19 February 2009

Gallifrey One: 20 To Life

I need to find a word to use other than "awesome".

I say this as someone who fears she may have completely diluted its impact, due to over-use during Gallifrey One last week-end. Because, genuinely, it was awe-inspiring in so many ways. And I don't just mean the joy of gathering with friends and socialising for 6 straight days, often until the wee hours of the morning where you know you have a 10am panel, but you still allow people (and by "people" what I mean is "Tony Lee") to keep you at a table in the lobby talking chatting until nearly dawn because despite knowing you're gonna be oh just so utterly useless the next day, you can't bear to leave while the party is still going on.

No, what I adore most about Gally is walking the halls and seeing hundreds of people having the time of their lives. Whether it's the kareoke-singing dalek, Kai Owen on a serious high after Wales slaughtered England in a rugby match, Bryan and Mette in dead-on accurate spacesuits from "Silence in the Library" complete with skeleton masks scaring tiny children in between posing for photos, Phil Collinson tending bar, or the lovely and talented Toby Hadoke making Simon Guerrier cry (again), there's an energy that permeates the LAX Mariott during Gally. It hits you like a wall of goodwill the second you step through the sliding front doors. That's why I love it so. Robbie and Shaun and the entire Gally staff put together an amazing show, and this year it was bigger than ever, with 5 tracks of programming, over 1300 attendees, and chock full of surprises.

My panel schedule was light this year, and I unfortunately had to miss one that I was really looking forward to, due to me not being able to correctly read the schedule. Hence me being completely invisible during the late night Sexuality panel, owing to my inability to bilocate. And I don't even have Toby Hadoke's fantastic show as a properly fannish excuse. I was in fact at the Hotel Café, grooving to the tunes of The Brendan Hines. Which, if you're a fan of The Middleman a completely valid excuse, but a poor one for my Doctor Who and Torchwood-loving brethren. I promise, we'll discuss the Third Doctor fancying Jo and the Ninth Doctor fancying Rose, Jack Harkness fancying everything, and the Tenth Doctor's thing about licking everything next time.

(Tho I'll say this about The Brendan Hines gig: it made me stupidly happy. They had A DOUBLE BASS AND ALSO SOME MANDOLIN THINGIE WHAT WAS AWESOME! And being me, I ran into the Brendan immediately upon entering the venue. I confused him a lot, but gave him a tiny wee O2STK badge. He will for years to come probably think some deranged middle-aged Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan just wandered in off the street, as I was so startled to run into him 15 seconds into the evening, the words "Dood. I loved you on The Middleman" only happened inside my head. If you are in LA and have a chance to see The Brendan Hines live? GO. You will not be sorry.)

However, the panels I did make it to on time and everything on were nifty, peachy keen.

Journey's End: Doctor Who Series Four In Review
We basically went down the line, giving high points and low points. For me the high points were Donna, Wilf, and "Midnight". Sadly, the low point for me was bringing Rose back not to warn the Doctor of impending universe-threatening doom, but because she really really missed him. However, there was much discussion of each episode in turn, and how many really wonderful moments they had, and how the dynamic between the Doctor and Donna was different from what we'd seen before in the new series. Also, I think Catherine Tate was a high point with every panelist. Also, we adored Keith Temple's Ood two-part story. I don't think Keith gets enough love. Having successfully encouraged fandom to hug James Moran and Paul Cornell at every opportunity, I think it's time for fandom to embrace Keith. Literally.

