Zucchini Lasagna & Some News From The Nerdverse

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

This last week the first fruits of the garden ripened and were harvested. It starts slow but as things get going there will be plenty more squash, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and other delicious things to add to our diet fresh from the garden.

Because this is the first year of the garden I haven’t used any pesticides, weed killers or sprays of any kind. Just water, soil and sun have gone into these veggies. You can’t get much more organic than that.

We got two zucchini, one cucumber, a handful of basil and two patty pan squash this week. The Vintage Wine tomato is absolutely loaded with green tomatoes right now and when they ripen we will have a lot of them. Likewise the spaghetti squash and pumpkins. The squash keep well in a cool dry place and should last well into winter if we get enough of them.

Some ingredients

Some ingredients

On my search for something creative to do with zucchini, instead of just zucchini bread (which we all love) I found a recipe for zucchini lasagna. Now there’s an idea. The recipe called for using grilled zucchini in the place of the pasta (do I sense a low carb lasagna?).

Since I already have a really good lasagna recipe I thought I’d just substitute the zucchini (and since I had it some patty pan squash too0 for pasta in my own recipe and call it good. Things to keep in mind are that zucchini and patty pan squash have a lot of moisture in them, that’s why they suggested grilling the slices first. I didn’t want to fire up the grill just for some zucchini so after I used my mandolin to get thin slices I let them rest on paper towels for a while to absorb some of the excess moisture.

My mandolin is not adjustable so I only got really thin slices of squash when I used it. Since the texture is what you are looking for when substituting anything for pasta I’ll have to see if this works or if I need to get a mandolin with an adjustable blade.

Zucchini Lasagna:

2 Zucchini
1 lg patty pan squash
4 cups mozzerella cheese
1 cup parmesean cheese
1 lg container of ricotta cheese (16 oz)
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp fresh basil
2 eggs
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 jar spaghetti sauce (when the tomatoes are ripe homemade is the way to go)

Tools

Tools

Rinse squash and basil in water. Cut ends off squash and run through mandolin so that you have a nice pile of thin slices of squash. Spread out on paper towels and blot to dry a bit.

Brown ground beef in skillet with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and 1 tsp of the fresh basil sliced thin. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, parmesean and 1 cup of mozzerella with 1 tsp basil and 2 eggs.

Spray 10 X 19 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce in bottom of dish and sprinkle a little bit of the cooked meat. Layer in the squash, overlapping the edges just like you would with lasagna noodles. Cover with half of the ricotta mixture, 1/2 cup of mozzerella cheese and 1/2 the remaining meat and 1 cup of the sauce. Repeat layers. Put a final layer of zucchini on the very top, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Thin sliced zucchini

Thin sliced zucchini

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cooked through. If it’s watery, try grilling the zucchini slightly or broiling it for a few minutes to drive out some of the excess water.

Starting the layers

Starting the layers

Layer the zucchini

Layer the zucchini

Cheese, meat and sauce then repeat layers.

Cheese, meat and sauce then repeat layers.

In the Nerdverse I’m way behind on movies I want to see and with the release of Ant-Man I’m even farther behind. I didn’t get to Age of Ultron due to illness, nor did I get to Intersteller. Both are movies I will have to see on DVD.

I’m conflicted about Ant-Man. I truly hope they don’t go down the route where he tries to murder his own wife because he’s an abusive misogynist. Heroes do not try to murder their wives; heroes do not abuse women or any other people full stop. In fact heroes stand up for people who are traditionally abused or oppressed by the culture. That’s why we love them.

I still want to see San Andreas and Jurassic World. I love a good disaster movie and I love a good monster movie. To be honest I love cheesy disaster movies and monster movies too. Which is why I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to discover there will be a third Sharktopus movie. Because there were so many unanswered questions from the first two. The third one, apparently, will be Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf. Yeah, tis going to be a festival of goofballery. But I’m a push-over for a good (or terrible) mad scientist movie. According to IMDB 7/19 is when it premiers.

Finally, news has been rather sparse for the Toho 2016 Godzilla. I keep hoping to hear more updates. It would be fantastic to have another Godzilla movie from Toho. Plus I don’t want to wait till 2018 for the next legendary Godzilla. Also they just started filming the second Pacific Rim movie and I am impatient for them to finish it.

