughout the con. Plus, anyone could look at a blank app.

There was a book but it only had ads and an outdated guest list (many had canceled but they must have printed these books months ago).

Getting to/from the photo ops to the show floor was a 15 minute run. The first time, I missed the photo op with Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian from Star Wars). They apparently locked photo sales for the rest of the day. But fortunately near the end of the con, they announced a surprise second photo session. No thanks to the staff, I figured it out and got to Billy in the nick of time! I had already met him when he signed my figures & Topps card, so finally getting the photo was the cherry on top.

But enough of the bad, let’s talk about the good! Overall, Rhode Island Comic Con is packed with things to do and see. Along with Billy Dee Williams, I got to meet John Ratzenberger and Felix Silla.

And there was no shortage of vendor booths, that’s for sure! We didn’t get to attend any of the panels, but just the meet & greets and booths alone took up our whole day. There was everything from phone cases, prints, Lego minifigures, to even Microsoft. Aisles and aisles of fun things to look at! Here’s some of the swag I scored:

We finished our day by accidentally eating dinner at Ken’s Ramen, easily one of the best ramen spots I’ve ever tried. The noodles had a great bite to them, the broth was delicious & flavorful, and the pork buns… the pork buns…

Be sure to check out the few extra photos I took from RICC on my Facebook page. And without further delay, here’s a video for everything else:

Yelp Presents: All The Fall Things

allthefallthings

Attended my first official Yelp event! This is their biggest bash of the year and it’s pretty exclusive. Space was extremely limited and RSVP was not based on a first come, first serve basis.

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The overview: Yelpers who represent the site well will enjoy a free event filled with all things fall, including (but not limited to) fall-themed bites, pumpkin picking & decorating, hayrides, live music, and photo booth opportunities.

We arrived just in time as the rain was coming to an end and attendees starting lining up.

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As soon as we entered, there was a table filled with treats. Not just candy like Reese’s, Whoppers, and Sour Patch Kids, but also Yelp goodies like Yelp-branded mints, notepads, bottle opener keychains, and lip balm (aka Yelpstick).

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Believe me, these were gone super fast… but not as fast as the very limited quantity of Yelp sunglasses for the early birds!

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These were set up neatly at the tables decorated with Yelp balloons tied down to trick or treat buckets (filled with even more candy). As you take in the smells and sounds (by a great cover band, Exit Row Band), you also see the tasty vendors handing out their food & drinks. Vendors like The Halal Guys, The Taco Truck, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Manhattan Bagel, The Soup Cafe, Black Swan Meat Pies, Beignets, and more. The food was no joke, with even drinks across the road brought to you by Zico & Health-Ade Kombucha.

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The energy was amazing and all day people were snapping away with their cameras & phones (and they even had a fun Snapchat filter, which I may or may not have overused… because why not??).

Once we finished enjoying the food and the music, we decided to see what else Yelp had planned for us. In the building with the beverages was a photo booth (with props) which printed a fantastic 5×7 gridded collection of 4 photos. There were plenty of props to choose from and the possibilities were endless! The line went by quickly and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We then walked through a beautiful English Garden with a hedge maze, which led us to the Liberty Hall Mansion where this event was taking place.

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The Mansion was offering free ground floor tours for Yelpers and the facts about it were amazing. Located right by Kean University, the mansion was built in 1772 with 14 rooms and has since expanded to a 50-room mansion for the Kean/Livingston families. It’s been a while since I’ve experienced a museum tour with a live guide, and Neil & Janice did a fantastic job!

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With over 6,000 volumes of books and some one of a kind items being over 200 years old, this mansion/museum is full of history. The fall/Halloween decorations in the dining room were the same ones used 90 years ago! Historical!

And just outside was the pumpkin patch where we finished our day. In the end, it was a great time filled with so much to take in! The hot soups, tasty tacos, BBQ sliders, mini chicken & rice, delicious donuts, pot pies, and interesting bagels… The photo ops, the music, the tour, the views… Only our first Yelp event, but it was so memorable! Looking forward to more!

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