Yet Another Journal

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» Friday, September 02, 2011
Dragoncon 2011, Day 1
Marvelously not exhausted because of not standing in line last night, we were up rather early: I forgot to shut off my alarm clock, and we got up with that instead of my phone alarm. Ah, well, gave us time to interact with the fids and refill the bird feeders.

We left a bit early to swing back a mile or two to take our friend Alice and her daughter Aubrey downtown with us. Alice's husband Ken was working today and this way they wouldn't have to drive two cars home.

Eeek! The garage was up to $20 this year, but it's so convenient, and it's not even as high as the parking rate at the host hotels—most of them are over $25.

So Alice and Aubrey hied off to registration and we had breakfast in the Peachtree Center Food Court. Years ago they were open on Friday and Saturday and then closed on Sunday and Monday. These days they've gotten hip and do a roaring business all weekend (except for Chik-Fil-A, which always closes on Sunday). We ate at Chik-Fil-A, as we sampled some of their oatmeal earlier this summer and it was quite good. They have an oatmeal and fruit cup deal that can't be beat (and you can substitute milk for coffee).

Our first panel was small, devoted to the Gerry Anderson series UFO. It was quite enjoyable, and panel moderator Anthony Taylor even telephoned Matt Gratzner, who is planning to do a UFO movie in 2013.

Now James and I parted at the ways, not to see each other until evening. I trudged out of the Marriott and all the way to the Westin, hoping against hope to get into the Back to the Future panel which was taking place in some ballroom upstairs. The line snaked gamely through the main floor of the Westin, and, finally, began to move, winding in a serpentine through the floor and then across floors and up stairs. We weren't halfway through the route before they told us the room was full. Rats.

So it was tramp, tramp, tramp back to the Hyatt. The Sylvester McCoy panel still had room, so I slipped into the delicious coolness after the sticky heat outside, and joined Sylvester's bouncing off the walls in progress. I had seen him before years ago, but he seems more manic than ever, smothering himself every time he started to mention "The Movie That Shall Not Be Named" (he's in The Hobbit and not supposed to talk about it), talking about the beginnings of his career, where he played the spoons and shoved ferrets down his pants (one night someone brought a second ferret...), and then bounced down in the audience to take questions and play the spoons (he carries his in a nice wooden case). Later, while talking about Doctor Who, they had him read some lines from an upcoming script involving Stonehenge.

One of the big advantages in the last few years has been the new skywalk from the Hilton to the Marriott, and especially the shortened skywalk from the Hyatt to the Marriott where you avoid going through the Peachtree Center Mall. I was going to take the latter to the Marriott—but the escalator going up to the bar level and the skywalk was broken and foot traffic piling up. So, it was back to the old route, down the steep stairs of the Hyatt (we don't call this convention "the DragonCon exercise program" for nothing), into the back of the Marriott and into Friday cacaphony.

So I went to the Gareth David Lloyd panel and had a few laughs. Most of the material had been talked about in previous years, like Ianto's sad, sad death which involved John Barrowman dripping spit and tears onto him. There was a sweet moment where a woman asked if he would pass a message on to someone who was sick, and he took her phone and texted the person.

I slipped out early because I simply could not resist the thought of McFarland being downstairs in the exhibitor's hall. I found three books—one with essays about Back to the Future, another with Torchwood essays, and a third with Doctor Who commentary. Looked at a book about British sci-fi media, but needed to think about it.

My next panel was about Young Adult classics, a pleasant hour spent listening to panel members and members of the audience offering favorites, not just science fiction and fantasy, but others as well. We spoke about books that were special to people (Harriet the Spy was a favorite), others that were loved (but not by the panel), etc. It's nice talking about young adult books with other people who appreciate them.

Following was another panel I was particularly looking forward to: last year James Marsters, best known for his bad boy roles as Spike and Captain John Hart, played Buzz Aldrin in a movie about Apollo 13, Moonshot. The panel was, as the notation said, only for conversation about Moonshot. So, I had to search out the Crystal Boardroom in the Hilton, having never been there before.

This was fantastic panel. Marsters showed different clips from the film, and then told us something about them: how they were filmed, or the background of them. It was evident from the audience that many of them were younger people who had not experienced the moon landing and a lot of the info was new to them. I really enjoyed his enthusiasm about the entire project—he came all prepared with a rebuttal for any naysayers who didn't believe in the moon landing, but no one there fell into that camp! He also talked a little about the monkey that was used in the film; they shot the movie in Lithuania and the monkey appeared to be frightened of his Lithuanian trainer.

And then it was off at a trot to get back to the Hyatt in time for the "WKRP in Atlanta" panel, featuring Howard Hesseman and Loni Anderson. I just made it into this one; in fact, I had to station myself against the wall for about half the panel, until a seat freed up. In a way, this was a homecoming, because WKRP in Cincinnati was based on a real Atlanta radio station, WQXI ("Quicksy," as James always calls it) which did convert from being very conservative to hard rock music. Many of the characters were based on the WQXI personnel, including the sales manager, who, like Herb Tarlek, wore loud suits. (The disastrous turkey drop was a real event, too.) It sounded as if, of the cast, Richard Sanders was the oddest one. They told a story about the cast being on Dinah! where there was a strange gentleman in a full tux in the green room with them. When they were introduced, it turned out to be Sanders. In fact, the one cast member that was 180 degrees away from his character was Hesseman himself, who was painted as much more conservative than Dr. Johnny Fever!

Also tales of three-camera filming, once with and once without an audience (no laugh track used ever), and, of course, someone asked Hesseman to say "Boooooger!" which he did with relish. :-)

James and I reconnected at tonight's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance. Friday night was for comedy, and we got it "in spades." The production led with another installment of Ron Butler's Rory Rammer, Space Marshal, a sendup of 1950s space opera, about a murder at a Soviet Union re-enactment get-together. This was followed by an encore presentation of the chuckle-and-cringe sketch "The Most-Pierced Man in America," and finally Sketch McQuinor's hilarious Sherlock Holmes spoof, "Game the Third: The Tick Tock Dick," with "Grimpen Meyer" and his friend and chronicler Dr. Basil Parsley Sage Rosemarythyme. This was the first of two ARTC plays with a steampunk twist: a clockwork woman detective. All delightful.

Our final panel was in the Sheraton, where the BritTrack was presenting "British TV You Should Be Watching," with suggestions from both the panel and the audience. There are so many riches this needs to be two hours or be in two parts! They presented by category (comedy, drama, etc.) and there still wasn't time for every suggestion.

By now it was 9:30 and I had the beginnings of a filthy migrane, but did manage to drive home safely. After prepping for tomorrow morning, pecked a bit at the computer, cooed at Schuyler, and then wandered gratefully off to bed. Had fun though!

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