|Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 09:38 am: |
Dara and I took the two boys to CoastCon in Biloxi a couple of weeks back. This was our first "big" outing with Asher, and he traveled pretty well for a four-week-old who'd arrived four weeks early (meaning that, at CoastCon, he was essentially a new newborn). The CoastCon folks surprised us with a complementary suite, which was absolutely wonderful for Levi, who loved having plenty of space to roam around in, and we were grateful to have lots of room to berth the H.M.S. Dreadnought, otherwise known as our double stroller.
Dara had been particularly looking forward to meeting Walter Koenig, Star Trek's Ensign Chekhov. I hadn't seen any members of the original cast since cons I'd attended as a pre-teen, when I'd met George Takai and Jimmy Doohan. Meeting Mr. Koenig was an interesting experience, to say the least. I don't think I've ever witnessed a man so incredibly ill-at-ease. Every time I saw him, he looked like a man who had been forced to stand in a vat of warm piss and told he'd better look like he enjoyed it. My family's presence, and feeling that he was obligated to interact with us (we did buy one of his $20 photos, after all), was obviously causing him extreme angina; yet, despite the nonverbal dissing we received, I felt great empathy for him. What a come-down CoastCon must have seemed from the A-list Hollywood parties he remembered, or even D-list Hollywood parties. Instead of beautiful people, he was surrounded by the hairy, the ill-washed, the obese, and folks like us who schlepped their drooling children onto stage so they could be photographed with him. Instead of lounging by a pool in the Hollywood Hills, he was stuffed into a corner of the President Casino's convention hall (a one-time Denny's Restaurant), surrounded on one side by display racks of Babylon 5 action figures and on the other by a pile of janitorial equipment.
He'd been to CoastCon before, back in 1999, but that had been when the con had still been located in the Gulf Coast Coliseum convention center and had been attracting much bigger crowds of fans. Now the con was under new management, in a new location, and had entered a rebuilding phase. Dara made the faux pas of mentioning that she'd read Get a Life!, and Mr. Koenig snarled, "Is that Shatner's book? He gets paid $35,000 a pop to do these things, and I do them for free." It was a scene right out of the first twenty minutes of Galaxy Quest, being played out for real under our noses. Despite mentioning that his greatest desire was to escape from Chekhov, to obliterate the memory of Chekhov with his upcoming projects, Mr. Koenig had styled his hair and applied considerable makeup to better resemble his most famous role. He looked as though he had stepped straight out of the classic ST:TOS episode, "The Deadly Years," if Chekhov had been one of the characters affected by the aging virus and had been worked over by Paramount's makeup men for a few hours.
Meanwhile, Dara and Levi and I were having a great time, as we usually do at small and medium-sized cons in our part of the country. Seeing the hairy, the ill-washed, the obese, and the socially-awkward crowds at these affairs makes me happy, and makes Dara happy, too. They've become an extended clan of friends and friendly acquaintances, people we look forward to seeing in Biloxi, Metairie, Mobile, and Memphis, folks who always give us warm greetings, ask how we've been, and are wonderful with our kids. We are happy and comfortable being honored members of Geek Nation. I did a reading from my two novels to an audience of one, a manager of a local souvenir store who'd wanted to come hear me read at Bookends Bookstore last year but had missed me. We had a great time, sitting in the room with the sliding glass door wide open, letting the breeze in, drinking cups of coffee and chatting, and I gave him what I considered to be an inspired performance of one of my favorite scenes from Bride of the Fat White Vampire, a scene that requires lots of funny voices and accents. We shot the bull for a while afterwards, and he invited me to bring my family over to Shark's Head Souvenirs, where we'd get a 20% discount on all purchases. Later on, by happy chance, I met the Army vet who'd received a copy of my first novel that I'd donated at the previous CoastCon to a book drive for service members stationed in Iraq. He told me that he'd only gotten around to reading it right before the end of his tour of duty, and had enjoyed it (although he'd found it "disturbing, but in a good way"), and he bought a copy of the sequel from me.
