Savage Enterprises Publishing
Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

Galaxion's Launchpad

Toronto Trek 2000 - Location: Regal Constellation Hotel - Dates: July 14th through July 16th, 2000 — A special report by Chantale Turgeon

I admit it; Mike is slowly assimilating me into his world. Not only did I attend a 3 day convention, but now I'm writing a convention report for Comicopia!!! Before getting into the nitty gritty of our trip, I'll introduce myself officially to those whom might not have come across my name in Mike's sections (I really don't see how that's possible though! :) ) I'm Chantale & for further info as to who I am to Mike, I suggest you refer back to his section in previous Comicopias! :)

Anyways, let me start with the pre-trip events! When working in a call center, there is a point every month this is dreaded by each employee…Full moon. The reason being that every person calling has either a complaint, is rude, or is insulting. This happens EVERY time around the full moon, most commonly a few days before. Luck had it that it landed on my last day of work before the 3-day con. So not only was I excited about leaving…I had this awful never-ending day… Finally 5:30 came and I darted out to meet Mike (as usual) in the lobby. We headed to his place first to do the final packing, and then to mine. We also had to make an unexpected stop at the drugstore to pick up a toothbrush for Mike since he forgot his at home. He managed to pack the toothpaste, but not his brush [who knows!!!] Anyhow, finishing the last touches later than expected got us both quite grumpy, but we still decided to watch Part 2 of the 3 part "Back To The Future" marathon. He was staying the night since it was much more convenient for the drive the next morning, so after the movie we hit the sack.

Friday, July 14th, 2000

5:20am - I woke up anxious & excited about our road trip, but looked at the clock and rolled back over! :)

6:20am - The alarm went off to get ready. I climbed back into bed to hide my head under the covers…but Mike came up and dragged me out. 20 minutes later we were out of the house. 40 minutes after that we forgot our snacks in the fridge!!!

A little after 8 we reached the 1st Tim Horton stop on the 401 – Breakfast Time!! Mike enjoyed a country breakfast thingy-ma-bob, while I had a bagel. We had to, of course, top it off with a freshly baked apple fritter and coffee!

Breakfast was all I needed to nap once we hit the road again. I do recall being awoken by a camera flash, but drifted off soon after… :) (Post-trip note: Mike successfully took a picture of me snoozing.)

Who knows how much time passed between stops but I next woke up in a McD's parking lot since Mike was craving a morning Large Chocolate Milkshake…It really took me off guard since I'm not used to stopping so frequently, considering I'm used to driving 5 hours straight. I had figured we would stop for breakfast and lunch…no SNACKS!! :) Anyways it ended up being our last stop until the hotel.

Approaching Toronto it was obvious that the sun that had been following us throughout the trip was soon going to be replaced with some wicked storms. Of course I can't describe the lightning or the rain since I slept right through and only awoke at our exit! (grin)

We arrived at the hotel, checked in, then went to park the car indoors. Mike got out to unpack the car while I cowered in the car due to the thunder that was roaring…yes I'll admit I screeched when the thunder hit…but unlike regular storms, Toronto thunder rattles your bones and vibrations can be felt throughout your body.

Finally darting out in a quieter moment we made our way to the 14th floor. Our key cards were quite the toy since they made the same sound as the Star Trek: TNG living quarters doors…impressively ironic for TT 2000.

Our room was HUGE! We had a massive king size bed, a wonderful view of the city, full length mirrors on every wall, a high ceiling, a couch, drawers, lamps everywhere….but a teenie weeny bathroom; we had to leave the door open to not feel claustrophobic [women: the door hit your knees when shutting the door! :) ]

So we spent a while settling in, unpacking and unwinding from our long drive. We walked around the massive hotel in search for registration and to snoop. The con was taking up a huge part of the hotel! The dealers room alone was intimidating! So many people/things to look at!! I was introduced to Rick Mansley, one of Mike's friends who sells/makes jewelery. What a super nice guy!! While checking out his booth we decided that I could get a Tiger Eye necklace and Mike would get a pinky ring. Rick was so charming as he gave me the necklace for free and Mike had to pay, reason: I was prettier than Mike! (grin) I guess the following day, Mike struck his fancy since he got a free necklace too! :)

At that point we skipped lunch and were quite hungry so headed out in search for a restaurant…we wanted to go to the Keg for their lunch specials but didn't serve it at night. So we went to Pat & Mario's and shared a burger and an oven baked pizza. (As you'll all notice, we share all of our meals!)

After supper we attended our 1st panel – Hottest Space Romances – it did have potential aside from this loud, obnoxious, opinionated chick sitting in front row. We walked out of there discouraged. It wasn't a hot start to the con. Our next one was at 11pm and was about B5 & religion. This one definitely had some kick to it! I was quite impressed with it considering the time and the topic…I know nothing of B5!!!

By the end of that panel we were so exhausted that it was a task in itself to get up to the 14th floor. Before heading in to our room we walked to the window at the end of the hallway to see the view and got more that we could have ever expected…a massive factory was burning a few streets away. The flames were apparently 4 stories high!! To get a better look we went into our room and installed ourselves on the king size bed, to only realize how comfy it was…so we dozed off.

