It is official…Farpoint is awesome. I know, I know. I declared it such last year when it came time to write up my con reports about it. It could have been a fluke. It could have been an awesome con last year, simply because all the stars and planets aligned to make it so (haha…didja get the not-so-clever Star Trek reference there?). I do not believe that was the case, though. Once again, the folks who put together Farpoint planned and ran a wonderful con. There were fantabulous guests (quit sneering. That is a real word, for the purposes of this post). There were costumes! There were dealers with wonderful wares to tempt me with. There were awesome fellow fans to talk to. And talk to them I did.
At one point, fairly early on in the con, I remarked to Maggie that Farpoint is more of a “chat with people” convention than many of the others we go to. Maggie’s response was “Yeah…I don’t really do that. That’s your job.” Maggie really doesn’t do “chatty” at conventions, except to people in whatever group we put together to go with. My labeling of Farpoint as the “chat with people” con is not to say I don’t chat with people at Polaris or Dragon*Con or Shore Leave. It’s just…I talk to what seems like EVERYONE at Farpoint. And I absolutely love it. I’m talking LOVE. If I could somehow make those letters shimmer and dance about, I would, just to try to get my point across.
Now, before I get much farther into the actual con day…some lead up. The
night before the convention, Maggie and I retired to our respective houses to prepare. She wanted to take her Sith costume to Farpoint again this year, minus the wig which, she claims, makes her feel like she’s burning up. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to take to Farpoint this year. Part of me wanted to take the Blink Angel again, but I need to make new sleeves. There was my Jedi stuff…but it’s gotten rather big and I haven’t had time to take it in or make new items. I didn’t want to take Kowl, as he really needs other She-Ra characters around him for context. I didn’t want to wear my Popple, either, as I’m still not 100% happy with it. Though, now that I think of it, there would probably be a number of people at Farpoint who would know what I was.
After looking through my choices, I decided I’d just go with my Kaylee costume. It’s uber-comfortable, it was clean, and I’ve only had one opportunity to wear the “new” version of the coveralls since I put the whole thing together. Also, the costume has the most important thing for comfortable convention attendance. POCKETS! There are pockets everywhere on that friggin’ jumpsuit. There are so many, I have a tendency to forget about half of them. I pulled out my Kaylee shirt (not film accurate, but something I can imagine her having in her dresser, or wherever she keeps her clothes on that ship), my altered flightsuit, and my boots. Honestly, the boots might need to be replaced. Or, at the very least, repaired in strategic places with some sort of sealant.
Late in the evening I got a text from Maggie, saying she couldn’t find half of her stuff, and the stuff that she could find didn’t really fit right, and that her red contacts that she purchased at Dragon*Con were apparently not completely sealed. One of the contacts had dried out and kind of shriveled up. I advised her to go ahead and soak the lens over night in a crap-load of solution, and hope that it would be rehydrated the next morning. Luckily, it worked.
We set out on Saturday morning – after a brief stop at the coffee shop for caffeine and breakfast – and wound up getting to the Crowne Plaza a little after 10am. There was only one panel I wanted to attend at that time and it had already started, so we opted to check out the dealer space instead.
As usual, there was a nice assortment of booths at Farpoint. The first had some excellent t-shirts. Maggie picked out one that read “Real Tears Excite Me.” I didn’t get one, but I saw several I liked. Among my favorites were: “Support your local medical examiner…die strangely,” “Bondage Instructor: Let me show you the ropes,” and a shirt that depicted about 20 sci-fi weapons with the phrase “Celebrate Diversity” written underneath.
There were two steampunk booths I fell in love with. The first we came to was Got Steam? There were two parts to the booth – corsets, and assorted steampunk merchandise. There were so many lovely items. Of course, there was a pith helmet, which I love, but I’m of the mind that Tesla wouldn’t wear one. Like me, she finds hats fun, but she has yet to find one that’s practical enough for her to wear. There were, however, some lovely face shields that I think go nicely with her character. And there was a belt with places for test tubes, and many other lovely items. I picked up a card and, if I ever get money, I can definitely see some of it going to this business.