Girl!Fandom: It Isn't New, and It Isn't All Squee!
I actually call this panel the "Chicks Dig Time Lords" panel inside my head--not just because of the book (coming in 2009 from Mad Norwegian Press!) but because to me that sums up a lot of what seems to elude the darkest corners of fandom nicely. Chicks, in fact, of all ages--not just girls, not just Mums who watch for David Tennant in the fine tradition of "the Dads" watching for Louise Jamison's short leather skirts, but all kinds of women-folk--do dig Time Lords, and have since 1963. The new series has brought mainstream female viewers in in record numbers, but it hasn't always been a boys club. In the States, media fandom was actually a girls club all through the 1980s and 1990s, and that included American Doctor Who fandom. And we had a fantastic time discussing how female fans love a lot of the same aspects of the show as the male fans, in the same ways and in different ways, and how many of the fannish behaviours do fall along gender lines, and many do not. We deconstructed some of the most often repeated fallacies, and also examined how much is truly Boy!Fandom vs. Girl!Fandom, versus how much is Internet vs Convention-going, as well as different forums on the 'net, such as Livejournal vs Outpost Gallifrey, or even LJ comm-reading, anon-meme-reading, and fandom-wank-reading LJ fans versus folks who partake in fandom only their own journals and flist (and we discovered that not all of us surf LJ via their flist, but instead follow the daisy-chain of links from their own comments, which is another panel all unto itself). And no-one died. Not even Paul, who seemed possibly worried when it began that, as token dood, he might be ritually sacrificed and his shrunken head taken to Wiscon as a trophy.

When Did Vampires Become Trendy?
I admit, when I saw the title, my first reaction was "Erm... the 19th century?" which sparked Steph and me to sort of jump into the panel before we were properly started and introduced, due to being mic'd. However, we did have a really interesting (occasionally in the Chinese curse way) panel about how the commercial success of the Twilight YA novels has created opportunities for other (better) creators both in print and in film. And how there is a dearth of stories where the vampire is the monster you're trying to escape rather than the Byronic love interest, as since the 1960s, the Sympathetic Vampire has dominated the scene in the States, with the exception of 30 Days of Night, while the UK has fantastic stuff like Ultraviolet, and the Swedish film Let The Right One In was touted as one of the best recent stories (which I still need to see). Vampires are entering the mainstream in the US right now mainly through romance and teen fiction--in part because those are the segments of the midlist that continue to grow, building on what began with JKR's Harry Potter series successfully introducing genre fiction to mainstream audiences, and Twilight and its ilk rushing in to fill the void when JKR finished (in part due to clever marketing departments recognising the newly created niche of "event fiction" hence Twilight release parties following the model of the Potter parties around the world). I plugged Robin McKinley's Sunshine, Steve Brust's Agyar, and Claudia Gray's Evernight and Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series as much as humanly possible. And I think Tony Lee and I bonded for life. He is working on the original graphic novel Harker for Markosia, and it sounds like amazing stuff. But in the end, we decided that vampires fiction has always been produced--it's only just now that the mainstream has discovered it (again). Hence after nearly 200 years of pulps and gothic horror and literature and comics and television and film, the tween market has made vamps 'trendy' in the eyes of the media.

(However, I should at this point mention my fave new vamp is Mitchell from Being Human. Particularly the original pilot version, for taking all the 21st century cliches and tropes and turning them on their heads. Also, for Guy Flanagan's ability to loom, and his emo hair.)

The Liars Panel: Doctor Who at the Crossroads
Dear God, people. It was 10am. I apologise for being rubbish. However, my fellow panelists were hysterical. Points both to and off for Tony Lee for abusing the awesome power of a microphone to force audience members to do his bidding, and I am still vaguely terrified by Paul Cornell performing "The Gary Russell Dance". This is what happens when you don't do the Brunch. HUGE love for Sam closing the panel with a beautiful rendition of "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time".

Other hight points included "Just a Minute" where Toby Hadoke reigned supreme, a fantastic dinner Friday with Paul, the beautiful, talented, and most of all much-smarter-than-me Caroline Symcox, and the Fourth Incarnation of Javier Grillo-Marxuach (sporting a seriously high-quality Tom Baker scarf above), followed by stops at the Volcano Day party and then dangling our feet in the pool before being rousted by hotel security. We then wandered back inside in time to hear Kai Owen sing (not knowing it was Kai Owen) and hang out in the corridor chatting with Jon Arnold and Simon Fernandes and failing to actually sing anything ourselves. Next year, there will be Queen and the Doors.

Saturday was panels and hanging out with Javi until the Kremlin demanded his presence across town. Also spent vast chunks of the week-end with my new Partner-in-Crime, Sam, and occasionally showing up at Big Finish panels just to stare intently at Mark Wright and make him wonder if he had food on his face (he didn't). Also got to hug on Laura Doddington Sunday night, who is one of my most favourite people on the planet. No lie. If you haven't checked out her performances as Zara in Big Finish's Key 2 Time series, then I'll wait here while you go do that. Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back.

Handsome Timmy D, Rhonda the Gin Fairy, my amazingly awesome con-roommate Susan Garrett, and the always lovely Karen Baldwin made sure the lobby was still packed with inebriated attendees well past last call. There would be no Lobbycon without them. I avoided the dealer's room for the most part except for one trip with Sam and one trip with Javi. I swore I wasn't going to buy anything, but of course I caved, and now have River Song's sonic, and the journal of impossible things. However, I made up for it by eating hard-boiled eggs and PBJ most of the week-end. PBJ is how I survive conventions, seriously. Also, by drinking water. But even drinking gallons of water didn't save me from having no voice left by the end of the festivities. This would be what 6 days of non-stop talking will do to me.

I made all sorts of new friends and my Facebook has sort of exploded. How did I never realise before now I had a seriously lack of both Mark Wright and Tony Lee in my life? These boys are awesome, and Lobbycon would not have been Lobbycon without them. Ditto John Williams, Toby and Katherine, and Phil Ford, with whom I could happily geek about obscure genre telly of the last 30 years for probably the next 30 years.

Alas, the vidshow I put together didn't get screened either between panels or in the video room due to tech issues and time issues in the end. But Shaun took the disc home with him, and I think next year in addition to all the new cosplay panels, I am going to beg ask him if we can to do a vidding panel and a vidshow. Which means I am so totally kidnapping local vidders to come with me, as I am utterly useless at vidding, even tho I used to do it the old fashioned way with two daisy-chained VCRs. The art form has evolved so far beyond its low-tech beginnings, and as a way to tell stories in collage form, that I can't begin to tell you. I really am looking forward to getting to watch an audience see some of the vids next year.

Monday was a very damp trip to the Happiest Place on Earth (that would be Disneyland, tho I know a 2nd group went out to Amoeba Records, and for them, I think the name fits as well) with Rob Shearman, Susan Garrett, LM Myles, and The Anghelides Boys, and Disney Goddess Vicci for dalek sorbet, miles of walking, smelly plastic rain slickers, and getting to watch the world's coolest 12 year old build a lightsabre. And then Monday night was the last hurrah, as I had to fly back relatively early Tuesday.

So, who's up for Hurricane Who in October, then?


Redo said...

I plan on being there in October, though the Booze Leprechaun stuff may stay home.

But I think the Booze Leprechaun will be in full force again at Chicago.

Awesome time as always and it was a blast to see so many new/old friends.

Zach said...

Good summary of the overall feel of Gallifrey and "Lobbycon". I know of some folks who never left "Lobbycon".

Back at work and I am still a little foggy in the head.

I've currently got Hurricane Who on my vacation calendar. Counting down the days.

Koshka42 said...

It was an excellent con this year, wasn't it? Great to meet you there!

Tony Lee said...

I'm at Hurricane Who, now.

So is Guerrier.

LobbyCon is a go. I say a go.


Tara said...

I'm bringing MY MUM to Hurricane Who (since she lives an hour from the hotel, and loved Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, tho she never took to Tennant). Prepare to be terrified and amazed. I'd say I expect all of you to be on your best behaviour, but considering my mum's as mad as I am (if not madder), I think we'll be fine.