The Pop-Culture Spectrum Preview of PLAY NYC

On August 19-20, 2017 NYC game creation and education group Playcrafting hosts the first major video game convention in NYC combining PAX and GDC as best they can.  While New York has hosted game conferences and major panel talks and New York Comic Con has hosted major publishers such as Square Enix and Ubisoft, there has yet to be something for the very powerful indie market that exists not only in NYC but nationwide and at a cost and set-up to be enjoyed by newcomer, experienced player, and developer.  PLAY NYC gears to change all that.

Many websites like Polygon and others have reported or interviewed the organizers of this awesome show.  They’ve focused more on the larger picture though, which is very important, but here at Pop-Culture Spectrum while we do enjoy all facets of entertainment there are still specific parts of the entertainments we enjoy.  That also applies to video games.  So upon that, we shall take a closer look at the talks being conducted on both days that are compelling to us.  A few developers have also done pre-contact of their games being displayed so I shall be give a mini-preview via that of the diversity to expect at the show.

The main convention/exhibit hall shall be held at Terminal 5 on W 56th St. (b/w 11th and 12th Ave.) with hours on 10-6 PM on both days while the panels & talks will be just around the corner at John Jay College on  W 59th St. (b/w 10th and 11th Ave.) with panels running from 11-5 on both days.

Day one has a lot of amazing panels on the state of the industry, working in the industry and being press in the industry… all truly compelling, but exceptionally exciting are that that Mark Roos, followed by Zac Zinger shall be discussing the importance of music in games.  Both men have interesting pedigrees in the music industry as well as in the video game music industry so hearing from them shall be fascinating.

The Saturday evening panels will end with a performance from Greg Heffernan, who my research states is Cosmo D, developer of The Norwood Suite.

On Sunday the writer of point n click adventure, The Long Road, Leif Oleson-Cormack shall discuss working in game narrative.  Leif is also a playwright and standup so this has the promise of being very entertaining.

Dreamsail Games, a VR developer will have a later after noon talk in which they might be announcing a new project.

On top of these awesome panels which this is just a sample though there’s that show floor.  Here’s just a sample of some games featured on the floor that shows the diversity of the show and gaming itself.

 Vidar is a create your own narrative within the old style JRPG graphical style, it’s Steam page is at http://store.steampowered.com/app/355370/Vidar/

Cutthroat Gunboat is 2-4 player party game in which stylized ships attack each other.  Steam page here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/661220/Cutthroat_Gunboat/

Hero’s Crossing is a strategy board game about running an RPG town.  This is an actual table top game but is based in Video game mechanics.  It’s really different, check out the page link in the title.

Mama Hawk is a mobile game developed by Computer Lunch that is also being developed for PC/Mac in which you catch animals to feed your baby birds.  I tried out their Android beta and it’s really cool and super cute.

and of course as the games writer shall have a speak, The Low Road will also be on the floor being presented by XGen Studios.

and there’s your “quick” look.  There’s so much more though.  3 floors of games, and all kinds, VR, FPS, puzzle, tablettop, Alternate Reality, ones that use real humans and even other panels as well.  A not miss show for anyone who loves games.

National Pro Wrestling Day 2017-The Young Lions Cup (Giving Back Through Wrestling)

On February 4th, the fun filled lucha-libre party known as CHIKARA, a performance based all ages wrestling company shall present National Pro Wrestling Day 2017. It is done as a yearly event since 2013 as a fundraiser as well as a place for fans old and new to discover and appreciate the company.

My first NPWD was 2014 when during the time CHIKARA was embroiled in a storyline in which it had been closed down and was fighting for its return. It was an exciting event and it pulled me into CHIKARA more then I ever was, although I was pretty pulled in at that point. I unfortunately have not made it to a NPWD since but have been to a share of CHIKARA events.

Thus year I change that as I head to the Wrestle Factory to experience an event headlined by the Young Lions Cup. The Young Lions Cup is a tournament held during the early years of CHIKARA which featured the debuts of talent from elsewhere and the graduates of the wrestle factory school of CHIKARA taking on some more established but still relatively young CHIKARA talent.

