This weekend was a damn busy one. It starts off Thursday night with a dinner at Opaque, moves to Saturday with a full day at the San Diego Comic Con, then Sunday with finishing up the HGUC Gouf’s weathering and final assembly of the completed component for the 0084 Diorama piece. The weekend was fun and damn interesting, I’m going to need the work week to recover before I head out to Otakon in Baltimore on Thursday night to start everything over again.
A few months ago, Yuki tells me that she picked up a groupon for this place. For years, she’s heard about the place and has been wanting to try it out. It’s a restaurant that serves you dinner in total darkness. A very interesting concept. It’s also $99 per person and this cost does not include the automatic gratuity and drink costs. The groupon just gave us a %50 discount so it was $99 per couple. We met up with two of Yuki’s friends. The restaurant is in the back of a lounge in Santa Monica.
We got to the restaurant and outside the actual dinning area, we’re given the menu and pick out our meal. There are two salad choices, 4 main entrees choices, and 2 dessert choices. I went with the filet mignon cooked medium rare. It’ll be interesting to see if I can texturally notice how the steak is cooked. After selecting our menu, our waitress came out and we walked into the restaurant in single file with each of us holding on to the person’s shoulder in front of us. I can hear our waitress snapping her fingers as she navigated us to our table. Once at our table, she made us stop and walked around the table seating each of us. Total darkness.
The waitress brings out our drinks and some water, she actually places the glasses in our hands before releasing. We are given a little appetizer stuffed vegetable thingy on a spoon, on a saucer. Not realizing that the actual item was on the spoon, I accidentally drop the thing. I pick it up and eat it, it was pretty good. Then baskets with toasted bread and butter arrive. I carefully feel for the basket and immediately find the butter, well, at least I can take the small cup of butter and put it on the small dish that had the little appetizer. The bread was very good. The other folks at the table have resorted to just dipping the bread in the butter cup. I laughed as I used my knife to butter the bread. Next came our salads. The proportions are fairly sizable. Using a fork in one hand and my other hand to help guide the food to the fork. The cucumber salad I had was quite good. There was one cucumber wrapped in prosciutto. Each time we were finished, the waitress came and took our finished plates away before serving the next dish.
Our main courses arrived. To my surprise, my steak was already cut up for me. And it was definitely medium rare. I was pleasantly surprised with the food. I had some fairly low expectations. Again, using my left hand as a food guide, I was able to finish my food with only a few missed fork stabs at the food. So this is how blind folks eat. Looking around I noticed that the table cloth ends had little blinking lights, they are barely noticeable. Our napkins also had this feature. Which makes me wonder if the wait staff is truly blind or if they’re using some kind of night vision. But I did hear the wait staff using the snapping of fingers as an echo location means. The other senses do heighten to a certain degree, at least with me, I could tell the direction of the people around me and the direction of other patrons. I kept dipping my fingers into my water glass and flicking water at Yuki, to which I’m sure freaked her out a bit. Apparently, I was fairly accurate at nailing her face. Oh the fun you can do while attempting to eat dinner in complete darkness. It was definitely an interesting experience.
The last part of the evening was the dessert which was nothing to write home about. It was like a sweet pudding. Yuki got the chocolate lava that kinda fell apart as she tried to eat it. One of Yuki’s friends was definitely uncomfortable with the experience. Yuki noted that she wasn’t all that comfortable and would definitely not return, granted it was an interesting experience and she had been wondering about it for several years, but probably not worth a return trip. I rather enjoyed the experience. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or get any anxiety from being in complete darkness. I definitely recommend folks try this – the food is better than expected but the experience is unbelievable. Sure, one can reproduce the effect with a blindfold, but knowing that you are blindfolded to just being in complete darkness are different environments.
Saturday rolls around and the group of us were invited to comic con by our local distributor. The plan was to meet at my house around 4 in the morning and drive down. Dan (Funaka), Angel, Nicky, Yuki, and I piled into Dan’s TSX and we left my house around 4:15 Saturday morning. The drive was fairly nice, little to no traffic; and we made it down to a parking structure that was right across the street from the convention center, next to Petco Park. Our short drive by the convention center showed hundreds of people already lined up to get into the hall. Heading down, we decided to look for a place to eat breakfast. The google maps on my phone found a Mcdonalds that didn’t physically exist, so after walking around, Yuki found a random city police officer on a segway and asked him for the nearest McDonalds. he said it was about 11 blocks away, but recommended a place a few blocks away called the Broken Yolk, which was a breakfast establishment.
We headed there and found a semi empty place. They had the place decorated in theme with Comic Con, even their printed menu was done in comic style with comic fonts and characters. Right as we sat, I got a text from Terry and Christiana, they had just got into town, so I told them to join us. Our food arrived and we dug in, about half way though our meal, Terry and Christiana arrived. A good thing too because not too much loner, the place was packed and there were people waiting to eat.
Food was FANTASTIC! Our poor waitress had to endure the punishment that was Nicky, but it was clear that our waitress was trying. The sarcasm from her was definitely entertaining. And because of Nicky, we definitely needed to leave a nice fat tip for the poor woman, who’s morning was definitely going to be a little on the rough side as wave upon wave of nerds flood the streets. A little preview of this was seen in the packed restaurant when we got up to leave. There were people waiting on line to get into the place.
