And fly the nocturnal marc

THE ULTIMATE WEEKEND RECAP
Starring The Baxter & Meep

Since this is the absolute longest post I have ever written (7 pages in MS Word), I am going to do to utilize the cut feature. Read on at your extreme leisure.

Meep’s comments/corrections are in bold.

THURSDAY

After work, I rushed home to finish packing and do a last minute sweep of the apartment to make ABSOLUTE SURE that I had everything needed for the trip. Kayobi picked me and Dom up and then we drove down to get Meep and her ridiculous large, metal suitcase that was on loan from Ben. And then it was off to the airport to meet Ben and his sister Lea and begin our crazy-assed adventure through time and space.

The plane ride was relatively uneventful. Even getting through the security check was pretty easy. Ben even managed to accidentally sneak a lighter through and Lea accidentally snuck an EXACTO KNIFE through. Good work, security guys. You are definitely keeping us safe and not hassling us one bit.

We landed in San Diego around 11:30 and met Jacob who had been waiting for us for 2 hours. We then got in 2 separate cabs to find out hotel. Find being the operative word. Apparently, NEITHER of the cab drivers had heard of our hotel (The Ramada “Limited”) or knew of the street it was on. They called their dispatchers and kept the meter running the whole time while they drove around looking for it. When our cabbie finally learned where the hotel was he said “Oh. That’s in the ghetto. He repeatedly told us that he was taking us to the ghetto but then would say “but San Diego doesn’t really HAVE a ghetto. It’s still safe. But it’s the ghetto.” Ok. Thanks. Feel much better now. When we pulled into the lot at the Ramada Limited, past the Adult Theatre and across from the Physic Palm Reader, it did indeed look and feel a big ghetto. “Limited” means motel-style. Our entire checking in process took place through double-paned glass, and when we finally got up to our damp rooms which overlooked an I-5 underpass, we laid our weary bones down on a lumpy mattress and a paper-thin pillow. But what can you expect from the only hotel we could get into on such late notice? I suppose that for $90 a night, I expected slightly more.

FRIDAY
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and quickly took to the extreme rip off that is the bus system. $2.25 for a ONE WAY 3.5 mile trip to the convention center. Actually, the bus far did include a transfer just like in Seattle, but 2.25 is still a lot. After that, we “connected” to the trolley and, once on, discovered that it was taking us the LONG WAY around the city. We could have easily walked 2 blocks to the convention center instead of riding the trolley for 15 minutes (after waiting for it for at least 10 minutes). But it was fun anyway. We found our way to the “professionals” line to get in and get our passes. It was a much shorter line that the regular line, to be sure. And while we waited, we made our first contact (a screenwriter for the cartoon network) and were amused, for the first time, by all the costumes and craziness. Dom and Meep spotted Peter Mayhew and thus began our long list of celebrity sightings for the weekend. A girl walked by in a Princess Leia metal bikini and the new Captain Obvious crossed her path, amazed by everything. “Whoa! Look at that!” he exclaimed in a high-pitched voice, regarding something amazing. “Whoa! Look at her!” he pointed to the Princess, “She’s half naked!” I was really hoping we would hear more from this guy throughout the weekend, but sadly, our time with him was fleeting.

Once inside, we retrieved our passes with relative ease and headed over to our first panel; “Anchor Bay Presents”. Anchor Bay, it would seem, is a pretty cool distribution company. Basically, a lot of what they do is release all the old school horror and SciFi Original movies on DVD. But they are now able to do theatrical releases through IDT. We heard about a lot of relatively low-budget horror films they have in the pipeline. We were dazzled by Hal Sparks and his hilarity as he promoted “Lightening Bug” with his best friend, writer/director Robert Hall. Charisma Carpenter was there promoting her movie “Voodoo Moon”. The “Dead and Breakfast” folks were there. I can’t wait to see that one. Once again, we heard Bruce Campbell tear new assholes into the hearts of geeks who asked about “Evil Dead 4 Vs. Freddy Vs. Jason”. Dom and Jacob marked the head of acquisitions for finding later. Good stuff. After that, we had a short break in which to eat lunch and find Ken Foree. As we headed toward the Sails Pavilion, Ben and Lea spotted Lea’s dream-boat, Hal Sparks, on his way to his autograph signing. They got a quick picture from the diminutive Hal, and we continued on our merry way. We found Ken Foree quickly enough and got in the short line to say hello, give him a copy of the movie, and get a picture. He was immediately receptive and talkative and happily took our movie. He posed for a picture with us, and I picked up a really cool 8X10 for him to sign. It was there that I learned a harsh reality of comic cons. The pictures you buy to get autographed are $20. TWENTY DOLLARS! Gack! Well, autographs run UP TO $20 – pictures with them are free, thank god. I immediately realized I wouldn’t be getting that many things signed the rest of the weekend. While we chatted with Ken, we mentioned that Heidi Martinuzzi had invited us to hang out with her this weekend. He laughed and basically told us “good luck with that. She’s hard to get a hold of. Even for me.” His exact words were: “trying to get a hold of that girl is like trying to catch a piece of straw in the wind.” He proved his point by calling her right then and there and getting her voicemail. I had told her I would call her to touch base on Friday afternoon so after we parted ways with Ken, I called her and left a message for her. Never did hear back. I’m sure she is busy, but I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed. I would have liked to have gone to that Rue Morgue party. ANYWAY…we didn’t really have time to leave the convention center for lunch, so we went to grab a bite at one of the many “Cafe Express’s” around the place. (By the way, the convention center is GINORMOUS. It’s like its own little village.) I bought a soggy $8 sandwich. Ben said his pizza was chewy. Meep and Jacob seemed to enjoy their salads alright though. (after ridding myself of the horrible dried cranberries). Then we ran back upstairs to make the “Masters of Horror” panel.

