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18 November 2015 @ 09:44 pm
Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of my al-time favorite newspaper comic strips: "Calvin and Hobbes!" It first appeared in 35 newspapers (my local paper didn't pick it up until maybe 1988 or 1989.) Here is the very first strip...

Look how goofy Calvin's head appears in the second panel, and how stylized the car looks. The early strips did appear primitive, but they sure were fun. Bill Watterson was amazing with his art style as the strip went on; I especially liked how he drew backgrounds and props very realistically, while the human characters were drawn rather cartoony. A fun example from 1993...

Nice touch making the locomotives be GE freight diesels!

He also drew some great-looking dinosaurs...

OK, this one may gross people out, but I enjoy how realistically-rendered the fly appears. I also love the detailing on the props, including the cookie, and the parents' expressions are hilarious!

Here's the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that ran in the papers the day I was born!

And now I'll close my post with this, as that Christmas Creep has really been, well, creeping in...

Here's to 30 years of an imaginative (but also rough-housing) boy and his tiger friend!
10 November 2015 @ 08:07 pm
Cosplay ('costume play') is a popular pastime for many people -- dressing up as a favorite fictional character for different reasons (conventions, holidays, events). For those who partake, what's the best costume you've ever created or worn? What's the best one you've ever seen from someone else?
So far my best costume would have to be the Big Bad Wolf, of Disney's "Three Little Pigs" cartoons. I've worn it for quite a few Halloweens and some conventions. The head is an old Don Post latex mask made in the early '90s (I plan to make my own mask for him soon.)
One of the best I've seen so far would have to be a Piccolo (of Dragonball Z) cosplayer I saw at Anime Boston 2015.
10 November 2015 @ 12:42 am
Here's a cool vintage documentary from yesteryear, as part of a series of educational films produced by Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1950s (presumably for children.) It's simply titled "The Passenger Train"...

We follow the story of a '50s boy, Bobby, who travels alone on a cross-country passenger train to visit his uncle's ranch. (Things sure were different back in the '50s!) He rides the Santa Fe Railway, on the Chief train! It comes with pullman cars featuring "roomettes" and standard bedrooms, "chair cars" (a.k.a. standard "coach" passenger cars), a dome car, a dining car, a "lunch car" (I believe it's the same thing as a snack car), and an observation car at the end. And it's pulled by sleek, streamlined EMD F-series Warbonnet diesel locomotives (complete with the old "honker" truck-style horns.)

Those were the days. We're now more cautious about train travel like that, but I do it all the time, except they are regular MBTA commuter trains into Boston and back again.
Back then, many major railroad lines had passenger service, such as the aforementioned Santa Fe, the Union Pacific, the Southern Pacific, the Pennsylvania Railroad, etc., in addition to freight trains. Then in the '60s, rail travel began to dry up due to more people using automobiles and airplanes. So Congress later passed the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970, and then Amtrak was founded in 1971 and took over the passenger rail service the other railroads formerly did, as said railroads then became freight-only, in most cases.
Amtrak continued the traditional passenger train intentities seen in the film, only they improved on them. For most of their long cross-country trains, they use the Superliner bi-level cars...

Like their '50s predecessors, they also come in coach, dining and pullman cars, but they also have lounge cars, which seem to combine the snack car and dome car into one...

But the Superliners don't run in the northeastern United States, due to tunnel clearances and such. So all of Amtrak's passenger trains are single-level; the ones that go from Boston to Washington D.C. simply have coach cars and a snack car, but that's it. Any that go to Chicago or some other further distance like that do also come with the "Viewliner" series of pullman and dining cars. They're making new ones as well, painted in the classic '80s Amtrak colors no less!

Observation cars seem to be no more, though. But the long-distance Amtrak train I run on my HO model railroad layout is somewhat similar to the one seen in that film!

The cars were made by TYCO and Life-Like back in the '70s, when those older streamlined passenger cars were still around. But I got a brand new locomotive to pull them now!

Yep, I finally have a model of the Amtrak Genesis locomotive, the same kind Amtrak currently uses for most of their diesel-powered trains. I bought one in the 90s "Phase III" colors, as it's my favorite Amtrak paint scheme.
07 November 2015 @ 11:54 pm
Today I turned 27 years old. My dad asked if I felt any older, and so far, I don't. I'm still waiting for that moment when I feel even more like an adult. But so far, thing seem to be going that way; I've been able to do plenty of stuff I couldn't do when I was, say, 17.

