Four days. Four hard, long days. Days crammed with horrific smells. Days devoted to the mindless shuffling of weary feet. Days spent ingesting semi-edible food and imbibing on plentiful amounts of hard liquor.
The San Diego Comic-Con is over.
And I am exhausted.
In years past I have documented my adventures during the annual gathering of nerds, dorks, geeks, tattooed freaks, goths, the mentally unbalanced, emo kids, hipsters, weird old people, weird young people, fat dudes with rashes, miscreants, and guys who enjoy stabbing other guys in the eyeballs with pens (with the exception of one or two of these descriptions, I fit into most of these categories). Also in years past, I have offered up very few pop-culture insights or information; mainly since I never get into any of the panels (my patience to wait in hot, sweaty lines is extremely thin), and, I figure, other sites already have this information readily available.
What I can document, though, are my own unique experiences during these four hard, long days. So, without further ado, here are some of the wacky (and not-so-wacky) things I witnessed and/or was a part of:
Thursday, July 23rd, 2010:
Arrive at the Con early in the morning and deal with the clusterfuck of traffic. The air is cool and damp; the sky is overcast. Butterflies scatter in my guts; their flapping wings rubbing against my knotted intestines.
I am not prepared to go into battle.
After waiting in line for about 30 minutes, Fitz and our holographic friends secure our badges and split up. Even though I know it is futile, I still decide to head for Hall H, which is where all the movie panels will be filtering throughout the day. Once outside, I spot Pauly Shore. Since I am a photo whore, it is imperative that I get my picture taken with him. With that madness out of the way, I scan the monstrous line and realize that I will never, ever make it inside Hall H. Then I quietly weep to myself.
Next up: the Danny Elfman panel. Sensing another sphincter-tightening line, I casually stroll down a corridor filled with my geeky comic-book brethren, my head downturned with dejection. Alas, I am able to walk directly into the room! Securing a seat within the first 6 rows, I let out a deep exhale that is one part exhaustion and one part jubilation.
When Danny comes out I use several pages of the Comic-Con Guide as a makeshift notepad and jot down tons of interesting insights that Mr. Elfman imparts on the collected crowd. Hours later I lose the guide.
Situated directly across from the Convention Center is the Omni Hotel. I go to the bar and get some drinks. While in the lobby, Danny Trejo and Robert Rodriguez walk by. Danny is dressed in a pimped-out white suit. Apparently, they are on their way to serve free tacos to passerby’s on the street…out of a truck splattered with images from Machete. I find this information out later on, when I am home watching the local news. Since I wandered the streets of downtown San Diego all goddamn day, I wonder how the hell I could have missed a gigantic taco truck with the word “Machete” splashed alongside it.
Anyway, after this sighting I head back to the Convention Center and get into the Neighbors From Hell panel. I have never seen the animated show before, but the castmembers in attendance sell me on the panel. Plus, every other fucking panel is full, so I do not have much of a choice. Molly Shannon, Patton Oswalt, Will Sasso, and Kurtwood Smith are just some of the folks who show up inside the room. Before they talk though, the last episode of the season is shown to us. It is mildly amusing, but my bladder is straining with the weight of liquid goodness and I have a debilitating fear that my fleshy piss-pouch will burst.
Groggy, moist, and reeking of whiskey, I depart for the Coaster station and bail on Fitz, who is still stranded somewhere deep in the hallowed halls of the Convention Center. While heading back home on the train, I think of him and pray he makes it out of downtown San Diego alive.
Friday, July 23rd, 2010:
Get up early to check in my bags at the Omni Hotel. The front desk dude informs me that the Hotel has been overbooked and that they will comp me a room at another Hotel down the street. Waaaaaaaay down the street. However, the valet charges will also be taken care of.
I made the fucking reservations months ago.
I’m guessing the Omni had to make room for some actor or actress or writer or director or fluffer; so I was one of the poor bastards that got bumped.
My sleep-deprived body shudders and shakes. I want to punch the front desk dude, but understand that it is not his fault. I will punch a random nerd later on, just so I can take out my anger. Preferably, a nerd who is much smaller than me.
Although I am royally pissed, I am grateful that money has been saved. However, I am not grateful that I am now forced to walk 30 blocks to get to the Convention Center. My solution to this problem? Drink more whiskey and Cokes!
