100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

My photo

"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SatanFest 2013: The List!

Spooky-ooky Sunday, my rabid readers. It felt like a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" kinda day to me, nes pa?

Oy, this is a few days late, I know. But it's been a busy few days here at the offices of the Unstoppable Movie Monster in sunny Nottingham, getting things together for the fall, looking for steady employment and accomplishing many of our goals set out for this blog - nay, for our very lives - in a very short time.

So, kudos to us, huh?

We've also been gorging ourselves on "Breaking Bad" episodes in anticipation of tonight's finale. We actually plan on writing a blog very shortly on "Bad," and it will be an in-depth analysis of the show from our perspective. I mean, it's serious - we took notes and shit.

But first! The list of movies in our 31 Days of Satan challenge!

Show Date Title
October 1, 2013 The Lords of Salem
October 2, 2013 Insidious
October 3, 2013 The Devil's Rain
October 4, 2013 The Rite
October 5, 2013 Devil
October 6, 2013 The Witches of Eastwick
October 7, 2013 Noroi
October 8, 2013 The Satanic Rites of Dracula
October 9, 2013 To the Devil, A Daughter
October 10, 2013 My Soul to Take
October 11, 2013 The Last Exorcism
October 12, 2013 Jigoku
October 13, 2013 The Possession
October 14, 2013 The Prophecy
October 15, 2013 Stigmata
October 16, 2013 Mark of the Devil
October 17, 2013 The Unborn
October 18, 2013 The Blood on Satan's Claw
October 19, 2013 Angel Heart
October 20, 2013 The Devil Inside
October 21, 2013 The Brotherhood of Satan
October 22, 2013 The Ninth Gate
October 23, 2013 The Conjuring
October 24, 2013 Prince of Darkness
October 25, 2013 End of Days
October 26, 2013 From Within
October 27, 2013 The Reaping
October 28, 2013 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
October 29, 2013 The Unholy
October 30, 2013 Constantine
October 31, 2013 The Omen/The Exorcist/Rosemary's Baby

Yeah we imported it from Excel, so forgive the repetition of the year, but we're too lazy to bother taking them out. 

Now, the dates are scheduled but the time of day is not established. That will of course be left up to my schedule. But the goal is to watch the scheduled movie on the scheduled day. The new twist is that we will live Tweet during each movie, with trivia, production details, and favorite lines we encounter during the viewing. 

At the end, we will post a blog about the film in a similar style to our previous "100 Days of Horror" style, with a few tweaks we hope you'll enjoy.

We start this Tuesday with a viewing of a movie I believe is tailor-made for a cult classic - Rob Zombie's "The Lords of Salem!"

You can follow along during the fun on Twitter under #Satanfest2013, or you can add us and follow along: @wmshawnweigel. 

And as always, any local friends may feel free to contact us about attending a viewing. We love company!

Thanks again for reading, and I hope you follow us on this month-long adventure counting down to Halloween!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Son of Perdition! Little Horn! Most Unclean!"

This is it! We are in the thick of it! We're coming down to the wire! It's all over but the screaming!

And other cliches, to be sure.

Truth is, we are almost down to the wire here, with Oct. 1 and the debut of "Satanfest 2013" literally just days away. We here at the offices of the Unstoppable Movie Monster have been hard at work compiling, sorting, downloading, codifying, complexifying, and otherwise exemplifying themselves in every way to get this frigging list together in time to share it with our thousands of loyal readers.

And it's actually done, folks. Yes, we actually have the complete list ready for you guys, and it will be published before the end of the week, so help me Satan!

But before all that happens, we gotta talk about a little place called "Jason's Woods."

Long ago, when the world was younger, there was a little boy in the small hamlet of Oxford, Pennsylvania, who was utterly obsessed with all things horrific and terrifying. This disturbed little bastard couldn't get enough of the plethora of horror movies available to him, and the bloodier the better. His weekly allowance would be squandered on Jolt Cola and rentals from his local video store, sometimes renting the same titles week after week, silently hoping that someone, somewhere, held the same fascinations as he, and that one day there would be a place where his vivid imagination could run buck-wild-naked in the streets.

And then that place was born.

