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Monday
Jul292013

George Amin Khouri (1941 - 2013)


Somewhere on the island of Borneo is a mountain known as Kinabalu. On this mountain is an extremely narrow bridge made of rope and wooden planks that extends hundreds of feet across a deep chasm full of treacherous rocks and raging white water.  

In 1992 George Khouri walked out of the jungle and stood before the old bridge. He wiped the sweat off his face as he watched the rope and wood sway perilously in the hot breeze and listened to the water crashing against the jagged terrain far below. 

George looked at me and groaned, “Are you kidding?”

Good afternoon. For those of you who don't know me, I'm George's son Amin, but for reasons that were never made very clear to me, Dad always called me Andy. On behalf of my sister Jennifer -- also known as Jeannie, which likewise is not the proper nickname for Jennifer -- we thank you for joining us today to say farewell to our father. Many of you have come from far away and at great expense and inconvenience to yourselves, which is of course what Dad would have wanted. 

I began my remarks with the story about Dad and the Mount Kinabalu bridge for a couple of reasons. It is probably the most popular of the many, many George Khouri legends I've shared with people all over the world. But in the last ten years or so, since Dad and I have been living nearby and spending a great deal of time together, I have come to see the story as something more than just an amusing anecdote. It’s become for me a vivid expression of the way my father thought and operated, a symbol of the many crucial choices he'd faced throughout his life, and a way of explaining why he may have made them.

See, while a troop of Boy Scouts tempted fate in a jubilant, single-file dash across the creaky suspension bridge, George compelled one of the local adventure guides to escort him all the way back down the mountain and across the river below. He would catch up with our group at the campsite several hours later, looking incredibly smug with his pride fully intact. 

Dad didn’t care how silly it looked because it was a calculated risk, a skill my father had mastered to grand effect in his life. True, crossing the bridge was faster, more exciting, and what everybody else was doing. But it was also true that crossing that creaky old bridge could result in crippling terror, lifelong nightmares or even death. Dad didn’t have to cross the bridge to get where he needed to go. He could save himself tremendous anxiety and perhaps his very life at the cost of just a few hours of some poor jungle guide’s life. George Khouri did it his own way, and it worked, and to him there was no other measure of success.

Fifty years earlier, George was born to parents Amin and Irene Khouri in Palestine, in the city of Jaffa. This began a period in my father’s life that is largely mysterious to me because he didn’t seem to enjoy talking about it. I know that leaving Palestine was very painful for my father and he remained scarred by the experience until the end. But knowing Dad as I did, I suspect the real reason George didn’t want to talk about the old, old days was because he was trying to protect me.

As you can see in this portrait -- the only one Dad kept in his home -- George was quite a dashing fellow back then. It’s not hard to imagine him getting into trouble with a face like that. Word on the street is that Dad was ejected from a couple of expensive schools -- not because he wasn’t smart, but because he was having too much fun. Maybe this is apocryphal, but I’ve heard about George later bumming around the Caribbean, gambling his car away in Las Vegas, and spending the night in a Houston jail for violating the city’s ancient “goo-goo eyes” ordinance, whereby it was illegal to “look at, make remarks to or concerning, cough or whistle at, or do any other act to attract the attention of any woman or female person traveling along any of the sidewalks, streets or public ways, with the intent or in a manner calculated to annoy or to attempt to flirt with any such woman or female person.” 

Considering the kind of disciplined man my father would eventually become, it’s no wonder that George was so bothered when I got into trouble myself -- and I don’t refer only to my own breathtaking disregard for the goo-goo eyes ordinances of the world. No, like him I was bright but not a dedicated student. I flirted with academic disaster on more than one occasion. I was halfway across the bridge, dangerously close to losing my footing and falling into the canyon below.

Dad probably thought he’d made a bad risk crossing that bridge when he was my age. He flunked out of school twice and disappointed his father bitterly. What did George get in return for that risk? Some good times, surely, but stories he couldn’t even tell his own son, because to do so was to affirm my own dubious choices. Or so he thought. I think he could have told me... 

....no, he was right, I would have thrown it back in his face.

