Comic-Con Blog

From Paradise to the Geek Prom

Video: Boarding the Trolley

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I love San Diego’s rail system.

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July 22, 2009 Posted by | Updates | 1 Comment

Heading Into the Chaos

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July 22, 2009 Posted by | Updates | Leave a comment

Video: SFO Stopover

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Making a nuisance of myself on an airport peoplemover.

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July 22, 2009 Posted by | Audio, Videos | Leave a comment

En Route

Composing this in the WordPress app for iPhone. Hope it works. Curiously, AT&T chose today to have an islandwide service outage, so my Twitter posts and tech tests have been limited.

We’re aboard our flight to SFO. I decided to spring for “Economy Plus” so we weren’t sitting at the very back of the plane and to get a modest extra five inches of legroom for our overnight flight. I wasn’t sure if it was worth the extra money, but now that we’re up front and stretching our legs, I think I’m sold. Five inches sounded pretty pathetic, but considering how cramped I usually feel in “steerage” class (and I’m barely 5’4″), this is downright luxurious. It’ll hopefully make it easier to accomplish the unlikely: actual sleep on a flight.

I’m prepared to serve as Jen’s pillow for the next five hours.

I took today off from work, so we didn’t really pack until this morning. I also went into KIPO to prerecord the news segment that will air tomorrow. We wanted the headlines to be as fresh as possible (though we just missed an announcement relating to the Thirty-Meter Telescope!).

I owe Burt Lum and Lillian Tsang big for accommodating two separate prerecording sessions (the other half was recorded a couple of weeks ago) so I could still be part of the show. I suspect it would’ve been easier to have a guest host or just feature Burt solo.

It was tough saying goodbye to the kids (Katie did only a fair job hiding her tears), but they’ve been through this before, and probably look forward to a much more lax household under grandma. And this year, of course, Katie has email and Twitter and will be able to keep in touch, and keep everyone posted on our adventures.

After dinner, we headed to the airport, and got to our gate 30 minutes before boarding. Interesting, the previous flight to LAX wad delayed several hours, so they had some trouble shuffling those passengers and the ones on our flight at the one gate.

I also realized that I had almost booked us on that flight to get an earlier start and to have two and a half hours to make our connecting flight (versus the 50 minute scramble we have ahead of us at SFO). Good thing Jen hates LAX with the fire of a thousand suns. We would’ve been stuck at the airport all night and still missed our connecting in the airport from hell.

In flight movie: Dragonball somethingorother. I’m sure it was snubbed by the Academy. Fortunately, it turns out my geeky wife has “Wall-E” and “Nick and Norah’ Infinite Playlist” on her 160GB iPod. As well as some “LOST” episodes as well.

Also? Noise canceling headphones rule. I was won over during my trip to SXSW, and got Jen a pair today. Sony, under $40, and worth every penny.

And our pilot reports now that we’ll be arriving in SFO early. The gods are smiling upon us today.

Too bad we couldn’t avoid LAX for our return leg. But we’re definitely doing Economy Plus.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Updates | , , , | 4 Comments

Video: Driveway Test

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Does this video post to our Comic-Con blog? Only one way to be sure.

Update: It does, but not as an embeddable player. You have to click through to view. Hmm.

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July 21, 2009 Posted by | Audio, Videos | Leave a comment

Preparations

We leave for San Diego in under 36 hours. Things are pretty much set on the home front: grandma should be set with the kids, who will hopefully be gentle with her. So now it’s packing, and in my case, making sure all the gadgetry is working.

This is a test post from my iPhone using the WordPress app. To keep my iPhone humming, I now have two FastMac iV battery packs. Along with my Edirol audio recorder, a backup Olympus voice recorder, a “regular” digital camera, a Sanyo Xacti HD video camera and a Kodak Zi6 AA-powered HD video camera, plus my trusty MacBook Pro, we should be set.

Provided I remember to bring all the cords and chargers!