The other booth was Lady Heather’s Fashions. My attention was first drawn to the booth by the sight of a really frilly, fluffy skirt that was displayed above the booth itself. Normally, I’m not one for frilly and fluffy things. I’m clumsy and they tend to get snagged. That being said, I was very much drawn to the skirt. When Maggie and I swung by Lady Heather’s, I was drawn to a number of other items within the booth. Namely, functional tool belts, of the sort that Tesla would most definitely wear during her travels. Lady Heather herself was at the booth, working on a new piece, and mentioned that she also does custom work. Again, when I get money…
Amongst the usual items one finds at sci-fi/fantasy conventions are groups selling patches. Starbase Atlanta – the largest vendor at Dragon*Con – had a booth at Farpoint. I was on the lookout for a very specific Jurassic Park patch that I had seen down in Atlanta the previous year. Heather has plans for a Jurassic Park costume and, when she told me, we had tried to find the patch. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to locate it at second time at Dragon*Con. Fortunately, Starbase Atlanta had one to sell at Farpoint! I called Heather and she chose the “Park Ranger” patch.
The other patch I was on the lookout for was one for my Rebecca Chambers costume. It’s the black and white “S.T.A.R.S. Raccoon Pol. Dept.” patch she wears on the arm of her t-shirt. The guy who ran the booth pulled out his boxes of patches and told me he’d sold out of that specific one. He had the other two versions (one is blue, the other olive green) but not the one I needed. He said I could order it online. I decided to see if I could find it at one of the other two booths also selling patches.
The first one I came to after Starbase Atlanta had the blue and green patches, but not the black one. The booth opposite from them had one hanging up on their patch board. I asked the vendor if he had one in stock. He didn’t but asked if I wanted the one off the board. That wasn’t even something the guy at the first booth had offered, and I jumped at the opportunity. Two patches in hand, Maggie and I moved on through the vendors.
I had gotten a couple of smiles and nods and people going “Hey! Kaylee!” by that point. I’d seen a really nicely done Mal costume when I was over near Starbase Atlanta. Unfortunately, every time I saw him, Maggie was nowhere to be seen, so I didn’t get a picture with him. I did, however, see someone dressed as Wash. We were both heading in opposite directions when we passed the first time, so I didn’t stop to talk right then. I did make a point of tracking him down later and getting a picture, though. His name was easy enough to remember – Josh. I actually wrote down the note “Josh is the Wash I saw” in my con notes.
At one point I was stopped by the women who ran a booth with chainmail jewelry and sci-fi buttons and asked about my coveralls. They wanted to know whether I had made them myself from a pattern, or gotten them from someplace specific. My Kaylee 2.0 costume, as I sometimes refer to it, is made from a U.S. Air Force flight suit – olive green. It took some altering. Kaylee’s suit doesn’t have sleeves, and has rather large pockets just below the waist. While the flightsuit I bought had a multitude of pockets, as I’ve already mentioned, those big ones were missing. Since I needed to take the sleeves off anyway, I just cut them open and used the fabric to create the missing pockets. They turned out nicely, if I do say so myself.
It turns out one of the women at the booth has been trying to make a Star Trek: Enterprise uniform for a few years now. So far, she’s been unable to find a pattern or an existing uniform that matches the look. I told her about Unique – the thrift store on Gallows Road where I got my flightsuit – and suggested she try there.
A little later in the day, I actually spotted a gentleman sporting a ST:Enterprise jumpsuit. I hurried over to him and asked how he’d made his. He said it was a US Navy jumpsuit that he had just added the needed patches to on the shoulder. I pointed him in the direction of the ladies at the booth and told him they would be interested in how he’d made his costume.
As we circled back to the front of the dealer’s room, Maggie and I encountered a guy wearing a Browncoats t-shirt and carrying a bunch of photography equipment. He introduced himself – Steve Guminski – and asked if we had been at Dragon*Con in 2010. When I told him we were, he explained that he had been the official photographer of the Whedon track last year and wondered if he had taken a picture of me there. I don’t remember him from Dragon*Con, though, and I remember most of the situations at that con when people stopped me for a picture.