That’s news from the garden and the less main stream nerdverse, more of an outlying nerd nebula, like a satellite nerd nebula than the nerdverse, but that’s what I’ve got for you this week. K.

squash vines

squash vines

News of #PacificRim & #Godzilla and possibly #Scrapbooking

Pacific Rim II from the official Facebook page

Pacific Rim II from the official Facebook page

Pacific Rim II from the official Facebook page

It has indeed been a few weeks since I last posted, gentle reader, and for that you have my apologies. I took what was supposed to be a brief 1 week break after the last con and then flu season caught up with me.

This week I’d like to talk about some exciting news regarding Pacific Rim. Namely that not only is a sequel in the works but apparently Pacific Rim III is also in the works. Also my sources (Collider) say that Pacific Rim II is due to start filming in the fall of 2015. (It does pay to keep one’s ear to the nerd ground).

(Read the next line in Emperor Cusco’s voice from The Emperor’s New Groove) I’m so happy.

This is good and hopefully what will happen is that they will not release the next Godzilla movie the same year. There are three of those also planned. So far both the Pacific Rim sequel and the Godzilla sequel are slated for 2017. What would make this Kaiju loving fan very happy (not that anyone cares mind you) would be if the studio were to alternate years. This would keep movie audiences from getting Kaiju fatigue and spread out the treats so we get one each year instead of a bunch (read 2) in the same year.

Now about that scrapbooking. I used to do it way back in the day, when I had time, regular sleep, disposable income–you know, the good old days. I was recently looking back through one of my albums and asked myself an obvious question: Why am I not creating scrap book pages of my comic con adventures?

Also a quick and dirty update on my garden. This year I let it lay fallow. Fallow is code for, “I was too busy to put in my garden.” I missed it too. The hummingbirds were back and nested in the same tree. My flowers, since I cleverly planted perennials, bloomed and were gorgeous. Sadly my Gunnera did not survive a very late and very surprising snow storm. My goals for next year are to get the garden space ready for spring and replant the Gunnera as well as some more flowers.

Thank you for your interest and patience. K.

Rose City Comic Con #Mothra #Cosplay Debut #RCCC #Godzilla

Cosplay Newt meets Cosplay Mothra--Squeeing happens

Today is the first day of the Rose City Comic Con. As was my goal and plan I debuted the Mothra cosplay today. The hat is sturdy and the band nearly invisible once it was under my hair. The wings were a bit warm but very wearable.

We started off the day with the Kaijucast Godzilla VS. Everything panel. It was the best panel discussion I’ve ever been in. They showed clips from Godzilla movies for a whole hour. They also related trivia and lore about the filming of the movies and the actors. It was delightful. If you love all things Kaiju you should really wander on over to

the fine people who host Kaijucast, a monthly podcast about Godzilla and other Kaiju, were the one’s to turn me on to Daimajin which is a fantastic old trilogy about a kaiju that is based in myth. This year they were talking up the 1990’s Gamera, or as I like to call them, the good Gamera movies. Look for a picture of Mothra on their website at the end of the day today. I visited their booth (B5) at the con and had a lovely chat with them after the panel discussion. Also check out this fabulous Newt cosplay from Pacific Rim, totally squeeing over Mothra (totes in character if you ask me).

Cosplay Newt meets Cosplay Mothra

Cosplay Newt meets Cosplay Mothra

The cosplay today was amazing. I saw my first Yzma and Kronk from Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove. That’s a completely underrated movie if you ask me. This cosplay is fantastic too.

Yzma and Kronk

Yzma and Kronk

With Guardians of the Galaxy being so popular and the most recent Marvel offering I was expecting to see a plethora of Star-Lords and other characters. I only counted 2 Star-Lords, 2 Ronins and the cutest Groot you could want to see.

Dancing Groot

Dancing Groot

Star-Lord and Ronin set aside their differences fora photo shoot.

Star-Lord and Ronin set aside their differences fora photo shoot.

If you follow this blog you will, of course, already know that I consider the cosplayers to be easily half of the attraction of a con. I love to see how creative people are and I love to see the cosplay and the cosplayers enjoying displaying their efforts and talent. So without further adieu here are a bunch of pictures of cosplay from today at the RCCC:

The family that cosplays together stays together.

The family that cosplays together stays together.

Midna gets a glimpse of her future with cursed Midna

Midna gets a glimpse of her future with cursed Midna

Sasha of Cherno Alpha along with Newt and Gottlieb.

Sasha of Cherno Alpha along with Newt and Gottlieb.

