Category Archives: current events

Jesusita Fire

Howdy Folks,

Here’s an update on the fire in Santa Barbara. We are currently safe and not in the evacuation area. So far, the fire is north of us on the other side of the freeway. The fire has been spreading out east and west.

The fire has been named the Jesusita Fire (named for a trail near its origin). It’s over 2700 acres, over 75 homes confirmed destroyed (we know there’s a lot more). 5000 homes in the evacuation area, 12000 people affected.

Over 2300 firefighters. Lots of ash in the air. Here’s the map with evacuation areas marked:

I’ll be twittering status about our household if you want to follow @alanirwin

You can also follow the twitter topic #jesusitafire

The weather is just kicking our ass.

Love to all

San Diego Comic-Con 2008, Day 5

SDCCI, Day 5 LineHere’s the last write-up on this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. The fifth and last day of the Con (including the preview night) is both a relief and a sadness. There aren’t as many pictures from this day, but I was just as active, walking the exhibition hall and sitting in on a couple of panels. Here’s the final exhibition hall opening line photo.

SDCCI, ArtistsI attended the Live Art Jam; another fund raising event for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Four well known comic artists draw sketches for over an hour and talk a bit about their process. At one end of the table is a station equipped with an overhead camera, and the images are projected onto a big screen. The artists take turns sitting at that station allowing you to see what they are doing while they describe it. I find it fascinating even though I don’t do a lot of drawing. These guys are the best in their field, and it’s mesmerizing to see them working.

SDCCI, DrawingThis is Jim Lee who is one of the two or three top comic artists working today. He talked about adding various effects to a drawing, and one of them was a technique he had never tried before. He asked for (and received) a tampon from the audience and used it as a brush to add the dark broad strokes in the drawing. In the end, he wasn’t too happy with the technique because the tampon was too absorbent. He couldn’t get the dry-brush effect he wanted. Still, the sketch was frickin’ awesome.

In the end, all the pieces drawn during the event are auctioned off (hence the fund-raising aspect of the event). I believe the Jim Lee Batman piece sold for close to $2000.

SDCCI, CrowdAlthough you can’t tell from this shot, the show starts to run down in the afternoon of the last day. Marketers are trying to unload the last of their give-aways, the vendors are offering big discounts to unload their wares, and the professionals behind the booths are just trying to unload. Folks are tired.

SDCCI, San DiegoI did a final walk through the exhibition hall, and at one point went upstairs to pack up the items I put in the Art Show (nothing sold, unfortunately). I got this shot looking outside at the Gas Lamp district of San Diego. I left the Con at about 4:00 in the afternoon and headed back to Santa Barbara.

All in all, it was a fantastic show. I don’t recommend it for everyone (okay, I recommend it for a very few, actually) but it fully fed my geeky soul. Or something.

Here are the last few costume photos I took. Enjoy!

SDCCI, Sweeny ToddSDCCI, Egyptian
SDCCI, Predator 2SDCCI, Predator
SDCCI, Devil Cheerleaders

San Diego Comic-Con 2008, Day 4

SDCCI, Day 4I’m writing this after getting home from the Con. The last couple of days started early and ended late, so I didn’t get a chance to make the posts at the end of those days. It’s time to catch-up, and I’ll stick to a daily summary.

This is your traditional picture of the starting gate on day 4. These lines are surprisingly orderly considering the size of the crowd.

SDCCI, Lego Batman and RobinThere are a surprising number of Lego statues throughout the exhibition hall. Although this particular depiction is rather cartoonish, there are a number of intense statues of the Dark night and other large characters.

SDCCI, PikachooCertain booths stand out because of the sheer size of their props. A gigantic, inflated Pickachoo was one of those landmark sites in the exhibition hall.

I’ve pretty much kept to sampling a small number of these booths with pictures. I could put up hundreds of interesting pictures of the various booths and their decorative themes. Comic booths, toy booths, movie and TV booths, gaming booths, book publisher’s booths, and collectible booths all are trying to get your attention with banners, statues, celebrities, and booth babes. It takes something pretty impressive to stand out.

