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All about bands:

http://lazypadawansholocron.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/ot-friday-five/

I've posted my thoughts here:

http://lazypadawansholocron.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/retread-of-the-jedi/

Beware of spoilers.

Saturday, July 26

First thing in the morning I was going to make one last futile try to get the wampa Hallmark ornament, but boy is it insanely crowded on Saturday.  I couldn't get up to the door at Hall C, so I had to go further back.  They let us in around 9:20 and of course, the Hallmark line was already capped.  Ridiculous.  They are just as guilty in perpetuating scalpers as the scalpers themselves and the desperate collectors who buy from them.

My other plan for the morning was to swing by the MAC store close to the convention center.  Its Marge Simpson line won't be available until September 4 but the store was going to make the line available one day only.  But the store didn't open until 10, so I went by the Tokidoki booth first and got a hat, and impulse purchased a Skelanimals unicorn tee because I saw a girl wearing one.  Got five bucks off!

I went outside and pushed past the crowds streaming to the convention center to get to the MAC store.  It was right at 10 a.m. and of course...there was a line that went down the block.  Ugh!  Honestly, I should've just walked at that point.  I'm not even a Simpsons fan anymore; I just liked the color palette.  (No, it doesn't include yellow foundation and blue hair dye.)  I should've taken it as a really bad sign that many of the people in line ahead of me were groups and were men.  I don't mean the kind of men who dig makeup either.  That meant a lot of these people were, you guessed it, scalpers.  But I decided for some crazy reason to stay.  This is when I'd noticed that the Pinkberry at the Hard Rock was gone.  Oh no!  Where was I going to get my frozen treat later?

So I stood in the hot sun for well over an hour.  I put sunblock on before leaving the house, but as I was going to discover when I got in my car, the straps on my backpack pulled back my shirt so that part of my shoulders that didn't get the sunblock treatment were exposed.  I spent my time in line talking to a lady who was hoping to buy the Simpsons line for her daughter.  She told me there were folks who had camped out at Hall H and still couldn't get in but she'd lucked out in that day's drawing for Weird Al Yankovic's panel at the Horton Grand Theater.  She'd also gone to the Outlanders screening on Friday night and scored some free pizza courtesy of Starz.  I guess they figured hungry fans were going to be a lot less forgiving.  After a half hour or 45 minutes in line, the MAC employees told the extremely slow-moving line not to worry, they had plenty of stock.  Then 20 minutes later, they started to run out of stuff like the eyelashes and lip gloss, which I wasn't planning to buy anyway.  Then after I'd been there over an hour, they sold out.  One employee said the first people in line got there at midnight.  "Yeah, so they can sell it on eBay."  Unsurprisingly, the dude bros ahead of me bought one of everything.  Unless they're undercover drag queens, they'd only do that to sell it.  Even though the line is coming back in September, I know from experience with other limited edition lines from MAC based on pop culture, things sell out very quickly.  I had a devil of a time with the Disney villainesses line from a few years ago.  Then almost everything ends up on eBay.  Whatever the case, I hated that I wasted my time with this nonsense. My only gain was some free protein bar that was actually pretty good.

I left the line--I have no idea why so many people remained--and walked over to Nerd HQ in Petco Park.  I took the long way because I couldn't find the entry.  Nerd HQ is a free event (except for certain panels and autographs, which benefit Operation Smile) open to the public.  No Comic Con badge required.  Even though it was really geared toward video games and there was some annoying electronic music playing on the speakers, it's great for three reasons:  it's free, you can sit down in someplace shaded, and there are open restrooms.  I practically had a nap there.  Also got a free Aliens bag and a comic book based on some upcoming video game.  Once I ate my packed sandwich and chips (I do SDCC on the cheap), I decided to head over to the Comic Con Interactive Zone.  You don't need a badge to get in there either but it is part of the con.  It's on a big open lot.  There was some kind of Adult Swim funhouse with a massive line, a promotion for "24" where you could fly a drone (45 minute wait), a Pizza Hut thing where you can fire cardboard pizzas at targets, a swag booth for the new "Sin City" movie with a huge line, an Amazon "geek boutique" with a huge line (really, you can just shop on Amazon on your damn smartphone or iPad), a Hello Kitty booth, and a thing promoting Angry Birds where they told people to go away so the booth workers can go to lunch (huh?).