The Joker

The Joker

Last but not least, you may be wondering how people reacted to the Mothra cosplay I wore. Well it’s a fairly obscure character so not a lot of people realized who I was. One guy even thought I was some kind of Pokemon (really?). The people who got it though were really excited about it. Their eyes would get wide and their faces would light up and then they would tell me how much they love Godzilla and Mothra. It was fantastic. I loved hearing their stories and I really am happy that my cosplay could make some other people so happy too. It was delightful. And yes I bought the soundtrack for the Godzilla movies and played the Mothra song periodically. (Totally stuck in my head right now too, thank you very much). With the theme song people seemed better able to recognize the character.

I will say that the folks of the Godzilla vs. Everything panel did have me stand up and show their audience before the discussion started and they sang the theme song for me. One gentleman stopped me as I walked across the lobby, “Mothra! Can I take your picture?” Of course and I was delighted to show the wings too. All in all, despite the relatively low number of people recognizing the character, I would say it was quite a success. I’ll be back tomorrow for the second day of the con and I’ll be Mothra again. K.

Mosura

Mosura

#Mothra #Cosplay Day 13, Oversights and Corrections

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

The pattern is really coming together as I near completion on painting.

Well, gentle reader, it is day 13 of the Mothra cosplay construction. I’ve logged around 49 hours of labor on the costume as of today. I really need to step it up because I’m just over a month out from the debut comic con. I was looking for one I could get to sooner than Emerald City and found Rose City. That’s where the costume will be unveiled then: The Rose City Comic Con.

While I was looking at my model and at some of the other cosplays and realized that I had overlooked the underbelly of Mothra. More specifically I had overlooked the legs. With this in mind I roughed out a vague shape for her legs on the front of the vest that is serving as the central structure for the costume. It is a very rough shape and not what the final form will look like. I did not paint in the bend of the joint because once the vest is on, the leg will wrap around my side naturally. It is tempting to be dismayed by how ugly this looks right now but I am confident the final solution will be just fine.

In the process of roughing out the legs I discovered that there are small pockets on the front of the vest (yes I missed them when I first bought the vest). The pockets may not be deep enough to safely hold an ID. I rather suspect they are not and am still searching for a better solution. Right now I’m thinking maybe a small shoulder bag could work if it hangs down far enough to be below the vest.

front of vest

front of vest as underbelly

front of vest as underbelly

All of that aside, I finished painting the inside of the main part of the right wing and painted the red/orange/yellow parts of the hind wing. Since I started on this project I have learned a lot about how to go about this and as a result the inside of the wing is visually superior to the outside. Again it is tempting to be dismayed but I knew I would have to touch up the front side and I know it’ll be just as lovely when I am finished.

If I allowed all of these little missteps and setbacks to overwhelm me, or focused on every imperfection it would be easy to lose sight of the big picture and give up. No it won’t be perfect. Yes I still have a minimum of 4 more Sundays to complete this thing, and that’s if I keep making the kind of progress I made today. But it’s fabulous and I conceived of this, designed it and constructed it myself. I may make more polished cosplays in the future. I may make more elaborate cosplays in the future. But I will never surpass this Mothra for the sheer love I have for it. For me it touches on everything cosplay is about.

Mothra has great sentimental value for me. My grandmother used to watch Godzilla movies with my father, who in turn watched them with me. In crafting this costume I’ve discovered a deeper connection to the character and to the entire genera, which I love. I was thrilled by Pacific Rim, but as much as I love technology, I don’t think those cosplays suit my style. Of course there is always Godzilla, but again for some reason the Big G doesn’t really spark my cosplaying imagination.

I must add that I am delighted one of the other cosplayers in our group is making a Godzilla cosplay. I think it’s fantastic and fabulous, just not for me. I’m still kind of surprised that I chose Mothra.

Anyway, here are this weeks photographs of the progress on (cue dramatic music) The Wings of Mothra:

At the beginning of today

At the beginning of today

Painting the purple fields first

Painting the purple fields first

Several shades of blue

Several shades of blue

Red on the hindwing

Red on the hindwing

Notice, if you will the correction I’ve been making to the blue on the hindwing where I painted over the section where white should be. It’s working and you can now clearly discern the white “stripe” continuing from the forewing to the hindwing. Also I noticed that the hindwing fields had red at the outside edges not a darker orange and have made that correction. The colors are just beautiful and it’s looking like it should to my eye. K.

Going Dark for #Godzilla & #Kaiju Haiku #PacificRim

You may wonder, gentle reader, why I’ve gone dark the closer we get to the Godzilla movie’s release. As huge a fan as I am I don’t want the whole movie to be spoiled before I get to watch it. So as the internet hype has reached a fever pitch, I have gone dark. Rest assured I will review Godzilla, and if my review is not posted here I’ll let you know which webzine picks it up.

