September Recap, Part 2: TIFF 2016

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Earlier this summer, I was planning on skipping TIFF altogether because my sister was expecting around the same time, and I knew it was just going to be a really crazy time. And then they started rolling out film announcements. The first wave they announced was already full of films I really wanted to see and just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see them early. So I made the conscious decision to still go to TIFF, but not in the same way that I’ve been doing it the past few years. What I normally did was buy the TIFF Choice Premium Package, which had the TIFF programmers pick 3 premiere movies for me to attend. Sometimes I’d get lucky and got a movie I actually wanted to see; most times I’d get movies that weren’t necessarily high on my list, and sometimes they were at really odd times. Anyways, so instead of going that route, I opted to buy the 10-pack Flex Package, which meant forgoing the Premieres for tickets to regular screenings. The upside to the Flex Pack was getting to choose my films before the single tickets went on sale, which was a blessing because the new system TIFF implemented to get tickets was really confusing.

So between my Flex Package, my friend handling single ticket sales, and checking the websites for additional tickets at 7 AM, I ended up getting tickets to 11 movies. That’s right. ELEVEN. In all my years of going to TIFF, this was a record for me, especially considering my time/travel constraints. But that’s what happened and I don’t regret it at all, because I got to see some really good movies.

Colossal was a weird movie. Good, but weird. Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, the movie stars Anne Hathaway as a woman who moves back to her hometown to get her life back together, and suddenly figures out she somehow controls a monster in Japan. Like I said, weird. Yet somehow it works.

For the second screening of COLOSSAL, there was no appearance from stars Anne Hathaway or Jason Sudeikis. But we got writer/director Nacho Vigalondo and supporting actor Austin Stowell.

For the second screening of COLOSSAL, there was no appearance from stars Anne Hathaway or Jason Sudeikis. But we got writer/director Nacho Vigalondo and supporting actor Austin Stowell.

ARQ is a sci-fi movie, that’s just totally right up my alley. Even though I knew it was going to be on Netflix, literally the week after I saw the movie, I still wanted to see it on the big screen. Also I was really hoping to see Robbie Amell again, despite the fact that it was a second screening; lucky for me, he was there! The movie was written and directed by Tony Elliott, who is also a writer on Orphan Black, which is a plus right there. Robbie Amell and Rachael Taylor star as a couple who find themselves in a time loop. That’s the very simplified version of it, but it really is such a well-crafted script that puts a nice twist to the already complex idea of a time loop. Definitely one of my favourites from the fest. Like I said, already on Netflix, check it out!

ARQ writer/director Tony Elliott, and of course, star Robbie Amell

ARQ writer/director Tony Elliott, and of course, star Robbie Amell

Moonlight is such an understated but powerful movie, chronicling the life of a man at three points in his life: as a kid, a teenager, and an adult. The movie deals with what it means to be a gay African-American male in Miami, struggling with definitions of masculinity and identity. It was just so well done, on so many levels. This is the type of movie that needs to be seen and talked about. A bit heavy for a 9 AM screening (as I had done) but completely worth it. I fully expect Oscar nods for writer/director Barry Jenkins, and some of the cast. With the main character being played by three different actors, categorization gets a little complicated, but Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris need to be nominated in Supporting. The movie is slowly getting released in theatres, so go watch it when you have a chance!

I was truly not expecting to see the cast during this second screening and at 9 A.M! But it was certainly a welcome surprise. L-R: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, writer/director Barry Jenkins

I was truly not expecting to see the cast during this second screening and at 9 A.M! But it was certainly a welcome surprise.
L-R: Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, writer/director Barry Jenkins

Queen of Katwe (which is already out in theatres) centers around the true life story of a Ugandan chess prodigy named Phiona. I honestly don’t understand chess. The movie though is truly inspiring, with great performances from newcomer Madina Nalwanga, who certainly holds her own opposite Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. Not gonna lie, I teared up towards the end.

