Super-Con 2008

We went to Super-Con in San Jose yesterday, which I used Twitter to post updates on throughout the day, but didn’t get around to posting here in the actual blog. It was a very small convention, located in the “South Hall” of the San Jose Convention Center. The South Hall is a manufactured structure that is actually next to the real convention center, with a small parking lot/rest rooms shared between the two buildings.

We got there around 12:30, with the expectation of sitting through three panels:
1:00-2:00 Jorge Garcia [Hurley from Lost]
3:00-4:00 Red Velvet (the new film starring Henry Thomas [Elliot from E.T.]
4:00-5:00 Mystery Science Theater 3000 [but it was abbreviated MST3K on the schedule]

When we walked in after driving around to find an empty parking space for a while and settling on a $10 lot a couple of blocks away on Second Street, we plucked down $20 each for admission to hear a panel talking right next to the entrance door. And the panel seemed full and lively and a bit loud. It almost sounded like that dude from MST3K was talking about the strangest fan mail he ever received, which was a box that was clearly marked on the outside that it was toenails. Then his receptionist was so curious that she shook the box and it rattled and sounded a bit like toenails would rattle. Then for some reason she opened it to find… it was a box full of toenails. Remarkably, it actually was Joel Hodgson from MST3K who said that. And even though I was paying for tickets at the time, I actually heard and can recall all of that a day later.

It turned out that the Robotech panel that was supposed to go on at noon was moved to 4:00, with the MSTies going on at noon in their place. My first thought: lots of angry people showing up at ten to four. We’d find out later if that was true or not. The crowd was rather small. Their panel was a bit lame outside of the part I typed out up there. The other guys’ fan mail was unremarkable. One said he hadn’t ever actually received any. They asked Joel if he still had his jumpsuits from the first two seasons of the show. He said he did and he was very fond of the red one and looked at it just that morning before getting on a plane to San Jose.

They left and we hurriedly took seats in the second row. The people with the aisle seats seemed awfully disturbed at us taking the seats next to them. One of them muttered something about needing the aisle for their stroller and they disappeared. Ariel and Adam from the SF Browncoats took their place. Adam then disappeared to not return. Mr. O from the Browncoats sat behind Ariel and we all waited for Jorge Garcia to finish his lunch (which he later revealed to be chicken macaroni and cheese from the hotel) and join us for his panel discussion.

Here’s the notes my wife and I took down during his panel on her EeePC:
had hotel chicken mac and cheese for lunch
read for pilot
read for Sawyer like a bunch of people, so they could get a feel for the actors
hurley was made for him
Hurley was supposed to be a red shirt – thought it meant he wore a red shirt
was gonna be a 50s redneck but the accent made Sawyer the redneck
the cast passed around copies of y the last man
liked Ex Machina
had a geekout moment when he met brian k vaughn
trying to figure out how to move the island – pushing the island not working
makes it through finale
the baby’s stunt double is a doll – they joke about it being dead, doesn’t look good
not worried about getting killed or he won’t enjoy it – quotes all acting jobs are temporary
feels the strike will happen, but there’s catchup time for Lost since it’s Feb
hardees singing biscuit – never make the track team and the biscuit pumps him up but still bad at hurdles – most painful experience of his life, pulled every muscle in his body including abdomen, not sure what it does for hurdles but pulled the crap out of it – had bad exp with ben gay because he put it on his thighs, but didn’t put tighty whities first, and does not wash off – what scares the most is do i have to go to a hospital and explain?
a lot of the character is the script which is written for him – good writers get the jist and write to that
important to him to work on scenes night before so stuff comes together and can bring realistic breathe to life
doesn’t say dude, not as crazy/haunted, not snack as much
wearing ankle brace right now
tall grass has little sharp hairs on it – hurley wears shorts, insect repellent stings – put layers of moleskin on legs at end of s3
not as bad as construction, but getting closer – randy newman
most elaborate prank – trying to get pants wet
always someone around to spray to look sweaty
clothes – wardrobe face and arms – makeup – sometimes say just give me the bottle
stuffed ice cubes in pants in dressing room so they’d melt all day – but it was his clothes and not wardrobe – wants to spray him with big tanker truck somehow – sprays down dirt road and for trailers
is superstitious a bit, from his grandma – don’t talk bad about dead people, they’ll pull your feet at night, no happy bday early
they live on hawaii so if someone dies they move so can’t see again until they visit
when is the ep when we do something to entertain ourselves. when’s the talent show – so that led to the golf course
doesn’t discuss hurley with writers – does what they give him
more suffering ahead of him after Dave – not rivaling Jack crying in the woods yet
called us not crazy fans since we don’t know the name of madame whatever where he shot around the table with cheech
always has an anecdote or joke
why lost – jj abrams and hawaii
those off the island – not so dirty, but they want to go back
kind of a shock/bummer his love interest was killed, but was cool he got to have it
happy he’s not a writer, glad he’s just a piece of the pie
saw a lot on Becker – if a guest star it’s like you’re auditioning every day, can’t goof off, can relax more as a regular
knows they want to tell more of Libby’s story
origin story – repo man, charming and good at it that people would just hand stuff back, was going to get a yacht in sydney – changed once they got the lotto numbers
jack staring at the oceon, hurley is like hey jack and scares him, says sorry he’s spry – that’s where it came from when escaping giant trap thing
don’t get too deep in mythos at work – he’s curious about some things, like Ben going in indy jones door and comes out dusty
finale – have shot more than 1 person in the coffin – wants everyone shot there, heard from wardrobe because he had to get suits from people
finale catches people up to the present, going to see how people got off the island
see what led up to press picture group shot
for hiatus, no work lined up because LA is slow from strike, gonna hang in Europe and would be sweet to do press there to pay for the flight
everyone trying to look out for each other for continuity
actors say we’re missing someone in boone hill – graveyard, uh, we buried some people somewhere else
lots of tarps – yeah they were all on the plane
takes week 1/2 to shoot script, after that they start next one, but 2nd unit shoots for another week to finish, airs about 5 weeks later
aggressive schedule because orch score, and special effect
last question – no pressure but everything will remember the panel by this
Comic Con plant – very fake, didn’t play along “that was really intense…Daniel”
no involvement for non-ep stuff
thanks for good turnout – always nervous

