This has been what I call “bizarro con.” That’s not a bad thing. All throughout, I couldn’t avoid comparing this con to the Chicago one from last November. The differences between the two are night and day. Turns out Chicago is the night, and Cherry Hill is the day. I’m so incredibly behind on reports and panel recaps because I spent all my free time socializing, dealing with a full schedule of events, and having a great time. Go figure.   
 
I had plenty of free time in Chicago. When I wasn’t waiting somewhere for fans to go through autograph lines and photo ops, I would get an uncomfortable sentence or two from attendees I didn’t know and then we’d all go about our business. Unless there was screenname recognition, I wasn’t worth the trouble. Considering I publish under my real name and not a screenname, I got plenty of brush offs. My business there ended writing up con summaries alone in the lobby and ballroom. Not to say that I didn’t meet some nice people in Chicago, but the larger crowd (twice the size easy) actually worked against the intimacy and willingness to open up to others.
 
Here in Cherry Hill, every one was outgoing, friendly, thrilled to be there considering this is the first time a Supernatural con has been held in this part of the country, and most conversations I got into were long, detailed, and either incredibly amusing or fascinating. I met the most wonderful people this weekend, and it rejuvenated my love for this fandom. We were one big happy family, and a laid back one at that. I think all the guests picked up on the vibe too, for each one of them were wonderful.   
 
So anyway, day two, or what I call “sleeping in day,” started off normally. The first event wasn’t scheduled until noon, and the first panelist wasn’t scheduled until 12:10, so even when I finally emerged from the hotel room looking like a Supernatural freak of the week reject at 10:30, there wasn’t a badge wearing Supernatural con attendee to be found. There was a lobby full of college students for another convention going on, and I could see the jealously in their eyes. Where was their “sleep in day”? 
 
After a strange bit of motivation where I managed to get in a workout (two thumbs up for the fitness center at the Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill BTW) it was time to finally register and get my free gift. I got a small black bag with a patch on it that said “Dean,” and it was just large enough to hold a poster. Then they gave me said poster, Jensen in the form of season two Dean Winchester. For what I paid for this con, a signed poster would have been more impressive, but I can’t complain, for it still brought the pretty. 
 
The laid back crowd were treated to a fan video kick off, and there was one common thread in the videos shown all weekend. Most of them featured season one and season two. There’s a little season three, and none from season four. I don’t think it took a rocket scientist to figure out these videos were from a while ago. Too bad, because I have some great current ones to recommend. 
 
Recapping panels is a long arduous process, and one I’m willing to do with glee, when there’s time. Since there hasn’t been time, I’ll post each one as soon as they’re ready. I can summarize though, and up first was Richard Speight Jr. (The Trickster). Just like the first time I saw him in Chicago, he was loose, had tons of fun and put on a very entertaining panel. 
 
He started off by mentioning the karaoke the previous night (congratulating all the singers on a “bang up job”, and then got a show of hands as to how many were at a convention for the first time. I was rather surprised to find a large show of hands. I guess an East Coast con was long overdue after all. I hope they keep doing one (next year’s has already been announced) and hopefully Jared and/or Jensen can make it. This crowd is so deserving after their fantastic behavior this weekend.   
 
Before I go on, I’m going to get this out of the way now. One girl has this entire weekend chosen to ask EVERY single panelist the same lame question. â€œIf you could give up cheese or chocolate for a year, which would it be and why?” I’m going to pretend that the question never happened (lalala, not listening!), except in Jim Beaver’s panel (which I’ll mention in Day three coverage). If his answer didn’t shut her up, nothing did. 
 
Okay, back to Richard. He talked in detail about Jerichobeing cancelled and then brought back (really great story), answered a ton of questions about “Mystery Spot” and “Tall Tales,” and took on several hypotheticals, which seemed to be especially popular at this con. The funny came after he admitted early that he hasn’t watched the show except for his episodes. Someone asked what sort of situation as the Trickster he’d put Dean in, since we saw what he would do to Sam in “Mystery Spot.” When he thought he was being clever by answering a situation involving his Mommy or Daddy Winchester, someone shouted out that’s been done already. Richard played it up well, but he clearly had egg on his face. 
 
Gabriel Tigerman came up next (after some unnecessary trivia filler), and he was a lot more relaxed and in a better mood than when I saw him in Chicago. He tackled a lot of these strange hypotheticals well, but my favorite part was when he lamented over the still unknown fate of Andy’s van, objects and all. He’s the only panelist I asked a question to, and I did mention to him that the velvet tiger painting from his van ended up on the wall in “Lazarus Rising.” He was floored by that information, and we treated it as a shout-out to Andy. I also asked him what it was like to drive the Impala, and he said he got to drive it about 20 feet at 2 mph, so it wasn’t all that amazing. 
 