Before that though, I check in at the Embassy Suites. The room is actually quite nice; with a spacious living room, couch, two televisions, big bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the city. I wind down a bit, then summon the courage to slog through the throngs of Convention-goers once again.
Miraculously, Hall H does not have an enormous line. I have no idea what is being presented and I don’t care. I just want to say that I was able to get inside. So, I take advantage of this and scoot to the midway point of the room. The panel for the film Super is half over. While I miss the footage that was shown, the castmembers (Liv Tyler, Nathan Fillion, Ellen Page, Rainn Wilson, Michael Rooker) and writer/director James Gunn provide enough witty banter to get me intrigued.
Next up is the Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark panel. Moderated by CHUD’s Nick Nunziata, the footage shown (a teaser trailer and the creepy opening scene) has me psyched. The sealer of the deal though, is producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro. After being introduced, he proceeds to unleash a fury of profanities, which sends the room into hysterics. He is extremely funny and, even more importantly, his passion about filmmaking shines through because of his exuberant manner. He seems like somebody who would be cool to talk to over a beer or something.
With this thought in my head, I decide to go back to the Hotel for a drink or two.
After realizing that I probably have an alcohol problem, I then hoof it to the Gaslamp Quarter (and pass a chain-linked fence surrounding a parking lot decked with Jackass 3-D promotional material…where I spot Bam Margera posing with a couple of hooting and hollering drunk retards) and arrive at San Diego’s oldest bar (a dive named Tivoli’s), where I proceed to suck down several beers. I wanted to go here because the hosts of my favorite Lost podcast (Jay and Jack), were showing up to meet with their fans. While here, I converse with several nice people associated with the show and talk to Jack about the remarkable season the Padres are having.
With my throat and liver properly lubed, I head a couple of blocks over to the Let Me In party at some darkly-lit pizza joint/night-club named Basic and skip to the bar where a smorgasbord of free drinks awaits. Then I scarf down some pizza and notice actor Richard Jenkins in the middle of the room. Once again, I recognize a photo op when I see it and stumble over to him. He is very friendly and approachable. In my stupor, I tell him that he was awesome in The Visitor.
Then I drink some more.
The venue is darkly lit and there is a DJ spinning records. A few Let Me In still photos hang from the walls. I meet a fella who flew in from Philly and have a pleasant talk with him about the perils of the Con.
And I continue to drink.
50 blocks later, I am almost back to the Hotel. Exhausted, drunk, and hungry, I decide to stop at the only open restaurant in the vicinity. It is a barbeque place filled with locals. I order a chicken sandwich to go.
Surprisingly, I do not drink while waiting for my food.
Saturday, July 24th, 2010:
I get up early and feel like a dead man walking. My joints ache. My head swims. My stomach bubbles. The smell from cooked sausages, bacon, and eggs seeps in through my Hotel door from the mess-hall below.
I don’t know whether I should puke or eat.
I decide to do neither and head for the Convention Center, where I struggle to gain footing on the hectic Exhibit Hall floor. This monstrosity is packed with booths, vendors, games, autograph signings, comic-book artists, and, of course, legions of costumed fans.
Maneuvering through this influx of people proves pointless. For every step forward, I take two steps back. Elbows jab into my ribs. Armpits crash into my nose. Rancid body odor molests my nostrils.
I buy The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks and get him to sign it. I mention something about his Father Mel Brooks and am not sure if he is offended or not. Anyway, this is what Max signs in my book: “To Gabriel, Be our archangel!”
Time for a break.
An hour later I am back at the Omni Hotel for check-in. If I am denied a room again, I am going to kick a bellboy in the shins and throw him out of a fucking window. Or I am going to cry. One or the other. Thankfully, I secure a room. Once again, I avoid a night in jail and walk away with my manhood uncompromised.
While playing Hotel roulette, I come to find that time has slipped past me and the Jay and Jack Lost panel I wanted to see is already in full swing. So, I decide to make my way to the Embarcadero Marina, which is a park located directly behind the Marriot Hotel and adjacent to Seaport Village near the bay.
Unlike years past, the weather is cool and breezy. Away from nerd perspiration, the Marina is a breath of fresh air. The Tim and Eric Awesome-Con has commenced (this is the second year in a row that the creators of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! have brought their madness to the Con). An ice cream truck doles out free ice cream, and several cast-members from the show shade themselves under tents, where they sell pictures, CD’s, and pose for pictures. A makeshift stage has been set up and I witness a man in a flesh-colored, faux-nude bodysuit “dance” and gyrate for a group of confused spectators.
