Shopping for Zombies

August 31st, 2008

Earlier this evening I received information about a new horror con called the “Zombie Fest.” Horror’s not my personal genre of choice (though I certainly won’t dispute its popularity), but this one caught my attention a bit more than usual.

The Zombie Fest is taking place in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. Most shows in Monroeville take place at the Expo Mart, but this one’s taking place in Monroeville Mall.

That’s an unusual location for a convention, though it’s certainly appropriate in this case. Back in the winter of 1976, George Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead there. (The plot summary on IMDB refers to the mall as “secluded.” It didn’t seem that way to me growing up, and much so less now the area has been even more built up.)

Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any other conventions taking place in shopping malls. I just wish the ice rink was still there.

Free Stuff!

August 15th, 2008

Offer ended for now.

This could probably be interpreted as a cheap tactic to draw your attention to the blog portion of the site and that’s not an interpretation I’ll fight all that strenuously. But the main reason for the banner ad and this post is that I’m working on getting rid of some clutter and some of the stuff I no longer want/need might be something other fen would enjoy having.

Just to be clear, what I’m talking about here is mainly some movie posters and some fannish bumper stickers, maybe a few books. The Dax action figured that was autographed by Terry Farrell is staying with me. (I didn’t get to keep Terry Farrell herself, but I’ll at least hold on to the action figure.)

So how does this work?

Essentially, it’s going to be something of a grab bag. Drop me a line with your name and mailing address (sorry, it has to be either US or an APO/FPO) and I’ll send you a bumper sticker, poster, or whatnot. (Sorry, I can’t be more specific or handle special requests.)

Privacy stuff

I’ll send you an item and that’s it! Unless you write back and strike up a conversation, that’ll be the end of it. I won’t be adding you to any mailing lists and certainly won’t be giving/selling your information to any third parties. (Obviously if I’m required to divulge your information to law enforcement, I’ll have to. So please don’t be that sort of person, OK?)

Other stuff

Please, just one request per household, the offer ends when I decide it’s costing me too much in postage, when I run out of stuff I want to get rid of, or when I otherwise decide to end it. You understand.

Fine Print

Offer void where prohibited. Professional driver on a closed course, do not attempt these maneuvers. Dramatization. Professional assembly recommended. Some cars not for use with all sets.

Going non-Postal

August 9th, 2008

Ever since I started this convention list (would you believe it’s been nearly 10 years?) I’ve been reluctant to include events which didn’t have postal contact information.

A good deal of it was pragmatic, when I first started the list, it was for publication in a club’s newsletter. The organization claimed to have around 4,000 members, and at the time (10 years ago) it seemed pretty likely that a number of them wouldn’t have internet access and therefore wouldn’t have much use for convention information that didn’t include a postal address.

Things have changed since then. Internet access is common and an increasing number of conventions (particularly anime and gaming events) have chosen to forgo postal points of contact in favor of online registration and email for questions.

So as of today, the convention listings now include events which don’t have a postal point of contact. Those events won’t be included in the syndicated copies of the list, but in general this will make more information more easily accessible and it’s hard to see that as a bad idea.

What do you think? Is this an overdue adaptation to the way cons are run? Or does it open the door for problems?

Comment is invited. In the comment section below, on the Conventio.ning site, or if you’d prefer to talk privately, through the feedback page.

Who’s in charge?

August 3rd, 2008

Thanks to my NetFlix subscription, I’m finally caught up with Battlestar Galatactica though the end of Season Four. Starbuck has seemingly returned from the dead, Baltar’s trial has ended and four of the “Final Five” cylon models have been revealed. That last is particularly interesting since it seems as though they’ve all decided to stand with their human friends.

I’ve already had the misfortune of overhearing someone talking about the identity of model 12 and seeing as how this is the show’s final season anyhow, it’s going to be difficult to avoid hearing any more details, so I think I’ll be following this final season via SciFi’s episode streams.

One thing I find interesting though (and if you haven’t watched Season Four yet, this would be a good time to visit another part of the site) is the identity of the fleet’s president.

At the time of the Exodus from New Caprica, Baltar was the legal President, but was presumed dead or captured. Tom Zarek assumed the presidency, named Laura Roslin as his Vice President, and then stepped down in order that she could be President in return for being named as her Vice President.

When Baltar was captured along with the model 6 known as Caprica, he was charged with treason and put on trial. But (and here’s the part where if you haven’t seen the end of Season Four, you really might want to consider visiting another part of the site) thanks to Apollo’s moving speech, Baltar was acquitted. He’s now a free man.

So here’s the thing, Baltar was acquitted. The tribunal found him not guilty. Tom Zarek was only made President because of Baltar’s assumed death/capture. So Baltar’s not dead, he’s “escaped” from captivity, and he’s been cleared of all charges.

So shouldn’t Baltar be returned to the Presidency? (Acting President Roslin would then be returned to the Vice Presidental role she took over from Tom Zarek.)

Did Zarek’s accession to the presidency mean he was replacing Baltar? Or was he only an acting President? Sounds like an opening for more intrigue. 🙂

Batman to Relocate?

July 18th, 2008

Fresh on the heels of his new movie, The Dark Knight is considering a move to Southern California.

(Somebody at the LA Times, plus a few public officials, has a good sense of humor.)

Blood and Fire

July 16th, 2008

As the story goes, in 1986, shortly after Paramount announced the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation, somebody at a convention asked Gene Roddenberry whether this new Star Trek would include any gay characters. Gene Roddenberry immediately replied that yes, it would indeed.