On a sidenote – I rarely get stopped for photos at Dragon*Con, unless I’m already doing an interesting pose for my own fun. Throughout the day at Farpoint, though, people kept asking me for photos, and commenting on the costume. One of my favorite moments was when some Battlestar: Gallactica people seated a few tables away from Maggie and I in the lobby shouted over the crowd “Great Kaylee!” I joked to Maggie that I’ve certainly found the place for my Kaylee costume.
Anyhoo, Steve asked if he could take a picture of me now, since he hadn’t gotten me at Dragon*Con. I agreed and Maggie and I posed together. While he was snapping a picture, I noticed a Jawa and a Tusken Raider walking past the masquerade registration table, behind Steve. I went “Tusken Raider! Tusken Raider!” through my teeth, and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of the pictures he took of me looks a little crazed.
I was so excited to see them, I dashed off as soon as he finished a few shots, desperately trying to catch up with the two costumed con-goers. Apparently, Steve remarked as I rushed off “Wow. She’s definitely excitable like Kaylee.” Maggie shook her head and replied “You have no idea.”
Of course, I didn’t hear any of that. It was only later, after I’d taken my pictures of the two Star Wars characters and Maggie and I were talking about random fandom things that she told me about his reaction. I will admit that, out of all of the characters I dress as, Kaylee is the closest to my own personality. Perhaps that’s why people don’t mind sitting down and chatting with me at conventions.
Speaking of…the next random stranger I talked to was a guy carrying a big silver case and wearing a jacket that said “Forensics” across the back. When he turned around and talked with me, I noticed he had a CSI badge on the front. It turns out he was in charge of doing the makeup for a few of his friends that evening, and that’s what was in the silver case. He told Maggie and I a story about being in a convenience store once, while wearing his jacket, and a guy came up to him and said “My wife loves that show! You’re the real thing, aren’t you?” and proceeded to talk to him about forensic science. The makeup guy isn’t actually a criminal investigator, but he figured he’d just let the other guy talk to him about it.
Halfway through the day, Maggie mentioned she’d heard Girl Scouts were selling cookies at the convention. Sure enough, I spotted a flyer on one of the walls that said “Come to the Dark Side…we have Girl Scout cookies.” There was a number to call, which I did, and I was directed to a room where the cookies were available. Since Maggie was the one who really wanted the cookies, I sent her along without me and went to grab some water.
I can only imagine what it was like for the woman selling the cookies to poke her head out of her hotel room and see Maggie, in her Sith costume, with her bright red eyes and makeup, standing in the hallway with her lightsaber. I imagine it’s going to be one of those stories that gets included in Girl Scout cookie-selling lore.
While Maggie was off shaking down Girl Scouts for her Samoa fix, I took the opportunity to chat up a kilted Stormtrooper and, in the process, check an item off my convention “to-do” list.
If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that I have had the deep-seated desire to try on a Stormtrooper helmet for some time. The last time I spoke to a contingent of Stormtroopers (Dragon*Con 2009), I was covered in zombie makeup and fake blood that was dripping everywhere. Not a situation where random strangers would be willing to let me try on their helmet.
This time, however, I was free of goopy fake blood and apparently looked disarming enough that, when I asked the kilted trooper if I could try on his helmet, he took it off and offered it to me without question. He did say it might not fit because he has a small head. I didn’t think there’d be a problem. My head looks a lot bigger than it actually is, because my hairs rather poofy and uncontrollable most of the time.
When he handed it to me, I noticed it was actually a bit bigger than the other helmets I’ve seen (stop giggling and get your mind out of the gutter). He explained that his helmet is actually an FX helmet, and is made a bit bigger than the ones in the regular kits. That way, you can put fans and voice boxes inside it and still have enough room for your head.
Despite forgetting my digital recorder at home, I conducted a short interview with the kilted trooper – whose name, by the by, is Anthony. He bought the suit from a guy overseas and ended up spending a number of months cutting it down to the right size, as the previous owner was about 6’5″ and he is 5’8″. He had a friend help him. “Basically, I was a living mannequin while he worked on the stuff,” he said. “I didn’t want to do it myself and mess it up, since it was so expensive.”