 But the reason why I wanted to be there was to check out The Sleepy Hollow Experience.  It's supposed to be some kind of virtual reality game where you avoid getting decapitated by the Headless Horseman.  But they weren't letting anybody in.  Why was that?  All of a sudden there was a bunch of people with cameras and boom mikes and then I saw the actress who plays Abbie's crazy sister Jenny.  Oh, that's nice, she decided to drop by.  It was a little hard to see her though, with the media people standing in front of her and some fake trees.  Then show stars Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison appeared.  Wow!  I'd have gone to the "Sleepy Hollow" panel on Friday had it not been scheduled in a different room right after the "Vikings" one.  It's impossible to go from one room to another back to back like that.  So this definitely made up for missing the panel!  Beharie is tiny in person.  Petite and skinny.  Tom Mison is actually even better looking in person, if that's possible.  I think I took a lot of pictures of him, heh heh.  A few brave fans jumped the rope and got close to take pictures but I still got some good shots.  Some girl whiningly asked for a picture with Tom and he politely declined.  Later on I heard her complain about it, heh heh.  But I understand.  If you do it for one person, you'd have to do it for everybody.  Although Orlando Jones also turned up and he quickly did a few autographs and took a couple of pictures with fans.

Once I left the interactive area, I headed back to Fifth Avenue to see if I could score some swag.  Sure enough, there was a t-shirt giveaway to promote "Sharknado 2."  I missed out on the popular foam chainsaws but I'll take a free t-shirt anytime!  The only catch was you had to get pictures of the "street team" in action and have it ready to upload to your social media outlet of choice to get the t-shirt.  Mine didn't work but I was already in possession of a t-shirt and halfway down the street when it didn't go through to Twitter.  Ha ha!  Not too far away I had to do the same thing again to score some free popcorn from an "American Horror Story" promotion.

All of this hunting for free swag in the hot sun made me thirsty so I wandered around for a place to get something to drink and of course, there were lines everywhere.  So I went back to Petco Park and bought the $5 tub of soda.  Boy was I dehydrated.  Then I went to the first Mexican ice cream cart I stumbled across and bought an ice cream sandwich.  Oh well, at least I was walking/sweating off the calories.

From there I investigated the Simpsons land set up next to the convention center.  The swag line was ridiculously long.  There was a carnival game where participants got an inflatable doughnut.  Aside from using it in the event of severe hemorrhoids or a broken tailbone, I saw no need for one.  Then I checked out the Batman/Gotham zipline to watch other people risk their lives (not me) and got a bad picture of me with Godzilla to promote the DVD release.  After that I noticed a crowd at the marina.  It turns out T.V. Guide was hosting an event aboard a yacht with stars of different t.v. shows and saw some of the cast from "True Blood" go on board.  I just hate how these Hollywood people always look so glammed up, even at Comic Con, while I feel like an unwashed medieval peasant because I've been walking around outside all day.  One lady walked on board with mega heels even as the dock and boat were moving.  Must have a lot of experience with yachts.

I decided to visit the Hilton for a trip to the restroom.  I reach this floor with a sign marked "Restricted Access" as though they had a bunch of Ebola patients being treated in the ballrooms.  But I asked the security guy for the ladies' room and he pointed to the one on that floor.  I noticed there were a lot of empty seats, a premium at Comic Con, so when I came back out,  I decided to rest the aching dogs for a bit and rotate my shoulders in a chair.  I noticed there were a bunch of people out in the patio and a Rotten Tomatoes logo sign.  Then I noticed a pair of women talking to a journalist at a set of chairs next to me.  I recognized one of them as the odd-looking chick who dated Raj briefly on "The Big Bang Theory."  I put two and two together and realized this must be some floor reserved for celebrities and press.  So I discreetly got up and got out of there before getting tossed out on my ear.

I went back inside the convention center to do my last minute shopping before leaving for the day.  I passed by the Fox booth and sure enough, there was a pile of those Firefly pins I needed just there for the taking.  I grabbed one of them, stuck it on my lanyard, and went back to the booth to get the paper foldups.  I'm glad that went better than the Hallmark thing.  I also dropped by the Espionage Cosmetics booth for a free nail sticker.  I got a better look at the lifesized Darth Vader Big Wheel.  It opens and everything!  Then back at the Lucasfilm zip code, I watched a bunch of people watch Obi-Wan take on General Grievous in ROTS, then bought the Sparkle Factory Artoo bracelet.  The cheaper one anyway.  The pearl one is like 80 bucks.  I went to the Stylin' booth and got a belt with characters from all of the Star Wars films.  That one turned out to be really popular.  There was a bunch on Thursday and on Saturday I had to dig around to find the last one.

Well, that was kind of it for me but for the tragedy of the zombie walk.  I was heading back to my car when this incident occurred about a block away from where I was walking.  There was a big traffic jam, an ambulance, cop cars, etc..  A guy was waving away oncoming traffic, saying there was an accident at that intersection.  When I walked past the supermarket, I saw a car with a shattered windshield and some upset-looking people standing around with the cops.  I had no idea of the specifics until I watched the evening news that night.

