What a warped, wild and wonderful weekend it was. Holy shit, I'm writing this on a Monday morning after 4 days of epic awesomesaucitude. My body feels like noodles...very sore noodles. Still getting rushes of adrenaline, though. And feeling uber social. I tweeted briefly throughout the Con, but I didn't really tell some of these stories publicly yet, so here is my wrap up of Phoenix Comic Con 13.
Now, something you should know about PHX CC this year... there's a big ass Babylon 5 20th anniversary reunion going on at the Con. I'm a fan of the show and particularly love one of the actors on it. I've talked about him before, his name is Jason Carter. He played Marcus Cole and has served as one of the muses for my satyr character, Marius. So, it was with great restraint that I did not spend the entirety of the Con
stalking researching him. Seriously, that man's voice is gold.
Anyway, I went into Con knowing it would be all Babylon 5 and author panels for me. Here's how things shook out.
Thursday I went to see Star Trek with my husband. (That is another blog post in and of itself.) After we picked up our daughter from school and she came home to put on her Monster High cosplay, we sallied forth to the Con. There was a panel on anime for kids across the hall from the Books/Authors Kickoff panel, so the kiddo went to the anime panel. I went to the books panel and Sean split his time going back and forth between the two.
The panel was a good, low-key kick off to the weekend featuring Cherie Priest, Timothy Zahn, Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson and Peter Orullian. They answered questions and bantered with one another a bit. Of those on the panel I'd only read Cherie's work, so it was a great introduction to these other authors. My to-read list has swollen greatly after this weekend, thanks in part to that panel.
We walked around a little bit after that, but otherwise called it early as Thursday night was light on content.
*giggles* Oh, holy shit Friday... We kept our daughter out of school for the day so she could enjoy the Con. (Her teachers were so cool about it.) The youngling and I went to an Avatar: The Last Airbender panel where there were cosplayers answering questions in character. K asked some questions of the panel and even impressed the hell out of Azula. Although, should I be worried when a character known for being a sociopathic bitch tells me I'm doing a good job raising my daughter? Hmmm....
I hit the Author Chair Dancing panel that day featuring Sam Sykes, Cherie Priest, John Scalzi, Leanna Renee Hieber, Delilah S. Dawson and Award-Winning Author Kevin Hearne. This panel was golden. The moderator basically just wound up the authors and let them go for an hour. Before the panel, Sam was the only one there, so he told the audience to lose its collective shit when Kevin was introduced. We took it a step further. Any time someone said Kevin's name we went nuts. That man may be an amazing author, but his true talent is in his blushing. Dear lord, this man turns pink quickly and all the way to his fuzzy scalp. Glorious. The panel was non-stop fun. You know how you watch conversations on Twitter and just giggle? This was Live Action Twitter. And there were churro cupcakes with bacon on them. Churro Cupcake Lady: Next year, bring enough for the audience. Thanks.
Walked through the Vendor Hall for a bit and found some shirts and a print to throw money at, but otherwise I spent most of the day hanging with the kid and hitting panels.
Friday, though, was also the day my friend Lenora decided to have part one of her bachelorette party. She wanted a quiet gathering of women with wine and cheese in her hotel room at the convention.
So, this is where things get a little crazy. (Gee, a bachelorette party?) It was actually pretty low key. We had about 10 people there at one point and just sat talking, most of us lamenting our swollen feet after a day of Con. The room we were in had a balcony outside. Now, at this hotel, the balcony runs the length of the building without any gaps or partitions. So, when we were outside on the balcony watching the Zombie Walk pass beneath, there were other guests sitting out there enjoying the evening as well. We went in and out off the balcony for a while...the 10 dwindled to 8, then to 5 or 6. We were inside when we started hearing these loud booms coming from outside. So in what might have been a terribly unwise act, we all went outside to see fireworks coming from the nearby baseball stadium.
How awesome to have fireworks at your bachelorette party?
Other guests were watching, too, just a few feet away. They were mostly obscured by darkness. No lights on the balcony except the splash from the hotel rooms, the ambient city light and the full moon overhead. I'm watching the fireworks and I hear this voice....it's a very familiar voice that I usually only hear in my head.... I look over to the other pocket of hotel guests and I see a scrum of 4 or 5 people. Most of them are wearing black, but one is all in white. He's standing at the edge of the balcony in a very loose stance smoking. When he speaks again, my jaw drops.
Because Jason Carter is standing 10 feet away.
I run into the room, and not so casually mention this to my friends--including the bachelorette who is getting my saucy by the minute--and they begin taunting me like it's a junior high school dance and the boy from 3rd period French is standing alone in the gym. So after about 20 minutes, I go over and excuse myself for interrupting his evening with friends and ask, "Are you Jason Carter?" He confirms and I thank him for coming to the convention because the reunion would not be the same if he weren't here. I excuse myself again and go back to my party, having just spoken with one of my muses.
Well, about a half hour goes by and our group is now down to 4 women. Two are drunk and continuing to imbibe, one is pregnant and the other is me...abstaining lest I a) not be able to go home and b) do something stupid because Jason Carter is still 10 feet away. I look at the load of unopened bottles of wine in the room and the mostly uneaten food.... I look at Lenora and ask, "Hey, do we want help finishing these off?" She looks at Jason and his pocket of friends and says, "Go for it." So I invited them all over to share. Jason brought his mp3s and a set of speakers. And we danced, drank, talked and laughed until 2am.
