21st Jan2008

Dr. 90210, Katie Holmes on BET, Natasha Bedingfield, and Kate Hudson

by Will

“Hey, did you guys see that fight outside?!”

I just had the kind of weekend that I just know I’m going to look back on and regret. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I just feel kind of…off about a lot of stuff. I know I’m being cryptic, but it’s really not that deep; I’m just the type of guy who tends to regret shit. As my friend Jenna would say, I’ve got to learn to let it go. Anyway, on to the randomness.

– I swear that Dr. Rey, from Dr. 90210 is the creepiest, sketchiest son of a bitch on television. Find me a creepier dude; I dare you. From his weird-ass gangster suits to the skeezy way that he speaks to his women patients, that guy does not put me at ease. And don’t get me started on all his martial arts bullshit. Out of nowhere, he’ll just pull out a pair of nunchucks and go at it. With the exception of Michelangelo & Panthro, nobody cool has ever wielded nunchucks. They’re that weapon that sounds cool in theory, but ends up looking stupid in practice. Then, there’s his home life, which just seems so fake. It’s like he’s actually gay, but they went out and cast an actress to be his wife, who is obviously uncomfortable in the role. Any scene with him and his wife is always so scripted and dramatic. The other day, he had to go to his birth home to Argentina (?), where he was determined to get his deathbed-ridden father to admit that he loved him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Rey (who looks as much like Skeletor as Finola Hughes), is bawling because she fears she’ll never see Dr. Rey again. Sweety, he’s just going on a trip. Stop your crying. Plus, I thought this show was about plastic surgery. Enough with the family drama and bring on the boobies!

– I’m about to declare the single of 2008. Yes, I know it’s early in the year, plus it’s not even an official single yet. That said, Jive would be foolish not to release it. What is it? “Break the Ice” on Britney’s Blackout album. It’s the hottest song on an entirely hot album. It’s impossible to not dance when that song comes on. It truly is the hotness. Yes, it has driven me to use the term “the hotness”. That song is so tight that I’ve actually choreographed a dance for it. I’m not talking about some little bullshit dance, either. This is a Fatima Robinson-level dance, and you better believe it won’t involve folding chairs!

– You know, Natasha Bedingfield looks great for a 37 year old. Wait…she’s actually 26? Oh

I mean, seriously, did ya see the heinous top she’s got on in her latest video? It just screams “Cougar Wear”. Get her out of Dress Barn, stat!

My deal with Natasha is that she still doesn’t seem to know what the Hell she’s doing. Her debut album was one of the most meta experiences in musical history, as she wrote an entire album pretty much describing how difficult it is to write an album. Have you ever listened to the words to “These Words”? It’s about how she couldn’t figure out what to write, so she’s just gonna sing about how hardthe process is. Really? Does that count? Is she just going for partial credit? Anyway, she’s got her new album that drops on Tuesday, and her big single, “Love Like This” features Sean Kingston. Really? Who’s bright idea was that? That’s the worst, most missmatched combo since the So So Def remix video to Jessica Simpson’s “Irresistible”, where Bow Wow’s scenes are just spliced in later, as it’s clear Jessica would never be in the same room with him. Also, Natasha’s song has no real tune. She’s just kinda screeching at notes, hoping that some of them stick. It’s like they want to present her as a singer with a 5-octave range, yet she’s not really exhibiting any control. Her manager needs to figure out what her gimmick is gonna be. What is it about Natasha Bedingfield that people should care about? What is there to kep her from becoming tomorrow’s Natalie Imbruglia or Robyn? That shit right thur is gonna be the million dollar question.

– Oh, thank all that is holy for the miracle of TLC’s Smash Lab. A show dedicated to blowing shit up and wrecking shit. You know, for science. For every Real Housewives of Orange County and Intervention that we have to put up with, every now and then someone presents us with shows we really want to watch, like this one.

– Speaking of smashing shit, Burnout is the best/worst therapy for social deviants. In fact, I’m starting to believe that video games really can corrupt today’s youth. I mean, I was never a gamer. Yet, I picked up Burnout 2, and found that I had an affinity for causing NASTY multicar collisions on the highway. Not only did Burnout allow it – it encouraged it. So, I found myself begin rewarded for causing property damage and killing as many school bus children as possible. And I couldn’t stop. I spent 8 hrs devising the sickest, gnarliest, audacious car collisions possible. And you know what? I’d do it again. I’m THAT sick. Thanks a lot, Burnout

– So, Katie Holmes was making the talk show rounds last week to promote her new movie, Mad Money. Best Week Ever made fun of the fact that she didn’t really have anything to say. She’d drop little worthless anecdotes about Suri which, as BWE put it, it sounded like she was describing a child that she had just met. “Oh, she’s got a good temperament.” What I felt needed discussing, however, was her surprise appearance on BET’s 106 & Park. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. For the uninformed, 106 & Park is BET’s version of TRL, only people actually watch 106 & Park. So, Katie comes on to present her costar, Queen Latifah, with the Golden Globe she’d won a few nights earlier (ya know, since the strike pretty much killed the Globes ceremony). I have never heard of a more inappropriate person to be in the BET studio. Let me explain: half them folks ain’t never seen Dawson’s Creek. Nor have they seen Go. And she was the most throwaway part of Batman Begins. So, I’d just love to know how it felt to be in the middle of the collective “who the fuck does this bitch think she is?” mentality that must’ve been running rampant in the studio audience.

– This is going to be controversial, but I feel I have to go here. I’ve a theory on what must be the best part about being a gay male: the clothes. Allow me to explain. There’s some shit out there that a straight gay just isn’t allowed to wear. For example, I was at Busboys and Poets tonight, and there was a grown man wearing a vintage boy scout uniform, complete with bandana neck kerchief. That shit is bold. Now, I’m not saying I’d want to wear it, but I’d like to be able to should I so feel the desire. For a straight guy, you wear that, and people start to talk. “Oh, Will must be gay.” Or “What the hell was he thinking?” However, if I were gay, people would see me in that shit and just say, “Oh well, he’s gay, so…” It’s like a free pass. If I were a gay man, I could wear a picnic tablecloth as a cape, Adidas sweatbands on my ankles, along with a belt made of McDonalds ketchup packets, and they’d be copying that shit on Project Runway. You could be a gay guy with no fashion sense, and no one would know because stereotypes support that all gay men are fashion pioneers. That’s some bullshit and it needs to stop. Some of us straight guys wanna be fashionably daring, too. It just ain’t fair! Yes, I realize there are a ton of cons that are heavier than my shallow pro. I have a friend who said she wished she was Black just so that she would be able to get away with wearing bright colors. Yeah, I realize my argument is just as fucked up as her statement right there. Sure, it’s more about confidence than sexual orientation, but I just wish we didn’t have these hang-ups. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses. Look for my new line, Bromosexual, in Fall 2008.

– Am I the only one who finds it funny that Kate Hudson only gets the roles that would have gone to Goldie Hawn 20 yrs ago? What’s weird about that, you say? Well, it’s weird considering Kate’s Goldie’s daughter. I mean, has this ever happened before in Hollywood? Kiefer Sutherland sure as hell doesn’t play the same roles as Donald Sutherland. Charlie Sheen sure ain’t taking those Martin Sheen roles. It’s odd that Kate and Goldie are so interchangeable. Watch the trailer for Fool’s Gold. You swap out Matthew McConaughey with Kurt Russell and you’ve got Overboard. Think about that for a bit.

Anyway, Happy MLK Day to y’all with good, government jobs. While you’re drinking your lattes and catching up on your Tivo, I’ll be busting my ass making sure no comics get lost shipping from Korea. I have a dream, as well. I see Black children and White children holding hands, as the White children introduce their new Black friends to the magical world of comic books. And the Black children will fall in love with the medium and begin to buy comics for themselves. And enough comics will eventually be bought by these Black children that the industry will have to acknowledge this audience exists, and will have to shut down on MLK day for fear of backlash. Thank God Almighty, for fear of backlash…

21st Dec2007

San Diego Dreaming Part 5: You Can’t Go Back Again

by Will

“Where did you come from & are there others like you?”

So, on the last night of the con, Sunday, I had dinner with my friend Gina, and Keith tagged along for dessert. On the way back, we dropped Gina off at this top secret party thrown by Kevin Smith’s View Askew folks; I swear there was a treasure map/scavenger hunt just for admission. Anyway, Keith and I were left to fend for ourselves for the evening’s entertainment. Keith called his friend, Mark, and we ended up meeting back at a hotel bar downtown. We were all settling in, when we were introduced to Rachelle *cue glitter effect and cartoony harp music; throw the action into slow motion, just for good measure*, who’d be taking care of us for the night. Immediately, it was obvious that there was something about Rachelle. First of all, she carried herself so well. It’s hard to convey in words, but she had this confidence, this air about her. Also, she played the role of gracious hostess, without any hit of boredom or condescension. She’d come through, with a simple, “What can I get for you, gentlemen?” and it was like time stopped. She really seemed pleased that we were there. And the feeling was mutual.

