CmdStore is coming for you this weekend, Ottawa!

Fewer things inspire such a hallowed combination of anticipation, excitement and devotion in the hearts of geeks everywhere than convention season. Costumes are prepared, cameras are pulled out and inventories of personal toy stashes are taken in preparation for what could be called a spiritual holiday for some of us. That’s why we’re getting pretty stoked to head over to the Ottawa Comiccon this week, and naturally we don’t want you to miss out on the thrill of it all!

The spectacle will take place at Ottawa’s EY Centre from May 8 to 10, and like every other proud gathering of nerds and pop-culture enthusiasts of all kinds, it will feature vendors’ tables and cosplayers of every persuasion imaginable. And of course, there’s no leaving out the featured guests that some of you might have been waiting a lifetime to be able to behold in the flesh. Allison Mack, known for playing Chloe Sullivan on Smallville, will be in attendance.

Source: The WB/Timothy White

Source: The WB/Timothy White

You can also nab yourself a photo op with famed comic-book artist Bob Layton, known for his work on Marvel Comics titles like Iron Man and Hercules.

Source: marvel.wikia.com

Source: marvel.wikia.com

“Guest of honour” Billie Piper of Doctor Who fame is only one of the 60-odd familiar faces from the realms of your favourite movies, TV, comic books and more that will be making the pilgrimage to Ottawa this weekend.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Ticket information is available here, and it looks like they might even still need some volunteers. It’s not too late to plan yourself a weekend of superheroic proportions. And of course, don’t forget to stop by the CmdStore booth on your sojourn through all of the magical sights and sounds of the Ottawa Comiccon.

Snap a photo and tag @CmdStore on Twitter or @shopcmdstore on Instagram, and we’ll hook you up with a retweet and a follow.

See you there!

May the strings be with you: Guitar Wars Project blends Star Wars and shredding

Lightsabers and Wookiees and . . . classical guitar riffs? After the viral success of their Star Wars-themed YouTube guitar cover, Sébastien Moreau and Robbin Blanco launched onto the cosmic ride that became the Montreal-based Guitar Wars Project. Naturally, we here at CmdStore were all over that like C-3PO on conventions of intergalactic etiquette. We caught up with these two to learn more about this super-rad creative undertaking. Read on to get all of the juicy gossip, from how it all started to being hypothetical jacuzzi pals with Jabba.

Source: GWP

Source: GWP

Hi, guys! Where are you from and where do you currently reside?
Sébastien: I’m from Trois-Rivières, [Quebec] and we both live in Montreal . . .
Robbin: But I’m from Mérida, Mexico.

Tell us a bit about your backgrounds in music.
Guitar Wars Project: We met in university during our studies. We’re both holders of master’s degrees in music performance.
Sébastien: I’ve played in a lot of different projects before Guitar Wars. I’m more a classical guy. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of concerts in established festivals, mostly here in Canada and in Europe.
Robbin: I did studies in classical music, but I’ve always been an electric guitarist, playing jazz, rock and pop all around Mexico, South America, the U.S. and Europe. Outside the Guitar Wars Project, I have a power fusion trio with original music and a tango project.

What gave you the idea for Guitar Wars? Was there a special “Aha!” moment?
Guitar Wars Project: We are fans of the movies, and also we think that the John Williams soundtrack is awesome.
Sébastien: So my Robbin here decided to write unplayable arrangements for two guitars [laughs].
Robbin: And of course you wanted to do this project to have a valid reason to put on a costume and possess “real” lightsabers [laughs].

Your “Imperial March” music video went viral not too long ago. What did that feel like?
Guitar Wars Project: We’re really happy with this first video, but to be honest we hope that our next one will get more views.
Sébastien: But having great feedback from fans all around the world is amazing.

Moreau and Blanco make up the crossover Guitar Wars Project. Source: GWP

Moreau and Blanco make up the crossover Guitar Wars Project. Source: GWP

What’s the weirdest or most awesome thing that has happened to you as a result of this project?
Guitar Wars Project: We did this concert at a music festival in Mérida, Mexico. More than 500 people came with costumes and toys. Even Darth Vader wanted to make a speech.
Sébastien: By now, I feel kind of strange when people tell me that this project is weird.
Robbin: I told you that the costumes were a bad idea . . . I just wanted to play the music on guitar [laughs].

