Morning began a bit early for those wanting photo ops, as we had to be looking human, alert, and hopefully devoid of red eyes or pillow face, lol, by about 9:30 a.m. Today was the Big Day for the Big Guy, and people appeared in droves, seemingly pouring from the woodwork to fill the halls and lobby. Heh, it looked a bit like someone had chummed the water and feeding time was near ... ;-)
I had tickets for both the Hunters op with Jared & Jim and Jared by himself, but I thought it would be fun if Karina would share it with me. Maybe I'm a coward who's afraid of photo ops alone, but also she's just such a neat lady that I wanted to share something EyeCon-special. LOL, when I asked her, she stared at me as if I'd suggested standing in front of an oncoming truck, but ... she caved. *G* For which I am grateful, because it gave me more reasons to hang out with her, despite being the old cougar with the cool younger chick. :-)
They were trying like heck to be organized and timely, with all the lines for the different photo ops situated just so down all one side of the hallway and back up again. Things progressed quicker than I expected, yet somehow the photo ops themselves didn't strike me as overly rushed. The Hunters op was fun, Jim recognizing us from the weekend and Jared greeting us with a bright and chirpy, "Hey, hi guys!" I don't know whether he recalled my face from last EyeCon, or if he just likes to greet everyone with such familiar cheer, but whatever, it made me smile. Karina he definitely knows, since she met with him at the Dallas con. ;-)
Anywho, we smooshed together for a nice squeeze, Karina startled that she somehow ended up sandwiched in the middle, lol. I'll say again that Jared is just very nice to smoosh! He's sooo narrow about the waist, but if you look up, (and up!!) those muscular shoulders are as broad as *two* of me! Jared was cute, too, when I called him "hon" in passing and he got all happy about it. LOL, maybe that's a Texas thing.
Then with cheery thanks, we scooted off again to resume the line for the Jared single ops. Again, Karina was hesitant about doing another photo op, and given her association with Truckzilla and being known to Jared for it, I don't doubt she felt kinda dorky about getting her picture taken with him. ;-) But yanno, he's a great guy and he's *glad* she has Zilla, so why not enjoy the moment and have a little fun? So says I to myself, and she didn't say no! *g*
Thus, we went through the line again, during which we were treated to the diabetic-coma-inducing sweetness of Jared with a young couple's small baby. I don't know if they even intended for *Jared* to hold the baby for the photo, but he scooped that little tyke right out of her mama's arms, cradled her in those big paws, and made duck lips and cooing noises whilst the wee one stuck her fingers up his nose, LOL! I think my ovaries asploded into utter goo. ;-) When the picture was done, Jared didn't seem to want to give the baby up, still holding her and grinning like a wonderful dork, and we all had to go, "awwww." Finally he handed the little one back to her momma, and wrapped the mom in a gigantic squishy hug. :-)
ETA: I've learned since that the parents are such SPN fans that they named the baby girl Sam, after Sam Winchester. They told Jared this, so the shmoop-fest was his reaction. Awwww!
When it came our turn, Jared greeted us once more with that patented Padalecki charm. I have to say that the camera really doesn't do him justice, and this time ... yeah, this time I noticed just how TALL he really is! Anyway, we scrunched together and Froggy snapped, but for whatever reason, Jared declared that shot wasn't right. I really have no idea why, but he wanted to do over, so we stood there all cozy-like while Froggy reset the camera and fired again. LOL, having later seen both frames, I've no clue why Jared felt something was wrong with the first, but hey, we weren't gonna complain about the holdup. ;-) He and Karina then chatted briefly about cars (and I got the interesting sense that Jared was calling the shots on the delays) while I enjoyed just hangin' there for a moment, being relaxed with Jared.
Now, this may sound like dorkitude of the ninetieth power, but I gotta wonder if those moments of interaction aren't a treat for Jared, as well. You know? A few seconds here and there to see, and be seen, as an actual human being? Maybe Chad's movie made me hyper sensitive about some things, but I found myself viewing pretty much all of Jared's time here through a new and entirely different lens. After that, we thanked him, got another big smile, and took our leave.
Then while Karina went off in search of food and a quiet place to make some calls, I queued up for the Nicki Aycox photo op. She is *such* an adorable little thing! When I got up there, she had put on this sort of oversized tweed cap that looked indecently cute on her, and she wore the most dazzling smile you ever saw. Upon seeing that, I went ahead with an idea I had, and asked if, since she had been the demon, we could sort of cop an attitude for the camera. With girlish glee, she declared, "Oh, I have *just* the pose!" and snapped into instant!vamp. LOL, I could barely keep a straight face, but I pasted on my best smirk, and we gave the camera hell, and *click*, there we had it. I thanked her and told her how glad I was that she came, and she sent me on my way with such a smile that I felt like I'd won a blue ribbon.
Yeah. I might have a slight girl crush, there. *G*
When it came time for Jared to do his Q&A, they lined us up by badge numbers and the line wrapped around the mezzanine. So, let's see where to start ... First of all, I'd heard of a gal who had commissioned a specially made Supernatural Chess Set as a gift for Jared Padalecki. I had thought, you know, chess set. Well, she meant CHESS SET! The thing was like 3 feet across with hand-carved figures between 3 and 6 inches tall, every piece hand made. The black pieces are all evil SPN characters - including a Yellow Eyed Demon piece that really had yellow eyes - while the white were Sam and Dean and assorted Good Things, including the Impala as I think a Knight. She had designed the board herself, complete with a gigantic pentagram painted in the middle.
Anyhow, Jared had no sooner arrived to his usual torrent of screams and cheers, when the MC, our wonderful Dizzy, directed him to the chess set. It rested on a couple chairs near the door, and I swear Jared's eyes just popped. LOL, he loped over to the thing like a gigantic great kid, and while the girl shyly told him about it, he bent over and peered at it from first this angle and that, clearly and utterly astounded. He hugged her and thanked her with a boyish look of glee, then went *back* to ogling the set once more. LOL, Dizzy had to remind him there was another reason for him being here. *G*
But wait. Fandom was not done with Jared, no sir. Next Dizzy called up Becky, aka janglyjewels, who as many fans know had headed up a charity drive for The Animal Rescue Site, gathering funds from fans to the tune of $5,000!! The endeavor began as a fandom project wherein Becky collected photos of fans with Jared, to be compiled and printed as a book. People volunteered to help with printing, she ended up with more money than the book needed, and so she decided to donate the excess to The Animal Rescue Site in Jared's name. And then? The money REALLY began to come in. To the tune of five big ones.
So, here comes Becky with her arms full of book, oversize check, and a couple drawings of Jared and his dogs that an artist in the UK sent to go with the book. She read aloud from a prepared letter introducing the project, while Jared's eyes just kept getting bigger. By the time she handed him the book and the $5,000 check, Jared was beyond words. He wrapped her up in the biggest hug and smooched her on the cheek, and the crowd almost cheered the roof off.
It gets better. When Becky went back to sit down, Jared sat up there with this stuff in his lap, and he was nearly speechless. He stammered around, looking at the book, the drawings, the check, and the magnificent chess set by the door, and finally said he wondered what he was doing up on stage, when he was surrounded by people so much cooler than him. On the flight over, he said he was so tired and running short of sleep, that he wondered what he was doing this for. We, the fans, just gave him his reason.
We done good, guys. Everybody who partook in Becky's charity drive, give yourselves a pat on the back. I was right there in the second row, video taping it all, and yeah, I know he's an actor, but people, he had *tears* in his eyes. For a moment, he simply reverted to that patented Padalecki sign language, where he pats a hand above his heart and looks out at us all. Never doubt, fellow fans, that an actor's muse needs feeding just as much as any writer's, and we let him know that we're willing to go that extra mile, just for him.
SO! On with the show. :-) The Q&A itself didn't reveal much new or astounding, so I mainly enjoyed watching Jared simply be Jared. This being my second time seeing him, I settled in to savor it, and I'll tell you something that occurred to me. Jared is damned good at what he does.
