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Los Angeles and Things of Randomness


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Anime Expo and the Nationwide Attraction

Anime expo crowd

Anime expo is one of the world’s largest anime conventions. It takes place once a year and is held at the LA convention center in downtown Los Angeles.

One of the interesting things about this convention is the sheer scale of audiences that it attracts. I do not and have not worked behind the scenes of how Anime Expo works but here are some of my speculations on the reasons why this convention is as big as it is.

Anime expo is based on Japanese culture. Japanese culture is enormous across the United States and around the world, ranging from video games, manga, anime, television dramas, and even fashion and music. Almost every aspect of Japanese culture has found its way into American culture.final fantasy cosplay

Anime and manga contains multiple types of genres ranging from action, romances, adult, and have even included certain video games as well. The sheer range of different genres of stories that anime and manga contains is one of the reasons why it is so popular. It is simple to read and watch at anyone’s leisure and there are hundreds of different stories.

Audience and content

The thing about anime and manga is that it can be broken down into dozens of different genres.Japanese writers and artists can be extremely creative and every story can be very unique. Since the genres that they write come in a huge variety of themes, this allows consumption of media that is interesting for people of all ages, young and adult.

Anime fans, video game fans, cosplay fans, there are also tons of things to do here that cater to everyone’s interests.

Arts and crafts

Anime and manga are both forms of art, which is also a reason that it appeals to so many people, regardless of their age and can build on nostalgia for older audiences.

Artists will try to mimic the artwork and create their own versions. Writers will attempt to write fanfictions or their own manga and sometimes branch off into drawing their own artwork. Animators will try to create AMV’s of their favorite series and showcase their animation skills. People who enjoy creating small memorabilia and keychains can also craft their own toys and gadgets of their favorite characters. The range of content that can be created from a single anime or manga series is absolutely endless and is limited to each person’s imagination.

kill la kill cosplayCosplay

People who enjoy wearing costumes of their favorite characters during times other than Halloween can have the chance to show off their best designs. Whether it is an intricate, handmade design or one that was put together in two minutes, many cosplayers come to the event solely for showcasing their designs. There are many professional and amateur photographers that attend and many professional cosplayers will try expose their work to as many of these photographers as they can in hopes to go viral.

Cosplayers usually also have fun here by joining the organized specifically themed meetups. These meetups tend to be massive depending on the theme and are a huge attraction for those who want to see a large group of their favorite characters together.

Exhibition halls

The exhibition halls in the convention center allows many vendors and artists to sell their products and artwork. The exhibition hall is massive and is one of the biggest attractions at Anime Expo. The audiences that travel from all over the United States come to the exhibition hall and will sometimes purchase as much merchandise as they can since it is an event they can only attend once a year of this scale.

People fly across the country to participate in this event.

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Taking place in the heart of downtown LA, the Anime Expo convention attracts all the local anime fans in the populous city as well as tourists all over the world. The event also takes place during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which allows a flexibility in time to be able to plan and show up to the four day event. Being located in LA, people who fly in from across the country  will be able to use the weekend as a mini vacation to visit the sunny city.

The area is it also surrounded by many hotels and famous restaurants in the area, allowing for many local businesses to be able to benefit from the event as well. Special promotions on nearby hotels will also be available when you purchase event tickets and also include free shuttle service to the convention center. Some of these famous hotels are Luxe City Center Hotel, JW Marriott, Residence Inn, Westin Bonaventure, and Courtyard LA Live

Promotion

Being a four day event, Anime Expo has taken the initiative to start its promotions not too long after their prior event has ended. Sales on four day passes begin as early as November during the Black Friday sales. These passes go on sale in the $50 range for a four day pass. This is a very valuable promotion since attendees who decide to wait until the last minute to purchase passes could pay up to 40% more.

Promotions for the event also start very early because the organization knows that people will be flying from all over the country to attend the event. By promoting early, this allows all the non-local attendees and vendors to plan their trips by booking their flights early as well as reserving hotel space.

