The 3 R’s of BOBA


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-April 30, 2018- Sara Barton

Anytime is a good time for bubble tea, also affectionately known as, boba. It’s delicious whether it’s hot or cold. There’s now, light bulb tea, popping bubbles, boba tea ice cream, and floats(sold by Bar Pa Tea): cheese tea is now sold in Greenwich Village, thanks to Debutea.  As the weather is getting warmer; the refreshing drink paired with tapioca bubbles has become a city staple, especially in hot weather.

Amidst society’s growing eco-consciousness; it’s common to see reusable coffee cups, water bottles, grocery bags, and straws. Recently, I saw boba tea patrons toss their plastic cups in the trash, questions arose. Are boba tea cups recyclable? Can they be reused? Does a reusable boba-tea cup/jar exist?

I’ve divided the answers to these questions into the classic 3 R’s: Recycle, Reuse and Reduce.


Yes, boba-tea cups are recyclable! Disposable plastic cups that are marked with the resin identification codes(RIC) # 1 (PETE/PET-polyethylene terephthalate) and # 5 (PP-polypropylene); mean that they’re both are recyclable.(1) RIC’s are typically located at the bottom of the cup. If the lid is made from a different material, it will have it’s own RIC.


Recycling varies from state to state, so please check for the appropriate bins or drop-off centers. Also, researching your cities, towns or states recycling programs can unveil a great resource. Some cities, do give away free reusable items, such as water-bottles and bags.


If you live in NYC, toss your empty boba-cups/straws into the blue bin, and you’re good to go.


Also, Preserve’s, Gimme 5 Program (nation-wide) accepts #5(PP-polypropylene) plastic. You can either drop it off at a location or send them by mail. Preserve recycles them to make toothbrushes, flatware, cups, bowls, and plates.

When it comes to recycling straws; it’s complicated. They’re made of recyclable plastic, usually #5 (PP-polypropylene). However, it’s difficult to recycle them due to their small size. Very few facilities have the necessary equipment. (2)  Similar to how plastics bags are recyclable, but they’re cumbersome since they clog the machines.


Surprisingly, in a piece by PureWow, apparently, NYC recycles straws.


There are tons and tons of ideas on how to reuse, repurpose or upcycle your boba-cups. If you love crafting or DIY projects; then these cups aren’t trash, they’re art supplies. I repurposed my boba-tea cups into pencils/pen holders. Also, I’ve re-used my boba-straws in my NFL & Fine Arts Project.

Here’s a nifty DIY video with some unique ideas on how to reuse plastic cups.

Unless you’re supercyclers, such as, designers, Liane Rossler and Sarah K who’ve taken it to the next level.


These cups are constructed from reused plastic. It’s all about letting those creative sparks fly. Think of your next cosplay or Halloween costume? Boba cups and straws are excellent materials.

[Please wash and clean plastic cups/straws before reusing.]


While reusable coffee cups are widely available; the boba industry faces a unique set of challenges for its reusable options. You can buy mason jars with straw attachments. However, they’re not big enough for boba straws. The same issue goes for reusable straws. Biodegradable plastic straws aren’t available in boba-size; paper straws quickly become saturated with moisture, and boba-size reusable straws are very expensive.

According to Grub Street, Taiwan, (the birthplace of boba), has set out an aggressive plan to eliminate disposable plastic. In 2019, plastic straws are the 1st on the chopping block. Economically biodegradable alternatives aren’t widely available. How the boba industry will adapt remains to be seen.

Yet, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, Loliware, a U.S.-based start-up that introduced compostable seaweed-based cups in 2015, has launched a successful Indiegogo campaign for “the world’s first edible, hyper compostable straw aimed at replacing plastic straws.” Guess what? They plan on making boba straws and cups.

In the meantime, here are some options:


Boba Guys, located in San Francisco and NYC, sells their version of a reusable boba-mason jar.

Kung Fu Tea sells reusable boba-tea tumblers.

All US Boba chains are unique, Vivi Bubble Tea and YaYa Tea also sell their own reusable cups/tumblers.

Rather DIY a reusable boba-tumbler?

Check out this tutorial from Angel Wong’s Kitchen

Last but not least, Homemade Boba Tea and it’s easy to prepare. It merely requires purchasing tapioca bubbles at your local Asian grocery store or order them online; and a boba recipe. Think of it as a fantastic opportunity to express your mixology skills. Create a boba flavor that’s “off menu” perhaps blueberry lavender, sweet & spicy or if you’re 21, add alcohol.

Plus, it has the added benefits of being healthier. Recent reports summarized by The List stated that certain types of boba tea are equivalent to high-calorie desserts due to their excess sugar and carbs. Homemade, gives you the option of controlling the ingredients, and it’s especially helpful if you have food allergies or dairy issues. While milk tea boba is delicious, not all boba chains have the option of dairy-free, lactose-free or nut-free milk alternatives.

