Wednesday, 18 May 2011

FedCon XX: The Finals!!!

(I borrow this one from George Takei): Oooohhhhh Myyyyy.....That sums up how I feel early in the morning at breakfast. Now this is the usual Sunday morning feeling at FedCon, so I am in synch with the timing...First thing today: a double photoshoot with the Boba Fetts, Jeremy Bulloch and Daniel Logan. Now Jeremy is right on time, but where's Daniel? “Just waking up” says Rafael, “I am going back to get him“. And indeed, 10 minutes later young Boba Fett takes his spot and we march in to have our pic taken. After that, back into the auditorium to listen to Tony Amendola talk about a lot of things and being interviewed with some really good questions. Then we stay there to listen to Lance Henriksen, someone who's work I personally do (or rather, did) not know (yep, shame on me!). And that is one of the great things of FedCon: you get to meet and get aquainted with new people and new stuff!

We skip Dirk Benedicts panel for lunch and I sit in with Jeremy Bulloch's panel which has magically turned into Daniel Logan´s panel. This turns out to be an interesting and – here´s that word again – cosy get-together in which we really get to know Daniel and what makes him tick (or bounce, which in his case is more appropriate, bless´em!). Back to the main hall for the final two panels of this con. First Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill who in my opinion delivered my favorite panel of this convention. Witty, fun and of course both show us their best Captain Janeway impersonations. And Garrett goes even further than that: he shows us what Genevieve Bujold as the first candidate for Janeway looked like. All I can say is, and I say this with the utmost respect, that I am glad Ms. Bujold decided to quit. But it gives us a hilarious piece of entertainment. Did I also mention that Garrett finally got the promotion Harry Kim so desperately wanted? Out of the hands of `Captain Archer´ no less, Garrett is finally promoted from Ensign to Lieutenant! But that was last night....

And then, as the final, the last panel with Richard Dean Anderson. Which turns out to be very similar to his first one, and I find myself desparately wishing for the questioneers Tony Amendola had earlier.
And then....It is over. FedCon XX is a wrap. One more time we applaud and cheer the actors and other guests, and when Garrett Wang enters the stage, he receives a standing ovation for a job extremely well done. Dirk Bartholomae enters the stage and asks us if we want to see him again next year, and as the Maritim Auditorium explodes, we are told who the first guest for next year will be: Garrett Wang!
After all this excitement we skip into what used to be the dealers´ room to say bye bye to our friends, but, alas, they have already packed up and gone, so we go to the restaurant to have dinner. And the evening we spend reminiscing in the hotel bar.

On a scale of 1 to ten I award this FedCon a big fat 9+. There really is not that much wrong, at least in our experience. The only exception is the party area: that should be considerably larger if we want to have the FedCon party atmosphere of old. ( And Dirk has already announced that this will happen next year!).

Thanks to everyone at FedCon. Orga, Volunteers, Antje, Maren and Sandra from Behinderbetreuung, Kenny, Pamela, Ron and Tiggy and Willy, our freidns form the Federation and all the actors and wonderfuil fans: we love you. Till next year!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

FedCon XX: Day 3 (or is it 4 already?)

Day 3! Which in this case is the Saturday. As FedCon currently takes four days to complete, this feels a trifle awkward: traditionally, Day 3 is the “post-party” day, with most of the morning sessions spent in a kind of half-drunken-half-hungover stupor. But hey, the Big Party -if there's going to be one, and people, so far it does not look that well!- is scheduled for tonight, so that will probably take splace on Day 4.

We start the day with a revisit to the autograph room in order to complete our autographs. We begin with Dirk Benedict who yesterday was slow ,slower, slowest, with lines in front of his tabel to match (“3 hours!” as per buzz!). We find people already lined up for him, but as 'Behinderte' we go first and we promise the waiting to be as quick as humanly possible. Dirk is chatting away as usual, but we are able to get away with his autograph within a few minutes or so. Last is Paul McGillion who happily signs the call sheet and is sort of relieved when we tell him how we got to know the answer to his question yesterday, which is not due to nerdiness. Nicole is busy signing, otherwise we would have dropped by to share with her as well...

