Saturday, July 23, 2011

Comic-Con 2011

Six years ago we attended our first Comic-Con. We were invited by my dear friend Lisa to join her and her family for the events. We borrowed tickets from others who'd somehow received duplicate badges and enjoyed the mob scene of lookie-loos who came to gape at movie stars and costumed geeks. It was here that 1 year old Nathan uttered his first recognizable word "I'aac." Our little toddler was crawling across the lawn chasing his 3 yr old brother Isaac. What a wonderful moment that Nathan's first word was his big brother's name.

Lisa and her family have been coming to the Con for almost 20 years. I seem to remember 20 years ago swearing I'd never subject myself to something as dorky as a convention full of crazed fans dressed as their favorite whatever. Ok, we came, we had a good time, and we have returned every year since. We make a weekend of it. The boys come with us to preview night and then spend the weekend with my brother and his family. On Sunday we return with the boys for the family day of events geared more for kids. It has been an event the boys excitedly remember and look forward to the next year.

Sadly, this time there will be no "next year." This insane event draws close to 200,000 people. We trudge through the exhibit hall shoulder to shoulder, desperately holding to each other's shirt tail or backpack strap so as to not be separated. It surprises me the boys enjoy themselves since we adults hold them tightly close and snap the minute one begins to stray from our sides.

I have never like crowds and after so many years in a profession where my personal space had to be guarded closely, I can emphatically say "I still do NOT like crowds!" The stress is too much. I begin to hyperventilate and become panicked. All of my distrust of the general public comes to the surface as I constantly tap my pocket to reassure myself that my wallet is still there. Then there is the momentary distress when I can't feel the wallet, only to be amused when I realize I have placed in a front pocket for safe keeping.

Comic-Con is winding down in San Diego. It long outgrew our convention center and has declared that once the contract expires (a mere 10 years from now) they will move the convention to a much larger venue - perhaps Anaheim or Los Angeles. San Diego has a proprietary cause for keeping the Con. It was conceived here. It has always been here and should never be anywhere else. But seriously, I can't imagine next year, much less 10 years from now.

Tonight even though we are not buying tickets for next year, we are camping a line. I never thought I would find myself sleeping in a chair overnight just to buy tickets for some event, but here we are. We promised a friend who missed out this year that we would buy tickets for her to attend next year. At the time we made the promise we believed pre-registration would be the same as every other year. But the rules changed. Pre-registration is restricted to only 2500 tickets per day.  You can only buy them during a two hour window in the morning and only if you have a valid ticket for the day you stand in line to purchase the tickets.

Comic-Con raised the prices. The daily event passes were raised only a bit, but the full 4 day plus preview night went up almost double! We won't pay that much to be squished in sea of weirdoes. It’s not worth it. Yet I feel sadness because in the end, it is worth it. We hang out all day in one conference room or another. We see and hear stars from our favorite shows, unscripted and un-edited as they banter with the crowd. We (I really mean Nichole) haunt the autograph room for a chance to hug some hottie. She has an autograph from and a picture of herself with Adrian Paul. I dare not touch that picture. Strange how our last time here is the first time we camped a line, and not even for ourselves.  But in the end, I just can't justify $175 per ticket for days of glorious stress. I will content myself with adoration from afar.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Day After the Day After...

July 6, 2011 and I still haven't fully recovered from 4th of July celebrations. I had learned that the celebration in Old Town, San Diego was a really cool event so we packed up our three plus Kaitlin, the baby and the rest of her family and headed out for the park.  I was surprised at how many people were there considering I'd not seen any advertising or notices, but the crowd was pleasant and not too thick.  There was plenty of room for us to spread in the shade for a picnic lunch, and enough free activities to keep the kids interested.
Naturally it was the cannon blasts that intrigued the boys and Samantha.  As soon as the first blast exploded they all tore across the plaza lawn to the other side for the next shot.  Thankfully Kaitlin has recovered enough to run after them.  By standards of my youth, that they had run off like that to somewhere we knew they'd be wasn't a problem. But of course we all know things are different today and just don't like them out of my sight. Especially the four (adding in Kaitlin's brother) boys with little or no self restraint. Not to forget littlest sis (2 yrs) who has to follow her brother and sister everywhere.

OK, I admit it. When the volunteers were blowing powder balls (kinda like homemade explosives) closed between two anvils, I had to watch too.  All cops (and ex-cops) like explosions.

The festival was nice and many "activities" or demonstrations were free. Unfortunately though the fun stuff was not. To play or enter the potato sack race required tickets.  The cake walk I understand since there was a cake for the winner. But seriously, kids don't care if there is a prize for potato sack races. They just want to hop along and fall in the grass. The horse and buggy ride was fun for all the kids.

From Old Town we headed home where the kids cooled down on a slip-n-slide while I lit up the BBQ. We had good ole American hot dogs, hamburgers, beans and watermelon for dinner. Then of course we loaded up both cars again and went down to the neighborhood gathering for fireworks.

Fireworks are a lot of fun in our neighborhood. We live just blocks from where they light 'em off.  So everyone gathers at the grocery parking and the park across the street to sit directly under the exploding rockets. The booms rattle through your bones and at times it seems as though the glowing embers will land atop your head. I believe some were more entertained by the boom than the actual display.

This year was special with the fireworks. Not the fireworks themselves, they are pretty standard year to year. But for the first time in several year Kaitlin and her family were together to watch. And finally after 6 years for us, Austin was not afraid and did not have to go back to the car to escape.

I have to say it was a very long hot sweaty fun day. Nichole and I, well everyone, were totally exhausted and no amount of sleep recovered our bodies. I can not count the times I fell asleep at my keyboard or just in-between mouse clicks.  But we muddled through the day and night with only a few moments of unruliness. Today is only a little better. I'm not falling asleep but the lids are heavy and lunch break is looking better and better for a good long nap.