Also, as you'll note in these convention travelogues one of the guys I stay with, John, is a bit of an autograph whore. (His words, not mine) Anyway, it has come to his attention that in the course of things he lost a Tomorrow People cover signed by Jason Haigh-Ellery. We think it happened during Saturday's autograph session. You might remember him as the guy with tons of covers in ziplock bags trying to figure out which ones to get signed. Obviously, if you go through your stuff and find you're now the owner of a Tomorrow People cover signed by Jason made out to John and you're not named John it's a safe bet it's not yours. If you happen to be in possession of this please drop me a line privately and arrangements can be made to get it back to him.
We now return you to your regular convention travelogue.
Breakfast is again the culinary mecca that is Carl's Jr. There was discussion of partaking of the hotel's breakfasat buffett but at $19.50 a pop that thought was quickly nixed. The general consensus was that at those prices the food should be cut up and pre chewed for you. I also thought everything should be made from scratch at the table per your specifications.
After food the task of organizing items for signature began. Friday was deemed autograph day as in theory I could spend all day getting the majority of what I needed signed taken care of. The announcement that Alien Entertainment was going to charge $20 for Colin Baker's autograph helped lighten my autograph load. The initial announcement that Pia hadn't made it for Friday's activities did screw the plan of attack I had worked out the week before for the entire convention.
The first session included Phil Collinson and as such the line started forming well over an hour before it was supposed to start. John and I ended up taking turns holding our spot in line while the other went to check out the dealer's room. By the time we made it though it was clear that the line was not getting much longer. After another quick run through the dealer's room we went back to the autograph session to find the line was still holding steady in size. We asked and were allowed to go back in, greedy bastards that we are. Along with Phil this session included Frazier Hines, Wendy Padbury, and Nicola Bryant and if we had made it through a second time at least I would've gotten everything I wanted signed without messing with Saturday's session. As it was the line had started out rather long and try as they could there was no way they'd get everyone through without running terribly late. As such the line had to be cut but as a special parting gift everyone on the wrong side of the cut got fast track passes for all three sessions on Saturday. Some days it pays to be a greedy bastard.
Once we got our golden tickets we basically queued back up for the second session involving Paul Cornell and Tony Lee among others. I got Paul to sign my copy of "A Life Worth Living" as to date it's the last Benny thing he's written. I gave Tony the first two issues of "The Forgotten" to sign and gushed about it and Pia's artwork to him.
Session number three had the boys from Torchwood and the Big Finish gang. John, Dan, and I had a lovely surprise for Laura Doddington from our time in Chicago but I got separated from Dan and John. This didn't prove to be such a problem since I had no plan to pay for Kai Owen's autograph and I only got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign items for other people. As I was the complete opposite of most people in that line this allowed me plenty of time to talk to Laura and Ciara Jansen as most people completely ignored the Big Finish bunch once they got their Torchwood autographs. Once Dan and John joined up with me we gave Laura the lovely photo we had made for her as a memento of the final night of Chicago TARDIS. Much laughter ensued with Jason and Simon Guerrier leaving their table to see what all the fuss was about. The photo proved to be a big hit with each of us having a copy for Laura to sign and one for her to keep.
I dropped my bag off in the hotel room and then went back down to watch Paul host Just A Minute. This way if nothing else I could say I went to at least one panel a day. Just A Minute is a long running program on BBC radio, the gist of which is that each contestant has a minute to speak non-stop on a given topic. The kicker is that you can't repeat words except for what are considered little word such as "the" and "as" and there can be no pause or hesitation. If any those things happen another contestant can challenge and then give the topic a go in whatever time is left. This year's contentants were Phil Collinson, Toby Hadoke, Wendy Padbury, and Frazier Hines. It was a tough battle between Frazier and Toby with Toby barely pulling out the win. The highlight may have been Phil begininng to regale the crowd with a story involving a bloke named Sven but was cut short through a foul. This made myself and most of the others in the audience sad as we all wanted to hear the full story.
I'm not one for Opening Ceremonies so instead I took my part in the great dinner debate. Since I had no clue on what I wanted to eat, only that I was hungry, Bob #3 and I ended up going to Ralph's. The Magical Bucket of Booze needed to replenished anyway so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. Beer prices were still a bit much, but not as bad as the liquor store around the corner from the hotel. It didn't take the cashier long to figure out there I was planning for a party as I went through the line with two 12 packs of Sam Adams, a six pack of Shiner Bock, and ginormous sandwich for dinner, and a bag of guacamole chips. The cashier was right when she said the chips I picked were probably the best in the guacamole chip genre. We also learned the hard way that Ralph's is part of the Kroger family of grocery stores so I could've used my Kroger card if I hadn't left it at the hotel.
Friday night was also the night for the numerous Toga/Volcano parties going on so I was treated to way too many people running around in hotel bed sheets and not much else as I worked my way through my ginormous sandwich. My friend Vanessa was part of the winning team for a scavenger hunt. I didn't hit any of the parties but apparently Phil Collinson tended bar at the Volcano party. There was also karaoke and among the highlights was a singing Dalek and Kai Owen belting out some Welsh hits.
Eventually I made my way downstairs to see what was going on and ran into Kathi, Justin, and Etta. Topic of conversation turned from one thing to another and soon we were trying to figure out how one would collect bull semen. A few trips to google later and we learned that it involved a teaser cow and artificial vagina. We also learned that said semen can be frozen, mayonnaise jar not required, though you may want to properly label the jar to ensure no confusion between your frozen bull semen and your frozen alfredo sauce. As always I learn something new and useful at Gallifrey.
The Booze Leprechaun made her second appearance in the lobby later on in the evening. I was initially set up close to the doors by the front desk, but had to move when the kids waiting on the wrestlers to come in started crowding around my area. The last thing I need is for some kid to reach into the bucket thinking they're getting soda and pulling out a Shiner Black. The plethora of kids was a bit annoying but fun to watch their excitement as several wrestlers checked in for the night. A number of us are wrestling fans as well and the kids in wheelchairs were an excellent early warning system as they'd start zooming around when they spotted a wrestlet coming in. The Big Show may have to win the award for most gracious one of the night as he spent probably at least ten minutes talking to the kids and posing for photos when it was clear he'd rather settle in for the night.
The bucket got relocated to the set of tables in front of the Starbucks and currently occupied by Simon Guerrier, James Moran, and Phil Ford. I hadn't wanted to horn in on their conversations with others, but it was the safest place to set up operations and kept Simon from having to walk too far when he needed a refill. It did eventually give me the pleasure of handing a beer to Frazier Hines and hooking up his American website designer, Van, with one after I carded him. Yes, I card if you look young. Again, I dont' want to have to answer the question of "How did the convetion go" with "Great! I spent it in jail after being busted for contributing to the deliquency of a minor. They needed to take up a collection to pay my bail".
Moving the bucket also let me meet and make new friends with attendees like Tim and Llamastrangler, which is an awesome name. It quickly came to my attention that Shiner brewery does something right because whether I handed out a Shiner Black, Shiner Blonde, or Shiner Bock the receipiant was very pleased, particularly those of the British persuasion. The Shiner Black was especially a hit and the one I was more worried about going over. Yes, next year I will endeavour to bring more than just one 12 pack of each.
The eventual highlight may have been watching a guy completely piss drunk trying to figure out the escalators. For a moment we thought he might just take a header down him which may have then ranked as the best part of the convention up to that point. Think of it as weebles wobble and that one was dangerously close to falling down.
In keeping in with my apparently "straight up G" ways I eventually fell onto bed sideways sometime after 4am.
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