Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Farewell My Comic-Concubine

It was a harrowing weekend, to be sure. If you are up for it, hear my tale. Spend several thousand words for me. In fact, some of those thousands of words will be in the form of pictures. Yes, although I did not dress Blinky up, he got taken out somewhere fun. Feel free to skip the sections that don't interest you.

My flight was to leave from OAK Friday evening at 7:35, and having to wait for public transportation made me anxious that I would be late. Luckily, I had checked in online. Unluckily, my flight was delayed until 8:25.

I called dahliam (Dahlia), who responded, "Awesome!" This kind of spoiled our plans to wait and eat dinner together. So I had a Gourmet 360° Burrito.

Now. The major reason I even bother to include the airport in my narrative is because I like to record when weird things happen to me. Weird things like, for instance, running into a girl you've seen on the Emery Go Round for months. Who just happens to be on your flight. And sitting in the row behind yours. So bizarre! But now we know each other's names.

Los Angeles at night from a plane looks a big sprawling sea of lights. It's very much a City.

Dahlia picked me up from LAX. Unfortunately, I had caught her in a misanthropic phase, so I tried not to take offense at the lack of filter that normally keeps people from telling me when I'm being annoying. We took the scenic route to Big Wangs, where she needed to make an appearance at a birthday party. Her friends seemed nice and pleasant enough, shaking my hand and introducing themselves. We only stayed for a few minutes since we needed to get to sleep. Early start Saturday morning, after all.

Saturday morning, I had some of Dahlia's banana nut muffins for breakfast. We headed out around 6:15 to pick up aprilbegins (April). On the way, I saw this:

The sign awesomely changed to "Have you seen these fugitives?" I thought it was a very cool piece of marketing, and it made me all excited for Prison Break. It was appropriate to geek out about television that morning, after all.

About halfway to April's, Dahlia realized she forgot her pre-registration print-out, so we turned back and got it. Then we picked up April and headed to Albertsons for provisions. I picked up a couple sandwiches.

Dahlia and April needed to caffeinate at the nearby Starbucks, which was our next stop. It was here that someone first noticed my shirt, which the lovely jeeperstseepers sent me. The cashier read it: "'I'm famous on the Internet.' I love that!"

The drive to San Diego was generally uneventful. We got in later than intended and searched for parking. We saw a group of Vs (for Vendetta) in a parking lot.

I called cadhla (Seanan) to find out where she was. "SUNIL!" she squealed. I'm not just being colorful. She and her crew were on their way. raelee (Rae) was designated Queen of Has a Seat Island because she had the buttons. Seanan told me she would be wearing her Go Pirates shirt.

Dahlia, April, and I walked toward the convention center.

As we crossed the trolley tracks, I turned around and saw a Go Pirates shirt. Heh, I thought. Rae was wearing a Go Pirates shirt. Of course, because this is my life, IT WAS RAE. I called to her but had no time to stop, as we were already late for the Lost panel and needed to pick up our badges. We saw a huuuuuuuge line, but we figured it had to be for the silly people who hadn't pre-registered online. We walked several hundred feet to the beginning of that line...and didn't see another line. We asked the fatal question.

That line was for the pre-registered folks. So we followed the line backward. We walked.

And walked.

And walked.

And walked.

It was like The Lord of the Rings.

And walked.

And walked.

I want you to notice that the line ended ON THE GRASS. It stretched PAST THE CONFINES OF THE CONVENTION CENTER. Dahlia gave up and went to an air-conditioned bookstore. So it was just me and April. Until April admitted that she hadn't pre-registered. I had joked about her remembering to bring her ticket in the car, and she had said, "That's not funny," and told us she had found it difficult to purchase a day pass, but I assumed that she eventually figured it out. But she hadn't. She had planned to buy the ticket on-site. Which...was its own line. Which meant she had to walk the third of a mile down our line to find her line.

So I was left alone in the heat with two teenage girls dressed as anime characters I didn't recognize and their mom. It was kind of cute, though, to see the younger generation of geeks all excited to attend Comic-Con.

I stood in line for over an hour. This is not an exaggeration. Standing in line, however, afforded me the opportunity to admire shirts and costumes. "Talk Nerdy to Me" emblazoned across girls' chests. "Don't blame me. Blame video games." "I get cramps too" with a picture of an Xbox 360 controller. I caught someone wearing an "Enjoy Logan" shirt. The girls behind me could identify various anime characters. I saw a very cool Darth Vader accompanied by a Stormtrooper, and as soon as the Stormtrooper saw my camera, he immediately turned to me and posed with a hologram figure in his hand. The fluidity of his motion was remarkable.

A guy was passing out issues of, presumably, his comic, The Adventures of Steve. It was Part 2 of 4, but I could still follow it, and it was rather hilarious in parts.

The teenage boy in front of me and the teenage girls behind me had a baffling conversation about the proper pronunciation of Naruto. We all have our own brands of crazy.

Once we got inside, there was even more waiting, but it was air-conditioned waiting. Finally, I received my badge from the cute girl at the badge booth who had no clue where Room 20 was. Room 20 was equivalent to Ballroom 20, though, and there was a very large sign that pointed that one out.

I had completely missed the Lost panel, which was terribly annoying, but I was just in time for the Simpsons panel. Where "just in time" meant it was just about to start, which meant OMG ANOTHER LINE. I even stood in the wrong one for a few minutes. The wrong one was fairly short; it felt okay to stand in. But it was wrong.

I followed the correct line down a few hundred feet. And who should I pass but sweetcynic23 with her awesome hair? You might be getting the impression that running into people you know is easy at Comic-Con, but I am telling you that it is quite a fantastical occurrence.

As I passed one woman, she remarked to her husband, "Did you see his shirt? It says, 'I'm famous on the Internet.'" I turned a corner. And another. And another. I suspected that if I turned another corner I would be right back where I started, but that didn't happen.