To tide you over, how about some original Kaiju Haiku? The only form of poetry I should ever be allowed to write.

Nuclear bomb
nature’s wrath
Godzilla

Ocean surges
City burns
Godzilla

Mystic singing
Tiny twin priestesses
summon Mothra

Kaiju surface
wage war against us
Gipsy Danger

(Yes and whether or not I should even be allowed to write Haiku is questionable, but here you go.) K.

Day 1 of the Emerald City Comic Con #ECCC #NichelleNichols #PacificRim

T. Walpole's Drizzt
T. Walpole's Drizzt

T. Walpole’s Drizzt Do’Urden cover

Friday, March 28, 2014 and the #ECCC opens at 10 am.  At 9:30 the Starbucks, which had a line out the door on day 3 last year, was full but not out the door.  Some 10 minutes later, coffee in hand, we made our way to the convention center.

Last year we were directed through the convention center, out the back side, around the block and through a park to the end of the line.  This year they mailed the badges out early, which is good because all three days sold out long ago.  So we went in, up the escalators, showed our badges to the friendly and helpful volunteers and were inside to the next line.  That line was mercifully brief too.

Shortly we were ushered into the massive vender room where rows upon rows of tables awaited us offering everything from leather corsair hats to My Little Pony plushies.  The mass of humanity waiting to go in flowed like a tsunami of people looking for that perfect item to take home or that final piece to complete a costume.

I saw some spectacular Scharazade corsets side by side with Lego box sets of the 12 Doctors.  There were swords and daggers next to booths offering T-shirts with just about every anime, manga or super hero on them you could imagine.

The artist’s tables were equally varied and plentiful.  Brian Snoddy was there and very friendly.  He told me that other Magic: The Gathering artists were also around, like Phil and Kaya Foglio and Franz Vohwinkel.  We met Magic: The Gathering artist Brom and he was extremely nice.  He asked if anyone in our group was an artist and showed a real interest in them.

Let me say that I’ve always loved Phil and Kaya Foglio’s art.  I’ve met them once or twice at Magic: The Gathering conventions and they are gracious.  What really impressed me about them though was here recently when they boycotted Dragoncon because the co-owner was an accused child molester.  They actually gave up on income for the sake of real principles.  We need more people willing to make a stand like that in this world.

I really enjoy browsing the artist’s tables.  I love art and I like supporting artists.  Without exception artists I’ve stopped and chatted with have been friendly, passionate about their art and happy to talk about it and even give tips to others about how to improve their art.

At one table a series of gorgeous prints of Drizzt Do’urden holding Twinkle and Icingdeath drew me in.  I named them and said I was seriously tempted to purchase one.  Artist Tyler Walpole was sitting right there, it being his table and his art on those prints and he smiled and said, “I think you should go with that feeling.”

I laughed.  He laughed too and added, “Of course I might be a little biased.”

He was very charming and I did indeed go with that suggestion and got a beautiful print.  He kindly signed it for me and though I was tempted to chat for a while I didn’t linger because there were other paying customers right behind me.

The only thing I didn’t see a lot of, much to my dismay, was Godzilla merchandise or art.  Oh there were a couple of old action figures in one booth but with a major motion picture about to be released I had hoped to see much more representation of the king of the Kaiju.  I did find one booth that had some pretty choice Pacific Rim merchandise that made me happy.  Still, I had hoped Godzilla would have a larger presence

Nichelle Nichols at ECCC

Nichelle Nichols at ECCC

I must confess that the highlight of the day was meeting Nichelle Nichols.   There’s a funny story about that too because I expected her autograph line to not only be super long but also to be starting an hour later than when I got up to the room where stars were signing autographs.

You see, I went to get Richard Dean Anderson’s autograph as a gift for my sister.  When I got there the autographs were $85.00 each!  I’m afraid that’s a little rich for my blood.  Shoot that’s more than I paid for Sir Patrick Stewart’s autograph, and I got a great story to tell out of that brief encounter.  Plus the line for Richard Dean Anderson was huge.

So I browsed around the room to see who else might be there and almost right next door was Nichelle Nichols.  Not only was her line shockingly short but also her autographs were a very modest $40.00.

Let me just say that she is as warm and gracious and absolutely beautiful in person as she is on the big screen.  She found something to say to each person who got an autograph and even spoke briefly with fans who just wanted to say, “Hi.”  She is a generous and truly lovely person inside and out.

