All Points Far: Farpoint Con Report #2

Maggie and I got back to our hotel after the first day of Farpoint around 10:30. We’d had to swing by a 7-11 on the way so I could pick up some superglue to affix the fabric over the eyes of my Blink mask. Since I built the second mask over a pre-existing plastic base I couldn’t just use hot glue, as I had in the construction of the original mask. Well, I could have but it would have melted the plastic. I must have looked exhausted when I went in to get the superglue because the cashier on duty commented on it and asked if I had just gotten off a really long shift. Nope, I told him. Just coming from an all-day event.

Tired as we were we couldn’t get right to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel. Apart from the gluing of the fabric over my mask’s eyes there were a couple of other touch-ups that needed to be done to the Blink Angel costumes. The major one was painting the wigs. Both wigs had been done kind of quickly back when we made the original costumes and there was a good deal of the white from the original mop heads peaking through. Maggie gave both wigs a good once over while I fought with the superglue. I eventually got everything to stick on my mask.

Sleeping was made a bit difficult by the light shining in the window of our room (despite having the blinds closed) and the thin blanket for the sleeper sofa that I was sleeping on. Our room never really warmed up, despite having the thermostat turned all the way up and I eventually just pulled my coat off the nearby chair and used that as an additional, albiet smaller, blanket.

After a quick breakfast the next morning we set out for the Crowne Plaza and Day Two of Farpoint. I think the parking gods must have known that we were going to be running from the car to the hotel wearing tank tops and jeans – coats had to be left in the car, as we didn’t want to carry them around with us – because we managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the door. We didn’t even have to run through slush!

Maggie and I set up a little camp in a corner of the women’s bathroom and set about getting all our gear on. The first step of getting ready for a day as a Blink Angel isn’t putting your stone-painted arms on or adjusting your wings. Nope. It’s much simpler than that. The first step to a costume as restrictive and involved as the Blink Angel is going to the bathroom!

But Meg, you say. Surely going to the bathroom doesn’t really qualify as a step in the dressing process.

It certainly is. If you start getting ready to get into a bulky or hard-to-get-out-of costume and think to yourself “You know, I don’t really feel the need to tinkle” I guarantee that, as soon as you are all buckled, zipped, buttoned, tied and strapped into your costume you will start to feel the call of nature. Then you’re going to have to take off everything you just put on and hurry off to solve your problem and voila! You’re off to a crappy start of a long day. So just save yourself the trouble, march off to the stall, and make sure you won’t be doing the pee-pee dance while walking the halls or standing in the autograph line.

If you’re doing a costume that involves a lot of pieces that have to be hooked or pinned or adjusted it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re going to be wearing the costume on a day when you’ll have another set of hands to help you. The Blink costumes don’t necessarily require a handler (although a shout-out goes out here to LeeAnn and Mel who took on this duty when we went to Shore Leave…you guys really helped!) but getting in and out of the things goes a lot smoother when you’ve got someone helping you.

The new head sleeve worked much better than the original one and the extended panel that Maggie added to my back harness helped keep the wings from dragging on the floor or bumping into my calves when I walked.

Farpoint attendees were coming in and out of the bathroom the entire time Maggie and I were getting in costume and folks kept stopping to ask about aspects of our costumes. Being the excitable costumers we are we were more than happy to explain how everything was made.

Maggie and I finished most of our preparations and then split up briefly. She went to drop some things off at the car and I stayed behind in the bathroom to fiddle with my mask and wig. When I finally finished and exited the bathroom I had only taken about three steps before someone stopped me for a photo. It was one of the women who had seen us getting ready inside the bathroom. She’d missed Maggie when she came out but figured she’d get a shot of me while I was standing around. The halls of the Crowne Plaza are not exactly the best for taking pictures but that didn’t seem to matter to folks who saw me. As with the Potter Puppet Pals costumes the Blink Angels tend to be costumes that everyone wants a shot of.