Really, they should change the name of that thing to Waiting-in-Line-Con.

As I waited, a man and a woman both in costume and in character passed out stickers. The woman, dressed as the titular Cathy Jones and possibly the creator of the comic, said, "You're famous on the Internet? So am I! What are you famous for?"

I don't know what I answered. I was mostly freaked out.

I noticed a linemate wearing a Metallicar shirt. "Supernatural," I said. "I don't watch the show, but I know the shirt." I asked her if she posted on TWoP. She said she was wynterwolf.

"With a y?" I asked. "I think I've seen you around! I'm Polter-Cow." She had suspected as much; she had been doing the old, "I think I know that guy..."

Such are the benefits of waiting in line. Random TWoP meet-ups!

The line moved. A man who seemed to be ELITE assured as that we would be able to get a seat for the Simpsons panel. A boy who looked like he was in junior high was joining the line not for the Simpsons panel but to ensure a seat for the Bradbury panel afterward. That's hardcore.

I noticed Cathy Jones sitting on the floor by the wall. She gave me a knowing glance, and I didn't understand until I recognized her. Of course, it doubly freaked me out because it also freaks me out when pretty girls look at me and smile.

I got a text message from April, who was in the non-pre-reg line, a line that she had described earlier as three or four times as long as the line I had been in. A line that she now said had stopped because of fire marshals, who predicted a 2-4 hour wait before they would let any more people into the building. Apparently, Comic-Con needs to be in its own small country in order not to break fire codes.

A woman behind me had left her bag in the room to go to the bathroom between panels, and they wouldn't let her back in. She had to wait in line again. Apparently, you were supposed to take some sort of ticket when you left to prove you'd stood in the Line of Doom at least once. When I walked into the room, I was handed a Simpsons movie pin. I asked the lady if she knew where to get a ticket, but she, like the cute badge girl, had no idea. Pretty and unhelpful, that is not how I like my women.

I took a seat and began to eat my lunch. It was halfway through the Simpsons panel, and people were asking incredibly geeky questions like "In the episode where yadda yadda yadda, this happened, and do you ever plan to revisit that?" They were seriously like the questions you hear in parodies of fan conventions. And it is only at these moments that you truly realize that stereotypes are stereotypes FOR A REASON.

There was quite a bit of discussion about Family Guy, of course, as there is an inherent rivalry between the two shows (someone in line for the panel had been carrying a sign for his campaign: "Family Guy Is Not Funny"), but Matt Groening praised the show and was happy for Seth MacFarlane, especially because the return of FG was a sign of the times, a new way to gauge viewer interest.

Someone asked who their favorite musical guests had been. The various Beatles were mentioned. Someone said the Rolling Stones. Groening chose the Ramones, which got a lot of applause. The questioner, I think, said it was awesome when they had Phish on, and a panelist responded, "Yes, we were happy about it too...UNTIL WE LEARNED THEY SMOKED MARIJUANA."

There was a question about the Brazil controversy, and the panel said that there was going to be a callback in a future episode. The questioner was Canadian, and she wanted to know when the Simpsons would visit Canada again. Groening said he was unsure because they seemed to piss off every country they visited.

Someone asked if they would reveal what state Springfield was in since the gag was getting old. This received loud boos of disapproval from the audience, of course. Groening gamely replied, "Oh, it's in Illinois."

We were also treated to two clips from the Simpsons movie, the kind of special treats Comic-Con is known for. They were very raw, more like flip-book sketches, but they were fairly amusing. The first one was a mob around the Simpson house, coming for Homer. The best joke was Homer's fear that the mob would harm Grandpa followed by Abe's "I'm in the mob!" The second clip was more of an official promo that included an introduction by Homer about how the footage was rough and uncolored. It involved Homer riding a dogsled and whipping the dogs vigorously. The best joke was "Why must everything I whip run away?" Second runner-up was "Aargh! That was my whipping hand!"

When the panel was over, I found Seanan and her crew, which included tibicina (Rebecca) and unseenlibrarian (Phil), both of whom I had not met before. And athenacqd (Anna)!! It was good to give her a real hug; we had met in Austin, but we'd only really gotten to know each other in recent months. After securing a seat, I went to talk to sweetcynic23 and sinca, who were seated a few rows back. Also present was mutinousmuse, who is just the cutest little strawberry blonde thing you'll ever see. And if you don't believe me, take a look:

We had met briefly in Austin, where "met briefly" is defined as "passed each other." It was good to hug and introduce ourselves properly.

But there was no time for idle chatter, as the Ray Bradbury/Ray Harryhausen/Forry Ackerman panel was about to begin. Three giants of science fiction, idols and inspirations for many, would relate their tales of yore. They were very old.

There was much discussion of King Kong and why it was still so powerful after all these years. Bradbury said it was because a love story, that it would not work if there were not that connection between beauty and the beast (I mean, it does have one of the most famous last lines in movie history). He was hesitant about Peter Jackson's remake, but within five minutes, he was crying, and not because he was bored to tears but because he saw that the movie was in the hands of a filmmaker who understood the love story. He told us to go see it, goddammit. Also, Bradbury loves dinosaurs.

Harryhausen spoke about a pet project of his, an old black-and-white film from 1935 called She that he had finished colorizing. He said that adding the color made it almost a brand new movie. It was a movie that was supposed to shoot in color but was not shot so because of budgetary restrictions.

Ackerman described the formation of his influential magazine, Famous Monsters. He also reminisced about the time a god descended from Mt. Olympus, and he shook the hand of none other than H.G. Wells. Later, he did his impersonation of H.G. Wells, which I can only assume was spot-on. Also, he has apparently made 208 cameos in films, and he was going to make one in Bradbury's next movie: it was to be his first with a speaking part. Harryhausen asked if he had to get a SAG card, and Ackerman replied that what he did didn't count as "acting." Harryhausen replied that he'd made cameos in three movies, and they'd made him get a SAG card.