The “Masters of Horror” was by far a panel highlight for the weekend. John Landis and Stuart Gordon stole the show from Mick Garris and Don Coscarelli. to be fair, it really was the John Landis Show… Stuart only stole the show in our hearts. They are hilarious and opinionated and the show itself looks like it’s going to be awesome. Roger Corman couldn’t be there due to “health issues”. Meep wrote down some pretty great quotes from our boys, Landis and Gordon. We left a few minutes early to stand outside the theatre and hand Snow Day postcards to people as they left. One person said “Oh hey, I’ve heard of this!” I don’t know if that’s true, but it was cool to hear.

Next, we hit the floor to pimp our movie as much as possible before the 9:30 screening and run around to the booths. We immediately saw Sid Haig (gave him a movie and got a picture), Tom Jane (ignored him), Brian Posehn (sitting inside the Devil’s Rejects-mobile with Terry from Three’s Company) (both of whom are in the movie) and Doug Benson, all in a matter of 30 minutes. Meep and I approached Doug Benson and gave him a DVD. He remembered us from MySpace (seriously. I guess it’s not 100% useless) and said he saw our movie title in the program and though to himself “I know the people who made that”. I consider that a successful meeting. I got a picture in front of the full-sized, live action Optimus Prime. As shitty as I fear the upcoming live action “Transformers: The Movie” will be, I must admit my heart skipped a beat when I saw Optimus. I guess I’m still not over my childhood crush on the fictional, alien robot. Later there were a couple of blonde bimbos handing out Autobot and Decepticon pins in front of Optimus and the stupid Autobot girl couldn’t remember what “the red ones” were called.

So much to see and take in. Every minute was an event. I know I am forgetting things.

We made a point to give postcards to everyone in a horror-themed t-shirt. Best Goth Kid Exchange: “Do people die in it?” “Yes.” “We’ll be there.”)We did what we could. Most people probably just put our postcard in the swag bags right next to their free anime crap and forgot about it. But if they remember our title at ALL in the future, I feel it wasn’t a waste.

As I type this, Tobe is drooling on my lap.

Dom and Jacob ran off to see the Lions Gate panel and check off who to find later. Meanwhile, Meep, Ben, Lea and me got a quick caffeine fix at the Starbucks in the Marriot next door and marveled at their amazing pool which boasted two caves and several water falls. It was a far cry from the Ramada Limited. We met Dom and Jacob after their panel and ran up the street to Ralph’s grocery store to get dinner. We didn’t have much time and had to be back at the convention center at 7 to see “Tomorrow’s Memoir”, a short film in the festival by a guy Dom knew. It was then that we realized that the independent film festival portion of the con is merely another hiccup in a slew of events. We were not going to fill our audience. No one was. The show was tucked away in a corner of the convention center. No one was going to happen upon it. “Tomorrow’s Memoir” was good though. Very pretty. We took another break to eat our sack lunches and continue to pimp. At this point, the rest of the convention had pretty much closed down. Everyone has gone home accept for people who made a point to stay for the anime stuff or the Eisner Awards or who had gotten sucked into film festival room earlier. We gave postcards to EVERYONE we could find. All we could do was wait. Jacob and I quickly ran off to the Marriot for a drink and to see if anyone we could invite was there. They weren’t, but it was good to get out of the convention center for a minute. Apparently, the film that showed right before ours (a feature about gay superheroes) was very unpopular and it took some doing to get their audience to stay for ours. We got some people to agree, though (thanks to Ben’s gregariousness). We also saw a fellow Seattle-ite and a slew of goth kids we’d tagged with postcards earlier. All in all, there were probably about 80 people in the room. (Note to readers: Jessica’s “80” really means “30-40”) Note from Jessica: This is typically a good rule of thumb for me. I have a terrible case of hyperbole. The screening itself was great. For the first time, both the color AND sound worked so the movie looked the way it was supposed to. People laughed. People clapped. Our first question was “I just wanted you to know that your movie is really funny”. We sold 13 DVDs and gave away buttons. Meep and I autographed some of the DVDs too. It wasn’t perfect, but we felt that, given the circumstances, we did well.

