• Conventions

    Fan Expo

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    I wrote a big long post last year about how fan Expo and I were breaking up. I extended the relationship metaphor into the whole “it’s not you, it’s me cliché”, coming down the side of no, wait, it’s you. (And it is, Fan Expo, make no mistake.)

    However, in the same post, I admitted that the likelihood of us getting back together for a weekend fling this year was high. This is Fan Expo number 20, and I know you’ll be pulling out all of the stops to get my money. And this is in spite of the fact that you’ve chosen to take place on Labor Day weekend this year, which increases my hotel bill, or, forces me to stay farther away keep the hotel bill the same.

    Your competition is Montréal Comic Con, who is announcing guests faster than you are, in spite of being several weeks later, and I think this is a marketing tactic designed to try to get me to book before you’ve announced enough to pique my interest. Up until a couple of days ago, it was working.

    Montréal has confirmed six of the seven primary actors from Star Trek the next generation. Only CaptainPicard himself, Patrick Stewart, has yet to sign on. This, and the addition of Robert England, whom we missed at Ottawa by leaving a little early, definitely had Montréal in first place, in spite of the fact that fan Expo has booked William Shatner and Elijah Wood, Capt. Deckard and no not Capt. Kirk and Frodo. I’ve seen Shatner speak three times in, and very much enjoy. I’d love to see him again, but I was bouncing that out against six members of the next generation cast.

    Oh, wait, Montréal has also announced Q, John DeLancie, and Tasha Yar, Denise Crosby. So now I’m looking at six principles and two key secondaries from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Montréal was definitely in first place.

    Until you announced Adam West and Burt Ward, the original Batman and Robin. You’re making it hard, Fan Expo, as you intended.

    When I consider the entire family, the variety of guests already announced for fan Expo, and they’re not even close to being finished announcing, fan Expo just pulled instantly ahead. Because we’re now looking at Captain Kirk, Frodo, Batman and Robin, the many characters of Bruce Campbell (who we saw at Ottawa but was very entertaining), and Stan the Man Lee, whom I have met, but never actually heard speak because last year I took the girls to a photo op while Lesli and Erik went to see Stanley.

    I think I might be ready for that fling with fan Expo. And because I know there will be more announcements, and because the girls are hoping for another Vocaloid concert, and because there will be other things that I want to see and do whilewe’re there, I think I’m ready to book the hotel now.

    Oh, I know you’re going to disappoint me again, Fan Expo. The crowds on Saturday will jack up my stress level, and the organization for autographs and photo ops will drive me up the wall, but I have the sneaking suspicion that one of the seven Skype calls that Leonard Nimoy has signed on to do this year could be there, and if they set it up so that it happens with William Shatner on stage to converse with him, I don’t think I could forgive myself for missing it.

    So I think I’m ready Fan Expo. Break my heart again.

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  • Conventions

    Ottawa Comic Con Wrap Up

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    So, my after action report for Ottawa Comic Con is very overdue. It’s been over for more than a week, but most of the events are still fresh in my head.

    Three days’ worth of convention, this was also the third year of the con, and it seems like it’s growing very rapidly. For a con in its third year, the guest list was quite impressive, but then Ottawa is a fairly large city, and does have a pretty significant geek crowd, especially when you consider the Ottawa–Hull region is more than one million people. Ottawa absolutely needed a major convention, and now it has one.

    That said, the venue won’t support any further growth, though I expect they’ll have to have it there one more year to figure that. It has only one really big room for the A list celebrities (and it is a very big room, seating was easy most the time), but only four smaller meeting rooms for other panels. Granted most of those would sit a couple of hundred people each, with, I think, the biggest one getting 500 in a pinch, but there are still only four rooms. The convention floor is big, with a lot of different aspects of geekdom represented, and Artist Alley was pretty impressive too. I would say as big as Fan Expo, or at least very close.

    And the guest list was pretty impressive.

