Thank You, SLC!

After six months, they’ve finally started taking their money from my account again after months of rather annoying problems. Hurrah!

No Future.

Future Publishing — (what a lovely bunch of people!)

Toy Fair Time

It’s February! Which means it’s time for Mini-Geek Prom, ToyFair (the main Geek Prom is of course Comic-Con in San Francisco, but that’s not until July). Anyway, it’s the chance to see some of the toys that children and adults with a Peter Pan complex will be getting in 2009! Obviously, as one of the latter, I’m mildly curious as to what new Transformers will be out (I only buy two or three a year now, I swear).

It's a bit of a disappointment; I'm not a fan of the films aesthetic (the robot models seem to resemble Robo-Machines/Go-Bots, whereas I prefer the more humanoid non-movie TF designs), but the new Devastator sounded quite impressive. A six-robot combiner that will retail at $99.99 and stand almost as tall as Fortress Maximum (2 feet, for those of you who don't have that memorised. Or in your room). Look!

r_transformers029.jpg

As I said, I'm not too much of a fan of the movie robots, but as a hulking monster, this seems pretty good, right. One slight snag, though - none of the individual Devastator limbs transform into a robot by themselves. So you're spending $100 for a set that isn't quite as good as the Special Teams. But don't worry, as Hasbro will sell you $20 versions of each individual robot that will transform (but not combine). So $220 for the complete experience? I don't think that's going to down well in the current economic climate.

Still, I don't want to be all full of doom and gloom. Because there are a few new Transformers: Animated toys out, and they look fantastic. Firstly, Animated Arcee:

r_transformers001.jpg

Yes, she does appear to have glitter-encrusted plastic. After more than twenty years since her first appearance, you'll actually be able to buy an Arcee that isn't a motorbike or a spider! Hurrah!

Finally, a new Soundwave figure. If you remember, I got all excited by the first version, which changed Laserbeak into an electric guitar. How could Hasbro make a new version, you might ask? A simple recolor with Buzzsaw? Oh no, they've excelled themselves.

r_transformers003.jpg

That's Ratbat. Who now turns into a keytar. Rock on.

Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)

Yes, it’s quiet. I will have something about seven different ways of making pancakes in the next week or so, mind you!

Welcome To Victory!

Take the Victory City Tour!

World Nutella Day

Last year, I turned Nutella into a powder using maltodextrin. This year, er, well, I only found out it was World Nutella Day a few hours ago. As I’ve been a touch busy trying to diagnose a sick mail server, fancy ideas such as nutella noodles or rum-infused isomalt Nutella bubbles were a bit beyond me. But they’ve been written down for next year. Thinking about it, I could have taken the liquid chocolate here and made Nutella Aero bars too. Oh well, only another 365 days to go…

Nutella Chocolates

  • 1 stick Valrhona chocolate (it was going out of date soon, so it needed to be used)
  • 1 tablespoon Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon rum

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie or microwave, add in Nutella and rum, stir to mix, and pour into chocolate mould. Easy!

I promise to be a bit more creative next year...

What Ian Did Next

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur, to be honest. Arriving back at RDU to find the Triangle blanketed in snow, I spent Thursday and Friday trying to get a little shopping done, finding myself getting hit on by a waitress, coming across an abandoned iPod in the middle of a parking lot (which I managed to return to its rightful owner), posting a package of food chemicals back home, and of course, walking back and forth along Franklin Street a lot. It’s what I do. Oh, I also put a pound coin in a time capsule for 2059, and finally saw Jim Henson’s Time Piece. I probably did more in three days than I do in a month back home…

But the main event was the beginning of ‘Nikkitown’, a week-long event that celebrates Nikki’s birthday. As she didn’t have the best time last year, we were determined to make sure that this time would be amazing. I was only involved on the periphery, but I helped make the “Cake-Pie-Cake” that was the centrepiece of Saturday’s party.

But what is a “Cake-Pie-Cake”, I hear you ask? Silly things. It’s essentially a sponge cake, except instead of jam or icing separating the layers, there’s an entire pie. Yes. And then it’s completely covered in chocolate icing. It is a thing of beauty. And it’s exclusive to Nikkitown. At least for the moment!

Oh, and I must mention the present that everybody got for me. A clock! But not just any clock: it’s a clock with Helvetica numbers on it. They know me so well.

As ever, sad to leave, though this time did have a five hour drive to the airport that I won’t be repeating any time soon (thank you so much, Stacie!). But as ever, I will return…

1.20.2009

I woke up at two. And three. And four, at which point I finally got out of bed. The idea was to meet up with Stacie, Margee, and Tracy at the Smithsonian art museum as early as possible, as we were convinced that the Mall would fill up pretty quickly. By half-five, I was crammed into a Red Line train on the DC Metro heading into the city, along with everybody else. I got out at Metro Center, coming out to go down 12th Street and join the others.