One of the hardest choices most of us have to make is whether to follow our dreams. Defying his father’s wish that he pursue a life in medicine was a major risk, but George was right to cross that bridge and study business and economics, first at Texas Southern University and later at the University of Oklahoma. I’m honestly in awe of this aspect of my father’s life. Decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. Study that thing. Go get a job doing that thing. Excel at that thing. Every stage of this process is excruciatingly difficult for most people, but Dad made it look easy. 

A little over ten years ago I found myself driving across the country in my car all alone for about nine months with no real purpose or destination -- Dad was absolutely thrilled by this, by the way. At some point I stopped at O.U. One of the campus libraries has copies of all the Masters Theses going back decades. I found dad's on a shelf, typed and bound and looking very prestigious even 36 years later. It was a thick book called “The Development of the Oil Industry in Iraq.” Obviously I had as much chance of reading that as George did reading one of my beloved superhero comic books, but I was impressed just the same. The object lent a tangible sentimental value to a great story Dad often told about how he got the paper done, where a kind but hopelessly ignorant waitress he met at a local diner agreed to type the thesis in exchange for getting to see George’s flying carpet. 

My sister will read a testimonial from one of Dad’s colleagues that speaks more specifically to George’s prodigious business skills, so I’ll just say that I think success came so easily to Dad that he became frustrated with other people’s indecision or lack of confidence. His sharp, analytical mind served him so well in business and enhanced his enjoyment of sports and playing cards, but those same qualities made it hard for Dad to wrap his head around more abstract things like music, art... and the many complex emotions of the human race. 

I remember a story he told me about an anti-Vietnam War protest meeting he attended at O.U. In the early days Dad was skeptical about the anti-war movement but listened to what one of the organizers had to say. This is how Dad related the conversation to me:

Organizer: George, you and I have been talking about this for a couple of hours. I feel like we’re friends. Would you say we’re friends?

George: Sure. 

Organizer: Okay, now imagine -- god forbid -- that one day we meet on the field of battle. Me fighting for Israel and you for your country. Wouldn’t it be awful? What happens then?

George: I’d blow your fucking head off. You’re sitting here in America protesting the Vietnam War, but you’ll go to Israel to fight a war over there? I’d shoot you in the face -- and not because you’re Jewish, but because you’re a god damn hypocrite.

Obviously, the serious point this man was trying to make was lost on my Dad, who never came across a poetic sentiment he couldn’t undermine with relentless logic. 

It’s been gratifying to hear from so many of you and others who couldn’t be here that George was such a funny guy, full of life and generous with his counsel and friendship. The truth is that my experience with him was much different. I think my father and I were adversaries for a very long time. I’m sorry to say most of my childhood memories of Dad have to do with bitter arguments over, well, nearly every conceivable thing. Topics as important as my grades in school to as insignificant as the way I tied my shoes. Dad believed there was a right way to do everything -- his way, and if things were not executed thusly, they were manifestly pointless. 

At my mother’s insistence Dad took me into the yard to play catch when I was about seven. It was something all American boys did with their fathers, or so I’d seen on television, and so it was something I felt I had to do. I remember Mom watching through the window because I was really embarrassed when George quit after a only a few throws, citing my obvious lack of talent. 

George Khouri’s Field Guide to Success in Life even included a prescription for the kinds of toys I wanted to play with, my posture, the way I tucked in my shirts, the desires I’d voice about becoming a performer or writer, the way I would blow my nose into a handkerchief, and the order in which I would eat pieces of food off my plate. Seriously, Dad would sit across from me and stare as I moved my fork around the dish, sighing loudly when I’d deviate from his choreography of consumption. The look on his face was one of sincere shame and disgust. Things became so unpleasant during dinner time that I lost weight and found all food distasteful for years hence. This caused our mother to insist that Jeannie and I take our meals before George got home from work and turned the dinner hour into another session of bellowing. 

When it came to life, my father believed I was doing it wrong. He studied finance, I studied art. He was a Republican, I was a Democrat. He was short, I was tall. He had dark skin, I was pale. He loved sports, I loved music. I loved technology and new media, Dad decided he’d learned everything he wanted to know about computers by 1991.

Now, George relented almost all the time. I had to pay a tax in yelling and pride, but I did usually "win" in the sense that I got what I wanted or just refused to let Dad sway my own very Khouri-like certainty in the righteousness of my own ideas. In those days even an impasse was a victory.

