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Scenic roadtrip to PA:

I wondered about the hotel when they couldn't muster a third key for us... and again after I saw what "three blocks" really meant... (I guess I should have realized that when you're in the middle of nowhere, blocks don't really have the same meaning). But the hotel actually turned out to be fine. There were deer everywhere, and they weren't scared of people, which was kind of creepy.

We went Thursday night to scope out the lay of the land (literally!). Registration was closed, but we met Cass Teague from the Nashville Tribune, who was fun all weekend (hi!). The moon was out, rather appropriately. This picture was taken through the hotel room window. Go digicam!

Friday morning photos:

Friday morning I had my photo with Adam Busch, Danny Strong, and Tom Lenk. Danny said I had the best shirt so far. I'm starting to feel differently about my diagonal stripes :)

Incidentally, I have no idea what I'm looking at in this picture, but it sure as hell isn't the camera.

When we went to line up for Andy Hallett photos, we learned that he had cancelled his appearance at the last minute. We didn't find out until later that he was hospitalized with a serious illness. I got this email from Andy's mailing list:

Hi everyone, thanks for checking up on my new site! I wish I had better news for you at the moment, however I am having a bit of a rough time right now, medically speaking. As you know, it would take a lot for me to miss a scheduled event (ya know what a ham I am...) but Im unable to fly or travel at the moment. Last week I was hospitalized due to a minor viral infection that was complicated by exhaustion.

This minor problem turned not so minor quite quickly and was causing major problems with my lungs and breathing. I was in the I.C.U. At Cedars-Sinai Medical for the past 5 days under the care of wonderful doctors and nurses who I owe the world to. I am forever grateful for the care, concern, and unbelievable treatment given to me by all of them, but especially Dr. Sourpik Avakian. She was by my side every step of the way and gave me constant hope and lots of love. Thank you Dr. Avakian for everything...I owe ya one and I love you.

Doctor Avakian and I are both predicting and hoping for a speedy recovery, but I just have to rest, rest, rest, rest, rest, rest (as she says). I am very sorry if I disappointed anyone with my absence from this weekends event in the Poconos, believe me Id be there if I could. I promise to make it up to you somehow.

So thats it for now, Ill keep ya posted as time goes on. Thank you again to the wonderful staff at Cedars, to my awesome circle of friends who have helped me immensely through this, especially Dayne Johnson, Mark Lutz, Matt Williamson, Dr. Avakian, Janet, Dr. J., Charlie, Reiss, Pat Brady, and my Mom and Dad. I love you guys very much. Oh and sorry to that little nurse I had to cuss out while in the hospital....I was kinda cranky that day....oops.

Hope to see you all soon.


We were so sad not to see Andy - Gillian and I met him at Dragoncon last summer and he was really a standout guest. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Visit Andy's official website for information about sending get-well messages.

Friday Q&A's:

***Special thanks to Gillian, Jess, and Kate for helping me remember what people talked about!

Iyari had a lot of energy on stage, and had good answers to pretty much everything. She had a new haircut, which looked great on her. She said that her agent had always told her that she had to have long hair, but she believed she was too light to compete for typical latina roles anyways, so she went ahead and cut it (and then immediately got two commercials). She also said she auditioned for a regular role on the L word, and is waiting to hear about that. She reported that she'd been traveling, had lived on chocolate and cheese in France, and put on 15 lbs - but she's back to normal now and wouldn't take anything back.

She said her favorite things on Buffy were kicking ass, and kissing Willow. Of course there were questions about kissing Aly, and Iyari cheerfully reported that it was soft and tender... Someone asked if Aly was the first girl she had kissed - Iyari paused, and said "No. Next question?" She told us that 80% of Kennedy's stunts were her, and that she liked doing them. She told a story about getting a compliment from Lucy Liu's stunt double, which had inspired her to take martial arts. She also told us about an incident on the set, saying jokingly that she's a real-life hero - when shooting the Showtime scene where the potentials are standing up on scaffolding, Indigo fainted, and Iyari caught her. And it was all caught on the film... If she could play any other character on Buffy? It would be Drusilla. Favorite episodes? The Body and Once More with Feeling - she has yet to see Hush.

