Saturday, April 26, 2014

(Rough)Con-Man: Calgary Expo Friday

Coming at you live from beautiful, clean and crisp Calgary, Alberta Canada where cash doesn't tear, has holograms in it, the change is made from metal, the chocolate is real and delicious, people are super nice and don't honk in traffic and home to one heck of a show, the Calgary Expo.  Going on I believe it's 9th year, CE welcomes roughly 60,000 attendees over 4 days of programming.  It's held at the vast Stampede grounds next to the hockey rink for the Calgary Flames and site of a massive rodeo competition. When horses aren't in season it's host to huge events like the Expo.

It's a bit jarring as there's nothing super close to the Stampede besides a casino and train station.  The surrounding area is under heavy construction so you feel a bit remote upon entering.  Like Seattle's Emerald City Comicon, CE is spread out across its site so you have to make friends with the guide and map. There was badge pick up in the Grandstand then kids attractions in a tented pavilion, food trucks and giant balloons outside, the Boyce theater and stadium Corral for panels, Big Four building for vendors and food then the main hall BMO for a huge variety of exhibitors then yet another small section Palamino for autographs and more swag.  Phew!

I saw on Facebook that Michael and Jennifer Blanc Biehn flew out Thursday so we weren't going to be sharing a flight like Seattle, sadly.  Kim Coates and Mark Boone Junior from Sons of Anarchy, Barry Bostwick and Ricco Ross from Aliens were on board though.  Customs was a breeze and the officer told my lady that Lance Henriksen arrived the day before.  Our Con hotel this time is the lovely Sheraton eau Claire in downtown Calgary next to the river and starting point of CE's huge cosplay parade.  Anthony Daniels, the Sons of Anarchy and The Hobbit crews rode up front as hundreds of costumed con goers walked the streets up to the Stampede.

The show itself was a lot of fun but since we weren't staying nearby meant we were at the show for its duration as we were attending an event that evening.  8 hours of walking the floors, viewing panels and eating hot dogs gets a bit exhausting.  I underestimated the power of Adrian Paul and Highlander as the panel filled to capacity before we arrived.  A panel on Mark Rolston and Jeanette Goldstein was great as they reminisced on their time working on Aliens, with Jim Cameron and other roles in things like The Shawshank Redemption and Near Dark.  Co-star Henriksen came up for his deep method acting style and the only person Rolston ever saw give driven and genius writer/director Cameron shit on set, in a professional, for the good of the movie, sense.  I asked if they were surprised at being invited to conventions which Goldstein stated gave her anxiety at first but loves them and Rolston recently traveled to Australia and New Zealand so it wasn't a bad gig.

Next up was Bill Paxton who we saw last week at WonderCon.  Calgary marked his first professional signing and said his wife, accountant and children thanked us.  Rumor was God was charging $80 bucks to a pop to sign and hang out.  That's Richard Dean Anderson money!  His spotlight panel was hilarious and heartfelt as he talked about meeting James Cameron, his reaction to hearing the synopsis to The Terminator, Kevin Jarre's massive and detailed contribution to Tombstone, working on Apollo 13, viewing it at the White House and urinating in between Bill Clinton and Tom Hanx.  Great times.  They didn't announce where to go for questions so I missed out on asking what the making of Navy SEALs was like and if he made people call him by character nick name God during production.

To end the evening there was a separate event dubbed Middle Earth EXPOsed that was half tribute to WETA CEO Richard Taylor and half variety show featuring cast members from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.  It was laughs galore as the cast reminisced then partook in sword play lessons, sang for the audience and did some improv skits. Unannounced video tributes from Peter Jackson and Richard Armitage put the spotlight on Taylor who was on side stage making a radio contest winner up into an Orc through prosthetics, make up and costume.  The seats are small and cramped together in the Corral but it was a very fun event.

Tonight is Aliens EXPOsed with the biggest reunion of cast since they shot the film in 1986. Before that, some sight seeing and grubbing is on the agenda but I just looked outside and it's freaking snowing.  Oh Canada...

1 comment:

  1. I think it looks amazing. I'm not sure I would have had the patience that you had though! burke steel santa barbara