Monday, March 27, 2006

The Rarest Transformers of All Time

A once in a lifetime opportunity is currently developing on eBay, as BotCon originators and highly respected Transformers fans Jon and Karl Hartman will be selling off some of their collection of G2 Stunticons and G2 Protectobots. A new auction is supposed to be listed every day or so. Here's the first one, for G2 Protectobot First Aid.

For those who do not follow Transformers closely, it is worth emphasizing that these are some of the rarest Transformers ever made. A small handful (estimates are at about a half dozen) were made, in packaging, as test items, before Hasbro decided to cancel the Generation Two (G2) line altogether in favor of what became "Beast Wars." Very few Transformers items ever get this far along the production process without actually making it to mass production on toy store shelves, making these some of the rarest Transformers of all time.

One of these toys actually did get produced in somewhat higher (although still rare) numbers as the very first BotCon exclusive, G2 Breakdown. The back of the packaging shows the other four Stunticons, although these were never actually sold to the general public, even at BotCon. This has allowed the G2 Stunticons (and the G2 Protectobots) to reach near-mythical status as items most of us knew existed, even if we've never actually seen them.

So, if you have a few hundred dollars to spend on toys you'll likely never want to take out of the packages, feel free to bid. For the rest of us, it's still worth checking on the auctions to see these pieces of seldom documented Transformers history. I'll add links to the other actions as they appear in the coming days.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Game Show Review: Unan1mous

This one showed up completely out of nowhere, and I wasn't even aware of it until a few minutes before it premiered on FOX last night. In fact, I likely wouldn't have seen it at all under normal circumstances, as I don't usually watch American Idol, which preceded it on the schedule.

I should also offer a quick disclaimer: there is some debate over whether a "reality" show such as this one really qualifies as a "game show." I call it a "game show" because of the $1.5 million prize offered to one of the participants.

Here is how FOX describes the show on its website:
In a dramatic new television experiment, a diverse group of nine strangers are locked in a bunker, where they'll remain until they decide who is worthy of a 1.5-million-dollar cash prize.

There is a catch, though, because the longer it takes to make a unanimous decision, the less money there will be to win. If they take too long, they will be left with nothing.

Upon entering their isolated living quarters, the nine contestants are cut off from the outside world, locked away, and presented the opportunity to win $1.5 million. The only thing standing between them and the money is a simple vote. If they are able to come to a unanimous decision about who should win the money, the game is over. If the outcome of the vote is not unanimous, the money clock is activated and the cash prize begins its countdown with potentially thousands of dollars lost every hour until the next voting period.

In every episode, each of the nine contestants, who include a minister, an atheist, a ladies' man and a feminist, must convince the others to vote only for him or her. Before the vote, personal facts, secrets and lies are revealed, perhaps helping them decide who should receive the money. As the game progresses, contestants will be eliminated from winning the cash prize, but – in a television first – they will continue to live in the bunker and will continue to vote.

Will contestants' greed for the money outweigh their desire to help someone potentially less fortunate than themselves? Who will lie and connive, and who will be truthful and sincere? No matter what, the final vote must be UNAN1MOUS.
The first show promises lots of the social tension that generally characterizes "reality" shows. And I'm intrigued by the indeterminate length of the concept (most such shows are explicitly set to be a set number of days long, even for the participants), although I could probably spoil some of the surprise if I looked up how many episodes have been scheduled (recognizing that the number of episodes does not necessarily correlate to the length of time it took the participants to play the game).

But I'm especially distressed at the way one of the participants has been portrayed. Kelly (listed as a "minister" and "conservative Republican" on the website) couldn't go 10 minutes into the show without getting into a screaming match with Jameson (listed as a "gay activist" on the website) over homosexuality. Now, this is an issue I have some concerns about, myself. While I would like to side with my more liberal friends who do not believe homosexuality to be a sin, I simply can't get around the (admittedly few) Scriptural injunctions on the matter. However, I do side with those who believe that homosexuality is not a choice, and believe that Christians have done a lot of harm in their efforts to "uphold Biblical authority" on this issue. Put simply, there is no excuse for Kelly's behavior, which is deplorable in pretty much every way, and its embarrassing to see her talk about "what the Bible says" and "what God says," knowing that she's talking about the same Bible and the same God that I claim myself.

