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04 February 2008 @ 06:07 pm
Meeting Captain Tightpants, 'The Heart', and Sean Blumberg, among others...  

I haven't been intentionally procrastinating with updating, just haven't had the free time. I know I'm over a week late getting to this, but I had to finally get around to putting in a brief account of the 2008 FX Show from the weekend before last - Jan. 25th-27th - with some pictures, while all the memories are still fresh. I'm trying not to match the essay-length of my post from last year's event, but it may still be quite long. I'll cut, of course, for those not interested, and to mercifully spare flist reading. 

I ended up purchasing a three day pass for myself, and a Sunday-only ticket for my dad, because he also wanted to meet Nathan, but didn't want to deal with all the walking and standing for three days. I had to work Friday, but ended up leaving at 11AM to make it to the Orange County Convention Center before noon.  My main goal for Friday was to try and meet Nicholas Brendon and Laura Vandervoort, since they were supposed to be there all three days. Greg Grunberg was on a tight schedule and would only be there Saturday, and Nathan Fillion was listed for Saturday and Sunday. 

And Cindy - I know I gave you a brief rundown of the days when we spoke on the phone, but after sitting down to type all of this, I think I left some things out in our conversation, so most of the details should be here.


My first impression was that this event was a degree or two smaller in size and scope than last year's FX Show. The venue at the OCCC was swapped to a smaller meeting hall than where it was held last year, and there was still plenty of spreading-out space for all the booths and vendors. There may have been about a third less total vendors/sellers than last year, even though the celebrity lineup was just as good overall, IMO. The doors opened for three-day pass holders at 11:00, and noon for everyone else. I got there around 11:30, and was able to stroll right in, past a line of about 200 people or so. Still, that line was much smaller than last year's. Although, to be fair, I do think the organization was handled much better than last year's as far as moving people in and out, arranging the photo sessions with the celebs, and the handling of the meet-and-greet lines. Perhaps that improved organization and order made it seem like there were less people than there actually were *shrug*.

After making it inside the hall, I first checked the booths were the guests were signing to see who all was there, or would be there before the afternoon was over. Then I made it over to the photo session booth, to check the schedule to see when Nick and Laura might be up.  Neither had arrived, so I managed to wander around all the booths for a couple of hours, seeing some familiar faces from last years events, as well as some new people.  Unfortunately, artist Jason Palmer was unable to attend this year, so I wasn't able to see him or Yelena. He had actually replied to an email inquiry I wrote (about the status of his Serenity character portraits), wanting my opinion as to whether or not he should come this year. The pros and cons were: if he did come, he'd have to delay work on those prints even further - which are already way behind his time-table goal of having all 11 finished by last fall), but he'd do the program art again (FX people wanted him to, of course), and would have maybe one one more of the Serenity prints finished - and could give me mine personally. (*sidenote* - I bought the whole set, and have already received River, Mal, Zoe, Kaylee and Book - Wash is the next one up, with Jayne, Inara, Simon, The Operative and Serenity herself still coming).  If he didn't come, he'd be able to finish up a couple more, probably. I told him that either way, whatever he decided to do would be fine, but perhaps nudged him to come. While walking around Friday afternoon, I spoke with a vendor who was selling some of his prints, along with other Browncoat stuff, and she learned that he had arranged to come since Nathan was confirmed to be there, but at the last minute Lucasfilm needed some more work on stuff Jason's doing for Indiana Jones (after he's already done a bunch of Star Wars stuff for Lucasfilm in general, and especially for Celebration IV last summer). So, since Jason couldn't make it, the program cover last year that looked like THIS, the print of which I also bought and got signed, ended up looking like THIS. Jason's presence was sorely missed, to say the least.