    Friday was a very relaxed day for us, and I only went to one panel, with my son, to see Neal Adams. Mr. Adams gave an entertaining lecture on how the comic book publishing industry almost killed itself in the 50s and 60s, mainly through stupidity. Favorite quote of the evening, closely paraphrased, “No one ever got rich betting against human stupidity”. After that, I took the girls shopping on the convention floor while my wife and son went to see Giancarlo Esposito of, among other things, Breaking Bad fame.

    Saturday was spent mainly in Q&As or in line for Q&As. In order, we went to see Christopher Lloyd, Sean Austin, Bruce Campbell, and, of course, live via Skype from his living room, the legendary Leonard Nimoy.

    I had debated, or at least appeared to, whether or not I wanted to spend the time in line to not see Mr. Nimoy in person. Stupid. There was never any doubt that I was going. Nimoy, Spock, doesn’t really do public appearances anymore. He retired from the convention circuit I think about five years ago and his health isn’t good (COPD). My last real chance to see him live was before my family and I started to do the convention thing, I think 2007 or 2008 at Fan Expo. One of my great regrets is that we never really did the conventions when we were living in Toronto, to focus on other things. I haven’t gone back to look at the guest lists, but I’m sure I probably missed opportunities to see James Doohan and DeForest Kelly while we were living in the city. Now it’s my plan to never miss an opportunity to see one of the original Star Trek cast members speak. And that includes via Skype. If Mr. Nimoy is doing the same thing at Fan Expo this year, and I really hope he is because he said he’s contracted to do seven appearances in 2014, I’ll stand in line for a couple of hours for that too.

    On Sunday, we arrived early to catch Christopher Lloyd for an autograph, the only one we got this time. (Well, technically, I got Leonard Nimoy’s autograph as well, but those were signed for the convention and shipped ahead of time, not as I watched.) Mr. Lloyd was pleasant and personable, and shook everyone’s hand. My son actually asked him a question that “has been bothering me my whole life, sir. What does a yellow light mean?” Mr. Lloyd laughed and shook his hand again. “Slow down.” (Taxi reference.)

    We debated Bruce Campbell, but the line up was easily two hours long and my son and I are thinking about a photo op with him in August at Fan Expo (because the idea occurred to us too late for Ottawa).

    A little more shopping and browsing and we left the con around. I would have like to have stayed for the Robert England Q&A, but with two kids showing early signs of Con Crud and a long drive home, we decided it was time to call it a weekend.

    Pictures are up on Facebook here. Didn’t take as many as I have sometimes in the past, but there were some pretty impressive costumes.

    Be well, everyone.

    And if you’re going to Anime North in Toronto this weekend, please let me know.


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  • Conventions

    Quinte Mini Con Report

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    Okay, so I’m a little late getting this posted, seeing as how the con ended 8 days ago, but Quinte Mini Con Was great. Especially for a first year con.

    I’ll admit that I don’t have a basis for comparison. This is the first time I’ve been to a first year con, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows next year. I’ll also admit it’s the smallest con I’ve ever been to.

    But it’s local-ish to me, and the geek tribe always needs room to grow and express itself. Belleville’s not a big town, but the con drew out some vendors and artists, some local and some not, plus added a few panels, and enough of us came to see them that there will be a con next year, too.

    I was able to catch up just a little with Amanda Sun (and I’m still kicking myself for not offering to record her presentation on making it in publishing), getting her to sign the copy of Ink I bought (as opposed to the ARC I already had, which she signed at World Fantasy last fall).

    And I ran into some friends I haven’t seen in years, and we spent a little time catching up with them, both sets of parents able to say, “Holy cow, have your kids gotten big!” (Our oldest and their oldest played together as toddlers.)

    Both of these major events occurred on Saturday. Sunday was a shorter day with a little bit of geeky Christmas shopping and a panel about Hetalia for Oldest Daughter.

    And a small part of that Christmas shopping was for me. My wife is pretty awesome and spotted a very cool item to add to my slowly growing collection of geeky things (also fits in with my slowly growing collection of Star Trek things).

    Behold the glory of the 1996 30th anniversary celebration of Star Trek, the original series, in the form of Barbie and Ken outfitted in TOS uniform.


    Back of the package copy: “Join Barbie and Ken as they beam aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the classic Star Trek Series! Ready for any mission, Barbie is outfitted with an authentic Star Trek uniform. Her badge and red uniform denote her status as a member of the ship’s engineering section. She carries a replica of a tricorder, the multipurpose scientific and technical instrument that incorporates computers, sensors and records in a convenient handheld device. She also carries a replica of a communicator allowing he to contact other Starfleet personnel. Ken wears a gold jersey and badge indicating his position in the Command division. He carries a replica of a phaser – an acronym for PHASed Energy Rectification – which is a directed energy weapon used by Starfleet personnel. Lieutenant Barbie and Commander ken join the internationally renowned original crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise: Captain James T. Kirk, First Officer Spock, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Helmsman Hikaru Sulu, Communications Officer Uhura and Navigator Pavel Chekov on a special voyage. In the 30 years since it first aired, Star Trek has inspired generations of fans with Gene Roddenberry’s belief that people of various races, genders and planetary origins can work together to build a constructive future for all mankind.”

    Makes you shiver, doesn’t it? A tremendous deal for the tiny number of quatloos we paid for it. Of course, we spent too much money at the con overall. Big surprise.

    If you’re in the area or happen to be passing through next year, Quinte Mini Con is definitely worth your time.

    Now I have to go pick out a place to hang my dolls before I let them get wrapped for Christmas.

    Oh, and we have one final stop on our 2013 convention tour: Frost Con in Toronto on December 14th.

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  • Conventions,  Life,  Parenting

    Fall Conventions

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    We’ve been planning to go to Quinte Mini Con in Belleville since we first heard about it very early in the year. It’s the first Con in the area, and will become the closest without going to Toronto.

    A small con, and a first time foray, it looks like the con organizers are going to every effort to put together something people will want to go. I don’t expect Fan Expo, and one of those is enough, really, but I expect to be impressed. Guests, events, panels, and a vendor’s room. Should be fun.

    My daughters, particularly Oldest Daughter, made some friends in Vocaloid cosplay at Fan Expo (and created a FB group with them almost within minutes of arriving home). Several of them are going, so there’s an extra reason for us to go, even if we weren’t already planning to attend.

    Quinte Mini Con is taking place the 9th and 10th of November. If you live within a reasonable drive and have any interest in cons whatsoever, I hope you’ll think about it.

    But you’ll note the title of the post is “Fall Conventions”. The girls are trying to talk me into Frost Con, which is a 1-day event on the 14th of December. They want to go, mostly for the extra reason for Quinte: they know people going, and more than at Quinte because it’s in Toronto.

    I don’t think there’s been a day in the past two weeks when someone hasn’t asked me if we can go. Officially, I haven’t made a decision, but my current schedule says I should have the day off. If I’m honest with myself, I already know we’re going, though it’s probably just the girls and me. Which is okay, except that means it’s likely to be my girls absorbed into a pack of other girls, all in similar costume, and me stalking them from a distance. Which is less okay, but a very Dad kind of thing.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions

    The Future of Cosplay (For Me)

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    We did a family Steampunk cosplay for Ad Astra in April, and a group Soul Eater cosplay for the day we spent at Anime North in May. The girls wanted to do their own things for Fan Expo, and I had a hard time finding time to put anything together, worried (or even stressed) about too many other things, and making sure the kids’ summer worked well.

    And I kinda hated the wig I needed to play Professor Stein. Not to mention that I’ve really only watched about half a season of the show. The kids have all enjoyed Soul Eater, and I’ll admit it’s fun, but there are other anime series I enjoy more.

    But I’ve started to think about what kind of cosplay I might do in the future. And, actually, it wasn’t hard to come up with a pretty big list in short order.

    If we start from the premise of characters from shows, movies, or games that mean something to me, I have to begin with Star Trek (non-Trekkies ought to skip ahead a couple of paragraphs). Yes, the uniforms are easy to get, and the props aren’t hard to come by either, so that’s one (or even three) no brainers. But, switching up the species a bit can add some variety. Put some ears on and be a Vulcan in those uniforms, or shave my head completely to pass for a Deltan. A white wig and blue face paint get me most of the way to Andorian. And those are the easy ones. Branching out from the ship a little bit:

    • Gorn, but the lizard suit would be awfully hot, not to mention expensive)
    • Orion, on the order of the Andorian, but green, dark hair, and no antenna. And I’ll wear more clothes.
    • Remember “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield”? A half black, half white paint job doesn’t seem too awful.
    • Remember “The Gamesters of Triskelion”? One of the thralls outfitted for battle, but carrying a coloured brain in a jar (one of the Providers).

    There’s plenty of possibility there, but expending my search into some of the formative and influential bits of media from my youth…

    • The Man in Black/Dread Pirate Roberts from the Princess Bride, because that would be awesome.
    • The Tick, although really I’m built about half way between the Tick and Arthur, but maybe I could pull it off.
    • Jack Burton, the hero in his own mind from Big Trouble in Little China. But this needs a wig. I couldn’t grow that mullet.
    • Condorman, but I think I’d get mistaken for the Vulture a lot.
    • Prince Colwyn from Krull. Cool outfit, but the movie was better left in my memory. It doesn’t hold up very well.
    • Last Starfighter uniform, because really, who doesn’t want to hit the Death Blossom button?
    • (Original) Battlestar Galactica uniform. In all its cheesy glory, I still like it much better than the modern incarnation.
    • Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon, circa 1980. Not because the movie was necessarily good, but because I’d look awesome in a full goatee and over the top red and gold cape.

    And that’s just getting started. There just aren’t enough cons. Well, there are but I’d run out of money trying to manage cosplay for more than a couple. Might do that anyway.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions

    It’s Not You, It’s Me

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    No, really. I’m sorry, Fan Expo, but I’ve given this a lot of thought.

    I can’t handle the incompetent line management anymore. Or the inconsistent room management, or the constantly changing procedures, or the total lack of traffic flow planning or understanding. I feel like you’ve studied at the Ikea school of customer flow—one way in and one way out—but dropped out after the first day before you learned why and how it actually is made to work.

    And the escalators… ai-ya.

    Oh, and some consistent communication to your staff and security crew would be good, so they can deliver a consistent message when people have questions. Or even just deliver a message.

    And this year, you were trying to be too much to too many people, crowding more of us into a larger space but without much understanding of how that would work. Sports was a great idea… for a separate con. You wouldn’t get me, but then you didn’t anyway. You just gave most of us an extra obstacle to get through to get to the real convention.

    And even with the expansion, the aisles on the con floor were still ridiculously narrow for the number of people you had in the building.

    Wait, I guess it is you. Really, considering everything, it has to be you. Sorry.

    So I think we shouldn’t see each other anymore. I’m hate that it’s come to this, but the stress is starting to outweigh the fun, and that’s not good for either of us. We need some time apart, some time to grow. I’ve got a date in Ottawa in the spring, and I think it’s going to be a good one. It’s okay, there are plenty of other people for you.


    Yes, I guess I’m fooling myself. We both know I’ll take you back next year.

    You’ll promise some hefty star power, the people I want to see in person for Q&A sessions, autographs, and maybe even photos. There will be panels and artists and cosplay and awesome stuff to buy and all the cool things I want in a con.

    But I’ll resist. I’ll be strong. There’s no doubt in my mind. You and I are over.

    Until my kids remind me how much they love you.

