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.

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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.

SDCC 2015 Wrap-Up – Day 3

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Saturday was once again an early morning. I had the idea in me to go for the Agents of SHIELD signing, meaning I had to get in early for the exhibit hall line. Once in Sails, I was in the 4th line, thinking that was pretty good. WRONG! By the time I got down to the Marvel booth, the line was already capped. How does everybody get down there so fast?! Lesson learned: don’t try to go for autograph signings at the Marvel booth. I think I stood a better chance had I gone to the FOX ticket drawing for the Salem signing instead, but oh well. I wasn’t in a total rush to get anywhere, so I stuck around Marvel anyways and waited until the Agent Carter signing to catch another glimpse of Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy.

The Last Man on Earth panel (L-R): Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, EP Chris Miller

The Last Man on Earth panel
(L-R): Moderator Kristin Dos Santos, Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, EP Chris Miller

After about 10 minutes at the signing, I made my way over to Indigo Ballroom and caught the second half of the Last Man on Earth panel. The show was definitely one of the surprises of last season, and was weirdly funny. When you’ve got Will Forte and Kristin Schaal as the leads, plus January Jones doing comedy, you’ve got to expect that the show is slightly offbeat. Now like I said before, I caught the panel halfway through, so it was a shock to me that there was no time for fan questions. What did they even do for the first half then? And has anyone else seen this happen before at Con?

Childhood's End panel (L-R): Julian McMahon, Daisy Betts, Yael Stone, director Nick Hurran, writer Matthew Graham

Childhood’s End panel
(L-R): Julian McMahon, Daisy Betts, Yael Stone, director Nick Hurran, writer Matthew Graham

Next up was the panel for Syfy’s Childhood’s End. The miniseries is based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel of the same name, and deals with an alien invasion that leads to a kind of utopia on Earth. I’ve never read the book, so I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. Charles Dance, Mike Vogel, Julian McMahon, Daisy Betts, Yael Stone, and Georgina Haig are among the cast. It’s a miniseries that will air in December, so not like there’s a whole lot to commit to; if I remember, I’ll check it out.

12 MONKEYS panel! (L-R): Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo, Barbara Sukowa, Emily Hampshire, Todd Stashwick, EP Terry Matalas, EP Travis Fickett

12 MONKEYS panel!
(L-R): Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Kirk Acevedo, Barbara Sukowa, Emily Hampshire, Todd Stashwick, EP Terry Matalas, EP Travis Fickett

Then it was time for my #1 panel of the day (maybe the whole Con): 12 MONKEYS! It’s obviously one of favourite new shows, with some of my favourite people, and I was just SO EXCITED that they were coming to SDCC this year, after passing on it last year. I somehow lucked out and managed to find a spot in the first row of Indigo, though to be fair there was still like 10 feet of space between that first row and the stage, so it was close but not SUPER close. It was great hearing from the EPs and the cast talk about what they’re looking forward to for the second season and what we the audience can expect following the events of the season one finale. EPs Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett tried their best to give us an idea of what they’re planning without getting too spoilery, while the cast (including new series regulars Barbara Sukowa, Emily Hampshire, and Todd Stashwick) mused about some of their favourite lines from season one. No surprise, everyone pretty much loved anything Emily aka Jennifer Goines said. There was also a funny moment where Barbara was just talking about time and space on the show, everyone is listening intently, and then she went “I have no idea what I’m talking about.” You just want to believe everything Barbara says, as if she actually is Jones; doesn’t matter if it makes no sense, the way she says it, sounds like total truth.

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During the Q&A portion, I was going back and forth thinking about whether or not I wanted to ask a question. I had a question ready; it’s just me and public speaking is ehhhhh. So in a moment of “Ahh f**k this, I’m doing it!” (not unlike 2 years ago), I made my way to the microphone…and once again, made a fool of myself by not getting my words out properly, as I wanted to say them.

What I Meant to Say: “Hi! I’m Thi from Toronto. Also the one who’s incessantly and probably annoyingly tweeting your praises all the time. Been such a huge supporter of you guys, since the very beginning, because you are some of my favourite people who have worked on some of my favourite shows/movies like Nikita, Fringe, Center Stage – and in consideration of that, I wanted to know if you guys have a wishlist of guest stars that might include your former co-stars?”