After Jorge’s panel, we went to his autograph area and found out we could get a professional photo opportunity with him for $30 at 4:00. We did that instead of an autograph. The downside was that meant we would have to stay until at least 4:00. The photos were being taken by Froggy’s Photos, who way back at SlayerCon in Oakland was an amateur who used to sell dvds of his con photos. He has obviously moved up in the world. When we bought our photo, we got a jpeg to be emailed for an additional $10. We’re still waiting on that one. Much later in the day, I shared what I thought was a lame idea with my wife. I was going to buy a California lottery ticket with the Lost numbers on it and have Jorge sign the back. We debated going back today just for that. Oops.

We found the rest rooms after buying our photo op. Jane Weidlin from The Go-Go’s was in the ladies room and my wife overheard her say “Who would have thought a public restroom could be so fabulous?” The rest room was pretty posh, and much cooler (temperature-wise) than the South Hall.

We browsed the Con floor for a bit. Not much to see really. A giant Alien, Rorshach from Watchmen, a badly done Claire in Cheerleader costume, Wil Wheaton. Wait, Wil Wheaton was pretty damn cool. He was right next to the air conditioner, which said it was operating “normal” but it was incredibly hot in the hall. We talked briefly with Eddie from about the fate of Firefly and Serenity while we were waiting for other people to be done with their conversations with Wil. The crew were getting interviews with the special guests that I look forward to seeing posted on their site.

Wil was very cool. I took a photo for the ladies in front of us in line, and he mentioned he would stand but he had some back pain. When it was our turn, I initially bought a copy of Just a Geek in hardcover. My wife bought a hardcover of The Happiest Days of Our Lives. Wil explained that he was signing Just a Geek in lavender today because he didn’t see many authors using that color and it was a very manly shade. My wife acknowledged that he was right and that most authors sign in black. As he was signing, Joel brought over a copy of Cinematic Titanic’s latest project on DVD for Wil. That was pretty cool. We got to witness a really fun geekout moment with Wil Wheaton. I noticed as he signed The Happiest Days of Our Lives, that the cover writing was also in the same shade of lavender. He made that one out to my wife, and mentioned a song by The Get-Up Kids that mentions her name. He later mentioned that the album that the song was featured on, Four Minute Mile, had great music but the production on it was not very good. My wife said that meant she would just have to go to a show and tape it then. He agreed that was a very good idea and it would be an even better idea if a copy of that somehow made its way to him across the internets in .mp3 format. I took a couple of cool self portraits with Wil, my wife and I. Then I took another person’s photo with him before we took off. (total cost of two hardcover, creative commons licensed books: $60. Spending a few minutes with a fellow geek: priceless)