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Updates | , | 1 Comment

Saturday Test

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This is a test of an Utterli audioblog post via phone.

July 18, 2009 Posted by | Audio | Leave a comment

The Transmission Special Report: Comic-Con Recap

Finally coming down off our Comic-Con high, we recap our San Diego adventure from beginning to end. Some details will be old news if you hung on our every word while there, but we do cover Ed Hochuli, Richard Hatch, “Middleman,” and other fun details. Then we digest the “LOST” panel having had two weeks to process it, and share the immediate reactions to the panel from Jay and Jack and Colleen and John. We step into the smallest “Forward Cabin” ever, then close with our plan to revisit Season 2 during the hiatus.

MP3 File

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Updates | 1 Comment

The Voyage Home

En Route

We’re aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 803 from LAX to HNL. We left about a half hour late, as the crew scrambled to untangle an overbooked plane. Fortunately they found enough volunteers to move to a later flight on Hawaiian Airlines. They were also offering $250 upgrades to First Class, which we seriously considered… but I figured we should save that money for our annual trip to the Big Island.

The last couple of days have been crazy, and I haven’t been able to blog. (Did Twitter and Flickr, though!) Sure, there were hours in line, but with great friends and people surrounding us, there was too much good conversation and no downtime at all to start tapping furiously away on my iPhone.

Definitely like the native WordPress app, though. It’s pretty good for blogging on the go, and can only get better. With a long flight ahead of us, though, I’m back on my trusty MacBook.

Friday Flashback

On Friday, we got an earlier start, but not that much earlier. I got the bright idea to take the trolley to Fashion Valley Mall to try and find someplace to eat for breakfast before going down to the Convention Center. We found out the hard way that Fashion Valley Mall, like most malls, doesn’t open until 10 a.m. Our only option was a Starbucks, and I wasn’t about to “eat” someplace that ubiquitous.

We hopped back on the trolley heading south, and Plan B was to stop in Old Town again, where we’d found a decent breakfast the day before. But there were crowds of Comic-Con attendees at every trolley stop, and within a couple of stops it was standing room only. People weren’t able to climb aboard. By the time we’d reached Old Town, we knew that if we got off, we’d never get back on.

So, Plan C, we arrived at the Convention Center, which was again swarming with people. From the helicopters passing overhead (news choppers?), the giant center probably looked like a sticky piece of candy covered with ants. We headed in the opposite direction into downtown, committed to finding food.

We ended up at a too-cool-for-school bar and restaurant called Soleil-K. And, with seats on the sidewalk, it was fun to watch a parade of costumed con attendees go past. But there were also smokers present, and the service was slow, and the food was terrible (unless “over easy” means “raw” in San Diego lingo). If we’d gone across the street to Subway, we’d have been happier and fed within 10 minutes. Instead we lost the better part of an hour.

Still, Comic-Con beckoned, and we made our way over.

Wait. Did I cover Friday already? Um. I think so. But not the morning. I guess I disliked Soleil-K so much I wanted to be sure I mentioned it.

Fast forward, then, through Richard Hatch and the “Showrunners” panel, Jen’s inexplicable selection of a “Pea Standing Up” doll for Katie, the Jacuzzi, and waking up at 3 a.m. Ahem.

Last Day, “LOST” Panel

On Saturday, I reluctantly woke Jen at 4:45 a.m., and we dragged ourselves to the lobby to catch our taxi to the Convention Center. Fortunately, there was absolutely no traffic, and our driver dropped us off right in front of the center shortly after 5 a.m. There were probably 200 people in line already, several from the night before, stretching from the entrance to the center to the east lawn. Fortunately, Jay and Jack, Colleen and John, Ralph and Ben, John, Sidne, Alirio and Jana were already there.

They had told the folks behind them of our impending arrival, but to make nice, I handed out some macadamia nuts. Even though they were “Heroes” fans.

See, because Hall H was hosting both “Heroes” and “LOST” panels, the huge line was packed with fans of both shows, both sides likely annoyed with the number of fans of the other show taking up valuable space. There was a lot of good-natured ribbing, but fortunately no fistfights.

