Subscribe to far-flung places
Sign up here
and receive email alerts when this blog is updated.

 Add to your RSS reader

Sunday, July 27, 2008

All Hail the King

Bruce Campbell is the legendary B-list actor from Evil Dead. I've never seen the film, nor any of his others, but I can sing all the songs from Evil Dead: the Musical (of all things).

I don't think I've ever seen him in anything but a You Tube video in which he sings "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran, while dressed in a smoking jacket and ascot.

Nonetheless, I was on hand during his signing session at the Dark Horse booth, where he was signing comics from his upcoming film, My Name is Bruce. Apparently, he plays a version of himself in the new movie, who becomes the un-hero when the undead actually do come to life. Everyone is relying on him because he played the role of Ash in the Evil Dead movies. Little do they know, he's only Bruce, the actor.
Evil Dead fans were on hand to get autographs, but only a small number of fans actually won the chance in a ticketed lottery. One fan, dressed as Ash, was particularly disappointed, but he happily posed for me.

The Lost Boy

The television show, Lost, is always full of surprises. At Comic-Con, the surprise was the unbilled guest appearance by Matthew Fox, the star of the show, who surprised the crowd by appearing suddenly on stage during a Q&A session with the executive producers of the show--Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Prizes were handed out to everyone who asked a question. Each unique item corresponded in some way to the question that was asked. A uncanny Hurley look-a-like was awarded a Dharma Initiative bottle of ranch dressing.

Some of the other Lost revelations, included the acknowledgement that Jin (who may have died in the freighter explosion) and Locke (lying in the coffin at the end of last season) would be back. On the show, "dead is a relative term," the execs proclaimed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Heroes Welcome

Saturday is Comic-Con's biggest day and Chris was divided over which panel discussions to attend. He could either go see the cast of Battlestar Galactica or the Heroes and Lost panels that were back to back in another hall.

He picked Battlestar, while I checked out the only two dramas on television that I watch.

The line to get into San Diego's Convention Center Hall H snaked around the building when I arrived this morning. Fans of Heroes, had spent the night in order to snag one of the 6,500 seats. I stood with everyone else, but managed to get into the Hall and gain access to the press area next to the stage. Why, I wondered, did I have to stand in line for two hours when I was just going to stand up in front anyway (Comic-Con is surprisingly unfriendly to members of the press--especially low-level journalists such as myself)?

Nevertheless, I was in the heart of the action as the entire cast of Heroes filed onto the stage while adoring fans screamed. Cameras were clicking and clacking, but the photographers paid extra attention to 18-year-old Hayden Panettiere, who has gotten a lot of attention off screen (either crying over the Japanese cruelty toward dolphins or her highly publicized romance with 31-year-old co-star, Milo Ventimiglia.

When the crowd settled down, the Heroes season premiere appeared on the screen. The episode will air in October, but Comic-Con attendees got a sneak peak. Spoiler Alert: Sylar will be coming back strong this season to terrorize those with special powers, and in the first episode, he "collects" a particularly desireable power from one of the main characters. Mohinder, obsessed with his father's research, conducts an experiment on himself. And as usual, Hiro finds himself in a pickle.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Adventures of a Comic-Con Widow

I have a car, I'm in San Diego, and I don't want to spend my entire time here inside a convention center. There's only one thing to do: go to the beach!

But first, I hopped on the freeway and drove 10 miles south of downtown to Chula Vista to visit my dad's brother, Uncle Bill, who is at the Veteran's Home there. After boring him with tales of Comic-Con, the Great Race of 1908 and my world travels, we had some lunch.

The cafeteria food was pretty good. I had a beef taco and decent refried beans (not the runny ones you get at most Mexican restaurants) for $2.50. We sat with a talkative new resident of the home, Alice. She was decked out in a sequined sweater, and had a purple silk flower affixed to her glasses. A large, colorful stuffed frog clung to the back of her wheelchair. She told many stories about her days as a cab driver and a puppeteer, but to be honest, I think her stories put Uncle Bill to sleep!

After leaving Uncle Bill, I headed for Old Town San Diego. That's where everyone said you can buy good, cheap goods from Mexico. But I quickly got disgusted when I saw that the Mexican handicrafts had good ol' American prices. They were more than twice the price of stuff you can buy across the border (which is only 15 minutes away). Believe me, I was tempted to cross into Tijuana, but everyone I've talked to has advised against it. Gang violence has escalated in the last few years, and kidnappings of American tourists is on the rise, too.