I honest to goodness was going to wait until SING! came out in theatres (around Christmas time), so I could take my nieces to go see it. But when you find out the all-star voice cast of the movie, including the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Scarlett Johansson, are going to be in town to attend the premiere, you go! And that’s exactly what happened! The movie itself, which is about a theatre owner putting together a singing competition to help revive his theatre, was pretty darn adorable. Bonus was getting a short set from Tori Kelly and Jennifer Hudson after the screening, performing a few songs from the movie.

SING! Premiere! L-R: Jennifer Hudson, Nick Kroll, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey

SING! Premiere! Look at all those beautiful people!
L-R: Jennifer Hudson, Nick Kroll, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey

OH. MY. GOD. LA LA LAND! I heard the hype and praise. I obviously wanted to see it because Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a musical was enough to sell me on it. I was bummed when the premiere and subsequent screenings were during the week. But then, TIFF did me a solid and added more screenings, one of which was on a Saturday, meaning I immediately swapped one of my other movies for it. And man, it was just SOOOOO GOOOOOOOD!!! I left the screening singing “City of Stars” and just the biggest smile on my face, despite the rain that day. I can’t wait until December to go see it again, not to mention get my hands on that soundtrack!

Another film based on a true story, Brain on Fire centers on Susannah Cahalan, a New York Post journalist who suffered through a month of various health issues that went misdiagnosed by various doctors, before she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. It’s certainly a challenging feat to not only do right by Cahalan’s real life story, but also present the medical side of things without making it seem like an episode of House. Director Gerard Barrett struck the right balance in adapting Cahalan’s book, and Chloe Grace Moretz, who played Cahalan, found herself in one of her best roles to date. It was informative and eye-opening, but also a bit scary to think of the struggles that Cahalan and her family went through in that time period.

I had been waiting so anxiously to see Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, the concert documentary from renowned director Jonathan Demme, shot during the last two dates of The 20/20 Experience Tour in Las Vegas. When they had initially filmed, I just thought it was going to be released on DVD just like other concert movies. When they announced it as screening at TIFF, I was surprised but then figured it was probably more documentary than concert. When I saw it, I realized it was pretty much the concert I had seen in person, minus one hour, and it was still WONDERFUL! Of course, what the film really showcased was not just JT, but also all the dancers, band members, back-up singers (aka The Tennessee Kids), and even the crew members who worked so hard to literally put the show together. And watching it again on the big screen, with the surround sound? It felt like I was there again, and all I wanted to do was get up, dance and sing along.

Burn Your Maps centers on an 8-year-old boy named Wes (played by the ever adorable Jacob Tremblay), who is convinced that he was born in the wrong place and is supposed to be a Mongolian goat-herder. His tenacity and beliefs pushes him and his mother (played by Vera Farmiga) to go on a journey to Mongolia and find themselves. It’s a unique story to say the least, and I certainly found myself enjoying the film quite a bit.

Blue Jay turned out to be a movie that was both something I normally wouldn’t have chosen to go see in theatres, but also something that I have been drawn to lately. It stars Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass as ex-high school sweethearts, who run into each other when they return to their old hometown. The movie plays out with them reconnecting, with a sense of nostalgia. Shown in black and white, it gives off a feeling of an old home movie and you’re not sure what’s going to happen with these two (while you also wonder when they’ll reveal why they broke up 20 years ago). It felt almost too personal, like you’re intruding on this reunion, but even if you haven’t gone through it yourself, it made you connect with them.

My last movie of the festival was Arrival. I love Amy Adams, like Jeremy Renner, and have become quite the fan of Denis Villeneuve’s work that I really wanted to see this before it gets released in November. Adams plays Louise, a linguist, who along with Renner’s scientist Ian, is tasked with helping the army to communicate with a group of creatures that have appeared in spacecrafts in 12 places around the world. I don’t want to even attempt to explain more, in fear that I might spoil it. Trust me though, it’s a smart sci-fi drama, and definitely worth your time.

