Monthly Archives: July 2011


30 Jul

Comic-Khan!

Posted by on July 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Every July thousands of comic book nerds, sci-fi buffs, and screaming fans materialize in San Diego for Comic-Con. This year those geeks numbered over 130,000 so those of you who haven’t heard of Comic-Con, the largest comic book and popular arts convention in the world, what hunk of kryptonite have you been hiding under?

We took this picture in front of the convention center the night before the con began. That’s the only reason there aren’t 400 people milling around in the background

You can captain my America anytime!

For a number of years Jason and I have contemplated attending this event and drooled over all the news footage from it. This time we decided to just go for it and buy tickets. With so many passes available one would think that they would be relatively easy to come by but no, the convention sold-out in less than three hours. We only succeeded in getting tickets by refreshing our browser nonstop in true OCD fashion and by getting a little lucky.

Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the 70’s TV series, wasn’t the friendliest of guys but he was happy to smile for a picture when being paid to do so.

Acquiring passes to this illustrious conference wasn’t the only tricky part of attending. Finding a hotel with availability this side of Mexico also proved to be horrendous but we managed to book one within walking distance, just ten blocks from the convention center, after a lot of online hunting and groping.

I asked this guy dressed as Robin if I could get a picture with him. He agreed and the next thing I knew I was being whisked into his arms as he exclaimed, “I’m a strong boy!” Thus the red face and funny picture.

All the bother was worth it baby!

Comic-Con has much to keep any movie, TV, or comic book nerd on sensory overload. All day long Q&A panels fill the convention center’s massive ballrooms. And these babies are the real deal; they are headed by the stars, producers, and creators of all the shows and fantasies you love. Some of this year’s big hitters were the cast of True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Twilight, The Amazing Spiderman, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory…I could continue but I’ve probably made you jealous enough. Did I mention that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were also there? Okay, okay, I’ll stop making you cry.

Ian, who plays Damon on The Vampire Diaries, is a favorite sucker of mine. His panel was a must-ogle, I mean must-see, for me. 

Bobas were everywhere at Comic-Con. One would think they were clones or something. 

Although the celebrity panels alone could definitely keep you star struck and enthralled for all four days of the con, visiting the enormous exhibit hall is not to be missed. The exhibit hall is filled with hundreds of booths where you can buy not only practically any comic book from the artists themselves but all sorts of exclusive toys and hard-to-find geeky merchandise. I’ve heard it said that you could spend all your con time in the exhibit hall and still not see everything; that seems pretty accurate. We got sucked onto the exhibit floor far more often than we were planning and yet we saw only a fraction of what was there. I guess it’s just as well that we didn’t visit more booths though because we spent $1000 as it was on cat buses, Data shirts, airship goggles, and signed comic books….how did I survive this long without a cat bus? Yes, if you go to Comic-Con bring lots of cash and plan on blowing it.

Michael Dorn was a little intimidating, it’s not everyday you run into a 6’3″ Klingon, but what a nice guy.

I couldn’t resist waiting in line with a bunch of kids to get a picture with Pikachu. You wouldn’t have been able to resist his cute little twitching ears either.

Comic-Con isn’t just famous for star appearances and nerdy merchandise though, it’s known for its lines and, although they may seem of mythical proportions, they are definitely no myth. One morning we waited in a line to get into the convention center so we could stand in another line for a chance to get passes to wait in yet another line just to buy some special Hasbro toys. Who wouldn’t wait Triforce, I mean trifold, for a Transformers/G.I. Joe mashup? The next day we lined up for panel sessions with about 6,000 other people in a never-ending row that stretched over two miles. It was madness. If you find yourself at the con expect to spend almost all of your time hanging out in winding lines that extend all the way to the Dead Marshes of Mordor.

Being at the very end of a 6,000 person line is sure to make you a sad panda. But, despite this line’s extraordinary length, we made it into our desired ballroom just an hour and a half later.

Speaking of sessions and session lines, choosing what sessions to go to was difficult. How do you decide between the science of zombies and a Klingon lifestyles presentation? It’s a hard call believe me. A few panels I definitely wanted to be present for: Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and Star Trek: The Captains.

