Sunday, July 27, 2008

Day 28: Once More With Feeling, Part 2

Some of you may be going, huh? Comics? True, I don't know anything about comics. But Comic-Con, while targeted to comic book geeks when it started in 1970, has grown to encompass all manner of pop culture events, and has gotten so big that you don't want to go anywhere near downtown San Diego for four days unless you are headed to the Con. In the past three years, it's suddenly blown up to nearly 150,000 people, and while you used to be able to say that you'd spotted someone famous there, now every actor, director, producer and writer in Hollywood has an obligatory date in July, unless they want to tempt fate by flouting the thousands of fan geeks who make or break their pilots and opening weekends. While I'm not quite a fan geek, I get a huge kick out of the panels of stars and the pop culture sneak peeks. Okay, call me a geek if you want to--I can take it.

Here are some highlights:

He Needs Wholesome Snacks, Too

We arrive around 11:00 after a brief parking problem that resulted in us taking the trolley part of the way. The front of the convention center is an orderly mob, and Jarrah has been well-prepped to spot people in costume. In fact, she asks us incessantly, "Where people in costume?" Suddenly, I spot someone dressed head to toe in a green, rubbery suit. "Look, Jarrah! Do you see the sea monster?" She stares. A few minutes later:

"Mommy! Daddy! Did you see the sea monster?" We assured her we had.

"The sea monster was eating a pretzel!"

Watch Out For Those Big, White Teeth

We have a little time before our first "adult" event, and I tell Jarrah that we'll poke our heads into Sponge Bob, aka the Nickelodeon panel, which runs consecutive events all day. We grope our way to some seats in the dark while a cartoon about a cow and a pig who seem to be trying out for American Idol blares over our heads. Afterwards, there's a 30-second promo for a spin-off of Madagascar featuring the penguins. Jarrah is smiling when the lights go up. "Those penguins!" she chortles. Later, she asks me where Sponge Bob was. "Well, he wasn't there himself," I explain. "There was a cartoon, but we missed it."

"But I thought we going to poke our heads into him?"

Let's Hold Off Explaining "The Munchies" For Now

We line up at Ballroom 20 (which holds 4,200 people) for the Hamlet 2 movie sneak peek, starring Steven Coogan. There is a massive line, but we take cuts when David runs into his friend Brian. The panel is very short, and mostly consists of people asking Steve Coogan questions, him responding as sarcastically as possible, and clips from the movie, which looks hilarious. The last clip is a music video from the "show within the show," called "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" featuring smiling teenagers doing a song and dance number around a robed, wigged Coogan. One eyelash-batting boy croons "He's our Lord and Savior, and his lats make me feel gay!" Jarrah couldn't be less interested. Suddenly, the lights go up and someone starts announcing the panel immediately following--a DVD release event for Harold and Kumar, featuring Kal Penn and John Cho. We flee just as everyone begins cheering for the trailer, as it suddenly occurs to us that Jarrah might be a little more curious about this one.

I'm Suspicious of Pink, Furry Beasts

Jarrah is getting restless, so we decide to hit the convention floor, where the vendors are. It's a sea of humanity down there, with giant, inflatable Bart Simpsons, Spidermans and Pikachus breaking the surface. It's also great people-watching. At the entrance, we run into Shrek and Fiona in full green and muslin regalia, and they graciously pose for us, though Jarrah is a bit freaked out. Inside, we see Batman and Spiderman posing for dozens of picture-snappers--Batman even swoops some of the women into his arms for the photo op. "This is totally making his year," I say. Jarrah is not at all scared of the gigantic pink bunny and runs to greet it, which is ironic because that's the one that DOES scare me.

Mysterious Maladies

In need of a rest, we stroll into the San Diego Children's Film Festival, which is an assortment of shorts with director commentary, playing all through the day. We arrive in time for Butterflies, in which a little boy gets nervous presenting his hermit crab to show-and-tell and is diagnosed with "butterflies in his stomach" by the school doctor. He really wants to get them out. The film is cute and clever, but Jarrah is worried about the little boy. "How he get butterflies in there?" I told her he was scared. "Now how he get them out?"

