Sunday, February 24, 2013

My 48 hours of the 24 Hours of Gallifrey One

After last year at Gallifrey Network 23, which seemed to last forever (in a good way...and, also in a good way, its effects never quite ended...) this year it flew by way too fast. I think mostly because I missed Thursday night LobbyCon and Friday's opening and panels. Last year, my school and volunteerism schedule was much more forgiving and allowed me to take 5 days off from them. When I registered for a second helping, I had no idea I'd be in Washington, D.C. this semester.

Not that I'm regretting it! All in all, the con was a much-needed break and, weirdly enough, a jolt of familiarity in a year that's so far been full of changes.

It also gave me a refresher course in How to Use Airplanes, always helpful.

Friday

Business as usual in the morning and afternoon--that is, I attended a classroom session for my seminar and then our class met a speaker at Dupont Circle. I'd been worried that I would need to leave the speaker early (as I explained to my professor, I didn't know where I'd be when I registered for the convention last spring! ) but in fact there was plenty of time not only to attend & get back, but then to repack everything and make some last posts, updates, and adjustments to my class group's service project IndieGoGo Campaign (about a week left!) before braving the Metro. I say braving, because while the Metro is quite nice and convenient, this was my first time attempting it with luggage in tow and something of a time constraint. The Metro is quite nice and convenient...except on weekends. But I didn't miss any transfers and, though trains were probably running 1 to a track somewhere in DC, they were not along the portions I was using. I made it to Regan National with time to spare a) looking for my carrier's concourse and b) remembering you need things called boarding passes and then running to get one. I enjoy traveling, but I'm still learning all the nitty-gritty steps one has to take to survive it.

All the while I had not only my just-barely-small-enough-for-carry-on suitcase, but also my backpack, which I was snuggling in my lap whenever I sat down because it contained my laptop, my books, and Plushie Eight.

Plushie Eight has traveled as much or more than I have, given he was shipped to me from my friend in Maryland this Christmas, just in time to join my family roadtrip to move me in to D.C., and then came with me on several sightseeing trips.
Photo: I am a mature and responsible adult, and so is my plushie fellow tourist.

In short, if I'm going somewhere, it's with Plushie in tow. Either because he's a security toy and I need security at this point in my life or, equally likely, he's just so splendidly photogenic.

I'm like one of those Facebook moms who uses a picture of her kid as a profile image. Expect to see a lot of this little guy throughout the rest of this post. It won't be a hardship, I presume.

Anyway, Plushie Eight and I made it through security (he once greatly charmed a security guard at the Library of Congress, where they physically look through your backpack; but on the X-rays he is just a mass of fluff and so arouses no suspicion or amusement whatsoever) in 30 minutes of the 2 hours I'd been warned to set aside for such, so I spent the remaining time eating expensive airport food, reading the books I'd brought in my backpack, and calling a few people to let them know I was coming West. This included my family, who met me at O'Hare airport during my layover to exchange news, some stamps (my dad collects them) and my Eight Doctor costume. Happy as I was to see my family, my good mood didn't last once I took my leave of them, rushed to my next flight (this meant having to go through security again, although this was nine thirty at night and there wasn't exactly a line) and then waited...for over an hour...on the runway because an indicator light wasn't working.

Waiting for one hour, doing nothing, when you have half a continent to fly across and will probably be awake not less than 20 hours straight to manage it (some people can sleep in coach. I am not one of them), it an extraordinarily demoralizing experience. But, to cut a long and pitiful story short, I made it to LAX and reached the hotel in time to see some Gallifreyan karaoke. The bright side of conventioners staying up until 5am!

Saturday
I was sharing the hotel room with 2 friends (Plushie Eight's creatrix from Maryland, and a California native) and things got a bit crowded, but pleasantly so. Even if I did have to work my way around an ironing board while I tried to fasten my cravat and keep from spilling coffee on anybody else's frock coat--our closet was filled with 8th Doctor coplay, and nothing else. We really should have had ribbons to pass out. Some slogan along the lines of "Eighters Gonna Eight."


Pictured above: Eighters Eighting

Once we got down to the convention center, it was great! We got to revisit the TV Movie TARDIS console--with added posts from the Eye of Harmony

(don't worry, I didn't look into the mirror)

and then met Daphne Ashbrook


Who was greatly impressed by the "Paul Doll"--I think everyone at the convention over 35 referred to my plush toy as a doll, showing the demographic breakdown of this particular trend. She also wasn't the only person to view it as a little snuggly Paul McGann rather than by the character. Which makes me sound an even more obsessed fangirl than I am...I think...(although she did say something along the lines of "So you've got it bad, too?" which was either referring to my friend and fellow fan, who had spoken with her yesterday, or perhaps to herself. We're all McGannites here.)