Heading out to dinner, Dara and I jammed our gargantuan stroller into a crowded elevator full of con attendees (one of the three elevators was out of service, and programming was split between several floors). The elevator stopped a couple of floors from the ground, and, surprisingly, Mr. Koenig squeezed in next to us. He stared mournfully at his shoes during the short ride down, never meeting anyone's eyes. Dara and I both wondered whether he headed straight for the nearest casino bar away from the con, eager to make us and the ex-Denny's and his stack of $20 photos vanish from his memory as fast as possible.
|Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 02:55 pm: |
He's just mad because all those years as a Russian spy never paid off...
|Posted on Friday, March 25, 2005 - 08:51 am: |
That's fucking hilarious, Andy. The Living Death of Walter Koenig.
Reminds me of my Adam West encounter at Comicon a while back. At that same con, I met Richard Hatch of Battlestar Galactica in the $12 dollar photo line. He was one the dumbest, sweetest people I've ever met. Totally clueless, but a real nice. guy. To exemplify....There were these girls whose function was to stand at the celeb's shoulders and assist. I asked Hatch to sign a photo for a friend of mine and to say thereon, Half a centon now, Dave. He wrote it and the celeb girl leaned in and suggested to Hatch, "It might look better if you put an exclamation point at the end." Hatch looked up her in bewilderment, and the girl, who by that time was obviously accustomed to dealing with him, said, "Straight line with a period underneath."
|Posted on Friday, March 25, 2005 - 01:17 pm: |
Damn, Andy, you're proving me right; you really have got that Sam Clemens point-of-view down.
I recently spent most of a week in a Holiday Inn in Williamsburg VA with my aunt, who was under contract to RKO during the '40s and made a series of B-westerns. She'd been invited by the Williamsburg Film Festival, which celebrates... B-westerns. Not as different from an SF con as you'd think...
Anyway we sat behind a table for three days selling her $20 B&W glossies, and it was my privilege to watch a seasoned pro at work. She was absolutely charming, and every one of those people walked away with so much stardust in their eyes it was a wonder they didn't walk into a wall.
Koenig has a few things to learn.
|Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - 10:23 am: |
Lucius and Kage, always great to hear from you two. Thanks so much again, both of you, for your expressions of support and help during my recent bout of tsuris. Kage, your aunt sounds like a hoot. My pop is a huge fan of old B-westerns. Please let me know her screen name and I'll ask him if he remembers her. He would've loved going to that film festival. When I was a kid, he used to take me to mini-conventions at public libraries where the con organizers would put up portable screens and show 16 mm prints of old serials like The Adventures of Captain Marvel and The Lone Ranger. Sometimes he'd buy me old copies of Famous Monsters of Filmland so I'd have something to entertain myself with while they changed reels. Those were the days!
|Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - 10:48 am: |
She's Anne Jeffreys; most people would recognize her from the early '50s TV series of TOPPER, which also starred Leo G. Carroll and her real-life husband Robert Sterling. She played Marian Kirby (the "Ghostess with the mostest"). She's done a lot of TV; worked on the soaps GENERAL HOSPITAL and PORT CHARLES, and most recently played David Hasselhoff's mother on Baywatch.
But before that she made B-movies at Monogram, Republic and RKO (where my late mom was her stand-in and stunt double). She played Tess Trueheart in a couple of Dick Tracy serials, assorted gangster molls, and then went to westerns: 8 films with Wild Bill Elliott and Gabby Hayes, NEVADA with Robert Mitchum, et cetera. She did a musical with Sinatra called STEP LIVELY. She did one with Bela Lugosi called ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY. (You may recall the anecdote I told you about my mom's encounter with Lugosi on that one.)
But she was originally trained as an opera singer, and in fact was in the original cast of Kurt Weill's modern opera STREET SCENE, as Rose. She did tons of Broadway and off-Broadway musicals throughout the '60s, '70s and early '80s.
Here's a Hollywood marriage for you: she and Uncle Bob have been happily married for 54 years.