Here's my opinion.  I think it's time that they put an end to this zombie walk business if they won't get permits and can't afford police escort.  Or do like the Walking Dead thing at Petco Park, confine it to an area where it's not on open, public streets.  Exacerbating the problem was the huge number of looky loo/partiers heading down to the bars at the Gaslamp who were treating the event like it's Mardi Gras or Spring Break.  I don't know if the driver just grew impatient or if he and his family were scared and upset, but I know how I'd react if people started pounding on my car and breaking the windshield.  Especially if I was deaf and if I had small children in my care.  If a car starts moving the logical thing to do is to BACK UP AND GET OUT OF THE WAY.  Right or wrong, a two-ton car will win over your 125 pound self every time.  This wasn't a situation where the car just barreled through the intersection full of pedestrians at full speed because the driver was on PCP or something.  It would also help if there was more traffic control in the intersections near that end of the convention center.  Bring in cops from other agencies in the county if necessary.

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Freya's Day, Jul. 25

It was Freya's Day because it was "Vikings" day.  Friday was the day the cast of the show was due to appear for a short autograph session at 1 p.m. and for a panel at 4:45 p.m..  The signing was to take place at the big "Vikings" set-up on a lot near the convention center.  As I walked past it in the morning there was maybe ten people already waiting.  I thought, "Well, it's not that many."  The plan was to come back at 11 a.m. and get in line.

I forgot to mention in my last post that inside the Marriott, there's a grand piano in the back lobby area.  Before leaving for the day I stopped in the Marriott to use the restroom and saw a guy in a Boba Fett t-shirt and a girl dressed like that dragon chick from "Game Of Thrones" playing the piano and singing a duet.  They were pretty good.  SDCC ought to think about a talent show.  Every time I walked in that part of the Marriott, somebody was playing that piano.  I also run into a lot of the booth babes in the bathroom.  They always look so done and pretty while I feel like whatever the cat dragged in.

At 9:30, I went inside at Hall C and dashed back to the Hallmark booth.  Security was yelling at con-goers trying to run to various booths, "STOP RUNNING!  NO RUNNING!"  It's like fourth grade all over again.  As expected, the Hallmark line was already capped.  "THE LINE'S CAPPED!  KEEP MOVING!"  I'm surprised they weren't using Tasers.  The Del Rey booth however, had a big pile of free copies "A New Dawn," the novel by John Jackson Miller that sets up the events of "Rebels."  Well, I'll take anything for free.  The lady at the booth scanned my badge and the freebie went in my bag.

Fortunately I didn't have to bother with the Funko exclusives today.  My friend found out that Barnes & Noble was selling them online so she'd called to let me know she didn't need them.  Whew!  I'd looked up the artist I had been searching for on Thursday and found his booth.  I bought the print, then hustled over to the Fox booth line, which was letting people in and was moving.  Great!  I'll just go through the swag line, get that Firefly button, and pick up the paper fold up.  This middle-aged woman and two younger people squeezed in line in front of me and the lady kept looking back at someone and gesturing helplessly at whoever it was.  She was holding up the line.  This time I was the one saying, "Keep moving!"  I was afraid they'd run out of buttons or stop the line.  It was bad enough they'd just cut in.  I finally get to the Fox booth, got a free poster tube which came in handy for the just-purchased print, and then I asked about the Firefly buttons.  "Oh, we're giving those out later," the girl said.  You mean I have to come back???!!!!  @#@$#$%$%

After that I bumped into a co-worker, visited the restroom, then I decided to head back out to Vikings land to join the autograph line.  Bear in mind it wasn't quite 11 yet.  But I get there and I find out from some re-enactors that the line's already been capped!  "They capped it at 9," one of them told me.  I looked at the line it didn't seem like that many people.  I know if you hustle fans along quickly, you could easily get double the number of those in line through in an hour.  But that's now how they were going to do things.  They wanted quality time for the fans.  Grrr.  I decided to come back at 1 and see if they'll let people in the line if it moved fast enough.  So from there I headed to the supermarket to buy a soda.  On the way I came across a truck promoting the Science channel.  They were giving away t-shirts!  So I snagged one, then got my soda.  Then I went over to the Assassin's Creed obstacle course and watched a bunch of hapless stuntmen get knocked off of things by the sneaky "assassin."  "Where is he?!  Where did he go?!"  the announcer shouted as the assassin walked right up to his victims in broad daylight.

While parking somewhere to eat my sandwich and chips packed at home, I looked through the day's schedule.  I saw that there was a problem with the "Vikings" panel.  The panel right before was "Bates Motel" and worse yet, the panel right after it was "Orphan Black."  Plus the "Outlander" panel was on earlier.  I figured that meant there would be a lot of seat squatters and it might be tougher than anticipated to get into "Vikings."  But I still wanted to see if I could get autographs.  This was going to be tricky.