Under that boyish, self-effacing, gosh-I'm-just-from-Texas exterior lies an awfully astute mind. He knows how to work a crowd, how to make us all feel at home, how to embrace an entire room like we're just hangin' out over beers - and yet he fields fan questions from the awkward to the downright silly with deft aplomb. Jared is running the room, it's not running him, and I find it impressive how well he does it, and makes it look like he's not doing a thing. Someone later told me he had excelled in debate in school, and I can certainly see that, now, in his ease in front of a crowd where anything might come at him.
As everyone by now has heard, Jared confirmed that he and Jensen do live together, him upstairs and Jensen down. Jensen had been rooming with another guy, but the guy sold his condo and Jensen moved in with Jared just as a temporary measure ... and the arrangement works so well he simply never bothered to leave. :-) Jared noted with some firmness that he wanted to quash any "fantasies" by talking about this, but hey, we know fandom doesn't let reality get in the way of its fantasies, lol! I think he knew this, though, the way he played with us about the whole situation. *G*
Meanwhile, some tidbits from his Q&A:
The latest prank? He and Jensen were filming an episode where both brothers are using binoculars, and when they put the binoculars to their eyes and took them down ... each turned to see the other sporting - you guessed it - sooty black rings around their eyes! LOL, the best part was, neither immediately realized he'd been pranked, himself! *SNORK!!*
Asked whether humor or emotional scenes were harder, he replied, humor. That's because they have to do crazy things and make it seem easy, plus he has more experience with drama. Plus emotional scenes usually move the plot along, which he likes.
His dream project? He'd love to so something like Lord of the Rings. He loves that it told a story and how the actors must have really lived it, so clearly he's a fan of the grand and epic. LOL, though he did tease about having hairy feet and trying to be a hobbit - all 6'4" of him!
Asked about the angel/religious thing appearing in Season 4, he said that initially "Houses of the Holy" upset him with its religious angle, bothered him a *lot*, but it ended up being a favorite episode of his. Now he's enthused about the idea of something "much bigger than us" happening, much bigger than Sam and Dean in the Impala. He was of the opinion that it only made sense that a Higher Power would take notice after the Devil's Gate opened and all that. Someone also asked if Sam was sleeping with Ruby, to which he simply replied, "Well, they were doing *something*." That's just veiled enough to leave it open to interpretation, and may mean that Jared himself really doesn't know. ;-)
He doesn't hear anything about future episodes until he gets the script, so he's as eager as we are to see what happens, to see if Sam gets to go "darkside" and do more kick-ass stuff, or what, but he's totally stoked over the season's new direction. Plus he reiterated his wish that he'd love to see the brothers clash, and that he wants a Butch 'n Sundance sort of ending for the boys. ;-)
Oh, and at one point the Ghost Busters peeked in and interrupted things, lol! Jared said he loved that episode, but he hopes he never works with them again, because all he does is LAUGH! *g*
Jared did make mention of The CW's shaky status, which in a worst case scenario could mean there won't be a Season 5 if there's no more CW, which is one reason they're pulling out all the stops for Season 4. However, I'm stuffing my fingers in my ears and chanting, "La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-can'thearyou-la-la-la-la!" on that one. *G*
Overall, his Q&A this time almost seemed more low-key than last EyeCon, maybe someone can confirm or deny, but it struck me that way. The prevailing thing I noticed was his gleeful excitement over the unfolding of Season 4! LOL, I love that he's almost a fanboy of his own show, even if he can't see the finished episodes until later. In all, Jared was as chatty, fun, affable and delightful as he has ever been. The only bummer of the entire Q&A? I finally had the microphone *IN MY HAND* when Dizzy let Jared know the time was up. DAMN! Foiled. ;-)
Thus, off our beautiful boy went, presumably to stuff some FOOD in himself before we ran the legs off him, once again. I think I went in search of something food-like, myself, the memory gets a bit hazy, there....
Come autograph time, my seat was in the B row, so not very far into the general line. But just as I neared the table, the handlers and helpers organizing the whole mishmash began chivying us to pick up the pace. But something in me said, "Not yet, dammit." Time *was* of the essence, Jared had to be at the airport by like 3:30, but I just wanted to treat him like a person one more time, before he had to turn into an autograph scribbling machine.
