Yet Another Journal

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» Monday, September 05, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 4
The last day of a convention is always bittersweet. For a final time we drove downtown, parked in the garage, and had breakfast at Cafe Momo. If I worked downtown, I would definitely keep this place in mind.

We separated at Peachtree Center: James went off to a panel about rockets; I went to get memberships for next year at the Sheraton, getting the big walk out of the way first. Some folks were still coming in for the day, but most people there (not more than twenty) were signing up for next year. I was in and out in less than fifteen minutes.

I wandered upstairs and discovered that Wil Wheaton's panel was in progress and slipped into the room; this was the ballroom in which Sylvester McCoy had appeared, and it was only half full. I remained for the entire panel and had a great time laughing. The highlight was Wil reading his story "William F***ing Shatner," about the day he, age 14, met Shatner for the first time and was rebuffed. Two guys, Pete and Storm, sang appropriate little songs in accompaniment to this tale: for example, as Wil approaches William, nervously trying to decide what to say, Pete and Storm start singing "Wind Beneath My Wings." Then there were questions from the audience, including the woman who asked him to sign her boobs. (He did, too: Garrett Wang has the photos!) Several questions later there was also a guy who asked him to sign his boobs. (Yes, Garrett Wang has photos of that, too...LOL.)

He did say something nice: One person asked if he had enjoyed himself at DragonCon and how did it compare to Comic Con, and he said yes, and that he preferred it to Comic Con because they have gone totally commercial, that it's all about marketing now, and DragonCon has a different feeling, more about people.

All righty, then... :-)

Then, after four days, finally hit the official dealer's room. After all these years, it's no longer unique: almost all the same dealers as last year...and the year before, and the year before that. The guy who used to sell Pocket Dragons no longer does. Just not interested in anything offered any more, or, sometimes, what I saw was just too expensive.

Next I went upstairs to one of the two "exhibitors' halls" (::cough:: dealers room by any other name) and bumped into James, considering a purchase in a corner. He seriously wants a Utilikilt, but they had already sold everything he liked in his size, either a beautiful brown kilt or a natty grey one. We walked through that room together—he found a couple of cool books from the bookseller in the center of the room including a neat volume about "selling the space age" (vintage aerospace advertisements from magazines of the late 1950s-early 1960s)—and I bought a Christmas-themed book (Santa Claus: Last of the Wild Men) at McFarland. Also bumped into James Corley from the hobby shop and ogled a tricked-out Enterprise model: it had a fully detailed shuttlecraft deck, little figures in the observation deck, and other spiffy details.

Finally I peeled off from the exhibitors and headed upstairs for what I thought was one of the more unusual panels of the convention. Anthony Taylor was chairing a panel on the 1972 television series Search. They had already begun when I walked into the room ten minutes before the panel started, showing clips from a film called The Chairman, in which the hero has miniaturized spy gadgets similar to Search.

If you weren't around in 1972, Search was an action-adventure series with three revolving stars: Hugh O'Brian as the suave and daring Hugh Lockwood, Tony Franciosa as bull-headed, adversarial Nick Bianco, and Doug McClure as wisecracking C.R. Grover. The gimmick in the show was that the agents wore a miniaturized scanner which had a television camera in it which beamed a picture of what the agent was seeing back to the operatives at "Probe Control" (the series was originally called Probe until a local series with that name protested). The operatives could also hear what was going on through the scanner and give advice to the agent via an audio implant the agent had behind one ear (translate different languages, identify something, etc). The operatives were directed by Burgess Meredith, in a very memorable—well, for Search viewers, anyway—role as V.C. Cameron ("Cam").

I loved this series and had been looking forward to the panel. There were only about ten attendees, but we discussed everything Search, including commentary on the hideous new "white control room" (apparently the result of a conflict between Warners and Leslie Stevens, the creator of the series; the original control room, which was designed to resemble those used by air traffic controllers, was wayyyyy cooler), discussion of some Search memorabilia including two paperback novelizations and a set of Viewmaster reels*, and saw some clips from the pilot film, which is available from Warner Archives. Anthony has a replica scanner he purchased on e-Bay, which is pretty cool.

The best news: Warner Archives will be releasing the entire series some time in the next year! Yippee!

At last it was time to head back to the Sheraton for the penultimate panel: "Everything Doctor Who." Here it was, 2:30 on Labor Day afternoon, and the room was crammed full, ever chair filled, people lining the back wall (like me), people kneeling in the aisle, people sitting up front on the floor...arrrgh! BritTrack needs a larger panel room!

This is always a highly attended panel anyway, as it's the last chance to talk strictly Who. Plus if the panel has any spoilers, they are usually spilled herein. However, Rob Bowen held them until the final five minutes of the panel. In the meantime we fanned ourselves and laughed and asked questions and had them answered, and it was fun despite the aching feet.

Poor James had to wait outside during much of the proceedings and finally got to come inside during our last traditional panel, BritTrack's "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish," the wrapup panel. Basically we just chill down and talk about what we enjoyed this year, and what people would like to see next year, and everyone decompresses and finally we all wander off home.

(This year "decompression" was especially exciting as the weather had gone spare, it was ominously cloudy outside, and there was news that the airport was shut down due to a tornado warning.)

Did take a peek in the TARDIS in the back of the room, constructed of cardboard and tape and paint—apparently before I arrived Sylvester McCoy had wandered in and drew a little "Kilroy"-type graphic inside: it said "Sylvester Wuz Here," complete with question mark.

Then it was off to supper at Longhorn, a stop for milk and bananas at Publix, and home again.

I hate leaving a convention. It's like being thrown out of Narnia...

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