Bradbury did remark that production of the new Fahrenheit 451 movie seemed to be underway, as Ben Kingsley had signed on to play the Fire Chief. He said they had gone through seventeen scripts over the years. "Seventeen scripts!" he said. "For Fahrenheit 451? Shoot the book, shoot the book, shoot the book!" That got a rousing response from the audience.

Early on in the Q&A, a very assertive Chinese man stepped up to the microphone. "I have three questions!" he cried. "One for Mr. Harryhausen, and two for Mr. Bradbury! Mr. Harryhausen!" And then he asked his question that I don't remember. "Thank you! My second question! Is for Mr. Bradbury! Mr. Bradbury!" And then he asked his question that I don't remember. "My third question is about the biography written by [whoever]! It says you had a falling out with Robert A. Heinlein! Did you ever reconcile?"

Throughout the Q&A, the moderator had to repeat the question to Bradbury in his ear because he was hard of hearing. It kind of took the oomph out of things. Bradbury had in fact made up with Heinlein after about five years of not speaking.

Bradbury's poor hearing made some of the questioners' experience rather sad. Because one person spoke about how he had become an English teacher because of him. One person told him about the Dandelion Wine tour still going on in his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, and that the people of Waukegan would continue to pass on his stories to the next generation. And these people had waited years, maybe, to say this; they were pouring their hearts out to his man they respected so much...and he couldn't hear them. He had to get a summary from the man sitting next to him. It was very sad, both for the people pouring their hearts out and for Bradbury, who had no glass.

Someone asked Bradbury if there were any up-and-coming sci-fi writers that people should keep an eye on. He said there was one, a boy who had come to him at a signing and asked to correspond with him, Cathy Belben-style. Bradbury became sort of a mentor for him as he went through a couple phases, one of being an artist. Finally, he became a writer who has won more awards than he had, and we probably all knew him: Greg Bear. I had no idea who he was.

For the final question, someone asked the panelists to describe what the creative process felt like. Bradbury gave the obvious, crowd-pleasing answer: "SEX!" And that was that.

It occurs to me now that given that ivyisgilgamesh (Ivy) passed me a note from Seanan during the panel regarding The Plan to acquire seats closer to the front, she must have arrived during the Bradbury panel. So pretend I told you all about it. Likewise, pretend I told you that it was at about this time that April finally made it inside.

Next up was the Stargate: SG-1/Stargate: Atlantis panel, and although I had no interest in either show, I didn't want to lose my seat, so I stayed, and boy howdy was I glad because it turned out to be the most entertaining panel of the day. Even though it is very weird to be sitting in the middle of someone else's crazy fandom.

As she did before every panel, the woman in charge lay down the ground rules regarding taking pictures. They must be taken from your seat; you weren't allowed to rush down the aisles to the stage, as that was a fire hazard, and the fire marshals would clear the room, and that would be bad.

The panel was moderated by Gary Jones, who played the Technician, presumably the one who opened the Stargates. He seemed to be a fan favorite despite his small role on the show, a role he took every opportunity to make a joke out of. He introduced Christopher Judge, whose name I did not recognize but identified as Teal'c when he took the stage.

"Now, I know what they said about fire marshals," he said, "but everyone: rush the stage." He walked up and thrust his arms in the air, a god among men. Fans rushed the stage and took pictures. This guy was awesometastically hammy. Going back to his microphone on the panel table, he said, "For the next hour, we own this stage. We can do whatever we want."

Also on the panel were Nora O'Brien, the VP of original programming for Sci-Fi, and two writers. Christopher Judge affectionately petted Nora at times for reasons I could not fathom. Once he almost put his tongue in her ear. It made Ivy squirm. It did, however, make it hilarious when near the end of the panel, Nora responded to some sort of a comment about "Nora getting what she wants" by...affectionately petting Christopher Judge.

Another great Nora moment was when Christopher Judge struck up a conversation with some girl in the audience about her behavior at parties. It went on for a couple minutes, and Nora hilariously drew her finger across her neck, motioning to Gary to cut him off.

Even the Q&A was entertaining. The first woman stood up and asked, "It's been nearly ten years. When are we going to beat the Furlings?" I had no idea who the Furlings were, but her use of "we" frightened me. These were the crazy science fiction fans my mother would have warned me about had she had any concept of science fiction fans! In response, one of the writers pulled out a piece of paper purportedly printed with topics that were verboten. He rattled off what I can only guess were fake spoilers involving dragons and Wraiths and Farscape scenes, ending each one by actually saying "Do not discuss" or "Do not reveal." Comedy gold!

Some cleverly awkward nerd identified himself as a "long-time watcher, first-time stander-upper."

One man came up and said he was an aerospace tech, and how could they go through so many spaceships so fast? They were going through them faster than he could go through his planes! The writers tried to answer to no avail. "That's one angry technician," said Gary.

For more Gary humor, we turn to the Sci-Fi promo they showed for the tenth season. Afterwards, Gary remarked, "Every time you saw Beau Bridges in a shot, I was just to the left."

It's likely some of the other memorable questions took place during the first half, but I couldn't keep them straight, so they'll be lumped with the Atlantis questioners.

I am sure there was much more Christopher Judge hilarity, but I cannot remember it all. In any case, when the panel finished, the writers graciously acknowledged Nora for her work.

The Atlantis panel had more of the cast, including Joe Flanigan, whom some of you know as Claire's boyfriend, Alex, from Cupid. Most of the entertainment from this panel, however, came from David Hewlitt and Paul McGillion, the men with accents. The latter apparently played the Big Bad Villain of the Universe. They kept calling him "Balls" for some reason. These are the things you don't understand when you go to a panel whose fandom you're not in.

