COMIC-CON 2006 RECAP: PART III

SATURDAY
I didn’t wake up hung over, exactly, but I still felt weird on account of having had nightmares the night before. Faye noticed this, as I was apparently twitching in my sleep. I don’t remember details of the nightmares but they were disturbing enough to keep me in a strange mood for several hours after waking. The world felt a bit surreal for a while.

Ben, however, was EXTREMELY hung over, and didn’t get the early start that he had planned. Dom and Jump Street had already gone ahead to catch a panel, so Faye, Ben and I sought breakfast alone. We decided to try the hotel restaurant, the Indigo Café. To our delight, the menu was chock full of deliciousness and the prices were the lowest we had seen yet.

Our bellies now full, we ambled to the convention center in the blazing heat. It was definitely the hottest day thus far and I was, for the first time, uncomfortable with the temperature. Everyone else must have been dying.

At the con, Ben hooked up with Jump Street, and Faye and I met Dom to see the Dark Horse Indie Films panel. We realized early that it was comprised of many of the same people as the Hood of Horror panel including the very gregarious director of HoH and another film called Driftwood, also starring Diamond Dallas Page. (His Ted Raimi?)

We briefly considered ditching the panel, but stayed when we realized that there were a couple of other films they were talking about, besides Mr. Splatstic’s. The first was a film by a “new talent”, Michael D. Olmos. Even though he’s a “new” talent, the name sounds familiar, right? That’s because his DAD is none other than The Old Man himself, Edward James Olmos. Gee, I wonder how Mikey got his start in the business. Gee, Mikey, do you have any advice to up-and-coming filmmakers? I mean BESIDES “being the spawn of someone famous”? This was probably the most disheartening moment of the entire trip for me. I naively thought that a new independent distributor like Dark Horse Indie might be looking for, well, TRULY independent films. But no, they want what everyone else wants: A long and powerful resume and recognizable names. It doesn’t matter if the film looks mediocre. They’d rather put their money and effort into Jr. Olmos’ picture than bank on some shmoes from Seattle. And why wouldn’t they? It’s a business. It’s not about art. It’s not about creativity. If those things are involved, it’s pure coincidence.

While I was pondering the futility of my dreams, I happened to glance over at the door in time to experience BIZARRE BLAST FROM THE PAST #1 of the day. I recognized that face that was poking in the doorway. For one second I thought it must be an actor. But soon and after several long seconds of staring at the person (who wasn’t looking in my direction at all), I confirmed the fact that yes, this was a guy I dated briefly in college. He was #2, in fact, of the 3 men named Chris that I dated IN A ROW. I thought perhaps my unabashed staring would eventually cause him to look back at me and acknowledge that he knew who I was. But he did not. And then he was gone. It’s better this way. We didn’t part on bad terms. Or good terms, really. We just kind of stopped seeing each other and then he transferred schools. So our conversation after all this time would be extremely awkward at best. Well, I DID MySpace him a while back when looking for information about ANOTHER ex with whom he was friends, and discovered that he’d moved to L.A. and was a filmmaker. So maybe we WOULD have something to talk about. But it still probably would have been awkward. Anywho, I still find the incident rather weird.

We still had a LOT of time to kill before the next panel we wanted to see (Veronica Mars), so we decided to wonder the floor. We QUICKLY abandoned this notion after realizing that this being the BUSIEST day of the con, the floor was absolutely packed. It was impossible to navigate the thing and you were pretty much at the mercy of the crowd as far as what direction you were headed. So as soon as we saw an exit, we left. (But not before seeing Tarantino, Rodriguez, some chicks and Rose McGowen signing autographs on a stage in the middle of the floor. I don’t have to tell you how long THAT line was.)

We knew that the VM panel would be crowded, so we decided to adopt our BSG plan of sitting through the previous two panels and moving up as people left. The first panel we sat through was the Stargate SG1/Atlantis panel. I have never had any desire to watch the show. The promos make it look pretty silly, and Faye and Dom are basically my litmus test for whether or not a show is worth watching. They say it sucks so I believe them. However, the actors on the show were pretty amusing to watch on a panel. They seemed to have a lot of fun up there which makes me think that working on the show is probably a lot of fun too. And if I hadn’t sat through that panel, I wouldn’t have seen THE CHIEF come out on stage briefly to pour himself a glass of water, hold up a poster of this week’s TV Guide cover (BSG) and walk off. He’s silly.

