The Sciences

Comic Con: Name Dropping Part I

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJul 29, 2009 4:21 PM


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I am, in the end, a fan boy. Being at Comic Con was wonderful on many levels. Moderating two panels was terrific, and made me feel like a rock star. Hanging with friends is always cool, and the exhibit hall -- as large as a football field -- was mesmerizing and awesome. But I'm a fan boy. A lot of the folks deemed "celebrities" at Comic Con have produced something that has meaning to me. Sometimes, sure, it's fluff, and other times it has depth. Either way, it has affected me, and I know it has others as well. That's why I want to point out a few people I was able to connect with. I fully admit that at some level this is name dropping, but that implies wanting to bask in reflected glow, but in this case I think it's more of a tribute to people who have affected me. If you still feel squeamish about this, then I suggest going elsewhere for a while. First off, I want to thank everyone who came up and talked with me. One of the best parts of going to these conventions is meeting everyone. Skepticism is a tough, tough fight, and so a show of support from people means the world to me. Without that it's like watching a tsunami plow over you. Knowing so many people have my back is heartening. I know where I rank on the Comic Con Scale, so it was very flattering when people came up to me to shake my hand or tell me they liked the books and the blog. And if they didn't they didn't tell me, and for that I'm grateful as well. Next, hanging with the Mythbusters was invigorating. That show has done more for spreading skeptical and scientific thinking than anything I have ever been able to do, so it was an honor to be a part of it, even tangentially. I rarely get a chance to see My Close Personal Friend Adam Savage™ because he's so busy, but he's a good man and any time with him is better than none.

Walking the exhibit floor was surreal. We stumbled on Naoko Mori and John Barrowman from Torchwood, a Doctor Who spinoff and something that seems to have really found its footing recently. It was a monster pleasure to meet the guys from Rifftrax --Michael Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy, late of MST3K, the men who kept me sane during grad school. Meeting them (and holy crap, Veronica Belmont, who was live-riffing with them!) was amazing. I also got a chance to talk to DC Comics writer Gail Simone, a woman made of win with whom I have exchanged emails many times but never seen before in meat space. She was terrific, as was her husband. I was able to see Wil Wheaton for a few minutes, and he is as warm and wonderful as always, sustaining my man crush at least until we meet again. I have to give two special shout outs. One goes to Brea Grant, who is adorable and wonderful and let us tag along to a weird Hollywood-like party where we got lunch and free hats. The other goes to Zach Weiner who pens Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, my favorite web comic. It's skeptical and snarky and scientific, and after our mutual treacly admiration for each other was complete, he gave me a signed copy of one of my favorite cartoons. Awesome. Put him in your feed reader now. Saturday night was the swanky Entertainment Weekly/SyFy Channel party. I was able to get in due to the yeoman's work of a friend I won't name so that (s)he won't get inundated by requests from other riffraff like me. But I will thank this person right here, because that party was incredible. One of the first people I saw was Felicia Day, star of Dr. Horrible, and the web video phenom The Guild. She was clearly the Belle of the Comic Con Ball and I was thrilled she was at the party. She had just announced that Wil Wheaton was joining the cast of The Guild that day, which filled me with glee. I got a chance to chat with her for a few minutes, which was too cool. She's very sweet and approachable. And then Alan Tudyk walked up! I leaned over to Felicia and said "Introduce me!" and lo, she did.

Squa. Wee. He didn't know me from anyone else, and I saw him getting his picture taken with lots of other fans, but geez, Alan Tudyk! Wash! His role on Firefly was simply amazing, and seeing him was an honest thrill. I was star struck quite a bit, but I think the best fun was talking to so many writers. My people! I was gratified to find out how many would admit to working without pants on, a time-honored tradition. I talked with a whole pile of writers from "Warehouse 13" and other shows, which was too much fun. I heard stories of science gone wrong, production gone wrong, writing gone wrong. That was fun, and made me realize that blogging is not so ignoble as some would have you believe. One thing that was particularly cool was that I got a chance to chat for several minutes with Anna Torv from "Fringe", who was just as nice and open as she could be. I had been keeping my eyes open for her during the whole convention, because she was the voice and model for the main character for the video game Heavenly Sword, which my daughter The Little Astronomer loves. TLA had drawn a picture of the character (I know she's my daughter, but I have to say she's quite a talented artist) which I had carried around the whole time Just In Case. I asked, and Ms. Torv graciously signed it, which sent TLA into heaven when I brought home the drawing. I found Ms. Torv to be a real person, something to be cherished in Hollywood. And the night went on. I wound up dancing a bit with Felicia and -- I kid you not -- Joss Whedon. I walked past Hayden Panettiere, who threw herself on me... oh wait, no, she ignored me completely. That's right, I remember now. So much for that. Eventually, it was time to go. I started making the rounds, saying goodbye to old friends and new ones I had just made. I was just about ready to leave, when who do I see... but Seth MacFarlane. Holy Haleakala! He created "Family Guy", and is an outspoken skeptic! I decided to press my rock star status that evening, and walked right up to introduce myself. I said I was President of the JREF, and that we were very, very big fans of his. He responded, "I love James Randi! I'm an outspoken skeptic!" and I said, "Yes, we're very very big fans of yours," which got a laugh (I made Seth MacFarlane laugh! Aiiieee!). And then he agreed to get a picture with me:

At that point I had to leave for sure, as it was well past 1:30 and I had to be alive the next day. Reluctantly I headed out, knowing the day was done. So that was my day of rock stardom and a chance to make contact with people I truly respect and admire... except I've left off one thing, a small thing really, but it's enough to get its own post. So stay tuned for Part II.

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