On a scale of one to this excited train guy, how stoked are you about Star Wars: Episode VII coming out in December?
Sébastien: My excitement level exceeds the highest level of midichlorians ever found in a human.
Robbin: I’m very exited about the next film and also very happy with John Williams’s participation in the score! He rocks.

You’re playing a comic con in Dubai as part of your tour. How did that come about?
Guitar Wars Project: The “Imperial March” video helped a lot when it came to showing our project to people all around the globe. By now, we’ve received other invitations that we’ll announce soon. But don’t miss our show in Montreal on March 28.
Sébastien: Lord Vader wants us to find two droids hiding in the desert . . .
Robbin: It’s a good opportunity to show our concept in front of many people and also a great place to visit.

What is your favorite thing about Montreal?
Sébastien: I have lived in many cities, and I can tell you that there’s no place more amazing than Montreal in the summer. The bars, festivals, restaurants . . . and the multicultural aspect is so awesome. The amount of activities to do is astonishing.
Robbin: It’s a cool place. The winter is a little long for me (a Latin guy), but I like to meet people from everywhere.

The Guitar Wars Project will be in Montreal on March 28. Source: GWP

The Guitar Wars Project will be in Montreal on March 28. Source: GWP

What sorts of cool things can audiences expect to see at your shows?
Guitar Wars Project: This is a concert, so you’ll hear the best theme composed by John Williams in a totally new way. We cover the entire saga, from “Duel of the Fates” to “The Emperor’s Theme”, along with “Princess Leia’s Theme”, “Main Title”, “Cantina Band” and, of course, “The Imperial March”.
Sébastien: For us, it’s a great way to show all the possibilities of the guitar with great music. And you can expect different music styles, from jazz and world to classical.
Robbin: But please keep in mind that this is a concert, not theater. I broke my clavicle last year, so no more lightsaber fights [laughs].

If you had to watch one Star Wars movie on repeat for a month, which would it be?
Sébastien: My favorite one is definitively The Empire Strikes Back.
Robbin: Return of the Jedi, and I think I already did that [laughs].

If you had to be in a hot tub with three Wookiees or one Jabba the Hutt, which would you choose? (Snacks would be provided.)
Sébastien: I would never join them in a hot tub. I’m a Jedi, like my father before me.
Robbin: Maybe this question is more for the girls [laughs], but for sure we would rather hang out with Princess Leia and Amidala. I think they’re the only hot chicks in the saga [laughs].

– – – – –

The Guitar Wars Project will be performing in Montreal, Canada on March 28. Scope the official Guitar Wars Project website for more details, and grab tickets for their live Montreal performance. You can also buy the Imperial March single on iTunes.

CANADIAN GI JOE CONVENTION : AUGUST 10-11

Canadian GI JOE fans, GET READY! We’re only a few weeks away from the biggest, baddest G.I. JOE convention yet and it’s all going down in Toronto at the Sheraton Toronto Airport.

Not only is it the best place to buy, sell, collect and trade, but there are EXCLUSIVE figures being made available just for the convention. So far they’ve announced TRACTION, with the next exclusive hitting the web on Wednesday, July 4th.


Code Name: TRACTION
Primary Military Specialty : xxxx xxxxx Driver
Secondary Military Specialty : Explosives
Birthplace: Summerside, Prince Edward Island

For more info, check out the Facebook event here. See you there!

TODAY: THE MONTREAL COMIC CON

COME ON DOWN! THE MONTREAL COMIC CON IS OPEN TODAY AND TOMORROW! MEET ADAM WEST, BURT WARD, MICHAEL DORN, JAMES MARSTERS, STAN LEE AND MANY MORE! PLUS, ART, COLLECTIBLES AND…COMICS!

Location

Place Bonaventure
room 400-West
800, De La Gauchetière Street West
Montreal (Quebec) H5A 1K6

Opening hours

Saturday, September 17

General admission: from 11:00am to 7:30pm
VIP: from 10:00am to 7:30pm

Sunday, September 18

General admission: from 10:30am to 6:30pm
VIP: from 10:00am to 6:30pm

New iPhone/iPod Touch app from the NFB

Good news for iPhone/Touch-toting indie flick fans! Here’s the word from CNet

Like indie films? Documentaries? Animation? Ho, boy, have I got an app for you: NFB Films lets you watch over a thousand movies on your iPhone. For free.

