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My Overwritten Journey To SDCC 2017: Day One-Ish, Ticks, Triple Potatoes

Thursday 20th July 2017 by Derek Kraneveldt

We finally turned in last night (this morning) at about 1AM. I was exhausted from a long day and ready to crash, and it wasn’t more than a few moments before I… realized that sleeping wasn’t going to happen because Jonathan snores so. fucking. loudly.

Like I’ve been around some loud sleepers before (Nathan Miller, I’m looking at you), but whatever is erupting from Jonathan’s mouth, throat, lungs, or wherever the hell snoring comes from sounded freaking angry, and it wanted the rest of the world to know it.

This isn’t a new realization by any means, but it’s been a year, and sleep noises aren’t something that I generally think of on a daily basis (though at this point I wish that they were). The hours crawl by, the melatonin isn’t working, and my mouth is beginning to throb (tooth pain, if you remember yesterday’s piece), and it’s only at this moment that I remember that my lovely fiancé (who pretty much packed everything for me and by pretty much I mean absolutely) also put earplugs in my carry-on.

They look like carrots or DOTS, but they are so much more useful.

I am so thankful for those earplugs. I can’t express that enough.

6AM rolls around, and I sadly decline attending the San Diego November Project workout because my mouth is feeling pretty rough this morning… and because I’m embarrassed at how out of shape I let myself become since my last visit to San Diego (mostly this). Instead, I opt to get up, shower, and take some more painkillers. Woo.

Speaking of Woo. Wrestling. It’s been about a year and a half since I (who hadn’t watched professional wrestling since I was a small boy) thought “Let’s check out this WWE Network thing,” and I’ve been more than hooked ever since. In the past ten months, I’ve been to two NXT Live and two WWE Live shows, and I’m just itching for the next TV taping to hit somewhere near me. Hell, we had a John Cena blanket pinned up on our wall for way too long after Wrestlemania (it was purchased as a Wrestlemania decoration), and I got more creative with Wrestlemania themed snacks than I’ve been for basically anything else in my entire life… which is pretty sad.

Today marks one year since the WWE Draft, in which the Raw and Smackdown rosters were split up, and it’s crazy to think of just how many things have changed over that year (and how much things continue to evolve). Smackdown went live (and became the better show), Kurt Angle has an illegitimate son, the Hardy Boyz came back (and are still teasing becoming obsolete and broken), Bayley made the main roster and has been all but buried, Goldberg came back (and had a really good feud with Brock and some amazing promos), the Wrestlemania stage got fucking HUGE, Breezango became a thing, Talking Smack became a thing (and is sadly no longer a thing – sign the petition), the next WWE video game is coming to Nintendo consoles, Enzo and Cass broke up, DIY broke up, The Usos are cool now, people consistently boo Roman but love his feuds and matches, and a ton of other shit that I can’t remember right now. But it’s been great, and is consistently (most of the time) really, really enjoyable television. You should give it a shot (free trial)!

Matt Kelly just finished a level of some ‘Toy Blast’ shit that he’s been stuck on for four days. He seems pretty stoked. Way to go, Matt.

Matt and I eventually grabbed breakfast at a small cafe near our hotel after we failed to find the Horton Plaza which we were actually looking for (the bacon was a little too crispy for my liking, but the cold brew was tasty). He asked the server about Comic-Con, and at this point I wasn’t sure if he was really bad at hitting on girls, or really good at pushing our booth.

As soon as we left the cafe, we realized that we were both terrible at navigating, and the Horton Plaza was directly across the street from where we just ate. Our ulterior motive for heading here was to check out the WWE / FYE Pop-Up shop that’s been set up for the weekend. Matt went into the store yesterday and said that it was incredible (and incredibly dangerous as I’m already on a very limited budget and am a level seven susceptible when it comes to merchandise). Sadly, the store hadn’t quite opened for the day, so I could only look at the cool graphics on the outside. There’s a Sami Zayn signing there later today however, so I’ll definitely be back.

Before headed to the convention centre to set up the booth, we all watched a lower than low budget horror called Serial. It’s up there among the worst movies that I’ve ever seen, but it was hilarious watching it with the gang in the hotel room, who all spent more time making fun of the movie than actually watching it. I especially loved the ‘This film would have been rated R” warning at the beginning.

We all made our way to the convention centre to set up the booth (#3919, as usual), and so that I could collect my badge. In previous years, badge pick up was on the main floor, and that seemed to go pretty smoothly most of the time (at least for the brief periods each year when I was waiting). This year things moved up to the Sails Pavillion (which is upstairs and (possibly) only accessible through the convention centre. It seemed as though there was a lot of confusion here, as an employee pointed me towards Entrance D, where the employee told me to go to Entrance C, where the employee told me to go to Entrance A, where the employee told me to go to Entrance C, where they finally let me in and upstairs. In any case, I got my badge, my bag (Arrow this year, though one of the shoulder straps ripped almost immediately), yearly The Walking Dead lanyard, and this year certain passes even get a neat commemorative box to keep this and previous badges in.
Next, I walked a little bit of the show floor as a lot of the major booths were still being set up. Once I got to the booth we finished setting things up, I perused the freebie box (thanks Lootcrate) and took all of the coolest stuff (well, coolest to me), and then Matt and I catalogued the t-shirt inventory, where I got my first glimpse of the newest Geekscape t-shirt design (which may be the coolest one yet). I can’t wait to wear it.

Matt and I grabbed some Panda Express (which I’d never had before and was freaking delicious) with the intention of actually entering the WWE pop up show afterwards. We took our time eating, talking podcasts and other things that I’ve already forgotten before realizing that we needed to rush to our first appointment of the weekend – a press preview of Amazon’s activation for the upcoming The Tick series.

