~ Loscon ~

Kailin's Loscon report, part 1.

OK, I'm still quite tired as it is midnight on Sunday, and I have been partying pretty heavily at Loscon all weekend, but I wanted to get this report out to you so you would be able to share it around.

First off, Loscon was a blast. This was the 26th year for the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society to host this event, and it is always great fun. Aside from all the sci-fi stuff, there was a lot of peripheral things to do, which I want to make sure gets mentioned upfront so I don't forget. Loscon always hosts a blood drive and raised about 43 or so pints, which is great around holiday time. They also did a canned food drive at the party last night, and a toy drive as well. One unique thing they were doing was a paper crane campaign. This is the origami paper cranes, and the philosophy is that if you fold 1000 cranes, it will help promote world peace, or something like that. So, people could be seen folding paper cranes all weekend long.

On Friday, we were treated to Fiona Avery doing a reading. She doesn't have a lot of stuff in production at the moment, and didn't want to bore people by talking about old stuff, so she chose to do a reading. It was really funny, and we encouraged her to try and publish the story she read to us in some sort of serial format. She did have her three scripts for sale, and she was passing out info on http://www.sff.net, which publishes anthologies. She mentioned was currently working on a book now and is hoping to have it finished by January, so she can go onto something new.

There were lots of parties, and dancing, and ice cream for all on Friday night, and I made sure I hit it all. The evening was started with the ice cream social, a tradition on Friday nights at Loscon. They then started a dance, which lasted until about 2am. Since I am staff for Agamemcon, I had to spend a good deal of time at our party, but I did tour around the other parties as well. Our party theme was Mardi Gras, so during the day, I dressed up as a harlequin, which got lots of attention (it's a toss up as to whether it was the bells, the makeup or the mini-dress). For the actual party, I decided to class it up a bit and put on a nice, green lace dress and a feather mask. Again, this got lots of attention, but I figure it was the mask, people love masks, and this one has peacock feathers on it. We passed out beaded necklaces at our party and served hurricanes and gumbo, which went fast. A large massage party broke out on one of the beds, and then sort of spread throughout the room, which felt nice, I must add. We then decided to tour the other room parties, but not too many of them were very fun. The only decent party was a Centauri party that did not promote a convention or bid, it was just a party. They had games, such as "pin the attribute on Mollari" and "bomb the Narn Homeworld" and a "caption contest" on pictures of Mollari, Vir and others. The Centauri know how to party, and so their party, and our Agamemcon party, were THE places to be at Loscon on Friday.

After touring the parties for a while, we hit the dance downstairs, but it wasn't too terribly busy. We had fun for the time we were there, but it kept getting overrun by some of the teenagers that were staying at the hotel that night. A food run was definitely in order, and so we hit Jack'n'the Box. Didn't get to sleep until well after 2am that night.

Saturday was slow in the morning, so after working the Agamemcon table in the morning, I took a nap. I then got shanghaied into being on a panel. It was called "why don't you fight like a girl?" and was not what you think. The panel consisted of several women who do various forms of martial arts or fencing, and we discussed how women in film and tv in the US are portrayed fighting wrong. It got down to the issues of fight choreography, kinesthetics and mental focus. It was a really great panel, and we decided that we want to do it again at future local cons. So, expect to see this subject on the list at Gallifrey and Agamemcon next year.

After the days activities, we ordered pizza. Once the food was gone, we went to the party that Loscon was promoting. This is one area they need help in. You see, the LASFS people like to think that they are very entertaining, and they really aren't. They tried to put on a skit, but they lost most of the people before the first hour was over. We all took off around 9 to hit the parties, since I still needed to get my brownies to the Agamemcon party. Our theme was the Day of the Dead, and I had two very cute skeletons dressed as bride and groom, to bring to the party. We had lots of mexican style food and drinks, and there was an alter set up for our "dearly departed loved ones" (Captain/President John Sheriden). We watched the Season 5 episode "Day of the Dead", which was fun, and then started dancing. It was my 'World Cup 1998' CD and was infectious enough to get David Allen Brooks dancing. He had stopped by our party, even though he wasn't appearing at the con until the next day. He did a full tour of the room parties, then parked at ours, since we were sort of sponsoring the Crusaders.

My friends and I then decided to tour the other room parties, but chose not to go into most of them. There was one party that I know was still raging at 4am, but we didn't go into it because they were smoking there. The Centauri were still at it on Saturday, so we stopped by there, and I filled my water gun (it was a gift from one of my friends at the con). Anyhow, after dousing many people in many parties, I made the mistake of shooting the sheep. I got circled by Baaaaing sheep, and won't ever mess with herd animals again. Finally ended up at the dance and stayed there for the next two hours or so, dancing my feet off, and having fun doing it. I found a great dance partner, and so there was no need to go anywhere else. I learned how to dance to the Rasputin song, but was told we did the short version. Oh well, I got to dance in the middle and show everyone how high I can kick (being a black belt has some advantages). After the dance closed, we headed up to the room parties, of which many were still raging on. I ended up at the Agamemcon party for two reasons, wanted to retrieve my skeleton bride and groom, and my room was just two doors down. Went to be at 4am, I'm so stupid.

