Hey there folks! Can’t believe it’s been a whole year already since we were here last. Now because we’ve already covered this event once, I won’t go over the Huntington Convention Center again. If you want some details and pics of the center, you can check out last year’s write-up here. Anyway, enough with the pleasantries. Let’s get to our weekend overview.
The Drive and Parking
Oh Cleveland, I never thought I’d say it, but we missed you. And fortunately for us, there were no Cthulhu sightings or Silent Hill fog all weekend. In all actuality, it was nothing but bright skies and sunny days all three days we were there.
Even the drive up from the Pittsburgh area was fast and pleasant. It did help that we knew where the hell we were going this year. The main bridge into Cleveland was open this year as well, so no driving through the snow-covered murder woods of Cleveland Ohio.
Another thing that made this trip smoother: it wasn’t motherfucking St. Patrick’s Day weekend! Last year the roads to our hotel were closed down and we had to fight through police barricades and drunken parade brawlers. It sucked major ass and we had the murder rage building up in us. This year we drove straight to our hotel without issue.
Downside to things: Cleveland’s no parking anywhere situation still sucks lemur scrotums. Seriously, get it together you goons. People shouldn’t have to give up their first-born child to pay for an afternoon of parking in a stuffed garage or valet service. Then again, maybe they do this to appease Lord Cthulhu.
This year we stayed at the Hilton connected to the Huntington Convention Center. This was a fantastic idea! While it costs a little more than the hotel we stayed at last year, the fact we could go straight from our room to the convention without going outside into the “rugged” streets of downtown Cleveland (compared to downtown Pittsburgh, Cleveland is Pleasantville).
It also meant we could leave the con anytime we wanted to relax in our room for a bit. This is much more preferable to taking breaks in empty panel rooms or in some unoccupied dirt corner at the convention.
The hotel is huge; 32 floors. There’s two restaurants and two bars. They have a Starbucks, convenience store, executive lounge, big pool, and a decent gym with free weights and decent machines. Of course—as with most things in life—not everything was peaches and bouncy boobs.
The downside to the hotel was the costs. Valet parking was nearly 40 bucks a night (still cheaper than last year’s hotel valet, though). And with Cleveland’s shitty parking situation, it was kind of mandatory. No complimentary breakfast either, which means we had to walk through downtown to find a diner (again, no parking so no driving). We lucked out and found a nice little diner—strangely enough it was also located in a hotel—called Mike and Dee’s. The food was good, prices cheap, and portions big. Very awesome indeed.
Where we fucked up the first night was going to the main restaurant at the hotel for dinner. After the show we were really hungry and figured the hotel restaurant would be suitable. Usually hotel restaurants are a bit pricier than other places, but we were okay with that.
What we weren’t okay with were $42 pork chops or a $36 chicken breasts dinner. Let me rewind a few minutes, though. We went to the restaurant assuming it would be a normal dining experience. Things took a humorous turn right away as the hostess (who was very nice) sat us at a table for two in the middle of the joint. There were plenty of open tables but we got a poopy one. Now, this dinner was way more romantic than we anticipated.
Yup, that’s Spencer swooning me with the candle light flickering and alcohol on the way. We got the vibe throughout dinner that the staff thought we were “together.” Oh well, if that’s how they roll in Cleveland who am I to judge? At least the waitress knew we were from the con and even brought us a custom Wizard World drink menu. That was pretty neat.
I don’t remember the drink names so I’ll just give you my take: Hulk spiked punch, Stan Lee Excelsior Seltzer, Flash Fornicator. You get the idea. I ended up ordering the Corpse Reviver—which was delicious. It was made with gin, absinthe, and other fancy stuff. It was 15 bucks and about two gulps worth of liquid. Bleh. Spencer got a burger and I got grilled octopus and a seafood pizza. The food was excellent, but even with ordering the cheapest things on the menu, it still hit our wallets pretty damn hard. Needless to say, we didn’t go back there.
After dinner we figured we’d try the bar on the 32 floor. It seemed like it would at least be a nice view of the city. And you know what? It was (I didn’t get a pic because the bar was too crowded). The hostess thought I was underage and checked both our IDs. I’m 31. She made a big deal about that fact and I felt quite uncomfortable by her odd ogling of my man bits.
The bar was full of very well dressed, rich honkies. It was mainly older women trying to score drinks off hipsters and 50-year-old men who were trying to relive their youth. I bought one bottle of $7 Sam Adam’s. We left right after I drank it and we never went back. I had good whiskey at the hotel and we didn’t need to listen to Carol loudly talk about her pap smear as we drank it.