Now, Rachelle had this Kelly-Packard-post-California-Dreams look to her. She was an attractive girl, who just screamed “girl next door”. We were all stupid and drunk, so we took a shine to her. Keith, most of all, seemed interested. We sort of had this plan to find him a wife in San Diego, as part of our ongoing quest to figure out our lives by grasping at grandiose straws. It sounds like hyperbole, and you’ll think I’m full of crap, but she really was perfect. She was the that perfect girl you’re always told is out there; the one where God broke the mold when He made her. She’d reinstill your faith in women. I can’t reproduce the conversations of that night as they just flowed. She was witty, she could match you word for word, and she always seemed to find a way to surprise you. An hour into things, we all had a crush on this girl. I think I uttered something like, “Where did you come from, and are there others like you?” Yeah…

So, at that point, she actually pulled up a seat, and we learned about what she was studying in school, how she loved the beach, stuff about her hometown, etc. As the night wore on, she and Keith really did seem to connect. This was awesome, as I’m “Captain Vicarious”, so it was like I had won, as well. Man, I really need to get a life, but we’ll chalk this up as “Will being happy for his friend”. When we were about to leave, Keith said something like, “You’d better be careful, ’cause I’ll totally come back tomorrow night.” She didn’t seem fazed, and said that he should definitely come back. She told him the hours she’d be there, and that she hoped to see him again. We’re all being stupid, obnoxious jerks as we’re high-fiving him, and debating whether or not he should actually go back the next night.

Well, the next night, Keith and I decided to try out the SD bar scene. We went to this place whose name I can’t remember, but we have a picture online somewhere. Anyway, they seemed to be having some kind of private party that we managed to get into, but we realized all of the women were engaged. All of them. WTF?! I’ve found that every woman in SD is hot, tattooed (I swear, every woman had a tattoo!), and married. Well, we got bored with that pretty soon, so we started thinking about what to do next. That’s when we remembered that Rachelle would be working. Now, I was really starting to adhere to that whole “You can’t go home again” philosophy. I don’t know if it’s my disdain for plans, or me just being bitter, but I never feel like those situations end up like you want them to. If we’d just run into her, that would be one thing. But the whole thing was just too…premeditated for my liking. But I was drunk, and we had nothing better to do. So, we start heading in the direction of that hotel. Here’s where you might want to start paying attention, ’cause it’s a doozy:

While we’re walking, we realize we don’t have a camera. For some reason (maybe this blog), I start to think that we need a picture with her, or no one will ever believe the story. Yeah, THAT makes sense. Well, we now had to get a camera to remember this forever. We get to the hotel, and there’s this guy leaning against the outside wall, smoking. Now, if we’re judging a book by its cover, he seemed kind of like the jerky frat guy. Probably has a string of girls whom he treats like shit, while he prefers to hang out with his bros. Anyway, we’re drunk and we need help, so I ask him “Do you know if there’sa drug store or 7/11 nearby”. Oddly enough, he was cool and directed us to a 7/11 nearby. We walk the couple of blocks to the store, we get caught in the maelstrom of the locals stocking up on cigs and soda before the next bus comes along. We finally get the camera, check out, and walk out the door.

Now, I need to explain something else: Keith had had Lasik about a month prior to our trip to SD. They’d screwed up, and the surgery didn’t take, so he was in a sort of “holding pattern” as they waited to see if the eyes would straighten themselves out. He could get by, in that he wasn’t going to walk into traffic or anything, but he couldn’t make out features or details. So, I was constantly describing things and women to him. He’d see the outline, realize it was a girl, and ask, “Ooh, is she hot?!” Got all that?

OK, well, as we’re leaving the 7/11, Keith’s looking across the street to the next block, and he asks, “Ooh, is she hot?!” I was busy opening the camera, so I look up and mutter: “It’s her. Fuck.” Crossing the street, directly at us, is Rachelle in street clothes. She’s no longer the classy, hostess with the mostest. She’s still attractive, but she’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. And walking, with his arm around her, is fratboy smoker guy who’d directed us to the 7/11 in the first damn place! He’d been waiting for her. It was too poetic to be fake. We’d been crossed by our own savior. So many emotions at once. How was someone so perfect with this guy? Stock dropping rapidly….She didn’t even see us, nor did he seem to acknowledge us. They passed us by, and she, out of our lives. I felt really bad for Keith, ’cause I really did want that unrealistic Hollywood ending. It really wasn’t about me anymore, but I just wanted to witness the whole thing. I wanted the ability to say, “I was there.” But that wasn’t to happen. Because life doesn’t work like that. To quote The 40 Year Old Virgin, “You can’t put pussy on a pedestal”. And that’s why you have to live in the moment, take every experience for what it is, and you can’t build castles on quicksand (yeah, I was going for two California Dreams references in one post; sue me!). Keith was great about it and just kind of laughed it off. That’s the kind of guy he is, and I hope I can learn to do that one day. In any case, I cursed for a couple of blocks until we came up with the grand plan to explore San Diego’s strip clubs. I’m gonna leave that story for another day, as it’s really Keith’s story, and being the master storyteller that he is, I could never do it justice. I will say, however, if you’re in the San Diego area, and you know a redhead with “Danger” tattooed across her lower back, e-mail me!

Keith and I continued to have a few crazy adventures those last few days. We ended up at the beach one day, where Keith and his “mystical connection to the water” forgot to put on enough suntan lotion. You’ve heard of sunburn, but he got sun poisoning. It wasn’t even apparent until about 12 hrs later. The worst part was that we were flying home the next day, which became an unbearable experience for him. The skin behind his knees was raw, so while sitting on the plane, these areas would start to heal, but when he stood up, the wounds would rip open again. His dealt with this for weeks after our return. He was like a blind leper. I probably should’ve just shot him to put him out of his misery. But it had taken so long to get home that I think we were just glad we made it back.

What happened, you ask? Well, when we got to the airport in SD, we were told that our flight was at least 2 hrs late, due to storms in the midwest. We’re waiting for our flight, while Keith just wants to die from the sun poisoning pain. We finally get on the plane, and it has a layover in Phoenix. We don’t deplane, but it sits on the runway for over an hr. Now, Diamond had arranged a shuttle for us, based on our being back to BWI at midnight. Well, with the unexpected delays, and empty promises that “we’d make up the time in the air”, we didn’t get a chance to call the shuttle. Not to mention the fact that I realized they had scheduled my shuttle for a day earlier. So, not only was Keith going to be late for his shuttle, there was no guarantee that there was even going to be room for me. Well, we land at 3 AM and the shuttle’s not there. We call the place, but there’s no answer…because it’s 3 AM. So, we find a Super Shuttle, and I start to haggle. I get him to agree to take us to Timonium for $40 because “that’s all the money we have”. Man, were we about to get hosed. The guy agrees to take us, but he has to drop someone off first. We’re fine with that.

Now, stay with me for this geography: BWI is in Baltimore, but this drop off was near Columbia, about 35 miles in the opposite direction of where we need to go. But we didn’t know that before we got on. We drop the guy off, no problem. Then, about 5 minutes away from the drop-off, the shuttle gets a flat tire. So, we pull off to the side of the road, but the driver doesn’t have a flashlight, so he’s doing this by the light of the moon! Plus, his jack won’t lift the shuttle high enough, so his master plan is to release enough air from the spare so that he can slip on the spare. This whole process takes about an hr. Once he gets the spare on, he realizes he had let out too much air, and the spare was going flat. So, he uses the GPS to find the nearest gas station. When we find it, it’s closed…because it’s 4:00 AM. We manage to get to another station, and he fills the tire. We finally get back to Diamond at 5:30. And we had to go to work that same day. I’d laugh if my entire life wasn’t exactly like the scenario I just decribed. People keep telling me I’ll win one day. We’ll just have to see about that…

So, what did we learn, kids? San Diego’s awesome, but Comic Con is pretty overwhelming. It’s something that you really only need to do once in your life, but also take time to explore the city. Why? Because’s everybody’s hot, and the weather’s beautiful. The most important thing I learned was that whole “live in the moment” philosophy. I can’t say I’ve adopted it, plus it takes a whole lot of alcohol and “what have I got to lose?” attitude, but I’ve certainly acknowledged its validity. I think that’s something we could all take into ’08. And that, my friends, is the story of how the West went West.

20th Dec2007

San Diego Dreaming Part 4: *SO* Out Of Place At The Goth Party

by Will

“I’m having a total goth moment. Everything I see, I either want to kill it or fuck it.”

