San Diego, CA – late night

Last night I wandered around Seaport Village, an upscale clump of shops (“clump of upscale shops” also works, but somehow “upscale clump” sends a more accurate picture of what’s going on here) nestled between the bay, the hotels, and the convention center.  It’s a short walk from the convention center, and it’s climatically perfect at about the time the dealers room (comic term: the big part of the show’s display floor, where people try to sell you things) typically shuts down, so I’ve been there about every day of my life that I’ve spent in San Diego.  There’s an excellent little bookstore there (“real” books.  Surprisingly, I’ve not yet been to any of the actually comic shops around here), where something jumped out and caught my eye (_Time Management For The Creative Person._  I thought I’d give it a shot.  It’s not like any other method has worked, I’ve always had more things going on then time for them to get anywhere.  I’m still looking for a book to help me cut down on my use of parentheticals and ellipses…) for to read during dinner.

I have to have something to read during meals.  I’m getting to the point where I’m really comfortable wandering around as a party of one (although here in San Diego, you can get paranoid.  The English language is rather a rare thing.  You hear some Spanish, but mostly it seems to be Nordic languages, for reasons on which I will not even speculate.  So whenever I walk by somewhere, I keep hearing mutterings in strange languages behind me.  I have chosen to assume they’re all just wondering who that stunningly beautiful bald man is, and, so far, no one’s bothered to prove me wrong on this), but there’s just nothing to do while you’re waiting for them to grill your Thresher Shark.  Which I can’t recommend, by the way.  I suppose it was okay, but after some of the shark I’ve had (and now I wonder what flavor it was), the Thresher was kinda tough and chewy.  The German Chocolate Cheesecake is a winner, though.

After I ordered, I was curious about it.  I love sharks, sharks and tigers are my favorite animals.  And whenever I’m in seafood restaurants, I’m always attracted to eating shark.  Now, I’d never want to eat tiger meat (although the endangered species _do_ taste the best), so why the fascination with eating shark?  I rationalized it to be because I’ve always had this fantasy where I’d run across a real tiger, and, rather than disemboweling me, he and I would end up being friends. This, at least partially, explains all the cats around my house.  So it comes to how could I eat something warm and fuzzy.  Sharks, on the other hand, would just as soon eat me as look at me, so mesquite grill that sumbitch and slice me a lemon.

Well, I find I’ve run ahead of myself (nothing new there) so let’s reset: I’m in a restaurant at Seaport Village on San Diego Bay, eating an extravagant meal and reading my nifty new book.  I’m sitting here thinking how perfect this is when I look up.  The entire wall I’m sitting next to is glass and looks out over the harbor.  It was pretty when I walked in, but between then and now, it had gotten dark.  So I look up and bam, the bay is gone, replaced with a shimmering image of the lit buildings on the other side, the boats in the harbor, the bridge over it all.  Even the cars going over the bridge are nothing but red and white twinkles, darting around in what used to be the bay.

Even when life is perfect, if you look up for a minute, you’ll see it’s better than that.

I got back home completely exhausted, and failed to write this update then.  So you get it jumbled on top of today’s.  Now, today starts getting involved with comics, so here’s what I’m going to do.  The more general parts of the update with (theoretically, anyway) wider appeal will always be first, and although comics might be mentioned to a certain extent, all the truly turbo-geek stuff will be separate, at the bottom.

Technically, this is the first day of the dealer expo, where store owners and workers (or just goobers who went and got their own business license, like me) go to be seduced by the publishers of comics and manufacturers of toys and purveyors of associated paraphernalia.  They try to earn space in our shops for their cheap crap, typically by giving us free autographed versions of their cheap crap.  And don’t be misled by the derogatory language, mostly what I’m here for is the free autographed crap.

I say “technically” because, even though you could register (or pick up your badge if you’d pre-registered, like me) as early as 8:30 (I was the second one there.  I doubt that counts for anything, but I think it was kind of cool), nothing, I mean absolutely nothing else occured until 12:00.  And that was only the publishers presentations, where the three major publishers got up in turn and all said we’re going to have the best stories and the best art next year (More detail on this in the geek section).  I considered just going back to the RV park, but when I got back to where I’d parked my car, the gates were down.  Now, I’d apparently gotten there before they started charging for parking that morning, so the gates were all up, I just drove in.  Now, you’d have to take a ticket to get in, which would indicate how much time you spent in there.  It was plastered all over the place that “lost tickets would be charged the maximum.”  That meant twelve bucks for about forty minutes.