Since its inception over 25 years ago, Jason's Woods has become an institution all of its own. Ask any haunted attraction enthusiast, and if they haven't already made their pilgrimage to this Mecca of the Macabre, it's sure as shit on their bucket list. It is literally acres of terrifying thrills, nestled in the quiet and idyllic hills of Lancaster County, and it is worth the trip if you're anywhere within driving distance.

Over the years, Jason's Woods has evolved from a simple haunted hayride to a truly unique haunted attraction experience. Its creators are always looking for the next big scare, the next intriguing character, the next eye-popping horror to expose their audience to, and good lord do they ever succeed.

The event's founder and the original scaremeister himself, Bob Hershey, has handed the reins over to his son, Bob Jr., who as of this week was still hard at work with the finishing touches - so hard at work, we didn't get much of a chance to speak with him, except to hear that he was on a skid loader and was pretty darn busy. But we picked the tasty, tasty brains of production manager Damien (how apropos a name) Schlegelmilch to find out what other changes were in store for this, their 30th season.

What we found out was that one of its largest attractions, the Barn of Terror, was no more, having been reclaimed as ... well, as a barn by Bob Sr., who still runs several active farms in the off-season.

In its place, however, is a brand-new venue Schlegelmilch said is sure to scare the living crap out of their visitors: the Chamber of Horrors.

"It's pretty much the culmination of over 30 years of design work," Schlegelmilch said. "We've come up with some new concepts, the scenes are all different. And the intensity level has definitely been raised."

Tossing around words like, "aggressive" and "violent" as descriptors for the new Chamber of Horrors, Schlegelmilch also added that it isn't over-the-top gore or violence in the strictest sense of the word.

Rather, the new scenes are so suddenly intense, it is as if the entire venue was seething with things that leap to unanticipated life.

"There's nothing despicable in there," Schlegelmilch said. "It's definitely more PG-13, but nothing too bad. Definitely more action and movement than what you may be used to with a haunted attraction, that's for certain. So this is much more in the vein of 'Shock and Awe.'"

Schlegelmilch explained that the scares were revamped in an effort to keep up with changing tastes in horror movies and even video games, where the level of violence and intensity of the overall experience is at a completely different level than in previous decades.

"Stuff that was scary 25 years ago isn't so scary now," he said. "And our clientele is different now than it was back then, too, so we have to keep that in mind. Plus the collective horror mindset has just evolved over the years."

Along with the addition of the Chamber of Horrors, the scares have been retooled throughout the rest of the attraction's different events, including the hayride and the Carnival of Fear, where some of the freakiest clowns you will ever hope to encounter reside. So if you suffer from coulrophobia, Schlegelmilch advises you to stay away. Or not, if you've got the minerals.

"Clowns to the left of you, clowns to the right of you," he said with a devious chuckle. "And they are much more droolly and bitey this year. We really worked to make it more like a circus inside as well - we added lots of red."

The hayride portion of the attraction sees the return of some fan favorites, according to Schlegelmilch, as long-time attendees were clamoring for their return.

So you will certainly find Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers slinking around in the dark, along with some of the classic creatures like Frankenstein's Monster and others.

"We're calling it the Return of the Legends," Schlegelmilch said. "I think people are going to be very happy."

There's plenty more to do at Jason's Woods, including the zombie-ridden Pirate's Revenge and the Lost in Jason's Woods experience where you take a chilling guided stroll through the trees and get face-to-face with some creepy creatures. And everyone gets to visit the Grand Theater, where fan-favorite Beetlejuice gets the crowd all riled up before the real shows start outside.

In between the attractions there is a great carnivalesque atmosphere going on that is almost as much fun as the attractions themselves. There's some yummy greasy food, live music, weird folks a-aplenty wandering around and a crowd that generally is looking forward to the experience and is fun to be around.

Thousands of people come from throughout the region - even from New Jersey and New York - to take part in this unique experience each year, and it never disappoints. The hundreds of actors involved with the attraction give their all each and every time, even on the slow nights, and the energy and pace is always high. The effects and makeup are also top of the line, produced in-house by a group of dedicated and creative professionals who start gearing up for next season before the winter snow has melted each year. And even if you don't choose to take in all of the madness the event offers up, the hayride alone is worth the trip. It's somehow relaxing and rowdy all at once, particularly if you get a cart filled with fun folks.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I was the demented little bastard mentioned in the beginning of this feature. I have been attending Jason's Woods off and on since the tender age of 13, and it has never disappointed me. It was a joy I came to eventually share with my own children, and it became a major bonding point for my oldest son, who was always afraid of the event until I explained that they were people who loved Halloween just as much as we did, and they were just here to have fun, too. That lead to a real father/son moment where he told me my words gave him confidence and thanked me. All because of a haunted hayride.

