Monthly Archives: August 2015

Chicago Stargate Convention 2015: Part 2

Saturday got off to an earlier start than I usually prefer (which is about noon), but if it’s Stargate, it’s worth getting up at the ungodly, coffee-less hour of, like, 10am. Thus, my second day of the convention started off with two back-to-back panels by two wonderful ladies: Andee Frizzell and Suanne Braun, both of whom were part of the cabaret last night, but who also took to the stage this morning to regale us with fun tales.

Andee usually makes a tradition of having each person who comes up to ask her a question tell her a fun story about a convention experience before they ask the question (or just tell her a story about a con experience). Unfortunately, most of my con stories that are memorable enough to tell are not PG (it’s not my fault Jason Momoa got very drunk last year and did unmentionable things!) so instead I sat back and enjoyed listening to other people’s con stories. I don’t remember many of them now, though a few were quite hilarious; all I remember is the “tutu for charity” – a tutu that a couple of fans brought to cons and asked celebrities to don. For every celebrity that put it on, they donated money to charity, and, of course, Andee heartily agreed (there’s few things she won’t do while at a Stargate con). The next day, Peter (Apophis) heartily donned the same tutu at the same moment I was walking by with my camera actually charged and on, so I snapped this serendipitous photo:

Apophis dons a tutu

Apophis dons a tutu

Next, Suanne Braun utterly charmed as all once again. She regaled us, in particular, of a story about how she was mistaken for Gillian Anderson, of X-Files fame. To be fair, Gillian was a redhead at the time, and the X-Files was filming in the same hotel she was staying in….and to make matters worse, she’d just gotten back from filming the “bath scene” in the Hathor episode, in which all the little plastic snakes they put in the tub with her melted from the hot water, making her reek. Meaning that there’s now a couple of very avid X-Files fans who think that Gillian Anderson smells very, very bad.

That’s, unfortunately, all I remember from these two ladies’ panels, but afterwards came the photo ops, and I got one with both of them. Andee and I faced off as Wraith queens – a pose inspired by the last time Andee had attended this convention, when she’d autographed a photo for me. I had told her my name is Anastasia, and she immediately made the connection with the Russian princess/grand duchess, addressing the photo to “the little princess” and signing it as “your queen salutes you!” In keeping with this idea of Andee as wraith queen and me as a rival ruler, Andee and I did a stare-down (she was unsure of quite the pose I wanted at first, but quickly caught on, and the result turned out quite well):

Two monarchs facing off

me, seduced by HathorThe absolute best photo op, though, was the one I took with Suanne. I thought it was rather short-sighted that in the episode, Hathor only seduced men, so I asked her if she would do me the honor of seducing me. (Clearly, I have a thing for the sexy ladies of SG-1, because a couple of years ago I asked Amanda Tapping to seduce me and “make my boyfriend jealous.” You can see the spectacular result below.) The result turned out pretty fantastically, with me looking really happy to be seduced by a gorgeous woman. When I got an autograph from Suanne the next day, I showed her how the photo turned out and we fell into discussing the gender dynamics of the episode a bit; essentially, she agreed with me that the fact that Hathor seduced only men was shortsighted, but was an inescapable product of the fact that the episode was filmed in 1997. Maybe if the same episode were done today, things would be different (with the right showrunners and network, of course).

Me, being seduced by Sam Carter

I also got another photo op with Peter Williams, because I couldn’t resist; he, and everyone else, kept making jokes about how he really is a god and how you should bow and kneel before him (my friend Allison mentioned in her write-up of the con that she’d totally be his consort), so naturally I went “hmmm, a guy who acts like he’s a deity. Why don’t I make him kneel?” Which is a)typical Ana b)exactly what I did. Granted, he didn’t quite kneel – his knees didn’t actually touch the floor (I can see all through your antics, Apophis!) but with the angle of the photo, you almost can’t tell. So, behold, Apophis kneeling before the true deity:

