Sunday, September 03, 2006

Set Phasers on STUN

Shatner jokes with Nimoy

Some people travel to Graceland, some to Walt Disney World, others to Hollywood, while some may just go across the US border to Buffalo. If it's to see where Elvis lived, visit Mickey Mouse, see a movie/TV star, or a the Leafs crush the Sabres, there are those that do things that may seem odd to others.

Crazy? Waste of time? Waste of money? Who the hell cares.

As a fan of the original Trek series (Star Trek TOS) seeing William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy was right up there with all those crazy things people do. I can't really explain the fascination of the show or even why I'd want to see these actors. Perhaps it's the inner workings of what used to go on a sci-fi set that interests me. Has it changed over the years? Were the budgets crazy low? How many days did they get to shoot? How long did a show get to have for post production?

Following other people's lives is fascinating to me. When I used to have cable, oh so many years ago, I'd watch the Biography show on A&E. With Shatner "singing" again and Nimoy doing photography one wonders how each of these actors arrived to where they are now. What inspired them? What events changed their lives? Even "famous" people have some interesting stories.

Missing them wouldn't be the end of the world but it's right up there with going to Denmark to check out LegoLand or to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics show, visiting New York's Ellis island to see my grandfather's name on some plaque, creating a sequel better than "Macho Baby!" and understanding the mind of the fairer sex (some things are a lot easier to achieve than others).

The seeing of Nimoy and Shatner was made pretty easy for me. As it would happen they would be showing up in Toronto, All I had to do was make my way to the convention centre and cough up some money.

FanExpo 2006 at the Metro Toronto Convention centre is a place to shop for merchandise in Anime, Comics, Horror, and Sci-Fi genres. Booths set up in a large room for you to peruse and pick up pretty much anything. The cost for this shopping privledge? $20.00. Yes, even to this blogger it seemed a little steep considering the main purpose for you to get into the convention was to spend more money buying stuff. I figure the average person would blow another $50 - $200 on their hobby. I'm probably really underestimating.

Once forking out the $20 there were some side benefits. On the opposite end of the room from the entrance (more on this later) there was the autograph signing of various celebrities. Some of the people included Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) , Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror), Robert Picardo (Voyager TV series), Juliet Landu (Angel TV series), and Alice Cooper (Wayne's World). There were also a few grouped tables assigned to various artists and writers. You could buy artwork, get your comicbook signed or an assortment of other things.

My convention day started by debating whether or not to even attend. I had received an invite to purchase platinum tickets back in november. It was a lot of money. $400.00 to be exact. $400.00 was the special discounted early bird price should I have acquired one back in november. Not having any money back then to splurge on something as nutty as this I didn't buy one of these tickets and was now faced with deciding how I was going to make it in and how much I was going to pay. The thought of going last minute and paying through the nose seemed a bit crazy. Crazy but somehow still alluring.

It was 11am. Shatner and Nimoy were scheduled to begin their talk at 1pm. That gave me two hours to get there, get a ticket, if there were any left, and see the two talk. Like a vulcan during pon far, heading toward the home planet, I made my way to the convention centre on automatic. I figured if they were sold out of tickets I could just walk away knowing it wasn't really meant to be. This would be a day that I would actually save money. Those days are very few and far between these days.

A big round Anime thingy.

The convention was buried deep below at the far ends of the convention centre. My whole hour to still get tickets (I arrived to the convention centre at 12:00) was cut down to 45 minutes by the time it took to find the hidden line up under an escalator to purchase them.

While standing in line I filled out one of those little pieces of paper for registration. You know, those little pieces of paper that ask you for all your information for their database so they can spam you and send you snail mail for the rest of your life. Also, while in line I noticed a girl (young woman) in a starfleet outfit. The command gold type from the original series. What made her stand out were two things. A) the uniform actually fit, b) she was pretty good looking. What the hell? When did that start happening?