For his part, Bob Sr. thinks the venue is in good hands.

"He's grown up around this, he's been a part of it the whole time," he said of his son's involvement. "I'm hoping it's better, with some young blood in there."

He also waxed briefly on his time running the Woods - and on the relationship he and I have formed over the years, to the point that he thanked me for my dedication and support. And that brought a genuine tear to my jaded, weary eye, because I love this place tremendously. And you will, too, if you give yourself over to its unique charms.

Jason's Woods is located at 99 Stehman Road in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Tickets are available at the site and in advance online at www.jasonswoods.com (they do not take credit cards at the ticket window, but they do have ATMs onsite).

Also, this is a working farm, so dress accordingly - proper shoes are a must. Scroll down for a custom video done by yours truly, featuring our family, our best friend and staff member Shannon, Mr. Hershey and Son, and a brief interview of the legendary Butch "Eddie Munster" Patrick from his visit a few years ago. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

My youngest son, Josiah, menaced by a Tusken Raider at Jason's Woods oh so many years ago.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"I am the devil, and I'm here to do the devil's business ...."

It's just another Morbid Monday here at the offices of the Unstoppable Movie Monster, ladies and gents.
We are plugging along, ready to bring you a month of Satanic cinema this October - in fact our list will be posted later this week, for those of you who play along at home - and we are working on our feature stories on our region's annual haunted attractions.

Delays and changes in scheduling have plagued us at every turn with this project - it isn't easy getting some of these folks on the line this time of year, frankly. But I am bound and determined to make this work, and all my efforts are focused on making it happen!

That said, let us talk about one spooky-ass place.

Eastern State Penitentiary, located in beautiful Northeast Philadelphia, is a looming and imposing site. It literally pops up in the middle of the Fairmount neighborhood, looking egregiously out of place among the upscale shops and restaurants surrounding its impenetrable stone walls and brutal, gothic parapets. It looks like a place you toss someone in an effort to forget all about them - and that's exactly what it is. Or was, anyway.

When it opened its doors in 1829, Eastern State was considered the first true penitentiary in the nation. The idea of the penitentiary was - duh - "penitence," where the time alone was to be spent in quiet reflection and communion with god. Criminals were isolated for the majority of their time at Eastern State, alone in their stone walled cells with just a slit of a window (the "eye of god") to allow in some sunlight and a few meager possessions. And by "possessions," we mean pretty much toiletries and a bible.

Eastern State's method soon came to be known as the "Philadelphia" or "Separate System," whereby isolation was considered the pathway to redemption. Prisoners were not permitted to socialize with one another - even recreation time was staggered so no two adjoining prisoners were out in their tiny recreation spaces at the same time. The small doors forced prisoners to "bow" to enter or exit their cells - another part of the religious atmosphere that surrounded the penitentiary. Prisoners were even hooded when they exited their cells so they wouldn't be recognized by their fellow inmates.

Most of the day was spent completely alone, although the warden was required to visit each prisoner once per day and the overseers at least three times a day. This method is the polar opposite of the "Auburn System," where prisoners were required to work together in silence and violators were subject to corporal punishment in the form of beatings. Punishment was not absent from Eastern State, however, as the guards often imposed their own cruel torture tactics. People were strapped to chairs for days on end, doused with water and left outside their cells, denied food and water and basic human needs - the worst perpetrators were dumped into a literal pit called "The Hole," which was located under cellblock 14, and left without sun or nourishment for up to two weeks at a time.

Over the years, Eastern State was home to several notable characters, perhaps most infamously Al Capone, who lived a life of luxury compared to his fellow inmates. Bank robber Willie Sutton was also housed there and even made a famous attempted escape from Eastern State in 1945.

Overcrowding and the obvious psychological effects of isolation eventually lead to the downfall of solitary confinement as the preferred method of correction, and Eastern State closed its doors to prisoners altogether in 1971. The massive facility lay dormant for nearly two decades, allowing Mother Nature to take back as much of the interior as she could, while an army of stray cats made the prison their home. It has since been the focus of a slow restoration process that has seen some of the building's facilities almost
completely restored.