Kelly becomes even more difficult to like when she describes herself as a financial adviser (or something similar. This is not on the website, and is dependent on how she described herself on the show the one time I saw the episode last night. However, I did note that she described herself in this way before declaring the she was "also a minister."), and is revealed by the end of the show to have declared bankruptcy despite having over $100,000 available. This is simply dishonest, and reflects extremely poorly on those who call themselves "Christian."

Now, I'm well aware that the people on this show are responsible for their own actions, and do not wish to excuse Kelly's behavior in any way. However, a quick look at the bios on the show's website makes clear that these nine people were specifically chosen for their differing views, not only specifically along "liberal" and "conservative" lines, but often as "Christians" and "atheists." No other religious faith is singled out in this way. This indicates to me that FOX is specifically looking for, and will edit the show to bring out, the conflicts that Christians often have with those who disagree with them. This bothers me, but not for the stereotypical "society is out to get Christians" reason that most right-wingers so often cite. Instead, it bothers me because it seems to me that Christians have created this kind of situation by their often hostile and intolerant behavior. It's one thing to have strong beliefs, and to seek to uphold them in how one acts within society. It's another matter entirely to treat the non-believer (and anyone else who might have a different interpretation of Christian faith) as "the enemy." Let me be clear here; non-believers are not our enemies. They are fellow human beings for whom Christ died, and who might yet be saved. However, if we Christians persist in this kind of hostile behavior toward such people, we will only push these fellow human beings further away from Christ. If we are to be held accountable for our responsibility to evangelize the world, we need to take this problem seriously.

I'm not yet sure if I will continue to watch Unan1mous. While I'm curious to see who (if anyone) wins, watching Kelly's ravings is simply embarrassing.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Whirlwind Tour

Last week was more than a bit nutty, between the usual "Finals Week" rush of incoming papers, making plans to attend my cousin's wedding in Placerville, and my wife's attempt to finish grading a group of 80 5-page papers in preparation for the next set of papers that arrived just in time for us to leave! And all this while I was suffering from a fairly intense sinus cold, from which I have still not entirely recovered!

I'm glad to say that the wedding went fairly well, and we had a good visit with my extended family. The service, while undeniably traditional in its theological assumptions, did not raise any serious "red flags." I especially enjoyed getting to meet and hold my youngest cousin for the first time. I'm the oldest child, not only of my family, but of my entire generation. (Both of my parents being the oldest child in their respective families.) My brother and sister are fairly close in age to me, my brother being the youngest, but only 2 and a half years younger than I am. The oldest of my cousins is a full 7 years younger than I am. My uncle remarried about a decade ago, and has started a "second family," his children from his first marriage both in their early twenties now. My uncle's youngest child, a daughter, was born this past December, and so when my family all gathered for my other cousin's wedding, many of us were introduced to her for the first time. There's been something of a tradition in my family for the past couple of decades or so of having a picture taken of the oldest and youngest of my grandparents' grandchildren together. As the oldest of my generation, I'm always the one to remain "the oldest," but the "youngest" has changed some half-dozen times over the years since we started doing this. I'm happy to say that my grandparents are caught up again, at least for the time being.

Holding my baby cousin also gave me an opportunity to sing one of my favorite David LaMotte songs, "New Lullaby," to an actual baby for the first time. I had a lot of fun.

On the way back home from Placerville, we swung by Berkeley to check out the location of one of the universities my wife is considering applying for PhD studies at, and on the way, we stopped by Walnut Creek so I could show her where I spent my time back in second grade. She commented that this leaves Montreat as an important place in my formation that she still hasn't seen. All in good time....

