Monday, March 26, 2018

(Re)Generation Who IV Convention Report

This was our fourth outing to (Re)Generation Who, and by now we had established something of a routine. We departed around eleven and arrived around four pm. We stopped once at a rest stop for lunch and again to pick up groceries so we wouldn’t have to eat out for every meal. The rooms weren’t ready at our scheduled check-in time, but that was hardly the fault of the convention. (And the people at the front desk did their best to get us in, so it wasn’t a major inconvenience in any case.)

Badge pick-up for the convention was smooth, but it always is. They’ve expanded every year, and I had a brief discussion with a friend about my concerns that the con might grow beyond what their infrastructure can support. If there are any such problems they were not visible from my perspective. (And I’m sure there must have been a few behind-the-scenes problems, as you don’t have an endeavor with so many people without some difficulties, but again, they weren’t conspicuous to me as an attendee.) What I’m saying is that the Onezumi staff makes a very difficult job look effortless, and that’s no small achievement. I have absolute confidence that they’ll be able to keep the con running for a very long time.

5 pm Friday Fifth Doctor Season 19: Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton, Matthew Waterhouse (Moderator: Keith R. A. DeCandido): We only caught the tail end of this one, but it was really fun. Tegan is one of those companions to whom I’ve warmed considerably since she began appearing in Big Finish.  Janet Fielding is really sharp and funny and she had the best anecdotes from the series. My favorite had to be how Anthony Ainley (the Tremas Master) wore a toupee in real life but took considerable pains to hide this fact. When he had to play Kalid in the Time-Flight serial, he wanted the make-up artists to put second bald wig cap over his existing wig in order to preserve the illusion. They did their best, but couldn’t quite pull it off, so as a compromise they pretended to fit him with a bald cap in his trailer. Doctor Who, everybody!

6 pm Friday: Writer Spotlight: Nev Fountain: Nev is among my very favorite guests at Regen. He’s been a professional writer for ages and has a comprehensive grasp of the fundamentals of the process of writing, as any writer must, but he’s also capable of articulating them in a clear and relatable matter. He gave a bit of advice that will stick with me: Jokes in a humorous story should always serve the story and should be cut if they don’t.

7pm: From Serving Chips to World War I: The Bill Potts Panel (Moderator: Amanda-Rae Prescott. Panelists Joy Piedmont, Tai Gooden, and Alyssa Franke): I know Alyssa’s work from the tremendously great Whovian Feminism site, but I didn’t know any of the other panelists. I came in late and missed the beginning and the panel, but I appreciated what I saw. The panelists have different experiences and perspectives than mine and took different messages from the episodes, but they voiced them in such a way that I understood where they were coming from. They’ve given me a new way to understand something I already love, and I thank them for that.

8 pm: Intro to Big Finish (With Jason Haigh-Ellery and Ian McCann). And a special guest appearance by Lisa Greenwood!  I don’t think I would have fallen in love with Regen as much as I have were it not for their enthusiastic embrace of Big Finish.

I didn’t know how big a player Big Finish had become, but they’ve been at it for 20 years now, and Jason said that they have employed 7,000 actors over those two decades and are now the second-largest producer of original audio programming in the world after the BBC.  That’s just bonkers!

I really enjoyed this panel. I’ll confess that I was not a fan of Flip Jackson, the character Lisa Greenwood plays in the audios, but she was just so lovely and engaging in person that she’s more or less won me over. I may have to reassess my opinion of Flip.

9 pm: We had a late dinner at a kabob restaurant near the hotel. I had the kofta kabob platter and a salted mint yogurt drink. Holy crap that was salty. One of my friends took a sip and asked if it was a milkshake for Poseidon.

10 pm: Writers on Deck Late Night Reading: I was a little bit late for this one, but I rushed in still wearing a winter coat, two scarves and my Strangeness in Space beanie. Kara Dennison was moderating and Keith DeCandido, Rob Shearman and Paul Magrs were on the panel. I’m so glad I hurried. Rob’s story was absolutely haunting and will stay with me for a long time. Paul’s story was deeply moving as well. You can read it at this link, and you should if you haven’t already.

We wrapped up with the 11 pm: Time and Space Jam DANCE PARTY with DJ Kangal and then it was off to bed shortly afterward.

10 am Sat: Big Finish Interview: Jason Haigh-Ellery – Director/Producer (Moderator: Kara Dennison). And another surprise visit from Lisa Greenwood! The most interesting part of the panel, at least for me was when Jason said that he’s often asked how one can write for Big Finish and he started speaking about the Paul Spragg Memorial Short Trips contest, whereupon Kara mentioned that the winner of the first contest was a Regenner and I piped up to say that it was me! (I should have opened with, “And I hear he’s super-talented and incredibly handsome!”, but I get tongue-tied when I’m nervous.) We went back and forth on the topic for a few minutes and the conversation returned to more general Big Finish discussion. The long awaited site redesign should be there soon and he said it takes a lot from Amazon’s layout and will have such features as recommended titles. That will be a welcome addition, I think. The site is functional, but there is certainly room for improvement and it sounds like they’re taking the time to get it right.