I tried to explain this to the woman at the exit booth; clearly there was no way that I could have been there very long, and actually I might stay a while longer, could you just issue me a ticket that says nine o’clock, since that’s when you just told me you start charging for parking in the morning?  When she answered, I realized something I hadn’t during her first, shorter answer.

She was slow.  Several years ago we would have simply called her retarded and everyone would know what I was talking about, now I don’t know if even “slow” is the acceptable word, and I doubt anyone gets as accurate a picture with that terminology, anyway.  Screw it, my update, she was retarded.

It was sort of frustrating.  This is something that should be able to be worked out, but there was a difficulty.  And it was a difficulty I didn’t know how to resolve.  I wasn’t able to get her to understand my point (at least I felt she didn’t understand.  Maybe she wasn’t retarded at all, perhaps she was just a bitch with a speech impediment.  Can I say speech impediment in the 90’s?), and I had no clue how to take it to a higher authority without making it look like I was raining on this “differently abled” person who was doing her best.

I’m getting more frustrated as I write this.  I’m not a jerk (anymore, at least), and I appreciate people doing the best they can with what they’ve got.  But I’m not even able to tell this story adequately without stumbling over terms, defending the use of what were once perfectly good words.  Why?  Because the nameless faceless “they” decided that if I use that word, then I clearly hold that person in some sort of contempt.  How the hell do they know for whom I hold contempt (although I suspect it’s becoming more clear precisely for whom)?  Excuse me, I was having trouble communicating with the retarded woman in the booth.  Hey, your differently abled dipshit is fucking up.  Which of those shows contempt?

Sorry about that, I really didn’t intend to go there when all this started.  It’s just something that bothers me because I don’t know where and why it got started, and I don’t know who it benefits to perpetuate.  And it gets in the way of communicating.

Coincidentally, that’s where we were in my day, with something in the way of communicating.

So I decided that I had no choice but to pay twelve bucks for parking.  So, damn it, I was going to stay there all day.

And although it took a long way to get here, what with my little rant, everything worked out great that I stayed.  Although most of the presentations were crap (and, sorry, it’s too late for a geek section tonight.  I’ll cram it in with tomorrow’s), DC’s was well done, and, more importantly, involved Grant Morrison.  Grant writes several fantastic comics, including _Invisibles,_ which has been one of my favorites for years now.  He’s one of the rare, truly gifted people that sees connections where the rest of us don’t, and can tell stories that help bring those connections into focus without making us feel stupid for missing them in the first place.  Well, they also gave out t-shirts, and, thanks to my stereotypical position in the back row next to the door, I was the first guy with a t-shirt and time to kill.  As the exits were blocked with masses of flesh (this is one of those “myths” that’s probably not a myth: comic shop owners are, in fact, fat.  DC had snacks; fruit, those really big cookies, and sodas, for us just before their presentation, and as we lined up, I noticed a truly prodigious gentleman up ahead.  And I’ve fallen for a lot of this stuff on TV about how we [and by “we” I guess they mean anyone that doesn’t actually affect the tides] abuse fat people, particularly because so many of them just can’t help it, their genes have spoken.  So I’m watching this guy, and I can’t help wondering how hard it must be for him [I’m tall, and there’s a lot of stuff out there that sucks because of that.  Going to a movie is actually a physically painful experience for me.  I can only think of two showers I’ve ever been in that I could actually stand up under.  Things like that].  Then he gets to the front of the line, grabs EIGHT of these five inch across cookies, and had a ninth hanging mostly out of his mouth as he walks away.  And gets a Diet Coke.  I found it a lot more difficult, suddenly, to generate any sympathy whatsoever) scrambling for their t-shirts, Grant Morrison is just standing there waiting for a chance to leave.  I went over and we talked for awhile, about the comics we read when we were growing up.  I was a Marvel reader, he, DC.  We talked about how that kind of rivalry (I mean, DC was just pure evil when I was about twelve years old) can be so important both to those on one side or the other, and to the industry as a whole.  It was great.  _And_ he kindly started off my 1998 San Diego sketchbook with a really nice Superman (when he asked me what I wanted him to sketch, I asked him to do anything he wanted.  I almost always do that, just to see what’s going on in their heads.  To be honest, I _never_ expected Superman).  He draws quite well for someone who is such a great writer.  I guess he just knows how to take himself out of the way, and let the message come through.

Great start to the show.

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