Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last year my wife Anne and I had the sincere pleasure of attending the inaugural Louisville Supercon, a three-day festival of comic-con goodness with screen actors, anime/animation voice actors, comic book creators, and other talents in the house to sign, pose, chat, and thrill. A con on the cusp of a holiday season was a tough sell for us, but we gave it a shot and had a blast, albeit on a tight budget at year’s end.
Fast-forward to today, and here we are again. Our budgetary crunch was even tougher because this year half the inanimate objects in our house have broken down and demanded attention. We made plans for a return engagement in Louisville anyway, now subsumed into a larger organization and rechristened GalaxyCon Louisville. Once again all the dreams we could afford to indulge were fulfilled, and we didn’t experience a single issue that could be blamed on the con. It was smoothly run A-plus fun except for the part where our aging bodies failed and imposed limits upon us. (Among other lessons, I learned trying to carry a heavy convention bag with the strap slung on your shoulder that’s just received a flu shot the day before is…not a pleasing sensation.) Otherwise: 12/10 very awesome, much entertainment, would convention there again.
The day looked awful on the outside, but all our plans were on the inside. The two-hour drive from Indianapolis to Louisville was rainy and dreary, but expedient and uneventful. We pulled into town at 9:00 sharp, picked up our glittery 1-day wristbands, and joined the modest General Admission line already in progress. As the time drew near and the skies slightly cleared, the line easily tripled or more in length. At one point a volunteer regaled the middle of the line with some geek freestyle, which helped pass some time amicably.
My biggest primary objectives — i.e., guests I was dying to see most — are up there in our lead photo: Jonah Ray and Felicia Day, costars of the eleventh and twelfth seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix. MST3K has held a special place in my heart ever since June 1996, in a fateful confluence that marked one of the darkest points in my life and the release week of the first wave of MST3K episodes on VHS from Rhino Home Video (as I recall, Pod People, Cave Dwellers, and The Amazing Colossal Man). Since I couldn’t afford cable TV back in those days, those episodes were my gateway into the show and 23 years of fandom and counting. In the hands of creator Joel Hodgson and the new cast and crew, the show’s recent revival was an unexpected blessing and has been an absolute delight. (The season 12 opener, which skewered the infamous E.T. ripoff Mac and Me, left me gasping for air.)
So yes, saying hi to Day and Ray was tops on my to-do list. I previously met Day at Wizard World Chicago 2011, but made that occasion awkwardly painful by asking about a direct-to-video oddity called Prairie Fever, in which she’d had to put up with TV’s Kevin Sorbo and recite reams of Scripture in raving madwoman tones. It was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, who probably found it on the Kroger discount rack and thought something starring TV’s Hercules might be up my alley. Her misconceptions in that sentence easily outnumbered the film’s good points.
But all that was prior to her hopping aboard the new MST3K at the request of the esteemed Mr. Hodgson himself. Now that she was part of a different legacy, that meant grounds for a new autograph — specifically on my beat-up, dog-eared copy of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, my personal artifact of my MST3K experience. Naturally I had to have Jonah Ray sign it as well, which was pretty wild considering he grew up a fan of the show. But now he’s part of that grand movie-mocking legacy that was there for me at a point when I needed comedy most. It helps that he and the new cast are great at what they do and didn’t mess it all up. Always a plus!
(For those keeping track at home, that means my ACEG has now been autographed by Jonah, Felicia, Joel himself, Mike, Kevin, Bill, Mary Jo, Trace, and TV’s Frank. It’s quite a busy-looking book on the inside.)
I wish I could’ve spent more at their booths. Day brought along books that for now will have to go on my want list. To my nostalgic shock, Ray brought along copies of his recently released five-song EP You Can’t Call Me Al…on glorious, old-fashioned audiocassette. He had plenty of vinyl copies, but back in my music-fandom heyday, audiocassette was my format of choice because CDs hadn’t been invented yet, LPs always scratched or warped on me, and 8-tracks were on their way to obsolescence, where tapes later joined them. Once again that’s Jonah Ray performing kindly deeds for us odd old folks. I couldn’t resist buying that, my first brand new tape since the Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore hit stores in 1998.
I got their autographs on the ACEG at their respective booths before we did the dual photo op later. Both remembered me; Day even remembered my name. My brain actually froze for a full two seconds because I was that astonished. As someone who resembles far too many stereotypes, I operate under the assumption that I do geek stuff under a certain aura of utter and instant forgettability. Being remembered, even though it was only like an hour later, overloaded my circuits. Then I snapped out of it and they totally went for jazz hands.
…so yeah, kind of a magical day. For that alone, Louisville gets maximum thumbs-up from me.
…oh, hey, wait. We did other stuff, too!
Also on the jazz-hands wish list: Christopher Eccleston! The Ninth Doctor was our first Doctor when we finally jumped into the world of Doctor Who and is therefore on a pedestal in our modest estimation.
Meanwhile nearby, Anne’s priority-one meet-up was with Terry Farrell, a.k.a. Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, unanimously called “the best Trek series of all time” in our household. Anne has met a couple dozen Trek actors over the years (including quite a few that I haven’t), but Farrell was one of the few DS9 cast members that remained out of reach until the good folks at GalaxyCon did magics.
Also in the house: Jim O’Heir! Despite the nonstop jokes about obesity and gullibility in us Hoosiers, Parks and Recreation is one of the very, very, very few shows for which I still actively pursue ancillary merchandise whenever I see it because it was a sharp, witty, nuanced, layered, complicated wild ride. And as Jerry Gergich, the put-upon office klutz, O’Heir was a key player in the team dynamic even if no one else would admit it, including Jerry himself. In person he’s charming and gregarious and the first Parks and Rec cast member we’ve ever met, which means he wins.
