Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

It was about 6:30am when the drugs kicked in…the knowledge that in a few hours time, I would be in a place of fantasy, wonder, and awe. And B.O. LOTS of B.O.

Yup, it was that time of year again. My second-straight trip to Atlanta’s own Dragon*Con, the annual Labor Day convention of all things genre. I was a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more in debt than I was last year. Well, not exactly on that last part, but it felt like it after a car accident a couple of weeks earlier left me without wheels.

But this wasn’t a weekend for all of those “real world” concerns- this was about losing myself in a sea of nerds and insane pop culture goodies to buy. I had a list of top 10 people I wanted to get pics with, autographs from, and a list of panels so ridiculously deep I wanted to get to it felt like I was going to have my head explode.

Day 1: Friday, September 3

Friday brought early frustrations and late-night pleasures. The former came from my mother and I trying to pick up our badges. We had pre-registered online, so you know, go in, get our badges, and go on with our lives, right?

I still have a lot to learn. So yeah, even though both my mother and I qualified for disability services (her for her knees, me for my oxygen-wearing), I focused on the fact that we had pre-registered, so we ended up walking *all* the way around the Sheraton just to be directed to the front of the building again for disability services registration. Yay…we’ll get it right one of these years…

After getting our badges, my mother and I headed for the Marriott for panels. I didn’t walk in late to the “V” panel with Morena Baccarin (partially because a couple of her costars- Joel Gretsch (the priest) and Laura Vandervoort (her daughter)- had canceled earlier in the week), but as I waited outside a nearby room for the 11:30 panel with MST3K’s Kevin Murphy (who ended up not getting in until that night, meaning another delay in must-see panels) I did see Morena (the beauty from “Firefly”) leave the “V” panel, and yeah, she’s just as beautiful in person as she is on TV. My mother did go into that panel, and she really enjoyed it, and got to talk to Morena. Sweet. I wish I’d gone in.

After discovering the Murphy panel was canceled, we decided to try and hit some of the dealer rooms and Walk of Fame. Sadly, they don’t open on Friday until 1pm (I mean, wtf?), so we basically just walked around, enjoyed the costumes (I got my picture taken with Alien; I missed Predator though) before our planned 1pm panel…

…It was well worth waiting for. It was with Bill Corbett, the RiffTrax/”Mystery Science Theater 3000″ veteran I unfortunately missed last year, and it was a great panel start for the year. He read- with the assistance of the moderator and fellow MST3K vet Trace Beaulieu- his new theatre play, about a screenwriter who’s hosting a lecture, and finds his creative creation getting away from him. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, and really made me glad I made him a priority to see this year. I got it on video; let me just say, hilarious. I also got him to sign my “MST3K: The Movie” poster, which I’d brought for autographs.

After Corbett, and talking to a fellow fan about BBC’s Torchwood (which, if you haven’t heard, is coming back next year on Starz) and such, my mom and I headed over the Hyatt for a panel with Sean Astin titled, “A Hobbit’s Tale.” Before either of those, however, my mother had made a decision- she was going to stay the night at the Marriott. We hadn’t managed to secure a room when they first became available, but she still managed to get one. I couldn’t stay- I had other things to worry about…

As for Astin, he is no doubt one of the most engaging and fan-friendly people I saw this year. He loved getting in front of the audience, sharing his life, his work, his memories, and answering the questions. No doubt one of the best one-person panels I’ve watched in my two years going to Con. And when I got his autograph afterwards between panels, he was so nice and appreciative and engaging…

…That was a common theme at this year’s Con. When I visited with stars at this year’s Walk of Fame, they were so sweet and enjoyable to meet. No duds, really. (Not that there were last year… 😉 ) I also finally got to meet Morena Baccarin, and told her how much I enjoyed “Firefly” and “V” (and yes, she’s really hot too; did I mention that? Lol).

But one of my favorite stars to meet this year was Tia Carrere. I mean, come on, what 14-15 year old guy didn’t have a hard-core crush on her in the “Wayne’s World” movies? She is still beautiful, and was really great to meet. And when I mentioned how much I loved “Lilo & Stitch,” she told me a great story about how when she was asked for that film to sing a Hawaiian song for the film (she voiced Lilo’s sister, and is a native Hawaiian herself), she wasn’t please with the result. So a few years later, when she did an album of her own, she rerecorded it, and ended up with a Grammy for it. Can you say very cool?

After the Walk and strolling through some of the Dealer Rooms, I hit my third panel of the day- for the web series “The Guild.” Now, this series has become a personal favorite the past year since I bought the first two seasons when meeting creator Felicia Day last year at Dragon*Con. This year brought Jeff Lewis (Vork), Sandeep Parikh (Zaboo) and director Sean Becker, and well, they were a pleasure in more ways than one. They started the panel by showing the most recent music video for the show- a Bollywood parody entitled “Game On”- before taking fan questions, which were informative for this up-and-coming web artist on what should be looked into when doing our own web series (or acting in particular)- before showing clips of Lewis’s new web series “The Jeff Lewis Comedy Hour” (this is one hilarious dude) as well as a clip from “The Legend of Neil,” a new web series they’re doing with Felicia, who plays a slutty fairy. Oh yeah, she does very well in the role.

After “The Guild” panel, I made my way back to the car to drop off my video camera and change oxygen tanks before making my way over to the Hyatt for Friday night’s “MST3K and Cinematic Titanic” panel, which- if you’ll recall- was one of the big highlights of last year for me. This year even more so, since all five of the CT riffers- including original “MST3K” creator Joel Hodgson- there to answer questions and to present one of their Live show DVDs. It was audience choice, and the audience chose “East Meets Watts,” a Fu-Blacksploitation piece of nonsense from the ’70s that is perfect riffing material for the gang- full of incoherent plotting, ridiculous dialogue, and pretty crazy scenarios. It’s not as out-and-out bad as last year’s DVD screener “Blood of the Vampires,” but it’s just as worthy of CT’s wonderful blend of mirth and verbal mayhem. Afterwards my mom headed out of the panel while I got in line for autographs with the gang. I ended up getting all five to sign my “MSTie” movie poster, as well as buying their Live DVD “The Legend of Tiki Island,” a trading card of them, as well as Trace Beaulieu’s new children’s book, which was signed, “To Brian, A most wonderful child.” I can’t wait to dig into it.

And so after I got done there (where I also ran into my friend Mat in line), I headed back to the room to drop off a few things, and drive home while my mom stayed at the hotel, setting the stage for day two…

To be continued…

Brian Skutle

Read Brian’s Blog for Dragon*Con 2009 here.

Categories: News, News - General

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