On my way to the convention center, I see something much more awesome than the Taco Bell truck:
I forget what the meal of the day is, but heeeee.
The convention center is open, and I make a beeline for the Autograph Area, but on the way, I see two women in awesome costumes. They're sitting against the wall, coordinating or something, so I don't want to bother them. But later I see them up and at it, so I ask if I can take a picture.
Harley is a popular costume—and now people have an Arkham Asylum costume to use as well—but you don't often see Elastigirl. And even the Harley isn't your typical costume.
Stephen Tobolowsky is supposed to be signing at 10, but his booth is empty and his paper isn't up, I wonder if he's cancelled or something. The person in charge hasn't heard anything, but there's no line, and he's supposed to be there till 2, so instead I find the line for Room 5AB, which is where the X-Play panel will be.
I get a really good seat once they let people into the room. I save a seat next to me for peri_peteia in the future and read Chicks Dig Time Lords. A girl behind me comments, "Where did you get that?" Amazon, I tell her. If only I knew that it is also available at the Mysterious Galaxy booth! But I do not, not yet.
I still haven't read Bone, so I don't really care about this panel, but, hey, it's Jeff Smith! Once the panel starts, I go to check on Stephen Tobolowsky, who is still not there. When I return, Jeff Smith is reading through pages of Rasl, even doing the sound effects. It's kind of amusing. I try not to pay much attention to the Bone stuff because I don't want to be spoiled.
It may not be little Mario who asks the question, but some kid does ask what inspired Jeff to do the sequence where the characters read Moby Dick and have dreams about it or something, I don't know, and he replies, "Whenever I talk about Moby Dick, people fall asleep." Heeee.
At 10:45, I step out to check for Stephen Tobolowsky again, and he's still not there, but Rawles is now in line! So I go see her, give her a hug, and compliment her hair before returning to my seat.
As I wait for Rawles to shuffle in after the panel, I have to take a picture, see.
These two pairs of Mario Bros. do not know each other! But they showed up at the same panel. You always see Mario and Luigi at cons, after all.
There does not appear to be a lot of Jeff Smith/G4 crossover, as most of the crowd clears out. Several people in our vicinity, however, are also G4 fans who sat through the Jeff Smith panel, but at least one is more excited about Chris Gore than X-Play. As I have actually seen him—and, hell, even met him at WonderCon—I don't mind at all.
Chris Gore! It's DVDursday! (I made someone laugh with that one, really.)
Chris Gore brings with him a moderator: Kimiko, his #1 fan from Japan, who has flown all the way to Comic-Con to meet him. She makes this one of the more entertaining panels I've not intended to attend.
She does take a lot of pictures.
Chris Gore doesn't really have a panel; he'll just take questions. It's not one of those panels where a long line forms at the microphone, but people will occasionally go up and wait. I am well positioned myself. The first person says hello. Kimiko translates, "He says hi." We all laugh. The guy asks how to be a film critic like him, reviewing DVDs on Attack of the Show and having a website and whatnot. It's a very long quesion. Kimiko translates, "He wants to know how to be you."
His answer: "Don't." He has no inspirational words for this guy! Don't become a film critic, he says. But if you do, you need three things: a passion for film, a sense of film history, and writing skill. In any case, being a film critic is not what he's best at.
He did bring some videos to show us, actually. The first is a special edition of "I Can't Believe This Is on DVD," which features a lot of ridiculous titles including Black Sheep. But there's also a movie about monster poop. I'm not kidding.
The second is an interview with actual intelligence agents at a Salt junket, which basically goes over like a Daily Show segment.
Kimiko suggests he tell us about his charity. Ah, he does charity work. Or...not really, as his charity is not for the usual cause.
At one point, he starts talking about Hallmark cards he wants to write, like "I want to be with you even when my penis is not inside of you." And "Thank you for the blowjob." He thinks it's very sweet! Yeah, he's the best wingman on the planet.
Since I can, I decide I might as well ask a question because I am curious. I kneel down and wait until Kimiko gives me the go-ahead. "You may have just answered this," I say.
"'Thank you for the blowjob'?" he says. He asks the women to raise their hands if they have ever received such a card.
My actual question is, however, "You said that being a film critic is not what you're best at. What do you consider yourself to be best at?"
"Hallmark card writing!" he quips. Then he tries, "Writing in 140 characters or less." He can't really think of anything, but it's not film criticism, and that's what he's best known for.
And since I can, and this is the magic of television and the magic of cons, I tell him that I was really glad he liked The Losers, because it was such a fun movie and it bombed. "That was an awful movie!" an audience member says.
But Chris Gore disagrees with him and agrees with me, as it was a movie that knew what it was, and it was true to the comic. "Thanks, man."
One guy asks him what he looks for in a commentary, since it's so important to him on DVDs (the fact that he rated The Losers a Buy was unusual since the DVD doesn't have commentary [also, we learn that he actually has to buy the DVDs himself, so he's really putting his money where his mouth is]). He likes to learn about the process of making the movie as well as anecdotes from the set; he actually listens to commentaries in the car while waiting in traffic. Interestingly, the example he uses of a good commentary is Christopher Nolan's commentary for Following, his first film. And because the guy's question is so good, he gives him a copy of his movie Red.
Kimiko, on the other hand, gives Chris lots of things to sign. His book. A doll. A box of cookies. Her underwear. He looks very uncomfortable about that last one, but he did say he would sign anything.