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  • Conventions

    After Action Report: Fan Expo, Day 4

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    Sunday, crowd-wise, is a lot like Friday at Fan Expo. Crowded, but you can still move around. It’s also the last day of four at the con, so the overall speed of the crowd is often a little faster since time is now very limited.

    But some things aren’t faster. My son and I got in line at the top of the escalator to go to the bottom of the North Building and The Walking Dead panel. The line did not move. At first, this seemed to be because the escalator was malfunctioning. Again. After a few minutes, staff made it clear that the panel had no seating left. We arrived at the con at about 1015, only 15 minutes after they opened the doors, showed our passes and walked in, taking a couple of minutes to establish where we’d all be for the next little bit. To make the panel, apparently we would have had to have been near the front of the line before 10 (clear when we got there) and run for the theatre. Disappointing, but the light of all of Fan Expo’s other organization issues, not all that surprising that they didn’t pick a larger room based on the popularity of the show.

    So we rearranged our plans a bit and went to see Mr. Takei again to get our photo from the day before signed. Not a bad line up, but he’d been signing all weekend, so we just picked a good time.

    Taken by my oldest daughter, Mr. Takei signing our photo.
    Taken by my oldest daughter, Mr. Takei signing our photo.

    Meanwhile, my wife and youngest daughter had gotten into a big line to get Tara Strong’s autograph (she’s another principal VA on MLP). While the rest of us went to the con floor for a little last day shopping.

    Tara Strong with my youngest.
    Tara Strong with my youngest.

    Aside from MLP and Sailor Moon, my youngest was there for Princess Leia’s autograph, which was next up. (Sorry, no photo. They weren’t allowing pictures and I haven’t scanned the autographed photo yet.)

    My son actually walked the floor with me for a while, slowly looking more and more dejected. Didn’t take a lot of brain power to figure out he wanted to go find his friends if they’d arrived. I turned him loose with instructions to answer texts and my oldest daughter and I went upstairs to check out the LARPers again.

    Ready for battle.
    Ready for battle.

    If you’ve never heard of it, LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role Playing. If you’re a pencil and paper RPG fan, subtract the pencil and paper, dress up, and work on your acting ability. It was actually pretty fun, though the group of players we had the sessions with mostly wanted to kill things and damn the story, and she wants to try finding a group in our area who allows minors to play.

    Which just about brought us to the big event for oldest daughter, the screening of a Vocaloid concert. Youngest daughter came as well. Both loved it, but since oldest daughter was in Vocaloid cosplay, she gravitated towards the other cosplayers and wound up making a bunch of friends (who have now created a Facebook group and are planning to get together at other upcoming cons). The concert was a lot of fun, but nothing like being there. Even I enjoyed the music. Of course, I’m the one who actually found out about the Vocaloid concept and pointed my children in that direction.

    The gang's all here.
    The gang’s all here.

    In the meantime, my wife went to (and recorded) the Carrie Fisher Q&A, and my son got roped into the Tara Strong Q&A with two girls just a little older than he is. A nice end to the con all the way around.

    From there, we retrieved the van and went for Chinese BBQ on Spadina Avenue, something that used to be a lot more frequent on my experience list, but now is a rare treat.

    A few other bits about the con to follow, and I’ve posted some photos, mostly of other cosplays, to Facebook, as well.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions

    After Action Report: Fan Expo, Day 3

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    A little delayed, but lots of time for the first paragraph to contain useful advice.

    If you’re only going to Fan Expo one day next year, don’t make it Saturday. Really. It’s the most crowded day and suffers from the most line and traffic mismanagement by staff, not to mention the escalator breakdowns that happen every year. Saturday is the reason Fan Expo and I are on the rocks. Well, the ticket price is getting a little steep, too.

    My wife and daughters getting trapped outside the building because apparently they were over capacity, and then suddenly they weren’t.

    My son got trapped in a line up to get up the escalator from the main con floor to come meet me in the photo op area.

    I had a great time on Saturday—we all did, as long as we were already at the place we wanted to be. Getting there was always a problem. And the con floor got crowded fast, so crowded we had to get out.