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT!

Sorry for the Bay City Rollers, but I needed to get us in the mood.

So, on the Saturday of the show, Keith and I weren’t sure what we were going to do. We’d already put in for vacation time so that we could have a few extra days in SD once the show was over. That said, we kinda wanted to “case the joint” to find cool places to spend our extra days. Well, we changed out of our “papaya”-colored (don’t blame me; blame the catalog!) Diamond shirt, and we’d just thrown on some clothes when Rob called and asked what we were doing for dinner. He was planning on going to this goth-industrial party called X-Sanguin that’s held every year near the end of the show. His friend Susan invited him (you have to meet this girl; she’s like sex wrapped up in skin), but he always kind of dangled it in our faces, in that “I don’t watch television” way of his. So, we were helping him kill time while Susan got ready. We end up at this Mexican place staffed entirely by Russians. Yes, Russians.

Sidebar: I went to Russia. I was an exchange student. My first kiss was a Russian. I love White Russians. And the drinks are cool, too. So, whenever I’m in an environment with Russians, I get stupid. I know enough of the language to get by. I skipped the whole chapter of “Would you like to come back to my hotel room?” or “Do they test for STDs at the embassy?” (Why do guide books have these chapters? Has anyone ever gotten laid using the “How To Hit On Women In Their Native Language” chapter of these tour books?!). I find I can get by with the general “It’s nice to meet you; my name is Will; How are you?” combo. After all, it’s a black guy speaking Russian. Might as well be a frog singing vaudeville. I’m a conversation piece, baby! End of Sidebar

So, we get seated by this brunette who is just…smokin! I mean, she looked like she had dressed for the club, but had been called into work at the last minute. All black clothes, tramp stamp, chain belt, the works. Keith and I were smitten, while Rob was playing it cool – he’s practically married anyway. So, how do we talk to her? I breezed through all the ice breaker stuff that I knew, and it was good, but not good enough. Keith tries the whole, “We’re from out of town, and we’re looking for cool places to hang out” angle. She responded, “Vell, I like to go klahbbing”. She rattles off this list of “klahbs” she likes, but we already know they’re too exclusive for us. I think Keith asked her if she was going clubbing later that night, but she said probably not since she’d have to work until 4 AM. Oh well…

At this point, Rob checks in with Susan, and decides to ask if she could get extra tickets to the party. Keith and I were interested, but caught off guard. You see, we looked like fratboy douchebags who were setting up a kegger. It wasn’t even crush party wear. Keith was wearing a gray Hanes t-shirt, some jeans, and flip flops, while I had a light blue button-down and cargo pants. This was not goth wear. Rob, on the other hand, had a blood-maroon button down and black pants; he was good to go. There was good and bad news: Susan had extra tickets, but we were late and had to immediately go pick her up. We felt we were WAY underdressed, but Rob had to go, so we followed.

Allow me to explain a bit more about this party. It’s held annually, in an abandoned church (The Abbey), and there’s always a theme. This year’s theme was Post-Industrial Russian Military. And you’re supposed to dress for the occassion. It’s also one of those parties where you’re bound to see some freaky shit, and what happens at X-Sanguin stays at X-Sanguin. The people on the list (who’d been planning for a year), were mailed a case containing a faux scan card, as well as a temporary tattoo in a modern hammer & sickle motiff. To gain entrance, you must wear this tattoo someplace on your person. The tame will go for the obvious: arm, cheek, back of hand, while the freaky will go for the daring: bikini line, inner thigh, other.

We get to Susan’s hotel room, and Ms. Sex-In-Skin is wearing this cute little military outfit, looking like the naughtiest soldier in the history of the Russian military. Her friend was just as hot, while Keith and I looked like we were there to egg the place as a hazing ritual, with Rob as our vampiric suitemate. Then, there was the hilarity of the tattoo application. Keith put his on his cheek, while I went for the inner wrist. Like a moron, I messed mine up because my ID bracelet rubbed it off before it dried. Rob messed his up because he forgot to take off the backing, so he tattooed his tattoo to its own wrapper. Susan was getting pissed because she didn’t have any more, so we were going to have to make do with the tattoos we’d messed up. Not off to the best start.

We could tell that Susan and friend seemed a bit upset that we weren’t dressed, but we’d been assured that not everyone dressed for this thing. Well, everyone who wanted to have a good time did dress for it. We almost didn’t get in, as my tattoo was pretty smudged, but they vouched for me. Susan and friend proceeded to ditch us almost immediately. Keith and I were trying to be optimistic, but we were pretty much sidelined from the beginning. The characters parading into this place were like something you’d find if Tim Burton had directed 300. From women on stilts to gorgeous fire eaters, we knew we didn’t fit in. But, Lord, did we try!

There was one little blond who was dressed as a sexy Russian nurse. Her uniform was strategically ripped, in order to show you where she’d hidden her tattoo. She was trying to dance, but she was terrible. Oh well, at least you’re cute. Then, she got a hoola hoop from a guy on the floor, and she worked it like she had to feed a hungry baby back at home (I mean, City High might as well have been playing in the background)! My God, this woman had everyone in a trance. And she moved and swayed for what felt like years. Let this be a lesson: chicks who can’t dance might be able to hoola, and that’s SO much better!

Keith fell in love with this fire dancer who reminded him of a character in one of his stories (he’s a writer, btw; search “Keith Davidsen” on Amazon!). He spent the night trying to track her down, while also chatting up folks at the bar. We tried to get drunker, but it wasn’t setting in. We were determined to have a good time at this thing, but they just didn’t want it. I’m sure it dripped with desparation, but we were so sure that we were always minutes from a 12-person orgy. It was in the air. They were those kinds of folks. But we weren’t dressed for the occassion. It’s weird being outcast by a group considered to be outcasts themselves! You’re standing there like, “I’m a good guy! I like comics! Look, Khakis!” And they’re looking at you like, “I like pain! Punch me in the face, and drink my blood! Let’s invite the dark gods into our intimacy.” We’d try to dance, and not even grinding shit, but their earth sisters and whatnot would box us out. We soon lost Rob, and we realized our own friends didn’t want our stink to rub off on them. So, we eventually packed it in and headed back towards the hotel.

Not really feeling like a cab, and pissed off at the goths, we decide to walk. Now, I just Mapquested that distance, and it’s supposedly only 2.31 miles. Well, we must’ve taken the long way, because I know it took us a good hour and a half to get back to familiar territory. In fact, I think we took the worst route ever, as we were deep in the neighborhood part of SD, and it couldn’t have been a great area because there were a lot of Jack in the Box and Denny’s. And it was almost 1 AM. And we’re walking.

Now, it needs to be said that we were kind of turning on each other because we were kind of pissed at the outcome of the night, and we needed to blame someone. So, we blamed each other. Not sure what we expected, but what we got wasn’t it. At this point, the alcohol was finally starting to set in, and Keith’s getting paranoid. Because we’re in this unknown area, his eyes start darting around, in case a knife-wielding hobo jumps out at us. Somehow, in our drunkeness, we made a pact to keep our eyes open for vagabonds and derelicts; if we noticed one, we were to run and not look back. Yeah, no real solidarity there. “Shit, a hobo! Peace out!” Hey, it made more sense when we were drunk. We knew our limits. How could we fight off a hobo with nothing to live for? We’d just struck out against Hot Topic’ers. How the hell were we gonna defeat a mugger?

Our night then just degraded into standard, boring fare you could get at home. We ended up walking back through the Gaslamp District, and we needed an ATM. It was 2 AM, and we conveniently found a machine at the door of the Mexican place we’d been to earlier. As luck would have it, our waitress was still there. Maybe the night wasn’t a wash! Maybe she’d want to hang out when she got off. We said “hi”, and I swear she looked at us like we were INS! She wanted nothing to do with us, and acted liked she’d never even seen us before. Yes, I understand she deals with a bunch of less-than-memorable people per day, but damn! As Mystery would say, never fall for the “hired guns”. Anyway, after that awkward encounter, we ended up in Ralph’s (The Wegman’s of the West) and grabbed a bunch of shit to drown our sorrows. Seriously, that was one fucked up grocery trip. I think we had Doritos and parfait (I think I’m the only sucker who falls for the supermarket parfait) and goulash and I think Keith was thinking aout buying one of those rotisserie chickens. The workers must’ve thought we were the biggest stoners around. But we weren’t high on drugs; we were high on goth, and we were coming down hard!

Recently, the pictures from the show were posted online:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/freaksnightout/sets/72157601439586633/

It’s amazing how hindsight is 20/20. I looked at all of the “hot people”, and find myself thinking, “Wow, you were so much hotter in the dark”. Either I was caught up in the moment, or their dark pact with Satan doesn’t carry over to photographic representations. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve heard from Susan since then, and I never did find out if that “More-gy” took place…

Tomorrow’s Chapter: “Where did you come from & are there others like you?” The Double-Sized Grand Finale!

