On Friday, June 17, 2011 at the Round-Up Center, began three days of sci-fi and comic fun at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.
Although doors opened around 4 PM that day, my cousin, father and I did not arrive until a few hours later. Rather than walking around and checking out exhibits, we decided it would make much more sense to get in line for photo op tickets while the lines were still manageable.
Once we got inside, I was impressed to see that not only was the venue bigger than last year, there was also a lot more organization, in terms of layout and lines, which no longer intersected with one another.
Essentially, as soon as we got out of the photo op ticket line-up, it was time to get in line for the first one, which was with Felicia Day. My cousin and I hopped into the line-up and he laughed at me while I fixed myself up. In my defense, it had been a windy day and I was sure my hair was a wreck.
As I approached the front of the line, Felicia Day waved at me and I smiled, waving back as I waited for the receipt I needed to later claim my photo. I bounced over to her and she complimented my hair, then noticed my t-shirt. It was a Big Bang Theory tee which had the kitty song on it which Penny has sung to Sheldon on numerous occasions. She asked me where I got it and I said I had gotten it at the WB Studios, as I had just returned from Los Angeles. She told me she has the same shirt, which her friend gave to her.
When we posed for our photo, I asked if she would mind doing a funny-face photo, which she agreed to. Once the flash went off, she laughed that she probably looked like a dork and hoped I didn’t regret wasting my money on that. I told her I bet she looked awesome and I was willing to bet I looked way dorkier.
I met my cousin and we ran back around to get back in line, since immediately following Felicia’s photo ops were photos with the entire cast of The Guild. I couldn’t pass that up! This line-up took longer, but I got to talking with a woman who had flown in from Vancouver for the Expo, which made time go a lot faster. That’s one thing I like about conventions – line-ups anywhere else are no fun at all, but at conventions, you can socialize a lot more and really have genuinely fun interactions with complete strangers.
When I got up to the cast, Sandeep Parikh asked me what theme I wanted for my photo. I was unaware we were doing themes, so I laughed and asked what my options were. I ultimately chose ‘gansta’ (evidently I was the only one to choose this, because they all became very excited, buzzing about what pose to do and expression to make) and we got into position. They told me that they would all sign it for free if I brought it by their table later and they couldn’t wait to see it.
Somewhere along the way, we had lost my father to a walk around the neighborhood, so we called him up to come meet us. He told us ten minutes, so instead of standing around, we decided it would be much more fun to go on the Star Wars ride we spotted only a few yards away. It was only $2.00 to ride, so we hopped in the van-like setup and strapped in. It wasn’t long after we got off that my dad arrived.
I took off to go shopping while my father and cousin went for dinner, but not wanting to spend all of my money in one night (and not yet having found the t-shirt stand I was looking for), I found myself wandering over to the autograph area. I stood back for a few minutes and managed to be chased for a minute by R2D2 as I made my way around. I also took a stroll through a haunted house and watched as they gave “coffin rides”, which just made me think of Vivian from Days of Our Lives and her sarcophagus. It looked funny, but I decided I didn’t really want to ride, so I kept walking.
Unsure what else to do, since I was by myself and no panels were on that night, I decided just to get in line for autographs from The Guild cast. Although I hadn’t yet been able to pick up my photo op, I figured I would get a signed poster for my best friend, whom I had converted to be a fan of the series a couple of years ago. In the line, I ran into my friend Sean, so we decided to hang out for the night.
We made our way through the line-up and chatted with the actors as they signed the poster for me. I was surprised how much time we got with them, considering how fast these lines usually move, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. They were all very funny, and I especially enjoyed discussing games with Sandeep. Since I rarely play, I interjected that the only game I’ve ever finished, outside of games like Mario Kart 64, was Escape from Scientologyland, which he found to be a hilarious concept. I stayed up until 6 AM trying to finish it one night because I simply couldn’t get past John Travolta’s Dreadlocks of Doom!
I expected that the cast would be really fun to chat with, but I did not expect them to be as lovely as they were. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them! Felicia Day was so easy to talk to – which is somewhat surprising for someone with nearly two million followers on twitter.
Sean and I made the rounds of booths and I found several t-shirts to buy. I got 2 Farscape shirts, 2 Doctor Who shirts, a Buffy t-shirt and one for Stargate SG-1. Clearly I’m a bit in love with nerdy t-shirts and I wear them all of the time! Well, unless I’m at work – but even then, on casual Fridays, sometimes I sneak one in.
