WonderCon recap, Day Two: 4/1/17

I begin this recap assuming you (my faithful 3-4 readers!) have already seen the Day One recap, so here goes:

Day Two of WonderCon Anaheim was less eventful but no less personally satisfying. I decided to cosplay as Fred Flintstone for the entire day since I kind of half-assed it on Friday (by changing into civilian wear after a couple hours).  So, after my wife and I did the whole breakfast thing (one of the things I love about Marriott’s Residence Inns; the complementary breakfast!), I got into my Fred suit and made my way to the convention center.  Posed for more pics than I did on Friday (maybe my cave-necktie looked especially fetching? I dunno…), and upon reaching the convention center at about 10:30 am, the crowds were out in force.  Not Comic Con San Diego-sized crowds (which hit 130k), but big for little Anaheim (and Anaheim is mother to Disneyland).  This was a Saturday after all, so it wasn’t unexpected.

Plowing ahead, I made my way to the security entrance.  I forgot to mention in my last entry that both WonderCon and Comic Con (same parent company) now employ electronic sensor tag-badges that you have to swipe across a scanner.  Only takes a couple more seconds and is really no big deal, as far as I’m concerned.  I generally wear my badge/lanyard backward, so the badge doesn’t cover the front of my costume, and I don’t have to keep moving it for photo ops.

Not to sound vain, but when you cosplay in an unusual or uncommon costume (like Fred Flintstone) you WILL be stopped for pictures.  So if you are averse to having your picture taken, or if you are annoyed by strangers asking for your pic?  Don’t cosplay.  Simple as that.  Growing up as a homely, chubby kid who wasn’t usually given the time of day?  I don’t mind at all.   I joke with my friends that it gives an average someone (or a ridiculously average someone like myself) a window into the life of a celebrity; you no longer have the easy freedom to walk about unobserved.   You stand out.  Some people will laugh, some will give you a random thumbs up.   Most just want a picture.  I’ve had people driving by yelling out their windows or honking their horns in enthusiasm.  I’ve had little kids want to hug me (awwww!) and I’ve had literally hundreds of people asking me questions “in character.”

Luckily, in the case of cosplaying?  One has the option of simply going back to their hotel and changing clothes if they tire of the attention…a celebrity doesn’t.  Maybe that’s a reason why I’m somewhat sympathetic to the plight of celebrities who get hounded by fans when they go out in public.  There are days when you enjoy the adulation, and there are days when you just want to enjoy a breath of fresh, anonymous air.  Cosplay gives regular folks a taste of that.  From the very first time I cosplayed at a convention (about 8 years ago), I can safely say that the consensus has been overwhelmingly postive.  If you choose your costume well (usually something that is relatively uncommon yet very recognizable) you will get a lot of attention, and it is mostly positive attention so I highly recommend giving it a try.  I also imagine that it gives a less-than-good-looking someone like myself a taste of what attractive people go through.  Though having hung out with better-looking friends of mine, I usually observe that kind of attention as more off-putting than flattering; more lewd or crass.  Many good looking cosplayers in skimpy outfits may have that issue, but I imagine they know how to deal with that as well.  It’s also a nice way of owning one’s physicality; when I put on the Fred getup, I find it curiously liberating.

But I digress; back on topic…

So I’m in the dealer hall taking cosplay pics (and posing for a few pics myself), when I came  across the table of Herb Jefferson Jr. (“Lt. Boomer” from the original 1978 version of “Battlestar Galactica”) and I thanked him for the very entertaining panel from the previous night (see: Recap Day One).  He recognized me in my “Fred suit” , as I’ve run into him at Comic Con and other conventions dressed that way (cosplay is a terrific conversation starter, that’s for sure!).  We talked a bit about the passing of Richard Hatch (his costar) and of Glen Larson (the producer of the show, who passed away before Hatch) and I told him how much I enjoyed his memorial to both of them at the panel.  He seemed genuinely touched by that.  He talked about the nature of the business (conventions) and how much the fans mean to him.  Herb Jefferson Jr. is a true gentleman, and I told him I hoped to see him again at Comic Con in the summer.  It’s pretty neat when your childhood idols turn out to be nice people, too!

I spent most of the next two or so hours walking about, taking cosplay pictures and talking to vendors.  I once again bumped into the guy who ran the booth that gave me the Fred buttons and we had a nice little chat about rights infringements; he told me of a guy (allegedly) connected with “The Walking Dead” graphic novels who once gave him a vague warning about his “Walking Fred” artwork.  Apparently the font used in the design of “The Walking Fred” was the same font used in TWD’s graphic novel covers. We laughed about it, and apparently nothing ever came of it.  I told him that under laws of parody, I imagined it was protected usage.  I’m by no means a lawyer, but there are SO many art/movie parodies at these conventions that I honestly can’t see someone getting too worked up over it.