I mugged for five or six different people with cameras and then headed out to the lobby to wait for Maggie. When I saw her coming across the parking lot I waited beside one of the pillars in the “Weeping Angel” pose. She came in, walked over to do the same thing and laughed, then headed over towards the tables and chairs set up in the Atrium. I stood up on my tiptoes and glided after her a moment later.

And almost gave the manager of the hotel’s restaurant a heart attack. He started to laugh after recovering from the shock and told me he had seen me standing by the pillar but thought I was just a statue. When I started to move he still didn’t realize I was a regular person. “You just kind of glided across the floor and I didn’t see any feet!” He stopped me again a little while later for a picture. He hadn’t had his camera on him the first time.

Scaring people and posing for photos became the major theme of the day for Maggie and I. It seemed that someone was stopping us for a picture at least every five minutes. Each time one person took a picture at least two others were there snapping away at the same time. Luckily, the masks for the Blink Angels are much easier to see through than the Potter Puppet Pals heads. I was able to see if there was another person waiting for a picture and so didn’t mess up pictures by moving out of our “Attack!” pose.

Near the beginning of the day we were stopped by a small group of young women who were cosplaying as the Master and his wife from “Last of the Time Lords” (Season 3, Episode 13 of the new Doctor Who series). The woman dressed as the Master even had a sign that said “Vote Saxon.” We took a few photos as a group and I know someone snapped a picture of the Master and I where I was holding the sign and giving a thumbs up. I’ve been doing Google searches for it to no avail. If you happen to come across it, please let me know. I’d really like to have a copy of it.

The original plan for Sunday was to attend a few panels (Blogging, Costuming & Props for the Steampunk Universe, and SciFi Shorts) and stay for Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog. After catching Lee Arenberg’s Q&A and seeing Sam Witwer ham it up during the awards portion of the Masquerade the previous day we decided to spend most of our time checking out the Q&A sessions.

Staying hydrated is a good idea! Also, Felicia Day is visible behind me in the green sweater.

 We spent most of the 10am hour goofing off in the Atrium and posing for pictures. I had actually written in “lurking” for that section of the schedule. That’s where Maggie filmed me doing a silly little dance. We took a quick water break, which involved looking for straws so we didn’t have to take off our masks and wigs and struggle to put them back on. People kept coming up to us for photos while we took our water break, too.

When we were sufficiently refreshed we wandered off down the hall towards the Main Ballroom. The Bob and Howie show had just finished and Maggie and I headed to the far left side of the room where we could see a bunch of open seats. Since we can’t really take the wings off without unhooking and untucking everything else we can’t sit in a seat regularly. Sitting down in the Blink Angel costumes requires turning a chair around, pulling the hoop up around our knees and just kind of straddling the seat. Very unladylike, yes, but comfy none-the-less.

Lee Arenberg again kept us laughing for the entire length of his session. Since he had spent a good deal of the previous day’s time “pontificating” (his words, not mine) he decided to open it up to questions pretty quickly. He told some more wonderful stories about the different actors he’s met and the projects he’s worked on – there was a wonderful story about the first time he had to do a scene where his naughty bits were almost hanging out. He actually went a little over his time and he apologized to Sam Witwer, who was hanging out just off stage, apparently making faces at him. Finally, he said his final words and left the stage.

Now, before I go any further I figured I’d interject a little tale about something that had happened the previous night. Remember how I said Maggie and I were out in the Atrium people-watching in the time leading up to the Masquerade? Well, I happened to be looking towards the back of the Atrium when I saw a guy make his way out of the dealer’s room and past the bar at Northern Lights. I know I had been saying something to Maggie when I first saw him but I honestly have no idea what that something was. I leaned to one side a bit so I had a better view and muttered “Turn around, turn around.” Maggie shot me a quizzical look and I told her I was hoping the guy I’d seen would turn around so I could check out his ass.

Don’t give me that look. I’m human. At least I’m honest about it.

Anyway, he turned and stepped into the restaurant just as someone else walked in front of him so I didn’t get a good look. Maggie turned around and gave me a knowing smile and told me that it was good. “Baseball butt” we call it. Mm-hmm. A few minutes later I was distracted again as I saw him wandering down the way towards us. I gave Maggie the “there he is!” look and she glanced his way again. That’s when she realized who our mysterious, hot, baseball-butted gentleman was.

