Music to Speed on Interstate 5 By… Part One of Two

The next couple of entries are going to be reproductions of the travel logs I made for Anime Expo 1997 and 1998. I am starting to get all geared up for AX2002, so I wanted to put these up so you guys can read them and laugh hysterically. Without further adieu, here’s AX97

Why You Shouldn’t Ever Stand Under Power Lines or
“Obviously, She’s Having A Baby…”
by Michael D. Garcia

07/04/97 – 6am: The moment in time when I finally kiss the job goodbye for a few days and set out upon my annual trip down to the Los Angeles area, to dive into a welcoming pool of fun and warmth knows as Anime Expo 1997. The drive down usually takes anywhere from four hours to eight, depending on who’s driving. My car, so I drive the first part of the way….

7am: We finally make it through Pacheco Pass… this road could easily be mistaken for one of the tracks on the now-popular Carmageddon… or perhaps an inspiration? Curves and turns and hills and ramps like you can’t believe. You could reach speeds of 100mph on a straightaway and not even realize it until you look over and see things shimmer, like the Doppler wave just before you enter warp on Star Trek. Hunger pains force us to make a stop at a restaurant about a half-hour east of Gilroy, near Los Banos.

8:30am: Back on the road again, and the conversations begin. “Ever stand under power lines?” “Nope.” “Those things really throb… I mean, with the amount of power going through them, you feel as if you might mutate right there. Like grow a third eye, or even another testicle.” Car swerves as we both laugh way too hard to maintain 80mph down the I-5 pipe.

9am: I get tired (Hey… I worked the night before, okay?), and pull over just north of Coalinga, at this ‘mid-point’ where we have to refuel and grab some snacks. Ken takes over, and we be-bop to the sounds of Koko Wa Greenwood, to start the Anime mood. Back on the I-5 pipe we go, but Ken’s a far safer driver. I fall asleep.

10am: I wake up. We listen to music.

12pm: We finally make it to LA. I fall asleep.

12:30pm: I wake up, and we’re pulling into the Hilton Towers at LAX, where we’ll be staying. Turning into the parking garage, I couldn’t help but notice two things… First, it was underneath the hotel complex… and two, the further we went down, the hotter it got… which prompted Ken to comment, “Everytime I turn the corner to go down, I keep expecting Satan to wave and welcome us to Hell.” We ended up parking on parking level 6. I literally peeled myself from my vinyl seat, and grabbed my backpack. I pack light.
Ken, on the other hand, pulls out his suitcase. It has wheels. We wade through the heat to find the elevator, but my glasses keep fogging up and we’re forced to stop and wait until they cool down.

1pm: We make it to the check-in desk… “Sorry, your room isn’t ready, come back in a hour.” *groan*… but hey! AX pre-reg is right upstairs. Way cool… we head up the stairs with our luggage, and *uh oh*… “Please tell me that isn’t the line.” The pre-reg line stretches across the lobby and around the corner, where it disappears from sight, but not to worry.. it seems to be moving rather quickly.

1:45pm: We finally make it to the front of the line, and get our badges for the weekend, and our programming guide. Looking over at Ken’s badge, I noticed “Kenny Lau – Aim 2 Pleeze”. I burst out laughing, “Hey, maybe they figured since you were from San Francisco…” *THWAP THWAP THWAP*

2:15pm: We check in, and go up to our rooms, where we promptly turn on the A/C. AAAaaaaahhhhh….

3pm: DOH! We missed the panels that we wanted to see, and I thwap Ken for making me wait so late to go. My back hurts, and we decide to go to the dealer’s room.

4pm: We come back up to the room. I didn’t buy anything. We start watching AXTV (AXTV is the closed-circuit channel that they broadcast Anime on.. usually it’s unsubtitled or undubbed, and often it’s old stuff… at least, it was last year. ‘Marmalade Boy’ is on… and it looks like it’s the first episode. I look over at Ken, “Hey.. I think I can figure out what they’re
saying… lemme try.” I hear the word ‘otoko-chan’, and the main character looks upset, “I think they’re having a baby, and she’s pissed about it.” Wrong-o! I was so off, if it were any more off, it would’ve come full circle, and I would’ve been right 😉 (Think about it, won’t you?) I promised to never try that again (until next year).