After more “filler,” which I ignored by talking with more people, the last panelist, Traci Dinwiddie, who plays psychic Pamela Barnes, took the stage. This was her first con, and she came sick. She was still all smiles though and the fans were as delighted to have her as she was to be there. 
 
Traci got the grand prize for answer of the day. One of the first questions asked (maybe the first) was what was it like to grab Sam’s butt. â€œThat thing is bulletproof.” Needless to say, the entire auditorium erupted in cheers. That’s the way to win over a crowd full of hormonal women. 
 
Traci talked about Pamela’s flirtatious ways, and gave great detail on what it was like to film the scene where her eyes went up in flames. She wasn’t spared the hypotheticals either, and was forced to babble about what Pamela thought about either coming across an angel or becoming on. 
 
After Traci was done, it was time to wait for the autographs. I was in the last row of Gold Ticket, however, there were 7 rows of Gold ticket holders at this con where there were 12 or 13 rows of Gold in Chicago. It took hours before my turn came in line there. This time, I waited about 45 minutes. I definitely love smaller cons. 
 
I had Richard and Gabe sign my copy of “In The Hunt: The Unauthorized Essays of Supernatural” since their characters got mention, especially the Trickster. Richard was tickled when I told him The Trickster got his own essay. I had Traci sign the inside cover of critics season four promotional package I received, the one with a preview of “Lazarus Rising” and “Are You There God It’s Me Dean Winchester.” My cunning plan was to have her and Misha both sign it, since their characters were both introduced in the “Lazarus Rising” and Misha was in both episodes. More on that in the day three report. 
 
After risking life and limb to navigate a parking lot to get to a mere restaurant (New Jersey really hates both left turns and traffic patterns that promote vehicle safety), we came back to arrive to the evening Cocktail and Dessert party a few minutes late. Every table was taken, and there were about 12 of us standing around unable to move, dodging dessert goers with plates. They told us they were fetching a table and had to put the table on the only available spot, the dance floor. We were wondering how they miscounted the number of guests. Eventually the table arrived, but then we had to wait even longer for chairs.   
 
It wasn’t all bad though, for two of the latecomers were, Lynn and Kathy, two college professors that are researching a book on Supernatural and its fans. They also write for Supernatural magazine, and have been conducting interviews of the entire staff (including actors) and fans of Supernatural, flying out multiple times to both Vancouver and LA. They also attend all the cons. They shared with us their experiences visiting the set on Supernatural and talking with the staff there as well as Jared and Jensen after a late day of shooting. I won’t share too much since their stories will be making it to the magazine and the book, but they were there a week after Kim Manners died and everyone was devastated. I had nothing but questions for them, and they humored every single one of them. It was an awe inspiring experience hearing all they’ve uncovered since stumbling onto this show midway season two. This fandom has something about it no other show or movie has, and these two are doing their best to understand it. I can’t wait to see what they’ve discovered. 
 
Richard, Gabe, and Traci made their rounds, each being timed two minutes per table (yes, I think even they found the concept ridiculous), and poor Traci still felt really sick (her handler was carrying a box of Kleenexes). All were so wonderful to chat with, even in the short time frame, for they looked really pleased to be there. Once they did their visits, the crowd broke up. Since it was daylight savings time and the Sunday breakfast was moved to 8:30 am, it was time to call it a night. 
 
Day three kicks up the excitement level about ten notches, for Jim Beaver, Todd Stashwick, Charles Malik Whitfield, and Misha Collins all blessed us with their greatness. I’ll have the full report tomorrow evening, after I’ve taken another scenic drive through Pennsylvania and Ohio.   
 
Day One
 
This is normally the part where your crack on the job blogger gets to spill all the wonderful details about day one at "Salute To Supernatural" in Cherry Hill, NJ and it's amazing events. Except I wasn't here for most of it. I was on the PA turnpike instead. I had resolved to take my time, plus I had to do a quick alcohol run in Delaware for cheap and tax free spirits. I totally endorse Total Beer and Wine in Claymont, DE by the way. It's the holy grail of wine and beer stores for it's the size of a freaking mega mart. 

Anyway, I wasn't in a rush, since the only two guests scheduled for Friday were Chad Lindberg and Jason Manns, two guys that I saw in Chicago.  When I arrived at the hotel around 8:00 pm, I instantly met up with fandom friends at the bar, and the reunion was thrilling. It's great how you connect just as well in person as online. I had my drink in no time, and unlike the really crappy lounge at the Wyndham O'Hare at the Chicago con in November, these bartenders actually knew what went into a purple nurple (coconut rum, blue caraco, cranberry juice and triple sec, not the Chicago version of vodka and cranberry juice). That drink of course came up because Richard Speight Jr. (The Trickster) was a few seats away, chatting with fans and trying to eat. 
 
