Fan Expo – Too Many Crowds

August 25, 2012

I bailed on Fan Expo early today – or maybe I beat a strategic retreat. By a little after 4 I’d done everything I wanted to and still had the opportunity to do today, and I was tired of being in a crowd and the phones not working well. But I didn’t want to go back to my hotel room because there’s a Browncoats shindig downtown in about two hours.

So I’m loitering in the VIA Rail part of Union station nibbling on snacks and enjoying how well the iPhone works without 9000 other phones next to it – until the battery runs out. And I’m thinking about what I accomplished today and the disappointments.

Accomplishments:
Met Alan Tudyk in his autograph line. Got my copy of “Those Left Behind” signed, bringing that comic up to 5 big damn signatures, and 6 for the blueprint book, which has Melinda Clarke too. Alan loved the shiny detail in the blueprints, and he signed over the cockpit on the cover of course.

Played a little fragment of a Settlers of Catan game with a nice fellow from the board games room.

Got a pretty good seat for the Lost Girl panel, loved hearing the cast banter back and forth and seeing the blooper reel. Read the rest of this entry »


Fan Expo Day 2 – A good kind of tired.

August 24, 2012

Okay. Woke up, got Tim’s for breakfast, worked on some of ‘The Witches of Arion’, transferred it to the Tungsten C to work on while I was on downtime at the convention center, got into the shower, and rushed to get dressed and out of the hotel before ten.

Got into the show without too many lines, around twenty after. Picked up a ticket for the John Barrowman autograph line, they said it’d be around twenty minutes. There were a few people lined up for James Marsters, but he wasn’t there, and somebody said he was supposed to get there for eleven, so I didn’t wait around there.

I checked for the Browncoats booth, (still not there, maybe they don’t have one this year,) and read a bit. Back to the autograph lines, got a book signed by John Barrowman pretty quickly, he was really fun and friendly.

By this time James’ line was pretty long and a few people were filtering in for Juliet Landau, so I talked to the people in Juliet’s line, and they said they were hoping that she’d be there around eleven too, so I got in line too, pulled out my Kindle, and waited.

And waited. Eleven o’clock comes around, James shows up, his line starts moving. After noon, a volunteer finally shows up and says that Juliet is still in her hotel, and that the earliest she’ll be around is one fifteen. One fifteen is also when James and Juliet were supposed to have a joint photo op according to the program.

I bail from the line then, surprised that it doesn’t entirely melt away. I line up for James, then give up when I’m about halfway through, deciding that I don’t really want to spend forty bucks on a repeat signing.

So I wander around a bit, go to the board games room, find an old critique partner and talk to her about writing or the lack of it for a few minutes, check out a rules book for “Settlers of Catan”, then go back downstairs to grab some pizza, and I decide to try the Juliet line around one fifteen.

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Fan Expo is less than two days away…

August 21, 2012

Can you tell I’m excited? 🙂

I haven’t packed yet, but I’ve been working on my schedule plans, figuring out what Q&A sessions and other events I need to make it to, when I can fit in some role-play gaming, (They’ve got Harry Dresden RPG sessions!) and what I want to take to be signed by whom.

I’m leaving work Thursday around noon, taking the train to Toronto, and checking into a little boutique hotel near the Wellesley subway station that was cheaper than any of the official convention hotels closer to downtown. Then it’s down to the convention center to see how early I can get in – Julie Benz’s Q&A session is on the first night, and hopefully I can fit the gaming in afterward.

I’m really excited about meeting Alan Tudyk, but John Barrowman and Juliet Landau should be fun too, also seeing Julie Benz and James Marsters again.

I’ll probably be very tired when I get back to the office on Sunday evening to drive back home, but as long as I don’t get into an accident it’ll all be worth it.

And then a few days later I fly down to Atlanta for Dragon*Con.


Harry Dresden versus the Ghosts

June 22, 2012

Okay, another great book recently wrapped up, “Grave Peril,” by Jim Butcher. (Mild spoilers follow, I think.) As an aside, this is the first Harry Dresden book I read on Kindle, as opposed to on an audio-player, (yes, I know that the Kindle can be used to play audible.com books, but it’s not really good at it in my opinion.) It was still really easy to dive into, and I kept hearing James Marster’s voice in Harry’s dialog and narration.

