My plan was flying from Iceland on Thursday, the 29th of April. On the 28th I decided I was going to leave a day earlier, since there were plenty of seats on the flight to Boston. I used rest-hours I had collected, and started getting ready for the flight. I got a call from my boss that all flights were canceled and probably no flights would go out today. There was no way I was going on that Boston flight on my original departure day now. My boss asked me to take the night shift since the guy called himself sick, no need to use those rest-hours when I wasn't flying out today. In the morning after the night shift, I noticed there were a few seats on the New York flight. There was a small sliver of hope that I could get on that flight.
I got home and prepared for the flight, and remember I hadn't slept since 5 in the morning of Wednesday. Needless to say, I got on the flight and managed to sleep a little on the flight. At JFK there was a huge line at the customs and I was afraid I was going to miss my connecting flight from LaGuardia to Dallas Fort Worth airport. I managed to get on that flight and there were lots of seats on that flight. I plugged in my iPod headphones and searched through the available music channels and found a nice 80's station. And was totally captivated by this song by The Motels called Suddenly Last Summer (I found it on a 80's compilation collection in a supermarket in Iceland after my trip). I managed to sleep a little on this short flight.
It was midnight at Dallas Fort Worth, I had no choice but to wait at the virtually empty airport for 12 hours until I could check in at the hotel. So, I began to read Darkly Dreaming Dexter and watched CNN plus I slept a little as well in the meantime. On CNN there was nothing but Tiger Woods playing badly at his return to golf after his hiatus, Oprah asking John Edward's (correct me if I'm wrong here) mistress why they made that sex tape and the oil spill. They repeated that over and over, apparently there was nothing else happening in the world. However, in the morning when the terminal came back to life there was a touching story about this man who volunteered playing the trumpet at army funerals. Taps was described as being many things, it's a simple song but nonetheless beautiful and poignant. It's a prayer, pride, memories and mourning....so many things...I couldn't help myself but shedding many tears as the memory of my brother's recent passing came flooding all over me.
It was noon and it was time to leave the airport. I was outside and the information phone was a dead end in trying to find out about the shuttle to my hotel.
After a while I spotted a familiar sign on one many small buses that stopped by. It was the shuttle to the hotel that was the convention was held at and I knew it was next door to my hotel, so I manged to hitch a ride with them. When I got of the bus at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Lance Henriksen was outside smoking. I said a quick hello to him, and he remembered me, before I was off to drop my stuff at my hotel.
I was really amazed how big my room was when I walked into my room. And I had gotten a cheaper deal through hotels.com than I would have gotten with the convention discount at the Sheraton Hotel (but that was sold out, so it was out of the question). So, I was quite happy with my room, very spacious, indeed.
I decided to get me something to eat, and there was really only one option, a gas station joined with - Whataburger. I was stuffed after a whole meal, the medium soda took it seemed forever to finish, I thought it was a jumbo size. So I watched some more CNN and the whole oil spill until I could walk again. I was quite amused by this text on the back of the soda cup, it does sound dirty, right? Anyone?
I was just killing time, reading the first Dexter book when I got an enjoyable call from Laura aka SpooktalkGiGi. It was soon time to head on over to the convention. I then discovered they were selling tickets at another entrance, and if I had known I could have saved me waiting outside in the heat buying tickets when I got there earlier. After I got my bracelet I soon was granted access inside the hotel on the other side for ticket holders. I had the stuff I was going to give to Lance, among those was this cute snow globe.
Before I checked up on Lance I took a small tour through the place. And spotted a car that people should be very familiar with. Her name is Christine.
After that, I went in line to see Lance Henriksen. Let this be a reminder to you folks, always use the flash, especially when other people are taking the pictures. Lance said the picture looked fine. I clearly saw they were out of focus, or that the guy wasn't still when he took the picture, and that's the risk when you don't use flash. Lance did say to me that we would talk later or that he wanted to talk later. It never came into fruition, just small chats about nothing much here and there when there was no line.
And I told him I liked Pumpkinhead, I hadn't seen it when I met him in Chicago last October.
My next stop was Margot Kidder. She was a sweet lady, a little kid came up to her table while I was there, and Margot said something like: "hey there" all smiley to the little kid. She was that nice. I really can't recall anything she said or her reaction to me coming from Iceland other than she appreciated me coming here.
I decided to check up on William Katt next. I had seen the film House rather recently, I was very impressed with the film. It's a lot of fun and there's a lot of imagination and ingenious going on in that film. William Katt was super nice. He was thrilled and so appreciative over the fact that I came from Iceland to say hi to him. He told me he sort of recognized my accent as her daughter owns or owned Icelandic horses so he had some Icelandic contact before me. After I got the DVD signed he gave me another autograph, he let me choose any of the pictures that he had on the table. Him with the shotgun was a classic shot, it's was a keeper. He actually made a mistake, wrote the wrong character name. So he did another one, and gave it to me. I did check up on him a couple of times after that. He was a really cool dude, I must say so.
