I am recovering from the best weekend of my life.
Okay, I keep saying that, then I have to revise it and say top five, because I'm sure I've had other weekends that I felt the same way about. But seriously.
The. Best. Weekend.
I'm just going to hit the highlights here, because I could ramble on forever and that works much better on my personal blog than it does here. :) These highlights are HIGH, baby. Then, if you want more detail, you can head over to my regular blog, where I'll have daily posts about my experience.
One thing you won't get from me either here or there is a transcript of what everyone said, because I didn't record it nor did I retain it so well. I'm going to stick mostly to my personal experience, because no one else had it but me.
Okay, first, if you would believe it--the best moment of the event was Friday night at karaoke. I and my friends Megan and Lori:
sat at a table and said hi to the women sitting there, and congratulated Kayleigh, who had won a contest. We talked a little, she asked if I was on any message boards, I mentioned Supernatural Sisters, and...guess what? SHE READS US!! I was high half the night on that! :) So here's a shot of Kayleigh and me. She and her sister Mallory (I'm pretty sure it's her sister) are just the sweetest people ever, and I hope I get to see them again next year (but more on that later).
Surprise Number One--The Crowd
We figured a con in Jersey would be pretty intimate, with maybe less craziness than a big venue like LA or Chicago, but we still expected more than there was. There was one woman who was over-the-top obnoxious, and another who (seems to have) lied to us to cut the line, and one who asked Richard Speight, Jr., his opinion on Wincest (the crowd reaction apparently was enough to keep her in line after that, and she asked excellent questions otherwise).
I am NOT a social creature. I have my friends-who-are-like-me and otherwise, it's painful to strike up a conversation with a stranger. So Friday and Saturday went by without me saying a single word to the guy next to me. But that changed Saturday night, when we hung out in the bar, and Mike and his aunt Darlene were super-cool. *waves* We talked to some random people in line a couple of times, too. I didn't get/can't remember names, so this is a general shout-out to y'all. Hope to see you next year, too (more on that later).
Surprise Number Two--The Creation Staff
I'm not sure what I expected. I mean, they charge $7.25 in "freight" per ticket, even if those tickets are sent to you by e-mail. The SAME e-mail. Instead of doing a lottery with a flat rate for backstage passes and the (canceled) lunch with Jared, they auction them off, and the money isn't for charity. But when Jared canceled, I got all my money back for the photo op, including the freight charge. They allowed people who'd bought Saturday tickets to see Misha to exchange them when he got moved to Sunday. And they offered a significant discount (ostensibly due to the cancellation) off next year's con if you booked before the weekend was over. But more on that later.
The staff and volunteers were incredibly nice and welcoming people. They recognized us from one event to the next (and from almost running us down in the parking lot! LOL) and were really down to earth and personable. The guy emceeing everything teased people and made jokes and basically acted like he was one of us. The company has been around, I found out, since 1971, and they do a really great job.
Finally, Chris, the photographer, is superfantabulous. He takes really great photos, moves everything along really well but doesn't make you feel rushed or like an object instead of a person, AND, when he heard me lament that I'd blinked in the photo with Jim Beaver, told me he'd fix it and send me a new copy. I mean, how supercool is that?!
Surprise Number Three--The Access
Now, I'm sure things are different for Jensen and Jared (who?). They're kept protected from the insane freaks by also being protected from us nice, smart, reasonable, well-behaved fans. And indeed, things were very different on Sunday than they were Friday and Saturday. For the dessert reception Saturday night and the breakfast on Sunday, we got two minutes with each celebrity. But still, that up-close-and personal moment? SO worth the Gold Package. Seriously, you have to get it. But more on that later...
Anyway, on Sunday everything was very tightly scheduled, especially after Jim Beaver threw everything off first thing. :) It's photo op, photo op, speakerspeakerspeaker, autographing, go home. That creates a slight distance between the group of us down here and the guests Up There. Still, you don't get rushed through the autograph line, you can chat with them, and they all act like they want to chat. Poor Traci Dinwiddie was really tired, really sick, and really sweet and funny. The staff made sure she got through things as quickly as possible so she could rest.
But on Friday and Saturday...