The first part of the installation was a neat Amazon Prime lounge. Here, you could grab yourself some wireless headphones and experience The Tick pilot almost a month before the show hits the streaming service. There were comfy couches to chill out on, water was available, and the tables featured all of the popular phone charges so that you could juice up your phone while you relaxed. The outside of the lounge featured giant Tick antennae, where those inside the lounge could control the expression that the antennae were making. There were also giant blue fans all around the area, as an attempt to keep you semi cool in the hot, dry San Diego heat. It was much appreciated. Throughout the lounge there were stations where you could scan your RFID bracelet and do The Tick trivia, and when you exited the lounge you were treated to a cool swag bag that included a Tick hat, iPhone case, bottle of water, antennae, and more.

We're going live from The Tick installation at #SDCC!

Posted by Geekscape on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Next (after waiting for everyone else to catch up and potentially watching Matt hit on another girl) our group went through a The Tick / AEGIS themed experience. Here Arthur said the he needed our help finding clues through two environments. We had four minutes in each room, the first being a sort of office, and the second resembling a warehouse. There we a series of RFID scanners that you were supposed to activate as slyly as possible, as you’re competing with the rest of the attendees in the room. Once you’re done this, you scan your bracelet once more to find out what kind of hero you are. In the final room you can also choose a customizable Tick themed item (I went for a baseball tee), and even create a short gif of yourself in a heroic pose. We Facebook Live’d a lot of this experience, which you can take a look at below!

The Prime Lounge isn't all that Amazon has in store! We'll be going through a separate Tick installation as well!

Posted by Geekscape on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The activation was a great way to kick off Comic-Con. It was as well done, and probably more fun than Amazon’s Thunderbirds / The Man in the High Castle installation from last year, and the amount of stuff that we received at the end of the experience was pretty insane. I anticipate these goodies to go fast, and the lines for this activation to be incredibly long. What we saw of the pilot is looking pretty cool, and it’s pretty clear that Amazon is betting hard on The Tick. I really can’t wait to see more.

Once the installation finished, Matt and I split up. He went to help finish up with the booth and open it up, and I went to stand in line at the WWE pop-up shop for a Sami Zayn signing. The line was pretty huge at this point (the lineup had already started when Matt and I were eating here a couple of hours earlier), and there was a cool little kid beside me who was super into Sami Zayn and was freaking out for the whole 90+ minutes that I waited in line.

Of course, before we could even get into this signing, the staff at FYE were tempting us for the next one. Nikki Bella is signing here on Saturday morning, and the store is selling a cool VIP package guaranteeing entry, which also included a Nikki Bella POP!, shirt, and hat. It’s going to be tough not to go for that.

The line actually moved pretty quickly, and the staff (especially Jim) were super friendly and helpful. Sami was super nice, signed and personalized a photo, and one of the FYE staff members took a photo of you with Sami at the table. It was a cool experience, and I’ll probably (definitely) be back on Saturday for the Nikki Bella signing, which I’m sure will have an even bigger crowd (Sami’s line got pretty freaking long).

As cool as it was getting the photo, I do wish that the folks in charge of photo ops at any event would be slightly aware that composition is pretty important when taking a photo. I also wish that I was a bit more photogenic, but of course there isn’t a lot that the photographer could have done about that.

Once I finished up at the WWE Pop Up Shop (more on that later), I made my way back to the convention centre just after the floor opened, meaning that I didn’t have to stand in the heat, and I was able to walk right in. The floor was open from 6-9PM for preview night, and I spent much of that time at the booth (#3919 all weekend if you’re around), chatting with attendees, reuniting with Zack Haddad, and having a blast overall. I jumped out of the booth a couple of times in order to check out a certain booth or see what sort of exclusives were up for grabs, but, with this being my fifth year in a row at SDCC, I almost feel done with the shoulder to shoulder crowds.

This isn’t even that busy.

Throughout the opening hours, we saw some pretty cool cosplay, sold some shirts (I got my hands on one of the new designs as well), made some new fans, and gave away a ton of shit (with way, way more to come). I got a ‘Too Sweet’ from a dude that liked my Wrestlemania t-shirt (which I nearly didn’t buy last year for like $1 at Hot Topic), and we almost closed down the booth, packed it all up, and went home following  the best cosplay in the world. This adorable little girl was dressed as Eleven from Stranger Things, and when we asked if we could take her photo, she threw her hand in the air long before we could ask her to do a pose. It was freaking amazing.

We can all go home. She wins.

Soon, the floor closed and it was time to go and eat. I was itching for some Rockin’ Baha as I haven’t had a chance to experience their incredible mango salsa yet this year (it’s tradition), but instead we ended up pushing a couple of tables together at Lolita’s Mexican restaurant, and ate some great food, had some great conversation, and were probably way too damned loud.

Courtney couldn’t handle a Geekscape dinner.

We finished up, and began to make our way back to our hotel (as it’s nearly midnight at this point). Zack talked about all of the neatest spots and best food around the Gaslamp Quarter (including an Alice In Wonderland themed bar), and somehow Matt Kelly ended up telling me all about how much he loves potatoes, and how at a certain restaurant that he would often go to as a child, he’d usually order mashed potatoes, a baked potato, and cream of potato soup. That’s a lot of freaking potato.

My feet hurt like hell, my mouth is starting to throb again, and I’m freaking exhausted (at least I’ll remember earplugs right away tonight), but today was a fantastic time. At this point, more than anything on the floor, anything that I’ve seen, or anything that I’ve had the chance to do thus far, it’s just been amazing hanging out with these people and beginning to feel like myself again. It’s been some time since I’ve had this much fun, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.