I went back out to Vikings land at 1 and one of the people working there said that they were not letting anyone else into the line and even the people at the end were not guaranteed autographs.  Apparently they were going to allow fans to take pictures with the actors and get personalized autographs.  The good news is I did get to see the main players and the show's creator as they arrived.  I also got a free comic book.  But the line moved really slow and by 1:30, I knew it was going to be no dice for the autographs.  So I went back in the convention center and got into line for the room hosting the Vikings panel.  At first the line moved really fast.  I thought, "Well, this isn't going to be too bad."  Then it stopped and for the next two hours, it hardly moved.  A guy in line behind me grumbled that the room was too small.  As I figured there were a lot of fans of "Orphan Black" and they were nervous they weren't going to make it.  But there were Vikings fans too, as exemplified by the number of girls in Loki costumes.

Girls in Loki costumes was one of the popular trends at this year's SDCC.  I guess now they've got a Thorette, there needs to be some Lokiettes to battle her.  The other big trend was "Frozen."  Frozen, Frozen, Frozen everywhere.  My nieces would go bananas.  There were little girls dressed like Elsa.  Teenage girls and adults dressed like Elsa and Anna.  Even a young lady in a Slave Leia-inspired Elsa costume, though she looked more like Lady Gaga in my humble opinion.  At one point I saw a little kid in a stroller dressed as Olaf and along comes a Frozen-themed group of cosplayers, including one person in a great professional-quality Olaf costume.  The two Olafs of course had to pose for pictures.  Then there was the ever-growing trend of people waving religious signs outside of the convention center.

While waiting and hoping I'd make it to see the panel, or else I'd have wasted a big part of my day in yet another line, I was following the Star Wars book panel on Twitter, where I read the announcement about the Clone Wars-based novel.  I'd also started reading "A New Dawn," though that's on hold for now.

Anyhoo, the "Bates Motel" panel ended and they started letting people in for "Vikings."  Fortunately I made it inside though my seat wasn't all of that great.  The show's creator and the main cast came in.  For those of you who follow the show, they have started filming Season 3 so everybody had the oddball haircuts and beards.  Travis Fimmel looked like Ragnar disguising himself as a 21st century man with a baseball cap.  Though Katheryn Winnick, all dolled up, was even prettier in person.  The panelists were great and fans seemed just as eager to share their girl crushes on Lagertha with a very flattered Winnick as they were to drool over the hunky dudes.  Fimmel was very soft-spoken and that along with his Australian accent made it a little hard to make out what he was saying.  A girl behind me joked, "Can we have subtitles please?"  But Fimmel also had the best answer to a panel question.  When the moderator asked Fimmel who was the better kisser, Aslaug or Lagertha, he said, "Athelstan," the puppy-dog-eyed Christian monk turned slave turned Viking who everybody keeps slashing with Ragnar in fan fiction.  They also showed a brief look at Season 3 that won't debut until sometime in 2015.  Clive Standen dropped a hint that somebody gets killed off; "Vikings" rivals "Game Of Thrones" or "The Walking Dead" in terms of unpredictably killing off characters.

Before the "Vikings" panel started I got a ticket for the fulfillment room, so once the panel was over I trucked over to the Hyatt to pick up my freebie, which was another copy of the free comic book (already spoken for). I noticed though that the swag given for big Hall H or Ballroom 20 presentations were fancy.  Those who sat through the "Game Of Thrones" panel got something, probably a shirt, in a nice bag.  The folks who attended the "Pixels" panel got sunglasses.  It's the least they could do for fans who camped out for a week.

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Thursday Jul. 24

Having picked up all of my passes for each of the three days I got this year, I was ready to go in swinging on day one.  My agenda was simple.  Go to the Hallmark booth first and get in line to buy the Wampa and itty bitty ornament exclusives, run over to the Funko Pop booth way over at the rear end of Hall F for the Luke and Wampa two-pack exclusive, find a particular artist in Artists’ Alley, get a button at the Fox booth so I can go over to another booth, sign up with someone else’s e-mail, and pick up exclusive Firefly paper fold up thingies, and pick up someone else’s order at Acme.  Plus look at everything else on the exhibit floor.

I’d snaked up to Hall C by 9 a.m..  The Hallmark booth was where it has always been, in the Lucasfilm “zip code” by Hall D.  But as you may or may not remember from past SDCC reports, the Hall D entrance is only open to the press.  I went in right as doors opened at 9:30 and dashed over to Hallmark.  But remember, exhibitors can get in much earlier and their friends can go in with them.  So do people who somehow managed to sneak into the convention center early or got in line for panel ticket drawings, only to get out of line and sneak into the exhibit hall.  This means thousands of people are already inside before everyone is technically allowed in.  Thus, the Hallmark line was already very long.

Okay, I’m going to stop right now to say this.  I hate you Hallmark!  I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!  I would never bother with buying this stuff but a friend wanted the ornaments so I said I’d try.  But here it was, 9:30 in the morning, and the Hallmark guys were screaming the line was capped and yelled at anyone else who wanted to get in line, although it was already full of scalpers they let in line before the convention was actually open.  The neighboring Viz booth (anime crap) started yelling at people who were waiting for the Hallmark line to open up again.  Then the security thugs started yelling at everyone to keep moving.  One guy was so hostile I thought he was going to throw me out even though I was walking.  What a great way to kick off the con.  After that crappy experience, I went over to the far reaches of Hall F, way in the back corner, where Funko was selling its exclusives.  It was another huge line that was of course, already capped.

