Secret Pop

Jul 23, 2005

Memories of Comic-Con

I had what I would consider to be a largely triumphant experience at Comic-Con last week. It's unfortunate that the aftermath of it was total work swamp, the onset of a cold, and general inability to get anywhere near the business of blogging. All I can really offer is a pastiche of memory spurts. Sorry. I'll try harder next time.

Firstly, I decided this year that I would not allow myself to endure the misery of parking woes and traffic bullshit and the laziness that happens when you are staying with friends or family. So I booked a room at the Marriott and stayed luxuriously and conveniently close to all the hot nerd action for five days and four nights. That was the right choice. I will make that same choice repeatedly in the future. Because it led to me actually fully experiencing Comic-Con perhaps for the first time. In past years, the Con has always been a series of day trips, ending before sundown in exhaustion and sometimes performance obligations. If you go home after a day walking the dealer floor, and "home" is more than a mile from Downtown San Diego, chances are you're not going to go back out in the evening. That has been my experience in every previous year. But this time, tired as I may have been every single day, it was not at all difficult to drag myself out of my room and hit the town. And that is a blessing.

Beulah came down and visited with me on Wednesday night. We went out for sushi and drinks and shit talk, and then she spent the night in my hotel room. And when Martín arrived the next morning, we went down to the hotel coffee shop, where Beulah had breakfast, Martín had lunch, and I had four bloody marys -- all served with flair by our waitress Blanche. Before Beulah arrived downstairs, I phoned to alert her that I had just walked past Mark Ryden on the stairs. That was the first of perhaps thirty times I would see him in and around the hotel and the convention center. I realize that we were staying in the same building and attending the same event, but there was still an uncanny frequency to our proximity. I would literally see him enter the convention center and then see him ninety seconds later as I rounded the corner of an aisle. He was everywhere that I was. With nearly cosmic significance. And I know him to be awfully nice and sort of shy, so I didn't bother him at all. Which is to my credit, I hope.

Martín and I rounded out day one of the Con with drinks in my room (I brought a full compliment of liquor with me, of course), countless martinis at the hotel bar, a photo-taking stroll to Embarcadero Marina Park at what I call "golden hour," and then dinner at Morton's, where I ordered us an expensive bottle of wine that we drank nearly none of but then took with us to watch the screening of the special edition of Free Enterprise, during which we traded slugs of a fine meritage like hobos. Wealthy, wealthy hobos. Towards the end of the film, we snuck out onto the terrace for a smoke. And then, for some reason, we ended up venturing out into the Gaslamp to look for smaller bottles of whiskey to carry around during the next day's show. But we didn't find a liquor store. All we found was foot pain. We went from exclaiming, "Best Con ever!" between joyous bursts of laughter to whimpering, "Worst Con ever!" betwixt groans of agony. Then Martín spent the night in my room. And I think we were both grateful that that convenience was available to us.

Friday morning, Mindy arrived. And the three of us hit the Con together. It was sort of magical to be taking a Con newbie around. Especially a hot one with a passion for Star Wars and anime chicks. It's what I imagine it's like for parents whose love of Christmas is renewed by the wonder in the eyes of their children. Beulah and Yen came down that day, too, and -- as I always do for my friends -- I went to the registration area and picked up badges for them, so they wouldn't have to wait in that ridiculous line. I look at the people in that long-ass line, and I think, "Is it possible that none of you guys knows ANYONE who can hook you up?" None of my friends ever has to wait for a badge. It's part of my Con evangelism.

Jessie came to the show on Friday, too. So did Richard. We lost him when we were staking out a spot for the Adult Swim panel, which was great and also less than. My friends Tim and Eric were my heroes, but the question-askers were stupid and gay, and Cartoon Network didn't give away anything at the panel, which was a change from years past and the yearning for which is proof of my geekness. So many people to see. I have never had such a meeting-rich Con. It was grand-ish. Jessie and her friend Josh and I met at the hotel bar for a few drinks. And then I went back to the room to collect Mindy (after we caught some awesome fireworks off our awesome bay view balcony) and whisk her off to the Adult Swim party at the Wonder Bread Factory in Golden Hill. Eric had put me on the list. And that made me feel super extra special. And Mindy came as my guest. And we happened to find Jeff walking on the street towards the party when we were walking from our cab. So we all arrived together and made respective beelines for the restrooms and then the food tables. I guess it was The Prado catering the event, and there were these little Angus beef sliders that were unbelievably yummy and also tiny little deep dish pizzas that I later hated myself for not eating a hundred of.

