Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Comic-Con - Preview Night

It's the time of year when I give graphic proof that while my body may be half a century old, my heart and mind are still that of a 17 year old kid.  It's Comic-Con time.  
I am currently in San Diego after having taken the train from Union Station in Los Angeles.  Tonight was "Preview Night," which is an additional evening for the dealers to sell their goods and an opportunity for attendees to get their badges before the convention starts in full force tomorrow.  
My goal this year is to write an entry each day giving some details of my experience.  I'm doing to share with my fellow nerdy tribesmen that couldn't make it what this year was like.  And to give my not so nerdy friends a glimpse into the lifestyle of those us lurking around you.  Some of them are like me, house-trained and able to pretend for extend stretches of time that they are normal.  Beware.  
The train is definitely the way to go.  With the creation of the Gold Metro line since the last time I came here by train, all I had to do was walk to Del Mar station near my apartment, ride the metro to Union Station, take the Amtrak Surfliner to San Diego, and ride the Trolley to the stop closest to my motel, which was as close to the station as my apartment is to the metro.  
Sat opposite a guy that just returned from the Ukraine after being in the Peace Corp.  He and his buddy are traveling around America, helping him get re-acclimated to the place.  
It was opening day at Del Mar racetrack in Oceanside today as well.  The train was packed.  Nerds like heading to the Comic-Con.  Well dressed socialites, with women in flowered straw hats and summer dresses, men sporting hats and sneaking bottles of champagne on board.  It became a traveling party, with people standing in the aisle laughing and drinking.  I didn't dare leave my seat for fear someone might take it.  
Had a dose of reality set in when I took the trolley to my motel.  Found myself in a conversation with a well dressed gentleman wearing a matching dress shirt and tie, emerald green in color, and a knit vest.  He was just coming from a meeting with members of the state assembly about homelessness.  He spoke of being hopeful that something could be done about the problem, though he allowed for the fact that the politicians might just throw money at it.  I asked him if he worked in politics or if he was a contractor or social worker.  "No," he replied.  "I'm homeless."  
"Really...?" I said after an embarrassed pause.  "You don't look...  I mean, you don't dress like a typical homeless person."  The man told me that he's been without a home for ten months now.  Once he knew he couldn't afford his home anymore after losing his job, he immediately moved himself into St. Vincent DePaul's, a homeless shelter in the area.  
"Anyone can be homeless these days," he added with an undeniable conviction.  "I met this one lady, she has three college degrees.  She's been homeless and out of work for 16 months now."  I thought about my job, which I was taking time from to come to San Diego.  I've told friends and acquaintances that I would almost look forward to being laid off, then I could take unemployment and spend my time writing.  I don't think I'll tell people that any more.  
I said good-bye to the gentleman and wished him luck at his stop.  On the way back to the the convention to get my badges for the next day I sat across from a young guy dressed as Captain America.  I asked him, jokingly, if he was going to a lumberjack convention.  That's when his mom, who was sitting next to me, told me that he was deaf.  
His name was Yasha.  This is his 11th Comic-Con in a row.  It's my 17th, in case anyone wants to know.  Yasha and his mom come every year together.  She interprets for him.  He dresses as a different superhero each day.  Today, for Preview Night, he came as Captain America.  Tomorrow he's coming as Wolverine.  
While I was talking with them I was trying to remember what little American Sign Language I had learned years ago.  As we got into the conversation, and I began to gesticulate more, the mom suddenly exclaimed, "You're signing!"  She complemented me on the presentation of my hands.  I was doing it all unconsciously, though, and the moment she pointed it out I lost it again.  I got Yasha's picture, though.  I hope to see his Wolverine tomorrow.  
The dealer's floor was packed to the gills.  As busy as any Saturday, the busiest day of the convention.  I fear for the rest of the week.  I can see myself being crushed under foot.  
It'll be fun.  
I'll be posting pictures of my trip and the things I see here.  I'll let you know when they are up.  


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