Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Now, the question of everyone’s mind is, “Can he finish writing about Dragon*Con BEFORE the end of September?” Okay, maybe that’s just a question going on in MY mind, but after I failed to finish my Dragon*Con blogs in 2011 until December, it is a question worth asking.

Last year, I just had a hard time getting into the writing process…in a lot of ways, and for a lot of reasons. This year, some of those reasons are sneaking back up on me, and being joined by others, but after wallowing in them for a few weeks or so, I’m ready to confront them, and type on. Now, if only I had a computer that was working…

…But I digress. This year, I am combining Day 3 and 4 of my Dragon*Con experience into one blog. The reason? The four hours I spent downtown on Monday didn’t really have enough to write about in its own blog. You’ll see what I mean. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 2

By Sunday, it seems as though the kinks in our system are straightened out, and things– more or less –go according to plan. This year was no exception. Sadly, Ron and I didn’t get back to the liquor store today, but we had a full enough day as it was.

As we did Saturday, we brought out the Jay and Silent Bob costumes one, last time. When I went to pick Ron up, it made me think of a great sitcom or web series wherein Jay and Bob carpool to a job (or, Hell, just carpool to hang out at the Quik Stop), and mayhem ensue. (Kevin Smith, if you happen to be reading this, and like this idea, I better get some credit…lol.) We riffed on this as we drove downtown; again, we started later than usual, although today, it was mainly because there wasn’t really anything to take in before 1pm panel-wise that excited us.

When we got there, we made a bee-line to the Dealer Rooms at the Marriott, and managed to find some things, not just for us, but for friends of ours who might like something from this geekfest; we also managed to find something for ourselves. We also made it over to the Walk of Fame for a little bit where we got autographs by Rose McGowan. I got mine on the insert for the “Grindhouse” Blu-Ray, while Ron got one for a dear friend of ours who is, for personal reasons, taken by McGowan’s Cherry Darling in “Grindhouse,” and in particular, the fact that she has a machine gun attached to her right leg. She was very pleasant to meet, and very sweet, which was a nice happenstance after we hadn’t been able to see her at the panel she was scheduled for on the day before.

After the Dealer Rooms, we dropped our purchases off at the truck (for the first time, ideally parked), and headed over to the Westin for a 1pm repeat of Friday’s “Big Damn Heroes” “Firefly” panel with Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, and Adam Baldwin. We arrived to get in line at around 11:30-11:45, and good Lord, was it already slammed. Of course, the getting there early was intentiional, because I remembered our experiences with the Westin from last year, and was determined to not be stuck with less-then-desirable seats this year. It was for this panel that we had talked with a friend of ours about meeting up to get in line, and we were all able to sit together (both to be in line, as well as in the room itself), catch up, and have some fun, while joking about the line experiences in general at Con. (Trust me, there isn’t often much to joke about.) Well, the seats were much better than they were for Ron and I last year for the “Back to the Future” panel, and it was well worth the wait. It got a bit hairy when someone in the crowd asked Baldwin what it was like, as a conservative, to work within a largely liberal Hollywood, but there was plenty of fun to compensate, with the biggest laughs, arguably, coming from when the three were envisioning where the series would have gone had it lasted, and the notion of Jayne babysitting Simon and Kaylee’s kids came up. It wasn’t as brilliant as 2010’s “Let’s all flip off Nathan Fillion” moment, but it was well worth the wait.

After the panel, Ron and I went to talk to my mother, who had come in late, before we went our separate ways. My mom stayed to watch the 2:30pm “Spike & Drusilla Q&A” panel with James Marsters and Juliet Landau, while Ron and I went back to the Metro Cafe Diner for a bite to eat. The food there is really good (for all of those Con-goers who haven’t been), although admittedly, the service left something to be desired.

Our appetites sated, we dropped some things back off at the truck, and headed back over to the Walk of Fame, where I was treated to some absolutely wonderful memories. First off, Ron and I actually met up with our friends Shelley and Joe for the first time at Con. Shelley, for those who may not remember, is someone I became acquainted with after the ’09 Con, and we’ve been friends ever since. We have had a difficult time meeting up at Con over the years, for a variety of reasons, but it was great to be able to do so this year, which added to the pleasure of this, particular trip down the Walk. The first person I decided to meet and get an autograph from was J. August Richards, whom had already established himself as one of my favorite people from not just this Con, but past ones as well, after two panels. He was just as engaging and grateful for the fandom in person, and the picture I had taken with him is a favorite of mine.