She said she tried college "a few times" and didn't like it. When asked what is the one thing she is dying to do, she replied "Be a mother." Someone asked if she had any hidden talents; she said "If I told you, they wouldn't be hidden... Yes I do. Next question?" What actors would she like to work with? She loves Nicole Kidman, but isn't sure she's ready to work with her.

James Leary said "Hello! Welcome to the Pocanos!" And under his breath: "Better than the Catskills...", referring to MR 2003. He said that he loves theater, loves improv, and works with the Furious Theater Company in LA. He auditioned for Queer as Folk - he didn't know for what role; he said the casting person didn't look up from her ibook the whole time, and he didn't know why they brought him in, frankly. If he could guest star on any show? The Shield. But if you want to see some Leary right now, check him out in this nutrigrain spot (or go to and search for 'I feel great'.

What were his best days on Buffy? He replied, predictably, "Every single one". He said he's happy just to have work. He also said that he really liked his last scene on the show, in the red VW, talking to Sarah. If Clem could have a love affair with someone on Buffy? Leary wants it to be Faith. He told us about standing next to Eliza Dushku on stage at a posting board party, and how Danny Strong told him to stop staring and drooling - he did a really funny example of staring and drooling. Someone asked if he would do photo ops in Clem makeup - he said yes, but that would probably be very expensive, particularly since the show isn't on anymore, and they probably sold the prosthetics on Ebay to pay for the wrap party, because [sarcastically] "Fox has no money..." Someone asked about working with Michelle Trachtenberg - he said that she had gotten a bad wrap because her role was written very whiny, but she was in fact very professionsl, and a "great little actress". She felt like a kid sister to him, so when he watched her in Eurotrip, he said it just "felt wrong - wrong in all the right ways."

Friday night cocktail party:

Well, for a hundred bucks they could have given us a drink ticket or two. Or at the very least had beer besides Miller Light and Yuengling that you could buy. But this was nevertheless a pretty cool event. Unlike Creation and Flashback, there was no wedding-style celebrity table-to-table. No babysitting here - we were on our own to be assertive and get in on the celebrity conversation. I like this format better, particularly after a run of cheerfully-paid-for Yuenglings. Everyone came, with the exception of JM, and participated with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Danny Strong was funny, and very classy about talking to everyone. He told me I was still the front-runner for the best shirt :) He seemed unwilling to take pictures with people, although there were definitely some. Stephanie had an assistant who managed a very organized meet-and-greet/photo-op. Stephanie was cool, as always. On all three occasions that I've had to meet Stephanie, I've gotten the impression that she knows exactly why she's there, and why we're there, and she doesn't pretend otherwise. She recognized me from Chicago, and I told her that really wasn't stalkery at all ;) She was going to put her drink down for the picture, but she saw that Gillian and I both had drinks, and she picked hers up again - laughs all around, and a toast. I told her I was looking forward to her Q&A, and that hers were always really good. She said something about how she tries to be real, and asked "but everyone's good, right?" I said "Yes, but yours are among the best". And I meant it :)

Gillian and I decided that getting pictures as a pair would yield better luck for us. We were on a mission! Leary was as always friendly and accomodating. I was determined to talk to Adam, since I'm a huge Common Rotation fan, and he holds a special place in my heart because of that. I told him that I loved the live albums, and he told me that they had a new one (Hotel Cafe 2). He said he thought it was the best one yet - saying that "it might not be the best evening you've ever spent with us," but that the songs were really tight. I told him I was really excited about the show the next night, and that they shouldn't be opening for James (it should be the other way around). He was quick to insist that it was just that acoustic sets always go first. He said that they played together once at the 14 Below, and James went first. Gillian and Jess and I took a picture (although Jess is looking at the wrong camera, lol), and I got a kiss on the cheek. :) Good reward for being a traveling CR fan, I think :) We talked to Eric too - who I love seeing, for the same reason as Adam. Although it's usually easier to talk to Adam after CR shows, so I haven't talked much to Eric. We talked about the living room shows, and other CR-related stuff. I asked him to do Princess of Venice (which he didn't do, incidentally, but which I finally got in Woodstock the following weekend :). We didn't manage to talk to Tom Lenk or Iyari.

