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SDCC 2005, Day 0

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
SDCC 2005, Day 0

NUTTINESS IN NEWARK

“mmmmmm mmm mmmmm mmm”

“Excuse me?”

“mmmmm two bags mmmmm mmmm I got it mmmmm”

That was the conversation I had at check in this morning. I think the guy said I was checking two bags for San Diego and that he would take care of it from there. It’s possible, thought, that I just gave him permission to blow up all my clothes and my cell phone recharger. I don’t know.

This is a first — I’m typing a con report from the Newark airport before I even leave. There’s a good reason for it, and it’s one the gentleman sitting two seats to my left is willing to shout out in frustration at any passerby.

The flight has been delayed. Again.

When I booked this flight, it was leaving at 11:50 a.m. That’s a great time, as it gets you to San Diego in time to check into the hotel, grab dinner somewhere, and still make it to Preview Night before the con floor opens to those who bought their four day passes in advance.

Not too long after booking the flight, they changed the departure time to 1:25. This is annoying, but there’s not much I can do about it. It means dinner would be had at 30,000 feet somewhere west of the Mississippi, but I’d still have enough time after landing to race from the airport to the hotel to the convention center, some four blocks away.

It’s 1:08 as I write this now. The plane pulled in about a half hour ago. Boarding was supposed to start at about 12:50. They just announced that they don’t have a crew to put on the plane yet. Now, the flight’s not leaving until 2:30, and that’s not guaranteed, either. That one hour is going to kill today. I’ll be late to preview night, and if they delay the flight just one more time, I may miss it all together.

I had podcasting plans for preview night, too. Ah, well.

Looking around at the assemblage of humanity surrounding me in terminal 37, I can only think to myself, “Please, don’t let 90% of these people be sitting anywhere near me. Please please please.” All those stereotypical New Jersey accents and loud-mouthed old ladies with painted-on red hair and orange jump suits are here today. They’re surrounding me, and they’re not happy. It’s businessmen on their cell phones and hyperactive kids with sports equipment and that annoying buzz of the golf cart thing driving by every five minutes.

A couple of years ago, it seemed like I was on a flight with half of DC editorial. This year, I spot Jim Calafiore sitting a couple rows over, but that’s about it. There’s someone who appears to be Maggie Thompson from the Comics Buyer’s Guide a few seats over, but that’s just a coincidence. Her husband is wearing the identical shirt as she is, only in a more feminine color. Go fig. No other sightings, though. Heck, I don’t even see many comic t-shirts on display today. (No, my t-shirt today is from the GAP, not Graffiti.)

Security was fun. I didn’t get frisked. My sneakers didn’t get personally inspected. My laptop wasn’t specially touched, poked, or prodded. I did, however, briefly lose my boarding pass when passing through the X-Ray machine. Turns out I left it underneath the laptop, though. No worries. It’s all good.

So here I sit. It’s 1:14 now. The air conditioning unit is directly over my head and pouring ice cold air down my t-shirt and exposed arms. I figure if I keep typing that I’ll stay warm. I notice the two rows of seats directly in front of me are pushed so close together that nobody could possibly walk down the aisle.

Oh, god, that women with the high pitched piercing NJ accent is shrieking about twenty feet away. “Ohmygawd!” Shoot me now.

I read Rick Geary’s THE MURDER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN already. That’s his latest in the series of Victorian Murders, and it’s more detailed than anything I ever learned in public school. This should be a textbook. Geary has a fascinating way of raising questions while telling a story. You’re curious to go read more, even knowing that there probably isn’t a definitive answer. Pretty sneaky, Rick.

It’s pretty densely packed with information, but it never gets confusing. John Wilkes Booth was the leader of a much larger conspiracy, which mostly fell apart. Even with all those names to keep straight and facts to throw out there, Geary’s linear storyline made it all simple to digest.

