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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

Convention Venture

Primedia 1996 - Location: Toronto - Dates: October 31st through November 2nd, 1997 — Note: This report is also incomplete. I wrote something up for the first day, but then simply ran out of time and energy. Mainly because I spent it all putting together a report on Richard (Stephen Franklin) Biggs to submit to the Zocalo Newsletter.

Friday October 31, 1997
This year's PriMedia fell on Halloween. This wasn't good for me because Halloween is important to me and I don't miss sharing it with my kids. So, like every year, I took the Friday and Monday of the convention weekend off, but I spent the Friday at home. Trick or Treating was fun with James dressed up like a Turtle and Melyssa like a Bunny (web-pictures available soon!). After some spooky fun (I'm glad to say my neighborhood really enjoyed themselves and some folks decorated their homes even more than at Xmas time!) I packed the car and headed out for Solo-Patrol.

I don't particularly like driving long distances at night, but this ride wasn't as bad as it could have been. All previous trips took around 7 to 8 hours (especially since we usually stopped for food). This trip took 5 and a half! Even with me stopping 3 times along the way! The coast was clear, the conditions sometimes rainy, but the coffee was steamy (and plenty), the tunes were rocking, and the atmosphere was happy. Driving through so many broadcast frequencies meant a lot of channel surfing (during the times I wasn't listening to Van Halen or Gangsta-Rap provided by Francisco) but it was fun as I got to sing along with a LOT of great tracks!

The hotel was easy to find and I got to my room at 12:30am. I was happy! Large, spacious, well-lit (both naturally and artificially) and spacious. A large table/desk for writing makes note-taking very comfortable. And did I mention it was spacious? I could have easily taken the whole family along and not felt crowded!

Since I was full of energy, I explored the hotel. I greeted the folks in the Con-Suite (familiar faces, all, even in halloween gear) and then went to the lobby looking for Convention schedules. 2 items of note made me laugh at the schedule. I was supposed to be on 3 panels (confirmed by letter from the organizer) but one panel set for Saturday at 11am had been shifted to Friday night and I missed it (they knew I was driving in that night so I don't know why it was rescheduled) and another panel set for 11pm Saturday didn't have me listed. "Oh well," said I. It would leave me more time for hanging around.

The second item was that Lisa Howard (who played April Ramirez on Days of our Lives and who now stars in Earth: Final Conflict) was scheduled to be a guest! What. A. Babe! I'm not a Soap watcher, but, if I'm in the room while someone's watching it, and something scrumptious comes on, I'll take a few minutes from whatever I'm doing to admire. I took a lot of minutes with "April". Mrowr. :)

Saturday November 1, 1997
The day went by relatively quickly with 2 writer's panels followed by one with Richard Biggs. Lunch followed hanging around and time-killing then the Masquarade (which left a lot to be desired and was filled with me making jokes to Ronn). If taken on a whole, there was relatively little to do today. It was a day "peppered" with moments: chatting with Stuart, chatting with Ronn and Janet, dealer's room browsing, chatting with Stuart's wife, etc. The only panel I was on (Babylon 5 Roundtable) was small and brief. Afterwards, we went to Larry Hancock's room party (for World Con in T.O. in 2003) for a bit. But, I was toast so I went to my room and crashed.

Sunday November 2, 1997
Couldn't tell you what happened today. It was another quick day with an early panel on self-publishing (which was spent chatting with Les Barker about his strange yet interesting life) followed by a panel on comics of world war II (where I heard more interesting stories from those years by Les) followed by another Richard Biggs panel, some more autographing sessions, and the farewell panel. I was supposed to spend the night at Elfie's home, but decided at the beginning of the day that I would actually leave after the con and drive home. Getting to Montreal at 11pm would save me the hassles of Toronto morning traffic and Montreal afternoon traffic. And it meant I got to see the family one day earlier. Always a good thing.

Summary: It was all too quick. That's what it boiled down to. Missing out on a whole night of panels really does make the convention too short. Leaving early also worked against that. But, it just seemed the thing to do. I got some good stuff out of it, though (the Richard piece and the stories with Les spring to mind first) but I'm looking forward to spending the full time at the convention next year. It won't be during Halloween, so I'll be able to fully enjoy the complete con. At least I got this really cool Stuart Immonen drawing of a photo of my son dressed up as Minute-Man's new sidekick!!

(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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