EcoSystem

Putting it all together, Anime Expo takes a simple concept of a convention for anime and manga enthusiasts and have successfully created a massive ecosystem that combines many similar niches to their industry. Western style comics such as Marvel and DC characters can sometimes make cameo appearances at the convention. Video game characters that have artwork that have similar drawing styles also appear. A noteworthy mention is League of Legends, which in the last few years, have attained huge popularity in this audience group.

Anime expo has come a long way from its early years. The way that it can bring in audiences from outside the Anime world is exactly how innovation in the new marketing world works. Amazon started off selling books and is now a massive retail, fulfillment and logistics center. Anime Expo has essentially achieved the same for its industry and I do not expect it to slow down anytime soon. It is not driven solely on anime and manga itself but it feeds off of the interests of their target audiences.

Do you agree with any of my points? Why do you think Anime Expo is as large as it is?

-Gary

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Spicy Greatness in Alhambra, CA

One of the things that I do not eat enough of is spicy food. Maybe it is because I am secretly a wimp when it comes to food that burns my tongue and my entire mouth,  but I do enjoy it from time to time. In order to keep my spicy tolerance from depleting to zero, I decided to try out a restaurant located on the west side of San Gabriel Valley, in the city of Alhambra, a little place called Szechuan Impression.

Szechuan Impression Building

Pay attention as you are driving down Valley Boulevard, because this small little shop might be overlooked if you are not aware of it’s existence. Unlike many other Chinese restaurants, the building itself is a relatively modern design with outdoor seating available. This provides a nice attraction for younger customers who can enjoy a fresh outdoor experience.

The interior also emits a modern minimal atmosphere which feels similar to a cafe. With faux leather seats on the side walls and simple tables spread throughout the restaurant, it provides for a nice family dinner or a Sunday afternoon lunch.

The service is not terrible but it is what you can expect from a Chinese restaurant. The waiters and waitresses will not make too much small talk with you but you can be sure that they will get what you need as quickly as possible. Water constantly refilled and promptly served food is what you can expect as you dine.

Their menu consists of primarily spicy foods, as that is what the Szechuan province in China is known for. During this dining, I ordered some of their most popular menu items which include the Impressive Bean Jelly, Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar and the Steamed Taro Chicken Pot.

Impressive Bean JellyImpressive Bean Jelly

This cold noodle is one of the best cold noodle’s I have had. The jelly noodles are an amazing mixture of cold and spicy which makes you wanting more. It is not too spicy but enough where you can still feel a kick to your taste buds. The cold noodle helps counteract the spices and makes it a must try experience if this is your first time at the restaurant.

 

 

Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar

Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar Picture

Another popular item on the menu, this dessert adds a very unique twist to the classic rice cakes. As if fried food is not addicting enough, they have added a black sugar sauce to these rice cakes which can make the entire plate disappear within minutes. The texture contains a thin layer of crunchiness which quickly turns into mouth watering, soft interior similar to that of mochi.

 

Steamed Taro Chicken Pot

Steamed Taro with Chicken PotFor the entree, I ordered a Steamed Taro Chicken Pot, which is, like the name suggests, a giant hot-pot with chicken and steamed taro. I opted for medium spiciness, which in all honestly, felt much spicier than it was. As I was eating, I could find what I assume are the seeds from the peppers they added to make the spicy soup. This was hot, not going to lie. My mouth began to feel a bit numb and I could not imagine how much spicier the higher levels would be. The cut up taro and the chicken were delicious and when eaten with a bowl of rice, helps tone down the spice a little bit.

As I mentioned before, I do not eat too much spicy foods but this was still a good impression. My mouth was not burning to death, but I did have a few drops of sweat. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was pleasant and the restaurant does everything it can do that sets it apart from many traditional Chinese restaurants. It will be great for families and can still draw in the younger, hipper crowds.

Do you like spicy foods? Share your experiences!

-Gary

Credits:

  1. http://gastronomyblog.com/2014/08/26/szechuan-impression/


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Photography at the Broad

As someone starting out with photography, there is still a lot of things I still need to learn. Composition, lighting, and capturing that right moment. I have taken a handful of shots ever since I got my camera a few weeks ago and this is one of my favorite shots so far.

