Every year I like to spread the RevolutionSF gospel at sci-fi conventions, preaching tough love for sci-fi, hobnobbing with The People, and getting all up in the Geek Nation's business.
I was set to host four sci-fi trivia contests in six days, beginning the Wednesday before the con. On Monday, I thought, hey, I better finish writing up those questions.
Ha! Just kidding! It was actually Tuesday afternoon. But this wasn't me being cool and unflappable. This was me procrastinating and being completely flappable. I survived the first one, a comic book trivia night at my local comic store, Kingdom Comics in Birmingham, Alabama, home of a giant iron statue with its butt out. I felt vindicated by the looks of confusion and terror on contestants. So I journeyed to the con, full of questions for contestants and half-assed opinions for victims of panels I was on.
Appearing on panels means I am a walking billboard for RevolutionSF. If I stink, then everyone who comes to this site stinks. And I couldn't do that to my babies. I wore Captain America cologne, purchased thanks to the Geek Gift Guide: Father's Day. Napalm in the morning is not the only thing that smells like freedom.
Flash Gordon: The Season So Far
I got there late, after attempting to park near the convention hotel in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Instead I had to park in Vermont and walk.
The gathered fans and panelists had not completely turned against the show yet. Stunning. I wondered why Flash looks older than his mother. I argued over the pronunciation of the actress who plays cliched bounty hunter Baylin. The actress is Karen Cliche. Panelist David tells me it's "Cleesh." I say if it's spelled "Cliche," it's "Cleesh-ay," as in staid and overused. By this rule, my name is "Crow-ay." Small price to pay so I can keep calling this poor woman who's done nothing to me "Cleesh-ay."
What's New, What's Hot
I am new. My co-panelists were hot. This was about recent genre books people should read. I pimped like the wind, thanks to RevolutionSF staff suggestions, because I don't know anything. Among them: Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet,
and Blood and Thunder.
I was very fortunate this year to work with Van Plexico
and a talented gaggle of folks from AvengersAssemble.Net
, a collection of essays and features on the history of Marvel Comics' Avengers. I was the copy editor, and I wrote three stories in the book. Editor Van Plexico and writers Keith DeCandido and George Kopec and I talked Avengers, and then we sold books.
We all signed them, and I gave it up for obscure Marvel superheroes by signing "Two-Gun Kid Rules" and "Stingray rules." This created variant editions that will make us all eBay superstars. It was big, big fun.
I really like signing autographs. Maybe too much.
Return of the Dead Authors Society
For the second year, panelists played genre authors who are no longer alive. We talked and answered questions in character.
I was Robert E. Howard. After each panelist gave detailed, incisive, entertaining essays about their author's work and life, I said, "Name's Robert E. Howard. I'm from Texas. That's it."
I extolled the virtues of fightin' and killin', and didn't understand why you'd want to read about anything else. Van Plexico was Edgar Rice Burroughs, and we commiserated on the benefits of scantily clad women.
Manimal and Friends
Hosted by me, with RevSF staff writer Gary Mitchel and writer James Palmer as my cohorts. This is one of the two greatest panels at the entire convention. It's only pure, unbridled arrogance if it's not true.
Everyone has a favorite sci-fi show that was on briefly, then vanished away never to be seen again. Except for some convention dealer tables. (Or so I'm told.) In that hour, we were as brothers and sisters.
One person couldn't remember a show title, and described it. Before he got three words out, someone in the audience correctly answered: Covington Cross. That was awesome.
This is the other greatest panel at the convention. Also hosted by me. Coincidence? Absolutely.
Here was something for everyone, as long as by "something," you mean an informative, excellent seminar on the ape in sci-fi, from Gorilla Grodd to the evil monkey on Family Guy to Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys to the dude in the suit from Congo..
Examples of fun: the guy who did the Thunderbird puppet walk, and the other guy who would have done a Dr. Zaius impression if he could have thought of a line Zaius said.
To be fair, I also drew a blank on that. But since then, I've had stuck in my head, "Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find."
Stump the Geeks
I like hosting contests. It's easy to know all the answers when you write the questions, if I may paraphrase Rowdy Roddy Piper. I told the roomful of gathered trivia victims there were no losers, except me. The crowd attempted to rise up and mutiny at one point; then I reminded them the name of the game was not "Hug the Geeks."
When I hosted the game at my comic store, the final match came down to a geek-off between the top two, where they named items in a series until one of them missed one. The two guys went 10 minutes on just Legion of Superheroes secret identities. An audience member asked, "Does anyone even know if these answers are right?"
I said "I know," and hung my head.
Interlude the First
My friend Gina gave me a CD with Leonard Nimoy's version of "If I Had A Hammer." It is the greatest song ever done by a Star Trek
personality. And this is coming from someone who's heard Shatner do "Mr. Tambourine Man."
I arrived a couple of minutes late, and the moderator had already ended all discussion of Cavemen.
The panelists predicted which show would be cancelled first, and in how many episodes. I chose Moonlight
, the vampire cop show that isn't Angel
, in two episodes. I predicted Cavemen
would be on the air for years, like Full House
. I promised next year, if Cavemen
is cancelled, I will climb on the panel table and do the Robot and/or the Funky Chicken.
Star Trek XI: The Search for (A New) Spock
panels are totally fun because everyone is so enthusiastic, and so unashamedly into it. We determined we want a complete stranger to play Kirk, no one wants Tom Cruise near it, and many people are worried about Trek
continuity. A lot.
One of the other guys on the panel said he'd seen an early, early version of the Star Trek movie script. He was seized by the ravening hordes and dragged into the abyss.
Interlude the Second
Went shopping in the dealer's room. Long line for Frank Stallone's autograph. Long line for Frank Stallone's autograph.
Meanwhile . . .
At this point I'd been there two days. On Saturday I did five panels in a row with only a chili-fries break in between. Then RevSF co-founder Shane Ivey had our yearly sighting of the urban legend we call Lantern-Jawed Freak, when the guy came right up and started talking to him. It would be like if Bigfoot came up and started talking to you, if the Sasquatch was a lantern-jawed freak. Then we went to a place touting itself as "meat lover's paradise." Surprisingly, it was a restaurant. After we grew large with food, Shane gathered with some gaming folk and talked Cthulhu and RPGs until the wee hours. I crashed in the hotel in a puddle of my own sweat, which smelled like steak.
I moderated an interview panel with Lori Petty, who was Tank Girl in Tank Girl
. Which means I introduced her, then got out of her way. Now I'm two degrees from both Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves (they were in the modern epic Point Break
Lori handled her followers in very funny fashion. She's totally sweet and nice. Afterward I walked her out of the convention room and a young lady asked Lori to sign her bra. Without warning, up came the shirt, out came the pen, and all I remember is unicorns and rainbows and red velvet cake, and then the shirt was down and we were walking.
At the hotel entrance, she said she could make it from there, but I insisted on walking with her through the crowd to the elevators. I said, "Someone might try to get you to sign a bra again."
Mature Themes in Science F(r)iction
So we talked about smut in sci-fi, and when someone mentioned Lynda Carter I got up and needed to excuse myself for two to five minutes. Of course, I was joking. That's right. Joking.
My favorite thing was walking to breakfast and seeing across the street a fully dressed Wookiee ambling down the street two blocks from the convention fray. A guy turned the corner, saw Wookiee, and kept walking. Then slowly turned around to look again. Yep, still Wookiee.
Thank you very much to everyone who came to our panels. Next year: All-Manimal Day.