The first Halloween-themed event was held in 1991, a combination of theatrical performances and true stories of the prisoners once held there. A few years later the event came to be known as "Terror Behind the Walls," and it quickly became one of the region's largest and most popular haunted attractions.

Billed as "high startle/low gore," the TBTW experience is one of immersion. As soon as you walk in the front doors, a prison riot is fully underway. Panicked guards shout in your face about getting out and needing help, while spotlights glare and klaxons sound, making the moment one you wouldn't want to face on strong psychedelics. Most of the rest of the tour takes you through some of the facility's main attractions, bolstered by disturbing sights and intriguing characters.

This year's event claims to be "darker" and "bloodier" than previous years, so this excites us at UMM beyond belief. This year's event is separated into six different attractions: The Gauntlet, Lock-Down, Detritus, Infirmary, The Experiment and Nightwatch. I got shivers just typing that sentence. It also sounds like visitors are given more chances to be a part of the festivities themselves, by choosing either to spectate the goings-on or to be an actual participant and possibly be part of the show.

We don't want to give away too much here - we've only been once ourselves and we have been told that some of the scenes change from year to year, so who knows what to expect in 2013? Other than a rollicking good time, that is - TBTW is tremendous fun, especially if you're surrounded with people who are as into the experience as you are. The over 250 actors hired each season are also top-notch, eager to scare the crap out of you, and the props and settings never appear cheap of thrown together. The key here is finesse and atmosphere, and one look at the photos tells you that they absolutely do not scrimp on effects.

We here at UMM can tell you that, even for the experienced haunted attraction enthusiast, this event kicks things up "a whole other level," as our bestest friend and loyal staff member Shannon pointed out. It is a very "in-your-face" experience, and - like we said - it's total immersion. You will feel like you are a part of the prison because, frankly, you ARE a part of it for the duration of your visit. So wear comfy shoes and make sure you bring your Depends, because your bladder may damn well fail.

Eastern State is open year-round as a museum for self-guided tours, with Steve "Mr. Pink" Buscemi as your audio tour guide. There is much to learn and enjoy with a visit to this fascinating piece of American history and is well worth it at any time of year.

Oh and by the way - the joint is rife with spirits. Seriously. If you're a "sensitive," you may find yourself deeply disturbed during your visit. To truly experience the presences that inhabit its walls, go in the off-season. And take a Valium before you go. I am not kidding in the slightest.

To learn more or for tickets and tour times, visit www.easternstate.org. Scroll down for a preview video!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"I have wondered whether life wouldn't be much more amusing if we were all devils ..."

Late day salutations, my morbid minions. It's been a rough few weeks here at the offices of the Unstoppable Movie Monster - I shant elaborate further but rest assured, we've had more than a few sleepless nights to combat in the past month.

I tell ya - with the Halloween season rapidly approaching, all this stress makes it difficult to get into the holiday spirit. Usually by now, the MP3 player is primed for the occasion. We pack it with Halloween themed music, toss in some Cramps and some Misfits and other tasty rockabilly treats for good measure, and top it all off with a heaping ladle of Rob Zombie's finest ghoul rock. We break out the foam tombstones and the pentagram candle holders; we dust off the resin skulls and take stock on our number of bugs, body parts and trinket rings.

But no, the spirit is eluding us this year so far. Although, we did get a bit of a kick out of helping our friends at Home and Garden Culture in Kennett Square set up over 250 pumpkins, gourds and other fall treats at their shop last week. And since we've been perusing titles for our upcoming Satanfest 2013 next month, sorting through all those horror movies is kind of getting my spirit in order. There are just some vital components missing, still - and I'll be damned if I can put my finger on what those components are.

Anyway, as we continue to prepare for Satanfest, we're also trying to carry through on our promise to bring
you some feature articles on some of our region's best Halloween-themed attractions. However, we're a bit behind on those for a few reasons - and I swear, not all of them are my reasons! If all goes according to plan, however, we will be bringing you a feature on the region's oldest and truest haunted attraction Jason's Woods this Sunday. And next week, we hope to feature Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind The Walls - one of the spookiest sights you will ever set your eyes on!

