Random Thoughts on Flashback Weekend, Pretty Much As They Occur 

I clocked in 120 hours in the last two weeks, including one straight 24 hour run. (Thank Baby Jesus I am free from the burden of Socialist Overtime! No increased paycheck for me! Whee!) In lieu of actual compensation, I can leave work early today, and on a whim I decide to drive out to Rosemont and the Flashback Weekend horror convention. I have a really hard time emotionally with trying new activities, especially on my own, but it looks like I am coming into an "up" cycle and/or I am too tired to give a shit. Plus, I really want to meet Ken Foree, the star of the original Dawn of the Dead. Off I go!

The convention is held across the street from Wizard World Chicago, a con I am much more familiar with. It's 4:30 on a Friday afternoon and WW is already packed. I am attending tomorrow with a couple of friends, and I am already worn out just looking at the lines.

I come into the hotel the wrong way and end up passing a very long line. I really hope it's not for tickets. I may leave if it is. Nope! It's for the John Carpenter autograph session. I'm pleased for him, but it looks like I will be forgoing the pleasure of meeting him today.

Waiting in line for my ticket, the crowds are much smaller here than at Wizard World. On the other hand, the con did just get started. Already I can see that the female/male ratio is far, far more even than it is at the comic conventions. I've always known that horror fandom is dominated by women but I've never really experienced it before. Aside from a couple of friends, most of my encounters have been with male headbangers/slasher fans.  This is refreshing.

The hallway is pretty narrow, and guests and vendors stream by. I catch whiffs of patchouli, greasepaint, and dread wax. Not odors I am especially fond of, especially the dread wax, but it beats the hell out of the standard con cologne, Eau de Unwashed.

The ticket booth is staffed by what appears to be a mom and her daughters. A ten-year-old is in charge of attaching the entry bands to attendees' wrists. She seems very excited to hold such a responsible position. Her older sisters display various degrees of boredom. Again, this drives home that Flashback is a very female-friendly gathering and despite my ginourmous reserves of testosterone this makes me relax for some reason.   I think it's in no small part due to all the discussions at the geek forum I hang at about sexism and outright hostility towards women at cons.  I don't think that shit is gonna fly here.

I enter the main room. It's pretty darn small compared to Wizard World, barely a step up from the neighborhood comic cons I would occasionally attend back in the 90's. There are a lot of arts and craft vendors here, and some of them are displaying really cool (if pricey) stuff.

There's already a long line for Linda Blair, and she hasn't even arrived yet. Tyler Mane has a pretty good-sized crowd queuing up, but not as long as Blairs' or the girl from Stake Land and the Halloween remake. Ken Foree only has one or two people coming by at a time. Most of the other guests are in the same boat, but it's still early.

Oh, look - it's Tony "Candyman" Todd walking around greeting various dealers and guests. He seems very friendly. And tall. There is already a line forming at his table. His daughter - most guests at these things have family helping them out, because who else is going to spend all day sitting around with you for next to nothing? - is also tall.  Oh, and pretty.  I didn't want to leave it at just "tall" in case it gave the wrong impression.

I pick up an autograph from Ken Foree. He is distracted by a phone call on his bluetooth, and he apologizes. I apologize for getting him at a bad time. This exchange totally derails my plan to get the autograph, read the signature and say, "Oh, I'm sorry! I thought you were Tony Todd!"   Which is probably for the best.

Barbara Crampton is, if anything, more beautiful now than she was back in the 80's. As I note this, I realize that I sound like I am judging appearances a lot, so I want to make it clear that I am just recording observations. I am old and far, far more concerned with the pain developing in my left knee as I keep pacing the ballroom than I am with ogling women.  Which is kind of sad on some level.

Meg Foster seems really, really nice. Both her and Tony Todd are really putting in an effort to make their fans feel special; asking for names, shaking hands, talking not just to the people buying stuff but the folks they are with and even passers-by. Very cool.

Lotsa folks dressed in costumes. Lotsa families, too. The little kids don't seemed bothered by all the ghoulishness. I pass by a tiny little girl with a halo of blonde hair being carried by her father. She has a smear of fake blood under her lower lip. I see another little girl walking with her mother. She has a hideous, bloody and bruised baby doll tucked under her arm while she happily chatters away. I experience mixed emotions.

The line for Jeffery Combs is starting to pick up, which makes me happy for some reason. I wish I had known I was coming here tonight. I would have brought my German DVD of Sabotage for Tony Todd to sign, and I might have found something with the JLU version of the Question on it for Jeffery Combs to sign. Dang it!

It strikes me that the lines to meet folks who played monsters are longer than those for the folks who played their victims and adversaries.

So many zombies milling about.  They truly are the egalitarian monster.

I keep an eye out for back issues of Little Shoppe of Horrors and Cinema Retro, but no dice. Actually, the con is pretty light on reading material. Not as many DVDs as I would have thought, either, although Synapse has a booth.  Too bad I already have the discs I really wanted from their label, and the prices don't entice me to give some of their other titles a try.

There's a group dressed as evil clowns roaming around and making a lot of noise. They appear convinced of their own awesomeness, but I can see several people who, like me, are not aligned with that worldview.

I scour the movie poster vendors, and walk away with original one sheets for two Hammer films. Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter is one of my favorite Hammer films, but the American poster is kind of lackluster. The Face of Fu Manchu is a much lesser Hammer, but the poster is frickin' awesome. Tracking down frames for the 27x41 posters is going to be a pricey pain, but I'm happy with my purchases.  Again, I break free from the chemical bonds of my psychosis and have a nice little chat with the guy who sells me the Fu Manchu poster.

On the way out, I pass by an Indian wedding reception being held in the next ballroom. This is the real deal, with fancy saris and little gold idols and delicious food smells. I wonder what they think of the evil clowns and zombie girl scouts surrounding them.

I had a nice time at this little big convention and I am really glad I decided to become more spontaneous in my dotage.  But I am worn out and decide to pass on the screening of Carpenter's The Thing tonight.  After all, I have to rest up my weary joints and prepare to hit Wizard World tomorrow.  Eek.