Saturday, July 15th, 2000

7:20am - Eyes wide open. I'm wide awake…damn that automatic internal clock!!! It's my vacation!!!

Some time later Mike and I strolled down to the pool to get an early morning dip. The water was like bath water and the wicked thing was the open wall allowing us to go inside and outside! We floated around for a while and headed back up to shower, get dressed and to run to the green room and then to Mike's first panel which was at 10am!

We entered the overwhelming Patio Ball room where Mike was to host his first panel alone. One woman actually found the place since it wasn't an obvious place to find. So we sat in a circle and chatted, certainly not as intimidating as Mike thought!! :)

There is one thing that I'll state here, in the entire con with 200+ panels, there were ONLY 6 comic panels…Mike belonged to 4 of them…alone. The way I totaled everything is that 16 people showed to all 4 panels. That averages to about 4 for each panel. Now some of the other panels that weekend had 3-4 panelists, with only 3-4 people. So that is 1-1 for them while Mike had 4-1 on average. All this to say that I am extremely proud that Mike got such a turnout at this "non-comic" con, and the way they were fun, interesting and insightful.

Now that he's blushing…back on track!

Following the panel, we headed to the green room in hopes of meeting David Shtogryn. Just as Mike had expected he was there, and greeted Mike and I with huge hugs! (Took me honestly off guard, since I didn't know him! :) ) But just as I figured, he turned out to be such a great guy!

After chit chatting with David, he headed to a panel while Mike and I made our way to lunch. Once again craving The Keg, we headed there to find it closed on Saturday for lunch…ARGH!!! That was it, we vowed not to EVER give them our money!!! :) Instead we made our way into a Texas cowboy theme bar & grill to share a caesar salad and a chicken club. The interesting and funny part came as we left. We both needed to use the restrooms so headed down the stairs to find a cowboy theme there too: Women had outhouses, while the Men had a trough (that's right the kind horses uses to drink from!) :) Need I say more about Mike's experience? (wink wink).

We slowly made our way back to the Regal Constellation Inn to attend a variety of panels, to examine a vast number of exhibitions from costumes to art etc…I seemed to have this thing with bumping into Klingons, one guy was so impressive that I will admit to having my heart miss a beat when he growled at me. (grin) We caught the main, lame attraction – John DeLancie. He really wasn't impressive, in fact we left a little early. It may have been the really bad questions from the audience, but he had this arrogant air about him. Oh well…

That evening we went to this fantastic Italian restaurant called Graffiti's. We both had a delicious plate of pasta which we shared (obviously!) :) We got back in time to go to Mike's cancelled panel and scurried to the masquerade. It was such a large event, over 40 costumes…my personal favorite was a Borg, I was just amazed at all the detail, the lights etc…that were included in the costume! :) After that Mike had 2 more panels to host, but I'll be honest I was so tired at that point I just wanted to go to bed.

Sunday July 16th, 2000

Today we slept in instead of swimming. The day was way too long yesterday!!! (grin) We packed up our stuff and checked out. On our way down to the lobby with all of our things we took the elevator with Robin Atkins Downes and Apollo (don't know his real name). Mike was awestruck while I stood there not knowing anything! (grin) I have to admit that it was only after we got out of the elevator that I realized the two tiny people following them were assistants! :) We checked out and packed our stuff in the car. We basically spent the rest of the morning with David and following him to his panels. By lunch time we watched Pat Tallman and her husband Jeff (both from B5). They were much better than John DeLancie, much funnier and way more into it! :) After the show we said our goodbyes to Rick and attended one last David panel – ironically "How to Assimilate you spouse into SF". It was fun to hear how others get their significant others to partake in their interest and Mike had no qualms in sharing how he got me into Comics…Hence the alias of Galaxion.

By that time it was 3pm and it was time to head home. Going to the car with our hands filled with pretzels, and soft drinks, this guy grabbed my arms in such a way that I was quite stuck. He then gave me a dirty look and pushed me out of the way… Now being extremely confused and insulted I turned around to realize that I got pushed out of the way by one of John DeLancie's little men. John turned around and gave me the most condescending and arrogant look you can imagine! Geez!!! I was just walking innocently with my pretzels!!! EXCUSE ME!!! :) Honestly I'll admit I was insulted by it and it wasn't ideal to end my weekend like that! Oh well, I slept off my frustration in the car! :)

Aside from me napping, the only thing we did on our trip home was get acquainted with Tim Horton's Cold Cappuccinos, eat at Pizza Hut in Kingston, stick my feet out the window while we drove, and saw another extraordinary fire! This one wasn't as big as in Toronto, but this time there were a number of residents that where evacuated since it was chemical.

We got to my house at around 9pm and Mike got home at around 9:45pm. I went to bed right away since Monday morning was a typical work day for me!!

One last point about the con (note: highlight of my weekend), it was being able to spend 77 consecutive hours with Mike. I know, sappy, but that's how I am going to end my con report, just by saying that I love spending time with him and that it was great being able to share new things with him. :)

(Galaxion's Launchpad (c) Chantale Turgeon. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Chantale Turgeon)

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