Omega-Level @FanExpo Toronto 2012 – A New Hope from South of the Border. Not that Border.

Summer 2012 has blown through the nerd universe with a thunderous fury, and OL rode the wave to its first major convention appearance.  We rocked FanExpo Canada in Toronto, home of yours truly, and generated some fantastic buzz on the show floor.

The essential blow-by-blow follows.  Brace yourselves.

Wednesday:  OL USA’s vaunted triumvirate of insanity, Caffeine Powered, Rendar Frankenstein and Patrick Bateman arrive in Toronto circa 1am, two encounters with the law firmly under their belts.  I’m told Bateman’s handsome jawline and classic good looks worked to stupefy the first cop into crumpling up the speeding ticket, but that the second one was perilously too far on the hetero end of the Kinsey scale to be affected.  Pray for their wallets. I escorted the fine lads to all known eateries in the area, not realizing that my brain thought it was a weekend and that kitchens would be open that late.  So began the weekend trope of ‘no, we don’t have the food you’re looking for’.  Some friendly homeless people in Dundas Square told Caffeine some interesting stories.  The leprosy claimed one of them before his story could climax.

Thursday:  So this shouldn’t be a secret to anyone who’s attended our beloved Expo; the damned thing can get disorganized as fuck.  Even at peak efficiency, it’s a serious clusterfuck putting together an appearance at a show like this, especially when Toronto’s multicultural denizens make up half the staff and language barriers are in full effect at every turn.  I can poke fun.  It’s my city.


I have to be real for a sec though: seeing something like this convention come alive in the first few hours of the day is something magical for the nerdy-hearted like me.  Seeing the booths get assembled, seeing all the standees and boxes and lights and costumes get carted in and put-together, all in preparation for the onslaught of fans, well, it’s nerve-tingling!  A convention of people who are this passionate and insane about their hobbies and interests is the definition of omega-level as far as I’m concerned.  These people, the exhibitors, the independents, the attendees, the cosplayers, they all elevate what it means to be passionate about something every single year.  Often times in ways unstable and ridiculous, but that’s elevation nonetheless!

That beautiful son of a bitch, Bateman decided to bring along a headless mannequin torso to model our prized shirt, and that quickly became the landmark identifier of the OL booth, and the talk of the show floor.  Although, once assembled, it wasn’t quite headless.  George himself adorned our con masthead as we sailed through the nerd-infested waters of FanExpo; the people were everywhere by the time the show hit its third hour that day and we asked the prettiest and most elaborately costumed virgins to pose with us and with George all weekend long.

Friday: I had to miss most of Day 2 at work, so maybe the other boys can fill in the gaps here.  The one gem I’m really sad I missed:  Our first fan shout-out.  A little kid who stared at our mannequin and defiantly blared at his parents, “Mommy, Daddy, why is Lucas the F-Word?”  Props little dude.

Some time on Day 1 or 2, this extraordinary, jubilant catastrophe wandered by the booth, and I had to make a photo happen.  This is still probably my favorite costume of the con.  Weigh in below in the comments and tell us which new OL fan you dug the most!
Behold, Man-Peach:
I dragged the kids out to dinner and drinks on  the Esplanade.  Buskerfest 2012 was on; which is basically Toronto’s excuse to let street performers have a bigger audience while they juggle fire and chainsaws and midgets and shit.  It’s essentially a lot of excitement and crowded streets over nothing; the real party was stumbling into Bier Markt for a shot at the ridiculous world menu of booze on offer.

Enter the accidentally-ordered $28 of Scandinorwegic liquor that Bateman ordered up.  Whatever it was, it pretty much tasted like pure Vanilla extract and packed a punch.  Oh.  And the table got three of them.  Good times!

At around this point in the weekend, the guys were telling me almost once every ten minutes, that the women in Toronto were pretty much completely incredible to gawk at.  I nod and smile, as I stare over their shoulders and the equally picturesque male landscape and generally agree; Toronto’s a ‘pretty’ city!  Come visit.  Boner up.  Rock out.  I’ve always thought of Toronto as a pretty sexually-charged city; it’s pretty much just in the air up here, and maybe the boys from Massachusetts can chime in and agree with me.

Saturday:  I think the routine each morning at this point was:

1. Fuck, we’re late.

2. March through the hotel lobby with FUCK LUCAS proudly emblazoned on our chests to the horror of the elderly citizenry checking in for the Auto Workers Convention.  (I managed to piss off one of the more butch, surly ones headed downstairs to their event, deftly proving my point — I’m so good with women).

3. Budrickton bails from the pack to grab a Quad-shot Espresso Frap to wake the fuck up from another 3am night, before running two blocks to catch up, and arriving a panting, unkempt mess at the booth.

4. Team OL arrives at the expo, surrounded by nerdly love and primed to undercut the T-shirt stall one booth over. (thanks for the coat-hangers guys)

5. YES.

Behold, Saturday:

My crowning moment of embarrassment for the day:  encouraged by the boys to go round up some of the hot ladies on the floor in costume for some photos, my first target spins around when I let loose the excited shoulder-tap, and reveals herself to be like, a 12-year old girl cosplaying as an anime character I’d never heard of.  In the background, Caff and Patrick discuss my error disapprovingly.  Whatever.  Kickin’ costume, girl.  Thanks for posing!

Behold, LMFAO stopped by!:

After checking in with my chief lady-captain of science fiction, the elegant Kate Mulgrew, I returned to the booth in time to witness the nerd-zenith of the day.  A riveting dialogue and exchange of ideas between our own Rendar Frankenstein, and some dude who was pretty sure he had a handle on gay subtext and the various characters that worn the mantle of Robin in DC Comics.  I got a boner for 3 seconds when the guy put together his best attempt a thesis ten sweaty-palmed minutes into the diatribe.  But then it fell off.  Rendar might have more to report on exactly what this dialogue was about; I was too deep into a sugar crash to remember more.