What I Actually Said (more or less): “Hi I’m Thi. Umm I’m from Toronto…I’m the one who’s incessantly and annoyingly tweeting you all the time…[They asked me my Twitter handle and then said “Oh yeah, sure!” like they knew, but probably don’t because it’s Twitter, and we don’t have the Twitter relationship I think we have lol] Umm…sorry, I’m nervous… umm it’s just that it’s rare that people who worked on an old favourite show, Nikita, is now doing my new favourite show. So in the spirit of that, I wanted to know if you had a wishlist of guest stars you want for the show, maybe like your former co-stars…?”

A lady who was sitting next to me was kind enough to take a pic of me asking a question (and making a fool of myself)

A lady who was sitting next to me was kind enough to take a pic of me asking a question (and making a fool of myself)

Amanda, taking the cue as I just meant Nikita, passed it to Aaron, who talked about how great it was to work with Noah Bean again, and having Xander Berkeley be on the show for a couple episodes, even though they didn’t share any scenes together. Then Aaron talked about how Travis and Terry have been kinda sorta talking with Shane, so maybe something will come out of that. Great answer from Aaron. I did want to hear Kirk talk about his Fringe co-stars as well, and just hear Amanda talk about Center Stage (just because it’s one of my favourite movies) or Suits, but obviously that didn’t come out in my question, so fail. Yeah, note to self for next time I might want to ask a question: WRITE IT DOWN.

Agents of SHIELD signing at the Marvel booth! Total craziness.

Agents of SHIELD signing at the Marvel booth! Total craziness!

So after the panel, I made my way back to the convention center, took a little time and once again made my way to the Marvel booth, in anticipation for the SHIELD autograph signing. After that debacle in the morning, I still wanted to stick around to see the cast, instead of attempting to go to Ballroom 20 for the Grimm and Outlander panels. I am so glad I was there. Sure, it was a long time standing around in that crowd of craziness, especially since they were running late, but the cast was just so nice to the fans. Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennet being at the end of the table, kept going down to sign autographs for people in the audience whenever they had like 30 seconds. And even after they were done signing for all the people who got the tickets, the entire cast went down and signed/took pictures for as many people as they could on their way out. Needless to say, I got lucky and managed to get autographs from Iain De Caestecker, Henry Simmons, Chloe, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Ming-Na Wen! (I suck at taking selfies, so wasn’t going to try and get pics with them.)

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My final stop for this busy day was the panel for Salem! Just to see Shane West obviously…and the rest of the cast too. The biggest question going into the panel was whether the show was coming back for another season, and straight out of the gate, EPs Brannon Braga and Adam Simon announced that WGN had indeed renewed the show for season 3! I don’t talk about it much, but let me tell you, this is a bat-shit crazy show and I so thoroughly enjoy it. Most of the talk about S3 was focused on fates of the characters on the show, following the crazy events of the season 2 finale. They also threw out some ideas of what they were looking at moving on with the series, namely other witch covens that might pose a threat to our Salem witches, but they do still want to focus on our main characters.

SALEM panel (L-R): Shane West, Janet Montgomery, Ashley Madekwe, EP Brannon Braga, EP Adam Simon, Seth Gabel, Elise Eberle, Iddo Goldberg

SALEM panel
(L-R): Moderator Eric Goldman, Shane West, Janet Montgomery, Ashley Madekwe, EP Brannon Braga, EP Adam Simon, Seth Gabel, Elise Eberle, Iddo Goldberg

I did contemplate asking the same question to the Salem cast, as I did the 12 Monkeys cast, but before I got to my “Ahh f**k it!” moment, someone beat me to it! Saved me from looking like a total dork in front of Shane…again lol. The EPs contemplated the idea, saying that there are witches everywhere, so maybe they can try to work Maggie into the show. Good answer! You know me, always there for my Nikita cast!

