Sunday, April 13, 2008

EyeCon - Day 3 Part II

SUNDAY April 6th 2008
(continued ...)

Left by my wee lonesome at the end of the con, I was definitely not ready to go back to the silence of an empty room. Amidst the general exodus of the hotel, I knew people would be staying an extra day or two, so I set about trying to find someone - anyone! *whimper* I missed my chance to catch up with Carol/ficwriter1966 for supper, alas, but I ran into LovesJeter and Samjacklover in the lobby, and followed them out to the mall food court. Rachel had told me there'd be some sort of after-party up in the game room, but I honestly didn't expect anything bigger than the not-quite-pajama-party.

So, I got some Asian take-out and sat a bit with Jeter and Sammy in the hotel lobby, but quickly found myself too restless to remain sitting. Leaving the smarter folks to take their ease, I resumed wandering in search of familiar faces.

And found myself in the game room. Sure enough, the door was open and one of those little portable bars stood inside, but nothing much seemed to be actually happening. But I saw a handful of folks I knew and decided to just sit and take a load off, and chit-chatted with some fellow SPN fans.

Frankly, I'm not even sure how it developed, but at some point, an After Party miraculously happened. The mini-bar went away, but booze seemed to keep appearing, though I remained sober with only one glass of wine. This highly informal get-together somehow organically evolved to include Chad Lindberg, Jim Beaver, and Steve Carlson just hanging out with us fans, and Samantha Farris moseying in and out waving a glass in one hand.

And you know? It became some kind of magic. Where else is a girl soldier going to play drums with Steve Carlson at a game of "Rock Star", (and omg, that girl could *play!!*) and even Jim Beaver steps up to sing a little Rolling Stones? Where else is Chad Lindberg going to duel fans at Guitar Hero, while Gabe Tigerman charms the socks off everyone around him? Where else could folks snap informal (and occasionally silly) candids of all the guest stars, as casually as shooting for the family vacation album, and chat with them as if it was a backyard barbeque?

And where else am I going to sit with "Bobby Singer" and friends, and shoot the bull about everything and nothing at all? Nowhere else that I've ever seen, and I'm glad I stayed up too late to enjoy it.

Other folks, the younger set, have posted the real juicy reports as to what all Chad and Gabe were up to at this party. Me being older - (and seriously, how much flirting could I do with a couple twenty-something guys, before I creeped them completely out?) - I just hung back, took it all in, and enjoyed the amazingness of it all. This I think is where I fell a little bit in love with Jim, who seemed still amazed at how much fans love Bobby Singer, and love Jim for giving us such a terrific character. When we tried to explain, he just turned the compliments right around, saying that we were the awesome people and he was having fun simply hanging out with us.

Seriously, the camaraderie of the actors and us fans clinched this whole weekend for me. Kenny, honey, I can honestly tell you that Creation has never hosted a convention like *that*. This sort of thing simply does not happen. But here at EyeCon ... it did.

And yes, I've gone on for pages and pages about the celebrities and the events, but I can't say enough about how wonderful it was to connect with so many other SPN fans. I honestly don't know anyone in the entire state of Nevada who is a Supernatural fan, which made it *such* a treat to be surrounded by and immersed in hundreds of fellow fans. People I'd met online via LiveJournal and The CW Lounge forums turned out to be so much fun, and I met other folks who were entirely new, and just as cool to talk to.

It's been noted before how the cast and crew of Supernatural work as an extended family, and Jared generously extended that umbrella to include all of us fans. Well, having met a sizable chunk of the SPN cast here, I can see where that family feeling comes from. These are just plain good people, who appreciate their fans and see us as people, and who don't mind hangin' out with us an indulging our silliness: nay, sometimes they help our silliness along!

This weekend? Creation could not touch it. Creation is not in the magic business. Kenny and Voni are. If EyeCon becomes a regular event, I don't know how long it can hang onto this family thing. But I'm so very glad I was here when the door first opened, and magic overrode the mundane with manic, merry glee. EyeCon II in September? If it's at all in my power, this cowboy hobbit is going back. :-)

The hour marked past 1 am when I bid a fond adieu to this Supernatural fest, pausing in the hall to request Jim Beaver's permission to hug him (he gives very nice hugs), get hugged by Kenny and Voni, (now how many con organizers hug their guests, huh?) and say a few farewells. Then I walked with 'Bobby Singer' to the elevator, a moment surreal and ordinary at once. Lol, and evidently half the crowd decided to call it a night at once, as Jim found himself holding the door with eyebrows crawling steadily higher, as a good dozen or so people crammed inside. Then we punched pretty much every button on the panel and the elevator began its ascent, delivering us all to the sanctuary of our cozy beds.

The morning would come way too early for me - I discovered my hotel room had a doorbell, lol, when Hanako rang me to make sure I was awake to catch our airport taxi. But even as I sank into my window seat on the plane for the first leg towards home and exhaustion settled into, my mind remained behind in sunny Florida. I had a wonderful time with everyone there and tried to see it all, and I hope my perennial gadding about did not leave anyone feeling slighted or overlooked. All I needed were a few more hours in the day, lol!

To my fellow fans, to my Awesomely Awesome Roomies, to Kenny and Voni and last but not least, the cast of Supernatural - God bless you all, wherever life takes you. May our paths bring us together once again. Happy trails!

~ Erin / Gloria

EyeCon - Sunday Day 3 Part 1

Ahh, here's the day we've all be waiting for, the appearance of The Padalecki himself!

The change of energy in the place was palpable as fans lined up for Jared's morning Q&A. A whole lot of people must have showed up with day tickets as well, because the place freakin' filled *up!* LOL, so much so that when Diz, (the MC and Kenny's all-around Guy-Friday), came onto the stage and gazed across the sea of faces, he said that Jared could start a cult right now! LOL!

And so it seemed. Diz whipped us all to a perfect anxiety of anticipation, and when the door opened, we SCREAMED. Yup, me too. I admit it. But that was JARED walking in, JARED not fifty feet away, all long legs and long arms and the Awesome Black Shirt of Yum, and smile? Oh yeah. The Smile and Those Dimples and we almost screamed the house down.

Jared took it with absolute ease. When he accepted the mic from Diz's grasp (Diz knelt to offer it like Excalibur, lol), Jared looked out at us all sparkly and bright, and chirped, "Hi, guys!" He *owned* us from the first word. And now before I bore you, I want to say this:

Jared Padalecki in person ... You've read interviewers who speak of the boys' charisma, right? Jared is charisma personified. He is nuclear fusion on two (very long) legs. He is boyish charm and boundless energy and a thousand facial expressions. He is the guy next door and every grandmother's Good Boy, and a jaw and cheekbones that most male models would die for. He teases, he plays, he appeals to kids, he jokes, he laughs - he *shines*. And you get the very distinct feeling that Jared Padalecki is having an absolute hoot with us all.

To begin, he thanked us for coming out, and apologized that things got "kind of crazy". "How've you all been?" he asked, like we were neighbors he hasn't seen in a week or two. Then he asked where everybody was from, which got him such a chorus of shouts that he laughingly confessed, "I didn't hear one thing."

So, we settled down a bit and called out our homeports by turns: all over the US, the UK, Austria. I shouted, "Reno!" to which he exclaimed, "Reno! Nice!" Then he drawled, "It's just a shorter trip to Vegas. I would be like, Vegas, Jared" - making balancing motions with his hands - "Jared, Vegas - I'm goin' to Vegas!" (And he half got off his chair as if to leave, lol.) I assured him, "Honey, Vegas sucks." Grinning, he responded, "Yeah, that's true. You always walk away poorer and fatter. At least I do!" Which made me laugh, because Jared fat? Riiiiiiiight. But hey! I got to talk to our boy, and he played nice with my dorkiness. *beams*

Upon noticing all the cameras in the audience, he joked about moving really slow, like The Matrix, and to demonstrate, he got out of his chair and sort of contorted himself around, balancing briefly on one leg - and really just looked like a ginormous, long-armed stork-dork, ROTFL! But he said if we all took and printed one picture, we could make like a flipbook.