I was told by a friend that the Harry Dresden books really pick up with this one, and was a little surprised and concerned, since I’d liked the first two in the series so much. But now, I can see what he meant. Harry is still the same dry, witty sunnuvabee, and there’s still a lot of great action and adventure. But Jim did manage to turn the dial up in a few important ways:

He took away what Harry was good at when it counts. This is a good trick for those of us who write fantasy, I think. In one of his early encounters with the big bad, Harry gets most of his wizardly power eaten, and so he has to struggle through most of the second act as a shadow of his awesomely magical self, while the bad guy gets to use his own tricks against him, because, as Bob the spirit puts it, ‘You are what you eat.’ This raises the stakes in a very personal way, and forces Harry to be much more creative and ingenious, as he has to figure out how to do more with less, or maybe with no wizardry at all.

He took away something that matters to Harry even more. I’m not going to say anything more spoiler-ey here, except that it’s about somebody we know Harry cares about. And this time, the consequences aren’t all cleared up by the end of the book. Again, it’s about raising the stakes, this time, on a personal level – show what matters to your character, then have them lose it.

He’s setting up plot elements for later in the series. This one doesn’t just apply to the loss I mentioned above, though it does count. Also, though the main bad guy has been defeated, some of his allies are stronger than ever. They’re pissed with Harry, and with all white wizards on principle, which means that the other white wizards are also pissed with Harry for dragging them into a war that they didn’t want to be part of.

I’m looking forward to Harry Dresden #4, “Summer Knight”!

 


‘Out of Media Res’ transitions

May 28, 2012

So, I dove into reading Jim Butcher’s “Grave Peril” this morning. I’d dipped my toe into the book back in late March, reading a bit from the first chapter, and didn’t get any further because I was trying to catch up on Elizabeth Twist’s short story challenge and just getting to some of the good parts of ‘Game of Thrones.’ So this morning, pulling out my Kindle on the bus, I started from the beginning again.

It’s an exciting opening, with Harry Dresden and a holy knight going to a big Chicago hospital to save some babies from a formidable ghost. And then, just at the most exciting part of the scene… we find out that it was an ‘In Media Res’ opening, starting in the middle of the action, or at least a point after the chronological beginning of the narrative.

A lot of the time when you have an IMR opening, it’s fairly obvious, but this one snuck up on me, partly because it wasn’t a trick Butcher had used in the previous Harry Dresden books. (Incidentally, this is also the first that I’m not reading in audiobook format, so it’s somewhat odd the way James Marsters’ voice is sticking with me, giving life to Harry’s words inside my head.) I knew that there were a few things going on that had to be explained about how Harry and Michael Carpenter got where they were, but hadn’t actually clued in that there would be flashback scenes to go along with the explanation, or that this was a flash-forward scene.

So I’ve started thinking about the moment when you come out of ‘In Media Res’, and transition back to the chronological beginning of the story. Sometimes, with a narrator in a book, he actually tells you ‘But wait, I’m going to have to back up a bit…’ or something of that sort. In a movie or television episode, there might be nothing to signal the transition but a bare caption: “23 and a half hours earlier…”

What are your favorite ‘In Media Res’ openings? Were you taken by surprise, or did you know that they were using the In Media Res technique from the start? How did they handle the transition back in time?


Saturday at Dragon*Con

September 4, 2011

I had a very busy day.

Breakfast at the Holiday, then the shuttle over to the Hilton. Armed with my ‘Buffy Omnibus Seven’ and ‘Dollhouse one-shot’ comics, I got two signatures from Felicia Day and one from James Marsters. The extra Felicia signature was on a ‘Doctor Horrible’ glossy photo.

The ‘Is the Doctor a meddler’ panel was standing room only, and not much of that, so I wandered over to Kate Mulgrew’s Q&A for a while, and then pulled out at the half-hour mark to get into line for the big Smallville Q&A session.

I’m not sure if anybody else does that, though I suspect it’s more common than you might think. There’s a half hour break between panels and other items on the schedule, to let people go from place to place, but really popular panels get lines starting up more than hour early. So, if you leave one panel half-way through, you can get to the site of the next and have nearly an hour, which should be enough to get you a pretty good seat. Obviously, you wouldn’t bother unless the second panel is a lot better than the first.

So, Smallville Q&A, was a lot of fun, we heard from Laura Vandervoort about her superhero poses and got a lot of fun stories from the villain guys, and heard about what everybody’s up to now. I got into line with a question that was mostly for James and partly also for Sam Witwer, about how much they knew about their character’s dark sides when they first started, because we met Brainiac and Doomsday through their secret identities first. But when I was second in line to ask, James had to leave early, so I decided not to bother and went back to my seat.

