Flight two hours late leaving, although United lists it as on time right up until we board an hour and forty-five minutes late.
Minh and Shrews meet me at Chicago O’Hare after I spend 45 minutes thinking “In front of baggage claim” means “Stand out in the cold so we can drive by and pick you up.”
Eric picks us up, and we begin the eight-plus hour drive to Toronto.
Around Lansing, I take a nap.Â I wake up as we pull into Grand Rapids, sixty miles in the wrong direction.Â I don’t sleep the rest of the way into Toronto.
Hit the hotel and run into Kelly Laymon,Paul Puglisi, and Mike Meyers.Â Paul slaps a check and contract for a short story into my hand.Â I pocket the check but leave the contract in the room.
Down in the bar, Chris Golden asks me what I’m working on.Â “Getting drunk,” I reply, then I do my Shrews impersonation for Cullen Bunn.Â “So Rogan walks into a (insert building) and kills 100 (insert profession) but chains one up to (torture/question/fuck) later…”Â Also, I congratulate Cullen on signing up for two more series of The Damned, his Oni Press comic.
In bed byÂ 2AM or so.Â Might not be such a bad weekend.
Run into Nate and Nicole Kenyon while looking for a place to grab breakfast.Â Nate and Nicole are a wonderful couple who are almost sickening in their cuteness.Â Nate’s superior mastery of sarcasm is also a sore spot with me.Â They direct me to Eggspectations, where I eat a bacon cheeseburger for breakfast.Â
Of my roommates, I’m the only one daring to use Canadian money thus far.Â
A group run is made to the State liquor store.Â I pay $30 for two six-packs of Corona, then curl into a ball and cry.
In my typical way, I accidentally walk past a line of people waiting to register for the con and grab my goodie bag.Â The glares aren’t as bad as I’d expect.
Everybody but Minh received a Tim Lebbon book in their freebies.Â Being mature, I tell Minh to eat me.Â I shouldn’t fuck with him too much.Â He was in a Vachss book, after all.
Sometime in the afternoon, Keene appears with his wife Cassi and my good friend and meticulous proof-reader Kelli Dunlap.Â I do a good job of not drawing attention to Keene, but Kelli comes screaming across the lobby to hug me.Â Instantly, I smell like Virginia Slims.
A throng of us find a Thai place for dinner.Â Due to Keene’s skillful maneuvering, I end up at a table next to Jeremy Lassen, publisher of Night Shade Books.Â Over beers and fried rice, I convince him to sit down and listen to a pitch later.Â I, of course, don’t see Jeremy for the rest of the con.
Talk with Tim Lebbon about the 30 Days of Night novelization he’s written for the upcoming film.Â I ask if he’s fixed the ending, and he answers by saying he added a scene with a polar bear.Â This excites me in strange ways.
Steve, the other bald Brit at the table, was the screenwriter of Ghost Watch.Â Without thinking, I blurt out “My friend Mat has a bootleg of that!”
Hit the late night “What is Horror?” panel.Â Kelli and I laugh at the skinny guy we dub “The Commentator.”Â He sits at the edge of the table, slapping the table top with one hand while raising his hand like Horshack.Â I expect him to break into a pee-pee dance, but he doesn’t.Â In the end, it is decided that horror is a drunk Drew Williams.
Somebody yells at me in the hotel bar for an hour.Â I finally respond with, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t care.”
Hit the sack at 3:30 this night.Â As I drift off, I realize I haven’t heard a single Canadian say “Eh?” yet.
I get my “Eh?” pretty early when an Asian man tells me to “Have a good day, eh?”
Kelli and I hit the “What Editors Want to See” panel.Â From the back of the room, Shrews says something about Titanic-meets-The Outlaw Josey Wales.Â Under my breath I say “So Rogan walks onto an oceanliner and kills 100 gunslingers, but he leaves one chained up to massage later.”
Lunch with Kelli, Cassi, John Urbancik, Queenie, Marcy Italiano, and Monica from Rue Morgue magazine.Â Urbancik and I eat terrible pizza, then split an order of fries.Â We try not to puke when Monica shows up with poutine.
Talking to Cassi is like talking to the anti-Brian.Â She’s laid back and smiles all the time, while Brian looks like he’s about to implode at almost all times.Â She’s awesome, and I’m overjoyed I finally got a chance to talk to her without Dave Barnett constantly poking her in the butt with his cane.Â Later, I’ll find out she thinks I look like a puppy, so at Necon I’m just gonna call her Keene-Wife all weekend.
At my pitch meeting with Peter Crowther of PS Publishing, I get a healthy dose or reality when I tell Peter about A FAMILY MATTER and he says, “Well, I’m not interested.”Â We chat for a few minutes, then I go drink three shots of whiskey.
Dinner at Red Lobster baybay!Â Blackened Catfish rules everything around me.
I’m drunk by the time the gross out contest rolls around.Â I see Cullen talking smack, and I almost retort, but realize he’s right.Â Three Up, Three Down indeed.Â As long as I don’t have to follow him, I’ve got a shot.
Guess who I follow?Â Fuck me.
Gross out judges are Kelly Laymon, Tim Lebbon, Christopher Golden, and Joe R. Lansdale.Â Golden gives me a hotwing before I read, which I eat like an idiot who doesn’t have to read a five page story a second later.
I read the first two sentences of my story before losing my place.Â I cover by reciting as much of my story by memory as possibleÂ while randomly turning pages in my notebook.Â It turns out pretty well, though I’m on my third blank page by the time I finish.Â I shake Lansdale’s hand and get off the stage.
The rest of the contestants spend the evening spanking me with their entries.Â I just hope I didn’t come in last.Â When Lebbon later tells me, “I’m not sure I want to know you anymore,” I take it as a seal of approval.
We end the evening with a round table reading of a short story so terrible I won’t name the “author.” It involves spiders and reality TV and a haunted train and some mystery guy named Kyle.Â Lebbon gives the material some much-needed oomph, and Wrath James White keeps staring at the page in horror, which is saying something for the guy who just read a story about sucking a dead dog’s ass at the gross out.
In bed at 4:15AM.Â Ouch.
I slink off to breakfast alone.Â I’m starting to get homesick in a bad way, missing Shawna in the worst way.
This day is largely spent looking through the dealer’s room and dropping by panels.
I make a “Special Guest Appearance” At Shrews’s reading.Â I try to stroll through the room while I read, but get trapped by chairs that are too close together.Â Seriously, fuck those chairs.
Pitch meeting with Dan D’Auria from Leisure.Â It goes well, but I drop so many names my pitch sounds like a library auction.Â Don tells me to send him stuff, though, so I don’t do any shots afterward.
I talk to Shawna for the second time today (bad idea when International Roaming applies) because I miss her so frippin’ much.Â I’m so homesick that when Keene asks what’s wrong, I say “I want to pet my dogs.”
Kelli’s Horror Web intern shows up and is soon stranded by Kelli with orders to “meet people.”Â I hope we don’t find her stuffed in a closet during the last reel.
I fill the biggest coffee I can find with booze and head down to watch the Stoker awards.Â If I ever hear tarot-centric poetry again, I’ll hurt myself.Â Norm Partridge wins for long fiction, and I manage not to go apeshit.Â Later, I congratulate him on the phone and receive a reply of “Thanks, Nate!Â You sell a book yet?Â You got the chops, man!”Â Norm makes me feel so good I want to cuddle with him.
More drinking at the “quiet” bar.Â I get caught up in a conversation about gun control and soon realize I’m surrounded by Republicans.Â And here I am without garlic or holy water.Â If Shawna were here, she’d start swinging.Â God, I love that woman.
Weston tells me he plans to find a silver Elvis mime and receive a holy sign from him.Â Strangely, I think Weston is sober when he says this.
In bed at 3AM.Â Just because I want a bed instead of the floor.
Goodbye’s are given.Â The room is paid for.Â Hugs are handed out like business cards.Â I hate that I won’t see these people again until July.
No wrong turns on the way home!
I crash in my hotel room and watch good cable, which I can’t afford at home.
IÂ fall asleepÂ at 10PM.Â Hurray!
I catch a $30 cab ride to the airport.
I take off on time and arrive in Austin ten minutes early.Â Danny picks me up, and my allergies have given me a sore throat by the time he drops me off.
Four hours later, Shawna arrives home, and I break three of her ribs with the first hug.
So, yeah.Â That’s that.Â I love World Horror.Â