Archive for August, 2012

Fan Expo Canada 2012


This summer seems to be one of firsts for me. I got a chance to finally head down to Fan Expo Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and I was not disappointed.

I was always a fan of all things geek: sci-fi, comics, gaming. So it surprised me that I’ve never been to one of these ‘conventions’ before this past weekend. Then I realized that not many of my friends share my love of sci-fi, and they weren’t taking the bait when I was trying to bribe them to tag along.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t let another opportunity pass me by. I stepped out of my comfort zone, took the plunge and headed downtown on the last day of Fan Expo. The line-up was long and winding down the underground parking garage, but it moved fairly quickly and I managed to purchase my $35 ticket in about 20 minutes.

Time passed by quicker as I people-watched all the eager fans dressed up in costume. I was put at ease a bit more as I noticed other solo-goers in line. When it comes down to it, everyone is there to have fun and even make new friends. I actually bumped into a couple people I knew (including  Toronto Batman)!

Entering the MTCC was like entering a different world. There is so much going on: eye-catching posters, giant screens, interactive displays, and people everywhere! I felt like a kid in a candy store… I didn’t know where to start. Unfortunately I knew I only had 1.5 hours to kill, as I promised my friends that I would meet them at the CNE later that afternoon.

So I hightailed it through the majority of the aisle. Saw some old school Star Trek action figures (I should really try to find my old ones), loads of comic books, video game demos, and graphic t-shirts. I was going to purchase one with the face of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s “Carlton Banks” on it, and another one with ‘Sheldon Cooper’s’ game of Rock, Scissors, Paper, Lizard, Spock, but there was a 2.5 hour wait for custom printed shirts. I’ll just get it online.

I headed over to where the celebrity panels were. I didn’t have (or see the necessity) of forking over $40-50 to get an actor to sign a poster or take a photo with me, so I pulled out my 300mm lens and started snapping my own photos of these sci-fi stars. This in itself was worth the admission price! I got to see Norman Reedus (The Boondocks Saints), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), director John Carpenter, Nelsan Ellis (True Blood), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9), and Tony Todd (Candyman).

The guest I was most excited to see was legendary Marvel Comics creator, Stan Lee! I didn’t get a photo of him (due to the volunteers “no photos please” sign, plus he was hidden in a private corner), but I did get a glimpse of him! It’s too bad that Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: TNG) postponed his appearance… now that I would pay money for (gotta love Picard).

One of the most innovative and intricate exhibits was the one for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie (an upcoming remake of his 1984 short film). I’m grateful to have gotten the chance to see it because the presentation is the only Canadian stop on the exhibition’s world tour. Seeing all the puppets, glassed-in scenes, diagrams, sketches, and other stop-motion items was impressive.

There’s so much to see and do at Fan Expo, which is why it’s a good idea to purchase a multi-day pass. A couple of hours were definitely not enough for me to venture through each exhibitor, and I doubt a day is going to suffice hardcore geeks between all the panels, celebrity photo ops, gaming demos, autograph signings, merchandise sales and other events.

What I really enjoyed seeing was people dressed up in costume. It’s so nice to see fans get into it, especially when they use to much creativity in their outfits.

Fan Expo Canada was quite the experience. Perhaps next year I’ll wear a costume (or at least a geeky t-shirt).

  • Cosmic Cab
Fan Expo Canada 2012 - People & Exhibits

Sunday, August 26th at Fan Expo Canada 2012 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Fan Expo Canada 2012 - Celebs

Celebrities on Sunday, August 26th at Fan Expo Canada 2012 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Camping at Killbear Provincial Park


Camping was one of those things on my bucket list of to-do items. So when a friend of mine invited me to go camping with a bunch of friends this summer, I jumped at the chance. Of course I was a little apprehensive at first (come on… how many young, black females voluntarily choose to spend 2+ days outside in the wilderness?), but I made sure I was prepared for anything that might transpire.

Over the weeks upcoming to my camping expedition I made some stops at Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart and Mountain Equipment Co. in order to be able to check everything off on my camping packing list. And you can see from the photo in my gallery below that I wasn’t kidding!


Did some research online and picked up a super-comfy, deluxe camp chair (complete with memory foam seat and attached bottle opener!), an air mattress, warm sleeping bag, first aid kit, s’mores roaster, a headlamp, other useful items, as well as a roomy hiking bag to put all that stuff in.