Things were probably at their worst after our family moved from Singapore to Oklahoma in 1995, when I was 15 and George was about 55. Dad and I hardly spoke at all, and like him at that age I went away to boarding school. I don’t think we had a real conversation in over three years. After so much bitter rivalry, neither of us was willing to cross the bridge that lead to respect. 

Everything changed in 1998, when George and our mother Suzanne split up after nearly 30 years of marriage. Dad was pulled kicking and screaming across that bridge, and things were never the same, especially between us. I was going to college here in California, so I was the natural point of contact when Dad left Oklahoma and returned to where his mother Irene also lived, and where he and Mom had originally started their lives together. After years apart, all but estranged, George and I were living under the same roof again for almost a year, and for ten years after that within a 40-minute drive of each other.

Believe me, what followed was a harrowing three or four-year trek down the mountain and across the raging river, but we got there: common ground. 

One of the best experiences of my life was participating with Dad in what was his singular passion: investing. Together we researched and put money into a brand new venture, his first in decades. Dad had gained a reputation in our family for secrecy about business, but now he was letting me witness his financial alchemy firsthand and it was awesome to behold. Not so much the actual investing -- that’s still largely beyond my realm of comprehension -- but for the first time I was watching George perform on his own stage. We’re not talking about a lot of money here, but there was still a light in his eyes I hadn’t seen since my earliest days when we played together by the pool in Abu Dhabi. I was seeing my father as more than this howling force of nature sent by God to make me feel bad about myself. Instead, he was my father, he was teaching me his secrets, and he crossed the bridge with me to achieve something that benefited us both. We did it together.

Ten years after that investing adventure, Dad and I came to an understanding that I honestly believed would elude us forever. As I said, Dad was a very critical person and although my career had been progressing nicely after some rocky first years in my early 20s, he never seemed to care. Whatever I was doing -- working in entertainment, in music, in the comic book business, animation, digital content -- Dad did not understand how any of this mattered and always received my career updates like they were communiques from an alien world.

I joked earlier that my father decided he’d learned everything he wanted to know by 1991, but it’s really not too far from the truth. I was living and working in a world that he couldn’t and didn’t want to understand, and he talked to me like I was some kind of jerk. So one day I let him have it:

Dad, I said. I’ve worked for some of the biggest media companies. I’ve been nominated for my industry’s most prestigious awards. I was acquired by a competitor. I have a retirement account. I have benefits. I have prospects. I’ve lived all over the world. I have friends everywhere. I have a woman who loves me. I want you to stop talking to me like I’m a loser just because you don’t know what time it is.

But as I went on this rant, I realized something that you probably just did too: everything I said also applied to Dad. Without ever being conscious of it, I had followed in my father’s footsteps, up to and including our mutual alienation of our fathers. Our destinations were different, but the paths that George and I walked were exactly the same. And you know what? He realized the same thing. 

“Andy... you’re right. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. I’m proud of you and of your sister...

...I do wish you would have listened to your Dad more.”  

I know Dad wished I’d crossed the same career bridges he had. I did take the long way down and around the mountain, but like Dad I got to where I needed to go. It would have been nice if George and I crossed that emotional bridge years earlier, but going all the way down and around the mountain got us both where we needed to get: mutual respect. 

With that milestone achieved, the end of our rivalry, Dad and I set out on our next and ultimately final project: trying to save his life.

It was obvious to everyone that George should not have retired. I know he regretted it. But that’s easy to say in retrospect. Leaving his home in Singapore, the breaking of his family, moving in with his ailing mother... it’s really impossible to overestimate the psychic toll all of this took on Dad. A person needs that drive, that purpose to be happy, and without his work at the bank, Dad was rudderless and frequently sad. 

Compounding it all was of course his health. George started smoking when he was only 14-years-old. He quit a number of times throughout his life, but never in earnest until he was in his 60s. It was almost ten years ago that he started showing the signs of what would develop into the chronic breathing condition that would eventually take him from us.

There were ways Dad could have extended and improved the quality of his life, both physically and mentally, but they were all a bridge too far. He would never catch up.

If it’s not already clear, the treacherous rope bridge is change, and what I hope I’ve communicated today is that change could be my father’s greatest ally but also his greatest enemy. Dad walked out of the jungle and stood before the bridge again and again throughout his 72 years on this planet, but his nature was such that he usually took the long way around. He believed he was right -- and he often was -- but everybody in this room knows there’s no force in this world that can pierce the shield of stubbornness that George Khouri wore always. 

