|For a no-text, Buffy-celebrity-pics-only page, click here.|
I wasn't going to write a dragoncon report, but since my MR report
got such a warm reception (thanks guys!) I decided to go ahead. In any case, I get to relive the
weekend as I try to remember everything, which is fun for me. So here goes!
|I left for the airport early Friday morning, before the sun came up.
Caught a plane to Atlanta,
headed straight to downtown via MARTA (the subway), immediately got in line (for an hour)
to get my badge, got lost looking for Centennial ballroom II, and then finally, nine hours after
waking up in Boston, was staring at The Man himself. Well, staring at The Man on a screen,
because I was so far away from the stage...
|James was predictably endearing and well-spoken, not to mention hot. He answered
questions about things like acting, music, the upcoming season of Angel, Ghost of the
Robot... and of course there was a healthy dose of Shakespeare, including a monologue
from The Tempest. There's an excellent transcript posted by Talkenglish2me
There's also a shorter summary of most of the panels here.
|After the Q&A let out, I made a mad dash to the Marriott to get in the JM autograph line. I got in
near the front of the overflow line, which was outside. This pretty much summarizes my weekend: mad dash to get
in line, confusion about whether I'm in the right line and what the schedule is, hours of waiting, brief
and totally-worth-the-wait moments in the presence of celebrities, then another mad dash to get in the next line,
optionally getting lost in the process. Craig, the photographer, came down the line selling photo ops with James.
He said to me "Hey, I've met you before." I said "You have?" because I didn't recognize him right away. Then I
clued in, and told him I took a picture at Moonlight Rising, and he said "yeah, I was just looking at your picture
the other day." I told him it was a great picture. I had to turn down the photo op though, because I didn't
have $50 on me at the moment.
Autographs were $20 each. You give your bill and your picture to the handler, and James shakes your hand and looks
you in the eye, and says "Nice to meet you." I got James to sign my cast picture (the one with candid smiles,
and Joss in
the middle, that Amber and ASH signed at MR). He said "Joss!" and something like "You put Joss in the picture,
and everyone smiles." I said "Except Joss isn't smiling", and he replied "That's because he thinks he's not
good looking." The $20? It's really $15 for the handshake and the moment of attention, and $5 for the
signature. I was out of bills, so I just said hi to Danny Strong and
Iyari Limon, and reminded James Leary
that he owed me a DVD...
Now that the Friday rush was over, I had a chance to notice what else was going on...
there were a million people there (according to the dragoncon website,
only about 20,000 actually). The Buffy fans were only a mid-size, and mostly un-costumed, subset of the con goers.
The two hotels were huge, which might explain why I kept getting lost... Luckily, there was a guy at the Hyatt ballroom
level info booth who was more than willing to help...
|I pretty much had my Buffy blinders on, but definitely hit the
Dragoncon photo album to see what else was going on.
Since I was budget traveling, I stayed at a cheap cheap hotel near the airport. My commute was a 30 min MARTA ride to
the airport, and then a courtesy shuttle to the hotel, but all the money I saved helped me justify the purchase of
so many autographs :) |
I got up real early Saturday morning to get in the autograph line. There was a long line to get into the dealers' room,
and I felt sorry for all the non-Buffy fans who had to wait in line because of us. I had made a trip to the ATM (one of
many to come) to get a pile of $20s, and I bought a JM photo op from Craig (how can you resist?). I was having my
me&James photo from MR signed, and Craig made me hold it up to advertise his work :), although he did say he thought
they had come out a little too yellow. Anyways, since he was staring at a
picture of me and him, this time James said "Nice to see you again" - it was totally false, but polite, lol. He asked me
if those were Friar Tuck bricks in the background, and if I had recovered yet, and if I had gotten food poisoning.
This was a reference to the MR 2003 hotel, and the horrible food they had there. Danny
Strong signed my picture of the Troika that Adam signed at MR. He said "2 down, 1 to go," meaning that I still needed
Lenk's autograph. He asked me if I was going to Nashville (Vulkon con), because he thought Tom was going to be there. I had to say no...
I got an auto from Iyari Limon, and my Stunt C*cks DVD from Leary, which he signed as well.
Out of the autograph queue, and into the
Andy Hallett & James Leary panel
queue. I was right near the front of the line, because I got there really early and waited a long time.
At least here they let us sit on the floor. By the way, I met many really
great people waiting in line :). This panel, and also Danny & Iyari, were in a way-too-small room, so only about
200 people got in. They didn't let us go to both. Andy and Leary are both funny, but the two of them together is greater
than the sum - you know what I mean. Andy took
the red-eye flight from California, and still had green paint under his fingernails. This was a rowdy panel, addressing
such topics as slash fanfic, Lorne's glory hole (see clip #021), Angel and a bar of soap...