Sunday morning and the alarm went off at 7:30am. Roomie had to leave early to catch a flight, even though it meant missing JMS and the Crusaders. I went back to sleep for about another hour, but then I had to get up and pack too. I wanted to load up my car before I started on the Agamemcon table at 10am. Carrie, David and Marjean were all at the autograph table when I finally got downstairs. I immediately went over to say hello to the ladies (I had chatted with David the night before at the party) and asked Marjean about Australia. Peter showed up and apologised for being late, even though he really didn't have to. The Loscon staff got them some food, and the Space:Above and Beyond group at the table next to them gave them water (I love the Ready Reserve, they are so much fun to hang with). This day was very crowded with activity, as I had to work the table, the art auction was starting at noon, the same time as the Crusade panel and the Marion Zimmer Bradley tribute, and then JMS was on. I was running around a lot, and can't really give a good timeline for most of what happened in the afternoon. I can say that Marjean must have left early, as she did not stick around for the panel.

Unfortunately, I am really tired and out of energy, and I want to make sure I get correct what went on at the two panels, the Crusaders and JMS. So, I am going to plead exhaustion here, and get back to this topic tomorrow. Until then, rest assured that I had more fun than I can process right now at this con. I will talk with you all tomorrow.

Kailin's Loscon report, Part 2

Alright, I slept most of the day, didn't go to work, and now I feel up to finishing this report.

On Sunday morning, most everyone at the con was feeling the effects of too much partying, so it was a fairly quiet day. I had a lot of things I wanted to get to on Sunday morning, but had to cut it back due to the fact that I am only one person. My friends and I got seats in the panel room for the Crusade cast, then I ran across the hall to the Art Auction to check on my friends over there. I also had to make a Caffeine run for sodas, but no coke, I was most dissappointed at that. Anyhow, I got back into the panel room just after the Crusade cast started taking questions, and sat back for a real decent panel.

Carrie, David and Peter joked around, as normal, but they also answered some questions quite seriously, so that was nice. Peter mentioned how very impressed he is with the Patriot shoot, and shared an interesting little bit of trivia with us. It seems that instead of doing some of the battle scenes using CGI to simulate maimed soldiers, they contacted SAG and hired as many disabled actors as they could find. So, when you see a soldier with his arm blown off, it won't be a CGI injury, it will be an actor who really doesn't have an arm. I rather like the realism that Devlin and Emmerich attempt, so this didn't surprise me in the least. Peter seems to be really having a lot of fun on this movie shoot, and said the movie should be out next July 4 holiday period, which makes sense.

David occaisionally quizzed the audience, which was always funny, somehow. He wanted to know if people preferred character or plot, and said that on the east coast it was character, but at Loscon it turned out to be mostly both. Hmmm, I guess we west coasters just can't make up our minds. There was a really good question about how the cast have reacted to the fans of the show, and each of the cast members actually gave a really serious answer.

David said that he had come by the hotel the night before and visited several of the room parties. His comment was that while many people recognized him and said hello, for the most part, they were all respectful of his privacy and gave him his space. Since most actors only see the fans from the stage or at an autograph table, he thought this was a great way to really see them as people.

Peter said that while on occaision, some fans can be a bit hard to take (the preoccupation with minute details of a show that has been long off the air), the same people can turn around and start talking about quantum physics or relativity, or some such other subject. He likes the diversity of science fiction fans, and said that we should all keep that diversity. He also said that he prefers people who have passion, even if it isn't shared by him, that without passion, a person can be very boring indeed.

Carrie agreed with both comments and just said that she really appreciated the fans and that it was just so special the support that we constantly show for them. Remember, I am paraphrasing, I didn't write this stuff down, so it may come out slightly wrong, but I don't think so. I may end up putting the words of one person in another's mouth, wouldn't that be funny.

Peter also got some questions about his fight arranging and work on stage. He said that he wasn't really doing any of that in the States because he wants to concentrate on acting and writing. This is when he mentioned again the documentary series he will be doing on personal weapons.

When the panel was over, I had to go check in the art auction room again for our friends. One had just bought her last peice, but another friend ended up having to stay. So, we let him know how to find us in the panel room, and let him know that it was OK for him to walk in during JMS' panel. He was afraid that he couldn't come in after it started, he's new to the world of B5 and JMS. In fact, this was one thing that was sort of cool, the fact that someone new to the whole B5 universe was still intrigued enough to attend the panel.