Actually, I have nothing but praise so far for the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill (once I found it. New Jersey traffic patterns are quite bizarre). It's a much nicer hotel than the afore mentioned Wyndham O'Hare, with a much larger and cozier lobby, nicer ballroom and eating establishments that serve good food without requiring you to take out a second mortgage. They also offer free parking and free wireless internet (concepts lost on the hotel in Chicago), so they won me over quickly. 
 
I was having so much fun drinking in the bar, enjoying their margarita special, the pleasant atmosphere, and catching up with friends, that I completely missed the Jason Manns concert. According to the people that I rode up with in the elevator after the concert let out, "it was good." I held them to that quote.  
 
I didn't totally miss out though, for I got to experience all the action at the karaoke party after the concert. The organizers setup the karaoke in a separate meeting room, which was nice for an intimate fan experience, but bad because there was no bar or beverage service. No drinks and bad singing make Alice go something, something (Simpsons reference for those scratching their heads. The eventual answer is, CRAZY). Most in our group eventually went to the bar across the lobby and brought their drinks back. I went the cheaper route, and went up to my room and poured some wine that I picked up on that quick detour to Delaware. 
 
Once alcohol was involved, the evening picked up. Chad, Jason, and Richard were in the room and chatted with fans the entire time. They were a blast to hang out with and very gracious with the fans. They were all in a great mood and happy to be there, giving me the impression anyway that mingling among the fans was the huge perk of their trip. Getting to know them like this was way better than sitting in a mass audience and hearing a panel. 
 
I had the most fun with Richard, who was kind enough to offer a formal introduction before I talked with him. Right after he said "pleased to meet you," I told him I met him in Chicago, so he played along with that. My good friend Lindsay has a great picture capturing that reaction, so I'll have to get that from her and share it later (3/10 ETA, it's now below.  Thanks Linds!). As a matter of fact plenty of fans had stories to share about Richard, so he got around. 
 
Richard
 
Yep, the cat's out of the bag.  I'm a redhead.  This is the fan experience I missed out on in Chicago, and that becomes the advantage of this Cherry Hill con despite the absence of both Jensen and Jared. This is a much smaller con, so the smaller crowds make the setting more personal and more enjoyable for everyone. In Chicago, the special guests were a little more intimidated and were kept on a tighter leash by the handlers. Of course judging by the behavior of many fans in Chicago, I didn't blame them.         
 
Karaoke fizzed out before long, so we ended up in the bar until they kicked us out well after last call. The bartenders joked around with us even though it was clear it was time for them to close up and go home. Yep, it's official, I love this hotel. In Chicago, getting served drinks in general was an ordeal.   
 
Afterward we went back to the room to play the clips for "Death Takes A Holiday" that I had received a few hours before from Warner Brothers. Just this simple act reminded me why these cons are so memorable. It's so much more exciting to watch these clips with a group that shares the same love and seeing their reactions rather than me squealing with glee in front of the cat and dog at home. 
 
There's plenty to report on Day two, so I better get cracking. More coming tomorrow. 
In my recent interview with Sera Gamble, I asked her an off the wall question that transpired because of an intense discussion over "Mystery Spot" on this website. I asked whether she believed Jeremy Carver implied multiple meanings in his use of "Pig in a Poke" in season three's "Mystery Spot" (trust me, theories over that were pretty wild). I still haven't had the opportunity to verify this with Jeremy Carver (which is why I didn't publish this question and answer initially), but her response is golden.  
 
I certainly wouldn't put it past him, in theory.  But in practice?   Bet you a hundred bucks he picked the food because the name is funny, and people are reading way too much into it.   Whoever came up with that should consider applying their gifts to pursuing a graduate degree in Comparative Literature.
 
So why do I bring up this amusing anecdote? It ties in perfectly to the latest book available this week from BenBella books.  "In The Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural" is the latest installment of their Smart Pop series, and this time Supernatural has earned its shot at worthy deconstruction. A lot of thought and possibly over-thought is put into these pieces. The book manages to pull together 22 essays from a wide spectrum of writers, plus a foreword from author Keith R. A. DeCandido and an introduction from Supernatural.tv. I was sent a review copy last week and have spent plenty of mind blowing time analyzing each one of these well written and brain twisting collections. 

#1 Manic Depressive Teddy Bear - "Wishful Thinking"

You just don't get more absurd that this. 