Apophis Kneels

After a break, during which I ran back and forth between the vendors’ room, my room, and autograph tables, as well as hunting for cash (because some people, lovely actors that they are, still haven’t figured out that in the 21st century no one carries cash), came Rainbow Sun Francks’ panel. This is the first con I’ve been to that he’s been at, so I was really excited to see his panel. Plus, I’d seen Rainbow hanging around the hotel for the past couple of days, chatting with other con-goers; he seemed really friendly, open, and down-to-earth (fun fact: he asked me what was going on during the karaoke and I explained that it was the karaoke without recognizing him, because, yes, I have a terrible memory for faces and it’s actually really embarrassing. I’ve probably walked past dozens of famous people I didn’t recognize. Think of all the autographs I probably could’ve gotten!)

Rainbow strikes a pose

Rainbow strikes a pose

His panel didn’t disappoint either, although at this point, I don’t remember much about it except that it was both fun and funny. I can also add, however, that Rainbow crashed pretty much everybody else’s panel at the entire convention, which absolutely nobody minded, The one thing I do remember from his panel is that he showed us a lot of exclusive pictures: he’d gone through his hard drive a few days previous and found a lot of photos from the shooting of Atlantis that he’d never shared with anybody, so we got to be the exclusive audience. He asked us not to take pictures of the pictures, and I respected his wishes, so although some of the photos were outright hilarious (mostly of David Hewlett and Paul McGillion looking as unattractive as these two beautiful people could manage). I later joked at Paul’s autograph that Rainbow should’ve printed out his utterly unflattering photos of Paul for him to sign. Rainbow, who turned out to be right there, (which it took me a while to notice, because I’m oblivious), asked me when he could’ve possibly had time to go to Kinko’s. I kindly offered to go to Kinko’s for him (“if you’re so busy, I’ll do it!”), but to which he pointed out that although I’m a lovely person, he doesn’t know me and isn’t about to hand me his entire hard drive. I suppose he had a point, but damn him, I wanted to be trusted by a guy named Rainbow!

Right after Rainbow’s panel was that of David Blue. He plays the title character of Stargate: Universe, and at that point I’d seen exactly one episode of Stargate: Universe, but I decided to stay for the panel anyway, and I’m glad I did, because David also turned out to be really fun. It turns out that he’s a geek like us, and he talked happily about games and TV shows he liked and pretty much outright admitted that he’s a geek. He even brought up slash fiction (yes, he went there!). Rainbow, who was in the room at the time (crashing everyone’s panels, as always) had no idea what that meant…I think David declined to explain, but the ensuing situation was hilarious! David also said that he was told by one of the SGU producers exactly where season three would have gone…but refused to tell us the slightest detail about it, in case there was still that 1% chance that a third season would get made in some way, somehow, somewhere. Seduction didn’t work in coaxing this secret out of him, unfortunately, so I had to leave it be. Granted, I haven’t gotten to the season two cliffhanger yet, so he could’ve told me absolutely anything and I wouldn’t have been able to argue with him, but still….

Next came the highlight of Saturday: Joe Flanigan’s panel. Joe’s pretty much a staple at Stargate conventions – I have yet to attend one that he hasn’t been at, which also pretty much means that I’m rolling in Joe Flanigan autographs at this point (perhaps I’ll do a sweepstakes one of these days). Joe’s always a joy to have onstage, because he’s really well-spoken and educated and says really interesting things about television and the media. He’s also a bit shy (as far as I can tell), so this is the first time he’s actually done a solo panel. It didn’t disappoint: he said a lot of really interesting things, many of which I livetweeted so I wouldn’t forget. For me, the most intriguing tidbit he mentioned was about television today: he said that we’re in the “Golden Era” of television for viewers – something that David Hewlett and Torri Higginson also mentioned to me at their meet and greet a couple of years ago. It seems to be the consensus that when it comes to storytelling and quality, television is slowly replacing movies. Joe did add that that doesn’t mean it’s a golden era for actors – he mentioned in particular that there’s a huge disparity in how actors get paid, in that some make millions while others probably make what’s barely above a graduate student salary (for me, this was a really intriguing insight into how the media I consume is made). Which, I guess, puts us viewers on the glamorous side of the screen (for a change!) I mentioned to Joe at autographs that I thought what he said about TV today was really interesting; I only had a few seconds to say it, because as usual, autographs were very rushed, so he didn’t have much of a chance to respond – but I’m still glad I got to thank him for the wonderful insights that he, as usual, provided behind the scenes. Joe also talked about how TV characters have changed: traditionally, he said, TV show characters would be “people you’d want in your living room,” whatever that means, while these days that may not necessarily be the case. (As someone tweeted, I’ll take Joe in my living room any day).