Here’s a recipe from The Omnivore’s Cookbook.

How about this easy recipe from the birthplace of boba, Taichung, Taiwan?

Overwhelmed? Try a Boba Tea Kit. They include both tapioca bubbles and tea leaves/mixes.

uncommon goods boba

Check out this Boba Tea Kit from Uncommon Goods.

Looking for a reusable boba straw?


These plastic/silicone reusable straws are made from Grid Gear and can be purchased on Amazon. (They’re decently priced too).  Etsy has a variety of stainless steel boba straws.  Not ready to purchase a reusable straw? Then a spoon works too or reusing your regular boba straw (plastic straws can be safely reused 1-3 times.(3) As long as you clean them).

What is puzzling is why US boba-chains haven’t gone the route of coffee-chains? Starbucks and Donkin Donuts both sell coffee and beans. Personally, I’d love to see Kung Fu Tea sell loose leaf Oolong tea. It has a rich and bold flavor. So far, I’ve haven’t found a brand on the market that compares.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Boba cups are recyclable; you can reuse them, and you can reduce by either making a reusable cup or homemade boba tea.

Don’t forget: April 30th is National Bubble Tea Day.  Enjoy and Recycle!


Le Grand Mechant Renard at NYICFF

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March 11, 2018

It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon as the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) held a special screening of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox), along with a Q & A/Interview with its director, Benjamin Renner.

I saw the original French trailer over the summer. When I heard that NYICFF was showing the film this weekend; I was ecstatic. So, this journalist hung up her press pass and purchased a ticket.

Click here for Trailer with English Subtitles

Of course, old habits die-hard; as I ended up taking photos and giving my business card to Mr. Renner. For those unfamiliar with his work, Benjamin Renner is also the director of the Oscar-nominated film, Ernest & Celestine(2012). My colleague, Anita C.Wang and I covered the film for Samurai Beat Radio at NYICFF 2014.

Ernest and Celestine- English v French?

The Origins of Ernest and Celestine

The Q & A/Interview deeply resonated with me. Mr. Renner shared that the film is based on drawings that he did as a teenager and gave to his family as gifts. As a film/animation student, I see similarities with my work. My superhero short film,  The Return of The Royals(ROTR), is based off a superheroine character I created when I was a kid.

A childhood visit to a farm inspired the plot of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox). Mr. Renner wanted to see the chicks hatch. However, his Dad wasn’t sure when they’d hatch. (It could be a few hours, days or weeks) His Dad, cleverly told him that once they hatch, that if they saw him, the chicks would think he’s their mother. (This is known as imprinting.) He’d have to get a job, feed them and take care of them. Mr. Renner then joked that at 6 years old, he wasn’t ready to be a single parent. Years later this would lead to an idea, ‘What would be unlikely “mom”?’ Hence, a fox taking care of 3 young chickens.

Mr. Renner later commented that ‘it felt weird to win an award for childhood drawing that I only shared with my family’. He was humbly referring to the 2018 César (France’s Prestigious Academy Awards)

Renner signs my sketchbook

la pièce de résistance

After the Q & A/Interview, Benjamin Renner drew in my sketchbook. Hearing him discuss animatics; I excitedly told him about my animatic assignment. It turns out were both animating humans for the 1st time.

I’m very thankful that NYICFF continues to show French animated films. It’s inspired me to create more bilingual work, whether it’s a film or comic strip.

Chibi Super Toy Joue Au SuperBowl

C’est ne pas mal du tout…LOL

The Phoenix Rises, Anime NYC Debuts!

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-Nov. 21, 2017- Sara Barton

This weekend, Anime NYC made its debut. It’s been seven years since an anime convention has graced the Jacob Javits Center. In 2007, Reed Exhibitions created New York Anime Festival(NYAF). However, in 2010, it merged with New York Comic Con (NYCC). The concept of combining the two pop-cultures frustrated fans. The end came in 2012 when NYAF was integrated into NYCC. Anime NYC reignited the aspirations of fans; like a phoenix, it’s risen and better than ever!

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Crunchyroll and  LeftField Media wove together a beautiful mosaic of Japanese pop-culture, tradition, and creative innovation. Along with the Full Alchemist (US Premiere), NYC Ramen Summit and Sailor Moon Day; in the midst of cosplayers, there were patrons dressed in traditional Yukatas and Kimonos. Across from the Tokyo Attack Arcade, booths sold yakisoba, snacks, Japanese household items, tea cups, and dishware.

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The anime scene has changed since 2007. Anime NYC is a reflection of that; especially in artist alley, amidst the fan-based pop-culture items; one could also find Japanese prints, charms, and keychains. Sellers often commented that it was their charms that sold the most. Manga artist/illustrator, Hiroki Otsuka, said, “It’s a cross between Flame Con and Anime Fest.”