One person doesn't want to get him in trouble by asking what his favorite anime is—"Answer carefully," says Kimiko—so he asks what his favorite martial arts movie is—"Also answer carefully," says Kimiko. For the anime, he names Legend of the Overfiend, which is apparently a good hentai. For martial arts, he goes with Enter the Dragon.
He has some funny stories from his FilmThreat days, crashing the Toronto Film Festival and asking John Hinckley to write a review of Taxi Driver. One time he reviewed Macaroni and Cheese. Aarika will be happy to know that he also recommended Get Set Go.
Kimiko says many ridiculous things during the panel. When the panel ends, however, Chris Gore informs us that Kimiko is actually comedienne Mary Forrest. I was a little skeptical, but I will admit they had me fooled. She was committed, and his reactions seemed genuine.
Between panels, a man asks the guy at the end of our row to ask what a typical day at X-Play is like, when prompted. "Dude, you get to be a plant!" I exclaim. Nice.
As the X-Play folk enter, they are photographed madly!
Adam Sessler! Morgan Webb! RIGHT THERE! Wooooo. And Kristin Whatever Go Away.
This is what Morgan's hair looks like today.
That's all very exciting, but what's even more exciting is that the host of the panel is Michael Leffler. I don't recognize the name, but I do recognize the face:
OMG DRUNK LINK!! X-Play is a videogame review show, but it is also a comedy show, and Drunk Link is one of my favorite characters. Leffler introduces the rest of the staff.
I don't even know who this guy is, but he's amusing. And I don't know the girl either, but she is Abbie Heppe.
Kristin Adams, who is annoying and terrible. Blair Herter, who is apparently hated by half the Internet.
For every Adam Sessler, there is an equal and opposite Morgan Webb. (I MISS YOU DISEMBODIED VOICE.)
Before the panel really gets going, the moderator admits that the interns didn't make it down, so they need to hire some new interns. Three, in fact.
"INTERN #1, RIGHT HERE!!" yells someone in the back. Well, he's hired. Then we all start yelling, as that seems to work. I am raising my hand and yelling like a fool. The moderator picks Intern #2 from somewhere.
And then he points to me. "You're Intern #3." SWEET! I give Rawles my camera to take pictures of me doing intern stuff, whatever it turns out to be. Unfortunately, there are too many people blocking her view, so she doesn't get any good shots. BUT. Who needs photos when you can watch the entire panel? The scene above begins at about 4:45, and the scene you will really want to watch begins at 28:45. Let it load as we continue.
We go up to the front, where we are handed our intern shirts. They are white shirts that say "INTERN." We put them on. Intern #2, a cute girl named Caitlin (shout-out to another cute girl named Caitlin, what what), puts hers on over her dress.
Intern #1, whose name I think is Robert, belongs to Adam. Adam really likes bologna sandwiches, but he only likes the first bite. So Robert's job is to continually make bologna sandwiches throughout the course of the panel. He is not joking. There is, in fact, lots of bread, bologna, cheese, and condiments behind us.
Intern #2 belongs to Morgan. "I'm a little worried," she says, "because you might like Crisis Core. You do, don't you." So Caitlin's job is to play Crisis Core on a PSP throughout the course of the panel. She is not joking. Leffler does, in fact, hand her a PSP.
Intern #3 (that's me!) belongs to Blair. He hasn't decided what he wants me to do yet, though. So my job is to hang out. "Do not make eye contact with Adam, though," he says. "Do not do that."
The panel goes to Q&A, and I can't really pay attention to all the interesting and amusing questions and answers because I am an intern. You can watch the panel, but you can't see what's going on off to the side. That's where I am. That's where Caitlin is having trouble turning the PSP on and getting the game to work until someone in the front row helps her out. That's where Robert is going crazy on his sandwiches. He's making six at a time on three plates, placing slices of bread on all of them, then condiments, then cheese, then meat.
"These don't look very good," says the moderator. "And also, let's put only one per plate. One per plate."
"I have a system!" cries Robert.
The moderator takes a plate with a sandwich. "Who wants a sandwich?" he says. He looks around and sees the sound guy raising his hand, so he goes and gives him the sandwich. Robert puts plates in my hands. I don't know what to do with them. Especially because the panelists are talking about having brought the bologna down from Los Angeles, and it's probably not a good idea to eat it.
But people are still raising their hands for sandwiches, so I go give them sandwiches. I spend a lot of the panel delivering bologna sandwiches to people. People are really excited about getting these sandwiches, actually; it's very fun. Hey, free food, right? Robert does deliver Adam his sandwiches, and, true to his word, he only takes one bite.
So Robert takes them back. And he holds them up and declares, "Adam Sessler took a bite out of these sandwiches. $100!" This guy is much less inhibited than I am. I am standing around with my arms at my side, unsure what to do, and he's making the audience laugh.
"Actually, you know what, you might have a job lined up at X-Play," says the moderator.
I go and check in on Caitlin periodically. She's having trouble getting out of the room so she can kill people. I'm not sure she has played the game before.
Robert also asks me to help him open packages of bologna and, when that runs out, turkey. They are pretty fucking hard to open.
Blair notices. "Hey, intern, are you helping the other interns?"
This is my chance! The focus is on me! Say something funny, be hilarious, uh, oh, er, I am not Robert. "I've got nothing to do, man!" I say weakly.
"I know," says Blair. "That's the point."