11 am sat: Zoology of Doctor Who (Host: Kelsey Wailes) This was another really solid panel. Kelsey Wailes examined certain alien species from Doctor Who and compared them to some real-world animals that exhibit some of the same distinctive traits.  This is an aspect of fandom that I really enjoy, how something that looks silly on the surface can be made to seem plausible with the right context and the proper framing. If you squint at them in a certain light they can appear to seem a little less ridiculous.

Not you, Myrka

1pm Sa Peter Capaldi  (Moderator: Kara Dennison)The big deal for me was that the panel was slightly slow to start, so Jason  Haigh-Ellery stepped up to fill in and I got a shout-out in front of the audience. It was surreal. You can hear Jen shouting out my location on the video. We were near the back. That was partially by choice; Jen was in her Weeping Angel costume and didn’t want to block anyone’s view. I had never experienced so many people turning around to get a look at me.

I enjoyed the interview itself. Capaldi is a very disciplined subject and played it pretty safe with this answers, but just the same he’s a big fan of the series and his love and enthusiasm came through with every reply.

2pm Sa Michelle Gomez  (Moderator: Craig Cobalt) I had to leave halfway through this panel, but I enjoyed what I saw of it. Michelle Gomez is just a fascinating person. She can make anything interesting. I’m quite looking forward to her turn in the Sabrina Netflix series.

We then took a longish break from panels. We spent some time outside the convention, Jen participated in the March for Our Lives (see if you can spot her in this picture!)

and we had brick oven pizza for dinner. I had the “Art Lover”. It had artichokes on it and it was super delicious!

Our next panel wasn’t until 9pm LGBTQ Experience In and Around Doctor Who I won't talk about what anyone said in this panel, out of concern that I might accidentally reveal some personally identifying information about one of the participants, but this hour was accepting and courageous and inspiring, the three traits I associate with Doctor Who at its very best.

10 pm Make Your Book: How to Self-Publish and Self-Market Without Dying (Hosts: Kara Dennison and Ginger Hoesly) I’m a big fan of Kara’s writing and analysis, so I definitely wanted to catch this panel. Knowing how to do something and being able to explain how to do it are two different things and I admire people who can do both. I always enjoy hearing specialists talk about the mindset and techniques that go with specialized endeavors.  I don’t know if I’ll employ anything I learned at the panel, but I’m happy for having learned it.

A gentleman had karaoke set up in the Atrium, so we did that for a while. We also caught the end of the costume contest before going to bed.

We slept in pretty late and the only panel we attended was the 12 pm Big Finish Interview: Lisa Greenwood – Flip Jackson. (Interviewed by Don Klees)

I asked Lisa about the fan theory that Flip is pregnant. I suspect that’s the case; the stories certainly seem to be implying it. Lisa said that she hadn’t been told anything along those lines by the writers, but she admitted that they know she’s terrible at keeping secrets, so they tend not to tell her everything. She really liked the idea and conjured up the visual of Flip running from the Daleks.

She also told the story of how she figured out the identity of the Twelfth Doctor before almost anyone else. She was working with Peter Capaldi on The Hour when he was cast and the BBC showed some close-ups of the new Doctor’s hand in the lead-up to the reveal. She looked at the picture and said, “Aha! I know that wedding ring!” and I thought that was pretty cool.

 And that was it. We did a little shopping. I picked up some shot glasses for Lily from Geek Boy Press, a Miyazaki lanyard from another vendor and a glitter candle. I bought a book and a CD (Peri and the Piscon Paradox. I’m not a huge fan of Peri, but Nev sold me on the story at his Friday panel) and some Kelsey Wailes prints from her booth.

I really treasure this convention. I didn’t know it would become a tradition with my wife and some of my best friends when I went to the first one, but here we are. I got to meet people I only knew through online correspondences and see friends I hadn’t seen for a year.

This year (Re)Generation Who was held on the same weekend as the March For Our Lives and for a time my Facebook feed was filled with nothing but posts about those two events. The confluence of the two is coincidental, but I suspect they’ll always be intertwined in my memory.

The entire weekend made me feel a bit less cynical about people for a little while, as if the convention was not a place where we find respite from the real world, but what the real world can be if we listen to our better angels.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I still function

I'm still alive, just not posting as regularly since I'm very busy in both my personal and professional life. I hope to resume more regular posting soon.