Visiting the Green Mountain State

Hey there!

Welcome to another exciting post here at Chris Lackie – The Blog!

This past weekend, me and the family took a trip down the fabled Americas (Vermont, specifically) to visit our friends Rob and Sam. We entered the U.S. on Wednesday (Canada Day, of all days) which took much longer than expected. It poured rain all the way from Ottawa to where we crossed the border in Quebec. We expected the border crossing to be fairly empty given it was the middle of the week, and it was pretty clear sailing most of the way, but when we were about three kilometres from where we were set to cross, traffic was completely stopped. And when it wasn’t stopped, it crawled for a few feet. And then it would stop again. And then crawl again. And then stop again. And Crawl. And stop. And crawl. And of course, our 19-month old son woke up just as all this fun started. And of course, since it was around lunch-time, he was starving, so we did our best to keep him happy by feeding him a steady stream of granola bars and Cheerios. I know you shouldn’t given little kids food in the car (they could choke, after all), but given we never got above 10 kilometres an hour, I figured he’d be fairly safe. When all was said and done, from the time we hit traffic, it was two hours before we finally got into Vermont.

The entire time, Sarah and I were trying to figure out why that border crossing was so busy at that particular time, and it wasn’t until we were past it when we remembered that the Germany-U.S. Women’s World Cup Semi-Final was in Montreal the night before. Given all the U.S. license plates we saw, we eventually figures out that all the Americans were trying to get home at the same time we were trying to get into the country. That was definitely some poor planning on our part. I’m also embarrassed to say it took us almost three hours to figure it out. I thought it was odd that so many of the cars we saw had soccer team logo stickers on their bumpers…

Anyway, once we got through customs (which wasn’t nearly as eventful as the time my wife and I crossed into Detroit on our way to Florida) it was time to get some real food into us. While road Cheerios are great and all, they don’t exactly constitute a complete meal. We got off the highway at the first opportunity and headed towards the first food place we saw, which, luckily for us, was the healthiest place we could take our child: McDonald’s. This led to our son enjoying his very first Happy Meal. When ordering I was asked if I wanted the boy toy or the girl toy (because toys have genders, you know), so of course I picked the boy toy (because I assumed it would be cooler). It ended up being a blue water gun that my son will probably never use, while the girl toy on the other hand, I’m pretty sure, was the exact same water gun, only pink. That’s some sort of progress… I think. Anyway, needless to say, my kid very much enjoyed his chicken McNuggets and his apple slices. And because I’m a good parent, I took it upon myself to enjoy his kid-sized fries (they came in an adorably tiny fry box!).

After our very late lunch (it was almost 4 PM when we finished) we headed to our hotel. We stayed at a place called Green Mountain Suites in South Burlington. It turned out to be a really nice place. I highly suggest staying there if you plan on going to the area. What I loved most about that place is that in addition to a pretty impressive hot breakfast buffet (which most hotels offer some version of) they also offer a free dinner on weekdays. We were unable to partake on the first night (since we already had plans for that evening), but on the second night we had steak tips. I didn’t know what steak tips were until I had them, but I must say they were delicious!

Anywho, that first night we got ourselves settled and had dinner with our friends Sam and Rob, as well as Rob’s parents, at a pretty good Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, the little guy (my son, not Rob) was up way past his bedtime, and he wasn’t his usual well behaved self. He still wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it was obvious that he was tired. The kid passed out in the car on the way back to the hotel, and both the wife and I assumed he would sleep in the next morning. Well, that sure did not happen. Our kid woke up bright and early at 4 AM. That’s not nearly enough sleep for a 19-month old. Luckily for me, the hotel had free coffee.

For our first full day in Vermont, we headed to Waterbury to meet Rob and his parents at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. Sarah and I had been there before as part of our honeymoon (in fact, we decided to go to Vermont just so we could go to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory), but we were more than willing to go there again to get our hands on some delicious, delicious ice cream. From there, it was time for lunch in town and then a quick trip over to Stowe, Vermont to take a walk along a fancy pathway. You can tell that this pathway is fancy because you can buy expensive artwork along the way ($3,200 for a twisted hammock? Yes, please!).  The beautiful views weren’t limited to the art.  Here’s a picture Sarah took while we were on our walk.


