28 February 2008

It's been a fortnight since Gallifrey One, and I am only just now starting to get over the cold I picked up there. So my apologies for the lateness. Also, per usual I took almost no photos with my camera (remember when I used to go to cons and bring home snaps? Ah those halcyon days of yor and braincells that were not completely killed off by alcohol) and what snaps I do have are actually from the Disneyland daytrip from the Thursday before Gally, but look! other people have pics on flickr. The tiny boy as a red movie dalek is my fave. Or perhaps Gary Russell doing victory arms. I can't quite decide. Also, there is a nifty peachy keen interview with Steve Moffat at Whedonapolis that was done over the week-end.

I really did have an amazing trip. Robbie Bourget and Shaun Lyons and the Gallifrey One staff put on an amazing show that I just love being a part of, and can't imagine my life without any longer, even thought I've only been attending since 2006. Gallifrey One attendance broke records this year with over 1000 attendees, and record pre-reg sales as well. That's nearly 300 attendees more than last year's record. The audience for Opening Ceremonies on Friday was packed, which was our first clue that this was going to be an extraordinary year. It was so amazing to meet so many first-time Gally attendees—both folks who had never done Gally before and folks for whom Gally was their first con ever. Seeing the attendance break records isn't just about bigger numbers and raising more money for charity—it's adding new friends to our fannish family, and that's just nifty.

I spent most of my time with roommates Susan M Garrett and LM Myles, and the always delightful Paul Cornell, Caroline Symcox, and the ever-huggable Rob Shearman. The best part about Gally is that you are never more than 5 minutes between hugs. No, I mean that. There is an enormous sense of affection that just envelops you like a cloud the second you set foot in the LAX Marriott. This year I also got to meet Lee Thompson, a fantabulous freelance graphic artist responsible for The Rules of Modern Policing - 1973 Edition. It was Lee's first Gally, and I think we've got him hooked now. And it's always a joy seeing old friends Justin and Kathi Olsen, Simon Fernandez, Jarrod Cooper, Jan Fennick, Keith Topping, Steve Roberts and the gorgeous Sue Cowley, and Heather and Ed, and Rhonda The Gin Fairy, and too many more people to list. Good friends, good times, and getting to hug on Steve Johnson (whom I utterly utterly adore) is just part of why I love Gally, and what makes this show the high point of my year.

Friday night was the masquerade and Just a Minute... The masquerade was great fun. Tadao and Patrick are so great at making it fun and move quickly and everyone just had a blast. Two fantastic punks (Mette, who had her hawk up the whole rest of the week-end, and Bryan) built a Cassandra O'Brien. I can't explain how awesome it was. I can just point you towards photos and hopefully eventually YouTube. Just A Minute was FANTABULOUS. In part because Sophie Aldred was made of awesome (and completely cutthroat, I will say), and Rob and James Moran and Steven Moffat were hysterically funny. "William Hartnell's Fluffs" shall live in infamy, and Rob's riff on "Are You My Mummy?" I think earned him a standing ovation. I ended up missing Ed and Jen's wedding cos I got cornered by some folks after a panel and couldn't escape to get girlified in time, and then when I came back down the receiving line was 8 miles long. But I hear it was a hell of a shindig, and I ran up top Jen to give her a kiss and tell her how gorgeous a bride she was after she'd changed into her Lucy Saxonilicious red dress.

In the dealer's room I got Jim Swallow's Doctor Who novel Peacemaker, and the first four SJA novelisations. One of them is by Terrance Dicks! It's like 1981 all over again! The only live commentary I made it to was Paul's "Human Nature", which was standing room only. No lie. Next year, Shaun is talking about putting the DVD commentaries on the main stage because they have proved so popular, and I support this decision as standing for 90 minutes in a packed room can be physically uncomfortable... I also really wanted to go to James Moran's "Sleeper" commentary and Torchwood 101 panel with Any Lane. Andy is just lovely, and I hope James had a great first Gally. The Obligatory Gallifrey Comics Panel had roughly 6 panellists and 8 audience members. And unfortunately Gary Russell was on the main stage interviewing Sophie and Sylvester McCoy, so I never did find out about the IDW Doctor Who comic. But Mark Waid and Arne Starr and Paul Cornell and Lars Pearson had a great panel.