One more entertainment GalaxyCon loot!guest, with feeling: Dino Stamatopoulos! I first knew him as part of the writing/producing staff behind the late, lamented Community, second only to his recurring role as Alex a.k.a. “Star-Burns”, the most aptly nicknamed student at Greendale. Beyond that show, which I’d praise at length here if I hadn’t already used up all my best adjectives in this entry, Stamatopoulos went on to create Adult Swim’s Moral Orel, as well as co-found the multimedia company Starburns Industries, which has made comics I’ve liked as well as the Oscar-nominated animated film Anomalisa (of which I was a Kickstarter backer). He also sings and plays in a band called Sorry About Everything, named after an erstwhile podcast.
He had copies of the complete Moral Orel for sale, plus a graphic novel he wrote called Trent: A Light Tragedy with Music. To my nostalgic shock, he also brought along copies of Sorry About Everything’s 2017 album Shivers in the Cold…on glorious, old-fashioned audiocassette. I couldn’t resist buying that, my first brand new tape since Jonah Ray’s You Can’t Call Me Al went into my con bag twenty minutes earlier.
Those were really all the entertainers we could afford to meet, which was just as well. The lines for higher-end celebs such as Dave Bautista and George Takei were hours long. Anne and I met Takei at a local Trek con over twenty years ago and are extremely glad the SF convention business was under quite a different paradigm at the time. In other rows of the exhibit hall, actors of varying statures and IMDb entry lengths dealt with their own vicissitudes. Some appeared to have the time of their lives.
I regret my Artists Alley experience was shorter than I’d prefer. That’s due to my restricted budget and to my finickiness this time around. I’d met a good deal of the comics folks on the guest list and didn’t see a number of “must-see” names among the rest. But I definitely wanted to say hi to Steven Grant, who’s been in the biz since at least the ’80s. He wrote the very first Punisher miniseries back in the day, hopped around a number of Big Two titles, created or reworked concepts off the beaten path, co-created the first female-ninja comics series in Whisper, wrote a fascinating tale about Kennedy’s assassination called Badlands, and saw his creator-owned collaboration 2 Guns turned into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.
Not pictured in this entry: J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the renowned Babylon 5 and wordsmith on such works as Murder, She Wrote; the ’80s Twilight Zone relaunch; a several-year run on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man, including the famously emotional 9/11 issue; and more, more, more. I’d seen his name on the guest list but had assumed he would have a large crowd and I shouldn’t bother. Also, I’m only 17 episodes into Babylon 5 season 2 because I’ve been working through that series very, very, very slowly on DVD and don’t have any questions yet. My brain froze up for the second time this day when I noticed he had no line. At all. I didn’t get it. Then I snapped out of it, ran up and bought a copy of his new memoir Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, which I’m hoping to fast-track on my reading pile.
If you’ve read or at least impatiently scrolled this far, it means you’ve all been good and everyone’s earned a cosplay gallery! The following represents a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the total cosplayers spotted all over the place. It was tough to take photos in the crowded aisles, tougher to find cosplayers in the more desolate areas who weren’t specifically trying to take a break, and toughest to find cosplayers representing characters from the imaginary worlds we actually recognize considering it’s impossible for us to keep up with ALL the youth cultures anymore. Also, we got too tired to keep up with so many fast walkers, because old.
Regardless: enjoy the intermission!
Quick shout-out to the food vendors who got us through the afternoon, and with mostly better results that we’ve found at the average convention center:
By 1:45 all our main goals were accomplished and then some. We adjourned to the largest panel room and caught the last half of a Q&A with actor John Cusack, whom we previously met at C2E2 2016. After we came in, questions about a number of his beloved works invariably confirmed they were a pleasure to work on, with a maximum of two sentences per answer. The big exception was Identity, whose set was built on a massive gimbal and whose daily filming routine involved blasting him with so much water that he never needed coffee to wake up.
Our final GalaxyCon activity for this year commenced at 2:15 with the Felicia Day Q&A. Roughly 70% of the questions concerned her recurring character on Supernatural, whose enormous fan base seems like good people who really, really, really want to talk about Charlie from Supernatural and might mutiny if she doesn’t return for the final season. (Full disclosure: I’ve only seen two episodes.)
In between questions about Charlie, the other Charlie, and the two main stars’ hi-jinks on set, gleaned tidbits included but weren’t limited to:
- She’s a big fan of FX’s What We Do in the Shadows (I cringe and turn away whenever they go too far, but it’s generally a hilarious show)
- She was pretty happy with the cheesy Syfy film she once did, Red: Werewolf Hunter
- She briefly mentioned Prairie Fever, but this time she brought it up, not me
- Dr. Horrible also drew quite a few questions, especially about the music
- Her Codex costume from the one music video they cobbled together for The Guild (“Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?“) is now officially in the Smithsonian’s collection as an artifact representative of “new media”, given that The Guild, which Day still fully owns, predated common use of the term “webseries” and YouTube creators as an entertainment workforce, and proved new shows could be made and build fan bases without the blessing or funding of TV or cable networks)
…and of course the burning question: the status of a hypothetical thirteenth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 remains in limbo while Joel Hodgson is on a six-month tour. Fingers crossed he feels up to the task when he returns.
…and then we trudged to the car and left. For us the day and the con were a rousing success, even if we’re now too logy to feel roused.
Thanks for reading! Lord willing, we’ll see Louisville again next year.