I have no idea what is going on, but the spectacle makes me want to do many, many drugs.
About 40 feet away is another tent, which has a huge line leading up to it. Going towards the tent, I notice Tim and Eric sitting underneath it, signing autographs and taking pictures. Since lines piss me off, I lean to the side of the line and snap a couple of photos.
Time to drink!
Tons of people have flooded the restaurants in Seaport Village, which causes me to claw my way through the masses and grab a couple of tacos from a Mexican place. Unfortunately, Danny Trejo and Robert Rodriguez are nowhere to be found.
After filling my bloated belly with more beer, I head back to the Hotel and find myself riding the elevator with Charisma Carpenter of Buffy and Angel fame (and, of course, my favorite show of the 90’s, Malibu Shores). While I am not the tallest guy on Earth by any means, Charisma towers over me. I am too busy staring at her face to look down and see what types of shoes she’s wearing.
Anyway, I get to my room and find a note addressed to me from the Hotel manager. Basically, he apologizes for kicking me out of the Hotel…even though I did have a reservation and, as a way to lessen the blow, he has graciously dropped off a platter of nuts, dried fruit, and bottled water for my consumption. I wipe my ass with the note and pass out on the bed.
Hours later I make my way back to the Con and hit the Exhibit Hall again. I see Joshua Jackson from Fringe and snap a picture of him. He poses for me by sticking his tongue out and doing a “hang loose” motion with his right hand. I ponder whether or not this makes him “cool” in my book. Still baffled by this conundrum, I am forced to have another drink at the Hotel.
Sunday, July 25th, 2010:
At some point Saturday night I tried to get into the Hard Rock Hotel and was denied by the assholes outside. After getting meat and pasta at a steakhouse nearby, I went back to the Omni and drank in the lobby area. And saw lots of douche-bags in “club-guy” gear.
As a result of my compulsively alcoholic ways, my brain feels like it has been violated by a horny elephant.
I check out of the Hotel and leave my bags at the front desk, since I have more ground to cover at the Con. Hopefully the monkey dicks who run the place won’t ship my luggage to another Hotel.
Casually walking around the city, I am accosted by a group of men and women shuffling along the sidewalk. They are in full zombie makeup and represent AMC’s upcoming The Walking Dead television show. I smell yet another photo-op and take a few pictures.
Resigned to never get into any panels, or even attempt to get into any panels, I make Sunday the “buy lots of shit” and “take even more pointless photos” day. Normally I never buy anything, since I don’t need extra crap clogging up my already-cramped apartment. But, for some reason I am determined to waste even more money on my little trip…or at least waste it on something tangible; instead of refueling the damaged liver pulsating in my tummy.
The first thing I do is hit the autograph area and circle Bill Moseley’s table for awhile. I have never bought a photograph before (fuck that shit! I take the photos!). However, Bill is a cool guy and some of his pictures are keen, so I shell out some cash and procure an autographed photo…as well as get my picture taken with him. Although I am slightly buzzed after “Irishing-up” my coffee, I thankfully manage to not make an ass out of myself in front of him.
After this I head to the Exhibit Hall again, where I pick up a poster of a guy getting ripped apart by demons (and also get it signed by the artist) and snatch up a Comic-Con exclusive toy of the ventriloquists dummy from The Twilight Zone episode entitled…”The Dummy.” It is much smaller than I expect and vaguely resembles the character. Anyway, I figure “what the fuck?” and buy the little bastard anyway. Maybe I can sell it on eBay or something.
Sunday is the day when vendors typically markdown their wares, since it is the last hurrah of the Con. Happily, I am able to get a couple of good deals on books (tons of “50% and 60% off” signs litter the booths).
While still on a quest for unremarkable photo ops, I am able to snatch pictures of the cast from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the chick who played Dante’s girlfriend in Clerks, an actor from Supernatural, and a guy from the television show Criminal Minds. Unfortunately, I am too slow at exercising my camera trigger finger when I see the dude who played “Raj” on What’s Happening!! and What’s Happening Now!
Maybe next year…
Another quick sweep of the Exhibit Hall leaves me with a case of cabin fever and I have an overwhelming need to get the fuck out of Dodge. Delirium has set in and all I want to do is go home and fall into a coma…and to never drink again.
Thank you for another fun year Comic-Con!