Friday, September 12, 2008

I saw a man and he danced with his wife.

Chicago was very beautiful and lots of fun. Short, but lots of fun. I was able to have a decent walk around, as I like to do in the cities I travel to. I was staying in Lincoln Park which is a really nice green and old style area. I walked to the park and on my way purchased the best damn sandwich I have ever had (thanks, Dustin!). It was so jam-packed with different kinds of meat (not jam), salad and really tasty sauce/mayonnaise/mustard. I chose a good date to arrive in Chicago, as there was an air show festival running over the weekend. I sat down in the park to enjoy my sanga and all these fancy planes started doing loops and twirls and dives and things.

I was feeling a little edgy and tense, as Chicago was really the first stop in my crazy travel adventure. You know, unfamiliar territory and all that jazz. I had been to Los Angeles last year and I was there this time for about 2 weeks, so I had plenty of time to get settled. Anyway, Chicago had me a little unbalanced initially. So I went to the driving range in Lincoln Park and smacked away a 100 or so balls. The range had a great view of the city and I was able to loosen up a little, which is the effect that golf usually has on me. Except when I putt – I’m awful and get the shits really easily. Isn’t that the great thing about golf? You’re in such a relaxing environment and playing a supposedly very slow paced game, yet can suffer extreme, mental anguish over the tiniest thing. Beautiful sport.

Back to Chicago – I kept cruising around and then arranged to meet up with my friend, Mattie. I hadn’t seen her for ages and we caught up for a quick meal before we went on to visit her work (which is a really funky place – ‘Midori Park’ – check it out if you’re ever in Chicago). Mattie is the coolest gal’ in town, so make sure you order from her! I had some outstanding coconut martinis.

My next stop was to get a pizza. Chicago pizza. The one with the deep dish. Boy, do I love a good pizza, and this one was a taste sensation. I had to line up for about 20 minutes, and then it takes them at least 45 minutes to prepare the pizza. So it was almost an hour and a half before I was able to lay into my meal. I had a big ole' salad and a delicious red wine (always great with pizza) with my salami pie, and the only negative thing in whole experience, was that the Olympics were on and I had to witness Phelps slay us again. Grr.

I had really wanted to go to either an improv show or a jazz bar, but it was so late by the time I left Gino’s Pizza restaurant that I had to get back to Lincoln Park. It’s ok though, as I know I’ll be returning to Chicago, soon enough. I was an idiot, and didn’t plan nearly enough time in Chicago, but I also had a timeline to work to. If you’re doing a big travel trip and not a quick, planned trip somewhere, spend a good amount of time to really take in your surrounding environment. It’s not always possible, but if you can, don’t feel the need to ‘rush off’ to your remaining destinations. Enjoy it, even if all you do is sit around in a park or an all-you-can-eat buffet. What? I’ve never done that.

No, seriously I haven’t…but I think the idea has potential. Has anyone done that before?

Ok, lecture over.

The next day I had to head off early in the morning to the airport. It was so early and I didn’t have nearly enough energy to lug my heavy-arse suitcase and bag. It ended up being a useless effort anyway, because I gave up my ticket to an elderly lady and waited until the next flight. I got free ticket out of it though…so, not a bad deal.

The plane was bloody freezing and I was only wearing a t-shirt, shorts and thongs, because I was warm every other flight. Stupid unpredictable airlines. Then I slept through Kung-Fu Panda, which I was rather disappointed about. Not because it was bad, just because I was so tired.

Then, I touched down in New York!

*Dramatic music and cut away to credits*

Oh yeah, if anyone gets the reference in the title of this blog're awesome. Conrad, you don't count. You're not awesome.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Update and Comic-Con of the San Diego variety.

Alright, to all those people who have been writing to me asking when I will update my blog (those people don’t exist), I am going to put you out of your misery. I will post everything in separate posts, so you don’t have to read a completely massive single entry. I’ll add them over the next couple of days, and make sure you check out the corresponding photos!

The last few weeks have been pretty fast moving, so I haven’t had so much time to sit down and write. However, it has been an absolute blast. I can’t express it (good for a blog, you say). This last month and a bit has been the best time of my life, to date. Comic-Con was once again the satisfying and fulfilling experience I expected it to be. The lines were RIDICULOUS this year, but it didn’t push me to the point of exaggeration (much). I went to a bunch of fantastic panels (the ones we didn’t miss…grr…See? I am bitter) and met some legendary voice actors. I’ve said it a couple of times, but for me the convention is a great hit of inspiration and a yearly ‘kick in the pants’ to get me going. Very good.

