Sturgeon’s Law opines that 90% of everything is crap. It’s a really good rule.
That said, when you get to the San Diego convention center exhibit hall — twelve acres of booths (525,000 square feet) — well, do the math… that still leaves you with a solid acre of really cool stuff, once you allow for the aisles.
And that’s just the exhibit hall — it entirely ignores the rooms reserved for panels, the ball rooms, the registration and autograph areas… and the 6500 seat Hall H. Yikes.
Dave and I got to the registration (he graciously dropped me off in front to ‘get in line’ while he parked the car, but the sign up process was so smooth that there was no line to speak up) early and we were in fact all signed up and ready to descend into the exhibit hall at least an hour before it was officially supposed to open. However, word was that they were going to open things up early, due to the high turnout the day before. (The 2003 CC broke records, and the 2004 attendance promised to leave ’03 in the dust.) We got in line to descend into the hall when we noticed they were letting folk slowly enter (to avoid a crush).
Here comes my sacrifice to the gods of vacations and conventions.
You see, the Gods of Conventions require that whenever I travel to some out-of-state con, something happen that will (eventually) cost me about 150 bucks to fix. The Gods of Travel require that something fuck up my Palm. The two pantheons worked together on this particular trip.
While we stood in line, I saw something I wanted to snap a quick picture of, so I hauled my Zire 71 out of my pocket with my off-hand. It caught on something and tumbled to the floor. I saw a shadowy bit of something fly away from the palm on impact, but it was moving too fast to track and looked quite small anyway.
I picked it up: the Zire 71 has a number of moving parts that I’m slowly growing to love less and less, but after I got it off of the ‘no media found to play’ screen that had inexplicably (at the time) popped up, everything seemed fine. I didn’t figure out what had really happened until the next morning — see, the reason the ‘no media found’ message had popped up was because the impact when the palm hit the floor had caused the 500 meg SD chip I had in the palm to hold MP3s to shoot out at about mach 3.
In the middle of a wide-open space the size of an airport terminal. A chip the size of a postage stamp. Lost on a floor they vacuum with a machine you RIDE.
Right. It’s gone.
Anyway, we trundled down to the exhibit hall and started down to one end, sweeping through each row at a window-shopping pace and stopping when something very cool or familiar caught our eye (The Del Rey display of upcoming Conan collections demonstrates the former, the Stikfas booth was an example of the latter, and Stan Sakai was both.)
Somewhere in here… let’s say about an hour in, Dave’s eye caught a particularly cool piece of art in one direction and I got distracted by someone in a very cool Shi costume. I don’t think the two things were more than 20 feet from each other, but it ended the team-browsing, nonetheless (I could have called Dave’s cell phone, but it’s not like we can’t be drooling geeks all by ourselves).
I spent most of the morning going between the exhibit hall and the main room used for panels upstairs, just to check out what the panel things were like, and how much they differed, depending on the subject matter.
Two things to say about the panels:
– The people on the stage are really frigging far away, which means you’re probably watching them via highly questionable camera work projected on big projection screens hanging at intervals back through the hall, which is very like watching an interview on television, except the sound is much worse. You have to REALLY WANT to go to the panel before it’s worth it, and if you’re going to go, get there friggin’ EARLY and get GOOD seats — if your seats aren’t within a *normal* auditorium’s distance of the stage, you should try to get closer.
– 90% (stugeon’s law again) of the fans willing to stand in line to ask questions of the stars and panelists are willing to do so simply to ask a question that they’ve wanted to ask that person for seven years, which has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SUBJECT OF THE PANEL AT ALL.
Anyway, with that observation made, I decided to generally focus on the exhibit hall and meeting artists in that much more direct environment.
Note: none of these observations apply to the “Quick Draw” panel that Dave suggested and we all met up and went to. Sergio Aragones (of Mad Magazine fame), Jeff Smith (creator of Bone), and Scott Shaw (long-time Hanna-Barbera artist), MCed by Mark Evanier — it’s basically improv… comics. Improv comedy with markers? Something. The artists’ drawings (done in short order and not prepped beforehand) were projected onto large screens at the end of the hall. I have pictures for later, notably the Connie Chung Monster and Superman the Proctologist. My face HURT afterwards from laughing. So funny.