DSCN2104DSCN2069I had every intention to attempt and make my way into Hall H for the WB/DC TV panel, because of how much I adore the casts of Arrow and The Flash, plus I wanted to see Victor Garber (forever known to me as Jack Bristow aka Spy Daddy!) However, by the time the Salem panel was done, I was so tired and hungry, I just couldn’t. Plus, I felt bad that I hadn’t even had a chance to have dinner with my other cousins who made the trip to SD as well. Family bonding time won out.

5 Fandom Friday: 5 Times I Totally Fangirled

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I was actually already planning a post about celeb encounters when Megan (The Nerdy Girlie) and Kristin (Super Space Chick) released the Fandom 5 topics for this month. Perfect! Now, I’ve always prided myself in not COMPLETELY fangirling when I’ve met people whom I admire. Part of that has to do with the fact that I’m kinda sorta socially awkward, so I have trouble talking to my own friends sometimes, let alone celebs. Also, I try my best not to embarrass myself too much; it’s hard, but I try. Regardless of that, there have been multiple instances where that truly fangirl side of me comes out, meaning my awkwardness comes out and it gets hard for me to form proper sentences. My version of “totally fangirling” is getting so nervous I act like a total dork.

1.) SDCC 2013 – Final Nikita Panel

I’ve documented this in a previous post, but essentially I got up the nerve to go ask my favourite people in the world a question at their final panel. Just my luck, someone in front of me asked pretty much the question I was going to ask, and I had to think of another question on the spot. So much pressure! If you watch the video, you can probably hear exactly how nervous I was.

2.) SDCC 2014 – Meeting Shane West

Meeting Shane West after the Behind the Music panel?! AHHHH!!!! Comic-Con trip made!

Again, I already posted about this. To recap, I went to the panel Shane West was moderating and was determined to meet him afterwards. Tried my damned hardest to keep my fangirliness in check.

3.) SYTYCD Tours

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I love SYTYCD and for seasons 3-8, I actually went to the tour. For all the shows except one, I stayed after the show and waited to meet the dancers (because I found out early on that they did this, and I went with people who were willing to wait with me). Season 3 I met Lauren Gottlieb, was pretty calm. Season 4 I met Chelsie, Comfort, Courtney, Kherington, Joshua and Katee; it was when I met Katee that I nerded out a bit mentioning that I was a fan of hers from Paris By Night (and I think I embarrassed her a little bit by bringing it up). I skipped season 5 (it was too cold to wait). The season 6+7 tour I met Kathryn, Robert, Kent, Lauren, Ade, and Allison. Allison is one of my favourite dancers and I was so bummed that I missed the season 2 tour, so I was SO EXCITED to meet her. To be honest, I actually don’t remember much of the interaction because of how excited/nervous I was, except for asking her about tWitch (who was there at the show, but not performing), and then later on finding out that they had actually started dating (and now married)! Then the season 8 tour I met Marko, Melanie, Tadd, Caitlynn, and Nick. I definitely fangirled meeting Marko because he’s totally my dancer crush, and again I had to mention PBN, which I think caught him completely off-guard.

4.) FanExpo 2013

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I know I’m repeating myself again, but gosh, all these Cons are what dreams are made of. Saw Stephen Amell twice and acted like it was no big deal both times. 15 minutes after meeting Stephen (the first time), I met Gina Torres and could barely form a complete sentence. I met Piper Perabo and Peter Gallagher at the Covert Affairs signing. With Piper, I was my usual awkward self, not really sure what to say. With Peter, I managed to get in the fact that I loved Center Stage and The O.C., and have a proper interaction with him. It’s times like this that I don’t know how my brain processes being a fangirl.

5.) General Reaction to Awesome Events/News

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Sometimes, I’m at my most fangirliest when I hear good news. That means if my favourite TV shows get renewed, particularly if they’re on the bubble (which let’s be honest, applies to 75% of the shows I watch), I’m screaming and doing a happy dance. Favourite music artists going on tour and stopping into Toronto? Ditto. My favourite music artists teaming up to do a tour (like in 2013, when Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson toured together)? FUCK YES!