JB Turner Train Jeff Beam

The JB Turner Train by Jeff Beam is a piece of art located in the Broad Museum in Downtown, Los Angeles. There was a lot of different kinds of beautiful artwork in the gallery but this train caught my eye. There were a lot of different angles I could have taken this and I opted for a simple frontal shot.

An interesting thing about this is I happened to capture a moment in the background where two women are taking photos in the art gallery. They are taking pictures of different art pieces but the angle makes it seem as if they were taking pictures of each other. It’s one of those fun things about photography where there are layers of different tidbits in the image that are not in the main focus.

What do you think of the photo I took?

-Gary


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The Rain Room at LACMA

Rain Room

LACMA: The Rain Room

The famous Rain Room has arrival in LA and is located in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, abbreviated LACMA. The concept of the Rain Room is a dark filled room with water raining down from the ceiling.

You are telling yourself, “So what?”. Take a step into the rain, and you will quickly realize that you are not getting wet. Take a few more steps. You are now in the middle of the rain but you are still not drenched in water.

This is the main attraction of this room. There are sensors that can detect when you step into the rain and will keep the rain from hitting you as you slowly walk through the platform. I emphasize slowly because if you decide to run through at full speed, the sensors will not react quickly enough and you are not going to be happy about the results.

The Rain Room is a fun attraction to see but the downside is that it is a little pricey if that is the only thing you are there for. Do not be surprised when you find out that you are only allowed to walk through and enjoy the room for daunting 5 minutes. While it is a little bit short, it is still enough time for you exercise all your creativity and take cool silhouette shots from the large light in the back corner of the room. 

Rain Room tickets cost $15 plus another $15 general admission fee, making it a total of $30. To top it off, if you choose to park in the garage, that is another $12.

The Urban Lights LACMA

In order to make your trip worth it, be sure to check out all the art galleries in the surrounding area, especially if you have never been to LACMA before. Another attraction is the famous Urban Lights right next to the ticket booth which has been featured in a lot of pop culture movies. There is a lot of other interesting arts in the the different buildings and it will be a fun way to spend the next few hours of your day!

Interested in the Rain Room? Tickets are limited and I believe will be going away early next year. Click the link below for more information!

LACMA: The Rain Room

5905 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles CA 90036

-Gary


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Los Angeles: The Broad Museum of Modern Art

thebroad1

The Broad is a new super hyped modern art museum that just opened in downtown LA. It is located directly across the street from the Walt Disney Hall and also portrays a massive, unique architecture that boldly rivals the Disney Hall. Part of all the hype is fueled for these reasons alone. 

Inside contains many new modern art features including sculptures, painting and photography. Having already been to a few art museums, the atmosphere as you walk into the Broad is unlike other museums. Maybe it is still really new but the feeling as you walk through each room simply does not feel like a regular museum. The rooms are very spacious and the white walls make it feel massive. It is simply very interesting to walk through.

infinity room
The museum also features the Infinity Mirrored Room, a room filled with a seemingly endless array of mirrors and lights. If you are interested in seeing this attraction, you will need to sign up and schedule a viewing for the same day. Located across the restrooms on the bottom floor, there is a kiosk where you can register for the viewing. The best time is to sign up early in the morning because viewing is very limited. This mirrored room is limited and expected to only be available until the end of February, although there is currently no specific end date. If you are interested in art or willing to give it a shot, the Broad museum is an excellent way to expose yourself to art museums.

As of now, viewing is free entry to the public. If you are interested in viewing the art, your best bet is to go early on a weekday in order to avoid the massive weekend lines. Also, it is free. Who can argue with free?

-Gary


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Another Noob Photographer

Canon Rebel T5

Everyone has an outlet to release their creativity. Whether it is drawing, painting, digital art, to making music, expressing yourself is a way to keep yourselves sane in this busy world.

Recently, there has been a huge boom in social media over the last few years while also popularizing taking pictures. Everyone loves pictures. We communicate through it in Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and many other outlets. It is simple and it is easy. It is a fun and easy way to store those special moments and show off all the cool places you have been to, especially if you live in Los Angeles.

Lately, I have had a peak interest in photography. I have been already had experience in using my company’s digital SLR in taking product images for our website but had never got to picking up a camera for myself. With the holiday season starting, I saw an opportunity for a good deal on a camera and decided to take the plunge and got myself a Canon EOS Rebel T5 with an 18-55mm lense.

