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» Sunday, September 04, 2016Dragoncon and the Smile Seen Round My World
Well, not a much better sleep than the night before, but certainly a better night before to have experienced. We had to step a bit this morning, and me to rush through my breakfast, because this morning I did have a 10 a.m. panel. James had a rather more relaxed schedule, but upon searching, we found him "Literary Comfort Food" and "Novelizing the Media," both at the Hyatt.
At 9:45 I was on a mad dash to the Sheraton through the shortcut I'd forgotten yesterday, out the side door at Peachtree Center and straight down John Portman Boulevard to the hotel for the "Sherlock: Classic vs. Modern" panel, which was one of the panels I was looking forward to. This could have easily been a two-hour panel there's so much to talk about: from the original stories to the newer pastiches, and of course the media from William Gillette to Benedict Cumberbatch. Several people talked about having gotten into Sherlock Holmes from the 1950s Ronald Howard series, others from The Great Mouse Detective and its novel antecedent Basil of Baker Street (these are being re-released, BTW). Of course there is always talk of favorite Watsons (Jude Law comes out well), Jeremy Brett always takes a bow, there are the usual Elementary scoffing (look, it works for me and other fans; let's agree to disagree), and even the fringe stuff gets mentioned, like Asylum's Sherlock Holmes (and dinosaurs) and the animated Sherlock Holmes in the 25th Century (when I mentioned Jason Gray Stanford was the voice of Holmes, someone in the audience yelped, "Oh, my God, I didn't know that!"). I even put in a word for the BBC's terrific Clive Merrison/Michael Williams radio versions.
It was an elevator ride up to the Sheraton Grand Ballroom and the Q&A with the Torchwood guests. Unfortunately Burn Gorman and Eve Myles had to back out for other commitments, but Naoko Mori, James Marsters, and Gareth David Lloyd certainly made up for them. Alan Siler was moderating and was having a great time at it, too. The main focus of the panel seemed to be making Naoko blush, and they certainly managed it well. One of the first questions was for them to tell stories on Eve and Burn. Naoko revealed that Eve once got them thrown out of a kareoke bar (she wouldn't put her shoes back on) and they said to watch out for her when she started singing Welsh hymns. Gareth said Burn tried to make off with an antique tub while they were filming "Countrycide." Many of their stories, of course, were about John Barrowman and how "touchy-feely" (with your permission, of course) and "up" he is. This was apparently a big help when the cast had to be up at four in the morning for filming. James said that one morning he was so tired he asked the makeup artist if he could just paint eyes on his eyelids, until John Barrowman came barrelling in shouting "Hey, b*tches, what's up?"
I had a free hour after this great panel, and made my way back to the art show. I still wished to find out if the painting of Harry Dresden was available as a print, but I didn't see one in the print shop. I was going to approach the artist, but he had an autograph session and a long line. So I wandered around a bit looking at the other paintings I had liked, then went back to the print shop and bought two little prints, one of an owl hiding under a mushroom from the rain, and another of one owl preening another. I thought about buying a print of the Native American centaurs, but I still wanted to find out about the Dresden print. (It turned out he only had them in a pricy option. I at least have the online copy.) I finally left after I realized what was there was too expensive and sat outside to eat my lunch, and then was able to leisurely take the bridge over to the Marriott and join the queue for what was labeled the "Pond Family Reunion."
Karen Gillan had had to bow out, but Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston made certain to fill in any gaps that the audience might have expected. Arthur is rather quiet and almost appears shy, but Alex is all charm and ebullience. They were asked the usual questions including favorite episodes (she is partial to the Vincent Van Gogh story), but some surprising facts did emerge: for instance, she knew who River Song was long before Arthur and Karen did, and when she was finally allowed to "tell," she broke the news to him with a saucy "Hello, Daddy." (Otherwise, she said she felt like "Mom" around Karen, Arthur, and Matt Smith, which she characterized as "a sackful of puppies." :-) ) They also had great memories of filming in New York City, and said that fans even found them when they filmed in Monument Valley! And of course in conclusion, someone asked Alex to say "Spoilers!" which she did with relish.