Joe and Paul looking adorable at Joe's panel

Joe and Paul looking adorable at Joe’s panel

Another interesting insight Joe gave is into his character. Someone asked him if he could change anything about the way Sheppard was written, and the only answer Joe came up with (as far as I recall, anyway), is that he didn’t like it that they wrote Sheppard to be a genius and a MENSA candidate – he didn’t think that was the right way for the character to go. I personally loved that Sheppard’s a genius who took a completely different life path from McKay (or, rather, I love it on most days), but I didn’t always. An ensuing question was why Sheppard refused to be in MENSA after he tested into it, and Joe suggested it’s because MENSA has too many rules, and Sheppard doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who likes rules. (No, really?)

Other than that, a large part of Joe’s panel entailed him waxing poetic about Iceland, where he recently vacationed (and tweeted about) and where he apparently ate whale…thus making eating whale a recurring joke throughout the panel. Not quite sure what’s so funny about that myself, but then again, I’m a Trekkie. Save the whales! And that, alas, is all I remember from Joe’s panel. Which is really just a clue that I should write up these con write-ups right after the con, and not two weeks afterwards (being a procrastinating perfectionist is the worst, and not just because of the tacky alliteration).

The evening ended with a couple of events: a costume competition, where there were some fantastic costumes on display, and autographs with Joe and Paul, and the gold dessert party – which wasn’t particularly exciting (it never is). I enjoyed walking around and taking photos of all the centerpieces, some of which were utterly gorgeous, and a couple of the celebrities (Andee and Suanne) did come by our table, but for the most part the celebrity presence was rather lacking at our table. We did have a lot of fun dancing to silly pop music with Andee and Sharon, however, so there’s that.

An amazing centerpiece from the Gold Dessert Party

And after that, shenanigans probably ensued, but I, like a responsible adult who wanted to be awake for the next morning’s panels, actually headed up to bed at a reasonable time. Because I’m a killjoy like that.

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Save the Stargate Convention!

A few days ago, I received some heartbreaking news:

All good things must come to an end unfortunately, so no more polls and such, this is the absolute last time we’re presenting The Official STARGATE SG-1/Atlantis/Universe Convention.

Okay, so no one died, there was no plane crash or nuclear disaster, but if you’re a Stargate fan, it’s pretty much the geek equivalent of such a disaster. Stargate is one of those shows that had a long and successful run (the entire franchise adds up to 17 seasons of content) before every single show in said franchise was unfortunately cancelled by SyFy – thus going the way of other landmark shows, like Star Trek, which were excellent but were axed by the network for a variety of financial reasons. Like Star Trek, Stargate was thought-provoking and funny, profound and lighthearted, entertaining and touching at the same time. It was the best of both worlds when it comes to sci-fi: it gave you hope and made you think. Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough for SyFy, and these days, there’s almost no new Stargate content out there. A few tie-in novels (which, as I hear, are terrible) and a game here or there is all that gets released. But for all intents and purposes, the franchise is more or less dead.

