Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recovering from Comic Con

Last night I drove 8 hours, stopping for a quick sandwich, to get back to Oakland. I unpacked the car, and then fell into bed, exhausted.

I am still recovering and mailing off eBay stuff. Lots of stuff. Tomorrow I might list some more.

The best things on eBay:
District 9 posters
T-shirts - Nightmare on Elm Street & Astro Boy
Tron replica coin
Green Lantern comic book, if you can believe that.

After all my whining, the giveaways were pretty darn good.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Comic Con 2009 Sunday - Still Standing in Line

We were here at 7am this morning, standing in a lonnnng line for about half an hour, only to be led into another line within the building. The line was much longer than the one I sat in on Friday, going into the same room. But, three hours later, here we are finally in the room, waiting another hour before the Smallville panel begins. And the rumor I had heard via Twitter was true: Tom Welling will be here for the first time. AND we got a Smallville hat handed to us when we came in the room!

There are two guys in costume standing in the aisle while others clap and take photos - Batman and Superman. The Batman is dressed in a stunningly realistic costume.

We have seen some amazing costumes along the way, but I'm usually in such a hurry to get somewhere that I can't take a photo. The masquerade was last night, and it sounds like 6,000 attended. I'm sure several hundred costumed fans paraded on stage.

The worst part for us for Comic Con is standing in line, and hoping we'll make it in. Room 6ABF, which we're in now, holds only 2,000. Apparently we were at the end of the first 1,000 or so, because we're halfway back. But for three hours of waiting in line, we will only be here an hour.

And the problem with walking and standing in line, for me, is all the stuff I'm lugging around.
1. My blue bag, filled with water, food, medication, toploader for fragile items, badge, and small Aspire computer (on which I'm typing).
2. My poster tube. I hate this thing, but I've gotten a lot of neat posters, many of which are still destroyed by the time I get back to the room.
3. Jacket, fanny pack, phone.

Try juggling all that and dashing to and from.

As a consequence of the crowds (over 125,000), the idea of picking one thing to do and sticking to that, as far as programming is concerned, is still a valid one. We didn't do that yesterday, as there was only one thing we wanted to see in Ballroom 20: V. So we woke up late, took our time getting there, wandered the convention floor, and then finally got in line 3 hours before the panel. We needed all of that time.

This is our last day, and this is my last post. We saved a bit of money this trip: we stayed in a timeshare, we took the trolley the 2 miles to the convention center at about $4/day; we tried to grab something cheap at the convention center, or, when we could, at Subway on the way.

And I've already booked the timeshare and my convention ticket for next year. I had a good plan for this year, but most of it didn't work out. There's always next year!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Comic Con 2009 - Saturday Night, Preparing for Oh-Dark-Thirty

I spent the evening placing new items on eBay, putting photos to my blog and Facebook. And throwing out some items I didn't want at all. Rick will take most of them to either his niece and nephews or the Senior Center to see if they want them. I have no use for six Sorority Row bottle openers.

We have to get up early again tomorrow for the Smallville panel. I don't watch the show, but there's nothing else to do on Sunday, so I will go with him so that we can get into the 6BDF room. We have to be there at around 7am in order to do that, so up at 5:30 or so (earlier for me).

So for the rest of the evening -- it's closing in on me, I can feel it in my eyes -- I will sort things into boxes and continue separating out the damn posters. I hate posters. It's just that they're so often lucrative.

Comic Con 2009 Saturday Still, on the Fringe

I talked Rick into staying 10 more minutes past V, past the Visitors trying to take over the Earth, to Fringe, which is every alien for him- or herself.

V looks very interesting. As Rick reminded me, they took 2 hours of the old story and distilled it into 45 minutes for the modern version. And they injected some modernism, aka terrorism, into the mix. So we have aliens among us, those who have lizard scales under human skin. And some are good, meaning they like us and will help us in our resistance, and the others want to use us for their food supply. I think I'll continue to watch it.

And after our 10 minutes of Fringe, we'll head to 29A again to the Fulfillment Room to pick up whatever free item we got during the Simpsons panel. What could that be?

Comic Con 2009: Saturday - In Search of Ballroom 20

I'm finally sitting in Ballroom 20 after spending two-and-a-half hours on my feet. Rick and I wandered from tent to tent in a tightly-controlled line in an effort to get into see "V", the first full episode of the new series. The show was going on at 2:45pm, so we got in line at 11 to make sure we had plenty of time.