By this time, we found we were able to pick up our photo ops. I was extremely pleased with how mine turned out! My Guild photo was probably the best I’ve ever taken at a convention. We decided since the expo would be much more crowded the rest of the weekend, we may as well get them signed right then, rather than waiting.
We got through the line once more and got to chat again. Everyone loved how my gangsta photo turned out as much as I did, laughing as they passed it around. I think my favorite part of it was that Jeff Lewis’ ‘gangsta’ face was exactly the same as his regular expression! Hilarious.
I had Felicia sign both of my photos. When she saw the one of her and I, she laughed that she looked strange. She said if I took myself out of the picture, she would look like a crazy person, though I looked adorable. I told her then it’s a good thing I don’t plan to take myself out. She said she was sorry I paid for it, but at least it was a document of a moment in time we spent together, to which I responded that I loved it. I also got to get another photo with her on my iPhone, as I discovered everyone seemed to be snapping pictures with her in line.
I quickly met up with my father and cousin again and said goodbye to Sean. We agreed to meet up later in the weekend, but besides passing each other and saying quick ‘hellos’, we never got the chance.
On Saturday, the first thing I noticed was the insanity of the line-ups. I attribute this mainly to the presence of William Shatner at the Expo. Lines for his photo ops were intense. I was beyond relieved not to be standing in them. Instead, I got straight into line for Chris Judge’s photo ops. Although I usually ask for a funny photo, I decided instead just to get a hug. Chris is totally sweet!
I decided I was done with shopping, so I headed across the hall to see Summer Glau’s panel.
Since the photo ops had gone a bit later than expected, I walked into the panel late. Thankfully, my aunt had saved me a seat relatively close to the front, so once I tracked her down in the sea of people, I didn’t have to worry about finding a place to sit.
Summer just answered audience questions – which seemed to primarily be focused around Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and her guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory. She also told a couple of stories pertaining to Firefly. My personal favourite was when she told us that she hadn’t realized rehearsals weren’t meant for Oscar-winning performances, and went all out for one of her first scenes on the show – the scene where River comes out of the box…naked. She put on one of her best performances and everyone was just in shock because they hadn’t been expecting it.
Right after Summer’s panel came Chris Judge. If you don’t know already, that man is hilarious! He told us so many crude jokes from behind-the-scenes of Stargate SG-1, including one where he had farted so much, they literally had to delay production. They later received a memo stating that bodily functions which interfere with production were banned. He also told us about the time he had asked for more lines (more than just “indeed”) and the writers gave him a massive speech. He said he learned his lesson and told them “indeed” was fine.
Chris also announced the creation of his twitter account and told us that he had several projects in the works – but said we would have to follow his tweets to learn more about them, as he couldn’t tell us at the time. For those as yet unaware, his twitter account is @IamChrisJudge.
Chris had us all in stitches throughout his entire panel. I swear I even saw my dad bust a laugh, and it’s hard to get my father to laugh out loud!
After the panel, I headed back into the main area to grab my photo ops and wandered over to the autograph lines. Having somehow managed to lose everyone I had come to the convention with, I just hopped in line and waited for Chris Judge to come back to his table.
The line was already rather long, but as I saw the line for William Shatner, all I could think was how lucky I was not to be standing in that one.
Actually, while in line to see Chris, I ran into an old acquaintance from high school. I must say, we would have been much better friends back then, had I known he was into Stargate.
I talked to Chris briefly as he signed a photo for myself and for my best friend. Mostly, we talked about twitter, but I also told him how my best friend had actually learned English, in large part, from watching SG-1 when she first moved to Canada. He thought that was a pretty cool story.
I decided after I left Chris to brave the line-up for Summer Glau. Just looking at it, I estimated at least an hour and a half, if not more, but I had food, water and my phone with me (since I never come unprepared to a convention) so I got in.
My dad soon met up with me and took hold of some of my stuff, since I noticed Michael Hogan had almost no line at the time, and I knew my best friend would love his autograph too. Plus, I won’t lie, I also knew if I could get a photo with him, she would be insanely jealous. Although I’ve only seen a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, I knew a bit about his character and was excited to meet him. He was a really nice guy!
I got back into line where my father was saving me a spot and ended up chatting with the two guys behind us. They were pretty cool and it was a good way to pass the time, which was good, since we had a lot of it.
When we got near the front of the line, we were informed that Summer had a scheduled break coming up and they would be cutting off the line-up at a certain point soon, though we could stay where we were and wait until she got back. I was literally at the front of the line when it was cut off, but I just took a seat and snacked on some of the food I had brought. I also took the time to teach my dad how to use my iPhone camera, since I had forgotten the regular lens on my good camera and only had a zoom, which would not have worked so well.
