Cheap Geek Tour
Part 1


Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

Day 3

(Friday, April 30, 2004)

Laura works on the trip log while San Francisco wakes up

9:30 am

We had a gander at the menu for the restaurant conveniently located in the hotel. Yowza! Eight bucks for a bowl of Special K!

So, instead, we head for the International Food Court across the street that says it offers Breakfast and Lunch for cheap (cheap!).

We're sure it sounded great as a concept: "We'll offer food from around the world! For Breakfast!"

In reality, given a choice between Philippino, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and American food, we chose American. So did 95% of everybody else (the ones who didn't looked like they'd been up all night, so it was probably dinner for them). Although we're sure it was very scrumptious, the idea of having Kimchee and Ramen for breakfast didn't go over real well with us...

Since this was the International Food court, it wasn't entirely American. "Dong's Grill" (insert Dong joke here) also served Greek food. And was staffed by some Chinese folks who struggled with English.

Old man: "You like something to drink?"

Yes, I'd like a small, fresh-squeezed Orange Juice.

"No small. Only large."

Okay, a large fresh-squeezed Orange Juice.

(Then the son comes over to ring up our order.)

"You like something to drink?"

Yes, a large, fresh-squeezed Orange Juice.

"Sorry, out of fresh Orange Juice."

Okay, then a regular Orange Juice.

Old man: "You no like fresh-squeeze?"

Robert finally did get his orange juice, and we had 'Merican eggs and omelettes for breakfast.

A Dong breakfast

10:30 am

According to Robert's Mapping Software, there are 15 Starbucks within one mile of our hotel room. Naturally, when Robert decides to get a latte, it can't be a Starbuck's latte, it has to be "non-corporate." Which entails walking around the block looking for a local latte joint (there are two on our block).

But, along the way he sees a celebrity! It's Tom Servo (from Mystery Science Theater 3000, which we visited in the "I-State Trip"). Robert says "Hi" to Tom, and Tom (a little taken aback to be recognized on the street) waves and his arm falls off (which means he's a real Tom Servo, not an imitation).

Look, Dear, they sell souvenirs! Who'd a thunk it?

12:00 pm

Although the little brochure thing said the convention opened at 11:00 am, what that meant was "You can check in and then go stand in line for an hour." Fortunately, we staggered over at about 11:45, so we haven't had to stand in line for very long.

Standing in line, waiting to get in

Finally, about 12:15, the Powers-That-Be condescend to allow the riff-raff onto their convention floor.

The display floor is probably about 1/10th the size of the San Diego Comic-Con convention floor (as seen in The World's Largest Trip). There's none of the huge movie studio displays, and it's mostly places selling comic books and artists pushing their own stuff.

At Comic-Con, it took us two days to walk past all the booths, where here we can do it in half-an-hour (if we don't stop at anything). We stop, of course, and peer at things and gawk like tourists (which, after all, we are).

Some things we saw:

Timmy from Lassie! Timmy (Jon Provost) has his own booth here, where you can talk with him in person, and buy something or the other. Robert talked to him, because he looked lonely, and discovered (in a polite way) that basically, he hadn't done any other acting since Lassie. We thought this was sorta sad, but refrained from saying so.

Timmy's finally out of the well and selling pictures of him and Lassie


Boomer from Battlestar Galactica! Ever wonder what happened to "Boomer," the black pilot from Battlestar Galactica? Well, neither did we, but he's got a table here at Wondercon, where he sat and read a book. ("See Boomer read a book!")

bullet Guys who build 1/6th scale remote control tanks! There was an exhibit of guys who like to build WWII tank models and power them with old wheelchair motors ("Bay Area Tankers"). They don't take it too seriously (one tank is driven by a demon girl), but they're pretty damn impressive tanks. The guy explains to Robert (you think Laura would talk to people like this?) about how they sometimes use flash paper and paintballs to make it look like the tank is shooting stuff.

Little tanks. Little complicated tanks, driven by demon girls


501st Stormtrooper Legion! These guys like to dress up like Star Wars stormtroopers and hang around conventions in armor that looks very warm. We're sure they like to do other stuff, too (they probably do re-enactments or something--who knows what stormtroopers do when they're not being cannon fodder in Star Wars films?). The costumes look pretty sharp.


Who knew Stormtroopers had a club? Wonder what the meetings are like...

