A Last Look at the People of San Diego Comic-Con 2014

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Finn's not real, but there were a whole lot of real people having a great time at SDCC.

After a long day of walking around the con, your feet get to the point where you just can't take anymore. This is especially when you're cosplayer in heels or a photographer lugging around a bunch of equipment. It was time to find an alternative method of getting around.

Taxis have a hard time getting through the thick traffic around the convention center, so we grabbed a pedicab. We were fortunate to end up with Justin, a pedicab driver who was a whole lot of fun. By far, this was the way to travel during Comic-Con.

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6 Scary Clowns Creepier Than Pennywise

Photo by Alex Sanhueza Arevalo
Scary clowns are evrywhere you look these days.

Clowns are creepy. Yes, they are. At least, that's the impression I've always gotten from most people I've met when the subject of clowns comes up in conversation. It seems the ratio of people that dislike or who are afraid of clowns far exceeds the number of people that actually enjoy watching their antics.

It makes sense, as it is hard to trust a person in a weird outfit who is hiding his real expression behind his makeup and its big fake smile. Despite generations of clowns being passed off as entertainment for kids, I've rarely met an adult who liked them. In fact, I've met a bunch that are really scared of the colorful bastards.

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10 of the Best Things About SDCC 2014

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
San Diego Comic-Con may actually be the greatest show on Earth.
There is so much happening at San Diego Comic-Con that all any individual gets to see or do is a very small percentage of what's going on. There are, of course, the big Hollywood announcements that come from Hall H, but there's a whole world beyond the big panels that makes SDCC the amazing, compelling event that it is.

Here are 10 things that we saw that were completely awesome.

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SDCC 2014 - Nerd HQ, Bee & PuppyCat and the Her Universe Fashion Show

Categories: Pop Culture

Nick Cook
Newlywed Zachary Levi says he's ready for another television series, a new TV "family" and someday a real family of his own.
San Diego Comic-Con is perhaps even more of a whirlwind this year than before. It seems like there are an unprecedented number of offsite events and you can have quite a con experience without ever entering the convention center. There's so much going on that you almost don't know what direction to turn in. A Star Trek-style transporter would really come in handy.

Here's what we saw yesterday, and we have some news from Nerd HQ, Bee & Puppycat and a nerd-themed high fashion event that was the gem of the day.

Check out our first day slideshow at Comic-Con.

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How to Make a Comic-Con

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Sean Bean is watching you. He wants you to stop killing off his characters.

And check out our first day slideshow with some of our favorite characters.

For people who have never been to San Diego Comic-Con before, it's difficult to imagine the scale at which the convention operates. It spills out of the convention hall itself and pretty much takes over every nearby downtown structure in San Diego.

San Diego Comic-Con is the largest pop culture convention in North America, followed closely by New York Comic-Con. It brings in over $163 million dollars in revenue for the City of San Diego. That's actually a very low figure, as it's based on a survey of those staying in hotels and likely does not include placed advertising on public transport vehicles and the like.

Convention-goers fill restaurants, pack hotels, require transportation and extra security personnel to keep them in line. They buy tons of goods both from vendors within the convention center and in the Gaslamp area.

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5 Life Lessons I Learned Playing Candy Crush Saga

Photo by m01229
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...
It seems like half the people I know play Candy Crush Saga. I base this on the insane number of Facebook invites I've gotten and the look of manic glee in their eyes when the addictive candy-based puzzle game comes up in conversation. It's a fun little puzzle game, for sure, but it has also unexpectedly taught me several life lessons.

5. Addiction takes many forms.

One of those forms manifests in the relentless candy matching game play of Candy Crush. Forget the schmaltzy music that accompanies this game; the soundtrack should be a continuous loop of "Sister Morphine" or "Waiting on the Man," because the dead look in your eyes a few weeks after Candy Crush gets its hooks in you is one more often associated with serious drug addiction. It starts off innocently enough. You download the game for free, and its cute but fun gameplay goes along well for maybe ten or 15 levels before you hit the first difficult one. Maybe you have to replay it a time or two, and then you move on, happy to have bested the challenge.

Soon, though, those challenging levels often turn into what I think of as "Total Bastard" levels where a person might get stuck for days at a time. That's when you suddenly realize that you're addicted to this sinister candy game, because like a drug pusher, it offers to buy more lives and more time (with real money, of course) or to buy game bonuses that will help you finish the Bastard levels and move further along the game. I get it; game companies need to make money, but this type of luring a person along reminds me of the Junior High warnings of drug dealers that would give a kid a few pills for free, the first time.

