Monday, March 19, 2012

Days of the Dead Atlanta Part 2: The Big, Red Eyes of Otis Driftwood

Pre-emptive note: I am recovering from an absolutely mad and awesome night of drinking and dancing. We celebrated Mrs. Troublemaker's birthday at the illustrious Clermont Lounge with a whole bunch of awesome people. So as I add pictures and scan this for posting, I am just not capable of good decision-making. If there are any weird misspellings or parts that just kind of wander... wait - that's just how I write. But anyway, I'm just not capable of doing even my normal half-assed editing. I hope you can forgive me.
Alright, people. I hope you’re ready for Part 2 of my recap of Days of the Dead Atlanta. Go read Part 1 now if you haven’t already. Then give yourself a few hours to recover and realize that Part 1 was 4,000 words and only covered about seven hours of time. This one is a whole fucking day.

Side Note: As usually happens when I am writing exhaustive recollections with few photographic aids, I left something out of yesterday’s recap. While the wife and I were waiting for the cab outside of Jekyll & Hyde’s, we mused at how funny at would be if Billy (the guy who loves Staying Awake) was one of the Guests for the con. I looked at the page on my phone and sure enough, he was. I’m not going to say which AMC television show he was part of, but I’m pretty sure you can figure it out.
Also, I forgot to mention the Tyler Mane story. When Mrs. Troublemaker and I got back to the room Thursday night we were both in pretty good moods. Really good moods, if you catch my drift. But unfortunately I had neglected to pack any of those items that certain insane-o Republicans have recently decided are evil. And we have exactly as many Lil’ Troublemakers as we want, so we do not engage in really good mood time without those items.
The whole reason I forgot was that at the exact time I was thinking about the fact that I needed to pack said items, Mrs. Troublemaker walked in the room and told me I needed to pack said items. This will not make any sense to females. I’m sure the two of you that are actually reading this are thinking, “Well that should have done nothing but help! All of our advice and phrases that begin with the words, ‘You need to…’ are nothing but wonderful mnemonic devices!”
The males, on the other hand, know precisely what I mean. We have this natural resistance to female advice or input. The second a female tells us we need to do something or suggests anything, our brains begin this huge struggle. Our base, animal selves insist that there is no way in heck we will ever do what the female just said because females are silly. But our logical, 90’s-era-sensitve-guy selves that read Men Are From Mars and nodded a lot at it must constantly fight that instinctual denial. Every once in a while the 90’s guy wins out and we follow through.
But on this occasion, my brain almost suffered a complete system failure because the silly female was suggesting the exact same thing that my brain had suggested at almost the same time. I’m lucky my head didn’t explode. But the data clash resulted in the permanent deletion of the directive, as its existence represented a denial of reality as I know it.
So I ran to the crappy little “Gift Shop” beside the front desk in the vain hopes that they had prophylactics. I put the little quotes around Gift Shop because it was a gift shop only in the sense that if you wished to give the gift of soda or a packet of Toast Chee crackers you could fulfill that goal there. The place didn’t even have the tacky t-shirts featuring stupid local attractions that most hotel gift shops have. So I scrutinized every item in that little alcove – a process which took approximately 7.4 seconds – and knew I was going to have to do the unthinkable. I was going to have to ask the lady at the front desk (who was the only clerk for the “Gift Shop”) if they had any family planning devices.
Now, I am not a person who has trouble buying condoms. I will gleefully bring that distinctively rectangular purple box to the counter of the convenience store or whatever and slam it down, proud that I will be copulating. Why shouldn’t I be? I even have a pat response to the clerk, as they almost always say, “Have a nice day!” and I without pausing reply, “Oh, I plan to!” and give them a little eyebrow waggle. Usually I am buying beer, too, and that really completes the effect.
But I didn’t particularly want to ask this lady for condoms. I knew they weren’t going to have them, but I also knew I had a raging… uh… good mood. So I walked over to the little window thing by the front desk and waited until the lady finished speaking to the giant dude standing on the other side.
I immediately recognized the giant dude as Tyler Mane of X-Men and Rob Zombie’s Halloween fame and I really didn’t want to involve him in my whole condom ordeal, but I also wanted to get back to the room, so as soon as there was a pause that indicated Mane’s business with the lady was at a stopping point I spoke.
Me – “Excuse me, Miss.”
Desk Lady – “Yes? Can I help you?”
Me – “I was wondering if your store here happened to have any prophylactics?” (I wish you could hear the way I pronounced “prophylactics” – it was funny)
Tyler Mane – (visibly shifted his amused attention to our conversation)
Desk Lady – “Oh. Oh, no. No, I’m sorry. We don’t”
Me – “KTHXBYE”
And I went on my way. It just so happened that Tyler Mane was heading to his room as well and I unintentionally fell into step beside the guy. I couldn’t not say anything, so I looked up and over at him (something I am not accustomed to, being 6’4”) and said I’d overheard him at the desk and if that was “Mane” as in “Tyler Mane”. I tried my best to do it in a way that suggested I knew darn well it was and was just being goofy. Or something. I dunno. But he laughed and confirmed and I told him it was awesome that he was there for the weekend and I looked forward to seeing him later. He thanked me and said he was excited about the con and went on his way. I headed on down the hall to our room and slid the card into the reader. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. I stared hard at the door, I guess hoping that it would vaporize or something. I’m glad I did this before I knocked, because it was during this stare that I noticed the number on the door was “210”. We were, of course, in room “110”. One floor down. I ran away.
A few months ago we had been over at Monkey’s house and I told him about Days of the Dead. He decided pretty much on the spot that he wanted to get a table to sell his wares. He does a lot of cool zombie and genre stuff and it made perfect sense for him to be at a horror con. For the most part I am a self-centered jerk, but I do try to be a decent friend when I can, so I told Monkey to call or text whenever he arrived on Friday morning and we’d help him set up. Don’t think I was being totally altruistic, though. There was absolutely nothing going on during the day on Friday, so it would be good to have something to do.
Monkey texted around 11 AM and, oddly enough, I was up not much after that. I say “oddly” because the missus and I were both pretty fucking drunk the night before. But I have some kind of weird thing at cons – I call it CONstitution (HA!) – where I can just go. I can drink and drink and drink all night and then get up around 10 or 11 the next day ready to go, basically hangover free. At no other time do I have this ability, and as a matter of fact I get horrible hangovers any other time I drink like I do at cons.
So I got up and Mrs. Troublemaker said she’d be just fine staying in bed. That was okay. Three people trying to set up a middle-sized artist’s booth might have been disastrous.
I headed over to the Convention Center and found Monkey’s setup. He actually had a nice spot – right by the front entrance. He already had a pretty good start, but I helped him unload the rest of his stuff. It turned out he had forgotten the poles that supported the spinning racks he keeps his smaller prints on and that Lady Monkey was on the way to Peachtree City with them. I felt pretty bad for Lady Monkey right about then. That’s almost a three hour round trip.
In the meantime we set up the rest of his stuff, which involved hanging prints, finishing up the grid and putting the Belligerent Monkey banner up. If you’re curious, some of the stuff he had available rotates in and out of stock here.
I couldn’t resist buying one of his new framed zombie prints, which feature the signature Belligerent Monkey Zombie in front of various scenes of destruction and debris. This was my favorite:
I think these things a brilliant, as they’re a small and cheap way to get some neat art in your home. Maybe not quite the genius item that the magnets are, but pretty darn good. And yes, if you haven’t noticed the last few paragraphs are littered with links and I am absolutely strongly suggesting you should go and buy some cool art. It’s all well and good to have store-bought posters of Wolverine and Han Solo all over your residence, but the really cool kids have one of these from Monkey:
So Monkey got everything set up and I helped a little bit and it looked like this:

Ready for business.
I made a couple of trips back to the room for one reason or another over the course of setting up. On my first return trip to Monkey’s booth I heard a gruff voice as I passed the bar area:
Hey! Hey! Hey!”
And not like they were singing a Beatles song or something, like they were trying to get the attention of somebody whose name they didn’t know. I was the only person currently walking through that area, but I also knew I did not want to speak to anybody who didn’t know my name. But at the same time that call for attention could be accompanied by an opportunity. If not an opportunity for some minor form of fame or excitement, at the very least an opportunity for an anecdote to relate to my loyal Phantomaniacs.
Eh, not so much. It was one of Billy’s friends. A large, aged fellow that looked like somebody had glued Billy Martin’s head onto a bean bag chair and put a Dragonforce shirt over the whole thing. He was wedged into one of the chairs by the bar and he motioned me over once I gave him my attention.
Dragonforce – “Hey man. I’m bored as shit. Come over here and talk to me. What’s going on?”
Me – “Sorry man, I’m helping my buddy set up in the vendor room.” (silently thanking God above that I had that very legitimate excuse to be on my way)
Dragonforce – “Well, just hang out for a while. I don’t have shit to do.”
Me – “I’ve really gotta go, man. We’ve got to get this done. Hard labor first thing in the morning, you know?” (I threw this last in because I had a pretty good feeling that mentioning hard labor would prevent this guy from suggesting he follow along)
Dragonforce – “Ooh. Yeah. Uh, well I’ll just be sitting here.” (I was right)
Me – “Later, dude. I’ll stop by later if I can.”
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you I had no intention of stopping by later, but there was no need to be a jerk about it. I will say that he had an oddly gruff attitude that came off like he juts expected me to do what he said for some reason. And no – this was not the guy that paid for the cab. I would have handled that situation differently.
Lady Monkey and Mrs. Troublemaker got there right as we were finishing the setup. After we set up the spinner racks and loaded them with prints it was about time for some lunch or breakfast or whatever it is you eat when you’re having your first meal at two in the afternoon. Monkey had to stay and fine-tune his setup, so the ladies and I decided we’d go find some food that was not expensive hotel food.
Side Note: Let me stop for a minute and talk about how awesome wives are. They put up with all of our stupid crap – whether it be collecting toys and comics, blowing our money on rubber masks and autographs, playing fantasy sports, wearing luchador masks out in public, forgetting vital portions of our merchandising displays; whatever. They deal with the fact that we don’t appreciate the huge amount of stuff they do and have a tendency to focus on the few times they get bitchy about stuff just because those few times don’t make any sense and there are all those other times they could rightfully complain and don’t. Wives are pretty great. I’m glad I’ve got one and I’ve got to say Monkey is pretty lucky too. Lady Monkey made that trip just for those poles and didn’t make a single snarky comment that I heard. Couple of nice gals we’ve got. Now I’ve just got to make sure both of them actually read this, because Lord knows Mrs. Troublemaker doesn’t ever bother with this nonsense.
I volunteered to drive because our car wasn’t all full of art stuff. I like to think of myself as a safe driver. I don’t go more than five miles over the speed limit in town (ten on the interstate), I try to avoid phone usage when I’m driving, I use my turn signals, I get in the appropriate lane as soon as I can. I don’t travel slow in the left lane. But sometimes I do get a bit impatient with traffic, and while I always do so safely I might from time to time take an opportunity to go when things are just a bit tighter than they should be. Lady Monkey certainly thought things were closer than they should be when I made a left in front of some oncoming traffic that I felt was more than far enough away. She did not agree. As a matter of fact, judging by the way her eyes bugged out of her head and she grabbed the door handle and center console and went, “OH GOD MY SIDE MY SIDE OH GOD” I think our friend was fairly certain collision was imminent.
She should be glad Mrs. Troublemaker wasn’t driving. That lady makes me shit my pants regularly.
We found a little shopping plaza nearby with a couple of places to eat. I said we could go further up the road, but Lady Monkey threatened to jump out of the car. It was a pretty good spot, as there was a Subway, a Chinese place, and a sports bar called Beef O’Brady’s (there was more around the corner, but we wouldn’t find those delightful spots until the next night). Monkey and his wife are vegetarians, so we let her pick where to eat. Mrs. Troublemaker and myself are pretty open eaters and I’m always up for new cuisine. We ended up going to the Chinese place because nobody wants to sit down and eat in a fucking Subway and unless Beef O’Brady’s was so named because of the proprietor’s veggie-fueled, hugely muscled physique that place was obviously out.
The Chinese place was pretty neat on the inside. I wanted to try something new since we were on vacation, but I also didn’t want to spend the rest of the day suffering gastrointestinal trauma, so I stuck with my regular dish – General Tso’s Chicken. We had a nice time and the Hot & Sour soup was particularly good. I told the story of my lost wedding band and Snicker’s bar (which I will soon share over on my Tumblr page).
Afterward we stopped by Subway to pick up some sandwiches for Monkey, who is too smart to pay for hotel food, and Mrs. Troublemaker and I vainly attempted to post stuff from our phones. The cell coverage in Peachtree City is shit. And it wasn’t just that there wasn’t any. It was far more frustrating than that. Seemingly at random the signal would go from 3G to 1X to nothing. I think it’s because people in Peachtree City have their own, super-exclusive 6G service that runs off of the cell phone signals of stupid visitors. I also think their cell phones are implanted in their brains.
The ride back to the hotel was uneventful, and by uneventful I mean that I only made Lady Monkey slightly nervous and it was only once. We also saw a golf cart overpass but didn’t think to take a picture of it. Don’t blame me. I was driving.
Let me briefly explain the setup of the Peachtree City Wyndham Conference Center and Hotel, just so you have an idea of the geography because I’m certainly not going to remember to say anything later.
There is a long, curving road that goes uphill to the front of the center. There is a large circular driveway that provides access to the Conference Center on the right and the Hotel lobby on the left; though the two are connected inside. When you enter the lobby all of the rooms are to the left and there is a bar and restaurant to the right. Around the right corner there is an enclosed room called Taste of Tuscany and a hall that leads to all of the various conference rooms and the amphitheater. It was actually a pretty great setup because it never took us more than a couple of minutes to get from the room to the conference center or vise versa.
So once we got back to the conference center we left Lady Monkey with Monkey so they could have some vendor booth snuggle time and we went back to the room so I could have some pre-con shower time. I hadn’t taken one when I got up because I knew I’d be helping Monkey and didn’t see the point.
My showers irritate Mrs. Troublemaker to no end. I really, really like showers. When I am not going in to work I take my time in the shower. It can take me around forty-five minutes to go from unwashed to ready-to-party sometimes, though that time has been cut down by a couple of minutes now that I don’t have to deal with contact lenses. And taking a shower in a hotel bathroom takes even longer because everything is different.
But eventually I was ready to go look at stuff. We headed over to the Conference Center and stopped by Monkey’s booth first. He seemed content and ready to sell, so we made our way around the room. There was all kinds of cool stuff in there. Actually, this con was going to be kind of a problem. At Dragon*Con there is a ton of different stuff available, and so much that we are just not interested in that it kind of dilutes the market. It’s almost like all the crap we don’t like detracts from the excitement about the stuff we do. But at Days of the Dead, everything was aimed at us. We are huge horror nerds and that’s all this whole weekend was about. There was very little for sale there that one or both of us was not interested in.
So I blew an awful lot of money in the first half hour we were in that vendor room. And I hadn’t even bought anything for me yet! Inconceivable! But have no fear; the very best vendor of the whole con – barring Belligerent Monkey, of course – was in an entirely different room. But I’ll get to them on Day 4, since pretty much nothing else happened on Sunday.
Rescue John called while we were checking everything out. He had arrived at the hotel, so we went to meet him and go back to the room to stash our stuff. I decided it was time to meet some famous people, so I put on my Phantom Troublemaker shirt and a mask.
My two main goals for the weekend were to get Tyler Mane and Shawn Whalen to sign my Halloween 2 poster and to get a signed 8x10 from Sid Haig. Naturally there was other stuff, too, but those were the big ones.
There were three famous people rooms. One was housing all of The Walking Dead Guests, one was for the big names, and one was for everybody else. There might have been a couple other rooms with some random folks here and there, but nothing I was interested in. We wanted to hit the big room first because the con wasn’t all that crowded yet and it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and get my priorities out of the way. Between large crowds and Guests just up and leaving early you never want to procrastinate on meeting famous folks.
Somewhere along the way we picked up the illustrious Dom Solo of the Tone Deaf Pig-Dogs. I had known Dom was coming out, I just didn’t know when. I’d told him to text me, not having any idea that the service would be so bad. That bad service was a real pain because I don’t ever have bad service. I don’t know how AT&T subscribers do it. But Dom tracked us down and we all went to meet some people.
When we got to the room there was nobody at Bill Moseley’s table, so I went straight there. I babbled about how much I liked his performance as Otis Firefly and that we had named our Boxer after the character. Mrs. Troublemaker showed him a picture. He was a really nice guy, more than willing to chat for a s long as we liked. I actually wish I hadn’t had more to do or I would have hung for a while. I got a picture with Moseley and had him sign my Italian The Devil’s Rejects poster and my box set of figures. When I took the poster out of the tube for Moseley to sign I took my Halloween II poster out as well just because it was easier to do so. I laid both of them down on the table and as soon as Moseley was done signing the Devil’s Rejects one he slid it aside and signed the Halloween II poster. I didn’t even have time to say anything. Just, “Zing!” and I had a signature on my poster from somebody who was not actually in the movie. I don’t know if he didn’t realize it was for the second movie (he was in the first one), or if he didn’t want to embarrass me by pointing out he wasn’t in the sequel. Honestly, It doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I’m ever going to try and make any money off the thing after all I’ve gone through to get those signatures. But it did take some thought to realize I don’t care.
Sid Haig’s table was pretty close to Moseley’s, but I wanted to go ahead and get the Halloween II poster finished up before anything else could happen to it, so I headed straight for Sean Whalen. He was friendly and pleasant and of course Mrs. Troublemaker had to bring up People Under the Stairs. He played Roach in that and totally creeped out a generation of horror movie fans. 
Next I headed over to Tyler Mane and told him I was the guy that bugged him the previous night. He was cool, too. Dude is tall.
Sid Haig is an intimidating figure. He’s been extremely nice every time I’ve encountered him, but the guy looks exactly like the sort of tough motherfuckers he plays. Dude is 73 years old and is still traveling around doing his thing and being just very cool in general. I plan on being a grumpy old fuck when I’m that age. I was sorely tempted to buy the Captain Spaulding belt buckle he had for sale, but I knew I had already blown a huge sum of money in the room; even more than I had previously on Mrs. Troublemaker’s stuff. There were things I wanted to get signed and pictures I wanted to take and I knew I’d be pissed later if I missed any opportunities, so I was moving fast and not even asking about pricing until the deeds were done.
This is why I was rude to Elissa Dowling. Well, maybe not rude so much as dismissive. I was standing there waiting for Tyler Mane and I heard a sweet voice say something about Anthrax (or maybe even just anthrax – it was a horror con, who knows?). I didn’t pay any attention because of the whole not talking to people who don’t know my name thing, but then I heard the comment again so I turned around. This hot, tiny goth girl was sitting at the table behind us and pointing at my backpack (which has a huge Anthrax patch sewn on the front) and saying, “I opened for them.”
Obviously that comment leaves a certain amount of room for humor, but I’ll refrain.
Me – “Oh, wow, seriously?”
Ms. Dowling – “Yeah, my band opened for them up in New York at (some show).”
Me – “Wow. That’s kind of a big deal. That’s really cool.”
I have this rule that I follow when I’m sober and then not so much when I’m drunk: I don’t converse with hot, slutty-looking chicks I don’t know in front of Mrs. Troublemaker. I’m not trying to be sneaky and she certainly isn’t one to get jealous or anything; I just think it’s kind of rude. Or something. I can’t quite explain it, it just makes me feel weird. I have this thing that is the total opposite of how I used to feel where I feel like any chick I don’t know that starts talking to me probably wants to fuck me, and nobody fucks Phantom Troublemaker except Mrs. Troublemaker. I guess it goes along with my theories about the selfish nature of humanity and that people only talk to you when they want something from you, and I certainly don’t look like I have anything to offer other than a dick. Sometimes I sound like a crazy person, I know.
So I was ready to be done with the conversation because obviously Ms. Dowling was out for some hot Lucha action. But it kept going for a bit and we ended up talking about Joey Belladonna and how awesome Anthrax is and then, thankfully, Tyler Mane became available before Ms. Dowling just ripped my clothes off and had her way with me.
Yeah, I know.
So we went back to the room so I could get my delusions under control. And so we could unload our stuff. I wanted to try and get to Rowdy Roddy Piper before things got too crazy and I didn’t want to carry around a giant poster tube and stuff I was already done with. After grabbing a beer, I headed off to find Piper with Dom Solo and Mrs. Troublemaker went off somewhere with Rescue John and Beau and Sally. Beau and Sally are very cool, very rock n’ roll folks. They know pretty much everybody and are a hoot to hang around with. Last weekend was the first time we really got to pal around with those two because Dragon*Con is so crazy none of us ever really get a chance to meet up.
Okay, you’re going to need to brace yourself, because this next bit was a Life Changing Experience. One of those things that becomes a permanent part of your psyche that you have no choice but to relate to every person you meet for the rest of your life. I will retell this story no less than a thousand times over the course of my life and it will not change or get exaggerated one bit because it could not possibly get any weirder than it already is.
Piper’s table was actually set up outside of the famous people storage rooms. It was long – maybe twenty feet – and covered in various items that you could purchase to have Hot Rod sign. There was some cool stuff there. Art from They Live and Hell Comes to Frogtown, as well as lots of wrestling pictures and magazines. But I had my items ready. A WWE Classic Superstars figure of Piper and one special, surprise item I was going to spring on him for the picture. Dom had an old-school WWF Roddy Piper trading card in several layers of protective covering. We wouldn’t be purchasing any of the available items. We lined up at the far end of the table from Piper and waited for our turns. Piper was enthusiastically greeting each fan and conversing for however long they liked. I’m always totally fine with waiting when somebody is being that cool. The line moved bit by bit and the anticipation of meeting one of professional wrestling’s true living legends grew.
And then Gary Busey showed up.