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Fan Expo diary – part One

August 30, 2010

First off, I’ve missed a blog post from my usual schedule, on account of preparations for Fan Expo keeping me busy, but I figured I’d do a big series to start off the week with some of my experiences. This was written Saturday morning, about my first day at Fan Expo, the afternoon and evening of August 27th:

Got into town around three on Friday – immediately headed off to my hotel to check in and drop off my bags. They had automated check in, which was nice, and I hung around in the room for a few minutes to catch my breath, and kept a lookout for any place to grab some food fast when heading down to Front street.

And then I saw the lines of people waiting to get in.

Immediately hurried over to join the line, and then realized that this was the line of people who hadn’t reserved tickets online, so I hurried down to find the end of the other line. Bought a burger and a bottle of water at a hamburger car sitting out just past the start of the ‘reserved tickets’ line. It was just after four when I got my order, the line started to move – slowly, and I continued along ALL the way down Front street and down the side street to the end of the line. Ended up behind a family group – mother, three daughters from teen-age to pre-teen and a little boy. Ate my burger, drank my water, and moved with the line.

Now, I’d really been excited about the Serenity RPG-ing, and there was a session listed for Friday at 5pm, so I was constantly trying to convince myself that I’d be in the building by five. I wasn’t, quite, and there was more of a lineup inside the building. By the time I’d handed in my reservation printout and gotten my orange wristband, it was probably five twenty-five, and I lost more time trying to go down the wrong stairs before I found the right way to the RPG room.

“No, sorry, that session is full up, and even if it weren’t, they’ve started play.”

So I reserved a spot in the Sunday Serenity session, and also a D&D session for Saturday, thanked the people outside the RPG room, and headed back up to the main floor. Met someone from the Shindigs group in passing, got all the way over to the celebrity signing lines, hesitated over who to wait for at this point, ended up going through Michael Dorn’s line and getting a signed action shot of Worf.

By this time, I’d figured out that the Saturday D&D session conflicted with Felica Day’s Q&A, and some other things that I wanted to be available for, so I went back down to RPGs to cancel on that one, back up to the floor, wandered around some of the vendor stalls. I think I visited Chris M from the Buffy and Shindigs groups, who was working at the Pixel Barrel stall, and bought a hardcover volume of the Ninth Doctor Shooting Scripts, then to a photo stall and picked up two more unsigned pictures of Summer Glau, and then finally hit the jackpot at a comics stall.

“All trades for half off the US cover price” – and they had all the Buffy comics omnibi from two through six, which I’ve been meaning to pick up since I loved reading the first one, but thought the price came a little steep on Amazon.

So I paid them off, and found a way to stick all the books into my laptop bag along with the doctor who and what I’d brought with me. Wandered over towards the signing area, Felicia Day had shown up and I actually got into her line, then realized just how heavy my bag was now, and decided to go out through the exits, drop the heavy stuff back at the hotel. It was just getting towards seven by this point, and I didn’t have any firm ‘gotta be there’s until the James concert at nine.

So I headed down and out the marked exits – there was a sign saying ‘no re-entry without hand stamps,’ but that apparently doesn’t apply to weekend ticket-holders with orange wristbands. Got a soft-serve ice cream cone from another truck on front street, got back up to my room on the tenth floor, unpacked the bag, drank one of my powder drink mixes with the hotel tap water, headed back down, grabbed a donut from the Tim Horton’s on the corner, and back to the convention center. Went back to the signing area, took a look at the Felicia Day line again but didn’t actually get in, wandered around the vendors for a while, and then headed down to level one for Stockwell Day’s Q&A.

That was a fun session – he was very matter-of-fact about what it had been like for him to be a working actor for so many decades, and even though I got spoiled for some Battlestar Galactica stuff I didn’t mind. I asked a question about funny moments from shooting Quantum Leap, and just got a reply of “I can’t think of one moment, but there was something funny happening every day on that set between Scott and I,” which was alright.

I showed up ten minutes early for the James concert, and nobody got let in until at least twenty after nine, but it was really fun once it started. He obviously loves to write songs and to perform them, which I hadn’t really realized even when I bought the ticket. He sprinkled in a few fun stories between numbers, and I took an awful lot of pictures – I hope the people ahead of me weren’t too annoyed at the flash going off.

And that was pretty much it for day one of fan expo, for me – chatted with a Shindig friend a little on the way out of the James concert, (most of them were in the VIP line waiting I think,) and came back to my hotel tired and just about ready to fall into bed.


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