19th Dec2007

San Diego Dreaming Part 3: Celeb Rundown & Rosario Dawson Epilogue

by Will

“This is bullshit!”

As I said yesterday, Hollywood has made SDCC its playground, so much so that many of the events and panels leave people asking, “What does this have to do with comics?”. Sometimes, it makes sense. They had Nic Cage, because Ghost Rider had just come out on DVD, plus he had a comic coming from Virgin. They had Gwenneth Paltrow and other cast members from the upcoming Iron Man movie. They even had Stan “The Man” Lee. At the other end of the spectrum, they had the cast of the Sarah Silverman Program, they had assorted cast from Grindhouse, and they were promoting upcoming shows for ABC Family (many of which are already cancelled as I write this!).

Well, this is probably the first post to get me sued, but I had to cross that lne eventually. Here are a few of my most memorable celebrity moments from the show:

Joe Quesada: For those not in the know, Joe Quesada is the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, home of Spider-Man, Captain America, and the X-Men. Before coming to Marvel, he designed the Bruce Wayne-replacement Batman in the ’90s, and he co-created Painkiller Jane (of the recently canceled Sci Fi Channel show). Joe has been a controversial figure, as he’s the guy that many fans love to hate. A lot of that is due to his accessibility. It’s not that he’s done anything wrong, bu with the advent of the internet, he’s a lot easier to bash. People have criticized him for everything, from his business decisions to his weight. I’ve always liked the guy, and don’t really hold his business decisions against him. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and he’s proven that.

I met him at the Baltimore Comic Con a few yrs ago, and while he wasn’t doing sketches, I convinced him to give me his signature at the size of a sketch page. That was good enough for me. Now, Joe used to be very large. I mean, “I’m scared for this guy if he doesn’t get ahold of himself” large. So, I was shocked when I saw him at SDCC, because he’s lost well over 50 lbs. The sad thing is that I didn’t even run into him until the mens room. I’m at the urinal, and I notice, “Shit, Joe Q’s peeing next to me!” Once again, I’ve got the fanboy thing under wraps, so I know not to say anything. Especially not in an environment where we’re both holding our junk. That just ain’t kosher. Oddly enough, this dude came in, and DID say, “What’s up, Joe?”, as Joe was handling business. I was thinking to myself, “God, have you no decency?”, but it turns out this was a Marvel guy, and Joe was cool with it. We ended up washing our hands at the same time, and I said “hi” at that point. He responded. No harm, no foul. Yeah, no dirt for ya there, kids…

Bendis: Brian Michael Bendis is probably my favorite comic writer. He’s the first writer whose books I bought because he wrote them. Before, I was buying X-Men because it was X-Men. Spider-Man because it was Spider-Man. Before I knew it, I was buying Avengers because it was Bendis. He’s just got a knack for dialogue. Anyway, after meting Frank Cho and Jim Lee, I felt that the only person left that I was dying to meet was Bendis. I didn’t even realize he was signing until it was too late. Our schedules were booked with meetings, so it’s not like we got a lot of free time on the con floor. I got into the Bendis line 3 people after the guy holding the “last person in line” sign. Honorably, I got out of line and waited off to the side. I knew people who knew people, so I was trying to see if I could still meet Bendis at some point over the weekend. In the meantime, I notice more and more assholes getting in line, despite the guy holding that sign. I guess it didn’t apply to them if they didn’t acknowledge it. Like a trooper, Bendis sat there and signed all of there books, regardless of the fact that he was supposed to be elsewhere by that point. Well, being as stubborn as I am, I just waited. MTV came over to interview him when he was done, and I just stood right there, off to the side. 20 mintues later, when he was done, I finally went over and introduced myself. I somewhat slipped into me, “You’re so awesome” trance, but it was all true, and he was a really nice guy. I didn’t ask him for an autograph because I already bought one years ago (yes, I’m a sucker), and it really wasn’t about that. I really just wanted to meet him. Met the guy who opened my eyes to creators. Mission accomplished.

Ben Templesmith: Ben is one of the cocreators of 30 Days of Night, which tore up theatres back in October. He’s a gracious, friendly guy, and it was great meeting him. I’d actually asked him to do an indie profile that we were running in Previews, and I just wanted to thank him for participating. Once again, great guy.

Frank Miller: Ah, Frank Miller. Creator of 300, Sin City, Dark Knight Returns, the Robocop screenplay, and the “Goddamn Batman”. Frank’s a bit of an enigma. I saw him briefly, as he left one of the Hyatt bars. He looks kinda like Tim Burton’s crazy uncle, as he wear all black, but tops it of with a fedora, like he’s friggin’ Carmen Sandiego or something. Funny enough, he rolls with a posse. I swear, he had his own dark entourage quickly whisking him out of the joint. Well, he looked like he’d had a rough night. I wanted to closer look, but I got distracted when Brian Posehn from the Sarah Silverman Program walked by. I thought I might get a chance to see Sarah…

Elvira: Mmm….the “Mistress of the Dark”. As campy as she might be, she’ll always remind me of the 80s and liquor stores. She and Spuds McKenzie will go down in history as the best friends of the 80s beer industry, and I think Elvira was one of the first hot, naughty girls a lot of us were introduced to. Well, E has aged. I saw her from afar, and wished I’d stayed back. She’s not bad, per se, but you really don’t wanna get too close. I mean, even Bettie Page was rough when she got old. The breasts still look racktacular, though!

Thomas Jane: The Punisher. Well, he punished something all weekend, and I think it came out of a paper bag. He was there promoting his Image comics, Bad Planet and Alien Pig Farm, but he was always so animated. At times, it just seemed like he was the life of the party, while at other times it was clear that he was WASTED! His booth was right next to ours, so I had a good seat for the Thomas Jane craziness. Some days, he’d throw these balsa wood airplanes just to see who/what they’d hit. Then, he started running up and down the aisles, like he was racing an invisible friend. I also think the timing had something to do with things: you see, the studio chose this weekend to announce Jane’s replacement in the role of Punisher: Ray Stevenson, of HBO’s Rome. And it seemed like it was news to him. Yeah.

One night, he came through one of the Hyatt bars, chomping on a cigar (you can’t smoke anywhere in CA, btw), yelling, “This is bullshit!” He kept yelling it, while jumping on the backs of chairs, trying to get the bartender’s attention. He’d give up, jump down, and start flailling around in his Hawaiian shirt, “This is bullshit!” Finally, some brave asshole asked, “What’s wrong, Punisher?” Jane goes on to yell, “They were gonna give me $1.5 mil to do Punisher 2, but the script was shit! It was shit!” A handful of douchebags encircled him, and they were faux cheering him on, like, “Right on, Punisher!” and “Fuck them!” Little did he realize that they were laughing at him and not with him. He flailed a little more, and then stumbled out the door, where I last saw him chatting up some blonde. This exchange would later be described, albeit briefly, in a Wizard article about some completely unrelated comic creator.

Jenna Jameson: That’s right, folks. THE Jenna Jameson. You see, Virgin Comics (Ha! I couldn’t make this stuff up!) is releasing a comic starring Jenna. I can’t even really tell you what it’s about. It’s not a confidentiality thing – I just really don’t know what it’s about. From what I can tell, it’s Witchblade, starring Jenna. It’s such a funny project because everyone expects one thing, seeing as how she has this naughty background, but I think they’re going to end up with something else entirely. Most of the people in line were like, “Jenna, I have all your videos. Oh….you have a comic? That’s cool…”.

Anyway, she was at the show for a signing. Rob and I had had a meeting with Bahrat, Virgin’s head of marketing, the day before, and I’d hinted that I wanted to meet Jenna. Hell, she’s the biggest porn star of all time! Anyone would want to meet her, and I wanted to get as much out of that trip as possible. So, Bahrat told us to come by the booth at noon, and he’d see what he could do. We missed noon because of meetings, but one of the managers on our toy team had actually met Jenna’s manager earlier in the day. Toy Team Guy is gruff and burly; a real man’s man. The toy/merchandise team is always getting porn samples, as we list that stuff in Adult Previews, and I hear he gets all of the hardcore samples. The guy knows his stuff, so when he met Jenna’s manager, they hit it off and made plans to have drinks with Jenna after her signing. Well, the word spread, and I tagged along with their group, as I was determined to meet this woman. So, we diligently hung off to the side until Jenna was done with her signing. I even took some time to visit her neighbor, James Hong from Big Trouble in Little China (AKA “That Old Chinese Dude From Every Movie in the Eighties”). Once it was over, the manager led us over, and we all got to meet her and have our pictures taken with her. She also signed this big-ass poster of the cover of her comic (I’ve got to remember where I put that thing…).

