Nashville Comic Con and Horror Fest
Oct 1 -2 , 2011
My neighbor got up at 6:30 AM (bless her) to take me to the airport. I had enough miles and the connection to Nashville was easiest through Charlotte, so I was US Airways for this trip. The plane was there and we took off on time … for my three hour layover in Charlotte. You can’t win. Atlanta (Delta) only gives me 40 minutes to change planes – not long enough.
So I wandered around the Charlotte airport, bought an early lunch and boarded my plane to Nashville. I got on at 10 minutes to Noon and got off 10 minutes after Noon (time zone change).
I had to check my bag – we were full, but it made it. I made it despite the one year baby in arms next me that loved tugging on my shirt the whole way and the two ton Ted who sat in front of me on the 2nd leg. Almost in my lap. The lady next him moved to another row. So I got no sleep, mostly because my 2nd seatmate wanted to chat the whole flight. The promoter offered to take me to the airport to pick up David, so naturally his plane from LA was late. I bought Marc a latte and we listened to the gee-tar player in the bar while waiting for David to appear. I think David spotted me, because he immediately changed direction and headed right for us.
I introduced him to Marc. Marc explained he thought David would recognize me faster. David looked lean and tan and healthy. He was not crazy about changing planes in Houston and not happy being late on both legs. David doesn’t like being late. Marc drove us to the hotel and straightened out my room reservation. They had it under a misspelled last name – close but no cigar, and it was fine after that. David got the corner suite – two rooms and I was in the room next door , which wasn’t a suite, but about twice the size of most hotel rooms I have stayed in. Nice big king beds. David liked that the mattress was firm, but said two rooms were a bit much for just him.
The Desk clerk told David he had to sign a paper that he would not trash his room. If he did, the hotel had the right to charge him $200.00. David told her, if he signed it, he would have to charge her $20.00, because that's what he gets for signing anything. She did not get it, but Marc and I were both biting our lips not to laugh. Marc left and David said give him some time to get settled in. He’d come knock on my door when he was ready to go eat dinner.
He knocked, and we went back to the desk to find out our options. Basically, we could go across the street to the Doubletree Suites and eat at their café bistro/bar or order in. So we hiked over there. We had to go down the hill and around and over then back up their hill to make the crossing. I was a little concerned about David, but he said he’d be fine and he was. The last thing I want, since he's 84, is for him to fall … on my watch.
The Doubletree café bistro waitresses/barmaids loved David and made him a gloriously dry martini. He said he had been up since 4:00 AM flying and connecting and it was so good to kick back and relax with his drink , shrimp cocktail and his Cobb salad. She brought him viniagrette dressing, which he liked well enough, and when he ran out that he used the rest of his cocktail sauce. He apologized for that and I told him, hey, it’s your stomach.
I like to see him eat well. A lot of places we go David can’t get what he likes, so he does without, when I’d rather he ate, so sometimes I have get creative. I scrounge the venue until I do find something he likes and will eat. I keep a running list.
I had the club sandwich and French fries. And two ginger ales. I didn’t want a second one, but they brought it to me anyway. We laughed and chatted and caught up on what each of us had been doing. Then I took David down that blasted hill in the dark. I wanted him to hang onto me, but David said no, if he was going down he wasn't going to take me with him.
Which was sweet. I told David, I was stronger than I looked, and he really should hang on to me. He wanted to do it on his own. He followed me and we got down the hill and back up the other one in one piece. He really is amazing -- for 84. David said he was tired from the long plane ride. So we made it an early night. I asked if he wanted his usual wake up call. I'm his third back-up. David said no, he had his watch. He could set that and he'd be fine. I asked if he wanted a breakfast tray, as I know David prefers to eat in his room. He said no, he'd get up and go get whatever from the breakfast buffet.
I asked David for his red roller bag to haul his pictures to the show in. He gave me the suitcase and a great hug good-night. I most of the rest of the evening packing the show bags. We had shipped two boxes of photos to Marc, so I opened those and loaded the contents into the two roller bags, mine and David's.
