Comic-Conned Part 1
Comic-Can’t, Comic-C*nt, Comic-Slut, Comic-Won’t, Comic-Don’t, Comic-I did your girl in the bathroom of the San Diego Convention Center. Punk. She was the one dressed like Wonder Woman.
“Weren’t they all?”
Thick, milk-white thighs and an acne-scarred smile. No amount of rouge or super hero red will ever be able to disguise the hidden features of a geek princess. Not in the off-yellow hues of such nerd-like glory. And, goddamn it, I’m sorry. She came on to me. I swear. She tasted like cantaloupe ice cream, drifting her knees above the sink like some Star Trek fever dream. The experience was delightful. Doesn’t matter…
Nothing will ever compare to last year’s convention. 2004. Sid Haig eating a Ms. Field’s cookie in front of their Kiosk as if he worked there. All of the Jason Voorhees in one room together, reminiscing about their favorite kill count scenarios. And…The Coreys. Live, in the flesh. Signing autographs for me. Talking…To me!
It’s a story I retell often. The imagery is so vivid and fresh inside my mind. Even today. The way Haim waved goodbye to his former self. An image yet untouched by drugs and a sordid true Hollywood history. I bought the very last 8X10 lobby card from his personal License to Drive collection. It captures Haim and Feldman in better days. They’re wresting their elbows on one another, smiling. It’s an awesome picture. After Corey signed “To B. Alan, Best Wishes!” He cracked that trademark Billy Idol snarl-smile and scrunched his hand in fond farewell to Les Anderson, “So long, little fellow!” Honest to God, those were the words out of his mouth. He then winced as if it hurt, thunder cracking his soul. A heart exposed. I was so taken back; I didn’t notice he’d stolen my Silver Sharpie. Put it in his pocket. The bitch. How can anything top that? It can’t.
Not even getting the scowl of the century from Rachel Weisz when I told photographers to put a drink in her hand. Or getting to stand less than a foot and a half away from Charlize Theron’s exposed left nipple. Or getting in an argument with both Bruce Campbell and John Landis within five minutes of each other. There were plenty of highlights to be had at Comic Con 2005, but nothing came close to 2004’s showdown with the Felddog and the Haimster. Not even Mushy and I’s encounter with Virgil on the autograph floor…
This was my second year in attendance, and I can tell you in all honesty, I wasn’t that excited to be there. The thigh chaffing usually associated with running between halls in this massive convention center isn’t worth it. And I’d forgotten to pack both my rash relief and a pen. Other than that, though, I’d say we, here, at movieweb, played it pretty smart around the ol’ caucus floor this time out. I paid very close attention to the problems encountered last year. There were three huge ones that made 2004 a pain in the ass. Most important, and I can’t stress this enough: Booking a hotel room. You have to do it, and it’s going to cost some bucks. Hopefully, if you’re covering this massive weight in nerdology for an on-line publication or print magazine, you have an outside source that will front the bill.
12 months ago, I was stuck at 7pm, Friday Night, driving north and south, begging every concergie from San Diego to the City of Orange for a room. None would oblige. Both OC and SD County were booked solid. It sucked. Eventually, I discovered a tiny hole in the wall somewhere south of the city, damn near Mexico. A thirty-five dollar a night joint at the most. They charged me $208 for less than six hours of sleep. I’d be damned if I’d let that happen again. This time around, movieweb threw down for some Comfort Inn sh*t. We had a pool and room service. Not too mention a few tight, young female bodies walking around the hall. Awesome. Just what we needed to keep our lofty spirits in check.
