We’ve gotten into the habit of hitting the road early to ensure we arrive in Maryland without being frazzled by traffic and time pressures. This year was no different and, Starbucks in hand, we were on I-95 at 6 a.m. on the dot. As a result, we made fabulous time, crossing the George Washington Bridge in record time but a mile or two after that, we had quite the scare.
A tractor-trailer in the middle lane lost a spare tire, which came barreling towards us at high speed, smashing into the hood and then going under the car. Another truck paralleling us kept pointing to the oblivious truck zipping away and we nodded then pulled over. The hood is scratched, the Toyota emblem gone, the license plate bent in half and the frame cracked apart. The plastic undercoating had ripped loose so thanks to my well-prepared wife, we used the Leatherman to cut away the loose part, secured the remainder and checked for further damage. No leaks or parts on the ground so we cautiously eased back into traffic and got down to Cockeysville without further incident. With that and one gas stop, we still did the trip in 4:15 which is pretty impressive.
Since it was early and a work day, we settled in across the street at Panera Bread, drinking coffee and getting work done until it was time to check in and begin the con experience.
Entering the Hunt Valley Inn I was faced with myself. A giant, full color copy of the poster was on a table and the hallways were covered with the poster in black and yellow. I was told by more than one woman that I haunted them in the various ladies’ rooms. Someone wisely put tape over my poster-eyes. The afternoon zipped by and suddenly it was time for the Roast rehearsal and my first real exposure to what an enormous undertaking this was for Dave Mack. Dave also was wise enough this year to recruit his wife Kara to direct the show, which helped ease the pressure. As the roastee, there was little for me to do after I practiced my entrance.
I wolfed down dinner, changed into my evening attire and headed off.
The room had to two-thirds filled and there was a definite buzz in the air. With a cue of music, the roasters took their seats as I stood with my escorts, Irene Jericho and Amy Sisson. My intro came and I strode onto the stage and we were off. I was placed upon my throne which turned out to be a hard plastic portable toilet with the only relief supplied by the Bob throw pillow I was given. While I have no trouble appearing in public, being the center of such attention was awkward. Then we were underway with John DeLancie making a surprise appearance, asking people to donate to the Red Cross then being the first of several claiming Kate’s paternity.
I was utterly floored when roastmaster Alan Kistler introduced Bob Rozakis who made a surprise appearance, relating my ageless nature with a series of images that showed me at the birth of DC Comics, chatting with Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and even surviving into the 23rd century to serve on the U.S.S. Enterprise. His final image showed me rising from a Lazarus Pit as Bob al Ghul which was pretty scary.
Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri, Dave Mack, and Mike Friedman all took their turn poking fun of me. A recurring theme was my utter failure in politics with three gag political spots shown. There was a video with a faux-Stan Lee congratulating me at my so-so career writing about other peoples’ characters. When Peter left the stage, his place was taken by Keith DeCandido, coming off the bench, and exacting revenge from all the things we said about him two years ago and continue to say this day.
Glenn Hauman played refereee, keeping things on the PG level in accordance with my wishes, appearing now and then in his ref shirt and whistle, warning or penalizing my roasters. The only F-bomb wound up being dropped, intentionally, by me.
Kate took the stage and rattled off some zingers to her fellow members of the dais followed by a song written by Dave with original music from my friend, the talent composer Steven Rosenhaus.
Finally, there was Peter David as Khanac, doing his best Johnny Carson with Mike doing his worst Ed McMahon. As a result of their routine “hermetically sealed” and “level2 containment field” became buzz phrases for the remainder of the weekend.
It was finally my turn for a rebuttal and with Paul Simpson’s help, I had crafted a script that was heavily laden with references from various sources, everything from A Few Good Men to “The Omega Glory”. Frankly, I thought the delivery was flat and the jokes didn’t zing as I had hoped but at least I got the final word.
Two hours later, the Roast was history with over $800 raised for the Red Cross. And minutes after it ended, the con put me back to work playing emcee. I ran out on stage to introduce Canadian actress Emilie Ullerup, who is not only gorgeous but funny as well. She came out, waving to the crowd then ran off stage. She came back on with my “throne” and explained it was there, “just in case”. How could you not love someone like that?