She’s hot, but she’s so tiny. If you’ve ever seen Jenna stuff from her heyday, she was the porn star with curves. Not quite Anna Nicole, but she wasn’t small. With all of the drama in her life recently, from her divorce to her cancer diagnosis, it seems like it may have taken it’s toll. Don’t get me wron: she’s ripped, with a six pack and everything, but it’s such a drastic change. Anyway, she was really cool, and I’m happy that out of the 13 pictures that CVS was actually able to develop, this meeting was one of them. The funniest part was watching Toy Guy as he met her. This is a guy who’s a former Marine, and I’d bet money that he has taken lives with his bare hands, but he was stuttering and giggling like a fool. I think it brought us closer. After we met her, I asked, “Toy Guy, would you be my new dad?” His response? “Only if you call me Mr. Drummond.” And to this day, I call him Mr. Drummond. It was worth it.

Epilogue: As we’re giddily leaving Jenna, I notice this HOT chick rushing across the floor in her direction. Wearing short shorts, she had legs for days, and once my eyes traveled a week north, I realized who it was: Rosario. This was the day after our meeting, and I was still feeling stupid about my whole “I fell in love with you” thing. Also, though, she was GORGEOUS. The night before, I was drunk and she was accessible, but now she was the hottest girl in school, wearing the shortest pants not allowed by dress code, and she was eager to meet the world’s biggest porn star. I wanted to run up to her, saying, “Remember me? It’s Will West! Cool name guy!” But I’m learning to just live in the moment. All that shit about how life’s about the journey and not the destination. I’d had my Rosario moment and that was it. No need to get a restraining order placed against me. I walked off just as I saw them hug, pictures of which showed up in various publications.

Tomorrow’s Chapter: “Everything I see, I either wanna kill it or fuck it!”

18th Dec2007

San Diego Dreaming Part 2: SuperBad, Heroes’ Hiro & Rosario Dawson!!!

by Will

“In fact, I think I fell in love with you…”

Now, one of the biggest things about Comic Con is that abundance of parties. Now, people count out comic folks because we’re all social outcasts, too afraid of the outside world, so we hide in our moms’ basements, drowning ourselves in superhero fantasies. Don’t you hate that shit? It’s the same way I hate how any mainstream article about comics *must* contain “sock”, “bam”, and/or “pow”. Do they even use those sounds in comics anymore? I think I saw a “Splurgghh!” the other day, but digress…

Due to the show’s proximity to LA, plus the fact that the show is becoming Hollywood’s playground, there are a ton of pretty high profile parties. The beauty of it for me was that I was on all of the lists. Surprisingly, they were pretty hardcore with the door security at these things. You’d think fans would be a bit craftier with their attempts to get in to these things, but most of them just had no creativity. Hell, I took my friend, Rob, to a party and he wasn’t on the list. We just told them he was my boss, who happened to be on the list, and they let him in. No ID needed or anything. Pwned!

Anyway, the party we went to was thrown by Oni Press, publishers of the incredible Scott Pilgrim series, as well as Whiteout (with upcoming movie starring Kate Beckinsale). So, I knew that the party was cohosted by a talent agency, but I didn’t really know their rle in things. We get inside, and it was almost like nobody inside knew this was “a comic thing”. Everyone was hot, but in that NYC way. It was one of those “see and be seen” parties, where the only Black dude has a British accent, and he’s the DJ, while there are a bunch of too-cool-for-school Asians, and a lot of trendy White kids. There wasn’t a lot of dancing, even though there was danceable music. It was like we were playing Rhythmic Chicken: who’s gonna dance first? In other words, it was awesome! Let’s get something straight: I’ve always been an elitest on the outside of the system. I love a good, elite, meritocracy, but I’ve never really cut the muster to be in taht crowd. But now I was on the list! I could be snooty, too! Fuck you, little people!

So, Rob and I are drinkin’ our dranks, taking in the scene, when I notice somebody. Holy shit, that’s Jonah Hill! “Rob, did you see Jonah Hill?” Rob, of course, answers with a “Who?’. Let me explain something about Rob. Great guy, but he’s the dude who’ll tell you he doesn’t watch television because he really wants to drive the point home. Say you’re not familiar with the guy. Say you’ve never heard of Superbad or seen the ebay store scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin. But don’t give me the, “I don’t watch television” speech that I’ve heard a million times before, in that “Sorry, moron, I have a life” tone of yours. Ugh…So, anyway, I saw Jonah Hill. And the next thing I knew, I saw McLovin’ trailing through the crowd before him. Now, I’m kind of geeking out, but we need to remember something: A) it’s a cool party, so you’ve got to act like you don’t see them and B) I’ve been learning to deal with my starstruck problem in these settings. Back in Feb, I went to the New York Comic Con for work, and I ended up at a party full of every popular comic pro of the last 15 yrs. I almost had a heart attack, but Rob was pushing the whole, “Play it cool, man” angle (a lot of this is based on the fact that he didn’t even know who most of the people were). Anyway, after a few beers, a conversation with the Wizard editors, and a dance circle with Olivier Coipel, I got out all of my professional fanboyness. So, now that we’re in SD, it should’ve been OK, but these were actors. As far as cons go, the only people who know those professionals are comic people. To the fat black lady at the check cashing/takeout joint, Jim Lee is just “that Asian dude” (and that’s if she’s feeling nice), while Jonah Hill would be “Oh, it’s that little fat boy from that movie where they tryin’ to get some pussy!” See? Universal appeal. Anyway, for this reason, the fanboy bug started creeping up, but I let it pass. “Be cool, Will”, I told myself. “They’ll come back around and we can just say ‘hi’.”

Rob and I continue taking in the scene, when Masi Oka came through. Holy shit, it’s that dude from Heroes! And then, Sylar came through. Now, I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen Heroes. Yes, I know it’s comic-based, and I’ll love it, and blah, blah. This is the same crap people try to say when I tell them I never saw Firefly. Either way, I just don’t ahve time for episodic television. Damn, I sound like Rob. Anyway, I’ve followed the show enough that I know I’ve got to save the cheerleader, or the world’s fucked. I also know there’s the teleporting Asian kid. And, apparently, Sylar’s an evil asshole, even though he looks just like that guy in high school who might be gay ’cause he’s so metro, and all of his friends are girls, yet you’ve heard stories about all these chicks he fucked at his last school. Again, I digress. The media have looked to Heroes as the thing that will legitimize comics. If viewers can get onboard with its storytelling, then it might introduce the joy of comics to the nonbelievers. So, the cast members are basically missionaries, and they were gracing us with their presence at this party. The Superbad guys slipped in somewhat unnoticed, but the fans took to the Heroes like rednecks to NASCAR. I think I gave Sylar the “what’s up” nod, but I really didn’t have much more to say to him. I’d never seen the show, and San Diego was already revealing a side of myself that I didn’t like: the empty gesture schmoozer. I was telling people I liked their stuff when I didn’t, telling people I’d read their stuff when I hadn’t. When I meet a person, I don’t really remember their name or anything. I’m most concerned with what impression I’m making upon them. There’ll be time for names and counting when the dealing’s done. Recently, though, I notice I go into this stupid trance of, “Thanks SO much, I really love your stuff” to all of these pros, when I really want to just say, “Yeah, it’s good, but what the Hell was up with that Clone Saga?” Anyway, long story short, I acknowledged their presence, but I didn’t geek out about it.

After a bit, Rob left to head for another party, while AI was doing shots with the bartender. Not sure where I picked up the notion that I could pull that off, but tequila solves all ills. So, I’m stumbling back to the hotel, as I’m staying at the center of all afterparty entertainment. The Hyatt bar is known as THE place to be when the night’s entertainment is done. Until about 4 AM every morning, you can find the likes of fans and creators alike, causing more noise than that found in Time Square during rush hour. Well, I get back to the Hyatt, and I hang outside awhile with some people I know. It’s at this point that I notice a converastion off to the side. You see, it was Lee (really cool guy who always wears a stray cowboy hat), and he was having a conversation with a really cute girl. Like I said, I’d had a bit to drink, so I wasn’t as hesitant as I can be at times. Hell, “at times”? I talk myself out of most things…Anyway, I kind of walk around to get a better look at this girl, and I can’t believe who it turns out to be: Rosario Dawson.