Scalpers have long been a problem at Comic Con and this year wasn’t any different.  These guys come walking out of the convention center at 9:15 a.m. with giant bags completely packed with exclusives.  It’s unbelievable.  I found out they not only sell them on eBay, they also sell them to exhibitors at inflated prices, who in turn sell them to customers who couldn’t get them, at inflated prices.  It’s a disgusting b.s. racket that Comic Con should shut down.

After giving up on the Funko stuff, I looked around Artists’ Alley for a guy who was selling an original print I wanted.  I walked around and around, not seeing the particular print or finding the artist.  Then it occurred to me that either the guy wasn’t there yet—many artists roll in whenever they feel like it—or duh, he was there under his real name, not his Etsy shop name.  The problem was I didn’t know the guy’s actual name.  So much for that.  The Fox booth line was long and was of course, capped.  Keep moving!  Keep moving!

My first hour or so at the con a bust, I just started trudging around looking at the different booths on the exhibit floor, at least where I could move.  The exhibit hall quickly became stuffy, crowded, and smelly.  Once again, I encountered several instances of mystery flatulence from gassy con-goers.  You guys really need to lay off the beans and broccoli.  I finally found the booth with the Firefly paper fold up thingies and got the one they give you if you sign up with an e-mail address.  I asked about the other one you get with the Firefly online button from the Fox booth…did I really need one?  The line was so long and it was capped.  “You need the button to get the other fold up page,” the girl at the booth insisted.  Bleah.

The first purchase of the day was a Carl minion Funko Pop figure from one of the dealer booths.  Ten bucks.  My first Star Wars purchase was at the We Love Fine booth located in the Lucasfilm zip code.  They had a new Star Wars jacket and since I hadn’t bought one in a long time, the ones I had at home were really big on me.  It wasn’t that expensive, so I bought it.  I noticed on the tag that it had the Disney logo on it, which I think is the first time I’ve seen that on a clothing product.  The Black Milk booth was right next to it and that stretchy spandex stuff was not for gals like me.  Stylin’ had a bunch of t-shirts, none of them new to me, plus a bunch of different kinds of Star Wars belts.  There was a booth selling stuff like hats, backpacks, and wallets, all of which only limited to the first three Star Wars films.  I’ve long been annoyed at how licensees blow off everything else.  The watch guys were back but they were only selling the really expensive ones.  JAKKS Pacific was selling three-foot-tall black trooper figurines, the car accessories booth was doing brisk business, there was a headphones company, the motorcycle jacket company was back, Vans was promoting its new yawn-worthy shoes, and of course Her Universe was there too.  The new Darth Vader dress at HU was SIXTY BUCKS.  I think it’s because it has a zipper on the back.  It’s a nice dress in person—I like the color scheme and capped sleeves more than anything else—but I think I’ll wait for a sale.  Instead I bought the Sparkle Factory (Tarina Tarantino without saying it’s Tarina Tarantino) Artoo ring with the My Hero inscription.

After eating lunch while watching the SCA guys clobber each other in the hot sun, I went back in, looked around the Sails pavilion, and spotted former Catwoman and Star Trek actress Lee Meriwether signing at a booth.  She has to be in her 80s by now and looked really good.   Going back to the exhibit hall, I picked up the Acme character key a friend had ordered.  I asked for a particular number and sure enough, they had it!  When I got to the DC pavilion, I took a look at all of the Batman costumes put on display to celebrate the superhero’s 75thanniversary.  They even had George Clooney’s infamous nipple suit!  At the Profiles In History booth, I saw Butch Patrick of “The Munsters” signing autographs.  When you’re used to seeing somebody as a young kid and you see them now as a 58-year-old, it can be a bit shocking.  Then you remember almost everyone else on that show has gone to the 1313 Mockingbird Lane in the sky and it was a long time ago.  Perennial Lou Ferrigno was at the Mile High Comics booth.  No matter what, he always looks the same.   It’s like he stopped time or something.

There was one booth that had some interesting original digital fan art but when I went to look for it again, I couldn’t find it.  It was as though it was a mirage that vanished.  Otherwise, my other big purchase of the day consisted of some budget-priced but cool jewelry at one of those booths that sells lots of ear clips and witches’ pentagrams.

Looking through the publishers’ booths, I saw that X-Files star Gillian Anderson is about to unleash her first novel, “A Vision Of Fire” in October.  It looks it’s some kind of sci-fi thriller, which I guess is a genre she knows a little about.

By the time I finished with the exhibit hall, it was five o’clock and I was pooped.  I was in too much “p***ed at Yoko” mode to head to the Rebels panel or see the free screening (plus the issue of having to walk around downtown at night), so I went home.