Q&A was even more raucous, as at least two questions were address to David Hewlitt and began, "You're going to hate me." I got the impression that he had been approached to play the Tenth Doctor, since one of the questions was whether he'd ditch his SGA gig if he got a magical call to play the Doctor immediately. His answer was no.

One woman thanked the show for inspiring her to become an aerospace technician. One man expressed his dedication in another way: he lifted his shirt up to display the giant Stargate tattoo on his back. It was colorful and ornate, and it had something appropriate in the middle that someone on the panel actually recognized from that far away.

The writers pulled out a whole new batch of fake spoilers.

There was some discussion of crossover episodes and why there weren't more of them. The questioner thought it was a wasted opportunity. Joe Flanigan noted that the team had to retain their independence, however, because if you call on the SG-1 folks too much, then any time SGA is in trouble, the viewer thinks, why don't they just call SG-1? I like when actors give intelligent answers.

One questioner asked the actors to describe their reactions to getting their jobs. Paul McGillion, I think it was, related his very Scottish phone call home. He kept saying he got a job on Stargate, and his dad kept hearing Star Trek. It's funnier than it sounds.

A woman, who may have prefaced her question with a compliment to the two female actresses on creating two distinct strong female characters, the warrior and the peacemaker, remarked on the varied nationalities of the characters on the show and asked if the cast itself was so diverse. The panelists started throwing out countries represented: England, Scotland, Wales, Tanzania. When Torri Higginson identified herself as Welsh, Gary exclaimed, "You're Welsh? I'm Welsh! Wow, I'm so glad I came to Comic-Con!"

One guy awesomely began to nitpick the hell out of something involving lasers and power grids and all sorts of technobabble until Gary stopped him with a good-spirited: "In the words of William Shatner, get a life!" The guy, a good sport, said that he wasn't good at anything; he couldn't play basketball or do other cool stuff, so he had to nitpick television shows. Gary asked him to finish his question, but the steam had gone. He lamely attemped to wrap up the complicated problem, but it was all over for him. One of the men with accents said, "You were doing well at the beginning there! I've found the key to those long monologues is to get through them as quickly as possible."

Someone asked about behind-the-scenes pranks. David Hewlitt gave the obligatory "Oh, we're very serious" response. Oh yes. They're absolutely serious, they're very professional, and they never, ever make mistakes. Joe Flanigan talked about the time he put rocks in his co-stars' knapsacks all day without their even knowing.

When the panel ended, the writers graciously thanked Tony Optican, VP of development and current programming.

The panel ran long, eating up the half-hour buffer between it and the TV Guide panel and thus destroying any possible socializing time. Especially since it was time to make the mad rush for seats...which was unsuccessful. We held the ground we had already taken valiantly. sweetcynic23 and her crew had moved up to the row ahead of us, and between us both, we had enough seats for everyone. Dahlia finally made it in by this point, too.

The TV Guide panel was to focus on the sci-fi/fantasy/genre television landscape.

Jennifer Love Hewitt is just as pretty and glamorous in person, for the record. And Jorge Garcia is...Jorge Garcia.

A lot of the discussion focused on what seemed to be a renaissance in sci-fi television. There was talk about how there was more focus on character now, which received some rebuttals from the panelists. It was pointed out that there was this odd aversion toward sci-fi on television when sci-fi movies were immensely popular. The top ten grossing movies of all time were primarily sci-fi/comic-book flicks.

Thus, the concept of "stealth sci-fi" was brought up as it related to Lost. Even with all its copycats, they were told to downplay the sci-fi aspects of the shows. Which was interesting in light of Jennifer Love Hewitt's comments on Ghost Whisperer fans, who seemed to much more interested in the mythology of the show, the rivalry between her character and this Wide Brim dude I'd never heard of because what the hell, the show has a mythology? She actually made it sound kind of cool. She was very well spoken, and it was clear she'd put a lot of thought into her role and the show.

The first question was for Jennifer. I forget who said it, but he said, "Of course it is! Yes, she will marry all of you."

The second questioner also addressed her. Or, rather, "Jennifer Love." "I've always felt a special connection to you," he said. "My middle name is also Love." He went on with a tossaway "Jorge? Will you marry me?" This guy was awesome. I forget what his actual question was, though.

One guy made a very insightful point by asking why audiences in recent years seemed to be averse to sci-fi shows set in the future. Nearly all the successful ones were set in the present, and the ones set in the future met an early demise. The panel thought that audiences found it easier to relate to a show set in their own time, which, duh. But I had never really noticed that.

I don't remember much memorable about the other questions. Bryan Fuller mentioned Wonderfalls at one point, and there was more cheering than he had expected, I think. He also got to close the panel with an answer to a question about whether you should write for the cult audience or the mainstream audience: he said you should be writing for yourself, and if you wouldn't watch the show you're writing, you have no business doing it.

Overall, although it wasn't what I was expecting, I found the panel pretty interesting.

Now, now, it was time for the VM panel!! The girls behind me were very excited. "Veronica Mars! Veronica Mars!" they repeated. Anna passed out the fliers for the DVD drive because the people who were going to do it, sadly, couldn't even get in! They'd actually stopped letting people in; that's how full the building was!

It was time to get ready, so I changed into my Echolls Alpaca Farm. Seanan and Rae missed the photo op, however, so I changed back and then stripped again. It looked like this:

Now, I will admit that I am totally cheating with my account of my panel because I have been provided with a transcript by drfaust (Ivan), one that will soon be up on MI.net anyway, so I'll try to give a non-spoilery retelling of the important and memorable parts.

Before the panel, they showed a VM promo we had never seen before.


Really, words cannot do it justice. It began with the scene in "Donut Run" where Lucy Lawless claims to be able to handle one little girl, and then it led into two minutes of how awesome Veronica Mars and Veronica Mars are. Using totally awesome music (Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen's take on the Mission: Impossible theme, David Arnold and Alex Gifford's Moby's take on the James Bond theme ("Backseat Driver")), clever editing, and critic's quotes I hadn't even seen before. It reinvigorated my love of the show. It...God, I love it so much.