National Pro Wrestling also features other matches and in many ways is the unofficial start of a CHIKARA season. On top of that and most importantly in many ways while the show itself is free it is a Charity Fundraiser and Awareness event. Each year something very special is chosen, and this year is no different.

The best way to explain the The Superkick Foundation is to directly take from their mission statement:

The Superkick Foundation is not your average non-for-profit charity. We are comprised of young people who have a genuine desire to make a difference in the country and in the world, with no mixed messages on hidden agendas. Massive wrestling fans primarily based out of New York City, we intend to serve a variety of different individuals in the most beneficial ways. Regardless what mainstream outlets view professional wrestling, we recognize that these remarkable athletes, regardless of skill, put their bodies on the line every time they step through those ropes. It is a high-risk job, all for the entertainment of the fans, with insufficient reward. Through our work, we want to thank these performers for doing what they do for us. As young humanists, we also serve people in genuine need. With donations from professional wrestling fans and other outlets, we intend to serve homeless and low-income men, women, children, and veterans, with useful merchandise such as clothing, toys, or other useful materials. We hope that by that providing these new, clean, and unique items, we will instill a sense of confidence in these needy people: not only assuring them that there are people who care, but perhaps influence them to better their lives. We will run events, fundraisers, midnight runs, and random drop-offs to achieve our mission. For professional wrestlers, we hope that they will benefit off of the items that we will purchase from them, but we also will assist them with medical bills, insurance costs, or costs to help them make it by in a groundbreaking financial assistance program for these wrestlers. This foundation believes that athletes who work in such a high-risk occupation should not be struggling, financially, in any kind of manner. Additionally, we wish to provide young people with good and honest jobs, to aid them in their futures and to help us carry out our goal. We pride ourselves on being a 100% fan-run organization, run by young, brilliant, and philanthropic individuals, and we will work tirelessly and with the fighting spirit of our beloved pro wrestlers to make a significant difference to the world we live in.

If you need to know more direct yourself here:

http://www.superkickfoundation.org/boardblog/still-have-questions

and for the official fundraising page for those not attending NPWD or who want to donate before or after I direct you here: https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/national-pro-wrestling-day-2017

This years batch of talent for the Young Lions Cup are particularly exciting to me… much more so then last year’s event. In no particular order here they are and some personal thoughts from me.

Sylverhawk & Razerhawk: These two are brand new Chikara talent making their in-ring debuts at NPWD but they quickly have come favorite of mine. They are two of a trip with Nytehawk and together collectively known as Cyberhawx 2000. They are a combined parody of Silver Hawks, M.A.S.K., Power Rangers and professional wrestling’s Tekno Team 2000. They seem to be stuck in the late 90’s/early aughts with their tweets, blogs and even style of promo and I love all of it. I even did fan art really early on.

Emperador Azteca: Chikara has him being as representing AULL, but I have to still assume this the Emperador who hails mostly out of IWRG and last year was in a match with Chikara’s long time stars Ophidian & Silver Ant. In that match which is online he does a crazy dive. I’m personally more impressed with the monkey and feel it’s a missed opportunity to have monkeys fighting, but hoping this young man impresses.

Space Monkey: Speaking of Monkeys. This “Canadian” Astronaut who has been to the stars and back is a seriously awesome worker. His gimmick is wonderful and he’s super fun on promos with all his eeps. I’ve had the pleasure and luck of seeing Space Monkey perform in a couple matches the rare occasion I’ve chosen to go to a show in NYC.

Ashley Vox & Delmi Exo: These two sisters have come a long way. One of them is basically a mermaid, the other a space princess, or something like that. It’s cool, trust me, together they’re Team Seastars. Constantly improving their ring style, adding some serious fun to their promos. They’ve been part of CHIKARA for awhile and we both in last year’s Young Lions Cup. They’re still early in their career to be part of this. Also if they bring their manager Jawsolyn this time I’m sure fans will go crazy.