I participated in 8 panels this year, and I was particularly struck by how fantastically articulate and intelligent the audiences at all of them were. I'm seriously. It's always a joy to do panels with audiences who are invested in the topics, and I don't think I've ever had such a pleasant con experience doing panels as I did at Gally this year. That's not a dig at Chicago TARDIS or JemCon—far from it. Just that it's always such a great time when there's great give-and-take with the audience, and this Gally stood out for me in that respect.

Forever Martha Jones
This panel was the perfect way to kick off the week-end for me, as it was pretty much a love-fest. Seriously. No lie. We polled the audience, and then basically discussed every instance of pure Martha awesomeness we could remember, and there was a lot of "omg made of awesome". We even managed not to spoil our audience, most of whom hadn't seen episode 6 of Torchwood yet. There was a lot of discussion of the dynamics between Rose and the Tenth Doctor versus Martha and the Tenth Doctor, and our hopes for Donna in series 4. So there was a lot of meta on the role of companions, the single companion versus multiple companions dynamics, and how unfair it is to judge a companion on whether or not she success as a companion solely on whether or not she is a love interest. Especially since the Tenth Doctor's behaviour with Rose and Martha is virtually identical, yet Martha is the only one who calls him on it and expects answers. And the weird assumption by fans that one has to chose one or the other companion, instead of enjoying both (which seems to be an online thing, more than offline) and slag off the other companions in order to support their faves, whoever the fave of the moment might be. It's all very school playground, and I didn't see any of that actually in the audience, which gave me great hope for the future of mankind. Well, fandom-kind, anyway.

The Care and Feeding of the Doctor Who Fan
I was on this panel with moderator Simon Guerrier, Paul Cornell, Steve Moffat, the always gorgeous Stephanie Crawford, and Michael Doran from Podshock. We discussed how the new series has created fans of the original series, how new fans aren't as likely to join the existing fandom mainstays of the 1980s and 1990s like local clubs and the Canadian and UK fanclubs, so much as they are being fannish about the show in their online fannish spaces. And how it's most likely that the folks who will take over from our generation to run the cons and websites aren't likely to be people for whom Doctor Who is one fandom among many, but for whom Who is their first and possibly only fandom. Attendance at Gally jumped about 300 people this year, and nearly all of them came from the intarwebs. I think that trend will only continue, as new fans who have never been con-going fans before become con-going fans thanks to Gally. Also, apparently modern children hate cliff-hangers. At least the ones in Moffat's household (children that is; not cliff-hangers).

Save Our Show: How Fans Can Impact Television
Panelists included SFTV Blog's Lee Whiteside (whom I have known for something like 14 years, thanks to running the L&C:TNAoS mailing list LOISCLA in the early 1990s), SoCal Browncoat Tina Beychok, and Mark Ayres. We covered how fans can help support a series, talked about successful campaigns (Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Firefly, Jericho), and debunked the myths about campaigns as well. Being fans, we also talked about those series that came back after write-in campaigns and were the worse for it (Nikita and Roswell), or the ill-advised campaigns mounted by fans for series which had already had 5 year runs (Angel, Star Trek: Enterprise). Mark Ayres basically gave us the UK side of things, since the industry works completely differently than here, regarding the commissioning process, and where the funding comes from.

The Enduring Appeal of Vampires
Late-night roundtable moderated by author Jill Sherwin, wherein Ingrid Oliansky, Jill and I talked about the appeal of immortality, the appeal of half-naked actors, and our favourite film and TV vamps from Dark Shadows through Moonlight, while Eric Hoffman described various 1970s vamp flicks shot-for-shot, and Hollywood Vampire author Keith Topping reminded us from the audience how awesome Near Dark was and is. Also joining us from the audience was Forever Knight tie-in author Susan M Garrett, who next year really needs to volunteer for this panel as she's forgot more about vampire lore than I ever knew.