Yeah. That's our Jared, the big goof. That's how he was. He talked like we were all just several hundred of his good pals, sitting around his living room over beer. The man knew how to play a crowd, and looked supremely at ease. No matter how crazed his schedule must be, how long his flight and how little time off he's had with cons and work, he just *gives*: gives himself and his energy and his whole attention ... to us. We may have had less than a full day with Jared Padalecki, but he tried his best to make it worthwhile. Yeah, I'm smitten by our boy, big-time.

Anyhow, pleasantries done, he finally decided he was feeling "kind of useless" up there and urged us to start asking questions. I'm working from a real slap-dash collection of notes, so please pardon if this gets disjointed and random.


Gordon Walker - He really liked Sterling Brown and the character of Gordon, and, "I didn't want him to die, but the way I killed him was really cool!" LOL!

Asked what if he had a day where he could do anything without consequences: he said he would eat. A lot. Including steak. *g*

The hardest day to shoot - Mystery Spot, where Dean dies a lot. It was hard to get in the mindset of "watching your brother and best friend die." Yup, hearing him say that pretty much reduced me to warm applesauce.

Everybody's heard the "What do you and Jensen call each other?" question - He calls Jensen ugly, since everyone else calls him pretty, lol. No, really, he calls him Ackles or Shmackles or Shmack. Jensen in turn calls him lord, idol, hero, some variation - LOL! But no, Jensen calls him Stretch a lot.

Can you recite the exorcism? - ! He needed someone to prompt him, but after just two words, he was off and running, rattled the whole thing off without hesitation, and he made victory arms amidst the cascade of cheers, lol! - Then he claimed he had no idea what he just said, and hoped he hadn't cursed anyone. "Except you -" pointing in to the audience - "You came in late! No, seriously, just kidding".

He also spoke of playing Sam in Mystery Spot, that he and Kim Manners went over how Sam would be with Dean dead. They settled upon the idea that Sam would just be robotic, closed off so that he could no longer be hurt, the anger and grief locked away inside. *wibble-sigh* Pretty much as the fans read it.

Fandom has also heard the little boy's cute question, "I know monsters aren't real, but if they were, would you fight them?" LOL, Jared immediately said "I'd run so fast!" But corrected himself to add, "Unless someone was picking on you, then I'd get 'em."

AWWWWWWWWWWW! He's so cute with kids - he'll be an awesome daddy. :-)

Favorite episode - Skin, where he got to fight Dean, or at least the facsimile of Dean. He also enjoyed BUABS, loved the conflict between the brothers again. Not that he likes fighting Jensen, he hastened to note, just that he enjoys exploring conflict between the brothers.

What will he miss most when the show is finally over? He said he got a taste of that during the writers' strike, not knowing if they'd be coming back. He would miss, he said, the camaraderie that Supernatural breeds, and included both fans and cast and crew. That was a theme expressed more than once over the weekend: the extended circle of feeling SPN has grown to encompass.

Quicker fingers than mine have already noted other fan-favorite moments: Given his dream movie remake, Jared loves Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia" and thinks doing that would be great, with Johnny Depp as his co-star. (Jared as Lawrence, Depp as Omar Sharif's character - hmm!) Two girls gifted him with *gorgeous* painted portraits of his dogs, which clearly touched him. A grandmother who was there with her family brought him a Disney monopoly game, which was very sweet and he gave her a hug. He was very cute when he retired to his chair with the game and a couple other items, and drawled, "Y'all just talk a bit, I'm gonna look at my stuff." LOL! His Friday the 13th movie is more a re-telling than a strict remake, a "midquel" rather than sequel or prequel.

Per SPN:
"The Kids Are All Right" was scary to him, the "suckling kids" with those weird mouths and stuff, and because it was a Dean episode, so he didn't have to be as self-critical and could watch as an audience member. The easiest aspect of Sam for him to tap into was Sam's analytical mind; the hardest his willingness to sacrifice himself to hunt ghosts and stuff. Favorite recurring characters were demons like Meg and Ruby, the latter because she revealed a lot about Sam.

And yes, we did get the dreaded Wincest Fan Fic Question, to a not-so-muffled chorus of groans from the crowd. I give Jared big props for sidestepping it so adroitly, instead turning his answer into a highly diplomatic appraisal of fandom as a community. He simply noted that fan fiction and RPGs are a part of our participation in the Supernatural community, so he's supportive of our involvement *as* fans. Jared turned an awkward uncomfortable question into something rather heartwarming, bless him.

(FWIW, the gal who asked the question later told me she'd asked hoping that Jared would come out with an indictment against Wincest, as Jensen is supposedly on record as disliking it. But she acknowledged that Jared's answer was too diplomatic and her goal went unmet.)

(SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING!) ---- Is Sam going to go Anti-Christ? Jared would like to, and asked rhetorically, "What can Sam do?" He'd like to know, and thinks Sam's powers just went dormant and are hidden "in his belly", and they're only gone because Sam thinks they are.

~~ END OF the Q&A details.

~~ Now, my contribution to the Q&A was a sort of personal one. I had no question for him, could not think of a thing that hadn't been asked at a dozen other cons. So, I decided to tell him about John Winchester's truck, affectionately dubbed "Truckzilla". As some fans know, "Zilla" was bought by a friend of mine, a devoted SPN fan in Texas. (The most gracious and wonderful person, evar!) She and her hubby flew up to Vancouver a couple weeks ago, picked up Zilla from the props guys, did the paperwork - and drove Zilla 2300 miles home. A road trip in true Winchester style, lol!

One can imagine that selling John's truck might be a tender spot with Jared and Jensen, the closing of a door against Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Thus, I wanted to set Jared's mind at ease. Upon my mention of the truck's sale, Jared admitted he was sad to hear about it. I explained to him that Zilla was still in the Supernatural family, in good hands and that the truck will be loved. His first question was, "Are they going to restore it?" To which I could answer an absolute "YES". When I had done, he responded firmly, "Tell her to take care of him". And she will, with devotion and appreciation for all the fans who love Papa John and the grand Old Man he drove. I hope Jared will come to believe it's true.

So. That's all I got on that!

Later, lol, I pretty much lost my brain in the chaos of the day. The Jared photo op was next, and I got in line with my roomies, Kimbo and Ann/Hearseeno. The line looped down the hall and back again, but it moved at a decent pace. While in line, Ann pursued her canvass of SPN fans to get their signatures on her Pig Hat for Jim Beaver. As we drew near our turn, my heart melted yet again when I watched Jared get down and kneel for his picture with two little kids.

By the time we got up there, we'd changed plans for our pose at least three or four times, until Kimbo hit on one that trumped them all: the Pouty Pose. Yup, Ann and I would pose with Jared in that wonderfully cuddly Padalecki style, while Kimbo stood to one side with arms crossed and an *enormous* pout weighting down her lower lip. LOL! Jared laughed out loud when we told him and said this was a "first" for him. He'd never done a pouty pose before! *G* So we did, and the result was absolutely priceless.

