Sat, May 1
May Day! May Day!
Robert finally staggers out of the hotel and hunts down lunch (breakfast?)
at the nearby (cheap) Cafe Venue, which looks like it's left over from the
60's and is staffed entirely by Hispanics.
Laura was an early starter and left for the convention at least half-an-hour
After breakfast, Robert stumbles over to the convention center where nothing
much is going on. It's more crowded for some reason (apparently, some comic
book fans have jobs), but not the overwhelming crowds we ran into at the
Comic-Con in San Diego (the
World's Largest Comic Convention).
There's also more people wandering around in costumes today, even though
there's no costume competition. These are just folks who like to dress up
as super-heroes and walk around the convention. There's one particularly
impressive couple, dressing as some kind of electric guy (Robert thinks it's
a bad guy) and Storm from the X-Men. They're from Atlanta and just do this
for fun. Electro-boy (or whoever) even rigged up a spark generator on his
finger to make a little electrical arc.
Electro-boy(?) and Storm (or--a lightning storm! nyuk nyuk)
Thank ya very much--be sure to tip your sergeants!
Lt. Boomer finished his book, and today is reading the newspaper. Keef says
that he's always looked pissed whenever he sees him--probably because nobody
is paying for his autograph...
See Boomer read a newspaper!
There's also a brain thing crawling around the lobby, which we think is The
Brain from Pinky and The Brain (an animated TV show). It's a nice looking
brain costume ("Well-formed cortex there, pal!"), but at only three-feet
in height it looks uncomfortable.
The floor crawling brain
One of the Fett boys (Boba? cousin Bubba?) puts in an appearance
Robert finally catches up with Laura at a presentation from the Schulz museum,
where we discover that Robert has a forbidden book. At the Comic Art Museum
Rent Party on Friday, he bought the new collection of Peanuts comics (1950
to 1952) because he hadn't seen it anywhere else.
Turns out he hadn't seen it anywhere else because it hasn't actually been
released yet. The Museum people were talking about how "for the first time
in the entire world" it would be released on Monday. Whoopsie! Don't tell
Erik Larsen signs a book for Laura (and no, nothing's wrong with his
arm--that's how he draws)
We're pretty sure that a Comic-book convention is the only place in the world
where you could show a bunch of movie previews and pack a giant hall. Sure
enough, there's a program that consists of showing movie previews, and the
place is packed (and we're there, too, of course).
They also had some talking heads yapping about the movies, generally in inverse
proportion to how cool the movie looked. Here's a quick run-down of the movies
that will be invading theaters this summer:
Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow
This is a "retro-science fiction"
movie (and, try as we might, we can't think of a better phrase for it). It's
like Buck Rogers, only with cooler specials. We like the planes that flap
their wings to fly. Apparently, robots invade the world or some such thing,
and Mr. Hero (Jude Law) has to save the world. According to one talking head,
every single shot in the entire movie is an effects shot.
If you really, really liked the book, you should probably stay home. The
Asimov stories were all clever little stories where the hero triumphed by
thinking. In this movie, the hero (Will Smith) triumphs by shooting, swinging,
and swashbuckling. Robots invade the world (where have we heard this before?)
and Mr. Hero has to save the world. The specials look cool.
Alien vs Predator
Every time we think about this movie, we wonder, "Which
is faster--the Millennium Falcon or the Enterprise?" Apparently, Alien monster
creatures and Predator creatures are fighting in Antarctica (and they're
not using just snowballs), and humans are caught in the crossfire and there's
much drama and tension and lots and lots of special effects. At least there're
Oh, that Lance Henriksen
The Day After Tomorrow
Once upon a time, this would have been called a "Disaster Movie." Apparently,
global warming melts all the ice and every place is flooded. But then, everything
gets really, really cold, and New York is frozen. So Mr. Hero (Dennis Quaid)
says we have to move everybody in the US north of Kansas (huh?). We liked
the part where tornadoes rip up the "Hollywood" sign.
This is the event we've looked forward to all day. It's called "Quick Draw"
and the idea is that they get five artists together and have them draw stuff.
The concept is simple.
In reality, because one of the artists is always Sergio Aragones, it usually
ends up being "Sergio upstages four other artists" because in the time it
takes the other guys to finish one drawing, Sergio has done four drawings,
and is playing with the microphone.
