Monday, April 7, 2014

Post ComiCon 2014

Emerald City ComiCon is over for another year. My son is already planning for next year, but in the interim, we're still enjoying the memories from this year's con.
We started off by traveling to the hotel Thursday night so we'd be there for the bright and early Friday morning panels. Well, bright and early for me, and for getting all five of us ready and out the door. I think the first panel started at 11 AM.
We complicated the whole endeavor a bit by deciding to park at the airport on a coupon deal, instead of the hotel, to save money. So the hubby dropped us off at our hotel, which was right next to the convention center, then took our oldest with him to park the car, take the shuttle, another shuttle, the train, then walk to the hotel, while the rest of us checked in and got settled. It took them nearly two hours to do all of that, and another two on Sunday when it was time to go home, but it saved us nearly $110 just in PARKING FEES (seriously, how do they sleep??? $45 a NIGHT? Plus taxes???), so it was totally worth it. We never need our car during the con weekend anyway, and will definitely repeat that maneuver next time!

First up Friday morning was Michael Biehn, also known as Kyle Reese from The Terminator! I had the biggest crush on him when that movie came out, and what's funny is, since my girls have grown up with my movie and music preferences, they both have crushes on him, too. It was perhaps an unfortunate side effect of the panel that they discovered just how much older he really is--even older than *gasp* MOM! He still looks pretty darn good, though.
We also saw Jim Beaver of Supernatural and Dwight Schultz from The A-Team and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Both panels were a lot of fun. My oldest, a huge Buffy fan, was especially excited to see Eliza Dushku, who was quite funny.
Nichelle Nichols, the original Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, was both gracious and funny, not to mention inspiring to women everywhere. She also had some funny stories to tell about Martin Luther King, Jr., and meeting his family for the first time. His children were so shocked and impressed that their father, who was just "Dad" to them, had brought home an honest-to-goodness TV star from their favorite series, they couldn't get over it. Evidently, they kept asking Dr. King, "But, Dad, do you know who she is?" in total awe. Nichelle Nichols leaned over and, while pointing to their father, asked the children, "Do you know who he is?" Everyone got quite the laugh out of that. It's all about perspective!
After Nichelle Nichols, we stayed for the panel with Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice actor for Chuckie on Rugrats, Rufus the naked mole rat on Disney's Kim Possible, and most famously, Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. I confess I'm not a fan of most of her characters, other than Rufus, but she was wonderful to listen to. Very funny, and full of inspiring stories and information for people in the audience who were interested in becoming voice actors. Since that's a field my son is interested in, he really enjoyed her insights.
We ducked out of Richard Dean Anderson's panel (of MacGyver fame) because by then we were all starving, and because the next panel's guest, Cary Elwes, had cancelled at the last minute, breaking my oldest's heart (The Princess Bride is one of her all-time favorite movies.) We decided to head to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory, which handily is right across the street from the Washington State Convention Center. Nicely stuffed after dinner, we headed to our room for an early night.
Saturday, the con was PACKED. Way more crowded than Friday, and since I suffer a bit from--not really claustrophobia--but a thing with crowds and too many people pressing in on me at once, that made navigating the corridors a bit of a challenge. We did discover one lesser-known path through the madness, so that helped.
This year, we were impressed to see the number of CosPlayers had dramatically increased over the previous year, when it seemed there were just not that many people getting into the act. This year, they were everywhere, which always makes it more fun. Some of the costumes are so elaborate and inventive, really impressive. Some are, frankly, little more than excuses to bare as much skin as possible, but whatever floats their boats.