What makes Anime NYC different is its brilliant utilization of the Jacob Javits Convention Center space. Unlike NYCC, there were Security/Prop Check tables at each entrance, the Expo Hall, and panels to avoid massive entry lines. There were open spaces for photographers and to prevent over-crowding. An attendee in a giant Pikachu costume took advantage to entertain patrons.

This reporter appreciated that the Press Room was in private room on the second floor. It was a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle.


Also, Anime NYC strategically placed the gender-neutral bathrooms in the Expo Hall, where there was a high volume of attendees, cutting down on long lines. (Remember fellas, please the put the seat down. It’s courteous and it speeds up traffic.)


Deadpool crashes Anime NYC

NYCC has a reputation for being very crowded which can be overwhelming for patrons. Although Anime NYC had 20,000 attendees in comparison to the 180,000 at NYCC; it gave the feeling of a smaller and friendlier convention. This lead to an opportunity to socialize and meet new people, which attendees greatly appreciated.

It’s only the beginning; Anime NYC will become an annual affair (as of Nov. 16-18, 2018).

Visit for updates.


Twitter: @AnimeNYC.

Instagram: @AnimeNYC


Why Press Should Cover Flame Con


Whether it’s your first time covering the comic convention circuit or you’re a veteran; as soon as you hit the Press Room, it’s common to exchange ‘war stories’ among colleagues. Which con had the longest Press check-in line? or the eternal question, Why don’t Press Room’s have food or drinks? However, after covering Flame Con, the game had changed. Flame Con is journalist’s dream!

Here are The Reasons Why:


photo: Flame Con

The Super Staff & Volunteers

As soon as you walk into Flame Con, you’re warmly greeted by staff and volunteers who are eager to help make your convention experience a blast. It’s one of the important aspects that give Flame Con it’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The Press check-in is speedy and efficient. (This also includes applying for a badge.) This year we received a super helpful “night before” email from the new PR Director, Michelle Rose Micor, which also included a map.


The true heroes of Flame Con and they even wore capes



The Press Room

The Press Room gets better and better every year. Last year it was luxurious. This year, it’s not only gorgeous, it 2.5 times larger in order to accommodate for interviews. One of the challenges of conducting interviews at a comic convention is either reserving or finding a quiet space. If you’re small or medium Press Corp, you won’t always get a chance to reserve a space. You’ll most likely have to conduct interviews on the floor, where it’s very noisy. In this case, Flame Con staff went out of their way to make sure all Press got the opportunity to use the space.


Food, Snacks, Drinks, WiFi …Oh, My!

It just keeps getting better, there were water bottles and snacks in the Press Room! Most comic conventions do offer free WiFi, yet, the free lifesavers on the table were a delightful touch. (You might say it’s a clever pun). While the snacks went by fast, don’t worry, the Press Room wasn’t the only place that had food. Several booths gave out free candy and one vendor offered bagels and danishes! A happy journalist is a well-fed one.



Have you developed an interest in politics? Then, Flame Con is a great springboard. It’s a wonderful place to meet people who’ve taken a creative approach to our current political climate and a great way to get involved in the LGBT community. Flame Con hosted a twist on last year’s Geek Activism panel, called “Queering Activism” along with other panels and workshops on diversity & representation in media. I even received a free button saying “Bisexuals Against White Supremacy”.


The Press Room Sign

Flame Con is well-known for its pop-culture style signs. Whether it’s the Flame Con logo, Cosplay Repair Station or the Gender Neutral Bathrooms; each booth or room has its own unique sign based in the spirit of comic book tradition. The Press Room Sign is reminiscent of Clark Kent’s Press hat from The Fleischer Superman Cartoons (1941).  Alongside Ironheart(Cosplay Repair Station Sign) and Snorlax(AFK Lounge Sign); this journalist felt like a Superhero.

Last, but not least…

Flame Con is Fulfilling!

Covering Flame Con is one of the best assignments I’ve ever had. It’s more than just a job; it’s rewarding. I feel that I’m part of a growing community and that I’m making a difference- That’s priceless!

Still not convinced? Then check out my Top 5 & Top 10  lists on Flame Con and Flame Con 2: 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous.

SBR journalists make The Village Voice NYCC 2016 Cosplay List!

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Oct. 10,  2016- Sara Barton

Only at New York Comic Con (NYCC) can a journalist have their 15 minutes of fame. Every year, thousands of cosplayers are photographed by fans and the press. Each media outlet has their own version of a top or best cosplay/costumes list. This year we got our moment in the sun.

Anita and I, joined by guest correspondent, Digi Kolobong, were on our way to the Rooster Teeth booth to interview Barbara Dunkelman & Miles Luna from RWBY. As we left the Press Room, we were approached by a woman from The Village Voice. She was impressed by Anita and Digi’s costumes and asked if they’d liked to be photographed. Ecstatic-we seized the opportunity!