My most prized possession on that trip was the bear bell that I bought at MEC. Supposedly it’s supposed to give bears a chance to hear you coming, then choose to amble away instead of investigate. I’m still alive typing, so I guess it worked!

Killbear Provincial Park is located about 45 minutes outside of Parry Sound. We stayed at the Blind Bay campground. Crisp air, breathtaking views of the Georgian Bay… nature sure is beautiful. I couldn’t even really complain about bugs, because I didn’t see one mosquito in our time there (though there were a couple of long-legged spiders).

One of the other things (besides bears) I was worried about was the washroom/shower facilities. I was picturing a rotting, wooden outhouse (hence why I brought a tub of baby wipes, due to the fact that I didn’t want to use leaves). But the facilities at this campsite are really nice and clean for the most part.

My friends and I spend our 2.5 days playing games and chatting around the campfire, heading down to the beach, hiking down trails, and making some ‘campy’ meals. I think I ate one too many s’mores though (as delicious as they were). Cooking outdoors is a challenge when you’re used to being in the kitchen. Aluminum foil became my new bestest friend.

So what’s camping without a bear scare? That’s right: on my first camping trip I did in fact see a bear trod past my tent at 3 o’clock in the morning. With a name like “Killbear” you would guess that the bear population in that part of town would be pretty scarce, no?

Getting to sleep on the Friday night was a challenge. It was freezing that night, and I didn’t pack enough warm clothes. I was hearing noises from outside the tent. My friend said it was a bear, but I didn’t believe her (personally, I thought it might have been someone snoring or a raccoon or something.

On to night number two. I was trying to get used to the sounds of Mother Nature: the crickets, the leaves falling on my tent scaring the bejeezus out of me. My eyes were wide open for the first part of the night, as I didn’t want to waste the batteries in my trusty headlamp (yes, I sleep with a night light). So when I hear nondescript voices coming from our neighboring site, and see flashes of light outside my tent, obviously I become 100% alert. Minutes later I hear a woman yell “Get out of here bear! We don’t want you here!” succeeded by car alarms going off and honking. I’m thinking, did I just hear that right? Bear?! So I nudge my tent mate who basically told me to play dead (I wanted to ring my bear bell).

Then we hear another exclamation, “It’s coming back to your site!”. My eyes opened wide, but being the inquisitive being that I am, I told my tent mate that I wanted to see the bear (naturally). So I peeped through the mesh in our tent trying to get my eyes adjusted to the darkness outside so that I can make out something. Seconds later I see a black apparition barreling through a couple of trees 2 feet in front of our tent! A freaking bear! I backed up so fast… my heart was beating a thousand times per minute. At that point my friend became more alert, as we both felt the tremors that the bear made when it ran past us. After discussing protocol for a couple minutes we gingerly unzipped our tent in order to figure out the details of the situation.

Turns out that a family in the site across from us had left their cooler in the back of their pick up truck , only covered by a tarp (like that’s going to stop a bear from riffling through it). When my friends heard the commotion of the bear eating from the cooler (their tent was directly opposite the family’s site), they decided to make a run for their car after figuring out there was a bear in close proximity. Running to the vehicle, they turned on the engine as the headlights went on, they were face to face with a bear on all fours, eating like a fat kid at a all-you-can-eat buffet. They honked the horn and the bear ran off. What I found out later that some of the girls from my site informed the family that they needed to clean up the  mess that the bear left. Of course they didn’t listen. That’s why the bear came back (hence the “it’s coming back to your site” call). One of the brave women from our group managed to scare the bear off permanently by taking an aggressive stance, raising her arms, yelling and taking a few steps in the bear’s direction (she’s got guts, I tell ya).

Needless to say that none of us went back to sleep that night until the sun rose at 6am. The four of us that were up from our large group lit a fire and had a bear watch for 3 hours. I felt like I was a member of The Avengers or something. We noticed a couple of other sites start fires as well. The remainder of our troupe were still sleeping. Strangely enough, not a park ranger was to be seen during the entire bear event (though they were there earlier on in the evening to tell us to keep down the noise at 11pm).

Would I go camping again? Well I’d have to see if there’s such a thing as a bear-proof tent.