For Saturday's programming, my family made it over in time to hear the Star Wars reading. This is an annual tradition and a con favorite. A bunch of the voice actors get together and read from the various Star Wars scripts (last year's and this year's was The Empire Strikes Back), doing the Star Wars characters' lines in their own character's voices. Last year, the highlight was Jim Cummings reading Darth Vader's lines as Winnie the Pooh. I don't think anyone could top that! I took a more leisurely approach to the morning, so I missed that panel, but the kids confirmed that while it was good, it just didn't measure up to last year. However, once again, the highlight was a Disney character--the amazing Bill Farmer doing the voice of Goofy, who is my favorite Disney character from the traditional cartoons.
Next was Andrea Libman, who is best known for doing the voices of Pinky Pie and Fluttershy from My Little Pony. It was amazing to hear her "talk to herself" in both voices--she can switch between the two characters lightning fast and still manage to keep them distinct. Incredible.
After Andrea, it was back to the Main Hall for Mark Sheppard from SupernaturalThe X-FilesDoctor Who24Battlestar GalacticaDollhouse, and more, including my favorite, his role as Badger on Firefly. He was a very energetic and seriously funny speaker. I'd like to see him again.
The next appearance was from the person I wanted to see most, Alan Tudyk. He's had an amazing career, including appearances in TransformersA Knights TaleDodgeball42, and a bunch of TV appearances. Alan is also a terrific voice actor. He's appeared in Wreck-It RalphYoung Justice, and Frozen, among other things. BUT... I would say he is best known for his role as Wash in Firefly and its movie adaptation, Serenity. Browncoats forever!
We walked around for a bit and explored the merch area, but went back to the Main Hall in time for John de Lancie, who was incredibly funny. Probably best known as Q from Star Trek, he has had a long career and is also a voice actor.
Aside from Alan Tudyk, my favorite appearance had to be Karl Urban. He has played such diverse roles as Cupid on Xena: Warrior Princess, Eomer in the Lord of the Rings films, Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick, Judge Dredd in Dredd, and heartthrob Dr. McCoy in the latest Star Trek films. He's currently acting on TV’s Almost Human. I could have stared and listened to him and his gorgeous Kiwi accent forever.
It was a long, enjoyable day, but after Karl Urban's panel, we were bushed. We went back to the hotel to regroup, then headed to a local four-story mall for dinner at a pub. The food was good, but it didn't quite make up for the four-story drop I had to deal with on that escalator! Did I mention I'm afraid of heights? Nothing but empty space and a four-story drop on either side of the moving staircase. Like, WHO ever thought that was a good idea? Very scary! I don't think I'll go back there. Ever. However, I was able to recover with a trip back to The Cheesecake Factory for dessert, where I discovered a new favorite cheesecake, their S'Mores Cheesecake. If you haven't had it yet, do. Now. Yuuummmmmy!!
Sunday started off with the Movie Mashup panel, which was basically the same thing as the Star Wars reading, just with different scripts. It was funny, though whoever picked the scripts didn't think about the number of people they would have on the panel ready to read, so there weren't really enough parts to go around. Hopefully, they'll rectify that for next year.
Bill Farmer was next, the voice of Goofy, and I absolutely adored him. He was funny, charming, sweet, and a great speaker all around. My middle daughter and I especially love The Goofy Movie and sing along to the soundtrack in the car all the time. We haven't had much chance to do that since she's been away at college, but when she's home for the summer, we are definitely taking a drive and breaking it out!
After Goofy, we hustled back to the Main Hall for Michael Dorn, AKA Lt. Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation and various voices for The Super Hero Squad ShowMass Effect 2, and Justice League, to name just a few. He could read the phone book with that voice, and we would all sit enthralled.
Ron Perlman has acted in HellboyPacific Rim, Blade II, and more. His television credits include Beauty and the BeastThe Magnificent Seven, and Sons of Anarchy. He has also done character voices for video games such as the Fallout series, Gun, and Halo 3. It turns out he's a fairly laid-back, quiet speaker (Hellboy--who knew?), and we unfortunately had some rather rude, talkative people directly behind us, so he was hard to hear, but what we could hear, we enjoyed.
We stayed for more Jim Beaver and Mark Sheppard, who did a panel together to talk about their roles on Supernatural, but we ended up leaving before the last panel with Karen Gillan from Dr. Who in order to deal with the car and get started on our way home. We stopped at PF Chang's for dinner, which was a perfect way to wrap up our ComiCon weekend. Thanks for the fun, ECCC! See you next year.

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