Monday, September 8, 2014

Con-Man: Salt Lake City Round Up

Saturday was a short day where we hoped to get Danny Glover's photo, see Simon Helberg and maybe Stephen Amell before doing a last walk of the floor for any unseen swag.  We breezed on in the door with our Gold passes and I headed for Photo Ops where a very small line was formed.  I'm not one for paying to interact with celebrities but I hadn't spent much at the show and I had a significant discount so I figured what the hey, it'll make for a funny Christmas card.  Danny Glover has always been an actor I've enjoyed, especially in the Lethal Weapon series and Predator 2 where his clap in Gary Busey's face actually saved a rude asshole and his rude asshole assistant one day at work when I was ready to beat up an old man and his underling. 

After a few minutes on the floor we realized we'd seen everything the day before so we headed to Simon Helberg from The Big Bang Theory's panel.  An announcer/organizer type came out several times to pump up the crowd with bad jokes and asked us to scoot in to make room for people coming in.  Compared to the light hearted fun of Alan Tudyk and emotional frankness of Manu Bennett from Friday, Helberg's panel was a bit awkward and got pretty old.  Sure I've seen the show he's famous for but I'm not exactly it's biggest fan.  More than one question was in regards to guest stars and all I could think about was the BS fact that they're all supposed Flash fans but John Wesley Shipp from CBS' own The Flash television show never guest starred.  Also, there wasn't an introduction per se, whereas Manu Bennett can have a quick sizzle reel of action pieces, Helberg's clip consisted of him telling jokes without audio.  He seemed like a nice guy but the moderator didn't do much to prep the crowd and talk about Helberg's career, beginnings or how he got involved with the show and just handed the mic(s) to the crowd.  Coupons were handed out for Helberg's autograph and photo op so when people asked for photos on stage they were awkwardly denied.  One question asker said San Diego sucked but I'm sure he's never actually been there to see how clown shoes Salt Lake's show is in comparison but we'll get to that later.

The panel got lame kind of quickly with too many kids asking incoherent questions or people making comments instead of asking anything and then the fawning fans asking for up close and personal time.  They just gave you coupons to meet him, if you want a face to face experience, you gotta pay!  That's how this show works!  Helberg did get to talk about his studies at NYU, thinking the show would be canceled due to the writer's strike, being in awe of Stephen Hawking, the loneliness of shooting his astronaut subplot, working with Joss Whedon for Dr. Horrible, how a movie he directed is based on his bumbling, bad luck ridden attempt to win his girlfriend back and that he can't name favorites among the cast since he would alienate others.  Even though we had primo seats for Stephen Amell, having only seen season 1 I figured the panel would be very season 2 and upcoming 3 heavy so we decided to bounce.  It was off to the arcade for another crack at Captain America and The Avengers.  Armed with about $10 bucks in quarters we triumphed over additional villains like Crossbones, Juggernaut, Ultron and then the Red Skull himself, on a space station!  After 5 stages and about 25 minutes of gameplay, we had defeated the game and the universe can sleep safely once again.

Then it was time for our photo op with Danny Glover.  I honestly thought no one would be queued up but I was wrong.  There were dozens of people already waiting.  I had planned to say something to Mr. Glover but once we got in with him, he was just so kind and happy to be there that all I could do was shake his hand, ask how he was doing and smile like a goof.  A truly enjoyable experience and the photo is now hanging in the den.

Parting thoughts on Salt Lake Comic Con?  It's a fun show but still has to work out a lot of their logistical issues.  Thursday's wait time and disorganization was pretty unacceptable to me although Friday went smoothly.  Saturday got real crowded and it's estimated that 120,000 peeps rolled through in total.  But if their staff can't handle that capacity, maybe they should consider capping ticket sales.  Oh wait, they're for profit so no, that won't happen.  Their info book didn't include an actual schedule of events and there could have been a lot more signage around the floor for special events, panel rooms, etc.  The exhibition floor was decent with lots of variety but we got through it pretty quickly.  Panel wise beyond actor spotlights were mostly fan run and listening to super fans talk about a subject really isn't that interesting or educational compared to someone involved professionally in a comic, movie or book discussing their experience.  How does it compare to San Diego Comic Con?  It doesn't.  At all.  I hope attendees will stop comparing themselves to the show because they're not on the same level.  At all.  They might have crammed nearly as many people into the show but they also gouged them to buy upgraded ticket packages that didn't even get you much.  The entire show is based around selling autographs and photos whereas SDCC is about celebrating the arts with over 1,000 panels to choose from. Nothing was going on outside the show unlike San Diego where half a dozen venues offsite offer more activities, many for free while SLCC had special events with Kevin Sorbo and Hulk Hogan available for a separate ticket price.  So for their own sake, I hope fans and organizers of SLCC work on making their show better, not trying to compete with San Diego because they're not in the same league and mouthing off about something you've never even experienced is just sad.

With Salt Lake City being such a religious town, the show did not occur on Sunday so our flight back to Los Angeles included no less than Bruce Campbell, Jon Heder, Cary Elwes and Lou Ferrigno.  Lou is still a pretty big boy and Bruce has that great, distinctive voice that could read you your rights and be entertaining.  I'd probably come back to Salt Lake Comic Con but only for Thursday or Friday, there's just not enough going on to keep you there for 3 days.  I hear there's a huge outdoor store outside SLC complete with an indoor shooting range and full sized Ferris wheel so that would be cool to check out.  Until then, America needs your help!

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