Another photoshoot, with Kate Vernon this time. Funny moment when we both get a fit of the giggles, no one really knows why, but Kate, being the professional that she is, recovers in an instant, while I am still very visibly trying to retain a semblance of seriousness. Visibly, as the result is a picture in which it seems she's tickling me or something (which she did not!)....

The rest of the afternoon is spent running from one panel to the next. Sean Maher gives a nice, laid back and very funny panel with extensive use of a 'Sarcasm' sign. Bouncy boy Daniel Logan is next , at least according to the schedule, but it turns out that Jeremy Bulloch has joined him on stage, so we are treated to an audience with the 'Boba Fetts'. Quite an interesting an entertaining panel, with an interesting contrast between gentleman Jeremy and young Daniel!

After this, it is dinner time and as we habitually skip the costume contest, we've also got some time to spend with our dealer friends (and buy more stuff, evidently). Final panel of the day is Scott Bakula's. Back in time only to learn that the whole show is at least 45 minutes late. So we get the final costume award ceremony and are treated to a smashing performance of showband 'The Sarlacc Survivors' who really bring the house down with their Star Wars show, complete with a singing Darth Maul and a wompa turned Elvis (or the other way around).

Finally, there's Scott again to answer more questions about Quantum Leap and, of course, Star Trek Enterprise. A bit of an awkard moment arises when someone asks Scott where his last name is from and if he knows what it means. “Yep, it is from a family in the Czech Republic, but I don't know what it means”, replies Scott. The guy asking the question, however, does not accept this answer but insists that “bakula” is in fact Polish and means something like 'filthy liar'. Boy, how to respond to this one....”smile and wave” (or the on-stage equivalent of this).

After Scott is done, it is finally: party time! Some of the Dutch contingency -including me- have something special: orange (which is our national colour) T-shirts which say: “As a finishing touch, God created the Dutch”. There's also our party yell: “Da Dutch, da Dutch, da Dutch are inda house!”. An this time it works, even on the crowded, small dance floor: the FedCon party atmosphere is back! Later that night, it even extends to the area outside the bar and it is around 3:30 that I hit the sack. Tired and sweaty of dancing, but hey, party was finally upon us...

Friday, 13 May 2011

FedCon XX: Day 2

And here's Day 2! Fresher than usual on that day, and that's what happens if your go nighty night on time, kiddos! We start the day with some photoshoots, first of all with Scott Bakula. As we enter in the room we notice what a wonderful guy Scott really is: he walks up to you, shakes your hand as if REALLY pleased to see you and chit-chats while the picture is being taken. That's why I look very relaxed on mine, as I discover later that day! Another photo a bit later , this time with Wil Wheaton, who is polite and pleasant as always. Walking back from the photoshoot to the dealer's room, my eye falls on something really incredible: a lifesize copy of Harry Potter's Marauder's Map framed in a wonderful and rather authentic looking frame. We dare ask what this would cost and as the price is quite reasonable we mumble the spell “We solemnly swear we're up to no good” and the Map is ours. We find out later that the whole thing unfolds to show a 3D map of Hogwarts, but the main thing is: this item will grace our display cabinet like nothing will! “Mischief managed!”
and hotel reservations.

And then it is time for the big autograph session. As we are part of the Special Needs group we are more or less used to get to this rather quickly. Not this time though; it takes us about two hours and we by that time are still not done. Our assistant Maren takes us up to get Scott Bakula's autographs but next day we will have to come back for a few more, as my dear husband has politely collapsed.

After dinner the evening is filled with panels: first Richard Dean Anderson, the Paul McGillion and Scott Bakula and finally Marina Sirtis, which we actually skipped, being too tired. All three of them nice yet all three of them very different in atmosphere. I thought RDA's panel sometimes drowned in the silliness of the questions and comments fired at him, to which he responded quite well, though. Occassionally, there was an opportunity to see the 'person behind the actor'. Scott's panel was quite different: interesting and brought with a genuine warmth and a very personal touch. To me he seemed of all the Star Trek captains I've met the most approachable.