So I crouched down by Jared's table to roll out my poster for signing, and I felt weirdly better for being where we could look each other in the eye. Whatever, it earned me a smile and those warm hazel-green eyes, and I handed over my gift, telling him that since he gives so much to us, I wanted to give something back. He glanced it over with a boyish grin, exclaimed, "No way!" and accepted my handshake of thanks with a smile. And that's that! :-)
Which I'm glad I did, because from what I heard, the autograph session swiftly turned into an assembly line. I guess people soon weren't even getting their autographs personalized, and I wonder how many folks were bitterly disappointed for that.
But all things said and done ... I was glad he came, and I deeply enjoyed my few little moments with our long tall Texas boy. And I'm glad I coaxed Karina into coming with me, because she understands the sort of dorkitude with which I am afflicted. :-) Thank you, sweetie! *smish*
Some while later, Jared's visit ended and the place emptied right back out again, the weirdness of the exodus striking more odd notes in my mind. Just goes to show these cons wouldn't be much if neither Jared nor Jensen appeared, that's for sure! ;-) And amidst the vastly shrunken congregation, Chad Lindberg got up for his Q&A.
I decided to sit in just because it was part of the deal, and I was here for the total con experience. After all, who knows when or if I'll do another? Karina sat with me for a time, and called susannaheanes (home sick,) and relayed a question for her to Chad: what's he working on, now? The answer is a film called "Once Fallen" starring Ed Harris, for which YAY, Chad! *g* Chad also relayed his "Hi" back to Suze, which I thought terribly cute. Then Karina took off for a drive to the coast, which I later envied because, hello? Sunset on the Atlantic Ocean? I've never even SEEN the Atlantic!
But I'm not sorry I stayed for Chad, simply because I've grown to kinda like the guy. ;-) The crowd for him was small and the atmosphere relaxed and informal, and even lazy. LOL, though I'm not sure what prompted it, at one point Chad imitated his Italian friend, the maker of "My Big Break," and further imitated Tom Cruise by jumping on a couch, a la "Risky Business." *SNORK*
Asked if he was afraid of backlash from Hollywood, if "My Big Break" gets distribution, Chad stoutly said he's looking forward to it. That's because it would mean people are seeing it. gwendolyngrace later asked about acting, saying that some actors look for roles that showcase skills they already have, while others like to learn skills they don't already have. Were there any skills Chad had learned? LOL, I don't think Chad tracked the question entirely as Gwen meant it, but he did say he'd played a little baseball in one... :-p
Let's see ... other items include his tattoos: scorpio, a tribal breast cancer ribbon (which I later saw) a raindrop, and a Chinese character that he hopes but may not mean "courage". He'd next like a humming bird, since he tends to view them as little spirit guides or loved ones returning just to say, "Hi, it's cool!" ;-) He spoke also of the stress of intense roles, how the demands of filming override illness and everything.
He also spoke of later going back home to his parents in Washington State to re-collect himself after the events shown in "My Big Break." This was even after he was recognizable as an actor, and for every job, he is simply grateful. Heh, at one point he noticed Jim Beaver sitting in the back with his hand raised, and with exaggerated courtesy called for his question. Jim responded, "Why are you still talking?" ROTFLMAO!! Very cute to see the camaraderie of Supernatural lingers even amongst actors no longer on set.
And ... that was pretty much it for EyeCon! I chose to skip the Q&A's for Steve Carlson, and instead went with the girls for a nice lunch/dinner in the mall. heidi8 had already left, and roguebitch had only like half an hour before she had to leave, so I enjoyed some last moments with her and gwendolyngrace, and etakyma.
And that was that! I did miss the fan panels, or anyway the presence of *something* that would be "by the fans, for the fans." I think it's important to have that, and even a static display like a fan art show or even fan-vid viewing would be great, too. We need something that's just for us, y' know? Something BUT! I still had an awesome time, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Here's me crossing fingers for another land-based EyeCon, sometime in 2009. :-)
THANKS, Kenny and Voni! You guys put on a helluva show. :-)