Having attended nine Creation conventions over the last eight years, I think it’s pretty safe for me to say that I know how they operate like the back of my hand. I know how things are supposed to work out and it’s not hard to tell when something has not quite gone according to plan and why. This year I’ve come up with a variation of a little children’s story about a little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead to describe the convention: What they did well they did very very well, but what they did bad was horrid!
Friday was a very good first day at the convention. We had appearances by Gary Jones, Alex Zahara, and Alexis Cruz. Each was a pure delight to see return to Chicago for a second time. Reports on their Q&A will be coming soon. The Yes/No Trivia contest was fun as usual, and included the usual exclamations at our MC Gary when one of the written answers was wrong. It’s fun to pester Gary because he usually cracks a joke at your expense first!
Friday night included the Cabaret, which nearly didn’t make it onto the schedule! I have never seen the schedule look like such a mess! Typos all over the place, events scheduled at the same time and place, and in one case, a photo op that they plum forgot to put on the schedule at all! Thankfully not only did the Cabaret make it in, it was a scream! Literally! Gary Jones kicked things off by doing one of the things he does best – storytelling. Gary’s life seems to have been filled with these fantastically hilarious stories. Things that happen in a very normal way to the rest of us turn upside down for him, and the story of his school career is no exception! Everyone was laughing so hard! There’s no way for me to do his story justice because half of the comedy is in how Gary tells the story with his attitude.
Robert Picardo has Alphonso, and Alexis Cruz has Alejandro, a stereotypical young Mexican man working as a bus boy at a restaurant. Only this bus boy also considers himself to be quite the macho ladies man, and he proceeds to tell us about one of his adventures. If you thought Alphonso was bad, you ain’t seen Alejandro! The act is actually part of a set of stories that are variously funny, dirty, and touching, each exploiting and breaking common stereotypes surrounding people of Hispanic decent. I will never forget when Alexis performed the whole set for us a couple years ago. It was truly a Cabaret to remember.
I was actually disappointed when Alexis did not go into the next act of that set, and instead brought out a suitcase and said he had something new for us. He then introduced his little friend, Chico the mind reading macho monkey! Yes, it was a puppet! Thankfully Alexis didn’t talk for the puppet because I think that would have been more than I could bear! Instead the monkey whispered in his ear and Alexis translated. He chose a volunteer from the audience, had her choose a card out of a bag that had a picture of one of the convention guest on it, in this case Paul McGillion, and then precedeed to have Chico figure out what the card was. There were all sorts of shenanigans involved, including Chico losing his tail, so Alexis performed puppet surgery and stapled it back on! Probably the funniest moment was when Alexis handed the lovely volunteer a fake banana and told her to put it deep into her pocket until Chico successfully read her mind. It may seem like nothing, but everyone’s mind was still in the gutter after Alejandro’s visit, and the way Alexis told her to put that banana in her pocket really didn’t help!
The Cabaret was followed immediately by the karaoke party. While I still think such an event would be better suited to the bar/restaurant that is in the hotel, this year’s party was an improvement on the last. I didn’t feel like I had to leave after ten minutes because my ears ached from the music volume! Instead of four speakers Creation provided two, and it was a far better arrangement. The event was hosted by Alex Zahara, and while he can’t sing a note, he did a great job of getting everyone to come up around the stage and have fun. Things really got good when Paul McGillion and Gary Jones came out! Alex had asked us not to take any pictures because this was a treat just for us here in Chicago, so sadly I don’t have any pictures. Oh if you could have seen it! Even better if you could have heard it! Paul and Gary performed 500 Miles by The Proclaimers! Paul sang it in his Scottish accent, and Gary tried to use an accent too! Of course I say that the “sang” it, but really I don’t know what they did because the only part of the song they actually knew was the Da Da Da part! Everyone was singing and clapping and laughing. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Chris Judge showed up out of nowhere! The three grabbed each other around the shoulders and as soon as the Da Da Da part hit they were jumping up and down in their own on-stage mosh pit! It was priceless!
The next morning is when things started to go “horrid”. The day kicked off with breakfast with Ben Browder! Ben arrived in high spirits, but then again when is that guy not in high spirits? He said hi to us all, let us snap a few pictures, and then started making the rounds. At Creation events the guests go around the room sitting at tables of about seven or eight people each. The crummy part is that the guest is followed by a handler with a stopwatch, and they only get two minutes per table! The irony here is that things wouldn’t have gotten out of whack if Ben wasn’t so freaking awesome. He doesn’t care if the two minutes are up! If he’s telling a story, he will flat out ignore his handler until he is finished! It was pretty clear that his Creation handler didn’t want to be too much of a pest either because Ben really gets his fans and refuses to cheap us. Unfortunately for me, the other folks at my table, and really everyone in my half of the room, Ben started his rounds on the other side. It wasn’t long before it became obvious that Ben was being his usual totally awesome self. Breakfast started at 9:05ish, and Ben came out pretty early. At about 10:40 Ben still had about eight tables to visit. He shouted out to all of us that he was sorry and he would totally understand if some of us left, but he wasn’t going to take any less time with the remaining tables because we had waited so long. Under any other circumstances I would not have budged, but Kavan Smith was going to be taking the stage at 10:45! It was Kavan’s first visit, and I really didn’t want to miss him, so I regretfully left breakfast before Ben got to my table. This did not make me a happy camper.
Much of the rest of Saturday was taken up by Q&A sessions with Kavan Smith, Alex Zahara, Chris Judge, Paul McGillion, and finally Ben Browder. All of the guests were fantastic, and the sessions were perfect, except for the sound. Instead of using the sound system built into the ballroom as they had all day Friday, Creation had left the speakers up from karaoke and switched the sound to them. I understood why they did it because the speakers provided a much cleaner sound than the PA system. However, the things kept randomly crackling and disrupting everything! It was literally as obnoxious as someone’s cell phone going off at full volume during the Q&A. I don’t know if they were working on it and that’s what caused the noise, but in any case it shouldn’t have happened. People seated around me started to say sarcastically, “Creation has only been in business for 0ver 40 years. Why should they know how to get their equipment to work right?”
A day and a half into the convention saw some issues, and not small ones either. But wait. Just when you thought it couldn’t get messier – or more fantastic - stay tuned for my next post!