After the panel, Andy signed autographs. I was at the front of the line, but we still had to wait for an hour while
Andy ate lunch, or did whatever it is that celebrities do between talks and signings. I had a screen cap of Lorne with
some of the other Angel cast, and he asked me where I got the picture. Lorne's wearing a maroon suit, and he told me that
people on the set were making fun of him in that scene because he looked like a flight attendant. The
deal is, it's $20 regardless of whether you get an auto on your own picture, or buy a picture from them.
The handler walked away as I was getting my autograph, and I wasn't going to pay, but then she came
back at the last minute and demanded my $20. Andy asked me if I wanted to get a picture then, and I said sure, and
he signed that for me as well, despite the scowling assistant. He's a sweetie!
Walter Koenig was signing at a table right next to the Buffy auto line. I thought it was surprising that
he had no line, while there were hundreds of people waiting every day for the Buffy guests. I'm not a big Star Trek fan,
but it seems that he should be more popular than that. I got an auto and a picture. George Takai was also there, and did
talks, but I didn't see him signing.
Me and WK
I did ventured outside a couple of times, in between waiting.
When I went upstairs to case out the venue for Ghost of the Robot, I stumbled
upon a whole-band panel. People asked questions. James answered lots of them. The ages of the band members ranges from
less-than-20 to 41 (James).
People started lining up for the GotR
concert about 5 hours early. The security folks kept telling us to disband and go away, that they weren't letting
people line up yet... Some people were persuaded to go away. Others of us stuck around, loitering in small groups that
didn't look quite like a line. Fortunately for us (but not for those of you that left) someone eventually came and
told us that we could sit through the
Dawn (the comic-book character) look-alike contest, because they weren't going to clear the room. I sat through 90 minutes of this, in order to get
get a good spot for GotR. When it was done, I managed to get a 2nd row aisle seat. I gave it up for a front row spot that
some guy gave me, only to be kicked out for a wheelchair person's friend, and of course the 2nd row spot was gone.
I'm sure there's some kind of message in there about greed... Anyways, determined not to stand in row 100,
I surreptitiously added a chair to the aisle in the 2nd row, and no-one called me on it, so... The room, which holds about
1000 people or so, was almost full after the Dawn thing. I
found out later that there were people lined up around the building and down the block,
and that almost none of them got in.
After 40 minutes of rearranging chairs, walls, wheelchair folks, cops, and fire marshalls (if you were there, you know what I
mean), the guys came out on stage.
There was a large gap between the first row, and a select group of security people and
'people with the band' that got to stand right in front of the stage. They did one song, then James told people to come
fill in the gap. There was a heartfelt but futile 'nooo' from the security people, to which James replied "fuck them!", and
then obviously we all rushed the stage... great fun :). They did almost all of the songs from the album, and a few others,
including Goodbye, which is one of my favs. It was religious. Of course, I'm biased.
I missed the last MARTA, so I took a $40 taxi back to my hotel. Still cheaper than the con hotels.
Sunday morning was the James photo shoot. After the requisite waiting, I took my picture. Told him I had
fun at the concert. Nicely, the nervousness and awe-struck-ness that I had at MR was completely
absent all weekend. Here's the picture:
Upstairs, up more stairs, across to the Hyatt, downstairs, and into the GotR (minus James) signing line,
while a friend saved a spot for me in the JM Q&A line (thanks!). I got my CD signed. It wasn't much fun.
Maybe it was the $40 price tag. Luckily I already had a CD, or it would have been $60...
We were right in the front of the Q&A line, only to discover that when they let us in, the first 15
rows were already filled, because they didn't clear the room. We got pretty decent seats on the left side.
James was awesome, as usual. Transcript by Talkenglish2me at morethanspike.com
This panel was rowdier than the one on Friday. The microphone line (for asking questions) was in an
aisle, so people had to kneel down. A couple of people made jokes about blowjob knees when they got up to
the microphone, and once, James said something like "That's ok, make up a story. Just make me large." Later,
someone yelled out "Take off your shirt!" People always ask this, and James always says no. He said "Fuck no!
