Farpoint 2008 Post-Mortem

I had the pleasure of attending the Farpoint Convention for the first time this past week. Though personal circumstances permitted me to only attend part of the con, what I was present for was an excellent time.

Farpoint bills itself as a “science-fiction media convention,” meaning that it’s focus is on genre television and film in terms of its main guests and panels. Normally, this is not the type of con I’m greatly interested in going to, as it represents a side of fandom that I’m less involved in. However, Farpoint has been expanding its new media track of late, and several friends who are podcasters and authors attended and were involved therein. It also has the advantage of being a smaller gathering, compared with the absolute zoo that is Dragon*Con, or tamer chaos of Balticon. As a result, the panels were cozy and relaxed, and the after-hours socialization was brilliant. If I were to attempt to list all the wonderful people I got to hang with, I will invariably leave someone off, so to everyone I reconnected with or met for the first time – it was awesome to see you all!

I was able to make three of the panels, all of which were highly entertaining:

  • Sci Pie – This was the showcase panel of the track on Sunday morning, and an interesting idea. Devised by Paul Fischer and Martha Holloway (of the ADD Cast and the Balticon Podcast) along with Tee Morris, Sci Pie was conceived to be a segment conducted regularly at conventions, where guests at the con are interviewed and pie is eaten. The intent is to record these live and release them as a video podcast series. Despite some communications issues and guest illness, the hour came off rather well, with actress Erin Gray (most remembered for her roles on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Silver Spoons), podcaster Marc Bailey (of Grailwolf’s Geek Life), and author Terry Lee Rioux (author of the Deforest Kelley biography From Sawdust to Stardust). Tee did an stellar job of assembling the accompanying visuals, including the incorporation of an excellent introduction to video podcasting by Earl Newton (of Stranger Things). The dessert involved was a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake and a delicious gluten-free pecan pie, provided by “Mrs. Command Line.”
  • What’s On Your Mind? Blogging, Audio Blogging, and Podcasts – Some excellent discussion was engendered on this, the last new media track panel for the con. Participants included Thomas Gideon (of Command Line), Paul Fischer, Steve Kramer and Lisa Mendel of The Secret Frequency, and Michele and Brian of the Galactica Quorum. Afterwards, J.R. and Jared spontaneously orchestrated the following image:
Podcaster Supper

L to R: Paul Fischer, Martha Holloway, J.R. Blackwell (standing), Heather Bailey, Thomas Gideon, Steve Wilson, Tee Morris, Jared Axelrod, Laura Burns, myself, Marc Bailey

For a more detailed captioning, backstory behind the pose, and other photos leading up to this one, I point you to this photo, as well as those next to it, in J.R. Blackwell’s Flickr feed. Martha’s amusingly lettered version of the above image is here. Other photographic glimpses of the con can be seen in Laura’s set; Tom’s sets for the con, Brand, and Sci Pie; a various and sundry selection of casual dining photos by Kamikat; and Paulette’s set.

Finally, I met two people for the first time who deserve particular mention. The first was Marc Okrand, who I was introduced to by Marc Bailey (clearly, there’s some sort of “Marc” club thing going on) as the con was winding down on Saturday. Okrand is the inventor of the Klingon language and the author of the Klingon Dictionary, among many other accomplishments. While my Star Trek geekery of days gone by has long since waned, the sheer academic coolness of his contribution to Trek lore is such that this was a definite “squee” moment. The second person was Brand Gamblin of the Calls for Cthulhu video podcast series. Calls for Cthulhu is hilarious fun, and it was great to meet the main architect of the show and find him to be a nigh-scary fit into our podcastery collective. Brand currently plans to do a live episode at Balticon… attendance on my part will be quite mandatory.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine, 2008 Release

I happened across this brew the other night at Calvert, which had just been released by Stone as their current seasonal offering.

Vitals:

  • Alcohol: 11.26%

Scoring (in solidarity with Charlie the Beer Guy):

  • Appearance: 6 – Pours a strong copper that is initially hazy, but gains clarity as it warms. Topped with a white effervescent head that slowly fades to a lacy sheet.
  • Aroma: 5 – Predominantly malty, with a hint of fruit and spice. More subdued than expected.
  • Taste: 7 – Strong malt flavor upfront, accompanied by fruity and spicy notes. Hop bitterness becomes more assertive in the center. Alcohol notable, but not overwhelming. Lingering bitterness and bready notes in the finish.
  • Mouthfeel: 7 – Moderate but not quite full-bodied, with notable alcohol warmth. Slight dryness to the finish.
  • Holistic: 7 – Tasty, but “less extreme” of a take on this style than I was expecting from Stone. The nose was slightly disappointing.
  • Overall: 32 – A great offering. Beats many barleywines I’ve tried, but doesn’t unseat the Dogfish Head Olde School as my favorite of the style.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron

Through fortuitous circumstances, two cases arrived at Calvert (one of my three local Beer Meccas) the day before I stopped by. As I’ve been looking forward to this new release from Dogfish Head, as previously described, I walked away with a nice supply.