Except for when it’s not. It still remains alive in the hearts of its fans, who love it even years after cancellation and rewatch it, and it stays alive in new fans who discover the franchise every day. But most importantly, to me, it also stays alive at the Chicago Stargate convention – the only remaining convention dedicated to Stargate in the world. It is a convention I attend every year, and it is a truly magical experience each time. In the four years I’ve been going, this convention, and the people who attend it, have done some amazing things:

  • forging friendships: I can’t count the number of amazing friends I’ve made from all over the world in years of going.
  • creating life-long connections: it was at this convention that I befriended someone who is now one of my very close friends, James – at whose wedding I will be a bridesmaid next year!
  • marriage: two people who met at this convention and started a relationship are now engaged to be married (at the convention itself) after a proposal that happened at the convention itself (I wrote about it in my last post).
  • saving lives: once again, I can’t count the number of Stargate fans I’ve been who struggle with depression, anxiety, and all sorts of other mental issues, for whom this show and this convention has literally been a lifeline. The show and its characters keep them going, while the convention itself is the highlight of their year, a time they spend with friends and like-minded fans, celebrating the show they love. For many, it is this one weekend a year that keeps them going the other 51 weeks of the year.
  • raising money for charity: every Thursday night, before the con, a wonderful fan named Kimberly organizes a charity auction. Everyone donates Stargate-y and geeky items that get bid on, and we always raise thousands of dollars for medical research.
  • shenanigans: need I say more? Often, the celebrities at the convention join the fans to hang out, and lifelong memories are created. Ah, the stories I could tell!

And this is just a handful of things that this particular con accomplishes. I’ve been posting all about the convention this week, with more posts to come, and if you want a small glimpse into just how fun and amazing this convention is, give them a read! Stargate may have been off the air for years, but it continues to truly make an impact in people’s lives. I can’t overstate the significance of a show, and its convention, that literally saves lives and creates families. In addition, the Stargate fandom is one of the most welcoming and uplifting fandoms I’ve been in – just like the show itself. It’s difficult to find a group of fans that are that open and open-minded, no matter how far and wide you look, and we can’t let that die out.

And yet, Creation Entertainment insists that next year’s Stargate convention will be the last one. Despite all the life-changing things this convention is responsible for, Creation doesn’t want it to keep going. I’m not sure why – perhaps their profit margin isn’t high enough compared to something as lucrative as Supernatural. But Stargate is about more than just the money: it’s about meaningful relationships, life-long memories, and life-changing actions. This convention is one of the few remaining places where fans of this amazing show can come together, celebrate their show, and accomplish these wonderful things.

Stargate fans and good friends at the 2015 con.

Stargate fans and good friends at the 2015 con.

We can’t let that end. To that end, I’m beginning a campaign to beg Creation to continue these conventions. 2017 will be the 20th anniversary of the television franchise, and it would be a shame to pass up having a convention that year – or the years following. I know many are heartbroken that next year is the last. I know many fans who have been saving up to go to a con and would like to have more than a year to do so. I know fans who are saddened that they won’t have this touchstone in their lives anymore. So, please join me in keeping this convention going.

There’s several things you can do at the moment: LIKE the Facebook page, share it, invite your friends, and post your stories, memories, and photos on the page so that others can see how meaningful this con has been. Publicize this post and the Facebook page as much as you can. Tweet, instagram, and use whatever other social media platform you’re on. Once we get enough traction, and enough likes, we’ll start taking more actions, such as contacting Creation directly. But for now, the most significant thing you can do for this convention, and for the people who love it, is to spread the word.

Chicago Stargate Convention 2015: Part 1

This post is more lighthearted and less academic than my usual fare; rather than picking apart the workings of science fiction, I’ll instead be blogging about my fantastic time at the 2015 Stargate convention in Chicago – though, rest assured, there’ll be a few academic-y bits here and there as I talk about the significance of Stargate as a science fiction show.

This particular convention has been a tradition for me for years now: I attended my first one in 2012, back when I still lived in Chicago and a couple of months after I’d discovered Stargate (literally. I hadn’t even watched all of it). My fellow Gaters, however, took one look at my passion for Stargate: Atlantis (and Rodney McKay) and welcomed me with open arms, and my life hasn’t been the same since. In keeping with that tradition, I arrived in my beloved city of Chicago on Thursday, after spending my time on the train reading Felicia Day’s geeky new book (in case I needed to get into more of a geeky mindset for the con), to attend the annual pre-con party, organized by a number of fellow con-goers and Gater friends. The pre-party included food, hanging out, and a charity auction, where we raised more than $5000 for research on dysautonomia. It was a wonderful start to the con, showcasing the good-heartedness and generosity of this fandom and putting us all in a good mood for the con to come.