.... Annnnnnnnd I totally forgot I had an extra ticket for my single-person photo op, and had to go all the way through the line *again*. *face-palm* Thankfully, the last of the line went swiftly and I got back up in no time. Jared grinned when he saw me and made some remark about, "What, no pouter?" In vast embarrassment, I confessed I'd forgotten my single ticket: I was brain dead and clearly needed more than 4 hours sleep.

He chuckled as he agreed, "Don't we all?" So, we took our marks and I bethought myself of posing properly - but Jared just wrapped one long arm around me and *squished* me against his side. Guys, this man had already been through a bazillion photos, I'm like the 5th from the last in line ... and he's just as sparkly and shiny and cheery as when he began. I've no clue how he does it. He snuggles like you're his best friend and he just wants to make you smile - and yeah. It works. I grinned like a fool. I was happy to the soles of my feet, and I thanked him and got a parting Padalecki smile when I left.

DETAILS: For the fan girls who wonder, I must say that Jared is very nice to be squished by. ;-) He's warm and firm, long and lean, (Sam Winchester is actually made to seem heavier) with a very slender waist, but also nice linear muscles under the snuggly-soft Black Shirt of Yum. He's trim but NOT rock-star-skinny, by any shot. And oh, those broad shoulders are just right for tucking into for photo ops, plus he smelled clean.

Oddly, "Big" or "Tall" were *not* the impressions that hit me first, upon meeting Jared up close. Yes, he's quite tall: in our Hunter group pose, he's standing, and my head barely reaches his shoulder. But what I noticed first and foremost was that FACE: a smile that radiates and lights from within and those eyes that simply sparkle. Like, truly sparkle, filled with joy and this perennial look of, "Awesome, what are we gonna do next?" He left me with the feeling that I really wished I could give something back, to repay for the simple gladness of meeting him.

So yeah. Definitely worth every penny of a photo op ticket. :-)

After that, it was time to scamper to the Fan Fiction discussion panel of which I was a part. My recollection of it is pretty fuzzy, other than we really had a great time and it was not a bit scary, despite my having done no preparation at all. The panel was *just* getting good and juicy ... when Diz came in and announced they were lining up for the Jared and Jim autographs. LOL, the discussion promptly blew up like a covey of quail - and it dawned on me, to my utter horror, that I'd MISSED the Samantha Farris photo op!!!

I swear my heart just dropped like a stone, because I'd forgotten that she'd already done photo ops yesterday, so the line for her today would be just a fraction of previously. I flew down the hall to find that the line was for Sandy McCoy. Dizzy offered to do a substitution, but darling as Sandy is ... I'd bought a Sam ticket and I really (insert whiny voice here) wanted Sam. My brain was frying as I teetered on the brink of panic, internally *cursing* myself for my stupidity. I guess I must have looked pretty damn pathetic, lol, as Diz said, "Hold on a minute, lemme see what I can do."

And off he dashed, leaving me to stand there with the dimmest flicker of hope, combined with a very real sense of chagrin. Moments later, back he came - with Samantha Farris herself striding at his heels. OMG! I could have died on the spot, but they whisked me right into the photographer's room and I honestly don't remember a whole lot after that. I know I apologized profusely to Sam, but she blew it off, saying, "Hey, I was just across the hall." I think they were about done with Sandy, as I don't recall even seeing her there.

Anyhow, I tossed down my purse and stuff, found my mark, (still apologizing), and Sam good naturedly slung her arm around me and gave me a squeeze. Snap went the camera, I thanked Sam again, she gave me a grin, and off she went back to autographs. Thus ended the most mortifying moment of my whole weekend and I made my escape in a haze of embarrassed relief.

As the adrenaline dump from *that* fiasco faded, it dawned on me that I had nothing for Jared's autograph session. I'd been having everyone else sign my book, "The SPN Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls", but I wanted something special for Jared's autograph. Unfortunately, I had done no more planning for that than I had anything else, and panic raised its head again. People were already queuing up and I had nothing for him to sign. However, with the line getting looooong, I realized I could just chill out, go buy a photo in the vendors' room, and fit myself into line wherever.

I will say that this final autograph session is where things ... sort of lost that intimate, cozy EyeCon feeling that carried us so far. It's unfortunate that Jared's upset schedule turned what was planned to be a two-day round of events into a sort of "Big-star-jets-in-then-jets-back-out-again" appearance. That struck a jarring note compared to the rest of the weekend, yet it could not be helped. Furthermore, the way he threw himself into giving all he could to us, despite cramped time constraints, says a helluva lot for Jared Padalecki, and makes me mourn what we could have had even more. At least he came to share what time he could!!! :-)

Meanwhile, back in the main auditorium, my B section had gone through the autograph line well before me, so I went back and sat with Kimbo and Ann in the E's. The line seemed to be progressing at a reasonable pace, and we got into line when our row was called. Even as we waited, Ann continued her quest for fan signatures on the Pig Hat, getting a last few squeezed in amongst the haze of scribbles now covering every millimeter of fabric.

As we drew near the autograph table, we discussed that I would go first, so that once done, I could look back and take pictures of Ann giving Jim Beaver the hat. I am a total idiot for not thinking of videoing that moment, but I was more concerned with being unobtrusive, so ... *sigh*

Anyhow, we inched along and chatted with people around it, until suddenly it was my turn. A volunteer took down each person's name, writing it in bold block letters on a scrap of notepaper, which we would hand to Jared and/or Jim so they could read it. A handy way to avoid misspelling or confusion, I thought. I used my real name, not my screen name, for this.

And just like that, I stood once more in front of Jared. By now, the poor guy had been signing for probably over an hour, and he didn't have quite the sparkle and shine of the earlier photo ops. Nonetheless, despite how his hand must have been cramping, lol, he looked up with a quick grin and cheerful "Hi!" I handed off my pictures for autographing, which he did with brisk efficiency. And then, since no one was poking me or glaring at my backside, I decided to go ahead with my plan of giving him a simple little gift.

It was nothing, really, and I assured him that I knew he could not keep everything people gave him, so this was disposable. But what I'd done was print out a scan of the "Hunter's Case File" thing I made last fall and sent to the cast & crew at Burnaby as a gesture of thanks. For those who may not have seen it, here are the scans:

For this, I'd simply printed out the scans, with the file cover on card stock, and now I gave it to him with a brief account of what it was and for whom I'd originally made it. I'm gratified to say it seemed to catch his attention! :-) Jared put down his pen and paused for several moments to look through it, thumbing the pages. He made some remark that it was a lot of work, I'm not sure of exact words, but I do recall it made me feel very pleased. I replied by saying that if I were ever to get into show biz, I'd want to do the props and set dressing sort of thing. I believe his response was another bright grin and something like, "Sweet!"

Thus satisfied and happy, I moved on - and turned back in the doorway to watch Ann deliver Jim Beaver's new Pig Hat. I really wish I'd thought to film it, as the moment was cute. Ann stood patiently while he did her autograph and then she informed him that she had a hat, which got an instant look of amusement from Jim. She handed him the hat and you could see his eyes kind of go O_O albeit in a very self-contained way. He turned it round and round, and although I couldn't hear what was said (Ann has a very soft voice), Jim was clearly intrigued. He took off his own cap and put it on, commenting that it was made for a *little* head. (We hadn't thought to adjust it for size, first.) Then he removed it and turned it around some more, eyeballing the scores if not hundreds of signatures crammed onto every surface. "This'll take me hours to read!" he exclaimed, and grinned as he tucked the hat away with his other gifts under the table.

