Fan Expo Diary – Part Two

Saturday was a day dominated by lines and crowds even more than Friday – and I hadn’t realized that was possible on Friday.

It started off quite relaxed actually – woke up in the hotel room, typed up my diary for Friday, cleaned myself, went out to look for breakfast, settled for a few donuts and milk at the Tim’s on the corner, went back to the hotel, and actually decided I had TIME TO KILL before going back down to the Expo to get back in.

Mistake, there. Even though I’d allowed some time to get into line before the doors opened at 10 am, I hadn’t realized how long the re-entry line would be, and ended up back on Lower Simcoe street, just after the bridge underpass. Fortunately, this line moved much quicker than the Registered Tickets line had on Friday, because they could open several re-entry door and just needed to check our wrist-bands, but still, it was at least ten-thirty before I was in the building and up on the third floor, and a lot of other fan-expoers had gotten in before me.

“So, first thing,” I decided, “is to go through the Summer Glau autograph line, and maybe a few others before eleven-thirty if I can. Then outside for lunch at Swiss Chalet, back in, hit the leftover autograph lines, and down to the first floor for Tahmoh Pennikett’s Q&A at one. Then the rest of my afternoon is full of Q&As and photo ops.”

By this point the Summer Glau line was overflowing most of the way across the back of the Celebrity Autograph area. I found out once I got to the head of that overflow that it was also bent back on itself, so that there were actually three more sections of the line – up to the ‘head’ near the celebrity guests themselves, back to the back of the waiting area, and finally up to Summer’s table.

It was a quarter to one by the time I finally got to the head of the line, and paid a lot of money for five personal items signed and a photo-op that evening. Checked to see if I could get through a few ‘quick’ photo op lines while I was there, (Sendhil Ramamurthy’s had never been more than half of one of Summer’s line segments, and Tahmoh’s had often been empty so that people could just walk up to him,) but aside from James Marsters, whose line was still at least an hour long if not much more, everybody else I was interested seemed to be taking a lunch break. So I followed suit, waited in line for a pizza slice and overpriced bottle of water, and headed down to the first level.

In retrospect, I’m stunned that I made it through those crowds, carrying an open slice of hot pizza, cold bottle of water, carry-on bag, and garment bag with my now double-signed Serenity blueprints book, all the way into Tahmoh’s Q&A by five after one. There wasn’t a big crowd in that Q&A too, but the room was at least half full, and everybody waited for a while until he actually showed up – apparently he’d been waiting backstage at Stan Lee’s Q&A instead.

After finishing lunch, and listening to Tahmoh, the fans, and the MC talking mostly about Battlestar, I decided that I wanted to skip out early and take another try at the James Marsters autograph line, now that I was fed. “If I skip the Felicia Day Q&A, then I now have nearly two hours before James comes down for his own Q&A.”

I didn’t even make it up to the third level. Apparently I’d hit the moment where a huge crowd of people returning from lunch outside the convention center were all trying to get back up to vendors or celebrity signings on the third floor, and the Fan Expo staff were only letting a few people up the escalator at a time, to make sure they could all get clear of the escalator area up above and there wouldn’t be any accidents, or something like that. They did manage to get one of the down escalators turned into an ‘up’, but even that didn’t seem to relieve the bottleneck much because they couldn’t fill all three escalators to capacity.

There’s a saying, by the way, that life is what happens while you were busy making other plans, or something like that. I’m starting to wonder if part of the reason that our plans change is that we never manage to figure out what other people’s plans are or how they’ll impact our lives. Fan Expo certainly seems a good way to demonstrate that in the microcosm. (Of course, the overcrowding is originally due to the organizer’s plans to sell as many tickets as possible and make lots of money.)

So, I headed downstairs again, got in for the last ten minutes of Tahmoh’s Q&A, and rearranged my plans for the afternoon to only include Q&As and Summer’s photo op, after her Q&A at 6. I was tempted to try to drop-in on another few photo ops, but I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to make it up from the first floor, where the Q&As were, and find the ‘undisclosed’ photo op locations, and I wasn’t sure what the policy was on drop-ins. Turned out the later two considerations probably wouldn’t have been problems – I gathered when I went for the Summer photo op that all the ‘undisclosed locations’ were all along the same back corridor on level two, with schedules posted up next to the doors. But I’m still not sorry that I didn’t brave extra crowds to spend more money on photos of myself with Felicia or James.

But back to earlier in the afternoon. Getting into Felicia’s Q&A was kinduv weird – it was the same room as Tahmoh’s, only a few minutes later, but they made us clear out and go around so that the people who had been standing in line for Felica got first crack at good seats, and it was a bit hard to tell where the lines ended and the crowds of new people got in. The Expo volunteers trying to maintain the integrity of the line in such a cramped space lost their temper at a few of us ‘crowders’, and I can’t blame them, but I also think that it wasn’t entirely our fault.

Felicia’s Q&A was fun, mostly about the Guild, which I didn’t follow, but I can understand her wanting to promote it, especially after hearing about how it was her vision and a project she’s so passionate about. (Guess this is something of a weekend for finding about the unexpected passions of Fan Expo guests.) I’m definitely going to check it out. And there were a few good references to Dollhouse and Doctor Horrible. I tried to ask a question about how she originally got cast on Buffy, but the Guild fans had a LOT of questions, and I didn’t have a great seat on account of having been in Tahmoh’s Q&A and not the line, so I never got called on.

Next Q&A was James’, which was a lot of fun – the audience was mostly full of Spike-bitches 😉 – but there was a lot of talk about his newer genre work, including Smallville, Torchwood, and Caprica. He reprised the Indian soldier song, because somebody asked him if he could sing anything from the Buffy musical, (his favorite ep of Buffy,) and he said that he couldn’t remember the words at the moment, but he’d been practicing the other song and could do it a cappella. Also some more interesting tidbits about his status as a family man – how he’d been driven to leave the life of a starving stage actor and ‘whore himself out’ in Hollywood once his son was born, and how his wife had been right there when he kissed John Barrowman on the ‘Torchwood’ set and was calling out for more.

Summer Glau Q&A: Also very good, touching on a lot of the projects that I know she’s been in, also the 4400, (she had been offered a bigger role in that, but couldn’t sort out filming times with ‘Serenity’, so got recast after Serenity was finished shooting,) and this new thing she’s working on, ‘The Cape.’ She talked a lot about how new she’d been to acting when she was first cast by Joss Whedon on Angel, and even when she started on Firefly, how broken up she and Jewel were when it was cancelled. Also discussed her role ‘playing a mean version of herself’ on the Big Bang Theory, and I asked a question about what she’d like to explore if she ever got back to the role of River Tam:
‘I’d like to have a sequel movie where River Tam is more grown-up, running her own ship, breaking the law and being REALLY GOOD at it. Oh, and she should finally have a boyfriend too.’ (Paraphrasing from memory.)

The photo-ops were fun. For my individual photo, I actually suggested that she could try crouching down like that iconic shot from the film, because I was dressed in my Simon outfit, but she refused. I think she was worried that it wouldn’t work with the tripod, which makes sense. So I just draped my arm around her in a kind of brotherly way. And then all the Toronto Browncoats came in for our group shot with her, and went out to eat at East Side Mario’s and discuss the Expo so far. I stuffed myself on pepperoni and bacon pizza, and then went back to my hotel.

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