On a personal note (and this goes for the whole weekend), I want to say how nice it was to talk to people I had met at previous cons, and to meet some new folks!

Friday night comedy:

The Friday night improv was packed, probably due in part to the attendance of James Leary. There was some improv. It was really funny (probably due in part to the average stage of inebriation. My pictures were crap, so I took some clips. They are best appreciated for the audio...

Meanwhile, on another planet, Julie Caitlin Brown was singing. We schlepped over there to see Stunt C*cks, which I have now seen way too many times. (It was funny the first three times, honest.) While we were waiting for Leary to show up, Julie entertained us for about, oh, an hour, with some standup. She was actually kind of funny and endearing. We did eventually watch the film, and despite some pilot error in operating the DVD player, watched some special features as well. Leary also answered questions. We learned what type of hand lotion was used...

And then we visited the bar, where I was informed in no uncertain terms that they didn't have any ales. They had some lagers though... Some famous folks, including Stephanie, Danny, and Eric, could be spotted in the bar. I talked to Jordan Katz, of Common Rotation fame, who was carrying a frying pan...

Saturday morning Q&A's:

I caught only the tail-end of the charity auction (Leary's, to be precise... sorry...), which went for less money than Tony Head's had the previous year, I believe. Some people had JM photos on Saturday morning, and reported that he was unusually, ummm, friendly. This would become increasingly evident in the hours to come...

The Angel Panel was a Stephanie Romanov Panel, due to Andy's absence. It started late, and Stephanie told us that she had been in the bar, thinking to herself that maybe she was supposed to be somewhere right now; she had a drink which she told us jokingly was just tomato juice. As usual, she was funny and forthcoming. She told us that she moved to New York when she was 15, and started working as a model. That she got to do a lot of traveling, and it was really fun for a while. But that she eventually wanted to do something more challenging. Models Inc was her first acting job, which she did before having any training. She told us that she had dated a guy who's favorite show was Angel; he was telling her all about it, how she had to watch it, then a week later, she got a call to audition. She also said that she once dated Michael Dorn - it wasn't clear if this was the same guy or not. And of course, when asked about the scene with Wesley where Lila dresses up like Fred, she volunteered a Fred impersonation...

The Buffy panel followed, consisting of Adam Busch, James Leary, Tom Lenk, Iyari Limon, and Danny Strong. What I remember from this panel is all mixed up with what I remember from the Sunday panel, so I'm just going to put it all down here in an integrated fashion. Or, less euphamistically, barf on the page... (sorry). The guys were all funny. Adam was unusually quiet, particularly on the Saturday panel, but was funny and reasonably forthcoming when called upon. This was the first time I've heard Tom Lenk talk, and I was surprised that he sounded almost exactly like Andrew. Iyari was less funny, but endearing nonetheless.

Naturally, there was lots of comedy and little actual question-answering. Danny and Tom kept mentioning things they did together, and at one point, Danny volunteered the clarification that they are actually not a couple. There was much friendly needling of the others by Lenk regarding the fact that he had been on Angel, and they hadn't. There was a press person alternately crawling and walking across the area in front of the stage, and he was the butt of numerous jokes/threats from the panel.