We went from there to sit in on her discussion panel.  Of course she was asked to tell the story about how she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Most Star Trek fans have heard the story but not the way she tells it.  When she tells that story she really makes it come alive.

Nichelle Nichols said she was nervous to meet such an icon as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he was nervous to meet such an icon as Lt. Uhura from Star Trek.  Apparently they were quite good friends before he told her she could not leave Star Trek.  She said one of the things she loves about having worked on Star Trek was that she could go anywhere and she could always tell who the Star Trek fans were within a few moments of meeting someone and because of that connection she always felt she had something she could talk about with people.

She went on from there to tell the story about when she met Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  The way she spoke, her facial expressions and her candor were so engaging and she was so generous with herself that it was a joy to just listen to her speak.   She said she was told this Doctor wanted to meet her and she thought she’d set up a time to meet, give herself a chance to prepare but no; he wanted to meet her right now.  So she was nervous.  “Then,” she said, “This gorgeous man walks in, and I’m thinking–alright!”  She was so funny, just absolutely charming.

Steampunk Hat

Steampunk Hat

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but the Emerald City Comic Con is off to an excellent start if you ask me.  Oh! The Cosplay has been fantastic.  I’ll get into that more in a later article.  KZ

Cosplay & Ron Perlman at the Portland Comic Con

Captain America cosplay Portland Comic Con

Cherno Alpha Cosplay at Portland Comic Con

Cherno Alpha Cosplay at Portland Comic Con

I’ve been busy having fun at the Portland Comic Con and as a result have not been good about blogging about it. Which is disservice to an excellent con. There were some rocking cosplays, quite a few in point of fact. I saw a fabulous I Dream Of Jeanie for the first time at a con. There were a bunch of Doctors, mainly the fourth Doctor, the tenth Doctor and the eleventh Doctor. I even saw a weeping angel get into a stare down with a mop-toting, fez-wearing, bow-tie clad eleventh Doctor. One of my top favorites was a fantastic Sasha Kaidonovsky, pilot of Cherno Alpha from Pacific Rim. There were a lot of Wonder Women and I was glad to see them. Also I saw quite a few Poison Ivys and this con I saw a lot of My Little Ponys and they were adorable. Elsa and Anna from Disney’s Frozen made their cosplay debut at this con and they were gorgeous every time I saw one. I could write a whole article about the fabulous cosplay and perhaps I should.
Xena Warrior Princess Cosplay at Portland Comic Con

Xena Warrior Princess Cosplay at Portland Comic Con

Today, though, I want to write about meeting Ron Perlman. I remember seeing him first in Beauty and the Beast when I was quite young. While he had many roles, I’m sure between that and Hellboy I was not aware of them and Hellboy is a movie I really enjoy. I never got into Sons of Anarchy so next I saw him in Pacific Rim which is far and away my favorite movie of 2013. So when I heard he was going to be at this con I was very excited.

What I really wanted to do was come up with something to say to him that would be as interesting for him as meeting him would be for me. I wanted to say something intelligent, or kind, or anything other than something a squeeing fangirl might say. Unfortunately I could not come up with something to say so, on Saturday, the first time I went through his autograph line I just smiled, shook his hand and said, “Thank you.” Ok, so not very articulate but not too embarrassing. He was charming and gracious.

Then I discovered that someone else in my party also wanted his autograph but had had to get cash. So, I agreed to stand in line with her the next time he was singing autographs to keep her company. That’s twice in one day I met him and he was very kind. THEN, because I had managed not to make a complete fool of my self by saying anything dumb, my nephew found out about the autograph opportunity and, since he doesn’t live in town and it was far too late and too expensive for his parents to ship him in for the con he begged me to get him a signed photo of Hellboy. What could I do? So Sunday I stood in line for the third time, feeling like a total dork because I had gone about this the most inefficient way possible and here I was for the THIRD time getting an autograph.

Mr. Perlman was gracious and if he recognized me (probably since I wore my steampunk cosplay each day), he didn’t make any comments about how many times I’d stood in line to see him this weekend–bless his heart for his kindness.

Ron Perlman is very good to his fans and he gets into character a little bit for each different character photo he signs. I’m glad I got to meet him, even if I could barely string two words together. Also one of his fans drew a picture of a dragon for him and he thanked her for it when she gave it to him. He said it was very nice. I would say it was totally worth standing in line three times to meet him. K.

