And now, Scary-Crayon presents...
by: Wes

When I wore a younger man's clothes...This weekend, August 19-21, Otakon took place at the Baltimore Convention Center -- and, for the first time in seven years, your old pal Wes wasn't in attendance. It was kinda sad to break my streak, as I've been going to that con almost as long as I can remember. Over the years, I've met many cool people there (and, okay, some really fucking annoying ones too), invited several of my crushes to partake in the anime-y goodness at my side (before they later decided that I'm the creepiest dude on the face of the planet and acquired restraining orders to ensure my distance), apparently had guys grab at my ass (seriously...), and been introduced to a number of interesting shows and films and video games I might not otherwise have experienced (and some I probably could've done without -- though admittedly I found the whole yaoi thing to be kind of interesting from an anthropoligical standpoint). A small chunk of my sizeable action figure and DVD collections were purchased at Otakons past. Hell, the convention's even seen me go through a number of hairstyles over the years -- everything from a 3-inch flattop to permed hair to blue hair. Yes, Otakon, we've been through a lot together.

But over the years, something happened. It was once the case that in order to glimpse new animes and imported toys and DVDs, one had to go to anime conventions -- but now, with various torrent sites and IRC channels serving up fansubs of unlicensed animes and with Japanese merchandise readily available on ebay, there's little reason to shell out the $60 to spend a weekend in the company of unshowered otaku and amateur cosplayers. Moreover, as anime has increased in popularity in the States, the quality of anime conventions has arguably decreased, as more and more is done to cater to the fans Yes, someone was really wearing that sign at Otakon 2004.of "Americanized" anime. Showing U.S. dubs in the con theaters would've been considered blasphemous only three years ago -- but now you can hardly find a convention that doesn't have at least one theater devoted to showing the same shit you can find playing on Cartoon Network on any given night. Yet even with these flaws, it might've been worth attending the cons just to see the variety of costumes worn by the attendees -- but these days you'll see about three or four creative and unique getups and about eight thousand folks in red bathrobes, white fright wigs, and cat ears masquerading as Inuyasha. And while that may be exaggeration -- there are probably more than three or four good costumes and a little fewer than eight thousand Inuyashas (not much fewer, though) -- it's not like you can't see photos from the cons on Fan's View and on the following Monday. In any case, friends, I fear that something of great value has ended forever.

But that doesn't mean that we can't have a great time at home, does it?!?!? Therefore, to celebrate the spirit of anime conventions past, I decided to host the first ever CRAYONCON out of my kitchen. What is Crayoncon, you ask? Well, originally I'd intended to just break out a bunch of anime and watch it all weekend long, but I was kinda hungry when I decided to get the thing underway and instead decided to make it an anime-inspired culinary extravaganza of epic proportions. Okay, maybe not so epic, but here's what went down...

If you're good, Nyamo will impart ero-ero teachings.

Everyone knows anime characters just love their sake, so of course I had to start things off with a bottle of the Japanese rice wine. Normally I drink Gekkeikan, but as this was a special occasion I went for the self-proclaimed high quality stuff that is Mura Mura. Not bad, but there really wasn't that much difference between this and the Gekkeikan -- this was a little smoother and the rice taste wasn't quite as bold (and therefore didn't leave as much of an aftertaste) -- and given that you get twice as much of the Gekkeikan for the same price, I can't say Forged by Sake Masters!that my choice sake has been dethroned. However, as this stuff supposedly boasts subtle hints of other flavors, I can definitely see wine enthusiasts with a more discerning palate choosing Mura Mura over the competition. It's made by a Sake Master, after all, so it must be good stuff -- even if it does come from the only American owned sakery in the world. (Somehow that doesn't inspire confidence in me, sake being a traditional Japanese beverage and all, but whatever.) By the way, I want to know what it takes to become a Sake Master. Is there a training school for that sort of thing? Do they have vocabulary tests? The question's not as random as you think -- I ask because Mura Mura even comes with its own little glossary of terms attached. And speaking of training exercises at the Mura Mura school, I wonder what sort of extracurriculars they have... 'cause if you key in the website listed on the tag thingy, I gah-rown-tee you won't find anything related to sake on there. Curious, are you? Let's just say that visiting from work is not recommended.