Trip

The next four hours consisted of standing (and sitting) in line. And there’s really not much to say about that. The sun came up, folks snuck off to bring back food, a few other people found their way into our party. The Twitter users among us basically tweeted variations on “still in line” for most of the morning. Lots of great conversation, though. Including reports of where the end of the line was. By 9 a.m., folks were saying it had reached Seaport Village. That’s to the waterfront, past the Hyatt hotel, where Jen and I had our fancy dinner.

One high point? Getting a text message from a “Transmission” listener who had heard my cell phone number on our show. He said he was in line and wondered if he could meet us. I texted back our location, and he was only 15 or so people behind us. He came over with his brother and was incredibly nice. They were bubbling with questions about the podcast and Hawaii. It was only when he handed over his business card, though, that things got really interesting.

I noticed it had an NFL logo on it. And his position was referee. And I might not know nothing about sports, but I knew Jay and Jack loved sports, so I handed the card to Jay. And his face lit up. And he yanked Jack over immediately.

Trip

The man was Ed Hochuli, NFL Referee #85. And he’s apparently widely know as “the buff one.” Jay and Jack were fans, and beside themselves… even moreso when Ed and his brother professed love for their show as well.

(Sorry, Ed’s brother. I forgot your name. And I hate that I did, because I bet that happens a lot with Ed, and I knew you’d hate that so I tried extra hard to remember.)

We also saw “LOST” blogging superstar Anil, a.k.a. “The ODI,” who was, of course, far ahead of us in line. He gave us SDCC ODI T-shirts and took some video of the group.

Trip

At around 9:30, the line started moving. In fits and starts. It took a while, but then almost suddenly we were flowing freely like a river into the Convention Center and into Hall H. And Hall H was, as promised, massive. Seating for 6,500, and a long, long walk to the front, which is fortunately about where we found seats. Center section, about 15 rows back. Considering there were probably 500 or so rows of seats, that wasn’t bad at all.

Trip Trip

There was still a long wait until the “Heroes” program began. Signs for the “Save Log Carrying Guy ’08” were handed out, and Jay set up a three-way “Super Mario Kart” game with Jen and Colleen. I think it was the first time we ever used the network feature on the Nintendo DS.

I did, at one point, have to visit the men’s room. And was amused to find a long line, whereas the women’s room had none. Comic-Con, it seems, is one place where being in the gender minority has some benefit.

Finally the lights dimmed. Cheers erupted. They showed some promotional stuff on the huge screens, one bragging that the huge screens were showing “true HD video.” They also promoted the Blu-Ray versions of the “Heroes Season 1 and 2” DVDs.

Finally someone came out, and… stalled for time. Apparently there were still people missing backstage. He played the usual auditorium stalling games, including the section-by-section scream contest. Then, he sprinted off stage, and when he returned, he brought the entire cast of “Heroes” with him.

Now, we might have lost our interest in “Heroes,” but in terms of giving fans what they wanted out of Comic Con, they pulled out all the stops. There must have been fifteen actors there. Zachary Quinto. Hayden Pantierre. Cristine Rose. Milo Ventimiglia. Greg Grunberg (who kept his own camera pointed at the audience the whole time). Ali Larter. Masi Oka. James Kyson Lee. And more. And god bless Jen for being to remember even that much.

Then they showed the premiere episode of the upcoming “Season 3: The Villans.” The episode was titled “The Second Coming.” There were some surprises. There were some funny lines. But really, there was much of the same from the previous two seasons, including forehead-slapping predictability and time-travel games that conveniently allowed tweaking of things that had come before. Still, I tried to respectfully report bits and pieces on Twitter, and heard back from a few fans who were grateful (if somewhat spoiled) for it.