Sam Witwer.

I apparently hadn’t paid close attention to the program that people had given me as I hadn’t recognized him from his photo. All I knew was he was a nice specimen of a man. We figured that he was heading towards the Main Ballroom and surmised that he was going to be one of the judges for the Masquerade. I mentioned the story to Angelica when I saw her online later that same week (hello Angelica!) and she asked if I followed him. We might have wandered down the same hallway after he passed but it wasn’t exactly “following.” I mean, we were going to end up in the same room anyway. And, honestly ladies, wouldn’t you have been tempted to do the same after seeing this come down the hall?

Okay, okay, so he wasn’t shirtless at the time. Forgive me for wanting to drool.

I did admit that, had we been staying in the Crowne Plaza, I might have given serious though to following him at the end of the night to see what room he was staying in. I wouldn’t have done anything with said knowledge. It just would’ve been something to squee about. She called me a stalker and I agreed it kind of sounded that way. Though I like to think I’m not all that creepy, I still have an occasional fangirl moment. Rest assured, famous people. I don’t actually act on any of it. I just have an active imagination.

Anyhoo, back to Day Two.

One of the Farpoint volunteers fetched some glasses of water for Sam and was setting them up on the table just as he came out. He teased her a little, saying he couldn’t drink both of them and hold the mic at the same time as he only had two hands. Like Lee Arenberg before him, Sam opened up the discussion to questions pretty early on. He was maybe 15 minutes into his Q&A session when the best moment of the entire con happened.

I was sitting all the way over to the left in the front row of seats, with Maggie sitting behind and just to the right of me in the second row. I’d moved a little bit now and then while listening to Sam but, due to the dim lights and the way my  costume kind of blends into the shadows, those movements hadn’t really been noticable. In the midde of one of Sam’s stories I noticed that my leg felt kind of cool. I looked down and noticed the pant leg was still rolled up from my earlier trek across the parking lot. I bent down to fix my pant leg and heard

“OH WOW! Oh holy crap! You’re real! I thought you were statues or really cool props and then you moved!” I looked up from fixing my pants and realized he was talking to me. The audience laughed at his reaction and people sitting further back in the ballroom craned to see who he was talking to. He asked “Were you here last night?” When we replied that we were he said “I didn’t see you. Were you just perched somewhere?” We explained that we had actually been in different costumes the night before. He declared us awesome. We actually made him forget what he had been saying. Someone in the audience had to remind him. He went on with his story but he continued to look over at us regularly for the rest of his Q&A.

Now, I’ve been to a number of cons by now and I’ve sat in to listen to my fair share of Q&A sessions. Sam Witwer’s was, by far, the most humorous. The man does fantastic impressions which should really come as no surprise, seeing as he does a lot of different voices for videogames. He does what is possibly the best Christopher Walken impression I’ve ever heard. Every time I see Walken in a film from now on I think I’ll hear Witwer saying “This water is weird. It tastes like dog” in my head. He also does a wonderful Arnold Schwartzenegger and Keanu Reeves, as well as a pretty good Tom Cruise, complete with chair jumping and weird laugh.

He’s also, I learned, a big fanboy. He loves the movie BeastMaster. At one point he started talking about Marc Singer, who starred in BeastMaster and the original “V” series. He remarked on how Singer always wore very tight pants in “V” and his theory for why that was. I nearly choked while laughing at his description of a fight in V.

Marc Singer’s crotch versus a helmeted head of an alien. Who’s gonna win? Marc Singer’s crotch!