We finally got back yesterday, a bit tired, and with my neck a bit stiff from holding it in a "driving position" for such long periods of time, but glad to have made the trip. It's been too long since I've been up to Placerville, and it was good to see everyone there. Maybe next time I can visit with a bit more time to spend....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Peter Tomarken Killed in Plane Crash

Here's the article.

It's been apparent for some time now that a generation of game show hosts is passing. Jack Barry, Bill Cullen, Allan Ludden are all gone. Some, such as Dick Clark, Tom Kennedy, and Monty Hall, are now retired, and we'll likely never see any more games from them. Others, like the venerable Bob Barker, are still active, but Barker is clearly in his twilight years at 82. We'll never see hosts like these again.

And I'm not just saying that because talent like theirs is so rare, although one could argue that it is. But rather, the world of television production has changed so much in the past few decades that producers would, for example, never hire a person who had to walk with a limp because he contracted polio at an early age (such as Bill Cullen, who hosted more game shows than anyone else in television history). And pretty much every one of the hosts mentioned above got their start in radio when radio (and not television) was "the big thing," cultivating skills that aren't as important in television anymore, but which were essential to good game show hosting.

The trend these days is to hire comedians who already have a built-in appeal to younger audiences. This is especially important to producers because game shows tend to skew a bit older than many other forms of television entertainment, and advertisers are willing to pay more money to get younger audiences. (This is despite evidence that suggests that senior citizens tend to have far more disposable income, but I digress.) While this trend has yielded a couple of excellent hosts such as Howie Mandel (Deal or No Deal) and Richard Karn (Family Feud), it has also yielded a list of forgettable clunkers.

Peter Tomarken was best-known for the 80's hit Press Your Luck. He was, to go by his age, somewhere in between these generations. He was a decade or two younger than most of the other "greats" at 63, but was old enough to have benefited from the experience of that earlier time. Having hosted Paranoia on the Fox Family Channel only a few years ago, it seems apparent that Tomarken could easily have had a few more games in him had he lived, and this makes his tragic passing all the more painful.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Friendliest Place on Earth

My parents grew up in a small town about a half-hour east of Sacramento, CA called "Placerville." While it's not a terribly tiny town, most people I know have never heard of it, and it's always a point of interest to have a conversation with someone who has. Back when I served as a planning team member for one of the Montreat Youth Conferences nearly 15 years ago, one of the other members was from nearby Diamond Springs. He was convinced that my Placerville credentials were indeed genuine simply because I'd pronounced the name of the town correctly. (It's "PLA-ser-ville," with the "a" as in "apple.")

Neither of my parents were born in Placerville, but they both moved there (independently) when they were still in elementary school, and much of my extended family (including most of mother's family, and my father's sister and her family) still lives there. Because my own immediate family grew up in Kentucky, we'd only make it out to Placerville every other year of so while I was growing up. But even still, I'd been there enough times that, by the time I moved to California and could drive up there on my own, I knew my way around to all the places I needed to go.

Placerville has it's origins in the Gold Rush of the 1840's and '50's, with the first discovery of gold at Sutter's mill only a couple of miles away. It had gained such a reputation for rowdy behavior back at the time that it earned the nickname "Old Hangtown," which is still honored (?) on displays throughout Main Street in the historical district, complete with a stuffed mannequin hung from a noose outside of one of the more prominent establishments.

Despite this rather macabre history, Placerville tends to be a rather nice place to visit (even apart from the relatives). Apparently, North Park University professor Scot McKnight liked it so much during a recent visit that he said it may be "the friendliest place on earth." Although I have no indication that McKnight specifically rubbed elbows with any of my relatives, I expect the compliment reflects well upon them, as well.