Second lesson learned: Assembling the best on-location team possible. Last year I had a sidekick. A partner. A man who did virtually nothing. He covered some Hall H sh*t, but that was about it. And getting a write up out of him was like pulling teeth. All he seemed to care about was getting his Hotel Bill footed. For the most part, I was on my own. I transcribed everything. I kicked major ass, but did it all by myself. Not this time. July, 2005? Consider me the weak link in the game. I hit the show with two of the best team members I could ever hope to have. Webmaster B. Balchack was our tech support, tossing stories into cyberspace as soon as we could get them. And then there was Evan “Mushy” Jacobs, a man dedicated to the art of the junket interview. His wrist is a slingable asset. The man’s fingers were always jotting notes, and he’d toss those fortified words into the machine as soon as they came out of the mouth of whatever Comic-Con celebrity had spewed them. These two guys put me too shame. To say the least. All I was good for was drinking as many free drinks as I could get my hands on, occasionally pushing a record button, and getting in the occasional argument with whatever Cult icon was on hand at any given moment. Oh, and least we not forget our impromptu videographer, David “Rowdy” Yates. He has a natural eye for catching any on-site mayhem that might pop up. He’s in the middle of shooting a documentary entitled “American Drunk” (which you’ll be hearing about more in these pages). He wasn’t originally on our list of media personnel, but all I had to do was drop the movieweb name (that, plus the fact that the girl behind the press counter was really vibing him. I think she was in love), and his press badge was around his neck within seconds. We’re that cool (not really).
Basically, we had the Hogan’s Heroes of Internet Journalists, and we got the job done faster and better than almost any other site out there. Except, maybe, Comingsoon.net. Those guys engage in lightening fact coverage, and it really became a thorn in Ballchecker’s side. What a jerk Comingsoon.net is, being on top of the scoops and sh*t. Comingsoon.net is a goofy nerd (just joshin’, kinda…)
The third and last bit of knowledge gleamed from last year’s Con? As Pearl Jam might sing, “Evacuation!” The first trip down turned into a nightmare. I’m not sure what I ate before getting in the car, but right when I hit rush hour traffic, a puddle of mud hit my throughline. I couldn’t pull off to save my life. I was stuck in the furthest lane over, and I damn near sh*t my pants. If that guy at Taco Bell, somewhere near the Jamboree Exit in Irvine, hadn’t let me in early, I would have dropped a good backside all over the driver’s seat. What a mess. This year, I made sure to sh*t out every last drop of dooket before I got anywhere near my dirty Tercel. Good thing, too, cause I unleashed a stink that would have killed my intestines further down the interstate. Sure, an uncomfortable feeling stuck with me for the better part of the day, but at least I was fresh and clean. I smelled like the ocean.
Once again, for the second year in a row, I had to work the graveyard shift at my other job before heading down to San Diego. It’s a three-hour ride with morning traffic, and I left at 6 am. Absolutely no sleep was had. I wouldn’t see the other side of a pillow for 56 more hours. That’s okay, though. I have an above average IQ. I’m in MENSA. Wafting off the fumes of an open-eyed nap brings my intelligence level down to that of the average Internet Film Critic. I’d be fine; in likeminded company. And the insomniac buzz this lack of sleep produces coincides with the abstract Con attendees beautifully.
I arrived near the convention center Friday at exactly 9am to find Webmaster B. still in bed. The sheets pulled completely over his baldy head. He seemed quite upset with Mushy. That MFer had gone to sleep around 1:30 am, leaving Brian to post non-stop coverage from Thursday’s tight, potential line-up. Richard Linklater’s A SCANNER DARKLY, David Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLNCE, and Wes Craven’s RED EYE were explored and given the once over. I was kind of glad I missed the madness. I wanted nothing to do with that ethereal nonsense; none of that sh*t appeals to me. Except for maybe the cartoon. I’m slightly drawn to it, but only because I love Keanu Reeves, and won’t miss anything he’s in. I’ve seen the trailer, though, and it looks like something I would have traced over in the fourth grade. It kind of grates my nerves, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the Waking Life. It reminds me of the original Lord of the Rings animated effort. The potential for A SKANNER DARKLY to give me a headache is about as deep as the ocean.