The “Heroes” panel Q&A was, of course, short, given that most of their time was taken by the episode. There were a couple of pretty bad fan questions (including one woman who, despite Rule Number One, asked to take a photo with Ventimiglia. He still humored her). Two folks who came to the mic stumbled so badly they were literally booed away by the audience. The best question wasn’t even a question – a young boy, maybe seven years old, came up just to say, “Silo, you’re the most awesome villain ever!”

He meant Sylar (Zachary Quinto). But for the last moments of the panel, Quinto insisted his name was Silo.

When “Heroes” wrapped, a fair chunk of the audience left. More than I would have expected, at least. I concede to being surprised that there were that many “Heroes” fans in the room… and that many didn’t feel like seeing what was up with “LOST” even after waiting hours for their seats. The room quickly filled up again, though.

The “LOST” presentation was great, too. Like “Heroes,” part show, part Q&A. Much of the program was devoted to setting the stage for the DHARMA Initiative-based ARG that’s apparently going to lead up to the start of Season 5. The sponsor of the presentation, for example, was the newly reconstituted DHARMA Initiative. They showed some of the video clips taken in the DHARMA Initiative recruiting booth (including a clip of John, saying the animal with which he most identified was the owl), and brought out Hans Von Eegen, who declared the candidates to be “pathetic… stuck in a state of arrested development.”

For the Q&A, it was Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Their shtick was to give away a prize to everyone who asked a question, picking a prize to match the question. Sidne (who also got a plug in for “Save Log Carrying Guy ’08”) asked about Richard Alpert, and she got a shirt that said, “I asked a Richard Alpert question and all I got was this stupid T-shirt.” Someone wasted a question asking when Season 5 started — you know, stuff that everyone already knew — and he got a “LOST” calendar. And someone else complained that the flashback-flashforward switcheroo in “Ji Yeon” was cheating. He was heckled, and Damon and Carlton gave him… the “Heroes” DVD set.

Hilarious.

In short, though, the audience questions were pretty weak. There was even a repeat question from the “Showrunners” panel the day before. But, podcast listener Stuart — once again dressed as Hurley — asked a good question about Daniel Faraday. They said his notebook contains things that happened and that will happen, and will factor heavily in Season 5. For his question, he got a big tub of DHARMA Ranch Dressing.

Trip

Another prize was the Jack (Matthew Fox) action figure. Cuse and Lindeloff got into an argument about how accurately it depicted the actor. And sure enough, to much screaming, they brought Matthew Fox on stage.

Of course, because question askers lined up before he appeared, not one question came up for him. Someone called him “actor guy” before asking his question of Cuse and Lindeloff.

What else? Here on the plane are the other things that come to mind:

  • Kate will see Sawyer again.
  • No comment on what will happen to Kate and Jack (see item number one).
  • We have not seen the last of Locke and Jin.
  • Danielle Rousseau’s story will be told, but not in a traditional flashback or flashforward.
  • Vincent (the dog) is fine and will make it to the end of the series.
  • They will explain Daniel Faraday’s tie.
  • The Season 4 DVDs will include a feature to watch all the flash forwards in chronological order.

The panel ended with a video “stolen” from the DHARMA booth, a “classified” video featuring Dr. Marvin Candle, a.k.a. Pierre Chang. He recorded a message before “The Purge” to viewers in the future (where George W. Bush is president and where people use the Internet), discussing their imminent demise and the need to resurrect the DHARMA Initiative.

All too soon, the “LOST” show was over, and we flowed out into the blinding sunlight. Out of curiousity we went to see how long the line for the “Battlestar Galactica” panel was. It was long. So we headed up to the Sails Pavillion to catch up and rest with our friends.

Trip

Ralph, Ben, and associates recorded their panel, and Jen foraged for something to eat. I uploaded the audio from the “LOST” panel. Then, we hit the expo floor again for some last-minute shopping. We got some stuff for the kids at the Mattel booth, and bumped into Jay and Jack at the “Ghostbusters” booth. Ultimately we followed them up to their room for their “LOST Podcast with Jay and Jack” panel.