It didn't seem that long ago that I used to attend Trek/comic conventions where it seemed all the women were androgynous and always wore outfits that needed more starch. These hunched over couch potatoes were a far cry from bagelhot. It's not like I'm Brad Pitt in the looks department but I still notice these things.

After about 20 minutes of checking out the local starfleet outfits I finally arrived at the ticket booth only to find out they weren't selling Shatner Nimoy tickets. Turns out they were selling those tickets downstairs. Nice signage people! The only tickets that were being sold were the tickets to the convention's dealers room. The room where you buy all the stuff.

Looking at my watch it was 12:40. I figured if the line up for Kirk Spock tickets were the same length I'd never get in. So I decided while at these ticket booths I'd purchase a ticket for the $20 entrance fee. I walked away from the booth looking incredulous I'm sure. Staring at the ticket and wondering where the $20 went.

Fans dresssed as Princess Leia and Sailor Moon

Down another escalator, I could not see where to buy tickets. I was told somewhere downstairs but no specific location. Again, where's the signage people?!? I asked one of the two frail waif like volunteers for directions. Their response "We think the tickets are sold out. But if there's any left you might be able to buy them at the autograph booth." No sooner had the nice but fragile volunteer wearing the over-sized fanExpo 2006 T-shirt say "booth" that I was off like lightning making my way past a sea of countless comicbook fan and Anime characters. I stopped to take a picture of the guy with an octopus hat and the stuffed squid wielding girl.

Stuffed squid and octopus hat... right on!

In hindsight it was great that I bought that Expo ticket as I had to use it to get into the dealer room to get to the autograph area. Once past security who seemed incredibly slow. He looked at every ticket like he'd never seen one before. I think his slowness was also compounded because I noticed the time on my watch ticking every second. It was 12:44 now. I made my way to the opposite end of the room to where the Kirk Spock tickets were supposedly being sold. There were a few people in line in front of me. Most of them were perusing or asking how much pictures of Kirk and Spock cost. None of them bought anything. The next guy actually started having a conversation with the girl at the booth. What the !@#$?

Then I thought "Well he probably doesn't get much social interaction in front of his computer at home". He was wearing a microsoft golf shirt for some Access conference that took place in the 90s. My brain flashed to Mirror, Mirror (another TOS episode) and I thought in another life this guy could have been me (should I have gone down the programming route instead of doing visual effects).

It is a Star Trek booth after all. The girl was pretty cute in an informative way. Finally at 12:45pm the guy gave up and left taking all his buddies with him. It was like the parting of the red sea with the girl on the other side. I went up to her asking if tickets were still being sold and plunked down $149.00 to purchase my silver ticket. Silver being the least expensive ticket to purchase.

Where was the talk being held? Upstairs. Where upstairs? Go Upstairs. Suddenly the informative girl wasn't as cute as annoyingly uninformative. So upstairs I went. On the escalator ride up to the floor above I started looking at my flimsy silver ticket. In tiny print it read, I'm paraphrasing, "Does not guarantee entry after 12:45pm". Looked at the watch. 12:50pm. Greaaat.

Lucky for me there was still a long line to get into the room (theatre 1). I went to the back of the line and started chatting to two women who arrived just seconds after me.

"Is this your first time?", I asked.
"No we go to these things all the time. My son with his son is in the dealer room buying comics.".

Hmmm.... A family outing. After a bit more chit chat I realized something odd. Their tickets were in plastic holders pinned to their shirts. Upon closer inspection they had Gold tickets. Looking at the guys in front of me I noticed they had gold tickets as well. Was I in the right line up?

I asked the two women to save me a spot while I went to check. I popped out of line and made my way to the entrance of the theatre. No more than 15 steps away I was greeted by another undernourished volunteer in a very large non-fitting FanExpo T-shirt.

"Can I help you?".
"Yes I'm looking to see if there's a line up for the Silver ticket holders.".
"Yes it's over there.". He points to a line that disappears around a corner.

I make my way to the corner and find the line of Silver ticket holders waiting lined up down a narrow under lit tunnel of a corridor. It's one of those corridors less travelled. Probably explains the almost emergency lighting dimness.