SDCCI, Lynda BarrySpeaking of impressive, Linda Barry is one of the cartoonists that was a guest of the convention. She has a new book out and I had the chance to get her autograph on my copy. It was also one of the few things I picked up that I knew Harriet would enjoy, so I had her sign it to both of us. Linda Barry is one of the nicest people, and as I left she wanted me to be sure to say “hi” to Harriet for her.

SDCCI, Low Tech BattleThroughout the Con, this group puts on full combat demonstrations with classic armor from a variety of historic periods. The weapons are not made from steel, but from wood and plastic. They do provide full contact and you can hear the WHACK of the swords striking the armor. Tagging the head is a “killing blow” and the receiving player must drop to the ground and die. The last one standing (or in this case, the last team standing) wins. It’s all very exciting to watch.

SDCCI, AuctionSaturday has a lot of the TV and movie panels that are super popular (i.e. CROWDED). I skip those, and spend most of the day on the floor visiting the smaller publishers and artists. However, there is a benefit auction in the early evening, and I really enjoy attending that. Quite a bit of original art and unusual collectibles are available, and the auctioneer is fantastic. It’s worth attending just to watch him.

SDCCI, Masquerade ScreensAnd later in the evening is the grand event: The Masquerade. Just calling this a costume show is a disservice to the amount of effort that goes into these small performance pieces. Each entry consists of costumes and some sort of song or skit that adds a level of musical theater. This stone-like character (think of the creatures from Galaxy Quest) danced to the Queen tune with the lyrics “We will rock you.”

SDCCI, Masquerade FairesYou can see the number of screens that display what’s happening on the stage. Although that gives you a sense of the size of this room, what you don’t know is that the same images are transmitted to two additional conference spaces and the large open area in the upstairs part of the convention center (the Sails Pavilion). This event is wildly popular, and there’s cheering for favorites, and boos for underwhelming performances. It’s a complete spectacle.


There are 40 something entries, and the event goes on until well after midnight. I didn’t stick around for the final judging, or I’d still be there. It is a lot of fun due to all of the enthusiasm displayed, and some of the pieces are so inside the geekway that no gets all the references. That just makes it even more fun.

I’ll close with a random selection of pictures of costumes from today.

SDCCI, Batman and WonderwomanSDCCI, White Queen

SDCCI, SteampunkSDCCI, High Tech Battle

SDCCI, Dr. WhosSDCCI, Anubis

SDCCI, 60\'s Batman, Robin, CatwomanSDCCI, Simpsons

SDCCI, Star Wars

San Diego Comic-Con 2008, Day 3

SDCCI, Day 3 LineI’m not sure why I like starting each day’s post with a picture of the line to get into the exhibition hall. It’s oddly masochistic about it, but I think it captures something about why I like coming to this event. In the same way music fans will wait for concert tickets,or sports fans will line up for tickets to a game, there’s some sort of commonality that bonds us. There are people of all ages in that line. I’m not the oldest (or baldest). All races and genders are pretty well represented. It’s a geek nation.

SDCCI, PinballOr maybe I’m just too damn tired. I don’t think I’m going to be as chatty in this post. Although these pictures are from my third day here, I’m actually writing this at dawn on the fourth day and I’m just starting to wear down. I’ve got a bunch of costume pictures which I’ll use to fill up the end of this post.

SDCCI, CastleToday I focused on getting through the most crowded part of the show: the movie and TV booths. There are a lot of them here, from Warner Brothers and Paramount to the Sci Fi Channel and even IFC! They have elaborate booths with lots of props from their shows and promotional swag. I particularly liked the old-school pinball machine with the Dark Knight theme in a show where the most cutting edge video games are being promoted.