We were exhausted, though. So instead of looking for parties we may or may not have been invited to, we hopped on the bus (worst bus driver ever) and went back to the ghetto for a good night’s sleep.

SATURDAY
As we got ready for our day, we blew our minds watching PBS children’s programming. Boohbah came on followed by some adorable show on which a semi-retarded dinosaur (or perhaps turtle) kept saying “I am the Rapido Bandito!” in a funny accent. Meep said he reminded her of me. And thus, a new catch phrase was born. Sadly, this show appears to be a local program, so there are no official Rapido Bandito t-shirts in my future.

It was around this time that the carefully constructed schedule I crafted for each of us in excel began to be regarded loosely. There just wasn’t time enough for everything. We missed the Lost panel because we needed sleep. We got to the convention center in time for Meep and Dom to go to the Stargate SG1 panel. (Ben Browder… *sigh*. That cast must have a great time on set. During the panel they were all joking and grandstanding and massaging Beau Bridges’s head. Also, when Dom and I walked in they were finishing up the Lost/Nightstalker/??? panel. We got there in time to see the entire Nightstalker portion, including panelist Stuart Townsend, which was quite a bonus. *sigh, part 2*) Jacob and I still had some time before “Fanged and Furry Fiction” with Amber Benson and some other dudes, so we wandered the floor. We happened upon Ron Glass and Adam Baldwin signing autographs. There was no line for poor Ron so I jumped right in there and got suckered out of another $20. It was ok though, because Ron was super nice and smiley. I wish I could have thought of something better to say then whatever “I’m a huge Firefly fan” crap I managed to muster. I just wasn’t expecting to see them. Anyway, after a cool pic with Ron, I started to move down to Adam but it turns out that Adam is one of those guys with a bunch of signing rules. You must have a ticket. I went and bought a ticket. I had him sign the big cast photo that Ron signed. Another rule of his is that he will not stand up for pictures. You must kneel next to him. I don’t know if it’s cos he’s lazy or has a bum knee of whatever. It’s just kind of funny how different people have different rules. Anyway, I knelt next to the all-business Adam (who was still nice enough) and got another smiley picture.
At “Fanged and Furry Fiction”, the very thin Amber Benson sat on a panel with 4 other fantasy/horror writers. Some interesting things were said. I learned that Amber Benson is a spaz (albeit a cute, too skinny spaz). The whole time anyone else was talking, she would nod her head vigorously. If someone said something she especially agreed with, she would clap. Lay off the caffeine, dear. She did have some insightful things to say about writing though. My favorite part was when a guy who used to be the “resident demonologist” for “Charmed” told us that you can get in big trouble if Aaron Spelling catches you describing the show as a show about “thee witches that happen to be sisters” because EVERYONE KNOWS that it’s actually about “three sisters who happen to be witches”. Oh right. How could I have missed all the realistic, dramatic sisterly problems that these characters have. When I think of brilliant character arcs, I think of “Charmed”. When it was time for questions from the audience, Jacob and I began to stare longingly at the door. Only at Comic Con can TWO DIFFERENT audience members bring up Chewbacca in their questions about horror novelists.