So with the sake out of the way, it was time to get started with the actual eatin' -- and everyone knows you can't have a Japanese-themed meal without a little raw fish. Alas, I didn't have any sushi on hand and I don't know of any places that deliver in this area, so I was going to have to approximate the dish as best I could... and it just so happened that I had some Blackened Seasoned Atlantic Salmon in the freezer! Hurrah for faux sashimi!

Splish splash, it is taking a bath.S1m0ne likes pan-seared dolphin.

For those of you raising your eyebrows suspiciously, I assure you that not only can this stuff be eaten raw (it's flash-frozen, so it's safe) but, moreover, that it's actually pretty awesome when prepared as such. First you'll have to leave the salmon immersed in a tub of water for 20 minutes (each piece is individually packaged, so you don't have to worry about taking it out and having any spices and/or flavor washed away in the bath), and then you simply remove it from the plastic, give it a quick pan-searing, cut it into bite-sized chunks... and you're done!

Oooh baby I like it raw!

Well, not quite done -- it's just wrong to enjoy raw fish without wasabi and soy sauce. Note that the wasabi doesn't have to be particularly fresh, either, as apparently the stuff I used was dated 7-8-2003. Two year old wasabi! And unlike that horribly rancid wasabi I encountered in the midst of another sushi-related adventure, this stuff was still fresh and delicious. So yeah, don't forget the wasabi -- though I guess if you don't have any on hand, you could substitute dijon mustard mixed with with soy sauce and hot sauce. I just pulled that off the top of my head, mind you, but the reasoning's sound -- so if you give it a shot, let me know how it works out. :D

Chicken Breast with Sesame Teriyaki Sauce... in a bun!

And finally, since the point of this whole endeavor was to approximate authentic ethnic cooking while eschewing tradition and being decidedly unorthodox in our methods, I thought it only fitting that we finish with the final bun meal flavor currently in my possession: Chicken Breast with Sesame Teriyaki Sauce. It's Asian style, after all, and Japan is in Asia, and since we here at Scary-Crayon have made reviewing bun meals into a mission of sorts, why not include it in Crayoncon? Besides, it's not like I had anything better to do!

So with this possibly being the final Forkless Gourmet Bun Meal review, as they're becoming more and more scarce at the dollar store -- now now, don't cry -- I'll make a confession. While I really like these things, and it saddens me to see them vanish into thin air... I think that maybe, just maybe, they're a little too complicated for their own good. Regarding this offering, for example, the box reads, "Savor the high quality chicken breast with flavorful carrots, onions and pineapple in our distinctly Asian sesame teriyaki sauce." And yes, while it may be true that the Chicken Breast with Sesame Teriyaki Sauce Bun Meal does indeed contain all of those It's very complicated in there.things, you know what? I'm not sure it would matter if it didn't. I mean, maybe my tastebuds were spent on the sake and fish, but I tasted the chicken, I tasted the teriyaki sauce... and that was about it. Now, I see other stuff in there, but how much does it really contribute to the bun meal? For what purpose is it there? Why does something covered with sesame seeds on the outside need to feature sesame-related products on the inside as well? And for $1, how much quality can we really expect from the ingredients? Is the Forkless Gourmet lying to me? I don't know, Sesame Teriyaki Chicken Bun Meal, but I do know that you were my favorite of all of the bun meals I've sampled thus far -- yes, even better than my first love, Kung Pao Shrimp Bun Meal. Bun Meals, O Bun Meals -- mouths and stomachs everywhere shall mourn your passing. Your paradoxical example has nourished us all.

Viva la Crayoncon!And with those words, the first ever Crayoncon came to a close. During the hours it lasted, we wrote much, we photographed much, we posed toys much, we ate and drank much, we laughed much -- we lived much. We then proceeded to drink copious amounts of gin and collapse on the couch, and, in a completely unrelated move, decided against watching anime in favor of viewing Collateral with Tom Cruise and Jaime Foxx, which we felt wasn't all that bad but could've been better, 'cause it's never a good sign when a drunk guy, in the middle of a film, starts talking to himself aloud about what he would've done to improve the movie and make it more to his liking. Yep. Anyway, we fell asleep towards the end of the film and that was that -- but before we did, we took a goofy photo of ourselves with Beast Boy. 'Cause when you visit a convention, you've gotta come back with at least one photo of yourself! For the scrapbook, you know.

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