Drunk and feeling fanboyish, I decide that I’ve GOT to meet her. It was closer than I’d been to a “celebrity” at this point, and it was one of those carpe diem moments. Sure, it wasn’t that deep, but that was the tequila talking. I see Rob, and I tell him who I’ve just spotted. Surprisingly, he knew who she was (or he pretended to), but he wouldn’t play a role in my childish quest for an introduction. So, I suck it up, saunter over to Lee, and strike up a conversation like I don’t even see her standing there. They were kind of laughing at a joke known only to them, and I caught them before they’d goe on to the next topic. “Hey, Lee! Did you go to any good parties tonight?” That was innocent enough, right? Turns out he’d gone to the MySpace party, which I somehow didn’t get invited to, which still kinda rubs me the wrong way, ’cause anyone who knows me realizes that I might as well have stock in that company. Guess my invite got lost in the mail. Anyway, Lee does my job for me. He goes, “Hey Will, do you know Rosario?” Why no, I don’t know Rosario. “Introduce yourself, ” he tells me. I offer my hand, and say, “Hi, I’m Will West”. As she shakes my hand, she sort of tilts her head to one side, and in that Clerks II cool chick way of hers, says, “Will West, huh? That’s kinda cool.” I’d like to think I giggled inside, but knowing me, I probably sounded like a gay Pilsbury Doughboy.

That should’ve been enough. I should’ve walked away; mission accomplished. Instead, Lee says, “Hey Will, tell her where you work.” I insist that she doesn’t care where I work, but he presses. So, I tell her where I work. She gives me a “that’s cool” -esque response. Now, she was at Comic Con for several reasons, one of which was to promote her Image Comics series, Occult Crimes Taskforce (O.C.T.). Never read it, but was saving them to read on a rainy day. But what do I say? “I love your book, by the way”. After all, I’m Mister Comics. I’m supposed to have my finger on the pulse of these things. I’m hip. I’m cool. Of course I’ve read her book. And then I go too far. If you noticed, I told her that I loved her book. Not liked. Not “I found it intriguing”. No. Loved. So, Mr. Tequila and I get to working together, and we went too far. So, after I say I love the book, I follow with “In fact, I love everything that you do. In fact, I think I fell in love with you with Clerks II.” Yeah, I told her I’d fallen in love with her. Because of Clerks II. So, how did she react? Well, first off, I wish I had a time-lapse photo of the change in her face. And, I’m not sure if she was joking or serious, but here’s what she said: “Clerks II? After 10 yrs of work, and all of the movies I’ve done, you fall in love with me for Clerks II?” Sheepishly, I responded, “I dunno…there was something about that role.” I forgot to explain that she was dressed like a waiter, in black pants and a white button-down. She was carrying a “V” mask, from V for Vendetta, which she wore on the con floor so that she can get around without being noticed. She was smoking, so she couldn’t exactly wear the mask at this point, so more people were recognizing her. As they closed in, I used that as a chance to take my leave.

Now, here’s full disclosure: I was so starstruck that I actually forgot her filmography. When I think of her, there are 2 roles that always come to mind: Clerks II, because I really did think she was the perfect girlfriend there, and KIDS. Now, maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t feel like KIDS was the kind of movie I should be bringing up when first meeting her. That whole foot-in-mouth scenario could of been a lot worse had I said, “I think I fell in love with you in KIDS. Yeah, there was something about the scene where you’re describing how difficult it is to get the taste of semen out of your mouth. Or the scene where you go for your AIDS test.” Oh well, I made my mark. She thought my name was cool, and I made a fool of myself. If I’m lucky, she might use the story next time she’s on Conan or something.

Tomorrow’s Chapter: “This is bullshit!”

17th Dec2007

San Diego Dreaming Part 1: Crazy Taxi With Ethan Van Sciver

by Will

“An ‘lol’ just makes it all better.”

Well, I just got back from Arizona for a wedding, and I realized that I’ve gone West twice this year, yet I still haven’t written about that first, action-packed trip: San Diego. I made a promise to get to that before the end of the year, and my mommy raised me to never make a promise I couldn’t keep. So, it took me until 5 AM, but I finally got the saga down on paper (or e-paper, I guess). Here’s how it’s going to run: I’m going to post a new part every day this week, so you can either follow along, or read it all Saturday morning as you’re nursing your hangover. Either way, it’s all gonna be posted by Friday night. I swear that everything mentioned in these stories actually happened, so either be in awe or be ashamed, as I’m laying it all on the line here. It’s going to start out kind of slow, but I swear it gets better (I’m particularly fond of tomorrow’s post). So, don’t say I never entertain you, and most of these stories aren’t going to paint me in the best light. But that means they’re real. So, here we go:

I’ve got to say that “excitement” was not the initial feeling when I got to San Diego. Don’t get me wrong; I was excited beforehand, and during the flight. However, once I touched down, I got kind of “blah”. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t have anyone to call. Sure, that sounds stupid, but I didn’t exactly have anyone to share it with. Most of my comic friends were with me, so it would’ve been preaching to the choir. So, I had no real outlet for the excitement and, oddly, that turned into depression. I spent the first night in my room, blogging and checking work e-mail (if you remember the disjointed post about Dr. Phil and Good Times, that was the post).

The first few days were consumed by slave labor. Either we were assembling booths or delivering product to retailers, it was all the unglamorous work you neither see, nor ever want to see. That Wednesday night was known as “Preview Night”, which used to be exclusively for retailers and exhibitors to get a lay of the land before the “commoners” hit the gate. In recent years, however, fanboys and retailers alike have taken to coming on Preview Night, so it’s not really anything special anymore. If anything, it’s a good way to gauge the magnitude of the crowd that is expected over the course of the weekend. Show organizers were expecting upwards of 140,000 attendees over the 5 days, and I truly believe that they hit that mark (yeah, I’m too lazy to actually check for stats; I’m not a real journalist!). I’d have to say that I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of people I saw on Preview Night. It also didn’t help that I had booth duty, so I had to do my best Vanna White impression as the “preview nighters” came by to drool at our display cases.

To better explain booth duty, you’re basically a spokesmodel posted at a particular product, available for questions should the attendees want more details. If they want to purchase the item, you send them in the appropriate direction. I had the (un)lucky fortune of being posted at the Diamond Exclusive Colonel America Zombie Bust. Allow me to elaborate: Marvel Comics did a miniseries a little over a year ago, featuring their main characters as zombies. Seeing as how zombies “are the new black”, the thing sold wonderfully for them. So, Diamond decided to make a bust of one of the prominent characters, Colonel America (an alternate version of the traditional Captain America). The bust had chunks missing out of the body, while the scalp was removable, allowing easier access to his patriotically zombified brain. This was all well and good…except for the timing of this bust. You see, the popular miniseries was now a year old, while just weeks prior to Comic Con, Marvel killed off Captain America. And here we were, selling a zombie bust of the character. Can you say “in poor taste’? No? Can you say “too soon”? Let’s just stick with “morbid”. Now, most people would laugh it off, and just think it’s kooky, asking, “Dude, where can I buy this?!” However, it was the old school fan base that really took offense to things. I had a guy come up to me, telling me his life story of how Captain America has always been a hero and a role model to him. I’m smiling and nodding, wondering where this is going. That’s when he decides to inform me that he’s offended that we’d disrespect his role model in such a way. I wanted to launch into the, “Dude, he’s not real” defense, but that’s something that you only want to use in case of emergency. No need of biting the hand that feeds me, just to save face. So, I had to do some emergency back-peddling. I pointed out that the bust was of Colonel America and not Captain America. Since the Colonel was an alternate reality version of Cap, they’re not the same person. So, he could rest assured that his hero was still where he remembered him, six feet under and being consumed by maggots and worms. God Bless America!

I can’t make fun of the fanboys, though, as I’m certainly one of them. Little did I know I was going to have my own, weird fanboy moment the next day. You see, my friend Keith and I were roommates, and we were rushing to get to the con floor for the first real day of the show. As we get into the hotel elevator, we see a guy who looks oddly familiar. Now, the thing with comic folks is that many of them are faceless. If the creator has never graced Wizard‘s Top 10 Creator lists, you’ll never know what they look like (it also doesn’t help that they’ve been using the same pics and creators for the past 10 yrs). So, I’m looking at this guy, when I notice that he has a DC bag with his stuff. He smiles and asks if we’re headed to the con. We tell him we’re working it, blah, blah. Then, I ask if he’s with DC. That’s when he introduces himself: he’s Ethan Van Sciver, regular artist on Green Lantern. So, we shoot the shit for all 12 seconds of the elevator ride. When we get outside, he asks if we want to split a cab.

Now, the convention center was literally one block away, and we were kind of looking forward to walking it. I mean, the early morning cosplay sightings were reason enough to hoof it (you’ll understand when you see the droves of Cassie Hack and Power Girl clones). Not wanting to seem rude, and it was EVS, we decide to join him in the cab. When we tell the driver where we’re going, he gets all pissed. “Why can’t you walk?”, he asks. “It’s right there!”. I guess we were keeping him from getting a “real fare”. Trying to sound like I was cool and edgy, I responded with, “Well, we thought you wanted to get paid!” Nice one, Will. So, it actually takes us about 5 minutes just for the cab to get back onto the street. The entire time, the driver is pissed, trying to tell us that we could’ve walked, seeing as how the convention center was a block away. Well, EVS had a couple of boxes of comics on a cart, so walking would’ve been cumbersome. At some point, the guy calmed down.

