Oh, yes. Sleeping on the lawn outside Hall H on Saturday night.
I slept pretty solidly for a good five hours, which was the most sleep I'd had for the whole convention. Maybe I was getting comfortable with camping out, since I'd already done it once. Maybe I was more relaxed than the previous night because I was with people I knew. Maybe I was just exhausted.
In any case, I was surprised to find it light out when I woke up; I thought I'd be up before dawn and have time to wash up before the bathroom got busy. (And, NO, it did not rain a drop. There wasn't even any dew.) I woke up very, very stiff and sore, but all considered, I felt pretty good.
karenor, who had slept not a wink, commented that I'd slept through a lot, and I agreed that I probably had (my only memories were of being cold and wrapping up more tightly once or twice, and a little commotion when a loud vehicle passed).
I thought she was kidding when she said Nathan Fillion had visited at 3am, and I'd slept through that.
So, yeah. I wasn't too happy about that.
I admit, I am far too shy to be any good at meeting celebrities; what could I possibly say to them? And after two days of sleeping on the ground, it's not like I would've wanted to have my picture taken with him. I probably would have settled for a blurry photograph or two taken from a distance, and the ability to say "I was there for that." (Then again, it was Nathan Fillion. I might've made an exception and asked him to sign my badge or something.)
(Also, I would actually have recognized him on sight, which would make this a better story than Ian McKellen. But anything makes a better story than I slept through it.)
I don't mind having missed some of this year's serendipitous SDCC moments; you can't see everything, and there's no helping it. I was occupied, I was elsewhere, I just wasn't lucky. It happens. But this one... I was as close as I possibly could have gotten while still missing out. That was hard to take. It's the one thing that made this year's SDCC less than perfectly awesome. (But Starship Smackdown, later on, went a good way toward restoring the awesomeness. Read on!)
For breakfast, I got a blueberry muffin at the Hyatt. It was delicious and it was only $1.50. "This is the best thing I've bought all weekend," I told the cashier.
Between my (comparatively) late sleeping and the (comparatively) early start for the Hall H panels (10:00am, instead of 11:30 like on Saturday) there wasn't too much time to kill. We packed our stuff up, and the line compressed at 8am. But not very far, because every person in front of us seemed to have let a couple of friends join them in the morning. The line, I swear, had doubled. At least. There is a word for people who show up in the morning and get in front of people who slept out all night. It is a rude word.
Finally, they let us into Hall H.
We spread out looking for seats, and I just missed getting four together in the last row of the first section when I didn't realize the guy pointing to them was an usher and not some guy calling his friends. Dammit. Falling back, I ended up exactly where I'd been the previous day, and I shouldn't have, because I'd been closer in line. I probably could have snagged a single seat somewhere in front, but the groups of seats went fast and it was chaotic and I didn't know where my friends were, and that got a little stressful.
But then karenor called, and it turned out she'd found some seats much closer, but a bit off to the side. They were very good. (Too bad there was a tendency to cluster the interviewees on the opposite side of the stage, but at least they walked by on their way in!)
Ken and I only watched Fringe for a few episodes when it first started, back when Gross Improbable Problem of the Week was always solved by Convenient Improbable Experiment From Walter's Past. But I've heard repeatedly that the show got good after that, and that it developed a coherent mythology that actually went somewhere. The panel encouraged my interest. I like people who seem passionate about the show they're making, and the things they brought up sounded interesting. So we may give Fringe another try.
Hall H cleared out en masse after Doctor Who. I said goodbye to karenor and missperkigoth, expecting (correctly) that I'd quickly lose them in the crowd. I also wanted to hurry over to see if I could catch any of Alison Bechdel's spotlight panel. It was starting right at 1:30, when the Doctor Who panel ended, but all I had to do was get to the next door of the convention center and up the escalator.
Ha, ha. Me and 6500 other people. Even going with the flow, it took me half an hour.
