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» Friday, August 29, 2014DragonCon, Day 1...or Sometimes Moving On Isn't Moving at All
I gave Tucker a nice long walk this morning in which he did all his good dogs. It took us awhile to get downtown, but it was still a work- and school-day, so we figured the day would start out with traffic backed up. We should have gone through Williams Street, though, and Ivan Allen Jr Boulevard, which brings you out on the garage side of Courtland Street rather than on the right. It took us no time to pick up the scooter at Disability Services at the Sheraton and then we went across the bridge to pick up breakfast at Cafe Momo. I went first and then took the scooter to hunt out a seat, since James could walk the short length from the restaurant to the table. Saw Alice and Juanita headed for the dealer's room, told them it didn't open until one. So they went back to get in line for Patrick Stewart.
All this scootering and traffic meant James missed his ten o'clock panel, so we went over to the Sheraton and got in line for Walter Koenig's panel. We were in the disability line, so got to go in first. If it's good to start the day with a laugh, this was the best way ever. Garrett Wang from Star Trek: Voyager was the moderator and mugged for the audience, and Walter contributed his own bit of wry wit, and we laughed through most of the panel. As you can imagine, one of Walter's favorite movies is Star Trek IV. Garrett and Walter also talked about being "shatted" [snubbed by William Shatner] and he also spoke briefly about being the evil Alfred Bester on Babylon 5. Asked if he'd ever been to Russia, the homeplace of his most famous character Pavel Chekov, he said he was there a few years ago for a Babylon 5 convention. He got to meet the actor who dubs the voices of Chekov and Bester into Russian. He also talked about meeting Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the reboot movies. Yelchin's parents were there as well, and Yelchin shouted to him delightedly "I have an action figure!" LOL.
Next, I went to the 40th anniversary panel for Kolchak: the Night Stalker. (American Classic Sci-Fi track seems to be chiefly anniversary panels this year!) This was a nice lively panel about the two television movies and the series, the latter which mostly I haven't watched through yet. But I've always been a big fan of Darren McGavin. He could liven up just about anything he was ever in, and gave the Disney movies he starred in a twinkle and a little bit of larceny.
Rejoined James at the Hyatt for the Science Fiction 101 panel: basically, what books would you recommend to people wanting to read classic science fiction and what modern writers you would pair them with. This went back to Mary Shelley and Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, all the way through the Golden Age of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein, relating them to similar, modern writers. A great panel with lots of discussion.
James didn't have anything he really cared to do next, so he went with me to the Quantum Leap anniversary panel. We went over the bridge from the Hyatt to the Marriott; the noise from the bar in the Hyatt was utterly horrendous and was worsened by the music being up at deafening levels. There was a jam on the bridge, and we made it to the panel a little late, but not much, in time to enjoy stories of favorite episodes, least favorite episodes, just how Sam "leaped," Al's crucial role, and all sorts of nice leaper goodness. Keith De Candido was on the panel and I learned that he has a Sleepy Hollow book out in September.
We had a good time, too, in the next panel, which was just across the way in the ballroom: it was a reunion panel for the kids' series Land of the Lost. I remember watching it although I was really "too old" for it at the time, in college, but I liked the fact that the stories were written by leading SF authors and often had some neat plots, like the ones about Enik the intelligent Sleestak [a lizard creature] or the pylons. All those SFX that look so primitive today were pretty expensive back then, and that was the main reason the show was canceled. They talked a little about Spencer Milligan, who played their dad for two seasons and who left the show because of salary disputes. He had just disappeared and just recently they found him again, and filmed the whole thing in something they're calling Finding Spencer. They said it was a great reunion: they laughed, cried, shouted, hugged, and laughed more. They're supposed to release this on video.
Previously Kathy Coleman ["Holly"] and Walker Edmiston ["Enik"] had come to DragonCon, but this year Kathy came with Wesley Eure, who played her older brother Will, and Philip Paley, who had played the little ape-like Pakuni boy, "Cha-ka." Paley got the part after being seen on Johnny Carson's show for being the youngest (nine years old) black belt in karate (his teacher was Chuck Norris), and I hadn't seen him since the series. He was cute back then and is still very easy on the eyes, and Wesley Eure still has those laughing blue eyes. It was a super panel.
And then the bottom fell out of everything. We were headed back to the Hyatt to see the Friday performance of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, and we had a half hour to get there. So we went to the elevators to get back to the skybridge and every single elevator (except the broken one)—there were thirteen—was mobbed and people were waiting. We almost got on one elevator but the scooter wouldn't fit all the way in. Every other elevator that showed up was full and either no one got off, or not enough people got off to make room for a scooter. We had heard there were supposed to be people there to help you get on the elevators if you didn't make it on in a certain time, but we didn't see anyone.
After twenty minutes of waiting I noticed we were opposite the bridge going to the Hilton. Maybe their elevators were better? After going across the bridge and having a dickens of a time getting the scooter through the narrow ramp the Hilton had, we arrived at the elevators to discover theirs mobbed, too. We asked if there were other elevators and were told there were some at the opposite end, but I guess they meant the service elevators. I didn't think we could use them without someone allowing us to, although handicapped access is supposed to have use of them. So we waited a bit more and an elevator did come—and we ended up in a dead end at Trader Vic's! Luckily the receptionist was very nice and allowed us to go out their street door, which was right across the street from the garage.
By then we were thirsty and frustrated. We just took the scooter back to the Sheraton. I talked to the fellow at Disability Services who checked us in last night, and he said there were supposed to be security people at both the Marriott elevators and the Hilton elevators to help disability badged people. We told him there weren't any. Anyway, we just went home. Our reward was seeing a lovely sunset and having a happy puppy and birdie greet us when we got home. But I'm really upset about missing ARTC and the whole elevator situation. This isn't something new at conventions; the elevators are always a nightmare and have been for years, but we've never stayed at the hotel and just taken the escalators on the convention floors. And a bunch of those people at the Marriott and the Hyatt were going back to their rooms, so the crowd was justified. Why don't they have ramps on the convention floors at hotels for mobility impaired people instead of forcing them to take elevators (and have them wide enough; the one in the Hilton was barely navigable unless you had a wheelchair only)?