Friday, July 30, 2004
While walking the con floor Sunday, I glanced over to my right just in time to see something fall out of the backpack of a person waiting in a line. Trying to be helpful, I picked the trinket up, tapped the shoulder under the long hair, and as politely as possible said, “Miss, I think you dropped this.”
It was a guy.
Mortification would be an understatement. I wanted nothing more than to have the earth open up under my feet and swallow me whole right there in the middle of the San Diego Convention Center. All the earthquakes in southern California, and never one when you need it. At least the gentleman was very nice about my faux pas and acknowledged that it’s an honest mistake looking at him from the back.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Saturday was the huge panel day, partly because that was the day of all the best panels, and partly because Saturday is the day with the biggest attendance, so it behooves one to stay off the floor if there is anything else one wants to see.
After a quick stop in the Stargate SG-1 panel, I headed over to Quick Draw! Cartoon Improv, which lived up to its reputation as a not-to-be missed panel. We missed the unveiling of the title of the new Star Wars movie (Revenge of the Sith), but then again, the people unveiling the new title missed a hilarious panel of improvisational cartooning. ME moderated, throwing out ideas to three of the quickest pens in the business: Sergio Aragones, Scott Shaw! and Jeff Smith (author and artist of Bone, not the Frugal Gourmet). If you’d ever wondered what Pictionary would be like with professional comic book artists, this is the place to go. Also, we got a hilarious look at The Hulk’s new career as a proctologist, taxidermist, and tax attorney. My favorite, though, was when they played “What do you get when you cross…” To Sergio, they threw the prompt “What do you get when you cross a rhino with a zebra?” Sergio drew a rhino, and you could almost feel the disappointment in the packed hall as everyone thought, “He’s just going to put stripes on a rhino. What’s the fun in that?” Then Sergio drew a second rhino, looking at the first, and this rhino looked as pissed off as a cartoon rhino can. In front of the second rhino, he drew a third, smaller, baby rhino. This rhino had stripes. But that was not the end of it all. Bushes sprouted in the background, and hiding in the bushes was a very nonchalant looking zebra. So what do you get when you cross a rhino with a zebra? A pissed off daddy rhino! I must emphasize that this whole scene fell off his pen in probably under 2 minutes. This is why they call it Quick Draw. Another fun moment came as ME asked Jeff Smith to draw his character, Bone. Jeff Smith just put out a 1,300-page collection of all the Bone comics, plus he’s drawn innumerable unpublished Bone drawings and sketches for fans, so drawing Bone wouldn’t be too challenging for him. He tossed off a casual sketch of the character sitting on a log with a flower. Then out came the blindfold! Following the blindfold, the challenge to reproduce the previous sketch. The consensus among the hall was that we couldn’t draw half as well with our eyes open as Jeff Smith did blindfolded.
That was just Panel 1. Panel 2 was a group panel by some of the top cartoon voices in the business today, with a nod to the star of Panel 4, June Foray (the woman about whom legendary animator Chuck Jones once said, “No, you’ve got it wrong. June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.”). June Foray was sitting right in front of us for much of the panel, though she did get up partway through, leaving the panelists gesturing to a short Asian man every time they mentioned June Foray for the remainder of the hour and a half.
I leave you with a word from Panel 3, the Ray Bradbury hour. Every morning, the universe has decided to give you another day to live. Prove yourself worthy.
Preview Night also has one other distinct advantage for the con: it is the least gamey smelling part of the con. Some people try to save a few bucks on lodging and sleep in their cars, others probably couldn’t find a hotel room this side of Tijuana, and others seem to believe that because there are people walking around dressed as Klingons, the normal standards of hygiene no longer apply. By some estimates, there were 80,000-plus people there at the peak of the con. My guess is 60,000 of them bathed. Particularly by Day 4, it became apparent that some people were considering one or more of the three essential elements of conwear—soap, water, and antiperspirant/deodorant—to be optional equipment. At least on the first day, even these people are reasonably April fresh.
I brush, floss and Waterpik with diluted Listerine daily, so my dental issues cannot be the product of bad in-home oral hygeine. Still, my dental hygenist will not be happy until one hand is doing nothing but flossing 24 hours a day. Again, that is not the problem. I have the kind of teeth that dentists look at and have a "Eureka!" moment, having solved the problem of how to send their kids through graduate school. Today at the dentist, I found out two very disturbing things. First, my dentist wants me to have my wisdom teeth removed and to get braces, in spite of the fact that neither my wisdom teeth nor my crooked tooth give me any problem and that I have agreed to the work if any health problems arise. Second and more distressing, though, I found out that I have 8 composite enamel fillings. I 'd lost count of the exact number of fillings I have (every dentist I've ever been to has found at least one tooth to drill and fill). Nonetheless, I am positive that at one point at least two of them were silver. The hygenist says that the silver fillings must have been in baby teeth, which I am sure is not the case. My parents seem to think it slipped their minds to tell me my fillings had been replaced. However it happened, I find it very upsetting that someone did something in my mouth without telling me. Shouldn't one be aware of what is going on in one's own bodily orifices?
For those who, for reasons utterly beyond my comprehension, do not yet know, "Revenge of the Sith" is the title of the last Star Wars movie, coming out in May. They revealed the title at a panel at the San Diego convention. More on that later.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Well, I'm back from Comic-Con International in San Diego, the world's biggest comic book convention. It was positively incredible! I was awestruck for the first two days before I got a handle on the overwhelming hugeness of it all. I'll write more in the coming days when I'm not hopped up on motion sickness medicine, but here's a preview of coming attractions:
What happens when you cross a rhino with a zebra.Posting starts tomorrow on that. Tonight, I sleep off the Bonine (Bonine is chewable, raspberry flavored motion sickness medicine--far superior to Dramamine).