The party was over too soon, and -- after a long curbside deliberation -- we all went over to the Top of the Hyatt for more drinks. Jeff and Mindy and I went downstairs for a smoke and ended up not being able to get back up to the club, as the elevators apparently respect last call more than most enthusiastic drinkers do. And we ended up bringing a whole gaggle of people back to my hotel room to continue with the drinking and the smoking and the general revelry. I ordered room service in the wee hours, and we ate pizza and hamburger and fries and shot craps in a drawer from my armoire and eventually had to encourage Jay and Tommy to make their way home, because the sun was coming up and we had a Con to get something from. Jeff ended up staying with me and Mindy. And he drew a picture of a giant frog. And I looked at it the next morning and said, "Oh, look, there's a little boy on his back," and Jeff said, "Look closer," and then I said, "Oh! It's me!" And it was. I could tell because of the rank insignia on the sleeve of my sweater. I'm a colonel or something when I wear that sweater that says "Destroy" on the front. You'd best watch yourself.

By Saturday, I had turned my ankle somehow. Probably the night before in some drunken situation. So every step I took on the convention floor was a bit ouchy. I had to rush in at the top of the day and get a pass for Jeff. And then I did the same for Krissy and her sister later in the afternoon. And when we went outside to find them, a guy with two ninja swords approached me and asked if he could take a picture of me. And I said, "Sure. But I'm not dressed as anyone." And I wasn't. He seemed convinced that I was. But really. I was just wearing my own clothes. Which is telling, I suppose. Later in the afternoon. Martín, Jeff, Mindy, and I were sitting out on the steps behind the convention center, and we decided to head down to that little sandwich shack down by the fishing pier, and as I stood up to leave, an older fellow with a disturbingly emotionless gaze said, "You look nice today." It took me a few seconds to realize he was talking to me. When I did, I said, "Thank you." And then I tugged my skirt down further and hurried on with my friends. We jeered the musketeers and bellydancer on the terrace. We're better than them and we know it. We ordered lunch, and I had the best nachos ever. And a hamburger that I so did not need after having eaten the best nachos ever.

By the late afternoon, we were plum tuckered out. And -- foolishly opting to miss the Tenacious D panel -- we headed back to the hotel, where we complained about our various pains and took brief naps and showers. Then we went out into the Gaslamp to find what turned out to be the worst Mexican food ever at La Fiesta on Fifth. After which, we met up with friends at Star Bar and drank cheaply until closing. At which time we headed over to the Westgate and continued on with our evening in resplendent Con fashion. Tim and Brendon performed an hilarious prank call for all of us, and I literally had tears rolling off the end of my nose. I'll never stop laughing about it. If I'm at a funeral and think of Tom Pickle, someone will surely think me rude. The same can be said for Tommy's thoughts on progressive cat math. And Jay's conviction that Mindy's sheets were made of orchestras.

By the end of the night. Mindy and Jeff and I piled into a cab with Tommy and the Poubelle Twins and made our way back to our various places of lodging. And I performed a dramatic reading from my email for Jeff and Mindy, and Mindy laughed a lot.

On our final day, we mostly just had breakfast, shopped, and went our separate ways. I took one of my favorite pictures ever of Mindy in front of a Han Solo poster. I also took a picture of Mindy with Caveman Robot, who seems to now recognize me as a friend and always wants a hug when our paths cross. When he hugs me, he grunts, "Woman. Urnh. Urnh." And I am charmed by it. One of his handlers gave me a free pin.

So that's about it, right? I yelled at the people at the bell desk. I attended one last panel. Then I got my car and my bags and drove to my parents' house to collect my dog and head home. Many pictures were taken. Many memories were made. Many opportunities were missed. I only wish it could be Comic-Con every week. I love it more than anything else in the world.

No comments: