Another post about how great Mego Meet is. Read on if you have a few minutes. I'll try not to mention everyone, so if I don't mention you, just know I appreciate ALL who attended and I spoke to and hung out with.
I debated attending due to typical financial concerns, but knew I'd likely go if at all possible, since I don't want to break up the band (The Mego 8 so to speak), and even more importantly, I know that hanging out with my friends is good for my soul and my sanity. I procrastinated too long and only made my air and car reservations about 2 weeks ago, probably costing me about $300 in extra costs, and having to take connecting flights into PIT on Wednesday. Woohoo, an extra night in the not so Super8.
I got into PIT on Wed. afternoon and took a leisurely drive to Wheeling, doing some shopping for the RC car emblems for the yet to be revealed MegoMeet 2010 Drag Races (see related post). After a nap in the seemingly small room (it was just weird not sleeping in the Mego Suite), I ventured into downtown Wheeling for some adult beverages, and taking in the local Wednesday nightlife. After a couple of beers at a mostly nondescript joint, I found a place called Down on Main Street. A fun little dive bar with a bunch of Hippies playing folk music and having a bit of a free for all jam / drum circle. I was adopted by a fun group on the patio, reminding me that Wheeling itself, although a bit economically depressed is made up of salt of the earth people. Its been several years since we did much barhopping (the early years before the Mego Suite became the default 3 night gabfest that it is now). I did miss dinner, so ended up eating junk food bought from the Marathon Gas N Sip across from the hotel.
Thursday, after recovering from my travels and late night jaunt, I caught up with Chris in the lobby in the afternoon. So much for pulling a "Ron" and surprising the group at Hoss's or the Suite later on. I realized I only came with the sneakers on my feet since my carry on bag was loaded with the aforementioned Mego Race Cars. I decided a trip to Cabela's was needed to correct this, and to buy a pair of sandals that I've been meaning to replace for the past year or so. Cabela's is a Outdoorsman's Superstore that has an incredible display of Taxidermy animals, an fresh water fish aquarium, and lots of other stuff that makes the shopping more of an outing. I picked up a pair of $65 Teva sandals that would become my most expensive purchase of the weekend.
After catching up on my interwebz at the McDonald's, and a late lunch, I joined the gang for the annual earlybird Hoss's Steak and Sea dinner. Like last year, this event had over 15 of us. Its refreshing to see so many Megoheads in one place, and its a great way to ease into the event. Afterwards, I joined the gang buying beer and chips for the Mego Suite (and my required case of Coca-Cola for the weekend, since that is my preferred method of caffeination). Yuengling Lager was my choice of beer for the weekend, for those who care. As usual, Tom, assisted by SteveMoore (who I still can't refer to as Azrak), bought the bulk of the refreshments for the nightly events.
A quick aside about Tom (Wannabemego). If DaveMc is the heart of MegoMeet, Tom is the soul. Without him, things just wouldn't happen as effortlessly as they do. For years he has been doing countless thankless tasks, from buying refreshments, to taking pictures, to making signs and carrying loads of people's items from their cars to the dealer room even if he doesn't know them. He moves constantly and always smiles. If he still thinks he's a Wannabe, he needs to know he is Mego, and all that is good about it. My hat is off to you sir, I'm proud to call you my friend.
Back to business, in this case the Mego Suite. As most people know, until this year I have been the host of this event, having people into my at first smaller suite, then into the larger Super 8 Wedding Suite every year. Chuck took on the connecting room a couple three years ago becoming the defacto co-host. I told the boys last year that I couldn't guarantee my attendance this year, and took up the offer to have someone else host. My hat is also off to Chuck and Chris and the gang for coming through and making this a more organized event, without the constraints of me needing to lie down or take a shower before letting people hang out. I even approve of the commercialization, buying the first ever Mego Suite t-shirt. Looking forward to whatever crazy design Chuck comes up with next (and yes, I got a sneak peek at next year's design. Thursday as usual was lighter than other nights attendance wise, but proved to me that this is really the reason I come across the country every year, to hang out with good friends. I consider myself rich in this fashion, with a wealth of relationships that I cherish. The evening's festivities ended with what has become our new earlier wrap-up time of about 3AM. No birds and crickets this year, but still not bad for a bunch of mostly 40 somethings.
