Monday, November 7, 2011

Wherein I question my status as a geek

I haven't blogged in months-- I could tell you that I was away on a months-long mission of mercy, or that I had a brief affair with an eccentric Eastern European magnate's daughter, or that I was hospitalized with a contagious disease that baffled the world's scientists, and was only just cured by extra-terrestrials (or some sort of mystical entity), and sworn to secrecy by the shadowy Illuminati...  

No, no, friends, the truth of the matter was that I was waiting to hear from my alter-ego, who abandoned me months ago to try his hand at the Gaming Room of the Sky with the King of Curiosities, and got shanghaied by conspiring members of his Royal Court, and recently escaped, knocking on the door of my apartment at 4:47 yesterday morning with strange, horrible tales that left me catatonic with their perversity...

The Line
These are, of course, all lies, and as I still don't know the truth, I decided to try and find the answers at a comic book convention this past Saturday in the City of the Angels. If not by being surrounded with my familiars, then with whom?, I asked myself, while sitting in the subway train filled with ne'er do wells ("Spare a buck?" one such miscreant asked me while I was sitting on a dubiously clean seat, Moleskine in hand, pages as blank as a red-neck's imagination. "Spare me a story?" I snarled back.), faded beauties, scruffy Oliver Twists, and other mediocrities. I didn't know where my inspiration went, I wanted to tell the lot of them, feeling like Amadeus' Salieri.

Old School Doctor Who Cyberman
Indeed, I printed out the schedule of panels the night before, and had marked the events I wanted to attend: "Steampunk 101" at 11:00AM, followed by a panel on zombie literature at noon, then at 2:00PM, a film that combined the universes of Star Wars and John Hughes. A Battlestar Galactica panel, with the loquacious Richard "Hatchriffs" Hatch (you remember him as "Apollo" from the Classic BSG, and "Tom Zarek" in the re-imagined version- I saw Mr Hatch at a pitiful sci-fi convention a year ago, whereupon he confessed to all five of us in attendance his propensity to ramble on and on, a trait he sugar-coated with the nomenclature "Hatchriffs"), was to be held at 4:00PM. The following hour was to be a Q and A with Star Trek luminaries, and then the day was to be finished off with a panel on Doctor Who.

Star Wars represented!
I was eager, primed, and ready to go; it's been some time since I was at a sci-fi convention, and I needed the good-times fix. Walking towards the Convention Center from the subway station, I saw that the cosplayers were already out in force, and the first thing I thought to myself was that I had no fucking idea who most of these characters were supposed to be. Where are the Andorians? I could hear my inner Trekkie ask. No Klingons, no Orion Slave Girls— oh, okay, this is a comic book comic book convention, and I haven't been a regular comic book reader in decades, and, lo, my day was fucked.

Um. Huh?
I suffered through a longish line (the first of many) to get my morning coffee, and while I attended this convention alone, I was now kept company by the grandaddy of all doubts: I don't think I'm the geek that I think I am. After wringing my hands in frustration, I consoled myself that the day was just beginning, and that there are sure to be shiny surprises ahead.

Walking the floor, pockets filled with cash (yeah, I know I didn't give the miscreant a buck on the subway train, but I was snarling, remember?), and eager for everything. And then: disaster. Every vendor was selling things that I didn't want to buy— I then spun my head around, and saw cosplayers in even more bizarre and puzzling outfits, and realized that this was a convention that will need a bit of a push to get going: I needed to find a bar.

Beware the Three-Mile Island sauce
Having asked the nice lady at the concession stand in my halting and heavily-Gringo accented Spanish where one can get stinking drunk, she suggested the Hooters not five minutes walk from the Convention Center might be the place to go. I thanked her, and skedaddled. The bartender at this Hooters location was named Kimberly, and she didn't know what a Greyhound was, bless her little orange shorts, but once we got those little formalities out of the way, we got along swimmingly.