The Marriott Atrium Ballroom was chock full, so it took me a while to funnel out with the crowd and then get down the escalators, so I had to head over to the Sheraton at a good clip. However, I did make the next panel, "Needcoffee.com vs. the Whoniverse," in time. Needcoffee.com is a media review and commentary site, and one of the panelists is Brittrack regular Rob Levy; the panel was devoted to all aspects of Who, classic and new, Hartnell to Capaldi, although a lot of season 10 questions were bandied. (They also talked about the rumor that a lost episode of Doctor Who may be presented in an animated version.) [Later: The BBC announced this a few days later.] The next panel took care of the season ten problem.
This was the "Doctor Who series 10 and Class" discussion. This was a difficult panel because, although the Who spinoff series is supposed to premiere in October, we still haven't heard much about it. We know it's set at an old Doctor Who stomping ground, Coal Hill School, now Coal Hill Academy, there's an LGBT cast member, and the plot is basically Torchwood meets Scooby-Doo. Alan Siler figured, however, that Peter Capaldi is probably going to make at least one appearance on the series to set it as definitely in the Whoniverse. [Later: We found out via the BBC a few days later that Alan guessed this one correctly.] There is also little known about the next season of Who, besides that Pearl Mackie will play the new companion, Bill, a modern-day young woman, and she will not be in the Christmas episode. The new season doesn't air until April because Peter Capaldi said the production crew was overworked and needed a rest.
My panels were over for the day, so I made my way back to the Hyatt to find James. He was in International North waiting for "The Best of Military Science Fiction" to begin: this was a collection of some of James' favorite science fiction writers on one panel, including S.M. Sterling and John Ringo. I have to admit, besides talking to James, I didn't pay much attention to the panel because I don't read those books. I remember them talking about certain characters and plots, and thought that John Ringo needed to shut up and let everyone else talk, but I don't recall much else about the panel. I laughed several times, though, so I guess what I did hear I enjoyed. :-)
Some days are made up of both good and bad, and today had been colored by two dispiriting events. One was a conversation thread in the Dragoncon Facebook group that was being commented on in the Dragoncon With Disabilities group. A man claimed that a woman in a scooter deliberately ran him down. Now, inconsiderate people exist in every national, racial, ethnic, and gender group. It's always possible to find an inconsiderate disabled person. But the comments that followed this claim were quite vicious, with some people stating that all people in scooters/power chairs/wheelchairs should be banned from the convention. What? So those who require them can be the way "crippled" people were 100 years ago, confined to a room in a house like a pariah? Because only abled people should be expected to have a good time? Is this 2016 or 1916?
This was compounded by a depressing Facebook report from a friend who lives in Florida. Like James, she can walk only short distances and depends on a power chair to get around. This morning she was telling with some sorrow that she had gone shopping, and, in order to put the items she had bought in the carrier on the back of her chair, she had gotten up from the chair to do so. She was immediately buttonholed by some obnoxious woman who shoved her face up to hers and told her that by getting up from her chair she had demonstrated that she was faking a disability, and she should be ashamed of herself! Apparently this woman had appointed herself God! Isn't it bad enough to have a mobility problem or any other type of restriction on your health, only to have some cretin accusing you of "faking it"? Ironically I found a post on Facebook by a woman who is seriously ill, and apparently every time she takes a break to have a good time, like go to a theme park or do something fun, paying for it with pain afterwards, she gets criticized for "not really being sick." One person even reported her to her mother!
But something nice was lurking as well. James had a couple of free hours today and I got intermittent reports from him that he was in the Dealer's Room, he had seen the full-size Toothless, and he'd been Christmas shopping for me (I was not allowed to look in his carry bag!). He'd also bought himself a "skean dhu," a traditional knife that is included when you wear a kilt in full regalia. It's beautiful, too, with an antler handle and a Damascus-finished blade.
But my favorite text was the casual one sent from the Hyatt, where he told me he was trying to get memberships for next year. (Turned out it was a line for next year's hotel rooms.) But it didn't matter. The tide had turned and he had chosen..."in all things it is better to hope than to despair."
And on his birthday, too.
Damn right I cried.