Pop Cultured Summer 2013 – August

Summer is usually a time reserved for sunshine, beaches, and vacations. For pop culture fans like me, it may mean the end of my regularly scheduled TV programming but the start of a batch of other summertime shows. It also means the air-conditioned movie theaters are filled with the latest blockbusters, and live music abounds at stadiums/arenas/amphitheaters everywhere. So as we continue on with what summer brings us, here’s what I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

AUGUST

After all the excitement of July, the month of August winds down the summer. This year for me, it will be a music-based month. John Mayer announced not-so-long-ago that his new album Paradise Valley will be released on August 13th. Lucky for me, the very next day John makes his way to Toronto on his Born & Raised tour – his first in three years. I haven’t seen him in concert since his promotional album release show for Battle Studies (and boy, was that an experience I’ll never forget. We may have feared for our lives, either by being trampled over or lack of air). Another concert that I’m VERY excited about is the Honda Civic Tour featuring a double headliner in Maroon 5 & Kelly Clarkson (Technically, they call it Maroon 5 with special guest Kelly Clarkson, but come on.) I mean, TWO of my favourite music artists/acts on the same bill?! I’m not imagining it right?! SO OF COURSE I’M EXCITED!

On the movie front, there’s really only one movie coming out this month that I’m interested in, and that is The Spectacular Now. The film, based on a 2010 novel, stars Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller as Aimee and Sutter, two teenagers who could not be any more different, yet find themselves falling for each other. On the outset, it doesn’t seem like the movie is breaking new ground, but the trailer gives off a sense that there is more to the movie than your typical teen drama. The movie was also incredibly well-received after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

And that’s about it for what I’m looking forward to this month. Most summer TV is in the middle of their seasons and will be wrapping up soon, so there’s nothing really new until the official start of the fall TV season. It’s rare to see a new show premiere in the late summer, but I was just reminded that on August 5th, it will be the 10-year anniversary of The O.C. premiering on FOX (can’t believe it myself). It’s a slow month to say the least, but it’s a sign that summer is almost over. Before I know it, fall will be here and September will bring forth the start of a new TV season, along with the Toronto International Film Festival. More fun is still to be had!

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A First-Timer’s Account of San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Day 1

San Diego Convention Centre

For years, I have wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Comic Con. The ultimate nexus of all things pop culture. This year, thanks to my cousin agreeing to go with me, I made my way. This is the account of my 4-day experience at the center of all things nerd.

DAY 1
My first day at SDCC started in Toronto. After checking out the amazing Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert the night before, I was up and out early Thursday morning to fly to San Diego. Once arriving in front of the convention centre, it was like a huge shock to the senses. Thousands of nerds, in their finest geekwear and cosplay all descended to this one place. It. Was. Crazy. Trying my best not to look like such a newbie, I made my way in to meet up with my cousin. A short walk in the exhibit hall and we then moved onto Hall H, the biggest panel room of the con (holding upwards of 6500 people). Be it that there weren’t really any HUGE panels happening that day in Hall H, our wait to get in was no more than 30 minutes.

The first panel we got to see was Entertainment Weekly’s The Visionaries, their yearly panel which includes three directors; this year’s lineup was Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer), Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, the upcoming Gravity) and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). For a fan like me, who truly cares about all aspects of Hollywood, it was really great to hear these three directors talk about the filmmaking process, along with their stories and struggles.

L-R: EW's Anthony Breznican moderates, Alfonso Cuaron, Marc Webb, Edgar Wright

L-R: EW’s Anthony Breznican moderates, Alfonso Cuaron, Marc Webb, Edgar Wright

That was followed by the slightly high-profile Summit/Lionsgate panel introducing Ender’s Game and Divergent. Ender’s Game, based on the highly-acclaimed novel, stars newcomer Asa Butterfield working alongside Sir Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford. Yeah, Harrison Ford showing up was a big deal! I, however, was mainly interested in Divergent – a book that, for the record, I haven’t read yet, but EW has done a hell of a job promoting it that I became intrigued by it. The story itself, about a future Chicago where people are divided into four factions based on their good traits, was already interesting. But then the cast that was assembled for this movie was incredible (oh hey, Maggie Q!) What I found particularly surprising at this panel was that it featured literally never-before-seen footage of the movie (they had only wrapped on the movie 2 days beforehand). I’ll tell you this: the footage they showed looked AWESOME. I’m going to have to fast track on reading the series before the movie comes out.

 

L-R: Moderator Chris Hardwick, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ansel Elgort, author of the novel Veronica Roth, Theo James, Shailene Woodley, director Neil Burger, Zoe Kravitz, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold, Miles Teller

L-R: Moderator Chris Hardwick, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Ansel Elgort, author of the novel Veronica Roth, Theo James, Shailene Woodley, director Neil Burger, Zoe Kravitz, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold, Miles Teller

L-R: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, director Gavin Hood, producer Robert Orci, and Harrison Ford!

L-R: Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, director Gavin Hood, producer Robert Orci, and Harrison Ford!

We called it a day at the convention centre after Divergent, but the day wasn’t over for me. Before the Con, I had tried and surprisingly succeeded at scoring an invite to the annual Ausiello party. Me being, well, me, I wasn’t entirely prepared for parties and socializing (I am socially awkward and an introvert after all), but who I am to pass on the chance to potentially meet celebrities? To which I did. It was really cool to see and meet Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley from Community) and Retta (Donna from Parks and Recreation); they honestly could not have been any nicer. On top of that, I met and talked to some cool people too – fellow fans just hanging out and talking about what we’re looking forward to at the Con.

At the Ausiello party and got to meet Yvette Nicole Brown!

At the Ausiello party and got to meet Yvette Nicole Brown!

Also got to meet the hilariously awesome Retta!

Also got to meet the hilariously awesome Retta!