Cheap Geek Tour
(Friday, April 30, 2004)
We had a gander at the menu for the restaurant conveniently located in the hotel. Yowza! Eight bucks for a bowl of Special K!
So, instead, we head for the International Food Court across the street that says it offers Breakfast and Lunch for cheap (cheap!).
We're sure it sounded great as a concept: "We'll offer food from around the world! For Breakfast!"
In reality, given a choice between Philippino, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and American food, we chose American. So did 95% of everybody else (the ones who didn't looked like they'd been up all night, so it was probably dinner for them). Although we're sure it was very scrumptious, the idea of having Kimchee and Ramen for breakfast didn't go over real well with us...
Since this was the International Food court, it wasn't entirely American. "Dong's Grill" (insert Dong joke here) also served Greek food. And was staffed by some Chinese folks who struggled with English.
Robert finally did get his orange juice, and we had 'Merican eggs and omelettes for breakfast.
According to Robert's Mapping Software, there are 15 Starbucks within one mile of our hotel room. Naturally, when Robert decides to get a latte, it can't be a Starbuck's latte, it has to be "non-corporate." Which entails walking around the block looking for a local latte joint (there are two on our block).
But, along the way he sees a celebrity! It's Tom Servo (from Mystery Science Theater 3000, which we visited in the "I-State Trip"). Robert says "Hi" to Tom, and Tom (a little taken aback to be recognized on the street) waves and his arm falls off (which means he's a real Tom Servo, not an imitation).
Although the little brochure thing said the convention opened at 11:00 am, what that meant was "You can check in and then go stand in line for an hour." Fortunately, we staggered over at about 11:45, so we haven't had to stand in line for very long.
Finally, about 12:15, the Powers-That-Be condescend to allow the riff-raff onto their convention floor.
The display floor is probably about 1/10th the size of the San Diego Comic-Con convention floor (as seen in The World's Largest Trip). There's none of the huge movie studio displays, and it's mostly places selling comic books and artists pushing their own stuff.
At Comic-Con, it took us two days to walk past all the booths, where here we can do it in half-an-hour (if we don't stop at anything). We stop, of course, and peer at things and gawk like tourists (which, after all, we are).
Some things we saw:
We also saw some good cartoonists, old and new. We definitely encourage you to visit their web sites:
We go to see Sergio Aragones, who should come with a warning label ("Contents may cause injury from laughing too hard"). If you've ever read an issue of MAD Magazine in the last 41 years (since 1963, he's been in every issue but one), you probably remember those teeny little drawings in the margins.
Sergio does those. Turns out he draws them on tiny strips of paper, about 1" wide and 3" long. He's also a very funny guy, who looks like Salvador Dali and speaks with a Spanish accent, on account of the fact that he's from Mexico via Spain.
And if this weren't enough to like, we discover in this forum that Sergio was also an early champion of Artist's Rights. In the comic book/comic strip world, the publishing company has typically owned everything the artist creates. The guys who created Superman, for example, didn't own any rights to him, and they died broke.
After spending a couple of years in Europe in the late 1960's (where comic strip artists are in the same category as painters and sculptors), he decided he wasn't going along with this corporate fascist crapola. He'd walk away from deals if he didn't retain rights to his own art. (Yeah, it seems obvious now, but at the time, it wasn't.)
He was there talking about his comic book "Groo" (featuring the World's Dumbest barbarian). He had the idea in 1970, but had to wait until 1983 to publish the first one because he refused to give up the rights. It's still appearing irregularly, and has outlasted several of its publishers.
Our feetsies are finally too tired to take any more walking around, so we head back to the hotel room, where we use the hotel mini-bar refrigerator to chill the sodas we bought at the 7-11 around the corner. (Pretty soon, we're going to have to take all the over-priced hotel drinks out of the refrigerator, just to make room for our stuff.)
Laura's research leads us to the "Mela Tandoori" restaurant (formerly "The Shalimar," and the menu is a mish-mash of old and new, with some menu items whited out, others written in, and about five different typefaces). It's an Indian restaurant, and we sit on little stools and gobble down yummy food.
Curiously, though, when Laura orders sparkling water with a twistoff cap, it comes with a cork screw. We think they're practicing for when they get their liquor license.
We head over to the Cartoon Art Museum, which is just around the corner. They are having a "Rent Party," where they hope to raise enough money to pay the rent. Mostly, it's standing around drinking wine and hobnobbing with cartoon artists (who are 90% of the crowd).
We're beginning to feel like jaded sophisticates ("Oh look, there's Sergio! Hi, Serg baby, we must do lunch!") instead of gawking fanboys, which means it's time for us to go home. Jaded folks don't have as much fun.
Robert & Laura