The “NFB” stands for National Film Board, a kind of Canadian PBS. The app taps the NFB’s mammoth library of documentaries, animated films, trailers (for upcoming NFB releases), and more.

All the movies are streamed to your iPhone, but there’s also an ingenious “watch later” option that downloads a selected movie for later viewing. However, these downloads expire after 24 hours, not unlike App Store movie rentals, but that hardly seems unfair.

NFB Films includes a Channels section where you can browse various categories, including Documentaries, Kids Cartoons, History & War, and Environment. There’s a search option, natch, and you can add movies to a favorites (sorry, “favourites”) list for easier access.

If you come across a film you want to share with friends, the app lets you send an e-mail that includes a link to the Web version.

A while back I went to see 10 Oscar-nominated short films–five animated, five live-action. They were all tremendously entertaining. Since then I’ve been a lot more open-minded to non-mainstream movie fare like this. So for me, NFB Films is pure iPhone gold. I reckon you’ll love it, too.

To me, this is a pretty awesome move. The NFB’s catalogue has something for everyone no matter what your interest and having them all available for free might be one of the most surprising-yet-awesome moves any company has made for an app yet.

Fan Expo: Who’s Gonna Be There?

From the OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE for Fan Expo…

Expect to see a surge of Vulcans, Storm Troopers, Zombies, Dragonballers and other strange and wonderful characters across the city as Toronto hosts the largest combined gaming, horror, comic, science fiction and anime event in the country. The 15th annual Fan Expo Canada takes place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building on August 28-30, 2009.

Owned and operated by Hobby Star Marketing, Fan Expo Canada offers fans of every genre the chance to meet their favourite celebrities and pop culture heroes at autograph and photo sessions; participate in informational workshops with industry experts offering advice, tips and portfolio reviews; and shop for exclusive Fan Expo offers, collectables and memorabilia from more than 600 vendors.

“By offering unique experiences and opportunities to interact with icons, industry leaders, and other enthusiastic fans, Fan Expo delivers a signature event in Canada that satisfies fans’ cravings like no other,” says Aman Gupta, President of Hobby Star Marketing. “For the past 15 years Fan Expo Canada has been the only event to bring this level of fandom to Toronto and Fan Expo Canada 2009 will bring even more to visitors than ever before with incredible limited edition offers, the widest range of industry merchandise available, and appearances by genre demi-gods.”

Hobby Star Marketing Inc. was founded in 1992 and has quickly become one of Canada’s premiere sports and entertainment marketing companies. Since its inception, Hobby Star Marketing has secured a niche in the industry by specializing in professional sport and entertainment celebrity placement at a variety of venues and events.

SPECIAL CELEBRITY GUESTS:
SFX Science Fiction Expo, in association with SPACE – the official National Cable Broadcast Sponsor, guest list:
* LEONARD NIMOY – The legendary Mr. Spock of Star Trek
* LINDA HAMILTON – Sarah Connor celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Terminator
* BILLY DEE WILLIAMS – Lando Calrissian of the Star Wars feature films
* BEAU BRIDGES – Major General Hank Landry of Stargate SG-1
* THOMAS DEKKER – John Connor of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles
* MARY MCDONNELL – President Laura Roslin of Battlestar Galactica
* JAMES KYSON LEE – Ando of Heroes
* AVERY BROOKS – Captain Benjamin Sisko of Star Trek Deep Space Nine
* WALTER KOENIG – Pavel Chekov of Star Trek
* ROBERT DUNCAN MCNEILL – Tom Paris of Star Trek Voyager
* LOU FERRIGNO – The Incredible Hulk
* DAVE THOMAS – Doug of Bob and Doug McKenzie brothers
* LARRY THOMAS – Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”
* TONY CURTIS – Legendary actor and Hollywood Icon