Thus, I'd say the Pig Hat was a success. If you are one of the people who signed the Hat during the con, you can rest assured it landed in Jim's very own capable hands. Go us! Autographs of the fans for the stars. Me likes. :-)

Later, there was a lot of general anxiety over the slow pace of photo printing, as people crowded around the table where Froggy the Photographer was placing photos. Evidently, his printer was beginning to give him trouble, but he kept cranking them out as long as he could. At one point there were more photos printed than table space to hold them, so I told Froggy we'd get another table. As I turned away and another gal stepped to help me, I had to bite back a grin when Froggy remarked, "And it took a *woman* to do that." Clearly the guys standing around not helping failed to impress Froggy at all. *G*

Anyhow, I got our Hunter photo, our group w/ Jared photo, and my solo with Jared, but alas, Froggy's printer finally biffed it - without me getting my hard-earned Samantha pic, or the extra prints of our group shots for my roomies. Poo, but sometimes technology has a way of crapping when we need it most, and I'll just hope I can sort it out later by email, as Froggy directed us to do.

And then ... my roomies had to take their leave. The Big Show was finally over. It was oddly depressing to see the cozy clutter of our room suddenly condense into a couple suitcases, and I may have sighed a time or two as I followed them down to the hotel lobby. As we stepped out when Kimbo brought the car, I realized I hadn't been outside since I arrived, and now the con was really over. We hugged and snapped last photos and then my gals were gone.

It was a weird feeling to step back into the hotel alone, going against a steady trickle of folks heading out to catch taxis or find cars. The sheer size of the place, the fact the con was over, weighed my heart with a decided sense of melancholy. Little did I know, the fun was not quite over, yet...

TBC ...

EyeCon - Day 2 Part II

SATURDAY April 5th 2008

I missed out on all but the last ten minutes of the John Winchester fan discussion panel, which sorta bummed me out. The bits I heard were quite good, thought provoking, and I think I missed a juicy discussion. Rats. Typing from my notes a day later, I’m not even sure I have a good excuse *why* I missed it! *sigh* Anyhow, the later Supporting Characters panel went well. My fleeting thought of planning what I would say went pretty much out the window, as I did no planning at all. However, the folks on the panel with me were a mix of strong personalities with good points and keen observations, which eliminated any worries I had over lack of preparation. LOL, in other words, I didn’t have to say nearly as much as I thought I would. ;-)

Later came time for autographs from Gabe, Chad, Alona, Samantha, and Sandy, who set up in the back of the vendors’ room, so people had access at any time. I didn’t really suppose I had a place for a jillion photographs and hated to have something signed that I wouldn’t be able to *use* in some way …. So I chose to have them sign my copy of the "Supernatural Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls". I know it excites love or loathing in readers, with little middle ground, but I genuinely enjoy it as just a fun addendum to the show’s lore, as I never expected it to be an actual reference work. Anyhow, doing this follows in my tradition of having the LOTR cast sign my single-volume "Lord of the Rings" trilogy book at ORC in 2006.

So, there we were, face to face with a major portion of the cast of Supernatural. What were they like up close? Sandy was especially sweet, and said that, while she was doing her Q&A, she used my face (there in second row seat B15) as one of those she could sort of steady herself on when she felt nervous. Awwwww. That made me feel really good - having a goofy grin paid off in unexpected ways, lol!

Samantha personalized her autograph with my name, just wonderfully approachable and easy to talk to. Then Alona won points with me when she took time for a shy 8-year-old boy just ahead of me. I couldn’t hear all they said, but clearly, the little guy had a crush, and she called him around the table for a hug and a candid snapshot. Have I mentioned how much I love this cast?

When I got up to Alona, I had to wait briefly while Sandy came and leant to whisper with her. Alona apologized to me after, saying with a charming girlish smile that this event is the first time she’s actually met Sandy. She really hoped they could hang out together because she’s heard so much about her (from Jared) that it doesn’t feel like they’ve never met. I think they got their chance, because I saw them going about together once or twice, and I hope they had the time they wanted together. Alona also signed using my name. *glee!*

I think I may have caught up with Gabe and Chad later, as typing after the fact I don’t really recall, and they were not always there for signing at the same time. Whenever, I found Chad and Gabe to be just as nice, very unassuming and sweet and appreciative of compliments, easy to talk to, entirely approachable, and they gave good handshakes after. I never had the sense of, "OMG, I’m walking up to a movie star!" with any of these guys, just a comfortable feeling that I could finally express my appreciation for their work in person, and they looked you in the eyes and seemed grateful for it.

Annnnd … that brings us to Jim Beaver’s autograph session. As one of the headline guests, his was a more formalized affair, the Great Man set up at a table in the main events room, and people called up for their autographs by seating rows.

When my turn arrived, I spoke to him about his book, saying I knew he was working on a book about his wife’s tragic battle with cancer, and that I would buy it as soon as it came out. I told him that I’m a breast cancer survivor, and however hard it was on me, I couldn’t imagine what my husband went through. I’ve never seen that side of the fence. He said the book would be out next year and he thought my hubby would recognize a few passages. Jim was immeasurably kind in this, really settled in to listen as I spoke and gave his time, though I kept it brief as I could. Bless his heart; he then personalized my autograph as to his "survivor friend."

Again, I am in love with the cast of Supernatural. I just want to adopt the whole gang and take them home and feed them barbeque. ;-)

After the initial round of autographs, I took a break to the room with Kimbo and Silli/Hearseeno. Finally, down we went to queue up for the Banquet supper, with seating admitted by badge number. While in line, and before I forget to mention, Silli pursued her fan project, which is a baseball cap on which she sewed a cute little pig, reminiscent of the famous (or infamous?) "Pig Hat" that Bobby wore in AHBL. Silli’s plan was to get as many fans as physically possible to sign their names on this hat, and she went at it with a will. ;-)

So, once at the door to the banquet room - which was just the main room reconfigured with tables - we were given our choice of who to sit near, and we wound up right behind Samantha Farris. It was a noisy room, chatty and busy during the delay of getting everyone seated, while statuesque servers in black waited along the walls.

Interestingly, the Banquet did not appear to have sold our, or maybe some people could not come, as there were a few empty seats. Our table seated 10 and we ended up with only six, including one of the few guys around, Logan, a quiet, very pleasant young fella from Idaho. We were at the back edge of the room which was actually good, as there was less noise and a more relaxed feel. I hopped over to see Kenny and Voni at the next table, and they’d read and enjoyed my Friday con report. Heh, I had to commend my fellow diners that people waited until most everyone sat down before digging into their salads.

When the entrĂ©e arrived, the chicken Florentine was lovely to look at, though I have to say I’d never eaten food with a flower in it! Yup, each plate had a sprig of thyme and a purple orchid at its edge. The food tasted okay, though evidently it sat out a bit waiting to be served, perhaps a hazard of trying to coordinate so many eating at once. It had cooled so the breading on the chicken was soggy. Hmm, now that I think about it, I thought they said "buffet style", which to me means you dish up from hot tables, rather than get served, but whatever! :-) It was a nice little interlude, but I think that next time I’d pass. Unless I’m sitting with one of the guests, the food and situation was not spectacular enough for me to repeat the experience. I could eat with friends some place far less costly. ;-)

After eating, the starring guests did get up and try to visit other tables, or at least Gabe, Chad and Jim did. I’m not sure Sam could pry herself away from her bevy of followers, lol. Sandy skipped out early, ostensibly saying something about going to a wedding, but given that Jared was due in pretty much any time, we felt pretty certain where she’d really gone - especially as Kenny disappeared at the same time. *G* At our table, Kimbo meanwhile passed the time with a word association game, Buzz Word, which she pulled out several times in the course of the weekend, lol! My tablemates and I hoped Chad might make it to our table, but the meal ended before our boy could get to us.