Only the police had sealed off 12th.

And 11th. And 10th. And all the streets as far as the eye could see. To add to the ever-growing sense of panic, the mobile phone networks were down; there was no way I was going to be able to contact the others. I trudged back to Metro Center looking at the prospect of spending the day by myself…when the day’s sense of serendipity saw me bumping into them by chance. We still can’t believe our luck.

Together at last, we headed as far as we could; police were telling us to go down to 7th. When we got there, they told us to go to 3rd. There were rumours circulating that the police had shut down access because they were being overwhelmed, that they’d let us in at 7am, or that they wouldn’t let anybody else in at all. Nobody had any definite answers, but they did have new rumours.

Bonnie: Are you on the Mall? There’s been people out there all night living in a cardboard city!
Me: No. We’re hoping that the police will let us through soon.
Bonnie: (pause) Oh. Good luck.

I’m not sure what drove our decision to move from 3rd. Maybe we got tired of waiting, or were suspicious that the police would hold us there and not let us in at all, but whatever was behind it, we started walking again. And how we walked. We walked in a huge circle around the Mall for two and a half hours, trying to find a non-ticketed access point. A pilgrimage around the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and back again until we finally seemed to be on the right path (along with several thousand others).

(the part where I desecrated the Federal Building has been exorcised from my official history. Transparency? My excuse is that the Bush Administration was still in charge, so I don’t have to divulge the details)

Eventually, we found an entrance to the Mall itself, near to the Washington Monument. Filling our gloved hands and our shoes with chemical warmers, we stood and waited.

I’m still not sure how to describe the atmosphere. It was wonderful, though - many races, many nationalities, many creeds, all here to usher in the next era of the American Presidency. And to add more fuel to the idea of an ‘Obama Cult’, obviously. I don’t think there was any getting around it, though. He’s become as important to the African-American community’s journey as MLK, after all. I saw old women in the crowd on their Zimmer frames, adamant that they were going to see him pronounced President. And if he does supplant Che as icon of choice, well I think that’s a win for everybody, really.

Then they started to come out. I was amused at the cheers for Carter; I think he may end up being rehabilitated in the decades to come. Conversely, I felt a little sorry about the booing that greeted a frail George Bush, though I wasn’t sure if it was simply because of his son, or whether people were recollecting Barbara’s comments during the Katrina disaster. However, I felt no remorse about the booing, the singing, and the chanting of “O-bam-a!” when the son came out. Yes, yes, perhaps it wasn’t the opportune time for it, and the cries of “Hey Hey, Na-Na, Goodbye!” weren’t in the spirit of the occasion, but Bush has managed to do so much damage to the country and yet he’s never really had to face a hostile audience before. So, I think he needed to hear it as much as the crowd needed to yell.

Getting out of the Mall proved to be a far harder task than we initially envisaged. It took us four hours to escape, walking all the way down to the Capitol and standing on the frozen reflecting pool. A couple of police officers came over to us, said “How often can you say that you stood on the Reflecting Pool of the Capitol on Inauguration Day?” and joined the group on the ice. It was that sort of day; people were so friendly to each other. The National Guard was out in force, but they weren’t armed (the snipers on the roofs, however, definitely were).

The other thing of note was the merchandise. It was incredible; I think that part of the grand plan to pull America out of recession is through the selling of things that have Obama’s face slapped on them. Everywhere you walked on the way into and out of the Mall, there would be people selling their wares: t-shirts, mugs, keyrings, posters, programmes, pens – and more. The prize of the day had to go to Pepsi; not only have they changed their logo into one that resembles the Obama ‘O’, their new advertising campaign echoes the electoral slogans from the Democratic camp. And in final attempt to co-opt the branding of the day, they handed out thousands of backpacks on the Mall, emblazoned with “HOPE” / “JOY” / “OH BOY” with the date of “1.20.2009” printed along the bottom. That’s the refreshing taste of Pepsi, official drink of the Obama Administration, or so the advertising tells me.

The day ended on a bit of a down note, as Stacie’s car needed a jump-start to recharge its battery, causing us to be exposed to the bitter cold for longer than we intended (and more importantly, completely screwing up my friends’ schedule for getting home), but it didn’t spoil the day for us; we were there when history was made. Totally worth all the cold sores splintering across my mouth.

Everybody Else Is Saying It...

President Barack Hussein Obama. Hell yes.

More soon.

EDIT: Ha!

The Raleigh-Durham market had the largest TV audience with more than 51% of households tuned in to the day’s events. Seattle-Tacoma had the lowest viewership, with only 18.8% of households watching the events.

GO TRIANGLE!

Obamarama!

Heading out in a few hours. Stay tuned for Terminal 5 adventures!