This is my very favorite shot of the weekend:
That's Gabriel Tigerman, who played Andy in the episodes "Simon Said" and "All Hell Breaks Loose Part I." ALL the guests were nice, personable, awesome people who gave us more than we really deserve. But Chad Lindberg (Ash), Richard Speight, Jr. (The Trickster), and Gabriel Tigerman (Andy) went way beyond.
First, Friday night, Chad and Jason Manns (the musician) weren't leaving right away, so they showed up at karaoke. Then Richard appeared--he'd arrived in preparation for his event the next morning--and after about an hour or so, we got up the nerve to edge our way over and talk to them. We spent a good 10 minutes or more with Chad and Jason, then gave way to talk to other people and caught Richard, with whom we discussed all kinds of things, including television and the broken advertising model and stuff. Chad wandered back over and joined us, and by 1:20 a.m. we had a crowd surrounding us--I think (hope!) they were trying to hear, because, you know, we were so brilliant--and we only stopped when the handlers said the guys needed to get up early and we had to let them go.
We had elevator time with both Richard and Gabe, and Saturday night, we hung in the bar for a while after the dessert party, and they showed up, as did Jason Manns and Todd Stashwick. Misha Collins (Castiel) and Malik/Charles Malik Whitfield (Agent Henricksen) spent some time in there, too, but not when we were there.
We were really super lucky. Not everyone got these opportunities. Not too many people went to karaoke, because it started at 11:00 p.m., and not many people were in the bar (though plenty were in the lobby). We were in the right spot, and made ourselves available, and of course being fun and articulate didn't hurt. Nor did Megan's awesome boots. They were quite memorable. :)
What Wasn't a Surprise
1. Jason Manns. He had a turn on stage, and did his concert, and he sounded as amazing in person as he does in the studio. His talent is...well, okay, "unsurpassed" is probably too much of a superlative, but there isn't anyone I'd rather see perform. He spent a lot of time with us, too, during the autographing time on Friday, and didn't mind all the silly women asking for hugs. Oh, wait, there was one surprise about Jason. He's BIG. Everyone thought he'd be smaller, but he's easily Jensen Ackles' height, and quite built.
2. Misha Collins is beautiful.
Lori got much better pictures with her much better camera with the much better zoom, but it doesn't matter. His extreme beauty in person is etched in my brain, never to be worn away. Plus, she gave me copies.
3. Everyone was so entertaining!
They all had great answers to the questions they were asked, they kept the flow going, and they were willing to tell embarrassing stories and/or tell us no when they didn't want to do or say something. And they were all different.
Jim was Bobby Singer if he'd never become a hunter and had a second-grader he totally doted on.
Malik was being all spiritual and inspirational one minute, making toilet/swirly jokes the next or claiming Misha was going to strip for us.
Traci was shy, but put herself fully in our hands and trusted us to treat her kindly, then went all the way and had one of the top stories of the night.
Todd has such a broad and varied career, including stand-up, that he just got up there and put on a show. Every minute was entertaining, even those that were serious.
Chad had the toughest time, being on Friday with half the crowd, not getting enough questions, and some of them being really tough for someone who spent a handful of episodes on the show two years ago.
Okay, I think I've rambled on long enough. Now for la pièce de résistance...
This One's For You...
Everyone please thank Terri Clark for inspiring me to be bold (and find a way to expense the trip!). It's all WAY tentative, because even though everyone agreed, we still have to make the connections and follow through. But Terri will be interviewing Jim Beaver for Supernatural Sisters, and I have already received e-mail from Richard Speight, Jr.'s manager to do one with him. If we're lucky, we'll have several sprinkled over the next few months, probably scheduled during the next hiatus to keep us all from drying up in withdrawal.
Please send questions for any of the stars who were at the convention to natalie AT nataliedamschroder DOT com so we can do some kick-ass interviews!
AND, we have a nice little prize package that we're putting together and will hold some kind of contest for in the coming weeks.
Sooooo...that's the highlights. Can you imagine if I gave details? If you want me to elaborate on anything, or have questions, please comment! I could talk about this forever, and if I do it here, my husband will personally thank each and every one of you. :)
OH, I almost forgot! Creation plans to hold a Salute to Supernatural in Parsippany, NJ, in July 2010. No one is booked yet, but my oldest kid, a fan, is extremely jealous of me and we are already saving our money for the day they officially announce tickets are on sale and, hopefully, that Jared and Jensen are booked. So stay tuned and keep an eye out for that!