Travis Huckabee: The young referee of CHIKARA who made many mistakes and was known as No Last name Necessary, finally has that last name. He’s graduated from wrestling training and ready to hit the ring running. Travis is a good kid and someone to definitely look out for in this contest. He has lots of support from the fans, fellow wrestlers and also needs to watch his back for a few enemies out for him as well. I see a bright little future for the young fighter, but only time will tell if his dream will not become a nightmare.

Cornelius Crummels & Sonny Defarge: These two rapscallions whose gimmick was inspired by the works of Charles Dickens. Taken their names directly from the works of the writer (Nicholas Nickelby & A Tale of Two Cities) and furthermore being scrupulously unscrupulous businessmen who tend to always be unwashed and slightly sickly. They’re also two of the most talented Wrestle Factory who I think we’ve only seen the tip of skillset yet. They’ve been working for the last year or so, but seeing them in this environment as singles should be interesting.

Everett Connors: I don’t know much about this young and upcoming St. Louis mainstay, but he’s been proving himself in the midwest. He has a relationship with CHIKARA favorites and some could say St. Louis’ favorite son The Submission Squad. This alone could definitely work in his favor.

Cajun Crawdaddy & The Hermit Crab: The Crustaceans have been super fun, super strange, and super dangerous since popping up. Crabs pincers scare me, they scare everyone. I mean he’s a crab. Crawdaddy isn’t so not scary himself, he’s too salty. Hermit Crab like Sea Stars has experience in singles and the YLC, while this I think will be the first Crawdaddy gets to work by himself since returning from a long injury.

Travis “Flip” Gordon: One of the most gifted athletes in this tournament and despite his short experience one of the better known next to Space Monkey. In a career spanning less then 2 years his skills and body mastery has landed him matches at CZW, Limitless, Maryland Championship, Beyond and even EVOLVE. It’s a big deal to get him to CHIKARA and just as big a deal for him to come to CHIKARA. He’ll be one to watch… mostly cause he’s so fast you just don’t want to miss it.

Steven Mainz: This young Canadian comes out training from the International Wrestling Syndicate Dojo. He’s gone toe to toe with a few bruisers including TDT, a team who came through CHIKARA in 2016 and had two of Match of the Year contenders. He’s also worked in NCW, stomping grounds to CHIKARA alumni 3.0… so the kid comes to the tournament with a pedigree.

There is currently at the writing of this two unnamed slots in the YLC. One had previously been announced but circumstances have changed beyond the control of CHIKARA. This unforeseen circumstance allows for mystery and possibly great excitement as it can be anyone. Other outside talent, other wrestle factory graduates seeking their opportunity.

The show on top of the tournament features two one on one contests.  Dasher Hatfield, a character with lots of history who currently is an old time baseball player but may be debuting a new gimmick per his twitter will be facing the man known as Juan Francisco de Coronando, an Ecuadoran aristocrat who takes 5 minutes just to get to the ring.   In a first time ever encounter, a former fake ant who is also a former military grunt and now brute force competitor Missile Assault Man will meet with Race Jaxon, the high flying half of the tag team know as N_R_G.  In recent times Race has shown a more arrogant, aggressive side so this could be boilburner.

On top of those is a tag team bout featuring The Closers, a team large, strong, imposing men.  One who this writer has had the pleasure of training with during his short time of trying a career in professional wrestling taking on CHIKARA’s own cop Warren Barksdale (who competed in last year’s YLC) and his debuting tag team partner Meloni, collectively known as The Force.  There is also a trios match of major proprtions for long time CHIKARA fans as the group known as The Colony (a group of ants) take on the now named Legion of Rot, a pairing of Hallowicked (a pumpkinheaded monster), Frightmare (a living ball of energy) and Kobald (a goblin) who were last together by hypnosis, but now by choice.  What is their mission now without a leader?

Finally, as current importance on a huge card such as this Ultra Mantis Black, the center of many seasons of CHIKARA shall address the crowd to reveal his next step.  Mantis on top of being a wrestler is also an activist and lead in a hardcore band.  His speeches are events unto themselves.