At some point, some crazy woman who we NEVER SAW AGAIN ALL WEEKEND ran over to the Omega Zone to berate us for using clothespins with her completely FUCKING RAVAGED booth drapes.  Apparently we were risking damage to her FUCKING RAVAGED booth drapes. We acceded to her crazy demands after she made a ‘gift’ of different hanging utensils that she would ‘ordinarily charge for’.  Again, she never showed up after that.  So she basically just wasted our time, and might have actually just been a figment of our over-caffeinated imaginations.  At the end of the day though, I would rather have split a pitcher with Dusty Tits than this woman.

Saturday night started with vast inebriation in the actual shadow of our own New City Hall.  Yes, the vaunted piece of architecture her royal lowness Milla Jovovich ran down while it exploded or some shit, in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.  Hell yeah. Toronto’s best middle-class sushi house played host to Team OL’s hungry gut that evening.  Completely smashed out of my mind, I was utterly amazed at how our faux-Japanese-actually-Korean waitress managed to finish like three of my sentences in a row while I was fumbling over exactly what to ask for off the menu.  She was stunning.  Like real life fucking AUTOCORRECT.  I loved her. It might’ve been a dude.  I can’t remember.

Our favorite homeless mascot who regaled us the night before with her hunchbacked, rambling ways, took on the moniker of Dusty Tits during this, my favorite meal of 2012.  I hypothesized that the Rat King sent her after us on a recon mission.  I don’t think I’d laughed myself to literal stomach pain so much as I did that night in months.  Fortunately, I was full of rice.  It cushioned the blow.

And then, I made Team OL’s dreams come true.  I took three, red-blooded, very straight (?) American guys to Toronto’s iconic, premier gay bar. Yeah.  We took in a drag show at Woody’s.  It’ll be better for them to describe exactly what they gleaned from the evening.  And whether they grabbed any numbers for later.  The MC for the evening’s Best Ass Contest was Sofonda Cox, and the music was loud and pumping.  I didn’t make any of that up.

Sunday: The kids came out in full force on Sunday.  In years past, this last day of the con usually granted free admission to children under 12, so it’s become something of a tradition, I guess.  Naturally, team OL got a couple dirty looks for our proud, profane declarations.  Fortunately, we got far more rockin’ Toronto moms and dads who practically bro-fisted us in mutual disdain for the insane patriarch of our science-fiction childhoods. The t-shirts flew off the table,  the books were signed by auteur Mr. Frankenstein, the people embraced and loved us.  The nerd juice was most definitely flowing.  It was wondrous, draining, exhilarating and just plain fun to be part of bringing a show like this to life.

Highlights:  Walking over to the celebrity signing area to see a massive line for everyone, but not a single soul at the desk of Sir (?) Jaime Bamber.  Dude looked legit grumpy.  Below is the verbatim exchange between us after I mustered up the balls to go talk to him.

B: “Mr. Bamber!  You mean this huge line isn’t here to see you? *I gesture at the throng of fans waiting to chat up John Rhys-Davies*  Where are all your fans?”

J: “I don’t know.  *British chuckle*  They’ve given up on me, and it looks like I’ll be giving up on them.”

B: *interior monologue: bitch please lol*  “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that!  Haha.  Is this your first convention in Toronto?”

J: “….’tis.  ‘Tis.” Those piercing, ridiculous blue eyes cut right into my brain as he let loose each Brit-ified word.  His hair looked photoshopped.  In a good and a bad way.  I think he may not have had a line because he was practically unrecognizable from his days as Apollo on ye olde BSG.

B: “So, uh, welcome to Toronto!  Thanks for Battlestar.  Have a good one!” I think I wrangled a disappointed smile out of him.  He looked cheesed.  I was amused.  Dude pretty much helped me take care of a good six or seven-tissue wad of Kleenex back in the day, and not a soul was at his table to see him. Meanwhile, I can remember a few moments throughout the weekend when OL had a LINE. So say we all bitches!

(Jamie Bamber, if you’re reading this, I still love you baby.  Come back to Toronto.  I’ll line up on behalf of all the fans that aren’t there.  Let me buy you dinner.  Woody’s might have a kitchen.  I promise it won’t be closed.  ’twill be magnificent.)

More from Sunday.  Here be breasts!:


And of course, the capper moment of the weekend.  One lucky she-devil marched right up to our own Bates, and literally offered to buy the shirt off his back.  This happened.  I hope the photo makes its way to our site somehow, for it was not taken with my camera. In truth, the woman just wanted to pose with PB’s shirtless bod; the shirt was clearly the secondary matter.  Infused with Bostonian musk, it naturally made the perfect floor souvenir for this cougar; my lady, if you’re reading this, I hope you didn’t wash that.  It’ll be worth millions some day.

So we kicked ass.  We took names.  Some deals were indeed struck.  I think OL grew a lot of legs, and made some great potential partners for the future.  And from what I hear, Toronto played a great host to the venture, but I’ll let the team captains tell you what the experience was like. Team Omega-Level:  Come back anytime my brothers!  That was a weekend to remember, and I hope there are plenty more in the future!  GREAT FUCKING SUCCESS!

For in the Great White North, a Great Much May Be Possible.  The kickass distribution of OMNI, the great flow of OL merch, the spread of the good Omega word, the bonding of brothers across borders, and a lot of public drunkenness and shameless ogling.  Ladies.  Gentlemen.  OL has arrived in Canada, and next year, we’ll do it all over again!