Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best. I-CON. Ever.

I wasn't the only one who enjoyed I-CON.
OK, so the headline is a little misleading because this past weekend's I-CON 31 at Stony Brook University on Long Island also was my first I-CON. Still, it was highly enjoyable - a near-perfect experience - and my friends, veterans of many I-CONs, said it ranked among their favorites. Who am I to argue?

What made the event special for me was the outstanding interaction with the guests. Yes, I understand that they are professional actors and could very well be "putting on a show" for the fans by pretending to be interested in their questions and engaging in conversation. That being said, we've all met celebrities - even at events where we were paying our hard-earned money to be in their presence - who seemed like they would like to be almost anywhere else. If that was the case at I-CON, each of the people who I met deserves an Academy Award.

In no particular order:

General Martok: It was a good day to mingle.
Again, I lie. Even with Big Names highlighting the program, as soon as I reviewed the guests, I knew who I wanted to meet first and most - J.G. Hertzler, best known in the Trek Universe for his two dozen appearances as Klingon General Martok from "Deep Space Nine." Why? I'm not even sure. Some small part of my brain - admittedly, my brain has only small parts - immediately was drawn to the idea that General Martok would be appearing at the convention. He did not disappoint. We had a delightful conversation.

The afore-mentioned Big Names included Paul McGann of "Dr. Who" fame and Nana Visitor, a regular as Major Kira Nerys on "Deep Space Nine." This blog had the pleasure of interviewing McGann (click here). Despite obvious jet lag, McGann was as accommodating as humanly (no pun intended) possible. We also watched an interview with Visitor, who was the very definition of charming. During the autograph session, when I handed her a second photo and told her that it was a birthday present for my sister, she happily wrote out the entire "Birthday Song" as part of her message. I can remember occasions at other events when actors (James Doohan and Christopher Lloyd, among others), have refused to include birthday messages with their autographs.

Rekha Sharma, a Cylon with a sense of humor!
I wish I could say I had a nice talk with Rekha Sharma, who portrayed the Cylon Tory Foster on "Battlestar Galactica," but that was not the case - only because she was not talking to anyone due to laryngitis. She greeted each fan with a handwritten note and made a point of "conversing" with each of them. When I asked if she was getting writer's cramp, she flexed her muscles and wrote that it was a good workout.

Small connections to the actors are always a small (and overblown) surprise. When I told Daphne Ashbrook my name, she mentioned it was a name common in her family and wrote, "I feel like we're family!" For the record, as a bigger Trek fan than Who fan, I got her autograph on a photograph of her as Melora from "Deep Space Nine" instead of Dr. Grace Holloway from the Dr. Who movie. Sorry, Whovians.

I assume it was coincidence, but "Deep Space Nine" also was represented by Casey Biggs, who was the Cardassian Damar for 23 episodes. I had to smile when he wrote "Long Live Cardassia!" as part of his autograph.

Then ... well, that was enough money spent on autographs. Well spent, though, and I would gladly do it again. Then there were the costumes, dealers, panel discussions and everything else that makes a convention a nice break from reality.

Later, I realized I had spent the day in the company of a Klingon, Time Lord, Bajoran, Cylon, Elaysian and Cardassian. Some of the humans were OK, too. Thank you, I-CON.


  1. Your experience mirrored mine in many ways. The media guests I met at I-Con 31 were the most gracious, enthusiastic bunch this side of a Bajoran worm hole!

    I had a lovely talk with Nana Visitor, who was practically glowing -- in part I'm sure because her son just finished a military tour in Afghanistan and has arrived home safely. She said she felt like a huge weight had been lifted and she was just exuding happiness. Lucky were the fans who crossed her path this weekend.

    JG and Casey were their usual charming selves and this was my first time meeting Daphne, who treated everyone like a long-lost cousin. Even Rekha, who couldn't say a word, somehow showed her sweet personality.

    In addition to meeting the actors, I spent several hours in the boardgame room, participated in some enjoyable panel discussions and attended the Annual I-CON Awards Banquet (which had great vegetarian options). Already looking forward to #32.

  2. What? I missed the vegetarian banquet? Damn. Have to remember that next year!

  3. It was a great pleasure meeting you and your son and Vernon in person! I am already looking forward to next year's ICON. And I have to emphasize, after working near most of the media guests, they really were just that gracious and polite and honestly happy to interact with fans of all ages.