Anita cosplayed as Shiro, from Voltron: Legendary Defender(2016)  and Digi cosplayed as Weiss Schnee, from RWBY (which was fitting for our interview.) The photographer, C.S. Muncy, loved my tinted rainbow glasses. He asked if I wanted to be photographed as well. I was surprised given the simplicity of my costume. I was cosplaying as Radio Times Reporter, Jilian Holtzman, from Ghostbusters (2016).  (I thought it would be funny to play up the journalism pun.)

New York Comic Con 2016 has been a magical experience for SBR!

To see the full article:

“Incredible Cosplay at New York Comic Con 2016”

Photos by C.S. Muncy for the Village Voice

Top 10 reasons why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC



“The stairway to heaven”

August 30, 2016 -Sara Barton

After the success of Flame Con- (New York City’s first LGBTQA+ comic convention), Geeks OUT! raised the bar again with Flame Con 2: 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous! On August 20th & 21st, they doubled the fun: 2 days, 2 mascots, and 2 cosplay contests, 2 portfolio reviews, and twice the panels & exhibitors.

Flame Con 2 was held at the beautiful Brooklyn Marriot Hotel located near the historic Brooklyn Bridge. The hotel’s modern space age design mirrors Flame Con’s bright future; as the larger space facilitated an intellectual salon of creative energy and free thinking ideas, surpassing the expectations of a comic convention.

Last year, I wrote the Top 5 reasons why Flame Con beats NYCC. In honor of Flame Con 2, the list has been doubled. [NYCC are you still taking notes?]

{Drum Roll} Presenting…

The Top 10 Reasons why Flame Con 2 is still better than NYCC:


10) The Press Room

As the old saying goes, if you ever want to learn a person’s true character, watch how they treat others. The staff at Flame Con 2 treated members of the Press like royalty. The clever graphic signs guided journalists to the 3rd floor. Press check-in was speedy, efficient and Flame Con staff was super friendly. They brilliantly utilized the Marriot Hotel’s space by reserving a lovely conference room; filled with plush seats and a large water cooler. The best part, you could leave your bags and Flame Con staff offered to watch them for you. I was shocked, I’ve covered NYCC since 2010, this is unheard of. (1)


9) The Water Coolers

Throughout Flame Con, several water coolers were stationed around the Exhibition Hall, Cosplay Corner, and Press Room. A person might not think twice about this. So why did they make our list? Last week’s weather was very hot & humid reaching the upper 90’s, feeling like the 100’s. Although, this weekend’s weather was surprisingly much cooler and the hotel does have air conditioning; it’s important to stay hydrated. Dehydration is a serious safety issue when the weather is extremely hot. At NYCC, The Javits Center sells water bottle for $4, while they’re water fountains; they don’t always work. It’s the thoughtful touches that show that Flame Con truly cares about the safety of its attendees, exhibitors, performers and members of the Press.


8) The Cosplay Corner &  Repair Station

Flame Con 2 was dedicated to the art of Cosplay. In addition, to 2 Cosplay Contest’s there was an expansion of the photo section and a Repair Station. Cosplayers had extra room for photo shoots against the official Flame Con backdrop. They also included a table with props (similar to a photo booth); it had rubber chickens and the famous “gay defense” shields. However, I was really impressed by Cosplay Repair Station. The sign featured the new Iron Man(aka Iron Heart), Riri Willson. The table had extra materials, glue guns and other emergency necessities a cosplayer in distress might need. As a beginner cosplayer and as an artist who loves to build props, this was a slice of paradise.


7) Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

The Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co. is located in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Yes, it’s a real-life store that sells all sorts of gadgets a hero might need. Their booth even had a few specials items for Flame Con 2. However, they’re also a storefront for 826NYC, a non-profit dedicated to supporting students, ages 6-18, with their writing skills.  Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Co’s dedicated tutors, storytellers, and workshop leaders help 2,300 NYC students per year. Take a train ride downtown and try out the Cape Tester, get De-Villainized, but (most important) don’t forget to ask about the secret door! (Hint: 826NYC)


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6) Robots, Unicorns and Steven Universe…Oh My!

If Flame Con was meant to have a theme, this would have been it. The Exhibition Hall was filled with art, cosplay, and books featuring: Robots, Unicorns, and Steven Universe. There was even a booth selling Unicorn Cookies & comics! Among several artists, we’re  Justin Winslow’s comic, “Robot & Unicorn” and Gay Breakfast’s stellar Steven Universe Fan-Art. While Steven Universe was a hit last year, ever since the series featured more LGBTQ+ themes and Rebecca Sugar came out, it’s popularity has skyrocketed exponentially.  Adopt a Robot, was not what I thought it was. Flame Con 2 also featured a panel on “Gendering  BB-8” -Do robots really have a gender?


