Friday, October 14, 2011

Chris Discusses Comicon October 8 & 9, 2011 (Part Three)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

This is my final part of my convention coverage. Nathan’s final part will be on Sunday after our serial installment for the week tomorrow. Normally, I take the Sunday slot. I requested with Nathan that we swap places so that I could discuss Thursday (the Duran Duran show) before we discussed the weekend, and also to give him an extra day to write, since he’d worked the convention all weekend and was back at his job. If there is a problem with me not doing the Sunday post, it’s that last time I was able to skate by with a “rounding out the loose ends of convention week” post. Luckily, I still have a lot to discuss.

As a quick aside, I’ve sat down to write this third part twice, and I’ve ended up writing two other blog posts instead. I guess that’s a good thing.

In Part Two, I discussed a lot of what went on the one day I went out there, which was Saturday. I saved the two Q&A sessions I attended for this part.

The first one I went to was George Takei. He played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, just in case you’re reading this without any real interest in geekdom… and I should clarify that he played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek prior to the 2009 movie. Stupid reboots.

George Takei is a seriously entertaining person. I think he gets a lot of mileage from making light of his hatred of William Shatner. Someone asked him if he was proud of being the first person to run shirtless on the Enterprise. He clarified that Shatner had his shirts ripped at various points, but that he had a little something extra around his waist that needed to be covered up, “I think that women call it a girdle.”

One guy stood up and told him that he loved Takei’s appearances on The Howard Stern Show. George Takei didn’t miss a beat and said, “Oh my!”

I saw George Takei speak many years ago at a convention, and I like pointing out that he seems to be in a competition with himself to see how many times he can discuss how much “I like acting” and “Acting is my life.” I think it was his second or third sentence before he said something similar.

If you ever get a chance, check out the “Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner,” specifically the speeches given by George Takei and Betty White. Keep in mind that Shatner rode a horse into the theater as his entrance.

George Takei is writing another memoir, which I guess deals more with his life in terms of his homosexuality.

Next, I went and saw the Q&A with Billy Dee Williams. He played Lando Calrissian in the early Star Wars movies. This guy is an amazing talent. He’s a very laid back speaker though. There was some guy who was playing moderator to the Q&A, and I’m not too sure what I thought about that. The moderator started out by saying that Mr. Williams has had a wide, varied career, and please, think of creative questions that aren’t just, “What was it like working with George Lucas,” and similar questions.

This is one thing that I like about George Takei. He is proud of the role that everyone knows him for. He doesn’t sit around wishing that everyone worshipped him for his other talents. Don’t get me wrong. I understand. I don’t want to be just remembered for being great in bed. If that’s even an option… I want to be remembered for all of my talents. So I get it. Billy Dee Williams has played many fine roles. He’s a singer and a painter in addition to being an actor. I get it. I just don’t understand why they would feel the need to come out and say, “We want questions that aren’t about Star Wars on Star Wars Fan Days.” It seems counterintuitive.

Nonetheless, another one of his roles (also in the land of geekdom) was brought up a few times. One questioner asked whether he would play the role of Two Face in the Batman movies if they asked him to now. His response was, “I think that has past.” Billy Dee Williams was very minimal in a lot of his answers, but in a charming way.

Later, another questioner asked if there were any roles he wished he could have played. Williams said that he pushed for years to get a movie made about Duke Ellington, with him in the lead role, but it never happened. He then acknowledged that he was looking forward to playing the role of Two Face, but it didn’t happen.

The next questioner asked him what happened in regards to the role of Two Face. Williams responded that Sony bought the Batman movie franchise, and they had a different direction in mind. That really was all there was to it. The questioner said, “You got the shaft.” To which Williams responded, “Actors often get the shaft.”

At one point, the line was gone. There was only one person still standing, and Williams was answering his question. I was about to get up and ask, “Is there anything in your film career that, whether by improvisation or discussion, went off script that you are particularly proud of.” Then a couple of people stood up, so I let the question go.

One of these new questioners asked about various albums that Billy Dee Williams either cut or appeared on. Apparently, the only one available in most digital formats is the soundtrack for “Lady Sings the Blues.” The moderator guy (who has been pretty involved in directing the Q&A) said that it might sound trite, but the best way to get the other albums released is if enough people show an interest in their release to companies like iTunes and the record labels.

The moment that the moderator was done with his mini-monologue, Billy Dee Williams started singing. He did an acappella song, just a verse and a chorus, but I was so happy. I would have never expected to hear him sing in person, even just that little bit. It was amazing. He was singing somewhat subdued, which was smart given the quality of the microphone and sound system (as in it was meant for conversation not performance) but it sounded great.

When I got home Saturday, I took a nap, and then went out to see a friend’s band play. I did this last convention too, and it may very well have a lot to do with why I didn’t wake up Sunday. I knew this was a possibility this time too, especially since neither Miguel nor Loren seemed like they would be available to ride out with me on Sunday, even though we had the extra exhibitor badge.

I had to work after the show, and as I was driving to work, the engine of my truck started knocking. I want you to understand something. Before I left for the show, I checked my water and oil levels, because the truck was running a little hot on my way home from work Saturday morning. The water was low. The oil was fine. I’d gotten an oil change on Monday. The truck has had a slow oil leak, but I’ve been making it from oil change to oil change. Less than 300 miles and five days after the oil change it started knocking, and when I pulled over and checked it, all the oil was gone. I called in to work. I put two quarts of oil in to get home. The engine still sounded terrible, and I was sure that the engine was blown. This left me with no vehicle.

I went to bed that night, and called my dad in the morning, after I told Nathan that I wouldn’t make it on Sunday, not because of being tired, but because I had no working vehicle, as well as I needed to spend the day obtaining one. My dad and I soon found out that no dealerships were open on Sunday (which is just so weird to me). We looked in the newspaper, and we called about a Honda Accord that was selling for $1,100. This was the only vehicle listed that I had enough money in the bank to buy, so we went and looked at it. I made a reservation to rent a car for $34 to get to work in case the Honda was not a good deal even at that price. It had a lot of cosmetic flaws, but it drove well, so I purchased it. Hopefully, it will last long enough for me to either get some work done on it, or to save up for something else.

And that was my convention weekend. I wrote a post which had something to do with Nathan’s post, but it ended up being long enough that I decided to make it its own post. I will probably post it on Tuesday. If you read through my posts, thank you. If you’ve also read through Nathan’s accounts of the weekend, double thank you.

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