"You're supposed to sit there," says Morgan. THIS IS THE FIRST THING MORGAN WEBB HAS EVER SAID TO ME. It...is not what I have chosen.
"You know what?" says Blair. "Give me a banana...give me a banana smoothie...with, like, you know those square caramels you ate when you were a kid? But leave the wrapper on it." Then he relents. "No, you know what, just hang out. I'll think of something else."
I try to be less helpful, but Robert keeps thrusting lunch meat into my hands, and I can't refuse to open it for him. I am a helpasaur, after all. I hope Blair doesn't notice.
The plant has his moment, as he asks what a typical day at X-Play is like, and the moderator says, "Funny you should ask that, because we actually brought a little something for you." He puts on A Day in the Life of X-Play, which is pretty hilarious. I go over and sit on the steps to the stage with Caitlin so we can watch the screen. The video features Drunk Link! Hurrah!
Back to questions! One guy says, "This is for Adam. Can you just give me a 5 out of 5? And say it in your voice?"
Adam asks for his name. Cole. And after a short countdown: "Cole gets a 5...out of 5."
Caitlin says, "That's my brother!" Cool!
I am tired of having nothing to do, so I start acting really bored, slouching and putting on a very bored expression. I pull out my phone and start looking through my text messages. I have nothing better to do, after all.
The moderator does notice. "Blair, you have your intern over here. Do you have any idea what you want him to do?"
Blair: "Uhhhhhhhh...nope, not yet."
The moderator goes to a trivia question so people can win shirts.
He's about to go to another question when Blair interrupts. "You know what you want your intern to do?"
Blair: "Just come on over here, and shave my chest."
Blair begins unbuttoning his shirt, so I guess he's serious. I go up to the stage, where Leffler hands me an electric razor. I flip the switch. It doesn't seem to turn on. Leff says he charged it all night.
Meanwhile, Blair continues, "I'm going to get you to...anybody here with an X-Play T-shirt on, by any chance?" No one does. Adam sees someone with by the wall. Blair calls him up. I am messing with the razor, and I missed what he said. Blair looks at me. "Yeah, dude, seriously. If things go wrong..."
Leff turns the razor on; I didn't hit the right switch. He hands me the attachments as well, but another guy says I don't need them, since I'm only going to shave his neck. Now I'm confused as to what I'm supposed to do and how far I'm supposed to take this. But I am the one with a razor in my hand.
It's a shame I don't hear the next thing Blair says very well either.
"We're going to have him stand up here as well, and we're going to shave one of those X's into my chest, and it better be freaking perfect." Kristin and Morgan joke about his lack of chest hair. The guy from the wall comes up, and I don't know what he's doing there. I'm doing the shaving, right? Is he helping somehow?
"Um, why haven't we started shaving, intern?" says Blair. Leff brings me a towel to put on Blair's lap. Adam jokes that Blair is not endorsing X-Play with the X; he's marking where he buried the treasure.
The show is called X-Play. Multiple people have used the letter X in my vicinity. Still, somehow, I hear S. And I think he wants me to shave the Superman S into his chest.
"Always maintain eye contact with me," he says. I look right into his eyes as I lightly move the razor in the shape of an S on his chest. He strokes my face with his fingers. I don't want to really shave too much because I'm still unclear on how far they want me to go. Blair removes my glasses and puts them on. "Now I can see through your eyes," he says.
He asks how it looks. "He's not doing a very good job," says Morgan. MORGAN WEBB IS CRITICIZING MY CHEST-SHAVING SKILLS. I AM A FEW FEET AWAY FROM HER. WORST WAY TO MEET A TV GIRLFRIEND EVER.
Blair takes off my glasses and puts them on the table. "I love how we have an hour and a sixth of this is him shaving my chest." The moderator is checking in on the other interns as well. How is Crisis Core going? How about those bologna sandwiches? Ha, he can't open the lunch meat packages without me!
Since I am still unclear on what my duty is, I simply go back to the original order, which was "Shave my chest." And I just go for it. "Watch the nipple, watch the nipple," he says. I go up the middle. "Oh, that's good."
The buzz of the electric razor is my entire world. I do not know what is going on with the sandwiches. I do not know the status of Adam's blood sugar. I do not know whether Caitlin has beat Crisis Core yet. There is the razor, and there is Blair's chest. And there is the fact that I don't have my glasses on, so I can't see clearly. I look for hair, and I shave it. They have not told me stop.
"Is it weird if I do this?" says Blair. He breathes heavily into the microphone. I ask him if it's weird if I do it too, and I match his breathing.
"Take your hand out of my pocket," says Blair. I pull my left hand into view and wave it. "Morgan, how's this looking?" he asks. He jokes about the last time they did this, or was it with Adam.
And he finally catches on: "I think he's now just shaving everything on me."
"Yeah, mm-hm, he is," says Morgan.
"All right, man, that's cool," says Blair. "Then let's just go to the stomach. Let's just get this done, you know what I mean?" So he leans back and stretches so I can shave down to the stomach. I do.
"You're supposed to be making an X like that," says Morgan, pointing to the guy with the X on his shirt standing right there.
"I can't see!" I say to her, motioning to my glasses-less eyes.
They go back to questions as I continue working on Blair's shoulders. I am just shaving all around now. "Your idea," says Morgan. After the question, she looks back and comments, "You're going to be very itchy." She again points out that it was supposed to be an X. I can't bring myself to say anything. I just keep shaving.