Someone asked is there was anything they would have liked to do on Buffy, that they didn't get to do. Leary said immediately "Make out with Faith". Danny then said that the thing he would have liked to do is watch Clem make out with Faith... and Lenk said he would just like to have a video of the whole thing. It was revealed that Lenk was a good artist, and that in school he was in the marching band. Danny said that he had tried out for Xander, and (obviously) didn't get it. Someone asked if they knew they were going to come back and work together in season 6. They said no (of course, nobody ever knows they're coming back - I wish people would stop asking that question!) Adam said (and you can never quite tell if he's being serious or not) that he found out he was going to work with Danny from a random person at the supermarket checkout line. He said "Who's Danny Strong?" Then, clearly joking: "Oh, Danny Strong! From Pleasantville!". (That was particularly funny because we randomly caught Danny's bit-part in Pleasantville on TV the night before.

Someone asked Adam if he would go with music or acting, if pressed to choose. He said that he doesn't want to chose, and doesn't think that he will ever have to. He said that he likes both, although they have more control over the band, since it's their baby - as opposed to TV, where an actor has no control - and that there was perhaps a slight preference for things over which he has more control. He said that they're touring this summer with They Might be Giants. See for tour dates!

When asked about reality television, the consensus opinion was negative, and the panel agreed that there were now far fewer acting jobs available. A similar opinion was voiced by JM in his panel the following day. Other points relating to current affairs: DS finished the National AIDS Marathon in 6+ hours (near the bottom of his age group), but raised $7000 for the cause. And someone asked about politics - Adam said that he is not so much pro-Kerry, as anti-Bush. Everyone reiterated the need to vote, and someone pointed out that there were more people in the room than the number of votes that decided the 2000 election in Florida.


We got autos on Saturday from everyone except JM. The auto line went smoothly, with Julie directing traffic. She told us that there was no time for personalizations; however, we were welcome to get as many extra autos from each person as we wanted, for $20 each. Make of that what you will...

Tom Lenk signed my trio picture, which had been signed last summer by Adam at MR, and by Danny at Dragoncon. Danny signed a Superstar picture, and Adam signed a picture of me and him from the House of Blues in Boston. He asked me where the picture was from, and I told him, and he asked me who they played with, and I blanked on the name, but I was like "that guy... from that band..." He knew who I was talking about, and laughed (it's Danny Wood, if you were wondering). I bought the new live album (Live at the Hotel Cafe 2). Adam was right - it's excellent. Iyari was nice, as usual. Stephanie signed my photo-op with her and Christian Kane from Flashback Weekend. She said "This came out nice. You look good, Chris looks good - I look scared." We laughed, and she showed the picture to her sister. Christian Kane also signed this picture later, in Tampa. James Leary was selling pictures of Clem in the red VW bug - I had to get one :)

Saturday night concerts:

Live CR is breathtaking every single time, and this was really the highlight of the weekend for me. There was a lot of room in front, and people (including me) naturally moved up to stand in front of the stage. There were some technical sound problems, but otherwise it was an excellent excellent set. No Princess of Venice, but a killer un-mic'ed Pawn at the end. The kind where you sing along for the chorus and hold you breath for the verse. I really can't rave enough about Common Rotation. And I swear Jordan sounds better every time I see him. Click the thumbnails for pictures (opens in a new window).

And then there's Ghost of the Robot. Which is fun for very different reasons. Particularly fun for a few women in the front row, I imagine, who have the unique privilege (or maybe not so unique?) of having french kissed the man himself. James was self-admittedly drunk and self-admittedly messing up songs, but he knows how to work a crowd. And that's all I'm going to say by way of review. And of course, it's even more interesting now because it was probably the last ever performance of GotR as we knew it. Really makes you wonder all kinds of things, and re-evaluate statements... Did they see it coming already, during MR weekend? Did James know? Anyways, this message was posted on a week after MR. It's since been removed.
After two great years of music making and touring I have decided to dissolve the band Ghost of the Robot. This was not an easy decision to make but one that was thought out thoroughly with consideration to you, the amazing fans and my amazing band mates. There are no bad feelings or creative differences that lead to this decision. I have always given 100% of myself to my craft and I felt that the band and the fans would suffer now that I will be devoting all my time to new film and television projects since Buffy and Angel are no longer in production. Please know how much I have appreciated everyones support of me and of the band. I hope that you will continue to support me in my future film and television projects. This decision will not affect me participating in or attending any conventions. I love the feedback I get from my fans and look forward the next time I see you.