I’m still getting used to taking more photos in dynamic environments rather than a small photo shooting area where the lighting is always the same but some of the things I am trying to perfect are adjusting the ISO, aperture and exposure levels to take better pictures. Here is what I learned so far.

ISO – The ISO setting on your camera is the sensitivity to light. Lower ISO’s are less sensitive to light and higher ISO’s will make your camera more sensitive to the light coming in.

In other words, for darker settings, you want a higher ISO to increase the light sensitivity. Lower ISO’s are favorable in well lit settings since you do not need as much light. A high ISO in a bright room will make your photograph washed out so you will need to adjust accordingly to get a better image.

Aperture – The aperture in your camera is the amount of light that goes into your lense. It is a small hole in your lense where the size can be adjusted through the F-number setting. In this case, the smaller the F-number, the bigger the hole, and vice versa. How does this affect your image? A smaller aperture will make the focus of your image sharper, while blurring out the background. a higher aperture setting will make the entire image clearer.

Exposure – Exposure, or shutter speed, is how long your camera is exposed to light before you take the snapshot. A higher shutter speed will instantly take that image for you, allowing you to capture those special moments before they get away. A slower shutter speed will take into account the motion that occurs in your object. This is how you create those motion blurs of light in freeways at night, or smoky light trails from fire.

These are just the basics I have learned. If I have explained it incorrect or something is wrong, let me know! Photography is a fun hobby and living in Los Angeles, there are so many events and things to do, that having a decent digital camera is always a good thing to carry around. It is not as convenient to carry as a smartphone but you have much more control of how your picture comes out with on a digital SLR.

Here are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken so far! These were taken at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. My shots are still a work in process but I can see this becoming a long term hobby!

micro plants

micro plants2Accord


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Fun time at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show

la car show 2

The LA Auto show is one of the biggest car shows in LA. Taking place in the Los Angeles Convention Center, this event showcases many of the newest models for cars that will be releasing the upcoming year. Like most car shows, brands will bring all their lines and put them on display in hopes consumers will keep their brand in mine whether they are buying a new car. Whether you are looking for a new car or are a car enthusiast, this is an inexpensive event that is fun for family and friends.

I have been going to the LA Auto show for a few years now and every year I have seen improvements with the design and layout of the show. I enjoy seeing the newest models of cars and every year, there are at least 30 new cars to see that are all loaded up with the latest technology and performance updates.

It seems to me that all the the brands need to find ways to keep people in their sections for as long as they can. So they have created many games and activities for everyone to participate. You will most likely blow through the sections that do not have any activities, especially if it is a car manufacturer you are not especially fond about.

The structure of the LA Auto Show is usually broken up into different sections — economy, luxury, exotic and aftermarket. The platforms for all the cars in the different categories are well organized and makes sure you will be able to see every brand and all their lines.

Interactions at the LA Auto show are increasing more and more each year. In 2014, the event held many customer interactions such as throw paper airplanes through a hoop to win a prize, or win swag from a machine by instagramming pictures. This year is no different with more manufacturers creating more innovative ways to keep you in their booth areas. Here are a list of some of the things I did at the car show.

la car show 3Subaru – VR and green screen – This virtual reality set straps you into a mechanical chair that moves as you view through the VR headset. The experience is to make you feel as if you are actually in the car. The content showcases the new sensors and safety controls that are loaded up in the newest Subaru cars. After the little demonstration, it kicks off to a action video where you are sitting next to a professional drifter riding through a race track.

Next to the virtual reality booth is a green screen where you can take pictures with your family or friends. After you take a picture, you can modify what background you want and let your creativity go wild by putting silly stickers on the photograph.

Scion – autograph signing – This year, Scion is having a lot of different celebrities come in for autograph signings from special guests, Robert Kirkman, Andrew Reynolds, Steve Aoki and Eddie huang.

Toyota – I did not stay at Toyota for a long time but they had announcers who were preparing giveaways to audience members if they answer short questions.

Kia – Hamster – Kia had a booth where you can take a picture with their hamster mascot.

