Looking for Assistance

April 3rd, 2007

Hello there! If you’re reading this, then I’d like to request your assistance with an upcoming project of mine.

If you think that means I’m about to ask for money, well… Yes, you’re right. The good news is that I’m not asking for myself, nor am I asking on behalf of any overseas princes, oil executives, or shady bank officials. (The bad news is that I’m also not offering you fabulous wealth in return for your assistance with sneaking money out of a foreign country.)

On June 2-3 of this year I’ll be participating in Relay for Life and I’d like to ask for your support.

As you may be aware, Relay for Life is a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. It isn’t literally a race, but rather a metaphor. It’s a 24-hour event where the participants take turns walking (or running, I’ve seen a few people spend most of the day running) around a track at a local High School or college athletic field. This relay race is a metaphor for the search for a cure – the “race” isn’t over until there’s a cure for cancer.

That’s where you come in. I’d like to ask you to consider sponsoring me in the event. Sponsorship donations are for a flat amount and you can make it any amount you like. My goal is to raise $1,000, but any amount at all is helpful.

If you’d like to make a donation by credit card, you can do that via my personalized Relay for Life web site which you can find at: http://www.acsevents.org/SoMoCo/ThatBlairGuy

That page will redirect to one on kintera.org with a much longer address. (The one on acsevents.org is much easier to work with). And of course, Terry and Wylie will appreciate any feedback about how cute they are in those photos. (Who says fundraising letters have to be dull?!?!)

If you’d prefer to make a donation by sending a check or money order (made payable to “American Cancer Society”), that works too. Please contact me privately for my postal address.

At this time I don’t have the ability to receive donations via PayPal.

And of course, if money’s tight and you really can’t afford it this year, that’s OK. I’ve been there too. There’s always next year.

Thanks in advance.

Updated April 8, 2007

This past Thursday my close friend AJ was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Because of ongoing cancer research, it’s treatable and we all expect her to make a full recovery.

But this has become a whole lot more personal.

Cult TV Weekender Moves to New Venue

March 25th, 2007

The Cult TV Weekender event originally slated for Warwickshire, England has undergone a change of venue due to construction problems at the previous site.  The new hotel is the Heythrop Park Hotel in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.  As a result of the venue change, a reduced single-occupancy room rate is now in effect.   Visit the Cult TV Weekender web site for full details.

Cult TV Weekender takes place October 19 to 22 in Oxfordshire England.  Announced celebrity guests include Antonio Fargas, Ike Eisenmann, Stephanie Waring, and Ben Miller.

TANSTAAFL

March 4th, 2007

On one of the email lists I’m subscribed to, people were recently chatting about an upcoming science fiction convention. A couple people started wondering aloud whether they needed to buy convention memberships since after all, they were only planning to attend a club meeting and maybe one or two other things that weren’t in the main ballroom. In short, did they need to pay even if they weren’t planning to see the guests?

That’s a tough one to answer.

On the one hand, convention memberships are what pay for everything. Not just the celebrity guests, but also the bills for the convention space. Generally speaking, the space rental for the weekend is one of a convention’s two largest expenses, and that’s all the space, not just the ballroom. (The convention has to pay for that “free” meeting space.) And obviously, if too many people routinely take advantage of the convention’s “free” resources without paying for memberships, eventually you won’t have a convention.

On the other hand, any convention that checks badges for every panel and every club meeting is likely to wind up hearing a lot of unpleasant feedback involving comparisons to the Third Reich, Soviet Russia and the like. And the sheer amount of manpower required to do all that checking is a bit overwhelming too.

Sure a convention membership is going to cost you some money, but you get a lot in return. You don’t only get to attend whatever club meeting, you also get admission to “all-you-can-eat” of that days’ programming with panels, Q&A sessions, and frequently a costume show and Saturday evening dance. Plus you get the warm-fuzzies and/or good karma that come with the knowledge that you’re supporting local fandom.

Starship Farragut Launches

February 19th, 2007

Starship Farragut premiered their first-ever episode this past Friday as part of the Farpoint convention in Hunt Valley Maryland.

The first episode, titled “The Captaincy,” is set in the same time frame as the original Star Trek series and introduces the new crew of the Constitution Class starship, USS Farragut. In this first episode, the Farragut is dispatched to investigate the loss of a survey vessel and its crew and a possible Klingon incursion into Federation territory. At the same time, a new captain and crew must learn to work together.

Despite a few rough edges, it’s still a wonderful first story and doesn’t drag at all. The 48-minute runtime feels like barely half that. It’s that engaging. The only large complaint I had was a one-sided battle where it seemed like the one side never realized their opponents weren’t defending themselves. On the other hand, it was interesting to note that this episode made very little use of indoor sets, spending most of its time outdoors. (Either that, or else the film crew went to a great deal of trouble to create a quite realistic indoor forest.)

Likewise, the CGI effects are fantastic. Clearly the Starship Farragut crew has learned from those who have gone before them. The attention to detail paid off with the result that starships looked real without any obvious “computer edges” and weapons fire that seems quite believable.

A bonus item to watch for is a cameo appearance by the cast of another fan film series. Perhaps we’ll see other crossovers in times to come.

The episode is scheduled for web-release on February 23. Starship Farragut reportedly plans to release additional episodes at a rate of two per year. The series stars John Broughton as Captain “Jack” Carter; Mike Bednar as Executive Officer, Commander “RT” Tacket; Holly Bednar as Chief Engineer Lieutenant Commander “Mike” Smithfield; Paul Sieber as Security Chief Henry Prescott; and Tonya Bacon as Communications Officer Lieutenant Alissa Moretti. The recurring villain in the series, Klingon Commander Kruge is played by Mark Hildebrand.

