After 2 days at the con, I felt like I'd acclimated. Thursday evening we were both wondering, do we really want to do this again? Today, I happily pre-registered for next year's con.
We arrived early today. Before 10:00 everyone seemed to be clustered on the east side of the hall, where the large company booths were. In that area, it was already difficult to move. As I moved toward the lower numbers, where the small press, dealers, and individual exhibitors were clustered, the crowds thinned out to nearly nothing.
The costumes, however, were already thick. I must have taken two dozen photos just walking from one end of the hall to the other this morning. I saw X-Men, Justice Leaguers, Bat-villains, Cylons, Spider-Men (both read and black), Venom, zombies, Death, Rorshach, G'Kar, tiger creatures, Jessica Rabbit and Betty Boop, several groups of Replicants... I even found Waldo and Carmen Sandiego!
Something I've noticed over the years: certain costumes go through a process of fatigue. A decade ago, if someone had their own stormtrooper costume, it was amazing. Everyone wanted to see it. Now, there are so many fans with their own costumes that it needs to have some sort of hook. A group costume with several troopers and an officer. Or a variation, like the infamous Elvis Stormtrooper, or the Samurai Stormtrooper from a few years ago. I'll walk straight past a lone stormtrooper without paying any attention these days.
Quick Draw was, as always, hilarious. Cartoonists Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw, and Mike Kazeleh (filling in for Kyle Baker) competed to speed-draw on topics suggested by the moderator or the audience, such as "New Jobs for the Hulk" (and later "New Jobs for Harry Potter.") One of the highlights was the Sergio Scenario, in which he started by drawing Groo charging into battle, and was told to add more and more elements to the picture. They auctioned of the finished drawing for the CBLDF for $325.
It's been years since I've worn a hall costume (you can tell since I still call it that instead of cosplay), so I'm not used to getting stopped by other fans. Last night, the Babylon 5: Lost Tales panel handed out medallions with flashing LEDs. People kept stopping me today and asking about it, which suggests that it's been a very successful ad gimmick.
By afternoon I realized that I hadn't adjusted to the crowd quite as well as I'd thought. I found myself staggering, dazed, through the floor, exhibiting the third-day convention stare. By then the west end of the main hall was as packed as the east end had been that morning, and the east end reminded me of the Persian army at Thermopylae, pressed forward by those behind them and unable to stop or change direction.
Accidental celebrity sightings continue. I was on the main floor, helping someone find the list of booths in the schedule, and heard shouts of, "Ray Bradbury, coming through!" The crowd parted, and sure enough, a few seconds later the author sailed through in his wheelchair.
There was a major problem with the big events. They've tried to jam as many high-profile media panels as possible into one day. This puts them up against each other, and forces them to compete for the largest rooms. Audience demand for the Heroes panel would have filled the largest hall, but Hall H had the Rogue/Focus Studios panel.
People who lined up more than two hours ahead for Heroes were still turned away from the room. It seems that if you want to hit one of the big events, you have to get in line the moment the doors open, then wait all day... and not do anything else. There were a lot of very unhappy people who waited in line for hours and weren't able to see what they wanted.
Ah, Saturday night! Headed back to the convention after dinner. The main floor and daytime panels were just letting out, so it was swimming upstream to the upper floor and the line for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer 10th Anniversary screening put on by Whedonopolis. As seemed to be the theme for the day, more people showed up than anyone was expecting. Fortunately, this time there were empty rooms all around. They were able to get a second room and extra time, for a second showing!
It started with a showing of the musical episode, "Once More, With Feeling," that quickly developed into a sing-along. After the episode got going, the room started breaking into parts on the duets and group numbers. People started waving lighted cell phones during the second half of "I've Got a Theory" and "Walk Through the Fire." After that was "Checkpoint." Don't worry, in a room full of Buffy fans, none of us recognized the title either, but it was the one where the Watcher's Council shows up to determine whether Buffy is worthy of information about Glory.
The showing ended around 11:00, and while the halls upstairs were full of people emptying out of the two rooms, plus no doubt the Warren Ellis event, once we got downstairs the main lobby was eerily empty and silent.
Following that was a walk through the Gaslamp district on a Saturday night. There was just enough cloud cover to add a halo around the moon. The square in front of the trolley station was still teeming with people coming and going. The walk up Fifth Street was an odd mix of fans from the con and normal downtown night spot traffic. There were people going clubbing, there was a bachelorette party, and there was even a group of college girls signing updated lyrics to "Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz?"
We finally made it to the Ghirardelli ice cream shop, which is not to be missed if you like chocolate or ice cream (and who doesn't?), followed by a return to the hotel.
Kelson's better half, back at the hotel.