You don’t want to miss it.

Here’s your pertinent links:

http://nationalprowrestlingday.com/
http://chikarapro.com/events/upcoming/02-04-2017_national-pro-wrestling-day-2017

Armchair Book Expo America: Beyond the Books

Today ABEA calls for bloggers to discuss the bookish things beyond traditional novels that we enjoy.  For me that’s an easy discussion because after I became a reader on my own at a very young age I found myself introduced to comics.

My mind is a bit confused of where my comics love started though.  It is one of two stories.  I don’t know which came first or which was the cementing of “COMICS!!!”, but I’ll tell them both and then how they’ve influenced my life as a writer, blogger, etc.

On the shelf of one of the earliest production companies I worked for as an actor at 12 years old was a copy of Watchmen.  This was in 1988.  The collection was brand new.  Something about it called to me and started reading it and falling in love.  The producer decided if I loved it so much it should be mine if my parents were okay with it.  My parents were weird.  They didn’t seem to care how violent or sexual something was.  I mean I was reading Stranger in a Strange Land before this.  I don’t know if they didn’t know, didn’t care or just trusted my brain to be adult enough to handle it.  I still have that copy of Watchmen today.

There was a comics shop that was fairly large next to the Midway Movie Theater on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills.  As I said I can’t recall if I was already into comics from Watchmen or if Watchmen called to me cause I was into comics.  I do remember this shop really well though.  The location its in is now a restaraunt.  It’s been many things throughout the years.  For the longest time it was a shop though and I shopped there.  The first comic I remember seeing there that BLEW ME AWAY was Scott McCloud’s DESTROY!!.  I knew somehow it was meant to be a pastiche and it was what basically made me appreciate the form from all elements.

By coming into comics through two books that defied what comics were about it prepared me better for an appreciation of all comics.  I like all of it.  Straight forward superhero, autobiographical introspection, sci-fiction, horror, comedy, dark comedy.  What’s wonderful is the format of comics allows it to be as broad and diverse as prose.  There are no rules.  Create something and let it live.

That is books, that is writing, that is creation.  It is why I am still a reader today even with so much media coming at me from movies, television, internet and video games.

Armchair Book Expo America: Introduction to the Uninitiated.

To introduce myself to a whole new group of potential new readers or friends isn’t the easiest thing.

I’ve been lucky enough to be at Book Expo America since 2009 since it was in my hometown. As most who do Armchair Book Expo probably know, and it’s why they Armchair, traveling to another state for an expo is no small financial affair. Travel, place to sleep, food, money for experiences, mailing costs, it all adds up. When all I had to do was take a subway and that was my ONLY expense for the week, BEA became magical.

Here I am though, 2016, wishing I was there. I guess I should get to it, since I’ve already probably broken all the rules of Armchair already.

1.  What is the name you prefer to use?

Reid Harris Cooper is my name. It’s what people call me. You can call me Reid, Reid Harris, Reid Harris Cooper or RHC.
2.  How long have you been a book blogger?

As I’ve never really considered myself a BOOK blogger but just a journalist who covered everything from comics to movies and in between, I’m going with 20 years since I started doing actual reviews on a website.
3.  Have you participated in ABEA before?

As stated before I have not. Just when I thought I would probably become involved in it, BEA moved to NYC permanently for six years.

4. Do you have a favorite book?

Forced to answer this I’d have to go with Restaurant at the End of the World by Douglas Adams. It would be literally the 4th book I read on my own when I started reading. Before those came The Twits and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein and then the first Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book.

5. If you could create a playlist that reflects your bookshelf, what would be the first song you choose?

What Is It?” by Faith No More

Walkabout” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill

6. How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAShelfie)

For a long time I tried my best. There is a rhyme though. Autobio and non-fiction are all together. Graphic Novels are all together. There’s a cook book section. Then it gets pretty crazy though. I feel like fiction is fiction is fiction, be it fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, young adult, erotica, whatever, so I gave up and just try to keep authors together.