I got up and went to make my own breakfast. It was still a hour before our pick-up and I did not expect to see David there as he is an early riser. He came striding around the waffle maker after 5 minutes after I arrived and seemed out of sorts. He told me he had overslept. I knew I should have called him. He went to the end of the rather long line (for eggs). I knew that would not work for him.
I asked nicely if I could break in line just to get some juice. They let me. I motioned to David to come over to me and get his juice. He tore open his morning pill packet and drained the cup. Then he wanted coffee. I showed him where it was, poured him a cup and then left him in front of the muffin basket. He selected one very quickly and left. I collected his empty juice glass and discarded pill packet and disposed of them. Then I finished my breakfast.
I was set to go when David knocked on my door. He's usually early, so I need to be ready before it's time to be. He was about five minutes before the time we agreed to leave. I told him to take the blue roller - it was lighter. So naturally he took the heavier red one, being a gentleman. At least it was a roller and he doesn't pull with his bad shoulder. I grabbed the blue roller bag and chased him down the hall. it would not be the first time. When David is ready to go, he goes.
Got to the lobby to find David had found our ride. We were the last pick-up in the SUV pool. One of the guys graciously got into the third row, so David and I could sit in the remaining 2nd row seats. Jim Lee was in the front seat, and he offered to switch with David, but David was fine in the second row. I offered him the end seat, but he said, no, let's go. So we put the roller boards in the back and were off.
It was further than I thought it would be. We had to go through town and out the other side. Everyone had questions for David, so it was a lively conversation all the way out there. We arrived at the Fairgrounds and the gate guard waved us through. David remarked the guard seemed to know us. Marc's nephew replied, we were his third pick-up of the morning. We unloaded and were escorted in. I found my badge on the table, but apparently David had a different badge that Marc had to find. David's had a black cord and mine had a yellow lanyard.
I put my badge in the card slot on the back of my big plastic ID badge, in case I had to show it later. Marc led us back to the right hand corner of the large room. There was another room behind us. Our back wall was the back of the booth behind us, but it was draped, so it worked. I started unpacking bags. I put David's table together first. I put out a sign and pens and some photos out in front of him. Then I put up the back wall signs. They both said David Hedison as I didn't have a banner made up for behind me. I had two table signs for my book, so you could see David was on the left and I was the right. I put David's large table sign in between us.
I gave David his markers and his throat drops, his purell and scratch pad. He was impressed that I even had the right replacement hearing aid batteries in my bag. I came prepared. There were 22 pictures on the sign. So once I got all of them out of the suitcase and into the box, I put some other pictures down in front of David. The Fly books and DVDS were on the table in front of me. David wanted a chair to put his knapsack on, so I gave him my folding one. Someone was watching us set up, because she immediately brought me another folding chair. They were metal and not very giving, so I folded over my large carry bag for the wall sign into a square for David to sit on.
I don't sit down much, so I did without any cushion. It was steady, everyone was really happy to meet David. They were mostly Voyage fans and were so pleased that David had come to Nashville, as they never thought they would ever have a chance to meet him. Several drove in from other states. Marc said the phone was ringing off the hook all week, as folks really wanted to meet him. We had fans came from Kentucky, Ohio and New Jersey.
I tried to take some pictures of the table before we got too busy and my digital camera refused to work. I changed the batteries - nothing. I put the original batteries back in and finally got it to turn on, but then all it did was flash red at me and the shutter would not depress. The message was cannot read camera card. I tried all three I had, but it wouldn't read any of them.
I finally gave up and told David the camera was possessed...
I had purchased a camcorder, so I set that on still camera mode and took some shots. The video camera needs much more light, so while I got some pictures that came out, they weren't as good as I would have liked.
We had a good Vincent Price group - a star from one of his films, and another author of a Price related books. It was a busy corner. In addition to the Price group - we had the 1986 Fly screen writer, a Dark Shadows expert and an actor from one of the "Ernest" movies. We had a good crowd all day long. Marc said 1000 people paid to get in.
We were served pulled pork barbeque for lunch, made by Marc's Mom. His Dad was selling admissions. They run a really good show. One of the best I've attended.