You Will See My Wrath (Or At Least My Boob)

I was psyched that Sunday offered a "replay" of the Saturday night Masquerade on film. The Masquerade may be the most unique performance venue in the world. It's not a show, not a parade...maybe you'd call it a "revue." For two hours, people in costume (that's the only requirement, as far as I can tell) appear onstage to preen or lip-sync for about a minute, backed by blaring pop music that always seems unrelated to their costumes. Occasionally, there are themed groups who perform a dance number--inevitably, at least one of them will be seen mouthing "Oh shit!" as they flail around, not keeping up with the others. Many of the "performers" are announced by name with long, complicated modifiers along the lines of "She is the True One, the Lone One, the One Who Weareth the Golden Caul, She Alone Will Save the Damned and Damn the Saved." Some of the costumes are truly a marvel to behold, but it is quite unusual for any of the "scenes" to be worth watching. The vast majority of the contestants don't even try to perform; they just stand up there and pump their arms and stalk back and forth like the emotionally damaged polar bear at the zoo.

When we arrive, the room is packed, and some girls in black vinyl demand that we push as far down the row as we can. I end up practically in the lap of a glaring little girl in red satin who is eating a hot dog the size of a water balloon. It smells vile and I crane around so that I'm facing away from her. The show begins, and it soon dawns on me that the girl on screen who is spinning a gold lasso and shouting about some universal truth or magnificent power, is the girl sitting next to me with the hot dog. I wouldn't have known except the live version is still in costume, right down to the wig and the lasso.

Another early entry is introduced as "Emma Snow," queen of something, and a skinny girl all in white strides out on stage to crunching guitars. Her costume consists of underpants with a tube top, and boots. She paces around, pumping her arms, and after a minute or so it becomes obvious that the tube top is sinking by the second, and that you can now plainly see her breast cutlets poking over the top. This does not deter her frenetic dancing, and the audience is caught between laughing and gasping with the suspense of whether she will lose the top altogether. She makes it backstage just in time.

A few of the later entries are quite charming, including one called "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Formerly Known as Prince." I actually have no idea why the cast of Harry Potter suddenly whips off their cloaks to reveal purple outfits and starts jamming on guitars, but I think it best to overlook the lack of continuity. With my new-found tolerance, I quite enjoy the next batch of entries, though we slip away before it ends.

Buffalo Gal, Go Around the Outside

All day I've barely contained my excitement over the closing event, a screening of "Once More With Feeling," which is a Season Six musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had heard about a traveling Buffy event with audience participation, kind of like Rocky Horror, with singing, yelling at the screen, costumes and props. Since I have the whole episode memorized, I love the idea. There a thousand or so people at this show, and I am grinning until my face hurts, but I think we need more direction because no one is standing, and hardly anyone sings. In fact, I can tell I am nnoying people by singing lustily at the top of my lungs (don't worry, I didn't let that stop me.) I love when Dawn sings "Doesn't anybody notice me?" and everyone screams "NO!" That is a whole lot of awesome. The volunteers pass out monster finger puppets and parking tickets (key to a scene), and people wave their cell phones during the songs. Jarrah leans over and whispers, "How Buffalo take care of bad guys?" and I almost lose it.

Now, Jarrah is strangely curious about Buffy and her "movie." Based on relentless questioning, she can tell you that "Buffy puts a stick in bad guys' hearts, and sends them to another world. She love Spike, who is nice monster." Today, she told me, "I want to be Buffy, and save the world."

As her mother and a geek, I couldn't be more proud.


Anonymous said...

Ooh, what a fantastic day! I just LOVE "once more with feeling" which I wouldn't have even gotten to see except that you guys videotaped it for me! Ta much! :) And Steve Coogan is a genius, albeit a very nutty one. He has a fantastic show running on the BBC now called "Saxondale" in which he plays a middle-aged guy who used to be a roadie but now has his own small pest-control business. Watching him "rock out" and fight the establishment while also doing jobs like capturing a squirrel in some lady's attic is (captial H) Hilarious. Not sure if you can get this on dvd but if you can, run don't walk. :) Lix

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Yay for Jarrah! She needs a cape or some sort of secret disguise!

Mary and Paul said...

Sounds like a success for your first visit with Jarrah!

Glad you had fun!



Anonymous said...

How awesome that JDust is a budding Spuffy shipper! Get that girl some leather pants and set her onto a "bad monster" nest!