All ready and excited for the con: geeky reading, the schedule, and a Stargate cookie!

All ready and excited for the con: geeky reading, the schedule, and a Stargate cookie!

The Blue Line and Chicago in the distance.

The Blue Line and Chicago in the distance.

Everything really got started on Friday, though. I spent the morning enjoying my beloved city of Chicago, going down to my favorite neighborhood (Damen) to visit The Wormhole (the geeky café with a Delorean that is totally fitting for a Stargate convention weekend) and Myopic Books, where I bought a pile of sci-fi books. I took my favorite line of the Elevated Train, or El as the natives call it (The Blue Line, and yes, I have a favorite public transportation line) to get there and back; it’s the line I used to take to attend the convention back when I still lived in Chicago and lived on the South Side, so it’s full of memories. I got back to the con hotel just in time for the first panel of the day: Sharon Taylor.

Sharon had a number of minor roles in Stargate: Atlantis, and was also on Supernatural and Smallville, both shows I love, and she talked about her participation in all of these. On Supernatural, she had the good (bad?) fortune to not be pranked by Jared and Jensen, as she spent most of her time filming with Jim Beaver. She also talked at length about her black belt in karate, which she’s had a chance to use in her television career, where the creators took advantage of her skills and wrote them into the script. She even demonstrated some self-defense moves for us. Later, at autographs, I told her that at the next con she should totally lead a self-defense workshop – I’d sign up! She seemed pretty excited by the idea.

Sharon Taylor shows off some self-defense

Sharon Taylor shows off some self-defense

The next panel was that of Gary Jones, who is pretty much a Stargate con regular – this is the third time I’ve seen him, and he was, as always, entertaining. He likes to reminisce about Don S. Davis, a fantastic actor (and man) who played Hammond and passed too soon. A favorite thing of Gary’s to do is to make fun (in a friendly way) of Don’s Texas accent, which turns “Open the iris!” into “Open the arse!” and “Airman” into “Harruman” (which is how Jones’ character got his name). He joked about the one time he forgot to memorize an entire paragraph of lines, so he started just making up planet names (all of which run something along the lines of P3X-790 – lots of letters and numbers). At around the fifth take, the script supervisor noticed that he was making up these planet names and told him, angrily, “We go there! You can’t just make him up!” Because of course a paid actor can’t just show up and say “I forgot to learn my lines,” so clearly making them up is the best approach. Basically, as usual, Gary was a riot – there’s a reason he’s part of the cabaret show every Friday night!

Me

Me “admiring” Apophis’ human form.

The last panel of the day was Peter Williams, who plays Apophis. Apophis has never been one of my favorite characters (or villains) – he seemed pretty one dimensional to me – but as happens so often at these conventions, the actor won me over by being a thousand times more interesting than his character! Aside from being adorable, Peter has an incredibly sexy accent and a very fantastic Apophis persona – he’s very good at pretending to be a god, and during the panel that’s a riot! He made a joke that I don’t recall too well about how he rather enjoyed the human form that Apophis choice to take (it was basically an “I have a sexy body” joke), and talked a little bit about acting the role of the poor guy whose body Apophis had taken. This led to, in my photo op with Peter Williams, me asking whether we could do a pose in which I’m “admiring” the human form he took. Peter seemed a bit confused, but went with it, and put on an “I’m so awesome” face while I touched his pecs with a supremely satisfied look on my face. (They were nice pecs, but nothing like Jason Momoa’s, which I touched last year while my boyfriend looked on with sad puppy eyes).

My boyfriend is very jealous of Jason Momoa.