07/05/97 – Noon: Morning was very ho-hum ;). Breakfast was good. Expensive, but good. It’s second-to-last time we decide to eat in the hotel. At $15 a plate, it’s not cheap, and I was near-broke going down, so… AUGH! TIme to go watch premieres and stuff we’ve not seen that’s already been out. We make a point to concentrate on watching Anime, instead of spending so much damn time in the dealer’s room, like we did last year. “But, dammit! I wanna /drool/ over the stuff they got down there…” “No.” *sniffle* I wasn’t disappointed.. some of the new stuff was actually worth noting mentally… just thinking about, who’s going to distrubute this, and when can I buy it. *sigh* Yes, I am an Otaku. But maybe not Otaking… not here, I think to myself, as four people dressed up as Ranma, Akane, Ryoga, and Juno walk beside me until they break off for a different room. Nope… I’m a shy quiet fan compared to some of these people who dress up.

5pm: We’ve seen a lot by now, and we head back up.. as I’ve made my first purchase: Ani-Mayhem cards! Yay! Something to read and chuckle at.. and it was cheap.. after all, I only bought two starter decks and six boosters.. coming to a low low $30 bucks :). One of the dealers, who happen to be a good friend of Ken and myself, invites us to dinner at 6. We watch AXTV some more, and in the middle of an episode of ‘Touch!’, Ken turns to me and points to the screen, “Well, obviously, she’s having a baby.” “Shut up.”

6pm: “Sizzler?! I thought they closed all these down…” “Guess not this one.” Dinner was eventful… the dealer (who is known as Emily) brought her demon-children with her, and I come close to committing murder as the boy tries to cut me with his steak knife. I meet Albert, who happens to be on the same level of fandom as Ken and I are.. we strike up conversations left and right, and next thing you know, we’re heading back to our room, Albert in tow.

8pm: We watch some more AXTV. “Well, obviously, she’s having a baby.” “Shut up!”

9pm: We watch some more AXTV. “Well, obviously-” “Enough!”

10pm: Shin-KOR Movie! “Some of the guys up on the fifteenth floor are showing a fansub of the Shin-KOR movie.” “Oh, really?” “Yup.. wanna go?” “Sure, let’s check it out.” We hit the elevators, and knock on the door. They open up, “We’re not showing it until midnight.” “Oops.. we just wanted to get good seats.” I look inside. Their room’s smaller than ours! As we go back to the room, “Hell, no… imagine how hot it’ll get in there with a bunch of guys who obviously forgot to use Dial.” We definitely decide to not go, Ken says he’ll sub it later. That means sometime after the year 2000.

07/06/97 – Midnight: Midnight Madness! Heading into the main viewing room, the music video competition is about to begin, so we (Albert and I) find seats and laugh our asses off at the various videos (Including one well-done ‘Kuno Night Fever’).

1am: Fatigue overtakes me, and I decide to head back up.. but I promise myself to stay longer next year. It’s Sunday, now.. and the last day of AX.. time seems to have flown.

10am: I’m awoken again, and we dress, and check out.

10:30am: The parking elevator goes down to level seven, and we head out to the car. I notice that my vehicle is not in the spot I parked it in. “Um… where’s my car?” “Are you sure this is the right level?” “Yeah… um.. pretty sure.” “Let’s go one up.. be sure.”

10:45am: “Okay.. so I was wrong.” We head back up to the dealer’s room and do an ‘orbit’ before heading to the viewing rooms again.

Noon: We’ll pressed into service, helping Emily at her booth for the last three hours that the dealer’s room is open.

3pm: Finally. We help Emily pack up, and..
4pm: … we head to have a last celabratory dinner at…

4:45pm: … Noodle Planet, near Alhambra. As we pull in, I noticed that LAX and this restaurant were pretty far away. “For all this driving we did, these noodles had best be the fucking /best/ noodles I’ve ever tasted.”

6pm: “Those were /outstanding/ noodles.” We say our goodbyes, and we give Albert a ride up with us.

07/07/97 – Midnight: We finally pull into Acer, where this mad journey had begin, and agree to do it again.. same Bat-time, Same Bat-Channel. “But this time.. I want to leave the day /before/ it begins… none of this same-day sh*t.” That’s all, folks…

1998 is coming up! To be continued…

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