I’m back from my whirlwind trip to Los Angeles and Gallifrey One, and what an adventure it was…
Traveling with my partner-in-crime Hal we arrived in L.A. the morning of the Thursday before the convention and took a shuttle to the Airport Mariott, where the convention would be held that weekend. That wasn’t where we were *staying* that night, mind you, but it was the closest location to the car rental location we wanted to reach. While Hal babysat our luggage in front of the Mariott, I walked over to fetch us a car for the next two days. Once I had the rental car I zipped over to pick up Hal who was happily soaking up the California weather (February in L.A. is much nicer than February in Minneapolis), and took us both down the road to the Travelodge, which was significantly cheaper than the Mariott when the convention rate isn’t being offered! Our room wasn’t available yet at that early hour, so we left our luggage in the car and grabbed a surprisingly good brunch at the Denny’s that adjoins the hotel.
By the time we’d finished eating our room was ready, and once Hal and I were checked in we drove across town to Burbank to the studios of The Tonight Show
, where we’d arranged to see the taping before meeting up with my friend Wally Wingert
, who serves as the show’s announcer in addition to his other work as a voice actor. Having attended a taping of the Craig Ferguson
show the year before, the contrast was striking. The Ferguson taping had a more severe approach to security, and a much more aggressive comedian doing warm-up in their frigid studio, practically brow-beating the audience into being responsive to the show and juicing everyone up with candy. At the Tonight Show
taping we were simply asked to keep any cell phones off and in our pockets, and the warm up was entertaining with a minimum of coaching. Jay came out to do part of the warm up himself, and I found his spontaneous interaction with the audience to be more engaging than any of the scripted material in the show. You get a strong sense of how those skills got him to where he is. The show itself was filled with performers I wasn’t familiar with, although an animal segment included an ostrich that was pretty entertaining. I’m still a bigger fan of the Ferguson show when watching from home, but if given a chance to see a live taping again, I’d choose The Tonight Show in a heartbeat.
After the taping Wally emerged and found Hal and me in the audience. He led Hal and me across the tonight show stage and took us back to see the edit bay where his sound booth is located. It was rather surreal to walk through the very impressive facade of the Tonight Show stage and suddenly be in office space. We’d planned to grab dinner with Wally but first he had to make a pit-stop at home to feed his animals, so Hal and I walked to our rental and Wally was going to drive around and meet us. Rather than stop so we could confer on where we were going, Wally did something of a drive-by, leaving us to follow him through across the highways and byways of deepest, darkest Burbank following his vanity-plate branded convertible, Wally’s hair blowing in the wind, hoping desperately we wouldn’t miss a turn and lose him on the way there.
We managed to stay with him and soon were at Wally’s apartment (aka WallyWorld) and were treated to a tour of the latest additions to the museum of memorabilia that is Wally’s home. After being photographed with Wally in front of his Adam West Batman
shrine last year, this year we opted for Wally’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
costume as the backdrop for our annual photo-op. While there we got to meet Wally’s dog Roxy, who is a sibling of the current Lassie!
We learned that even though there aren’t any currently planned Lassie
productions for TV or film, in addition to the need of a Lassie for the occasional live appearance, the family that owns the Lassie
franchise always keeps a fully-trained adult Lassie “on deck” so that one is available in case a project comes up, as it can take years to train new one. So yes, even Wally’s dog is part of a pop-culture collection!
Afterwards we met up at Jerry’s Famous Deli for dinner with Wally and some other of Wally’s friends including Brittney Powell, star of the long-running High Sierra Rescue television series with Robert Conrad. She was also on Safety Geeks: SVI and something called Xena: Warrior Princess. She was actually a lot of fun and planned to stop by the Gallifrey One convention on Saturday.
We’d had hopes of dropping by the Marriott to pick up our Gallifrey One badges and investigate when we could begin art-show set up the next day (the web site only said “morning”), but by the time we got back to the LAX area from Burbank it was after 10:00pm, so we just went to our room and crashed.
Friday morning was going to be busy. I’d tried to arrange a time to get together with my Young Justice collaborator Greg Weisman while in Los Angeles, and the only time that seemed to be available was lunch on Friday. That means lunch had to happen in a narrow window of time between Art Show set up at Gallifrey One Friday morning, a 45-minute drive to Greg’s office where we were going to meet before walking to a nearby spot for lunch, and then leaving in time for the drive back to the Gallifrey One hotel and dealing with parking before a panel at 2:30pm that I was on!
Unfortunately we weren’t able to start setting up in the Art show until about 10:00am, and the process of fitting pegs to pegboard in a carefully-spaced pattern, fitting binder clips to all my prints, hanging them, and then entering all the prints into the computer system so we could print out the control sheets and post them took us until noon. Sadly, I had to call Greg to let him know that our plans had gone awry and we wouldn’t have time to get across town to meet him for lunch.
OH NO! LUNCH PLANS WITH GREG WEISMAN DASHED!
Could we re-schedule?
Would I miss this rare opportunity to see Greg in person?
SPOILER REQUEST! NO COMMENT!
Now with a little extra time to spare, Hal and I began exploring Gallifrey One 2013, and tried to meet up with our friends Mike and Alicia who we were sharing a room with at the convention. Soon it was time for the first of my two panels at Gallifrey One: Design and Illustration, which featured Paul Hanley, Blair Shedd, Maureen Starkey, myself, Richard Starkings and Charlie Kirchoff. None of us knew exactly what the panel was supposed to be about beyond the title, but given the backgrounds of who was on the panel, we tended to focus on the process behind creating comic book art – which certainly meant that I was right at home!
By the time the panel got out we were finally able to get into our room at the Mariott, so I fetched the luggage from the car and we moved in. After that there was just a little more time for wandering and exploring the convention before it was time for Opening Ceremonies. The lineup of guests was especially impressive at Gallifrey One this year year, and usually despite the best of intentions to the contrary, the weekend flies by without my having made it to panels or through autograph lines to see more than a fraction of them, so I didn’t want to miss seeing them all file out onto the stage at Opening Ceremonies. There were plenty of guests I’d have loved to meet, but at the top of my list was Sylvester McCoy. Not only was I a big fan of The Seventh Doctor, but I hoped to give Sylvester a framed copy of the new print featuring his Doctor and Ace battling Daleks that I had completed just in time for the convention.
After Opening Ceremonies, everyone in our group was ravenous. Having missed out on lunch with Greg, I hadn’t eaten all through a busy day. Since in anticipation of that lunch I’d held onto the rental car for a second day and didn’t need to return it until Saturday morning, so I offered to drive our party somewhere for dinner, as it would be our last chance for the weekend to go somewhere that wasn’t in the hotel or within walking distance. Alicia found a listing for a Mexican restaurant about 15 minutes away by car, so we headed there and stuffed ourselves with fine south-of-the-border style cuisine. Margaritas were had by all – except for me, as I was driving! I dropped the rest of the crew off at the hotel, then swung by a gas station, topped off the tank in the rental car, and returned it to the rental place since I wouldn’t have need of it again before it was due back the next morning. I then hoofed it back to the Mariott.
By the time I got back, I had the energy for a quick tour around the lobby, but for all the people there chatting (fans at Gallifrey One call it “LobbyCon”), I wasn’t seeing any familiar faces to engage in conversation with and didn’t have enough energy left to try to insert myself into a conversation with strangers so I decided to call it a night and be better rested for the next day.
You can find all the installments of my Gallifrey One 2013 trip by clicking the link.