So all in all, it was yet another great year at TIFF. Was I a little bummed that I didn’t get to do my premiere screenings like I normally do? A little bit. But honestly, it became a nice reminder of why I liked going to TIFF – the movies…and of course, getting to be among the some of the first people to see a movie. The movies are what it’s all about though.

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September Recap, Part 1: Volunteering at Fan Expo

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Fan Expo occurred over the Labour Day weekend, and for the third year in a row, I came back as a volunteer. Being how busy my weeks are, I once again could only commit to working Saturday/Sunday. As a volunteer, it’s mandatory that we do four shifts during the Con, so I ended up pulling double shifts for the weekend. For the past two years I got assigned to work Volunteer Registration, which in the end really meant that I was a Floater and worked wherever I was needed. I didn’t mind it, honestly, and I was fully expecting to be there again this year. But then assignments came and I found out I got moved to Autographs! I was f**king excited! I mean I knew I was gonna be dead tired by the end of it, but didn’t matter. Because despite having to work all weekend, I still got to see most of the celebrity guests, and got to work with some of them. Well, work with the celebs, really means working with the handlers/agents who work with them. But still, close proximity!

I got to work Gillian Anderson’s line on Saturday. When she left, I got to work Katie Cassidy’s line, which was in between Danielle Panabaker and John Barrowman, so I got to see all three of them. On Sunday, I worked the lines for Jewel Staite, who brought her husband and adorable baby boy as well. Getting to work Jewel’s line was pretty awesome, because her and her handler were just so great to work with. But also, on the one side of Jewel’s booth was Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Ben McKenzie; on the other side, Mark Hamill. Like I said, AWESOME.

Despite all the craziness and busyness of the weekend, volunteers were still allowed to enjoy their time. That meant if there was a photo-op or autograph we wanted to get, or even a panel we wanted to go to that fell during our shift, our Team Leaders/Coordinators were very accommodating. Working in Autographs, it was easy to get them, as long as we paid for them like everybody else. We were told not to straight up ask the celebs for a free autograph, ESPECIALLY while we’re on shift, because it makes the volunteers look bad and we’re all (including the celebs) there to work. And honestly, it’s understandable. So with that being said, even with double shifts, I managed to do a photo-op with Hayley Atwell, and got autographs from Ben McKenzie and Charlie Cox.

I had never done a photo-op at a Con before, but I’ve always known that it goes really quickly. So it barely even registered that I met Hayley. Walked into the photo-op area, quick “Hi!” to Hayley, took the picture, and out. It was barely 10 seconds. Enough time for a not great picture (there’s a reason I hadn’t done photo-ops, I just generally don’t like taking pictures), but not enough time for me to get awkward.

During a bit of a lull while on shift and kind of close to the end of the show, I went over to get Ben McKenzie’s autograph. And guys, I totally forgot how much of a crush I had on Ryan Atwood! I mean every time he walked over to his booth, I’d have a stupid smile on my face. Then when I actually went up to get his autograph, I couldn’t even get anything O.C.-related to come out of my mouth. It was the standard pleasantries: “Hi, how are you? Are you enjoying your time here in Toronto?” I was just total fangirling! Ben, for what’s it worth, was just so nice and thanked me as a volunteer for the hard work we put in over the weekend.

By 4:30 Sunday, the majority of the celebs were done and gone, and it was then just a matter of cleaning up the booths. So after cleaning up and such, I was pretty much done my shift before the Con was even over. I looked over and saw Charlie Cox was still signing autographs, and he stayed there until the very end. I was just hanging around at that point, and impulsively decided to get Charlie’s autograph. End of the day, not much of a line, whatever. Anyways, when I got up to meet Charlie, he read and mispronounced my name, which happens all the time, so I just waved it off and said “It’s T.” Charlie being adorable was like, “Oh, sorry! T? I love tea! I drink it all the time. Because you know, I’m English.” It was cute, especially with the accent; I fangirled, obviously. And then, even after he got through signing for everybody that was left, I don’t know for sure how it was instigated, but he was about to leave and then came back to take a group picture with a few fans (and us volunteers that were still hanging around lol). I am still looking for that picture.

