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I-CON 26 March 23rd - 25th, 2007 Convention thoughts

March 25th, 2007 11:30pm

I-CON 26 is now over!


The Captain Phil Mobile leaves Stony Brook as
another fanboy weekend ends in the blue sky reality of...
"Sheesh I gotta go to work tomorrow!"


I started off the weekend in a bit of a sour mood, I wasn't that excited about the guestlist, there were new authors and media guests I hadn't seen before but mostly it was guests I knew from previous I-CONs or Lunacons and Chiller Theater. Add to that we had a pretty tough week leading up to I-CON so I almost wasn't in the mood. I say almost because I-CON is part of our lives, we go every year and my children have never had a year on this Earth without attending I-CON.

Well I'm happy to say my mood and perspective on the convention improved tremendously over the weekend. Saturday's events really were great even though I was too tired to write about it last night in a coherent manner. Sunday was even better with a panel called Cylons: More Human than Human Jamie Bamber and Elizabeth Mezzacappa Experimental Psychologist. There was another guest on the panel but not listed in the program book, Jamie Chambers who is working on the Battlestar Galactica Role Playing game. I hope I have that right, if I don't please drop me an email and I'll correct the listing.


Jamie Bamber, Elizabeth Mezzacappa and Jamie Chambers

Anyway, this was a great synergistic mix of a panel with guests from three separate tracks, Gaming, Media and Science. Since Greg Pak wrote the new Battlestar Galactica comic he could have been there too! The entire level of discussion was heads above what usually happens at these things. Over the years I've heard the answer to brilliant questions like, "What's your favorite episode?" "Does Odo really sleep in a jar at night?" "If Ernest Borgnine became a Borg would he be called Ernest of Borg 9?"

No no no, this was pretty deep and intense on all things Battlestar and I was getting that old Readercon vibe where we the fans and the panelist are taking a subject way too seriously. It was nice. My little I-CON is finally growing up!
I would love to see more programming like this in the future. In fact it would have been wonderful to have Peter David, Jeffery Carver and Craig Shaw Gardner around for this thing along with Greg Pak to have a perspective on writing side of things.

Jamie Bamber was probably the most amazing media guest I've seen at an I-CON. He made every panel he was assigned to, he was always on time and he was always completely up for talking about.......Battlestar Galactica.
Now, even after three days of I-CON I was getting a little tired of talking and hearing about Battlestar Galactica and I love the show. Imagine Bamber discussing this and pretty much nothing else for the whole weekend. I imagine him in the green room after a talk begging people to talk to him about the weather, or sports scores,Britney Spears, Paris Hilton....ANYTHING BUT BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!


When Claudia met Jamie

He was a real trooper and we were lucky to have him at the con. Excellent choice I-CON track leaders!

From there I headed back over to the Sports Complex, where the dealers room is and all the media talks are given. I saw a few friends and chatted for a while and then peaked in to see Claudia Christian. I didn't spend that much time at Claudia's talks this year even though I'm a big Babylon 5 fan, I had seen her at a few other conventions plus she was great on Howard's radio show Friday night mixing it up with the other Destinies guests. Listen to the whole thing right here by clicking the DVD case:



My wonderful wife went to some of Claudia's talks and recorded them on my Archos MP3 recorder so I will eventually get to hear what's new with her. Then she decided to leave the recorder on record after she put it away in her purse for the next two hours. I had a little time to kill so I went through the dealers room a bit and ran into Keith DeCandido and Jim Butcher. Got Butcher to sign some books and while I was buying the book Keith quoted this con report (Is this a blog or a con report?) from yesterday where I compared Jim and Keith sitting on a panel next to each other to Davinci's Last Supper

I was standing a couple of feet from Keith when he said this so it was a sort of out of body experience hearing him talk about my report to another Pro. Really funny stuff. So I introduced myself as the author (Well, I'm a really crappy writer....as you can see.....so author is a loose term. Think of me as a guy sitting at a computer randomly hitting keys and hoping something will make sense eventually) and it was one of those fanboy moments you spent your mundane life dreaming about. From there I was planning on seeing Denise Crosby speak but I ran into Howard Margolin who asked me to tape the Roger Corman press conference for him. Would I mind? Would I! Between Keith DeCandido quoting this site and a Roger Corman press conference I felt as if I had been stuck by lightning twice.