During one question, I retrieve my glasses. "Don't stop," says Blair. I put my glasses on. And now I can see how very red his chest is, oh my God, what have I done. He is going to be very itchy.
"I'm terribly, terribly sorry," I say. Once I think I've shaved about as much as I can shave, I stop, standing by him with razor in hand.
Blair asks someone in the audience if they can let me go now. He says it's fine, but I missed a spot. "Just a little bit right there?" Blair points. I shave.
"Be careful for the nipple," says the moderator.
After I'm done, Blair says, "All right, I feel good about this. Round of applause for the intern." Applause! For me! "He's going to need so much therapy after this."
I look for the box and stuff to return the razor, as Leff and the other guy aren't paying me attention. And then I leave the stage to go back to delivering sandwiches and watching Caitlin play PSP.
I can pay more attention to the panel now that my duty is accomplished. Like one kid asks what everyone's favorite genres are. Blair says, "I like romantic comedies." The kid clarifies that he means videogame genres. When it comes around to Blair, he answers, "I just really like romantic comedies." Hee. As for movie genres, though, many of them are horror fans, which pleases Caitlin, who is also a horror fan.
By this point, everyone in my vicinity who wants a sandwich has gotten one, so I start taking them to the back of the room. I ask if a dog wants a sandwich. He does not. People are still excited about these sandwiches. "Hey, Sandwich Guy!" someone calls. I feel so useful!
Then it is time for the final question, and it goes to a girl dressed as Poison Ivy. "Hi, my name is Hilary. I'm really hungry; can I have a sandwich?" Heeee. She gets one of the ones that Adam took a bite from, as they're the only ones left.
When the panel is over, we interns go over to the podium. Leff says we get to keep the intern shirts—awesome!—and he also gives us real X-Play shirts. Sweet! I tell him that I love Drunk Link, so it's great to meet him. As the other panelists leave the stage, I try to accost them. To Blair, I say, "I'm so, so sorry." He says it's all right, I was awesome. I say hi to Adam as he walks by. To Morgan, I say, "I'm sorry for shaving a chest next to you." She says it's all right, it was great. I hoped for at least a few seconds of quality time with Adam and Morgan, but alas. I am merely a lowly intern.
A lowly intern who totally met Drunk Link!
There is a pair of mystery glasses. "Intern wore glasses," someone says, but I am wearing mine. We are not sure whose they are. Rawles and I fight to get out; the room was completely full, standing room only. We are handed a cool little poster on the way out. Aw, man, now I wish I could get it signed, but I don't have any room in my schedule.
And now it is goodbye to Rawles!
I book it to the Autograph Area, and Stephen Tobolowsky is finally there!
He's charging $20 for a signing and $5 for a picture with him. I have my Groundhog Day DVD, but I'm not paying $20 to get it signed. So I just go up and say that it's great to meet him, as I love Groundhog Day, which is my default favorite movie, so I love seeing him in other things like Heroes and Deadwood. I don't know what else to say, so I repeat that it's great to meet him, and I'll let someone else go now. He thanks me for coming and telling him. Aw.
Now, it is time to go for glory and attempt to get into Hall H! I walk really fast, but, man, I have to stop and take a picture of this awesome Carmen Sandiego.
I will see another Carmen Sandiego later, but she will not be this sexy.
Getting to the Hall H line means going aaaaaaall the way to the end of the convention center and then going outside. I find the line. I ask the guy if there's any hope of getting in. He says the room isn't full, but the line is "short." Relatively, I suppose. I'm over two hours early for the Joss/J.J. panel and five hours early for the Scott Pilgrim panel, so I decide to try my chances.
I find the end of the line. I am behind a guy who's waiting for the Expendables panel. Behind me comes a girl who asks, in all seriousness, whether she has a chance of getting front-row seats. I try not to be incredibly condescending when I ask her if it's her first Comic-Con. It's her first real Comic-Con, as she just snuck in last year.
I call Seanan to find out what she's doing. She's having lunch with Tanya Huff. "Like, the author?" I ask. Yes, exactly like the author. I guess that's what happens when, you know, you're an author.
An announcement is made. They have closed the line for Salt. We are now in line for Red. Whatevs, I'm in line for Joss and J.J.! It's certainly heartening that they keep letting people in. People told me so many horror stories about the Hall H line!
We move from the beside the tent to right inside the tent, where we are herded into a column. There are four columns. They must be letting the columns in in order rather than having one really long line. We sit down. Behind us is...the Rocketeer!
But even better is that he's there with...Harley and Elastigirl! I chat them up and ask about their ribbons. They've won awards from the Costume Guild or something, and with good cause! They are great costumes, and they made them themselves. Elastigirl says that Harley's bat is the best accessory ever because when they need to look for her in a crowd, she just raises her bat in the air.
I notice the Avatar art book in Elastigirl's bag. She says she brought it in case they were signing. Having looked at the Dark Horse signing schedule, I know they are! I tell her they're signing at Dark Horse, and she needs to get a ticket, but I don't remember exactly what time or day. But she can go by the booth and check. She says that last year they were hanging out and taking picture with people in costume. I know! I tell her about meeting Sifu Kisu. She mentions that she was dressed as a Kyoshi Warrior last year.
Waaaaait a second. "Were you with an Iroh?" I ask. She was. "I think I took a picture of you last year!" She describes the details of her costume, but I don't remember. I'm sure I'm right, though, because she had an awesome costume last year too.
How nuts is it that I ran into her again?
