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Several weekends ago I went to Las Vegas to attend my first Amazing Comic Con. I was there to support my good friend who was showcasing his self-made comic book at the convention & representing the Hawaiian Comic Book Alliance. This wasn’t my first comic book/animation convention, but it was definitely the smallest that I’ve been to in a long time. It was a very fun & intense weekend filled with friends, food, & severely hot wind.

I was so proud of my friend (who happens to be the brother of one of my closest girlfriends, & the cousin of Jian’s best friend). He’s a high school art teacher by day, but a full-fledged comic book illustrater/writer by night. My friend is highly talented in any artistic field he’s thrown into, & he takes his art seriously. I truly applaud my friend for pursing his passions all on his own, of course with the support of his family & friends. So, naturally, I had to support my friend’s budding art career & bought an autographed copy of his comic book The Keepers. Hopefully one day his autograph will be worth tons of collector’s money. (Tee-hee!)

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Why did Amazing Comic Con have to fall on one of the hottest weekends of the summer, in the middle of the desert? Seriously, the temperatures in Las Vegas were over 100 degrees farenheit every day. The weather reports on TV weren’t joking when they reported that it was like being in an oven. On top of that, if you dare to walk outside (which is not recommended, at all), there’s a fairly strong wind blowing, but it’s such a hot wind that it feels as though you’re constantly being blown in the face by a hair dryer on high. The weather that weekend was no joke, & I’ll tell you that I’ve never consumed so much liquid nourishment in my entire life. I don’t normally drink a lot of water, which I know is not very beneficial to my overall health, but on that particular weekend, I drank so much water I could practically fill an inflatable kiddie pool with the amount of water I drank.

Jian & I thought we were so smart buying cheap airline tickets with early morning departures. Well the tickets were practically free, since my mom let us use her credit card mileage points, & all we had to pay were the baggage & service fees. Oh boy, did we make a minor mistake by doing this. Yes, we were lucky to get super cheap airline tickets for one extended weekend, but arriving in Las Vegas so early in the morning with nothing to do & leaving at the crack of dawn the day after partying the night away was not very good planning on our part. We both thought we could handle early morning flight times, but it really took a toll on our bodies. I don’t think I’ll be doing another rushed trip to Las Vegas again anytime soon.

Going to Las Vegas to support our friend at a convention was the highlight of our entire trip. We had originally planned on getting tickets to a show while there, but we weren’t interested in any of the shows or musical acts performing that weekend. (By the way, it was super annoying seeing Gwen Stefani‘s billboard everywhere we went. After her band No Doubt‘s album Tragic Kingdom, I completely lost interest in her as an artist. She’s not as good solo as she was with her band.) Then, I thought we’d spend all of our time gorging ourselves silly on extravagant/flashy “Vegas” food, but surprisingly, we were somewhat sensible with our eating habits, & only splurged on one day.

Las Vegas is not quite my favorite place to vacation. I try to avoid that town as much as possible, which is often difficult because my mom’s side of my family LOVE going to Las Vegas whenever they get a chance. I’m not a gambler; I’m not a club goer. I’m not even a 20 ounce specialty steak flown in from some exotic-place-you’ve-never-heard-of eater either. However, I had fun on this trip. I enjoyed the company of my close circle of friends. We ate good (reasonable) food. We stayed at a smoke-free, gambling-free hotel in the heart of the Strip. Jian & I even squeezed in a few hours each day for some Fifa World Cup viewing. (Sorry, I’d much rather watch sports than bet on a game.) Other than the extremely exhausting day of flying back home, it was a fun way to spend a quick weekend out of town. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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I remember there once was a time in my life when I was heavily interested in (& invested in) reading comic books, specifically Japanese comic books. I would patiently wait month-to-month for each volume to be painstakingly translated, published, shipped to America, & put on the shelves of my local book store’s meager Manga section (if you could even call a tiny bookshelf a “section”). Nowadays, kids read photocopy scans via the Internet with nearly instantaneously. This past weekend, I was cleaning out a large storage closet in my house, & I stumbled upon my old collection of comic books…more accurately called Manga. I haven’t touched these books in years, which prompted me to browse through them once again. This got me thinking back on my time as a devoted comic book reader.

When I was a young child in Elementary school, I actually read a few Marvel comic books. While all of my siblings & cousins were reading MAD magazine & Archie (along with Betty, Veronica & Jughead), I was reading about Spider-Man, Silver Surfer & the like. No, I wasn’t exactly a comic book nerd like how they’re being portrayed on the TV show The Big Bang Theory, or at Comic Con. I was a casual reader at best, picking up whatever cover interested me. I completely stopped reading comic books once I became a full-fledged teenager, swapping Spider-Man for Hot Rod & muscle car magazines, as well as various trading cards. I don’t know why I chose this time in my life to try to act like a tomboy. Now, looking back on those times, I was heavily influenced by a girl who I thought was my best friend at the time, only to later find out she was either trying to sabotage my life or get inside my pants.

It wasn’t until after high school when I truly discovered & fell head-over-heels in love with Japanese Pop culture. I immersed myself into every aspect I could get my grubby little hands on, spending most of my weekends in the Japantown area of the big box city. Since my dad was originally from Japan, I felt a special closeness to that culture. That’s when I really got into watching Japanese TV shows, movies, watching anime, & reading comic books (a.k.a. manga). At that time, a majority of my friends were Asian & had the same interests in Japanese Pop culture as I did, so we were able to share our favorites & talk all about comic books.

Just like in my teenage years, I also went through a tomboy phase while reading manga. I liked to read comic books geared mostly towards the male audience, with titles such as: One Piece, Full Metal Alchemist, Gundam Seed, Megatokyo, Rurouni Kenshin, etc. I liked reading about intergalactic mechanized robot wars & epic sword fights. Along the way, I also dabbled in other genres like: comedy (Ranma ½, Love Hina, Azumanga Daioh), historical (Fushigi-Yugi), fantasy-magic (Card Captor Sakura, Alice 19th, Wedding Peach, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, & XXX Holic), & a few others here & there. Most of the manga I read had a similar theme of romance. You know the formula: girl & boy are fated to love each other & be together in the end, but not without a roller coaster ride of major ups & downs like: alternate dimensions, space &/or time portals, epic wars, magical curses, demon hunting, multi-dimensional memory loss, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

So, I’ve been sorting through my old collection of comic books & have begun reading them all over again. Most of my comic books are lacking a complete series, & I am thinking about getting back into reading manga again so I can finish the complete series of all the manga titles I’ve collected over the years. I stopped reading manga for many years simply because I have no space in my house to store all of these books, & I am also trying to tighten my budget. So that means, less shopping, more saving…especially if I want to be able to afford going to my cousin’s destination wedding. I guess we will see what happens. Until then, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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