5) Activism

A sense of social justice was in the air. Flame Con 2 had already issued a press release banning gun props in light of Orlando and attendees were happy to comply. The convention also hosted a panel called, “Geek Activism”, for those interested in getting involved. Several artists in the Exhibition Hall also exercised their 1st amendment rights. It was fantastic! I found a sticker saying “Make America Gay Again” a parody to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make American Great Again”. Chaotic Kiss’s booth had a sign saying #TransLivesMatter and talked about positive activism through art. There was P. Kristen Enos’s classic, “Active Voice”, the quintessential piece on LGBT activism in the early ’90s. Last, but not least, is “GUN CONTROLLED” is a zine-style anthology book created by the queer comic, cartooning and arts community. It contains art and stories reacting to the shootings that took place at the Pulse Night Club on June 12th, 2016. (Sales will be donated to the Pulse Victims Fund.)


4) Catching up with our favorites & making new friends.


SBR caught up with some of our favorite artists: the famous Brooklyn manga artist, Hiroki Otsuka & his husband, Jason;  Justin Winslow of “Robot & Unicorn”;  Jason Tsang, who’s adult coloring book, “Color Me Queer” was a success! Plus, animator, Tristian Goik representing  ASIFA-East.



What I love most about Flame Con 2 is the communal aspect as Hiroki & Justin became friends, introduced me to the talented fashion artist: A.E. Kieren and his model for the hour, exhibitor, Agent Wednesday; and gallery coordinator, Jeff Beler. There was a surge of creative synergy that Sunday.


3) Sara meets K. Perkins

K. Perkins is the writer for DC’s Supergirl, her many credits include film, television, and plays. As a screenwriting major, Perkins and I talked shop. She was happy to give me career advice and industry tips. When our delightful conversation came to an end; out of the blue, she surprised me with an autographed Supergirl comic. Perkins is a class act and I wish her the best on her future endeavors


Falme Con2

2) The 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous Mascots

The Flame Con mascots wore 3 spectacular costumes this year. On Saturday, Mr. Flame Con wore an updated chic and elegant design. The costume had various shades of red, accented with a Flame belt and cuffs. Its sheer simplicity is a reflection Brooklyn Marriot Hotel’s modern yet futuristic style. On Sunday, Mr. Flame Con was dressed to the nines, in a very elegant flame ball gown; reminiscent of the Katniss Everdeen’s dress from, “The Hunger Games” films. That costume was on fire, including the flame-haired wig!  As for Ms. Flame Con, she was rocking last year original costume. The mascots were fierce and fabulous– it was perfect!


Instagram: laimleeny

1) Sriracha Boy attends Youth Day!

GeeksOUT! , the dynamic force behind Flame Con partnered with the Ali Forney Center(2) for its 1st Youth Day. On Sunday, August 21st all attendees of Flame Con 2 under the age of 21 were admitted free of charge. Attendees, staff, and exhibitors brought their children. It was a family-friendly atmosphere, yet none was more adorable than Sriracha Boy(a toddler who wore a plush hot sauce bottle). Huy Fong’s Sriracha has gone from a popular condiment to a pop-culture phenomenon. This little cutie wandered the convention floor spreading the joy and love of Sriracha sauce to those around him. That day, Sriracha boy became cemented in Instagram history.

Flame Con 2 has dropped the mic (twice), BOOM! – NYCC are you ready?

(1) NYCC Press either has a choice of carrying their gear or paying $3 for coat check (except for NYCC 2015, where Progressive Insurance offered free storage lockers to all attendees)

(2) The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community.

The Most: Pokémon Go Sign Countdown!

August 4, 2016- Sara Barton

It’s the mobile app heard around the world as Pokémon Go sky-rockets into a global phenomenon. The game has not only brought joy to the public; it’s increased the shares of Nintendo (even though it’s created by the company Niantic), encouraged fitness, and now local businesses are jumping on the bandwagon.

There are several ways businesses can use Pokémon Go to increase customer traffic. The most popular are checking if your establishments are located near a Gym or Pokéstop then catering to local foot traffic. The second is to purchase Lure Modules and host a Bar-Crawl/Meet-up. The Village Pourhouse hosts Pokémon Go Parties on Friday nights.


Yelp has also made it easier for players; by adding a filter that identifies businesses within nearby Pokéstops. (available on the app and  It’s called “Pokéstop Nearby” and Yelp users can also identify a business in the vicinity of a Pokéstop by checking in to the location and answering a question that will make note of the nearby Pokéstop. (1)

Before July 20, 2016, businesses could apply to become a Pokéstop or Gym. However, due to the overwhelming number of requests, Niantic isn’t currently accepting any more applications. (2)

Furthermore, in an effort to attract customers Pokémon Go has brought out the artistic side of many local NYC establishments. While this SBR correspondent was testing out the latest tips and hacks; I discovered some very creative restaurant, bar and business signs.