Then it was time to dash upstairs, freshen up, and get ready for the Platinum party which was due to start at any moment. At first glance, the Platinum Party looked more like an exercise in how many people can be crammed into one small room. I really wasn’t sure how it could be any different from the Cocktail Party earlier, but what the hell; I’d give it a chance. In my book, it actually turned pretty fun when Chad and Gabe got up to duel each other at the Guitar Hero game, and the noise levels of the crowd rose merrily with the consumption of oh-be-joyful.

I just had one glass of wine, which I nursed for a long time, as the $7 price-per-glass tag made me wince. However, I will give that when I came up with only $6 on hand, they let that missing dollar slide. Meanwhile, I really just found it fun to hang out with the gang. A special treat was Steve Carlson coming in to play an acoustic version of "Be My Little Baby". That was just plain fun, a preview of the concert to come. Dang, that man can play and sing! I stood with Jim Beaver briefly as he watched the boys play and later hung around Gabe, who’s just as cute and nice as the boy next door. I enjoyed myself - and the smuggled shots of "Alabama Slammas" that somebody snuck in. *G* Even Gabe and Chad tried those - cough syrup with a kick, lol!

One unfortunate note that I didn’t hear until later … there was a woman, and I’m certain a lot of other people noticed her, who became drunk enough to throw herself at Chad. I only saw her in the early stages, when she was batting her eyelashes at him and rubbing/posing against the wall in a sloppy parody of a cat in heat. Gah. Anyhow, he escaped unscathed, but for the rest of the con, Chad didn’t go anywhere alone, but rather had a tough lady New York staffer with him at all times. Bummer, I guess the odds of one crazy amongst that many people can’t be helped.

So! On to happy things. Steve Carlson’s concert started late, for reasons I don’t know, though maybe it took extra time to tear down the banquet room and reconfigure it once more as an auditorium. But I’d definitely say Steve’s music was worth the wait. The poor guy’d had a helluva time getting here, troubles with connections and delays at airports, and I dunno what all. He had to’ve been tired, and when he came on stage, he apologized in advance for any slips or mistakes. Voni brought him a cocktail on stage, to which he said, "When Visine won’t work and red eyes won’t go away, there’s nothing to do but drink." LOL!

And then, oh, and then magic. He drew us all in with his very first song, and had us all sing along on the final refrain. Steve Carlson is very engaging with his audience, a storyteller with a mellow acoustic sound, an amiable, laid-back showman with a voice that possesses just the right touch of miles and tears. He encourages his audience to sing, and I was amazed that most of the crowd knew his music and sang along. LOL, I was the only apparent yip in response when he asked who had *not* heard his music before. He also likes to tell stories about his songs, where they come from, the tales behind them. And yes, he spoke of his link to Jensen, that they were roommates once.

His singing style is marvelously eclectic, mellow and crooning and intimate, or filling the room with sound and energy. He rocked us all with a funky, blues-rock cover of "She’s Not There", and the man is positively dazzling on an acoustic guitar. His voice finally began fading when he gave us a cover of the 60’s classic, "Be My Little Baby". He closed with a final, upbeat song that included the refrain, "Don’t you take my rockin’ chair, just keep it rockin’ there, someone’s right behind me to rock on." Oh yeah, Steve. We are. ;-)

In summary, even if he had no connection to Supernatural or Jensen Ackles whatsoever, I would like Steve Carlson’s music. The man knows how to spin a tune.

I never did quite figure out the purpose of the Pajama Party, which my roomies opted to sit out. I felt ridiculous, in fact, when I came traipsing out in my drawstring trousers and a pink T-shirt! Someone said the PJ party might have been originally intended for kids, but at 1am? Whatev, lol! We die-hards just took it as an excuse to sit up way too late. The most activity I saw going on was downstairs just off the hotel lobby, where the scrapbooks for Jared and for Samantha were being put together. I grabbed my stuff for my Jared page and put it all together. But then realized I had nothing for the Samantha page, and I had to add-lib something that was probably crappy (I’m not very creative at 1in the morning, lol), but nonetheless done with affection. ;-)

I did see Gabe Tigerman up and about - I think the man never slept, lol! For a while, he sat with a group of fans at a table upstairs, occupying what they called "the Truth Seat", where they could ask anything they wanted and he had to speak the pure truth. Sadly, I didn’t hear anything really juicy or scandalous, lol, but instead just the sort of cozy silliness you’d expect among any group of late-night friends.

Anyhow, I finally called it quits about 2am, and tippy-toed in trying not to awaken my roomies. One more day to go - and JARED would be among us!

(Part III Sunday report to follow) ~~

EyeCon - Saturday Day 2 Part I

SATURDAY April 5th 2008

Okay, what did my sleep-deprived self do today? Well, the fun began with Jim Beaver’s Q&A in the morning. He strolled on stage in shirttails and a ball cap, totally relaxed and his first comment was, "Haven’t seen this many people since my last court date". Usually there’s nobody around to see him this early in the morning but a 6-year old girl - which earned an immediate "awwwww" from the audience.

Then he said, "Hello, you idjits," following our whoops and yells of greeting with the wry remark, "You’re going to embarrass me, aren’t you?" To which I shouted back, "Of course we are," and he grinned as he replied, "Give it your best". Hee!

By now, you’ve all heard that Jim showed up for the Q&A wearing a T-shirt from a fan which said, "I read Bobby/John". He got a huge laugh when he said, "I’m sure you’ll explain". However, I’m equally certain he knows exactly what that means, if the glint in his eye is any indication. Oh, Jim …. *snork*

In this his first convention Q&A, Jim was chatty and amiable as if sitting on his own front porch.
SOME Q&A HIGHLIGHTS: *(Skip if you don’t want lengthy detail!)

Jim broke into the entertainment business as a writer with a play. He wanted to be an actor, he said, but "nobody would let me". He was a freelance writer before the bottom fell out of the freelance business, and fortunately his acting took off at the same time. Asked what charity he might support, he said he was not allied with any particularly, but things like the Cancer Society were dear to his heart. Randomly, he also poked fun at Jared and Jensen, saying it was fun on set despite them, since they are "dull as dishwater".

His favorite scene on SPN? The junkyard scene with Dean in AHBL II. He doesn’t often get to slap Jensen, lol. Pranks? Jim responded with a knowing grin, "They don’t often mess with me … not sure why." Heh, heh, heh. Jim also reiterated the tale of Jared twisting his toes off-camera during the bed scene in "Dream a Little Dream". He knew of course Jared was trying to get a reaction from him, but Jim’s resolution was "Not this time". Jared was really unhappy Jim didn’t break, he said, lol!

When asked, he said SPN has never approached him about writing for the show, and he’s not even sure they know he writes. But he doesn’t even want to, reiterating that "it’s work". He prefers not to write for the show he’s working on. He did talk to Kim Manners during filming of Magnificent Seven regarding a story idea, mainly to do with getting Bobby in a clinch, lol, but it went nowhere. Mainly, Jim claimed, he does not feel up to writing for SPN.

Jim has not heard anything regarding Bobby for Season 4. He just got a script for the next-to-last episode of Season 3, and he’s in the last two episodes but has no idea about the last one, yet. "I could be eaten by chickens", he joked. A rumor he passed on/repeated was that because of the strike, there may be the possibility of an extended Season 4. But he gave the caveat that it was only rumor.

His favorite part of the Bobby Singer character - he first glibly said it was "not having to shave", lol. Seriously, though, he’s not sure he has a favorite part. He likes Bobby’s dry humor, his amused tolerance for "the idjits", and the fun has a lot to do with just the thing of working. It’s the best job in the world, he said. He also praised Jensen and Jared as "good old boys", which he said goes for all of the crew. He hated to leave Deadwood’s sense of family, how people stuck around and hung out even after done with work. Supernatural is the same way. It’s FUN, he said, that’s what he enjoys most.