I must confess, there are a few more conservative aspects of Placerville that I still struggle with, including a particular church that has some of the most fundamentalist teachings I've ever come across. I'm convinced that the pastor of this particular church is not just right-wing (although he is indeed on the extreme edge of such), but actually is delusional on some level. I recall a sermon back before the year 2000 hit, when the "Y2K" scare was all the rage, where this pastor gave a "sermon" (no Biblical text was used or even claimed) informing us of the dangers: how even laundry machines would cease to function because of the embedded chips in them that would freeze up when the computers could no longer figure out what year it was. While I expect that a large degree of the "Y2K problem" was indeed averted because enough people updated their computers to be "Y2K compliant," I'm reasonably confident that few, if any, people upgraded their laundry machines. Yet I was able to continue washing my clothes without trouble....

I'm not always good about biting my tongue about this particular church and their pastor. But still, I'll need to try to be on my best behavior. A cousin of mine is getting married there next weekend, and my wife and I will heading up to Placerville to attend. While I'm more than a bit concerned about having details to share that mirror my experience a few months ago, I still want to support my family, and I look forward to some of the more pleasant attributes of Placerville in any event. Prayers for me (as I enter this particular "lion's den") and for my cousin (as she enters the uncertainty of her married life) are more than welcome.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

All Translation is Interpretation

When I was a student, briefly, at a Presbyterian seminary in Kentucky, my professor of exegesis constantly repeated the mantra, "all translation is interpretation." I have often found this to be true as I've learned more about Biblical studies and interpretation, but in few areas as obviously as in issues relating to gender equality.

Yesterday, during the "grid blog" event, I was able to spend time reading through some other people's experiences and views on the issue, and found the experience to be highly enlightening. I even took the time to read some of the bloggers' other posts on the issue, not explicitly tied to the "grid blog" event. One blogger posted a link to a conference paper presented by respected evangelical theologian N.T. Wright, providing a biblical basis for "Women's Service in the Church." This, in itself, is nothing new to me, as I've read through many papers and books on this subject (both pro and con) in the past few years. But I was surprised.

Any scholar attempting to deal seriously with this issue must, at some point, address Paul's (if Paul wrote them) words to Timothy in I Timothy 2: 8-15. Here is the text of that passage from the TNIV, often cited as a gender-neutral translation done by scholars open to women in ministry (although the translation was, in fact, created by scholars from both sides of the "women in ministry" debate):
8Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 9I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women will be saved through childbearing--if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
It is easy to see how even this translation, done (in part) by people who do not generally believe that women "must be quiet" in church, nonetheless leaves us forced to look beyond the obvious meaning of the text if we are to finally be able to suggest that Paul "doesn't mean what people think he means" here. For example, egalitarians often suggest that Paul is telling gossips and contentious women that they must be quiet, but that this passage was never intended to be taken as a blanket condemnation of all women's speech.

But it's likewise easy to see why non-egalitarians are suspicious of such an interpretation. Paul's text does appear, on the surface, to be a blanket condemnation. Of course, egalitarians rightly point to other parts of Paul's letters, and the ministry of Jesus himself, to demonstrate that women were indeed regarded highly, even within the church. But the non-egalitarians often respond that they don't mean to treat women with any less respect (in spite of the fact that this is obviously what happens in many, many cases), but that God assigned specific roles to men and to women, and that these preclude a woman in a leadership role in a church.

The argument continues, and I don't expect it will end anytime soon. But N.T. Wright suggests in his paper a novel approach to this particular text that, strangely enough, I'd never heard before. (He deals with a lot of other texts before getting to I Timothy in the paper, and I encourage you to read the whole thing. For now, I'm just dealing with the I Timothy text.)

N.T. Wright observes that there's a good chance that this text was very possibly intended to be sent to Timothy while Timothy was in Ephesus. Ephesus was known, first and foremost, as the city of Diana (or Artemis, depending on whether we're talking Roman or Greek). Paul's experience in Ephesus in Acts 19:23-41 explicitly deals with this fact. (I actually wrote a Doctor Who short story about a decade ago that put the Fifth Doctor and one of his companions in the setting from this passage. I'm rather embarrassed by the preachy nature of the story now, but I mention it to note that I learned a fair bit about the Ephesus/Diana connection while researching that story.) Wright notes that one of the features of Artemis worship in Ephesus was female-only temples. If I Timothy was written into this context, that changes almost everything about how the passage is to be interpreted.