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I didn't hear about this until listening to a story about it on local radio while driving home yesterday.  I guess with a lot of media attention on the zombie walk that went horribly wrong, this awful awful story got buried until an arrest was made yesterday:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/teen-beaten-sexually-assaulted-comic-con-article-1.1886713

More from a local t.v. affiliate:

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Comic-Con-San-Diego-Attack-Cosplayer-Harbor-Drive-269218791.html

It's not clear yet whether the 29-year-old arrestee was the same "trusted family friend" who accompanied the 17-year-old victim to the con.  Although I have to say if it is, you'd have to be INSANE to trust an unrelated young man with a teenage girl.  I'd even hesitate trusting stepbrothers or cousins.  If it wasn't the same guy, then this "trusted family friend" was an epic fail of a chaperone. There are also many unclear, unconfirmed details.  In one version of the evening's events, the girl went off on her own after getting into an argument with friends.  In another version, she was at a party with her assailant or chaperone and the party broke up after a noise complaint.  All we do know is she was found bloodied with severe head injuries and she might have been sexually assaulted.  She may not be able to remember very much if/when she recovers.

I'll be blunt.  When conventions were the sole province of the weird, the misfits, the bookish, and the kind of people whose idea of a wild Saturday night is singing naughty filks, I never heard about stuff like this happening.  It's not to say sexual assaults didn't happen or never happened, but none of the older fans I knew ever seemed worried about it.  But now that big cons like this one are mainstream, mainstream problems come along for the ride.  SDCC draws about 130,000 actual attendees plus a lot more who come downtown to looky loo and participate in off-campus activities open to the public.  That's the population of a small city and cities have problems with crime and tragedy.  A few years ago, it was the guy who stabbed another guy in Hall H.  Then it was the lady who was hit by a car and died while trying to run for the Twilight line.  This year, it's the woman run over in the zombie walk and now the girl who got beaten and probably raped.

Plus there's this charming tale of how Adrienne Curry had to put the smackdown on a pervert who attacked a friend in costume:

http://www.theouthousers.com/index.php/news/128525-sdcc-adrianne-curry-beats-up-cosplay-harasser-at-comic-con.html

Don't mess with Catwoman or her whip!

Again I will be blunt.  You can put down all of the policies you want--though I think there are some things the con itself could do to improve safety for female attendees--or post on Tumblr "men shouldn't rape" all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that there are predators in this world and there always will be.  A predator doesn't care about the law, rules, boundaries, pop feminists, or college girls with catchy hashtags.  A predator does what he does until he is stopped.

If you ask me there should be something like the Guardian Angels to watch out for con attendees because the police can be stretched pretty thin at a big event.  They could report assault and battery, they could accompany anyone who doesn't feel comfortable going around alone at night, and they could keep an eye out for criminals.  Self defense classes aren't a bad idea; I was acquainted with someone who was mugged several years ago.  The crook made the mistake of picking on someone with a black belt.  She got a few minor cuts from the mugger's knife.  He got put in the hospital with some broken ribs.  Cons will not allow you to bring in real weapons but if you're out at night heading to parties or bars, I'm not against bringing along whatever's legal and you're licensed/trained to use.

I wish too that nobody had to worry about any of this stuff but it's a crappy world after all.  Be on your guard and look out for one another.

Over the weekend Marvel, our new comics overlord, announced three new Star Wars titles. One is a monthly that takes place between ANH and TESB, one is series about Darth Vader, and one is a series about Leia.

The Leia one is interesting to me because she is a character who generally gets short shrift. The others? To quote “Sid & Nancy,” “Boring, Sidney, boring.” Dark Horse just produced exactly the same kind of monthly, the difference being this time it has different writers/artists and it “counts.” At least when Dark Horse got the Star Wars license, it came out of the gate with “Dark Empire,” a book Marvel didn’t want to publish. It was bold, interesting, and new. For the next several years, DH went to all corners of the GFFA and in any number of time periods. Not everything turned out great but at least some very memorable and interesting books came out of it. This is flogging a dead bantha/tauntaun/eopie or whatever is your favorite Star Wars beast of burden. There is no reason why in 2014 a Star Wars monthly can’t create story arcs that take place any time in the established Star Wars era. Heck, I’d even take a Rebels comics series. At least it’s new. But Marvel is playing it entirely too safe. George Lucas created a huge fantasy land to play in and Marvel is acting like those people in the movie “The Village,” fearfully confining themselves to a tiny corner of it until it’s safe to come out to cash in on Episode VII. Why do I think they’re doing that? One, they don’t want to offend prequel haters (it seems like Marvel’s interviews thus far emphasize the artists’/writers’ enthusiasm for the “original trilogy”) and two, if it takes place any time in the OT era, that means any post-TESB material is Han-less, and the fanboys don’t want that.