Will we see him at more cons? "If they’re all as fun as this one you will" He’s going to Asylum, and was invited to the LA Creation con last weekend, but somehow there was no follow-up on that, so he ended up not going. The Dallas con is at this time still up in the air.

Hardest thing to portray? Referring to the scene where Sa showed up at Bobby’s door not dead, Jim said it was hard to portray utter astonishment when you’ve shot it fourteen times and need to be still surprised on the last take. Jared was no help, because he looked just the same, lol!
As a writer, does he go into acting with a critical eye for the way a script is written? He said he rarely talks to the writers, since they are usually in LA, or rarely even to Eric. He’s actually usually less critical because as a writer, he knows every comma, every dash is there for a reason… to get the right sound. If something logically doesn’t work, *maybe* he’d say something, but generally he is not a believer in criticizing or changing a writer’s work to make it better. But at the same, he believes in a collaborative effort when it happens.

He did not know Bobby’s back-story until Dream A Little Dream, first saying he was not sure anybody did but Eric before that script. But then he corrected to say that, during shooting of Magnificent 7, Kim told him of the Dream storyline, which was the longest Jim has known a storyline in advance. But he always knew "something in the past brought Bobby to this place".
Regarding fan fiction, Jim teased that he’s read fics, not Bobby/John just Bobby/Bella. LOL! Last week he read a fan fic designed to flesh out the back-story of Dream, which he found to be very good. Then as he wrapped up his talk, on request Jim recited a much-loved Bobby line: "Take care of your brother, ya idjit." Hee!

Finally, he took his leave amongst our cheers and screams and a standing ovation, his final admonition to us to "settle down", lol!


Later, I came in late from lunch for the Samantha Farris-Alona Tal - Chad Lindberg panel, arriving just in time to see Chad kick back and demonstrate an "Ash face" - lol. In person, Chad is lanky, laid back, and mellowly goofy. Alona is tiny but tall, lithe, animated and beautiful, and very gracious. Samantha is quite Ellen-like, just without the accent and flannel, and plain spoken and direct a poke in the nose. The camaraderie and ease between the three of them was very evident, just like three old friends hanging out together.

SOME MORE Q&A HIGHLIGHTS: (Skip if this is getting too long for you - NO spoilers):

Alona’s favorite SPN scene? Being thrown around by Jared in BUABS - said with a coquettish wink to the audience. All three actors said that learning their characters is an organic process, something they settled into overtime. What would they like to see happen in SPN? Chad said he would like to see Ash taken on the road once, and riffed on the idea of Sam and Dean in trouble and Ash having to save the day, demonstrating how Ash would burst in the door with a shotgun, doesn’t say a word, just BOOM. LOL!

Alona would have liked to see Jo grow more, saying Jo was just starting to mature and "calm down".

Samantha would like to see Ellen just keep going, head out on the road. Sam imagined her driving a purple Jeep Wagoneer with fuzzy dice, lol!

Per the kerfluffle over Ellen’s return/no-return in Season 3, Sam said this. She could not commit two months in advance for only one SPN episode during pilot season. If SPN had instead called 3 weeks in advance, she maybe could have given them a positive answer, but not two months out, when it would have been professional suicide to lock herself into a single episode at the risk of missing larger projects. She did not get into any details about the financial aspects mentioned in her blog not long ago.

Per Ellen in Season, she has no idea, nor any idea what the script would have called for in this latter part of S3: maybe she and Bella would have gone down together, lol! But Sam kept the idea definitely open for Ellen in Season 4, if they want her.

Asked if Ash is dead - which fans answered with a resounding NO - Chad just said who knows, ask Mr. Kripke. ;-)

Favorite non-SPN projects? Chad said every set and character is different, though he did play a transvestite once. (Titters from the audience, of course.) Alona agreed that every role is different, though she has a special place for her first American role as Kristen on Veronica Mars. Sam said hers was Sandra Cassandra on a piece called Beggars, Choosers, who was a heartless, soulless broad who got so swear at Evana Trump, lol.

From Alona: in BUABS, every time Jared did the, "My daddy shot your daddy in the head" line, he did it different. The take we see, with that nasty singsong voice, actually kind of pissed Alona/Jo off because she hadn’t expected it. And yes, he really enjoyed being bad. ;-) She said she loved Jo because of the look, because people don’t often believe she can kick ass, lol, and it taught her the power off offense.

From Samantha: She liked Ellen because it was a change from the "balls in a skirt" role to actually get a dirty role, with jeans and a gun and all.

Then someone asked Chad what brought Ash to the Roadhouse. In typical Chad fashion, he took the idea and ran with it, saying that after MIT, things were a little crazy so Ash went on the road in his Jeep, "wind in his hair", as the Roadhouse, and stopped for a beer. He saw "these fine ladies" and stayed on to "look after them". (Though one presumes it was actually the other way around, lol.) Samantha agreed that they were all oddballs, so Ash just fit.

How were the boys to work with? Jared has a shorter attention span, gets punchy on the long days and pulls pranks. Jensen is a bit straighter. If you can’t see Jared, "you worry", lol! On Alona’s first day on set, Jared was going around with an iced coffee he’d spiked with soy sauce (ewww!), and he was very happy when he could get someone to taste it, lol. The boys set the pace on set, very professional and instrumental to creating that sense of family.

Asked about fan moments of their own, Alona mentioned a couple "dork moments", one meeting Rachel McAdams and getting all babbly and giggly. She also met Angelina Joie and could not speak, noting Angelina was "like a porcelain doll’’. Chat told about meeting Tom Cruise while working as a very minor extra on Last Samurai, Tom hanging up his cell saying he was talking to his kid, and shaking hands. Samantha mentioned meeting Seth Green of Austin Powers while at an audition for the NUMB3RS, and told of babbling and digging herself in deeper while her inside brain was yelping, "Shut up!"

Projects to come: Alona said she has something in the works, but she believes in luck and doesn’t want to jinx it by saying what it is. Sam has an upcoming mini-series, Impact, in which she again plays "balls in a skirt. Chat I think said he had a film about breaking into the movie industry? I failed as a note-taker there.

Asked the ultimate roles they’d like to play, Sam said Courtney Love, a vulnerable white trash woman. Chad wants to play Billy the Kid. And Alona would like to play her grandmother in a story about how her grand parents met in WWII.

What show would they like to be on right now: Sam - Nip/Tuck, which she calls "edgy stuff" with good acting, and Deadwood Chad - Lost. Alona - House, plus more SPN would be good.


~ And then it was on to Sandy McCoy!Sandy …. Oh, my dog. If someone doesn’t fall a little in love with Sandy, I just don’t know what to say. She is tiny, incredibly cute, bubbly and vivacious and all shining smiles, and visibly nervous, bless her sweet heart. There is just nothing *not* to love about this lovely girl, IMHO. She was girlishly cute about her new dress, and I just wanted to grab and hug her when she kept getting jittery and giggly upon having trouble following the mic around the room.

Of course, discussion turned swiftly to hers and Jared’s engagement, which fans by now know took place in Paris on their recent European holiday. She thought it as just a 4-year anniversary thing, she and Jared ordering room service and playing board games, chess, Scrabble, etc and just being together. Even when Jared waxed all sentimental and sappy she didn’t suspect, until he stood her up, knelt at her feet - and he was still her height, lol - and then asked her. Clearly a deliciously emotional moment for both of them, and can we have a huge congratulatory "awwwwwwwww" from our audience? I thought we could. ;-) Sandy said they never had a first date, since they’d been friends before and just sort of went to being more than friendly.