Nancy Appelhof made it to the show about 1:00 PM. She had previously been to David's shows in Louisville (she lives there) and one in Orlando and one in Aberdeen, MD. She was really happy to see David again. And her digital camera was working, so she took some table shots and took pictures at the panel.
Our panel was at 2:00 PM and we filled the room. David went first, talked about The Fly, where he and Vincent did not work together, but attended the wrap party - there is a picture of this party with both of them in my Fly book - and the Voyage episode were they did work together. And the dinner party Vincent threw for them after the episode - David attended with Anne Baxter. The food - cooked by Vincent - was great.
I went next - talked about how we put the 50th anniversary book together - who we interviewed, what was in it and that it was available at the table. I mentioned how helpful David was, about his 16 page interview for the book and about the pictures he and Dana Nye gave me. When there was a story David could tell better, I handed him the mic. Between the two of us, we kept them entertained for our part.
I turned the mic back over to our moderator and he talked about his book on the Women in Vincent Price films and then Jeff talked about his books and meeting Vincent and finally Charles Pogue talked about his 1986 fly screenplay and how his agent had run into David (in 1986) at a party and the agent had called Pogue and got David to talk to him on the phone. Charles was very happy to (finally) meet David in person. His table was next to mine on the L and we chatted quite a bit during the weekend.
The last half of the panel was a Q & A, with most of the questions going to David. He told more Fly stories (from the book) about them filming Kurt Neumann's hand instead of his, about almost cutting off his leg with an axe... David tells really good stories. David is friends with one of the Dark Shadows actresses, Kathryn Scott Miller and he told everyone to go buy her book, Dark Passions. I mentioned that David was most recently interviewed in Rue Morgue #116 (Halloween issue) and that was the panel.
David told me to hold the mic closer. I told him he was the star, know how to do this and that I was only a writer. They could definitely hear me better after David's instruction.
After the panel, Nancy had her husband take some group shots of me and David and Nancy with mixed results. Her flash took longer to go off, so there were a couple of shots where we were not ready to be photographed. David was. He seems to never take a bad picture. I wish I could say that about me. Now I'm having (corrective) orthodontic work done on my teeth - the braces only make smiling worse. David is very supportive, always asking how my corrections are going and when do I get the braces off. Not soon enough, I told him. I think I have 4 months left in them. We'll see.
A nice woman with two grown sons came by the table late in the day. She said now that her 'boys' had walked all around and seen "all the pretty girls" she was going to come over to us and get her some. So I let her look all she wanted. And again bit my lip.
It was very cold in the hall after our panel, much more so than it had been earlier in the day. I finally persuaded David to put on my fleece jacket and he was much happier after that. He didn't think it would fit him, but I assured him it was unisex - a man's size large, which is what he wears. He filled out the shoulders in a way I definitely do not. He wore it all the way home.
We left most everything at the hall, so David could take his empty roller home to pack for his trip home. We had agreed to go out with our panel for dinner, so we only had about an hour before they were picking us up. David asked our driver to stop in at the Mobil mart. He said he would only be a minute, and to stay in the car. But I know better. I hopped out and went to go get a snack for myself, as I liked nothing in the vending machines at the hotel. I got in and David couldn't find his granola bars in the green wrapper. I knew which ones he meant and found and presented him with the box. He took out three.
Then he wanted me to find not from concentrate orange juice. The second brand I found was that way. And I nabbed the last one of those. I sent David to check out, while I found my snack, when I hear him calling me. He needed me to lift the muffin case lid, so he could get a bran muffin out of it. So I did that, grabbed the muffin he indicated he wanted and handed it to him, wrapped in two pastry tissues.
Then I found they had cherry turnovers in that case. What I like. So I checked out after David and he told me I should have put the turnover up with his so he could pay for it. Sweet man, but he doesn't have to PAY for everything.
Apparently the hotel was warmer, because he stripped my jacket off at the hotel and laid it on top of my blue roller bag in the lobby. He brought his black cloth jacket to the hall the next day and of course, it warmed up, so he didn't need it.