Now, Marvel fans have praised for the most part the teams coming on to work on these books. One of them has dropped hints that “you never know who” might drop in on the monthly series, which could include PT/CW-era characters. But it wouldn’t surprise me if these books end up in a vacuum, never once taking advantage of the universe that’s grown considerably since 1977.

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I hate linking to anything having to do with Gawker media but this (found via Jedi News) is hilarious.  Chances are you have better stuff to put on display for a Star Wars exhibition than the con artists in Germany who put this bizarre show together:

http://sploid.gizmodo.com/this-is-the-worst-star-wars-exhibition-ive-ever-seen-1600221857/+omarkardoudi

The best part is they charged $14 a head to see this travesty.

I don't know which I like better, the astronaut suit put on display next to the Falcon or the Ewok on the bicycle.

Last week it was announced that both the U.S. and UK versions of "Kitchen Nightmares," starring volatile British chef Gordon Ramsay, were signing off after 7 years.  If you've never seen it or its similar brethren like Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible" or Bravo's "Tabitha's Takeover" or Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible," failing restaurants are given a second whack at success with the help of Ramsay and Co..  It's funny the media clucked that "only" 39% of the restaurants featured on the show are still open today.  Most small businesses, including restaurants, fail within five years and according to a fan-run blog about "Kitchen Nightmares," several of those restaurants closed due to things the show had no control over, like losing their lease, failing to pay taxes, and operating without a liquor license.  No fairy godmother is going to save a business in freefall thanks to bad management and insurmountable debt.

The restaurant business is really tough.  Some family friends are in the restaurant business; it's a great field for people who think working 100 hours a week just leaves you with too much spare time.  There are many, many headaches and plenty of competition.  You just know a restaurant on any one of these reality shows is going to fail eventually if:

1.  The entire motivation for opening the place is, "I love Italian food and it's always been my dream to open a restaurant."

2.  The owner hasn't so much as run a lemonade stand before buying or opening the restaurant.

3.  The restaurant is over $100K in the hole and continuing to bleed money fast.

4.  The owner called the show in to help but is totally unreceptive and immediately goes back to his old ways once the cameras are gone.

5.  Most if not all of the clientele is elderly.  Nothing against old people but while elderly customers can seem "loyal" they are also the kind of customers who are very resistant to change and don't care so much about the quality of food so long as it's affordable.  Younger customers stay away because a restaurant develops a "God's waiting room" reputation and the food, in order to please the elderly customers, can seem bland to everyone else.

If your restaurant isn't drawing in enough customers, the problem is almost always with the quality of the food and/or the quality of service.  Today it's too easy with Yelp, Urbanspoon, reviews on Google and Yahoo, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Twitter for people to find out if your restaurant sucks.  If the food and service are great and there's still not enough customers, then there's a problem with marketing or with location.  And none of it will make any difference if you can't master the nuts and bolts of bringing in more money than what you're paying out in overhead.  I've seen on some of these shows owners who have no idea how much money their business is earning!

I will say though that decor doesn't matter all of that much.  I've been to plenty of places with nondescript, tacky, cheesy, kitschy, or outdated decor with good food and they are packed.  Nobody cares.

Then there are the places that somehow defied their awfulness on "Kitchen Nightmares" and remained open:  I'm looking at you Amy's Baking Company!  I think its infamy kept it alive; it seems like they get customers just to see if they could get the show's experience for themselves.

Those of you who can't get enough of Ramsay's freak outs will still have "Hell's Kitchen" and "Hotel Hell."

I know I have not been posting much lately.  More of my energy has been going to SWPAS (see link at top of the page) and to my non-fan fic writing project.  Plus, I've been on the outs with Livejournal for a really long time.  I still pop in and (sparingly) comment on other people's LJs and communities but it's obvious the chattering on the internet has long since moved off somewhere else.  Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are full of idiots, boneheads, self-righteous keyboard warriors, shut-ins, freaks, lunatics, and other unpleasant excuses for human beings just as LJ had been for years.  But it's just easier to dash out what I think about something on Twitter or on the FB when something happens.  I have been considering moving the show so to speak to WordPress where I already have an account, since it's also the home of SWPAS but keeping this account open for other things.  We'll have to see.

In the meantime much has happened over the past three weeks:  Harrison Ford's leg is broken and he's out of commission for a while (maybe Han ought to be refrozen in carbonite to excuse his absence), Abrams is clearly one and done for Star Wars since another guy's been picked for Ep. VIII, and rumors have been rampant about plot and character development in Ep. VII.