As I walk trying to find the end of the line I notice the people eagerly lined up look like they've had the life sucked out of them. How long were these poor slobs here waiting? When was the last time they ate? How long is this line anyway?

Finally the line ends at a door that has an EXIT sign over it. "Oh greeeeat." I think to myself. Just as I go to open the steel door a fan labelled with a Serenity T-shirt tells me the line is actually a U in shape. It turns back and runs along the other side of the corridor. I walked past the end of the line without knowing it. Nice signage HobbyStar! (the people that organize this sorry event)

I wonder back past a half naked asian girl with some bat wings and a guy with vampire holes in his neck. Upon closer inspection he also is wearing vampire teeth. Finally I get to the end of the line. Another fan, this one looks normal, asks "Did you find the EXIT door?".
"Figured as much I saw you walk right by."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"Not like you were doing anything better."

He had a point. That said we watched two other fans pass us and come back a few minutes later.
"Did you get to the Exit door and come back?" they asked.
"yep." we replied in unison.

"What could one say to make spending $400 worth while?" This was my on going thought while in line and trying to justify spending $149. It had better be life changing stuff or at the very least entertaining as heck.

The line eventually filed in following the Platinum and the Gold people. We were in back. For me I actually chose the very, very back of the room as it had the best view of Shatner and Nimoy for photo taking. I could stand without the risk of blocking someone else's view.

I took the pictures of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy from the very back of this room.

After being introduced by some personality on the Space channel. Shatner and Nimoy sat in front of us talking, what seemed like to each other more than to us, the audience. Shatner told us how crazy the airport security was and that he didn't pack a lot of stuff because of that. The shirts that he brought were all crumpled up so he went to some men's store and bought the shirt he was wearing today in order to not look like a "schlub".

While the shirt story was a bit entertaining and got a small laugh from the audience when he said he still looked like a "schlub" I decided it wasn't really the $400 or $150 worth of story telling I was actually looking for. We listened to how he ordered smoked meat and bagels from Montreal every week for the crew of Boston Legal and how bagels in Toronto were based on Montreal bagels somehow.

One story that will stick with me was something that Leonard Nimoy had told us. When he was between acting jobs he had become a cab driver. The year 1957 before Star Trek, before Spock. He had picked up a fare that turned out to be senator John F. Kennedy. Because they were both from Boston they started chatting. Nimoy told Kennedy how tough it was to be an actor and Kennedy replied "There's always room for one more GOOD one." Nimoy and Shatner then talked about perserverance. That was pretty inspiring.

After the talk both Shatner and Nimoy left the room. I started talking to another fan standing next to me. He was interested in my camera gear. I was shooting Nimoy and Shatner with my 70-200mm f2.8 with a 2x teleconverter. As the room wasn't that well lit I had to shoot using 800 and 1600 ISO and stand still with a 1/15 of a second shutter speed. Thank goodness for having a monopod. After about 15 minutes of talking I asked "Why is everyone still in this room?" Someone replied "Autographs". Oh yeah. I forgot about that.

Being a platinum ticket holder you not only got an autograph of both Shatner and Nimoy, you also got a picture taken with them, a holographic 40th anniversary sticker, and front row seating. The gold ticket got you both autographs and seating behind the platinum people. Silver you had to choose between Shatner or Nimoy and you got to sit or stand behind the gold people. As I could not decide which actor to sign my 8x10 photo... Oh yeah, none of the prices include anything for them to sign. That was a separate cost. The 8x10 photo costing $10 and $2 for the plastic sleeve so the photo didn't get crumpled. I ended up purchasing the other autograph as well. That was another $99.

expo ticket $20.
silver Ticket $149.
photo with plastic sleeve $12
Extra autograph $99
total $280

We were told to have our items out of their containers, bags, or sleeves to be ready for signing. That was about an hour ago. Thanks to some kind of SNAFU, I along with seven other people, were stuck in a small group waiting to get our signatures. We had tickets for both Shatner and Nimoy which we had to exchange for another Shatner Nimoy type ticket. Where's the logic behind this? They ran out of Shatner tickets so we were told to follow a staff person to the end of the people waiting to get autographs. People that didn't even pay to get into the talk, as one of the eight pointed out. What's the point of paying by priority if we're not getting any. We started worrying when the staff person left us with a volunteer that didn't know anything.