The Family Guy panel was rowdy and highly entertaining. Those that dared to ask questions inevitably got harassed and anal fixations, of course, were discussed.

Just north of a the convention center a parking lot was transformed into South Park in all its 2D glory. It was pretty amusing.

Since this was our first time at Comic-Con we weren’t sure how hard it would be to get into our top panel picks. Twilight was the very first session the very first morning of the con. It began at 11:30 AM but bloggers recommended getting in line before 6 AM for guaranteed seats so that’s what we did. We were up shortly after 4 and in line by 5:30. Our six hour wait was sure to be boring and, judging from the number of fans in line when we arrived, not entirely necessary. But just an hour or so later things began to get interesting.

Booboo Stewart, who plays Seth Clearwater in the Twilight saga, pushed around a cart of fruit to offer to those in line. I told him I’d pass on a banana but I would take an autograph. 

It all started with Breaking Dawn swag being dispersed: posters and coffee mugs. Muffins, fruit, juice, and water were next handed out to the waiting fans and then, all of a sudden, a great deal of commotion and press marked the arrival of some utterly unanticipated excitement.

Elizabeth Reaser was happy to sign autographs and take pictures with the Twihards. What a good sport!

Members of the Breaking Dawn cast had appeared to greet their hardcore followers that had been waiting in line for hours or days just to get good seats in the Twilight panel: Ashley Greene (Alice), Nikki Reed (Rosalie), Booboo Stewart (Seth), Julia Jones (Leah), and Elizabeth Reaser (Esme). I got autographs and pictures with a number of them. All the stars were nice but Elizabeth, Julia, and Booboo were especially grateful and accommodating. It was refreshing for this franchise to show such appreciation for its fans. To pass out swag and breakfast was more than anyone expected but to also have the actors make their way through the line was unbelievable. Way to go Twilight for showing those other shows up!

Jason was little more than a boy toy inside this giant Star Wars action figure box.

Will Shatner and Avery Brooks have drastically different personalities. Their contrasts made for a more interesting session.

The Twilight panel was terrific but it wasn’t the only session that captivated us. We went to Star Trek: The Captains and met Will Shatner, Avery Brooks, and Scott Bakula. Their quirky personalities, along with session moderator Kevin Smith, made the panel anything but dull. We also got to do a long Khan with Will Shatner. Hilarious. Incidentally, Shatner was promoting his documentary The Captains available on Epix. It looks pretty funny and is definitely something I will be checking out.

We also attended the Vampire Diaries, Family Guy, Simpsons, Futurama, and American Dad sessions and therefore got to meet a host of vampire hotties, including my favorite Ian Somerholder, along with some comical characters such as Seth Green and Matt Groening. Encountering three starship captains did not totally satiate the trekker within me so we also caught Patrick Stewart at a panel for Dorothy of Oz, a cute animated film that he did voice work for. Sir Patrick Stewart was as eloquent as expected. And, as if all that weren’t enough, we got a sneak peak at an upcoming Fox series called Terra Nova too that looks pretty intriguing. Holy panels Batman!

Cosplay doesn’t get any more intricate or nerdy than the Comic-Con Masquerade. This Totoro was my favorite even though it didn’t win any big awards. 

Patrick Stewart was as well-spoken as ever. What a thrill to be in the presence of such a distinguished gentleman and cult favorite.

A couple giant robots were hanging out on a street corner as part of a Real Steel campaign. They look even more impressive next to a miniscule dot such as myself.

The sessions weren’t the only places to get up-close and personal with celebrities though. Down in the exhibit hall I got to meet a couple members of the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast, Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn. My teenage self would have fainted! They were both very nice even though my many years of fandom probably translated into a lot of staring and conversation befuddling. We also ran into Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead, along with such other comic bigwigs as Ian Churchill and Ben Edlund. And we got a chance to chat with some upcoming comic artists. Shane and Chris Houghton, the creators of the Reed Gunther books, were probably the friendliest comic guys I met at the con; I look forward to their future success.

Anywhere else this guy’s amazing costume would have stood out but at Comic-Con he was just one of the herd.

Comic-Con was crazy. The convention center and the streets surrounding it were always congested and overflowing with humanity. The lines were insane and at times I was so sick of sifting through the huge crowds that I had to go back to our hotel room for a wee breather to regain a smidgen of my personal bubble space but it was a once in a lifetime experience. Interacting with some of my favorite stars and meeting other personalities that are sure to become new favorites was a surreal hoot. And almost all of the celebrities we met were very obliging, which was unexpected. Being in the heart of nerdom was amusing too. When you are in line for a session and the people in front of you ask you if you want to participate in a dungeon crawl or you see a gaggle of storm troopers meander by you know that you are living every geek’s fantasy right down to the vinyl clad women.

19 Jul

A Blackout Birthday

Posted by on July 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Do you remember me complaining last month about Jason always getting sick at the most inconvenient times? Well, that illustrious tradition continues.

I had great plans for Jason’s birthday. I’d work half a day while he slept in and relaxed and then we’d catch the new Potter film and go out for a fancy dinner. Sounds nice, right? I thought so too.

Unfortunately, the night before Jason’s big day his tummy started hurting and then, less than an hour after we had gone to sleep, I awoke to him wandering out of our bedroom in a hurry. Somewhere in the recesses of my consciousness I concluded that his stomach issues were probably causing an emergency potty run and then I quickly drifted back to sleep…until I was roused again by a disquieting thud. This unnatural clatter was very loud but I thought it must be a product of my sleepiness since I couldn’t imagine what would cause such a ruckus. It turned out that the clamor was no slumber-induced figment yet a “what” didn’t cause it but a “who” rather.

Jason’s cake featured a huge hand made out of Rice Krispies and tubes that released dry ice smoke from a reservoir below. Special effects and tastiness-now that’s a cake!

Jason had hurried into the bathroom to upchuck and, after doing so, had felt a surge of heat run through him and then all had gone black. He had passed out and hit the tiled bathroom floor hard giving himself some cuts and a monster of a headache. Happy birthday Jason!

Worrying about Jason and all the implications his sickness would mean for his birthday plans kept me up until 5:30 that morning. An hour and a half of sleep is a catnap not a restful slumber. Not a good night for either of the Sabins.

This isn’t the greatest picture of Jas but the kids kept swarming the cake so it’s the best I could get. 

Luckily, Jason’s illness vanished almost as quickly as it had struck. By the time I dragged myself out the door for work the next morning he was already feeling well enough to eat the sweet rolls I had bought him for his birthday breakfast. Yeah! So we still got to see Harry Potter that afternoon as planned (armed with a barf baggie that thankfully we didn’t need to use). We decided to delay going out for an elegant birthday dinner that night though. Jason wasn’t too hip on the possibility of his nice meal boomeranging back up his esophagus, and truthfully I wasn’t terribly stoked about that idea either, so we just got Café Rio takeout and took it easy at home. It wasn’t exactly how I had envisioned his birthday ending but at least it didn’t conclude with more barfing escapades.

Volleyball has become a standard at Jason’s birthday parties and my inability to play it has also become expected. 

The next day I had a party in the park planned for Jason and, since his fluids were once again all properly contained, he was ready to socialize. I bought pizza from Malawi’s for everyone and my friend Robyn made a surprise Hulk cake. She did an amazing job! I totally threw Jason off the scent with a decoy cake so he was completely shocked by his superhero. I am so clever!

His party mostly consisted of the adults eating and chatting at the park’s gazebo while their kids enjoyed the playground. Of course we also brought it on with our customary volleyball tournament. My side won-no thanks to me. At one point my buddy Cameron told me that it would be better for our team if I just didn’t even try to hit the ball. I should have reminded him that whether I tried or didn’t try the outcome would be the same; either way I wouldn’t be making contact with that airborne orb.

Cameron relieved us of all the cherries leftover from the party. I’m guessing he might have had to relieve himself after eating all of those. 

Even though Jason’s birthday started out with a thud at least it didn’t end like a dud. Most of my plans worked out and, although it still hurts Jason to chew, his face deflated after about 24 hours and didn’t bruise too much. Good thing because I think when people say that birthdays are scarring they don’t mean it literally.