At one point during our walk, we went by a little stream and decided to let our son waddle around the shore. On the way back to the car, we had his sandals hanging on the handles of his stroller to dry off. Just as we were getting to the car, we heard someone running up behind us, shouting, “Excuse me, excuse me!” I turned around and saw a young woman we had passed 15 or 20 minutes prior, carrying one of our kid’s sandals. “You’re the only ones around here with a stroller,” she said as she handed me the sandal. “So I figured this must belong to you.” I have no idea where the sandal fell or how far that person had to go to give it back to us, but it was certainly very nice of them to go out of their way to help us out. Yay America!

That night, my son went to bed around 8 PM and woke up at 5:30 AM (which is a reasonable night’s sleep for him). Unfortunately, the missus wasn’t feeling well that day, so it was up to my son and I to entertain ourselves. What did we do, you ask? Well, what else do Canadians do when they go to America? We went shopping! We started our shopping spree by going to Barnes & Noble where I picked up my 100th Funko Pop Vinyl Figure! What an accomplishment, right?!?! Now, in reality I bought figures 96 through 102 at the same time, but I am going to arbitrarily decide that this figure is lucky number 100!


Who (or what) is that, you ask? That’s the Wendigo from the TV show Hannibal. He is basically a very creepy, very scary figment of the imagination of one of the characters (Will Graham, if you’re familiar with the show) and he looks totally awesome. This figure sells at conventions for about $20, but I got him for about $10 ($12.50, if you factor in the exchange rate). I also picked up a little toy for my son (you know, because I’m a good dad). I bought him a little police car that lights up and sings a jaunty little tune about racing towards a crime scene. What fun! And how many books did we buy at this book store? Not a single one. I am very proud of us.

We then made our way to University Mall to shop at the Hot Topic (because I am a grown up and I can shop wherever I want). But before we got there, the first thing we saw when we entered the mall was a kid, who couldn’t be more than five or six years old, walking out of a collectibles store with a wooden sword and nunchucks. America really is the land of the free and the home of the brave. My kid and I eventually made our way to Hot Topic (after spending a lot of time trying to get my son to leave Sears… I have no idea why he was so obsessed with that store), where I picked up this little gem.

earth 2

This is Batman from Earth 2, who is Thomas Wayne; Bruce Wayne’s father (spoilers!). He’s a Hot Topic exclusive figure, so I was happy to find him. Acquiring this figure also fits into my philosophy that you can never have enough Batmen in your life.

Crisis of Infinite Batmen

Crisis of Infinite Batmen

We then went to IHOP for lunch (the irony being that neither of us had pancakes) before heading back to the hotel so that my little guy could have a nap. I felt really bad for one of the waitresses at the restaurant. She was clearly very new and was consistency forgetting peoples’ orders and mixing stuff up. People were generally nice to her, but they started getting agitated after a while. I’m going to choose that those people were from out of state. I refuse to believe anyone from Vermont could lose their patience. Vermonters are just too damned nice.

The next day was our final day in the Green Mountain State, so I was happy that Sarah was feeling better. I was less happy that our son decided to wake up at 3 AM. Yup. You read that right. Our kid woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Again, I was very happy that our hotel had free coffee. Two cups later, we went off to the Burlington farmer’s market, but not before stopping off at a Walgreen’s so I could pick up this (please excuse the blurriness):


Yes, it has gotten to the point where I am now travelling to foreign pharmacies to pick up Funko figures. I think I have a problem. Do you think there’s a prescription for it? Is it available at Walgreens? Jokes aside, can you really blame me for getting this? Look at how adorable this Punisher figure is. Who knew that such a hard ass could be so cute?

Anyway, the farmer’s market was cool; the highlight being that a bachelorette party showed up with someone, who I can only assume was the bride-to-be, carrying a five-foot long inflatable penis. I wonder whose idea it was to bring the party to a farmer’s market. I also wonder if the party was just starting or just ending. It’s hard to say given the oddness of it all (hehe… I said “hard”). Regardless, after that bit of strangeness, we picked up some sausages (not inflated or five feet long, unfortunately) and went to Sam’s for a barbecue.

After eating some delicious tube-shaped meat (and watching my son eat a ridiculous amount of it) we said our goodbyes and made our way back home. The trip home was much faster than the trip down. What took us upwards of seven hours on the way to Burlington, Vermont only took us three-and-a-half hours on the way back to Ottawa.

Other than my son not sleeping much and my wife getting very sick, it was a pretty good trip. Vermont is a really great place. The state is beautiful and the people are incredibly nice. I wish we could go more often, but unfortunately the Canadian dollar is too awful right now to make it affordable. Damned economy and all that jazz. Oh well. Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery and buy a cottage there. Or maybe I’ll just go when I can. Yeah, that sounds like a more likely scenario. But a guy can dream, can’t he?