Presenting: [Drum Roll]…

The Most: Pokémon Go Sign Countdown! 

5) The Most: Sarcastic  [Osteria Del Principe, 27 E. 23 St]

most sarcastic

This sign is sarcastic and funny. Whether it was born out of frustration or the staff wanted to crack a joke about this latest trend. All I can say is; I got a good laugh. Yes, Osteria Del Principe does have a good wine selection.

4) The Most: Helpful [Ampersand, 294 E. 3rd Ave]


If you ever needed help finding a Pokéstop; this sign is it!  It’s direct and to the point. It’s referring to the Pokéstop: TAMA- Tree Planting by Mayor Abraham Beame (located on 23rd & 3rd ave). It’s the 1st of 75 trees that were donated to beautify the community.

The Ampersand is a bar/restaurant located near SVA’s and Baruch’s college campuses. Plus, it’s a short walk from Madison Square Park. Universities and college campuses are popular Pokéstops. These buildings are known to be hot spots for catching certain Pokemon. After following up on a tip, I caught a Vulpix at the Baruch Campus Library Pokéstop.

A few universities have even gotten in on the action. NYU Alumi  posted an article on their website listing its campuses Pokéstops and the university is even hosting Pokétours to attract prospective students.

If you plan on catching Pokémon around these college campuses; the Ampersand is a nice place to take a break and grab drinks or something to eat.

3) The Most: Witty [Amsterdam Billiards, 110 E. 11st]


This sign was created by the talented staff at Amsterdam Billiards. Their signs are known to showcase various pop-culture references (ex. Futurama, Garfield, Peanuts, and The Simpsons) making witty banter involving: pool, alcohol and good times. Amsterdam Billiards is located 1/2 block from the Village Pourhouse. It’s a shrewd business strategy, considering that the Village Pourhouse hosts Pokémon Go parties on Fridays. Can you catch the pun?  (Hint: It’s Pokémon’s famous catchphrase.)

2) The Most: Crafty (literally) [Nanoosh, 111 University Place]


The sign is courtesy of Nanoosh. The restaurant is a great venue from Union Square, NYU, and Washington Square Park, (which each have lures, gyms and several Pokéstop in between.) It’s obvious it was a labor of love. Instead of Pikachu being drawn from chalk, this one is made out of fabric and is an homage to the short film, “Pikachu’s Vacation” (1999).

2) The Most: 可愛い  (Cute) – This one is a tie!
[Milk Bar Chelsea 220 E. 8th Ave] & [Nanoosh 111 University Place]

Milk Bar and Nanoosh both tie for this category. The 1st two signs  are at Milk Bar’s new Chelsea location; which isn’t too far from the High-line(a great place to catch grass Pokémon) and is close to the SVA Silas and Beatrice Theater (also a Pokéstop). These signs appeared within a less than 2.5 weeks after the app was released; welcoming tired and hungry Pokémon trainers. The chalk drawings are incredibly adorable and will put a smile on anyone’s face.

1) The Most: Savvy [Spruce, 228 E. 8th Ave]


Spruce’s sign works on a variety of levels. It’s a florist and gardening shop, hence making Bell-Sprout the perfect mascot. Pokémon Go players know that Grass Pokémon will appear in their natural habits, such as plants, lush fields, and parks. (I caught two Bulbasaurs’ on the High-line.) The artist did a great job. Bell-Sprout is beautifully drawn. Nevertheless, what makes this sign #1 is, that it doesn’t matter if the owner plans to put a Lure Module or is hinting that their establishment is a place to catch Bell-Sprout’s. It’s simply a clever ode to Pokémon and a comic observation of the cultural impact of Pokémon Go.


Pokémon Go Terminology:

Lure Module:  is a purchasable item that attracts wild Pokémon. It’s attached to a Pokéstop of your choosing (several establishments use these to increase business!). They attract a wide variety and large number of  Pokémon. However, they only work for a limited period of time. 

Pokéstop: provide’s players with free items, such as Eggs, Poké Balls, Potions and can be equipped with items called lure modules. Pokéstops can include Universities/Colleges, Famous & Historic Landmarks, Church’s, Parks, Trees, Art Sculptures/Murals, Local Businesses and much more. 

Poké-Gym/Gym: are locations where a player can battle the Pokémon belonging to rival teams. The other purpose of Gyms is to train the player’s own Pokémon by getting into a fight with the Pokémon assigned by other members in the same team.





SBR’s Top 10 Countdown: NYCC 2015!

