Sunday, July 29, 2007

review: comi-con 2007 (just the saturday, and just for 2.5 hours)

fig 1: the twilight of day 4 of comi-con.

dudes in costume, ladies running away. the way it should be.

when i decided i was going to be in LA for a while (notice i didn't say move to LA-- that would be absurd!), i decided that meant i was going to go to comi-con. it's that simple. comi-con, for those of you who simply enjoy entertainment without feeling the need to be able to write a wikipedia entry on demand about any of the entertainment you so flippantly observe, is a giant nerd convention held annually in san diego.

nerd, for those of you who might pride yourselves on not being one, is not meant as a derogatory term, or even one implying intelligence. nerds are just people who care very, very much about things most people think don't matter. sometimes, that thing is, say, math, in which case, yes, the nerd in question is probably pretty smart. but at comi-con, the nerddom on display is not an obsession with numbers, but a guy dressed like a storm trooper in a costume he's been working on for 2 years or a group of adults pushing each other in order to get a coveted "smallville" oversized totebag from the WB booth, handed to them by a lithe teenagerette dressed like supergirl. or, in my case, an adult woman who drives 4 hours in traffic and spends $30 to hear the creator of a tv show about vampire slayer talk about himself for an hour. and for the record, i can't add.

and while comi-con still puts on the pretense of being about comi-cs and the world of sci-fi-- the early list of announced guests trumps comic heroes like neil gaiman, warren ellis, stan lee, etc-- you don't fill a convention center with over 100,000 people when the main attraction is the guy who created transmetropolitan. at least joss whedon, the aforementioned buffy creator, does comic books; he's finishing up stints for xmen and runaways and has turned buffy into a comic since tv is more complicated and his actors tend to go through periods of extreme weight gain (sup, angel, the cherub years).

fig 2: groovy!

i tried to take a picture here of some dudes playing d&d, and then i got all bummed that people got in my way, but it wasn't until later that i noticed that one of said people was a dude dressed like ash from evil dead. see how he cradles his bag of merch to his side with his boomstick! see how he dares to show up when even bruce campbell can't be bothered to! see how he has someone to talk to on his cellphone when i have only my parents, who i couldn't call due to the time difference! (kill me now!)

but after i went to his panel, and after some time on the convention floor admiring the "my little pony" of the future and the sci-fi booth omniblob, i sat in the audience for a panel featuring the cast and creators of the movie "superbad," which, again for the casual fans of pop culture, is the latest release from the judd apatow comedy machine, and he's the guy who made "knocked up," that strangely popular/vaguely pro-life comedy the new york times told you to like so much. and while i could easily give you his entire resume and biography in a matter that would make wikipedia proud, just know that he's funny, the cast, who've been in his other films, is funny, and the writers of the film, also repeat players, should rock paper scissors to determine who i can immediately start building a life with. because they're funny. and also jews, which is just a nice bonus.

fig 3: the sci-fi omniblob.

interestingly, i didn't see any people in any sort of battlestar regalia, even though i was sure i'd see at least a few tough lasses in the backwardsy tanktop and cargo pants ensemble that would do starbuck proud. i guess i can be greatful nobody dressed up like roboslut (yes, i'm talking about #6, and feel free to kill me now, also). and there were many dudes with the topical-map-style complexion to do adama, but no dice.

still, there are no big fight scenes in superbad. no one has a secret identity, there is no cgi, and, praise the lord, there is no involvement from the dark santa, george lucas. but the movie's there, not just because the studio wants to promote the film, but because there are apatow nerds (me me me!), and comi-con is now a mecca for all nerds everywhere. and the studio, and all studios, cable networks, toy companies, cell phone carriers, fast food restaurants, scientology, etc, now realize how powerful the nerd dollar is-- those who care too much do, in fact, often spend too much. which is why judd apatow is forced to leave his home in the palisades, sit in heavy traffic, round up his cast, not brush his hair, and kiss our collective nerd ass. and how we love him for it! and how it makes him palpably uncomfortable!

fig 4: progress!

totally not kidding about the my little pony. but i like how it's taken them 20-ish years to come up with the idea for emblazoning their asses with the world ZOOM.

anyway, since i was determined to go to comi-con, and since i don't know a single other nerd in the state of california willing to spend $30 and hours of his/her life in a car in order to attend the kind of event where, as future-life mate seth rogen put it, "the line for the men's room is actually longer than the line for the ladies room," i drove south by myself, dropped off the dog with my friend aaron in del mar, and entered the dude fortress solo, racing up the escalator to registration behind a guy dressed like a character invented by the guy i was racing to see speak. less meta, more hilarious, since said character wears pretty tight pants.

post-x-country jaunt, which, as you might have noticed, was a solitary affair, i have come to the realization that doing things by yourself is a better option than not doing them at all. cause on the one hand, yes, it would appear that there is nothing sadder on this earth than going to a large gathering of nerds by yourself (even the largest, most acne-speckled fellow in attendance had found a sidekick to be the hans solo to his jaba, and if you think i'm speaking metaphorically, i'm not, i saw people dressed up like this, and besides, solo and jaba weren't buddies, duh, kill me now, again).

fig 5: light saber with 5 blades.

not solo, i know, but please note that a, only one person in this picture is being paid to dress up, b, at least the person getting paid is the one chained to a giant hunk of plastic, and c, i'm pretty sure facial hair is a young jedi no no, and besides, if you're really going for the luke look, why get the whole ensemble down the the belt but let the personal grooming slide? and don't try that "this is not a beard, you will believe i am cleanshaven, you will let me pass" bullshit.

