Back from the road and here’s the detailed report complete with observations for this interested.
Robbie and I hit the road around 6:30 a.m., partly to avoid traffic, partly to avoid some of the storm and partly because he likes when he arrive early enough to have free time in the afternoon.
Despite the horrendous rains, especially driving through Delaware, we made the trip in 4:25, which is pretty damn good.
We unloaded the car, with help from Jim McCain, and stowed the goodies away until the con got underway. He went off to play cards with some of his con friends and I snuck out for lunch with Steve Lesnick, a long-time con pal and honorary parent to Kate.
By 2 p.m., several of the celebrity guests were positioned to sign and sell autographs so I got a chance to meet Malachi Throne and we chatted about many of his 1960s TV roles, where I was first exposed to him (yes, we talked about his playing False Face, deal with it). I also re-met William Windom and I mentioned I had interviewed him when he visited college with his one man show back in the 1970s. He smiled and asked, “Did I give you straight answers and was I sober?” I admitted yes to the first and had no clue about the second, which is how it should be. I visited with people for the rest of the afternoon until we drove into Baltimore itself to collect Kate and Deb from the train station. We got there in time, the train was on schedule and we were reunited. Back to Cockeysville and dinner with our friends, Jim and Paula Rhule, who weren’t able to attend the con this weekend.
We returned in time for me to join my fellow authors in heckling Marco Palmieri, who did the Pocket Books presentation, aided by Elissa Kassin, who made her first convention appearance (I’m not sure if she’s ready for more or not but I think she had fun once she relaxed). From there, it was straight to the Meet the Pros party, which was wildly successful as all the authors signed stuff until nearly midnight. I was seated next to Jeffrey Lang, so we talked comics and Trek and had fun.
The con schedule is fairly straight forward and regulars know that I kick things off with an hour, starting at 10. I mix in news from DC, news about me, and show a ton of trailers, courtesy of Jeff Walker, film publicist and long-time pal, plus take Q&A. We never have enough time for any of the above.
(After I showed the trailer for Stealth, I quipped that in the original script, the robotic aircraft was originally named M-5, and was pleased that people immediately made the connection. There are times I wonder if having an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek allows for immediately recognizable commentary. At least this weekend it did.)
Once done, I ceded the stage to the Boogie Knights, including Katie, and they performed a nice mix of some really old material plus stuff as fresh as last week. After performing for 23 years, they have a deep repertoire of songs to pick from and it keeps things fresh.
As the day progressed, I made a point to chat with as many of my fellow authors as possible, since this is generally the only place I see them. Kevin Dilmore satisfied my Kansas BBQ sauce cravings with a fresh bottle of Arthur Bryants’ and something new to sample so I am thrilled. I got to reacquaint myself with his partner Dayton Ward, Robert Jeschonek, Greg Cox (who has been tremendously helpful with a pitch I’m developing) and newcomers such as Kirsten Beyer. I also did panels on Alias and Media Tie-Ins. The rest of the time was spent shuttling on and off the main stage as I played Emcee. It meant I got a chance to meet people whose work I have enjoyed through the years such as Joanna Cassidy and Danny Strong. Due to a last minute filming schedule change, Mary McDonnell had to stay in Toronto to film Battlestar Galactica so they sent Tricia Helfer in her place, and she couldn’t have been more relaxed or gracious considering she had no idea she was spending the weekend at Shore Leave until late Thursday. Steve Basic (of Andromeda) had the most fun teasing me throughout his chat – although I wasn’t there for most of it.
That night, Deb and I had our annual dinner with Howie Weinstein and his adorable wife Susan. From there I went to help judge the masquerade along with Mike Friedman, Malachi Throne, Alexis Cruz, Steven Basic and others. It was one of the better, more competitive masquerades in quite some time. Katie and Robbie were part of a group skit, along with Kate’s pal Rachel and Peter David’s Daughter Ariel plus their friends Danicah and Marina. The six trouped out in outfits crafted with love by Kathleen David, representing six different characters played by Johnny Depp and once they took the stage then did a routine to the Village People’s “In the Navy.” It was very well received and the troupe took first in their category plus Best presentation with Kathleen netting a workmanship award. (For those wondering, my score was actually the average of the other judge’s numbers so there was to be no bias here.)
Once the Masquerade ended, Peter, Mike and I headed off for a final run through of Mystery Trekkie Theatre. We were joined by Alan Chaffin, who good naturedly plays our Mad Scientist, year in and year out (and he usually gets the best lines or actions). The rehearsal ran long so I went to bed, skipping the Ten Forward dance.
Yes, at the crack of 8:30 a.m., we were back in the bar. This time, though, for an Author’s Breakfast, giving us all a chance to be together, to table hop and chat, to exclaim our jealously of one another’s recent assignments and to enjoy the company.
At 10, most them were in the audience for this year’s absurdity. For Mystery Trekkie Theatre, we threw the audience for a loop by skewering the unsold ABC pilot, Alexander the Great, starring not only William Shatner, but Adam West. It took the audience about 90 seconds to figure things out – once they saw Shatner, we had them. It is truly wretched and we got off many good lines despite some sound problems. The one that got the biggest laugh was when the enemy’s troops rode into a solid wall of Alexander’s men with full-sized shields to turn the cavalry away. Of course, the horse broke through here and there to which Peter commented, “Cap’n, the shields cannae handle the strain!” (Maybe you had to be there.)
The afternoon zipped by, with some overdue one on one time with Kate as we wandered the dealers’ room. I also participated in the Voyager panel discussing the 10th anniversary celebration. Later, we put a cap to programming with the Bob & Howie Show. We had a packed room and the time flew by so even after all these years, we can still find ways to keep audiences interested and that’s pretty gratifying.
One of the things I noticed this afternoon was how many of my Shore Leave friends are now adults, married and with children. Many of the children are between birth and 5 and they truly are forming the core of the next generation of fans and it’s very, very cool. At one point, I stole Olivia Bergstrom and took her for a walk and she chatted on about this and that and it was very cool.
The Showcase concluded the con and this year the fan-produced play skewered the formula of the five Harry Potter novels and I was proud to see Robbie play Draco Malfoy with skill. It was a very nice way to ring down the curtain on another successful con.
That night, Deb and I stole away for a private dinner since we hadn’t seen much of each other for the week. We then went to the Dead Dog Party for a bit, congratulating the Committee on another fine weekend. The cap to the evening came with the Davids and the Greenbergers enjoying a drink in the lobby bar. After a while, Danny Strong (he of Buffy and Gilmore Girls fame) joined us and the five of us discussed theatre, Washington D.C., comics, movies, acting, writing and baseball. Very, very nice. At midnight, we collected out kids, who were having their own annual tradition, an end of the con poker tournament.
Pack the car. Check. Breakfast with the Davids (plus Danicah). Check. Hit the highway. Check.
Got home just after 3, unpacked, did some laundry, bought some groceries, sorted mail, did e-mail, and assorted housekeeping things and now this. A fine weekend and a good con with good friends. You can’t ask for much more than that.