5/15/2006 07:54:00 AM|W|P|Cullen Bunn|W|P|Last week, I spent a few days in San Francisco at this year's World Horror Convention, a gathering of some of the darkest minds in the business. While the best part of any lengthy trip for me is the return home, I thought I'd share some of the highlights of the journey, the city, and the convention. I was pretty pleased with the show. It wasn't perfect, but I've never been to a convention that went off without a hitch. All in all, the organizers did a nice job. Even if the event had been a total mess, it's always great to see all my good chums at the convention (you know who you are).
JimmyZ of Still Water Press and I headed out bright and early to make our 8:00 flight.
Once we arrive in Oakland, we realized we had no idea how to get to our hotel in San Francisco. No problem, I thought. This town has one of the greatest public transportation setups in the world. So, I asked the nice lady at the information desk. Without skipping a beat, she rattled off a litany of shuttles and cab rides and something called the Air BART that required exact change. My eyes glazed, I nodded, and staggered away to find a change machine. The cabs and trains and shuttles and trolleys--they're second nature to the folks in San Francisco, but I don't have the cognitive capacity to handle such exchanges. For me, it's like trying to solve some difficult puzzle. After trying to figure it out on my own, I went back and asked for directions once again. This time, with the help of JimmyZ's map-reading skills and a couple of quick phone calls, I made it to the hotel without incident.
Once we got checked in, we walked around a few blocks in search of something to eat. We settled on a little Mexican cafe called (I think) Pancho's. They didn't serve margaritas, but the food was all right and it filled my empty stomach.
Once back at the hotel, we met up with a bunch of early convention arrivals and had a great time until the wee hours of the morning.
Before registering for the convention, JimmyZ and I walked down to Fisherman's Wharf, then to Chinatown. Only after we had already started walking on this sunny day did I realize my shaved head had no protection, so for the next few days I sported a bright red dome. We walked for 4 or 5 hours, I think, but missed the uber-tourist spots like Pier 39. We ate lunch in Chinatown, because that seemed like the thing to do, but I was kinda unimpressed. We probably picked the wrong restaurant. Jimmy got his hair cut in Chinatown because, again, it seemed like the thing to do. The girl who cut his hair asked if I wanted a haircut, too. Did I mention I have naught but stubble atop my head? As we headed back to the hotel, we were serenaded by thousands of annoying metal crickets in cardboard boxes. Every little shop in Chinatown carried these things.
Back at the convention, I registered, bought a shirt featuring a cool illustration by Brom, and quickly browsed the dealer's room. I thought the dealer's room was pretty impressive this year, but I didn't stay long before going to take a quick nap.
At dinner we hit the House of Prime Rib and they lived up to their name. The food was delicious, if a bit pricey, and I ate much more than I needed to.
Perhaps because of the full belly, perhaps because of all the walking, perhaps because of the previous late night, I retired relatively early that evening.
During my reading Friday morning, I read "Beneath Black Boughs My Darlings Slumber," and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Christopher Golden burst in early on to attack Kelly and Kelli from Horror-Web with a water gun, but from what I could tell, they deserved it. Besides, the spray of the waterguns added to the atmosphere of the seaboard-based tale.
At lunchtime, I found myself at a delightful Thai cafe with a group of cool folks.
That afternoon I participated (if that's what you want to call it) in a panel on horror in comics.
Later I dined at Crustacean Euro-Asian Cafe, where I felt very underdressed.
Friday night was the infamous Borderlands Books party, and it was as crowded and entertaining as should be expected. Those folks know how to throw a shindig!
I awoke relatively early and finished my Gross-Out contest entry. I read it a couple of times, hated it more and more with each reading, then decided it was as good as it was going to get. I ripped the sheets out of my notebook and tucked them in my pocket to be read that night.
Along with Curt, Karen, and JimmyZ, I took a cab to Pier 39 and took in some of the tourist attractions. But our real objective was to buy matching pirate shirts that read "Surrender the Booty!" That's right, I'm not afraid to admit it. Curt, JimmyZ and I wore matching pirate shirts. Now you're upset that you didn't go, aren't you? If only we could have gotten the other attending members of the Midwest Writers of Horror to don booty shirts!