We also saw some good cartoonists, old and new. We definitely encourage you to visit their web sites:

Neurotica! by "Big Al, the gal" (her real name is Allison)
We'd never heard of her, but she was over talking to Paige Braddock, and complaining about how she wasn't selling anything, and nobody was visiting her booth, and she was bummed out. So we wandered over to her table and looked through her comics and found out that she's actually pretty good! Robert had to go fetch her so that we could buy some of her stuff ("You were so busy complaining about how you couldn't sell anything that we couldn't buy anything!"). Her strip is about a young woman who lives with her grandfather.

Big Al the Gal


Michael "The Norm" Jantze
One of our faves (Robert gets to nit-pick the comic books before they get printed). He's syndicated in about 75 newspapers. 

Cartoonist in action!

bullet Jane's World by Paige Braddock
Paige is sharing a booth with Michael (cutting down on our walking time). Turns out she's also the creative director at Charles Schulz studios (if we'd known, we could have gotten a tour of the studio, if we'd had time). Paige says her comics, which are collections of her strip, are starting to take off.


Paige signs an autograph for a fan (actually, it's her partner, Adrienne, who designs costumes for figure skaters)


Keith Knight, K Chronicles and (th)ink; also, he's got a band, The Marginal Prophets
Keef is now the "coolest person in San Francisco" according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He also does pretty funny and topical stuff, so we still like him. Of course, Robert will never (ever) let him forget the "coolest person" tag...

Laura & Keith Knight


Martin's Misdirection by James Burks
This is a comic strip about a magician and his rabbit, but it's actually pretty funny (with no vanishing humor!). He's another artist just starting out, so we like to encourage him.

You can tell he's a magician by the hat

2:00 pm

We go to see Sergio Aragones, who should come with a warning label ("Contents may cause injury from laughing too hard"). If you've ever read an issue of MAD Magazine in the last 41 years (since 1963, he's been in every issue but one), you probably remember those teeny little drawings in the margins.

Sergio does those. Turns out he draws them on tiny strips of paper, about 1" wide and 3" long. He's also a very funny guy, who looks like Salvador Dali and speaks with a Spanish accent, on account of the fact that he's from Mexico via Spain.

Sergio signs one of his "Groo" books for Robert

And if this weren't enough to like, we discover in this forum that Sergio was also an early champion of Artist's Rights. In the comic book/comic strip world, the publishing company has typically owned everything the artist creates. The guys who created Superman, for example, didn't own any rights to him, and they died broke.

After spending a couple of years in Europe in the late 1960's (where comic strip artists are in the same category as painters and sculptors), he decided he wasn't going along with this corporate fascist crapola. He'd walk away from deals if he didn't retain rights to his own art. (Yeah, it seems obvious now, but at the time, it wasn't.)

He was there talking about his comic book "Groo" (featuring the World's Dumbest barbarian). He had the idea in 1970, but had to wait until 1983 to publish the first one because he refused to give up the rights. It's still appearing irregularly, and has outlasted several of its publishers.

A participant joins a mailing list for droids

5:00 pm

Our feetsies are finally too tired to take any more walking around, so we head back to the hotel room, where we use the hotel mini-bar refrigerator to chill the sodas we bought at the 7-11 around the corner. (Pretty soon, we're going to have to take all the over-priced hotel drinks out of the refrigerator, just to make room for our stuff.)

6:00 pm

Laura's research leads us to the "Mela Tandoori" restaurant (formerly "The Shalimar," and the menu is a mish-mash of old and new, with some menu items whited out, others written in, and about five different typefaces). It's an Indian restaurant, and we sit on little stools and gobble down yummy food.

Laura at the Mela Tandoori

Curiously, though, when Laura orders sparkling water with a twistoff cap, it comes with a cork screw. We think they're practicing for when they get their liquor license.

8:00 pm

We head over to the Cartoon Art Museum, which is just around the corner. They are having a "Rent Party," where they hope to raise enough money to pay the rent. Mostly, it's standing around drinking wine and hobnobbing with cartoon artists (who are 90% of the crowd).

We're beginning to feel like jaded sophisticates ("Oh look, there's Sergio! Hi, Serg baby, we must do lunch!") instead of gawking fanboys, which means it's time for us to go home. Jaded folks don't have as much fun.

Our Rent Party tickets

Robert & Laura 
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