My Last Geeky Weekend

My last weekend did not go as expected.

There’s an understatement for you. I knew that Fan Expo was happening and I was going to avoid it. I had some bad experiences with it the previous year (in the form of getting a prepaid ticket for the last day, getting lost, and not getting a straight answer of where to go: even from the volunteers). It got me so angry that not only did I write to the previous managers of the event, but I vowed to personally boycott them. It was a sad decision: as I know people who go to it that I rarely ever see.

My original plan was go to GeekPr0n’s Cosplay Ball Friday evening and the next day go to the Silver Snail Black Canary Espresso Bar to meet my friend John, who was coming in from Michigan, for their Midnight Madness sale. In this way, I would avoid the lines, the confusion and be able to take my time at things: while possibly meeting my friends regardless.

But as I said, things did not go as planned.

First let’s start with the GeekPr0n Cosplay Ball. I left late that evening and I hadn’t eaten anything. After nearly getting lost, though not nearly as badly as I used to get because fuck geography, I found a Subway store nearby, only to have less than a half an hour to eat and get out. My original plan was to eat and then put on my make-up: instead of walking through suburban Thornhill, riding the TTC system all in pseudo-goth, and messing up my make-up by eating.

Instead, I was forced to go to a nearby Tim Hortons and do a rush job in the bathroom. Here is a lesson to making yourself up like the Crow. Number One: don’t rush it. Especially if you haven’t put on your own make-up in a few years. And Number Two: remember that putting black make-up over white dilutes it.

And you end up resembling something like this.

DSC00117

So after I left the Tim Hortons as a combination Crow and Kiss Halloween experiment, I got into the Mod Club: where we were having the event and due to my excellent sense of timing I missed a lot of things.

A lot of things.

It actually makes my heart hurt a bit to realize just what I missed. And you can find all of that at GeekPr0n, if you’d like. I’m not in any of those pictures because, yeah, I was late and it’s probably just as well. Still, I got some dancing in and met a few people. Our magazine manager actually got me a drink and I felt bad that I don’t really drink, but I definitely appreciated the sentiment and I still do. After helping pack up some stuff, I walked all the way to College and Spadina from the Mod where I formally said goodbye to the physical resting place of the Neutral Lounge that once meant so much to me.

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It’s amazing how people treat you differently when you are wearing a costume. Most Torontonians ignored me, but I got a few jeers (there was one guy at the club that was always dancing near me and patting me on the shoulder and what-not because, you know, men always don’t mind physical contact apparently) and even some appreciation. Sometimes I don’t know whether someone is complimenting me or making a joke at my expense in the form of a compliment. I guess that says a lot about my early life with my peers. But on the bus ride home some giggling young ladies were sitting around and one wanted to take her picture with me. And I thought to myself: so that is how my cosplaying friends feel. It was a pretty cool feeling.

So after a late night walking back and talking with a friend of mine on the phone all the way home, I went to sleep extremely late and planned to slum to the Espresso Bar later in the evening the following day.

All right. Now let’s talk about the rest of that weekend.

So my friend John had this cockamame plan to get into Fan Expo and buy tickets on the busiest day of the event: Saturday. I told him good fucking luck, after trying to make him see the error of this insanity, and quite honestly waited for the messages of horror to come.

The following Saturday I woke up towards two and got a Facebook message from John saying he was heading out. All right. Again, good luck to him. I felt a little disappointment as I knew he was going to be meeting some of our friends, but I made my own plan and I was going to stick with it.

John messages me some minutes later telling me that he’s “here.”

“You’re downtown now?” I asked him.

“Nope. I’m on your driveway.”

My jaw dropped and I have to admit, I swore a lot. I asked him what he was doing here as I told him about my plan and he said he just thought it would be convenient if he drove me to the Snail or to Dundas and we could meet up later. Bear in mind: I was still in bed and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. But since John was already here, I decided “Fuck it, I’m going downtown.”

