A fun October with tons of events (mostly in costume)!
Dallas Fan Days Expo - October 18th-20th - Irving Convention Center - Irving, TX
If you've never been to a Comic-Con (what are you waiting for?) essentially it's a market & trade show - at it's base, it's just one big store. All the vendors gathered together in one convenient place. To get the fans to come shop, the convention books stars (past & present) for Q&A's, autograph sessions & photo ops.
The Dallas Comic Con organization holds three shows a year - The big Expo in downtown Dallas over the Summer and then two sattelite events dubbed Fan Days held in the smaller venue in Irving, one in the Spring and this one in the Fall.
Always starts on Friday evening as a warmup to the weekend with usually just a panel or two.
This one was with WWE Hall of Famer & one of the my fave wrestlers ever, the charismatic & FREAKING GORGEOUS Trish Stratus.
On one hand I kinda felt sorry for Trish as there was like no one here, I'm not kidding (attendance overall was very low this season) but she doesn't know that so I was hoping she didn't think this was a reflection of her popularity as there was less than 50 people in a conference room staged to seat 2,000.
On the other hand it was great for the attendees as it felt intimate & clandestine and made for a very special & enjoyable chat. On just the other side of the conference room wall is where the guests have their signings set up so all they have to do is walk through a small hallway & into the conference room for the Q&As. I mention this as several people had just come from the signings so their names were fresh on Trish's name so when they got up to ask questions she knew their names and the lack of a huge crowd allowed for moments like the one pictured above with a great young fan named Gabby.
While I would have loved to have seen Matthew Modine (most recently Stranger Things) as I'm a HUGE fan of that show, I had family commitments that only allowed me to attend the final two panels of the day.
Few know the inner workings of the Star Wars world like Anthony Daniels. The actor behind C-3PO has been in more Star Wars stories, across various media, than literally anyone else — and the only actor to take part in all episodic entries in the franchise.
His unique brand of Q&A that he basically turns into street theater.
I saw him do this twice before & it was one of the most enjoyable & unforgettable moments at any con I've ever covered. He forgoes a moderator or the normal (& often boorish) line of questionaires and just takes over & bounds about with an animation & agility of someone a third his age and he picks people to ask questions & the whole thing feels very improvised & special. This time around didn't quite hit the mark the last time he was here & it was a bit too mean-spirited at times but unforgettable just the same.
The golden protocol droid will return for Rise of Skywalker closing out a run he started in the 1977 original. And it seems to already have many parallels to A New Hope.
Beth Phoenix (joined by surprise by Trish Stratus)
Day 2 also brought another WWE Hall of Famer in the form of the Glamazon Beth Phoenix.
Phoenix when she was inducted gave hands down one of my fave acceptance speeches ever (check it out here).
While her strongest gifts are her athletic ability in the ring, it was great that Trish Stratus (again just on the other side of the wall) heard something that intrigued her to join the conversation & the moderator had the good sense to invite her to stay for the duration.
At first it felt a tad bit awkward like "Hey, this is Beth's time and you are coming in and taking over" but for those attendance it was a welcome respite (& who isn't always glad to see Trish Freaking Stratus??"
So now a tag team so to speak but their style so vast and complimentary to one another to create something special and unplanned.
Savannah Poison (left)
Rachel FX (right)
Again attendance was low & not much else to do, so much so that we skipped Day 3 altogether but stay tuned as they'll be back with a better & bigger show in the Spring.
Mick Foley: 20 Years of Have A Nice Day - October 16th - Hyena's - Plano, TX
Just a few days earlier another WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley (who was the Friday night guest at Fan Days three years ago) was in town celebrating 20 years of his #1 New York Times Best Seller Have A Nice Day. I've seen Mick do his standup/storytelling bit a few times before & proud to say that I was at Madison Square Garden when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (along with Trish Status see above).
I must also admit that his standup/storytelling bit can be a bit hit or miss & here's why:
Foley is funny, a great storyteller with some incredible stories to tell. He's self-depricating (at times to an uncomfortable extreme) and charming & is generally interesting to listen to. However, sometimes its just so god damned earnest it becomes sickening, also Mick soooo wants to be more than just the wrestler who lost his ear, he wants to be thought of as Carlin or addressed with the same kinda respect for comedy as Chappelle & most of his act is him struggling with being neither.
The first time I saw him do this act in Brooklyn back in 2014, it was the perfect mix of this entertaining/frustrating dynamic but the next time (about a year later in Dallas) it was downright infuriating. His specials on the WWE Network aren't much better & for awhile he picked up these really annoying habits of physical cues for applause. He's also really in love with this idea that he only says "one F-Bomb" per show, will assign an audience member (most usually a female to keep them engaged) to "remind him" of how many he's said already (as if he has somehow "lost count") & the whole thing is a bit nauseating.
