Once More to Toronto!
So this week found us again in Toronto for the Fan Expo Canada. We drove this time, and while my ears were happy to be spared the loud whirring of a prop plane, I am not exactly happy with the decisions made by the United States State Department on whom to hire to police the border! Going into Canada was great, but coming home was a total pain. Nothing major, just the guy was a total ass. Usually when you fly back into the country, the customs agents are nice and say things like “Welcome home!” This guy said things like “The more you keep from me, the more I search you!” What we kept from him was the contents of a bag of trash, by the way, which had slid under the seat and we had forgotten about it. And if he wanted to search my suitcase for the Robocop trading cards I purchased, he is more than welcome!
The Peace Bridge, which is everything BUT peaceful for those of us afraid of bridges!
So State Department aside, the drive was nice. It only takes about 7.5 hours, which is nice to know because our friends Sara and Henning live in Markham, a Toronto suburb which is super cute! It is actually a better drive than the 9 hours it took to visit them near Raleigh-Durham! The convention started at 4 on Friday, so we drove up Thursday and spent the night with them. Sara made us a delicious ratatouille and cous cous, which after 7 hours of Gardettos and gas station hot dogs was the warmest welcome ever! We spent the evening talking, playing with the kids Gavin and Vala, and Chris made sure their dog Bonnie got some attention. Chris and I slept until 10 the next morning, and that afternoon he drove to the city (which he said took about 2 hours due to the traffic!) to be at the convention, while I stayed in Markham. Sara took me to the mall to find Pez, but I had all the dispensers the mall sweetie shop had in stock. Instead, Sara and I stocked up on various British and nostalgic candies. I sometimes think that as children, Sara and I were instrumental in keeping Ferrera Pan in business. Yum, LemonHeads…
I also dragged her to the mall’s HMV, which we were both glad about due to their 1/2 half off sale which was a sale on some decent stuff. In a truly Toronto-centric experience, I was able to stock up on some Rush albums that I was missing, including Grace Under Pressure, which Sparky has convinced me to give a second chance.
Saturday, Sara drove me (the baby was again with us) downtown to meet up with Chris at the convention. Toronto has this privately owned highway, the 407 ETR, which stands for Express Toll Road. It is expensive, but because of that, it is empty. Each entrance and exit has cameras that take photos of your plates, and based on where you got on and off, you are sent a bill for your total toll. Chris and I took it while we were in a rental car I am not sure how our bill will arrive, but we probably owe about $36. Being a privately owned highway sucks a lot for commuters, but honestly, is a genius business move. Collecting tolls on a temptingly empty highway? Sounds like sweet sweet easy money to me. The owners also do a nice job of maintaining it as well, and due to it being empty, I could see myself budgeting for trips on the 407 were I a resident of the Toronto area!
Me hanging with Vala…
…and Chris hanging with Bonnie!
We were here last in April, and it was a small, comics-only event that only took up one conference room. But this August show is pretty much the complete opposite. Super crowded in a huge and echo-y convention hall with lots of other geek genres represented. Where the April convention was basically all comics, this August event is comics, horror, sci fi, anime, gaming both video and rpg.
Sadly, the list of media guests had dwindled by convention time. I was very excited to bring my 6th grade crush full circle by getting a Sean Astin autograph, but sadly, he had to cancel. But, still on the list were Adrienne Barbeau, David Prowse, George Romero and…wait for it…Malcolm McDowell. I spent a lot of time in line for them, but I was able to get autographs from all of them. Dario Argento and Charisma Carpenter were also signing, but were understandably swamped. I decided I would rather see the rest of the convention than stand in line for half the day.
Adrienne Barbeau was very sweet and talkative, and was not at all sore when I asked her about her thoughts on cartoon characters wanting to put their brains in an Adrienne Barbeaubot. She laughed and said she had never seen Sealab 2021, but lots of fans have been mentioning it to her.
Also a good sport on the subject of parodies was George Romero. He told me he was impressed with my buddy Kevin’s student film Night of the Living Bread and referred to it as “a hoot”. He sends regards to Columbus and the Drexel Theatres and the minions of the marathons.
David Prowse, while older and using a cane, is still quite the physical specimen. He is tall and still broad shouldered, yet fortunately, not as imposing as Peter Mayhew. He signed my Clockwork Orange program I got from Mama, and he talked about the movie and quoted with me. I think yelling out “TRY THE WINE!” with David Prowse has to be in my list of top 10 convention moments.
And, I am happy to say, the signature of Malcolm McDowell also graces the cover of Mama’s program. He was quite personable and enjoyed talking to the fans, although I had no idea what to say to him as he is a presence that renders you speechless. And giddy. And nervous. I was able to get a photo with him, and he put his arm around me and called me “Darling”. Yet another on the list of top 10 convention moments. Maybe even top 5. Maybe even above my Bill Mumy hug. I’ll have to think about this…
Saturday night was a dinner held by the convention staff which was fun, but after falling due to sitting on a broken chair, my head was killing me so we didn’t stay too long at dinner. We got to meet people and talk to friends which was nice, but I was a little spacey due to my head. Around the corner from the hotel was a little travel shop that sold Excedrin, so after taking some of that I was fine. Excedrin has enough caffeine to help a headache, but not enough to bother my heart, so I was fine about an hour after taking it. But, I was awake. So I went down to the lobby to mess around online. While reading The Onion, I was approached by a Toronto police officer. A little freaky, but he just wanted my opinion on Macs as he had been thinking of getting one! We talked Mac for a while, but he had to run, I mean run out of the hotel lobby. After some online time, I went back upstairs to go to bed, but decided to get something to drink first. Canada still has 5 Alive, which was in the vending machines. However, the machine on our floor was totally empty. Since I was still awake, I checked other floors. Turns out the 8th floor still had some stuff, but it was the 6th floor I checked! I wasn’t going to let the hotel vending beat me.
Sunday, the show was just as crowded, which was surprising! Usually, on Sundays, cons are significantly more empty, but it seemed no different than a Saturday. But, just like a Sunday, the dealers were cutting prices so they wouldn’t have to carry so much back with them! I had done most of my shopping the day before, but I did get some stuffed pillows in the shape of Super Mario stuff. One was a one up mushroom, the other is a “?” brick which I keep putting over my head and punching. I still don’t have firepower yet.