Jul. 14th, 2012

lazypadawan: (Default)
I have to start off with the tragic death of a Twilight fan from New York. The 53-year-old died on Tuesday morning after she tried to run across the street to the convention center, tripped, and was sideswiped by an oncoming car. The impact knocked her to the pavement and she sustained fatal head injuries as a result.

The woman was part of the lineup outside of Hall H for Thursday's Twilight panel and supposedly, she was rushing to hold her place in line after she found out Comic Con organizers were rearranging it so that those who were first would be at the end, and vice versa. Now, life is not worth being at the front of any line or getting a front row seat for a panel. In the heat of the moment, it might seem like nothing's more important than being first but fandom doesn't create a protective shield around you when you're crossing against the light. That poor woman not only lost her spot, she lost her life. Her family and friends have lost her. Had she been more cautious, she might be a few rows back but she'd been alive for that panel and the movie in November.

That said, I think con organizers bear some moral responsibility even if they likely have no legal responsibility for what happened. I've said last year that Comic Con should offer free tickets online to popular panels to discourage the insane lines and long campouts. And once there's a system in place, stick with it! Could you imagine the buffalo stampede that would have occurred had they decided to rearrange a long line while everyone's in the convention center? You have to assume fans can and will do something stupid or insane if you move the Holy Grail. I worry that with this many people, a similar situation to the Cincinnati Who concert stampede of 1982 could happen. We don't need a Comic Con with an annual body count.

Another round of condemnation goes to the cruel, insensitive douchebags who made fun of the fan's death. I don't care if you don't like Twilight; this is still a human being who had friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors who cared about her. Apparently she took care of her mother, who was afflicted with Alzheimer's and had since passed away. That is a tough, tough job and I can see this woman's desire to "live a little" by throwing herself wholesale into her fandom. What's amazing to me is how many people in Facebook are willing to post that kind of stuff with their actual names and photos. Great way to let the world know you're a gigantic a-hole.

Anyway, if you feel like helping out this fan's family defray funeral expenses, there's a fundraiser here:

http://www.giveforward.com/mad4hughmemorial

And contributions in her memory are being made to the Alzheimer's Association, 2 Jefferson Plaza, Suite 103, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603.

On to happier things.

Wednesday's festivities began with the end of the Course of the Force relay at the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego. Supposedly the runner was supposed to cross the finish line around 11:20. Since I now work in downtown I thought I'd take my break around that time. Well, I go down to the Balboa and see a few people in Star Wars tees milling about, some big production trucks, and some security guards but no runner. I asked a guy when the race was supposed to end and he said, "Now." But since we weren't dealing with actual athletes or anything, the guy added he expected the runner to show up within the next hour. I couldn't wait that long, so I walked back to the office with plans to come back out during my lunch break. What should my little eye spy about a block away but some cops on motorcycles doing escort duty. Who could that be? Was it the President? Was it some foreign dignitary? The light changed and when the cops rolled forward, I could see the Course of the Force vehicles as well as the Jabba's barge reproduction. I stopped, took out my iPhone, and snapped away right from the side of the road. It's kind of too bad they didn't publicize this too much because I saw no media or crowds on the street. But I got great photos.

I had to hike back out at lunch time anyway and I saw incoming fans pulling their luggage along to downtown hotels or walk down to the convention center. My plan was to pick up my Thursday and Sunday passes in Fashion Valley instead of at the convention center. I figured the crowds were going to be worse downtown and I had to be out of my parking spot by six (I've since got a monthly parking spot).

I drove over to the Town and Country and I know this is inside-baseball stuff, but I cut through Old Town to avoid going east on I-8. On a good day, I-8 east is a parking lot in the afternoon/evening. Unfortunately this was a bad day, thanks to a big rig that caught on fire not too far away. Not only did it make I-8 even worse than it normally is, there was a lot overflow on the access roads, like the one I was driving on. Then I had to sit in slow, barely moving traffic around the Town and Country as people squeezed into the parking lot and big buses taking congoers downtown blocked the street. Eventually I got into the lot almost an hour after I split from the office! The really funny part was there was hardly any line, but for the fans lining up for buses. I was in and out of there in eight minutes, including a side trip to the little girls' room.

On the way out, I noticed people were swapping those free bags they give you because different t.v. and movies were on the bags. Some lucky soul out there can have my Supernatural bag when I'm done with the con!
lazypadawan: (Default)
The first agenda of the morning was picking up the exclusive Artoo charm from Her Universe. Only 150 were available for this con and I figured it would be easier to get it here than at Celebration. I know the "Star Wars Zip Code" was in Hall D, where it has been ever since I started going to Comic Con, so I tried to position myself outside of Hall D. It wasn't easy because people and media were crowded all over the place prior to the con's opening. Lucky exhibitors were already inside, pillaging the exclusives before any one of the great unwashed can get to them.