Before that, we trolled around the dealer's huge room for freebies, and found quite a few, including Twilight posters and cards, Gamer posters, a Coraline piece of memorabilia to promote the DVD release, Stargate posters, and more. We roamed around and found Jeff Conaway (Babylon 5 and Grease!) and Nichelle Nichols signing autographs at the Wizard booth, Leonard Nimoy signing at another autograph booth, and many more I didn't recognize.

We got caught up in the moment at the Stargate booth when they were giving away an Amanda Tapping autograph. I thought it was a pre-autographed photo, but when I won one, I realized I get a wristband, have to return at 3pm, stand in line for an hour or more for her to sign 100 autographs, and then have something for her to sign. I couldn't do any of that, so I pointed to the guy next to me in the big crowd, and he got it. We were actually hoping to win some DVDs, but that didn't happen.

We keep going by the Paramount booth to see what they're giving away. We actually tried to get in line this morning, which loops over by the Cafe and on down by the wall for several hundred feet, but had to give up when we realize that all those wristbands had been given away. Oh, well....I didn't want a foam Vulcan finger anyway.

It's now close to 3pm and we still haven't seen any programming yet, but that's about to start. We hope to see the entire first episode of "V".

Friday, July 24, 2009

Comic Con 2009: It's still Friday and I'm Trying Not to Get Trampled

I'm currently sitting on the floor in the lobby of the convention center itself. My back is to the wall, but my torso and feet are still exposed to people walking by who are texting or generally not paying attention. The WiFi isn't bad here.

I sat through the Prisoner to get to Spartacus. The Prisoner is a remake of that Patrick McGoohan TV show, only this one will be a 6-hour miniseries this fall, playing on three consecutive nights. It's the old question of who's a prisoner to whom, why, yada yada yada.
The difficulty with the first TV show, which was one of my mother's favorites, was that it was boring. I have no doubt this one will suffer the same fate. At least it ends after three nights.

Spartacus looks a bit more interesting. It's too bad it's on Starz, a premium channel I don't have. Lucy plays Lucretia. I'm not sure what role she plays, but she's a devil and obviously enjoys gladiators a great deal. The hero of the piece, Spartacus, couldn't make it to the panel, but sent the usual video greeting. It was nice to hear Stephen DeWright and Rob Tapert talk about how they put it together, the training camp they made everyone (except Lucy) go through, and how they've put some bucks into the production of this show, which is filmed in New Zealand.

Lucy said she almost didn't take the part, as she would have to return to Kiwi Land after living in the States for 8 years. But then she finally figured out that Rob (her husband) wouldn't be returning from New Zealand any time soon because that's where he works. So she joined up, and said that everything has worked out very well for the family. I assume that means the kids are happy, etc., there.

It took me half a mile of walking, and giving advice to other fans who wondered where to cash in their giveaway ticket, when I finally found Room 29A and got my Spartacus goodie bag. Without looking inside, I grabbed it and went off to lunch at the new Hilton, very near the line-up to Hall H. I saw in passing that I would never get into Hall H with that line, so I messaged Ricky that I wouldn't be joining him.

I should mention that I talked at length with one of my seatmates. She was seated in the disabled seat next to me in the middle of The Prisoner panel, and toward the end asked me if I could tell her anything about the show. She told me during the break that she and her boyfriend are splitting up most of the time to see different panels. She follows various shows and wants to see those, like 24. "I watch a lot of TV," she said, almost apoligizing, as she asked me if I watched Dollhouse, Burn Notice, and on and on. She tells the Elite Squad she's disabled -- she has a pacemaker, a bad back, and hearing loss (and forgot her hearing aids today) -- so they seat her in one of the chairs for the disabled, usually near the front. So she doesn't have to stand in the ridiculous lines like the rest of us. After Spartacus, she had five minutes to make it to the 24 panel, and so she said goodbye and left.

As I sat at my table at the Hilton Bayfront in their Grill, waiting for someone, anyone, to notice I was there and take my order, a woman at the table next to me came over and said hello. She said she had noticed I was carrying the Spartacus bag around and wanted to see what they had given me. All the women at the table worked with Starz, but hadn't been able to make it to the panel. As I showed her, she helped me figure out who the autographed photo was, and I still don't remember what she said, but he's not one of the major characters and wasn't at the panel. How interesting!