Friday is always my recovery day from traveling on Thursday, but since I was somewhat adjusted, I spent the morning doing some more websurfing. I made my way over in the early afternoon to the Toy and Train Museum, and saw that the dealer room was already 2/3 full. I even got to make it upstairs and explore the Museum's displays and the Mego displays, which sometimes I forget to do. This really is a full two day event, so I highly recommend the $60 someodd dollars the Super 8 charges so you can enjoy both days, even for those somewhat local people. I picked up the wonderful Ed Nagy Wolfman (and even got the only furry chested version he was considering saving for himself), and a couple of sewn Spiderman silkscreen suits (the Diamond and Broken Circle varieties, since that is as close as I'll get to them), and vinyl custom batman and batgirl capes. If I din't own so many Dorothy's I would have picked up some of his $8 Mailer boxes. What a steal. A brand new nearly 40 year old Mego for under $10. I didn't find out that Ed and his family suffered a loss in the family on Saturday until I came home. My heart goes out to them all, especially Laura, who I know was crushed by this loss, and who I have come to care about the past three years. Stay strong Laura.
Friday Pizza was actually tolerable this year, at least it didn't cause the typical heartburn it usually does (maybe avoiding the pepperoni helped). More good times catching up with the new arrivals and helping people set up, and I left before being kicked out, which was a first for me. I got some scissors and more beer at the Rite-Aid and headed back to my undersized room to lie down for a bit. The AC was acting up a bit, and it was a bit warm. Rose Baltazar, who showed up later to help decorate the Mego Racers, kept saying they saw I was from Arizona and decided to make me feel at home, and said "Let's give him the room with no air conditioning). We tested out the cars and the racetrack before heading back to the MegoSuite, which by this time had become its normal filled to capacity venue, with probably 40 or more people in attendance. We called it a night after 3AM again, but this time the Baltazars were in the like-minded "Let's keep the party going" drunken state, so we took our beers and hung out in their room, singing along with You Tube videos and generally laughing a lot. Rose and I joined Garagesale James for a walk near sunup, and I'm sure our drunkness didn't make for good exercise, but the conversation was as surreal as it gets. Just another one of those odd moments that makes hanging out with virtual friends that much more worthwhile.
Not having a table to open and defend for the first time was nice, so I could use Saturday morning to recover a bit from my now repeated drunkeness and travel fatigue. I made it to the end of the Castaway session to see their exciting new offerings and made them do an abbreviated rundown on what they had just over hald an hour talking about. The addition of Boss Bryan is obviously having a positive effect on this group of misfits, and I say that with a wink and a nod to how far David and Jason have taken this venture already. The group picture was a success, and I managed to wrangle the "Mego 8" for our annual group picture at the same time. We sometimes do this in the wee hours of the drunken morning, trying to wrangle up someone who has gone to sleep already, and with Doc not staying at the Super 8, I was afraid we might miss out.