While B. showered, I got a full oral hygiene tutorial from Mushy. His mouth kit was quite impressive. The 80-dollar toothbrush. The golden floss. The Sharper Image tongue scrapper. The stainless steel spit cup. This cat knows how to take care of his teeth. Mush’s twenty-minute lesson in gum care made me hyper-aware of the stink rising from my own taste buds, and I suddenly hated the thin layer of white gunk building up on my tongue. Mushy’s Mouth Minute had me wanting to run to the store for a water pick.
Ballchecker (The Shecker) ceased that sh*t real quick, though. Ever the drill sergeant, He immediately got down to brass tacks and sublet our collective back pocket with a scribbled list of places to go. 1-on-1 interviews were split up between Mush and I. Then it was decided we were also on a mission to find the INTERNET. It has a tendency to take human form, much like the Almighty in those Oh, God movies, and we knew it would be walking around the convention center with its dyed blue and red hair. We had to locate it and take that illusive Patterson footage (this is where our still absent videographer David Yates comes in). To have actual streaming footage of the INTERNET browsing the Con would surely get us more hits than we could count. We took our assignments and got in the car…
Like some no-nonsense soccer mom, Balchack dropped Mush and I outside the Convention Center with strict instructions to head for Hall H. As soon as possible. This giant auditorium houses somewhere near a million people. We thought we’d have absolutely no problem getting in, especially with our trusty press badges. Wrong. The moderators shooed us away, quick. They didn’t care that we were with the best, most popular movie site on the web. They informed us that the only way inside was by getting in-line. It didn’t look that bad from where we were standing. Then we went outside.
Have you ever been to Six Flags in the dead of summer? Have you ever waited in the cue to ride Goliath? Imagine that nightmare times ten. That’s what the Hall H line was like on Friday morning. It winded around the entire back portion of the Convention Center. It was easily two miles deep. Instead of sunburned teenagers and their wearisome parents, this backed-up procession was filled with every type of creature imaginable. Jedi, Sith, Stormtroopers, Sailor Moons, Vampire Hunter Ds, Mario and Luigi, the Gomi Taro Monkey, you name it, it was here. And the stink. You ever hear the joke, “How do you hide money from a hippy? You put it under a bar of soap.” Same rule applies here. I couldn’t get the pong of ass snot out of my nostrils for most of the day. I had to keep checking my shoes for sh*t. Nope, just the smell of dork grandeur wafting through the air ducts.
Mush and I waited in this line for quite some time. It moved pretty fast, but not fast enough. I didn’t even really know what we were waiting for. We actually found a gap in the middle of the jaunting conga and jumped in, cutting our wait-time in half. The two guys behind us never realized the sneaky maneuver. They were too busy discussing all things Star Wars. It’s become hip and a bit cliché to dote on the fact that you’re a geek, but trust me. The majority of you fools are fronting. These two coldease trollers behind us were the real deal. They weren’t store bought nerds running off at the mouth to be cool. They believed in every word being spewed from their geek breath. “My Obi Wan would never do that. Not the Obi Wan I grew up with and loved.” Their passion came as an unmatched emotion, and I had to frown at their high water pants. Sad really. We couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.