I'd invite you to check Wright's own words for the specifics of his reasoning, but so far as I can tell, its all exegetically sound and faithful to original Greek. Here's the translation he proposes for I Timothy 2: 8-15:
[8]So this is what I want: the men should pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, with no anger or disputing. 9In the same way the women, too, should clothe themselves in an appropriate manner, modestly and sensibly. They should not go in for elaborate hair-styles, or gold, or pearls, or expensive clothes; 10instead, as is appropriate for women who profess to be godly, they should adorn themselves with good works. 11They must be allowed to study undisturbed, in full submission to God. 12I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; they should be left undisturbed. 13Adam was created first, you see, and then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, and fell into trespass. 15She will, however, be kept safe through the process of childbirth, if she continues in faith, love and holiness with prudence.
This allows women to hold roles just the same as men, but the emphasis is that they shouldn't become superior to men, just as men shouldn't become superior to women. In a context where it is culturally common to see temples where only women could worship, or hold leadership roles, this makes perfect sense. If this translation had been used when people first started translating from the Greek texts, just imagine how much of the debate regarding women's ability to hold church leadership roles would be a non-issue! But as it is, we have centuries (millennia!) of interpretive tradition that, in many cases, must be undone to even begin to talk about this issue. Such a tragedy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grid Blog for Int'l Women's Day: Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained

Today is International Women's Day, and several of us on the blogosphere have been asked to post something today to commemorate the event. Because I have a few readers who may not have been regular readers of this blog when I first posted this list several months ago, a repost seemed appropriate. To use the same disclaimers as before, I'm a man seeking ordination (someday) myself, and so I'm quick to note that this is all tongue-in-cheek. I'm also quick to note that this is not my list, but something I got from a professor of mine, who didn't write it, either, but got it from the internet. He will actually be using it today, as well, as he teaches a course entitled "Women, the Bible, and the Church" here at the seminary (which my wife is Teaching Assistant for!). This list has made the rounds in a few forms over the past several years. I've taken the liberty of making a couple of small edits from the form in which I got it.

Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Not Be Ordained (think David Letterman)

10. A man's place is in the army.
9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.
8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be "unnatural" for them to do other forms of work.
7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.
5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.
4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, and maybe even lead the singing on Father's Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Camel Conundrum

Slacktivist muses on the popular Christian legend regarding Jesus' teaching that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25) This legend says that there was a small doorway into Jerusalem called "The Eye of the Needle" that was really only big enough for a human being to walk through, but if you crammed the camel in really hard, you might be able to squeeze it through. There has never been any evidence that such a doorway ever existed, and this is generally understood to be a fiction that many Chrstians use to miss the point of Christ's teaching: that "with human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mark 10:27)

I had heard this tale myself when I was in high school, but had the myth exposed within a few years afterward, and did not realize that this ridiculous story was still being spread around as though it were truth. So let me be clear here: there is no evidence to indicate that Jesus meant anything other than pushing regular-sized camels through the eyes of regular-sized sewing needles. Even acknowledging that needles were somewhat different then than now, the significance remains exactly the same.

However, if you just read Slacktivist's post itself, but miss the comments that follow, you'll miss this transcript of an old SNL gag (complete with screen captures). It's quite telling, and I encourage you to read it.

The comments also get into debates on how much one is "saved by works/deeds" vs. "saved by faith" which are also worth reading, regardless of your theological position on the matter.

This is a continual see-saw issue for me. As a lifelong Presbyterian, I tend to affirm "salvation by faith alone" as opposed to "salvation by works." The usual "good-Presbyterian" response is that, if you truly have faith in Christ, good works will naturally follow. This allows us to affirm passages such as James 2:17 ("Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.") while sticking to our "faith alone" mantra.

But this means that I also affirm that to skip out on such deeds as active church involvement (just to name one) is an act demonstrating a lack of faith. I cannot truly be a faithful believer if my faith does not call me to active involvement in a Christian lifestyle.

