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Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor
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Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor

Bob Calhoun

Just in time for Comic-Con comes the investigative romp through the conventions industry!

Conventions. Tradeshows. Expos. Every profession and obsession has them. We select hot tubs, handguns, the best Wonder Woman costume and even our presidential contenders at these neo-tribal gatherings where commerce and communalism collide. With a tanking economy and looming layoffs, lapsed-fanboy Bob Calhoun sets out on a quest through the temporary worlds created in concrete convention centers and hotel conference rooms for the nerdy enthusiasm he has lost. However, in Shattering Conventions, his new pop-culture memoir, Calhoun quickly discovers that escapism provides little escape from a growing American craziness.

During his self-imposed one year mission, Calhoun confronts the Westboro Baptists in front of Comic-Con, gets called out by Andrew Breitbart at a Tea Party rally, sneaks into a hemp expo and is chased out of a plastic surgeons' conference by security guards. Shattering Conventions is filled with first-person observations of such luminaries as George Takei, Gene Simmons, Stan Lee, Mitt Romney, Kevin Smith, Bootsy Collins, Ted Nugent, HP CEO Meg Whitman, Gavin Newsom, Mr. T, Congressman Darrell Issa, William Shatner, Sir Patrick Stewart, a pro-wrestler called The Miz and even the ghost of Elvis. And in between the celebrity run-ins are the stories of Star Wars and Twilight fans seeking camaraderie through cosplay, and entrepreneurs striving to make it in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Starting out as a goofy pop-culture experiment, Shattering Conventions becomes a twisted political odyssey where Calhoun witnesses the growing conflict between sci-fi nerds and rightwing extremists for the very soul of a nation. And the more conventions that Calhoun attends, the more he realizes that all of this coming together might be tearing us apart.

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