A brief note about giveaways: In my discussions with several fans at the convention, we all agreed that this convention is well short of giveaways in comparison with years past. Yes, some of the booths are gone, like Inkworks and Sci Fi, but that's no excuse.

Comic Con 2009: Friday, and Bring on the Swag

Ricky and I split up today, probably the only day this will happen. I want to see Lucy Lawless on the Spartacus panel in Room 6BCD, and he headed off to view more movie stuff at Hall H. So we each got in separate lines. I know that I got in before he did, took the escalator upstairs, asked directions, went through the autograph Sails Pavilion where people were already lining up for autographs, and got in line to get in line. I.e., there was a line for all 6-labeled rooms, but I found other Farscape fans (that program starts the day in 6BCD), and after an hour of trying to find an internet connection, we were led through the cavernous halls to the other side to wait in the "real" life for 6BCD.

One of the guys in line -- he looked to be in his mid- to late 20's, told me that he hung around with the Farscape actors some 7 or 8 years ago because his mother was involved in production. He got them all into Disney World for free somehow, and had some stories about Gigi Edgeley that were very funny. She's quite funny and sanely insane; I met her before a couple of times, briefly, at the Farscape convention and Comic Con Sci Fi Channel autograph sessions. That's when it's a lot of fun while you're waiting in lines: talking to the other fans. Truthfully, I couldn't get into much of a discussion about Farscape because I stopped watching it after the second year when they killed off too many of my favorite characters.

So I am now sitting in Room 6BCD -- we've been here a little over an hour. The internet connection is much better in here, and so I'm blogging away. Got a good seat in front of the panel. And to the side of the screen so that I can see The Prisoner when they screen the entire first episode, the programming after Farscape. And then there will be Spartacus, Lucy, and lots of giveaways for those 2,000 of us who got here early, gave away our sleep, and worship the pop culture devil.

It's getting easier to blog, except for the people who are constantly coming and going in the row. But I'm getting the hang of it.

We just had the hour-long Farscape panel, and it was great to see Brian Henson, whose company handles the visual effects and puppetry, Claudia Black, Ben Browder, and producer Rockne O'Bannon, who started the whole thing some 10 years ago. There is so much fandom surrounding this Farscape phenomenon that products keep coming out, like repackaged DVDs and miniseries.

So, now I have to sit through the new Prisoner treatment, which stars Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel. And then Spartacus.

Comic Con 2009: Thursday - Johnny Depp and All Kinds of Strange Things

We got off the trolley Thursday morning just before 7am, and walked the long walk along the front of the Convention center to where the ultra-long line for Hall H would be. Hall H holds 6500 people, the largest room, and is the site where the major networks and movie houses -- like Summit, Sony, Paramount, etc. -- show what they're going to release soon. It's major.

They changed a lot of how we line up for Hall H, and we had to walk about half a mile through stanchions quickly raised. We noticed the tents in front where the Twilight people had set up shot the night before -- those were gone and replaced by standing, or sitting, or sleeping, teenaged and young adult women, talking eagerly among themselves.

We waited over 3 hours, sitting on the grass outside -- thankfully the fog helped us by keeping it cool -- and then filed into the3 massive Hall H. Everybody rushed for the bathroom.

There are only about 20 stalls in the women's restroom, although we are thankful we don't have to leave the hall for the restroom -- which is ridiculous when you consider it seats 6,500 people. So, I don't need to say that there were long lines constantly. And a dearth of supplies, although the workers did the best they could.

Hall H features movies, movies, and movies, and that's what we were there for.

First up was Disney, Disney 3D. We were given plastic 3D glasses when we walked in, along with a Tron movie giveaway. We put the glasses on at each 3D presentation during the day, and I'm very glad to say I did not suffer any headaches. When I looked at the screen to the right and above me, though, I couldn't see the 3rd dimension, so I had to watch the faraway screen. We watched trailers for Disney's A Christmas Carol, and talked with director Robert Zemeckis. The effects and sound were spellbinding, and it was actually a very scary combination when Jacob Marley insisted we were going to meet our past and our future. Comedian Jim Carrey plays 8 parts in the film. He wasn't so funny here.