That maniacally gleeful smile and that mass of blonde hair just appeared from around a corner and grasped Hot Rod’s hand and arm, forcefully pulling him up out of his chair. Once Piper was standing, Busey embraced him in the manner a young Japanese man might embrace his Kanu Unchou love pillow. There was grasping, groping, feeling. Don’t get me wrong – there was nothing sexual about this hug. It was simply the gesture of a complete lunatic who was expressing his admiration and respect for another man in the most sincere way he knew. As he was hugging, Busey gave voice to his intense feelings for the man once known as Roderick Toomes:
I am so glad you’re here, brother. It is so good to see you. I’m so happy this could happen. You are awesome, brother.”
I took as many pictures as my near-paralyzed fingers could manage:



I wish I had thought to hit the button and get some video, but who the heck could possibly have a functional brain in the face of that display?
Once the Busey Hugging Ritual was complete, the madman held Piper out at arm’s length and turned to address the crowd:
Ya’ll take good care of this man,” he said, pointing with his non-grasping hand at Hot Rod.
This is a good man. He’s a good man.”
And then Busey simply disappeared back from whence he came.
It was fucking momentous.
I turned to Dom, who had been standing behind me – in slack-jawed amazement, as we all were – and told him that we had just witnessed something special. We had just been part of an experience. Something that only the twenty or so other people standing in that hallway would ever witness. The world was different for us now. Dom simply nodded in agreement, the glassy look in his eyes gradually fading away.
Once it was my turn to meet Hot Rod I felt good. The Busey experience had left me in a bizarre state of euphoria and I was ready to come face-to-face with the Man Who Changes the Questions. He was discussing WrestleMania with the girl in front of me (who happened to have the exact same Piper figure I had) and we had a brief discussion about what a complete fake assbag the Rock is coming off as and I expressed my support for Cena, something I never thought I would do, let alone in public. The girl was not pleased, but Piper was actually interested in my opinion. I told him I respected Cena because whatever other problems he may have nobody could question his love of the business and devotion to WWE. He then asked me who my favorite current wrestler was and I told him CM Punk.
He then told me a quick story about Punk. That Piper didn’t really know him, but that at one of the events backstage Punk had insisted Piper take the last chair and had expressed his admiration and respect for Hot Rod’s work. Piper said he was really impressed with the kid’s attitude and he knew a lot of folks held his talent in high esteem.
Then it was picture time, so I whipped out my extra-large tub of Double Bubble bubble gum and told him I wanted to make sure he didn’t run out.
He laughed and said that was great. He placed the tub behind his table and said he’d use it in his act later that night. It was an awesome experience and my bubble gum idea couldn’t have gone any better. Piper is still sharp and in shape and knows what’s up. I’ve met some old-timers who were so punchy they wouldn’t have gotten it.
Dom Solo was up next and I almost didn’t take his picture with Piper I was so dazzled by my own experience. Me and Dom were both just a little shaken up afterwards.
As a result we just kind of wandered around for a minute and ended up back in the main famous folks room. Beau and Sally were standing there talking to Amelia Kinkade. She’s still a pretty lady, and I couldn’t help but notice she was wearing a smoking hot purple dress. I was going to have to get a picture with her.
We actually chatted for a bit, because if you recall Ms. Kinkade is a pet psychic. Our auxiliary backup dog – Evie – is nuts. I thought maybe I could get some pointers. She talked a little about prayer and about really bonding with your pet, then she handed me this:
I’m not sure we’re not going to be paying sixty bucks to see this, but I wouldn’t mind going just for the spectacle. It’s times like these I wish somebody paid me for writing. Or would at least cover my expenses.
And now I suddenly remember where Mrs. Troublemaker was. There was a college basketball game going on and she was at the bar watching it. All of this was going on somewhat later than I have previously been thinking, as the vendor room and famous folk storage rooms stayed open until 11 PM. Rescue John had just ordered some dinner and been informed that it would take about an hour. I was too hungry to wait for that nonsense and also I don’t give a shit about college basketball, so I told them I was going to head back to the room to chill out for a bit. I went in the restaurant to order some food to go and the guy told me to come back in twenty minutes. On the way out, I saw Bill Moseley and Sid Haig sitting at a table together having a quiet dinner. I so bad wanted to take a picture of Otis and Captain Spaulding just hanging out in a hotel restaurant, but it was dinner time and I didn’t want to bug these guys who had been so nice and probably just wanted a little time to themselves away from all of us dorks. So I went and wandered around for a little while.
As soon as I got back to the restaurant I went back to where Moseley and Haig were sitting and was relieved they were still there, having just finished their meals.
Me- “Guys, I’m so sorry and I hate to bug you while you’re eating but I think it would be so cool to have a picture of you two just hanging out having some dinner. If it’s not okay that’s totally cool and I’ll go away.”