Anyway, after a couple of hours, Nick arrived - apparently straight off the plane and from the airport, because he looked a bit disheveled and a little tired. Now, to the average fanboy or fangirl, Nicholas Brendon may not be much of a big deal, as his only really notable work has been on Buffy. However, that resume item alone is enough to cement his iconic status in my book, since Xander Harris is about my favorite fictional character ever, thanks to Nick's portrayal.  So I was a bit nervous, but managed to be pretty normal - especially once I met him. There were a handful of people in line, so there was barely a wait to see him, and he seemed really congenial and cheerful to everyone who came up to the table. When I got there, I shook his hand and intoduced myself, and first told him that I really loved Kitchen Confidential, bought the DVD set, and thought it got unfairly shafted - and he agreed with a smile. Of course, I then had to mention my love of Xander as a character - my favorite from the show, and from most all shows. He thanked me and appeared genuinely appreciative of that and ended up signing the picture I had of Xander, circa season four. The only downer was the bitch of a handler he had that day. She didn't whip out the silver sharpie for him to use until he had started signing the picture in black, then she said "oh, wait, here's a silver one for that dark photo". He gave her a bit of an annoyed look, and held onto the picture, saying "here, Jeff, let me go over what I wrote with this one, so it's a little easier to see". And apparently, the woman was also enforcing a $5 fee per-candid shot, so I couldn't get a snapshot of him just signing the photo. I had already paid for the photo session later, but she was still frustrating. But he re-signed, I thanked him, and told him I'd see him later. The scan of his signed photo is HERE. A couple of crappy distance shots I got of him at his booth are HERE and HERE.

I went to go see if Laura Vandervoort was around yet, but found out she missed her flight, and wouldn't be around until Saturday. Since it was nearing time for Nick's photo session, I made it to the booth with about 10-12 others in line, and managed to get my picture with him. He remembered me from just a few minutes earlier, and said "I like your shirt".  Even though he seemed to be dressing like an old man all weekend, the picture came out decent, and Nick was great to meet. 

There wasn't a whole lot else to do or see, and I wanted to save some money to last until Sunday, so I took off after picking up the above picture once it was printed, preparing for a busier day Saturday.


The pass-holders' admission began at 10AM on Saturday, but I arrived around 11:15.  I had the schedule of who was going to be there, and when, so I was in no real rush. I did bring a backpack with me, though, to carry my folder of pics to get signed, store any others that were printed, and to carry a change of shirts, since I knew I'd be taking three different photos this day, and wanted something fan-related for each person. 

I made it to Greg Grunberg's line around 11:30, and there were only about 10-15 people there at that time, so it moved quickly. And it must be noted that Greg seems to be just as fun and good-natured in person as he comes across in the various behind-the-scenes stuff I've seen of him. I had my Lost numbers shirt on, and he immediately said "the numbers!" I shook his hand and introduced myself and told him I've been a fan of his work ever since he was Sean Blumberg. He exclaimed "I remember Smoothaise! I loved that character." I also made sure to inform him I appreciated Eric Weiss as well, and he made the remark of always wanting the show to end with him going bad, or having been working with Sloane all along. He followed up by saying that's why he's intrigued with where Matt Parkman is going, since he's right at a crossroads with what he can choose to do with his powers - the gray area is fun to play. He made sure the photo was for me, and as he signed I said, "I know you really can't say much, but I heard it floating around that you could show up in Lost again this season." He grinned and sort of shrugged his shoulders and said "With that show, you never really know" - while also giving me a subtle wink at the same time. So, he's either throwing nosey fans off completely, or kind of confirming that the pilot of Flight 815 could reappear somewhere. Also of note, the handler with him didn't really care who took photots, so I got him in THIS one. Before I left, I threw it out there that I saw Kristen Bell, Hayden Panettiere, and Zachary Quinto here last year, and that Kristen was just awesome to meet in person. He agreed with "she IS totally cool, and super funny - she's a big kid just like me."  He thanked me for coming, I shook his hand again and thanked him, and I told him I'd see him later for the photo, and then headed over to the main stage, where the Heroes panel was going to be at noon, and I wanted a decent seat.

The Heroes panel consisted of Greg (Matt Parkman), George Takei (Kaito Nakamura) and Stephen Tobolowski (Bob Bishop), and was basically a good 35 minutes of questions from fans and humorous anecdotal answers from the three guys. Very entertaining and worth seeing. I tried to get some snapshots, but the lighting above the stage sucked, and my flash was no good from the distance I was sitting. I managed to get lucky and capture a shot as someone else flashed, and got THIS. A few others HERE, HERE, and HERE.

After the panel, I booked it back to the photo booth, as Greg's session immediately followed, and there probably ended up being a good 30-40 people in line. He rembered me as I walked up - "Jeff, right?" - and as we posed he said "smoothaise!" That photo is HERE. I thanked him again and left, deciding to see if I could quickly meet Laura Vandervoort, since her line was pretty manageable.

I was able to almost walk right up to her line, since there was only one person there at the moment, after there had been about 15-20 just a  few minutes earlier.  I introduced myself and she seemed very sweet to everyone who came up, making sure the photo was for me before she signed. That shot I was also able to snag, HERE. She almost seemed a little overwhelmed by the attention, but she was never rude or curt to anyone - perhaps a little quiet, but after meeting the outgoing Greg, that was to be expected by comparison.  I told her that I've been a Superman nut since I was old enough to read, and that by association, I've watched Smallville from its beginning. However, I left out the parts about how many times the show has jumped the shark since season three, and what a disaster the show has become with writing that is some of the most wildly uneven and at times most unexplainable in all of TV. No, I just told her that I was a little wary of the writers introducing Clark's cousin, this far into the series, but that I've been pleased with how she's been able to handle Kara - that she eased the worries I had for that character. She seemed to really appreciate the thoughts and thanked me for coming. And IMO, I think Laura is prettier in person than she is on the show. A little smaller than I thought she would be, but still gorgeous. After this, I was off to make another lap around a few of the aisles of vendors. By this time it was around 1:00, and though Nathan had arrived and had been signing, he was away for lunch until 1:30 or so.

I went to a bathroom and changed into my Browncoat shirt, knowing I'd have my photo with Nathan next. By this point, the rotating-ticket system for the meet-and-greet was being used for Nathan's line, so people didn't have to stand in line for an hour or more waiting their turn. A numbered ticket was given by the FX handler, and a list was marked down for the progress of the line. Any numbers at or below XXX could get in line - usually no more than 20 at a time. Once that line dwindled, the listed number would be bumped up by 20 or so, and then anyone with that number or below could come up. The system works pretty smoothly, but I must confess that I cut this line. I mainly did it because no one was really paying attention to how it was working (the ticket system), and with about 15 minutes to go before Nathan came back from lunch, there were only 4 people hanging around for his line, specifically. Everyone else was kinda rubber-necking to see who's booth it was, but walked away when they saw it empty. Now mind you, I had a ticket, but it was a good 100 or so higher than where the current number was, so it would be another hour or two before I could come back, and I wanted to try to meet him and get some stuff signed before the photo session. 

Just before Nathan came back, I paid for the four items I had with me to get signed, and got the item ticket to give to the handler next to Nathan when my turn came. Just as Nathan sat down, the FX guy with the tickets started collecting them, and I told him 'I must have dropped mine by accident', and couldn't find it. I know - I lied. He had seen me standing there for the last 15-20 minutes, though, with the four others ahead of me, and I told him I had just paid for my items. He did remember giving me a ticket (just not which number), so he had no issue letting me stay where I was. Honestly, there were still only about 25-30 people behind me at that point, so I didn't feel too bad about my white lie. If that makes me a bad person, oh well.

To get to it, though - meeting Nathan Fillion is pretty much how you would hope any celebrity encounter would go. Very similar to how sweet and gracious Kristen Bell was last year, Nathan seemed genuinely appreciative of each person that came up to him, and that he was thrilled to be there himself. He made sure to get each person's name and looked them in the eye with real interest in what they had to say. The line only got longer as the day went on, so they kept things limited - no posed candids with him, and no flash photos, since he had so many things to see and sign, and the lights were bothersome after so many. All of which was understandable, IMO. The guy just ahead of me must have been a collector-for-profit type, or had his own online collectible business, because he had dozens of items to get signed - photos, Serenity ornaments, replica Blue Sun money, the Serenity ship's blueprints, etc. At least 50-60 items were out, so I stood there for a few minutes with my stuff out and tabled, ready to be signed - my two photos, the Firefly DVD set, and Jason Palmer's print of Mal.

As soon it was my turn, Nathan looked up and I shook his hand, introducing myself. He said (seeing my shirt) "A Browncoat! It's great to meet you, Jeff. Thanks for coming." He slid over the first photo, and I told him about  _cinjudes_ : "This one's for Cindy. She's a friend of mine who lives in Mississippi, and she's dying over not being able to be here to meet you. She's one of your biggest fans - both personally and professionally. I turned her onto the show with the DVDs, and she's been hooked as a Browncoat ever since." He had a big grin and signed the photo to her, and said "I appreciate that very much. And you turned her onto the show? Well, that's doing the Lord's work right there, so thanks for that." My photo was next, and after he signed it he said "I put the exclamation there, since shouting a name may help me remember it better - Jeff!" We both chuckled, and as he slid over the DVD set to sign, I told him I had watched the show from the beginning, even as FOX aired the episodes out of order - and that I bought the DVDs the day they came out. He replied "An original Browncoat. That's great to hear." Lastly, he slid over the print of Mal, and he immediately recognized it: "Jason Palmer! I love this guy.  He gets the likenesses just right." He pointed out the thumb on Mal in the picture, and commented: "See, he even gets my thumb right. When I hold my hand just like this -" and he demonstrated for me, "- that's exactly how it looks, so he got it just right. I'll sign right here just above that thumb."  Then I shook his hand again and thanked him. He thanked me and I told him I'd see him later for the photo session.  As I walked away, I caught more than a few stares at the signed artwork - people no doubt wanting a Palmer print of their own. 

I immediately went back to the photo booth, since Nathan's session was coming up.  To say that his line was the longest of the weekend is an understatement. They allotted about 35 minutes for his session, but he must have been taking pictues for an hour and a half. Easily 200 people in line for Saturday, if not more. I stood in line for about 40 minutes to get mine, and when I got there, he did remember me: "Jeff the Browncoat!" And since Nathan is tall - about 6'2" - he had been putting his arm on the shoulders of everyone he was posing with. When I stood next to him, he started to do the same, then said "well, you're the bigger man here, so you go high, I'll go low"- so my arm was higher than his - it was another chuckle. That photo is THIS one. We both thanked each other again, and I was off to take the signed print back to the car, as well as change shirts again.

I was almost done for the day, save for the photo session with Laura. And being the fanboy that I am I had changed into my traditional Superman shirt for this last photo. Her session was right after Nathan's, so I had an hour to make that change after a trip to the car, and grabbed a quick lunch (bottled water and a soy meal replacement bar - yum! - or, you know - not). I ended up about 30th in line out of about 70-80 for Laura, and again things moved pretty quickly. When it was my turn, I wasn't sure if she remembered me (I was wearing my Lost numbers shirt when I saw her earlier), but I think she did. As luck would have it, we ended up standing there, posed, for almost a minute, as Froggy the photo guy was having camera issues. I don't think I said anything witty during that wait, but I remember her hand kep moving up and down my back, changing positions a few times.  Not to say she was copping a feel - her boyfriend-type dude who was with her all weekend (who is in an upcoming episode of Smallville) was always close by - just that it was pleasantly distracting, LOL. We both thanked each other and then I was done for the day. That picture is THIS one. I checked the table where the printed photos were coming out, and my shot with Greg was there, but Nathan and Laura's would be a long while, since his session lasted so long. I double checked with the woman who was taking the photo-tickets (who remembered my name by this point, herself), and made sure I could pick up those other two photos on Sunday. Then I was off.


This last day for me was pretty laid back, as I'd met everyone I wanted to, and taken all my photos. I was mainly doing some final browsing for collectibles and stuff i might buy, while my dad was with me to get his photo with Nathan. 

But we also both wanted to see the Whedonverse panel that started at noon. Similar to the Q&A of the Heroes panel on Saturday, this one involved Nathan (Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly), Nick (Xander Harris on BtVS) and Elisabeth Rohm (Kate Lockley on Angel). Rather than taking photos, I was able to MPEG video the whole 30+ minute session with my camera, with pretty decent results. As pretty much expected, Nathan immediately took charge a bit, relishing being the center of attention with all the wit and humor any Browncoat has come to expect from his fan encounters. After a slow start Nick and Elisabeth also got in some good answers - Nick did the Snoopy dance upon request - and everyone learned that Elisabeth is almost 7 months pregnant. My only problem now is in sharing the large file size(s). Because my first set of batteries expired around the 27 minute mark, I had to quickly change them and start recording again, for another 5 minutes or so. Now I have two large files - one 2 GB in size and another over 400MB is size - that comprise the panel. I've looked at the free uploading from You Send It, Sendspace, Mega Upload, etc., and none of them seem to allow anything over 500MB in size for free download or upload. Any suggestions as to where I might be able to host this publicly would be appreciated. 

Immediately after the panel, Nathan had his Sunday photo session, so dad and I headed straight to that booth. I was able to pick up my printed photos with Nathan and Laura from Saturday, and I stood in line with dad for the 20 minutes or so we had to wait - the line was long again, but probably ended up being half of what it was Saturday.  I didn't see dad's pose with Nathan (the booth is sectioned-off with privacy screens), but right after he came out he told me that Nathan remembered me from yesterday once he described me ("Jeff, right?"), and also let him know he had watched the show from the beginning and was also a big fan. Dad was impressed.

After that, we walked around a bit and I bought a few of the various items that I had been keeping an eye on all weekend - a bunch of Buffy and Angel figures - all different ones I didn't have, which were cheap - some 3 for $10. Also found the series 1 of the Battlestar Galactica figures, as well as a 1/6 scale reproduction of the Cylon centurion. It's pretty badass. The one big item I bought was a licensed replica of Leonidas's Spartan sword from 300. It can go with my other two swords - a replica of King Arthur's Excalibur and William Wallace's claymore from Braveheart. After a trip to the car (while dad sat and rested) to drop off all the loot, we made it back for Nathan's line, which was manageble without needing a ticket.

And the main reason I was back in line for Nathan was due to the phone chat I had with Cindy ( _cinjudes_) Saturday night. She mentioned getting the movie poster for Serenity signed - one that already has Joss Whedon's signature on it. It's an item I won in an auction for Equality Now, Joss's charity of choice. After that mention - which I honestly had not thought of before -  I just HAD to get Nathan to sign it, so Sunday saw me back in his line. Also, funny anecdote: The two guys right ahead of us asked Nathan about his appearance on Lost. They asked him which episode it was, by name, since apparently they didn't know. Nathan concentrated hard for a moment, describing what his character was about in the episode, and then playfully looked to the line and asked if anyone remembered which Lost episode he was in. I chimed in with "I Do. I Do." The guys ahead of me looked to me expectantly for the answer, as did Nathan, and I repeated, "I Do. That's the name of the episode - number six from season three. You played Kate's husband, Kevin, a Miami-Dade police officer, who thought her name was Monica." Nathan grinned and said to the guys while pointing at me - "see, there you go - a fan." This time, Nathan remembered both of us - dad from the photo session just a short while previously, and he still had my name from yesterday. We got up to the table - Nathan thanked me for the Lost assistance - and I introduced my dad, and ended up having Nathan sign a photo for him, and then brought up the poster.  As I had unrolled it in line, a few people ahead of and behind me were a little envious, already seeing Joss had autographed it. Nathan commented "ooh - you have Joss here, too. I love his signature - it just looks cool." So he signed next to Mal's face on the poster, and I was able to get a no-flash snapshot of him signing, HERE.  We both shook his hand one last time, and dad thanked him for coming out and being so great for all the fans. Nathan replied, "Fans like you are why I look forward to these events. Seeing the audience appreciate the characters and the work as much as I do makes it worthwhile, so you guys are easy to please." He thanked us, and we were off. And I had more envious looks my way as I rolled up the poster signed by Nathan and Joss. Heeeee.

From that point, dad's photo with Nathan was printed within the next 20 minutes, so we were able to pick it up, and head out. 

All in all, a very memorable FX Show weekend once again. I'm pleased to say that all of my various celebrity encounters have been nothing but great so far for the last couple of years. Hope that trend continues.

And now I need to get some grub.  Perhaps a post on the mind-blowing-ness of Lost later in the week, if I get time.

Kristen Bell is awesome.

~ CinJudes ~: qaf - quote - framed fic - afterglowing_cinjudes_ on February 5th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
He slid over the first photo, and I told him about _cinjudes_ : "This one's for Cindy. She's a friend of mine who lives in Mississippi, and she's dying over not being able to be here to meet you. She's one of your biggest fans - both personally and professionally. I turned her onto the show with the DVDs, and she's been hooked as a Browncoat ever since." He had a big grin and signed the photo to her, and said "I appreciate that very much. And you turned her onto the show? Well, that's doing the Lord's work right there, so thanks for that."

I'm such a silly bitch that just reading that you talked to Nathan about me makes my ears turn all hot and shit. *meep*

Thanks again for the picture and the words. I love you long time darlin'. *muah* I actually posted yesterday as well and posted a copy of my pic (which last week I went in your bucket and snagged along with a copy of your signed Jason Palmer print - because it IS awesome).

So glad you posted all this. I will be looking today for an upload option. You know me with a bone. ;D
~ CinJudes ~: movies - madagascar - must think_cinjudes_ on February 5th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
It seems the best thing to do would probably be to split the big file and then send it to me and I can use our FTP to load it onto our site until we let it go the end of this month. Long story short, I found some solutions - not only for sending to me, but also for posting on a free space, but I'm not sure which to recommend. My suggestion is to email Larry. He will know exactly what to do, I can promise you that. *hugs*
Jeff: super bad daddyj_mac179 on February 6th, 2008 03:29 pm (UTC)
I'll check around a bit more, and probably will email Larry to see what he thinks.

When I was recording the panel, I used the 'fine' setting on my camera, to get better detail. It ended up dropping the capacity on my 4GB card from over 3 hours to just under an hour. I had no idea that 35 minutes would be almost 2.5 GB in size. But it was worth it, as it came out better than I expected.

Glad you went ahead and found the stuff in my bucket before I posted. I just couldn't get around to updating this any sooner.
~ CinJudes ~: stars - el - kiss kiss_cinjudes_ on February 6th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
If nothing else you now have it and I will have it when I copy it to my external HD in April ;D - or you could burn it to DVD+R, not where it can play on a DVD player but where it can be on a computer. I have seen other clips of the panel on YouTube so it's not like I can't wait if this is mostly for me or anything.

I was also talking to Ben about you and stuff last night and showed him your pictures and read him so me of your post (I had saved it with my daily stuff) and realized you left out your "I Do" tale! That was one of my favorite tidbits you told me.

Anyway - I actually posted in my journal you fool, so quit working so hard and pay some respect. *smooches*
Jeff: Kristen - Rolling Stone shoot - 1j_mac179 on February 6th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
DOH! I can't believe I left that out. I'll have to go back and add that in a bit.

I'll get over to your LJ, too, before the day's over.
ancient_immie: Standard: Ta-la-laaancient_immie on February 5th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
sounds like an awesome time. I'm all envy of the FX schoozing. *G* All the pics are very nice.
Jeff: Firefly - Mal & Inara - shindig1j_mac179 on February 6th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I gotta say that the expense of the show for me for the past two years has been justified. Everyone I've met has been pretty awesome, so the experience and memories are worth it.
ancient_immie: Kreuk: Mojo Smackdown 1ancient_immie on February 6th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
I feel the same about the Con's in the past that I've been too. Creation and Vulkon expenses are justified. I'll have to see how MegaCon goes.
Flora: OMGlatinatemptress on February 5th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
You are the luckiest fanboy on the planet right now. Just so you know. Those pictures are beyond awesome.....and are those sexy muscles I see?? Looking good Jeffy baby. ;)
Laura is a very pretty woman unfortunatly I think Smallville has the abilty to take beautiful people, ie Tom Welling, and make them spontaneously bloat.

So jealous of you Jeff. So, so jealous.

Jeff: kristen - Complex shoot - aj_mac179 on February 6th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
You are the luckiest fanboy on the planet right now. Just so you know. Those pictures are beyond awesome.....and are those sexy muscles I see?? Looking good Jeffy baby. ;)

Flattery will get you everywhere, Flo - and is very much appreciated ;) *smooches*

And I edited the entry because I just realized this morning that I forgot to link my picture with Laura. I added it to the paragraph about her photo session above, but it's also HERE.

So jealous of you Jeff. So, so jealous.

I have been pretty fortunate in my opportunities for meet-and-greets so far, I know. Perhaps one day I'll eventually get to meet Tom somewhere, and you can be even more envious. ;P