7. If you could choose three characters to have lunch with, who would they be and why?

Someone has to pay for it all so maybe Gatsby, he’s crazy and eccentric but hey money. Then Zaphod Beeblebrox and Willy Wonka. Oh wait, they have money too so… maybe Alice, but AFTER she’s experienced all of Wonderland or Dorothy but after a few Oz books.

That’s me. I’m weird, I’m strange, and I’m all over the place with books. Also I’m here, but I really don’t fit into the Book Blogger realm. Things like Diversity, or other subjects are not of my concern. I like all kinds of stuff. I identify as non human multi sexual agnostic atheist spiritual believer so be free, love books.

BEA 2016: What I’d Get If I Was There

I won’t be able to attend BEA this year. I could not expense for airfare to Chicago as well as hotel near convention center + expenses for 3-5 days, not to mention whatever the costs even with book rate to mail all the following books I’d want (and more) back to NYC. That didn’t stop me from imagining if I was there and writing a little bit of stuff I think folks going should be aware of.

I’m not dropping table numbers or times, if you’re going to BEA you can go the website, log in and use my info that I spent time on to just create your own itinerary  of people who will be there that I want to meet, meet again, and get their latest work in some format.  The list is focused on what I like personally but I like a lot of things so there should be something,.

So without further to do:

Jeffrey Brown, the cartoonist behind many an awesome comics including Bighead and Incredible Change-Bots but who really blew up with his Star Wars humor books debuts the first full length edition of his new series Lucy & Andy Neanderthal.

Jay McInerney (most famous still for Bright Lights, Big City but has six other novels and tons of colums) with Bright, Precious Days… a follow up to The Good Life. (also scheduled to come out in August)

George Saunders, the noted essayist with his DEBUT novel Lincoln in the Bardo, not coming out till Feb 2017. There’s lots of books I’d want at BEA, but this to have in hand so early AND to meet Saunders? *sigh *

Gene Luen Yang with a second Secret Coders book. Really fun stuff here.

Eoin Colfer‘s IRON MAN aka Iron Man:The Gauntlet scheduled to come out in October and which has been a very hyped book makes it ARC debut and Eoin will be in attendance to sign too. The Gauntlet seems like a great read.

Bill Ayers, former member of the weatherman group, professor and political activist will be there with his latest Impossible! A Radical Manifesto.

Aaron Reynolds, a great Children’s book author gets teamed up with awesome artists always, for his next book coming out and presented at BEA, President Squid, he worked with Sara Varon, so totally a picture book I’d be happy to own.

Skottie Young will have the collected I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1 that he’ll be signing. I LOVED this book in floppy. To have a collected edition with probably a little sketch in it too? But again alas.

Here’s a major one, Ransom Riggs, author of Pecular Children (also a major upcoming film) will be there with upcoming hotly anticipated Tales of the Peculiar. An awesome side book.

Judd Winnick, of Marvel comics, Frumpy the Clown, Barry Ween fame will be at the Expo promoting book two in his awesome HILO series.

Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will be there with his latest Here I Am scheduled for a September release.

Kenny Loggins, the musician extraordinaire has turned Footloose into a a children’s book.

Raina Tegelmeier, the artist/writer of Smile, Drama, and Sisters brings her latest Ghosts, which comes out in September.

Dav Pilkey, of Captain Underpants fame, brings the latest side comic “created by George and Harold” with Dog Man scheduled for August.
Matthew Reinhart, king of the pop-up, tackles LEGO in his latest which comes out September.

Box Brown, cartoonist of Andre, Legend, Bellen and more, tells another comic book story of a major icon with Tetris! Out in October.

And as a final note, on an Author stage:

Berkeley Breathed, the Bloom County cartoonist, collects the NEW strips and presents them in a talk with Scott Dunbier.

All of you going to BEA who read this.  Have fun.  Those of you in my place, well, there you are.

The Librarians at NYCC 2015

THE LIBRARIANS returns November 1st, 2015 on TNT at 8 PM with a 2 hour season premiere.

In the second season the major plot will be that the magic getting unleashed in season 1 will lead to literary characters coming to life, from Shakespeare’s Prospero to the monster from Frankenstein.

At NYCC there was both an amazing panel and incredible press session. The panel was super fun and revealed plots and stories from season 1 and upcoming season 2, while during press I was able to speak with various stars of the show to expand the thoughts from the panel and add ones not even addressed.

Here is a Playlist of all those interviews:

Nick Robinson at NYCC 2015

At NYCC 2015 I got the privilege to interview Nick Robinson as part of a roundtable in conjuction with the then coming JURASSIC WORLD blu-ray (out now in stores online and offline everywhere).

He’s an excellent young man and I’d gained appreciation for him during his time on MELISSSA & JOEY and look forward to his work in the indie based on a true story BEING CHARLIE and the major blockbuster based on the best selling Rick Yancey YA series THE 5TH WAVE.

At NYCC they transported the gates to Jurassic World to the Javits Center as well as full true to life raptor (you can call it an animatronic all you want… it was real! REAL I say!).

Here’s video of the interview:

Regular Show at NYCC 2015

At New York Comic Con 2015 I had the pleasure and privilege to speak with Sam Marin, William Salyers, JG Quintel, Sean Szeles and Paula Spence, the cast and crew.

Regular Show-The Movie is out now on DVD (October 13, 2015).  It is a truly epic adventure of space, time, action, drama, flashbacks, reveals, secrets end of the world/save the world antics worthy of the movie treatment.  The DVD has amazing special features including a full commentary  with Quintel and Szeles, animatics of deleted/unused scenes, the original board pitches and concept art.

Post BEA via Video

Before BEA15

Book Expo America and Book Con 2015 are right around the corner. Seriously right around the corner, starting this Wednesday, May 27th at 1 PM till Sunday at 5 PM if you are attending both shows.

Coming in at the sixth year in a row attending the show PCS is still under prepared. No matter how many tip articles you read and there are MANY good ones (including the one posted back in 2011 on this site  which still applies in some ways) once you arrive all common sense goes out the window, but in the best way. While there is a lot of business being conducted, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. You are in a building full of people who love books, write books, sell books, review books and more. Even the shyest person will find ways to break out of their shell.

This year instead of doing a huge preview of the show PCS has made the schedule it will be working off of for both events as a public Google Doc.

There are a few personal highlights for this site though and maybe you’ll come to them and support my friends.

itiswhatitisArmada-cover-3dsLong time family friend Colin Rath will be signing copies of his  IT IS WHAT IT IS on Friday from 1-1:30 PM at Autographing Table 14. The book tells the story of he and his family’s incredible adventure through Manhattan real estate. He and his wife are amazing people and their story is inspirational and powerful one telling you to never let dreams die. Even if you are not at BEA it is a book to indeed get your hands on staring May 26th, 2015.

Ernie or Ernest Cline is a best selling author for his READY PLAYER ONE. He also wrote the screenplay for the troubled but entertaining film FANBOYS. His next book arrives on July 14th, 2015 but he will be signing copies at Penguin Randomhouse’s Booth (3119) on Thursday, from 10-11 PM. This writer first met Ernie back in his slam poetry days at the URBANA slam hosted at Bowery Poetry Club encountering his early work and becoming an immediate fan and occasional friend.

Here is a list of some the celebrities from film, television, music and culinary, the major focuses of PCS that will make appearances at the con in no particular order: Bernadette Peters, Felcia Day, BJ Novak, John Leguizamo, Mindy Kailing, Bobby Flay, Carol Alt, Lisa Jakob, Christie Brinkley, Emeril Lagasse, Karen Finley, Adam Carolla, Nick Offerman, Judah Friedlander, Abigail Breslin, Shane Dawson, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segel.

As you can see quite the line up. I’m exhausted just thinking about it… but it’s all worth. So if you’re there, have fun and love your books.