In the meantime, I figured I would bring you a fun little feature on one of my favorite haunted attractions - although this one isn't holiday related. It's a permanent, ghoulishly delightful attraction that can be found on the one and only Inlet Boardwalk at Ocean City, Md. Hallelujah.

Called simply the "Haunted House," the ride sits close to the Inlet side of the Boardwalk, its monstrous vampire bat and bright orange letters easily seen from the adjacent Inlet parking lot. First opened in 1964, the ride is still owned and operated by Trimper's, a family name in Ocean City and the ones that own practically every ride and attraction along the boards.

Since opening its doors nearly 50 years ago, the ride has undergone a number of changes and upgrades over the decades, including the addition of a second story in 1989 that enabled riders to briefly emerge from the inside to catch a glimpse of the Boardwalk before being thrust back into darkness.

The attraction underwent its most recent upgrades last year, when literally dozens of the scenes inside were retooled, replaced or otherwise touched up for the first time in years. Some long-dormant pieces were fixed and a number of classic elements were restored, much to longtime fans' delights.

The ride is as simple as any other of its style - coffin-shaped carts just big enough for two to fit snugly into
move down a track past ghoulish sights like a hooded body flop
ping form a gallows, a spinning nightmare tunnel, and a near head-on collision with a train. There are dayglo spiders, talking vampires, a classic Electrocuted Man fixture from Distortions Unlimited, a torture rack and so much more. And the ride is still under $5 a person, so you cannot beat that with a baseball bat, now can ya?

This is something my family and I made sure to visit every time we went to Ocean City, which was quite
frequently when the kids were younger. My oldest son was always terrified of the ride, while my youngest was always ready to strap himself to the front of the cart in defiance of the horrors within. But now, they both share a loving nostalgic view of the attraction, and we still make sure to ride whenever we make it down to the shore. It's a wonderful piece of Americana and one that I hope stays around for another 50 years for future generations to bond over like my family did.

If you want to learn more about the rid,e they maintain a great website, which you can visit by clicking here. It's a great site that has the whole history of the ride and other tidbits about the history of Ocean City and Trimpers Amusements.

By the way, these are all my photos, taken during a 2008 trip with my kids and my wife, from whom I am now separated. And below, check out a video my son and I shot inside the ride back in 2010. Enjoy folks and thanks as usual for reading!

The Unstoppable Movie Monster's family: From left, Josiah, Melissa and Elijah.
Video Below: Watch at the beginning as my wife - in the cart with my older son - tries to pry his hands from his eyes as they enter. Meanwhile, my younger son quips that he fears only "plastic." Enjoy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

"I am a friend and a companion of the night ..."

"Before Watchmen"artist Adam
"The terror you feel is real."

Merry Morbid Monday to you, faithful legion. The Unstoppable Movie Monster terror train continues to barrel down the track, with our October Satanfest rapidly approaching! We are still hard at work compiling our list of movies and getting them on the schedule for a month of devilish delight.

We are also working on getting you our list of area attractions for the Halloween season, and while we may be a day or two off schedule, we are still launching the first story this week. So stay tuned for that update any day now!

But first, let's take a quick step back and discuss weekend's activities - mainly, our attendance at the
Baltimore Comic Convention.
Mike Mignola, of Hellboy fame.

Insanely cool Dr. Strange!
You may not know this about Your Humble Narrator, my loyal readers, but I am a bit of a comic geek. I say a bit, but in reality I own a serious collection (in volume, anyway, if not in quality pieces - but I gots a few of them, too), love comic book movies and even have a Spawn tattoo and figures littering my creepy bachelor pad. Among others.

To quote Gale Boetticher: "Yes, I am a geek."

But as big of a comic geek as I am, I have never been to a big comic convention type event before. Oh, I hit up Free Comic Book Day every year and I have been to a few small conventions that are mostly dealer expos, but this was my first foray into the depths of the Comicon culture. And I knew I was in over my head the moment I signed up.

A UMM Must-Have - Munster's
toys! Need! Want! Need!
Fortunately, we had our best friend and loyal UMM staff member Shannon along for moral support, and to help us navigate the con since she is an old-school Otakon attendee.