It was such a busy weekend, but my third year volunteering turned out to be the best year so far. Working the autograph lines was such a fun experience, tiring as it was, though so completely worth it. My only hope is that I get to do it again next year!

Fall TV 2016: What I’m Watching

The new TV season is officially upon us! Now, at the beginning of the year, the Canadian TV companies officially converted everything over to digital, so I’ve basically been without cable all year. No cable meant me watching everything online, after the fact. Also, with my busy schedule that’s going to keep on for some time, I don’t have the time that I used to to watch everything. So basically with this new TV season, I am trying to be super picky about what shows I’m devoting my time to. So what returning shows am I still sticking with this fall? And which new shows are on my list to check out?

MONDAYS

  • Supergirl
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Conviction [NEW]

Despite Supergirl‘s move to the CW, my Monday nights stay firmly in tact. Hayley Atwell’s American accent might take some getting used to, but I’m all in for Conviction. I also intend on watching DWTS, but that’s been relegated to YouTube video status – I don’t have the time to watch the full telecast.

TUESDAYS

  • Fresh Off the Boat
  • Agents of SHIELD
  • The Flash
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • No Tomorrow [NEW]*
  • This Is Us [NEW]*
  • The Mindy Project

Tuesdays, still full. I’m not so sure how much I’ll like No Tomorrow or This Is Us, but I’m very much willing to give it a chance. Everything else is just returning shows.

WEDNESDAYS

  • Survivor
  • Arrow
  • Black-ish
  • Empire*
  • Designated Survivor [NEW]
  • Speechless [NEW]*
  • Frequency [NEW]*
  • Salem
  • You’re the Worst

How did Wednesdays become so full? I feel like I say that all the time, but it’s still true. Salem‘s not back until November, and You’re the Worst might be done by then, but I’m still not incredibly happy that Salem is adding to my Wednesday load. Season 2 of Empire was not great, so it’s on my list for now, in hopes that it gets back to what made it great in S1. Not sure about Speechless or Frequency, but willing to give it a shot.

THURSDAYS

  • Legends of Tomorrow*
  • Notorious [NEW]*
  • Pitch [NEW]
  • Superstore
  • The Good Place [NEW]
  • How to Get Away With Murder*

Pitch and The Good Place look really good. Haven’t heard great things about Notorious, but for Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata, I’m giving it a chance. Legends of Tomorrow was off and on for me last season; I’m hoping it gets into a consistent creative flow in S2. As for How to Get Away With Murder? I feel like it went off the rails in S2, that I’m not even entirely sure I want to watch S3. If the first episode gives me a compelling reason to watch, then I’ll stick to it; otherwise, it’s getting the axe from me.

FRIDAYS

Ummm, with the final season of Grimm being relegated to midseason, I’ve got nothing. Catch-up day it is.

SUNDAYS

  • Last Man on Earth
  • Quantico*
  • Westworld [NEW]*

Quantico started off so well, and yet somewhere along the way, it became a soap opera mess. I desperately want it to do better in S2, but if it becomes ridiculous, it’s getting cut too. I don’t know much about Westworld, though it does look interesting, so give it a chance I will.

Starting off the season with 28 shows. How many will stay on my watch list by midseason? I guess we’ll just wait and see.

2016 Emmy Picks

The Emmys are tonight! Now, in recent years, I haven’t watched 75% of the shows that are nominated, which makes watching the awards kinda pointless. Unlike the Tony Awards, wherein I’ve never seen any of the Broadway shows, at least I have the amazing performances from those shows to make the telecast entertaining. I still like watching the Emmys nonetheless. I may not be the best barometer for what’s the best on TV, because we really are in a period of “Peak TV” and so many options. But I know what I watch, what I like, and what I think is deserving of some Emmy love. With that being said, here are my predictions/personal picks for who I think will come out on top.

