Julian Richings and Gabe Tigerman's panels were both a big surprise for me and they were super entertaining. 100% of the people who went to Chicago Pizza for lunch were there because Julian talked about it for a solid 10 minutes in his panel.
Mark Pelligrino and Alaina Huffman both totally won me over with their panels. I was a fan before the weekend, but I left as a much bigger fan of both. Alaina was charming and entertaining. Mark was so interesting to listen too- the man has a definitely point of view and he had a few quotes that stuck with me. I can't specifically remember what prompted these statements- but at one point he said "Always ask why. Reserve the right to say no." and "don't let other's squash your joy". That's just solid life advice. Plus, at one point he announced that he was an atheist and as a fellow atheist it was really cool to see everyone just accept that. This is one hell of an accepting family.
Mark Sheppard was more sassy then I imaged he would be and he spent the entire panel wandering through the audience, alternating between throwing snark at people and absolutely melting into a puddle of mush whenever he encountered a baby.
Jim Beaver was also really entertaining and he spoke a lot about the show, but also his writing, which was really interesting. A few answers he gave out totally stuck with me. One, that when Sheriff Shelby (on Justified) said "Balls" it was a little bit of Bobby coming out and two, when asked if he took a souvenir from the show he responded with "What I got from the show had nothing to do with stuff." Which I thought was a great answer.
Jason Manns came out for a panel and not only answered questions, but sang a few songs. I lucked out in that the ones he sang are two of my favorites. First he sang Stand by Me and then he sang Hallelujah with Rob Benedict. He is such and amazing singer and it was really cool to see him live.
Rich, Rob and Matt had a really funny panel as well and it made me miss Kings of Con like crazy (I repeat: Go watch it) and there were some great sound bites from this panel as well. When asked how Chuck would return, Rob said "Sam or Dean would pray and I walk around the corner, eating a bowl of cereal... in my boxers." (I approve that choice) and when asked what song would describe each of them we got this tidbit: Rich "Dirty White Boy", Matt "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" and Rob "Short People".
Misha's panel was a roller coaster as he talked about a myriad of topics while also letting us know that he was very distracted by politics that day as the inauguration had just occurred and Women's marches were going on at the same time as his panels and ops. Of course he also somehow magically willed his phone to ring at the exact moment he was trying to make a point about unplugging for awhile, which resulted in an adorable phone call on speaker phone with his Mother-in-Law who seemed absolutely delightful!
Jared and Jensen's panel was really amazing. It is completely clear that these people really do love each other and their banter made it feel like we were all just part of the family. A few moments really stood out- After running up to the stage Jared was a sweaty mess and they asked for a towel. Norton threw a towel over from behind his drums and Jared joked that it smelled like cheese head (since Norton was in his Packer's gear). Jensen immediately devolved into a fit of giggles, because like any good 12 year old, hearing someone say "it smells like cheese-head" is funny. Jensen told a story about his stunt driver putting Baby in a ditch and nobody but Jensen can drive baby now. When asked what their professional wrestling names would be they eventually settled on "The Flying Squirrel and Moose the Noose" which is perfect, although Jared's first suggestion of "The Nude Moose" is pretty stellar as well.
I live tweeted the whole weekend and while I'm sure I am missing stuff in this very brief recap, you can find more stuff (that was written while it was happening) and pictures from the panels on my feed.
I love karaoke and even though I didn't get to sing (it's a random draw- maybe next time!) it was still a blast singing along with everyone whose name was called. There were a few highlights- Matt Cohen's strongman costume launched a thousand tweets and a brand new hashtag (#mattsmooseknuckle) and I appreciated the hell out of the fact that he owned it all weekend. The best song of the night was easily Baby Got Back which resulted in my discovering the joy that is Hayden Lee. He came to the con with Jason Mann's and even though it wasn't technically his song to sing, he threw down with both lyrics and some sweet moves. It was amazing. (Go check Hayden out- buy his music)
The Saturday Night Special was an amazing concert. I'm a newer convert to Louden Swain and up until this point I honestly wasn't sure that it was really my cup of tea. You know how sometimes you love a band and then you see them live and you're just "meh"? And then sometimes you stumble across a band live and they blow you away? Louden Swain is that second type. I liked their music ahead of time, but it wasn't on permanent rotation on my Spotify. Seeing them live was a total game changer. they are phenomenal live. I walked away completely hooked on both She Waits and Medicated, and I now listen to their new CD almost every day now. (go buy it!). On top of just the fun of the concert, it was also a fundraiser for Random Acts and their Nicaragua project to build schools. Between the people streaming online and the donation in the room, we raised $70,000+, which speaks volumes about the good that this cast does which has extended to the whole SPNFamily. When someone needs something- we show up.
Rich and Rob:
This was one of my pre-purchased pictures and it didn't disappoint. The picture came out perfect, but the interaction before hand was really the best.
Me: "Hey, I want to do a dance pose. Three man tango? Although I'm not sure how that will work" (Rich throws his arms out and Rob spins me around.)
