Wizard World hosts Austin Comic Con: Convention Returns for Second Year, Showcases Art, Pop Culture

Austin Comic Con, hosted by Wizard World, returns to the Austin Convention Center for the second year in a row November 11 to November 13.

The name ‘Comic Con’ is often associated with San Diego Comic-Con International, the most well-known of the comic book conventions, but the Wizard World made its fair bid for popularity with Wizard World Chicago, second only to San Diego in sheer attendance numbers.

This convergence of pop culture and population brings in people from all over and showcases a variety of well-known guests, fun events, celebrity panels and booths selling comics, graphic novels, anime, merchandise, and other collectible items.

Bringing fans of all ages and interests into one convention center, the Austin Comic Con features writers, artists, actors, games, contests and photo-ops.

“Two of my best friends went to Austin Comic Con last year and they’ve gotten me really intereseted in going,” said sophomore Ashley Scott. “They had a lot of fun and I can’t wait to go with them this year! It’s going to be great!”

This year, the convention brings guests such as Hayden Pantettiere, Adam Baldwin, Kevin Sorbo, four members of the cast of “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” and many more well-known people, including Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett Jr.

Comic creators Marv Wolfman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Maguire, and others will be in attendance to meet fans, sign autographs and create sketches. Phil Ortiz, five-time Emmy winning animator, will also be on hand to “Simpsonize” people. There will also be a reunion between four of the children who starred in the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” for the movie’s 40th anniversary.

The Dealer’s Room contains many booths and tables where toys, apparel and other kinds of merchandise can be bought with either cash or credit, depending on the vendor.

The Artist Alley features different artists that have come to sell their artwork or commissions of your requested character, game or movie.

The convention encourages people to come in costume.

Information about purchasing tickets and the convention in general can be found on the Comic Con website, http://www.wizardworldcomiccon.com/home-tx.html.

ACL Review

This year’s Austin City Limits festival, which spanned Sept. 16, 17, and 18, featured a lineup that, although thought by many to be weaker than normal, did not fail to perform. With a diverse lineup of artists from every genre imaginable, there were shows throughout the three rain soaked days to please any musical palette.Friday featured two standout hip hop artists, Big Boi and Kanye West, bo

th who performed on the main Bud Light stage and pulled out popular songs from their hit filled catalogs to keep their massive crowds tapping their feet and singing along. Another standout performance of the day was the popular act Foster

the People, who crowded the area surrounding the small Google+ stage and performed almost their entire album “Torches” to thousands of ravenous fans.
Saturday featured the massive pop performer Stevie Wonder who played to thousands but unfortunately experienced issues of overpowering sound from the My Morning Jacket concert that was taking place on the opposite side of Zilker. Drawing crowds to the Google+ stage to rival the previous day’s Foster the People concert, Sonny Moore, popularly known as the dubstep DJ Skrillex, worked the crowd into a bass fueled

dancing frenzy. On the opposite of this hyper dance dubstep, Iron and Wine put on a mellow set that provided an entertaining show to compliment the much needed rain that the Austin area saw on Saturday.

Ending the festival on Sunday, the most underrated day of the festival, Death From Above 1979 played one of their first shows in the past five years which only added to the excitement of their performance on the Honda stage. As a capstone to the weekend, Arcade Fire finished off ACL in their with a two hour long performance, culminating perfectly in “Sprawl II”. Surpassing the expectations of many, this year’s ACL was another successful weekend in the history of a festival that is known for its incredible headliners and perfectly chosen supporting artists.

Explore the Hill Country on horseback

Austin offers horse-back riding opportunities.

Horseback riding is a classic pastime, and trail riding in particular invokes visions of sunsets and open land. Southwestern University is surrounded by the famed Texas Hill Country, and a trail ride is one way to take in the scenery, particularly as the days grow longer and the weather warms.

In addition, riding a horse has a multitude of physical benefits. Though it may seem like all that the rider does is sit, horseback riding exercises abdominal muscles that are otherwise rarely used, promotes balance and causes less stress on joints than walking or running.

Luckily, there are a number of opportunities to go horseback riding in the Central Texas area. For a basic group trail ride that offers a view of prime Texas countryside, head out to Post Oak Farm in Burnet. Bee Cave Riding Center in Austin also provides trail rides for riders of all skill levels. The Nameless Horse Center provides this service as well. Lack of experience should not discourage anyone from trying out a trail ride, as all three stables provide instructors to guide the more inexperienced rider.

For something a little more adventurous, try White Fences Equestrian Center in Manor. They provide trail rides of all sorts, including one that has a picnic in the countryside. Silver’s Trails has a special trail for the more confident rider that includes going through a creek. Finally, for the truly dedicated, Colbert Ranch in Bertram has trail packages that allow riders to explore the ranch and participate in a variety of activities throughout the day, including a home cooked lunch.

SIRA recently organized a trip to Colbert Ranch. Senior Callie Paige went on the trip and said that it consisted of a two and a half hour trail ride and a picnic.

Paige said, “It was loads of fun, and it was really nice to get away from campus out in nature. It’s always fun to be around horses.”

If you are interested in going on a trail ride, it must be scheduled via phone or email, and further information is located on each ranch’s website.

For those who are feeling truly philanthropic and want to be around horses, there is also the Ride on Center for Kids (ROCK), which provides therapeutic horseback riding services for individuals with cognitive and physical challenges. Check out the ROCK website to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

Austin hosts 3rd annual Fashion Freakout

The promo used for Fashion Freakout.