After about a half hour in autograph limbo finally a guy came out of the autograph room to let us in. Picture in hand I was greeted by a security guard. Before I knew what was happening, He grabbed my picture, slid it in front of Leonard, who slid it in front of William, who fired it off to the end of the table. I had to run over to the other side of the table for fear that my picture might get mixed up with someone else's.

The non-personalized autograph was pretty quick considering both Nimoy and Shatner had signed around 1500 items in the hour before me. I looked at my picture it looked like it read "Len Nimoy" and "Goblat". Hand cramps? Hmmm. yeah that was worth $248 bucks. (insert dripping sarcasm).

If you wanted to say anything to your TV heroes it would have been cut off by another security guard shooing you out the other door. It was during the shooing that my eye caught David Winning, a director friend from LA, who flew from LA just to see Nimoy and Shatner. Lucky for me he saw me and invited me over to stand next to him. As luck would have it the Space channel photographer was no where to be found and since I live with my camera attached to me I was asked to take David's picture with Nimoy and Shatner.

David went up to Nimoy, who was reading his fan mail at the time and asked "Mister Nimoy could I get a picture with you?". (click here) Nimoy kind of looked up like the voice was coming from all directions. He grunted, got up, and walked away. David, not wanting to push, then turned to Shatner "Mister Shatner may I get a picture taken with you?". Shatner looked up. He was obviously tired from all the signing. He had a sort of stunned look on his face. For a plit second I thought he'd walk away just like Nimoy. Then the space channel guy introduced David as a director. Shatner gave the go ahead to shoot. Yea! As they came around the table for me to shoot them I waited for a pose. David was beaming where as Shatner looked like he had the wind knocked out of him. I waited a bit more but his expression didn't change. I snapped the picture. I'm hoping Shatner doesn't lose it when he sees the result (it's on IMDB).

David Winning and William Shatner

After the picture taking David went down to sign some autographs and I went to look around at the convention or CON for short. Coincidence?

The bargain bins still exist.

Anime stuffed figurines

Betty Clocker and the Ref from the Pillow Fight League

Stacy poses in PFL mode.

part of the Horror section in the dealer room

Not sure what these stuffed figures are.

Manga anyone?

Outside is the unknown musician

Interviewing a Anime fan for YouTube.


Zee said...

See you got to see those old farts anyway. And you wanted to miss your friends birthday...

BagelHot said...

I didn't want to miss Michelle's birthday. If Shatner and Nimoy were on the saturday than I would have had prior plans.

We were actually supposed to meet the week before for her birthday. I reserved that sunday off but Michelle didn't get back from Montreal on time.

Cupcake said...

That's quite an adventure you there BagelHot. Don't know if I would pay that much to see anyone...even Keanu Reeves. ;->

theotherbear said...

Wow. I think the only people I would pay that much to see would be musicians. Probably dead ones. Yeah, if Freddy Mercury was prepared to come back to life and do a concert I'd probably pay that much.

However... as long as YOU felt it was worth it, then it was worth it.

It's a shame they weren't friendlier to the fans.

Anonymous said...

I think that is the longest blog entry I've read to date.

silvereyz said...

Well I thought about shelling out too, but knew it would be hell. I joked about having Shatner autograph my breasts, but after reading your tale, I am so very glad I didn't! What is with that pink shirt he's wearing? Maybe he was phasered BEFORE going clothes shopping!

BagelHot said...

Shatner actually had a little blurb about getting the shirt and still looking like a schlub.

Sock Monty said...

Dig the Monster Factory picture! Not sure why they're there, but they are very cool toys after all. Hm, There should have been Sock Monkeys there, too...!