It’s a terrific first outing for Starship Farragut. We can only hope for more of the same.

Meandering Away From the Musical Mainstream

February 13th, 2007

Following an inquiry into whether Leslie Fish had any upcoming performances in the Baltimore area (I’m not aware of any), I set out to see if she had an official web site anywhere. I didn’t find one, but I did manage to get distracted by what seems to be the officially unofficial Leslie Fish biography as well as a sampler of her filks (including the one which she apparently wishes we’d forget).

At about the same time, thanks to Gavroche, I became aware of the Funny Music Project (aka “The FuMP”) which offers an assortment of comedy songs on a rotating basis. (Although I’ve never played any of the RPGs mentioned in the song, Possible Oscar’s “Talk Nerdy to Me” is definitely catchy.)

From there, it was off to iTom where Tom Smith is posting a new song every week and in the course of just a few months has accumulated enough material to release two new albums. Not everything will appeal to everyone, but compare it to the mainstream where an artist will take two years to put out an album that doesn’t appeal to everyone and no matter how you slice it, it’s still impressive.

So the bottom line is, I don’t know Leslie Fish’s con appearance schedule. If anyone does know it, drop me a line and we’ll see about getting her added to the convention list. In the meantime, I have some new music to listen to.

2007 Browncoat Ball open for bids

December 30th, 2006

The Browncoat Ball is now accepting bids for groups wishing to host the 2007 event. The Chicagoland Browncoats held the first Browncoat Ball in Chicago in 2004. In 2006 the San Francisco Browncoats carried on the tradition by hosting the second one.

The ball is held in a different city each year with local browncoat submitting a pitch outlining the event they want to hold. The city with the shiniest event plan becomes the Host City for that year. Bids are now being accepted for cities wishing to host the 2007 Ball. Guidelines for interested local Browncoat groups and postmortem write-ups from the 2004 and 2006 events are available on the Browncoat Ball web site.

Bidding for 2007 will close on January 15, 2007. No date has been announced for when the 2007 location will be declared, but at that time bidding will open for the 2008 event, allowing approximately 18 months to plan for the 2008 event.

For more information, visit the Browncoat Ball web site. Questions may be directed to bid2007@browncoatball.com.

Farpoint adds Fan Creativity track

December 29th, 2006

Farpoint is adding a new Fan Creativity track focusing on film and podcast production with panels and workshops on the nuts and bolts of creating a production (everything from script to lighting, acting, editing and distributing). Several local film and audio productions will also be presented, and fans will have a chance to share ideas and methods with their peers working in these areas. Special event include the world premiere of Starship Farragut’s first-ever webisode in the main ballroom on Saturday afternoon. The filmmakers will be on hand to discuss the journey they have taken to bring their dreams to reality.

Farpoint is also hosting their annual Model Contest, as well as a new art competition. The Young Artists Competition will be held in conjunction with the Art Show and Auction. Artists under the age of 12 are invited to submit pieces to display (no hanging fee for Young Artists). Local artists will judge the works and prizes will be awarded. More info on the Young Artists program can be found on the Art Show page at the Farpoint website.

Browncoat Backup Event

December 11th, 2006

Technorati is loaded with blog entries about what happened when Flanvention was cancelled at the last moment.

Not only did the California and San Francisco Browncoats put together their backup event in a mere 24 hours, a number of Firefly cast members (including Alan Tudyk who had previously cancelled his Flanvention appearance) also showed up to show support for the fans.

An attendee going by the moniker of “TheOneTrueB!x” posted a Flickr stream with a number of good photos including Christina Hendricks (Saffron/Yolanda/Bridget), Alan Tudyk (Wash), Mark Sheppard (Badger), Adam Baldwin (Jayne) and, of course, Cap’n Reynolds himself, Nathan Fillion.

So despite the lack of the convention everyone had been planning to attend, it appears as though something shiny may have happened after all.

Flanvention Disappears

December 10th, 2006

On Friday, December 1, after several days of uncertainty about whether the Big Damn Flanvention would take place, Booster Events announced that they had resolved their financial difficulties and would be going forward with their event.

The California Browncoats and the San Francisco Browncoats report that on Thursday, December 7, with 24 hours before the event was to take place, and with people starting to arrive, Booster Events reversed themselves and pulled the plug on the Big Damn Flanvention.

The Booster Events web site is currently blank save for a notice that “Booster Entertainment apologizes for the great inconvenience, but due to unforeseen circumstances, Flanvention is cancelled. An official notice will be posted within 10 days.” (December 17)

At this point in time, lacking evidence to the contrary, Fanboy’s Convention List is treating all future Booster Events conventions as cancelled.

Can’t Stop the Browncoats

November 29th, 2006

Details are scarce right now, but there’s a notice on the Booster Events site that due to “financial difficulties,” it’s possible that the Big Damned Flanvention 2 may be cancelled. Please note that the event has not been cancelled and if it is, you’ll most likely find out through Booster Events’ official channels sooner than you will here.

None of that is particularly newsworthy. Sad to say, convention cancellations are not altogether uncommon.

What’s interesting about this one though is how the attendees are reacting. As a contingency plan, the California Browncoats are organizing an event which has been dubbed, the “Browncoats’ Backup Bash.” In the event that the Flanvention does fall through, and attendees are unable to cancel their hotel/airplane/other reservations, there will still be an event to attend.

Kudos to the California Browncoats for their efforts. That’s shiny.