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» Saturday, September 03, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 2
::grumble:: Eight hours of sleep. Just once. Someday. But not last night.

Traffic was much nicer this morning. :-) We had breakfast at "Cafe Momo," which has a breakfast bar. Lots of fruit, two slices of French toast, one of regular toast, two slices of bacon, oatmeal, and milk. Yes, the food choices at Peachtree Center have definitely improved.

As yesterday, James and I separated fairly quickly. I had a panel in mind for ten, but wanted to make the Tom Felton panel at 11:30. Alice said she really enjoyed him yesterday. So did a quick turnaround at the art show, bought a gift, and stopped at Andy Runton's ("Owly") table at Comics Alley, but he was at the DragonCon parade. His girlfriend was dressed as River Song and he wanted to see her march. But I met his mom! His mom made the original Owly hat that he sells.

Thankfully there was no line at Tom Felton panel room (this was not something that would continue during the day, so i was grateful for it), and I found a good seat with some congenial seatmates and read The Magicians until panel time. As you might suspect, he is nothing like Draco Malfoy, but instead is friendly and gregarious. He called all the ladies who asked him a question—and indeed the room appeared to be full of gushing young ladies!—"lovely," which was no end flattering! Some facts about Tom Felton:

• He loves all outdoor sports, especially fishing.
• He did not know that one of the cheetah cubs at the National Zoo had been named "Draco."
• He only has one prop from all the Potter movies, Draco Malfoy's ring.
• His favorite books as a kid were the Goosebumps series, and those by Beatrix Potter and later Roald Dahl.
• He's devoted and thankful to his mom, who accompanied him to auditions and rehearsals.
• The strangest question ever asked him: "Would you show me your wand? I'll show you my Golden Snitch!" From a fiftish Australian woman, of all things!

He was asked what the difference between a US and a UK convention was, and answered that, well, after five a UK convention is over. :-) He also says they are "less judgmental" here.

The funniest moment was when someone impersonating Narcissa Malfoy asked him rather imperiously "Why didn't things work out with that Parkinson girl?"

Excellent panel indeed. And before we left, there were little cards and things taped under assorted chairs. I had one and won a shirt from Felton's band. It won't fit me, but maybe Aubrey or Alice will want it.

(BTW, this particular panel room, Regency VI-VII, is actually looking spiffy this year. They always have curtained areas on either side of the stage to serve as a backstage area—ARTC performs here, for one—and usually the curtains are askew and rather sloppy-looking. This year everything is taut and neat.)

Next I'd thought of going to a panel about "The Hero's Journey of Neville Longbottom," but I thought I'd scope out the panel room where Ernest Borgnine would be. There were already two people in line, so I stayed—this panel I wasn't going to miss! I've watched Ernest Borgnine since I was a tiny child laughing over McHale's Navy. More congenial folk in line, and in the panel room. The lady next to me had flown to France to see the filming of the series Merlin and had a nifty camera with an 18X optical lens.

So here I was in the front row listening to one of my childhood favorites, Ernest Borgnine. I mean, freakin' Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award winner! And he was so nice. Age 94 and still sharp as a whip—just slightly hard of hearing. He answered all sorts of questions about Marty, McHale's Navy, Poseidon Adventure, Emperor of the North, Dirty Dozen, etc.

Some highlights:
• Shelley Winters (and what a face he made! Winters always did have a reputation for being "difficult") and Jack Albertson used to play gin between takes on The Poseidon Adventure
• He did not watch Rod Steiger's performance in Marty before he took the role, but wanted to make the part his own. There is one scene where they were trying to devise a scene of joy after Marty has his date. Borgnine finally said, "Can I work this out myself?" and improvised the scene.
• He and Jan-Michael Vincent used to fly in a helicopter for Airwolf until the insurance company found out about it and grounded them. They used to appear with the helicopter at airshows and it was cordoned off with police tape. They found out later that the Soviets has been worried about the helicopter and wanted to take a look at it!
• During the filming of The Wild Bunch the extras were played by the Mexican army. When filming first started, they were using live ammunition!
• What did he remember most about Flight of the Phoenix? It was HOT! LOL.
• He really did run around on the tops of moving railroad cars while filming Emperor of the North. And the director forbade him to look down: "Your character's been doing this job for years. He wouldn't look down." !!!!

