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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

Convention Venture


Primedia 1995 - Location: Toronto - Dates: October 27 through October 29, 1995 — The fun never stops...

Ok, this month it's time for some praising. Lord knows it's been too long :). Actually, this is going to read more like a diary entry than anything but that's mainly because the topic is a personal re-telling of my weekend in Toronto for the PriMedia convention. It was just such a fantastic experience that I feel the need to put it down somewhere and decided this is as good a place as any.

Let's get this started right at the beginning, with Jeff, Mark Shainblum, and I hopping into my car after having coffee and freshly-baked cookies at my folks' place on Friday Morning, October 27th, at 8:15am. We were all in pretty good spirits although we felt a little weird to be leaving for Toronto on a day when thousands of people were flocking to Montreal for the NO rally. Still, I had my NO sticker on my window, and Mark put up a Quebec and Canada flag on a rear window, and we kept listening to CBC NewsRadio for updates. In fact, people were generally happy at every stop we made (the first one at Tim Horton's with the most enthusiastic people. The second at Wendy's for lunch greeted us with a lot of strange stares. We couldn't tell if it was because of the flags, our conversation, or our general psycho looks :))

Jumping to Toronto (after spending an excruciating amount of time CRAWLING on the 401 within the T.O. boundary), we checked into our rooms, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and after registration started checking out the panels. At seven, Jeff and I went to see Spider Robinson and his wife Jeanne, give a small, private concert. It was simply amazing. I've heard Spider sing before, but it makes no difference the number of times I've seen him or will see him. He is still a LOT of fun to watch and quite inspirational as well. It was great and a little startling since I sat there with Jeff and another friend (Elfie) thinking that we were in Toronto with both Gaby and Mark, when in walks Kre'quor (our Klingon friend)! It felt like a Friday Night at Picasso's!!!!!! (Big Grin) Imagine, members of the regular Friday night crowd went to Toronto to hold a GT. :)

The other panels that night were nothing to speak of, but at about 11:00pm there we were; myself, Jeff, Gabriel Morrissette, Mark, Spider, Jeanne, Terry Pallot and a few others, chatting in front of the main halls. It was a great chat and a lovely experience. At 1:00am we all called it quits but I was too pumped (either on sugar or adrenaline I don't know) and thus found myself giggling until 3:00am at which point Jeff threatened to smother me with a pillow if I didn't shut up. :)

Saturday Morning, our first panel was one with Gaby, Mark, Janet Hetherington, and Les Barker (creator of Johnny Canuck). I got there early so I had time to meet and speak with Les' wife, Lucy. The panel itself was absolutely energetic! I had a blast and only wish I had thought to record it as it was that good! Afterwards, we all went to lunch together and thus I managed to spend the next couple of hours chatting it up with Les and Lucy and showing Lucy around the convention center when Les was signing autographs. I had a marvellous time with them and found them to be two of the nicest folks I've met (in fact, I was quite pleasantly surprised and honored when Mark told me the next day that they liked me as well :) I'm very happy I met them).

The afternoon (or rather whatever small time remained after Les and Lucy left to rest) flew by and before I knew it, it was time to see and listen to Chris Carter! (after a quick stop at the signing booth to see Spider and Jeanne again and to give them the pictures I took of them at Con*Cept). Chris has got a dynamic personality and a commanding presence. It was fun listening to him answer questions and it really showed that he is having the time of his life with the X-Files. Afterwards, at the signing, I shook his hand, took his picture, and told him: "Chris, I know you've heard it a dozen times, but I just want to thank you for all you've done" :)

Next up, Spider and Jeanne read excerpts from their books which I happily recorded (by permission!). 90 minutes of good times and great lines. The Masquerade was held afterwards and Kre'quor had us rolling on the floor with his costume. We watched the Improv troupe afterwards but they were nowhere near the calibre of On The Spot. Finally, at 10:00pm, we headed off to a private Con-Suite and held a small SongFest with Spider doing the guitar and most of the singing with us following. I sat on stage, between him and Jeanne so I could get better recording quality (again, by permission) and pretty much spent the next 4 hours (yes, 4 hours!) in singing heaven. It was such a great feeling/experience and I'm grateful to have most of it on tape. I'll be remembering this for a long, long time.

We time warped the clocks back so Jeff and I went to our room and stayed up an hour chatting.

Sunday morning, I got up early and went to pick up our friend Elfie. Jeff slumbered away and Elfie and I thought up of devilish things we could do to him if he were still asleep. Well, I don't think Jeff knew I was picking her up but when I got back to the room, he was in the bathroom washing up. He came out and, thinking I was alone, growled and struck a wrestling pose. Until he saw Elfie! Then, his face blanched when he realized he was bare-chested and he jumped back into the bathroom while Elfie and I guffawed quite loudly. The rest of the day went rather quickly, what with checking out of the hotel, catching the early panel on Babylon 5 (much too short), having lunch, getting to the panel hosted by George Buza and Allison Court (The Beast and Jubilee from the cartoon series) which turned out to be an incredibly entertaining hour, then getting their autographs and chatting with them a bit. (All the while trying to find a bib for Jeff who was drooling MUCH too much! (grin)).

I drove Elfie home and then went back to pick up Jeff and Kre'quor who decided to drive down with us as it was cheaper than taking the bus. 6 hours of laughs and stories later we were back in town wishing we could do the whole weekend over. I, honestly, never expected to enjoy myself in Toronto as much as I did. But, as has been proven over and over again, the company of great friends, and good discussion (plus goofy costumes) really does overcome all. That must be why we end up having fun every friday night even though we don't really do anything but hang out (smile)


(Convention Venture (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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