SDCCI, SylarThere are a variety of TV and movie stars at booths and wandering the crowds. Some are sponsored by promoters for signing events at their booths, others are here for panels discussing their movies or shows. Pictured here is Zachary Quinto who plays Sylar in the Heros TV show, and Spock in the new Star Trek movie coming out next year (oh yeah, baby!). He was wandering through the exhibition hall in the same way Kevin Spacey was yesterday, and Samuel L. Jackson was today (picture and discussion, later). There are hundreds of actors here to the delight of their fans.

SDCCI, BatcycleThe old school genre stuff is also represented. Here’s a Batgirl motorcycle based on the old Batman TV show, and Yvonne Craig (who played Batgirl) was in the Hot Wheels booth. They were promoting the releasing of their hot-wheels version of the bat-cycles (which will be appearing in one IR Software Engineer’s office in a few days).

SDCCI, Pretty PonyBesides the TV and movie booth, I did get through the rest of the show today. And to continue my quest of illustrating the breadth of pop culture represented here, this is the Pretty Pony display. This case was filled with ceramic models of the popular “girls” toy, painted with different designs and patterns. It was in the middle of the big toy manufacture’s section: Hasbro, Lego, Mattel, etc.

SDCCI, Gaming CrowdI really did get through all 52 rows of booths today (not the 56 I mistakenly reported yesterday). At that end are the video game manufacturers. I took this shot just to show the crowds at that end, and they are as well represented as the rest of the show.

I got to several conference talks today, including a discussion of visual story telling, trends in comic collecting, and a discussion of web-comics. Unfortunately I dozed in all of them. No reflection on the quality of the panels, just an expression of my lack of sleep.

SDCCI, KlingonThe evening events were particularly interesting. I started with the Klingon Lifestyles presentation. Every year, a fan based club puts on a short play focused on the crew of the ISS Stranglehold – a Klingon warship. I won’t say that the quality of the writing or the performance are high, but the enthusiasm of the performers and the crowd make this one of my favorite events at the Con. And it’s popular! There was a huge crowd that actually broke into a Klingon drinking song at one point in the play.

SDCCI, Samual JacksonAt the end of the day, I attended the Eisner Awards ceremony. This is the big award event of the industry, and as comics are becoming increasingly popular as the spawning ground of movie properties, we are seeing the stature of award presenters getting higher in profile. Yup, that’s Samuel L. Jackson who showed up to give out some awards. Several actors from TV and movies were award presenters, as well as major players from within the industry. This event has a lot of the features you’ll see at the Oscars or other high profile awards ceremonies including tearful thank yous and enthusiastic underdog winners. Also, longer than expected timing since I didn’t get back to my hotel until well after midnight.

SDCCI, Imperial PilotSo that’s it for the day. I’ll go out on a selection of photos of folks in costume.

SDCCI, Little LeiaSDCCI, Little AmabalaSDCCI, PunctuationSDCCI, GameSDCCI, Awards StormtroopersSDCCI, JediSDCCI, JaffarSDCCI, WarriorSDCCI, JabbaSDCCI, SpiritSDCCI, Ghost BustersSDCCI, Black CatSDCCI, FeathersSDCCI, SpiderWoman & Nick FurySDCCI, Fashion Show

San Diego Comic-Con 2008, Day 2

SDCCI, Day 2Yup, that’s the crowd waiting in-line for the show to open on Thursday, the first official day of the show (yesterday was Preview Night).

Actually, only the front half of the people in this shot are in the line. In the background are people walking through the main open space of the show (this is the second floor of the convention center). However, you are not seeing the overflow of this line, nor are you seeing the second line which enters at the other side of the hall (and equivalent in length to this line). Remember, all 4 days of the show have sold out in advance, there are NO ticket sales at the door. There’s lots-o’-people, and I’m in my position only because I showed up 90 minutes before the doors opened.

SDCCI, CrowdI was much more organized about the show today. I focused on the lower numbered rows which tend to be small publishers, comics retailers, and collectible retailers. There are a mix of other folks, but this is the end that doesn’t get the massive crowds of the movie, TV, and main stream publishers. I took this picture from one end of the show, and you can see the row numbers, with 100 and 200 above my head. Just for perspective, you can see how the numbering is by hundreds, and you can see quite a few rows, but it fades off in the distance. The highest numbered row in the show is 5600. It’s at the other end of this cavernous area. There’s a lot-o’-show.