He also talked about some of the "tough guys" he knew, like Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Glenn Ford. On the film he did with Ford, Glenn asked him, "Do you smoke?" "No," he told Ford, "I quit." "Good! You can save any cigars you get for me!" All of them, he said, were pussycats. He told one story about Lee Marvin making a racist remark during the filming of the Dirty Dozen while drinking. The director asked to see him. Ten minutes Marvin came back, stone cold sober, and didn't drink for the rest of the movie!

I had no idea he was a voice on SpongeBob SquarePants! He plays Mermaid Man, and his old co-star Tim Conway plays his sidekick, Barnacle Boy. So a question was asked if he enjoyed doing the voice work. He said his favorite part is going up to little kids and uttering Mermaid Man's trademark "Eeeeeevil!" Their eyes get wide and their mouths drop open and they are just so happy!

At the end of the panel, standing ovation time, to which he bowed. (Every time we clapped earlier, he would tell us to cut it out so there would be more time for questions. LOL.)

Zowee. Ernest, wow, wow.

Everyone else loved the panel, too—chatting with one lady on the way out and another guessed it, another line.

You see I figured I might get in at the tail end of the "Dr. Who Experience" panel with Gareth David Lloyd and Mark Sheppard. Got in the line. Huuuuuuge ballroom downstairs in the Sheraton that they used for registration on Thursday night was full to the proverbial gills, with a good hundred or more people still in line. So I tried to get into the tail end of the Next Generation panel. My God, it looked like Noah loading the ark. I just walked up to where the Sylvester McCoy people were queuing up and waited there, still reading The Magicians, but eventually talking with more interesting people, a lady who was a CPA (also in the Borgnine panel), a young lady who was an anime student, and a guy who was in IT.

Anyway, Sylvester McCoy...bounces off walls. I swear. Bounces on stage, plays the spoons, doesn't talk about his role in That Movie That Can't Be Talked About (The Hobbit), natters on about his friendships with Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker, and, of course, Doctor Who. And wears an extraordinary white-patterned black jacket to boot! The audience didn't come up to answer questions, he took the microphone and went out to the audience, hurrying up and down the aisle, matching his gait quip by quip. I wish to bottle the energy of that one 68-year-old man!

Interesting items from Sylvester:
• He was appearing at a Doctor Who convention when news came of Patrick Troughton's death, and he was the one who announced it on stage.
• Anthony Ainley adored being the Master. Sometimes he would even answer the phone in that persona.
• Filming the very last classic Doctor Who episode was an ordeal because of the heat. The "cheetah girls" kept passing out from the heat.
• He loves appearing in the Doctor's audio adventures because he feels you can get into the character's head.
• He quipped about his regeneration scene: "They put me into Colin Baker's costume and lost me for three days."
• Probably his favorite appearance aside from Doctor Who was The Last Place on Earth (which I remember watching on Masterpiece Theatre), the story of the doomed Scott expedition to the Antarctic. It was filmed at the North Pole.

I didn't see any point in standing in line to not get into the early showing of tonight's Doctor Who, so I headed back to the Hyatt where James was after going to the art show. He bought a couple of prints, and we sat off in a corner eating our sandwiches, then went to the Westin for a panel on Scotland.

Line for that, too! LOL. Diana Gabaldon was one of the panelists, so the room was SRO. James was rather disappointed, as he hoped it would be more serious. Instead, it was a bit like an episode of Ask the Manager, with the members of the panel trying to top each other with jokes. We did learn about haggis, and watched a man demonstrate donning a great kilt.

Had to walk back past all the nightlife in downtown Atlanta (Hard Rock Cafe, etc.) back to Peachtree Center and the garage...who let all these mundanes out without a badge? :-) There was a guy sitting there promoting Atlanta Pit Bull Rescue, with five pit bulls in sunglasses, and a blue macaw who kept begging for a scritch on the head.

Very achy on the way home from all that waiting in line. I bet there are more lines tomorrow, but I am determined to see Martin Landau.

I finished up typing the initial entry for this blog at 11 p.m., playing the Murray Gold Doctor Who theme for Schuyler, who adores it.

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