Then Tim Burton came out to show us some limited footage of his Alice in Wonderland. Patton Oswalt, funny man and voice of Emil in Ratatouille, pressed him to see if he had anything else to show us. Tim kept saying no, no, but then he brought out a friend of his: Johnny Depp. The crowd went wild, as you could expect. He was dressed very nicely, with longish hair, and only said hello, goodbye, and trumpeting, "This is Tim Burton!" The footage we saw, yes, in 3D, was simply amazing. We all know the story, of course, but it sounds like, from Tim's answers to fan questions, that he tinkered with the story a lot. The characters were bizarre-looking for distinctly recognizable. Johnny plays the Mad Hatter. Of course.

Disney ended its presentation with footage and some drawings from Tron. Tron has just begun principal shooting, and won't be finished until at least summer 2010. The motorcycle race they showed us was thrilling, and it stars Jeff Bridges, who starred in the original one -- and he was there on the panel -- but it doesn't look terribly spectacular. There was simply no buzz in Hall H. Time will tell. We'll probably see them again next year.

Next we saw a 3D presentation of some footage from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The title makes perfect sense when you see the trailer, as an inventor changes the weather to feed the homeless to very funny results. The pizzas really popped off the screen.

The Hole is another film presented, also in 3D. Cheap, stupid, horror film. The entire hall thought this was a great miss.

And Final Destination. New ways to die in 3D. This is the 4th film, I believe, and a lot of money has been poured into this one. I saw the first one, and it was cheaply made but with some good ideas. But I don't like horror/slasher films. The extended footage killed off at least 20 good-looking coeds.

Next was Summit Entertainment: Astro Boy, Sorority Row, and the new Twilight film, New Moon. Astro Boy brought out stars Freddie Highmore and Kristen Bell to say hi and then disappear. The trailer looks promising, but it's still a kid's animation movie.

Sorority Row features about 8 gorgeous women in college who have to cover up when one of them is killed due to a practical joke. The audience recognized several women from previous low-budget films, but I only knew Rumer Willis, daughter of Demi and Bruce, who seemed to hold her own; she has a unique look apart from the other model-looking Barbies.

Half the audience had been waiting for this moment, which came at about 1:45pm: the debut of Twilight: New Moon. Cast members were: Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Kristin Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and the woman who plays Alice Cullen, his sister. Taylor has obviously changed his appearance, as there had been rumors he would be fired. Apparently Jacob in the 2nd book gains in height, weight and muscle.
At least the Jacob we saw gained some muscle. They showed two clips. At least the screaming stopped for the clips. Not sure I'll see this one, although I did vaguely enjoy Twilight (the movie).

Somewhere in there I walked outside to get hot dogs for us. They'll allow you to go slightly beyond Hall H doors to get food, but that's it.

Finally, Avatar. Most of the people in that hall knew something about the movie, but not awfully much. They knew, though, that wunderkind James Cameron had been making this film for over 4 years, waiting for the technology to catch up. The star, Sam Worthington, who was in Terminator 3, couldn't be there, but we viewed a little video from him on set of his next film. He wore those little things on his body like Andy Serkis did to make Gollum real in Lord of the Rings. Jim mentioned that Gollum was an inspiration, so he took his dusty manuscript out of the drawer and went back to work, knowing that the technical aspects of combining human with technological image could now work for this film.

Much to my surprise, Sigourney Weaver walked on stage, and received a rousing ovation from the fanboys and -girls. She stars as a botanist in the film, and appeared in a couple of the shots Cameron showed us. I have to say, the 3D in Avatar popped like nothing else! The colors of this new world they showed us were real and unreal at the same time. And the creature that Worthington played had little floppy ears and a tail that moved independently. Zoe Saldana, she who plays Uhura in the new Star Trek movie, came out to talk to us, and she plays one of the indigenous species who helps this new avatar.

We stayed for one more, because who could resist Terry Gilliam? It seems like he spends his entire career finding financing for his next movie and then finally makes it. His movies are so dark they don't tend to do well. However, this one, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, is Heath Ledger's last role, and he wasn't able to finish it. However, Gilliam is obviously working around that issue. He showed a lot of footage to us, and it looks just amazing.

The trick of all of these films, especially the three I liked seeing footage the most -- Avatar, Dr. Parnassus, and Alice in Wonderland -- will only work if there's a decent story, a good script, and we have no idea if that's true. But I will be there to find out when they open.