The Liars Panel
I made it to the 10am Liars panel despite a very late night hanging out in the bar and lobby socialising. As I am complete crap at improv, I mostly laughed over everyone else's riffs. Jan Fennick, Chicago TARDIS' Jen Adams Kelley, Telos publisher David Howe (who arrived late, but made up for it in gags), and Benjamin Elliott kept the audience laughing while I sucked down glass after glass of water in an attempt to stay hydrated and not fall over.

The Squee panel was my fave. Christa Dickson moderated, and we were joined by Jan Fennick and Jen Kelley, and token guy on the panel Paul Cornell. We talked a little about the "women drooling over pretty people" version of squee, but spent the rest of the hour really talking about the gender differences in fannish behaviour and how the drives are the same while the practices are often totally different, and "Squee" in Who Fandom for us more means the female voice of fandom. We talked a lot about fan fiction, and also what we look for in said fan fiction, and Jan and Jen were there to represent the Old School Squee, while Christa came to Doctor Who through the new series and was dragged into the fandom by her fellow Iowa Doctor Who Club members introducing her to the 51st century omnisexual fabulousness that is Captain Jack Harkness. This was our 6th Squee panel in 3 years, and I think the best so far.

The State of SF TV & Film, and the Impact of the Writers' Strike
Writer-director Paul Salamoff, Torchwood's James Moran, Lee Whiteside and I were joined by former Lost producer and current The Middleman (coming soon to ABC Family!) EP Javier Grillo-Marxuach for the WGA panel, and it was interesting and I learned a lot. Javi made very good points about the advantages of selling a series using a pilot over a presentation—particularly regarding casting. And everyone agreed that the deals that were struck shouldn't have required months of striking to achieve. Paul also updated folks with what's back in production, what's been renewed for next year, and what's been cancelled. According to him, my beloved Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is on the bubble, and likely to die a horrible death if the ratings aren't up for the two-part season finale next Monday. And he is angry with me still for not loving Bionic Woman. Sorry, Paul. I tried. I really did. Even Katee Sackhoff being hotter than hot couldn't keep me interested.

Gender and Sexuality and the Changing Face of Doctor Who
I kinda sort crashed this panel. Thomas Powers moderated, and panelists were costumer extraordinaire Kevin Roche, Christa Dickson, and Paul Cornell. I was going to be in the audience and just add comments, but Tom invited me up half-way through, and it nearly eclipsed the Squee panel for my fave panel of the con. We discussed romantic and platonic, versus romantic and erotic; how both the Master and Romana regenerate into a new personality and physical form that is more like the Doctor, which opened a whole can of worms; how the Doctor and Romana both regenerated into younger bodies potentially to be more attractive to a potential partner (long story short: blond = the mating form? Discuss). And we got to discuss the whole long lifespan = reduced mating drive thing, while still keeping open the notion that just cos you are not biologically driven to reproduce as often as possible does not mean Time Lords Don't Do It For Fun. I personally think the Master and Lucy prove they can and do. It being the sex and sexuality panel, Captain Jack was talked about a lot as well. It was just a fantastic panel start to finish, and I was sad to see it end.

One big thing that's different this year is that over the summer I had pitched an essay book called Chicks Dig Time Lords to Mad Norwegian Press, and I had a really good meeting with my publisher and editor on Sunday. Still waiting on some paperwork, but I've a pretty solid start on both the shape of the thing, and a growing list of potential contributors from fandom new and old as well as potentially from the franchise. Not sure yet which will be interviews, and which will be 1st person anecdotes and essays. But it was a really exciting (and vaguely terrifying) step to take and hopefully this time next year the book will be turned in... The idea is to create something that's an engaging read which won't just be for female fans (both casual and hardcore), but also for male fans, and as gifts to wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, and daughters. And if the format works, then it can be used for, Chicks Dig Gaming (for all those WoW peeps out there), or Chicks Dig Comics. We'll see. But while it utterly terrifies me, I think it's good to do something that scares me. As I said a lot this week-end, if you never risk yourself, then you never win anything either.

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