What was supposed to be a quiet night of cheese and wine soon cascaded into this odd mixture of music and a topless man making out with his girlfriend, drunk women pouring out their souls to strangers, dancing, flirting with a man who is 6'3 with dreadlocks down to his ass (holy shit, he was hot) and sharing red wine with Jason. It was surreal as shit. On one hand I'm hanging out with this actor I admire...on the other, there are glimmers of this character that lives in my head. Jason would say something or gesture in just such a way that he would disappear and Marius would be standing in front of me. Then he'd be gone and I'd be on the balcony with Jason again. So fucking weird!
I kept looking at my friends and asking, "How the hell did this happen?" Lenora kept talking about how amazing her party was. (Shit, it beat mine and mine had drag queens!) Now, back when they announced the Babylon 5 reunion and Lenora set up her bachelorette party for Con... I told her, "Oh, let's get Jason to come to your party, it'll be great." That was MONTHS ago and completely in jest. Friday night she pulled me down to her and said, "Jamie, I can't believe it. You delivered. You said you'd bring Jason Carter to my party and you fucking did."
Pure dumb luck. A wink from the moon. And holy shit. That totally happened.
Around 2am, we put Lenora to bed, turned off the music and said our good nights. No autographs or pictures or anything, but this was so much better than either of those things. No line. No tangible evidence that any of it happened. Just memories. Stories. That was pretty fucking awesome right there. As I left, I got a hug from Jason. A smile on my face, I fell into my own bed around 3am.
My daughter went to Grandma's house, the husband and I shoved off for THE day. The day of the B5 reunion panel. But that wasn't until the evening, so I hit author panels and the gaming area throughout the day.
The B5 panel...now, I'll preface this by saying PHX CC is entirely volunteer run. This was also the first time they ever attempted such a huge gathering at one panel. Twelve actors from the series and the writer/director/producer/creator himself, J. Michael Straczynski. There were two moderators who I'm pretty certain had never seen the show because they were completely passionless when they spoke with the cast. After the first question, JMS said, "Is that the best you've got?" And then HE took over the panel. The mods just sat there in stupefied silence for an hour and change. On the plus side, it was great because we got to see what Joe is like as a director. Once the guests were allowed to turn loose, it was wonderful. They spoke candidly about their cast mates who've since passed away, laughed with one another and cried with us. They shared a lot of themselves with an audience to whom they've already given so much. If the Con hadn't kept trying to control/run over it, the panel would've been amazing. (Click here for part 1 and part 2 of this panel.)
After the B5 panel, some friends and I went to dinner at this pizza joint not too far away. Sitting two tables away was a be-fezzed Wil Wheaton and his clutch of peeps. Dinner with amazing friends after a beautiful panel... yeah. Saturday was amazing in a completely different way than Friday.
The last day of a Con is always like the end of summer camp. There's a lot of hugging, a lot of exchanging emails or contact info and many an utterance of "I love you, man." My husband and I once again had the day to ourselves, so we hit some B5 panels, including the spotlight with JMS. I missed the Wheaton-Scalzi hour for that, but it was worth it to sit in on a masterclass with someone who has inspired my own work. Seriously, I could listen to Joe talk craft for HOURS and wish I had the opportunity to do so.
After his panel, we hit the vendor hall floor. I met and spoke with some other authors--Delilah, Peter, Sam, Leanna, Cherie--and met up with my friend and Attack Fish Rhys. With him, we went over to JMS's autograph line to say hi. The line was long and the ones in front of Jason Carter, Peter Jurasik and Stephen Furst were uncannily empty. So Sean, Rhys and I went over to say hi to them. Jason and I talked a bit more. Was really surprised that he remembered me, to be honest. Introduced him to Rhys (who got him to quote a certain line from my book), and my husband. And I did what I said I wouldn't do--got an autograph. (But it's a picture I've used as inspiration for Marius!)
Peter and Stephen were so wonderful to talk with. Stephen Furst is an absolute sweetheart. Very genuine man. And I hadn't expected Peter to be so ... open? He was jovial with us and did a spectacular job of guessing our ages. Except for Rhys. He said Rhys looked 15. (He's 30.) I'm normally not into meeting celebrities or anything in their lines at Conventions. I'm much more interested in having memories and moments than paid autographs or pictures. And I got exactly what I wanted by just walking up an empty line to say hello and thank you. That was pretty damn awesome. Ended up getting to talk to JMS briefly as well.
Had to take off, though, to catch the last panel of the day: another master class on worldbuilding in sci-fi/fantasy. As that panel wrapped up, the fire alarms went off and the building was evacuated. Turns out there was a small fire reported on the 3rd floor of the convention center. Con staff and all attendees handled the emergency with rockitude, and the Con extended the show for an extra hour for the inconvenience.
That pretty much put an end to our Con, though. We were finished with panels and had had our run of the vendor hall. It was time to go. Blissed out, my husband and I came home, geeked out with one another and crashed into sore heaps of ourselves.
It was an exhausting, inspiring, unforgettable, educational weekend. And damn it was fun.
How 'bout you? Were you there? What was your bliss moment?