We talk about more Comic-Con wackiness, like random celebrity meetings and such, which is the fun of events like this. I tell them about the woman who made a Weeping Angel costume that scared Jewel Staite.
We're having such a good time in line, it's almost disappointing that they let us in! I was only in line for, like, an hour. I HAVE CONQUERED YOU, HALL H LINE!
The hall is not the unnameable abyss I imagined it to be. I search for a seat near the front, but I settle for one in front of a giant screen. I can always move up between panels. Once I secure a seat, I use the restroom. Because Hall H has its own restroom. It also has its own lobby with its own food carts. But I made it in you, Hall H. You are not so terrifying. Now I will be cocky next year and fail miserably, watch.
Now, there are enough write-ups of these big panels that I don't need to recap them. Hell, you can probably watch the whole thing on YouTube. I can provide highlights.
Warren Ellis, on how he feels about Hollywood making a movie out of his graphic novel: "They gave me a lot of money!" He also awesomely makes fun of Mark Millar for writing comic books specifically to be made into movies.
Karl Urban is so dreamy! He gets a lot of "Wooooo!!!"s at his entrance, and as soon as he sits down at his microphone, he says, "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?" This is clearly not his first con.
Mary-Louise Parker is so pretty! She says that no, she doesn't get to do much comedy in this movie. She's usually running away from explosions or being saved from disaster.
Helen Mirren is awesome. She wears a Harvey Pekar shirt and sings his praises when prompted to explain her shirt. She also uses the word "shit-scared."
Bruce Willis!! This is his first Comic-Con, and I am there! He's a little dry, sadly, not super entertaining. But he repeatedly says that working with these folks is "like recess."
They show us the new trailer, and it's pretty cool. They show it to us twice, even.
I get a ticket for something from the Fulfillment Room! Oooh. I wonder what it is. The Fulfillment Room is in the San Diego Marriott this year, which is very inconvenient, but I will see what I can do.
Before the Joss/J.J. panel, the interim music includes "Something to Sing About" and "Laundry Day." Hee. I sing along, and the guy next to me gives me a funny look, as if he is surprised I know the words. The girl behind me says, "What is this music and why I am being subjected to it?" Who are these people?
This much-anticipated panel is moderated by none other than Doc Jensen! And you really can watch this entire panel on YouTube, so I will not recap it extensively.
Joss and J.J. do know each other. They've had dinner (OMG, I wonder what that's like), but they haven't really talked. They should be best friends! Come on!
This is my first time seeing J.J., and he has a lot of fun stories to tell. He has a very different personality from Joss. Joss has his wacky self-deprecation thing, but J.J. is more of a serious guy, though he does have a sense of humor. For instance, he says he used to work in a comic book store, and one day the owner gave him the keys for some reason, and he really wanted to steal a bunch of stuff, but he didn't. And later on in his career, he got a call from Spielberg, who wanted him to unsplice some of his old films, films that no one had ever seen before. And he really wanted to steal a cel, but he didn't. He quips, "My childhood involved a lot of almost-theft."
I am totally in the room when Joss Whedon officially announces he is directing The Avengers! That's right, I hear it about ten seconds before the rest of the world finds out about it on Twitter. He did not work in a comic book store, but he sure read comics. His dad gave him Spider-Man comics when he was a kid, which he equated to giving a kid meth. He was hooked. He invoked an underrated Avengers Annual, "Death of Warlock," as the best superhero storytelling in comics.
Oh, here are some choice lines I wrote down:
J.J., on hearing that Joss doesn't write second drafts: "You don't write second drafts? Bastard!"
J.J., when Joss doesn't know what Rambaldi is: "It's from Alias, Joss. A show on ABC. Ran for five seasons. Five glorious seasons!"
Joss, on Star Trek: "I have moments of sheer fucking panic, I love Star Trek so much. It's the gold standard for a team movie, a summer movie, any movie. You need to hear this."
The very last person in the Q&A is a girl whose brother asked her to review his work until she gave him some criticism, and now he doesn't send her anything.
J.J.: "What's his number?" Haaaa. How awesome/terrible would it be to get a call from J.J. Abrams calling you a whiny bitch?
Joss: "How fun is getting notes?!" They agree that her brother needs to get over himself and take criticism better.
Overall, it's a nice panel, though not as MINDBLOWING as one would have hoped.
Although I was unsuccessful before, enough people clear out after the panel that I'm able to move many rows up. I secure a seat with one bag and see if I can move even closer, but I can't. When I return, I find I have a seatmate to my left: the guy I was waiting in the Hall H line with! This is basically the theme of this year's Comic-Con: running into random people I meet.
To my left is a cute blonde girl named Haley. She also has a schedule printed out! Hee. She's going to a lot of animation panels because that's what she wants to get into. Ooh, Comic-Con as professional development (actually, there are law-related talks at Comic-Con that you can receive CLE credit for, ha!). She's an intern at Cartoon Network, and she's also working the booth.
HEY YOU GUYS IT'S HARRY KNOWLES! This is less exciting than Doc Jensen, even though I have known about Harry Knowles for longer. Doc Jensen is cooler now, sorry. Still, I read AICN back in the day like everyone else, so it's still pretty cool. He's very Texan. He introduces the cast of The Expendables, which I have little interest in.
But Sylvester Stallone is pretty cool, actually. He's more entertaining than Bruce Willis, and he actually sounds intelligent when he talks about directing.