That night at the Leisure party, I was the victim of mistaken identity. A woman came up to me, clutched my arm, and said, "Oh, good. I was hoping you would be here!"
Since I didn't know her, I smiled politely and said, "Thanks. I'm glad I could make it, too."
"And you're feeling okay?" she asked, at which point I realized she wasn't an adoring fan of my work and she, in fact, thought I was God-knows-who.
"Yes," I said. "I feel great."
"Good, good." She then asked if I had seen someone around. I couldn't make out the name, though, so I pointed towards the balcony.
"They're right outside," I said.
Across town, there was a fireworks show, which could be seen from outside the party. Very nice.
To build my courage for the Gross-Out Contest, I indulged in a few (by few I mean many) libations, then headed to the ballroom in which the event was held. Cody Goodfellow talked a good deal of smack, and Jeff Strand seemed confidently subdued. I knew those two would be my primary competition, but I didn't know which one worried me more--Cody, with his evil laugh and threats of utter humiliation if I walked the walk to the bouncer-surrounded podium, or Jeff with his subtle smile that hinted at secrets of such blasphemous levels of disgustitude that I wondered if the audience would even be able to handle his tale of grue. In the end, I thought they both unleashed hilariously gross entries. I took first place, though, and won a Tickles the Tapeworm t-shirt and a surprise cash award from Flesh & Blood!
I went just a little over time on my entry, though, and bouncer Steven Shrewsbury hurled me over his shoulder and carried me bodily away from the stage.
I think I'm retiring from the competition. I've entered three times and conquered three times. And as much as I enjoyed having dozens of itty bitty rubber chickens thrown at me by the audience this time, it's only a matter of time before someone unlocks The Cullen Code and discovers the secret of my gross-out success. So I'm out ... unless Cody or Jeff or any other yahoo wants to start some smack-talking, in which case I'm gonna have to lay down a heaping helping of learning they just can't get in school.
Thanks to everyone who threw a chicken at me, to Flesh & Blood Press, and to the judges and hostess.
The morning was filled with tearful goodbyes (both to my good friends and to my last few dollars in the dealer's room) before we hopped in a cab to the Air BART station to the shuttle to the airport. A nice trip came to an end ... but I was thrilled to get home to my wife. And I mean it when I say I won't go to another WHC without her.
As always, I returned from the convention both tired AND energized. I'm ready to get to writing ... and that, along with all the cool people I got to see again or meet for the first time, makes the trip well worth it.
Here's a list of stuff I bought at the convention (because I know you want to go out and buy the same cool things as me):
Hopefully, I'll be able to direct you to some photos soon!|W|P|114770649139493918|W|P|Nothing or Double, Jack - World Horror Convention 2006 Report|W|P|5/18/2006 10:15:00 AM|W|P|
~Jen5/07/2006 08:37:00 AM|W|P|Cullen Bunn|W|P|Just a short post today because I'm swamped trying to get ready for this week's World Horror Convention. I'll take my few sentences today to rant a little. Now, I admit that Love Monkey is a terrible name for a television show ... but regardless of the title, this is the type of show that deserved to make it on network television. But due to less than impressive ratings, CBS pulled the show after airing only three episodes. Hey, I can understand their reasoning. They've got to make money, and the average television viewer would rather watch another re-treaded season of Survivor or the (hard to believe) even more godawful Unanimous--two shows that in my opinion only prove that people will lie, cheat, backstab, and worse for a buck. Love Monkey isn't the type of show I expected to like but--by God--it made me feel good. And I'm a pretty pessimistic guy at heart. Thankfully, VH1 is showing the original three episodes and the remaining five. Just too bad the viewing public didn't really give it a chance.|W|P|114701675705845753|W|P|Stupid, Stupid TV Viewers|W|P|5/04/2006 02:33:00 PM|W|P|Cullen Bunn|W|P|The latest installment of my Broken Frontier column is up for your reading pleasure. I promise--this is the last time I write about the Micronauts for at least a week. Check it out right here.|W|P|114677897268427607|W|P|So Long, Micronauts!|W|P| |W|P|Jon wants a "Surrender the Booty" shirt too!!! :P