SDCCI, SideshowSideshow is a manufacturer of high end collectible figures and props from major movies, TV, and other franchises. I included this shot to give a feel for the range of vendors here. Plus that’s a cool Iron Man figure (about 1/2 life size), and a bunch of really cool helmets.

SDCCI, JedI rarely see anyone I know at the shows. Yesterday I mentioned running into Jed and Wayne, and then today I ran into Jed again. I had just finished taking a picture of someone in a costume, so I decided to give Jed the same treatment. My hope was that others in the crowd would assume he was in costume & take pictures of him. No such luck.

During the show, there’s a fair bit of street theater that goes on as promotion for movies or TV shows. This was my favorite one of the day because it took a second for me to realize what was going on.

SDCCI, Vampire RightsOn my way back to my room to dump off the load-o’-goodies I had bought that morning, I was approached to sign a petition. It was worded in a vague way, and I was trying to understand it when I was approached by a second fellow telling me the petition was “against vampires”. He asked me to sign his petition which was “for vampires.” These guys were going through the crowd getting folks to sign petitions either for or against vampires. It made me laugh, and of course I signed the petition for vampires. I’m all about the diversity.

SDCCI, Podcast PanelThere’s a whole conference going on outside of the exhibits and vendors. The presentations range from discussions of breaking into comics, improving your drawing, writing, and production, how to cast resin models, the literary and educational aspects of comics, to panels of actors and producers from the current and upcoming movies and TV shows. Today I attended a discussion of independent comics producers and also the one pictured here: the comics podcast panel. I listen to a lot of comics related podcasts, and pictured here are representatives from Comic Geek Speak, Indie Spinner Rack, and Comic News Insider.

SDCCI, Mummy PromoHere’s another promotional event for the latest movie in the Mummy franchise. A park area outside of a hotel was filled with these simulated Xian terra cotta warriors. The movie takes place in China, with an ancient Chinese warlord animated as some sort of mummy. It was an impressive exhibit.

SDCCI, Star Wars Fan Film AwardsEvents go late into the night, and on tonights schedule was the 7th Annual Star Wars Fan Film Awards. Every year, the Lucas Films company in conjunction with Atom Films, reviews the large number of fan produced films and gives out a variety of awards. This year there were 8 categories ranging from best special effects to the George Lucas Selects Award. Lucas is a big supporter of independent film producers, and he provides a lot of support to fan films that are based on the Star Wars franchise. This is the big theater hall before the rest of the crowd arrived. I’d say it ended up being half full.

SDCCI, Renee O\'ConnorMost of the award presenters are exec’s and directors at Lucas Films, but there are a couple of celebrities. This is Renee O’Connor, who played Gabriel in the Xena TV series (yeah, I put this in for you, Diane). She gave the visual effects award to the film Ryan vs. Dorkman II (which was a really amazing short film about 2 guys having a laser sword fight).

SDCCI, Kevin SpaceyThe rest of you will recognize Kevin Spacey, who was there to promote the movie Fan Boys, which he produced. He spoke very kindly of Comic-Con and I must say the movie looks pretty damn funny – especially to fans of Star Wars movies. He’s no Katee Sackhoff, but the crowd treated him warmly (anyone … actress in Battlestar Galactica … plays Starbuck …. <sigh>).

SDCCI, Wolverine & Spider DogI’ll end the post with photos of folks in costumes. This is a very small fraction of the total number of costumes. People are there as individual characters, as a costumed couple, and in organized groups. This was a particularly fun costumed pair, and the spider-dog was particularly sweet. He’s in a Wolverine costume (for the geek impaired).

SDCCI, Slavegirl LeiaSDCCI, Furry 1SDCCI, Costume ?SDCCI, GamerSDCCI, Tankgirl