Denise signing Data's Favorite Picture

Well this was a great moment and in true ICON fashion the Roger Corman press was pretty lightly attended and we had the great director to ourselves to talk to for about 40 minutes. I was happy to be there to listen in and tape it and I'm grateful to my friend for asking me there.


Roger Corman

After that I went to hear the Roger Corman Q&A session which like the Jamie Bamber talks was pretty high quality due to the great questions from the audience. A few fans really knew their Corman films and drew out some fun stories about Jack Nicholson and Beverly Garland


Beverly Garland from Chiller Winter 2006

After the Corman talk it was off to see Peter David back at Harriman 137, my new favorite function room. Peter was doing a reading and afterwards asked the audience's opinion of the piece. At the end it was opened up for general questions and I asked him about being on the Dark Tower panel at the New York Comic con with Stephen King.


Peter David

Amazingly enough after all this fannish fun I still had no idea where my wife and kids were. I immediately began to worry if the day was a hassle for them they'd be cranky and take it out on me. (It's always about me). So I started looking for them but had to get through a mad mad party first


The Mad Anime Dancers do the Numa Dance

I think they also had to get this guys nose unstuck from the pole


The Anime Story

And then of course the usual sword fighting to get past to eventually find my family.


Our DHS at work

So during this medieval mosh I saw my lovely wife standing in front of the sports complex. I called her cell phone and we became Re-United. I was afraid they had a tough time but they went to a lot of the Anime Program (Something I missed this year) and had a blast talking with all the voice actors. Especially wonderful (I hear) was Amy Howard Wilson, Bill Rogers and Vic Mignogna who I had seen last year. Bill Rogers and Amy Howard Wilson went out of their way to talk to my kids and make them feel a part of the program there. Later today when we got home my wife was seriously talking about how neat it would be if my daughter became an Anime fan. While the kids playing in the Anime program was a delight it did point out a bit of a flaw in the overall Children's Programming area. Having the Children's program so far away from the main events in the Sports Complex was a real hardship for parents who are trading off seeing the convention with a spouse who's watching the kids int he kids program. Having it so far away from the Sports Complex puts a burden on the parents and I-CON ought to consider having Children's Programming as close a possible to the Sports Complex where most fo the bigger events are.

But my kids wanted to be at the Anime program and they loved it.
Our last panel was a Dean Haglund talk in the FAB Harriman 137. We had missed Dean there on Saturday morning but I noticed after the Peter David talk it was rescheduled to 5pm Sunday. The problem was I think no one else at I-CON knew he would be there a 5pm on Sunday! So we had 40 minutes of Dean Haglund to ourselves! It was slightly weird, kind of like the Griswald's at WallyWorld at the end of National Lampoons Vacation but we were into it. I think Dean was into it too although he must have been tired. We had a great discussion about the X-Files and a bunch of shows with thought Dean would be great on. I told Dean the gig to get now is a Cylon on Battlestar Galactica because even if you die, you get to come back.

Well it's getting late and I have to finish this off. I will be adding a few addendums as I upload more pictures from the convention. Also a more complete report from my wife and kids will be coming soon.

I have to say this has been one of the more memorable I-CONs for me and I've been going to them since the 1980's. I feel slightly guilty for being so snarky at the beginning of this report and I'm sure there are a lot of burnt out ConComs out there right now who never want to hear the word I-CON again. Please remember that the convention I saw was good and something to be proud of. It would be nice if the convention would tip back a little more to authors like it was years ago but the even though the authors items I saw were lightly attended most author pros were happy to be there and understood that I-CON leans towards media more than the written word. This isn't a bad thing because having a bunch of funding from fans who want to see a media guest also pays for the authors that the literary minority enjoy. Because of this I've seen over the years Octavia Butler, Roger Zelazny, Joe Haldeman, Barry Malzberg, Harlan Ellison, Jack Williamson, Raymund Z Gallun and many many more. So for me it's a great opportunity and I hope this odd mix of a convention continues for many years to come.

So say we all!

March 24th, 2007 11:30pm

It's a great temptation to just go to sleep after such a fun and busy day at I-CON 26 but I should give it try and write up a couple of thoughts. So please excuse the bad grammar and spelling but I'm really tired!

