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Early last year, I stumbled upon an online ad for a horror-themed convention in Seattle called Crypticon. I’d never been to Seattle before so I thought it might be cool to check out an American convention and see another part of the world at the same time. As it happens, the convention was in a small town called Everett (outside of Seattle), and while I didn’t see much of anything outside of the con (except a Denny’s at 3 a.m.), I did meet an incredible group of people and began great new friendships (earning me the nickname “Canada”). Ah, well, I can live with that.
So naturally this year, I was coming back. The venue has changed, it’s now taking place at the Hilton Seattle Airport and Convention Center. Very convenient to the hotel, but still outside of the city. No matter, the weekend promises to be too busy to see any sights other than the ones presented at Crypticon. A handy hotel bar will do the trick nicely.At this point, I must first establish that I am an excellent traveler. I’m always early, I have never gotten stuck in a lineup, never been hassled by customs or security, I’ve never had a negative experience. I trekked all over New Zealand and Australia last Christmas without a single hitch. Yesterday was different.I left for the airport with all kinds of time to spare, hours before the business rush hour. For some reason however, the highway to the airport was doing a conga line in slow motion and my extra time became just-in-time. I arrived at the off-lot parking with less than two hours before my flight. That would have been plenty of time still, but the shuttle took 20 minutes to arrive. (My fault: I played the odds and chose economy.)I arrived at the airport, hit the lineup and soon found that my suitcase was overweight by six pounds (which equals $75 extra). The helpful girl at the counter said I should try to transfer some of the items into my carry-on, so I had to open my case, underwear falling out in front of the impatient people behind me, while I dug for whatever I could find to jam into my already stuffed camera bag.I ended up with a video camera around my neck, my 50-pound camera bag (ironically, it weighs more than the suitcase now), a long tube and the case. I next rush to a table to fill out the customs form, then run down to the gates that lead to customs. But wait—where the hell is my passport? I just had it. I checked every pocket 20 times, as if it would suddenly magically appear after the fifth pass, all the while sweating like the prettiest guy in prison on his first day. I looked like Brad Davis in MIDNIGHT EXPRESS. An American fellow who saw me panicking started helping me out— and he found it! I was searching at the wrong table. I owe this guy big time. So now, stuffing myself back together, with hair like I just got out of the shower, I find myself in a huge room filled with two massive snaking lines. My new Bostonian friend tells me that one line is the feeder for the other line.Still I had hope. I believe this is referred to as denial, because if I had stopped to think about it, there was no way I was going to make it. The plane was leaving at 5:45, and it was now 5:20. Boarding started 10 minutes ago. We pass the time chatting, allowing me to forget about my situation for a bit, but the growing realization that I was about to miss my first flight ever was crawling in the back of my brain. Finally, I pass through customs onto the security check. The camera bag, which is now full of charger wires and other crap in my suitcase, is causing a bit of concern. While waiting for my bags to pass inspection, I hear the last call for my flight. The security guys take pity on me and let me go, so now I’m running with my 50-pound camera bag with wires hanging out of it, a long plastic tube, my video camera banging against me, and my pants falling down because I have no time to put my belt on, down a long hall to my gate which is at the very end of the terminal. Wheezing like a 10-pack-a-day smoker and once again drenched in sweat, I reach the gate…to find the door closed and no one in attendance. I missed it, I’m done. Someone says, “Seattle… That gate changed.”