Then I waited in line for George Romero for about 2 hours if not more. My feet and back were killing me after that. I did chat with another guy who was behind me waiting in line, telling him about Millennium and my work for the campaign. Lance apparently told him the movie was in the works or something to that effect, that it was going to happen. Lets hope it's not just smoke and mirrors, bring it on.
I saw the soundtrack from Martin and had to get that as well, even though it was quite expensive for a CD...albeit with an autograph. I grabbed that and had him sign my Martin DVD. I don't think George heard much of what I said, he was probably tired and it's a noisy place. I told him I saw Night of the Living Dead for the first time on the most unlikely channel of all, the Hallmark channel. Who would have thunk it! I always remember the only curse word in the film being silenced out just as Ben slammed his hand against a table. Hey, at least I can say I shook hands with George Romero. I never thought that would happen in a million years when I saw all his films when I got into watching horror films.
After that, I went to John Amplas' table and had a small chat with him. He was a very nice guy, a joy to talk to. He said I brought the right DVD, it's the original release after all. He asked me if I liked the commentary on this one better than on the new one (which John Amplas was not on). I couldn't say, as it's been such a long time since I listened to that commentary and I didn't listen to it all on the new one. Although I did watch it before my trip, I told him how less shocking it was to me now than as a teenager when I first saw it. While it's not terribly graphic there are some gruesome things in it and the ending still packs a punch. I should have asked him how he felt about acting these things, to know he was capable of all these dark and bad things (which does apply to us all, I guess). I did check up on him a couple of times after that, all around nice guy.
And that was the end of Friday. My feet were so killing me that I had to rest, so I kicked back and had a few beers before I walked to my hotel room.
On Saturday I paid Doug Bradley (aka Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies) a visit. He told me he did not think highly of Iceland a week or so before the convention, as he was stuck in Europe because of our little volcano eruption that has affected so many people across the world. He was still nice but it does make you wonder if he meant it what he wrote on my DVD ;)
I went back to John Amplas and took my picture with him, as I had forgotten about it being all tired from waiting in line for George Romero. He was cool about it, it's not hard to remember the only Icelander in the crowd. Jarlath Conroy (the drunk from Day of the Dead who kept saying "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!") was at the next table and took our picture.
I decided to at least introduce myself to the other celebrities, it didn't feel right to me taking their picture far away like many people did. I like to remember them from the movies anyway.
I felt kinda bad that there was not much action on Julian Sands' table so I introduced myself and said I was from Iceland. He told me that he had been there once, that he was in Reykjavik (which is Iceland's capital) and also in Akureyri (which is often called the second capital of Iceland, it's in the north opposed to Reykjavík being in the southwest corner) and from there to Greenland.
I said hi to Meg Foster as well, she was next to Julian Sands. She was a delight, she really loved that I came all this way to be there just for the convention and she hoped that I would get my John Carpenter autograph. I was worried for a while, since they sold so many that Saturday was pretty much on hold for new Carpenter autograph purchases. I saw she gave people hugs, she truly loved being there.
I said hi to Charles Cyphers and I can't remember much what he said. But it was something about Icelandic horses and reindeer.
I went to Terry Alexander (who was in Day of the Dead) and I told him that I meant no disrespect but that I couldn't understand much of his lines in Day of the Dead. His character sported a heavy Jamaican accent and the fact that Anchor Bay never uses subtitles doesn't help you one bit. When he heard I was from Iceland and I said I had pretty much no money to get more autographs, he grabbed a picture which he had already signed but it was the wrong name. So he crossed it out and wrote my name, I didn't spell my name out this time and I got anything but my name on there :D
I wonder, can you get rid of permanent markers from photos? It does have it perks coming all the way from Iceland. ;)
Just before closing, I said hi to the people from Christine. John Stockwell didn't think the travel time from Iceland was that bad. I jokingly told him next time I would say I came from Asia or Australia or something like that. I complemented Keith Gordon on his work on directing the TV series Dexter. He said to me that he thinks the writers don't know what they're going to do next after how it ended last season. William Ostrander looked so different that I had to ask who he played, even though I knew what part he played and that he was going to be there. He was nice. Alexandra Paul asked me about the volcano, I urged her to check out some of the amazing volcano eruption photography that has circulated the Internet since Eyjafjallajökull erupted. Alexandra likewise wished goodwill and luck on getting my Carpenter autograph. I planned on checking them out on Sunday but I didn't knew how short Sunday turned out to be, so I'm glad I decided to at least say hi and shake their hands. I didn't go see their Q&A, there was this horrible auction which drowned out the sound, unless you were standing in the front of the room, I guess. I figured the Christine DVD did enough for me, so I could live without seeing that.