I-CON 26's Saturday programing, while not the huge potpourri of Science Fiction we've come to expect over the years still managed to deliver quite an interesting mix of panels and events for this weary con-goer. The day did start out badly though with Dean Haglund being a no-show at his 11:00am panel in the Harriman 137 room. Harriman 137 has been remodeled and looks lovely by the way with nice lamps and ceiling tiles. It makes you forget the dump Harriman has been all these years of ICON. Still a few new ceiling tiles and lights didn't make up for the fact Haglund was a no show. It's hard to say if this is a case of the guest going AWOL or the Con Com never informing the guest of their schedule. Also, possibly this is a by product of the so-called "Signatory Guest" who is there to sell some pictures and other wares. This is fine, it's basically all the Chiller Theater conventions do but a room full of fans shouldn't be sitting around waiting for guests that never will arrive. So either get Dean to these panels or change the schedule at the Program Ops Info Desk in the sports complex. There was probably a simple reason why he wasn't there and paying fans should have the chance to go see some other program item. But again, that wasn't such a big deal since the new and improved Harriman 137 is just FAB now!

So I went over to the SAC center to sample the authors program. The authors track brought in Liz Williams, someone who I'd never heard of before but I wanted to see someone new and I attended her author GOH speech.



She spoke well and when it was time for questions the discussion was lively and interesting. Regular ICON guest and one of my favorites convention guests of all time, Barry Malzberg was in attendance. Barry and I spoke a bit before the speech, he was a little upset at the number of con goers there to see Liz, I sort of take it in stride, ICON does do a lot of media programming but the money that programming brings in enables the authors track to fly in a new author from the UK. It would be nice to see more fans interested in reading, but at the same time the people who were there had a wonderful opportunity to have an author GOH all to themselves.

The authors track also had Jim Butcher on the guest list who now has a successful TV series on the Sci Fi Channel. Jim is a fun speaker and brought a lot of laughs to the proceedings. One thing I did notice is when he sits next to Keith DeCandido the two of them look like they belong in Davinci's Last Supper.



There is quite a bit more to write about authors programming plus my trip to the Comics Track but I am fading fast as I type this so I will have to continue the Saturday report either before I leave tomorrow for I-CON 26's last day OR start my Sunday night recap here. But I will leave you with a few more pictures:


Zatanna (Rebecca Rozakis) & Friend




Jamie Bamber "Apollo"


Denise Crosby "Tasha Yar"




Mic Check at the ICON 26 Cabaret

March 23rd, 2007 11:30pm

Well I just re-read my snarky remarks about ICON 26 that I wrote last night while getting ready for the mayhem. I think I was a little too harsh actually. Tonight I'm home from the first night of ICON 26 and I had a pretty good time. We arrived at the University around 6:30pm, tried to get our badges, there was an annoying badge mix up when they didn't have a badge for my wife even though we pledged a donation to WUSB to get our ICON badges. The people at registration were not aware of the pledge drive and the premium memberships offered. It was straightened out eventually but it was a little kooky explaining what WUSB and a pledge drive was. Right before that aggravation though I ran into David Kyle and spoke with him briefly. Always a pleasure to see a member of first fandom and David asked me to sign his book. I gladly did and was thrilled to see my name on his first page right below John Coker. Excellent!

The first thing we did was see Jamie Bamber who plays Apollo on the new Battlestar Galactica. It took a couple of minutes to hear him as the microphone set-up was in progress during his talk but once he got a mic things were great. Jamie was great fielding both light questions and more in-depth ones, he always gave thoughtful answers and he was great to videotape since he sat still on the center of the stage, not like Ron Glass from Firefly who paced back and forth across the Prichart Gym.



Later I got some autographs of Jamie and spoke a bit more. Even though I was grumpy about the Friday program, or at least the lack of program items that interested me his presentation more than made up for it.



So the fun might have been over then but we trekked pack into the Prichart Gym for another guest, this time Dean Haglund who played Richard "Ringo" Langly on the The X-Files. Dean was someone I never saw before but my wife remembered him from X-Files episodes. I was planning on trying to get some Lone Gunmen DVD covers signed but not that much about Dean I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear the talks or not. Well his talk was terrific, we met him back at his table in the Dealers Room afterwards and chatted a bit more. Dean is very quick, funny and brilliant. A great guest for a Sci Fi convention as he seems more like one of the fans than a guest.