Just a nice shot of Scooby-Doo being part of the birthday celebration, ala that 1984 "New Scooby-Doo Mysteries" episode I posted about three years ago.

My brother got me an Eevee (of Pokemon) T-shirt, and I also got some money from my parents, and a couple of accessories for my model railroad I will post later.
I had also ordered a gorilla torso "shirt" early this week, and it came in this morning. So I was finally able to do a recreation of the "phony mirror" bit from the classic Scooby-Doo episode "Never Ape an Ape Man"...

I'm really pleased with how it came out...

Well, the important thing is, I had a good birthday anyways, unlike here...
01 November 2015 @ 11:38 pm
... and after it comes that annual model train show! Due to Brockton's Temple Beth Emunah closing, they had to relocate it to another temple in Randolph, but I still enjoyed myself there with some friends. Look at what I bought there!

Of course, it would include a bit of stuff from Bachmann and TYCO...

At the train show, the HO layout was now build differently, but they had a couple of Amtrak trains on it now, too!

An Amtrak F40PH! I've mentioned how nostalgic I am over them.

An Amtrak E60CP electric locomotive. Bachmann has been making these since the late 70s, even long after Amtrak retired the real ones.

Of course the O-scale layout had this same sound-equipped MBTA F40PH diesel locomotive...

...and these MBTA cars; one of them even has the Wi-Fi markings on it, like many real ones do!

A couple of custom MBTA HO locomotives on display. I still wonder when I'll start seeing HO-scale MBTA HSP46 locomotives? I already see quite a few of them in use on the local commuter trains.

And then my birthday is this Saturday!
31 October 2015 @ 11:21 pm
Well, tonight was the big night of the month: Halloween! And of course I enjoyed myself.

At the start of the day, I did the K-O appearance for the Brockton Kids' Road Races event, involving a Halloween race at D.W. Field Park. It was chilly this morning, but it wasn't a problem for me of course!

Lots of kids there, including many in costume. They were happy to see me, although there were a few nervous ones, and a few tail-pullers as well! It's been a while since that's happened with me. I sure enjoyed interacting with the kids.

And here's a nice picture of K-O enjoying the autumn atmosphere at the park, after the race...

Then after that, back home I prepared the house for Halloween night, where I once again handed out candy to the trick-or-treaters as the Big Bad Wolf...

Yup, just a selfie of me on trick-or-treat duty. There were a lot of them this year; maybe even more than usual! The trick-or-treating rounds started a little early too; it went from 5 PM to 8 PM (normally it starts nearly before 6!) They loved my costume, though there were still some mistaking me for Goofy (so of course, I say the usual "Does Goofy have fangs and a tail like this..." etc. line.) At one point, a blind trick-or-treater dressed as a witch came up as well (with her father helping of course), and I was extra courteous to her, as I support disabled people. She couldn't see my costume, so I told her what I was and let her feel the side of my mask. One group of trick-or-treaters was also led by my brother and I's old high school gym teacher! He apparently figured it was me in my costume. And of course I shot a little video for you all...

Hope you all had a good HOWL-oween this year!
Now that it's pretty much over, I've got the annual model train show tomorrow (this time it's been moved to Randolph, MA), and then one week from today is my birthday!
The Big Bad Wolf will also soon appear at Alternicon in Boston, MA in three weeks!
30 October 2015 @ 11:53 pm
This afternoon was the Brockton Rox's annual trick-or-treat event at Campanelli Stadium, and once again they had me assume the role of K-O the Kangaroo. Like last year, we dressed K-O up as a witch...

Not as big a turnout as the previous years (maybe because this actually wasn't on Halloween day), but it was still fun, and many of the kids were happy to see me! This was also pretty much the first time I've been on the stadium concourse all year! Buttons, the teddy bear mascot of the Carousel family Fun Center, and friend of K-O, was also there too! I always enjoy the company of another mascot when doing something like this.

K-O attempts to fly on a broomstick, but it doesn't seem to work :P

We're also doing an appearance tomorrow morning for a walk event at the city park. Until then...

K-O's spending the night at my place! (This is kind of a system the Rox has with the performers for certain events, as the stadium will be closed tomorrow morning and we're heading directly to the park.) Here he's lounging in my room, listening to my records...

I decided to give one of my accurately-scaled plushies a ride in K-O's pouch, in this case, Mushu of "Mulan!"