Then the panelists arrived.

It should come as no surprise that Jason Dohring was met with many fangirl squeals. Kristen got standing applause, which the moderator, Daniel Manu, referred to as a "rock star reception."

Manu started things off by talking about the "amazing season two," and I didn't try to gauge just how many people in the audience disagreed with that assessment. He wanted to know how people felt when they found out who the killer was going to be. Kristen said that it was brilliant to have the killer in the main titles since that's something you "never ever ever see" (a statement I believe some have challenged, but I won't say with what examples because that would be spoilery). Manu asked if any of them were ever worried that they might be the killer.

Guess who raised his hand? You only get one guess.

Then Kristen related the very amusing story of how she managed to convince Michael the killer was Loretta Cancun for an entire day. I loved that she busted out with a Loretta Cancun reference; she even mentioned that she had only appeared once but was referred to in the pilot.

Manu seemed to have one question prepared for everyone. He asked Rob how tightly plotted season two was, and Rob said, as he's said before, that they knew Beaver was the killer when they introduced him at the end of the first season. Ryan was asked how Dick would react to Beaver's death, and Ryan said Kyle was his buddy (aww), but he didn't know how Dick would react because he doesn't think Dick realizes how much he really loved his brother. Enrico got a question about Keith's relationship with Veronica ("perfect friend" versus "perfect father"), and he and Rob discussed how that relationship would change when she went to college. Jason, in response to the question of how Logan would react to being an orphan, thought it would open up a whole new facet to his character.

Michael was asked what he thought about the inner life of Sheriff Lamb.

"I do what Rob tells me," he said. "There are many copies...of Lamb." Which made no sense at all, but props for the BSG reference.

"Look pretty," Rob told him. "Look pretty."

About that time, Francis arrived, having been delayed on the 5. His shirt read, "FUGITIVE."

Manu then prompted Rob for some mild S3 spoilers I will not divulge here (although I will say to spoilerphobes that I really didn't mind anything he said during the panel, but obviously if you want to be completely pure, I would avoid complete transcriptions). He talked about the new structure with the mini-mysteries in uninterrupted blocks, and he also said that they were going to punch up the MOTWs and make them more promotable in order to draw in new viewers because that's what they needed to get another season.

Now, it was time for the audience questions. I was already in line, having had a very silly idea days ago that I had decided to go through with despite my better judgment.

The first question spoke to the topic at hand, which was ratings, ratings, ratings! What did they need to be?

Rob gave this rule of thumb: "if we come on and we hold most of the Gilmore Girls audience, the network will be very pleased. If you see a steep drop from the Gilmore Girls number, they're gonna be much LESS pleased. If we actually go up from the Gilmore Girls number, they will build a Kristen Bell statue in the lobby."

Previously, I had seen a guy wearing a very cool shirt that read "Veronica Is My BFF" and had a kind of silhouette-y representation of Veronica. I asked him where he had gotten it, and he said he had made it.

He now spoke into the microphone: "Do you remember this shirt? We gave it to you last year to give to Kristen..."

To my surprise, Rob had a funny story regarding that very shirt, one he said we wouldn't believe. I thought it had to do with how alpacas had trampled the box, which was why he hadn't given the shirt to Kristen, but it was actually about the new Standards and Practices (WB instead of CBS, now) having a problem with a usage of "BFF." Because of what the audience could interpret it to mean. They had to cut it. Rob was baffled.

"And so, honest to God, I e-mailed them a picture of my mom, a 65-year-old high school teacher, wearing that shirt, and said, 'Should I call my mom? Should I tell her she can't wear this shirt anymore? WHERE are you seeing the dirty in that?' I also sent them the link to the Google search for 'BFF,' which goes 'Best Friends Forever,' 'Best Friends Forever,' 'Best Friends Forever,' 'Bush Family Fortune.' What did you think we were trying to say?"

The next person complimented Kristen on her performance in Gracie's Choice before speaking for all the JDoh fangirls and asking if he was doing anything else so they could watch him in other things.

"Preferably on Cinemax," added Michael.

Jason responded that he went back to acting classes, and Michael spoke for everyone by saying, "Like the guy NEEDS acting class, right?" The girl left with a cute "Jason, you're wonderful."

Then, then, oh then. This is the highlight of the panel, and I'm just going to let the transcription (and YouTube) do most of the work for me.

Totally Awesome Guy heretofore referred to as TAG: "This is directed toward Miss Kristen Bell. I actually live in South Park, San Diego. In your old...home, apparently. So, last night, a huge box..."

There's a lot of laughter here, obviously, and it's pretty much continuous throughout this thing because the whole scene is hilarious. Oh man.

TAG: "Well, that's what I was just about to get to...there was a huge box, was delivered to our doorstep. We actually brought it, we fought off some Stormtroopers...but seriously, I mean, this is not a joke — there's a box addressed to you, with, like, a card on it. It looks like a foot massager. If you want it, it's yours. I'm being completely honest here."

Kristen responds, "If it's a foot massager, I definitely want it." Then she gets curious: "You live in my old place?"

"Uh, yeah. 30th Street and Juniper. Right?"

"Is that the one on the mountain?"

"Noooo, it's..."

"I'm sorry, I've moved so many times!"

TAG, though inwardly squeeing that he is having an actual conversation with Kristen Bell, albeit with a hundred feet or so between them, tries to clarify the location: "It's behind the little Lotions and Potions place."

And now, oh my God, I cracked up just listening to it. Kristen GASPS. Like, she SUCKS ALL THE AIR OUT OF THE ROOM, that is the power of her gasp. So. Fucking. Hilarious. "Oh, yeah yeah yeah yeah!" We all laugh, and she adds, "That's a cool apartment."

TAG replies, coolly, "Yeah, but we have your box, if you want it. We can bring it to the side of stage."

"That would be great!" says Kristen. "Thank you for keeping it!"

"You're welcome," says TAG. "We were very tempted to open it, but I fought the temptation." I love this guy.

As they took care of the box, someone else asked about Fanboys, so Kristen got up and asked, "What sells a movie, you guys?" Well, that would be similar to what the creative process feels like: SEX! She displayed the bumper stickers she was wearing across her T&A, which read, "I Brake for Wookiees: Fanboys 2007." (I had thought they said, "I Brake for Hookers.")

About this time, the box appears on the stage, and there are cries of "Open it! Open it!" from the audience. Michael, that manly man, carries it over to her:

Kristen reads the card, and we all crack up when she says, "It's from my agent, who obviously doesn't know I haven't lived there for two years!" She thanks TAG for bringing her The Box.

Once the laughter died down, a meek little woman went up and said, "My name is Linda, I have a question for Mr. Thomas." Heh. Mr. Thomas. Oh, formalities. She asked the perennial question: Cupid on DVD? This garnered a lot of cheers from the audience. Rob gave the latest update, which, as usual, was no better than the previous update. Linda thanked him, saying, "I think you just broke my heart." All together now: awwww.

Manu tries to go to the next question, but Kristen speaks into her microphone: "I bet Rob could send it to you on DVD..."

Linda, from the audience, hilariously: "Thank you!"

Michael joins in, offering to burn her the copies he has. Seriously, though, if anyone knows this Linda, I'm sure we can get her some bootleg DVDs. Not that I have any idea how to do such things; I'm just speaking hypothetically. HI, LAWYERS!

The next question is a good one. She asks whether they'll ever have Jason narrate an episode from Logan's POV. As a note, I'm mostly cutting out the first sentence of people's questions, which is generally, "Hi, I love your show! In case you didn't get that part from the fact that I'm here." Rob says it's an interesting idea, and they would consider doing it, but the network freaks out if Veronica isn't in the first scene of an episode. "It's Veronica Mars...put her in the show, why don't you?" It seems The CW is intent on making a star out of Kristen Bell even if it involves overworking her to death.

Then someone bizarrely asks if there's going to be a Veronica Mars movie and WTF? You can tell that there is a lot of WTF because the question is not met with the sort of uproarious cheers and applause most other questions are met with. I mean, the show is still struggling to find its footing, and you want a movie? If there is a movie, it means no more show. Rob answers more tactfully than that, though, saying he'd love to do one if anyone gave him the money to do it. He's interested in seeing Brick on the SpectraVision in his hotel room, and if that teen noir can get made, why can't VM? For another example, he mentions Joss Whedon, and before he can get out "Serenity," we drown him out in uproarious cheers and applause.

As a follow-up, Manu asks about the VM novelizations. Rob says that, interestingly enough, he's been negotiating his deal with Warner Bros., and the only sticking point at the moment was that he wanted control of the book rights. He got his start novelizing X-Files, after all. He didn't want cheesy VM books out there, and "I think handled right, I could be the Carolyn Keene of the next century." I think it's great that Rob wants to control the books, but if he means to write them all himself, when will he find the time? I mean, I'm all for it because the man gives good novel, but he may have to settle for a little less control. Regardless, the notion is met with approval by the audience.

The strange woman asks for an e-mail address to send "our" voice that "we" want a movie, and Rob just says, "Thank you, thank you." Heh.

The next person asks how college life will affect Veronica. Kristen tosses it to Rob, who gives a really good answer that uses the word "fiefdoms." Basically, college, as those of us who have gone to college know, isn't as simple as the Neptunian haves vs. have-notes. College is full of clumps and cliques based on the various groups: fraternities, sororities, band, journalism, and various other student organizations. So it will be a different environment for Veronica to navigate.

Kristen also gives a nice answer: "[W]hat I would like to see is that Veronica gets a little bit more vulnerable based on her own decisions, because I feel like she's had so much heartache, and so much thrown at her, and it makes her vulnerable when she doesn't want to be, like the situation with her mother, the situation with Logan, the situation with Lilly. I'd like to see her drop her guard on her own accord a little bit, and sort of see how people react to that. Still being feisty, but just dropping her guard a little."

The next guy drools over the entire panel before asking his question, which is how the jump to the new network will affect the darkness of the show and the dirtiness of the jokes. Rob says that S&P isn't that different, really. They still cut things that don't make any sense, like disallowing Logan from referring to Aaron as "riding" Lilly on the witness stand.

Regarding content, however, the network wants them to be a good companion piece to Gilmore Girls. There is a collective groan from the audience. While the network has pooh-poohed some plots and storylines they thought to be dark, the studio, thankfully, has defended the show, and so far, they haven't had to bend to the network's will.

And then Francis Capra says the one and only thing he says during the panel, and it is pretty awesome and met with cheers: "And don't ask me where you would see a guy like me on Gilmore Girls."

Then there's your standard question about Lamb, which is made less standard by the girl mispronouncing Michael's last name, so he has to correct her afterward.

Then there's your standard question about Kristen singing, and the standard Rob joke about a musical episode being the Jump the Shark moment (although he adds some frill this time: "How about a musical episode in Hawaii?").

The guy asks Kristen if she can sing a line from Reefer Madness, the Shakespeare song, and Kristen, dismayed, tries to remember a line. Michael helpfully beatboxes into his mic. Then Kristen points to Rob accusingly: "Do you know how much dialogue he writes for me? My brain is full!" The girl is so adorably hilarious. I want to smoosh her. She says that if she can remember a line, she'll find him and sing it to him.