Ottawa Comiccon 2015 – Day One!

Hello Everyone,

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to talk about what happened at this year’s Ottawa Comiccon!

There was so much cool stuff to see and do at this year’s convention that it was impossible to see and do it all. So let’s not lolly gaggle. Let’s talk about my time at Ottawa Comiccon 2015!

Day one:

Unfortunately, things did not start out on an awesome note. I decided to take the bus to the event on Friday, and based on my understanding (as well as the understanding of a bunch of other people who took the bus with me), the 99 bus was going to stop at the convention centre. Boy, were we all wrong on that one. We all ended up getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had to wait for a bus to come in the other direction. Luckily, a bus came fairly quickly and things got back on track.

Things went off the rails again however when in within the first hour of being at the con, I spent way more than I had budgeted for on Funko Pop Vinyl figures. Going in, I had intended to buy five specific figures, but when all was said and done, I had acquired a total of eight. By the end of the weekend, I came to terms with buying all those little guys, but at the time I felt pretty bad about myself.

That said, I cheered up immediately when my wife and son arrived. My kid loves people watching, and there is no better place on Earth to people watch than at a comic book convention. I’m always impressed with how my son handles being in big crowds. He never fusses or cries or panics or anything like that (knock on wood). He usually just smiles and looks around. The funniest moment was when we decided to take a picture with some of the members of the 501st Legion. A Wookie tried to give my son a high five, and my kid tried to back away as far as he could while grinning from ear to ear. It made both my wife and I laugh out loud. Anyway, here is our new family portrait.


Awesome, right?

Anywho, after a while my family decided to head back home and leave me to my own devices. After bouncing around looking at the wares of numerous vendors, I went to the Malcolm McDowell Q&A and listened to an absolute legend talk about his time in Hollywood. Sometimes these panels can be rather dry, with the celebrities answering questions with one cliché after the next. Mr. McDowell on the other hand was very engaging.

As interesting as Malcolm McDowell was, I am a big comic book nerd at heart, so just before the session ended I headed to a panel on the difference between comics now and in the past. This panel was initially supposed to be led by Ty Templeton, but because of his recent health issues (I’m guessing, I could be wrong) he was unable to attend the event. In his place, we had Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy (both of whom are amazing artists who worked on one of my personal favourite books, Swamp Thing) talking about how they have seen themselves and the business change over time. They did a pretty good job in my opinion, especially since they didn’t appear to have anything to work from ahead of time. I always like listening to comic book creators talk about their experience, and what they like and dislike about the comic book industry. I won’t get into what they said they didn’t like about the way things are going in the world of comics and related entertainment, but I will say that it was hard to disagree with them.

The last thing I did on day one of the convention was watch the Crystal Basement Improv group perform. I saw these folks perform last year and they were just as good this year as they were last. But like all improv troupes, when they are playing a game that requires members of the audience to yell things out in the middle of a skit, they are at the mercy of a crowd who may or may not have the sense of timing it takes to know when it’s a good time to jump in and when it’s a good time to shut up. And this particular crowd didn’t know when to shut up. Regardless, the troupe did a fine job of taking their cues from the audience when need be, and ignoring those times when it didn’t make any sense. As great as the improv was, I had the “pleasure” of sitting next to someone who must have had some sort of plague, because he wouldn’t stop coughing the whole time. I’m looking forward to my plague symptoms showing up at some point in the near future.

Shortly after watching improv, I started to make my way home. I took a bus from the convention to a major hub near my home, where I proceeded to wait for a ridiculously long time for a bus to take me home. I waited so long that I decided to walk the rest of the way. Of course, as soon as I got far enough away from the stop, I saw the bus I had waited for zoom past me. I was so annoyed (and tired) that I decided to stop at McDonald’s for dinner.

It was there in the house of the golden arches where I witnessed something that really bummed me out. A mother was at the counter ordering a Happy Meal for her kid. The clerk asked “Is it for a boy or a girl?” The mother replied it was for her daughter, and the clerk handed her a princess toy or some such shit. I mean, what if the kid wanted the Transformer toy instead? Shouldn’t the guy behind the counter just have asked what toy they wanted, instead of the gender of the child? Ugh. It still bums me out just thinking about it.

And that was it for my first day at Ottawa Comiccon 2015! It wasn’t smiles and rainbows the whole day, but the convention itself was still pretty great. I’ll write about days two and three of the con in the next little while, but until then: