For the first time in what to the best of my recollection is three years, I left Devil-Town and went on not one but two mini-vacations!
In the first, I went to see my good friend 神圣 in San Diego. The visit just happened to coincide with the San Diego Comic Con, so we figured we might as well go. You know, as long as I was there and all. Also, we're both total geeks. I took lots of pictures of attendees in costumes. Not of the professional booth girls --- I find that to be a particularly egregious example of pandering to fanboys --- but of regular people who took the time to make creative, fun costumes. Some of them did incredible jobs, like a Dark Knight Joker who was carrying around a pencil as a prop, a couple who were a perfect Hal Jordan and Jade, a slight girl dressed as the Joker on vacation (shorts and a Hawaiian shirt over the usual regalia), and a terrific Red Skull.
There was something for everyone, from a very attractive young lady dressed as the Silk Spectre --- hott --- to the cutest little four-year-old boy dressed as the Dark Knight Joker --- possibly inappropriate --- with his even littler sister, who tried her best to be that girl from Harry Potter. One woman dressed as Lara Croft got a bit shirty when I failed to recognize her. "I don't know anything about video games," I said, and she returned hotly that it was also a movie.
Fun fact: if you ask someone dressed as Spider-Man if you can take their picture, they instantly crouch down and make the web-shooting gesture. One hundred percent of the people dressed as Spider-Man did this.
Later, we went out for drinks with an upcoming Marvel artist who just did a stint on The Punisher, he and 神圣 being old school friends from Taiwan.
Back in the real world, 神圣 and I and his family had a blast in San Diego. Beaches, sushi, bars, his fellow doctoral students (one friend I met is doing his dissertation on French film noir, and was a fascinating person). It's a beautiful city and the weather was gorgeous. His two kids were well-behaved and adorable; it was a blast watching them at Comic Con as well. His wife gave birth to their third about seven hours after I left, maker her, as another woman remarked, "quite the trooper" for walking around at Comic Con with us the second day.
For the second vacation, I went to Portland for a week to visit Brother and Sister-In-Law, not to mention Nephews 1, 2 and 3, the last of whom is nearly three and whom I had never seen before. I also saw Deep Blue, my old high school and undergraduate friend, his wife Cyan and their now three-year-old son.
Just before I arrived, Portland had been experiencing some pretty severe heat there, but it thankfully broke and it was beautifully cool to warm. We went peach-picking and collected some of the most delicious fruit I've ever had ("the Mackinaws are in, Jerry!"), except maybe the fresh-picked plums we were given by a homeowner with a tree in her yard. We visited all the great food places: Mio sushi, Apizza Scholls, the Ben & Jerry's store, and that haven for gluttonous locavores, Burgerville.
Not too much had changed since I was last there --- my nephews are still brats, Portland still has a lot of hobos and rude bicyclists, it's a verdant paradise, and the economy is sluggish. A lot of storefronts have been remodeled and revamped, but they seem to sit empty. I was immensely cheered to see so many local businesses still going strong (except maybe in the case of Dixie Mattress --- how does that place stay open, anyway?). Portland is a walker's city, and the people enjoy supporting the community. Streets like Sandy, which require cars to drive down, don't do as well as touristy but laid-back Mom-and-Pop areas like Hawthorne or Division.
Anyway, now back in the heat of Devil-Town. Work starts Monday. I've been totally idle since the last week of May.