Monday, December 19, 2016

Thoughts on Walker Stalker - Charlotte - Dec 2016

I went to my first Walker Stalker convention yesterday in Charlotte.  I found out about it through my close friend, and huge Walking Dead fan, Josh.  He told me about the show, and also told me that Kane Hodder would be one of the autograph signers in attendance.

I grew up on the Friday the 13th movies.  My older brother was born on a Friday the 13th and always enjoyed the movies when we were kids, and they just kind of stuck with us.  Me being the "cool" (terrible) parent that I am, allow my son to watch the movies as well.  Chris is a huge fan of the series; his birthday cake this year was Jason's hockey mask.  When I found out that Hodder was going to be at the show, I made sure to get tickets for Chris and I.  Also, since my niece's birthday was this past week, and she is a huge Walking Dead fan, I told my mom that it would be a cool birthday present for her, so Mom got my niece tickets.
Chris and I were first in line for Hodder on Sunday morning.  When he finally got into his booth, he made small talk with the staff there, then motioned for Chris to come and talk with him,  The line wasn't very long at all, so he made a decent amount of time to chat with Chris.  Chris was wearing the mask at the time, so Hodder could tell that Chris was a huge fan.  He also complimented Chris and I on our shirts (I was wearing a matching shirt to Chris's, which you will see in a later photo).

I bought the mask off of some promotion I saw on my Facebook.  It only cost $10 shipped, which was pretty cool.  He has actually sat in the front yard chopping roots with a hatchet while wearing it.  I imagine there will be a few wrecks in front of the house from people slowing down to watch him.
Hodder was really nice.  He made a lot of time to talk with Chris.  He was very friendly and engaging.  I could tell that Chris was nervous.  He started to talk to Hodder while wearing his mask, but he was speaking so softly, Hodder had to ask him to take the mask off so he could hear him.  Chris answered his questions, then looked at me and asked "What am I supposed to do?" so I told him "Talk to him!  He's talking to you!  Ask him questions."  So, Chris asked him "So, if I were in a Jason movie, how would you kill me?"  Hodder leaned back in his chair and laughed saying "Wow, that's a really good question!" (I honestly wonder if anyone has ever asked him that before) He said "I guess I would go with the standard machete.  Cut your head off, chop you up, haha."  Chris giggled, then asked if Jason would eat the pieces, now comfortable with him and making jokes.  Chris then asked Hodder what his favorite kill in a Jason movie was.  His response was the sleeping bag death in Friday the 13th part 7.  That is one of my favorites, too.
Skipping ahead to the end of the day, there was a cosplayer in the game room dressed as Jason.  Hodder himself noted that he saw the guy the day before and thought he did a great job.  This dude was huge.  I went up to him after he posed for pictures with Chris and let him know what Hodder had said.  Look, I know the movies aren't real, but while I was talking to the guy, there was a little piece of me in the back of my mind thinking "WTF are you doing, you need to be RUNNING in the other direction."  I'm 36 years old and I still have nightmares that Jason is coming to get me.  If I had to make a tally of all of the bad dreams I have had, Jason stalking me would have the lead by far.  Still, it was a really cool moment, regardless if it was real or fake.
The cosplayer (person dressed in costume if you were wondering what that means) was really cool with Chris.  The photos look so cool as well.  He fist bumped Chris and gave him a thumbs up.  He also stood in one place for so long, some girls walked by thinking he was a statue or figure.  Until he lunged at them and they screamed.  That was worth the price of admission in itself.
I didn't trust Chris to take my picture without cutting my head off (see what I did there?), and my niece was in line for a photo op, so I had to resort to taking a selfie with the Jason cosplayer.  This might be one of the better selfies I have taken.  I am not doing duck lips and I have a shirt on, so this is a definite positive.  Seriously, though, this picture turned out amazingly.  I do believe that this guy being there in costume was icing on the cake of an amazing day.
What really topped the day, however, happened before we took our photo ops with the Jason cosplayer.  The only other actor I had any desire to meet was Scott Wilson, the actor who player Hershel Greene on Walking Dead.  I have only seen three episodes of the show, but I know quite a bit about it through my good friend, Josh.  Actually, good friend doesn't do him justice.  I can't say best friend, because some folks feel that you can have only one, and I feel like I have several.  Anyway, Josh is a huge Walking Dead fan.  So much so, he has met Wilson on so many occasions, they know each other by name.

