Sunday, May 17, 2009

A pop-culture gem in San Jose

I was at the Super-Con event in San Jose Saturday (on a press credential, to be clear), and it exceeded my expectations for a combination of friendly little-con ambience and big-time collectible opportunities.

A couple of specifics: A number of the dealers had merchandise that was out of the ordinary -- unusual, or older and harder to find, or even unique in some way. In other words, far from the typical inventories of recent comics and toys, anything and everything manga and anime and reams of import and sub-culture DVDs. My purchase -- I'll get into this more in future posts -- was the illustrated, uninstalled glass back from (I think) a 1978 Bally pinball machine with a "Star Trek'' theme.

Also, that ambience I mentioned was conspicuous in numerous ways. One highlight: A local video-game store was hosting a "Street Fighter 4'' tournament with a cute incentive: beat the employees and win store credit.

The crowd (during late morning and early afternoon) was big enough to lead to lines of about 10 deep for well-recognized comics artists who were doing sketches (for a price). But it wasn't as if the panel discussions were anywhere close to filling up (at least not the three I checked on), and the sidwalks around the convention weren't bustling. The upshot: This is nearly the perfect convention eah year to attend if you're a knowledgeable fan who knows how to take advantage of all the up-close-and-personal sociality of a still-growing event. But sure, it lacks a bit of energy and excitement at times.

One asterisk: It's difficult to know what to say about the aging, fading, minor and less-than-minor TV and movie celebrities who charge to be photographed with fans. People pay, so there's a market. But it varies, with some "celebrities" looking awfully lonely much of the time. Tackiness overwhelms nostalgia. And the behavior of some of these marginal personalities can be offputting. I'll deal with it in a later post.

My wish: That Super-Con keeps growing, but not too much.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Super-Con reminder (it's Saturday and Sunday)

I'm on record about the exceptional atmosphere at this up-and-coming comics and pop culture convention in San Jose. The latest news from Super-Con, which I'm a bit late on conveying, is that Margot Kidder has been added to the guest list.

I'll recap and update a bunch of Super-Con info in the next day or so, but make your plans now: The event takes place this weekend at the San Jose Convention, South Hall (425 S. Market).

Here's the Super-Con web site.

(I'm going to be there, barring some unexpected problem. Wouldn't miss it).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

About the Star Trek movie

Saw it Saturday and loved it. A film that understands Trek's core appeal -- the characters and their relationships. Heart and humor, humor and heart. No surprise that it's a big hit. Almost everything works just right. Trek history isn't trashed, but the new stuff is genuinely fresh instead of handcuffed with baggage. The movie is visually fun without being a slave to effects. A five-star movie.

Still, I gotta ask: The plot hinges on a time-travel paradox and isn't that just a tiny bit disappointing? Even when well done, must that always be the crux and the crutch?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Scrubs'' does it right

(I've been away from the blog for a bit. You've heard the TV commercial -- "We had a health concern, but it turned out to be nothing.'' Maybe not an exact quote, but close. In my household, there have been some health concerns. They were something, but they're receding. So, I'm back)

Wednesday night's one-hour "Scrubs'' episode may have been a series finale (or so contend the nation's TV reporters). I hope so.

I'm saying that even though -- leaving the unique "Seinfeld'' aside -- "Scrubs" is probably my favorite TV comedy ever. When you care enough about a series, you want appropriate closure when the time comes. And I've been astounded over the years at how many final episodes are horribly botched.

Wednesday's "Scrubs'' was pitch perfect. It had heart. It alternated between outrageously funny and subtly funny. It was smart. It was tender. It was everything that has distinguished the series. It was proof that network TV isn't creatively bankrupt, at least not completely. For many of the cast members, it will be a career high point, even if they go on to other good things.

The closure was more than appropriate, more than satisfactory. It was sweet. Say it out loud: SWEET!