I was slightly awestruck by how beautiful Summer is in person. Although there were so many people and we did not get much chance to talk, she was obviously very sweet. Since she had said she loves cowboys and rodeos during her panel, I told her as I left that I hoped one day she would be able to make it back during the Calgary Stampede, and she said she was sure she would.
Just as I was about to leave for the day, I received a tweet telling me I should see the guys from Minds’ Eye Series. I had never heard of it before, but they tweeted back and said I should come by, so I did. Once I approached the booth, I introduced myself and told them I had been sent by Karen. They welcomed me and answered my questions about the series. I ended up buying both DVDs so I could catch up on what I had been missing. It was great getting to talk to them! I can’t wait until I finally have time to watch the DVDs – which I’m hoping will be once I’m done this article. It certainly looks really interesting!
We left soon after, running through the rain to the car – my aunt protecting our autographs and photos underneath her umbrella as we raced, hoping they wouldn’t get ruined. Thankfully, they were all in good condition still once we were safely inside.
Sunday was a short day for us, since it was the night of my sister’s birthday celebration and we could not stay long. We went solely for the purpose of seeing the Guild panel in the afternoon.
However, as we had some time to kill, I decided it would be cool to see the guys who had provided the voices for the majority of my childhood – Pinky and the Brain. I found my cousin already standing in line to see “Brain”, Rob Paulson. He was so much fun to talk to and he seemed genuinely surprised and flattered when I told him I am constantly quoting the show with my friends. Really, doesn’t every child of the ‘80s and ‘90s do that? Pinky and the Brain are icons, in my opinion.
My cousin urged me to get a photo with Rob, which he was quick to agree to. Rob came around the table and hugged me. My cousin took my phone and snapped a shot, but the first one hadn’t worked. Rob kept his hold on me and said he didn’t mind if we took another, and he was happy just hanging with a pretty girl. I’m not sure if you can see in the photo, but I was definitely blushing.
I looked at the other line-up and decided I was not patient enough to stand in it. The line wound around the corner and was probably almost as long as Summer Glau’s had been the day before. Instead, my cousin and I decided to sit in on the panel which happened to be Jonathan Frakes. Although I shamefully admit that I have only seen a few episodes of Star Trek, and during most of them I was hopped up on painkillers after having my wisdom teeth removed, he was hilarious to watch. He made a lot of jokes at the expense of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart. I admit I was also highly entertained because the moderator of his panel was my professor in early 2010, when I took Fine Arts at University of Calgary. He was my favourite professor at the school.
Jonathan Frakes was awarded with the honorary white cowboy hat, reserved for exclusive visitors to Calgary. Once he had sarcastically recited the pledge which goes along with it (and, frankly, sounded quite inappropriate in the tone he gave to it), he kicked off his shoes, put his feet up on the couch and covered his eyes with the hat, as if he were going to take a nap after a long day at the rodeo.
He then laughed and said it was great that Calgarians are so relaxed that we didn’t get angry at him for doing that. The response he received was, “Well, yeah, but if you hadn’t taken off your shoes before putting your feet up on the couch, there would’ve been hell to pay!”
Frakes rivaled Judge in humor and hilarity, which is really saying something, since I hadn’t even seen the shows he was talking about. I thought I would be bored out of my mind, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised.
Up next was The Guild panel I had been waiting for. It started off with a bang – literally. There were mini-explosions across the stage after they played Do You Want to Date My Avatar on the loud speakers.
All six main cast members were there to answer questions. One of my friends asked me afterward who the funniest was, but I’m not sure I could choose. I suppose it was probably Sandeep. He made a lot of inappropriate jokes about microphones (I’ll leave that to your imagination) and introduced himself as Jeff Lewis.
Felicia was really interesting to hear, too. She told us about her homeschooling, which she said was a lot of “do whatever you want”. She also told us that one summer she had taken a calculus course in college and her professor had told her she would probably end with a B in his class, since he was a tough prof, and she worked the entire summer to get higher.
She had done nothing but study to receive the only A in class, then followed it up by saying she never uses her math degree and probably should have just taken the B and been happy. She also told us they had been on a food expedition around the city and had been so nervous bringing donuts from one shop into a coffee shop across the street, terrified they would be kicked out.
I hated having to go right after the panel. It was such a fun weekend, no matter how much of it was spent waiting in lines. Ultimately, it was worth it. Thanks to all the stars who came out and to the event organizers for an awesome expo! I cannot wait to go back again next year!