-Oct. 12, 20 15- Sara Barton and Anita C. Wang

As 2015’s New York Comic Con (NYCC) comes to a close; Samurai Beat Radio (SBR) is counting down our Top 10 favorites. {Drum roll if you please}

10) The Progressive Lockers

For the 1st time in NYCC history attendees had access to free storage courtesy of Progressive Insurance. These wonderful lockers were a god-send and hopefully they’ll return for NYCC 2016.

9) Coffee-Mate in the Press Room


Another 1st- Coffee in the Press Room!  SBR correspondents among other fellow journalists were very grateful to have coffee in the press room.Thanks to Coffee-Mate for their generous donation.
(photo: Sara Barton)

8) The Jelly Empire

The Jelly Empire makes its mark on The Block. Jelly, is a robot who travels to Earth and falls in love with human Pop-Culture. Selina Briggs, is the creator/artist for The Jelly Empire. The Empire consists of: comic books, stickers, art-prints, necklaces, jelly-magnets, tote-bags and a kickstarter campaign for an adorable Jelly plush toy.

7) NYCC Sports Fans 

We noticed a high influx of sports fans this year; including a few  unique cosplay mash-ups, such as: Spider-Mets and Captain America(in a custom sports jersey.) Even Simplicity Patterns got in on the action displaying their own NY Giants superhero-costume.
(Spider Mets photo via: Tuesday Night Movies)

6) Back to the Future

Back to the Future cruised on to NYCC show floor for their 30th anniversary- In Style!  A replica of Cafe 80’s was built; showcasing the famous DeLorean(autographed by the cast) and promoting the release of Pepsi Perfect. Each day, 20 lucky winners had a chance this special bottle before it went on sale.

5) DC Superhero Girls


DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel have teamed up to create a superhero storytelling universe that is geared entirely toward young girls. DC Super Hero Girls features DC Comics’ female characters as teens.  The premise of the TV series deals with all the awkwardness of growing up (with the added stress of having superpowers). DC Super Hero Girls stars heroes such as: Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more. The characters will be in their formative years and not quite at the top of their superhero (or -villain) game.
(photo: Knightmare6 )

4) Wikia Fantasy Food Truck

Always wondered what your favorite fictional  cartoon/video game snacks taste like? Wonder no more thanks to the Wikia Fantasy Food Truck. This years fantasy foods brought to life: Cookie Cat from ‘Steven Universe’, Nuke Cola from Bethesda’s ‘Fallout’ franchise,  Mabel Juice from Disney X D’s ‘Gravity Falls’, Greedy Milk from the video game ‘Warframe’. I received a Critical Roll!  Anita’s rating: Delicious!

3) Charles Battersby


Charles Battersby is a play-write/actor/video game journalist; and is well-known for his crossplay(gender-bending cosplay). His elegant Princess Peach and Disney mash-up (Cinderella/Belle) ball gowns are a sight to behold. Charles is also the founder of PressXY, which addresses transgender issues in video games. You can often see him moderating panels on transgender themes in comic books nationwide. He’s crossplaying a lovely Bio-Shock gown.
(photo: Sara Barton)

2) Anita gets a photograph with Steven Blum!

anita and steve

Steven Blum is an American voice actor who’s career spans from: anime, animation, video games and film. Among NYCC fans he’s best known for voicing Cartoon Network’s Toonami host, TOM, Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Amon from The Legend of Korra. His film credits including The Boxtrolls and A Cat in Paris(Englishdub). Steven, along with rapper, Logic were co-moderating to promote Logic’s, hip hop album/motion picture, The Incredible True Story. After the panel, Steven stayed for autographs and photos; Anita got the photo of a lifetime.

We saved the best for last. SBR’s #1 favorite moment:

1) Naruto Creator Masashi Kishimoto makes his 1st US appearance!!

It’s a series of 1st’s! His first time in the US, in NYC and at US convention. New York Comic Con warmly welcomed Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the manga series, Naruto. He recently completed the series at 72 volumes and was eager to answer questions. Check out this heartfelt interview.  (Footage courtesy of Anime Games Online)

Yoshiki + X Japan Return to NYC!

Yoshiki Panel3-ACW-1

Oct 11, 2014- Sara Barton

Yoshiki and his band, X Japan, have returned to NYC making an appearance at New York Comic Con(NYCC) 2014 and later performing at Madison Square Garden. Fans have eagerly waited for the return of X Japan and the surprises that are in store at their NYCC panel.

We remember that iconic moment at New York Comic Con 2010 when a surprise guest appeared at Yoshiki’s panel. It was the legend himself, Stan Lee.  However, the reason this moment is cemented in NYCC history is due to an unexpected twist, as Stan Lee had joined Yoshiki to announce their creation of the comic book, Blood Red Dragon.

The big questions are: “What will Yoshiki and X Japan do next?” and “Will Stan Lee make an appearance?”

