Yesterday morning I was all fired up to do a week-series of calumnious missives about how the folks who run the Dallas FanExpo should go stand in the street in front of the Book Depository. This morning, however, I spent an hour attempting to get a detailed receipt from the Omni Hotel, and that has a way of withering one’s wiener. The valet parking was pretty affordable, but it’s not so cheap that I’d like to pay it twice.
If you yearn for vituperation, check out every post on FanExpo’s Facebook page (like, heart, angry face) and revel in the horror stories. While Gina, Willie, and I occasionally had a bad time, a lot of folks had their hopes and dreams crushed. I can’t say I’m one of them. I’m experiencing the same level of glass-is-half-empty dysthymic angst I did before, but now I’m a little deeper in debt and I have a few more star-chasing stories to tell. I’m going to call it a draw.
It’s weird to get back into the world and see everyone else grinding away about politics. There’s always this shock, like we’ve arrived back from another planet, but at least someone didn’t die this time. In 2016 it was David Bowie and Prince while we were at Wizard World in New Orleans and WhoFest in Irving, Texas, respectively, but now that I think of it, one of the founders of WhoFest died last year at the con, in his hotel room.
There was no general announcement, although I’m sure most of the core convention group was aware. I’d volunteered to help clean up that Sunday afternoon, and in hindsight I can tell who didn’t get the news. There were guys marching around in a fugue like, well, like one of their friends had just died, and there was a guy making stupid jokes about how certain pieces of equipment looked like a prop from Fourth Doctor episode “The Pirate Planet.”
I know everyone grieves differently, and I didn’t know anything at the time, but when no one laughed or even spoke in reply to this dude’s spur-of-the-moment comedy routine, I looked at him and said, “Dude, I think maybe the time for jokes is over.”
The cloud was so obvious that some part of my subconscious picked up on it, but I still didn’t get it. When I was invited upstairs to the pizza party afterward, I walked into a small hotel room full of forty or fifty volunteers packed in, butts on every surface. Peter Pixie, the master of ceremonies, practically sat on the lap of Frazer Hines, and they were in intense, quiet conversation. Everyone spoke in hushed murmurs, and I said to the guy nearest me, “Yeah, we just got done unloading the truck in Richardson.”
He nodded and said nothing. I left the room roughly 45 seconds after I’d entered and went downstairs to apologize to my wife for bailing on her during her nap in an attempt to get some celebrity face time. It went okay.
We left Texas the next morning and reminisced about Wendy Padbury and Richard Franklin the entire way home. I ranted about how much Prince had reportedly given to charity over the years. “He was a weird dude but wasn’t he some kind of superhero?” I did mention the strange atmosphere to Gina, but we chalked it up to Whovians being Whovians. It wasn’t until we got home that she found the obituary online while searching to see if WhoFest had anything planned for 2017.
Not to be indelicate, but Doctor Who actors have a sort of history of dying at or around conventions. Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor, died at the Magnum Opus Con II science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia, on Saturday, March 27, 1987 (source: Wikipedia), after his doctors told him not to leave the UK because of his heart condition. At 7:25 am, he died of a massive heart attack just after ordering breakfast. He had celebrated his 67th birthday two days prior, and the convention goers had planned a party that night in his honor.
Jon Pertwee died in Connecticut on May 20, 1996 at age 76. He was often on the convention circuit, and while the kiddies always talk about Tom, Jon was the Doctor who brought the show into the modern era. His first episode was filmed in color, and he threw a bit of James Bond into the space wizard mixture (they name-dropped Bond at least three times I can remember during Pertwee’s run). He was flamboyant, fun, and loved attention like all great folks do. He also appreciated the hell out of his fans, and if he’s not the reason, he’s at least in the top five reasons the show had, and has, such a big following.
After all this, Tom Baker said he wasn’t going to America anymore because it was killing Doctors (source: my ass), and it must have been effective. He’s still kicking at age 83, and if you want to meet him, you’re going to have to do the flying.
I won’t pull out that old “dying doing something you love” turkey. Most folks don’t want to die no matter what they’re doing. There’s no last meal equivalent of a treat that can silver-lining getting your thinker snapped off. Had fun yesterday plus dead today equals nil. Nada. Zilch.
Still, while there aren’t better ways to go, there are definitely worse ones (source: The Bob Talbot Experience), so maybe there’s something to looking forward to a nice Saturday and hey what-
Sometimes you don’t even get a last breakfast, and I can’t even say it would help. I haven’t done it myself and when I do, you won’t get a trip report. Last time I checked, Harry Houdini hasn’t called back, either.
What I do know is that I’m going to enjoy the good times I had last weekend with Gina and Willie, and for that matter, John, Alex, Billy, Catherine, Katee, and all the Whovians and science fiction fans we chatted with all weekend. We made some connections in those mashed, sweltering crowds, and we got so much love from so many people who just wanted our photograph.
If you’re looking for any more Dallas FanExpo opprobrium, it’s going to have to wait until October when Matt Smith, who they’ve booked for the second time (he didn’t show in 2015), inevitably cancels after we’ve risked life, limb, and bank account on our third attempt to meet him (he also cancelled on us in New Orleans).
As we prepared to walk out of our hotel room yesterday morning, I fumbled with the door handle with my left hand. I had three bags in my right, and the rolling suitcase was propped against my left leg. Gina was behind me with Willie, his stroller, and two more bags.
“That’s life, Willie,” I said, “It’s a bunch of bullshit but you’ll find there are a few diamonds-”
“Bob,” Gina said, “did you remember to check out?”
“Oh shit,” I said. “Heh, yeah, I’d better do that.”
I sat down my pile, walked around it, picked up the room phone, and dialed “*-3-4.” It was finished.
Today I’ll do a few of the things I’ve been putting off. I’ll also check my email obsessively until the Omni gets back to me about my room charges.
Until that’s through, I’ll think about adventures past and future, and I’ll look to here, now, for what’s important.
As far as the FanExpo goes, any convention you live through can’t be that bad, can it?