Since Otakon has been at the Baltimore Convention Center for the past 20 years, Shannon was very familiar with the layout, and also had a solid plan on how to tackle the event - which, while I was convinced was massive and so crowded that I wanted to hack my way through with a machete, was evidently nothing compared to Otakon.

Ashley J. Simpson with a li'l
Boomstick action. 
"This is nothing compared to Otakon," Shannon said with a dismissive wave of her hand at the paltry crowd of cosplayers and lookers-on milling about on the convention floor. "They had 35,000 at Otakon this year."

Still, while Otakon may eclipse the BCC in terms of sheer scale, that doesn't mean that the few thousand attendees over last weekend's con were no less enthusiastic about their respective obsessions than the average Otakon maniac weeaboo "glomping" people and shouting "KAWAIIIII!" and "SUGOIIII" and other stuff Shannon said that they scream but I forgot.

Phantomex, one of my
favorite Grant Morrison
Mutants from New X-Men.
That said, there were people walking around in costumes of various quality, from duct tape and hand-drawn tee-shirts to "Whoa, how much money/time did you need to invest in THAT?" and all things in between.

There were also more toys and schwag than Ron Jeremy could shake his sizable schween at. So much that my poor little head was spinning in just a short time. And what really sucked is, I had very limited funds to spend there, despite being warned in advance by Joe Murray of Capt. Blue Hen Comics to "set a budget and then double it."

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in pencil, by
artist Cory Smith of Chicago. 
So instead of spending money, I wandered around in a daze, looking for hot chicks in revealing outfits, leaving my camera sitting on a box of Avengers comics at the Apocalypse Comics booth and seeking out my buddy Jeff McComsey of FUBAR fame, who was hunkered down at the tail end of Artists Alley in their heavily armed, fortified and camouflaged bunker/booth.

"We're by the shitter," McComsey joked, jerking a thumb to his right at the nearby Men's Room. "But we're doing really well."

After a quick lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill, and a brief foray back into the dealer's room to snag a Thor pint glass for Shannon, we ventured upstairs in search of more fun and shenanigans, and to find a fabled Starbucks kiosk that was allegedly located at the far end of the building.

A handicapable artist and yes, that
pencil is in his mouth ...
And although we found that fabled Starbucks kiosk, the line of people that snaked its way around the front
of that sucker turned us away quicker than Peter Cushing can turn away ersatz vampires in a Hammer film.

Now exhausted, and suffering from a bout of the "Itis" after Moe's, Shannon and I sat down at a table on the second floor and let the tired seep in as we continued our people watching duties.

"It's starting to fill up more with cosplayers, I think," I said to Shannon, who was, at this point, actively struggling with consciousness. "The contest must be soon."

"Nothing compared to Otakon," she muttered. "This would be filled, packed - we wouldn't have been able
to sit!"
Vintage Star Wars toys for sale. I had
quite a few of these playsets myself. 

"Still," I started. "A lot more people down there --"

"OTAKON!" she grunted and slumped forward onto the table, her war with sleep nearing an end.

I could see she was inconsolable, and I left her to her thoughts. Years of Otakon madness had left her bored and jaded by the mild antics unfolding before us; a glimpse at a six foot tall chubby black man dressed as Wonder Woman failed to get even a second glance from Shannon's weary eye.

Our beautiful - if blurry - companion,
Shannon: "DIS CON AIN'T SHIT."
"That shit doesn't even phase me anymore," she said quietly, her tone that of a Vietnam vet who'd seen one too many buddies walking around with strings of rotting ears dangling from their necks. "That ain't shit compared to Otakon. Nothing."

I didn't - nor could I - argue, having never had the pleasure of attending Otakon. Instead, we laughed as a pair of kids who looked like they would have been more at home at Otakon that they did at the BCC mugged for photos in the same two poses for the better part of an hour.
Yes ... that's a boy ... dressed as Misty
from Pokemon. God save us all. 

We left not long after that, having had our fill of comic-related fun. By the time we got to the car two blocks
away, we were smiling and recounting the day with joy - it was a lovely time in the city, and a fine exploration of the fringes of the rising geek culture that gains more street cred by the day.

In fact, there are plans to return next year - and to perhaps make a foray into the Otakon world, where we would truly be out of our element ...

Without the guiding hand of our tour guide Shannon alongside us, that is ... and that won't happen.