Never have I laughed so hard in single Q&A session. The man has a quick wit and could certainly cut it as a stand-up comedian. One of my favorite moments came when he was talking about the Transformers. He made the freaking Transformers sound! You know, the one they make when they transform? He also does a great Optimus Prime. There was a short story involving Simon Pegg that I might save for later (if you want to hear it, drop a comment). At one point he started talking about goofing off one day on the set of Battlestar Galactica. He and Katie Sackoff and a few others were standing about talking about call signs and flightsuits – mainly, what happens when people die. At some point they’re just going to start running out of call signs and flightsuits and need to start reusing them. Apparently Jamie Bamber was standing nearby but not really participating. Witwer wondered if they were bothering him. Eventually Jamie Bamber walked over and went ” Okay Starbuck, Crashdown and Steve, I need to see you in the briefing room.” The joke being, of course, that “Steve” was the call sign, not the pilot’s actual name. He then went on:

Spork. You need to go on now. Spoon and Fork have died. Now you’re going to have to do what they both could do together but by yourself.

A gentleman sitting in Maggie’s row, whom we referred to simply as “Mohawk Boy”, piped up and said that his friends, who are Navy pilots, actually have the call signs “Joe” and “Wad.”

People called Sam Witwer on being a fanboy and he was really proud of the fact. Someone asked if he has collectibles and he mentioned a cool replica of Darth Vader’s helmet that the folks at LucasFilm gave him (in case you didn’t know, Sam Witwer does the voice of Vader’s secret apprentice in the game Force Unleashed, as well as a few other characters). He’s apparently put it on a shelf above his computer and every now and then he’ll look up at it, bow his head and say “What is thy bidding, master?” in his character’s voice. He’s also currently getting a bug from “The Mist” made. When he was getting into film he decided to write to Bruce Campbell for advice. When someone asked why he replied “I don’t know. He seems likely to tell you the truth. Why do we look to him when the Armies of Darkness fall?” By the way, Bruce Campbell wrote back to him.

The time finally came for Sam to turn the stage over to the next guest. He’d already gone over his time a bit. He took his final bow, thanked the audience, turned to Maggie and I and said “Gargoyles? Awesome.” It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

We got up to leave the room and were immediately stopped by throngs of con-goers who wanted to take pictures of us. It was absolutely bonkers. So many flashes were going off and people kept yelling “Wait! Look over here!” I felt like a movie star surrounded by paparazzi. The whole time I just kept thinking “You know the real movie star has left the stage, right?” Maggie later told me that folks had been trying to take pictures of the two of us all throughout Sam Witwer’s Q&A. She’d see flashes go off periodically and look over to see people with cameras pointed at us.

Our eventual exodus from the main ballroom took us past the women’s room again. By that point the water we’d had earlier was finally starting to kick in. We were halfway through the day and I figured it was as good a time as any to take a quick break. We headed to our little alcove in the bathroom and stripped off the wings and confining layers of our costumes (don’t worry, we had clothes on underneath). When I came back out and went to put my mask back on I noticed that there was water inside it. I stood there looking at it for the longest time, trying to figure out how water had gotten in it. Then I realized…the inside of my mask is plastic. Although I’ve got a few breathing holes there’s not a whole lot of air circulation in it and the water came from the condensation and heat that my breathing and head gave off. A quick wipe-down with a paper towel and I was good to go.

Although we had originally planned to attend the SciFi Shorts segment of the convention Maggie and I both figured it would be a good idea to take some time and get something to eat. The main hallway that led to the panels and the ballroom smelled like hot dogs and we knew we could probably find something we could eat at the little concession stand but when you’ve been smelling said hot dogs for two days you tend not to want to eat them. So we headed out to the Atrium and tried to decide what to do. Did we want to order something to go from Northern Lights or did we just want to go in and see if they had a place where we could sit and eat? We didn’t want to have to go through the trouble of taking the wings off again so whatever we decided on we knew we were going to be straddling backwards chairs again. We decided to just stop into the restaurant and see if they had room.

As luck would have it most people seemed to have already taken their lunch break and the whole back section of the restaurant was empty. Maggie and I followed the hostess down the aisle, past tables already occupied by a few con-goers. I watched the eyes of one of the Boogie Knights (the same one who had emceed the Masq the night before) grow big as Maggie walked past his booth in front of me. We also walked past a booth where Felicia Day was sitting with the man who had won the lunch in the previous night’s charity auction. I heard her remark on the costumes as we walked by and it filled me with even more warm fuzzies.

