Weekend Update

Actually, this will be more of a Tuesday-Monday update, but that hasn’t got quite the same ring to it. Anyway…

In fact, I worked Tuesday, and then raced breathlessly home to await the arrival of houseguests, who, as it turned out, were actually arriving Wednesday. Well! Free night then.
The guests did arrive Wednesday afternoon, and after resting for a bit, declared that they’d like to visit a tourist attraction. Well, by that time of day, most everything was closing, except for the zoo and the maritime museum, both of which would be open until 9:00 PM. Even though seeing the “night time zoo” would have been interesting, we didn’t think we’d see enough of it to justify the $35 tickets. The maritime museum was a relative steal at $14, and we were able to see the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship; the HMS Surprise, from the movie Master and Commander; the Berkeley, a 19th century steam ferry; and the B-39, a Soviet attack submarine.

Our appetite for tourist attractions led us to Balboa Park on Thursday. The park was host to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. Many of the buildings constructed for these fairs still stand and house museums of all kinds. However, much of our time here was spent looking for Geocaches. We found almost a dozen, although one in particular eluded us.

And then on Friday, we embarked on our greatest adventure, a pilgrimage to that pop-culture Mecca, the San Diego Comic-Con. A festival of arts, science fiction, and fantasy! A pageant of costumes, collectibles, and celebrity! A feast of sights, sounds, smells—

Ahh, who am I kidding? Within about an hour or so, I was ready to leave again. The convention center is a huge space, but in the interest of maximization of return on investment, the largest possible number of people were stuffed into that space. I hate crowds, really, I do. And yet, it seemed like last year, the place was far more crowded. Perhaps the economy’s to blame.
comics bot 2000

It’s been said before that crowd control at this event is poor. I think what is really required is traffic control. It’s a chore to move from one area in the exhibit hall to another. People are doing foolish things such as walking abreast in groups, stopping dead in the aisle to talk to other members of their party (in person or on the phone) and, perhaps worst of all, pausing for photo opportunities. At least there seemed to be very few meandering baby strollers this year. I wouldn’t recommend bringing anyone younger than ten, anyway.

It’s also been said that every year, the Comic-Con is a little less about comics and a lot more about Hollywood. It’s true. Thinking back to the panels I attended, only two had any direct connection to comics, and I hadn’t planned on attending either. The others, except for a panel on LEGO, were all related to television or cinema. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, necessarily, but I wonder if someday soon the Comic-Con will follow the example of the Sci-Fi SyFy Channel and rebrand itself more accurately.

And it may soon get the opportunity to do so. The organization that puts on the Comic-Con apparently has a contract with the San Diego Convention Center that will expire soon, and unless the city coughs up some dough to further expand the convention center, the Con may pack up its bags and move to Las Vegas, Anaheim, or Los Angeles. However, the perpetually bankrupt city seems to have other priorities, such as building a new city hall and a new downtown library.

Monuments to one’s own greatness are all well and good, but ensuring one’s income is perhaps more important. Both the Comic-Con and the Chargers both bring revenue to the city, and yet it seems like City Hall is unconcerned with losing either.

Ahem. Anyway, I seem to have gone off track just a bit.

Yes, back to the Con, the very next day. I’d say that the highlights of the day were the Quick Draw panel featuring cartooning improvisation by Sergio Aragones and others, and of course the Cartoon Voices panel, which was as entertaining as ever. There was also Warehouse 13
…and, last but not least, the Q&A with the Mythbusters.

And that brings me to the lowlights of the day. In order to be guaranteed seats for the Mythbusters, my companions and I had to sit through two other presentations. One was a screening of The Human Target which is an action-adventure show about a man who apparently can be hired to avert assassinations by employing generous amounts of dramatic license and made-up physics. I’m told I missed a hitman meeting a spectacularly gruesome demise in a train tunnel, as I was too busy rolling my eyes at the parachutes that the hero MacGyvered out of tarps and seatbelts.

But the next screening made the last look like a work of genius. The Vampire Diaries made one of my companions declare that he wanted to bash his own head in with a rock. “Let’s take everything on TV that I don’t like and put it all into one show!” The nail in the coffin seemed to come when an audience member asked the panel how they’d keep the characters from becoming “CW characters… vapid teenyboppers.” After much hemming and hawing, the answer was “That’s a good question.”

And that pretty much wrapped it up for the Con. Afterward, we went to Islands for hamburgers.

My guests departed early Sunday morning, and much of the rest of the day was spent in a marathon viewing of Torchwood: Children of Earth which had been accumulating on my TiVo. It seems as though there ought to be a trope for a last-minute ending that’s really dramatic, wraps everything up in a tidy package, and is based on technobabble or otherwise seems fabricated. I’d call it a Star Trek Ending, after that show’s fondness for technobabble-based solutions— but I already use that term to mean a last-minute ending that’s based on the main character making an impassioned speech. trek

Any suggestions?

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