We headed back to the car to grab our things for the convention. The garage was full and closed, and it was only about 7:30am. I grabbed the 1/12 scale Unicorn Gundam’s V-fin that John had given me at the last build gathering to fix. Apparently the movers slammed the part against something and ripped out a sizable chunk of paint and what ever the part was made of out of the V-fin. I puttied the part and repainted the V-fin in gold. We headed to the convention center and walked over to the entrance to hall D. Our distributor friend was getting to the hall and told me to meet him there. While waiting for our badges, I snapped a few pictures of random cosplayers.
We got two professional badges, but he needed to go to the booth to grab some exhibitor badges for us. Dan and I grabbed the exhibitor badges and the five of us headed in around 9:30. Nicky recognized the asian guy dressed as Captain EO, and I snapped a picture of him when we were inside the hall. Angel pointed out a girl dressed as Consuela from Family Guy which was pretty cool. There was a rather large Ewok and a large minion.
We wandered the hall and picked up a few things here and there. Angel and I got the Venture Bros lunch box, and a few other little things. We stopped by the HLJ booth which was a bit on the small side, but very typical of the type of booth they have at Otakon. Jim from HLJ was there and I chatted with him for a little bit. So was Scott Hards. Dan went to chat with Scott and I chatted with Jim to catch up on a few things in the resin figure world. And unfortunately, they were not going to be at Otakon this year. Damn and I wanted to have him help judge some of the contests. Oh well. According to Dan, as soon as Scott saw that we had “bluefin” exhibitor badges, his body language and tone completely changed. Interesting, apparently there’s some bad blood between the two companies. I my guess is the Bandai support and probably some issues between HLJ and Bandai as a result of Bluefin, but then again, only speculation and putting a few puzzle pieces together from my conversations with the Bluefin folks. Jim was puzzed at my badge too, I’m sure he had forgotten my name, but as soon as I gave him my little hobby card, it all clicked; I’m sure he recognizes my face from our conversations. Yuki immediately noticed a slight aire of superiority in Jim. He’s a very good modeler, and most highly skilled modelers have a certain attitude about them. They needed to get back to business and there were three people waiting for us while Dan attempted to chat and I chatted. So we continued our tour of the hall.
The girls were tired so they left to find a spot to rest. Terry and Christiana joined us and we wandered the hall. But not long after, Dan, Angel, and I lost Terry and Christis. We tried to pick up the Voltron exclusive, but it was sold out. We hit up the capcom booth and picked up a few things there too. I snapped a picture of LL Cool J using my zoom lens from a distance. The bastard wouldn’t stay still and there were too many people walking by for a clear shot. Oh well, not too big a deal. Dan and I also found a cool Macross display. Which was interesting, since Harmony Gold has the license for Robotech, Macross stuff is a little harder to find as it’s a licensing violation in the US. But oddly enough, there was a large Macross poster right above the Robotech display.
There are the Leia coslayers of course.
Some random women in tight/skimpy costumes.
Angel, Dan, and then left the hall around noon and met up with the girl who where upstairs sitting on the ground. We sat and rested, Nicky went to sleep. I snapped a few pictures here as well. And just watched people wander by. A few of us were hungry so we go up and headed out to the car to grab food. The streets just looked like a sea of people. The shear amount of people is quite impressive.
Getting to the car, we sat on the ground and ate some pastrami sandwiches. It was quite and relaxing. After eating, we decided to head back to the hall to check out the Silicon Molding and Resin Casting panel. I did a quick jaunt into the exhibit hall to drop off some food for a friend at one of the vender booths, and caught a quick picture of Katy Segal who was doing a singing as part of the Futurama signing. She seemed to be looking and posing for my camera. Kinda cool, Peg Bundy is kinda hot.
We got in line for the resin casting panel and shuffled in around 3. The room was dark and cool, which helped Yuki and Angel completely pass out. The monotone voice of the presenter was working it’s magic on me too near the end. The guy makes silicone molds and casts resin professionally so there was definitely something to be learned. I picked up a few new tricks that I immediately employed when I got back home. Some very interesting insight. Dan took a good number of notes during the panel as he wants to get started in that aspect of the hobby. This was the only panel I attended; there was no way in hell I would wait 4-5 hours just to get to see celebs talk about their latest projects; but that’s just me. After the panel, Dan and I cornered the guy and asked a few clarifying questions. Again, more tricks learned to add into the little bag. We then headed to the hall to return our badges to the distributor. Back to the car, we leave San Diego a little after 5PM and get home around 7, not too bad a ride home with exception to the traffic between La Jolla and Carlsbad – for what ever reasons, the traffic between these two map points is always horrible.
HGUC Gouf Custom
The little bugger was finished on Sunday. Yuki filmed a quick little pastel/pigment video that was posted over at ThoseGundamGuys.org to complete the three part weathering tutorial I started writing last week. With the pastels done and sealed, I put the little guy together and snapped a few photos.
Now I can focus on the GMs…