Captain America cosplay Portland Comic Con

Captain America cosplay Portland Comic Con

Jason Raines at Portland Comic Con

Artist Jason Raines Promotional Flyer

Artist Jason Raines Promotional Flyer

Artist Jason Raines Promotional Flyer

That’s right, gentle reader, this weekend is the Portland Comic Con. I know I haven’t hyped this event like I should have and for that I apologize. I’d like to start off my reporting on the event with this experience I had on Friday.

I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of being present at a discussion Jason Raines had with another aspiring artist and was able to interview him informally at the Portland Comic Con this weekend. What caught my eye on his table was an absolutely stunning and temporally impossible two-page spread of dinosaurs ridden by barbarians arrayed across an immense battlefield across from the war machinery of a modern army. The scene was a moment captured in time before these two massive armies clashed like waves dashing against the rocks of a cliff.

A teen who was an aspiring artist was also at the table and Jason was gracious and happy to talk to her about art and even took the time to look at a phone photo of one of her pictures and encourage her to keep working. He told her that at her age he hadn’t even gotten into art the way she already was. What a wonderful thing to tell a budding artist. What an encouraging and thoughtful man he is. He could have shooed her on, focusing on paying customers. Instead he was happy to take some time out of his day to talk to her and share some art stories.

She asked how long it took him to draw the dinosaur/tank armies and he said around a month. She asked him if he ever felt like he’d never get finished with it and he said, “all the time.” He went on to say that, “Sometimes when I’m working on a big detailed piece and I’m doing the details it seems like it’s going to go on forever. And sometimes I’m working and I’m so caught up in the drawing that I fall asleep working on it.”

(I’m kind of paraphrasing the last sentence or two a bit since I felt it would be rude to whip out my phone and start taking notes but that’s the jist of what he said.)

They laughed about getting in trouble at school for drawing when they should be doing other work. Jason told her that every class is art class. And then it turns out he plays the guitar to which the teen girl smiled excitedly and told him she plays the flute. He finished by telling her to keep working on her art and how at first you love your main characters but then as you start to put them into settings you learn to draw everything as you bring your main characters to life drawing them. He told her at first you may hate drawing plants but then one day you draw these plants and they’re so realistic to live up to your characters that you look at them and think, “Wow these are great plants.” It was just a heart-warming conversation and I felt privileged to be there to witness it.

When they were finished talking I had the chance to talk to Jason a bit. I complemented him on one of his larger posters that had a fully armored woman with guns. It’s nice to see real armor and not the chainmail bikini. He was excited about that too. “Armor that actually can perform the function it was designed for, crazy right?” (Again a paraphrase.) We talked about a couple of memes about the chainmail bikini armor and how that’s completely impractical. It was a delight to meet an artist who took the material seriously enough not to sacrifice plausibility for objectification. Not that he doesn’t have some scantily clad bunnies (see Dust Bunny—which looks like a cute idea that plays on a cultural icon of sorts) in his collection but it seems that the ones I saw had a reason beyond objectification, just to give credit where credit is due.

Jason Raines has an extensive and impressive resume when it comes to comic illustration and animation. He worked in Hollywood doing animation and design for movies and television for 10 years before returning to Portland where he keeps a day job in animation and works on comics at night. Art is truly his passion and joy.

Dust Bunny and Mechismo half sheet promo by Jason Raines

Dust Bunny and Mechismo half sheet promo by Jason Raines

From what I saw of the characters Mr. Raines is currently illustrating he has a certain amount of whimsy about his work. There is a bit of humor and perhaps even poking a bit of fun at the standard comic tropes, but in the way of someone who loves comics. Over all, I just thoroughly enjoyed the ten or so minutes he had to talk to me and to the teen girl. Jason Raines is just a very excellent artist and human being and you can tell he loves being an artist. It lights up his whole being when he talks about it and he is so generous with his praise of others and time. Check out his web site at Jasoneraines.com and the comic site Capes and Heels where his latest creations are coming to life, as his half sheet advertisement says: soon(ish).

(I did ask for permission from both Jason Raines and the teen girl and her parents to share this story. I chose not to name the teenager just because I feel it is safer for her.) PS I’m hoping to get Ron Perlman’s autograph today because I loved him in Hellboy and Pacific Rim (natch). K.