Unfortunately Hall D was blocked off to everyone but press. Bah! So I ambled over to the Hall C entrance and waited. At 9:30 I went in and made my way to Hall D. Once I got to the Star Wars section, I staggered around in utter confusion because I couldn't find the Her Universe booth. The aisles were quickly filling up with people and it was difficult to get around. After going around twice and consulting the worthless guide book, I finally asked a guy taking orders for the Indiana Jones Blu-Ray where the Her Universe booth was. It was on the other side, facing out toward the toy booths, kitty corner from the Hallmark area. Duh! Can't believe I missed it.

Over at Her Universe, I picked up the Artoo charm. It's definitely better as a potential necklace pendant than on a charm bracelet since it's heavier than the other charms and it's the only "3D" one to date. And it's 25 bucks. While there, I also saw that they have a new Her Universe logo tee. It needs to be layered over something else or go up a size, but it was cool enough so I bought one. After that, I checked out the other booths in Lucas-land. I bought one of those lightsaber poster tubes from eFX and for the rest of the day, I was stopped several times by people who wanted to know where they could get one. I saw the Indiana Jones setup with the live snakes. I saw the new line of Star Wars lawn chairs. I saw the book booths and the new costumes from Museum Replicas. You can put together your own Jedi costume for only $800! For the first time Stylin' had a small stand separate from its three other booths, where they sold only Star Wars stuff. They had a bunch of new t-shirts I hadn't seen before. What caught my eye were a new sports jersey ($50) and a t-shirt with a picture of Theed and the caption "Greetings From Naboo" like an old-fashioned postcard. My eyes bugged out. Someone did a prequel-themed tee? (Also saw a new TPM shirt, but it focused on Maul.) Had to think about that one. At the Rock Rebel booth, I considered a Star Wars print hobo bag ($50). But right around the corner from Rock Rebel was Comic Images, known mostly for its soft goods collectibles. However, debuting at the con was a new purse that looks like Chewbacca's crossbody bag. His Wookiee man purse. It's really cute. My only disappointment with it is that is faux leather. I've become kind of a snob about that sort of thing. Plastic just has that Made In China chemical smell. It's bizarre to me that faux leather has become so expensive; this bag was $75. But as the guy at the booth pointed out, a real leather bag would be $300 and well, that is true. The Rock Rebel bag didn't feel as nice as this one did, so I bought the Wookiee bag. I can at least use it at cons and stuff.

By this time it was after 10 and I wanted to start seeing booths before going over to Random House for my fan fiction recording at 11. So I headed for the far end of the exhibit hall and started looking around. I didn't get very far. I stopped at the Shrine booth, purveyors of whatever you need to wear at Ye Olde Goth Clubbe, except I don't go to clubs anymore. I never bought anything from them before but this time, they had a cute vintage style dress that caught my eye. I'd have to try it on but I decided to come back later. After all, it was about time to get ready for my shot at fame and fortune.

I walked over to the Random House booth and it was then I saw they were giving out "Laters, Baby" buttons to promote E.L. James's book signing later on that day. A-ha! As publishers of "Fifty Shades of Grey," they know there's more gold to be mined out there though you can't audition any smutty fics. (By the way, does this book seriously have the line "laters, baby?" Really? *Headdesk.*) The nice gals at the booth gave me the legal docs to sign--if I "win" I no longer own my story--and I stepped in a very small booth with one of the gals to read my fic.

Ugh, I totally flubbed it. Maybe I'm just being tough on myself, but as soon as I started recording I was kicking myself for not rehearsing it. They're not going to see text, so the performance has to sell the product and my performance sucked. I was too nervous, I didn't put enough dramatic interpretation into the reading, and at a couple of spots I stuttered. Oh well, it looks like I won't be unleashing anyone's inner goddess any time soon. The girl who went after me was in an Alice In Wonderland costume.

My dreams shattered, I went back to the Shrine booth and tried on the dress, then bought it. Shopping makes everything better. I found the We Love Fine booth and discovered the stupidest line ever at Comic Con. We Love Fine had a very small booth and while it does sell Star Wars tees--I was hoping to find this cool art nouveau Leia tee--it's the #1 purveyor of My Little Pony merchandise outside of Mattel and that brought out the Bronies. Bronies were everywhere this year and half of them were in line for their tees and hoodies. What sucked was that you couldn't just ask, "Hey, do you have this tee available?" at the booth. You had to stand in this loooong line first. Forget that! So I found my way to my favorite jewelry booth and dropped another bundle on earrings and charms.

Then it was time to eat. After a long walk to the Petco Park lot I found the food trucks. Originally I was going to get some BBQ but I was really hungry and the Swiener's line was shorter. And it was offering a better deal, with free drinks along with your Swiss-style hot dog. Swiener's sells bratwursts, franks, pork sausage, or vegetarian faux-sage stuffed in a Bread et Cie baguette--best commercial bakery in town--along with melted raclette cheese. I had mine also dusted with paprika. The cheese put it over the top. Mmm. Every table was taken, but some nice folks had a chair to spare, so I sat down there. It amazed me because people at Comic Con generally aren't all that nice.

After lunch I had my customary Pinkberry yogurt. On the way there I got a free water bottle to promote the t.v. show Revolution and a free box of Butterfingers candy. Gotta love the freebies! Then it was back in the exhibit hall.