Next up was what I suspected (and was proven correct) to be the MOST BORING PANEL EVER: TV Guide. It was basically just a bunch of suits talking about Lost, Jorge Garcia from Lost and Robot Jennifer Love Hewitt spewing stock answers about her show The Ghost Whisperer. It was only an hour long but it made me want to drill a hole into my brain. Also, J-Love was fake n’ baked.

Finally, it was time for the Veronica Mars panel. They played a cool promo for the show and then brought out Rob Thomas, Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring, Ryan Hansen, Sheriff Lamb and Kristin Bell. (And later, Weevil, who was stuck in traffic). Everyone was exactly as I expected them to be and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves. Dick did some Michael Jackson dance moves and a back flip. Keith Mars answered the age-old question of whether you would rather be covered in shit or eat a small piece of shit (covered), Veronica couldn’t remember the words to “The Shakespeare Song” from Reefer Madness, and fat fan girls love Jason Dohring. The Q&A was actually pretty good. A lot of people actually asked Rob Thomas questions instead of the actors. They definitely seemed more nervous than other fans though. Several people were shaking. One guy said “Hi Kristin, I live in your old apartment and someone sent you a package. Do you want it?” Turns out it was from her agent who didn’t know she moved two years ago.

We exited the hall to the sounds of Rammstein and went off to get dinner. By this time, Ben and Jump Street were already on their way to see Kevin Smith introduce and Q&A at Clerks II, so it was just me, Faye and Dom for dinner at seemingly the only Irish Pub in San Diego. (The door man was actually Irish, though).

Then we headed back to the con, stopping for ice cream on the way. The plan was to meet Mark B. and watch the annual masquerade ball from Sails Pavilion (where they also had free nachos and not free drinks). On our way, we ran into Mark who was heading to the hotel and then for some quick free drinks at the Metalocalypse party. (This is the one party that Faye would have LOVED to crash. Sadly, she was not invited).

We headed inside the con and decided to ponder our options. As we pondered, a familiar face flashed past my peripheral vision. I did a double take and thus began BIZARRE BLAST FROM THE PAST #2. I asked Faye to confirm the identity of the girl who just walked past us and made eye contact. It certainly LOOKED like Faye’s old roommate and our mutual friend, but we had lost contact with her and WHY WOULD SHE BE IN SAN DIEGO? The girl and her companion kept walking but, 30 feet away, turned around and stared back at us. By now she was well out of my range of vision, but the fact that she was conferring with her companion and gesturing toward us confirmed that it was indeed who we thought. We knew that one of us had to approach the other. It was they that approached us. And thus, we were standing face to face with a girl we hadn’t spoken to in 5 years. It took both Faye and me a few more moments to recognize her companion (who was…well…much larger) as ANOTHER one of Faye’s old roommates. How the two of them became a couple is a mystery. But apparently, they now live together in San Diego, are not at all in the industry and just came to the con THAT DAY to check out a friend’s stuff. The girl (formerly known to all of UPS as Red Jeans Katie), apologized for the way things were left, we all hugged and continued our 2 minutes of catching up. Apparently, they hate San Diego and have plans to move to Seattle in the coming year. So perhaps we will run into them again. Now, I told pretty much everybody in my life that I was going to San Diego for the Con this year and almost all of them had NEVER heard of it before I mentioned it. So the fact that THREE people I knew were also there and that I also SAW them there amongst over 100,000 attendees is pretty amazing to me. It really makes me wish I understood statistics better.

Anyway, reeling from that twist of fate, we headed upstairs to wait for admission into the Sails Pavilion. We found ourselves a nice table and waited for the bar to open up. Once it did, Faye and I went to get drinks, and Dom guarded our seats. We returned to the table to find that another group had joined us. This seemed fine. There weren’t enough seats for a group of three to have an entire table. However, one member of the group was (I hope) really drunk and shouting. A lot.

The masquerade began and the M.C. announced that this year they would call on audience participation to call out the costume numbers. Our drunk companion thought it hilarious, at this moment, to shout “SEVEN!” He found this so hilarious, in fact, that FOR EVERY costume number called from the beginning to the end of the show, he shouted “SEVEN!” In my ear. Now, had we all been IN the performance hall, everyone else would have been shouting the correct number and it wouldn’t have been so annoying. But we were in another room watching the masquerade on a big screen, so the only people who could hear this douche shout “SEVEN!” over and over again were people in the Sails Pavillion, NOT participating in the masquerade. I could hear him particularly well. I thought perhaps he would make this joke 5 times and then move on to something else. I didn’t realize how dedicated he was to this terrible concept. I knew I would have to say something eventually. But first, another drink! Faye and I had a nice little complimentary moment when the bouncer who was checking I.D.s said that there was no way we were over 22, and that we barely looked 18. We returned to the table where sure enough, the guy was still shouting “SEVEN”. Perhaps more irritatingly, he was making fun of the people in the masquerade. Now, I’m aware of how geeky some of the costumes were. But guess what. We’re at a COMIC-CON. EVERYONE THERE is a geek. Including Mr. SEVEN. So what the fuck was he proving by shouting “NERD” and “GAY” at the screen? (Remember also, NOBODY IN THE SHOW COULD HEAR HIM). There were some young people in the show who I’m sure were still experiencing this kind of torment in their daily lives. They probably dreamed their whole lives of making a cool costume and bringing it to the Con. I’m glad they couldn’t hear that douche bag try and ruin their fun.

“SEVEN!”, shouted Mr. Seven. “You know,” he mused, “this is one of those jokes that’s funny the first time, and then not funny for a while, but after the 30th time, it’s funny again.” I couldn’t take it any more. I turned around and said “Actually, it was NEVER funny. Not even once.” He looked a little embarrassed and said “Oh. Sorry.” Faye tried to be diplomatic and explained that it was really more of a “proximity issue” than anything else. I hoped that he understood how much he was annoying the fuck out of EVERYONE around him. (Looking around, there were a sea of pained, but too polite faces staring at him each time he shouted “SEVEN!”). He said “sorry”. Surely he meant it and would at least stop shouting, even if he meant to continue heckling the people on the screen. He was quiet for the next two rounds and then he came back with a vengeance. Faye and I got up to get another drink and stayed away from the table for a while. When we got back, Mark B. had FINALLY joined us and we forgot about the shithead behind us. It helped, at least for me and Faye, that we were pretty well toasted by then anyway.

After the masquerade, Mark, Dom, Faye and I went to the Marriott to hang out. We passed several high school reunions and eventually found a nice, cushy set of chairs on which to sit and chat until 3am. Lots of fun.

After that, we stumbled home, stopping briefly to buy as much water and Gatorade as we could carry.

SUNDAY

We decided early on that we were pretty much done with con, so we forfeited the panels we’d had planned. Instead, we enjoyed a long, leisurely breakfast at the Indigo Café again and then headed to the trade show floor for some last minute shopping. Faye and I sought the neato BSG patched we’d seen a few days earlier but they were, of course, all sold out. (I’m sure we can buy them on the internet though. No doubt from people who bought them in bulk AT Con and are selling them for double on ebay). Meanwhile, the boys went on a mission to take pictures of Booth Babes. Speaking of Booth Babes, Faye and I were briefly waylaid by a comic-writer team who were trying to sell of their book. Eventually, we conceded because, and I hate to admit it, they had British accents and they said we were cute. I wish I could say there was more to it than that. We did, however, score two books for the price of one on account of a “cute girl discount”. They may have found the only two people in entire convention center for whom that line worked.

At this point, Faye and I were definitely done. We went to the lobby to sit down and wait for the boys to finish their mission. We almost deviated from our plan of sitting twice. The first was when Dom called to say that Corin Nemec was signing autographs. You might remember Corin from Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I remember him from that and from the fact that his face was on my 12-year-old bedroom wall sandwiched between Fred Savage and Jeremy Miller. We decided not to join Dom at the autograph table because a) autographs were $20 and we thought it would be rude to ask for a picture for free and b) the only thing I’ve SEEN Mr. Nemec in since Parker Lewis is MTK’s Foreign Correspondents. And Dom had already mentioned it, and our friendship with Mark, to him so I had nothing to say to the guy other than “ditto”. I briefly regretted this decision when Dom made mention of how “dreamy” Mr. Nemec is in person.

The second time we ALMOST got up was when Ben called Faye to say that Brendon Small was signing autographs. She decided against moving because she’d gotten his autograph the year before.

Finally, it was time to catch a cab to the airport and say goodbye to the Con for another year. I don’t think we’ll go back next year unless we have a film showing. But we really should make a film this year. Even if we can’t get Edward James Olmos to adopt us.

NEXT WEEKEND: Camping!

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