As we were going downtown, we decided to try for the Expo and get tickets for Sunday. Instead, we got tickets for that day and Sunday. You know, a part of me almost thinks that this entire thing was planned. I mean, John did tell our friends that he was going to try to get me down there, but for god’s sakes this was ridiculous.

So we ended up walking around the south building and eventually we met up with my friend Angela O’Hara was cosplaying Ariel: complete with a combing fork. We looked at drawings, sketches, and then comics. We met some more people we knew. I got a signed Manborg comic. And then we got a picture with some Daleks who decided to serve me:

Served by the Daleks

Or whom I decided to serve.

Serving the Daleks

But while language is ambiguous for a reason, Toronto traffic is less so. We spent an hour getting out of the city: and this happened both days. But on Saturday, since we were already out, we decided to meet up with our friend James in Mississauga and see Guardians of the Galaxy. I’d given up hope of seeing it with any one of my friends and I was this close to seeing it by myself to see what the hell everyone was raving about.

So after we had dinner, the first meal of my whole day, and Groot later, I was grandly impressed by the film. It was a story well done with dialogue exchange that is reminiscent of how I like to hear dialogue and write it.  I made a vow to see all the Marvel movies I can access now as I have a fear of commitment and it’s about time to get over that at least to this regard. Suffice to say I passed out pretty hard that night.

The next day I had time to eat, John picked me up, and we went to the Sunday round of the Expo. We hung around a little more in the North building this time around (and there was a lot of walking and escalators involved in that, let me tell you) and I got to meet my fellow horror and Heroes in Hell writer ZombieZak at his booth. We explored until it was almost that time and we headed back into the Toronto traffic before finally escaping on a highway.

And to cap off that day, I watched the Doctor Who episode “Into the Dalek”: which my dad recorded for me the night before. I even wrote a review.

So yeah. My friend John is stubborn and loyal and I got to have the geekiest weekend I had in a very long time. I learned just why we are Groot and that I will never be late for GeekPr0n Party again if I have anything to say about it.

Still, traffic jams need to be exterminated.

Matthew and the Daleks

Con Fail

This is what it was like to be me, on Sunday, attempting to look for the Toronto Fan Expo.

Me and my Head

You find yourself walking out of Union Station through the Toronto Train Station to get to the Skywalk. Unlike the other times you’ve been here, there aren’t any cosplayers or people with Fan Expo bags to follow, but you make your way to the Skywalk.

You know that, in the past, all you had to do was open the glass door on the left-hand side in order to take some escalators down the stairs in order to get to the lobby. All you would have to do is get your prepaid ticket scanned, get a wristband, wait in something of a line and get in. And because it’s Sunday and almost 3 pm, you think that you won’t have to wait very long. You would get in, meet with your friend from London, Ontario and explore for about two hours. The only issue would be the line that might form as you are all leaving like last year’s.

However, it is precisely because of your knowledge of last year that you know that the door is locked and you have to go the long way around, down stairways and across a street or two to get to where you need to go. You get out of the Skywalk and you are outside on the roof. You wander around. Finally, a really nice young lady–whose costume you can’t even recall now and who isn’t a staff member or a volunteer–asks if you’re lost. You admit it and she points you to where you need to go: a Pavilion entrance down below the Convention Centre.

So you travel down the steps. Your thin tight black Dr. Who T-shirt is sticking to your body in the summer heat. You walk to the Pavilion entrances and notice that there are either “Priority,” “Vendor” or “Re-Entry” entrances and exits. So much for that. You keep walking: past a large Aquarium, the line to see the CN Tower and even the Blue Jays booths. You still don’t find the entrance.

You go back and move onto the streets. In fact, you follow a large group of people across a street or two. You even notice some signs that say “Fan Expo” on the sides of walls. They are few, and scattered, and far between. There are no arrows on them pointing anywhere or even a map. You walk past a place where someone, who may or may not be a staff member is talking with a driver. You find another sign. You follow it to a dead-end.