I don't want to get into the specifics of these rumors for benefit of those who wish to be spoiler-free.  I don't want to know the whole movie in advance either but I made the mistake of clicking on some links and got to see stuff on various sites.  Plus I got to see grousing on Twitter.  But in the interest of those who really don't want to see ANYTHING, I'll put my ramblings about rumors and my own speculation beneath a cut:


Some of the rumors I've heard, I can live with.  Others make me want to throw things, spit nails, and curse whoever came up with these things for all eternity.  The crazy thing is a fandom with people who whined about midichlorians should be up in arms about the stuff I've read because if true, and that's a gigantic "if," these supposed plot points completely undermine the OT and some of what was important about the PT as well.  They undermine the triumph our heroes scored over the Empire, break established relationships, cheapen Vader's sacrifice, undermine the meaning of Anakin's role as the Chosen One, and justify the Empire's war against the Rebellion.  They would set up Luke, Leia, and Han as failures, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why anybody would want to do that.  The Expanded Universe's post-ROTJ timeline basically destroyed everything set up in the films.  Why throw out the EU and then copy its same fatal error?  If one has to be this lazy, uncreative, and short-sighted to knock things over so one could put characters through the same paces all over again as a cynical and mercenary method to continue the series, then I don't know why anyone bothered.

Of course it could be the rumors are simply lazy, uncreative, and short-sighted, not the actual script.  "Sources" could be pulling things out of their rear ends or speculating based off of what small bits of information they've received or they misread or misheard something.  There are lots and lots of rumors about the prequels, even ones that were bandied about close to the release, that turned out to be false.  I think there's still so little information that's coming out, fan sites are now being reduced to bizarre conspiracy theories like one posted yesterday on Rebelscum, TFN, etc. claiming that Ford's injury was faked so that he could keep filming in peace while everyone thinks he's back in the U.S. recuperating.  That's so stupid I don't even know where to start.  Why would anyone even want to fake something like that in the first place?  It's not good publicity for the film, it makes Abrams and Bad Robot look bad, it makes Disney suits and shareholders VERY nervous, and there's just no way Ford would ever go along with actively deceiving the public like that, especially to the extent of being photographed in a wheelchair and with a cast on his leg.  Oh and it's insurance fraud, which is quite illegal.

As for other dumb rumors, please give the Lupita Nyong'o = Asajj Ventress story a rest.  Ventress would be like 80-90 years old at this point in the timeline.  Why would you hire a 31-year-old woman to play an elderly Sith wanna-be?

I'm not crazy about the rumors that Ford was supposed to have a "big" role.  This is the Skywalker saga, and if any of the oldsters have to be more prominent, it ought to be Luke.  It's like Peter Jackson making Aragorn the main hero of the LOTR flicks.

Now, here's my bit of speculation theater.

If the prequels/Clone Wars are WWI and the OT is WWII, then with Episode VII we're up to 1975-1980, just as a point of comparison.  Think about that a minute.  The defeated Germany by that point was split into two countries, one the Soviet satellite state of East Germany, the other NATO ally West Germany.  Japan had turned into a successful, peaceable democratic nation, in large thanks to U.S. efforts to rebuild its former enemy after the war.  Italy was just another part of Europe.  The last WWII-era dictator, Francisco Franco, had just died and left Spain to the monarchy, which in turned quickly established a democracy similar to the UK's constitutional monarchy.  I can buy some neo-Imperialist types running around, perhaps controlling a small obscure corner of the galaxy, but it wasn't as though in real life, there were hidden Panzer units and SS officers waiting close in on Bonn and West Berlin to recapture the Fatherland for the Third Reich more than 30 years later.

I can see the Jedi being determined to still root out Imperial war criminals.  There are still Nazi hunters around today!  In fact I read last week about some 89-year-old guy arrested for being a concentration camp guard 70-odd years ago.  There might be a lot of fear that Palpatine and Vader are still alive somewhere.  I can remember as a kid the popular novel and film "The Boys From Brazil" that posited the idea Hitler had been cloned, which played off of long-standing rumors Hitler had faked his death and opted for a pleasant incognito retirement in Argentina.  I also remember the long search for Josef Mengele, who really did have an incognito retirement in Argentina until he drowned in 1979.

It is very likely that the criminal organizations and bounty hunters are still active.  If they were around during the time of the Republic and the Empire, I don't see why they wouldn't be now.

The Nightsisters in The Clone Wars are also possible villains.  Lucas had established that magic exists in the GFFA, separate from the Force, which makes them an interesting match against Jedi.

There may be some corners of the galaxy that have never recovered from the one-two punch of the Clone Wars and the Empire vs. Rebellion, but I doubt the entire galaxy is apocalyptic.  In the current cut of ROTJ, Coruscant, Cloud City, Naboo, and Tatooine looked like they were in pretty good shape to me.  If the Alliance let everything go to pot, Palpatine was entirely justified in trying to defeat them.

I may have said it before, but if I was the one writing this movie, one of the key struggles this new generation of heroes would face is living up to the legends of their predecessors.  Just as Luke had to deal with the reality of being the son of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, these newbies will have to step out of the long shadows cast by Luke, Leia, and Han.  The children of celebrities and leaders often have a tough time finding their own identity and value.

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