I will always regret that my father’s last days were spent alone. My sister and I remember all the times our father went away on business that was completely mysterious to us, but we knew it was important. Like so much in the last several years, the roles had reversed. It was Jeannie and I who were out of town doing things our father could not understand, but now he recognized what we were doing was valuable. But even though we’d been every place he’d been and lived on our own for years and years, George always worried about us traveling. So when Jeannie and I went away on business, we called Dad to remind him of our plans and make him feel at ease. In that fashion, we had a chance to say goodbye. 

The news of George Khouri’s passing has affected people all over the world, of all ages and of all walks of life. No one who met him has ever forgotten him. Besides those of you here today, nearly everyone I know who’s ever encountered George has communicated to us their immense sorrow -- but something else as well. You see, the contentious relationship I described before was not altogether bad. Despite it all, I knew my father loved me, and I knew he was a good man, so from a very young age I chose to synthesize all his criticisms and idiosyncrasies into a kind of character that I would present to people as a way of explaining where I come from and why I am the way I am. Nobody had ever met or even heard of a man like this, so strong in his convictions, so unrelenting in his habits and so colorful with his language. 

Let me make it plain: the people of Earth love George Khouri.

“Your dad was was the first adult that yelled at me like I was a man already. I’ll miss him.” That’s a message I received from my oldest friend, a boy who met George when he was just seven-years-old.

“I never got to meet your dad, but the stories relayed to me are legendary.”

“The stories you’ve shared about him were always the greatest.”

“I was convinced your father was an international man of mystery.”

“I haven’t seen you guys in around 20 years and I know I still remember him.”

“He was an unforgettable man.”

“He will live on in all your incredible stories.”

“George was truly one of a kind and we will remember him for the rest of our lives.”

There are literally dozens of these, transmitted via Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages and other methods George would never have understood if he lived to be 100.

There are few people in this room who haven’t benefited from George’s generosity and from his advice. But people who never even met George, they know him. They feel his loss like they would a great entertainer whose life enriched their own. 

That’s the lesson I take from my father’s life, maybe even more than what his example taught me about the importance of change: life is about the stories, it’s about being unforgettable, it’s about the memory you leave behind. 

That’s why I return to the story of the old rope bridge on Mt. Kinabalu. It’s indelibly Dad, and it’s one that I take comfort in knowing that I will tell for the rest of my life.

Incidentally, in the local language Kinabalu means “The revered place of the dead.” It pleases me that my memory of my father, and maybe yours too, will forever be associated with such an enduring image. 

Thursday
Sep062012

DJ Gig: Top Chef Masters Viewing Party with Food Critic Krista Simmons

By virtue of an extremely unlikely confluence of events I found myself asked if I was available to play music at a party hosted by Krista Simmons, the food critic who's been appearing as a guest judge throughout this season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters. Krista was hosting a viewing party for the latest episode at the Roosevelt Hotel here in Hollywood. If you didn't know, the Roosevelt is a very beautiful 1920s hotel in the heart of tinseltown that hosts loads of events and offers many uniquely luxurious amenities, including a swank bowling alley designed to look like a speakeasy. Because it's become a young celebrity and socialite hot spot, It's very common to observe all varieties of gorgeous women and tatted up sickbros collapsing out of the Roosevelt and onto the sidewalk in booze-soaked, powder-coated piles of designer jeans and six-inch stilettos. Naturally, every DJ wants to spin there. Added to my sincere admiration of luxury hotels, my years-long obsession with Top Chef, that I haven't done any DJ'ing in a couple of years, and the fact that my old Meltcast mate Chris Rosa was going to be there made the proposition something of a no-brainer. 

Fortunately for Krista but perhaps unfortunately for you readers, the event was an eminently classy affair with absolutely no fisticuffs or overdoses of any kind. The party went down in Room 100, a cushy lounge adjacent to the Roosevelt's famous/infamous pool. (I joke about the hotel's notoriety as a party spot but the truth is it's a splendid hotel and the staff were magnificently helpful.) The decor included torches and other tropical touches that informed my musical selections (when people are kitted up in coctail dresses and suits to drink chamagne, snack on orderves and watch Bravo, it's not really appropriate to drop the 20-minute version, if you know what I mean). I wish I could tell you something about the menu, but I only managed to grab a few slices of roast beef (they were really good).