The majority of my idols attended Comic-Con this year, as shown in the Facebook photos. If you aren’t on Facebook, get an account and add me! (Yeah, now….what? Why? This blog ain’t goin’ anywhere). Highlights were meeting Chris Edgerly, Dee Baker and Phil LaMarr for the first time, the Kevin Smith panel (I was crying), Deepak Chopra and Grant Morrison, the American Dad and Family Guy panels and most of all, a sensational breakfast with the great, prolific and talented Maurice LaMarche and three brilliant friends – Sherry, Madeleine and Jaime. Plus I have never met Maddy in person before, so it was very cool to meet my internet buddy from Sweden. It was a very inspiring meeting overall. Although I believe no person has the right to be arrogant and conceited, Moe is so approachable and generous, despite his fame and immense talent. It’s refreshing to see that in someone. He shared some great stories with us (not to mention impressions and characters galore) and gave us a lot of his time.

Other random things during the Con were going out (late nights, every night). We went to a really great place called ‘Yardhouse’ which sports over 200 beers and it’s special feature is the ‘half yard’ glass. Great beers – I’ll have to get back again and try the whole 200!

I also had my first Quizno sub (even though I think you can find them in Australia, apparently) and I just kept thinking of the American Dad quote every time I had one.

We also returned to the Irish Pub that we went to last year, which was a nice novelty. I’m pretty sure I had exactly the same meal as last time, too. New York steak and Guinness. There was this really talented muso there, playing all sorts of hits (mostly classic rock) as a one man band. I asked him if he knew any CCR, and he played ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’ – that made my night. There are some pretty fun photos of the four of us (Jaime, Sherry, Madeleine and I). I’ll add photos to the blog eventually, but for now, it’s too much effort.

I was also lucky enough to go to the Video Games Live concert, on the first night of Comic Con. I have wanted to go to that show for YEARS. Since it first came out I’ve been waiting for it to come to Australia, but…no go. However, the timing lined up perfectly and I lived my dream. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Video Games Live is a massive concert with performers and a live orchestra playing a variety of music from many different video games. As a lover of both games and an orchestral musician, this was huge! There was also a surprise guest (I could feel Jaime’s head explode beside me) – Dee Baker. Dee is a ridiculously talented voice actor, and is probably most famous for his work as Klaus on American Dad. However, he also does a lot of video games and in particular, he does ‘vocal effects’ – Monsters, screams, aliens belching, ceiling fans…you name it, he can probably do the sound. Anyway, the orchestra played selections from the score of Gears of War (XBOX 360) and Dee stood there with a microphone creating incredible noises. That man is simply inhuman. There was also a guy who won a recent Guitar Hero contest, and they had him play along with a song on ‘expert’ difficulty, accompanied by the orchestra.

It was such a great performance – they covered so many games. From Space Invaders, Mario, Final Fantasty, Zelda…to a massive Metal Gear Solid medley. Totally grouse!!!

I also got to spend some time at the harbour at nighttime, which was beeeeautiful. I have really enjoyed visiting the marinas throughout my trip, as they remind me of home.

So, Comic-Con was an overall loud and boisterous success. I would love to go back again next year (for the 40th annual convention) but time will tell if it’s a possibility!

Oh, here is a random tip for future travelers (I'm sure I'll be full of these):

Don’t let yourself get sick.

I didn’t get badly sick, because I hardly ever get sick. BUT – you don’t want to sacrifice your health for going out and having a great big night on the town, ‘just because you’re travelling’. It’s harder to recover when you keep pushing yourself to your limits. Trust me, I did it in San Diego. Of course, it's always hard to fight peer pressure, but sometimes ya just need a night or day to recuperate. If your trip is shorter - no problem, but if you're travelling for a while, it's likely you'll keep going downhill.

Another tip, for anyone taking a laptop along on their travels – Be extremely careful of what Wi-Fi spots you connect to. Not that anything happened to me, but I have seen some extremely enticing, yet dodgy unsecure access points. If you are usually not wary of such things, pay particular attention and only connect to internet access points that have been recommended to you. When in New York, I saw a wireless ad-hoc connection titled “FREE INTERNET”. Oy.

SO. Next up, some thoughts from the VOICE conference in Los Angeles. Or maybe Chicago and New York – I’m not sure yet. I should really try to do things chronologically, right? Otherwise you’d probably get confused. I’d love to hear comments from you. Mainly to find out what’s happening back home or on your side of the world, but also to hear whether you want more or less detail. A simple “Matt, you’re boring” or “Matt, you’re as vague as traffic lights in Athens” (more on that in the near future).

Thanks for reading, and there’s more coming soon.