All my best,
James Marsters
I mostly refrain from critiquing convention management, because I'm easy-going and I usually have a good time. But I'm going to do it now. By the end of CR, and before GotR, the crowd in front had settled into a reasonable equilibrium. It was pretty lame, but not completely unexpected, when convention organizers told us to sit back down. It was bad when not only staff, volunteers, and friends, but also random assertive people, including us, got back up again, and there was absolutely zero enforcement. It was even worse that this happened not once, but twice. And it was unforgivable that when it became clear that the organizers were making empty threats, Leary was brought on stage to attempt this dirty work. They eventually gave up, after succeeding only in shuffling the crowd, angering everyone, and pitting a celebrity guest against his fans. Oh, and also inserting themselves into the front row. Call it what you like, but I'm telling it like it was, and that was no security wall. It was a serious failure to implement enforcible and credible crowd control measures. This is my only substantial complaint with the con though - otherwise, they did a pretty commendable job.

Anyways, once they finally came on it was fun, and I was close enough to get some pretty decent pictures of James. Click the thumbnails for pictures (opens in a new window).

After the show: Kate, Jess, and Gillian at the bar.
Sunday morning - JM Photo!!:

I converted my Andy photo ticket to a JM photo ticket. What was I thinking not buying a JM photo ticket, anyway? I guess I thought that I had enough JM photos. I now realize that you can't ever have enough JM photos (as most of you probably already know). The photo-op room was full of chairs, and they filled up the chairs with the photo queue, so you could watch everyone in front of you take their pictures. Which was kind of strange and voyeuristic. James was unusually accomodating, giving hugs, accepting (and concealing) slips of paper, letting girls sit on his lap, and even doing a Spike biting pose when asked. I know this has been said over and over, but he really is great with fans. I watched him take probably 200 photos - his enthusiasm never wavered, and he gave every single person a moment of undivided attention.

When I went up, he said "Hey! I met you last year, right?" Obviously, I could have died. I just said "yeah". Although that would probably be true of 80% of the people in line, so it's also a reasonable guess. I told him "You seemed to have an awful lot of fun last night" - I was really talking about the making out with fans during the show thing, but he didn't take the bait, and just said "Yeah, I did." He put his arm around me, and we took a picture. James, joking, tried to tell the photographer that it didn't come out, and that he needed to take another one...

Gillian: "My photo session with James was the day before Melinas. Lucky for me, I too got to sit at the front and watch James interact with people for half an hour before my pic. Not only did I see how James was with everyone, but some of the people get so excited and nervous they could barely speak! One woman I thought for sure was going to faint she managed to stammer that it was her birthday and the best present she could have would be for James to say her name, which he did very meaningfully she was close to tears! I was pretty cool cause it was my second con and photo with him but still I got a few butterflies in my stomach when it was my turn. He said it was nice to see me again which surprised me that he remembered, and I asked for and got a really nice hug. I had wanted to say that I liked the natural brown hair but since a few others had already said that I opted for youre looking really good James. Giving me the once over, he replied so are you. What a highlight of the event for me!"

Me and JM! Gillian and JM!
Sunday Q&As:

Sunday afternoon there was a Stephanie Q&A, followed by an Adam/Danny/Lenk panel, followed by James. The lighting was bad, so I didn't take any pictures of Stephanie today. Sorry. Also, I smushed the Stephanie and trio panel stuff in with the panel stuff from the day before (hey, I already apologized for that). Here's some pics.

James was, as always, assertive and well-spoken. And he continued to be forthcoming with his saliva... During the concert the previous night, he had given someone a pre-sucked lollipop by putting it in her mouth. Today, someone gave him a whole bag of lollipops, which he proceeded to throw into the audience. Someone in the audience went up and asked for a lollipop, and he opened it for her, sucked it, and in ernest porn fashion, put it in her mouth. Inspired, girls of all ages got in the question line with their lollipops. The questions were like this: "Hi, first, I just wanted to say how much I love your work - you've changed my life. And my question is - will you suck my lollipop?" This had somehow seemed more appropriate last night. Now, in the light of day, it was a little out of hand...