OUTSTANDING COMEDY

  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Veep

Should Win: Black-ish
Will Win: Veep

Of the 7 nominees, I actually watched 4 of them. (Yay!) My personal pick to win is Black-ish, because it has been so consistently funny, all the while tackling African-American issues/subject matters that is still relatable. I’ll admit to not having watched Veep, but I hear it’s good, and it did win the category last year. If I had my way though, the nominees would’ve included Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, and You’re the Worst; but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA

  • The Americans
  • Better Call Saul
  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Mr. Robot

Should Win: The Americans
Will Win: Game of Thrones

Again, if I had my way, I would’ve liked to see 12 Monkeys, Outlander, and Suits nominated. However, we live in a world where three of the nominees are just safe repeats. But hey! At least, The Americans FINALLY got nominated!! And also good on Mr. Robot for getting a nomination (even though I couldn’t get into it.) I feel like the predictable choice to win is Game of Thrones, if only for the Emmys to say, “Hey! Last year was no fluke! We like genre shows!…(…But only if they’re on HBO)”

LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  • Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Laurie Metcalf, Getting On
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
  • Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

Should Win: Tracee Ellis Ross
Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

JLD will almost certainly continue to reign in this category. I mean, if Amy Poehler can’t pull off a win for playing Leslie Knope, I’m not sure how anybody else can beat JLD. The best chance is with Ross, who completely owns her role as Bow, and doesn’t play a stereotypical mom. The only other true contender I think would be Kemper, who definitely added layers to her bright-eyed Kimmy in season 2. You have no idea however, how mad I was to see the likes of Gina Rodriguez, Constance Wu, and Aya Cash not get nominated for their work (Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, You’re the Worst – respectively).

LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  • Anthony Anderson, black-ish
  • Aziz Ansari, Master of None
  • Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth
  • William H Macy, Shameless
  • Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Should Win: Anthony Anderson
Will Win: Jeffrey Tambor

Again, the odds on favourite to win is Tambor, much like JLD. I however would like to see Anderson sneak in a win. Anderson has finally found a role that works for him. As Dre, Anderson is equal parts loving husband and father, but also a goofball dad.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

  • Anna Chlumsky, Veep
  • Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Judith Light, Transparent
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
  • Niecy Nash, Getting On

Should Win: Kate McKinnon
Will Win: Allison Janney

Oh look, 6 nominees and the only show I actually watch is SNL, and even that I don’t watch all the time. But we all know McKinnon is an absolute treasure, committing to all the characters/skits that get thrown her way on the show. That being said, the Emmys love Allison Janney (I don’t blame them) so I expect her to repeat win. Her next closest competitor I feel is Judith Light. I don’t know what it is, but I have the sense that she could potentially beat Janney.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY

  • Louie Anderson, Baskets
  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Titus Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Tony Hale, Veep
  • Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
  • Matt Walsh, Veep

Should Win: Andre Braugher
Will Win: Tony Hale

I don’t understand how Braugher has yet to win in this category, for playing the best straight man/gay cop ever on a comedy series. Burrell’s time has come and gone (Modern Family just isn’t what it used to be). If Veep continues its streak, Hale will probably win once again

LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  • Clare Danes, Homeland
  • Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
  • Taraji P. Henson, Empire
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Keri Russell, The Americans
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

Should Win: Tatiana Maslany
Will Win: ????

This is a stacked category. These may be the nominees, but you could arguably come up with a whole other list with the likes of Shiri Appleby, Hayley Atwell, Caitriona Balfe, Krysten Ritter, Amanda Schull, and Kerry Washington, and they’d be just as deserving. I think Maslany should win, hands down, because hello?! She plays how many clones? Each of them are completely different from one another; so different in fact that you forget that they’re all played by Maslany. And if for some reason Maslany doesn’t win, the only next logical option is Russell, because this nomination was just way overdue. Ultimately, who will win? I don’t know. Davis might repeat, or Henson could take it, so the Emmys don’t get put through the wringer about minority wins. But how can you deny Maslany and her many clones??!!

