Super MegaFest 2012 con report

On Saturday, 17 November 2012, I met former co-worker and fellow fan Ken G. at the Sheraton Framingham for the tenth annual Super MegaFest. We had a good time at the genre entertainment convention, which had an even stronger lineup of celebrity guests than usual.

I thought the show‘s organizers did a decent job of handling crowd control, since attendance has grown and space is limited. On the other hand, I did have to wait in several long lines, and I heard some complaints about guests having to wait for rides at the airport.

In addition, the pop culture portions have squeezed the space available to vendors and comic book artists. I’ve noted previously that support for tabletop role-playing games has all but vanished from such multimedia events, and DVD and toy sellers aren’t far behind. I have to admit, though, the assorted actors and artists were a strong draw for me this year.

I had met Kevin Sorbo, the lead of Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, Andromeda, and Kull the Conqueror at a previous con, but Ken and I got to join his joking conversations with other fans and Bruce Boxleitner, who sat at the next table.

I’ve watched Boxleitner in Tron (including Tron Legacy and Tron Uprising), Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, and Babylon 5. During his panel discussion, Boxleitner gave us insights into Tron and B5, balancing his bitterness toward meddling network TV executives with kudos for his fellow actors and fondness for history. I agree with his statement that there should be more heroic, idealistic space opera on television, continuing in the tradition of John Carter, Star Trek, and Stargate SG1.

I was happy to meet Adrian Paul, star of Highlander: the Series, one of the best modern fantasy TV shows of the 1990s (or indeed any time, in my opinion) and one of the strongest parts of that swashbuckling franchise. He has aged nearly as gracefully as his immortal Scotsman. I told Paul that his former castmate Roger Daltrey was in town performing with The Who. I was surprised that relatively few people sought Paul’s autograph, but he was a last-minute addition to the roster.

Dean Cain, best known as Clark Kent/Superman in Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, was smiling and pleasant to everyone, just as any Superman fan could hope. A bunch of models ran over to get their photos with the beefy actor, who had one of the longer autograph lines at the MegaFest.

Like Boxleitner, Cain was complimentary of his fellow actors during his panel. He talked about being a single father, his own love of history, and how he and Sorbo had both auditioned for the role of Superman. Cain also talked about his and Christopher Reeve’s cameos on Smallville and wished Henry Cavill good luck with the upcoming Man of Steel.

Speaking of TV superheroes, I found John Wesley Shipp from The Flash to be very friendly. It’s hard to believe that close to 20 years have passed since that wave of live-action superheroes on TV, which arguably paved the way for more recent cinematic blockbusters such as The Avengers.

The guest of honor was Stan “the Man” Lee, co-creator of Marvel icons such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. After waiting in long lines, Ken timed my photo op with him at 6 seconds, but it was nice to exchange words with one of the most recognizable comic book creators.

At the Boston Super MegaFest 2012
Greetings, true believers! Excelsior!

I was out of cash after getting various autographs, so I didn’t buy anything else at this year’s con. (Not to mention, I’ve had a busy year, from the Boston Comic Con and Steampunk City to the Rhode Island Comic Con.) There were lots of other actors, models, and fans in costume to see and talk to. See also Ken’s review of this event.

Coming soon: More belated game updates and Skyfall review. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Byron’s visit and Super MegaFest 2011

Darth Maul and Byron
Darth Maul and Byron V.O.

This past week, I attended another going-away party for a co-worker, this time for Pat O., with whom I share a birthday. We went to Watch City Brewery on Waltham’s Moody Street. It’s a bit more spacious and easier to park near than Union Station in Newton, Massachusetts. However, it’s also farther from the “T,” which causes difficulties for those without cars. I’ve been busy with editing assignments in advance of Thanksgiving.

Byron V.O., an alumnus of the local role-playing groups who now lives in St. Louis, was in the Boston area this past week for work. On Friday, 18 November 2011, Byron met Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. at Janice’s and my place. We had dinner at Bertucci’s and hung out for a few hours afterward, talking about food, history, and movies.

The next day, Byron and I drove out to the Sheraton Framingham for the annual Super MegaFest, where we met Ken G. The genre entertainment convention was especially crowded this year because of headliner Patrick Stewart. Janice and I had seen the British actor years ago, but Ken got a pricey VIP pass despite some reservations.

Byron and I got autographs from Tia Carrere (of Relic Hunter and Kull the Conqueror) and Sean Astin (Goonies and the Lord of the Rings trilogy). We also met Antony Michael Hall, who starred in popular 1980s films and more recent TV dramas, and Deal or No Deal model Patricia Kara.