 Also, she was truly sweet and kind. We talked about where I came from and I talked about going to school in D.C. and not being very certain what I'll do at the end of this, my last undergraduate semester. She compared it to stage fright and personalized the photo she signed for me with "Follow your dreams! You can do it!"

The Eights (3 cosplayers and a Plushie) were able to get our picture with her at the console later in the day:


As we were leaving, Daphne was talking with a TARDIS cosplayer who had designed her dress around Grace Holloway's in the movie. It was gorgeous.

I attended more panels this year than I did last. The Big Finish preview session fully explains why so many Whovians bemoan "Big Finish owns my soul, and also my wallet." Their 50th anniversary episode (is it still an episode when it's an audio serial?) preview induced chills and Feels and also a profound sense of relief that it isn't all in Stephen Moffat's hands. I liked some of Moffat's early episodes (by which I mean "The Empty Child" and "Curse of the Fatal Death" and no more--later on I even had the chance to articulate with another fan just why I don't think "Blink" is the greatest episode of all time ever! I love conventions!), but I don't trust him as a showrunner any further than he can resist throwing his characters off a rooftop.

So even if, as I fear, the 50th anniversary on TV turns out to be nothing but an orgy of Moffat's ego, with more absurd and empty twists in the convoluted, inconsistent plot than previous Doctor guest stars, at least I get to listen to a Classic multi-Doctor episode.

During a lull in the panels, our group walked to the In-n-Out burger. We figured at 4 in the afternoon there wouldn't be much of a line. We were wrong. On the bright side, the kitchen space was open and spotless, and we got to watch the potato-chopping and -frying mechanisms while waiting for our meals to arrive. If our food had been a little bit later they might have found us convinced to hire on; that looked fun.

Although the walk was much farther, and the wait much longer, than we expected, we ate on the way back and returned in time to catch the Classic companions panel. It felt a bit like eavesdropping on the conversation of really interesting people as they talked about what they were doing with their lives, so of course it was wonderful. Yet also a little strange to hear that, say, the person I still think of as Vislor Turlough has moved to New Zealand and is doing documentaries on wildlife poaching in Mozambique. And isn't ginger (I already knew, doesn't mean it's not traumatizing to see confirmed. We do not speak of the Eighth Doctor's wig.)

The next few hours passed...eventually...as we waited in line for the Masquerade. This paid off, though, as we got far better seats than we had last year after arriving late. We were reminded to have our badges out before being seated. Whether or not this was any reflection on the incident last year where, after arriving late, I discovered I had left my badge in a hotel room in a different hotel and had to run back for it, but not before having to be escorted inside the conference chamber to borrow my friend's room key, and just generally had an adventure and gave the volunteers a bit of one, too...

No such adventures this year, although many interesting costumes, more Gangham Style than I'd have expected, and a Sarah Jane Adventures skit that made everybody cry. Also the halftime show as the costumes were judged produced Ottergatethe in-joke of the convention. I'm glad I was there, because you really had to be there. I suppose the moral is twofold. 1, respect your audiovisual people, they are powerful beyond imagining. 2, OTTERS.

After the masquerade I and a friend were able to get into the comedy routine performed by a group of longtime masquerade veterans, but jetlag was catching up and I can't recall much of it, although I'm sure it's on YouTube somewhere. It was funny, I just can't summarize any of the skits well.

Sunday

Sunday was the day of meeting people in elevators. In fact, if I were to return to Gally (not sure my finances will allow it next year) I would seriously consider spending several hours doing nothing but riding up and down in elevators and seeing who I'd encounter. The first was Mark Strickson, ironically as I was heading up to my room to get the book I wanted autographed by him. I'd picked up a novelization of Mawdryn Undead at the Milwaukee airport bookshop on my way to the previous Gallifrey One and, well, you never know... When I did get the book signed I also wished him luck on his next trip to film nature documentaries, and mentioned my own upcoming trip to Ghana, which will include an environmental component I've been forewarned is extremely depressing. Not a conversation I'd ever have expected to have at a Whovian convention. Support the Nature Conservancy or the African Wildlife Foundation or the WWF or other such organization of choice, y'all ("if not for the charismatic megafauna, do it for Turlough!" may become my new battle cry.)

Speaking of causes, this year's charity auction raised funds for Alex's Lemonade Stand, addressing childhood cancer (chosen because the past two years have been extremely tough for Whovians, Who actors, and cancer--although it almost makes me wish they'd chosen a foundation fighting cancer in adults instead, given the closer link). My friend and I tried and failed to win a teddy bear signed by Paul McGann, but I did manage--accidentally--to win 3 Star Trek books. I heard Diane Duane's name mentioned, and as I've always meant to read Spock's World I thought I'd give it a go, expecting to accomplish nothing but push the winning bidder higher. It turned out nobody wanted to bid more than $10--well, it was a Whovian convention, not Trek--so now I have 3 Star Trek books. Spock's World is even better than I expected, and I expected it to be quite good, while the novelizations of series 2, 3, and 8 are a bit rushed but comfort me in my current absence of ready TV access. Reading Space Seed only after seeing The Wrath of Kahn is probably not the optimal way to go about it, but it worked fine for me (now, has it prepared me for the next Star Trek movie, is the million dollar question...and I can hear a great disturbance in the Force, or is it in subspace, as if a hundred thousand Trek fans winced and cried "I hope not!" at once).

