Entry for November 25, 2008: Convention reports

Friends, I hope you had a good weekend. On Saturday, 22 November 2008, I drove into Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the New England Fan Experience. The genre entertainment convention was formerly known as United Fan Con, and it focused on science fiction television, anime, gaming, and actual science.

I attended panels by Peter Davison, Morena Baccarin, and Robert Picardo. Davison, who was the fifth Doctor Who and who also starred in All Creatures Great and Small and Campion, talked about the differences and similarities between British and American television. Baccarin, who has been on Firefly/Serenity, Stargate SG1, and Justice League Unlimited, talked about her career as a Juilliard-trained actress.

Picardo, whose credits include China Beach, Star Trek: Voyager, and Stargate SGI and Atlantis, joked that he needs to be involved with the Star Wars franchise to get the space opera "trifecta." He also played some filk songs, which combine folk music style and popular culture parodies.

Among the astronauts and other actors at the convention were Lost in Space's Mark Goddard, Animal House's Eliza Roberts, and Heroes' James Kyson Lee. I also got a signed print from artist Bob Eggleton and watched an impressive Japanese swordsmanship demonstration by Guard Up.

The dealers' room was small but well stocked with DVDs, toys, books, and weapons. While in Cambridge, I braved the early chill to walk to Pandemonium Books & Games. I was surprised at the number of teenaged girls at the con, and they giggled and screamed whenever an actor from some favorite anime series or the just-released Twilight horror/romance movie adaptation walked by.

On Sunday, I drove out to Framingham, Mass., for the annual Super MegaFest. In comparison with the New England Fan Experience, it had fewer discussion panels but more comic book merchants and people signing autographs. Both conventions attracted lots of people, including many in costume.

In addition to 1960s musicians Pete Best and Peter Tork, the men who played Big Bird and Bozo the Clown, and numerous wrestlers and starlets, I met a few more popular actors. Leslie Nielsen, known from Forbidden Planet, Airplane, Police Squad/Naked Gun, and Due South, was as funny as ever. Dawn Wells, "Mary Ann" from Gilligan's Island, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea's David Hedison had aged well. Jonathan Frakes, who played "Cmdr. Will Riker" on Star Trek: the Next Generation, was pleased to hear that I had enjoyed his work in Gargoyles and Thunderbirds.

Doug Jones, who has labored under heavy makeup to create memorable characters in the Hellboy franchise, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Pan's Labyrinth, was very kind and friendly, hugging each person who sought his autograph. I thought that both conventions were worthwhile.

On Sunday night, Janice and I drove out to Worcester, Mass., for a vegetarian pre-Thanksgiving dinner at co-worker and fellow blogger Ken G.'s apartment. He was a gracious host, the food was good, and we enjoyed meeting his friends Amy S., Meg W., Mike K., and Nectaria K. We also had fun playing board game Cranium after the meal.

My usual games are on hiatus this week because of the holiday and workload. I hope that all of you and your families have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!