Ford – Spinning Chairs – These spinning chairs at Ford were bolted to the ground and let you spin as fast as you can. It is a fun little break if you have been walking around for some time.

Random games – There are random little arcade style games around the the booths such as car parking simulators, auto racing cars, and reflex games.

Test driving cars – You can test drive as many of the latest model cars as you can where the course is driving around streets of the convention center. Some of the brands will give you a free gift for test driving such as battery power banks. Unfortunately, I do not think you can test drive any manual transmission cars.

Sitting in cars and photographs – This is a given but sitting in the cars and taking pictures of all the latest cars is one of the most entertaining things to do at the show. You can sit and feel the comfort of your dream car and take as many pictures as you want in the well lit show casings of all the cars. If you are looking for a new car, this also a quick and efficient way to get a good feel of as many cars as you can without having to drive from dealer to dealer.la car show

Overall, the LA Auto Show is worth going to at least once in your life. It is only here once a year and for $15, you can see and test drive all the newest cars, and see all the latest technologies car companies have loaded up their vehicles with. You can also get a free voucher at participating local dealerships. Just ask for a voucher and you can get a buy one get one free deal for the convention center.


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Getting through your Daily Commute

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Long, boring commutes. This is one of the ongoing problems for many of those who live in densely populated, urban areas such as Los Angeles. Many of us sit in the the car and accept that the ride is boring but those who are willing to maximize their time will take advantage of listening to podcasts during these long commutes. Podcasts are a great way to stay productive when all you can do is stare at the road until you get home.

You can listen to podcasts from your smartphone, iPod and any mobile device that you have. Even though I’m an Android user, I choose to use the Podcast app that comes with the iPod’s and set it to automatically download new episodes every morning. There are no advertisements and it works seamlessly. For Android podcast apps, the highest rated app is called Pocket Cast. I have not personally used it yet but it has all the mainstream podcasts that you can find. This app is not free but it is relatively inexpensive at $3.99 for a plethora of content. If you do not want to dish out any money for a podcast app, there is an Android alternative called Podcast Addict. It is free to use and has most of the popular podcasts. The only downside is this app has a lot of advertisements but you can remove these by paying the premium.

Once you have found your favorite Podcast App, you can now begin your productive journey in those long commutes to and from work or school.There are many different topics and categories of podcasts to choose from. You can listen to entertainment, education, business and pretty much anything you can imagine. I personally listen to a lot of finance and business podcasts during my hour long commutes but everyone has their own preferences. Here are my current favorites, in no particular order.

  • Planet Money is probably the most famous one in this list. Being one of the many shows on NPR, this podcast takes different topics and breaks it down from an economic point of view. Almost every episode is worth listening and lets you see different points of views on subjects that you may not have thought of.
  • The Start Up Chat with Steli and Hiten is a new podcast debuting in the middle of 2015 and features two Silicon Valley veterans who decided to make a podcast. Steli and Hiten are very knowledgeable in the processes of how startups work. The ups, the downs, they have been through it all as they are founders of their own start-ups. Many of their episodes will teach you an issue startups face and how to deal with them. At the end of the podcast, they will advise you one or two action items to do for your own companies.I personally think that a lot of the topics they discuss provide a lot of insight and can be applied to everyday life in how to improve productivity and efficiency in your life.
  • APM: Marketplace deals with a lot of recent events regarding business, stocks and finance. It sums up what happens in a nice 20 minute segment for those who want to know what is happening in the news but are short on time.
  • APM: Marketplace Tech is similar to APM: Marketplace but is much shorter and deals with recent events regarding tech companies. Many of the companies they talk about can range from up and coming start-up companies to large corporations like Apple and Samsung.
  • What’s Tech takes technology and explains them in clear, detailed fashion. Whether it be a product, concept, or recent theory in technology, What’s Tech keeps it fun to listen as well as informative.

My commutes range from 35 minutes to an hour each way so I usually keep in line enough podcasts everyday to power through the drive. I enjoy listening to music on my commutes as well, but sometimes you need to change things up a bit. You can learn so much through podcasts and I feel it should be something more people should take advantage of. It is free and there is really nothing to lose from doing it.