Conventions

Fan Expo Again

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Okay, so as we all figured out yesterday, I’ve given in and allowed myself to be seduced by Fan Expo one more time.

While they don’t appear to be making a big deal about it being Fan Expo 20, at least not yet, they are, as I suspected pulling out all the stops to get my money. Witness for the defense, a partial guest list.

  • Captain Kirk,
  • Captain Picard,
  • Captain Hammer,
  • Frodo,
  • The original Batman and Robin,
  • The current Doctor,
  • Freddy Krueger,
  • Joxer the Mighty,
  • Darth Maul,
  • Richard Dreyfuss,
  • Stan “The Man” Lee.

Okay, the last two are real names, but even if you know Richard Dreyfuss from Close Encounters and Jaws, he’s done a tremendous collection of non-genre stuff that he’s far more well known for, I think.

And Stan Lee is Stan Lee.

This list also doesn’t touch on Anime or Gaming at all, but if I get to see all of these people speak, I’ll have won the con. Eleven sesssion, as long as they’re spread across four day and not crammed into one or two.

I also notice the disappearance of the sports section on the web site, which means they will put other stuff where that used to be, and that makes me happy. [As a side note, it probably makes the sports vendors from last year happy, too, because I don’t think they did a great deal of business. They were just a space for the geeks to walk through to get to the stuff we actually care about.

The competition had been Montréal Comic Con, which was going to cost a lot less, by virtue of

  • the tickets being half the price of Fan Expo
  • Two nights of hotel instead of three
  • Not being on Labour Day Weekend

But that would not have been fair to my family. Montréal looks like a Star Trek: The Next Generation Fest. Awesome for me with Riker, Data, Dr. Crusher, Counselor Troy, Worf, Laforge, plus Tasha and Q all in one place.

And yet Fan Expo wins the battle for a peaceful, family trip. There’s just too much a variety, too many different types of guests that appeal to more members of my family. Well, and me, but not just me. Montréal is a Star Trek best, then expose a family trip.

But Fan Expo will involve a great deal more planning this year than it has in years past. Last year’s experience (and this year will be at least as crowded) taught us:

  • You should not leave the convention center on Saturday, because they will get more than the number of people they are allowed to have inside the building who want to be inside the building. Last year, my wife got stuck outside for two hours having gone back to the hotel room with our youngest to avoid con lunch again.
  • Saturday is stupid crowded. Plan Saturday meticulously, leaving giant safety margins. My son almost missed our photo op with George Takei last year because he couldn’t get from the South building to the north in less than 40 minutes.
  • Friday is busy, and also needs careful planning. You don’t need quite the safety margins as you do for Saturday, but they’re still important.
  • Do your primary window shopping on the convention floor on Thursday. Thursday is the quietest day that provides the most freedom of movement and the fewest delays. Of course, it also provides the best opportunity to sit up front for a celebrity session.
  • Do your primary actual shopping on Sunday. This is when the deals come out, and unless you found something truly one-of-a-kind on Thursday when you first looked, there is a chance, if not a large one, that it might be cheaper on Sunday. Plus, the fewer things you buy before Sunday, the fewer things you have to store in the hotel room for the weekend. Just don’t forget to make notes about where the things that you want are when you’re window shopping on Thursday. The convention floor is huge.

And yet, I still hear the call of Montréal. The gathering of so much TNG geekness in one place is almost more than I can take. I resisted a similar convergence, though it missed Q & Tasha and included Picard (who is the only one who hasn’t been announced for Montréal this year, though I remain hopeful) only because I had to work that weekend, and was out of vacation time because of a tropical trip we were about to take.

Of course, if I’m honest, as soon as fan Expo announced William Shatner, the battle was lost. I have made a non-binding commitment to myself that I will not miss an opportunity to hear one of the original series cast members speak as long as they continue to do the convention circuit. And, having enjoyed Leonard Nimoy via Skype in Ottawa, and having heard in say that he had signed a contract to do seven such appearances, only four of which I’ve been able to track down so far, I wonder if Fan Expo will try to pull a rabbit out of the hat and have Leonard Nimoy on Skype while William Shatner is on stage. I doubt it, but I’d never forgive myself or missing it if it did happen.

I miss them actually on stage together in 2006, well before Erik and I started being interested in conventions, and I know I missed Mr. Nimoy’s last appearance at Fan Expo in 2009. I try not to look too closely at previous guest lists for conventions that happened when we were living in Toronto, telling myself I was young (well younger) and had other concerns at the time.

But I still hear the call of Montréal.

If I can find a way to make the budget work for a day trip, and a day trip to Montréal is rough physically from where we live, I will find a way. It may depend on how many members of my family want to go with me, but we’ll deal with that when it comes to figuring it out. The budget for conventions this year (and otherwise) is already stressed, however, because we didn’t originally plan to do the full weekend of Ottawa Comic con. The original thought was to do it for one day and take my mom, but the guest list didn’t appeal to her all that much, and we had friends going, and so we eventually decided to go anyway even though we’d bought the tickets months in advance for Anime North. And, we weren’t missing that one. In many ways, it’s the kids favorite con.

But, I’m climbing back in the bed with Fan Expo this year, after I promised myself I wouldn’t. It’s like a bad relationship, it really is. Even taking into account the crazy lack of organization and traffic control, the huge crowds stressing me out, and the staggering hotel bills, all of which seem to get worse every single year, there’s one thing I have to admit: Fan Expo gives good geek.

And that’s what keeps me coming back.

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Learning from his children how to follow his dreams again, Lance has long since allowed his writing to slip over the border into obsession, and typically has too many projects in progress. Dividing his time between traditional and independent publishing, he still finds time for spirited discussions with the technology around him,

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