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7 Texas Drive-In Theaters That You Can Still Visit

Photo by Andrew Dupont
The Starlite in Brenham still stands as a reminder of the halcyon days of drive-in theaters

The Starlite Drive-In Theater lies abandoned just off of Highway 290 in Brenham, looking like a dead monument to a time long gone. Anyone taking that route between Houston and Austin will have seen the back of its single screen and a tall metal fence around the perimeter.

Scattered around America, there are many old drive-ins. Most are lifeless husks, either abandoned and slowly being claimed by the elements, or having been repurposed into something entirely different. In other cases, they're simply gone, demolished so the land they sat on could be redeveloped into something more profitable.

Those that have disappeared entirely are relegated to the memories of locals who can still remember going to see movies there, but as time goes on fewer people are around who went to movies when they were open for business. There's a definite ghostlike quality to those old, boarded up drive-in theaters. It seems that most of the ones still standing are usually scattered on the outskirts of small towns where land is plentiful, and not in high demand. There's no rush to buy the theaters, and in those cases they simply stand vacant, as a reminder of a long gone era of American entertainment.

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6 Best Places in Houston to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by Daniel Hollister
"Hi, I'd like to talk to you about BRAINSSSSSSSS...."
Zombies are everywhere, finally seeping (as zombies are wont to do) out of a spectacularly violent sub-genre of horror films into mainstream popularity. As a longtime horror fan, this phenomena has been really surprising to me, but audiences everywhere have embraced the flesh-eating, reanimated dead.

One thing that zombie movies and television shows seem to bring out in most people is a game of "What would I do if this shit really happened?"

For some reason, the concept of a zombie apocalypse is appealing to many people. Perhaps watching a few episodes of "The Walking Dead" has led them to believe that they would prosper if zombies were really ambling around, munching on the brains of people too slow or stupid to walk quickly away from them. Assuming that they weren't the first to be ambushed and devoured or nipped on the hand by their former babysitter, many people play through scenarios in their heads figuring out the ways that they would stay alive while everyone else was turned into a panicking buffet for the hoards of multiplying corpses.

I've done it myself. Ever since watching the original Dawn of the Dead as a young teen, the idea of finding the perfect place to hunker down and survive a zombie apocalypse has crossed my mind a few times.

For the sake of fun, let's consider a few places in the Houston area that would be fit as locations to repel or at least hide from murderous, flesh eating zombies.

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Pop Rocks: Something Named Connor Franta (and His Association with O2L) Is Trending

Connor Franta explains to his legion of YouTube fans he's "just a normal person."
"YouTube Celebrity." I read those words earlier today when checking out the trending topics on Twitter and trying to figure out why some kid named Connor Franta was dominating hashtags. I admit that I'm not up on every element of celeb gossip. In fact, it might be fair to say that my knowledge of it extends only as far as the trash magazines I buy my wife for trips to the beach and the weekend I spent as a stringer for US Weekly.

Still, when rumors about Beyonce and Jay-Z crop up or photos of Zac Ephron and Michelle Rodriguez getting hot and heavy appear in my Facebook trending stories feed, I'm aware of who these people are and may even know some of the back story. And when those things cross paths with sports or Internet nerdery, it triggers a part of my brain reserved for obscure statistics and trivia from sci-fi films. In short, I'm not completely clueless.

But, when #WeLoveYouConnor and other variations on this hashtag appeared on Twitter, I was stumped. First, to Google. No Wikipedia entry? That was surprising. I'm pretty sure one of my cats has a Wiki entry, so who is this guy who is so popular he can drive massive traffic on Twitter but not have some reference on the Encyclopedia Britannica of the web?

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Doctor Who: 5 Doctor Who Films That Were Never Made

Categories: Pop Culture

When The Day of the Doctor was shown in theaters as part of the 50th anniversary celebration it was a huge success. In fact, it had the third-highest rated box office take of that day, which is doubly impressive considering you could stay home and see almost the exact same thing for free.

It's gotten plenty of folks interested in the idea of more cinematic outings. Perhaps a film with starring Paul McGann, whose Doctor has experienced a significant renaissance of late. Or maybe the Christmas specials could be regular holiday events at the movies. The possibilities are endless

Of course, there's not a good precedent for this sort of thing. Lots of people have tried to bring The Doctor to the big screen before, and almost none of the succeeded.

Doctor Who: We Need Purely Historical Stories Again
Doctor Who:It's Time to Start Talking About a Female Doctor

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