SDCC Saturday: Crash and Burn Day

As you might surmise from my earlier postings, the San Diego Comic-Con is kind of like geek Mardi Gras or Karneval. And as wonderful and amazing as any of those events are, I don’t find it as much fun as some of my fellow human beings to be part of a massively crowded event. But even though I bailed on the show for most of that day, I got more than enough of it.

I took Neil over to the show just before it began, and as we disembarked from the bus, a security guard was already advising us to enter the convention center on the northern end. The southern end was impassable because the line for the Heroes panel (not due to start for another hour and half) had already snaked around as much as it could on the top floor, snaked down the stairs and wound around to take up 1/4 of the bottom floor. Luckily, our booth was in the northern end.

I figured with at least 7000 fans drawn away to stand in the line, Kelly and I might have a chance of walking around the show in the morning. It turns out if you weren’t standing in the line for Heroes, you were probably in line for something else. There was a long line for the Hasbro booth: not for freebies, but just to buy toys. There was another line just to have a moment to sit on the unicorn, like one of the characters in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. It is evidence of Comic-Con insanity that I actually thought about getting in the line, even though Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay sounds like one of the worse movies ever made, and I thought exactly that when it came out in the theatres. Why would I want to sit on the unicorn from a movie I don’t want to see, which is out on DVD already?

I managed to convince Neil he’d have more fun coming out with me and Kelly than sitting around in the back of the booth or waiting in lines. As it was, the walk back to our hotel and towards the Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor promotional setup across from the convention center was as full of people handing out pop culture freebies as openly as on the floor. We all received History Channel bags and USB keys with the History Channel’s web page about dinosaurs. The Mummy exhibit was a reproduction of the terra-cotta soldiers, which is probably as close as I’ll ever get to the real thing.

Eventually, after a lunch in our hotel, I got my car and took the children to Coronado. Even though I lived in the area, I knew Mission Beach, but I’d never gone to Coronado Beach, so this was my chance to see it. As I expected, it was a long, beautiful stretch of sand and surf near the famous Hotel del Coronado. Ironically, it was an overcast day making the beach trip no different from a trip to one of our local beaches. In fact, I daresay the weather was a lot warmer at New Brighton Beach the last time Kelly and I went there, though the water was definitely much warmer and pleasant to be in at Coronado.

Just as we were leaving the beach, Peter called me and asked me to pick him up because he needed a ride to the local Fry’s Electronics. He said one of the antennas on our cellular modem (which was providing internet access to our computers) had broken and he needed a replacement ASAP. As it turned out, the Fry’s, Radio Shack and Verizon didn’t have any replacement antennas in stock, though Peter did buy himself a pair of sneakers because the shoes he had and all the walking and standing on the show floor had done in his feet.

As he found out the next day, he didn’t actually need a replacement antenna. He’d lost internet access (as well as the ability to be reach by phone) because the cellular network near the convention center had temporarily crashed from the volume of traffic going through it.

I returned and dropped Peter and Neil off near the convention center, where they hopped off in hopes of being able to get into the Mythbusters panel. They didn’t, but they had extra time to get in to the Masquerade later that night.

Our hotel had an open bar from 5 to 7:30 pm each night, but I’d usually been unable to make it there on time. This night, I managed to get back in at 7:15 and snag myself a much-needed beer plus some snacks for me and Kelly. But there was no seating to be had. I spotted an open table near the elevators, but since it only had a single seat, I asked for one from a guy who had pulled 8 chairs around a little table near him. He waved me off, saying that each of the chairs (which he’d taken from all the surrounding tables) were taken. Each chair had a little drink in front of it, but no person anywhere in sight. Oh, great, I thought: now I not only have to compete for space and resources with way too many freakin’ people than I’m comfortable with, now I also have to compete with people’s imaginary friends too. I took my drink and snack up to my hotel room and put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door.

Later Loretta called me and told me she and the rest of the staff had declared it “Crash and Burn Day.” Anyone willing was simply staying and eating leftover Indian food from the restaurant they’d managed to get in the night before, because they just didn’t have the energy to go out and try to fight for food with 100,000 other hungry people. I had my own stash from Ralph’s I’d set aside for this very occassion, and I invited the others to join me, but they worked it out.

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