Rob: "You tango with Rich and I'll ride up on you from back here."
^^ Yes. That exact sentence. Not something you normally hear the first time you meet someone, but absolutely perfect. Which is why I'm laughing in the picture. Which is why it came out so good. This is day one. My first op. Any nervousness I had is gone because these people immediately make you feel welcome. I instantly get why people say that it's a family. (because you don't say that shit to strangers).
First let me say that I've been a huge fan of his for what seems like forever. I have three shows that I would call favorites. Deadwood. Justified. Supernatural. These are the shows that I can go back to over and over again and watch and not get sick of. Jim Beaver is on all three. He was Mr. Ellsworth on Deadwood, Shelby on Justified and then Bobby on Supernatural. He's phenomenal on all three. So when I saw he was coming to Jacksonville I was beyond excited.
This op cracked me up, it was a really quick one and there wasn't to much interaction- I said "Let's dance". We did and I was out the door. Only when I got the photo did I realize that he was making a squinty face of confusion. Which I think works perfectly. Like "Who is this overly excited person? She wants to dance? Oh hell, why not?" It's amazing.
This op was super quick. I walked in and said "We get to dance this time!" He threw his arms out and this was the result. I have no idea where I am looking, but it's still super adorable.
It also further cements my claim that I went to JaxCon because of Supernatural, but I left with all new favorites!
Richard Speight Jr.:
Here's another pic that isn't amazing, but the story is great. We were supposed to gaze into each other's eyes, then he stepped on my toe, I almost fell and he caught my hand to hold me up. We joked that a better picture would have just been me falling over completely and then I was on my may.
Matt is the goofiest person I took an picture with. I walked in and he immediately was telling how much he liked my hair. I asked him to dip me and he grabbed my waist, said "I got you" and then we cheesed it up for the camera.
On a side note, this man has muscles that I didn't know existed. Good for him.
This was another op purchased at the Con. After his panel I couldn't not get a picture with him. He was hysterical and I wasn't the only one who thought so- everyone in line with me to buy tickets were getting Gabe ops based completely on his panel.
I told him I was doing dance style pictures and he's the only one that didn't immediately go for the partner pic. Instead he rocked a pretty impressive robot which resulted in a pretty amazing picture.
One of the things that I really liked about this convention was that you walk in with an idea of what you would like to do and what your schedule will be, but then you get there and discover new people you want to op with and you still have the ability to just go with it and you end up with great pictures and great memories.
After the Saturday Night Special and getting autographs I knew I needed one. It was Packer Sunday too (we won't talk about the game here though- it's too soon), so when I saw that Norton was in his jersey I was pretty happy that I had my shirt with on too. Every Packer fan knows that you always were your gear on Sundays- the fact that it resulted in a cool photo was just icing on the cake.
The actual op interaction was a pretty perfect way to end my pictures as well. I walked up and Rob pointed to my shirt and yelled to Norton that he had to be in the middle next to me. We took the picture and I turned to say thanks to Rob for making the whole weekend absolutely amazing and he pulled me into a big hug (too bad I didn't get a picture of that too!) then I turned to Norton and we did a total bro hug and said "Go Pack Go" (because that's what you do) and Billy Moran decided that he should chime in with "Sorry for your loss" since we were losing. Both Norton and I basically yelled in unison "It's only half time! Give Rodgers time! He said relax. Don't count them out!" It was like some weird Packers script that we were reciting from and everyone got a pretty big laugh out of that!
This op was initially a big let down for me. Of the main characters Cas is my favorite and I am also just a huge fan of Misha as a person. His Random Act's Charity has supported and funded my 8th Grade leadership group at school this year and I was most excited to meet him at JaxCon. Our op was not awesome.
The person in front of me gave him a chocolate covered gummy to eat for their op (which was adorable by the way!), but he was also chewing gum. So when I walked up and asked for my pose he literally was like "I'd love to, but my mouth tastes gross" and then just made a face. So I said "So what you're saying is you need to go spit your gum out?" and then he ran off to do that while the handler and I talked for a minute. When he came back he said "What did you want again?" and when I repeated the request he sighed and said "I guess we're dancing" The picture totally reflects that awkward encounter. He looks like he's going to barf, I look like I'm looking for the nearest escape route.
That said- stick around for the autograph story, because it more then makes up for this photo debacle.
Let me start by saying that I thought I was prepared for how tall he is. I'm 5'10" and wear heels all the time. My husband is 6'3", so I'm used to hanging around taller people. Jared is supposedly 6'4", but I think that might be a lie, he literally towered over me. it was insane.
As for the actual op- it completely reinforced everything I thought I knew about Jared. He is so incredibly warm and instantly made me feel welcome. I asked if we could hold hands and stare at each other and he said "Defintiely" and laughed. I laughed and said "Like we're in love" jokingly and he said "totally!" and then I had to crane my neck all the way back just to look in his eyes which was a strange thing for me. After he gave me a huge hug (everyone is right- he gives great hugs) and said "I got nothing but love you girl" before I headed out.