Hey, the next question is me! I had told the screener that I was going to talk to Rob about the promo video and marketing and ask Enrico a question that had been asked at the Alamo Drafthouse. That seemed to be enough, although of course, once I got up to the mic, anything goes!

Oh my God, I sound awful on this recording. Is that what microphones do to my already stupid voice? I must stay away from them. Anyway.

"First of all," I say, and I am surprised by the whole microphone effect, as it is very loud. Everyone laughs. "Whoa, microphone," I say. Then I continue.

"First of all, Rob, the promo video they showed before?"

"Uh huh?" says Rob.

"That kicked ass." Cheers and applause from the audience, thankfully, because sometimes I am crazy, and it was good to have my opinion validated by 4,000 other people.

"That, whoever made that?" I continue. "That's who should be doing all the CW marketing for the show." Scattered laughs as people recall the current CW marketing for the show. "I think that even if anybody in here who hasn't seen the show...has anybody in here not seen the show?" A rumbling indicates a negative, but I do see three or four hands raised. "Well, do you want to now?" I ask. Unfortunately, I don't get enthusiastic cries of approval, but there is movement that may or may not resemble nodding, so I take what I can get. "Yeah, there was nodding, so that was good. So yeah, they should be doing the marketing."

Why do people let me in front of a microphone? I babble!

"Now, my question is for Enrico. Back in January, a couple hundred of us went down to Austin, to the Alamo Drafthouse..." I pause for the uproarious cheers and applause. and someone there asked a very important, insightful question, and we were all very very sad that you couldn't be there, but you're feeling better now, right?"

Enrico gives the affirmative. "Good," I say, to some chuckling. "Well, we were very sad you couldn't be there, and I wanted to give you the opportunity to answer this important, insightful question." Hey, guys! Can you see the joke coming a mile away? (Ivy couldn't.)

"Ryan and Francis, you can also answer too. Would you rather be covered in poo, or eat a small piece of poo?" That was for you, missdeviant. There was laughter. And then more laughter at Enrico's expression. I think I confused and frightened him, and he will never speak to me again.

Meanwhile, however, I heard either Michael or Kristen say, "That's a good question." And I saw them whispering to each other. I present to you now, courtesy of Michael Muhney, their secret conversation:

Michael: "That's the guy who was in Austin, Sunil. How did I answer his question?"
Kristen: "Poo, covered in chocolate."
Michael: "Yeah, right...ewww."

Enrico repeated the question: "Covered...or...eat?"

"Yes," I said, as the audience continued to laugh. At least, that's what the recording picked up. Honestly, I thought the joke had bombed almost immediately and I felt like a giant tool. But apparently there was laughing, so it wasn't totally unsuccessful.

The laughter died down as we waited for Enrico's answer. "Covered," he said pointedly, and the audience cheered. I shamefully walked away, deflated. So deflated I couldn't even find my row.

"All right, next question," said Daniel Manu.

But Rob wasn't done yet! "I will say, Sunil," he said, "that that particular clip was actually the clip that all of the top executives at the CW were given when we were trying to make sure we made the fall schedule." They chose the clips, but Warner Bros. cut it together for the "Please pick us up!" package.

As I sat down, Dahlia remarked, "Damn right he knows your name!"

Time was running out, so they could only take a few more questions. Someone asked the inevitable question about how fan interaction influences Rob, specifically regarding Jackie, and he gave the same answer he had given, like, a week before. He felt like he kind of sold out by making Jackie too nice by the end, although she still followed the same basic arc. Mostly, he wanted to know where the viewers were in terms of figuring out the mysteries. "It's not always easy to stroll through there," he admitted. " Year one I got called a genius a lot, and I became something of an idiot in year two."

Someone asked Ryan about the transition from musical theatre to TV drama. Ryan began very dramatically, "Well, as a musical theatre person..."

Kristen said he does a mean Michael Jackson impersonation, so what else were we to do but chant, "Do it! Do it!" So, well, he did it. The backflip was kind of spontaneous, he said. I was surprised that there was not more yelling of "Boyz in Motion!" I restrained myself, somehow.

The final question also went to Ryan Hansen, and it was about his involvement in the Invisible Children project. The final answer was...he is involved.

After the panel dismissed, they showed a short clip of Pulse, which looked freaky enough.

Everyone headed toward the Warner Bros. booth, where the signing was going to take place. I made a stop at the blessed watercooler to hydrate. April had brought me some much-needed water a little earlier. Have I mentioned that it was a bajillion degrees? I was so damn thirsty.

I entered the dealer's room for the first time.

I heard two stories about the autograph line. One was that the line had closed before the panel had even started. One was that it had closed twenty minutes into the panel. Either way sucked, and it meant no autographs and no face-time for us.

I saw Rob passing by on his way into the booth, though, and I called to him. "Hey, Rob!" He greeted me back, and I told him that the line was closed and I couldn't get anything signed.

"Glad you could make it!" he said. It was only, like, five seconds of interaction, but it spoke volumes for me. I constantly worry that I'm just totally bugging him with my e-mails, and text can be so emotionless. It can also be misinterpreted; we've had our spats. But he's always been genuinely happy to see me, so that makes me feel better.

Now that the autograph line was out of the question, I tried to figure out my schedule. Jason's wife passed us, as did, apparently, Michael's, whom I'd never met. I'd met Lauren, though, and I was going to say hi, but I thought it would be weird.

Most everyone else's plans did not gel with my own, so I enlisted April and Anna to join me for dinner after asking Seanan where best to do so. We walked to the end of the convention center, passing many costumes along the way, and then we walked out and down to the street to the most poorly designed mall I have ever encountered. It took far, far too long for me to lead us up to where the food was.

We ate at Ten Pound Buns, which had good taste in music (System of a Down's self-titled was playing). They were out of nearly all liquid, so I decided to remain thirsty for a little longer. The people working there didn't even have water. I had barbecue chicken on a sourdough loaf. It was all right.