Now, despite not being able to try on the helmets of the troopers I interviewed at Dragon*Con, I had been granted a glimpse inside two of their helmets. I remember the visors on both of the helmets I looked inside being light blue. Anthony’s visor, however, was green. And a fairly dark green at that. When I tried it on, I could barely see.
I asked him how he saw with it on and he replied, “I don’t. That’s why I have a handler.” He smiled and motioned towards his friend, Ray. He said it was important for him to have a friend who didn’t mind following him around.
“There are times when it takes two people just to get into all the gear. And then, of course, he helps look out for my safety.” I recalled the three troopers from Dragon*Con telling me about some of the things people do to them when they’re in costume. Anthony said he’s been at events where someone from the garrison has been tackled by some idiot or people have come up and pounded on helmets.
Another reason you probably will never see me in Stormtrooper gear.
Maggie and I didn’t actually attend any real panels throughout the day. The big things we wanted to see were Bonita Friedericy and the Luna-C show. As a result of not really having anything else planned, the two of us spent most of our time just hanging out in the lobby of the hotel, costume-watching and talking to random con-goers. Well, again, I was the one talking to random con-goers.
I can’t remember whether the Airbender couple came over to our table and asked for a picture, or if they just happened to be there and we ended up chatting…at any rate, the two people I refer to as “the Airbender couple” wound up talking to me about my Kaylee costume (According to the email I just received, the blue spirit’s name is Evan). They asked if I had the parasol, and I expressed sadness over the fact that I didn’t have one yet. The guy wearing the blue spirit mask said that he knew someone who sold them. He gave me the name “The Shady Emporium” and said they were offered at a pretty good price.
I mentioned the blog to him and handed him the address, as well as the blog-specific email. Josh happened to be standing there, as well, and he also received the address. One of these days, I’ll actually manage to get business cards made.
I inquired as to who made the blue spirit mask and learned it was the young woman dressed as Katara. The guy dressed as the blue spirit handed me the mask so I could take a closer look at it. She had used a full-face plastic masquerade mask as the base and sculpted the details out of paperclay. She actually used the same exact stuff I used to make my Blink Angel mask. When I mentioned it, the guy asked if I had been the Blink Angel at Farpoint last year. I laughed and said I was.
“Cool. Yeah, I remember there being two, I think.”
“Yep. I was one, and my friend Maggie, over there, would be the other one.”
I think it’s awesome that our Blink Angel costumes are remembered by random strangers, a year after the fact.
About that time, Maggie signaled that we needed to start heading to the Grand Ballroom if we wanted to get a seat for Bonita. We started heading towards the hall that leads to the ballroom. On the way, a man in a Resident Evil Umbrella Corp uniform sidled up to me and asked if I had the fluffy Kaylee dress to wear later in the evening.
“No, sadly. It’s on my list of costumes to make, but at the moment the ones I have to make for Dragon*Con take precedence.”
We started talking about the absolutely fantastic versions of the Kaylee dress we’ve seen done over the years. He mentioned the one he saw at Dragon*Con this past year, and I’m pretty sure we were talking about the same one – it’s worn by a young woman who looks just like Kaylee. I remembered there being a very nice version of the Kaylee layer cake dress at Farpoint’s masquerade last year. It might have actually been the same person at both conventions.
The two of us actually ended up talking a great deal in the hallway. At some point Maggie realized that I was no longer behind her on the way to see Bonita. She wandered back to where I had been waylaid and Thunderduck (as his con badge and the nametag on his back proclaimed him) and I were in deep discussion about the merits of functional costuming. Namely, costumes with pockets and places to store things. Since he was dressed in a Resident Evil costume, I mentioned I was planning to make a Rebecca Chambers costume for Dragon*Con this year, and that I was worried about the potential difficulties of making my flak vest. It’s got a specific look to it, which I haven’t yet found in pre-existing vest catalogs. Also, it’s specifically cut for a woman. The vests I’ve come across so far are pretty uni-sex. Rebecca’s has what basically amount to princess seams. I’ve got a lot of the material to fashion one, but something tells me it’s going to be one of the things that causes me problems. Fortunately, I’ve got the webbing belt done, and the pants are just green BDUs, which should be easy enough to get.