With everyone finally in attendance and all the dealers set up, the room was once again full and exciting. I caught Doc Mego's session, which is always entertaining and information filled, and which came to a screeching halt by the first of Brue's Superhero appearances, Aquaman. Wow. Just Wow. That is a real conversation stopper. I also managed to pick up the Mego Museum Reimagined Catalog and one of Art's Tiny Titan Compendiums, signed by the Eisner Award Winner himself. I also manahed to get Art to do a larger sized poster board of my wife and I with him drawing her while I held up a picture of her on my phone. This one is getting framed. Awww Yeah, Thanks Sir!!! Rounding out my purchases was my only loose figure of the event, a Doc Mego Flash which Berto sold to me on the cheap so I could have my own entry in the Mego Meet Drag Races. So many great dealer tables, you realize that Wheeling West Virginia truly is the center of the Mego Universe for three days every year. Berto, Charlie, Ron and Greg (who it was great to see attend again) really bring the vintage Mego Goodness, along with so many other wonderful dealers. Steve, Rich, Chad, Scott, Doc, Ed, Scott, Ray, Art and everyone else who I'm forgetting really make the event itself into an unparalleled display room. I enjoyed seeing the creation of the customs for the contest, and the auction is always a fun event. I'm glad the raffle has gone away, mostly because it takes up room that we really don't have and I can't even imagine the headache of collecting, hauling, organizing, hauling stuff back and mailing to the non-attendee winners. As an aside, if we ever do that again, we should do it virtually, with the only mailing of stuff being from the donators to the winners directly. Taking advantage of my nondealer status, I made for my room while people broke down, to change, shower and lie down again. The room was pretty much sweltering at this point, as their efforts to repair the AC Friday were useless.
On to Undo's for the goodbye dinner. Always enjoyable and bittersweet. It always seems to come too soon. I switched from the usual Hot italian Sandwich, which I always enjoy while eating but regret heartburnwise later, to the Manicotti and Meatball. Delicious, but they liiterally mean one meatball which was disappointing. The cheesy bread made up for it though. Back to the room and the Mego Suite for another fun filled evening of discussion and beer with a packed house of weary travelers who just don't want the weekend to end. We wrangled up the remainder of the 16 entries into the Mego Meet 2010 Drag Races and to the surprise of many people, it was a smashing success. We spent half an hour watching entrants such as Judge Judy, Jonah Hex, Flash, Green Goblin, Catwoman, Racer Spock, Racer Myxie, Jesse James, Wild Bill Kickok, Van Man (aka Will Scarlett in a jumpsuit) and others battle for the prize, which was one of the Cars itself. Green Goblin's cut off techniques ruled the night. Back to the Suite for more laughter and drunken discussion, getting us our second annual noise violation warning. I think I figured out that "You boys need to be quiet, people are trying to sleep" really means The Old Bitty working the desk on Saturday nights is trying to sleep and we're keeping HER up. So we closed the door and kept at it until past 3AM again.
I woke up, packed, showered and made my way down to the car, seeing the flurry of other Megoheads that hadn't left yet. Said another round of goodbyes to Random Axe Scott, Garage Sale James, Rose, Chris and a few others. I even got Super 8 to knock off $30 for the AC problems. Cruised back to the PIT airport, where I inevitably run into Jim Hampton, this time on the Security line, with him 4 people ahead of me. Worrying that I would possibly miss my first flight, from PIT to Newark, I used the Family and Medical assistance line to skip ahead, taking full advantage of my hip replacement to put Jim in the dust. Of course I make it to the gate to learn that the plane is still in Newark undergoing maintenance, and will be severely late. Even with a layover in Newark of over 2 hours, it didn't seem possible I'd make the Newark to Phoenix flight, which coincidentally, my wife was scheduled to be on after traveling for 9 days herself. Taking off over 4 hours late, I land in Newark and immediately call my wife who surprisingly answers, and is getting ready to board our flight, as it was delayed due to rain. After an agonizing wait for a ground crew to unload our carry on bags, I manage to hobble quickly from what seemed to be a mile away (Newark terminals are godawfully long) and snuck on to the plane with only three people behind me. So despite ending up with an over 15 hour travel day, at least I got to spend some of those last few hours with the love of my life, and neither of us had to come back to the airport to pick the other one up. But I remember why I avoid connecting flights if at all humanly and economically possible.
After unpacking and sharing my bounty with my wife, who was tickled with our Baltazar treatment, I enjoyed a blissful 11 hours of sleep in my own, comfortable bed with the AC blasting away. And as long as those other 7 freaks commit to not missing Mego Meet next year, you know you will likely find me in Wheeling in 2011 my friends!