My boyfriend is very jealous of Jason Momoa at last year’s con.

Friday was also the day that the convention had a very important event: a proposal! A year ago, at this very same convention, two amazing fans, Danny and Brianne, met over a costuming question. They soon entered a relationship, and today, before all our eyes, at that very same convention, with the aid of Peter Williams and Gary Jones, the wonderful young man asked his girlfriend to the stage. He told all of us the story of how they’d met at this very convention and been brought together by their love of Stargate – and then proposed! The answer, of course, was a resounding yes, and everyone snapped a ridiculous amount of photos as the two, wearing matching SG-1 jackets, held hands. It was a truly heartening event at a convention that already regularly brings tears to my eyes (even if some are of laughter): it’s a testament to the way that Stargate has been, and continues to be, so important in our lives.Even a decade after being off the air, it still brings people together, possibly for life. Forging relationships, friendships – and families. It’s something that I never want to lose (which is why I’m working a campaign to stop the 2016 convention from being the last one).

The Proposal

Following that touching event was the “Celebrity Cabaret,” which is a Friday-night tradition of this convention; each year, Creation gathers a number of the celebrity guests from the convention that weekend to perform for a cabaret in various ways: they sing, tell stories, jokes, and anecdotes, or perform in other ways. A few years ago, Robert Picardo sang some fantastic opera as the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager, and Tony Amendola told some very not child-appropriate jokes and stories. This year, the cabaret performers included Gary Jones, Andee Frizzell, and Suanne Braun. I don’t recall much of Gary’s performance – though a few years ago he told a hilarious story about having a heart attack (yes, the story was funny; yes, it was about a heart attack). The general trend of this celebrity cabaret is that it’s at least PG-13 rated, and Andee Frizzell followed in that vein, telling a story about the time she asked her friend Steve to help her change the wiring in her house and attach a new lighting fixture. She gave him rubber footies, rubber gloves….and yet he still thought he was being electrocuted when his phone went off (on vibrate). “My dick’s being fried!!” he shouted, to which Andee cleverly responded – “I should’ve given him a condom!” (Get it? Get it? I thought it was hilarious). Last on stage was Suanne Braun, who played Hathor in the first season of SG-1. Now, while the first season of SG-1 isn’t particularly memorable (except for how cheesy it was), this is another of those cases where the star brings so many layers to the character (and is so fun) that it makes you love those cheesy episodes anyway.

Besides, when a beautiful woman who plays the goddess of sex and beauty gets up onstage, how do you not pay attention? And Suanne is indeed quite the goddess- she has this aura of femininity and power that really gets to you. At the cabaret, she told a fantastic story about her honeymoon to Egypt. She and her husband visited lots of ancient sites in which Hathor was depicted in various ways, and every time Suanne would point and tell her husband “look! It’s me!” When she had to explain this to the tour guide, however, the guide was unimpressed (she’d never heard of Stargate). When Suanne explained that she played Hathor, the tour guide went “in her human form or her goddess form?” Upon admitting that she plays Hathor in her human form, Suanne was informed that Hathor’s human form was….a cow. “You play a cow, yes?” That night, though, that particular episode of SG-1 was on TV, which changed things for the rest of the trip….

Of course, my summaries don’t do the cabaret justice; part of humor and anecdotes is the delivery, and these stars are actors –meaning they can do humor, voices, accents (oh, don’t get me started on Suanne’s accents! They are fantastic) – and they really bring to life these stories in a way that a blog post can’t. Nevertheless, I write them down for the fantastic memories they elicit.

Finally, the evening ended, as does every Friday evening at every Stargate convention, with karaoke. Suanne led into this by singing fantastic renditions of a couple of songs, including “Mamma Mia!” – to which yours truly unashamedly danced. (The videos of a couple of these are on my YouTube channel) Afterwards, it was the fans that started singing, which is the when the craziness started as I gathered with my fantastic group of friends for late night shenanigans. And I’m afraid that this is where the story must end with a …., because I really don’t remember much of the rest of that evening. 😉