Yoshiki is a very talented musician whose career is the embodiment of surprise. Originally trained as a classical pianist, at age 10, Yoshiki’s life changed when he listened to a KISS album. He and his childhood friend, Toshi, decided to form a rock band and the rest is history. Yoshiki has often been referred to as, “The Bono of Japan”.  He’s the drummer, pianist and songwriter, and is the face of X Japan.

X Japan fame and worldwide success has been equated to that of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Yoshiki’s many credits include composing songs for major events, such as: the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012, Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 10th-year anniversary celebration, and the 2005 World Expo in Japan. He’s also the first person to have a Hello Kitty doll named after him; it’s called Yoshikitty[i], (and my personal favorite, the album, Yoshiki Classical, collaboration with famed Grammy-winning producer, Sir George Martin.)

Stan Lee Msg-1

Today, electricity was in the air as Yoshki  and X Japan walked into the NYCC panel room. Sadly, Stan Lee didn’t  make an appearance, but he left a video message sending his best wishes to fans, and closing with his trademark phrase, “Excelsior!”


The audience was shown a sneak-peak of the comic, Blood Red Dragon; a comic version of Yoshiki, who has a superhero alter-ego that fights the forces of evil. Todd MacFarlane, creator of Spawn, beautifully brings the characters to life. It’s often been questioned as to why Yoshiki didn’t create a manga instead, but he loved the style of American comics and their spectacular colors, rather than manga which is generally in black & white[i].  A few lucky fans were given a paper copy of Blood Red Dragon.


Yoshiki gracefully moderated the panel, as X-Japan reminisced about old times, and the loss of their original guitarist, Hide. When X Japan began to take Q & A from the audience, a fan asked if Yoshiki spoke other languages besides English and Japanese. He then playfully demonstrated his ability to say hello in multiple languages.

Yosihi Panel-CU ACW-1

The most touching moment is when Toshi, X Japan’s vocalist, mentioned it was his birthday. Yoshiki  then turned wished him a Happy Birthday. Toshi then said “I love you”, Yoshiki  replied, “I love you, always.”  Yoshiki  and Toshi have been friends for over 40 years. It was a heartwarming moment.


After the panel, Anita and I attended the press conference. I asked Yoshiki what he thought the best moment in his career was. He replied performing at Madison Square Garden. I noticed that he had a splint on his wrist and I asked if he was ok. He reassured me and said that he was in good spirits.

We wish Yoshiki  a speedy recovery & Good Luck to X Japan at Madison Square Garden!

Photographer: Anita C. Wang

Guest Editor: Leigh Howard


[i] ABC NEWS. “Amplified, X-Japan(extended) October. 11, 2010” YouTube, Oct. 11, 2014. Web.

[i] Keegan, Rebecca. “Yoshiki as ‘Blood Red Dragon’: Todd McFarlane Makes Japanese Star a Hero.” Hero Complex. LA Times, 11 July 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2014. <;.

The Origins of Ernest and Celestine


March 27, 2014 – By Anita C. Wang and Sara Barton

Every night, Didier Brunner, French film producer of The Triplets of Belleville (2003), would read, Ernest and Celestine, (a popular children book series written and illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent), to his daughter Pauline. Each time the story ended, Didier was left wondering how this mouse and bear met since it’s never explained in the books. In 2008, Didier took matters into his own hands and acquired the rights to Ernest and Celestine, from Gabrielle Vincent’s publisher. Thus, the animated feature film, “Ernest and Celestine”, was created to answer that lingering question.

Once the rights to Ernest and Celestine were secured, Brunner also needed the right talents to make his dream project come true. He personally handpicked all the creative talents to ensure that, Ernest and Celestine would remain true its roots. Its screenplay, adapted by, famous French writer, Daniel Pennac, expands on the world of Ernest and Celestine creating an enchanting backstory.


The story unfolds with perfect pacing showing how the friendship between Celestine and Ernest developed. Raised in a society where it’s frowned upon for bears and mice to socialize with each other. A mouse, Celestine, and a bear, Ernest, are brought together by a unique set of circumstances. Celestine, a budding artist, and Ernest, a street performer, create a bond through shared creativity; forming a strong friendship that lasts a lifetime.


The animation is beautiful and fitting of the original book series, as it showcases the signature watercolor style backgrounds. From start to finish, the movie is a perfect love letter to the book series. It leaves the audience an ending that in fact feels like a new beginning; as Ernest and Celestine pay homage to their creator, Gabrielle Vincent, when they sit down and begin to write their origin story.

Now making its second debut in theaters,  the Oscar-nominated, Ernest and Celestine has been dubbed in English and it sounds flawless. Forrest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy, give a heartfelt performance, as Ernest and Celestine. Lauren Bacall is perfect and frightening as The Grey One.

What started as a question by Didier Brunner has grown into an animated feature that gives us an answer, which is satisfying as it leaves both children and adults smiling in their seats.

Edited by: Sara Barton