After dinner, we got frozen lemonade from Wetzel's to drink on the way back. I got a combination of frozen lemonade and kiwi strawberry granita. Unfortunately, it wasn't very frozen. Tasty, but barely frozen.

We got back to the convention center around seven, which is when the exhibits closed and the place began to empty out. Surprisingly, April was accosted by two women who knew her. After the three of them talked a bit, one of them identified herself as bigboobedcanuck.

"OH!" I said and hugged her. She was someone I had been wanting to meet. There were several people I had intended to meet but had not made firm plans with. Comic-Con is HUGE, people. I assumed, correctly, that her companion was bliss_.

At the convention center, Anna left us to go back to the hotel. Sadness! April and I headed up to find Room 6B, the site of the Done the Impossible showing. Or rather, I looked, and she went to the restroom.

I had actually overestimated the line for DTI, as...there wasn't any. The Troma screening was still going on, and we were free to walk right in. As soon as I walked in, however, I ran into Ivan, who identified me by my loud green corduroys. He had been waiting there for me, which was a little unsettling but, hey, effective. I had wanted to meet him too since he had been interviewing me for an essay on the VM fandom.

My timing was pretty good, as Dahlia had also recently arrived. We hung out in the back and watched clips from Poultrygeist and Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, which are pretty much the most gross and disgusting things I have ever seen on film. I'm talking ridiculously over-the-top laughable disgusting, but still graphic as hell.

When they cleared out, we grabbed seats. As the Firefly fans streamed in, I counted Jayne hats.

There were a lot.

April and I were tired.

Unfortunately, it turned out Adam Baldwin wasn't going to be at the screening. Instead, though, we got FF trivia! Which was fun in its own right, especially when kibarika was part of the answer to one question. Also, they somehow got Jewel Staite to record the voices for the DVD. Getting 100% on the hard level awarded us the first Easter Egg on the disc, which was an old commercial Jewel had done when she was a kid. It was about compost. And there was a rap. About compost. And an animated worm. Named Wiggles. It was hysterical. And adorable.

Done the Impossible was pretty good, professionally done. The chronology was kind of screwy because the documentary often grouped clips together thematically, but I wasn't expecting perfection from a fan-made documentary about fans anyway. The DVD was very impressive as well.

After that, though, we were beat. Dahlia, April, and I attempted to leave the building. We ended up leaving out the back, and I got us lost for about fifteen minutes, so while we wander around not knowing where we're going, have a look at the various costumes I spotted at Comic-Con.

Eventually, we found the parking garage and made it out. Dahlia was hungry, so she stopped by a Burger King, and I grabbed a frozen Coke because my frozen lemonade had not been frozen enough and also, I was still thirsty. It was very good, and I did not want it to end. On the way back, Dahlia and I had some very good discussions that should inspire a post in the near future. Then I fell asleep because it had been a long day.

Sunday was less action-packed. Dahlia and I watched movie trailers while I waited for pix_kristin (Kristin) and noisedesign (Drew) to pick me up for lunch. Kristin's new Prius is scary. It talks a lot and answers her phone for her.

Lunch was at the Mels on Ventura, and I do not know why L.A. hates apostrophes. aimeejmc (Aimee) and Emeline were waiting for us. In the middle of lunch, seankozma (Sean) and his girlfriend, S, joined us. Dahlia had said that Mels wasn't very good, but my lunchmates were all big fans. I'm sorry to say I have to side with Dahlia. Although I think Art Alexakis, lead singer of Everclear, may have been sitting at the table next to us. Maybe.

Good conversation was had, and Emma was a cutie, so in that respect, lunch was a success. Everyone but Sean had other matters to attend to, however, so Sean and S kept me company as I waited for Ivy to get into town. I showed them my Comic-Con pictures (the power of Blinky!).

Ivy recommended I meet her at Hollywood and Highland, which, coincidentally enough, was where Sean was going to suggest as a good meeting point. It was on their way home, as a bonus. On the way, S regaled us with tales of James Woods being upstaged by being downstaged.

Hollywood and Highland was kind of a crazy place. More people in costumes for some reason. I wandered around the Virgin Megastore for a bit, and then I hunted for a bathroom in the adjoining mall. Someone passed me who looked like Ivy. I called to her. She didn't respond. Maybe it wasn't her. But...the hair! The piercings! The skin! It had to be Ivy! I called again, and she turned. She, too, was looking for a bathroom. She hadn't even called me to tell me she had arrived. We were just both going for the bathroom at the same time. LIFE IS WEIRD.

We entertained ourselves in the mall for a while before heading back to Dahlia's, where I saw Jason again. Jason has a delightful story that has no place here and that I have told elsewhere already. But the four of us chilled out for a while in the air-conditioned apartment until it was time for Ivy to take me to the airport. On the way, we grabbed food from Hugo's Tacos, where I paid six dollars for three tacos that could fit in my pocket.

This time, my flight was only a half hour delayed. And I spotted a woman who had been on my flight to L.A. Because that is how things happen.

holly96 (Holly) picked me up from OAK, and she dropped me off to the sounds of her mix CD of Veronica Mars music.

Thus ends our harrowing tale. I did have a good time at Comic-Con, mostly, though I agree with April that anyone who went to Austin doesn't need to be that envious of people who went to Comic-Con. The scheduling allowed almost no time to just hang with friends, and the size made it almost impossible to meet people. Never mind the inability to talk with the VIPs. Oh, Comic-Con. Next time, just invite the cast and Rob over to my place, and we'll have a party. You guys are all invited.
Tags: alamo marsathon, cathy belben, comic-con, enrico colantoni, fandom love, firefly, girls, i am so awesome, i'm a moron, it's a small world, kristen bell, lj friends, michael muhney, not being a serial killer, personal, pictures, pimpings, rob thomas, ryan hansen, twop, veronica mars

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