JMS' panel started with the Crusade Wars claymation thing, which was funny, I hadn't seen the whole thing all the way through yet. JMS then finally set the record straight on the whole Chris Carter situation, which is now going to be synopsized by me. JMS and Chris got together and JMS presented Chris with an idea that both of them really liked. They pitched it to CBS, I believe, and were working out the details with Fox. I'm a bit sketchy as to the involvement of both studios, but I think one was a production thing, and one was an airing deal, or something. Maybe now that he told us all about this, he will post it up on rastb5.mod, or someplace like that. Anyhow, just a day or so shy of the deal being signed, Harsh Realm was cancelled. Fox's reasoning was that it wasn't up to par with Chris's previous work because it wasn't 100% Chris's work, it was an idea brought to him by someone else that he had developed. Fox said that Chris's next project would be 100% Chris, which left JMS' project with him out in the cold, so no deal. Now, JMS still wants to do this project, and is shopping around to others now, or at least, I think he is. It's called something like "The World is Burning" or "The World is on Fire", something like that, can't remember exactly now, how silly is that. Anyhow, he seems to really want to do that.

I asked him about what story he might do next for Amazing Stories, and he said it would probably be about the new crew of Babylon 5. I am not sure if he meant the Season 5 crew, or who ever was on it before Sleeping in Light. He also mentioned that there would be some new stories in the B5 magazine, as well as the timeline that is coming out now in the current issue.

Someone asked about what JMS thought was good about his relationship with the fans, or with the making of B5, etc, and the answer nearly brought tears to my eyes. He said that he has gotten on several occaisions a note from someone that said they watched B5 with their dying friend, who was given encouragement from the show. Or that someone had taped all of G'Kar's speeches and listened to them over and over in their hospital bed. Or that someone watched the show with their parents and their children, all together. Stuff like that. He said that just one note like this would have made the work to bring B5 to us worth it, but to get it repeatedly really made is special. He just loves the fact that the show actually touched people, which was what it was supposed to do. He also liked the fact that it could bring diverse people together. The fact that online groups have people from all over the world on them was special to him as well. So, it is the personal stuff that made the show so special to him.

Someone also asked about how he did character development. They wanted to know if he had the characteristics of the Narn and Centauri set up first, or if he had G'Kar and Londo first, then developed their homeworld characteristics. JMS said that he had the people first, then started coming up with behaviors for them, then compared them to historical context, to help develop overall characteristics for the people, and then from there, he was able to give them motivations and histories and that the plots just followed suit.

Whenever the Crusade subject came up, he did not just discount it. He did seem to be saying that he didn't think it would be able to be revived, but that stranger things have happened (Star Trek being the prime example). He also said that he would never get in the way of anyone from expressing their passion, so he did not ask the fans to stop trying. I guess he has accepted the fact that many of us are going to keep trying, and since that doesn't really hurt anyone, why not just go with the flow. It was at this time that both Peter and David walked into the hall. JMS called each one up on stage, and they just said that they really enjoyed working with JMS and Babylonian Productions. JMS teased Peter with one of the sheep in the audience, which seems to have confused some of you. There were people with sheeps ears and furry vests on throughout the convention. The rest is just sort of something you would have to be there to witness to understand. Anyhow, both Peter and David thanked JMS for such a wonderful working environment, then left the stage to JMS.

OK, that is about as much as I can remember about the panel for both JMS and Crusade, I can't think of anything else at the moment. JMS didn't stick around, like usual, so I went back over to the art auction to pick up some artwork for a friend of mine who was absent on Sunday. The last really fun thing I did was got into a gun fight with some of the Dangerous Visions dealers. What does that mean? Well, DV is a sci-fi bookstore in the Valley, and while making last rounds in the dealers room, I ran into two of the dealers having a shoot out with little toy guns. They were trying to recreate some cool movie stunts, so I jumped in on that. I showed them the proper technique to do a double fisted, jump through the air and roll on the ground gun fight, never missing your target. In other words, it was a real John Woo moment. So, at 3:30pm on the Sunday afternoon of the con, you could walk into the dealers room and see three people rolling around on the ground, or flying through the air, shooting each other with little spark guns. Most silly way to end a con, but it worked for me.

Before leaving, I had to say good bye to the Space: Above and Beyond crew, who will be at Agamemcon 4 celebrating their 5th anniversary as a group. I also had to make sure I said goodbye to the Oasis group, who were at the table next to us. It was really cool getting to talk with Dr. Jim Busby, who works on the Internation Space Station. He also was a consultant on HBO's From the Earth to the Moon series, so he told me some of the behind the scenes stuff. All in all, this was one great weekend of a con, I had a blast. I can't believe I used to just show up for one day to cons like this, and always left before any of the evening entertainment started. You miss half the con that way.

OK, that's my Loscon report, in two parts. Hope you liked it.

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