One thing I do wish I had done is point out my Always Keep Fighting tattoo. Last fall when shit was getting real #AKF and the SPNFamily really helped pull me through and I got a tattoo to kind of remind me that I can continue to get through it. I wish I had taken a quick second to show him.
So I've always been a Sam girl. I grew to really love Castiel. As for Dean, I love the character and his sense of humor, but when asked, I never would have said that I was a Dean girl. I can appreciate that Jensen Ackles is a really good looking man, but I was not prepared for how attractive he is in real life.
The man looked absolutely exhausted (new born twins will do that to you) but he still smiled and greeted every single person who walked up. when I walked up I asked him if he would dip me and for purely selfish reasons of wanting to show off my other tattoos I put myself on his left side. Where Matt was all high energy and cheesing it up for the camera when we dipped, Jensen was all eye contact and as it turns out, when faced with that kind of stare coming out of a face that looks like that, I basically blacked out. I had no idea what my face did until I saw the pictures. I have no idea what was said or what we did to get into the pose or out of it. I have a vague memory of patting him on the shoulder after and saying "Thanks so much!" but that might not have happened. I have no idea. Apparently his beauty made me stupid for a few minutes, but I got a great picture out of the deal!
For me autographs are kind of a weird thing. I don't place a whole lot of value on them. As far as I'm concerned, pictures are where it's at and that's where I'm making my memories. However, for autographs I had a plan. Like I mentioned earlier, my leadership team is working with Random Acts this year on several projects and we have a yearlong initiative on kindness. I work in a hard, inner city school. We are failing (grades wise) and just recently got off the persistently dangerous list. There is a pretty decent chance that we will get closed down at the end of the year and re-open with new administration and 50% of our staff will have to leave. A lot of my kids come with more baggage then any kid should. Still, they all bought into our Month of Kindness and it was a huge success. On top of that, I also have a lot of kids who are just huge Supernatural fans. So instead of getting autographs for me- I got them for my kids. I brought the collage from our Month of Kindness that showed every kids who participated with what they did that was kind and I had all the actors autograph that. I LOVED sliding that poster across the table and explaining it to the actors. They were all great about signing it and taking a minute to acknowledge that Supernatural and their good works were helping students in my school.
By far though, the highlight was Misha's reaction. He looked pretty tired and his line was moving at a pretty good clip, so when his handler slid the picture to him I said "I'm going to give you a 10 second summery of this picture" and literally spit out as much info as I could, telling him that these are good kids who deal with a lot and that Random Acts supported us and it was a huge deal. He stopped and pulled the picture closer and said "Stop. I need to know more about this. I can't believe I haven't heard this story! Tell me more." So I slowed down and for a few minutes I bragged on my kids. He pointed to specific kids and I told him some stories about how excited these kids were. Kids who normally are getting in trouble were running into the library and telling me about how they did something good. How the Month of Kindness not only spread good deeds, but also let kids be proud of themselves. I told him that I can't fix our grades in a year, and I can't stop our school from closing, but he and Random Acts really were helping us do what we can to make it a little better. He was genuinely interested in my kids and our program and I walked away knowing that no matter how off my photo op had been, this was the Misha that I really admired. The one who does great things to try an make the world better, the one who cared enough to stop me and slow me down so he could learn more about my kids. It really was an absolute highlight of the weekend and after seeing how stoked my kids were when I hung that poster up and told them about getting the actors to sign, I am so glad that I made that choice to get autographs for them instead of me.
On a more selfish note, my Louden Swain autograph was a personal highlight. I was on Saturday and I was snagging a quick, unplanned autograph in the merch room. When I walked up to he table Rob asked how our picture came out and it took me a solid few seconds to realize that he was asking about the Three Man Tango with rich from the day before. Why would he even remember that? With all the other stuff happening and that he is in charge of it really struck me that he not only remembered, but cared enough to ask. It had been 24 hours. He didn't need to ask me anything. He could have just signed my shirt and I would have moved on, but he did ask and it meant more then I expected.
And here's the thing, and it's reference in the title of this post. I was there as a fan. That's why we all were there. Spending more money then we probably should to meet actors from a TV show. For me I traveled from NY alone to spend 3 days nerding out with fellow fans. While I was there though, I didn't feel like a fan. I felt like I was coming home a bit. I felt like I was with a huge extended family that I didn't know I was missing out on until we were all the sudden together. I was worried because I didn't know how my anxiety might fare in a situation like that where I didn't have my normal anchors around me, but it was never even a concern. I immediately felt welcome and at ease. I made friends with the people I sat with, people I met in line for ops and even the volunteers who I saw all weekend. On Sunday I hugged more people then I would have anticipated and due to the magic of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, we are all keeping in touch and talking about the next Cons we plan on going to. Prior to the Con I would see the #SPNFamily tag used, but it didn't mean much to me on a personal level. Now when I see it, or when I use it, it really means something. While you are at the convention and even after you leave, you really get the sense that you are 100% part of the family and that it actually means something.
It was an absolutely amazing weekend and I'm so glad I chose to go and I can't wait to go to another one!