Iconic Badassery

Note: This post was automatically generated from John’s weekly newsletter, The Daly Grind. If you encounter broken links or images, you can go here to read from the original newsletter: Read More

Over Spring Break of last year, when I was out of town with my family, I saw an online ad for a summer event in Denver called Fan Expo. It featured a bunch of celebrities that you could meet and get your picture taken with. Since a number of them were actors and actresses my family and I liked, and because I was having such a good time with my wife, son, and daughter at the moment, I figured the event could make for another fun family experience.

I sold everyone on it, purchased the tickets (for one day of the three-day event), and my wife and I set an allowance for each member of the family choosing one celebrity to have their picture taken with (which came at an extra cost).

What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks before Fan Expo took place was that it wasn’t some novel, fly-by-night operation. In fact, it was a colossal, quite well-established spectacle formerly known as Denver Comic Con, which draws over a 100,000 attendees to the Colorado Convention Center each and every year (making it one of the country’s largest fan conventions).

In other words, we hadn’t quite understood what we had gotten ourselves into.

As I wrote about the event afterwards (right here in the Daly Grind):

There were just too many people there (including thousands of fans dressed up like their favorite super-heroes, aliens, and monsters), too many long lines, too many crowded areas, and too many conflicting items of interest on the schedule. Not to mention that some of the celebrities my family and I wanted to see ended up bailing at the last minute.

Don’t get me wrong. There were definitely highlights:

But we had no intention of returning the following year. In fact, I couldn’t think of another celebrity — at least the kind that would appear at an intensely nerdy fan convention — for whom I would want to spend that much time and money to literally rub shoulders with.

But then, names started being released for this year’s Fan Expo. And there was one — and only one — that I couldn’t simply shrug off.

I’m talking about Keith David.

“Who?” many of you are probably asking. And if you’re one of those people, you should really be ashamed of yourself. That’s because Keith F’n David is a pop-culture icon and a bona fide American treasure.

The actor’s Hollywood breakout moment came way back in 1982, when he starred as “Childs” in director John Carpenter’s horror/sci-fi classic, The Thing. Between his cold eyes, deep voice, and badass persona (not to mention his flame-throwing skills and memorable contribution to one of cinema’s all-time coolest endings), the young actor seemed destined for stardom.

Keith David with Kurt Russell in “The Thing”

David has since played over 300 roles in film, television, and on stage, with particularly notable work in Platoon, There’s Something About Mary, and another beloved John Carpenter film, They Live.

The latter is remembered (among other things) for having an extraordinarily long and irreverent fight scene, with David’s character going toe-to-toe with the late professional-wrestler, Rowdy Roddy Piper.

I remember seeing “They Live” with a friend in an otherwise empty theater way back in 1988. It was absolutely fantastic, and David’s performance was a big reason why.

So yeah, I really liked the idea of meeting the man, who (in addition to also being a very successful voice actor and talented singer) is, by all accounts, a very kind and gracious man. And when actor Antony Starr, one of television’s all-time greatest villains (“Homelander” on The Boys), was added to the Fan Expo roster, it was icing on the cake.

I’ll be at the convention with my kids this weekend (my wife experienced enough nerdom to last a lifetime last year), and I’ve already picked up some special sunglasses for the photo-op with Mr. David (if you know, you know). I can’t wait for the nostalgia kick.

There’s one thing, however, that I’m genuinely worried about. (No, I’m not talking about making a fool of myself in front of the man). I’m worried that my only (or at least primary) reason for going to the event will fall through. You see, as best I can tell, it’s entirely optional for featured celebrities to actually show up, as advertised, at these conventions.

I’m not joking. The understanding (or accepted culture) seems to be that if a better opportunity comes along for a celebrity (professional or otherwise) on the day they are to appear, it’s wholly appropriate for them to just pull out of the event.

Last year, a bunch of them bailed, including Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead, who my wife was planning on getting her picture with … because she has a totally offensive (to me anyway) crush on him. This year, nine have already pulled out — amounting to 20 percent of the entire lineup. And one of those individuals was Jason Priestly, who can’t possibly have a lot going on.

(Sorry Brandon, that was a cheap-shot.)

I guess it’s probably a selling point that motivates these celebrities to sign on to such conventions in the first place — the flexibility to either show up and get paid, or back out, even at the last minute, without repercussions.

But for those of us weirdos who buy tickets just to see one individual in particular, it can be a little stressful. Word could come down at any minute that the person isn’t going to make the trip.

The good news is that my kids, having looked at the schedule and list of guests, have much broader interests at Fan Expo. My daughter’s even been working hard on her cosplay outfit (she’s going as Katniss Everdeen). So, even if Mr. David ends up bailing (hopefully he won’t), I’m going to do my best to facilitate a fun time for the fam.

Wish me luck. I’m sure I’ll be posting silly pics from the convention in next week’s newsletter.


Every been to a fan convention? Tell me about it in an email or in the comment section below.

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Random Thought

Can’t believe my mom was going to throw these away.

Obligatory Dog Shot

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