Thursday, July 7, 2011

Calgary Expo 2011

After missing the Calgary Expo last year due to my bosses being complete assholes and changing my schedule at the last minute, I was determined to make it this year. While I do count myself as a big nerd, I wasn't about to dress up for several reasons:

A) I do not own a costume or Starfleet uniform

B) I really don't want the attention.



However I did want to show that I was a part of the community and thus wore my Green Lantern t-shirt, despite the fact that I don't care at all about Green Lantern and find his weakness to be laughable at best.


So off I went, on the C-Train after arriving home at work and failing to get in a quick cat-nap. As I rode, I saw that I couldn't see anyone cos-playing but quite a lot of people with weekend passes. And since I wasn't too familiar with where I was going, I just decided that I would follow someone and do my best not to look like a tourist in a city I've lived in for almost two years.


Entering the convention reminded me of that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where Bowman reaches the monolith and says, "My god, it's full of stars" and is then exposed to a screensaver (Can you explain to me what I'm watching in that movie?). However instead of stars, it was just nerds. And yet it was so awesome. I was overwhelmed by the numbers and I was expecting a lot of people to show. This is what happens when you say that Star Trek is better than Star Wars out loud


I knew that there was a lot of stuff to see but at the same time I was just so overwhelmed by the people I saw. On my left I saw Robocop looking through comic books from the fifties while a guy in a Superman costume handled a boa constrictor. On my right, a ninja from the Villiage Hidden in the Leaves shopped shuriken (Throwing stars). It was like I had travelled into a modern day version of the Mos Eisley Spaceport. Every life form from pop-culture converged on that large area and were all cool with each other. Even though I was tired from being up all night before, I suddenly got a surge of energy that would carry me through the day.


One of the first booths I wanted to check out was for Blind Ferret Entertainment, a Montreal based group which produces the webcomics Least I Could Do, Looking for Group and Gutters. I don't read Looking for Group but the other two I keep up to date with. While LICD may not be for everyone (You'll be offended eventually and most likely laugh at the same time in the back of your mind), I find it enjoyable and decided to pick up a volume of their work.


Now you might be saying, "Uh, Schweitzer-Man, you can read every strip online...for free!" True, but I like that the book came with creator commentary on the strips. And besides, I get a free reusable bag out of the deal, so we all win. Plus I got it autographed by writer Ryan Sohmer and artist Lar DeSouza.
Least I Could Do is about a narcissist who uses his charm, humour and vivid imagination as much as possible to enjoy life. Why are you all looking at me like that?


Now of course the big deal about this convention was the the one and only, two time Emmy winner, Golden Globe winner and of course, the man who put the "star" in Star Trek, William Shatner was going to be there. And if Shatner is going to be there, then there's going to be a massive lineup for his autograph. And if Shatner is giving autographs...then you're going to be paying a lot. I think I heard that it was $40 for just a picture with him and $75 if I wanted an autograph.



Considering that the man is still able to get work these days, I have to wonder why I should have to pay for his signature? Now, if the money is going to a good cause (Which I like to think), then I'm pretty cool with it. However I heard from someone that Shatner wasn't really interacting with people; that he was just signing the photos and moving on. Now should I ever get rich and famous (Support this cause by giving me lots of money!), one thing I'll do if I'm ever at a convention, is not only sign what you want my autograph on, but also take a few seconds to talk to you. "Hey, how's it going? Enjoying your day? Favourite episode is...?"
The reason these people got where they are is due to the fans.

This was the closest I got to getting a picture of William Shatner


However after hours of wandering around, I saw there were lineups to get photos and autographs from voice actors. I was initially going to get one from Vic Mingnona but didn't at the last minute mainly because I can only think of one anime he'd been in and that was Full Metal Panic.


However, I did see one voice actor's name and instantly knew that even if I had to face a thousand Klingons, I would get Maurice LaMarche's autograph for my dad. Back in the mid-90's, there were awesome cartoons on at the time. Animaniacs being one as well as it's spin-off show, Pinky and the Brain. Now my dad's pretty old school about animation. If it doesn't involve anything that includes the voices of Mel Blanc then he honestly couldn't give a shit. You could show him the lastest English dubbed anime from Japan but he would much rather watch Foghorn Leghorn smack that dumb dog on the ass with a stick. My dad could probably look at this picture all day and laugh


However, he loved to watch Pinky and the Brain. He would listen to the Brain insult people, things, Pinky and would laugh his ass off. One of his favourite moments is when Brain super-imposes a picture of himself on a horse with Pinky's head and says, "Here I am atop the beast of ignorance." So when I saw that Maurice LaMarche was not only going to be signing autographs and posing for autographs for free, I instantly got in line and waited forty-five minutes.


It was worth it because I had some interesting conversations with other fans as well as heard some gay guy lisping about how he didn't know anything about Pinky and the Brain.


"Oh, isn't that the show where there's like a grumpy mouse and a happy mouse?" he mused.


I would have smacked the stupid out of him right then and then however I was getting closer to Maurice.


"I'm not sure if this will be safe for Slimer," he said as Egon from The Real Ghostbusters. As I got closer and closer, I started to feel a bit nervous. Granted I wasn't meeting Shatner but this was the next best thing.


Maurice shook my hand, smiled and couldn't have been nicer, even breaking out the voice of The Brain to say a word to my father. If you want to check it out, just follow this link. Part of me wishes I had said a little more to him but I didn't want to sound like some blabbering fanboy. However, if there's anything I regret not saying, it's that my younger sister used the song Brainstem to study in her nursing program."Hello, I'm Maurice LaMarche and I'm awesome. YES!!!"


I thought about getting into the line for Rob Paulsen (He did the voice of Pinky and a lot of other characters) but that was three times as long and I was lucky to get to the front of mine early. No, I would have to wait another time. One thing I also regret missing was a panel Maurice, Rob and Jess Harnell (The voice of Wakko) took place in. Apparently they took turns doing William Shatner impressions and did other things too. I have no idea if anyone asked Rob to recite Yakko's World but I've seen video of him doing it before and that would have been cool to see.


I kept wandering around with no clear goal in mind. As the final hour approached, I got near the autograph section again and saw that there was a very short lineup to get an autograph from Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Genearation and also hosted Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which was sort of like a modern day Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. This I couldn't pass up, especially since in the third grade, I wrote a brief explination to a magazine, explaining why Riker was my favourite character. Looking back at that letter, I can say that it's poorly written and I only picked Riker because all the characters were my favourite. But it still got published anyway.


Regretfully, I wasn't allowed to film my encounter with Frakes but he was nice, shook my hand, signed my picture and thanked me for coming out. I didn't mind shilling out $20 for that. By that point, fatigue was beginning to set in. I could write a whole other paragraph or five about my adventures with Calgary transit, however I expect you're pretty tired from reading this already. All in all, it was a great time, I'll be going back in 2012 and getting a weekend pass.Probably my favourite picture I took that day. I don't know why but it feels like a perfect representation of this convention

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