The promo used for Fashion Freakout.

Movies like The Devil Wears Prada or shows like Project Runway foster our perceptions of the fashion culture to be elitist and high in standard and designer price tags. A February fashion show in Austin annually fights against this very stereotype in breathing life into the creativity that comes with everything that is retro, vintage, crazy and exciting – unlike the placid and fluidly chic atmosphere that dictates rigid definitions of what is “in” or “out.”
So ladies and gentleman, get ready for the third annual FASHION FREAKOUT, “a catwalk collaboration of rock-minded trendsetters hell-bent on outfitting Austin’s most fashion backward.”

This Friday, Austin’s Mohawk will morph into a haven of timeless rock ‘n’ roll sewn together with the vintage styles that are an inherent image of Austin’s identity. Styles from Prototype Vintage Design, New Bohemia and Buffalo Exchange will collide with tracks from Ben Blackout, Angel the Ripper, and The Carrots to make for a unique statement of ingenuity and brilliance.

At only $10 a ticket for an event that embraces all ages in celebration of art and music, it’s a shindig that – as has happened the past two years the event has been in operation – is sure to be sold out. The doors will open at 7 p.m., and the catwalk lights up at 9 p.m [Web Ed. Note: The event is on February 6, 2010.]

Audrie San Miguel, co-owner of Prototype Vintage Design, and Jason McNeely, a local producer, created this fashion show that defines the very essence of Austin culture.

“Being in the vintage and rock ’n’ roll realm, I thought that there was definitely a party that needed to happen, and I think that is what separates Fashion Freakout from different fashion shows,” San Miguel said.

This show is rebellion against the norm in its most basic and raw form, much like the nature of the Paris Commune of 1871 defined by how it exemplified the idea of  radicalism over what had previously been conventional in French government and society. It was termed as being “the greatest festival of the nineteenth century” when “everything was interesting and thus everything was possible” (Lipstick Traces) because in the grand scheme of the event, it was but a few moments of revolt and freedom that actually yielded products in the long run. The Commune, Debord’s Society of the Spectacle that fought against conformist society, the haunting and harsh tones of artists like The Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth or Van Morrison’s “Gloria” are all moments that ignite fires of revolt against the establishment, the core foundation of what it means to be rock ‘n’ roll or be a member of the coined “hipster” scene. This is the mental collage of ideals Fashion Freakout seems to be based on: A cry for something that deviates from expectation and, in doing so, creates something that could only be born out of passion for revolution.

Mike Wiebe, vocalist for local band the Riverboat Gamblers and the official emcee for Fashion Freakout last year, stated “Ultimately, what rock music is supposed to do is push things and hopefully offend the right people and coddle the right people … and I think that is what some of the fashion scene is intending to do… it’s supposed to be really divisive.”

This year, Fashion Freakout is sure to replicate its dedication to the immortality of rock ‘n’ roll and the looks of yesterday for tomorrow.

It will be an event ensconced in a feeling that everyone who had a part in creating it and everyone witnessing it can have simultaneously, leaving with an inward sense of understanding and satisfaction in making some noise in the world.

"Dying City" Features Work of SU Students

Liz Fisher and Craig Scheibmeir

Liz Fisher and Craig Scheibmeir

The play currently running at the Capital T Theatre in Austin is called “Dying City” by Christopher Shinn. It is a two-person show and stars Liz Fisher and Mark Scheibmeir.

And of course, we can’t forget that some of our very own alumni and current students worked hard to make this play happen. Cathrin Winsor, a current SU student, was the stage manager for this production. Heather Leisieur, another current student here, was in charge of costume design. Dan Farrar, a recent graduate, worked on the scenic and lighting design for the production along with Mark Pickell, who also helped with the scenic design the show required.

This was a very emotional play. It revolves around the lives of three people and how the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has affected their family. The story takes place a few years after 9/11 in New York. It surrounds Kelly (Fisher), her husband Craig (Scheibmeir) and his twin brother Peter (also Scheibmeir). Craig is a soldier getting ready to be deployed, while his brother Peter is a semi-successful actor who is constantly having relationship problems. Kelly, a therapist, is caught up in the middle of it all. She is busy reconciling her feelings about the recent news that Craig’s death may not have been an accident and her desire to start a new life without the ties that are binding her to her husband’s old life.

The scenes alternate between conversations between Kelly and Craig the day before he is to be deployed and conversations between Kelly and Peter about a year or so after news gets back that Craig has “suspiciously” died while overseas.
Each scene sheds a little more light on the story and the secret lives of the people involved. While I do not want to give away too much of the ending, I will say that I never saw it coming.

This was a really remarkable show. I was considerably impressed with Scheibmeir’s ability to play two such contrasting roles so fluidly. And Fisher’s constant volley back and forth between grief in her scenes with Peter and confusion with Craig was quite an impressive performance as well.

The story itself is also terribly heart-wrenching. I found myself having a hard time watching these people’s lives fall apart around them in such a short time. While some people might be reluctant to see the show because of the plot surrounding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it mainly focuses on the turmoil within the family and not on the war itself.

All in all, I was really impressed. The backstage work on this show was just as impressive and note-worthy as the onstage acting. This is certainly a tribute to the talents of the SU students and grads who worked on it and helped put it together.
I would certainly recommend that anyone go and see it. The show will be playing at the Capital T Theatre, located at 916 Springdale Road in Austin, until Feb. 6. Show times vary and there isn’t always a price for tickets. For more information on the show, the theatre, or order tickets online.