Do let your pop know that the Williamsburg Film Festival is an annual event! It's well-organized and there's a lot to do; they always have celebrities attending, and a great dealer room. It was quite a bit classier than some SF cons I've attended. There's also supposed to be a good B-western convention out here in Lone Pine.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 11:41 am: |
there's a section in one of Shatner's memoirs (and yes, I'll cop to skimming same) where he decided to wander through a con to see what it was like from the POV of an unrecognized fan. The closest he could come to managing it was to first put on a full-face rubber mask of an alien -- ie, thus making himself one of the TRUE mouth-breathers in the class -- and walk around interacting with people, most of whom thought he was too strange even for them. He stood in line for another actor's autograph session and made the mistake of asking a question; his colleague recognized his voice at once, and almost cracked up, but didn't give him away.
Beyond that: it's sometimes hard to determine who's more asocial, the actors with their greatest fame far behind them, or the ones who are famous NOW.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 02:41 pm: |
Here are my pop's comments regarding your aunt and her husband (in all caps, because that's my dad's style):
"DO I REMEMBER ANNE JEFFREYS???? FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I HAD A CRUSH ON HER!!!---CERTAINLY DO REMEMBER HER IN THE 40'S WESTERNS AND OTHER WORK SHE HAD DONE---ALWAYS LIKED HER PERSONALITY ON THE SCREEN, IN FACT WHEN I MET MOM I THOUGHT SHE LOOKED SOMEWHAT LIKE ANNE---SO NOW U KNOW!!!---IF THERE'S A BLACK & WHITE GLOSSY FLOATING AROUND WITH ANNE JEFFREYS, I'D SURE PUT IT UP ON MY DEN WALL, SHE WAS REALLY CUTE, JUST LIKE YER MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ......AND ALSO MENTION THAT I RECALL UNCLE BOB VERY WELL TOO, WAS A NICE SCREEN PERSONALITY, TOO-------IF I REMEMBER THEM THAT WELL, THEY ARE "TOPS" !!!!!!"
Please pass his comments along. I'm sure your aunt will get a kick out them!
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 02:43 pm: |
Adam-Troy, thanks for stopping by! I'd heard about Shatner's ploy with the rubber mask. Hadn't heard about him going up to one of his old cast-mates wearing it, though. By the way, "The Tangled Strings of the Marionettes" was my favorite piece on the Nebula ballot this year, by far.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 03:26 pm: |
It was a sort-of castmate. William Windom. (sp?) Who played Commodore Decker in "The Doomsday Machine." Although he deserves credit for a heck of a lot more than STAR TREK, he was signing autographs at a Star Trek con on this particular circumstance...and when Shatner made his comment behind the rubber mask, Windom recognized him and made an oblique comment to that effect, without blowing his cover.
Give Shatner credit for humor: he put the moves on several pretty girls while wearing the mask, was unsurprisingly rebuffed, entered various conversations where he was made to feel unwelcome, and then later pulled the mask out of his pocket while making his Guest of Honor speech. "Some of you may remember THIS guy walking around..."
|Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 03:30 pm: |
I certainly will tell her, and I'll see if I can't get a signed glossy from her to send to you for your dad-- what's his first name?
|Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 06:53 am: |
My pop's name is Jerry. The walls of his office are covered with comics- and movie-related memorabilia, and I'm sure he'll make a place of honor for a signed glossy of Anne Jeffreys. Please pass along my hearty thanks to your aunt. I'm sure her gift will make my pop very, very happy.
|Posted on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 - 09:06 pm: |
Well, I just got off the phone with Auntie, who was pleased and flattered your dad remembered her-- she said she'd be delighted to oblige. If you'll Email me your dad's mailing address, I'll pass it on to her and she'll autograph a B&W glossy and send it to him herself.
See, the point of the game is to KEEP fans.
|Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 09:39 am: |
Thanks so much, Kage! Will do! And please thank Anne for me. I know my dad will be thrilled.