While we could have spent the entire day having a conversation with Wil, he had other fans as well there. I browsed the MST3K/Cinematic Titanic table, saw they had a new DVD that they would sign for $35 and thought about buying one. Then I noticed that they were all gone for the time being, so we snapped photos with their robots [Crow, Tom Servo and Daisy were present and accounted for]. We wandered around for a bit. We sat in the concessions area in the back for a few minutes, then we browsed for a few minutes and went back to the panel room, where the Horror Hosts panel was just finishing up. I picked up Just a Geek and read the introduction by Neil Gaiman while they wrapped up. While I was a fan of a couple of local horror hosts as a kid in Pennsylvania, not so much nowadays. The Red Velvet panel was next and we hastily made our way to the third row to hear Henry Thomas talk about his new film. Then we discovered that he wasn’t there. They explained that he had gotten work. The first question had to do with some Aussie chick on the panel’s problems with microphones and wardrobe on the set. It seemed lame, so we took off. When wandering later, we noticed there were only two or three people in the room for that panel later on and they were trying to bribe them with the posters in the box they brought with them to stay. Seems pretty boring and generic murder people with a hammer story to me. They had a free screening at 7pm. We didn’t stay for that, obviously. We wandered for a bit again. Sat in the back again and I read through the first chapter of Just a Geek. It motivated me to complete my collection of Wil Wheaton books. Then I noticed the lengthy line at his table as well as the MST3K table across from him. I managed to lose our water bottle somewhere between the purchase of Buffy issue #14 variant edition [Dawn smashing up Tokyo $5] and the freebie table. We got a couple of comics at the freebie table and I noticed an upcoming Sacramento con is even worse than Super-Con could ever be. Their main draw: Fat Momma. Seriously!

We went back to the concessions area again because it was right next to the photo op area. We saw that Jorge had gotten closer to the giant Alien costumed person. I got out the camera and took a few shots. The final one being the Alien posing with Jorge, which was fun. We ended up third in line for the photo op. Jorge apologized that he would need a second because his back was wet with sweat from carrying around a backpack all afternoon. My wife wasn’t happy with how she looked in the photo, even though we haven’t seen it yet. Haven’t gotten that jpeg and the photo will be mailed to us since we aren’t attending today.

We went back to Wil’s table to see he had more fans there. So I got in line for the MST3K guys, who were back at their table and had a long line of fans who had just gotten there for their 4:00 panel to discover… the panel ended three hours ago. They were all disappointed and such, and some seemed rather obsessed. The one guy decided to go home and get an old box of video tapes he bought at a yard sale that had people’s recordings of the show on it for them to sign. The lady in front of me had her kids there just to take photos of her with the guys. She kept telling her kid to take random shots to make sure the lighting and exposure were right. He snapped a shot of Rorshach walking by and Rorshach was polite enough to pose for him and then explain who he was, ending eventually with, okay, you don’t get it so checkout for more information. I bought The Oozing Skull on DVD and had them all sign it. I don’t know that much about MST3K, but I know they are legends along the lines of Beavis and Butthead, and it was cool to meet them.

Eventually, Wil’s table got less crowded. The guy in front of us got his photo with Wil and then came back and said “Wesley, have you met the guy from E.T.” Wil seemed confused and said that he hadn’t. I mentioned to the guy that Henry Thomas wasn’t there and had gotten work. The guy still seemed confused. He asked me to clarify that he wasn’t going to be there today. I explained he wouldn’t be there for the entire weekend because he had gotten film work. I tried to assure him that that was a very good thing but he was rather disappointed as he walked away. Wil took a moment to tweet to his friends before getting back to us. His message was “Just hit the wall. Hard. I’m done for today.” I bought a copy of Dancing Barefoot, Wil’s first essay collection. I also bought a copy of Sunken Treasure, his new limited edition chapbook, which was #24 of an eventual 200, and a copy of Star Trek: The Manga, which Wil also wrote. Since we had bought “The Complete Works of me… Wil Wheaton,” Wil threw in a graphic novel that he was featured in as a zombie, Dead Eyes Open [total price: $60 more]. I thanked him for his time and mentioned that as long as he keeps on writing, we will probably keep on reading and buying from him. He thanked us. I said that we will probably see him at Comic-Con in July and my wife mentioned that we probably won’t see anyone at Comic-Con. Wil thought differently. He said he often finds that amidst all of the craziness that is Comic-Con, people gravitate to people that are familiar to them, so we will probably bump into each other there. He was right. We bumped into Joss twice last time we were there.

On that note, we were leaving. I managed to find Steve Leiahola [inker from Fables] and dragged him to his table to buy a copy of Jack of Fables: Jack of Hearts [$15] and with that we headed to Dublin for a college classmate of my wife’s housewarming party and lots of Rock Band and Barbecue.

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