But when such active involvement is damaging to one's well-being, is it unfaithful to take a sabbatical? This has been a very real question for my wife and me over the past several years, and we're still trying to find a balance between active Christian involvement and caring for our own well-being. We want to "rest in God's goodness" (as we are often told to do), but what does that mean in a practical sense?

And so I am brought back to the point of Christ's camel teaching: "with human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." All things are possible with God. May I have enough faith to trust in what that means.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Celebrating Five Years at the Seminary

Today was the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Convocation at my seminary. Although I actually started work in July of 2000, this is the event at which I was recognized for working at the seminary for 5 years. Although I am mildly uncomfortable at such events, it is nice that the seminary does make such an effort to recognize its workers who have stayed with the seminary for significant amounts of time.

I was especially touched by the bio my supervisor wrote to accompany my name on the convocation program:
[B-W's] work is at the center of the academic mission. Assisting 15 faculty members, he provides instructional and administrative support along with help to students. [B-W] has staffed faculty committees focused on degree program review, assessment, new faculty searches, and divisonal business. Part of the dean's office team, he assists with operational projects and event coordination. An MDiv graduate from [this seminary] and former Arts Concerns chair, [B-W] has an interest in worship, theology, and the arts. He has been a contributor to [the annual seminary variety show] and other creative endeavors. [B-W] is known for his Transformer collection, displayed in his office.
Although I was given the opportunity by my supervisor to suggest ideas for the bio, all I suggested was the very last line. I'm rather glad I didn't make any other suggestions, as my supervisor mentioned more aspects of my seminary involvement than I would have ever thought to mention on my own. I mentioned recently that was looking over my resume in an attempt to update it, but was having trouble thinking of details that might be attractive. I think now that I'll just cut-and-paste portions of this bio. This bio means a lot more to me than standing up to be recognized to gain a few seconds of applause in a convocation, and I greatly appreciate the effort my supervisor, a fairly quiet, unassuming person herself, undertook in order to respect my contributions to the seminary.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

BotCon 2006 location announced

Just got the following e-mail yesterday:
Here is the announcement you have all been waiting on.

BotCon '06 will be held in Lexington, KY, September 28-Oct 1. We will be at the Hyatt Regency Lexington and the adjoining Lexington Center. Hyatt will have us loaded into their system for reservations by the end of the week.

Convention brochures will be available in a few weeks and I will email you when they are ready.

Thanks for your support and we hope to see you all in Lexington later this year.

Brian
While the price of the convention package(s) has not been announced yet, I'd be willing to be that the price will be similar to last year's convention (just over $250 for members of the Transformers Collectors' club, but that includes the box set of exclusive toys). That's a bit high, but I've been trying to put away money every month since last year, so it might be possible. I'll hope to be surprised with a lower package this year.

But the location? That's actually got me excited. Lexington's only about an hour and a half away from Louisville, where I grew up and where my immediate family still lives. BotCon gives me an opportunity to go visit them, and my brother and one of his Transformers-loving friends are already starting discussions about possibly driving down together. If I can go, this could well be the most fun convention I've been to yet (the previous conventions I've gone to have been by myself, and I've been fine with that, but I always tend to be embarrased at the level of stereotypical geekiness of the didn't-take-a-shower-wears-all-black-
clothes-with-sci-fi-or-heavy-metal-references-all-over-the-T-shirts-standing-
up-to-do-embarrasing-impersonations-of-one's-favorite-character type that seems to be on display at these things, which is sad because I know that not all Transformers fans are like that).

Plus, I may have the opportunity to bring a game show event to the convention. But that's if I can go....

See, besides the cost, which could be a problem in itself, the convention's still going to be held at a time that would be difficult for me to break free during. This is a common problem for those of us who are in academia (either as students or staff), which is a fairly large number of Transformers fans. Still, the last weekend of September/first weekend of October isn't quite so impossible as the weekend immediately previous would have been....

I'm eagerly awaiting more information.

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