So, I abandoned my bid for Mexico, and headed to Coronado Beach, home to the famous Hotel Del Coronado, which was built in 1888, and later became an exclusive hideaway for Hollywood celebs, such as Frank and Marilyn. I've been told that my great, great grandfather worked there in the early 1900s. Dad said he was a clerk, and Uncle Bill told me he was an assistant manager. Unfortunately, there is no record of his employment at "The Del," says Uncle Bill, who said he'd been to the famous hotel to inquire about our ancestor on a few occasions.

I wandered about the historic landmark, ate a piece of flourless chocolate cake on the Sun Deck, then headed onto the white sand of Coronado Beach, where health-conscious runners and health-oblivious sunbathers co-mingled in perfect harmony. The water of the Pacific was surprisingly cold, but that didn't stop kids from catching waves on their boogie boards.

Heading back to downtown San Diego, the traffic report warned of Comic-Con traffic slowing the flow on the I-5, but a sailed into town with no trouble. The biggest problem was trying to avoid paying $17 for event parking. I pulled into a $10 lot just as a van was pulling out. The driver rolled down his window and handed me his parking ticket, which was valid for another eight hours. It was the perfect end to very enjoyable non-Comic-Con day.

From Paris with Love

Dad & Bobbie sent me an e-mail this morning. Paris Hilton swooped into Comic-Con last night to promote her upcoming film, Repo: The Genetic Opera. Aw shucks, I missed her and her entourage.

I did however see Jane Wiedlin (formerly of the GoGos) on Preview Night jockeying for position (behind me) in line at the NBC booth. It seems that her VIP status couldn't get her to the front of the line to get the Battlestar Galactica toaster or the Heroes Hiro bobblehead doll. The toaster sold out within minutes of the exhibit hall's opening, but I'm happy to say that I acquired the Hiro doll and the limited-edition Sylar action figure.

Chris had lined up to get into to the hall around 3 p.m., while I wandered the streets of San Diego, and checked into the hostel, located a few blocks from the convention center. After a cat nap, I wandered down to Comic-Con around 5:45 p.m. because the hall was opening at 6 p.m.

The crowds had amassed in front. Most of those standing around didn't have their passes yet. As I squeezed my way through the long winding lines, someone behind me said, "Let the Nerdfest Begin." Those of us with passes pushed and shoved our way into the exhibit hall as the doors opened at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, in another part of the building, Chris was still waiting in the line he'd been standing in since 3 p.m.

He sent me to the NBC booth for the toys, and he finally made his way to meet me there just after I had seen Jane. From that point, I followed Chris around as he weaved his way through the crowds, past a larger-than life Jabba the Hut, Star Wars Storm Troopers, Iron Man, etc. We turned right at the Marvel Comics Booth and ran into a reporter for The Plain Dealer--Michael San Giacomo--who was promoting the graphic novels he had written. From there, we were off again searching for rare action figures that Chris could buy.

In many ways, Comic-Con is a shopping mall for men, or as Chris reminded me, "a shopping mall for nerds."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pros and Comic-Cons

The southern California sunshine is beaming upon me, but I feel like I've been hit by a truck. It's 5:15 p.m., but my body clock is starting to remind me that I've come from three time zones away.

I've come here for the world's largest comic book, pop culture and television trade show--Comic-Con, which Entertainment Weekly recently called the "Sundance for Nerds." It was my gift to Chris, whose birthday is this Friday.

I've only got a half hour to rest before the madness begins. More than 150,000 have descended upon San Diego for the four-day event that brings together pop culture arts--from comic books, to gaming, to Sci-Fi, to TV. We've got the chance to see big names like Sarah Silverman, the cast of Lost, as well as blasts from the past, such as William Katt from the Greatest American Hero and Lindsay Wagner from the Bionic Woman. Or we could wander the show floor collecting rare action figures and other toys. The possibilities are endless.

Seasoned visitors of Comic-Con say it's completely overwhelming. There's just too much to see and do, they say. I get to find out now....I'm on my way to meet Chris waiting in line behind thousands of other attendees to get into the trade show floor for Preview Night.