The Comic Book Expo guest list:
* JOE QUESADA – Editor In Chief Marvel Comics
* DAN DIDIO – Senior VP DC Comics
* CHRIS BACHALO – Legendary Artist
* MIKE DEODATO JR.- Artist Dark Avengers
* ETHAN VAN SCIVER – Artist of Flash Rebirth
* J MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI – Award winning writer
* STEVE MCNIVEN – Artist of Wolverine
* IVAN REIS – Artist of Green Lantern & The Blackest Night – Rare appearance!
* TERRY DODSON – Artist of Uncanny X-Men
* DAVID FINCH – Artist of Ultimatum
* OLIVIER COIPEL – Artist of Thor
* MATT FRACTION – Writer of Uncanny X-Men and Invincible Ironman
* MARKO DJURDJEVIC – Acclaimed Marvel Cover Artist & Thor
* LEN WEIN – Legendary Creator of Wolverine & Swamp Thing
* DARWYN COOKE – Artist of DC The New Frontier
* DALE EAGLESHAM – Artist of upcoming Fantastic Four
* BILL SIENKIEWICZ – Legendary Artist
* STUART IMMONNEN – Artist of New Avengers
* GEORGES JEANTY – Artist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
* RICHARD ISANOVE – Artist of Stephen King’s Dark Tower
* MIKE CHOI – Artist of X-Force
* DOUG SNEYD – Legendary Playboy Cartoonist

The Festival of Fear Horror Expo, sponsored by Rue Morgue Magazine, guest list:
* BRUCE CAMPBELL – Legendary Film Actor
* ROGER CORMAN – Legendary Director
* UDO KEIR – Acclaimed Actor
* BARBARA STEELE – Emmy Award-Winning Actress
* TOM SAVINI – FX Master and Actor
* ROBERT HALL – Award winning make up artist
* JAMES DUVAL – Acclaimed Horror Film Actor
* MAX BROOKS – Author Of The Zombie Survival Guide
* ART HINDLE – Acclaimed actor
* KELLEY ARMSTRONG – Best Selling Horror Author
* JACK KETCHUM – Best Selling Horror Author
* LLOYD KAUFMAN – Producer – Toxic Avenger

The CNAnime Expo celebrity guest list:
* SCOTT MCNEIL – voice star of Mobile Suit Gundam, Dragonball Z
* CRISPIN FREEMAN – voice star of Naruto, Eureka Seven, Ghost In the Shell
* BRAD SWAILE – voice star of Death Note, Mobile Suit Gundam
* AARON DISMUKE – voice star of Fullmetal Alchemist, Trinity Blood
* COLLEEN CLINKENBEARD – voice star of Fullmetal Alchemist, Trinity Blood
* MONICA RIAL – voice star of Kiddy Grade, Noir, Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
* BRINA PALENCIA – voice star of Claymore, Romeo A Juliet
* DEREK STEPHEN PRINCE – voice star of Bleach, Digimon

The GX – Gaming Expo, sponsored by Zellers & G4 Tech TV, celebrity guest list:
* STEVE DOWNES – Voice of Master Chief in the HALO video game series
* VICTOR LUCAS – Creator / Producer / Host of Electric Playground
* ED GREENWOOD – Creator / Author of Forgotten Realms
* JESS HARTLEY – Editor / Developer of White Wolf Publishing
* PIETER VAN HIEL – Role playing game Author of Sanguine Productions
* JONATHAN LAVALLEE – President of Firestorm Ink gaming publisher
* C.A. SULEIMAN – Director of Development CM Publishing
* MALCOLM SHEPPARD – Role playing game Author of White Wolf

Gaming fans will have the opportunity to take part in dozens of official tournaments, play new games, win prizes, meet with industry experts, attend seminars and view upcoming products.

Additional Highlights:
* Canada’s largest Masquerade Costume Contest on Saturday, Aug. 29
* Industry Professional workshops for the public
* Millions of dollars of collectibles and memorabilia for sale
* Celebrity Q&A’s plus autograph and photo opportunities
* More than 600 commercial exhibitors and retailers offering a full range of pop culture and entertainment themed merchandise including comic books, toys, collectibles, games, videos, and more!
* Tons of costumed characters from your favourite TV shows & movies
* Introducing a reusable shopping tote, made from 100% recycled materials and designed specifically for fans to take their goodies home

Stay tuned to http://www.fanexpocanada.com for more additions to this exciting line-up…

SHOW DETAILS:

WHEN: AUGUST 28 – 30, 2009
Friday, August 28th 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 29th 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 30th 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building
222 Bremner Blvd. Toronto, Ontario

TICKETS: Basic Adult Day Pass $25.00
Kids under 12 years old are FREE when accompanied by an adult
See website for further details