We also saw other celebrities, classic vehicles, several fans in costume, and various vendor tables. There were more apparel suppliers than in past years, but fewer comic book or RPG sellers. Videos and toys held steady. Byron and I ducked out to Acapulco’s for lunch while Ken attended Stewart’s panel discussion. Fortunately, the weather was nice. Byron later won a gift basket of Star Wars memorabilia in a charity raffle.

Byron and I got back to my place in Needham, Mass., in time to meet Beruk A. Janice cooked Sloppy Joes for dinner, and we converted Player Characters from D&D3.5 to FATE 3e Legends of Anglerre for the “Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains” fantasy one-shot scenario. Brian W., Sara F., and Josh C. arrived after dinner.

I’ll post separately about the session, in which an adventuring party reunited in the Halmed Desert to deal with devils and return the city of Falit. The quick-and-dirty conversion worked fairly well — we’d have to review magic more carefully for an ongoing campaign — and I hope everybody had fun getting back into character.

I think Legends of Anglerre would be good for a new group and for simplifying higher-level characters. Most of my midlevel D&D and Pathfinder gamers would likely resist, however, because they have a lot of money and attachment invested in the current system and numerous powers/items. A few people have suggested using the modern supernatural Dresden Files, but I’d rather stick with Legends of Anglerre for traditional fantasy.

After another late night talking about politics, religion, and family, Byron and I drove back out to Framingham to pick up his gift basket. We saw a few more costumes and had an easier time walking around the show, which was quieter on a Sunday morning. Janice had made breakfast, and we grabbed lunch at Wild Willy’s before Byron headed to the airport. Soon, millions of Americans will also be traveling!

24 November 2009: Super MegaFest report

Brian, Gene, and Ken

On Saturday, 21 November 2009, I met former co-workers Ken G. and Brian F. at the Super MegaFest at the Framingham Sheraton (photos courtesy of Ken). I’ve attended this genre entertainment convention several times over the past decade, and it’s usually a good value for a $20 weekend ticket.

There were fewer panels than at the previous weekend’s New England Fan Experience (NEFX), but the celebrity guests were more accessible. Autographs were still expensive at about $40 apiece. I met Brent Spiner, who played the Asimovian android “Data” on Star Trek: the Next Generation, as well as The Bionic Woman‘s Lindsay Wagner.

Although I had seen them before, Ken waited in line for signatures from Jame  Marsters, members of The Monkees, and Ray Park. There were also pinup models,
professional wrestlers, and some people in costume. Spiner proved to be sarcastically funny during his question-and-answer session, teasing me for not following him on Twitter and being teased by Ken for his robot-like recall of people’s names.

The vendors sold comic books, DVDs, toys, and other nostalgia items to a crowd that was almost as diverse as the one at the NEFX and Star Wars in Concert. Brian was disappointed that there weren’t more dealers in superhero-related statuettes, and I agree that there were fewer vendors than in past years. Overall, I had fun, and I look forward to more fan events, such as the “Harry Potter” exhibit at the Boston Museum of
Science and the just-announced New England Comic-Con.

In the coming weeks, in between work, gaming, and holiday shopping, I hope to blog about the recent wave of animation, the midseason turnover in genre television, and the nature of steampunk. If there’s anything you’d like to see here, let me know!

Janice and I will be driving down to Pennsylvania to see her grandmother before
spending Thanksgiving with my parents in western Virginia. Unfortunately, I probably won’t have time to visit family and friends near Washington, D.C., or New
York City, and I hope that traffic and the weather are cooperative. I hope that you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Nov. 21, 2006 — mice, cheese, cons, Casino Royale, and preholiday heroes

Friends, it’s hard to believe that autumn is passing so quickly! As expected, on Saturday, 11 November 2006, Janice and I raked leaves before the unseasonably pleasant weather ended. On that Sunday, we caught Flushed Away — the Aardman/Dreamworks computer-animated comedy, featuring Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet as mice and rats, was better than we had expected.

We also had dinner with Thomas K.Y. at Acapulco’s, a nearby Mexican restaurant, for the first time since his family vacation in Japan. We’ve been going to Newbury Comics quite a bit lately, partly because with the demise of Tower Records and Virgin MegaStores, it’s the last good (and local) chain for discounted music CDs, movies on DVD, and pop culture trinkets.

On Monday, Nov. 15, Janice and I met with former co-worker and fellow genre fan Jacqui M.D. We chatted about our competing employers, Heroes, and the careers of actors who have worked with Joss Whedon. After dinner at Bertucci’s, she stopped by our place for the first time before heading back to her hotel.

This past Saturday, Nov. 18, Janice and I visited the shops in Harvard, Central, and Porter squares in Cambridge, Mass., including Pandemonium Books and Games. We also ate lunch at one of my favorite places near Harvard University: Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage, where I usually get the “Viagra burger,” which contains blue cheese. As Wallace & Gromit might say, “How about some cheese!”