I have no idea who this Terry Crews guy is, but when he enters, he takes off his shirt, stands on the table, and flexes his pecs, doing that freaky pumping thing. Later on, he does the same thing with his biceps and crows about the "gun show" we are being witness to.
Steve Austin actually broke Sly's neck while filming the movie. Sly had to get three screws put in. In accidental retaliation, he almost blew Steve up in another scene. Run away from those bombs! They're really exploding!
There is quite a bit of hoo-hah over Sly and Dolph being together, but I haven't seen any of the Rocky movies, so it's largely meaningless. It's amusing anyway. They tease us with an arm-wrestling match but don't actually go through with it. Or maybe it's with Steve Austin.
I also have no idea who this Randy Couture guy is. But he is in this movie, which actually looks kind of cool from the clips they show us.
Bruce Willis makes a not-unexpected surprise appearance to say hi and thank Sly for having him in the movie, but he doesn't stay, which is only right since he's barely in the movie, no matter what the trailers may tell you. Sly wanted to do one scene with Bruce and one scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he couldn't make it work until Bruce suggested they put them both in the same scene, and then it all came together.
During the Q&A, there is a woman with a handmade DOLPH shirt. It is hideous and frightening. (In Hall H, they actually show the questioners on the big screen! It's cool! And crazy! And it's how we recognize the same guy asking a question in every single panel.)
As soon as the Expendables panel is over, I try to see if I can find a seat in the front section. The thing is, I can. I just can't claim them in time. Five or six singles pass me by as someone else more assertively asks if the seat is free. Hell, there is even a double that I just miss. It's very annoying, but my seat is pretty good anyway. And when I return, Haley and I have a new companion, a dude whose name is Dakota. Not like Dakota Fanning, but like North Dakota and South Dakota.
Before the panel starts, bags of pins are being passed down the row. The large screen tells us to just take a pin and pass it along, no trading. The pins have little 8-bit versions of the movie characters. I get Lucas Lee. We compare pins. Haley and Dakota appear to have taken extra pins with a 1-UP on them.
This panel is also on YouTube, and it's worth watching just for Edgar Wright.
Edgar Wright should moderate everything. He's hilarious, and he begins by asking himself when he first heard about Scott Pilgrim. "Well, that's interesting." It was when the first book came out, actually.
He brings out Bryan Lee O'Malley first, and because they have so many panelists, they only have time for one-word answers. So, Bryan, how weird is it to be in Hall H with thousands of people? "Very," he says.
Edgar proceeds to introduce the cast members in little groups, and we get movie clips featuring their characters.
And then he asks questions that require one-word answers, like "On a scale from 1 to disapproving, how disapproving are you of Scott Pilgrim's actions within the film?" (Anna: 5. Aubrey: 7. Kieran: 4.)
I want Brandon Routh's shirt. His body too, but also his shirt.
The exes were asked how much they enjoyed beating Scott Pilgrim's head into the curb. (Satya: 10,000 points. Mae: Achingly. Brandon: Devilishly. Jason: Comic-Conishally!)
Aw, Ramona and Knives. Edgar asks them to describe in one word their feelings for Scott. "It's complicated," says Mary. "Scottaholic," says Ellen.
And then, Edgar has a special announcement: "Also appearing in this film, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost." And Simon Pegg and Nick Frost take the stage! And the crowd goes wild! And it's awesome! And then Edgar says, "Sorry, guys, that should have read, not appearing in this film, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost." Ahahahaha. Simon and Nick leave dejectedly.
Chris Evans is noticeably absent, and Edgar explains that he's shooting Captain America right now. But what we do not know is that Michael Cera auditioned for Captain America, and he was in the top 500. Aaaaaand enter Michael Cera.
Oh, Michael Cera.
After Michael is questioned, Edgar asks, "Who wants to see a clip from the film?"
"That's like asking, 'Who likes chocolate?'"
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!
"But really, who likes chocolate?"
I love you, Edgar Wright.
It's time for Q&A, and Edgar says that anyone who asks a two-part question will be shot. There are snipers. He is very strict about this, sometimes clarifying that something is a statement and a question, not two questions, so the person is safe. One person is caught with a two-part question, and that person is shot. Okay, not really, but we were afraid. Okay, not really.
People can't keep a straight face when asking Michael Cera questions because he looks so ridiculous. One girl asks, "How did you maintain your trademark physique while doing all that training?"
"Is that an insult?" he says. "Or a compliment? I can't tell." I can't either! I think it's sort of a backhanded compliment.
You guys, Brandon Routh is really fucking attractive. I mean, seriously. "This question is for Superman," begins one girl.
Yeah, I don't know what's up with the moustache.
Michael Cera, you are so ridiculous. He and Jason Schwartzman joke about a mythical shower scene they filmed over months.
It's cool to have almost the entire cast there, but it means that we don't get to hear a lot from each of them.
Mae Whitman, movie star!
They may be fighting over Scott in the movie, but in real-life, they seem like buddies!
Anna Kendrick is pretty!
Look at that giant screen! It's huge!
Anyway, Kieran Culkin relates the story of how Edgar Wright prepared him for his guy-kissing scene. He assured him it would be a closed set and everything would be comfortable. And then when it came time to actually do the scene, Edgar decided that, you know, it's "no big deal," and he kissed him.
"I took one for the team!" says Edgar. How many of his cast members did Sly kiss, he wonders.
Even though I manage to not get a picture of a single one, Ramona Flowers is clearly this year's "in" costume. There are a million of them. My sample size is biased since my Comic-Con is very Scott Pilgrim-focused, but still. There are a lot. As well as some Scotts and some evil exes, mostly Todd Ingram and Roxy Richter, as they have very distinctive outfits. It's kind of nuts seeing costumes for this movie that hasn't even come out yet, costumes built solely from the trailers. Pretty cool.
Aw, Knives Chau (17 Years Old).
"Who wants to see a clip from the movie?" says Edgar.
"Who wants to see the whole movie?"
Unfortunately, he can't fit everyone in Hall H in the theatre, but if you have a 1-UP pin, follow him as he leaves the stage, and he'll be showing the movie in 45 minutes.
Haley and Dakota are both ecstatic at their pins. Dakota suspected they were special. I DON'T HAVE ONE.
Then the guys ahead of us turn to us and ask if anyone in our group doesn't have a pin. ME. ME. ME. He gives me one. A WINNER IS ME OMG.
The three of us high-five. Dakota tries to give me a manly fist-bump, and I fail a couple times before I realize what he wants me to do.
There is a map on the large screen showing the location of the Balboa Theatre. Edgar says that they will be showing the movie again on Friday and Saturday at 6:30. As he leaves the stage, another clip from the movie begins, but what the fuck, we do not care!
We follow the long line out of the hall and outside. I know where the theatre is, as it's right by the Westfield like the San Diego Rep. You just go staight up 4th. But we see the long line heading across the way to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Edgar did say something about going across the street, right? Maybe the Balboa Theatre is where the other screenings will be, but this one is in the Indigo Ballroom! That would explain how he could fit so many people. We follow the line to the hotel. I call Seanan and tell her that, uh, I will not be joining them for dinner since I am going to see the Scott Pilgrim movie. She understands. This is the way of Comic-Con.
Oddly enough, as we wait to get in, who should walk next to me but Kristin Adams. She does not recognize me as Intern #2. I don't know what she's doing here or whether she's looking for the screening.
Then, suddenly, a guy bursts out the door and yells, "We followed the wrong line!"
Haley, Dakota, and I run like fucking hell now. We run all the way back to the convention center. Dakota's pin falls to the ground, and I pick it up and scream his name. Mine is safely in my pocket. We run down the stairs, we run across the street, and then we run the living fuck up 4th. Haley is the most spry among us; she swerves around the crowd and avoids obstacles, jumping on and off the sidewalk. It's like a fucking videogame, appropriately enough. My backpack is heavy, and I am old and unfit. I am out of breath, and my heart is beating so rapidly I think I might die. Seriously, at some points, I think I might have a heart attack and die. But we keep running and running and running, and we finally reach the theatre.
We find a line to stand in. I hear someone mention a "standby line" and hope we're not too late. Edgar did not mention anything about a first-come, first-serve policy. And speaking of Edgar, holy crap, he is right there.
Of course, we cannot bring cameras in, so Haley and I are shuttled to the right to go check them in. There is a table manned by three or four men. I remove the memory card just in case, and I give the man my camera. He puts it in a large manila envelope with my name and phone number. I hope catastrophe doesn't strike, but I am not about to argue right now.
We are let in a side door, and a man scans us with a metal detector, and we're good, and then we're in! And they have refreshments waiting for us! Oh God, I need some bottled water. And some popcorn would be nice too. To our surprise, the theatre is not fully packed already. We get really nice seats in the fifth or sixth row, dead center. We ran! We won!
Haley saves seats for a couple friends, one of whom never shows up. I realize they never even checked for our pins. Haley asks for my pin to try to sneak someone in, but it turns out he already has some sort of awesome pass anyway. I make sure to get my pin back from her, as it is an awesome souvenir.
We rest as Dan the Automator—heeeey, I know that name!—and his pal Kid Koala spin some tracks onstage. This is a really nice theatre, and it's really big. There's a second floor and everything.
For pre-show entertainment, we get a couple volunteers having a one-armed pillow fight. Haley and her friend fill in some reporter or someone on the Tron: Legacy viral goings-on; they have tickets for Flynn's Arcade tonight.
Finally, Edgar Wright comes out. We cheer. He apologizes for losing us (later, I will learn that he made a stop at his hotel room, which is why the line went to the hotel). "Raise your hand if that was the most exercise you've had in a while." I raise my hand, for, lo, it is true, and I am nearly dead.
Edgar says that they just finished the movie, and we are the first people to see it. He tells us that he'll be back out after the credits, and then the real-life Clash at Demonhead, Metric, will perform.
OMG WHAT HOLY CRAP THAT IS AMAZING.
Dakota and I high-five again. EXCITEMENT.
The lights go down, and the movie comes up. The Comic-Con premiere of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and we are watching with Edgar Wright and the cast. They will hear our every reaction, and ooh, we perform admirably. We cheer the crap out of every name, every entrance. We cheer every time Scott wins a battle. We laugh a whole lot. But none of it is really a performance because the movie is deserving of our enthusiasm. Honestly, it's hard for me to even judge the movie in this context because A) I just read through the entire series recently so I see it all through a "This is the same, this is different" lens and B) the experience is so overwhelming that the movie is almost secondary. I am in a movie theatre with hundreds of like-minded Scott Pilgrim fans, with Bryan Lee O'Malley, with Edgar Wright, with Michael Cera and everyone else. And we're all laughing and cheering together. It's something special, not easily put into words.