In other trivia, Sandy said Jared actually dances very well, doing the "tall white boy thing", but he always stops if he sees Sandy watching. (Awwww.) She did watch other Crossroads Demons as portrayed by the first two actresses, wanting to give the CRD a good farewell in this final appearance. But she doesn’t appear to be happy with her performance, saying she kind of froze, and knew she’d be compared to the other CRDs by fans, plus she felt intimidated as she said by "working with 150 friends" on the set watching. ;-)

Her favorite form of dance: Lyrical Jazz, even if she’s not flexible enough to do it properly any more. Leaps and jumps were her best aspects and she always wanted to jump higher than the boys. She thinks Jared would be *incredible* (emphasis hers) on Dancing With the Stars, and she’s love to get him to "do what he fears most".

My question was what her goals/aspirations were for her dancing future, and she said she and Jared want to open a dance studio for kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it. (I afterwards realized this question had already been asked at the LA con, so no points to me for originality, lol.)

What does she most wish she could do? SING! Fan girl moment - meeting The Rock. Did she start wearing heels more since dating Jared? No, she’s comfy in heels because she works in them, but she only dresses up for events, is most comfortable in sweats and Filipino sandals.

Who would she like to work with? Meryl Streep, because an actress of her caliber can only up your game, just by working with her.

~ And that’s all I’ve got for the cutest woman in the entire known universe. ;-)

Next was Gabriel Tigerman - five foot five of cuteness and absolute comfort in front of an audience.


Gabe originally auditioned for the guy with the undead girlfriend, the "Pet Semetary guy" in Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, and was disappointed no to get that. However, he was so happy to get Andy. He thought Andy’s van was awesome and was promised Andy’s velvet tiger print, but never got it. Gabe never actually saw Andy’s bong, though, until watching the episode. Despite getting his theater start in improv (which he still does), he did very little improv on SPN, since the writers had so much fun writing for Andy . Also, he noted that he’s the only character besides the Winchesters to drive the Metallicar - and he was terrified, could sense the nervousness when they handed him the keys and he drove like 4 mph. Gabe also noted that his mom cried when he showed her an image from AHBL of eviscerated Andy: no mother needs to see that. (Awww.)

I asked about his awakening to the popularity of Andy among SPN fans, and he reiterated and elaborated on the story he told me privately about the slash fic a friend sent him. Gabe seemed to have fun riffing on that for the audience. Fav Andy line? He has several, including "These aren’t the droids you’re looking for" and "I have a evil twin". Also 4th bong load line, frontier land, and gay porn.

Randomly: His fanboy moment? He grew up wanting to play baseball, 2nd base, and finally met one of his baseball heroes only to discover the guy was a total douche. Though he got to work with Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, and he’d like to work with Seymore Hoffman. If he could be any character - he would be Dean, and totally kick as. LOL! And he would like to be in The West Wing. Any super power? Mind control is pretty cool, but invisibility would be good. Would he like to have Andy’s powers in Real Life? He answered a firm Yes. But what would he use them for? Gabe gave a deep chuckle and grin and replied, "Just the good things". Another question was how, during Andy’s mind control scene with Dean, did Gabe keep a straight face while Dean/Jensen rattled on as he did. Gabe said his improv training definitely helped, because the rule of improv is do not break. Training, he said, lots of training.

As an aside, Gabe further charmed me when he paused at one point to applaud us, the audience, and gestured from the heart while mouthing "me to you" to the crowd. Very sweet. He also mentioned being recently engaged - awwwwwwwww. Couple that with Alona’s recent marriage and Jared & Sandra’s engagement, and love is certainly in the air.

When asked if there’s anything he’d like to do but never got the courage, like bungee jump, he said the cheesy answer is he used to, but since getting engaged he just doesn’t want to take risks Asked about pranks, he said his first day with SPN, he was working on a very serious scene when Jared sent his cell phone "an incredibly inappropriate picture", lol! Gabe was, however, very guarded about telling any back-stage stories, which I found sweetly admirable.

~ And … that’s all I got about that.

(More on Saturday in the next post!) ~~~

EyeCon - Friday Day 1

Once upon a time, there was a dream - called EYECON! And lo, I went, and the multitudes were tumultuous and stayed up way too late - but damn, did I have FUN! So, here we go, buckle up.

FRIDAY April 4th 2008, Orlando, FL

I woke up after two days without seeing the intarwebz to the shocking news that Jared would not be able to make it on Saturday as planned. Actually, the first thing I saw was online references to "the news about Jared," and I kid you not, my heart about stopped. I was actually relieved to learn he’d just had to reschedule due to shooting demands on the SPN set, but a lot of people are upset, as they’ve put down some serious cash for various considerations contingent on Jared’s appearances here.

I was VERY disappointed. I know intellectually my odds of personal contact other than autographs or photo ops are nil, but the fan girl in me had wistfully hoped to steal a few precious seconds with him at the Platinum Party or something I do know the mad schedule he must be keeping to go from the set to the LA con, back to the set, then here and back to the set again with seemingly no break, so I’m grateful he didn’t just cancel. It’s a real shame, but an unavoidable circumstance, and one can only hope Kenny et al will make it right for those people.

But on to happy things! I arrived in Florida Wednesday afternoon and spent a lovely couple days with my dear friend, Christy, and her family near Tampa. It was a treat to have a "native guide", as we avoided the crowds and just did fun stuff like visiting to Tarpon Springs, "Sponge Capital of the World", which is tiny, quaint, touristy, and very, very Greek. Saw a demonstration of sponge diving as done circa 1940’s, with the heavy dive suit and iron helmet, and roamed the shops and narrow streets. That afternoon we went out to the beach at Fred Howard park, where we just hung out, watched the kids play, soaked up the sun and went beach combing. Greek food for dinner that night, and I was a happy cowboy hobbit. Absolutely the nicest way to ease into a holiday so far from home. :-)

Friday morning - time for the fun to begin! Christy packed me into the car and off we went, only having to go back for the driving direction. ;-) After an inexplicable traffic jam not 8 miles from the convention center, she let me off at the Florida Hotel, a towering edifice in the middle of a foreign country, for me, and I was on my own. Honestly? I thought seriously about panicking when I found myself checked in and standing in the cathedral-esque lobby entirely alone and knowing nobody. Someone began texting me and I wasn’t even sure who! Turned out to be Nora, to whom I promised my extra copy of the SPN Ghosts & Ghoulies book. Thank God for that brief contact, and by the time I got up to register for the con, I’d found my taxi partner, hmrpotterfan (Hanako), and her cute and bubbly friend, Lisa.

After that, it becomes a blur to me. I was signed in, chatted up, dazed and confused, but ready for the fun to begin! I went to the just-opened vendor’s room with hmrpotterfan to peruse the treasures - restrained myself but just barely and bought two SPN key chains, one Dean and one Sam. That somehow went a long way to easing my crowd-jitters. I also finally spotted Kenny, the founder of the feast - a wiry little guy with the energy levels of ten normal people, who greeted me with a hug. I ran into Voni later on at the cocktail party, a gorgeous, willowy lady with the smile of a small sun.

My pals Silli/Hearseeno and Kim arrived @ 6:30, just about the time things really began gearing into organized chaos, with the Meet & Greet and screening of Ten Inch Hero both running late and people milling about hither and yon. Yet somehow it muddled into happening, and Silli and I found our seats.