Now, I know exactly how shitty this was of me. Even though I had made it clear they could refuse and it was fine, if they said no it might still seem dickish. Trust me – I would not have held it against them in the least if they had told me to fuck off. I knew damn well I shouldn’t be putting those two cool guys in that position.
But they were cool and Haig nodded and Moseley said, “Sure, man. No problem!” and then reached for a couple of props:
This is one of my favorite pictures ever and if those guys remember me bugging them at the next horror con and decide to kick me in the knees I won’t complain.
By the time I was done bothering famous folks my food was ready. On the way out I spied a familiar face. I had met Bruiser Braswell at the Memphis Heat premiere a few months before so I stopped and said hi. We chatted for a bit and he said he was probably about to head out. I told him to be careful and I’d see him later. I actually saw him sooner, as a couple hours later he was still hanging around. I would’ve found it tough to leave, too.
I got back to the room and opened another beer and sat down to eat. I had gotten an Angus burger and I’ve got to say it was pretty darn good. Mrs. Troublemaker, Rescue John, and Dom Solo got back to the room shortly after I started eating and we made our preparations for the costume party. My costume is obvious, Mrs. Troublemaker was going to be Red Riding Hood, and Rescue John had a werewolf costume. Dom Solo, however, had not been prepared for a costume party. We were not going to let that stand.
Mrs. Troublemaker’s cape needed trimming, so we fashioned a kilt for Dom. Along with that and his Hot Rod shirt and a set of bagpipes he made out of his sweatshirt he made a pretty darn good last-minute Roddy Piper. It was time for the fabled From Dusk Till Con Days of the Dead “costume mandatory” Masquerade Ball in the Taste of Tuscany. We caught up with Monkey after he closed up shop and headed in. His costume was “Vendor” which, oddly, was not the laziest we saw.
The room wasn’t very large, and when we got there it was an interesting sight. Not a whole heck of a lot of people were up front, not many of them were in costumes, and none of them were dancing. Of course, that probably had to do with the fact that the DJ was playing a bunch of metal. Now, as you know if you’ve been following me at all, I love metal. But metal is terrible party music. And the DJ sounding like one of those jackass Morning Zoo Crew guys did not help. It was pretty bad.
On second thought, I take it back about the costumes. There were a lot of dudes in “Affliction” shirts, so maybe “douchebag” was an eligible costume.
We did our best to party, but it just wasn’t happening. I also had my own personal party block in the form of this thing:
I am not okay with that, and there really isn’t much more to say about it.
DJ Tre, the Official DJ Party Representative of Crunk™ Energy Drink took over after DJ Morning Zoo Crew finished up. DJ Tre tried. He mixed some horror movie themes with some kind of generic techno music and it wasn’t the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t very good. The high point of the whole event was when Sean Whalen showed up out of nowhere with his cell phone in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other and absolutely tore up the dance floor. That guy’s feet were moving like lightning. It was nothing short of incredible. I tried to get my camera out fast enough to take a picture (as once again I was too stunned to think of getting video, and honestly the room was probably too dark for that anyway) but only got the Whalen afterglow. 
Knowing that was the very best thing that could possibly happen in that room we all kind of wandered off.
I don’t remember exactly what I did (other than drink beer), but Mrs. Troublemaker and Sally went and made friends with Mr. Laurence Harvey, star of Human Centipede 2. Whenever we got back together as a group she told me about how they had run into him and had a nice little conversation. We stood and talked and drank beer for a while, and then it was almost time for Piper’s stand-up performance. I hadn’t been too sure I was going to go. I figured if the partying was good enough I’d skip it. But after the man told me he was going to use my bubblegum in his act I couldn’t very well miss it.
My perfect opportunity to exit presented itself when Mr. Laurence Harvey emerged from Taste of Tuscany, looked around, spied Mrs. Troublemaker, and made a beeline for our little group. As soon as he was proximal to my wife I said I was going to watch Piper and took off. I looked over my shoulder once and saw that he was still standing there with them.
Dom Solo and I were the only ones who were really stoked about seeing Piper. We got seats in the amphitheater close to the front and settled in. I was super stoked about hearing stories from Hot Rod, but I also kind of wanted to get back to partying, so I was a little disappointed when there was an opening act. I was much more disappointed when the opening act started talking. The guy’s name was Brad Thacker and he was pretty terrible. There were a couple of funny bits, but when you only get one genuine laugh out of drunk me you might want to seek out another career. I know that sounds harsh, but damn. Dude was not good.
