Well this is strange. No stories from the airport or misadventures of hotel check-ins & lost luggage. Nope, the pre-con story basically consists with me putting up with same inefficient bullshit of Calgary Transit that I live with every day. This time the lack of trains going south to my destination. Earlier in the day I dropped my car off at the Park & Ride so I could take advantage of the proximity of the train stations to the expo venue. I really should have braved downtown traffic instead.
I left my house at 13:30 & didn’t arrive at the BMO Centre until well after the official event start time of 15:00. So much for a quick registration & survey of the venue before hitting up my first scheduled panel. Calgary Transit seriously sucks. At least I was entertained by some passing Naruto cosplayers. They had many people doing double takes & making WTF faces. And no, I did not ask if any of them were Sub-Zero.
After finally getting to the BMO centre I proceeded to follow the masses to what I thought was the at the gate ticket purchases line. I was wrong & ended up in the pre-purchase line. I walked the path of shame to the much longer line & took my place among the many who did not buy their tickets ahead of time. The line moved a lot faster than I expected & only 20 minutes had passes before I got my badge & all other con propaganda. No lanyard with the badge was a letdown but thankfully I brought my own. Lesson learned from cons past.
I immediately made my way to the first Star Trek related panel of the con featuring Gates McFadden & Denise Crosby. This was held in a small concert hall called the Corral. Yes, that is the real name. Anyway, I took a spot in the lower bowl since the front rows seemed to be designated to VIP pass holders. After a short wait the panel started with both ladies appearing from opposite sides of the stage.
Throughout the 45 minute session both ladies discussed what they have been doing since Star Trek and took questions from the audience. This is where I was impressed by the organization of this con. They had mic runners go into the crowd & get the people’s names. That information would then be relayed to a monitor on a screen on a stage where the host would then be able to see the queue & moderate questions. Much better than the mad dash to the front fiascos or inaudible random dude screaming from the back of the room.
The audience at this event asked intelligent questions too. No lame mark out moments except for one fool who called Denise Crosby Lt. Yar. The questions covered topics such as their characters being role modes for young girls, the role of women in Hollywood, the global impact of Star Trek and some lighter fare such as favorite episodes. I found this panel to be very entertaining and it’s a shame it was so short. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers and according to the programming guide there are a lot more Star Trek panels to come.
After the panel I sat down and looked at the layout of the venue. After getting my bearings I headed towards the exhibitors hall to see what was being sold and to find the area to buy the vouchers for autographs and photo-ops. As expected, there were many comic book related items but I also saw fantasy related merchandise and even some Japanese live action movies and Anime. There were also many artists whose works I had not seen before along with some costume retailers I didn’t even know existed in my city.
Speaking of costumes, I have to say I was impressed by the… How do I say it? Uh… Quality of the cosplayers. I only saw 2 or 3 unsightly beasts who should have covered up instead of scaring the people. Pretty good so far, but there are still two more days to go so perhaps the freaks will come out over the rest of the weekend.
Eventually I made my way to the spot to buy vouchers and checked out the prices for autographs and photo-ops. The price for the entire Star Trek cast was way out of my league so I passed on that. I made note of two people I think would be cool to get a picture with and debated with my friends on Twitter and Facebook about what to choose since the photo-ops interfered with the Legends of Wrestling panel. In the end? Well you’ll find out later.
By the time I left the convention it was an hour until closing, so 4 or so hours hanging around wasn’t bad for the first day, especially considering that I was by myself. So far I’m surprised by the Calgary Expo. It seems to be a very well run machine and I haven’t run into any issues registering, or with convention staff. It’s a lot more than what I can say about some other conventions I’ve been to in the past.
The only thing I have a grip with are the numerous amount of slow walkers. I understand if the foot traffic ahead of you is slow, that’s okay. But if you’re deliberately walking slow to be an ass I’m gonna try to plow right through you to get where I need to be. Just saying.
Otherwise a great experience. 2 more days to go.