The brief was very simple: "electronic," and a few artist requests from Krista (notably Breakbot). Everything was extremely short notice so I only had a couple hours to assemble some tracks and work out a rough playlist with room for improvision and some self-indulgence (I have been really into Saint Etienne lately, so I said fuck it and played a lot more than you're "supposed to" -- also, I snuck in a track from Prince's Batman soundtrack, because it's awesome). I rolled up with my laptop and nothing else, not even headphones. Truthfully, you don't really need anything fancy for events like this; you're just providing some ambience, with your primary function being "don't let the music stop and don't play anything too shitty." I've seen a lot of event DJs just rock it on iTunes even though they pile up a mountain of gear. I like messing around with Traktor to see what kind of tasty transitions I can make. These were my ingredients, including pre-party appetizers (i.e. testing the sound system, messing around before people show up):

  1. Underworld: Ansum
  2. Beck: Diamond Dogs
  3. Underworld: Banstyle (Alex Reece Mix)
  4. Saint Etienne: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Andrew Weatherall Mix)
  5. Saint Etienne: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Richard X Foxbase Beta version)
  6. Goldfrapp: A&E (Maps Instrumental)
  7. Chromatics: In The City (Instrumental)
  8. Saint Etienne: Like A Motorway (Alternative Version)
  9. Annie: Anthonio (Fred Falke Remix)
  10. David Lynch: Good Day Today (Underworld Classic Remix)
  11. Röyksopp: In Space
  12. Saint Etienne: London Belongs To Me (Richard X Foxbase Beta Version)
  13. The Chemical Brothers: The Boxer (DFA Version)
  14. Poolside: Take Me Home
  15. Moloko: Familiar Feeling (Martin Buttrich Remix)
  16. David Lynch: Good Day Today (Diskojokke Remix)
  17. High Contrast: The Long Way Home (NHS Mix)
  18. The Prodigy: 3 Kilos
  19. Underworld: Cups (Salt City Orchestra's Vertical Bacon Vocal)
  20. Daft Punk: Fresh
  21. Leftfield: Release The Dubs
  22. Primal Scream: Autobahn 66
  23. The Chemical Brothers: Das Spiegel
  24. Belle & Sebastian: I Didn't See It Coming (Richard X Remix)
  25. Breakbot featuring Ruckazoid: Fantasy (Ruckazoid Remix)
  26. Breakbot: Penelope Pitstop
  27. Pet Shop Boys: Flamboyant (Scissor Sisters Silhouette & Shadows Mix)
  28. Mylo: In My Arms
  29. Mylo: Guilty Of Love
  30. Saint Etienne: Hug My Soul (Alternative Version)
  31. Poolside: California Sunset
  32. SebastiAn: Arabest
  33. Underworld: Moon In Water
  34. Gorillaz: On Meloncholy Hill
  35. Electric Guest: This Head I Hold
  36. Janelle Monáe: Tightrope (Solo Version)
  37. LCD Soundsystem: I Can Change
  38. SebastiAn featuring Mayer Hawthorne: Love In Motion
  39. Yelle: Ce Jeu
  40. Pet Shop Boys: A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi"
  41. Röyksopp: Eple
  42. Prince: Vicki Waiting
  43. Kavinsky: Nightcall (Breakbot Remix)

You can listen to most of these on a Spotify playlist I made.  

Krista was an excellent hostess and everyone had a lovely time. She was especially happy with the music and I was pleased to help her celebrate her big night. If you're into food, you should definitely follow her work at the LA Times and elsewhere

Tuesday
May102011

Club 33

I got into Club 33.

Club 33 is a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square section ofDisneyland. Officially maintained as a secret feature of the theme park, the entrance of the club is located next to the Blue Bayou Restaurant at “33 Royal Street” with the entrance recognizable by an ornate address plate with the number 33 engraved on it.[1]

Club 33 members and their guests have exclusive access to the club’s restaurant, and the premises are not open to the public at large. It is the only location within Disneyland to offer alcoholic beverages, though Disneyland has a park-wide liquor license and has set up bars throughout the park for private events. Club 33’s wine list includes vintages priced at $1000. In addition to beer and wine, Club 33 has a full bar, though patrons may not order directly from the bar and must place orders through their server.

