Category Archives: fan events

Campbellcon 2015

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I’ve never been to San Diego Comic Con and honestly, I have no interest in going. I’m uncomfortable with flying and I think SDCC is too commercialized.

But I’ve been to a few toys and comics shows with celebrity guests in the CA bay area. I’ve been to a toy. comics and collectibles show in Pleasanton, Alameda and San Jose. Campbellcon in (where else?) Campbell, CA was my first trip to this lovely city.

I first learned about Campbellcon through an advertisement at a local toy shop in Union City. It said that some Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice actors would be there. As a Star Warrior, I wanted to meet these actors and I wanted to buy some comics and some SW action figures to my collection. So I paid for a ticket online ($21.94) and printed out driving directions to Campbell.

On November 7, I headed out towards I-880 S. After some distance (and getting a little lost – but not too lost) I reached my destination. The con was held at the historic Campbell Community Center which used to be a high school. It’s a very nice building as seen above.

After I was allowed in, the first thing I did was go to the celebrity table. I forgot to mention that most of the CW actors I wanted to meet had canceled their appointments. But there was still one SW actress that showed up: Debbie Lee Carrington, who played Romba the Ewok in Return of the Jedi was there signing pictures of her in the saga and Total Recall. But before I stopped at her table, I went to see another actress: Lana Wood, sister of Natalie and former Bond Girl. I wanted to ask about her time on The Wild, Wild West. She had guest-starred twice on the classic sci-fi western, “The Night of the Firebrand” and “The Night of the Plague” as two different characters. I had hoped that she would have a photograph from the show that she would sign (hopefully one with Pernell Roberts) but, alas she didn’t. However, she offered to send some pictures to my e-mail address. We had a nice chat, took a picture and I ended up buying a wonderful picture of her and her legendary older sister which she signed.

Then after much browsing and buying only one trade paperback, I went straight to Ms. Carrington’s desk. She noticed my Xena tin lunch box (where I was keeping my money) and told me that she was friends with Lucy Lawless (“she’s a wonderful person, very down to earth”). I picked a still of Romba and she signed “Greetings from Endor!” (how cute!) and shook my hand.

Now for the low points of Campbellcon: merchandise-wise, it was very disappointing. As I said earlier, I bought only a comic book: Young Justice. Most other comic books available either didn’t interest me or I had already read. And as regards to finding the Star Wars action figures I’ve been desiring, forget it. A majority of the SW toys were from The Force Awakens. You see, I’ve been craving that new Black Series Ceremonial Gown Leia, that Hasbro had to push back a couple of months because that’s one of my favorite Leia dresses. I’ve also been hoping to find that Vintage Collection Ahsoka Tano action figure but there wasn’t any. Oh well. Keep searching and you will find…

But there was another positive realization I came to at Campbellcon, especially when it comes to Star Warriors.

There were a couple of cosplayers in attendance and most of them were dressed from the prequel or EU era. One person was dressed as a clone trooper. There were some men in jedi and sith robes selling lightsabers (I think it was the Saber Guild). Another young man was dressed in a sith robe with a double-bladed lightsaber, (but judging by the hilt design, it wasn’t Darth Maul’s or Bastila Shan’s). And as I left, I passed by four teenagers in jedi robes. It taught me that there is a difference between the internet and real life. While the internet may have you believe that “fans” have a seething hatred for the direction the saga took in recent years, those “fans” spend most of their time raging on the internet while the more positive fans are out and about expressing their devotion and having fun.

Another thing I learned is the importance of attending your local sf/comic book convention. Why go to San Diego, NYC or Anaheim every year when you can show your support for a pop-culture related event, no matter how small. It boosts morale. It’s good for your local economy. I’m looking forward to the next available toy and comics show.

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The Ape, the Dinosaur and Me

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On June 20th, 2015, the Historic Bal Theatre in San Leandro, CA hosted it’s fourth “Godzilla Night”. GN is a mini film festival of movies featuring the king of the kaiju. This night, they were playing Godzilla, King of the Monsters and a collection of newly discovered monster films called Kaiju Gaiden.

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But the film I went to see was the ultimate beast brawl, King Kong vs. Godzilla. It was the first Godzilla movie I saw as a child. Released in 1962, KK vs G pits the ultimate American movie monster (Kong) against the ultimate Japanese movie monster (Godzilla). A Japanese pharmaceutical company that collects narcotic berries from some jungle island (I forget where), is pressured by a tv exec whose show is sponsored by the company, to go back to the island and “find him a monster”. So two men named Sakurai and Furue go to the jungle island. Did I mention that the natives there worship a giant god? Did I also mention that the two explorers give the gift of cigarettes to the natives (including a child)? Did I forget to mention that a giant octopus attacks the village? Seriously, why aren’t we talking more about the giant octopus?

As I said previously, a giant octopus attacks the village. One hut in particular has a young woman and her son in it. In the nick of time, Kong shows up and fights the octopus. After that long and tedious fight, he needs a couple of drinks. Cue the berry juice which puts him to sleep. The natives show their thanks with song and dance. How he sleeps through it is anyone’s guess. A knocked out Kong is brought back to Japan.

But wait, someone else has returned. Why it’s none other than Godzilla whose only objective is to…um, uh, destroy Tokyo! How do we stop him? With rocket launchers? With a nuclear bomb? No! To fight a monster, we need a monster! Bring in the giant gorilla! An awaken, cranky Kong and Godzilla duke it out. There’s much destruction in the process. People flee! Camera’s roll! And Kong and Godzilla tumble into the ocean. Godzilla disappears and Kong, fed up with civilization and radioactive dinosaurs, decides to swim back home.

While not as strong a classic like the original 1954 version of Godzilla, it was a fun movie experience. I arrived at the theatre at 2:30 (the program started at 3 pm). Flashed the ticket I bought online. Went to purchase some popcorn, soda and candy and sat down to an orchestral recording of the Godzilla soundtrack and watched a slideshow of kaiju artwork done by children and local artists (you then could go online and vote on which artwork you liked best). Then the announcer came on stage and introduced two people dressed as King Kong and Godzilla. A woman handed them two “boulders” (they were grey beach balls) to throw into the audience. Whoever caught them won a free Godzilla t-shirt. I know what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t win one, I was sitting too far back.

After the film, I went to three different kiosks that were selling Godzilla merchandise. I bought a small Godzilla figurine for $5.

There wasn’t a huge crowd for the afternoon event but it was a sizeable assortment of people of all ages from the young to the old with some avid Godzilla fans sprinkled in. I’m not a huge Godzilla fan myself but I recently bought the Criterion Collection release of Gojira, which I was impressed with because of it’s message of nuclear disarmament and it’s depiction of Japanese culture. It’s one of the best films of the 50s.

I also went because I prefer smaller, more intimate, “Geek” events as opposed to larger, more lucrative, commercial events like Comic Con. The former (for me) is much more affordable, more easygoing and requires less travel than the latter.

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