After the auction, we attended a panel on Doctor Who merchandise. Amazing what they have tried to sell in the past...or are trying to sell now (destroyed Cassanda action figure? Really?), and also some interesting discussion of branding and packaging.

Plus, Plushie Eight made a new friend:

I'm not sure if the Adipose is cosplaying the 11th Doctor, or if the Eleventh Doctor had a bit of an adventure of his own...perhaps a chameleon circuit mishap? Either way, it's adorable. Now *that* should be liscened merchandise!
(Speaking of which, the effort to convince my friend to start a business making Plushie/Chibi Doctors/Paul Dolls has not yet borne much success, although many, many people were asking if she took commissions. For now, my Eight is an original. I'm very proud.)

Then came another Classic reunion panel, and closing ceremonies began. In between, we ran to get snacks at the con suite just before it closed. In our haste, I dropped Plushie Eight's flower and had to go back for it--usually I would not be so attached to plastic flowers, but ever since I worked as a cashier at Michael's craft stores I've begun collecting them, and this one would fit perfectly in the collection. Plus, it suited Plushie adorably. Going back, we wound up in an elevator with Deborah Watling, better known as Victoria, which was pretty cool. And then on our way down to closing ceremonies we met June Hudson, who not only though Plushie Eight was cute but was so charmed by him she took out her camera and snapped a photo! We spoke a bit as we walked to the convention room. She seemed to be having a great time and was plainly sorry the convention was coming to an end. "I'm almost forgetting it's not real," she said. I would have taken her for a fellow fan if she hadn't left us at the guests of honor only hallway. Not, of course, that you can't both work on the show and be a fan of it.

(I wasn't sure I knew her work at the time, but it turns out June Hudson is the designer of the awesome alt!Eight costume concepts which circulate among the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel fans. I'm not sure if anyone really loves the original costume except we cosplayers...and Daphne Ashbrook, who said she could see it as her kind of thing. A colorful coat and a vest--what's not to love?)

Monday
Last and...well, to be honest, least. I'm not certain that President's Day 2013 ever really happened. I spent it all going through airports, and I lost 3 hours because of time zone differences. I did get some time to sit in the absurdly comfy LAX waiting room chairs and read Daphne Ashbrook's biography (speaking of eavesdropping on the conversations of more interesting people...) Once I get the hang of them, I find airports cool places to be--busy, spacious, high-tech. Life was also easier for me because this time, with 3 extra hardcover books and a Edwardian-era costume in my suitcase, I chose to check my luggage. American Airlines let me do it for free and did not lose my bags at the O'Hare transfer. There wasn't much to do except pass the time, wait to board, board, wait to get off. Simple and direct.

Then we landed in DC, and while figuring out the Metro system to get home wasn't all that difficult, I found myself back in the thick of things with work, homework, and not a jelly baby to be seen.

Of course, jelly babies because of the coloring agent used in them are strictly speaking not supposed to be readily available in the United States...so of course nobody at Gallifrey One offered any to their fellow convention-goers...after all, asking "Would you like a jelly baby?" is merely an inquiry into one's emotional state, desiring or not desiring a candy. The fact that the questioner held a bag of said candies and allowed those they asked to reach in and take some without protest does not in any way imply an offer. *cough cough*

What are the morals of my story?
1. Check your luggage, if it's free and you can survive the small chance of having it misdirected. It's easier. (You also are--erm--less likely to accidentally knock fellow passengers while trying to wrestle a suitcase into the overhead storage. Which makes everyone happier, or so I'm told.)
2. African wildlife is a sad story. (Also I would not usually compare Mozambique and Ghana--Africa is an entire continent, after all, it's not homogeneous--except the issue pops up both places and if it's the conversational topic that comes to mind when talking to Mark Strickson, well.)
3. Everyone wants Plushie Doctors. And should you ever decide to make and sell them for a living, the best form of advertising is, of course, to give Therese one and have her walk around a convention with him. Call me.
4. Upon reflection, the Celestial Toymaker/merchandise panel taught me there isn't much you can make that's Doctor-Who themed that people won't be willing to buy.
Still. Plushie Doctors.
5. Do not place a bid in an auction unless you are prepared to win
6. Elevators. Watch this spot. Don't be creepy about it, obviously.
6a. No really, watch the elevators. There're 6 of them at the LAX Marriot, and sometimes the one that's headed where you want to go has just opened up right behind you.