United Breaks Guitars

Dave Carroll - United Breaks GuitarsDave Carroll, a Canadian musician traveling with his band, the Sons of Maxwell, in 2008 was making a connection at O’Hare on a flight from Halifax, Nova Scotia to a gig in Nebraska when he got rocked – no rolled – at the sight of his precious equipment being hurled around by United Airlines groundcrew. Not only were his axes smashed, but there would be the usual level of concern and assistance rendered for acts of baggagicide, which is to say none:

On March 31, 2008 Sons of Maxwell began our week-long-tour of Nebraska by flying United Airlines from Halifax to Omaha, by way of Chicago. On that first leg of the flight were seated at the rear of the aircraft and upon landing and waiting to deplane in order to make our connection a woman sitting behind me, not aware that we were musicians cried out: “My god they’re throwing guitars out there”. Our bass player Mike looked out the window in time to see his bass being heaved without regard by the United baggage handlers. My $3500 710 Taylor had been thrown before his.

I immediately tried to communicate this to the flight attendant who cut me off saying: “Don’t talk to me. Talk to the lead agent outside”. I found the person she pointed to and that lady was an “acting” lead agent but refused to talk to me and disappeared into the crowd saying “I’m not the lead agent”. I spoke to a third employee at the gate and when I told her the baggage handlers were throwing expensive instruments outside she dismissed me saying “but hun, that’s why we make you sign the waiver”. I explained that I didn’t sign a waiver and that no waiver would excuse what was happening outside. She said to take it up with the ground crew in Omaha.

After being put through the usual customer non-service wringer – maybe he should have called The Fixer! – Carroll embarked into the seedy underworld of corporate irresponsibility and denial of service that major airlines really excel at. Rather than a simple “sorry, our bad,” and an offer to fix the issue, he got a series of more maddening conversations and correspondents with various United personnel, culminating in this gem of an exchange:

Another month went by and I received an email from a Ms. Irlweg, in Chicago I believe. Basically said she was sorry this happened and denied my claim. Some of her reasons included :

* I didn’t report it to the United employees who weren’t present when we landed in Omaha

* I didn’t report to the Omaha airport within 24 hours while I was driving to places that weren’t Omaha

* It was an Air Canada issue

* Air Canada already denied the claim (as I mentioned, because Air Canada would not pay for United’s damages), but I’m still unsure as to why I needed to report it in Omaha within 24 hours if it was clearly Halifax’s responsibility

* Someone from United would need to see the damage to a guitar that was repaired

So after nine months it came down to a series of emails with Ms. Irlweg and, despite her refusal to introduce me to her supervisor, our conversations ended with her saying United would not be taking any responsibility for what had happened and that that would be the last email on the matter. My final offer of a settlement of $1200 in flight vouchers, to cover my salvage costs repairing the Taylor, was rejected.

Ahh, the travel voucher. Is there anything that can make a flier who’s been screwed over one way or another by an airline angrier than a travel voucher? It’s the proverbial lemon juice in the paper cut – “Here, we made you mad enough over something to pursue claims and actions, but our solution is to force you to use our service again anyway.” It’s like you’re being punished for being a victim.

(And by the way, if United had no blame in this issue, why dole out $1,200 in vouchers in the first place?)

So Carroll, left with no option, turned to YouTube.

He and his band recorded a series of songs about the experience, culminating in “United Breaks Guitars,” along with the above video. It’s a tremendous effort in straight-forward storytelling, clever video making and a nice back-of-the-hand to United.

Oh, and it’s a YouTube hit, churning out more than 700,000  views since it was posted July 6.

Not to mention the publicity it’s quickly churning up for Dave and the band for roughly $1,200 worth of guitar repairs.

Of course, none of that makes the story right, which, shockingly, united now seems to get. The airline, headquartered in Chicago, is saying it’s learned its lesson, thanks in no small part to Dave Carroll and his video tale of travel woe. So much so, in fact, that they want him to let them use his work as an in-house training guide for their customer service employees on how not to handle a “my bad” situation, reports the Tribune:

Rob Bradford, managing director of customer solutions at United, called Carroll Wednesday to apologize for the foul-up and to ask if the carrier could use the video internally to help change its culture.

“It could be used to improve the way passengers are treated around the world,” Carroll said.

For those of us with luggage a lot less precious than a $1,200 song-writing guitar, let’s hope it works. But I wouldn’t put those hopes in a jar headed for baggage check just yet if I were you.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DaveCarroll

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/davecarrollmusiccom

Website: http://www.davecarrollmusic.com