We're going to make an effort to hear more of his talks during the weekend and probably skip the Ursula K LeGuin interview to see him do a Star Trek Parody in the new Student Activities Center on Saturday night at 9pm. I've actually seen Ursula K LeGuin at a convention years ago and while I really want to hear her interviewed during the convention this might be a bit more fun. I hope one of my friends roll a tape during the LeGuin panel though so I can hear it eventually.

Well that's all for Friday night, we're going to get an early start tomorrow but I want to direct your attention to the

Destinies Page

where Howard has just done a standout Destinies Mystery Guest show with Claudia Christian and more! See you tomorrow at ICON 26!

March 22nd, 2007 10:00pm

Well the excitement is now only hours away as I-CON 26 pulls itself together and shambles into Stony Brook, New York tomorrow

.....The Thing that walks like a convention!

This year I feel a little lost in terms of what I'm planning on doing. There are a lot of repeat guests from last year, the most welcome of these are the Anime Guests Vic Mignogna and Amy Howard Wilson who were absolutely wonderful last year. Also it's always good to see Barry Malzberg on the guest list on any convention plus my friends Terry McGarry and Maryann Johanson.

Add to that First Fandoms David Kyle and the terrific John Coker you start to have a pretty good mix in the repeaters. Finally Peter David who managed to make it onto the I-CON guest list in a timely manner this year. Last year I think he didn't make it on the guest list until a few days before the convention even though he's a famous local author. Maybe because he's working with Stephen King now?

The I-CON website got the schedule of events up on Tuesday but as usual there are no detailed panel descriptions available beyond the titles. The I-CON site does have the guest bios up which will probably be in the program book. I'd trade those online guest bios for some panel descriptions. Also the front page of the site never displays properly on my web browser.

Other pages seem to fit properly like the
Media Guest Page but the Main Front Page of the site has me hitting the left - right scroll bar at the bottom to see on the left the site news, then on the right the "community news".

Another problem is the list of Artists attending the convention which I think just appeared in the last 24 or 48 hours. I'm not 100% sure if they were on the full guest listing page but the weren't on the Artist Guest Page which is where the names should have been. This is a shame because one of the artists appearing is Donato Giancola who does terrific painting demonstrations at conventions like Lunacon and Boskone. He's a patient and interesting teacher who does some terrific work and maybe he's doing a demonstration at I-CON. If he is it would be a great promotion and selling point for I-CON.



ICON has scored some pretty cool new media guests though, of interest to me is Director Roger Corman who I've never seen before and the new Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber. Bamber is the only actor at the convention that I haven't seen before that I'm interested in. I do recommend the lovely Claudia Christian and Denise Crosby as well. I've seen these ladies at various conventions and it's always great to see a Babylon 5 guest and I saw Denise at a Chiller Theater convention a year ago. She gave one of the best guest talks I've ever heard. I hope she does as well at ICON because at Chiller she was fantastic!

There are a lot of repeat panels in the program like Guilty Pleasures or the eternal Guest Q&A session. Mixed into this are possibly....or hopefully some gems.

Saturday
2:00pm A Conversation with Jim Butcher
I saw Jim at Lunacon, 2006 and he was a terrific speaker.

Sunday
10:00am Cylons: More Human than Human - Bamber, Mezzacappa
Here the ConCom seem to have combined a major media guest with a science guest. This is the sort of panel ICON ought to be doing all the time as it has guests from Science Fiction, Media, Science, Comics, Art, Gaming etc. Having Bamber on this panel and talking with Mezzacappa might be the stand out moment this year for ICON. Let's hope!

Well those are some of my early thoughts on this weekends ICON. Let's see how right or wrong I turn out to be.

Hopefully I'll see you there!

ICON 26 March 23rd - 25th, 2007 Pictures and Audio



Pictures and Audio Coming Soon!

ICON 26 Recommended Links



Complete ICON 26 Guest links Coming Soon!

Media/Comics/Author Guest  Peter David

Author Guest  Keith R.A. DeCandido

Author Guest  Carol Emshwiller

Author Guest  Drew Henriksen

Film Guest  MaryAnn Johanson

Author Guest  Terry McGarry

Author Guest  Terri Osborne

Author Guest  John Peel

Author Guest  Patrick Thomas

Anime Guest  Amy Howard Wilson



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