Not much to say about Cleveland this go around. There were no bum attacks, traffic incidents, swarms of drunkards roaming the streets, or even unruly con goers. All in all, it was a very pleasant time.
We did a little more wandering through the streets in search of breakfast than we’d like. All the stupid breakfast stops were hidden inside large office buildings or hotels with no signs indicating the fact. So Google maps had us wandering in circles until we decided to randomly enter a large office building or hotel. Luckily we found Mike and Dee’s without incident. Unfortunately, we wanted to check out this spot called Jack Flaps, but it was in this weird indoor mall looking thing and was packed. It was the only breakfast joint open on Sunday and everyone was waiting to get in (even signing a waiting list). Well, there was one other breakfast spot…
The place we ultimately ended up going to was a joint we passed up about 30 times looking for a better spot. That spot was called Yum Yum’s and it was a real hole in the wall. I mean that literally; it was about the size of a Wal-Mart family restroom.
I won’t post a pic because that would be rude, but the two tiny tables they had were filthy and their counter was gross as well. They were surprisingly busy, so maybe the people of Cleveland know something we don’t. Either way, Spencer ordered a plain bagel and the angry-looking man behind the counter (more on him in a second) told Spencer they only had blueberry and cinnamon. Even though there was a whole shelf of plain bagels right behind the guy. Spencer got a blueberry bagel and they used a whole stick of butter on one half and looked like someone just licked the other side. It was gross. I got a way too expensive reuben and it was worse. The bread was practically liquid and I couldn’t pick it up. Also, they didn’t have thousand island dressing so I just got hot sauce and mayonnaise as the dressing. Yum Yum indeed.
I knew the reuben was going to be “awesome” when the angry-looking guy (when I say angry, just imagine telling Ice Cube you had sex with his wife. That’s the face) told me to take all the napkins. I grabbed two and he said, “No, take em all.” He was right. Anyway, the reason I said angry man was to give you an image of the man to tell this story. He was covered in tattoos, had some missing teeth, and glared at us the whole time like he hated the fact we came in. Not cool. That is until…
Once we finished eating the angry-looking man—still staring at us from the counter—suddenly pointed to Spencer’s Nightwing hoodie. “You like Nightwing?” he asked.
“Yes,” Spencer responded with both of us knowing exactly what was about to happen.
And our prediction was accurate. The “angry-looking man” went on and on about his favorite comics. He told us about He-Man, the New ThunderCats movie they are supposed to be making (which he showed us some sort of trailer for on his phone), and the whole lists of his favorite Marvel and DC superheroes and villains. We’re used to this happening to us. Seriously, everywhere we go this happens. But we had a panel we needed to attend and we still had to walk back across town to get to it in time. But Giavonni (which he eventually introduced himself to us as) would not let us leave.
I will say, even though he was holding us up, it was great to meet someone with so much enthusiasm for comics. Especially because he didn’t look at all like your typical comic book fan. Just shows that you shouldn’t ever judge anyone based on appearance.
Apparently some of the lesser known celebrity guests had breakfast at Yum Yum’s the morning before. At least that’s what Giavonni told us. I’m wondering if they were late getting to their panels, too?
The con setup was a bit different this year. Instead of having the event panels upstairs and the security downstairs (meaning every time you went to an event and wanted to reenter the show you had to go through security), they had the security upstairs and the event panels on the same floor as the showroom. This was perfect! You only had to go through security when entering the convention. A vast improvement and much safer for everyone involved.
I will say, though, that the security didn’t do a great job of checking people. Unlike the Pittsburgh show we attended a few years back, they didn’t really check our bags at all. In fact, the passed me through a few times and didn’t even care when the metal detector went off. While I know security for these types of things is an annoyance, it does seem like it shouldn’t be so lax after the recent wave of shootings we’ve had in the country. That gets a big thumbs down for me.
Anyway, besides that, the setup was great. The panel rooms were in a long hallway on the opposite side of the showroom floor. This gave plenty of space for people to walk around and even sit. Plus there were plenty of bathrooms that way. The panel rooms were all huge and the ballroom where they had the main celebrity panels was gigantic.
The showroom floor itself was cool, too. They had celebrity autographs right in the middle. Artists alley was large and spread out. They had a cosplay corner with cosplay booths, which was perfect because it kept the cosplayers from jamming up artists alley. They had a gaming section, table top gaming, DIY section, an awesome kids zone, face painting, main stage, Star Wars setups, and bunch of other awesome things I can’t remember. This was the perfect way to set up a show in my opinion.
They also had a Black Panther booth, different famous cars, photo-op areas, food stands, concession areas, root beer stand, caricature drawing area, creative stage, and a whole lot of other amazing things I’m forgetting. They had something for everyone!