Friday, June 29, 2012

Crazy Charlotte Street Signs

Since moving to Charlotte over a year ago, I quickly noticed that the rules of the road are a little bit different here. You pretty much drive where you want to, when you want to.

If someone driving a big old Caddy wants to pass a CATS bus, they will. Oncoming traffic be damned!

The double yellow line in the center of the road is more like a guideline, anyway, right?

Then again, sometimes I don’t blame the drivers of Charlotte. I blame whoever designed some of these roads!

Take a look at these two intersections – two of them I frequent more often than I’d like.

Now you tell me that isn’t an accident just waiting to happen. It’s at spots like that where everyone sits in their car going, “Whose turn is it to go again?”

But, along with the crazy road designs come some pretty fun signs.

This one, for example, highlights one of the many complicated intersections in Charlotte.

You’ve also got your odd speed limits…

…and, of course, the crazy street names.

No molesters there!

A strong candidate for my favorite: Walk A Long Way. I love it!

Take a look at some other whacky signs in my latest YouTube upload.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HeroesCon 2012

Last week I'm at work and someone starts talking about people dressed up in crazy costumes. My first thought was, "Sounds like a comic book convention," but I figured I wouldn't be that lucky. What were the chances? A comic book convention in Charlotte?

I immediately Googled "comic book + convention + Charlotte" though. Sure enough! HeroesCon was in Charlotte! A real comic book convention. I'd heard about Comic-Con and WizardCon, but they were usually in cities like Chicago and San Diego. I'd always wanted to go to one of them, but the opportunity just never came up.

Well, I got the chance last Saturday and I took full advantage.

I went to the Charlotte Convention Center, descended the escalator and walked onto the red carpet that was set up in front of me. At the end of the walkway, there was a large portrait of the Charlotte skyline.

Immediately I saw, perhaps, the best part of my day: a giant Hulk -- painted green and everything. He was standing next to another Hulk, posing for the crowd.

Two Hulks! How could I get so lucky?!

I knew these were my kind of people. I was donning my simple (yet totally rad) Batman t-shirt. I saw a bunch of people wearing super-hero t-shirts, baseball caps and hoodies while standing in line for my ticket, but nobody in a full-out costume, so this was a pleasant surprise.

There were literally tens of thousands of comics there -- some selling for obscene amounts of money and others for a very reasonable $0.25.

I picked up a comic of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (one of my favorite 80s cartoons).

It was fairly crowded because Stan Lee was making an appearance for an autograph signing later in the evening. A regular convention-goer told me it wasn't usually so busy. I also found out that they do this convention every year in Charlotte. This year happened to be the 30th Anniversary.

I only stayed about three hours before heading into work, but I saw loads of people, dressed up as all kinds of heroes. I'll definitely have to go next year. I'll have to get a little more creative in my ensemble though.

There's some stiff competition out there. Take a look:
HeroesCon 2012 Photos

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Avengers - reviewed.

Disclaimer: this review is written by an unabashed super-hero fan-boy nerd and may contain some bias.

I finally broke down and went to see The Avengers at AMC last week. I loved both Iron Man movies, I own both of The Incredible Hulk movies. Thor was a good flick too. The Captain America film wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed watching that one too. I was really anxious to see The Avengers, but I made a decision to wait until it was at the Redbox.

See, when it comes to super heroes, there aren’t many I don’t like, but my allegiance always has to go to Batman. I was reading so many articles about The Avengers doing so well at the box office that I figured I’d better make sure my money goes to The Dark Knight Rises. The predecessor, The Dark Knight, is already on the top ten list of the most grossing movies of all time. I don’t want to see the Batman series edged out by The Avengers.

Seriously, this is an important matter we're talking about here. We're talking bragging rights.

I caved though. Seven dollars of my money went to The Avengers’ total earnings.

I hadn’t seen any previews for the movie, so I went into it hoping the different characters would mesh well and make for as good a movie as the previous individual films. It turned out the interaction between the heroes was really what made the movie awesome.

The screenplay, penned by Joss Whedon, was expected and basic. It was the typical, ‘aliens from outer space try to invade and destroy Earth’ shtick. I can’t complain too much about that. After all, I think that’s a large part of the appeal of super heroes and the big-screen adaptations. A giant portal above a skyscraper of a major metropolitan U.S. city is the essential super hero movie calling card.

Tom Hiddleston as "Loki"

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is the perfect choice to lead this attack. He’s your classic super villain – one part weasel and one part manipulative – someone you just love to hate.

What made this attempted alien invasion fun to watch was seeing the group of super heroes team up to defend Earth. Not only do you have Iron Man zapping invaders while zig-zagging between skyscrapers, but you have Hulk smashing them to smithereens at the same time!

There’s a bit of in fighting too amongst the Avengers. After all, a team of super heroes randomly joined together needs some time to develop chemistry and earn each other’s trust. At one point we get a bit of Thor vs. Iron Man vs. Captain America.

Watching the friction and relationships develop between the various comic book-turned-big-screen super heroes was very exciting, but it was the one-liners by Tony Stark/Iron Man that stole the show. I can’t think of someone who could portray that character as well as Robert Downey Jr. does.

His lines brought levity at all the right moments and actually seemed to progress the plot forward more than most of the other characters. The writers did a good job with him. It makes sense. They did have two entire films to develop that character, whereas it still feels like we’re getting to know Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow.

It’s probably not entirely hard to make The Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner work, but kudos to Mark Ruffalo. Despite there being two recent big-screen versions of The Hulk out there, each time we see Bruce Banner, he’s portrayed by a different actor. Mark suited the role well.

Did I mention Scarlett Johansson’s skin-tight catsuit? That’s definitely a nice contrast from The Hulk. I’m not sure who did casting for the G.I. Joe films, but ScarJo proved she would’ve been a good candidate for the role of G.I. Joe’s Scarlett. She even has the same name!

A tip for all of you who are still planning to go see The Avengers: don’t tune out once the credits hit. Marvel added an extra scene at the end, leaving a sneak peak for what’s in store for The Avengers 2. I’ll probably be going to that one opening weekend.

As for The Dark Knight Rises? I’ve got to do my part to make sure that ends up at the top of the box office, so I’ll just have to go see that one in the theatres twice. :)