This show has prided itself on attacking every sacred institution imaginable. It's ruined Christmas, Birthday parties, fairy tales, parenthood, mellon ballers, so why not teddy bears? What do you visualize when the impossible happens and your teddy bear comes to life? In the twisted world of Ben Edlund (who ends up with three entries on this top ten), Teddy becomes a bipolar nut job. A "girl drink drunk" who shares the same affinity for Busty Asian Beauties as Dean.

If you look past the life sized manically depressed bear (which is awfully hard to do), this is the scene where Jared and Jensen reach new heights of comedic genius. How they end up with the new roles of "teddy bear doctors" and react to the sight of Bigfoot is classic and tops every expression they've had in the entire series. It just doesn't end with them staring with befuddlement at the giant stuffed animal, who watches tragedy on the news and proclaims "Tea parties? Is that all there is?" Sam and Dean have an actual side discussion about how they should waste the bear, which proves to be even more absurd. Then Sam pulls it all together. "Besides, I get the feeling the bear isn't really the core problem here." You think?   Sorry, but I'm laughing hysterically just typing that line. 

#2 - Alien Slow Dance - "Tall Tales" 

There are two scenes in the history of Supernatural (and network television actually) that made me laugh so hard I thought I was going to go to the emergency room because I was convinced I ruptured a hernia.  Those two scenes are the top two of this list.

The first came during our multiple week marathon of watching seasons one and two for the first time on DVD. Sure, "Tall Tales" up to this point was very amusing. I absolutely loved the "blah, blah, blah" when both brothers shared their differing interpretations of their night in the bar. I laughed over the comment on Darwinism and the constant brotherly bickering.  I even found alien abduction funny. But none of that prepared me for this supposedly simple interrogation scene. 

#3 - Eye of The Tiger "“ "Yellow Fever"

Let's face it. If I allowed multiple scenes from the same episode to make the list, "Yellow Fever" would be taking most of the top ten slots. This was a gem filled episode, with one riotous bit after another in rapid succession. I was surprised I didn't collapse from a heart attack after this one. Luckily, the dark ending saved me.  

I mean, how could I choose? Do I go with the vicious hellhound chasing Dean disguised as a tiny yorkie, complete with adorable head accessory? Or do I choose the squeamish autopsy with removed heart and squirting spleen juice?  What about Dean driving like an old man, refusing to make the left turn?  Dean's side-splitting fit of anxiety during the conversation with the dead guy's neighbor, the reptile collector?  The taunting book and clock?  Dean volunteering for flashlight duty and screaming like a girl over a kitten, then running like the cowardly lion?  Dean drunk in the sheriff's office, complete with Sam's hysterical denial and Dean slurring to the deputy "you're awesome"?  Dean freaking out over him and Sam being fake FBI agents?  Oh, and I can't forget Dean's priceless resignation from his job as hunter with full diva rant.

#4  Sam's Shoe Ordeal,  "Bad Day At Black Rock"

It would be impossible to do a list like this without including something from "Bad Day At Black Rock." After all, I've never seen a better screwball comedy from any comedy show, let alone a paranormal drama. In pouring through the scenes there were several great ones, but when doing a "best of" list I'm forced to go with something iconic. While I love the brilliant choreography of the fight gone bad then good when Sam unwittingly grabs the rabbit's foot, Sam's fateful mishap with a smoking air conditioner and curtain rod, and Dean saving the day complete with Batman complex, none of those scenes made my ultimate selection for this list. 

 

#5 - The Impala "Upgrade" - "Lazarus Rising"

I usually find I'm more stricken by humorous moments when they come from nowhere in the middle of intense episodes.  "Lazarus Rising" up to this point was pretty damned intense.  Actually, what happened after this bit was as well.  This scene wasn't something we were expecting when Dean is finally reunited with his baby after his long time in Hell.  Sam throws him the keys, his eyes widen, and he's all smiles as he approaches his beloved Impala.  "Hey sweetheart, you miss me?"  He gets in to the trademark creak of the door opening and rubs his hand along the steering wheel.  Everything about him is pure joy. 
#6 - Dean's Death Montage "“ "Mystery Spot"
 
This is a prime example of why Supernatural is so great. Death can be funny. The genius behind this show tapped into comedic gold just by killing off one of the two leads again, and again, and again. They just had to do so with all sorts of cartoonish ways. Then, they even figured out how to make the psychological torture that Sam goes through hilarious as well. 
 
The underlying concept is simple.  Dean dies, and Sam wakes up, and it's Tuesday all over again. Oh, but Sam just doesn't wake up. He wakes up to Asia. Heat Of The Moment. With Dean saying "Rise and Shine Sammy" before taunting his brother by turning up the music and lipsynching the words. And we thought Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe in the Groundhog Day movie was disturbingly funny. That had nothing on the Winchester boys.