    Now on a positive note, I met up with an old friend I only get to see a couple of times per year. That was nice.

    He and I, both being Trekkies since shortly after birth, went to a screening of the first episode of Star Trek Continues. It’s a fan-produced series with Vic Mignogna at its head that picks up where the original Star Trek show left off. Fun, but it’s trying a little too hard to begin with and the writing is a teensy bit awkward. Vic as Kirk is trying to Shatnerize things too much and there were a couple of scenes where it seemed like they were just trying to squeeze everyone in. It is worth checking out for fans of the show and I’m sure they’ll iron things out eventually. I’m interested enough to see what they’ll do for their second episode.

    For several members of the family, the big event on Saturday was our photo op with George Takei. This is the one place I was glad for the con’s complete lack of crowd and line management because it allowed my wife and son, victims of problems I mentioned above, to make it before I got to the front of the line. Mr. Takei was a gracious and pleasant man who had a quick word for each of the three of us in the photo and more or less made my day.

    My son, George Takei, my wife, and I.
    My son, George Takei, my wife, and I.

    Next up for me, the Crypton Vocaloid presentation which ran more like a business presentation for the English version of the Vocaloid software about to launch. Interesting, but a little dry, though my oldest daughter claimed to enjoy it.

    She enjoyed the Yuu Asakawa Q&A more, though. One of the Vocaloid actresses live and in person. Her English is limited, but her pronunciation is excellent, so she had a translator present. A long line up for her autograph came next, long enough that I couldn’t get to the screening of “Almost Human” my son and I were planning, but he hadn’t been that keen, really, and had more or less already decided not to bother.

    My oldest daughter with Yuu Asakawa
    My oldest daughter with Yuu Asakawa

    As a side note, Saturday is “Meet the cast of whatever show CTV/Showcase thinks has genre elements” day, running through Lost Girl, Murdoch Mysteries, Defiance, Storage Wars, and Helix. A couple of those really don’t make sense to me at what most of us think of as a SF con, but I’m sure they made some people happy. But, in some strange twist of organization, the panels were pretty much all in the same room and each was followed by an autograph session in a different building on the other side of the convention.

    Even though it meant the con was ¾ over, I was glad to get out of the building on Saturday and head for the exciting sushi restaurant we’d picked out.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions

    After Action Report: Fan Expo, Day 2

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    Friday is the first big day of Fan Expo. The crowds have come and it gets worse the later in the day it is.

    The con floor is pretty huge at Fan Expo. If you spent two minutes at every booth, you might be able to see them all in one day, but not after you add travel time in and only if you ignore Artists’ Alley, which is absolutely impossible to do.

    And there’s a little more in the hallway just outside the giant area enclosing the con floor.

    Which is where we found half the cast of Sailor Moon signing autographs. Sailors Moon, Mars, and Jupiter, plus Tuxedo Mask and the show’s Voice Director. For youngest daughter, who’s recently discovered the show, it was pretty neat.

    I went to the Richard Dean Anderson panel by myself, where I realized that I’d put a broken memory card into the Zoom so had to record on my phone.

    Thinking I could get back to the hotel, get a working card (no, I wasn’t carrying 2 <sigh>), get oldest daughter to an anime panel, and still get back in time for David Hasselhoff’s panel, I didn’t take the poor traffic flow conditions of the con into account. My wife took pictures and a little video.

    FE2013 - RDA FE 2013 - DH


    But we got pretty good seats for George & Nichelle.

    George Takei, one of the primary reasons my son wanted to come this year (me too, but for different reasons) is an engaging speaker, very involved, and fun to listen to. He talked for about twenty minutes, took questions for as many more then introduced Nichelle Nichols and left the stage.