Vitals:

Scoring (in solidarity with Charlie the Beer Guy):

  • Appearance: 9 – Pours a completely opaque dark brown that is nearly black, and impenetrable to light. Topped with a thick, sudsy brown head that fades slowly to a thin lace. Looks beautiful!
  • Aroma: 7 – Malty, with caramel notes, and a surprising lack of alcohol for its ABV. Tempting, but relatively mild.
  • Taste: 8 – Sweet and malty, with predominant caramel and vanilla notes, with a slight hint of coffee. Notable but mild smokiness appears midway. No lingering aftertaste.
  • Mouthfeel: 8 – Moderate to slightly heavy, but not cloying. Very smooth.
  • Holistic: 8 – Tasty, very well-balanced, and more subtle than expected. If it’s possible for a brew of this strength to be smooth and balanced enough to be a session beer, then this is it.
  • Overall: 40 – I am very impressed. Dogfish Head has pulled off subtle artistry where I was expecting something more pronounced, and in a beer style that’s not my first choice. I’ll definitely be seeking out the Palo Santo Marron when it’s available.

Genius Party

I had the opportunity to see Genius Party last night at the Kennedy Center with Tom, who was generous enough to hook me up with his second ticket. Genius Party is an animated film anthology that made its American debut last night as a part of the Center’s Japan! culture + hyperculture Series. We arrived several minutes late, and so caught the tail end of a recorded video introduction from executive producer Eiko Tanaka, followed by a live introduction by the director of the last short in the anthology, Shinichiro Watanabe. The films:

  • Genius Party (directed by Atsuko Fukushima) – In hindsight, this is is difficult to describe. The program description calls it a “unique piece [that] expands from a theme based on the birth of an image.” I can tell you there were replicating spherical mud-sphere creatures, the chasing and consumption of glowing hearts, and a profound sense of whimsy. Good stuff.
  • Shanghai Dragon (directed by Shoji Kawamori) – A perpetually drooling, snot-nosed boy in a small village discovers he is the only human capable of using an alien artifact that summons into reality whatever is drawn with it. Then, giant robots attack. Yes. Very much an action-comedy piece, and great fun.
  • Deathtic 4 (directed by Shinji Kimura) – Undead child superheroes go on a quest to save the only living thing in their world, a frog, from hordes of tricycle-riding zombie police. I really don’t think anything else needs to be said. Hilarious.
  • Doorbell (directed by Yoji Fukuyama) – A high school student discovers that there is another him, that seems to arrive before him to his destinations. As a result, his friends and loved ones don’t detect his presence when he finally arrives. Gently philosophical and entertaining.
  • Limit Cycle (directed by Hideki Futamura) – We renamed this “Intermission,” because several people around us got up and left during it. Brilliant visuals and music, but a completely nonsensical mash-up of existential monologue and imagery that was far too long, and epitomized the phrase “bad poetry.” The only poor short of the bunch.
  • Happy Machine (directed by Masaaki Yuasa) – A baby discovers the falsehood behind the perceived reality of his home and mother, and the fantasy world that underlies it. And a loyal urine and defecate-consuming dog-plant. Bizarre, clever, and humorous, we both thought this was the best of the anthology.
  • Baby Blue (directed by Shinichiro Watanabe) – A love story about two high school students who skip class on the eve of a life changing event, and the childhood secret they share. Very touching and funny, and an excellent way to round out the films.

This was an excellent anthology, showcasing some brilliant storytelling, with the exception of Intermission. I’m hopeful that this is made available for purchase soon, as this collection is an great showcase of the medium for general audiences, and a must-see for animation enthusiasts. On the basis of this, I look forward to catching Genius Party Beyond at some point as well (a separate anthology world-premiering tonight at the Kennedy Center, that I’ll miss due to attending Farpoint).

Rating: a high **** (easily ***** if Intermission was purged from the bunch)

Mr. Adventure – 2007 Christmas All Star Spectacular, and Tour of the Future Stop 2: Balticon

The Amazing Pulp Adventures Starring Mister Adventure is an excellent audio series available free via podcast. Expertly penned by Davey Beauchamp and skilfully produced by Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit, the show is simultaneously a comedic parody of, and a homage to, the pulp adventure radio dramas of decades ago. Set against the backdrop of World War II, it follows the exploits of Mr. Adventure and his heroic allies as they fight to defend Sapphire City from the schemes of nefarious arch-villains, such as Dr. Zhou and the Master of Zombies. I had the pleasure of contributing to two episodes just released over the past couple of weeks:

  • Tour of the Future Stop 2: Balticon was recorded in front of a live audience at Balticon 41 in May of 2007, and just made it out into the feed this week. (Hey, cut him some slack… Rich is quite the busy guy!) This is second of a four part story arc, each of which were recorded at one of four summer 2007 conventions; the first stop was at RavenCon, and entitled the Master of Zombies Strikes Back. In Stop 2, Mr. Adventure and his companions continue their fight against the Master of Zombies, with rather “explosive” results. I had a blast (heh) portraying the evil Zombie Master himself.
  • The 2007 Christmas All Star Spectacular was released into the feed a couple of weeks back. It is the follow-up to last year’s Christmas Spectacular. This year, Mr. Adventure and friends contend with the machinations of the thieving Abominable Snowman, in order to save Christmas once again. Continuing my willing typecasting as a super-villain, I lent my voice to the Abominable Snowman.

Check out the above episodes, as well as the previous excellent releases, at the official Pulp Adventures website! Be sure to explore Rich’s numerous other awesome projects at Outcast Multimedia.