My newest Most embarrassing Convention Moment. This one puts to shame the really stupid thing I said to Adam West in the autograph line.
The futility of packing t-shirts
Panel discussions, or why it took me two days to realize that "Revenge of the Sith" is the title of the next Star Wars movie
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Satellite-naming issues aside, at least someone is looking for a way to save the planet from the 1000 or so pieces of space crap that may one day smash into our little corner of habitable space. Here's the link to the Reuters article about the satellites.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Friday, July 16, 2004
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Monday, July 12, 2004
Trent Lott just passed off the lectern citing laryngitis, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is talking about how, by declaring various state DOMA laws unconstitutional, the judiciary is taking citizens out of the process of determining state laws, and how a vote in the Senate is the only way to bring the people back in. I say, go with him on that. Whichever way you fall on this issue, take 30 seconds and click here to go to the U.S. Senate web site. There's a nifty drop-down menu from which you can select your state, and your two senators' names will pop up along with their office address. All you need to do is click on the name, and his/her website pops right up. They have a easy link to "contact," and once you click that, it's simply a matter of filling in the blanks to tell them who you are, verify that you are a constituent, pick a subject, and leave a brief comment about how you think your senator should vote. Repeat the process with the other senator. It really is that easy. While you're at it, here's the link to the U.S. House of Representatives where you can look up your congressperson by your ZIP code. The process is much the same, and the debate will get around to them sooner or later.
Senator Rick Santorum is now making some of the least persuasive arguments I've heard yet on this subject. Whoa! Back up the trailer! I am reasonably certain that Rick Santorum just implied that we need to keep homosexual couples from marrying because women have joined the workplace, depriving men of their traditional roles of "Provider and protector." I'm willing to entertain anyone's analysis on how that makes sense. I'm also willing to listen to an explanation of how machismo became a constitutional entitlement. I must not be getting all my memos.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Thanks, Mom. She's still trying to get me to eat my fruits and veggies.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I don't particularly like colas in general. My distaste stems from one of the least amusing anecdotes that involve me vomiting (not from the cola--quite the opposite, in fact, but as I said, it is one of the least amusing of those tales). Anyhow, if I have to choose, I prefer Pepsi, but I would drink a whole lot of things before I would drink either Pepsi or Coke.
That notwithstanding, I have now tasted both Coke and Pepsi's latest efforts in the world of caramel-colored fizzy beverages: Coke C2 and Pepsi Edge. If you haven't been paying attention--and who has time to keep tabs on the cola wars these days?--both companies have rolled out "lower carb" versions of their flagship colas by using half high fructose corn syrup and half fake sugar. Pepsi uses Sucralose and Coke uses aspartame to cut out some but not all of the calories and carbs of regular soda. The result: both have managed to come up with formulations that play the corn syrup off the artificial sweeteners to enhance the most repulsive aspects of each. They have somehow created beverages that simultaneously have the overwhelming syrupiness of regular soda and roughly five times the bitter aftertaste of diet (and I like diet soda!). The main difference is that one tastes like diet corn syrup with a hint of Coke, and the other tastes like diet corn syrup with a hint of Pepsi. However, unlike the person who emailed ME over here, I did not detect the taste of either monkey or rhino urine.
Now, I know you all are very courteous on your cell phones and never interrupt live in-person conversations to answer your cell phone unless you have warned the other party in advance that you are expecting a call that you absolutely must take, but we all know people who have held taken cell phone conversations in the restroom. I'd like to go on record as saying to these people that it is most disconcerting to be in the stall next to you as you carry on a one-sided conversation at top volume. For those less than courteous people, Sprint has a handy page outlining Consumer Tips on Wireless Etiquette. That list should be preprogrammed as the default ring tone on all cell phones.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
So, in my fantasy world right now, I'm at a press conference with President Bush and am asking him the following question:
"Mr. President, as someone who, four years ago, painted himself as a 'uniter, not a divider,' is it really wise to point out that your opponent was willing to cross the aisle to consider a Republican for his Vice President, and that the Republican rejected the offer?" Followup questions: "Why did you not cross party lines in your VP search four years ago?" and "Would you consider trying to unite the country by dropping Cheney and picking a Democrat running mate?"
Since I'm not a reporter anymore (and when I was, I covered things like suburban city council meetings and sewage treatment), I lay the responsibility for asking those questions on the professional news media. They're great questions. Someone has to get answers for them.
Monday, July 05, 2004
And Now For Something Completely Different...
According to the highly unscientific review you can read at slate.com by clicking here, I have good taste, at least when it comes to quasi-meat items. Until a few years ago, I couldn't stand to eat hot dogs at all. Now, I've worked up (or down) to being able to stomach Hebrew Nationals and Oscar Meyer All Beef, which come in at #2 and #3 respectively in Slate's hot dog taste test.
Friday, July 02, 2004
Anyway, that was what I was doing when I found this page, an actual part of the KHOU Channel 11 News website dedicated to a daily "Guess the 'Hairline of the Day'" contest. Yes, you read that right. An actual news station posts a famous forehead, and you guess which prominent person it belongs to.
If you know anyone who flies a flag from their car, kindly point them to Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7(b), which reads in part: "When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender." Those who are mechanically inclined will note that windows are neither chassis nor fender. Those patrioticker than thou people who fly enough flags from their SUV windows to supply a motorcade of the Joint Chiefs are only graphically demonstrating how little they really pay attention to the etiquette of displaying the primary symbol of our nation.