In the meantime, Keith and I are talking to Ethan, anything from where he lives to how he felt about the success of the Sinestro Corps storyline. At some point, he mentioned his wife, and that’s when the driver decided to be our friend. “How many girlfriend do you have?”, he asked Ethan. Ethan was like, “I don’t have any girlfriends, man. I’m married.” That wasn’t stopping the driver, though. “You have one wife, so you have enough time and energy for about 2 girlfriends. Lots of beautiful women out here. You might get a girlfriend this weekend.” Dude really started getting forceful, like he couldn’t believe that his math wasn’t making sense to us. We were bewildered by how incessant he was in selling his 1 wife = 2 girlfriend lifestyle. I swear, a 1-block trip took about 20 minutes, and we went from being abused to being this guy’s new best friends, as we were lowly, inexperienced fools, while he was the guru of love. Anyway, it was awesome ’cause I was in the middle of a “con story”. I’d always read about them online, but I never knew I’d actually experience one. I shared an experience with a popular comics pro, in a scenario that you’d have to experience to believe. Comic-Con Rocks!

Tomorrow’s Chapter: “In fact, I think I fell in love with you…”

10th Aug2007

Virgin Fest Part 2: Meeting Richard Branson

by Will

“You gotta have a ticket if you wanna ride the ride.”

Man, why didn’t anyone tell me that Date My Mom still came on? The things you discover at this time of night…

So, where were we? Oh, right:

Virgin Fest Pt 2: The Meeting

So, at this point, with this being my Star Fucker Summer (the SD post will better explain that), I was determined to meet Sir Richard Branson. That’s when one of my coworkers, Tim, answered my prayers. You see, we had 2-day passes, but none of us really wanted to go on Sunday. The bands were lame (except for the Pumpkins), and we’d really had enough from Saturday. But the owner of my company had requested a meeting with Branson on Sunday, and Tim needed help arranging the meet. This was going to be like a meeting of titans: the most powerful man in comics meeting the most powerful man in modern media? When they shook hands, I imagined that every window in a 1-mile radius would simply shatter. I *had* to witness this, so I offered to help my work bud with the meet.

Sunday, we meet up at the Metro and head on over. On Sunday, the fest was dead. D-E-A-D. Why? Because all the acts sucked except for the Pumpkins, who weren’t scheduled to go on until 8:30. It was now noon. Dead. There were about 12 people in the guest area, when there had been a good 200 at its most crowded point on Saturday. Actually, let me throw in one correction. I did get to see Regina Spektor, and she was adorable. I really only know that once song from VH-1, “Fidelity”., but she’s Russian – it’s my kryptonite. Plus, I’m a sucker for the piano-songstress. After all, there’s still a special place in my heart for Sarah Mclachlan and Nellie McKay. Anyway, back on topic.

Anyway, we get into position. Tim is going to meet Branson and his people, while I was waiting for our guy. Well, I wait and wait and wait. Yeah, he never shows. Now, I’m pissed because I’m determined to meet Branson. Something had to justify that day. I only have one day a week that I don’t work (even though I had blown of the PT gig the day before; it didn’t matter); I was wasting my Sunday, and something needed to make that worthwhile. We went into strategy mode, and texted Branson’s assistant. We told her the big guy was a no-show, but we still wanted to meet Branson. Before we know it, he comes through the guest area again. Finally, we got our chance. I don’t really remember much of it. A bunch of douchebags kept cutting in front of us because they worked for Virgin. We finally got up to him, but Tim did most of the talking. Shot the shit about the comics line, and quickly got pictures. Emphasis on quickly. I took Tim’s first, and it’s a great, well-planned shot. When it was my turn, Branson was clearly trying to move along, so mine didn’t come out as rosy. I’m not posting it here because, frankly, it’s ugly. If you’re on facebook, you’ve seen it. But they can’t take away my dignity!

Apparently, as we were leaving the guest area, Darryl Hannah walked by. Whatever. Billionaires have the weirdest friends. Sure, she’s a actress and all, but she’s always going to be weird to me because of her Kennedy connection. She dated JFK Jr. That makes her part of the Kennedy Curse. The same thing with Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s amazing how much Sex and the City made people forget about her past. If you go back to Square Pegs and Honeymoon in Vegas, you’ll get a hint of the weird. You better believe I think there’s a Kennedy Curse, so I don’t want that bad mojo on me. “No, thanks, man. I don’t want you fucking up my life, too.”

After we accomplished our mission (without the help of a banner-laden aircraft carrier, I might add), we took off. It was all in a day’s work. Kind of an anticlimactic finish, but it’s part of my whole “I wanted something and went after it” attitude that I’m trying to cultivate lately. Sure, he sort of came to us, but that was after we worked pretty hard to make ourselves known. After our dude was a no-show, I don’t think that crew gave 2 shits about us. We could have left, but stuck it out. Anyway, I needed to get that story out of the way for the good stuff. Next up, San Diego Dreaming: A Williambrucewest.com Event Told in (At Least) 5 Parts.

10th Aug2007

Virgin Fest Part 1: Amy Winehouse and Cheap Trick

by Will

“Nah, I spent 2 years in the Cub Scouts & realized its potential to make me queer.”

OK, so we’re working backwards here. Virgin Festival, and then I’ll get to the SD adventures.

First off, there are just some movies that shouldn’t air on non-paid television. Friday, for example. It’s just not worth it. The thing makes almost no sense, considering how drastically MTV/VH-1 edited it. Another one? Showgirls. Don’t believe me? Stay up late one night, and check out your local MyNetworkTv channel. It’s on there, and it’s even worse than the uncut version. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Recently, the job has really cranked the perks up to 11. Sure, I may not be able to pay rent anymore, but I’ll never go naked as they seem to hand out polo shirts weekly. To amp that up, though, the vendors have started getting in on the action. One of our newest and biggest accounts is Virgin Comics. A subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, the Virgin Comics line primarily conveys classic, Indian stories and mythologies to a Western audience. OK, that’s enough of a plug. So, I met their new head of marketing in San Diego, and he was awesome. In fact, he was going to line up a meeting that you’ll learn about in the SD post. In any case, when we got back to the home office, Virgin had provided us with tickets to the Virgin Festival (with guest area access), being held at Pimlico where Preakness takes place.

Now, I’ve never been a concert guy. Whenever these kinds of music fests come to town, they sound cool to me, but my fear of crowds takes over, and I talk myself out of the idea. Well, here was a free ticket. And I hadn’t really paid much attention to the guest list, but one name caught my eye. Yes, the name of a strung-out goddess: Amy Winehouse.

Anyone following my recent posts and myspace/facebook activity knows that I love this girl. Not necessarily in a sexual way, as she’s a cross between Julie Kavner (the voice of Marge Simpson, who actually looks more like Aunt Selma) and that dude from Dead of Alive (they sang the “You spin me right round, baby” song). Not exactly an erection-inspiring equation. It’s not about the sexy, though; it’s about the tunes, man. Her album changed my life. OK, I won’t go that far. If anything, I think it was the timing of her album.

For the uninformed, Back to Black is an album that Amy recorded during a break in her tumultuous relationship with now-husband, Blake Civil-Fielder. She’s said that she wasn’t exactly inspired, but rather *had* to write those songs. If she didn’t get them out, she simply would have died. Dramatic, non? Sure, everyone knows her because of “Rehab”. Haha, she’s singing about how her label wants her to go to rehab. It’s not exactly funny. She was so depressed, and had abused enough substances to get to that point. Sure, it’s a cool, rebellious track, but it’s also a cry for help (especially if you’ve read an entertainment blog in the past 48 hrs). My point is that her main single is almost a joke track to some, while the real meat of the album is what follows. “You Know I’m No Good” is about her warning that she was going to fuck up her relationship, but still forcing her lover and herself to learn, the hard way, that she was right all along. “Love is a Losing Game” is about her regretting taking a chance on love, as it’s a gamble where the house always wins. Now, I’ve never been a lyrics person, so those were just a bonus. This woman could sing me the phone book, and I’d be putty. She just hit me at the right time. I was like a 15 yr old girl who’d just gotten her first Dashboard Confessional CD after being burned by her first bf at theatre camp (it’s OK, honey. He was gay!).

Anyway, seeing Amy on the card was enough for me to go. Screw the Smashing Pumpkins, or 311, or even the Police. I love all of those guys, but they melted away when I realized I might have the chance to sing “No, no, no!” in the presence of my beehived queen.