You go back to a park area where you see a young woman standing in a grove of trees dressed and posing as Saber from Fate/Stay Night. It is very awesome and you see her friends taking pictures of her. You try to ignore the lonely feeling, wishing that you could contact your friend or someone that can help you, and continue on. And then you see that you are back in the same place you started at: the Pavilions. A small train ride, that you passed before, nearly runs you over as you are clutching your ticket papers in your hands: which you’d gotten out beforehand so you would be ready for the booth and your wristband.

You have been steadily losing your patience. Finally, you get fed up and go through the Re-Entry to ask the people in charge where you need to go. The security woman in her red uniform is nice enough, but her directions are long and vague. She mentions the Aquarium as a land mark that you’ve passed more than twice. You are tired and hot. It has already been something along the lines of twenty minutes or so that you have been lost in the non-Euclidean geometry of this part of the city or, let’s face it, Toronto itself.

Or at least it might as well be non-Euclidean because this is a vast space and you have spatial issues and difficulties with direction to begin with. You can’t follow the vague map on your papers–if that is what it even is–which has no written directions whatsoever. You keep to the Aquarium and because there are no signs indicating where the Fan Expo ticket-scanning booth is, you walk up some stairs and find yourself at a Hotel.

Then you see two men and a child. You see they have Fan Expo bags like everyone else. You ask one of the men where the ticket booth is. He points vaguely in back of you and asks if you are going to pick up a wristband for sentimental value because the Expo is essentially over. You say that is impossible because it says, specifically on your sheet that they close at 5 pm. He says that this is not possible.

It is 3:45 pm by this point. You walk back down the stairs and across the Blue Jays booths to see if you can find this place. You are feeling a weariness begin to creep into your very being. At 3:55 pm or so, knowing that by the time you find this fabled ticket-scanning place you will have less than hour assuming the vendors weren’t packing up at this point, you realize that this venture is over.

You can feel the bitch-face–that cold unsmiling mask–forming over your features to cover the growing rage you feel inside. You pass by two kids that have shirts with the words “Game Over” and you can’t think of anything more appropriate than to call this waste of an outing. The anger is doused by pure exhaustion and sheer disappointment as not only do you realize that you have wasted $45 for a Sunday ticket to an event you couldn’t even access, and time you could have used to rest, but you also know that your friend is probably heading back to London by this point.

Seeing all of the cosplayers, con-goers and young couples with their loot is just another slap in the face: as though their mere presence this point just rubs in the fact that you couldn’t partake of any of this. You look at the papers in your hand and feel like a fucking idiot. Everything around you feels as cold and as impersonal and uncaring as the business that Fan Expo has begun to represent to you and so many others you know. You’ve already folded the un-scanned papers and now you just crumple them into one fist.

Under your breath, you whisper the words, “Con Fail.”

Then because you went so off-track trying to find this booth, this booth that you wonder ever existed to begin with, you can’t even find the Union Subway Station again and, when you do, you end up sitting in a subway car that takes too long get there, pauses at points and decides to go out of service at Eglinton without even waiting for another back-up car to be there. And all that time, you get to sit there and see more Expo-fans sitting around with their comics and their bags: just reminding you of everything you did not experience that day before your week begins.

You are told later, after you post on Facebook, and after a polite but brutally honest letter to the latter that is probably buried under a high volume of many other incoming emails that Hobbystar–the company that has “organized” the Fan Expo–is going to have new ownership and perhaps things will be better next time. Perhaps they will have volunteers around the streets with signs, or clearer signs on posters, or perhaps just greater organization itself. At the very least, they could have a ticket booth is not in the centre of Pan’s Labyrinth or long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Because right now, just as then, you vow to yourself–having already had issues with Hobbystar and knowing that your other friends have experienced the same–that you are never going to try to go to Toronto Fan Expo again.

This message has been brought to you by Con Fail. I’m glad that everyone else, who managed to make it to the Expo had one. I just wish I had been one of you. As it is, I’m pretty ashamed that I had to spend valuable time and space writing this piece out when I have so many more interesting things planned, but it just had to be said.