The hostess sat us at a table that is usually used for four people. We knew we wouldn’t be able to sit on the booth side so Maggie and I turned the chairs on the outside edge of the table around and took our seats. One of the waiters came by and took our drink order and a few other members of the staff swung by the table to admire the costumes. Our waitress came to take our order. Unfortunately the gloved hands meant my usual wrap was out of the question and we both settled on finger food.

We got a lot of attention from the staff. Various waiters kept stopping by to ask a question or two about the costumes. In fact, we had a nice long visit with the two managers on duty. One of them was the gentleman I had scared earlier in the day. He asked the majority of the questions with the other manager, a woman, piping in every now and then.

Of course, being inundated with questions about the Blink costumes was nothing new by that point. Maggie and I had been fielding questions all day long. We both find it incredibly interesting that people are fascinated by so many aspects of the costumes. The most common question we get from people is “How long did all that take?” Everyone’s always surprised at the answer. Each dress takes about a day to make and an hour to paint. I finished my mask in about two hours, snowed in at the coffee shop. Each set of wings takes a full day to make. My recent remake of the sleeves took about four hours to sew and a little less than an hour to paint and affix the nails. I don’t remember how long it took to make the wig, simply because it took me two different attempts and, by the time I finished, I was so sleep-deprived that I was on the verge of falling over. The costumes themselves don’t actually take all that long to make…you just need to find the time to sit down and work on them.

During our talk with the managers we brought up the original dilemma we were having outside the restaurant. When we told them we had been worried about there not being a place for us to sit down the manager told us “Next time you’ve got a concern about that kind of thing, needing to eat and not having a place, just come and get myself or one of the other managers. Let us know and we’ll work out a solution for you.”

That information will be filed away for a later time, as I’m sure it’s not going to be the last time we attend a convention at the Crowne Plaza.

I’ve got to say that I’ve been pretty impressed with the service at the Crowne Plaza in all of our interactions with them so far. We’ve been to the hotel for Costume Con and Farpoint now and stayed there when we attended Shore Leave last summer. The rooms are super comfy and look all kinds of swanky and the chicken wraps at Northern Lights alone are worth the trip up from Virginia. Also, they have black out curtains in the rooms…even on the windows that face out to the Atrium! WIN!

After lunch we stopped by Sam Witwer’s table. Maggie wanted to get an autograph. When he saw us coming he grinned, pointed at Maggie and said “That’s what I’m talking about! Hello, gargoyle.” We didn’t correct him about what we were from. He asked Maggie a couple of questions about the costume and asked why she comes to conventions. I loved her reply: Because I get to dress up like this.

That’s a big part of what draws me to conventions. I get to get all decked out in crazy costumes and it doesn’t look out of place.

After she got her autograph we headed back to the ballroom and caught Felicia Day’s Q&A session. She’s another person who has a really quick wit and seems to take a lot of joy in interacting with the fans. I read an interview that someone did with her later that day. They asked how lunch went and she said that the guy who won the bid for lunch had actually worked on her web series The Guild but they had never met before.

She told stories about her cats – Charlie, George and Speedbump (yes, there’s a reason for Speedbump’s name) – and talked about shows she’d like to be on. Apparently she auditioned for GLEE before it started but fell victim to the Redhead Rule. In case you ddin’t know, most shows have an unofficial rule saying that there can only be one redhead in the cast at a time. I think it’s terribly unfair (especially since I love red hair) but such is the way things go.

After Felicia Day’s session and a slightly glitchy run-through of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog it was time to head out. Maggie and I hurried out to the car, trying our best not to be blown off course by the wind. We did what was probably the fastest quick-change out of our costumes at the car and hopped inside, huddling under our coats in an effort to warm up.

On our way home Maggie remarked “Now I want Dragon*Con to be here even faster.” It’s a sentiment I whole-heartedly echo. Our two days at Farpoint were a fabulous opener for the 2010 convention/festival season. I’m definitely excited to go back next year and it’s got me even more excited about the upcoming cons – if that’s at all possible.

As far as conventions go, Farpoint is aces in my book.


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