And Paul McGillion´s panel took an unexpected turn when he quizzed off his SGA ´Duet´call sheet by asking us what was the name of Nicole de Boer´s character in Stargate Atlantis. Now, purely by coincidence, earlier that afternoon we had Nicole sign two photos with her as that character, and we asked her to sign it with the character name as well, if she recalled. After a while she did, and thus we were able to yell out the answer and got hold of an interesting and unique item. Interesting, because I am still completely mystified about what is actually printed on that thing. Respect for the actors who can make heads or tails out of that one!

A day later we had that signed by Paul and told him this story (as he started out by `You guys are really a bunch of super-nerds to come up with that answer!`). So, thanks for making that effort to remember, Nicole, we owe you one big time!

So, a long an hectic day, where a lot of fun was had by all. Hopes for a bigger party opportunity were up, yet in vain. So I called it a day, actually before midnight! That early was at least one of my FedCon firsts!

Friday, 6 May 2011

FedCon XX: Day 1

A very good night's sleep, that says something, as I normally do not sleep that well first night in a 'strange bed'. First thing after breakfast is for me to get rid of my digital art pieces that I am carrying around. So, way before the official opening of the convention area, we are allowed in to set up my presentation. A change! Graphics and Models are now in one room, shared happily with the Klingon pub run by “Khemorex Klinzhai”. Klingons and fine art, I hope for the best at that combination!

I set up my presentation into what I hope is an attractive showpiece,a nd when asked if I want to participate in Art contest, I'm all like “Sure, what the heck?”. I don't believe human creativity should be the subject of competitiveness, but participating never hurt anyone.

After we're done we get into the dealers' room finding all our dealer friends in a frenzy cause “Where are all the customers?” . We try to reassure them that even though they're on the second floor, they will be found! Eventually! If I havce to run around the con areea with R2D2 on my head (which I actually did!).
But even though we do some of the autograph shopping tehy keep being a bit antsy about it. And then we found out that there is a perfectly logical explanation for everybody's absence: the convention hasn't opened yet. Oops, that's not what the programme said...

Around noon we finally get and at 14.00 it is time for the first official event (for us at least): the photoshoot with Richard Dean Anderson. When he finally comes down I am happily suprised, as I was led to believe that “Colonel O'Neill” had gained quite a few pounds. Well, he did but it is not as bad as some might have anticipated and for such a high-profile guest he is actually quite a jolly fellow. Of course these photoshoots go quick and there is just enough time to exchange some pleasanteries, but it's always quite a thrill to be standing next to someone of a more or less legendary stature. We meet RDA again at his autograph session, which takes an unexpected turn as our presigned autographs are personalized. Richard takes some time to look at my art piece for this year and then signs it, taking care not to make his autograph too big. We joke a bit about this poses quite some stress to “do it right”! Later that day we also pose with Wil Wheaton and then it is time for the opening.

Everyone's of course quite excited to see how Garrett Wang will fulfill the demanding Master of Ceremonies function for the very first time. When he enters the stage, a loud applause fills the auditorium. The usual opening issues commence: a word for the sponsors, a list of Do's and Don'ts and then Garrett invites Dirk Bartholomäe, Mr Fedcon himself, on stage. As this is the 20th anniversary, Dirk is presented by a marvellous birthday cake in SciFi style, to be consumed by everyone later that night. Dirk is visibly touched by this, but being as modest as he is, leaves the stage as quickly as is humanly possible.

And then the guests are introduced, showered with the warm FedCon welcoming applause,and given the opportunity to say a few words or practice their first words of German. My cold chills begin when Scott Bakula enters the stage. I have been waiting quite long to meet “Captain Archer”, the captain from the Star Trek series that is dearest to my heart as I witnessed its inception (and demise) from the very start. Great to have him here!