At this point hunger came a calling, and I went to grab some food (pizza; the unhealthy but high energy survival food of WonderCon. I try to make healthier choices at home these days, but conventions are usually when I lapse a bit).  So I headed back to the hotel to crash and recharge until the next panel I wanted to attend, which was around 3 pm.  It was a panel about the making of “Rogue One”‘s visual FX.  To kill time I texted some friends, and then tried re-watching ALIEN 3 (which I’d brought with me on DVD). After the first half hour or so, I forgot how boring it was (sorry ALIEN 3 fans..), so I turned on CNN instead.  Say what you will about life under the insanely mercurial and infuriating Donald Trump, but news from Washington is rarely boring these days…terrifying perhaps, but rarely boring.

Anyway, around 2:30 I headed back to the convention when I saw a HUGE line upstairs outside of room 300AB (the Rogue One panel room).  As a convention veteran of many years I should’ve anticipated this, but I didn’t.  So the choice became this; wait in a huge line for a back row seat of a panel that will discuss things that I’ll probably see on the Rogue One blu ray’s bonus features, or…go back and enjoy the other parts of the convention.  I demurred and left the line.

Glad I did, too.  Coming back into the Dealer Hall, I went to the Star Trek USS Enterprise bridge mockup once more, and I saw Nichelle Nichols (“Lt. Uhura”) again. Also ‘on the bridge’ were Marina Sirtis (“Counselor Deanna Troi,” from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and someone that I never expected to see: actress Ann Robinson from 1953’s “War of the Worlds.”  I was a bit awed; I’d grown up watching WOTW (many times, in fact), and that famous scene where the Martian places its suction cupped digits on Robinson’s terrified shoulder is just classic!  Robinson turned out to be a very sweet lady too; reminded me of the late Debbie Reynolds.  She has that ‘old Hollywood’  kind of grace and presence that you don’t see as much today.  So we talked about the film, and the 2005 remake with Tom Cruise (she cameoed at the end of the movie as Tom Cruise’s mother-in-law; her old WOTW costar, Gene Barry, played her husband).  She seemed to really enjoy working with Steven Spielberg, who told her she was one of his favorite actresses as a kid.  She asked me my opinion of the remake and I told her that it was an apples/oranges situation for me, as I enjoyed them both for different reasons.  At this point, I was low on funds and didn’t have enough $$ for an autograph, but she was a sweetheart and agreed to pose for a photo with me (she thought charging for cellphone pics was “rude”…more like HER, please!).   As we posed, she jokingly creeped up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder, recreating the Martian ‘shoulder-tapping’ scene from the 1953 movie. The grin on my stupid face in the pic (coming soon in my next entry) was entirely involuntary, I assure you.   A friend of mine later jokingly texted that it appeared “Mrs Robinson was trying to seduce me.”   That “Graduate” reference gave me a big laugh!

Around the same time I wanted to see Nichelle Nichols again, so I stopped by and (luckily) I had my Star Trek Bluetooth-enabled ‘communicator’ with me.  It chirps when flipped open, just like the old series’ version; and has several clips of Nichols’ sound bites from the old show.  I told her it was my favorite birthday gift last year. She got a kick out of it.  We’d first met in 2002 at a convention in Pasadena, and I told her then that she was one of several old “TV crushes” of mine as a boy.  I remember at that time, she laughed and said, “What do you mean ‘was’?”  She is still the ‘grand dame’ of Star Trek as far as this old Trekkie is concerned.  Made my day to see her once more.

So did I regret missing the Rogue One panel?  Not one bit.

I find the personal encounters at conventions; either with celebrities, cosplayers or vendors, tend to be far more memorable than just sitting in the big ‘event’ panels.  The smaller panels are often interesting as they tend to be somewhat less formal, but the ‘big hall’ panels tend to be little more than mass PR junkets really.  For me? I suppose I prefer personal, informal encounters over glossy PR junkets.  Or I just really hate long lines…that’s probably a factor too, I’m sure (hehe).

At any rate, I pooped out kind of early (4 pm-ish) and with blisters beginning to form from walking too long in my ‘blazing sandals,’ I headed up to the hotel.  I did stop by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (right across from our hotel lobby) for one of their delicious sugar-free ice mochas, and, almost forgetting that I was cosplaying, I smiled when the young clerk asked if she could take my picture.  I said sure, gave a quick “Yabba Dabba Do” and headed up to the room.  Once there, I nursed the nascent blisters on my footsies, ate a perfunctory couple slices of pizza and caught up on my ‘cyber life’ (uploading my pics to Flickr, texting friends, and watching the news).

That is the thrilling, nail-biting climax to Day Two of WonderCon Anaheim (hehe).   Hope that wasn’t too much excitement for everyone (hearty guffaws ensue…).

The final chapter in this ‘epic saga’ (coming Tuesday or Wednesday) will include both embedded and linked pictures, which are far more interesting and certainly more colorful than the musings of this middle-aged geek.

TO BE CONCLUDED….with pictures and stuff (hehe).

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