When he learned I was looking for certain military items, Thunderduck referred me to the site of “The Vest Guy.” The guy makes custom-made vests of all sorts. Many of them are based on patterns of vests which are no longer in production. He also suggested paintball gear websites which I, surprisingly, hadn’t really considered as a possible source for my Rebecca Chambers gear.
Oh, and if you’re interested, look up “Thunderduck” on scifihero.net. That’s the gent I was talking to.
Eventually, we broke off the conversation and each headed our separate ways. Maggie and I found seats in the ballroom for Bonita’s talk. She began the whole Q&A by touting the wonders of a specific type of duct tape. It seems a part of her car fell off and she duct taped it back on. The thing hasn’t fallen off since.
She then proceeded to pull out two of her husband’s action figures. It took me a while to figure out who her husband was (it was written in the Farpoint booklet, but I hadn’t read that yet). Eventually, through context clues, I realized she’s married to John Billingsley. John was originally scheduled to appear at the convention as well, but had withdrawn in order to perform in a play that he had been trying to get a part in for quite some time.
Bonita goofed with the action figures a bit and wound up calling John on the phone, so he could talk to the audience a bit. It turns out he was actually very sick – to the point where he’d had to drop out of the play he was originally supposed to do. While she was talking to him he had a coughing fit, which elicited sympathy from the audience. Bonita’s response? “Oh, he’s an actor. Like that’s real.”
I ahve to say, I really enjoyed Bonita’s Q&A session. She, like all the actor guests I’ve had the chance to see at Farpoint, is very excited to interact with her fans. She’s got an incredibly quick wit when answering questions. I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow of the session, but I’ll say she’s definitely joined the ranks of awesome stars.
After Bonita’s talk, Maggie and I took a break for lunch. We were looking forward to eating at Northern Lights all week. It appeared that some new things had been added to the menu, but we ended up sticking with the chicken wrap – and it’s lovely, spicy sauce. Mmmm.
Following lunch (much easier to eat than the last time, when we were both in our Blink Angel get-ups), we meandered through the dealers again. While we went through the patches again Maggie was approached by a guy who was a bit…well, creepy is really the only word I can use. He asked Maggie if he could take a picture and went on to say “You’re definitely the most attractive Jedi I’ve seen.” He stepped away for a moment, only to return and say, not-at-all-suavely, “So. Where are you ladies from?” We replied and went about our business, but he followed Maggie over to another booth and asked whether she’d read any of the expanded universe.
At that point, I had to walk away or I was going to burst out laughing. I really need to make a sign to hang on Maggie at cons that reads “Please don’t talk to me.” Again, Maggie doesn’t do “chatty.”
Later that evening, Maggie and I found ourselves parked at one of the tables in the lobby, waiting for the time when we could go in and get seats for the Masquerade. I took out my con notes and started going over them, and Maggie snacked on some of her cookies.
Maggie pointed out that Indiana Jones was there. This time he was dressed in the uniform of a crew member from the Nostromo (extra points if you know what that’s from). I find it interesting that she can identify him, regardless of what costume he’s wearing. I also find it interesting that we only refer to him as “Indiana Jones,” despite the fact that we’ve only seen him wear that costume once. Why do we call him Indiana Jones, you ask? Simple, really. We don’t know his actual name, but the first time we met him was at Shore Leave, when he was dressed as Indiana Jones and was admiring our homemade lightsaber handles.
More people drifted into the lobby, assembling for the evening’s activities,
and we were soon joined by a man dressed as a US Colonial Marine. His uniform tag said “Burkett” and he later introduced himself to us as Don. Of course, that was long after he made his rather memorable entrance.
He walked over to our table, preceeded by an almost palpable aura of booze, and merely said “Thank you.”
Maggie and I sat in our seats and looked at him. I smiled. She said “Uh, you’re welcome.”