Some guy with a camera snuck over to Mush and offered him five bucks for a cut in line. Mushy obliged, easing him in front of us. It was an easily earned bit of green. I nabbed two-fifty of it. Before I could count the quarters, we were at the entrance door…
Hall H is a behemoth. There are huge screens hanging from the ceiling. Mush and I took a seat near the back. The panel looked like an eyeglass screw. A security guard disguised as a very ugly woman told us to put our recording devices away. I kept mine in my pocket, rolling the whole time. We still weren’t sure what we were about to see. Then someone informed us that it was the Warner Brothers panel. Some dude arrived at the far away podium and explained that we couldn’t go to the bathroom. Or leave to get something to eat. We’d lose our seats. It was like Beirut, and I actually felt for the fools in the very front row, stationed there, waiting for Tenacious D. to arrive. JB and Glass wouldn’t even be there for another 38 hours. That’s a long goddamn time to sit in some hot auditorium. Smelling your friend’s ass. Is asking Natalie Portman a question really that big of a deal? I guess so…
The lights went down and out came those funky digital telescopes. The security guards use them to insure no one is videotaping any given moment of the event. Luckily, my Olympus Digi-recorder isn’t detectable. What was so important that they didn’t want any digi-pirates floating around the floor? Was the INTERNET in attendance? Nope, it was just the V FOR VENDETTA trailer. I watched it. I saw it. It looked like a bunch of horsesh*t to me. Some dude in a cheap Halloween mask does back flips and Natalie Portman is bald. Whoop-Doo! I hate The Matrix, and I hate the Wachowski Brothers. I’m not going to be anywhere near the line for this cock tease. The audience applauded, but they weren’t really into it. I could feel it. F*ck, these dorks would applaud anything, up to and including The Mr. Ed Movie. Copious amounts of Applause at the Con doesn’t necessarily mean huge box office. Seriously. It looks impressive when you’re on the scene, but this place is only housing all of the Dipsh*ts in America. It seems huge, but in the scheme of things, it’s not really that big. I remember last year HITCHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY received the best response out of anything else I saw at the Con. It tanked at the box office.
After the trailer was over, Natalie Portman, Joel Silver, and some other nameless chumps lumbered onstage. They looked so tiny. Just little bitty blurs of pink. It hurt to squint in their direction. We watched them on the screens located above our heads. The panel was immediately opened for questions, and nobody seemed to care too much about the film. Sure, the obligatory Alan Moore question was asked, but everyone seemed more interested in asking Natalie Portman the worst possible questions they could think of. Some dude asked if she’d give one of those Garden State ugly twitch moments that’s supposed to be unique and fresh every time you do it. She obliged while the rest of the audience booed. The funky movement she preformed didn’t look unique at all. It looked like the same goddamn thing she did in that movie. There was another guy that started rambling about religion and faith. He was very awkward, and ugly, and eventually got booed away from the microphone. It was hilarious. The crowds can be cruel. I came away from this not wanting to see V FOR VENDETTEA, but instead wondering why, if your going to stand in front of a million people and ask a question, you wouldn’t construct a worthwhile one that was deliverable without a painstaking bit of saliva interrupting it.
Next up were a couple of nondescript people from THE CORPSE BRIDE. I didn’t really want to hear them talk. Boring. I didn’t know who these people were, and I still don’t. They weren’t Tim Burton. It might have been cool to see him up there, talking endlessly about something I have absolutely no interest in. But even then, I’ve never really been a fan. The thirteen-minute Bride clip, featuring a Danny Elfman song, turned out to be pretty cool. Initially, this thing looked kind of boring. It came through with a gothic vibe usually reserved for those prone to wearing culottes in cemeteries. I sort of dug the musical number. It looked a lot like A Nightmare Before Christmas. Skeletons danced around and played their bones. Then the lights came back on, and those two people took a slew of questions from the audience. This off-sort of interaction is hilarious. I’m not sure what is going through these people’s heads when they go up to that microphone. Its as if electricity is rendering them stupid.
After a tortured bit of Q&A, the representative excused his nondescript guests from the Corpse Bride and introduced a prolonged trailer for HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. The title means little to me; I’m not familiar with this popular series of books. I did enjoy the movies when I watched them, but they’re not that exciting to me. This trailer looked like more of the same. I’m sure it’ll be the tits. Every bedridden geek and their mom will probably love it and call it, “Dark.” F*ck, they should just call it Dark Part 4: Darkerer with the potential to get Darker, but not the darkest by far. Or some such sh*t. If I hear the word “Dark” used to describe another movie, I’m going to scream bloody murder.