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  • Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
  • Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys, The Americans
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Should Win: Matthew Rhys
Will Win: ???

Once again, another question mark as to who will win. Last year’s winner, Jon Hamm, is obviously not in the mix anymore, leaving the race pretty wide open. Might voters recognize Spacey’s work, despite many calling season 3 to be incredibly weak? Could new nominee Matthew Rhys (who is finally getting recognized) pull off a win?! I sure hope so!

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA

  • Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
  • Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
  • Dame Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
  • Maura Tierney, The Affair
  • Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
  • Constance Zimmer, UnREAL

Should Win: Maura Tierney
Will Win: Maura Tierney

I think the three GoT actresses will split the vote, and Dame Maggie Smith has already won multiple times, so (for me at least), it comes down to Tierney and Zimmer. First of all, so happy to see these two nominated. I personally think that Tierney stands a better chance at winning for her tough and layered role on The Affair. In all honesty, she (along with Joshua Jackson) really made season 2; the additional viewpoints from their characters were quite beneficial to the show. That’s not to say that Zimmer isn’t deserving, because she completely is. Zimmer’s Quinn can be a total bitch, but you can sometimes see the cracks in her facade.

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA

  • Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
  • Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
  • Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones
  • Michael Kelly, House of Cards
  • Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Should Win: ???
Will Win: ???

I watch none of these shows. I also didn’t get a single one of my dream nominees (James D’Arcy, Jesse L. Martin, Joshua Jackson, Jonathan Tucker) on the final list. So who should and will win? I really couldn’t tell you.

SDCC 2016: Doing the Con Without the Badge

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Admiring the Convention Center and all that was happening inside, while we tried to have fun outside of it

It was a sad day in November when my cousin and I failed to secure our SDCC badges during Pre-Reg. We felt even worse when we struck out again during Open Reg. Despite our bad luck, we decided to still head down to San Diego and partake in the off-site Con activities, with Nerd HQ being our main priority.

Even with our focus on Nerd HQ, if you’ve ever tried to get panel tickets for it, you know it’s almost as hard as getting actual Con badges. They go on sale and less than a minute later, they’re gone. Cousin and I couldn’t get tickets for the Zachary Levi panel, or Zac and Friends, or Orphan Black, and then somehow we FINALLY lucked out and got tickets for the Stephen Amell and Friends panel. So we set Friday as our day to wander downtown.

First on the agenda? Go see Star Trek Beyond. Yeah, we know, so much to do, so little time, but it’s Star Trek! During Comic-Con weekend! In San Diego! We weren’t gonna pass on that. So we went straight to Horton Plaza for the 10AM showing, and because everybody was busy doing actual Con stuff, we were maybe 2 of 10 people in that screening. For what it’s worth, it was a really fun and enjoyable action movie, with just the right amount of character building/drama to push it past some other mindless action movies.

Star Trek Beyond

Special postcard-size lithograph from the screening

After the movie, we had about two hours to check out all the stuff around the Convention Center, so we made our way down Gaslamp. Our objective was pretty much to get the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue (because duh, Wonder Woman/Gal Gadot on the cover), which we knew wasn’t going to be difficult, and get whatever free stuff we could get our hands on. Free Zico coconut water? Thank you for the much needed hydration on a hot day in San Diego! I would’ve liked to check out the Suicide Squad Belle Rive set-up and the NBC stuff at Tin Fish, but there were some hella lines going on and limited time. Had we not gone to see the movie, I definitely would’ve hit up Camp Conival just to check out the Nerdist panels (mainly to see the always wonderful Dark Matter cast) but I didn’t feel the need to go otherwise. It was a quick run through the Petco Interactive Zone, which seemed a little lacking this year, though maybe it was just that there was nothing that particularly interested us. The FXhibition was just whatever for me, seeing as how the only two shows I watch on the network are The Americans and You’re the Worst, both of which are not Con shows, so didn’t care for it. Ditto with the Adult Swim.