After that, it was decision time. I was still not sure if I should go to the Serenity panel or the Devil’s Rejects Panel. How could they do that to me? I was so damned conflicted! I waited in line with Dom to get into the 6500 seat Hall H for Serenity, all the while thinking the seats would be awful. The Devil’s Rejects room held about 1000. I weighed by options. The Rejects would be more intimate. But it was JOSS. What to do? Dom and I got into Hall H and our seats weren’t TOO bad. We were about 50 rows back. But then they announced that the panel would be shared with other movies. I though “Ok, 15 minutes of Serenity vs. an hour of Rejects…” At the last minute, I panicked and bailed, running to the other side of the convention center to meet Meep and Jacob for Rejects. I do this sort of crap to myself a lot. I am so paranoid about missing something awesome that I teeter back and forth until I end of screwing myself and annoying the piss out of everyone around me. I kept asking Dom for his opinion and he wouldn’t give me one so I was left to my own terrible devices. Apparently, the Serenity panel was AMAZING. Dom recited it back to me and showed me pictures and it looked great. The Rejects panel was PRETTY cool, but most of it was just REALLY FUCKING STUPID questions from the audience. (Such as, and I’m only paraphrasing here: “My question is, I made this movie called ‘Foosball’…” and “My question is, I can’t believe you like this totally obscure band that I also like. Do you want to be my friend?”) I did enjoy Rob Zombie’s snarky answers. But I ended up alienating myself from anything Serenity this part weekend. Meanwhile, Rejects stuff was EVERYWHERE. I am an idiot. An idiot who apparently likes to invite regret. (As cool as it was to see the Zombie crew… the panel itself was pretty mediocre. All the stupid questions, starting late and having to clear out for the Teen Titans Live – the panel really needed a mediator cos I gleaned absolutely NO useful information from the questions that were asked. Also, since the film was a ComiCon sponsor, it was hard not to feel saturated by it already. It was cool to see the first scene from the movie, though… I wish I had gone to the Serenity panel.)

On our way back to meet Dom, we saw Eli Roth brush past. It’s no secret that none of us are fans of Cabin Fever, but after he was already past, we realized it would have been a good idea to PRETEND to be fans, given the fact that he knows and is friends with EVERYBODY. We never did find him again though. He was obviously on his way somewhere, and by the time we all realized who he was we would have had to chase him and tackle him. I will say this, though: as over hyped as Cabin Fever was, Eli Roth looks exactly like himself. We headed over to the Troma booth to look for Lloyd Kaufman who was supposed to be there “In the afternoon”. He wasn’t there. They had no information. So we decided to wait for a bit. While we waited, Jacob and I nipped over to the Film Threat booth and it just so happened that one of the guys who worked there had lived in Jacob’s dorm freshman year. Now is head of acquisitions at Film Threat. We chatted with him for a little while. He had gotten a DVD the day before when he was just a guy to “looked familiar” to Jacob. He told us that they were going to the Masquerade Party that night and that we should go upstairs and get tickets. The 4 of us ran upstairs to get in the ticket line, realizing after that we didn’t NEED tickets for the party. Only to view the masquerade live in Hall H. There was no booze in Hall H. Therefore we did not want to be there. Instead of waiting another hour for tickets, we met Ben and Lea and went out in search of a proper meal. We lucked out at a fancy pants Mexican place with “happy hour” appetizers. Ordinarily, a meal would have been $28 a plate. Instead we ate really good food for fairly normal prices. (The tiny quesadillas were really good, but I keep forgetting to never listen to Jacob when he says something looks good and inexpensive.) We also tucked into the happy hour booze (all but Dom and Lea who is underage). I had two margaritas which were probably one too many. Then we headed back to the convention center to get in line (yes, we really did spend much of the weekend in lines) for the masquerade party. Inside, we thought we might be at the wrong place. There were no industry people anywhere. It was all just a bunch of geeks there for the free nachos. But we got some (not free) booze and sat down anyway. They showed a couple of “exclusive” trailers before the show including the new Harry Potter (looks amazing), I pretty much peed my pants during the Harry Potter trailer – that shot of half-snake Voldemort did me in. Narnia (also looks amazing) and Aeon Flux (looks like crap). The masquerade itself was indeed a sight to behold. Two-three people would come out on stage in really insane costumes, dance around a bit and leave. The clear winner should have been (and might have been…but we didn’t stick around to see) a guy dressed as Nightcrawler who came out doing flips and continued to flip around while Lara Croft tried to fight him. He finally landed directly on top of her, planted a big smooch on her, and flipped off stage. Both rooms erupted in applause. It was like the ultimate in geek pornography. At one point, we turned around and realized that the Film Threat guys were sitting right behind us. We chatted with them and the guy Jacob knew (named Mark…like everyone else in the film business, it would seem), invited us to party with them at the Marriot. The Marriot was dead, so we all went to the Hyatt where things were decidedly more lively. (the Marriott bar feels like a giant college dorm lounge – 4 hacks!) I was very drunk at this point. (You were very drunk BEFORE this point, darlin’) We saw Brian Posehn again but didn’t talk to him. Instead, we just spent the rest of the night talking to Mark and having a great time. Around 2 in the morning, it dawned on Mark that not only did we all have the same ex-UPS mutual friend who now lives in L.A., but that he had also worked for half a day on one of Dom’s earlier shorts. Small, small world. Mark immediately drunk dialed our mutual friend in L.A. and was met with awkwardness. We’re not sure if it was because it was 2 in the morning or if there was another reason. Then we called it a night and stuffed ourselves into a cab to go back to the ghetto. Again, our cabbie had no idea where our hotel was but by then, we sort of knew how to get there so we gave him directions. Got to bed around 4 in the morning. (that’s strange… I went to bed around 3-ish). The only thing less accurate than sober hyperbole is drunk hyperbole.