People were wondering if she’d actually show up. She’s been blowing off gigs left and right due to “exhaustion” and whatnot. But she came. And she performed. And I’m left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, she was magnificent. She really sang those songs, sometimes better than the CD. On the other hand, performance was phoned in at times, due to the fact that a racetrack was not an ideal venue for her. You need to see her in the small jazz club, where the acoustics take over. She is *not* a stadium performer. So, I think it might have been the deadest part of the Saturday bill, but I still loved every minute of it. I saw Amy! Right before she went into rehab! Lord knows what she’s gonna be like if it takes…

But wait, there are more acts! If you had ever told me that I’d get to see Cheap Trick perform “The Flame” live, I’d have kicked you in the balls. Well, now I would also owe you an apology and an ice pack. That was one of my 80s dreams come true. If they had driven out in K.I.T.T., with Catherine Bach in the passenger seat, I might’ve had a stroke.

I saw Ben Harper, but he was pretty boring, really. And while people might kill me for this, I have to say the same thing about the Beastie Boys. Sorry, dudes. That Jamaican waiter from the old MTV commercials would be glad to know that hip-hop is no longer ruled by “Tree Jewish White boyeez”. Also probably blasphemy? The Police bored me. I’m the fool who likes the Sting solo stuff better than the group stuff. He’s not one of those artists like Peter Cetera or Phil Collins, where it’s next to impossible to tell if it’s a group or solo song. No, the Police stuff is drastically different from “When We Dance” or “Fields of Gold”. Sorry, but a brotha loves his soft rock.

You know who rocked the house? Felix da Housecat! My dance phase was about 8 years ago, but he brought it back in full force. On Saturday, the main party was in the dance tent. It felt weird experiencing that scene with sunlight beaming in, but that didn’t stop the club kids. They were tweaking out all over the place. There was one chick who just sat near the door, pinching air. If you were close enough, and the fates allowed, she managed to pinch you ass. Otherwise, she was just pinching, at nothing particular. E is a helluva drug! Felix was awesome, though. I know he has this huge club rep, but to actually be there, and experience it…

Anyway, the overall festival was cool. It was hot as balls, but every tattooed, under-30, local music enthusiast seemed to be in the house. I just couldn’t believe that Sir Richard actually attended the thing. I was minding my own, in the guest tent, when he just kind of walks by. There he was, like a blonde-haired Jesus, swaddled in PacSun robes. Too quick for a picture, but slow enough for a memory. Man, I should be a friggin’ poet…

To Be Continued…

08th Aug2007

Stardust, On Diamond

by Will

“Getting fired by the World Bank – a huge impediment to getting hired by the Galaxy Bank.”

So much to write about, but so little time. San Diego recap’s coming. Virgin Festival recap is coming.

For some reason, the swag train really pulled up at work recently. Tonight, we had the chance to see a sneak preview of the movie Stardust. Based on a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, it’s a wonderful tale of fantasy and romance. If you like the Princess Bride or Moulin Rouge, you’ll love this movie. Claire Danes has a speech in there about love that is just touching as Hell. OK, enough gushing. It was excellent, but it did have a drawback: I now have to admit that I like something written by Neil Gaiman…

06th Jul2007

Harry Potter Asshole, Comics Lifestyle, iPods, and IDE Tags

by Will

“You’re way too beautiful girl, that’s why it’ll never work…”

I’m kind of phoning it in today, so you know what that means: random post.

-I’m trying not to talk shit about people behind their backs. Now, I try to say it to their face. It might be dick, but at least I keep it real. Here’s a fun example: after the librarian free-for-all a few weeks ago, I had dinner with a few “book people”, including a former honcho at Scholastic. The conversation turned to the Modern-day Messiah himself, Harry Potter. Whenever this comes up, I always try to stay out of the conversation. That’s the best way to stay out of trouble. But I’d had too much Pinot, so silence wasn’t an option. If I remember correctly, I came out with a, “Hey, it’s a cute little book and all, but I don’t get how it’s taken the world by storm.” It was beautiful. James & Marcus probably understand the feeling, but it’s basking in your own confrontation. You pushed the right button, and you’re enjoying the swell before the fallout. Being an asshole for asshole’s sake.

But in either the smartest or dumbest move of my career, I managed to spin it ever so successfully. After the shock and silence subsided, I swooped in with the follow-up. “Not to take anything away from the franchise, as I appreciate everything Potter has done for literacy. It’s just that, reading the thing, there was too much of a sense of ‘been there, done that.'” And they totally agreed with me. That’s when I went for the cherry. “I’m a huge Roald Dahl fan, and it offends me that Rowling is a billionaire, using pretty much his ideas, while he died a penniless, suspected child molester.” Let’s just say that the conversation totally swung back in my favor, and I was the belle of the ball. I shit you not. I’d go into more detail, but I really don’t want this anecdote showing up on Bookslut or something. I think I saw a glimmer of my future that night, so I certainly did something right.

It’s bad enough that I’m seen as the Antichrist for not liking a children’s book about a boy witch. Oh, I’m sorry. Wizard. Semantics. It mainly shocks people because I supposedly love all things childish. “Oh, it’s a kids thing? Will would love that!” I do, but even I have my limits. I guess I’m just a snob that way. I’d probably love the series had it not blown up like the Death Star. It’s the same way I abandoned Snow Patrol, 24, and Queer Eye when all they became all popular. I don’t like hype.

-Sometime I love my job, and sometimes I hate my job (yes, I realize everyone feels this way):
Love my job: got paid today
Hate my job: actually looked at the check
Love my job: debated the timeline of G.I.Joe, as it’s actually “work related”
Hate my job: while that conversation was going on, I got about 10 e-mails that could be considered “emergencies”
Love my job: It’s comics. Woot!
Hate my job: Yeah, this is gonna do wonders for that business school application
Love my job: It’s comics, yay!
Hate my job: which forced me to move back home with my mom, setting me back about 4 years psychologically

Fucking comics…

iPod Randomness:
-For some reason, I have about 8 different versions of This I Promise You. Don’t ask me why. It’s not like it was a hot party song, nor were there any remixes other than the Spanish version, Yo te Voy. Wait, I have that, so make it 9 versions. And many of them are live. And it’s not a song that changes much when sung live. That’s a sign of taking boyband fandom too far.

– I have a shitload of Peter Cetera. I remember going through a phase during senior year of Cornell, but I didn’t think I kept all of that stuff. I didn’t even know he had that many songs.

-My iPod really loves Carly Simon. And it’s funny because I only have 3 CS tracks. That’s it. And they’re all variations on the same song. I get it. Something is coming around again: this fucking song! I think it’s the song that comes up the most during shuffle.

-I’ve got a ton of California Dreams songs that are of a quality so low that I should be ashamed to even have them. Not that possessing CD songs isn’t shameful enough. I converted these to mp3 from some Real Audio files I found on someone’s website years ago. The sad thing is that they recorded them by placing a tape recorder up to the TV. So, you can guess that what I’ve got is per-it-ty shitty. But, what can I do? A nigga loves his California Dreams…

-My ‘pod glitched up on me the other day, so even though it was on random, it was playing songs in the exact order it had played them the day before. So, for awhile, I actually thought I had ESP. I was going, “The next song will be Always.” And it was! It wasn’t until about 15 songs in that I figured out what had happened. Or maybe I willed those songs to play. The world may never know.

-You certainly reap what you sow. I have always boasted about how I never pay for music, I get all my tracks from German porn sites, etc, but there’s a downside to this. No, I’m not talking about viruses. I’m talking about IDE tags. You see, when a song is encoded, it is usually assigned an IDE code, which is essentially its name. It’s the thing that, if you bought the song from iTunes, will make your file show up as “Last Call – Drops of Jupiter – Vestosterone”. In a perfect world, the IDE tag will tell you artist, song, and album. This is pretty standard on all legal, copyright protected downloads. BUT, if you get your files illegally, from some weird download site, you’re subject to all kinds of bad IDE tags. Sometimes, a song name might be in Cantonese, so you’ve just got a bunch of symbols and squiggles because they didn’t translate properly. Sometimes, you’ve got an Aretha Franklin song with the IDE tag “Big Old Fat Bitch”. And the problem with the illegal files is that you can’t change the tags (at least not without a ton of unnecessary work), so these don’t organize well in iTunes. So, the upside is I got a hot album for free, but the downside is that I can never find the damn thing because the IDE tags are all fucked up. Sometimes, they’ll even split an album. The first few tracks are by “Fall Out Boy”, while the second half of the album is by “Fallout Boy”, and iTunes doesn’t see fit to link the two. I need to look into a solution for this, as the bulk of my mp3s are from the days before the term “legal download” was even coined.

OK, that’s enough rambling for now…

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