Who said that?" A girl a few rows behind me waved her arm. James said "Stand up, honey". He sounded pretty
pissed off, actually. The girl stood up, and put her arms out, and turned around... you could tell right
away that she was an exhibitionist. James said "Come on up here," and she went up on stage, and he said "Are you
wearing a bra? Take off your shirt. The audience was going crazy, all 1000+ of them, even before she took
her shirt off. James said "you're not done," and I'm not sure what he meant, but the girl took her bra off
too, and did the arms out twirl around thing, and then I had to stop taking pictures. She looked pretty young...
it was definitely a cringe-worthy moment. James seemed surprised that she actually did it, and told her that
he expected her to wuss out, and she didn't, and that she rocked. Then he hugged her. Topless. Yikes!! Other than that,
this was an excellent Q&A with a minimum of old Q's and A's.
|We went back down to the overflow auto queue. I wasn't planning on standing
in this line again (this was the fifth
time), but... JM signed my CD, took a second look and said "nice to see you again," and it sounded much different this
time, like he actually remembered me from earlier :). What? Shut up! I'm allowed to remember things interpretively.
I laughed, and said apologetically that I kept coming back (apologetically because I felt like I was adding to his
workload - you know they sign 500-1000 autos per day, usually. But then I thought of the 600 photo ops they sold for $50
each, and I didn't feel so bad.) I thanked him for my auto, and by that point I was feeling quite poor, and I said,
somewhat sarcastically, "I wish people would pay twenty bucks for my signature." He laughed, and as I was
walking away he said "In three years, I'll be saying the same thing." I denied it.
The only other person at the table was Andy, and he didn't have a lot of traffic, so we went and talked to him.
I asked him if he was going to sing, because there was supposed to be this karaoke thing. If you don't know,
Andy's a singer. He said he would love to, and asked where, and we talked about the room, and how it was too small.
There had been someone in line in front of us getting an autograph, and Andy was talking to us, and forgot who to make
it out to, and the guy had disappeared, literally, so he made it for my friend :)
Andy auto line
I opted out of waiting in line to see Chance, because I'd seen it
before. And I've got the DVD now, so I can watch it over and over. It's really really good, by the way. It's also nice to
see actors we know and love in different roles.
Instead, I went to a Stunt C*cks panel with
James Leary ("Bill"), Kirk Pynchon ("Earl"), and Tom Hodges. Leary and
Kirk co-wrote the script, along with Michael Meredith, and Tom directed it. This was a panel in the film-making
series, so most of the audience was interested in film-making, and not Buffy, which was good for a
change. After, I told Leary that it was nice to hear him talk outside of the context of Buffy, and he agreed.
Kirk and Tom also added their autographs to my DVD.
||From left to right: James, Kirk, Tom.|
I had a pass for karaoke, so I didn't have to wait in line. They decided to do the musical re-enactment first,
with Rocky Horror style audience participation. I left around midnight to catch the MARTA, but they did eventually
get to karaoke, even though the machine was broken. Rumor has it that Andy also showed up later, but didn't sing,
because the machine was broken.
Having learned my lesson from the day before, I got up way early and sat through a Babylon 5 panel
and a Tribe panel in order to get a good
seat for the group panel on Monday. Both were amusing, even though
I didn't know who the B5 guests were, and I had never heard of the Tribe before. Apparently, it's a
show from New Zealand, so the actors were from New Zealand, and had cool accents. They were aware that a large
fraction of the audience were Buffy fans holding seats. They were gracious, and answered a lot of general
questions about New Zealand.
Definitely far better than waiting in line. You get to sit down without
being told you're a fire hazare, and be amused. And I got a 2nd row seat for the Buffy panel :)
The Buffy cast panel was excellent. Great interaction between the guests, and a lot of teasing JM for being
so popular. JM reiterated his speech about how Spike can be nice to his girlfriends because Joss writes it that
way, but in real life, guys who are jerks to the world will be jerks to their women too. He said "Nice guys rule!"
And out of nowhere "And we're good at sex too!." Pointing at some random guy in the audience: "Right?", and
James Leary says "And you wonder why girls take their clothes off for you..." [referring to yesterday's incident].
James was talking about the piano in his hotel room, and Andy finally got him to admit that he had a suite, with
several rooms, and Leary said "and I can't even get two double beds!". He had complained about that in his Saturday
Q&A. Someone said they had a question for Danny, and he looked shocked and pleased, then said "The first time I met
James Marsters..." There's a partial transcript here.
I've determined that celebrities are like aliens. They live in a world so far removed from mine, that
it is mesmerizing to just stare at them, and watch them talk. I want to know what their lives are like, and
how they interact with each other. I look for similarities and differences, and when they do things that
resemble our own behavior, it's satisfying and sometimes scandalous, and maybe I've had too much beer?
And... back to my normal life, with only the upcoming Common Rotation concert in NYC to tide me over. Which was
great, by the way. Pictures here.