Wednesday, June 30, 2004

3 Days in Tulsa, Part 3 - Sunday

We spent Saturday night at my sister's house, as we had planned to. I did get up early Sunday but wasn't quite as excited about going back. Saturday is traditionally the "big" day with the major celebrities and increased attendance but it really didn't seem so this year. Maybe Trek Expo, for as popular as it appears to be, pales in comparison to some of the other cons I've been to. The lack of dealer space, lack of parallel activities (i.e. movie rooms) and its being held in a giant f'ing warehouse has never impressed me... but I go for its proximity and the ability to take celebrity photographs.

At any rate, almost everyone on the schedule for Sunday was on my "must see" list so I was ready to head back.

I don't really recall what time we got started but we missed Vaughn Armstrong. He was at Trek Expo a couple of years ago so it wasn't a great loss to miss his stage time. He's a super nice guy but not one of those people who I follow.

Shelly wanted to see Teryl Rothery's second appearance at 11:30 so we made it by then. As opposed to her Friday appearance, she was a lot more social this time around. Not that she was anti-social on Friday but she hopped off the stage to give some kid a hug and couldn't figure out how to get back up. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, she came out to the "cheap seats" and was talking to people there. I find it so cool when celebrities do stuff like that. One of my favorite memories of Trek Expo was when Garret Wang took a walk around the auditorium so everyone had on opportunity to get a good picture. Plus, one of my favorite concerts was in Kansas City when Rick Springfield came out into the audience (I got good pictures of that, too - we were on the 6th row).

I will miss seeing her on Stargate SG1.

After Teryl Rothery was Katee Sackhoff, yet another Sci Fi babe. Katee played Starbuck in the SciFi Channel version of Battlestar Galactica. This having been the first opportunity to see any B.G. celebrity after its airing, I asked her if she was a fan of the original and how she felt about the re-telling.

Honestly, she had never seen the original, having been born after it was off the air, but she knew about it. She commented that she grew up in a "sci fi household" and had heard of the show. When she was cast, she called her father to tell him about her character... "She's really cool. She's tough, she's smart and she kicks some ass."

"What's your character's name?" her father asked.


"Sweetie... you need to watch the original."

She had to back up the DVD because she missed "her" then finally figured out the original Starbuck was a guy.

Ronny Cox was up next. He came out on stage wearing bluejeans, a faded blue shirt, a black vest and black hat. He struck me as one of those people that accept their celebrity but it's just like any other job to him. He explained that his first love was music - hence the concert the night before - and acting was something extra. It's obvious that he takes both seriously. He mentioned that, even though his first several jobs were as all-around nice guys his last few have been sneaky, smarmy bad guys (Dick Jones, Cohagen and Kinsey) and he's loved playing them.

Boy was I surprised when John Billingsley came out on stage. I've seen pictures of him sans makeup and prosthetics but I was not ready for this. He came out in faded black slacks, a bowling shirt with wide, vertical stripes alternating black and white, hair that looked like it hadn't been cut (or combed) in about three months and a face that hadn't seen a razor in at least five days. Don't get me wrong, he made it work but all I could think was here was this 40-year-old schlub who could fit in with the audience as well as he could work it on stage.

Let me put it this way. Do you remember the pudgy nerd you knew in High School that had a certain lack of social skills who spoke very seriously about time travel and maybe even asked you to come along on the trip once he built his time machine? He had unkempt hair, wire-frame glasses, and a distant look in his eye... and he was a freaking genius? Do you remember that guy? Now, make him 40 and you have John Billingsley... creepy.

I'm not saying he was creepy. Quite the contrary, actually. I'm saying it was creepy how much he looked like "that guy." His appearance was actually quite amusing and he was fun to listen to and seemed very friendly and energetic. He and Dominic Keating must get a long quite well because he kept taking jabs at him. (Keating was a guest at Trek Expo 2002)

After Billingsley was Lexa Doig (the emcee pronounced it "doyg" like "boy" with a G). Lexa plays the title character on Andromeda with Kevin Sorbo. A couple of seasons ago, Michael Shanks did a guest spot and she became quite smitten with him. So much so that they're now married and she's 6-months pregnant! Lexa had a lot of fun talking about the antics on the set, especially Kevin Sorbo's infatuation with his Force Lance.

I should mention here that I've noticed a trend. Many of the on-set antics on many of the sci fi shows tend to center around flatulence. That's right, they all seem to talk about funny noises, gassy co-stars, and odiferous events. I guess fart jokes are funny no matter who you are.

The final guest of the weekend was Michael Shanks. I thought I was most interested in seeing Brent Spiner on Saturday but it turns out that I really wanted to see Michael Shanks. There was an electricity in the air as he took the stage. Maybe it's because he's on a current show, maybe it's because he's on my favorite show, maybe it's because I really like his character and how he portrays it (I just don't care for James Spader!), and maybe it's a combination of all of these things but I was very excited to see him.

Of course, it might have had something to do with my having coaxed (like I had to twist her arm) Teryl Rothery earlier in the day to make an appearance on stage with Michael for a photo opportunity. Surely enough, he was on stage for about 40 minutes when, over the speakers, there came a voice that asked, "I have a question. Why did Janet have to die?" Shanks turns around and through the curtain comes Teryl Rothery and his wife, Lexa Doig. The dynamics between the three of them was absolutely wonderful to see. Michael and Teryl talked fondly about how Janet was with Daniel when he ascended (died) and Daniel was with Janet when she died. Teryl did take the opportunity to say that, as an actress, her character's death wasn't so hard to take because the scene wasn't shot on her last day of shooting for the episode.

Shanks continued to take questions, that they all answered, and about ten minutes later this older guy wearing bluejeans, a faded blue shirt, a black vest and black hat wonders onstage. The ladies noticed him but Shanks didn't as he was near the edge of the stage paying attention to the audience. As he finished answering a question, the next person stepped up to the microphone and asked, "Can we do something about the guy in the black vest?" Confused, Shanks turned around to see Ronny Cox standing there and was COMPLETELY surprised. It was a way cool moment in con history for me and one that I won't soon forget.

After another couple of minutes, they all sat down like a Stargate panel discussion (although Michael was the main focus, given it was his stage time) and the audience had a wonderful time. These last few minutes were well worth the price of admission and turned what for me was a mediocre weekend into a fantastic one. Everyone booed the emcee when he had to call an end to the festivities. I think he would have let them continue but, as he explained, Shanks & Doig had to catch a plane.

Wow... what a weekend. I'm already looking forward to next year and I think we might try to make it to StarFest in Denver again.

Live long and prosper!

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