    George Takei
    George Takei

    Nichelle didn’t take questions, instead spoke to an audience on the importance of following dreams and making sure your children have the freedom to follow theirs. In between, she wove in a few anecdotes about Star Trek, family, and the space shuttle. I feel like her health isn’t as good as she’d like to have presented and have learned since the con that she’s in a wheelchair most of the time, able to walk only short distances. I was glad to hear her speak and disappointed to have missed her signing autographs.

    Nichelle Nichols
    Nichelle Nichols

    This is a good place to note that George is the youngest of the Star Trek Seven (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, Chekov) at 76. Presented without comment.

    My son and I (and a friend of his) stayed in the room for Ian McDiarmid, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine. Also an engaging fellow. I’m struggling to recall any question he answered that wasn’t Star Trek related, even though his done a fair bit of work on film and stage. A formal guard, provided by the 501st Legion, stood at attention during the entire panel, and accompanied him the next day on the con floor.

    Ian McDiarmid
    Ian McDiarmid

    The con proper was over at that point, with the floor closed and most things wrapped up, but a little later, after dinner, oldest daughter and I returned for the J-Pop dance (a little less pop than I might have liked and a little heavier) and late night gaming (the gaming room was open until ten, with people playing right up to the end).

    All in all, a pretty good day.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Conventions

    After Action Report: Fan Expo, Day 1

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    Been quiet lately. The real world and family, and perhaps a demon or two. I’ve also been prepping a couple of things. More on those very soon, but at the moment I thought I’d put a couple of notes up about Fan Expo, the biggest con we go to and this was our fourth year in a row as a family. And since we’ve been back for a week and I’ve had a full work week since, things should be back to normal, right?

    If only I knew what normal was.

    Fan Expo runs Thursday to Sunday the last full weekend of August. Thursday is the most relaxing day at Fan Expo. There are lots of people, but the crowds really haven’t arrived yet. The Con opens at 2 for those who have bought weekend passes in advance, four for the single day and people buying their tickets at the door.

    We tried to take it easy, just relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of the con, and making it to the doors at about quarter after two.

    The delay to get in wasn’t too bad (one thing they’ve improved this year) and we moved inside to check out the first displays—KITT and the Batmobile, the 501st and the Ghostbusters, plus a little Doctor Who. In our first divide and conquer of the weekend, my wife, son, and youngest daughter stood in line for photo op tickets we should have bought in advance, while my oldest daughter and I walked across the smaller of the two buildings to pick up tickets for the vocaloid concert on Sunday.

    The first panel on the list was James Hong. Managed seats in the front row, and I think it’s the only panel the entire family attended together. When I first pointed out the panel, no one had any idea who the Mr. Hong was, at least until I started going through the acting credits my wife and children might recognize:

    Mr. Ping from the Kung Fu Panda movies.

    Chen, the restaurant owner, from The Big Bang Theory.

    Guest star on half the TV shows they’ve ever watched.

    James Hong
    James Hong

    He stands out for me as Hannibal Chew in Bladerunner and Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China, but Mr. Hong has an acting career that reaches back to the mid-1950s and he’s literally been in hundreds of shows and movies.

    My wife and son went to see Stan Lee a little later while the girls and I got our picture taken with Mr. Hong who was pleasant and friendly though he had to be exhausted by the time the whole thing was over.

    Stan Lee and his drink courtesy of Subway
    Stan Lee and his drink courtesy of Subway

    Right after that, we headed back to the same room we’d listened to him in so we could enjoy a panel Q&A with Cathy Weseluck and Andrea Libman, two of the principal voice actors on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. They’ve both done a lot of other work as well, but nearly all of the questions asked were about MLP, and there were a surprising number of Bronies there, asking a lot of those questions.

    Cathy Weseluck (left), Andrea Libman (right)
    Cathy Weseluck (left), Andrea Libman (right), two of the principal VAs for MLP: Friendship is Magic

    All in all, the first day at the con was a slow paced, relaxed one. That would change in the afternoon on Friday.

    Be well, everyone.

    The girls and I with James Hong.
    The girls and I with James Hong. I should have found a Lo Pan t-shirt to wear.
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