Thankfully his act was mercifully short and it was soon time for the Main Event. Rowdy Roddy Piper was played onto the stage by this fella:
And Piper followed it up with the story of his time in California when he played the Mexican National Anthem on the pipes for an all-Latino crowd. By which I mean he played “La Cucaracha”. It’s a funny story. Oddly, it’s not one of the ones where he got stabbed.
Piper’s act was awesome, full of road stories from back in the day. The man has such a natural charisma and charm that pretty much anything he says is entertaining. He has a rambling, thoughtful delivery that tells you he is considering the impact of each word and story. There were occasional pauses to collect his thoughts that were always accompanied by a sort of, “Holy shit, the life I’ve led…” sigh. It was over all too soon. I could’ve stayed and listened the rest of the night. He did, indeed hold up my bubblegum tub at one point and make reference to it. I missed getting a picture, but I’ll remember that forever anyway.
After the performance we found the rest of our crew. Dom Solo made his leave and we got serious about drinking. 
The Taste of Tuscany was now hosting the Chambers of Horror Torture Party. The Torture Party was not quite as crowded as the previous event had been, but we were getting there kind of late. Of course, in my book the party should only get crazier as the hour gets later, but this con seemed to play by different rules. The party was being hosted by the entertaining dickhead from the opening scene of the Chambers of Horror and a little tattooed tart in a cocktail dress. Our big Zakk Wylde-looking friend from Dragon*Con was there, too. They had a Wheel of Torture they would spin to give out pain and prizes. I didn’t get to see much of this shtick, but I did see a guy get kicked in the nuts for a couple of Mastodon tickets. I’m glad I just bought mine.
After that things died down even more – which was surprising – so we went out to the bar. There were couches all over this place, so after Monkey called it a night – the guy had to be back in the vendor room by 10 AM – we sat down with Beau and Sally to look at all the freaks.
I was pretty ripped by then, so when I spied with my little eye two redheads sitting at the bar I had to sort of wander over. I wasn’t going to pass up the double-redhead-picture opportunity. I might have been kind of a dick. They were talking to some dude and I just walked up and told them they looked great. One was Dawn and the other was in the ol’ “Chick as A Droog” costume. I told them I had to get a picture with them and asked the dude that had been talking to them if he could take it. I’m not sure he appreciated that, but I tend to be oblivious to that sort of thing when I’m drunk. Either way, he got the picture.
I told both the girls again that they looked nice and for whatever reason I felt the need to compliment the Dawn costume. I must say I am not partial to wither of the costumes. While I certainly appreciate the concept of Dawn – a pervy dude makes a comic book just so he can draw pictures of a scantily-clad redhead in pervy costumes, I am totally down with that – I am not necessarily a fan. I have read exactly one issue of Dawn and it was complete gibberish.
The female Droog look, however, just doesn’t make any sense to me. There’s nothing sexy about that unless the girl wearing the costume just happens to be hot, and then she’s going to be hot in anything, so why a sociopath? And the red hair makes the whole sociopath statement moot anyway. Obviously you’re nuts.
But anyway, I made some sort of comment about the Dawn costume looking nice and the girl goes, “Ooh, you recognized I’m Dawn – bonus points for you!” and gave me this look that told me I should probably get back to my wife.
But then I spotted the adorable little bartender from the Masquerade and my drunk brain insisted I needed to go and tell her what a good bartender she was. She was talking to these two dudes that looked very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place them and honestly wasn’t too concerned about them anyway.
I’d like to make sure you understand that I was sincerely complimenting this young lady. She really is a great bartender, as the PCW nights at the Masquerade get ridiculously busy and there have been many times that she’s been flying solo and still gets everybody their beers on time. Also, she’s probably almost young enough to biologically be my daughter, so there’s that.
But anyway, I told her she did a great job and she said nobody has ever told her that and I said I meant it and went to move on. But then the two familiar-looking dudes went, “Needless Things!” and I had another of those surreal moments. Joey Belladonna recognizing me was beyond awesome, but I’m not gonna lie – anybody recognizing me for my work here is pretty rad. It turned out these guys were from the band Fifty Two Ways, who I have seen a couple of times and can rock when they want to.
We went back over to the couch area and talked about who-knows-what for a while. It’s worth noting their bassist/singer has an absolutely awesome Halloween tattoo:
And that’s where I’m ending this chapter. I’m out of writing time and have been busy as shit all night. Despite that, I’ve managed to churn out an additional 4,000 words. Ridiculous.
Tune in tomorrow for (hopefully) "Days of the Dead Atlanta Part 3: She Sleeps Like the Dead"!

-Phantom

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