(In fact, one of the artists, Erik Larsen, didn't show up. We ran into him
later, and he said he wasn't up for it. We said, "Meaning, you didn't want
to be overshadowed by Sergio," and he nodded. If we were artists, we wouldn't
show up, either.)
Steve Leialoha in front of his drawing of "Hulk as programmer"
In the grand finale, Sergio starts with a drawing, and then the game host
keeps asking for more things to be added to it, and Sergio has to figure
out how to fit them in.
Draw a cat
Fleeing from a dinosaur
While being attacked by Bedouins
While a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat
Adding the (lady) magician to the drawing
And a WWI pilot strafes the area
And the flood waters rise
And giant insects attack
While a minstrel plays
And an asteroid hurtles down
And the aliens invade (which Sergio drew as Mexicans)
But it's all just a dream
Not only did Sergio fit all this on one page, but you can clearly identify
each element of it.
Robert gets to be Keith Knight again while Keef takes a quick break. He tells
people that he went to Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon and this was the
He also sells some "I'd rather be masturbating" bumper stickers to middle-school
kids. ("Hey kids, you want a day off from school? Stick these on
Fortunately, Keef comes back before Robert can corrupt too many young souls...
Kerstin and Keith Knight (or is it Robert?)
Keef, who makes an art out of surviving in San Francisco on practically
no money, has directed us to "Buca di Beppo," an Italian joint just down
It's sort of different--it's a series of rooms on two floors, joined by narrow
twisting passages. It's noisy, and busy and everybody's talking at once.
But the food's good (and cheap!).
For reasons known only to Italians, this photograph was in the men's
room. And for reasons known only too well to Laura, Robert had to
get a picture of it.
The "Pope Room" where you can dine with the blessing of John-Paul II
We sit next to what started as two black couples, but every couple of minutes,
another long-lost relative shows up. Turns out they're having a surprise
party for Momma, who turns 80 today. By the time we left, they had come up
with about 25 relatives and showed no sign of slowing down.
Sometimes, you have some time to kill and so you walk into a presentation
just so you can sit down, and it turns out to be the World's Dullest Presentation.
Not this time, though!
There's these guys who met at Kung Fu class, and they make bad Kung Fu movies
for fun. One of the guys got lucky in the Dot-Com boom and ended up with
$100K, so he decided to put it all into making more expensive bad Kung Fu
These films are a hoot, and the acting is every bit as bad as you would expect
(but the fight sequences are pretty good). These guys have a web site at
www.kwoon.com, where you can buy a DVD of a bunch of episodes.
An official Kwoon poster
To balance out the karma, we now have to sit through Little Orc's
Journey—“dedicated to Tolkein [sic] fans everywhere!”
Basically, it falls in the "Let's put on a play in the barn!" category of
filmmaking. On top of which, it's in black-and-white and is silent (with
bad honky-tonk piano as music).
And because we enjoyed Kwoon so much (and because there weren't enough questions),
they showed Little Orc again....
The next set of films balanced themselves out. One was a fake preview for
a Punisher movie, which was mostly incomprehensible and featured guns that
didn't have any muzzle flash or make any noise.
This was compensated for by The Return of Kool-Aid Man, another fake trailer,
this time for a movie featuring Kool-Aid Man (the giant pitcher from the
1970s ad campaign) as an action hero. Oh yeah!
This is actually the event we've been hanging around for: Star Wars Fan Films.
And to get the complete effect, we sit in the midst of the hard-core Star
Wars fans (next to two Stormtrooper Captains, and in front of an entire row
of guys who have lightsabers, can imitate the voice of any character in any
of the five Star Wars movies, and love to quote lines of dialog to each other).
They've seen all the Fan Films (of course) and so we get a mini-review of
each one as it starts (since they're all about Star Wars, they are all "really
Two of the films are actually pretty dang funny and we think that even non-Jedi
would like them.
A valley girl flies an X-Wing during the assault on the Death Star, and worries
about helmet hair. ("Little robot guy? I like, totally zoned out during the
briefing? So, like, the bad guys are in that big basketball, right?") Totally,
you know, awesome.
Featuring Boba Fett in a spoof of Crocodile Hunter ("Crikey! That little
Jedi sheila's a slippery one!"). He shows videos of his various Jedi captures.
We stagger back to the hotel. We don't worry about muggers, because there
are many Jedi knights on the streets tonight...
Robert & Laura