Ah shit, it did. I forgot. And I had run right past it. Back I go to the proper gate, and I run to the desk, but I can’t get the words out: “See…See…” much to the amusement of the young lady. “Relax, you made it,” she says. (At this point I’d like to state that I’m not THAT out of shape, I play beach volleyball twice a week, but not with 50 pounds of camera junk on my back.)So onto the plane I go. I must have looked like John Lithgow in the TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE version of NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET. The flight attendants smiled nervously at me as I shuffle back to my seat, trying to find available space for my tube. My first bit of luck—no one is in the seat beside me. Awesome!Awesome on two counts, actually. I could stretch my legs out, and I wouldn’t be bothering anyone that close to me with my incessant coughing and hacking from whatever my crazed run through the airport let loose in my throat. From then on (after getting a drink) things were fine. Two movies later (if you get a chance to see MORNING GLORY, there’s a laugh-out-loud scene of a weatherman being tortured), the plane landed. Despite the guy in front of me animatedly bouncing in his seat like a 10 year old when he talked (my movie screen was on the back of his seat) and the goof behind me kicking me in the back and using my seat to jerk himself in and out of his seat, it was a pretty good flight.Disembarking was smooth, with the exception of the lady who kept yelling at me to yell back to people behind me to get her bag (screw you lady; I’m too tired for this), and we soon found ourselves having to board a little subway to take us to the baggage claim. I’m tired, three hours off of my body clock and physically exhausted, all things I blame for me misreading the signs and getting off at the same place I started at instead of the baggage claim exit. I rectified that quickly and soon found myself at the carrousel watching other people’s luggage circle around and around for 45 minutes until I finally asked an attendant if the Air Canada cargo has come through yet. “If it has, it’s been placed over there in the middle of the floor.” So off I go to the middle of the floor where neat rows of unclaimed luggage are lined up in front of little signs declaring which flight they came in on. No Air Canada. So off I go to ask someone. Yes, there’s one piece, a big silver one, against that pillar. Now with my bag, off I go to find the hotel shuttle. There are two slightly different signs. One is for limo service, 10 feet from me. The other is for courtesy shuttles up an escalator. So up I go, then across a skywalk, down some stairs and across a road, to end up exactly where I started.After watching every single shuttle in existence sail past, finally the Hilton shuttle shows, which is great because I’m near tears now from exhaustion, frustration and hunger. The drive is about two minutes long. Had I walked I’d have been there 15 minutes before the shuttle showed. But no matter, I’m at the hotel, a shower and food are only seconds away.Not quite. First, at reception, a group of doddering old folks from the UK butt in front of me. They were probably all in their 70s. Earlier in the day I think I could have taken them down in a fair fight, but I was weak from hunger so I let it slide—this time.Checked in, I follow the directions to my room. Cross the lobby, then past the huge open concept bar/restaurant, past a gift shop, then you’ll see the sign for the guest rooms. I saw the sign at a fork in the road. To the left, guest rooms; to the right, conference rooms, so I go left. Down a long hallway I go, all the while thinking about soap, hot water and sustenance. At the end of the hall, there’s another hall. A really long hall. It has it’s own horizon. I go all the way down this hall, now muttering under my breath like a crazy bag lady. At the end of the hall, another hall, which made me swear right out loud. At the end of this hall, right before my room number, there is a blocked off passageway. Under Construction. Employees only. (My God, the plane must have crashed and my personal hell is to eternally act out that scene from SPINAL TAP). Refusing to accept my fate, I hear a noise at the top of the stairs beside me so I run up to find a cleaning lady. Her English isn’t great, but I think she understands me. I go get my suitcase and haul it up the stairs to follow her down a hallway, and then another hallway, to an elevator. I go back down to the first floor and find my room…a few paces down from that original fork in the road—the turn to the left that said conference rooms.After about 13 tries, I get my door unlocked and dump my luggage on the floor. I try to call home, but my Blackberry is dead. I try to e-mail home, but the Internet isn’t free and I’m too tired and hungry to fill out the access form.I just need a shower. After a shower everything will be better. And it was. I dried my hair and popped down the hall back to the restaurant where I see Bill Moseley and Linnea Quigley and have a short incoherent chat (my brain was seconds from a complete shutdown). I mention to Linnea that the only thing that could save me now was a Caesar, but I could never get them in the USA.Linnea said I should ask them, because they supposedly have a great reputation for catering to just about everyone here (even Canadians?!). I found out later that Linnea thought I meant a Caesar salad, but I was actually referring to a Bloody Caesar—the elegant, sexy and far superior cousin to the alcoholics’ morning-after choice, the Bloody Mary.But lo and behold, they did in fact make a Bloody Caesar at the bar. I nearly broke down in tears of gratitude, but I ordered food instead and began the road to recovery, aided by the wonderful company of Linnea, who popped over for a chat, effectively putting a wonderful end on a terrible day.So thus begins my Seattle weekend. Today, as I write this, I’m just a few hours away from the official opening of the con where I hope to catch up with some long distance friends, chat with some awesome filmmakers, and spend too much money on articles that will only make my luggage that much heavier on the way back.I’ll fill you in with the details at the end of the weekend, but until then just remember—horror is everywhere, but if you’re fresh out of crucifixes, try a Bloody Caesar. Trust me on this.TO BE CONTINUED
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