Like I said, K-O sure loves playing with model trains, so I let him run my train layout here!

Now we need to rest up for tomorrow, as in addition to the park gig, it's also a big day: Halloween!
BTW, today marks the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite Halloween specials: "Garfield's Halloween Adventure!"

To me, Halloween isn't complete without watching "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown," "The Halloween Tree," "Halloween is Grinch Night," and this special.
29 October 2015 @ 11:39 pm
Tonight, I went with a friend of mine to the A.A.N.E. annual Halloween party in Watertown, MA. I figured I'd go as the Big Bad Wolf, and her as Little Red Riding Hood!

We made a perfect pair with me as the Big Bad Wolf, I must say!

We had pizza, and as per A.A.N.E. customs, we introduced ourselves and our costumes. Almost immediately, a lot of people liked my getup, though a few people did mistake me for Goofy. (So I respond in character the usual "Does Goofy have fangs and a tail like this..." line, etc.)

As usual, the Big Bad Wolf can't resist getting his picture taken with another Disney character, especially a villiain or someone who fits with the Halloween mood like Jack Skellington here!

We also did cookie-decorating as part of the party, so I decided to make up one to look like the blood moon from last month! Sure was tasty, too.

Me and my Little Red Riding Hood getting down at the party dance! The DJ was playing the music on vinyl, too, including Fall Out Boy's "Uma Thurman" (probably because it samples the theme to The Munsters prominently through the song.)

Here's a creative/original costume idea someone did: the Phantom Shadow from the classic "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" episode "A Night of Fright is No Delight!" (If I were there with my new Scooby mask and suit, this would've been a perfect combination!)

Here's me with my friend Angie (in her German shepherd face paint) whom I met at Anthro New England 2015. My Big Bad Wolf costume won the "Most Creative Costume Award" in the Halloween party costume contest! I got a $5 Dunkin' Donuts gift card with my certificate!

Overall, this was another successful Halloween party. Now I have a busy weekend up ahead, partly related to Halloween of course!
29 October 2015 @ 05:27 pm
Well, after waiting for months for it to be released and in stock, and then another week for it to arrive after I ordered it, my new latex Scooby-Doo mask by Rubies has finally arrived!

It has a nice snug fit, and I like how it covers the head and neck. Like being a kid in a candy store...

Of course I had to snap a couple pics of me wearing the new rubber Scooby head with my body costume that I bought ten years ago (the official Rubies deluxe hooded costume, with the hood removed.) I hope to maybe get a better body suit made to go with the mask, and definitely better paws for my hands AND feet/ Maybe I'll attend a few future conventions dressed this way (like next year's Anime Boston.)

And here's a "transformation" video of sorts for you, too...

(Ignore the bald spot on the back of my head...)

Though now I have to get ready for another Halloween party, but I'm going as the Big Bad Wolf to that one :P
25 October 2015 @ 11:48 pm
This evening, I tagged along with my brother to a friend's Halloween party, at said friend's apartment building. They had something like a "card room," where the party was held. So of course, I went as the Big Bad Wolf! It sure was fun, being with people I know again while being the Wolf...

We played "Bingo" earlier in the party, and they had me call out the numbers here! After a while I got the hang of using the ball-shuffler thingy.

"Eight ball in the corner pocket..."
Yup, they had a pool table set up, too! So I just had to get a couple shots like these, as playing pool would be perfectly in character for the Big Bad Wolf (ala the comics)...

We also played Musical Chairs, and unlike Anthro New England, I didn't participate in the actual game, but I did get to control the music (they used an ABBA CD for it.) They also served hot dogs...

...and a TON of tasty desserts. I really pigged out at this party.

To keep with the Halloween mood, here's a fun Halloween pamphlet/booklet from 1983, "13 Great Ways to Celebrate Halloween!" You may have heard back in 1982 after that Tylenol scare, not many went out trick-or-treating that year, and then people were thinking Halloween wasn't safe or a good idea anymore. So several companies that produced toys, Halloween candy AND costumes (even Don Post Studios, the company that made my Big Bad Wolf mask in the early '90s), collaborated on this...

You can read the whole thing at the Blog of Monster Masks! It has lots of great tips, history and suggestions for the holiday. I find it amusing how it tries to be politically correct with trick-or-treating, calling it "trick 'n' treating" now! But here they still say "Trick OR treat."

This is going to be another fun Halloween for me!