SUNDAY
SO HUNG OVER. I did put quite a bit of wine in my body the previous night. But it doesn’t usually hurt this bad. I blame lack of hydration, poor diet and lack of sleep of my RAGING headache and nausea. But the show must go on. So we checked out of our hotel and double-cabbed it back to the convention center with our luggage for the film festival awards ceremony. Luckily, they had a bag check at the convention center. Meep and I were both feeling so rough that we decided if we won anything, we should let Dom accept it, lest Meep and I vomit baby orcas all over the judges. We didn’t win anything. But I did vomit. We credit our lack of award to three things. 1) We probably should have entered our film into the “comedy” category, rather than the “horror” category. 2) One out of two judges clearly didn’t even SEE our movie (as evidenced when Dom and Jacob talked to him after the ceremony). 3) Everything that won contained an heir of poignancy about it. Whenever judges are drawn to poignancy, we are automatically screwed.
Right about then, we were ready for a big, greasy breakfast so we walked through the Gaslamp District to Brian’s where they served all-day breakfast. Our waiter was an amusing, surly guy who questioned by coffee order (“It’s 90 degrees outside!”) and complained about cheap, French people who were bad tippers. He also told Ben he was loud. The food was quite amazing. On our way back to the convention center, we stopped at Borders so Meep could get the new Harry Potter book BEN bought the book, not me. I figured I wouldn’t be able to read it until Monday at the soonest, so why lug it back to Seattle when my poor neck was already screaming at me for lugging everything else around. and we met a cool writer from Seattle named Joshua Ortega, who was there signing his new book. We gave him a DVD as well and chatted for a bit. Jacob had to catch his plane so we said goodbye to him. When we got back to the convention center, we had a few hours to walk the floor for some last minute shopping, so we split up (the Troika one way, Ben and Lea the other) and got to it. Why we split up, I don’t know. If we hadn’t, I would have gotten to meet Joss Whedon, Julie Benz and Jonathan Woodword. Instead, Meep and I got molested by Lloyd Kaufman (which was cool in it’s own right. But…JOSS!). Lloyd asked us to put him in our next movie. He said he’d work for free. He also groped us and kept trying to get Meep and me to hold hands. Let’s just say that Lloyd Kaufman is a really hands-on kind of guy. And by hands-on I mean hands EVERYWHERE. He was so obviously trying to get us to make out… though I guess it’s not the first time someone has thought we were a couple. Meanwhile, I freaked out a bit whilst looking EVERYWHERE for Joss, based on Ben’s description. (After threatening to kill Ben a few times and convincing yourself the world was about to end, you did calm down a little) But in a place like that, you can never find people you’re actually looking for. I was probably more upset about it than I should have been. I did see Jason Marsden wandering the floor. He’s an actor who was on “Eerie, Indiana” and “Boy Meets World”. He was very very small. If there’s one thing I learned this weekend (and I hope I learned more than one thing) it’s that actors and director are always much smaller than you think they are. Unless they are Adam Baldwin. I bought some gifts and paid waaaay too much for Serenity #1 and then the floor was closing and it was time to kill more time whilst waiting for our 9:00 flight out. We went back to the Marriott (where we SHOULD have stayed…if only we’d had $300/night) to caffeinate and hang out. We ran into Film Threat Mark again and he chilled with us until it was time to go. Our window overlooked the pool and we had lots of fun making fun of people who were hanging out around it. Saw Mark again.
Around 6:30, we hopped in a taxi van to the airport and got a really great deal from the guy. Our plane ride home was without incident (for everyone except Ben, who had his lighters taken away at the security check and who was later harassed on the airplane by a Succubus) and got home nice and late.

All in all, I definitely think it was a worthwhile endeavor. Granted, no one offered us a deal right then and there. No famous people begged us to cast them in our next movie (except Lloyd Kaufman). But we gave many important people our DVD and Jacob and Dom made some contacts. We had a great time hanging out with Mark from Film Threat and the people who DID see our movie, seemed to enjoy it. We got our name out there a little more and we didn’t embarrass ourselves. And of course, we had a big geeky blast. I consider it a success.

See more pictures here and here.

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