Round about Noon, I made a questionable decision. Dave had mentioned the Robert A. Heinlein memorial blood drive and I decided to go give blood. My motives weren’t entirely pure — they’d have to be at least a little self-motivated, because I hate giving blood — he’d mentioned they might be giving out some kind of satchel as part of the ‘you’re a good person’ swag you get from the organization, and I desperately needed one (since I’d forgotten to grab one during the packing — or rather I’d remembered at one point and forgotten by the time I started packing).
So I went up and went through the rigamarole — this took about an hour in which I learned that my BP is good, my Resting BPM was pretty *damn* good, and that reading Courtney Crumb while getting blood drained out of you is a pretty surreal experience.
The swag did not include a bag, unfortunately. It did include a raffle for some pretty sweet stuff, however: at 5:30pm, you must be present, et cetera. Check. Moving on.
Problem was, this left me with about five minutes to get the to the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow panel, which it turned out (once I got down to the entrance) had a huge backlog of people lined up for it. Being a bit drained (har), and not all that jazzed about panels at the moment, I went back to the dealer floor.
Not a great idea.
See, I’d had two granola bars for breakfast, no lunch, a doughnut and some orange juice at the blood drive and had already walked about three miles that day. Then I went shopping. Not smart.
Also, I found out that I have simply no ability to say ‘no’ when the author or artist who created the book you’re looking at is sitting right there, asking if you’d like it — if you say no, you’re not just rejecting the book, you’re rejecting them as a person… directly.
Me: (thought bubble) Hey cool, this is the cover of the book that woman up in the Sails Pavilion was handing out cards for… I’ll take a peek.
Guy behind the counter: Hey there, have you heard of this book before. [[Translation: please god buy this book.]]
Me: Umm… yeah… in fact, I think I met the author upstairs a while back. [[I pray to god you’re a non-affiliated dealer who just happens to be carrying the book, and not part of the production team itself.]]
Him: Oh, that would be my wife. I’m the artist for the book, and she writes it. [[We’ve sunk our entire combined credit balance into producing this thing independently, and if you don’t buy a copy of the book, we will have to skip dinner tonight.]] It’s gotten some good reviews… were you interested in a copy?
Me: Well, it definitely looks good. (Note that I’m already gone at this point.)
The Author walks up: (to husband) Hey honey, how we doin’? [[Do you think we’ll have enough money to get back to our one-room efficiency apartment after the con is over, or should I keep some of these packing boxes to sleep in?]] (To me) Oh, hey! You found us! Were you getting a copy? We could both sign it for you if you like.
Me: Sounds great. [[I have no spine, and if I did, I’d still want to support indie authors, so just take my money, please.]]
Eventually, I realized what I was doing (after I bought about five TPBs from Stan Sakai, I think, or maybe it was after I got something I had absolutely no interest in at a dealers booth that JUST HAPPENED to have the author there signing his stuff), so I ran back and hid at the Red Star booth (where I’d already bought stuff and was thus immune. The booth was just a good place to hang — they hooked me up with a powerbar and some water, played “Red Star Rave” music, danced, and everyone tried to beat the Red Star PS/2 demo. (Beating the demo got you signed copies of all the RS books in the booth.)
Meanwhile, Dave, Mary and Michelle were at the combined Team America/Sky Captain panel; Mary even took pity on my absence (and made use of her extra ‘thanks for coming’ ticket) and scored me a bag full of swag from both movies — t-shirts, buttons, posters — good stuff, and many thanks to Mary for snagging all the cool stuff.
I was starting to get a little punchy, so I stopped and got a pretzel and some liquids about 5:30 and sat down for a bit.
Yeah… right about the time I was supposed to be at the blood drive raffle. When you give blood at a con like this, you really need a spotter for the rest of the day to keep you from being a moron. Sorta sucked that I missed it, because three hours earlier there had only been about 150 people who’d been through the drive — the chances for scoring swag were very high.
So I forgot that… I’m a loser.
Anyway, we all hooked up at six, went to a great mexican place where I had some fantastic chipotle shrimp and very-damned-good margaritas, then back to the con for the Masquerade contest, which was… well… long. Longer than I’d have liked, I guess. I won’t probably do that again, but it was a fine one-time thing. I have pictures from that to share, but not at the moment.
In fact, that’s it for this bit. Corresponding pix will come tonight, and I’ll talk about Sunday’s stuff in another post (and probably repetitively with the stuff that I’ve already said about the Serenity panel, but oh well).
Sturgeon’s Law opines that 90% of everything is crap. It’s a really good rule.