There was a long line waiting to get in. Jay was giddy. He ran down the line with his video camera. We waited for the “Little Lulu” panel to get out, and then the crowed flowed in. It was standing room only, well over a hundred people in attendance. And Jay and Jack graciously invited Ralph, Ben, Jen and I up on stage to be on a full panel with them.

Trip

And it was great. It was all Q&A. And really, the questions were as much sharing theories as they were asking for our thoughts. Jen was a little shell-shocked to be in front of such a huge crowd, but she did great. It was over way too soon. I ended up literally throwing macadamia nuts to people in the room. Outside, listeners pulled us and the other podcasters aside to take pictures with us. It was surreal, and humbling.

We said our goodbyes there, surrounded by our fellow podcasters, our friends, our listeners, absolutely feeling our before-dawn start time but aching mostly with gratitude for having had such a great time, and for having the sage guidance and advice from those that had done Comic-Con before. As I told Jay, we would have been chewed up and spit out the first day had it not been for everyone’s help.

Before we left, I did a short interview with Nelson Wong for AARising, and we made one last run through the expo floor. Then we flowed out onto the streets of San Diego, happy, fulfilled, and hungry.

Once again, another plan. Hop the trolley to Mission Valley and find someplace to eat. And, for once, the plan worked. At Mission Valley, we walked and walked in search of food, ending up back at In-N-Out burger. The place where our Comic-Con adventure began on Wednesday. We had another Double-Double combo (Jen’s straight up, mine with onions but no sauce), and walked all the way back to the trolley station.

Back at the hotel, we couldn’t resist hitting the indoor pool and Jacuzzi again. It was heavenly.

Finally, we packed, got our travel documents in order (requiring only a small fiasco at the hotel business center), and turned in for the night. We woke up at a wholly reasonably 8 a.m., and started our journey home.

Escape from L.A.X.

Trip

I figured we’d grab the trolley down to Old Town before taking a cab to the airport, since Old Town was definitely closer to the airport than Hazard Center, and we still had our trolley passes. But the concierge told us about the nearest stop, which was located next to several rental car offices.

We climbed aboard, along with several people on their way to the last day of Comic-Con. Sure enough, at our stop, an Alamo rental car shuttle was waiting. We looked as much like Alamo customers as we could, and got on without a hitch. We got dropped off at the LAX Commuter Terminal three hours before our flight at 12:20 p.m., and hopefully asked to catch an earlier one.

Trip

We didn’t get on the next flight to leave at 10:20, so we settled in for some breakfast. Which, honestly, wasn’t the worst breakfast we had in San Diego. (Again, that’s Soleil-K. Suckers.) And, on the 11:20 flight, they had room for us. Hooray!

Trip

Except there was a problem with an overhead compartment door, and we were delayed for half an hour. Still, that gave us an extra half hour in LAX to make our connecting. No problem, right?

Well, landing at LAX, it was clear we were very, very far from our Northwest gate. I couldn’t find any interior shuttle signage like we did when we last came through, and when I asked a security guard, he directed us downstairs to catch the “A Bus” or blue line to Terminal 2, on the other side of the airport.

Turns out that meant actually leaving the airport, climbing on a bus that wove in and out of L.A. airport traffic, and eventually reentering via yet another TSA security check point. We survived, but Twittered our frustration. We got to our gate with 40 minutes to spare.

I’m pretty sure that if we’d taken our original flight from SAN to LAX, we wouldn’t have made it.

But we did. And we’re coming home.

Trip

July 27, 2008 Posted by | Updates | 6 Comments

The Transmission Special Report: LOST Panel

This special edition of “The Transmission” features the audio from the “LOST” panel. Danielle Rousseau’s story, Daniel Faraday’s notebook and tie, and Vincent. Held in cavernous Hall H, the presentation featured both questions and answers as well as video clips and performances relating to the Dharma Initiative ARG. Warning: Adult language, not all of it from the stage.

MP3 File

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Updates | 4 Comments