Here it was halfway through the day and I'd covered very little territory. I had to hustle. I rushed past the indies, small publishers, and golden/silver age comic book dealers because that stuff never interested me in the past. I stopped off at the Profiles in History booth, the company that stars in SyFy's "Hollywood Treasure" show. They had some Star Wars props up for auction but "affordable" was something like a TPM podracer maquette for $3500-$5000. Liam Neeson's lightsaber was about a third of what I earn in a year and if I wanted a snowtrooper's helmet from TESB, I'd need to scrounge up $85,000 if it sold at the maximum opening bid.

Sideshow Collectibles had some impressive goodies on display, few of which were affordable, heh heh. They are making a padawan Obi-Wan 1/6 scale figure that looks great but for his glossy lips. Who's painting these things, Adam Lambert? I'd get one though. It's due out next year. I was pleased to see Gentle Giant is making a Jar Jar mini bust. Hateboys' bitter tears sweeten my tea! Another one due to drive them nuts is a maquette of a scout trooper getting his @$$ kicked by angry-looking Ewoks. At Hasbro, I got a Fighter Pod giveaway, but didn't see any posters. I did get a mini poster from the Del Rey Star Wars booth, the only poster I got all day after I spent $25 for a poster tube! At least it'll have some use at Celebration. At Kotobukiya, I checked out the Jaina Solo bishoujo figurine, due out in November. It's a nice piece, though I don't know why Koto is doing expanded universe stuff first for that line. The next bishoujo is Mara Jade.

While checking out the offerings at Koto, my cell phone rang. I thought it was a wrong number but when I answered it was my bank! WTF? As it turned out they'd frozen my debit card for questionable charges after a dealer had tried to run my card a few times (the reader wasn't picking up the strip). I cleared everything up with the bank and they lifted the stay on my card. I told the gal on the line, "Um, I'm in the exhibit hall at Comic Con right now." And she says, "Really? That's so cool!"

Earlier, I went upstairs to get my badge holder for Sunday so I don't have to stand in a hellacious line to get it. That took a few seconds. I remembered Nalini Krishnan, Barriss Offee from AOTC, was supposed to be signing and I went to the autograph section to see if she was there. She wasn't signing until 2:30, so I decided to finish the exhibit hall and come back later.

The exhibit hall got insanely crowded around all of the studio booths. At times security closed off some aisles where you could only get out, not go in. Then I got to some of the illustrators' booths. I bought some items that went missing after I changed offices, *sigh.* Next time take all of my fannish stuff with me!

I was pleasantly surprised to find Manic Panic, purveyors of punkish hair dye and cosmetics, having a booth for the first time at the con. I picked up some lipstick and vowed to return after I was told they'd have more stuff over the weekend.

Fast forward to the controversial part of the day. Once again, Artists' Alley was the least-crowded area of the hall. While walking around I saw Steve Sansweet and his posse. That's not what this controversy's about though. At Justin Chiang's booth, I started looking through some very nice sketches. I'm a Star Wars art junkie but I often wait before buying, especially since it's rare you'll find anything less than $25. Chiang wasn't at the booth; some guy obviously not Asian was running the booth for him. Some other guy was next to Chiang's booth (can't remember the name) and Cat Skaggs was next to him. The three of them were talking and Skaggs said that "he's retiring." Someone, I don't remember who, said, "probably because the fans can't stand him." When they started talking about the Special Editions, I knew then they were talking about Lucas. Let's just say I didn't like the tone of the convo and I split before they could start trashing the prequels and they'd have to call security. Really people? THIS is what cheeses me off about Star Wars Fandom, Inc.. It's full of hypocrisy and backstabbers who are happy to leech off of Lucas while having no respect for the guy. And doesn't it occur to anyone that if a potential customer is hanging around looking at Star Wars sketches she might not be one of those fans who hates on everything Lucas does?!

On that note I went back up to the autograph hall; it was almost 4 by this point. Nalini Krishnan was there, chatting with a fan. Right next to her at another booth was none other than Eric Roberts, character actor extraordinaire, Celebrity Rehab graduate, brother of Julia and father of Emma. That's one of the surreal things about this con. Random t.v. and movie stars just hanging out at booths, signing autographs and meeting fans. Anyway, Ms. Krishnan couldn't be nicer. We talked about her appearance at Celebration II. "Can you believe it's been 10 years already?" I said. "I can't!" We're both awaiting word on when we'll see AOTC in 3D.

Looky there...it's E.L. James signing her magnum opus for an adoring crowd of chicks! More than one goes up to give her a big hug. I did notice that not a single one of the fans was wearing a Twilight tee even though it was the day of the Last Twilight Panel Ever. Heh heh.

After a quick break to sit down, I went back downstairs, bought the Greetings From Naboo tee, and then decided to check on how my mom was doing since I knew she wasn't feeling well and was going to urgent care. Since I hadn't heard from her, I thought things were at least under control. My mom said the urgent care prescription wasn't working and she wanted to go to the hospital. So I left immediately and my fun day ended with a five-hour stint in the ER. The end! At least my mom's doing better now.

December 2012

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