14 Jul

Don’t Rain On My Mermaid!

Posted by on July 14, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Jason’s mom Sue and his brother Jeremy were both born in July along with me and Jason. Yes, that means we go through enough birthday cake during the month to give a small country diabetes.

This year Jason’s parents decided that it would be fun to celebrate all our July birthdays by taking a trip down to Utah’s Dixie. They got us tickets to see the two shows playing at an outdoor theater in St. George called Tuacahn: The Little Mermaid and Grease. This gave us an excuse to take a break and spend the weekend in St. George together.

This is the condo at Lava Falls that we rented. It was a lovely building with a secluded patio.

Jason’s parents, Sue and Keith, stayed with me and Jason at a condo we rented for the weekend. The condo was beautiful and allowed each couple to have their own bathroom and bedroom while still promoting family togetherness. We got plenty of chances to play board games and chat; it reminded me a lot of hanging out at the old Sabin cabin but with less dust.

It felt like we were under the sea when that rain hit. It came sloshing at us from all directions.

Jason's mom Sue had her birthday while we were down in St. George. We surprised her with a little lemon cake and a horribly sung birthday song.

Friday night Jason and I got down to St. George with little time to spare before the start of The Little Mermaid but we managed to make it. Not that our timeliness ended up mattering much. Do you remember the scene where Ariel rescues Prince Eric from the stormy seas? Lightning is flashing across the sky as thunder pounds the earth and a thrashing rain begins to fall. Well, right when that scene was being played out on stage real thunder began rumbling the sandstone plateaus around us and unforgiving water started pelting the ground. Jason and I had brought ponchos with us just in case but even with those on the wind whipped us so wet we ended up taking shelter in a covered area along with everyone else. After waiting half an hour for the rain to stop, which it didn’t, the show was canceled for the evening. There were a lot of little girls crying that night because of the unhappy ending to their fairytale magic.

Jason was queen-I mean king-of the mountain.

Jason crawled up the sides of Jenny's Canyon. I can't take that monkey boy anywhere!

St. George wasn't as hot as it usually is in July but we still were way past warm. This nook gave me and Jas a very brief break from the intense sun...and yet another opportunity to look silly.

Although it was sad that our Friday activities got halted, we didn’t waste time pouting. The next morning Jason, Sue, Keith, and I headed up to Snow Canyon State Park for some hiking and caving. Snow Canyon is a pretty area creased by pocked sandstone and surrounded by white and red cliffs. The colors of this region are shadowed by piles of black lava rock that an ancient volcano strew about. These dark stone outcroppings protrude the fiery landscape conspicuously but their most interesting feature lies beneath the park’s surface.

These sharp rocks weren't exactly a comfy spot to lay your head but Jason thought they needed planking so I humored him.

This was the first lava cave we came across. Although it just consisted of two elongated caverns, it was massive and fun to explore with a flashlight.

Snow Canyon’s hillsides, which are roughened by jagged igneous rock, are further scarred by holes of various sizes: lava tubes. Years ago my parents owned a condo in St. George and so Jason spent quite a bit of time with me in Snow Canyon. Every time he came across a lava cave he wanted to explore it but he somehow was always lacking a flashlight. This trip though he was determined to make up for his previous inadequacies…sort of. He remembered to grab a flashlight before we headed up to Snow Canyon but he insisting on hiking in flip-flops. (Don’t get me started!) We trekked the Butterfly Trail to the West Canyon Overlook and then detoured to find some caves. We came across three. The first was easy to access with high ceilings in two long chambers but it smelled a little too musty and peeish for us to hangout in there too long. The second cave was very narrow so only Jason journeyed a bit into its belly.

I took this looking out of the entrance to that long tunnel we explored. Those goofballs are standing on a rim that circles a sloping incline that leads down to the spacious cavern that could have easily been confused for the tube's main draw.

Sue and Keith were hesitant to wiggle down into this opening but we finally coaxed them into the cave's antechamber.

This pictures was taken deep within the bowels of the earth. Okay, maybe not that far down but the throat of the earth at very least.

On our third discovery we hit the jackpot. This cave was fantastic! It’s opening  to the surface was not terribly large and could have been easily missed if a couple of women hanging out on a narrow ledge a few feet down had not caught our attention. Access into this hole was tricky and required some scrambling and scooting and once inside we probably would have mistaken a big cavity at the bottom of the entrance shaft for the main attraction if some hikers had not exited out of a small unremarkable gap to one side of it as we were entering the tube. That little opening led to a winding slender passage that eventually widened into a large rock-scattered room. Awesome! Upon leaving that room the tube dived over a narrow little cliff; that drop-off looked tricky to navigate so this is where we decided to head back. But the moment we exited from this tunnel back into the main shaft Jason turned around and headed back in by himself. He had decided that he could shimmy down that cliff, flip-flops and all, and was determined to see where the tube led. It turned out that it went down another cramped twisting path to a second large cavern where it ended. After traversing the entire passageway he convinced me to go back in with him to the tunnel’s terminus. I am claustrophobic and therefore not a big fan of ducking through a little crack in the earth but in the end my curiosity got the best of me. I’m glad I braved it; it was a cool cave.

After hiking and crawling around all day we saw Grease that night at Tuacahn and, unlike The Little Mermaid, we actually saw it. It was a fun show that made me want to dance and sing and wear a poodle skirt.

We may have had a few watery glitches in our fabulous weekend plan but it still turned out to be a great getaway with plenty of fam time and some surprising adventures.

7 Jul

Birthday Accomplished

Posted by on July 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm

For most Americans the beginning of July is all about fireworks and family barbecues but for me birthday candles are another seasonal fire hazard. I was born during the time of year when patriotism is paramount so often the celebration of my birthday has come second place to the celebration of America’s. Luckily, I have a super fantastic hubby now that refuses to ever put me second to anything and hence my birthday is rigorously observed.

Jason and I spent most of our holiday weekend celebrating me and the rest of it partying in general. I’m still exhausted from it all but what a way to live!

The Sabins are insane so, naturally, one would expect a mini golf outing with them to look something like this.

Jason and his brother Jeremy thought this anchor on hole 15 was a perfect spot for planking. Those ridiculous boys!

Jason's mom made Pavlova for my birthday cake. Tasty!

Friday we got the weekend started with some mini golf and fireworks with the in-laws. Lighting these fireworks went about as expected. There were a few times when I thought it likely that someone’s crotch was going to get a flame enema. Yup, pretty standard for the Sabins.

Jacob and Jason rode the tube together. That's a lot of poundage for a one-man vessel. Since Jacob struggled to stay on though I'm pretty sure his butt fat didn't contribute to the weight strain.

Jeremy and I swallowed enough lake water while tubing to make stomach aquariums but we were having too much fun to let a little drowning stop us from going back for more.

Jason was destined for a dip at this point. He's just seconds away from a water wedgie.

Saturday we went boating with our friends Jeremy and Jacob on Utah Lake. We got all sorts of crispy while wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and tubing. The tubing, oddly enough, proved to be the roughest part of the experience. That may have had something to do with us squishing too many people on that tiny tube and riding it backwards or while standing up but, then again, it could have just been a coincidence.

We were burnt, dehydrated, and tired after boating but, once a little nap refreshed us a bit, Jason took me out to dinner at Takashi in Salt Lake City for some birthday sushi. I could eat their Shiva rolls until my own rolls have been substantially increased…and then eat some more.

Jadon and Benson wrestled all over the backyard. Jadon was clearly at a disadvantage but he loved it anyway.

The next day it was time to party with my family. My parents put together a yummy barbecue to celebrate all four of those with July birthdays in one lump. Nothing says summer like chowing grilled veggie kabobs, hotdogs, and hamburgers while lounging in the grass…except maybe some snowboarding.

The forest was green and vibrant just one crest over but Hidden Peak was still hanging onto winter with a firm grasp.

Mineral Basin may have looked like a bathtub that was way overdue for a cleaning but ugly snow is still snow. I'm not superficial- if it's rideable I'll do it.