After the opening I move to the small room to sit in with Kate Hewlett, who admits she's a bit nervous and wonders if we're all misplaced as Lance Henriksen is on themain stage. She need not worry as she puts on a very nice and interesting and -shall I use the word?- cosy Q&A session, with lots of inside stories and jokes about her dear brother, David. After Kate, I return to the main adutorium to listen to Wil Wheaton's panel. He was really amazing, very witty as we have come to know him from his blogs, tweet and books. To me his was the most inspiring of them all!
(To read it from his own perspective:

After all this (and three panels in a row is not such a good idea) it was party time. Or at least a serious attempt at partying. As in Bon we had a ginat dancefloor available, we where sort of expecting something equally magnificent. NO SUCH THING. Just the dancefloor in the bar which was smaller than the one in Bonn, the same DJ we had before and that was it. It beat me how 1000+ people were supposed to have a party theer and the answer is of course: they could not. After an hour of sweat and too many people to really dance, I gave up and went to bed around 1:00 am, infernally early for a FedCon (where sleeping is optional).

Day One is gone and it was already a blast! See what comes tomorrow! And Garrett? He´s already doing just great! As if he´s never done anything else!

Me in my R2D2 Disney hat, bought from Kenny (KIF's collectibles).

Thursday, 5 May 2011

FedCon XX: New place, New Beginnings

There is something inspiring in meeting a person -in this case Star Trek The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton- and listen to him talk about his stories and his blog. It made me realize I also do have a blog, which is currently sadly empty. Time, therefore, to start using it for what it was meant.

We met Wil at the 20th edition of the European SciFi convention FedCon, of old a gathering of Star Trek fans but nowadays more into the general SciFi genre. Recently it has grown considerably and therefore it has moved to a new location: from the cosy and comfortable Maritim hotel in Bonn to the state of the art and awe-inspiring Martitim in Düsseldorf. This new place it great, though at first one has to overcome an awkward feeling: it feels a bit as an extension of the adjacent airport.

We arrived on a Wednesday and as usual we stepped right into the preconvention buzz: things being built up, things being hanged, merchandise being unpacked and it is always fun to step inside and watch this, careful of course not to be in anyone's way. We were also a bit concerned as this was the first FedCon the hotel staff had to deal with. No matter how many conventions one runs, FedCon is just a bit different, has it's own problems.
That night we had scheduled a special Reunion Dinner with some friends, sixteen in number, who were also early-bird arrivals. First thing after check-in was a run to the elected restaurant to make a reservation, to make sure we had enough seats. No problem, it was written into the big book and off we went, into the dealer's room for the usual pre-convention browsing of stuff. And we were not disappointed, and some great autographs (Harrison Ford as Han Solo! Matthew Fox in LOST!, Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine!) went home with us.

Of course it is fun to kill time just sitting somewhere and let the people pass you by, often interrupted by enthousiastic cheers, waving of hands and a hug or two...

Evening falls and it is time for the Reunion Dinner, so we head for the restaurant. It feels as if the number of persons expected has doubled in the meantime, so I just take it easy and see what happens...and then the Maitre'D tells us that “there has been a mistake with the reservation, there's no place for you in our inn”...eeh, what? She explains that the restaurant is fully booked (by the FedCon staff, as we find out later), but she let's us in and leaves us. To come back after five minutes to tell us that we can't stay here but there's a table for us in the adjacent bistro, and we will get the menus from this restaurant. I could have kissed the lady for her problem-solving skills. We pack up and –indeed- there's more of us waiting in the bistro.

It becomes an animated and quite international party: Dutch, Belgians, Americans, Scottish and the occasional Swedish. It in fact becomes so animated that the maitre'd of the bistro (which is a lot more uppity than the down-to-earth homecooking restaurant we originally wanted) asks us to turn it down a bit as there are still some business people around. If this is how FedCon XX starts, where wil it end? Well, we'll find out tomorrow.

One thing is sure: I now have the utmost confidence in the hotel staff to deal with the organised craziness that is FedCon. No matter what crisis...