but on the other hand, if comi-con is about anything, it's about free shit, having your ass kissed, girls dressing up like sluts to promote heroes or just for free, and, of course, letting your nerd flag fly free of judgments. so i parked the car, registered in a jiff, and found a seat at the whedon event next to a grizzled old feminist (probably me in 20 years minus the really unfortunate ankle dolphin tattoo, i hope) and a teenaged boy with so many gadgets in his cargo pocket that it fell across the seat next to him and i almost crushed his trio/psp/pen scanner/whatever with my ass. and don't get any ideas, because i'm pretty sure he didn't have a ween growing out of his guy-hip, and really just had a lot of technocrap in his cargo pocket, and was incredibly uncomfortable to see me, or anyone with boobs.

and i'd guess most beboobed attendees of comi-con were with me to see joss (one name basis now, that's how intimate the ballroom was as i watched him on a big brother mac-ad-like-screen since he was about a football field away). he told us about his future projects (a ripper movie! a screenplay with drew goddard! buffy season 9 comic! a bunch of other shit you probably don't understand or, if you do understand, already read about on whedonesque minutes after the panel was over!), made jokes, refused to do a dance, and, best of all, although totally unnecessary, declared the intentional inclusion in his writing of "straight-up, 70s style feminism." and while that's not exactly shocking to anyone familiar with his work, it's not often-- ever?-- that you hear an adult man proudly declare his solid second-wave beliefs. the grizzly lady next to me was especially stoked. the teen dude also next to me shifted his pocket of the handheld communicative techology he uses to talk to the friends he doesn't have (pot, kettle, black, i know, but all i have is a shitty cellphone that i openly admit is really just a portable alarm clock and bulky calendar [since my parents are usually asleep] [when will you do as i ask and put me out of my misery]).

and then in between panels i checked out the convention floor, which was packed, with everybody scrambling to get their hands on any free schwag thrown their way, from nickelodeon's juggling balls to the aforementioned smallville totes that looked like and were about the same size as actual highway billboards to spike tv's t-shirts to he-manliness (has joss taught us nothing?!). i bought my sister a japanese vending machine toy that you build to make a model of the bones and muscles of the hand, because in japan, that's what you want to get outside of the supermarket while waiting for your mom to pay when she won't let you just get some stupid candy. and maybe in japan they don't have homies.

fig 6: carbon rods, still kickin ass!

blurry, but, please note: 1 of those giant, uggs smallville bags, 1 of several thousand fucking jedis, 1 head of unfortunate hot topic hair, and some guy who i don't think was dressed up as anyone but a creepy guy carrying a long blunt object.

then i saw the apatow thingee, which was funny but also kind of excruciating cuz there were at least 2 girls who used the q&A period to solicit sex from one of the stars of the movie (if you're keeping track, it was michael cera, formerly of arrested development/motherboy xxx), who, unbeknownst to one of the girls, was sitting on the panel next to his girlfriend (charlene yi, formerly of youtube), but the second girl knew and didn't give a shit, and the girlfriend is a comedian whose shtick is based on being incredibly awkward, which, aside from making me squirm instead of laugh most of the time, really didn't help. and ps, isn't she maybe 12 years older than he is? cuz if so, good work/highfive, squirm-inducing comedian. i recently worked out a test for a friend of mine who also tends to fall for the younger gentleman-- we decided a cultural reference would be best, so if said manboy cannot answer yes to the question, "hey, do you remember when bill clinton played sax on arsenio?", then he's probably not ripe for the pickin. but on the other hand, fuck it, that dude's adorable. there's got to be a term for ladies like us, one step below cougar. bobcat? merkat? lemur? i'll work up a list.

[please note: i have just now remembered a conversation i had ages ago with my friend lizzie (friend is used loosely here, not because i don't think she's a very nice person, but because i hate when people say, "oh, my friend blah blah" when they only met blah blah once in a bar and then maybe added blah blah as a chum on face book, but i've hung out with lizzie a few times and even ridden in her car, so i guess i'm allowed "friend" status). and lizzie talked about charlene yi and mentioned she was 21, and we all cursed her for being so accomplished and young, and then went back to eating pancakes. i guess ms. yi put the thing out there about being 31 as a "joke," and ha ha, i guess, but natch, it's a squirmy ha ha as 31 isn't so far away in my future, so dangit, that discomfort-inducing comedian charlene yi has done it again! i would be laughing were i not so eager to dig a deep hole and crawl in it to hide from the awkwardness.]

i left soon after to collect aaron and my dog for dinner, and while i wish i'd spent a little more time at comi-con, i was also pretty ready to leave. on the one hand, it was kind of amazing, but on the other hand, it was so full of people, and so frequently those people would just stop moving right in front of you because some paid or unpaid young lady wearing next to nothing would stop to pose for pictures, and while there's probably some established term for this phenomenon, i just referred to it as a slutjam and it started to give me ptsd after my morning of stop and go on I-5. maybe next year, if i can wrangle up a co-nerd, i'll give it a whole day, or maybe two days, or if joss whedon comes back (to reprimand me for using the term slut-- i'm sorry joss, i know not what i do), or judd apatow comes back, or evan goldberg takes me on our honeymoon, or something like that.

and i guess the good part of the large crowds is knowing how many other nerds are out there, be they awkwards dudes (well, mostly awkward dudes), hans solos (who, ironically, aren't solo), or gothy whores (joss, can't help myself). also, it's nice to know there are so not-shitty things about being in southern california (being here, but not living here, of course-- i'm a nerd, not insane).

fig 7: in conclusion: fuck star wars. see ya next year! kill me then!

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