We stopped at the vending machine on the way back to our room. David decided he wanted a Rice Krispy treat, so I pressed F1 and got it out of the machine for him. He offered to buy me one, but I told him, truthfully, I don't like them, plus now I had my turnover pastry from the mini-mart, so I was fine.
I had about enough time to change my shirt for dinner, then we were headed back down the hall to have dinner with our panel. Jeff Thompson picked us up, he had Bill Byrge with him. Bill played Bobby in several "Ernest" movies and was the other librarian (retired from Nashville Public) in the group. We met up with Jonathan Lampley at the Pub. Charles Pogue was also supposed to come, but then decided he was too tired.
The five of us had a great time. David picked up my meal tab. I know better than to argue with him about that. He had a Reuben and I told him to get the steak fries. David said he had never had steak fries before. The rest of us had Irish food - I had the potato soup, which was delicious.
David's Reuben sparked a discussion about Sauerkraut. Jonathan said his mom once made him a Sauerkraut pizza and that killed the dish for him. I'm not crazy about it, either, but can tolerate it on hot dogs.
We talked about our jobs, I was with two other writers, who also work at State colleges. Bill and David talked about people they knew in the acting community. Bill wasn't advertised for the con, so I really didn't know who he was, until Jeff introduced us. He was front row at David's panel and seemed to really enjoy it. Jeff took us back to the hotel. David told a couple of interesting stories on the way back. About working at the theatre in Abingdon in 1951 and another about his parent's house (the last one) in Warwick, RI. Jonathan and Jeff and Bill were really good company. They were helping Marc run the con as well. Jonathan moderated our Vincent Price panel and they also ran the Trivia contest on Sunday.
I called David Sunday morning and he sounded very awake - but he thanked me anyway. I went down and had breakfast. There was a very nice chap from Birmingham, England that I chatted with. They were two retired couples on their way to Las Vegas. I told him I was also partly Brit - only we had left Lancastershire in 1703. That was a while ago, he said with a smile.
David called me about fifteen minutes before we were supposed to catch our ride and wanted to come over to my room. I let him in and we rearranged a few things in the bags, so he had whatever he decided he wanted to take home. I teasingly reminded him that I knew he had promised certain friends to go together for his 90th birthday and that my goal was to keep him busy and active until then, so he could attend his party. He teased back, saying I didn't know where it was going to be, so how could I plan for it. I told him, it didn't matter. I was still going to make sure he got there.
David left with his bag when he was ready to go and I ended up chasing him down the hall again. The driver said don't worry, we were waiting for someone else in the hotel, so he had the desk call him and he came down about five minutes later.
We had several people come by the table our first hour. The Sunday attendance was a little less than half of the people who came on Sunday. The balloon animal guy Marc had hired was very popular and made the most outlandish hats I have ever seen. One hat had eyes on stalks and the pink flamingo was one was bigger than the young miss who was wearing it. The young boys had guns and light sabres - no silly hats for them.
Jeff and Bill and Jonathan were good company on Sunday afternoon after David left early for his flight home to LA. David stayed as long as he could, so everyone would have a chance to meet him, then I ran the table until the con closed. Charles Pogue left about an hour after David and everyone else started packing up around 3:00 PM.
My favorite fan on Sunday was a nice gentleman with a young daughter in tow. They talked to David on Saturday. He came strolling up to the table, with daughter still in tow and asked me where "My Dad" was. I told him David had to fly home and that he wasn't my Dad, just a friend that I didn't mind helping out when he did a show. I don't think I look the least bit Armenian, but this happens at least once a show.
The same guy I had waited on in the morning, rode back with me to the hotel after the show. Very few of us flew into this show, most of them drove in from Kentucky or other neighboring states. It was a very well attended con - with 150 guests - mostly artists and 95 dealers.
Sunday night I packed, ordered in some really delicious Italian dinner - I asked the front desk which delivery service they liked. Then on Monday, the hotel van took me to the airport. My flights both arrived early and my neighbor could not believe I had already deplaned and had my checked bag by the time I called her. It was a great rip and I really enjoyed being with David in Nashville.