Here's a picture of the Hall H crowd as it let out. Yeah. (Complete with fedoras! I actually picked up an abandoned fedora on the way out of the room, figuring I'd be able to find someone who wanted it. I had not actually realized at the time that they'd be a hot commodity, since they were only available at the panel.)
So there I was, carrying my giant backpack full of bedding (I'd have liked to check it at some point, but bag check was full), sweaty and disheveled from two days of sleeping outdoors, in Friday's shirt, wearing leggings as pants (I'd worn them overnight because it was cold, and never found a good time to change). And that's how I walked into Alison Bechdel's quiet, attentive, maybe two-thirds full panel, half an hour late.
An intimate little panel like that is much more my speed, but I was having trouble shifting gears after Hall H. It was SO quiet, and I felt SO conspicuous. I took a picture – nobody else was taking pictures, but it was Alison Bechdel! Finally! I wanted visual proof! She was showing some slides and reading, and I watched for a while, but I was really feeling the clock ticking, because I wanted to hit some specific things in the exhibit hall and then meet Ken at Starship Smackdown. I had less than an hour to spare. The exhibit hall is huge and slow to navigate.
So just as they were going to start the Q&A – which I would dearly have loved to stay for – I left.
I can just imagine that from everyone else's perspective – halfway into the panel, this scruffy, sweaty lady walks in, loaded down like she's been backpacking in the wilderness. She takes a picture... watches for a few minutes... and leaves. Someone must've thought, "Man, I guess she stumbled into the wrong panel." THAT WAS AWKWARD. But I really wanted to see at least a little of her panel!
So then my giant backpack and I went to the exhibit hall. The very crowded exhibit hall. I apologized to just about everbody I bumped into, honest.
I made a special stop to visit this at the Weta booth:
Because if you downloaded the special Eye of Sauron iPad app...
Time to meet Ken!
The Smackdown was bigger than ever this year, but still just as funny. At one point one of the panelists was offering to change her vote for a Fringe fedora; I was about to give her mine, just to see it happen, but I couldn't remember what her vote was for in that round (I was rooting for an Enterprise vs Enterprise finale), and then the moderator moved on and the moment was lost. The Dark Star stayed in the running a lot longer than I thought it would (it kept winning because "You can't fight crazy"). Ultimately, though, the final round did come down to Enterprise (original) versus Enterprise (refit). The votes were tied, and the moderator shook things up by drawing names for new captains (for this, I think they'll use anyone with "Captain" in their name; you could probably end up with Captain Kangaroo): Captain America for the original Enterprise, and Captain Quint from Jaws for the refit. At that point you'd think it was pretty well sewn up, but the debate continued. The panel was running badly over time by then (the convention is supposed to end at 5:00, and it was already later) and I was starting to worry that they'd get rushed to a conclusion.
The moderator offered to throw it open to audience input...
And NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON GRABBED THE MIKE. SERIOUSLY.
It was possibly the most awesome thing that has ever happened at Comic-Con.
You can watch it here:
I don't know why they even bothered doing an audience-applause vote after that, but the original Enterprise won by a landslide.
Kay Reindl, the panelist who wanted the Fringe hat, blogged about the panel here; she captures the awesomeness of the moment admirably. It really was one of those legendary Comic-Con things for which you had to be there, caught up in it, and for once I WAS. I am so glad we were there.
I also went up after the panel and gave her my spare Fringe hat. :)
So that was the best imaginable way to end what really was a very awesome convention.
I didn't want the day to end; we staggered out into the Gaslamp in giddy exhaustion (well, I was giddy and exhausted, at least) and stopped one last time at Gaslamp Pizza (that stuff is good, man).
So, that's SDCC 2012. I'm looking forward to 2013 -- assuming I can get a badge -- and maybe thinking of taking it a little more casually, avoiding the giant panels, trying to wander around more and see some of the smaller-scale stuff. But that was my original plan for this year as well. We'll see. Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be awesome.