There has been no cheese to speak of in recent strong episodes of Veronica Mars, Heroes, Avatar: the Last Airbender, and Doctor Who, IMHO (in my humble opinion, for those who are netspeak-impaired). With the revisionist Battlestar Galactica moving to Sunday nights and the Stargates coming off of hiatus, my television viewing schedule will change yet again.

On Sunday, I went to Super MegaFest at the Sheraton in Framingham. The genre entertainment convention was a bit of a bust, with fewer vendors and several last-minute cancellations by guests such as professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer‘s Juliet Landau, and Firefly/Serenity and Justice League Unlimited/Stargate SG-1‘s Morena Baccarin.

However, it was still a decent show, with “Elvira, mistress of the dark” (nee Cassandra Peterson), Star Trek and Batman‘s Yvonne Craig, and Happy Days‘ Erin Moran, as well as wrestler “Captain” Lou Albano. Since relatively few of these cons have been successful in the Boston area, I try to patronize those I can get to. The more literary (and pricey) speculative fiction gatherings of Arisia, VeriCon, Boskone, and Noreascon tend to be in the winter/early spring.

That afternoon, I met Thomas and Greg D.C. at the AMC Framingham 16 to screen Casino Royale. We had tried to get together to see The Prestige a few weeks ago, but those plans fell through. Greg and I mostly liked the latest James Bond flick, which marked a return to a more serious tone than the Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore versions.

A new James Bond
The new James Bond

Casino Royale (based on the first Ian Fleming novel, and not to be confused with the David Niven spoof of the same name), opens with an impressive free-running stunt sequence and tries to explain Bond’s attitudes toward women, his superiors, and his lethal occupation.

Thomas felt the film was too predictable, and Dexter V.H. preferred the more glamorous espionage/action movies of the past. However, I’d give newcomer Daniel Craig and the franchise relaunch (not unlike Batman Begins) about an 8 out of 10.

Here’s my list of Bond movies and ratings:

  • Doctor No (Sean Connery, 1963) ****
  • From Russia With Love (Connery, 1964) ***
  • Goldfinger (Connery, 1964) ****
  • Thunderball (Connery, 1965) ****
  • You Only Live Twice (Connery, 1967) ***
  • Casino Royale (spoof with David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Woody Allen) **
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (George Lazenby, 1969) ****
  • Diamonds are Forever (Sean Connery, 1971) **
  • Live and Let Die (Roger Moore, 1973) ***
  • The Man With the Golden Gun (Moore, 1974) ***
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (Moore, 1977) ***
  • Moonraker (Moore, 1979) **
  • For Your Eyes Only (Moore, 1981) ***
  • Octopussy (Moore, 1983) **
  • Never Say Never Again (Connery, 1983) **
  • A View to a Kill (Moore, 1985) *
  • The Living Daylights (Timothy Dalton, 1987) ***
  • License to Kill (Dalton, 1989) **
  • GoldenEye (Pierce Brosnan, 1995) ***
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (Brosnan, 1997) ****
  • The World Is Not Enough (Brosnan, 1999) **
  • Die Another Day (Brosnan, 2002) ***
  • Casino Royale (Daniel Craig, 2006) ***

Before last autumn’s basement floods, I owned some first printings of Fleming’s novels, but I still have several reference books on James Bond. As you can tell from the list above, I prefer the Sean Connery/George Lazenby portrayals of the cinematic superspy, as well as stories rooted in the Cold War. However, I don’t mind updating the archetypal series, as long as the cool hero, daring stunts, exotic locations, beautiful women, and dastardly villains are left intact.

After the movie, Thomas and I had dinner at the Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse. The D&D3.5 “Vanished Lands: Halmed Desert” fantasy game is going well, but we’ll have a few breaks in the coming weeks due to the holidays and weekend one-shots. Dan A. will be running a D20 Call of Cthulhu on Tuesday, Nov. 28, and Byron V.O. and Dexter V.H. are still working on plans to visit the Boston area in early December.

The City of Heroes virtual superhero party has been meeting more regularly, although Steve M.R. had to drop out (hopefully only briefly) due to the same kind of technical problems that have afflicted David I.S. and Kim M.E.A.G. We’re still working on tactics but are proceeding in level.

This coming weekend, Janice and I will be visiting her immediate family in Upstate New York. It’s likely that I’ll be watching some of my nieces and nephews while Janice, her sisters, and their mother go shopping on “Black Friday.” Wish me luck! Fortunately, I look forward to hanging out with them and with my brother in law Gary T.L. May all of you and your families have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!