One Christmas (I think it was Christmas, or maybe it was near Wilson's birthday), Josh gave Wilson custom "Hershel" Converse Hi Tops.  It was this that gave me an "in" when I went through Wilson's line for a meet and greet.

Josh was unable to go to this convention because he couldn't make the drive from West Virginia to Charlotte, but he knew I would be going.  Josh asked me on several occasions if I was planning on meeting Wilson.  I wasn't quite sure how the convention would work, so I kept saying that I would try to met him, but wasn't going to make any promises.  Finally, Josh told me that instead of getting him something for Christmas, he would be happier if I just got a photo with Wilson.  He enjoyed the man so much, he wanted me to share in that experience.  Then, Josh decided that it might be cool to have Wilson sign a photo that said Merry Christmas... then he though it might be cool to get Wilson to record a Christmas message.....  Josh was getting far more excited than I was about the show, and he wasn't even going!!!

I messaged Josh on Friday night after having a thought that maybe it would be cool if JOSH recorded a message for Wilson and I play it for him at the show.  This sealed the deal with Josh that I was going to meet Wilson, and he spent the next day and a half fretting over what exactly to say to his idol.

I got through Wilson's line and walked up to him; he immediately shook my hand and asked me how I was.  I told him I was great and was there to deliver a message to him from "the kid who gave him the shoes..."  He knew right away who I meant when he said "Josh? Oh, he's such a great kid!  His dad is too!  You tell them I said hello and Merry Christmas."  I told him that I could do better with the video, which he watched several times since it was really loud in there.  I asked him if he would do a video for Josh that I could send to him.  He said he would, so I recorded one with my phone and sent it to Josh.  I thanked Wilson and stepped out of line.

Josh was blowing up my phone with how amazed he was at the video.  He asked me if I got a photo with Wilson or got his autograph.  I told him that I didn't have time and there were a bunch of people behind me.  I also told him I wasn't able to get an auto, since there were so many people, he couldn't sign for me since I didn't pay.

What I didn't tell Josh was that I had gotten back in line and was texting him while I was heading back to Wilson TO get something signed.  When I got back up to him, Wilson recognized me and said, oh its you again!  I had a Pop figure that I wanted to get signed for Josh, and I asked him what his rate would be to sign it for Josh.  "Oh, for Josh?  Here, I'll just sign it."  I told him "This kid is such a huge fan of yours."  He said "Oh, I KNOW!!" I had my wallet out and told him I would pay for the auto, but he kept refusing.  I then said, "well, let me pay you for a photo op..." and he refused that as well, which is what led to the above photo with him.

Josh already knows he is getting the signed Pop figure, because I suck at surprises and went ahead and sent him a photo of it.  He told me that this was the single most amazing Christmas gift he has ever gotten.  I didn't set out to be amazing yesterday, but I guess I came through for someone.  Josh is a really awesome person, and someone who messages me every day, even if it is just for a minute to see if I'm doing ok.  He is on my short list of really close friends, and I was happy to be able to make all of this possible for him.

I was also told my my niece that this was her best birthday ever.  She talked on the way home about how much she loved Walker Stalker and how great it was that I took her.  She and I had never taken a trip together, so this was a nice little bonding trip for the both of us as well.  Grace is a good girl who really has a passion for Walking Dead.  I am really happy that I was able to make a memory with her.

I also can't forget that Chris had a blast as well.  He and I spent some time walking around the show while Grace was waiting for photo ops.  I definitely would take Chris to another one of these.

Sorry for the wordy post, but I felt amazing when I went to bed last night.  I was able to provide an awesome memory to three people who are close to me, and all in time for Christmas.  This was a great way to get in the Christmas spirit, and I hope that Chris, Grace and Josh don't forget this cool event.
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