He reached out his hand and continued, “Thank you for not being a pussy Jedi.”
I chuckled to myself, thankful that I had chosen to attend Farpoint dressed as Kaylee. I’m not sure I would’ve fared well if I had been otherwise attired. As I am wont to do, I talked with Don about a variety of geek-related topics. We discussed the merits of Jedi vs. Sith. He revealed he really wanted to make a Darth Bane costume. I brought up the two versions I had seen at Dragon*Con the previous year, and Maggie pulled her pictures of them up on her Blackberry so he could see. He asked Maggie what the basis of her Sith character was – whether it was based on a pre-existing character or if she’d made it up herself – and asked if she’d considered making the costume for the blind female Sith lord…whose name I currently forget. She said she was thinking about it. She’s planning to dye her hair platinum blonde next, and her hairstyle is close enough to the character’s that she could pull it off.
Don mentioned that he doesn’t get down to Atlanta for Dragon*Con, as he works at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which takes place at the same time. I asked what he did. Turns out he used to be a bartender at the Dragon Inn. Last year, though, he wound up working as a grove vendor. His wife, we learned, is the costume director of the festival. Most impressive! Eventually, one of Don’s friends came to fetch him. It seems their group was gonig to be celebrating the engagement of two of their friends. Don shook our hands and said “I’m going to go have an engagement drink, but I’ll be back in a bit.”
While we waited, I noticed a guy in an orange jumpsuit, carrying what appeared to be an ice cream maker. He spotted friends of his (I assume) who were peering out of the window of their hotel room, two floors above. They were dressed as the 10th and 11th Doctor. I watched as Orange Jumpsuit Guy walked over to the side of the lobby below their room and held his ice cream maker up towards them. Both Doctors took out their respective sonic screwdrivers and lit them up, pointing them down towards the ice cream maker. Then, Orange Jumpsuit Guy set down his prop, dug in a pocket and pulled out a Green Lantern ring. He put it on, it lit up, and he held it out towards them.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Gotta love random geeky fun.
The masquerade was, as expected, a fantastic amount of fun. My favorites mainly came from the children’s group. There was an adorable little dragon, a baby with a Yoda cap, the cutest damn Amelia Pond EVER! She came out with a Roman Centurian helmet (supposed to belong to Rory) and yelled “Na na nanana, I got your helmet!” The emcee immediately changed his Facebook status to “Amused as hell,” following her appearance. There was also an awesome Star Trek Enterprise costume. Not a costume from the show ST: Enterprise. The kid actually came out with the Enterprise on him. He was standing in the middle of the disk part – yes, I’m sure there’s a more technical term for it, but I’m not going to look it up right this minute – and the tail of the ship stuck out behind him. The thing even lit up. It was fantastic.
Maggie and I sat through the intermission – a shorter charity auction than last year’s and performances by musicians Insane Ian (check out his parody of Kesha’s “Tick Tock”) and Jonah Knight. I liked both of their stuff. They’ve got different styles – Ian is reminiscent of Weird Al, while Jonah’s got a more singer-songwriter vibe, for the most part. The song Jonah sang (the one about George Clooney) was rather bittersweet and almost made me tear up. That’s pretty impressive, considering I try not to cry in public. I definitely recommend both musicians.
We decided to head out before the winners of the Masquerade were announced. It had been a long day and we were both pretty beat. As we pulled out of the parking lot and started the hour-long drive back to Northern Virginia, I turned to Maggie and said “I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking to people at conventions.”
Quite honestly, that’s one of my absolute favorite parts of going to these things. Sure, I love the costumes – both wearing them and ogling others. Of course I enjoy meeting the actors and writers who bring me such fangirl glee and entertainment. Hell yes I enjoy perusing the wares at the dealers’ room. In the end, though, the thing that makes a convention great are the myriad of tiny moments I get to have with fellow fans.
Talking to people is, in a way, my job – seeing as how I’m a storyteller and a folklorist. Sure, I don’t get paid to do it, but that’s essentially what my vocation is. I love talking with people. Thankfully, I’ve got places like Farpoint where I can indulge that love.