Comic Con 2009: Preview Night and Preview Night

I am so far beyond the Padres game that I can't really talk about it. The Marlins' pitcher was on. There was very little hitting on either side. The park is absolutely beautiful, perched near the bay, but with a design that sometimes makes it hard to find your way, or even your way out.

At 3:30pm, I found Ricky near the stairs of the convention center, and we got in line for registration. Registration was really easy, but registering for 2010, something we wanted to take care of, was difficult. That was so easy last year: just step up to a computer, enter your information, and you're done. The computers were done. But that gave me time to call Debbie at home and ask her some questions. By the time the computers were up, in about 15 minutes, I registered for her, too, for next year.

There are a couple of things I wanted to definitely do at the convention. One of them was pick up the Joss Whedon Dollhouse DVD that I had pre-ordered. It has a letter from Joss, numbered within 2500. And I wanted to sell it on eBay.

For the first time ever, they offered programming on Wednesday night. We wanted to see the entire first episode of V, the remake of the TV miniseries from the '80's, but I insisted on going into the convention floor vendor area to get that DVD. Two hours later, I had the DVD and we had trolled up and down, trying to find free stuff. I did collect some, but I noticed that some booths that were great for that are no longer there, like Inkworks or the Sci Fi Channel.

As we always do on our first night, we took the free shuttle over to the Ralph's store, got our provisions, and were about to get back on the shuttle to take us back to the convention center, and then on a trolley to take us to the Worldmark (WM) unit when I noticed a cab. We took the cab. It cost $6.50. We were tired.

We had to get up at 5:15am the next morning. So I posted a few things on eBay and then we hit the sack.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

San Diego, Day 1: The Padres and Checking In

I made it here, and I'm safely in the Worldmark unit at the corner of A and 11th Streets. Right across the street from community college life, which means lots of transients and fast food restaurants. So, dicey neighborhood. But otherwise a good location.

I am going to the Padres game (Who are they playing? Who cares.) this afternoon. Then, after that, meeting Ricky by the stairs at the convention center around 3pm. Registration starts at 3pm and continues to 6, and then programming (like the full first episode of "V") and the vendor's room opens at 6.

Even on preview night, I'm not sure we can do it all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Road to San Diego

I'm driving to San Diego tomorrow, and the plan is to get there and check in before it gets dark. That means I have to leave at oh-dark-thirty.

The car is packed with boxes to hold onto all the swag I'll pick up. And tubes for posters. Ugh. I hate posters.

I printed out my directions (once I got the printer to work), but I'm really relying on my GPS. I'm sure it'll find the place.

Then, on Wed afternoon, I'll catch the Padres game. Then meet up with Ricky by about 3pm.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The A's, the Boosters and the General State of Things

The Oakland Athletics come back home for the 2nd half, which begins tomorrow night. The season is already over, save a big 40-game winning streak. And I expect that, by the time I get back from Comic Con, Matt Holliday will be playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Or some team like that.

He is definitely not worth keeping at this point. Blame it on the American League pitching staff, or the Coliseum itself, with its long lines to the fence and a lot of foul territory. Whatever it is, this is not optimal for the likes of Holliday. He is not failing miserably, batting above .275 currently, but he is certainly not living up the All-Star that he once was.

I just got through reading his blog. I'm reading between the lines here, but I think he's looking forward to a move away from Oakland.

The Boosters are having a luncheon on Friday, two days from now. I will endeavor to be there early so that I can help out if needed. Marty Lurie will be the MC and I always enjoy him.

At a recent board meeting, I asked those present (about 13) what they thought of Matt Holliday, and every single one of them wanted him to move on. So we get a draft pick or, if Billy can trade him before the July 31st deadline, a shortstop or something like that. Nobody is sorry to see him go. It goes beyond his average, which is solid. It's hitting in key situations. It's the fact that he's not a cheerleader.

We also thought about the fact that there used to be 1,000 booster members, and now there are barely more than 300. It's the fact that Lew Wolff keeps coming out publicly to shoot himself in the foot. The A's are moving. We just don't know where. And people are angry. And the fact that they're playing below .500 (maybe .333?) doesn't help.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Got a Condo Made of Stone-a

I finally got to go see the King Tut exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco last week.