Yet, I keep coming back (& that's all that matters right Mick?) and this time I was really glad I did. In spite of the above overused schtick he seemed more himself, at ease, and the intimacy of the crowd made the evening feel unique.
It was strange how many people in this tiny room I was wanting to dodge or to avoid small talk with & even stranger ended up sitting with a girl I went out with exactly once over 20 years ago & her new fiancé that ended up being my fave part of the evening. Good times.
Baby Shark Live - October 12th - Commerica Center - Frisco, TX
Ok so this entry is gonna be one long disclaimer: Though I am new parent (our son is 14 months old) we are not traditional people nor is our parenting "style" anything of the ordinary nor is our son's tastes because of it & what he's been exposed to. Having said, we (nor our son) had ever heard the Baby Shark song & blissfully unaware of the global Pinkfong juggernaut. At our wedding, we heard one of my wife''s relatives' kids singing it and a few days later when Miles was upset about something, I asked our Google Assistant to play it. I couldn't believe how simple, repetitive & just how unimaginative it was. Miles didn't seem that impressed either. While he liked the syncopation somewhat (Miles is a born drummer) you could tell he could feel the lack of organic instruments (Miles is into Metal and Classical Music). However on occasion, again when he was upset and we needed something upbeat immediately, it was Google Assistant & Baby Shark to the rescue.
Sooo, when I saw that there was gonna be a whole show around this one song & just up the street from us, I thought it might be a fun afternoon for him. He's always being dragged to my stuff, so I thought for once it could be something that's entirely about & for him.
Ok so its just me & him as his mom was teaching violin (literally across the street) and I get to the window & found out the "Meet & Greet" was sold out so I bought the best ticket that I could for around $60. I would soon learn that once inside I could have bought a regular ticket for $11 and sat basically anywhere we wanted or at the very least exactly where we ended up sitting.
With less than 2 mins to showtime & the even more expensive floor seats mostly empty, I helped Miles & I to a third row pair on the aisle.
It was the only way to get close to the "openers" which were these female "sea creatures" puppeteering these giant jellyfish.
Lights are down, show is starting & suddenly we are kicked out of our seats (this isn't me & my friends, I have a diaper bag & other necessities) so I immediately move to the other seemingly endless empty seats near us when we are moved no less than six more times (fuck you to all the parents that showed up late and filled all these seats 10 mins into the show) when we retreat hastily and turn down the next available aisle behind us (it is now almost total darkness) when the gentlemen on the aisle stands up to let us in the row, my eyes adjust to see that freedom is at least 8 seats away and this family has seemingly moved in to the arena. Before I could even turn around and leave the row in the same fashion we entered, I was already unwittingly stepping on strollers & diaper bags and god knows what else. I was so mortified, turned around immediately with Miles, apologize to the still standing Dad & shouted "We will go around" (if somehow this family is reading this and recognizes the situation as themselves I am terribly sorry and the incident has haunted me since).
So, we walk all the way around to a row that had at least 20 empty seats in it and finally sat down. I shit you not, 10 mins later a family of freaking TWENTY PEOPLE showed up & once again we were on the move. I could see this if I was some scam artist that indeed only paid $11 but $60 should get us better than this. So I was like "Ok, where exactly is this $60 seat?) so went there to see that it would have been a claustrophobic nightmare and settled on some higher up seats near the stage that gave us complete isolation. My next question was: How can a 90-second track be effectively stretched into an 80-minute live show?
Some of the ticket prices for the seats we had to evacuate reach triple digits, even though you can spend the entire day at the nearby Aquarium and see real sharks for less. What could a live version of these popular videos offer that would beat the convenience of playing the same songs at home, for free, on-demand?
The answer frankly is not much.
The production’s uncomplicated narrative sees the friendly yellow Baby Shark character try to meet with friends: the magical fox Pinkfong and the intelligent hedgehog Hogi. (Of the shark family, only Baby Shark is touring; the rest of the family appears on the onstage screen.)
In the show, pink fox Pinkfong and hedgehog Hogi meet a pair or rangers and learn about the rainforest.
The titular track wasn’t played until the end of the first act, but throughout the show, a small yellow shark sporadically appeared onscreen and sang a single “doo doo doo doo” riff — a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that got kids very excited every time.
And when the song played again at the end — with a beefed-up instrumentation, an exponentially quickened arrangement and the flickering visuals of a nightclub — the audience was completely rapturous, as streamers and inflatables were tossed among them.
That part was fun, except Miles couldn't care less haha. He was sooo bored! He kept looking up at me as if to say "Dad, what the fuck are we doing here?" like I had somehow betrayed our mornings listening to Slayer together to give in to the trendy masses and put us on this treadmill of mediocrity. Thank goodness that Meet & Greet was sold out or I would have been out even more cash, dude was OUT. Good times