There wasn't as much activity in the beginning of Sunday and thus hardly a line for the Carpenter autographs. There was a special setup for that one. You had to pay for it, plus tax, at the ticket counter. You would take the elevator to the second floor and wait in line until you were in the room that John Carpenter was signing. There were no pictures in the room, so you had to buy them at the ticket counter if you didn't have a personal object to have him sign.
A little before noon, I was able to meet the man and get my autograph. There's so little time and other people waiting in line as well, I just managed to tell him that I was just as a big of a fan of his music just as his movies. And that his music was the biggest influence and inspiration to me as a amateur musician. I sort of regret not having him sign Assault on Precinct 13 since I asked him to sign the Escape from New York soundtrack cover on a specific spot so the wonderful artwork would be left mostly intact. He followed that instruction...sort of.
And since I had some money left, I decided to have something signed by Meg Foster. She was so glad for me getting the Carpenter autograph, since it would be a shame to miss out on that after coming all this way for the most part for his autograph (and George Romero's as well). I was captivated by this picture she had on her table, she said a fan had made it for her. I guess, it was a composite from 2 shots from the film, or a shot from the film plus a promotional picture of her (but I didn't ask, so I don't really know). On my way back to the hotel to stash away the stuff, I was kicking myself in the head not getting the soundtrack of They Live which was relatively cheap. I managed to get more money, the people at the ticket counter were kind enough to let me swipe my credit card to get 20 bucks. She wished me goodwill and a pleasant trip back home, she was a total sweetheart.
A bit later, not long before Lance Henriksen's Q&A, I was reading a big sign outside the room where that was going to be held. I was wearing this t-shirt, it's the name of a solo artist who's a good friend of mine. It even glows in the dark. Just look for his music at myspace, you won't regret it, it's awesome!
I hear a familiar voice saying out loud "how to avoid art" and chuckling to himself. George Romero was walking past me, how cool is that! I was even stopped by two pretty girls asking me about that t-shirt. And I even forgot to plug my own music (which is Wanker of the 1st Degree ;)! My friend, Rob, was really floored when I told him that over the phone that evening. I quote Rob on this:
"How To Avoid Art" is a string of words that doesn't really make sense. Originally, I think it was intended as self-deprecating humor.
Now that I'm older, I see more to it than that. Well, not more, but less. "How To Avoid Art" lacks punctuation, and as such, the insertion of a comma, question mark, or colon changes the meaning completely. I kinda like that. You can't do that with Madness, Metallica, or Madonna.
Having said that, there is no way to avoid art...and created things point to a creator the same way that design implies a designer. I think I'm happiest with that definition because it's a nod to philosophy and theology instead of a misunderstood joke."
I went to see Lance Henriksen's Q&A, which was a last minute replacement. It was announced the day before. I really regret not recording this, in some form, just having an audio file would rock. But I thought there were plenty of people with their cameras and there was a professional camera in the room right in front of Lance. So I figured this would hit YouTube or get it through the Texas Frightmare Weekend website. No word or sight of it so far, which is a shame, this is something that should be shared. And there is only so much I can remember, and to say it as it was said, that I can't do. And I will never to be able to do its justice.
Lance was so much fun, he was like a stand up comedian. He was talking so much, and he often asked if he answered people's questions. He described his brain going all over the place, it never sits around. "I sound like I'm on crack", his own words if I'm not mistaken.
He told us the story of why he wanted to do Survival Quest. He told us that he sent his daughter to something like that, because she was being difficult in behavior. All that he got was her backpack with the most dirty clothes he ever saw, a pile of shit. She did come around eventually. But he then wanted the same thing out of it, to experience nature in its purest and rawest form.
And he said he was so scared of snakes, there was a lot of them during the filming of Wilderness.
I wish I could say more, but I don't remember how he said all those things and I would be putting words into Lance's mouth. I won't do that.
I did get home safely, had to run around a lot at Dallas Fort Worth airport getting on that flight to JFK. The first few flights were always full to LaGuardia, but sometime before noon I was able to go on the JFK flight and that saved me the trouble of taking the bus from LaGuardia to JFK. But sadly, there was nothing in the plane. You couldn't listen to music, no cool 80's channel. Although a kid across the isle was watching Back to the Future on a small portable DVD player, so I got a little 80's after all...but I was still bummed by that. I did finish the first Dexter book during my stay and was reading the second book, Dearly Devoted Dexter, which I haven't finished yet.
Overall, it was a good trip, it was good to change it up, change the scenery for a little bit.
Although, I do kick myself in the head for some of the lost opportunities. Maybe I redeem myself with my next convention trip...
I hope you enjoyed the read.
Cheers from Iceland!