Movie Review: Daimajin & Return of Daimajin

Diamajin DVD Cover
Diamajin DVD Cover

Diamajin DVD Cover

Daimajin
Return of Daimajin
Studio: Daiei Co
Producer: Masaichi Nagata
Writer: Tetsuro Toshida

So I heard about this old Japanese monster movie Daimajin at the Kaiju of Pacific Rim panel at the Rose City Comic Con. Now I have been a Godzilla fan since I can remember and I tend to enjoy giant monster movies. I like the kaiju stomping through cities and the countryside and I appreciate the relative lack of gore. I enjoy the morality stories embedded in the plots and I like the old school mad scientist vibe they have. So when one of the members of the Kaiju panel was asked what his favorite monster was that hadn’t been mentioned during the panel discussion Daimajin was his answer and I immediately took note so I could hunt it down. (Godzilla came up during the discussion. Of course he did, he’s the first Kaiju and the undisputed King of the Monsters.)

Daimajin was produced by Daiei Co in 1966, the same fine studio that gave us Gamera. While not black and white the films (there are three, all made the same year) have that feel about them and have recently been made avalable on a region 1 DVD through Mill Creek Entertainment. Although I tried to turn off the subtitles it didn’t work, which could be operator error and to be honest I enjoy reading the subtitles. In this case they were particularly entertaining as they had little to do with what the voice actors said.

****Warning MAJOR SPOILERS****

My first impression is that there was a lot, and I mean a LOT of plot getting in the way of the monster. Not that I mind a good story but I was looking for a monster movie. After thinking about it for a bit I realized that these stories seem to be patterned after, if not actual retellings of, Japanese myths, fairy tales or legends of some kind. This makes them all the more interesting if you ask me.

The first two, Daimajin and Return of Daimajin both follow a similar plot. In Daimajin an orphan taken in by a local nobel plots to attack and wipe out the nobel and his family during a holy ritual the villagers (serfs) perform each year to keep the evil spirit of the mountain trapped by the statue of a good god. Legend has it that the evil spirit was defeated by a warrior and entrapped in the mountain. An elder priestess leads the ritual and intercedes for the people with the god to keep the spirit trapped.

What follows is an ancient morality tale wherein the evil and ungrateful orphan murders the nobel and his wife while a faithful servant rescues the children, a boy and a girl. The priestess hides them on the holy mountain and for 10 years while the evil overlord’s minions hunt for them, provides them with what food and clothing they need. Meanwhile the villagers are treated brutally, forced to work without adequate food or shelter and with no concern for their health or their families.

Finally the young prince and his faithful servant are of age to free their oppressed people. First the servant is captured then the prince when he tries to rescue his friend. The priestess goes to warn the Evil Overlord that his actions are angering the god. He kills her for challenging his absolute authority and sends his minions, who betrayed their former lord for him, to destroy the statue. The climax comes when the princess is captured by the Evil Overlord’s minions and told that her brother and faithful servant are to be executed at daybreak the following day and that they are going to destroy the holy statue.

The princess tries to protect a child who came to the mountain to plead with the god to rescue his father and is taken captive by the evil minions. Once they reach the top of the mountain she tries to protect the statue but in the face of so many armed men cannot. So she falls to her knees and prays to it. All seems lost when the men begin to drive a huge spike into the statues forehead. Then the statue bleeds. Terrified the men flee only to be swallowed up by an earthquake. The girl once again falls before the statue and pleads with it to save her brother. Finally she offers to sacrificer herself to the god if only it will save her brother. She even runs to the nearby waterfall to throw herself over but is prevented by the child and then another earthquake.

The statue comes free from the mountain and marches down to the village where her brother and the faithful servant are to be executed. Since the sun is already rising Daimajin becomes a ball of lightening or magic to cross the distance in time to save the prince and his friend. He kills the evil overlord with the very spike that had been driven into his own forehead (that’s a nice touch). Then, still in a rage the giant statue god starts to head for the village where all of the poor villagers are.

The young child tries to stop it but falls right in front of it. Horrified the princess runs and throws her own body over the child to shield him. Daimajin stops, foot upraised and after a moment steps back. The princess pleads with the god to spare the people for they are innocent and as her tear strikes it’s titanic stone foot it relents, then crumbles to dust.

The Return of Daimajin is similar in that it is about a good and kindly lord verses a cruel and greedy lord who attacks the country for its riches and disrespects the people’s god. This time the statue is on an island and is destroyed by the evil invader. Once again it is a princess who has a kind and noble heart who calls the god to save her betrothed and people.

Knowing more what to expect, I found the second movie more enjoyable than the first but both are quite good. They are from 1966 so the special effects are not what we might expect from one of todays blockbusters but I saw no strings and the models were well done. I haven’t had time to watch the third one but I am looking forward to it. K.