I have long dreamed of spending the 4th of July on white peaks with my snowboard underfoot. This never seemed very likely to happen but, luckily, Mother Nature is a fickle lady and her severe winter and frosty spring made my wish finally attainable. Snowbird announced a month ago that they would be open on the 4th. Sweet doggity dog! I was ecstatic and determined to be there for the holiday. Jason definitely didn’t try to dissuade me from this plan; he was drooling almost as much as I was. We weren’t the only ones with the dream of summer snow though apparently because it was very crowded at the bird. The tram line was the longest I have ever seen it but all the patrons were in exceptionally good moods anyhow as they wound around the courtyard. We were all getting to board on the 4th of July so who cared about a little wait! The feelings of exuberance didn’t fade inside the packed trams. Chants of “U.S.A!” erupted randomly and when a group of riders spontaneously began singing the national anthem they were quickly joined by dozens of others. After everyone’s voices had been warmed up by these patriotic outbursts Jason took the opportunity to get the throng to belt out a happy birthday song to me. Oh the humiliation! Even with that mortification it was a lovely day. It may have been scorching down here in the valleys but Snowbird’s Mineral Basin was lusciously slushy and perfect for a July frolic.

People were wearing all sorts of crazy attire up at snowbird. We saw girls in bikinis, a guy dressed as a shake weight, and of course this Speedo man. Jason humiliated me, once again, by asking these scantily clad men to take a birthday picture with me. I think my face turned a shade to match those stripes.

We finished off our 4th with a dinner featuring margherita pizza and grilled peach salad made by Chef Jason and then walked down to a park to watch the city’s fireworks with his parents and brother. It was a nice relaxing end to a crazy weekend.

My birthday may be easy to dismiss when there is fourth fun to be had but Jason will never let it pass without plenty of presents, lots of gorging, a host of  memorable activities, and of course some embarrassment. Without that man I’m sure I would feel a little forgotten every year, it’s hard to compete with America, but he makes sure I get a birthday way beyond the norm. Thanks for another spectacular celebration!

2 Jul

Hyrum’s Hooligans

Posted by on July 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Last weekend Jason and I stayed a night at Hyrum Reservoir near Logan with some family and friends. Although we spent a chunk of our time in the outdoors, our situation was too cushy to be called camping. No tents were pitched or campfires lit. It was more like a comfortable cousin to roughing it.

The cabins faced the reservoir and offered an excellent view of its placid waters.

The gaming was intense and nonstop. Jason and I called it quits at 2:00 in the morning. Drew, Jeremy, and Adam didn't stop rolling until 5:00 AM.

My brother Drew arranged for the rental of two little cabins on the shore of the reservoir for our group. The cabins were situated in a quiet spot right on the edge of the water that was not only ideal for taking in the serenity of the surroundings but also for putting plenty of space between our rowdy band and the other campers. Though not equipped with plumbing, the cabins had bunk beds, ACs, power, and fridges. They weren’t overly roomy but they served our purposes well. We put the kids to sleep in one and used the other for playing board games all night long.

Jadon was very intent on building a wooden dam on the beach that incorporated every stick he could find.

When pale skin is this plentiful it must be time to head to the beach.

The midnight hour may have belonged to board games but the day was all about cooling off in the water. Too much spring runoff meant the reservoir was bloated and nearly overflowing but its beach still had a strip of sand wide enough for the kids to play on. While the kids engineered sand structures the adults entertained themselves by sadistically daring each other further and further out into the frigid water. Peer pressure eventually convinced most of us to swim to a distant buoy that marked the boat-free area around the beach. Those that made it to this bobbing obstruction displayed their supremacy by riding that baby like it was a bucking bronco. That slippery unbalanced bugger wasn’t easy to hold onto but I managed to climb aboard long enough to prove my awesomeness. Yeehaw!

The buoy wasn't just a few breaststrokes away but the distance was swimmable even for the unseaworthy.

Jeremy straddled that buoy like a pro. He must be very practiced.

It was a fun little overnight getaway filled with plenty of board games, cheesy poofs, and soakings. Thanks for arranging it all Drew.