Hearing this, David Gerrold, best known for writing the TOS episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”, set out to write a screenplay, “Blood and Fire”, for Next Gen which included a gay character. Gene Roddenberry approved the script, and the studio execs balked at including anything of that sort on a show which children might see at 4:00pm in some markets.

Twenty-two years later, Star Trek: Phase II filmed the episode, taking place in the TOS timeframe. This past weekend at Shore Leave, Phase II presented a “wet copy” of the episode. (Many of the visual effects were missing, others were preliminary. Likewise, the audio track had yet to be cleaned up.)

All in all, it was a good episode. The acting was dead on and the story was compelling. The main storyline centers around a thinly-veiled reference to AIDS, but as a general threat instead of something limited to the gay community. Whether there any members of the crew were gay was incidental to the story. (Indeed, if the point of the episode was social commentary by having a gay crewmember, that end might have been better served by a different story.)

One particularly memorable scene involved a call for blood donors. I saw a preview of that scene in February at Farpoint and my thought both times was that it would make a fantastic stand-alone “commercial” for any convention’s blood drive. Talking to Executive Producer (and Captain Kirk) James Cawley afterward, I learned that this scene had been written that way on purpose. Part of the reason was because when the AIDS crisis first began, people stopped giving blood for fear of getting AIDS. (Here in the 21st century, some twenty years later, everyone knows that donating blood is safe, right?) And the other reason for writing the scene that way? Well, apparently there’s some outside interest (not just me) in creating a blood-drive commercial from it!

About my only complaints with the episode are that some of the humor seems a bit heavy-handed at times and it has so many sub-plots that some of them don’t get adequate attention. The episode is still in post-production, so it’s possible some of that will be edited or augmented, and having subplots can be quite a good thing.

The episode runs in two parts, each somewhere around 50 minutes long. (I didn’t check the time, so perhaps someone “in the know” will leave an approximate runtime in the comments.) Part 1 is planned for release sometime in October, though this is (of course) subject to people’s schedules and other production vagaries which might impact a fan film. No release schedule was mentioned for Part 2.

I look forward to seeing the final version.

The rest of this post contains potential spoilers; you’ve been warned.

Some things to look for in the in episode:

  • Of all the people to whom you might mention a daughter! We now have an a point for arguing that Captain Kirk is the father of a member of Captain Picard’s bridge crew.
  • Spock just can’t seem to win arguments with the medical staff.
  • I hope they don’t try to show the Sparkle Dancer. Showing people’s reactions to it leaves the visual up to the viewer’s imagination and avoids falling short of expectations.
  • A certain rogue division of Starfleet makes an appearance.

Sci-Fi Chase Scene

June 11th, 2008

I’ve been watching the new Doctor Who series over the past few weeks. It’s been a marked change from what’s gone before, but I like it. Billie Piper as Rose Tyler was an interesting change from the companions of the past, not just traveling with The Doctor, but actually being his equal in many ways. (When he sent her away at the end of the first season, I knew she had to somehow come back and save him. But the Bad Wolf took me completely by surprise — though I’m quite far from complaining.)

Tonight I watched the first episode of the third season (“The Runaway Bride”) and saw something I’d never expected.

The T.A.R.D.I.S. in flight.
In a chase scene.
Pursuing a car down an English motorway….

The Tenth Doctor is quite unlike any of the predecessors I’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.


June 3rd, 2008

You’ve perhaps noticed that the June update hasn’t happened quite yet. I’d like to apologize for the delay. It’s nothing sinister and certainly not an indication that I’m retiring (not this week anyhow).

I’m in the midst of a home improvement project and it’s taking a little longer than expected to get everything put back together. One of the impacts of this delay is that the computer I use to maintain the convention list is still sitting in my basement, blocked from access by a stack of furniture.

I’m hoping to have the computer back together sometime in the next week at which point I’ll update the list and add the latest updates. In the meantime, I’d like to invite you to join the Conventioning Community. “Conventioning” is a word I’ve coined to encapsulate the various activities surrounding convention — attending conventions, organizing conventions, or even compiling lists of conventions. 🙂

The Conventioning community can be found online at It’s an experiment at this point and your feedback and participation is invited.

And again, my apologies for the delay in the monthly update. Thanks for your patience.


May 11th, 2008

Conventioning, verb: A term used to describe any activity related to conventions, be it attending, organizing, or otherwise participating.

Fandom already has several gazillion blogs (including this one), and several gazillion more pages on various social networks. But so far, with all the various social network sites (MySpace, Facebook, etc), there don’t seem to be any social networking sites specifically for fans. (Or if there are, nobody’s invited me!)

So I’ve created the Conventio.ning network. Although the main focus is on the world of conventions, all are welcome.

It’s very small right now, but I’m hoping it will grow over time. Please stop by, check it out, and be sure to invite your friends!

The Conventio.ning web site can be found at:

Getting Involved

April 22nd, 2008

Have you ever wanted to participate in a convention? Not just attend, but actually be a panelist, or maybe do a presentation for the children’s programming track? Or maybe there’s a killer topic you’d like to see discussed in an a panel?

Many of the conventions out there are looking for someone just like you! Programming chairs are always looking for suggestions on workshops and panel topics. And if it’s something you’d be willing to run, that’s even better! (Likewise, most gaming conventions are looking for people who would like to run a game.)

So how does this work? All you have to do is ask! Just visit the web site for your convention of choice, find the contact information for the event’s programming chair, and send them your idea.

That’s all it takes!