Scare-a-Con, Verona, NY
September 12 and 13 at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino
Put out an APB for AMH
If this is my farewell tour of the convention circuit, I’m glad I’m checking out new things and putting a positive spin on that chapter of my life. A week and a half ago, I headed out with my dear friend Mike Cucinotta to a con in a casino in the middle of upstate NY, and though I didn’t do much, it was a memorable experience.
I realized once I got there, this con wasn’t about meeting horror people. It was about grabbing a new clutch of life that I could speak about years from now. That started with Mike, who picked me up Saturday morning around 8:30 am, and off we went. It was great to catch up with a friend after a year without talking, and realize we still have the love that makes true friendships. Five hours of travel went by fairly quickly, as we talked about our families, living in the five boroughs, and all things horror. With about an hour left, he turned me on to How Did This Get Made?, a hilarious podcast about bad films. Apropos that he should engage me with the episode where they covered the dreadful HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH.
We arrived in a huge parking lot with a high tower jutting into the heavens, the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. The multitudes of cars led me to believe this might be one booming con, which would have surprised the Hell out of me. I wasn’t thinking most of these cars belonged to gamblers, not only the truth but the logical option. As for the con itself, we headed up to the 2nd floor and found what looked like a gymnasium, broken into six aisles and one section set up for panels. As we made our way through, I noticed something unique to this con: the vendors and guests were all jumbled up. I’d pass two vendors, then come to Ken Foree, then another vendor, and so on. This is poor organization, and made it hard for me to find guests even at a con this small. Even the map/ schedule that Mike had picked up did us little good (bonus points for it looking like an old fashioned TV Guide, though).
My other big surprise was that at 2 pm on Saturday, traditionally the busiest point of a con, the place was dead, which is great for fans, but bad for business. If you’re looking for a quiet con where you can spend a lot of time with the guests, Scare-a-Con is the one. I only wish this was five years ago, when I would have been snatching up autographs right and left. But my budget was limited, and those times are long gone, even if it would be nice to have a signed 8×10 of Joe Bob Briggs, who I’ve wanted to meet for years.
The small crowd also would’ve left me plenty of time to conduct interviews, but the interview machine in my head wasn’t functioning. I tried to put questions together for Kristina Klebe, who Mike knows socially, but failed. Some dude saw my Slayer shirt and told me I had to discuss the band with Felissa Rose, who had just produced their newest video. But even with that “in,” I would have conducted some lousy discussions, so I didn’t even attempt any.
Even with a quiet scene and not much to do at the con itself, we did explore some other parts of the hotel. Mike went and gambled away the $11 the hotel gave him, playing slots that we couldn’t understand to look at them. And then there was the buffet. Mike kept telling me that casinos always have cheap buffets, which is what I learned from about 30 years of my mom’s side of the family taking trips to Las Vegas. All our knowledge of pricing was off, though, and it cost us $25 each. We hit the Seasons Harvest at around 4. I had intent to explore all “7 regions” of the world’s cuisine the sign had mentioned, including the “salad region” and the “seafood region. Even though I put away three full trays, and the food was pretty good, I still don’t feel I got the best of it.
Before heading out, we returned briefly to the con, where I found this:
Oh dear God, this provided Mike entertainment for the rest of the weekend. He was all over Facebook posting about the whereabouts of Anthony Michael Hall, tying in a bunch of Hall’s flicks to the joke. The next day, we’d discover that Rusty # 2 Jason Lively had disappeared too. I told Mike that Ethan Embry had better watch out, and we both surmised that damn kid from Roseanne was to blame.
Off to our room at the Quality Inn, in nearby Rome, NY. I showered and lie down to enjoy a triple feature of quality horror on SyFy: 1408, THE CONJURING, and one terrifying number I’d never seen before, SINISTER.
Little did I know in the middle of it I’d end up at my 2nd “all you can eat” of the day, and it wasn’t even my idea. Mike was hungry, so we headed out to the Denny’s attached to the hotel for some never ending pancake action. Bloated and tired, we returned to the room and fell out for the night.
We returned to the con early Sunday, but not before a stop at Dunkin Donuts across the street from the casino, which led to this:
Seriously? So if you’re a recovering alcoholic, don’t worry! They’ll make sure you fall off the wagon! And when you leave, you can wake yourself up with a nice cup of joe at Dunkin.
With nothing going on at the con, we briefly stopped to listen to C. Thomas Howell discuss some of his roles in real “actory” talk. A twirl or two around, and we headed out into the chilly air of Verona, NY.
It was a long trip home, and I was really tired. But then I saw the biggest rainbow I’d ever seen. I get the sense that I’m not long for conventions, but you can’t top a long trip with a great friend to a con at a casino, when it ends with a rainbow. I only hope the rest of my farewell tour will be just as memorable.