First came the stars, just a quick introduction of the crazed fans to our objects of adoration - sans Jared, of course, though I’m not sure he was scheduled to be in that early, anyhow. Chad, Sandy, Samantha, Gabe all were greeted to a hurricane of cheers, but we seemed to reserve our special hysteria for Jim Beaver. He greeted the sheer decibel level of screams with a look of amazement, then brought the house down with the classically wry Bobby-comment: "Hello, ya idjits." If we didn’t love that man already … lol! "You’re going to embarrass me, aren’t you", he said, to which I called back, "Of course we are!" and he replied with a grin, "Do your best!"

Then it was on to Ten Inch Hero. The producer and director got up to introduce the piece, breaking the ice with, "I prepared a few lines … and now that I’ve snorted them…" LOL! There were some problems it seemed with the sound up too loud, but I found myself falling into the story and forgot to notice it. I personally found TIH to be adorable, quirky, moving, unexpected, silly, sobering, warm and witty and yes, it trod into a bit of indy-film darkness but in a way that felt indelibly real and just plain worked. The story is very character-driven with strongly developed characters, all of whom grown and change in interesting ways by the end of the film.

Afterwards, the producer and director got up for their Q&A, and the passion they have for their film was clearly evident in their enthusiasm to tell all. The only thing they asked was that please, fans who may have recorded any of the movie would delete that recording. They really, really do not want any clips released other than through their control, and they’re relying on our honor to oblige them. I noticed several people immediately going to their cameras, then.

So, some details of the Q&A. Yes, the nude wedding scene was actually shot nude. The two actors wore only a nude colored thong (for the woman ) and a sock thingie for the man. The two horses were not trained Hollywood steeds but rather what they could afford, and evidently had no affinity for just standing quietly together, lol. Jensen’s character, Priestly’s shirts were almost characters in themselves, each designed for the script by the props dept. The guys said it was perfectly okay for us fans to make our own replicas of Priestly’s shirts and put TIH on it as advertising, just … again on our honor, please don’t SELL those shirts for profit.

They lauded Jensen’s professionalism on set, and spoke of how there wardrobe budget became strained by one designer’s penchant for shoes, and they cut off the clothes buying but Jensen found the kilt in a thrift store and wanted it for Priestly. It was $75 … but they relented and it ended up working awesomely. Jensen picked the story-day for Priestly to wear the kilt, and it was pure coincidence that the first scene led into the later scene of Priestly on the same story-day going to the convenience store to buy tampons for the girls … while wearing that kilt! Just a happy accident how that worked out.

The script they said remained largely as written, only a few changed/omissions. The first homeless guy on the screen was truly homeless. They told of finding three homeless guys where they were filming and trying to keep tabs on them until they picked one for that day of shooting. They broke the SAG rules for using only card-carrying members as actors, but they wanted that realism, not a cleaned-up Hollywood version of a homeless man. It worked.

They also told of Jensen’s enthusiasm for the role of Priestly way back in the beginning in early casting, and how he kept tabs even after landing Supernatural, wanting the part, wanting something not so pretty and with a little more bite. Jensen came back to them even after taking off with SPN to audition, rather than going the usual route of being an "offer only" actor. Plus they gave credit to the three female leads, how phenomenal and what troopers they were throughout. Again and again, their mantra was "Keep it Real".

Finally, they answered a question posed that I had wondered about, which was that Priestly’s transformation/clean-up at the end of the movie was not necessarily intended as permanent. Just it was a wedding and part of showing how the characters had all evolved, but nothing says the body piercings and wacky T-shirts didn’t return, per his usual "shock-jock" demeanor.

I really, REALLY enjoyed this movie. I could not predict where any of it was going, there were lots of great laughs, lots of subtlety when called for and overt cheese when it applied. It made me laugh, it made me cringe, it made me frightened at one point for Daneel’s character, because the "real" in this film clearly did not allow for a miraculous rescue from a situation into which the character’s promiscuity had led her. As a woman, I found the scene viscerally frightening, very real, and realistically played, in harsh real lighting that sugarcoated nothing.

As for Jensen … I adore this man’s acting more than ever. I could see bits of Dean which are probably bits of Jensen, but he gave Priestly his own brand of cocky weirdness and artless crassness blended with a curious sense of innocence. He says more with the tilt of a brow or roll of eyes than many actors can depict with one page monologues, and the director said they encouraged that from all the cast, spoke of "acting without the ball" and encouraging non-scripted, non-verbal accents to the story by the actors.

In closing, I would see this film in theaters in a heartbeat, and I would buy it in DVD without pause. I found it to be a story I would enjoy and fall for even if I had no idea who Jensen Ackles was. They were genuinely appreciative of our comments and support, and having seen this, I feel a sense of propriety towards this film, and I truly hope they will get a distributor and do well.

The TIH Q&A also ran late, staff having to nudge the guys more than once to wrap it up - just one more story, one more anecdote, lol! But that done, it was another scramble to get ready for the Cocktail Party, originally scheduled for 10pm but bumped back to 10:30. The line for TIH autographs got longish, so Silli and I went back to the room, she to rest and do some stuff, whilst Kimbo and I refreshed to go back downstairs. When we got back, the line was almost through and just our luck, the credit card machine went kablooey. But I got my poster for cash, complimented the guys, and trotted off once more.

Cocktail party …. They said "intimate" but I didn’t know they meant elbow-to-asshole, lol! Itty bitty conference room, which first impression I got was of a crammed-together line towards the bar. I wasn’t a bit sure how this was gonna work, but when I looked around and saw Samantha Farris *right there* and Jim Beaver *right over there* … I thought it worked oddly well. There was just no way to avoid being near SOMEbody!

So, impressions. Here goes.

Samantha Farris - OMG, I have such a girl crush on that woman! She is fun, blunt, fearless and outspoken, no strangers within the sound of her voice. She takes time for everyone, knows how to manage her audience, and takes time to include new arrivals as they shyly sidle near. LOL, Sam doesn’t just talk to people, she holds court.

Jim Beaver - again, he knows how to manage his audience. The man is simply lovable, such an ordinary, regular guy. He’s funny and real, like a funky uncle who thinks you’re more than a little nuts, but he loves you anyhow. He seemed perennially amazed at the whole con chaos and how people magnetized to him, but he welcomed all, and gave as good as he got. You definitely see where Bobby comes from, but now I want to see some eps of Deadwood, too. Jim was really cute when two Irish girls showed up and he fell into a very good Irish accent for them.

Chad … lol, bless him, he was totally in Ash mode. Drunk, goofy, having a blast and probably won’t remember a soul he talked to. I didn’t spend much time with him - partly because he didn’t seem able to focus on any one person, lol, but clearly he was loving the party fun, just very cute and silly.

Gabe - omg, I want to take this boy home with me. He was adorably sincere and cute, just cute as a bug in person, very animated and expressive and engaging. I caught up with him later in the evening, and got to explain the meaning of the term "slash" fan fiction to him. Gabe said he was at his mom’s house when a friend called him to the computer to see a Andy/Ash fic, saying "you gotta see this." He’d never seen slash before, and Gabe told how his face just went "OMG!" and his mom saw it and wanted to read the story. LOL, he described practically snatching the laptop back from his mom so she wouldn’t see! Anyhow, he’d never heard the entomology of the term, and I told him the "Andy-slash-Ash" thing. His face got so wide-eyed and cute with the revelation, and he said, "I did *not* know that". I then shook his hand and thanked him for Andy, and also told him how Andy is beloved to the fandom, upon which he shook my hand a second time. Such a sweet guy. :-)

Kimbo finally went on up to the room, but I stayed until the last dog was hung and Gabe and Jim took their leave. Samantha was last to go, and even then she had to stop out in the hall to tell just one more story, lol!

And … that’s that! Stand by for Part II.
Cheers ~