From my notebook:
                           * Hooters: Chatted with two guys who had it in for Erik Estrada, because years ago he allegedly snubbed the then-unknown comic George Lopez. I heard some of Lopez's material- I would've snubbed him, too.
                   * Still at Hooters: according to my pal Kim the bartender, the creepy guy sitting at the booth near the exit comes every weekend, alternately drinks hot and iced coffee, and always plunks down around 80 bucks in the jukebox. Is the girl he has a crush on working right now?, I asked her. How did you know he has a crush on a girl here? she asked me. I know all sorts of things, like what a Greyhound is, which I'll have another of, thanks.

After some chicken wings (and a beer), I weaved back to the Expo.

More scribblings from my notebook:

* 2:00PM: "Hughes the Force" I'm looking around, and, well, who in the fuck are these people?
* This is a cool idea, but I wonder how many here actually saw a John Hughes movie in a movie theatre. Oh, the humanity. 
* 3:00PM: Lunch time, at a Mexican food stand, having an over-priced chicken bowl and a Coke. A lil tipsy. I shouldn't have had that second Greyhound. Recognize some Trekkies here, but I'm too despondent to be 'friendly guy.' Next panel should be fun.
* 3:45PM: Fuck it. Back at Hooters, where I had to remind Kimmy what a Greyhound was again. Drank it and ran. Didn't want to miss BSG panel.
* 4:10PM: Hatchriffs.
* 4:30PM: Jesus Christ, this guy. Is he on the drugs? Leaving soon...

And leave I did, going to the standing room-only room where the Star Trek Q and A was to be, and after the affable Garret Wang ("Ensign Kim," VOY) came out to say hello, he told us that Robert Picardo ("The Doctor," VOY) and my ex-wife Marina Sirtis ("Counselor Troi," TNG) left early, I decided that it was too much to take, and I did the same. Cue up the sad piano music as I slowly walked out the exit, head hung low, kicking at non-existent rocks on the mocking pavement, hoping against hope that the trains will be running quickly for a change. Because I wanted to go home.

Inside the subway train, and in borderline crisis mode, I seriously doubted my geek credentials: I don't go out to see all of the latest comic book movies, I'm not familiar with names of the recent major scribes and artists, don't recognize anime characters,  and, if I were pressed, I couldn't spout out credible Treknobabble if universes were in jeopardy. The only thing that gave me comfort was that I had the latest entry of  G.R.R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series -- A Dance with Dragons -- downloaded on my phone, and I began reading it while being jostled on the packed train-- it was filled with a few middle-aged Occupy LA protesters, as well as the usual degenerates and, for lack of a better label, civilians. Body odor, bad breath, stale shoes: this is the perfume of a subway train. But then I shook it off, and immersed myself in the story, and on how much it thrilled me, and that I was impassioned about it, and I found it to be good.

While walking home, now not so much thinking on how lost I felt at the Expo as on how much reading I can get done, I then realized that being a geek is really only about passion — mind-fuckable passion — on the thing. Like how I felt about reading this fantasy book on my phone. Or, to a certain extent, those protesters who are still fighting the fight after all of these years. Passion. Who cares about the minutia? If I were to be exiled from the geek community because I couldn't recognize that guy with up swept ya-ya-yellow hair, or the gal with the airbrushed eyes, I couldn't care less. The Geek Closet is still open, fellow miscreants, and I ain't throwing in the towel quite yet (because you never know when you'll need one).


  1. Did Mr. Hatchriffs recognize you or did you keep your head low?
    Your geek cred is intact as far as I can tell. You can geek me under the table if the conversation should turn to B5 or Twin Peaks or even SW, for Odin's sake!
    I'm often baffled by the costumes at sdcc or phxcc as well. So many come in excellent (I am assuming) anime costumes but I have no clue what they are.
    As always, an enjoyable read...and sorry for your lonely day. Treklet & I will come play with you soon. ;-)

  2. As it appears I have no Con Experience to fall back on. I can only comment on what you have written. I firmly believe the Con Experience is more about who you are with. Rather than who you are going to see. Friends that interested in the same things as you. Make any experience more enjoyable. I did enjoy reading your Blog.