Before the lights could come up, Mush and I bolted for the door. I’d recorded the entire show, and Mushy had taken profuse notes. A waist of time, I think. Nobody is going to care five minutes from now. That’s for sure. We had some 1-on-1s and a roundtable to get too upstairs. With a few minutes to kill, we cut through the main exhibition floor. Last year, I managed to nab all sorts of freebies and saw numerous pieces of plastic that I wanted to buy. Not this year. Nothing was really catching my eye. It was just a rushed blur of crap that I had no real interest in. I wanted the Star Wars Hasbro giveaway poster, which depicted the original one-sheet from Empire Strikes Back but with action figures. Too bad I couldn’t find the Hasbro booth. I didn’t want to waist too much time looking for it or the giant Optimus Prime Semi Truck that was supposedly taking up way to much space on this vast floor. Instead, we cut a swath through the autograph arena, making a B line for the pressrooms.
It was pretty much the same old story as last year. We bumped into Sid Haig and his fiancée selling autographed Captain Spalding dolls for fifty bucks a pop. Dirk Benedict was busy yelling at some fan near his otherwise empty table. Erin Grey stood alone, staring out into the black sea of empty nerd faces. Doesn’t everyone in the known universe already have her signature? Why does she keep coming to these things? I can’t imagine the permanent cramp that is locked inside her thumb and forefinger. Seeing her is a sad sight. An eternal fixture at these types of gatherings; I could go the rest of my life without ever having to bump into her pathetic ass again. But I know I’ll see her in the same place, at the same time, at the same table, next year. They should have a mandate on rotten fruit at these things.
On the other side of the room sat an interesting sight. A majority of the Superman 2 cast. I hurried over to catch a glimpse of Margot Kidder. She used to be hot. Seriously, she used to look a lot like Courtney Cox. And I’ll admit, she wasn’t looking that bad here. I kind of wanted her to sign something for me, but I didn’t particularly want to part with twenty dollars. The going rate for most signed 8X10s at this convention. I couldn’t get past Non (a chipper looking Jack O’Halloran) to talk to Kidder. Then the biggest freak of all time stepped in front of me. I recognized him right away from his stint on Sunset Blvd. You might know him too. He’s always dressed like Superman, and he has this giant gap in his teeth. He’s featured in the Ifilm short documentary piece “Heroes: We Work for Tips.” The guy’s house is covered floor to ceiling in Superman memorabilia. Today, he’s got a Superman Soundtrack Record in his hand. It has about twenty autographs on the front of it. The man sticks his hands down his pants, and then looks at me, “Excuse me, this is a little embarrassing. He then turns to face Non and proceeds to play with himself. It’s disturbing. The guy is actually standing in front of the Superman 2 cast, fondling his nuts. I bolt from the situation. I’m not sure if Mushy caught a good glimpse of what was going on or not. But he follows in suite.
We rounded the corner only to come in contact with someone I wasn’t expecting to see. In fact, I didn’t even know this person actually existed in the flesh. I have a Virgil figure sitting near the sink in my apartment. Tommy Lloyd Jr. gave it too me. It was something he found in Mexico. The piece is small and cheap, a dollar store knockoff. Tom thought it was funny, especially since his name was Virgil. He’s adorned with a large belt buckle touting that fact. Imagine my surprise when I learn Virgil is an actual WWF wrestler. It was as if this crude toy had suddenly sprung to life. I immediately ran over to him and told him about the figure sitting on my sink. “Alright, alright! That’s my man!” He lifted his hand to buck my fist. It was a funny bump. He showed Mushy the same courtesy gesture. We gushed over his presence for a few minutes, but he had no real words inside his mouth. It was against his wishes to form anything louder than a grunt. We kind of wanted to get a picture with him, but we were afraid that he’d charge us a substantial amount of cash. Don’t get me wrong, interacting with Virgil, someone I thought was merely just an action figure, was almost the highlight of the Con. On that same note, it just wasn’t worth it to me to spend the money. Sure, he needs food like everyone else, but I don’t want to be the guy putting it in his mouth.
Virgil turned out to be a lousy conversationalist. Mush and I left him for the press roundtables…
(To Be Continued in Part 2 coming soon…)