There were other questions as well. Someone asked if he was going on the Vulkon slayer cruise, and he answered that no, he was going to be busy. Then he let drop this bit of choice news: someone gave him 50 million dollars to produce Macbeth. I'm not kidding you, that's what he said. He said that he had found out three days prior. Someone asked for a monologue, and he did one from The Tempest. I think it's the same one he did at Dragoncon last year - I've got a clip (it's the last one). When asked about his son, he said that he's eight years old, and beautiful. Someone told him that he was beautiful on the inside as well as the outside, and he said "thank you, because all this [gesturing at himself] is just bullshit."

He said that Marlon Brando was the best role model for film acting. Someone asked if he would dye his hair again, and he said immediately "No." Then he said "Well, once, to make a Spike TV movie" [!!!!]. Someone asked about Dark Shadows (the WB vampire remake that was passed on). He expressed some resentment, but then said that he had friends involved in the show, and that he wished them well, etc. The audience was making noise, which he thought was Dark Shadows booing, and he kept trying to defend them. We were actually trying to tell him that the pilot had been passed on, which he didn't know. He seemed really surprised, and said that it was a symptom of reality TV.

He made some pretty graphic statements about Iraq, and Bush (got it in a clip - second to last one). I'm pretty sure someone walked out after that. Someone else told him he should be a politician, and he said, quite seriously: "Yeah, I'm thinking about it."

Now on to the music questions... Someone asked about choosing acting vs. music. He said that he wasn't sure he would have time for the band. Someone said "you do both" and he replied "kinda". When asked if he played any other instruments, he said no, that he could only "barely" play the guitar. Someone asked if he got nervous, and he said that in theater, no, because he "owns the stage". But with music, he said he always felt "second best"; that he's been playing for two years, and it still never feels right. Pretty telling comments, I think.

Finally, someone asked one of Dean Lipton's questions (what would you like to hear at the pearly gates) and his answer was "I know you fucked up, but you tried." I would have taken more pictures, but they took the lights down, and it was really fruitless.

NEW!   Transcript! (By talkenglish2me at More Than

Sunday we got our JM autos. He signed my Angel cast picture, which David Boreanaz signed at Flashback Weekend. J August Richards also signed it later, at Vulkon in Tampa.
VIP thing:

Sooo... since it was late Sunday night, we had pretty low expectation for celebrity participation at this event. And we weren't wrong. Leary was the first to make an appearance. Adam and Eric appeared briefly, and we talked to them both briefly. Iyari, Kevin McPherson, and Charlie DeMars showed up later on. I asked Kevin if they were pissed at James (since during the show, James kept saying that his bandmates would be pissed at him for getting drunk and messing up songs...). He said "No, I was as drunk as he was," and then "but I hit every note." He also told me I had cool hair :). Left alone to talk to Charlie while my friend got him a drink, and emboldened by beer, I said "so tell me the truth, are you guys just using James for his celebrity?" He said (and this may not be exactly varbatim): "He's a great guy. I might not agree with some of his views, or maybe all of his views, but he's a great guy, and for the amount of attention he gets us, I couldn't ask for a better person. He might have some weaknesses as a musician, but -" and at this point, Charlie was saved by Iyari. I'm not certain, obviously, but I think that was a yes. Charlie and Kevin were spotted later on, singing karaoke, in the bar... (see pictures). They seem nice - they're both so young.

Ok! that's it! As usual, let me know if I've gotten anything wrong.
Cheers and thanks for reading,
Melina :)

Text and photos © Melina at
Take and share, but give me a credit please.

Motorcity 2005  |  Vulkon Tampa 2004  |  Flashback 2004  |  Creation NY Buffy Salute 2004
DragonCon 2003  |  Moonlight Rising 2003