Some friends and I went, and thank goodness we all agreed to go early. I got the tickets for us to go in at the earliest time available on a Tuesday morning, and we were there 45 minutes before they even opened the doors. Once we got in, we each bought headphones for the audio tour, and wended our way through the maze of artifacts.

The Tutankhamun exhibit from Egypt is so small, only 50 pieces, that they filled it in with artifacts from other royalty. Some of those pieces (particularly regarding his father, Akhenaten and stepmother Nefertiti) were outstanding. But the piece de resistance, the pieces of the Tut exploration, lay at the end of this maze, and were truly awesome.

Of note:
Inlaid Pectoral with Winged Scarab necklace
Coffinette for the Viscera of Tutankhamun

Chest for jewelry made of ivory
Box in the shape of a cartouche (ebony/ivory)

And my favorites:
Child's Ebony/Ivory Chair with Footrest
Inscribed ivory Game Board with 20 squares.

I kept staring at the pieces, some of them laden with gold, shining in the carefully placed spotlights, wondering how such artifacts could have survived more than 3,000 years. Many of the artifacts are just wood. It is truly amazing. And piecing together what the Boy King was like during the ten years of his reign -- king at the age of 9, and dead by the age of 19 -- is a mystery unravelled.

King Tut (song by Steve Martin)
King Tut (King Tut)
Now when he was a young man,
He never thought he'd see
People stand in line to see the boy king.

(King Tut) How'd you get so funky?
(funky Tut) Did you do the monkey?
Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia (king Tut).

(king Tut) Now, if I'd known
they'd line up just to see him,
I'd trade in all my money
And bought me a museum. (king Tut)

Buried with a donkey (funky Tut)
He's my favorite honkey!
Born in Arizona,
Moved to Babylonia (king Tut)

Dancin' by the Nile, (Disco Tut)
The ladies love his style, (boss Tut)
Rockin' for a mile (rockin' Tut)
He ate a crocodile.

He gave his life for tourism.
Golden idol!
He's an Egyptian
They're sellin' you.

Now, when I die,
now don't think I'm a nut,
don't want no fancy funeral,
Just one like ole king Tut. (king Tut)

He coulda won a Grammy,
Buried in his Jammies,
Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia,
He was born in Arizona, got a condo made of stone-a,
King Tut!

Preparing for Comic Con 2009

Comic Con is in less than 2 weeks, and I have started preparing. There are many challenges inherent in the largest convention in the world. Those who have been know what I mean.

1. There is too much to do. I know, having all those choices is a drag, right? The only solid advice I can give to Con goers is to find one thing in programming, and stick with that. That's if your beloved so-and-so panel is in a large room, like Hall H. For Hall H, or some of the other large rooms (Ballroom 20, for instance), getting there at 6 am, and having a seat outside on the grass is not a bad plan. Particularly if it's Twilight Day.

My plan is to let my nephew Rick decide which programming hall we're going to go for, and get in line with him. EVERYthing at the Con is just easier if there are two people.

Why Hall H? All the movie programming. Why Ballroom 20 ? or 6ABCDE? All the TV programming. And the best giveaways at any convention.

2. Lining up for Hall H at 6 am. No food. No toilets. No chairs. Cold. Need I say more?

3. Making your way through the vendor's room. It's massive. My legs will be sore on Friday, if not Thursday. They will be downright dead on Saturday. The good part about sitting in Hall H all day is that your legs and feet can rest. However, your butt will hurt.

4. Making your way through the vendor's room on Preview Night. On Wednesday night, all the 4-day pass people can get in. It used to be that all you could do on Wednesday night was wander through the room, picking up a freebie here and there. But now there is programming at night at the same time. There are also freebies galore, but some items disappear quickly. For instance, the big bags for Warner Bros. went within minutes. And you need a big bag to carry all your freebies from the vendor's room.

5. Making your way through the vendor's room: worth repeating one more time. Because on the busy days -- Friday and Saturday -- people upon layer of people will be in the aisles, pushing and shoving. The worst will be people with backpacks, who, when they turn, can take out a whole row of Hobbits with one swish. Those are probably the only days in my life I'm thankful for large girth.

6. Gathering up all the freebies on the vendor floor. Each booth has its own giveaways. Some have great ones - the major studios like Sony, Warner Bros., and the Sci Fi Channel (now the SyFy Channel) - others give out crap. I try to determine immediately what's worth keeping and what isn't, especially since that bag gets heavy after awhile. Then we make the circuit time after time again.....all in the same day.