I think it’s always fun to check out the yachts docked behind the Convention Center, mainly because celebs make their way through to do interviews. But unless you’ve got insider info somehow, you don’t know who will be coming at any given time. A couple of years ago we caught some of the cast of The Walking Dead walk by. This year, we stuck around for all of 2 minutes and nearly bumped into Stan Lee!

A highlight of our short time around the Center was Con-X, the Entertainment Weekly off-site. It was located in the Embarcadero Marina Park, so it was quite a bit of a walk from the Center, meaning it wasn’t that busy. It might’ve been a little busier had we gotten there when they were doing interviews, but at that moment there wasn’t anything. Anyways, the free stuff was obviously the best part. Free Krispy Kreme donut, with a side of Power Rangers swag (posters, lanyards, pins)? Why, thank you! Free water? Again, thanks for keeping us hydrated! Free ice cream? That one came with an asterisk of having to take a picture with the Scream Queens people (not the cast) and sharing on social media (an annoying re-occurance). Really, you’re gonna make me work for the ice cream? I don’t even like the show, I just want the damn ice cream. PASS. Free t-shirts though?! YES PLEASE! Except there was a sizable line-up that we didn’t have time for, so unfortunately we also had to pass on that. So a good amount of free food, drinks, and swag – hope EW brings this back next year!

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Then it was onward to NerdHQ for the panel! When they announced the Stephen and Friends panel, I immediately just assumed that more of the Arrow cast was going to be there, but then I thought “Wouldn’t they just call it an Arrow panel then?” I followed up that thought with “What if he brings Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist?!” which didn’t happen. Instead, the “and Friends” part of the panel consisted of Emily Bett Rickards (YAYYYY!!), Cody Rhodes fka Stardust (amusing but meh), Arthur Darville, and a surprise appearance from John Barrowman. I’m not gonna go into detail about the panel because you can just watch it, but needless to say, it was pretty fun. Stuck around NerdHQ for the rest of the afternoon after the panel, in hopes of catching some Smiles for Smiles, but nothing happened so that was it for us.

Needless to say, it was a whirlwind day. It’s true, there is SO much going on in the downtown area outside of the convention center that it will keep you busy. But just like everything else, it all comes down to personal preference – not to mention how willing you are to wait for something. I mean sure, SDCC (or any other Con for that matter) is lovingly nicknamed Line Con, but when you’ve got one day, or in our case a couple hours, you gotta pick your battles.

BUT WAIT! My cousin didn’t get a chance to meet up with her friend on Friday to deliver some stuff, so we managed to squeeze in one more hour on Saturday! As luck would have it, in that hour that we were back downtown, somewhat close to NerdHQ, they announced separate Smiles for Smiles with Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). One of my other cousins got a picture with Kumail, while I ran in to get one of the last pictures with Scott. Even if it was for only like 20 seconds, at least I can say I finally got to meet Scott (Jason Street/George Tucker, y’all!) Regardless, my limited SDCC turned out to be a success!

Smiles for Smiles

So SDCC without the badge was fine, but just for the day. I guess if we had spent more than one day then we probably could’ve done more of the other stuff that required us standing in line for a long time. But honestly, being so close to the Convention Center and not being able to go inside was kinda brutal. I mean with all the panels and not getting to see some of my faves again? Harsh. I missed the final SDCC panel for Orphan Black (I’m certain I’ll still be able to see them at one of the Toronto cons at least). Missed DC TV, Agents of SHIELD, Luke Cage. I missed getting the chance to see my Nikita people again – Shane West for Salem, and even Maggie Q came back this year promoting Designated Survivor! I MISSED SEEING ANNA KENDRICK AND JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (there for the Trolls portion of the Dreamworks panel)! I’m not entirely sure I’d want to put myself through that again if I don’t get badges again next time. It’s one thing to suffer serious FOMO when you’re at home, but when you’re so close to the action and not at the same time? I don’t think my fangirl heart can take it.