More pictures from my trip at Flickr.

Sunday
Feb132011

One year

Pom Puppies from Robert Vogel on Vimeo.

It was one year ago yesterday, February 12, that we brought home our Pomeranian puppies, Yoshi and Harley. At first I was terrified of the responsibility and expense of having new born puppies with our schedules and finances, but now I can't imagine living without them. 

The truth is, we weren't certain we'd be getting a dog, much less two. But Stepho had been desperate for a puppy for quite a while and persuaded me to go with her to just "take a look" at a couple of dogs she'd found on the Internet. As you can see from the video, which was shot by Rob Vogel the night we brought them home, there was no chance we were leaving without one. Stepho bonded immediately with the little boy. She took him out of the small box and transported to some kind of cuteness heaven. I was watching them before I felt little paws on my arm. When I looked down I saw the girl puppy up on her hind legs, leaning on me and begging to be held. I would be lying if I said I didn't fall in love with that puppy. After I picked her up, Steph brought the boy near and they immediately began to play with each other while still in our arms. We put them back in the box and looked at how close they were. I've been a dog lover my whole life but I'd never seen littermates as connected as these two. Knowing there was a third pup from the litter who'd already found a home but was all alone, we knew there was no way we could separate this brother and sister pair. We brought them home that afternoon.

The proud parents

Sometimes I really miss the days when it was just me, Stepho and my 13-year-old cat Io (eye-oh, like the moon), but those feelings disappear pretty much immediately after either of them does more or less anything. And while we love both dogs and they love both of us, the bonds Steph and I formed with Yoshi and Harley, respectively, have maintained over the last year. In fact, I've never had a dog at any point in my life who was as devoted to me as Harley. She always wants to be in my lap or sleeping on my head at night; she always tries to protect me from Yoshi when he wants to crawl over my face on the couch; and she waits for me by the bedroom door while I turn out all the lights and lock the doors before bed. 

Like I said, at this point I can't even imagine life without them.

The slideshow below is in chronological order, so you can watch the puppies transform from little furballs with eyes into proper little dogs.

Tuesday
Jul202010

Looking forward to Comic-Con 2010

Loathe as I am to use this phrase and invoke the numerous nerd body-odor stereotypes and jokes that can and will certainly be made, I think there's something in the air around this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. It's true that the convention is offering more than ever (possibly too much) to genre fans and consumers in the forms of panel discussions/presentations, creator/celebrity interactions, product announcements, shopping, community events and more, but what’s exciting me are the developments in the digital content business that’s grown out of all this great stuff, and getting a chance to reunite with or finally meet and hang out with many of my colleagues in this area.

As you may know, I essentially went off the grid last September after about three years of full-time work at the mighty Comic Book Resources. Keeping the site and its content in tight, Eisner-winning shape was a great job but it was intense and I needed to do some other things like create this website, write more about music, get back into DJ’ing, play around with photography, go to more geek culture events, and write the occasional bit of hipster relationship advice

Curiously, it was during that time I rediscovered my enthusiasm for comic books and pop culture, an enthusiasm I’d been too busy to notice waning. I’ve read more comics and graphic novels in 2010 than I think I did in the preceding three years combined, resulting in some freebie evangelism here on my site, like my comprehensive guide to Grendel and eulogy for Phonogram, not to mention my semi-regular graphic novel, music and DVD recommendations.

Concurrently and consequently, I’ve been able to familiarize myself with the increasingly great number of awesome websites and commentators that have emerged as the stars of comic book and geek culture rise. There are a lot of cool people doing really entertaining work that’s different from and beyond the more or less straight news line I was on before, and it’s inspired me to get involved again. I’ve been very quietly inching my foot back in the door of the comics/film/television/music digital content business (I’ve written a press release for CBR about something that is genuinely cool, you will see it tomorrow) and applying my experience in the digital music business to some comic book-related ventures as well as some other things I -- God help me, I can’t believe I’m going to say this -- can’t talk about yet.

I feel like there are some exciting opportunities waiting for me at this year’s Comic-Con. Opportunities for new work? Sure. But what I’m looking for this year are those opportunities for that once elusive mutant, the terrifying work-fun hybrid.