Geary’s artwork combines maps and architectural renderings with historical recreations and good old fashioned cartooning. You might think it quaint or over-inked at first glance, but reading through the book clears it all up. It’s enjoyable.

The hardcover is available from NBM Press and better comic shops today. I don’t have a price with me, since I left the dustjacket behind. I suspect it’s under $20, though.

The guy next to me is grumbling again. I’m at a good enough angle that he’ll never know I’m typing about him. If he or his wife are sitting near me, I fear I won’t get the chance to crack open the Greg Rucka novel I brought for plane reading with me this year. I need some level of quietness to read a novel. I’m not good with distractions on that. Thankfully, I brought the iPod with me. The battery should last another 5 hours. I brought plenty of podcasts. Coverville keeps me occupied.

This laptop’s battery won’t last those five hours, though. Maybe I’ll shut down and dig into Rucka’s prose now. Or a crossword puzzle. Or a podcast. Or I’ll people watch. I only have an hour to kill here, but I’m already bored.

There’s a guy on his cell phone about ten feet away making sure his roommates can check into the hotel since he’s delayed. And I see a small grouping of guys over to the left that look like comics people. Yup, they’re swapping portfolios. OK, things are starting to feel right now.

See you in San Diego.

The flight is now delayed until 4 p.m. Tonight is a wash out.

I hate you, Continental Airlines.

I hate you, Hurricane Dennis.

My plane landed at close to 11:30 p.m. East Coast time.

The flight crew came in from Washington around 3:30 or so, after we were warned over the p.a. system that they had landed, but at the wrong terminal so it would take longer. What, the lightning fast rail line between terminals wasn’t working?

In the meantime, I started a magazine filled with “E-Z Crossword Puzzles” and could feel valuable IQ points being shaved off every time I ran across a clue for a three letter answer “___ Chaney.” I took a walk though the terminal and found a newsstand with more challenging crosswords. My brain returned to fighting form.

Sitting in the terminal by myself for nearly four hours, though, I came to learn how it is that some people can talk on their cell phones all day. Those were the only real conversations I had in the afternoon, and they kept me sane.

We boarded at 4:00. We taxied away from the gate. We stayed there. We didn’t move. The pilot came over the p.a. system to let us know that he was shutting down the engines to conserve gas. We got the all clear to hit the runway at 6:30. Quote the pilot, “For those who have forgotten — this is what a moving plane feels like.”

Yes, we had forgotten. The natives were getting restless. While we were sitting on the tarmac with the engines off, they played video of a recent episode of a stupid sit-com, and a couple of anchors thanked us for flying with them. It would have done wonders for morale in the plane if we had actually started flying with them at that point.

When we landed, the pilot thanked us for our patience. Poor guy. But, you can’t kill the messenger, can you? And I have to give him credit — it was the softest landing I’ve ever experienced at that airport, notorious as it is for its extremely short runways.

Of course, none of this might have been necessary if they had just kept the original departure time of 11:50 a.m. that everyone on the plane had purchased their ticket for. I think it’s kind of sleazy for an airliner to change a flight’s schedule like that. If they pull that trick next year, they’re not getting my business again.

Got to San Diego and went straight to baggage. I checked two pieces. The first piece came up right away. The second piece showed up about a half hour later. In the meantime, I had memorized the order of the unclaimed luggage that was circling around — grey large, green duffel, black mid-size, black Samsonite, black generic small bag, black bag with red yarn on handle, black golf club bag.

And, to make a very long story very long, that’s how we get to here. I skipped over dinner, the pedicab ride, and the taxi cab, but those aren’t all that interesting for all of you.

I blew threw the first 100 pages of that Rucka novel while on the plane, by the way.

I also recorded a podcast when I got here. While it was far too late to record it at the convention center, I came up with a secondary idea. For the first ever soundseeing tour of a San Diego hotel room, click here. (4 minutes, 4 MB)

I’ll be back with more tomorrow. Right now, it’s shooting for 5 a.m. East Coast time. I’m tired.

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