Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jorge Garcia & Dominic Monaghan at Nerd HQ

Video of the two 2011 Nerd HQ panels featuring Jorge Garcia and Dominic Monaghan are now available on YouTube.  I had a front row center seat for Dominic's panel and thus the back of my head is now immortalized in the InterWebz!

Original Post:
About a week before I was scheduled to leave for San Diego I heard about a series of panels organized by Nerd Machine, a site fronted by Zachary Levi, star of the TV show Chuck. These panels were not part of Comic-Con proper but were to be held at Jolt 'N Joe's restaurant a few blocks from the San Diego Convention Center. Of particular interest to me were the Friends of the Nerdolution panel featuring Jorge Garcia and a solo panel with Dominic Monaghan. At only $20 a pop I quickly signed up for both, not really knowing what I was getting into.

On Thursday morning I made the trek into San Diego to attend the first panel. (Thanks @BonnieJGreen for the lift!) First order of business was to pick up my pass and bracelet.

After spending a bit of time checking out downtown San Diego I made my way into line. It didn't surprise me at all to see @jopinionated at the front of the queue! Several of my Barracks housemates also attended.

While waiting in line Jorge showed up to the event. I tend to feel a little shy and awkward around celebrity, so the best I could manage was a couple of short glances and (hopefully not-creepy) smiles his way. My friend @LOST_4815162342 has no such trouble and secured this great pic with Jorge.

We were ushered past a phalanx of burly security guards into the restaurant, then up a dark staircase to the room in which the panel would be held. It looked to be a room in which they might normally hold small concerts.

The cool thing about these panels is the fact that the room is small and the audience less than 200 people, so you really do get to be up close and personal with the celebs. I was in the 4th row and I believe there were only 2 rows behind me. The not-cool thing about the room was the fact that it was HOT, really hot, inside. Gotta pump up the A/C a bit more next time! The only other problem I had was a large pillar that blocked my line-of-sight to the stage. Before the panelists entered I crossed my fingers that Jorge wouldn't be obscured. Zach Levi entered first, then brought in each of the guests, who were allowed to choose their seat. Olivia Munn entered first, and chose the seat which was blocked by the pillar. I was conflicted as to whether I should be happy or sad by this development -- on the one hand it meant Jorge wouldn't be blocked, but on the other it meant I couldn't see Olivia Munn! Jorge came out next and chose the seat next to Olivia (as would have I), which was partially blocked by the pillar but I still had a decent view of most of him.

Some of my Barracks housemates managed a better view. The "panelists" (and I quote this because it seems far too serious a name for the goofsters on stage) are, left-to-right: Danny Pudi (Community), Allesandra Torresani (Caprica), Alison Haislip (Attack of the Show!), Zachary Levi (Chuck), Olivia Munn (Attack of the Show!), Jorge Garcia (LOST), and Joshua Gomez (Chuck).

Photo below courtesy @LOST_4815162342

With Olivia Munn out of the picture (literally), the focus of my attention was on Jorge who, despite visibly suffering from the heat remained affable and hilarious throughout.

Actually, the entire panel had fantastic comedic chops and the hour went by quickly and with much laughter. I don't recall anything particularly substantial or informative, and that's just the way I like it! My new best friend Zach Levi brought out Olivia Munn ... I mean the entire group ... for a final photo op.

After the panel there was a signing and I managed to have Jorge autograph a picture that I had taken of myself and my two kids, each of us in Teefury's "Dude" T-shirts, just before the airing of the LOST finale. When he saw the pic Jorge let out a Hurley-esque "Wow!" Very cool.

Friday brought with it a second panel, this one a solo effort from Dominic Monaghan.

It didn't have quite the same energy as the Friends of the Nerdolution panel the day before, but Dominic did come across as witty, caring, and open, with more than a hint of mischievousness. I managed to get a front row seat, just off-center, so was in a perfect position to enjoy the show. The Nerd HQ folks learned their lesson from the previous day -- this time the temperature was much cooler, and both a towel and 2 bottles of water were set out for Dom.

Dominic related a great story about Lord of the Rings castmate Billy Boyd, Thai food, a boat, and Orlando interruptus. Funny stuff.

Dominic also got a little serious at times talking about his love for animals, particularly insects, and an upcoming show that he'll be filming on the subject.

Another funny bit occurred when Dominic noticed something on his pants. Turns out he had managed to spill some chocolate on them at some point. Seeing an opportunity, he then very heartily attempted to scrape the chocolate from his crotch in a very animated way.

Another cool aspect of the panel was the fact that Dom's pal Elijah Wood was in the audience as well. I managed just the quickest of glimpses.

I forget what Dominic was talking about when this picture was taken, but somehow I think it might have been related to Billy Boyd again....

In summary, another great hour spent with a fun guy who played one of the favourite characters on LOST. Good times.

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