We give the movie a standing ovation, and after the credits finish rolling, Edgar Wright comes out with the cast (Michael Cera has taken off the Captain America costume). I am envious of the people who managed to sneak cameras in; I have no photographic evidence of one of my most awesome Comic-Con experiences. Edgar thanks us.
And then he introduces Metric! The screen rises, and there they are, ready to rock! It's Dakota's first time seeing them. It's my third. And they sound really good. Loud and rockin'. The Balboa Theatre is a good venue.
They start out with "Black Sheep," the song from the movie. We're all standing now. They do "Help I'm Alive," Gold Guns Girls," and a very extended version of "Dead Disco," longer than I've ever heard.
The best part of it all is that I look up, and I can see Edgar Wright standing on the second floor watching the show. And I can see Anna Kendrick rocking out and mouthing the words. She's a Metric fan! It's slightly surreal, watching her. Actors are normal people too, and all.
It's a short set, and we're hungry for more, but even though we clap and clap, there is no encore. The house lights finally come up, and we direct our applause to the people upstairs. Which includes the guy who plays Comeau, even.
We exeunt omnes. The line to retrieve our cameras moves surprisingly quickly, and when I get to the table, I find that all the envelopes are separated into little bins by the first letter of the last name. I tell them my name, and we find my envelope, and I take my camera without having to show ID. "Thanks for being efficient," I tell them, and I mean it. I'm really impressed.
"It's all downhill from here," says Dakota. And he's right. How can anything possibly top this?
I consider going back to my hotel room and staying there, not wanting to ruin my Scott Pilgrim high, but I call to see if anyone is at cool parties. Seanan and Amy and Tara are at the Boom! party at the Hilton Bayside [sic] in the Odysea Lounge, so I drop my stuff off at the hotel and head on over. I search all around and don't see them, but then I spy them outside.
I walk behind them and put my arms around Amy and Tara. "Where your bitches at?" comments Seanan.
They are chatting with Paul Cornell, of Doctor Who fame, and his wife, Caroline. Paul is very nice and very British. Of course I have to tell everyone where I just came from. Paul asks me how the movie was, and I tell him it was awesome. Caroline says she's heard of Metric, someone sent her a song once. I tell her they're great and she should definitely listen to them.
Seanan and Amy leave. Javi is purportedly on his way, but Paul also decides to call it a night. So it's just me and Tara. Tara, who knows everyone. She tries to come up with people she doesn't know, and fails. Hell, as we walk around the lounge, she refers to "Waid" over there, and I say, "Like Mark Waid?" Yes, she means Mark Waid. They're on a last-name basis.
I don't recognize anyone famous at the party, but I don't know what a lot of famous writers look like, after all.
Javi claims he's on his way, and then he claims he's there, but we can't find him. We look everywhere. And then we look again. And then finally I discover him outside where we were talking with Paul in the beginning. Geez! Javi gives me a hug and introduces us to the people he's chatting with. One of them worked on Wolverine. He asks Javi what he looks for in a spec script, as a showrunner. Talking shop at a party! Craziness! Networking!
We go inside, where Javi introduces Tara and me to some people sitting in chairs. We have Geoff, a big black guy. Anupam, an Indian dude. ("From Psych?" I ask. How many Anupams are there in Hollywood? Of course it's Anupan Nigam. "I love Psych!") Kerry, who is probably Kerry Glover, but she doesn't seem to recognize me. (Later, I confirm and she remembers; I did look familiar.) And another guy, I think his name is Eric.
I take a seat as they chat. Geoff is describing some episode that Voyager ripped off from an idea he brought them, which leads to lots of geekiness about Voyager. I try to sneak a peek at Geoff's nametag. Is this Geoff...Johns? I didn't think he was black. No, Geoff Thorne.
The conversation changes. CBS always wants their heroes to be right, Geoff says, giving us a direct quote: "America wants to see competent people being competent competently." Ha.
I can join in here, though. "That's like what John Rogers said," I say. "Have you seen Leverage?"
"I write Leverage," he says. ...OMG.
"No, but he asked if you'd seen it," says Anupam. Heh. Geoff knows I'm referring to "competence porn," and that's different.
Geoff is pretty entertaining. He tells us about the geeky conversations he has at the comic book store and how this one guy didn't believe that he had written Star Trek novels. He owned them all! And he checked his bookshelf, and...sure enough. He just couldn't believe that he, the guy who argues with him about comic book minutiae, wrote them.
And then Geoff and Anupam get into a supergeeky argument over who would win in a fight, Superman or Thor. Geoff says Thor's a GOD, so he wins. Anupam is wearing a Superman shirt, so he obviously champions him. Thor is just a dentist without his hammer! They talk about other ridiculous, implausible yet canonical match-ups and their outcomes. Geoff espouses a theory that Superman is actually from the Marvel universe, and that's why he's so powerful in the DC universe.
I tell Anupam about being friends with Dahlia (who worked on Psych). I learn that he left Psych for an NBC pilot that didn't get picked up. Aw. "Are you a writer?" he asks.
"I don't write...important things," I say. But I give him my card, and he gives me his.
It's been fun chatting, but I am tired, and when Javi leaves, Tara and I head out with him. He offers a pedicab $8 to take him back to his hotel. Will he do it? He will. Tara is insane and actually heads to another party. I walk back to the hotel alone and crash mightily.
I'm already ready for Comic-Con to be over, I'm so tired and awesomed. But I have three more days to look forward to!