Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher
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"Can't Stop the Serenity" Shindig Report

The Dallas Can't Stop the Serenity show was last Saturday. I got there at 6:30 for the Jane Espenson book signing, half an hour late. So I had an "oh, crap, I missed it" moment when I walked in and saw Cedric playing songs for the crowd. As it turned out I hadn't missed Jane. She'd spent over five hours on the ground at LAX before flying out and was late. So Cedric had volunteered to entertain the ravening mob of Browncoats until she showed. The tough part for him was not wanting to duplicate any songs from his pre-movie concert that night.

Jane arrived around 7. The Borders staff were setting up extra rows of chairs and we still had people standing all around. She gave an opening talk, pretty heavy on Battlestar Galactica stuff which (since I've only seen about six eps) went past me. Some intro stuff on what it's like writing for TV and how she started up her website. She mentioned a dramatic change in the "admission test" for screenwriters. When she started new writers were urged to write a script for a show currently in production, something that could be dropped into the current season. Now her agency has passed the word that newbies should demonstrate their skills by writing a pilot episode for a new series.

Then she signed books for us . . . "Finding Serenity" was the official book for the event but I brought along my copy of the Firefly Official Companion Vol. 1 and she signed the "Shindig" script for me. One young lady in line wished she'd thought of that, and her friend who'd talked her out of bringing her Vol. 1 to the signing apologized.

macgyvergal and Bill were at the signing, but they weren't going to the movie so they left shortly after. I got my movie ticket (and raffle tickets and t-shirt), then started looking for enough Browncoats hanging out to make up a game of Keep Flying. Bad timing--the theatre lobby didn't have any good room for hanging out, so people were getting their tickets and wandering off, and by the time I went back to the Borders the signing crowd was gone. I did get to hang out and chat with another fan, so not a total loss.

After a sandwich I found Cedric in vendor-mode. Got a DVD and CD, and a couple of "I want my Big Damn Trilogy" buttons. Then got in line. The theatre was full of Browncoats, so full they didn't have room to make lines for other movies. There were PA announcements paging people when their movies started. tyledra and David showed up at 10 and were so far back I could barely get a glimpse of them. So we said hi to each other by text-msg. It seemed the geeky thing to do.

Naturally, "doors open at 10" became later than ten. At 10:20 one of the event staff came out to make a calming announcement to the front third of the waiting mob. I caught a few words about cleaning, apparently the previous audience had left the room more trashed than expected. When someone behind me asked "Did anyone hear what he said?" I turned around and "It's late! They're working on it!" which I figured was the gist.

The site didn't have any detailed schedule, but I knew Cedric was supposed to be on at 10:15, so I'd worked out an assumed schedule of "Jane Q&A at 10, Cedric 10:15, movie at 10:30, out shortly after midnight." This was to be very, very wrong.

We finally got into the theatre, tyledra found me, and we had seats up front. First time I've been to that theatre--nice seats. After some welcoming words from Devin (the organizer) we got to see Cedric play, leading off with "The Man They Call Joss". I've got the CD, so I'd heard all the songs before, but live is better. Then Jane Espenson was up for her Q&A, with most of the questions coming from Devin (which made for a more interesting discussion than many I've been to). She was introduced with clips from several episodes she'd written--but told us that Devin had managed to pick the scenes written by Joss out of her episodes, so the only clip by Jane was the "Captain Tightpants" exchange.

I had the first audience question. At the signing Jane had mentioned that she didn't want to direct. She preferred the words to the visuals and joked that she wished radio was still the main dramatic medium. So I asked if podcasts might lead to audio dramas coming back and if she'd want to work in that. She though audio was dead, except for entertainment while driving, because people today demand a higher level of stimulation than you can get from just listening. But if it did come back she'd love to work on it.

Other stuff was going on between the main events, mostly Devin raffling off the door prizes. The next big one was the auction of the Big Damn Bag, a pile of fascinating loot, which I knew I could never afford. Devin listed some of the contents, quickly got the bidding up to over $500 then revealed the autographed cast pictures of Book and Mal, and repeated the cycle by revealing more items when the bidding stalled. When it was approaching $1000 one of the sponsors announced he was going to add an Ipod Shuffle to the bag . . . and the final was $1100 or $1200. I was holding very still by the end of this.

Devin had more announcements, thanking the organizers and volunteers who'd been helping him out. He had special thanks to his wife of less than a year, who'd put up with planning a wedding and this shindig simultaneously. Devin admitted doing this proved he was insane (she agreed, with gestures) but there was something even more insane . . . actually proposing during a Browncoat event (walking up the aisle now) . . . and we had a man who was that insane . . . hands mike to young guy, who then knelt, produced ring, and proposed. I admire that kind of showmanship. She said yes to cheers and applause.

'Course, you can't be so sure of a guy who'd wear a purple shirt to a Serenity event, but if she has a taste for purplebellies I won't say her nay.

By now it was almost midnight. I wondered whether to give celticdragonfly a call to let her know I'd be out later than I'd planned, but realized she might be asleep by then and didn't want to risk waking her or the baby. Bad, bad guess. Alanna was having her first bout of colic and making Momma very unhappy.

The movie started with previews--not regular previews, but a block of Browncoat ones. Adam Baldwin narrated a trailer for Done the Impossible (which I'd just bought). Ron Glass did the ad for the Browncoat Cruise. Then we had Joss's "strong women characters" speech, followed by some thank yous from the leaders of Equality Now. Devin announced we'd raised over $5500 for Equality Now at the event.

Then we had an actual movie trailer (Transformers--looks like it would be fun to MST3K) and finally had the main event. Serenity is still a damn good movie. Jane had talked about "breaking" a story so the writer knew what emotional impact each scene should have. What impresses me so much about Joss is how small a scene could be while still having the full impact. The best example is the Operative calmly walking up to Inara. She's waiting with a professionally friendly smile--and then stops smiling. That's all we needed, we can fill in the rest (this man is going to force her to cooperate in his hunt, rather than asking for her usual services) by ourselves. Second best is when Ensign Cat-beller is standing at attention, clearly having been the one to deliver the bad news, as the Operative asks "Define disappeared." The jokes aren't funny-once either, I'm still laughing out loud at them. And the painful parts still hurt, though not as much.

When it was over we all staggered off home--maybe some of the younger crowd had energy to go out to party some more, but I was done. Devin promises this will happen again next year. My next Browncoat event is the Lone Star Shindig at fencon, hopefully some of the cosplayers will be there too, there were some good ones.
Tags: cons, science fiction
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