Movies I’m Looking Forward To In 2014

Official Godzilla Poster

Official Godzilla Poster

Official Godzilla Poster

This being the start of a new year I thought it might be apropos to share some of the movies I’m looking forward to seeing in 2014.

Of course Godzilla. I am in a state of heightened anticipation for the new Godzilla movie. Legendary Pictures, which did Pacific Rim–so you know the special effects will be superlative; has teamed up with Warner Brothers to produce a new Godzilla movie. Unlike the Sony/Tristar pictures Godzilla (Notgodzilla) of 1998 this Godzilla looks like Godzilla. From what I’ve seen of the trailer and the snippets of teasers released so cleverly at the Godzilla encounter web site, it looks like director Gareth Edwards and writers Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham have returned to Godzilla’s roots.

Once again Godzilla is a force of nature, an avatar for nuclear destruction and war. Also very territorial so that Godzilla doesn’t so much save humanity as defend his turf from interlopers and invaders. Rather than a benevolent and perhaps even friendly (ugh) creature as we saw in the 70’s, Godzilla is once again a terrifying titan stomping over the Earth. Due for theatrical release on May 16, I am already counting down the days. Actually I don’t have to, Godzilla movies.com is already doing it for me. Please enjoy the trailer. It played on the big screen before The Desolation of Smaug.

In Saturn's Rings

In Saturn’s Rings

Next up is a little independent film called In Saturn’s Rings. I wrote about this previously and I’m still excited about it. Filmmaker Stephen Van Vuuren has taken in excess of 1.2 million still photographs of Saturn and our solar system as taken by NASA’s Cassini, Hubble and other space craft and is threading them together in an amazing movie about the wonders of our universe that will culminate in a flythrough of the Saturnian system. It’s spectacular to watch and the beauty is not only a testament to the wonder of our universe but also the painstaking care of the filmmaker in putting these together with innovative visual techniques he invented himself. The film is being made in 6k resolution and will be shown on massive concert screens, IMAX and dome screens.

In Saturn’s Rings has already reached it’s Kickstarter goals but they can still use donations, this is an independent film. It is set for release sometime in 2014. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it because I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed film. This is the trailer and it is breathtaking.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How To Train Your Dragon 2

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is coming out in 2014 and I got goosebumps once again watching Toothless and Hiccup fly in the trailer.

Also:

Avengers: Age of Ultron. Oh yes. I’ll be seeing this one. Joss Whedon is once again at the helm and I’ve been a Marvel girl forever.

Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Anne Hathaway, looks like it could be a good science fiction romp. This movie involves a wormhole which space farers use to travel vast distances. With such a sparse plot overview to base anything on I’d have to give it even odds. If they play it straight it could become a classic of the genera. If they don’t trust the material or the idea and throw stuff in to make it more “exciting,” it’ll be another Sunshine or Event Horizon.

The Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, also looks interesting, although with a premise that could lead to confusion and ruin the impact the movie is going for. If the writers and director handle it right it could be a classic, if they don’t it’ll sink. While that is technically true of every movie, any movie where time travel or reincarnation is a major plot point carries a higher inherent risk than more straightforward, linear movies.

Guardians of The Galaxy, yeah I’ll give that one a try. It always reminded me of the Justice League a bit and I never really warmed up to it. Speaking of the Justice League. There’s Supposed to be a Justice League movie coming out. I haven’t been as impressed by the DC attempts at making their comics into movies but Batman and Superman were good and it’s about time Wonder Woman made an appearance. Maybe this time DC will treat the woman like a human being as opposed to self-propelled eye candy for men ala Catwoman. That would be a vast improvement.

X-Men Days of Future Past also is on the list. I was an X-Man fan before I became a Marvel girl and I was very disappointed with what they did in the third movie of the first attempt to build a franchise out of this team. I hope they stay true to the characters.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Transcendence are others I’ll probably check out. Ant-Man rates a solid “Meh” in my opinion. I’ve never liked the character and I actually despised him when he beat and tried to murder Wasp. I don’t think wife beaters are heroes, I don’t care how you try to spin it and I don’t care what else they do, the fact is that they are bullies and monsters.

Now most of these movies I’ll end up watching when they hit DVD or Netflix. I don’t go to many movies in the theater so it’s kind of a big deal when I do. I will see Godzilla and In Saturn’s Rings in the theater and also the Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While not likely in 2014 I keep hearing whispers of a sequel to Pacific Rim. You can rest assured if that ever becomes official I will be all over it.

Those are some of my picks for movies to see in 2014. I hope everyone of you has a year filled with hope, love and opportunity. K.