7. Collecting the freebies and putting the best on eBay. I used to take it back to my hotel room, which was across the street from the convention center. Now my room is 2 miles away. So, I'm going to try something new this year: posting eBay items there at the convention. There should be WiFi all around the halls. I'm bringing my little computer, which weighs just a couple of ounces. And today I practiced posting photos I had taken with my camera on eBay (a totally different system than I'm used to). I also discovered last year that the first people to post stuff will get the most watchers, the most bidders, and the most bids. And it will mean that I can fill dead time during programming with posting.

8. Going to and from the hotel. I'm not sure how this will go. I'm hoping to take the free con shuttle, which stops about 3 blocks from where we're staying. But I don't know how the hours will work. It will certainly be a challenge.

By the time Sunday gets here, I will most likely be sick of the place and wanting to rest. That has happened every year. But by then we're already planning our trip next year.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Visit with Joshua Roberts, Professional Actor

We got up rather late on Wednesday morning, and called Josh to set up a meeting place. As it turns out, he doesn't have a car -- he's a poor, starving student, remember -- and so we had to meet him at his dorm room several miles south of the playhouse.

It took some doing, but Sweetie can find a needle in a mapless haystack, and we indeed found him at the end of the dorm construction zone. We picked him up and he suggested a little place in Sonoma, yes, several miles from there, called Hank's Creekside Cafe. We settled in, ordered breakfast, and stayed for over 2 hours chatting about the play, his process, politics, etc.

He explained The Method to me as Lee Strasberg interpreted Stanislavski, and that Daniel Day-Lewis may be the last user of The Method in modern acting. But Josh doesn't believe in it. He did say, though, that the physical blocking of scenes helps form his character as much as memorizing the lines. Some directors don't even want you to memorize your lines, preferring instead to work out the character with you as practice progresses.

We went to see Josh play "Gooper" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that night, getting even better seats this time, as we were right in the middle, right behind the liquor cabinet in Maggie and Brick's bedroom. That liquor cabinet is visited by almost all the players, so we got a good look at them. I thought about putting something else in the ice chest, but obviously tinkering with the objects on stage is forbidden.

It was a really nice treat after the play, too, when I got to meet informally several of the actors. They were all very good. This was one Cat that sizzled.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Plays in Santa Rosa

Yesterday we drove up to Santa Rosa to see a professional actor, Joshua Roberts, in two plays at Santa Rosa Junior College.

We saw the first one, Barefoot in the Park, last night. It was sold out.

It's a small, modern theatre, maybe about 150 seats, about the same size as the Altarena, but in a different configuration. All of the seats are stadium, meaning each seat behind us was raised, and, as you can imagine, every seat is a good seat. We were in the front row.

Josh is an old family friend. He and Jamie were in several high school plays together, usually musicals, as both have fine voices. Tonight was not a musical but a comedy, and we were anxious to see how he'd fare. We found with much deligh that the program said he would play the lead in Neil Simon's play, the Paul Bratter character, the one that made Robert Redford famous.

He was absolutely splendid. He got every beat of the comedy, as this character actually has most of the clever lines. We're meeting him in about half an hour for brunch, so I'm sure we'll talk about the play. Much fun.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks at Home

We had a great 4th of July bash, this after Maryann and Aaron got together and decided to have one. At my house.

Well, that's fine, because we can control most everything here, including what to eat and drink. And I was quite surprised when a couple of guests pitched in when the party was drawing down and washed dishes and brought in all the food. Then Sweetie figured out where the leftovers would go, something I can never decide.

So, after the picnic table outside and the kitchen table inside was cleared off, I could take over. I just loaded the dishwasher at 10pm last night, and then mopped the floor.

Another hassle, of course, was taking out the trash and recycle. The recycle pile is HUGE outside, and some of it is covered with ants. Damn things. So I took the stuff that would cause the most ant drool and tossed that into the trash can. (The trash can isn't full.)

Great food - kosher hot dogs, BBQ'd chicken, salad, vegetarian baked beans, potato salad. And Dawn & Mark brought ice cream, which was the good stuff. Plus, I drank Splendafied lemonade, sun tea, a little wine, and a little of the mint julep. The mint julep was the culprit for the sticky floor. Yechh.