The second person was Amber Benson. If you read my Day 2 blog, you know just how deep my fandom of Amber goes. Well, can I say that actually meeting her lived up to my every expectation, and then some? Her voice was still a little hoarse after the acting workshop (but it’s always been a little low anyway, which has always added to her appeal for me), but she was as sweet and lovely as I remembered. You see, even though this was my first time meeting her, I did see her in person before, when I drove to Birmingham, Alabama in 2002 for the world premiere of her first writing-directing effort, “Chance,” when she did a Q&A with some of her collaborators. When I mentioned this to her, she was so appreciative, so that when we took our picture together, she seemed genuinely happy to do so, and the hug I got? I still haven’t showered. (Okay, I have, but I’ve regretted it.) The kicker to this story, however, came when my mother stopped by her table after we had gone. My mother mentioned my trip to Birmingham, and Amber remembered not only the story, but me! True, it hadn’t been THAT long, but needless to say, I was on Cloud Nine after my mother told me this story. And there was still one, exciting story left for us this day.

After the Walk of Fame, Ron and I headed around the Dealer Rooms for a bit before dropping our purchases off at the truck, picking the camera back up, and heading to our final panel of the day: “Life on the Springfield A-List: Mike Reiss”. After Ms. Benson, Mike Reiss was, arguably, the person I was most excited to meet this year. He was one of the original writers on “The Simpsons,” and with his writing partner, Al Jean, ran the third and fourth seasons of the series, which still rate as two of the most popular in the show’s run. Since then, he has returned as a producer, along with co-writing “The Simpsons Movie,” although he’s got a few other films to his credit (namely, the last two “Ice Age” flicks) as well. I can definitely speak for Ron on this one, and say that this was the best panel of the entire weekend for us. My history with “The Simpsons” has been back-and-forth, but the DVDs have helped get me into the series again, and one of the highlights of those sets are, obviously, the audio commentaries, and Reiss is one of my favorite contributors on them. And he more than surpassed my expectations for funny and intelligent insights on the show, as well as a wonderful irreverence towards it as well. After the panel, I went up to meet him and have him sign my “Simpsons Movie” poster, and got a special treat when he actually asked Ron and I, still in our Jay and Bob outfits, for OUR picture. THAT was a thrill that just about surplanted meeting Amber Benson, though if I’m being honest with myself, Amber Benson was still my favorite moment of the weekend.

After the panel with Mr. Reiss, we headed back to Marietta. To my surprise, my mother and I ended up getting back to our house at the same time; she stayed not only for a “Once Upon a Time” panel at 5:30pm that day (which featured Jane Espenson, a Whedonverse writer who now writes for the hit series), but also a “Doctor Who” panel at 7pm that shed some light, for her, on that iconic sci-fi series, which she has become a fan of the past couple of years. In the end, we realized that it was a great day for both of us.

Monday, September 3

The last day of this year’s Con. This year, in particular, there was very little happening on Monday. Case in point– I only had one panel to go to. Granted, it was a wonderful one about “The Guild” and Felicia Day’s YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry, but still, if that one didn’t entertain, it would have been hard to see much plus-side in going on Monday this year.

Thankfully, I was not disappointed. For the first time in my four years of going to Dragon*Con, all six regular cast members for Ms. Day’s delightful web series were there, and even though it was a 10am panel, they were up for some solid questions, and offered a lot of laughs. After the panel, I took their lead and made my way over to the Walk of Fame for a couple of last-minute autographs. The first was getting in the long line to finally get signatures from all six “Guild” actors, and even though they were too rushed for me to get my hoped-for picture with all six, I did get to have one made with Felicia Day, and I have a great poster of all the characters with the actor’s autographs to get framed. Next up was Adam Baldwin, who was– thankfully –still there signing on day four, and it was great to meet him, and talk to him about a few of his projects. “Firefly,” of course, was the main one, but I also expressed my fandom of “Full Metal Jacket.” He was a nice guy. Nicest, however, was Juliet Landau, who was packing up, but was, nonetheless, nice enough to sign not just one but TWO pictures for myself and my mother. It’s the second time I’ve had a person at Con go above and beyond like that, and it was a great, gracious thing to have happen, especially on the last day.

After that, there wasn’t much left for me to do. Sadly, my mother didn’t make it downtown because we were going to drive separately, but her car died on her in the driveway, so she was forced to stay home. As for myself, I made a quick drop-off with my friend Shelley, for whom I had brought a couple of posters, and said my goodbyes for the year. As always, there are things I wish I had gotten to (nothing from the Film Festival this year), and people I wish I had seen, but that’s how it goes. Hopefully, I’ll perfect my Dragon*Con experience one of these years. For now, though, I have to say this year was one of my favorite ones.

Thanks for listening,

Brian Skutle

Dragon*Con 2009
Days 1-4

Dragon*Con 2010
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Dragon*Con 2011
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Dragon*Con 2012
Day 1
Day 2

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