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(All Photos by Alice Jester unless otherwise noted)

Salute to Supernatural in New Jersey always holds a special place in my heart.  I went to the very first con back in 2009, which was only my second ever.  At the time, it was a very small event.  Jared was scheduled as a guest but cancelled.  That didn't bother me though, because I was there to meet an actor that had been thrilling me for months on "Supernatural" and was attending his very first con.  That guy was Misha Collins.  Jim Beaver was coming too, as well as others, so it was all good.  

Back then, the con had only 400 attendees.  I had a Gold Ticket, and the Gold members breakfast was a fancy spread of a full breakfast buffet of both hot and cold items.  The dessert party the night before was a loaded table of one amazing dessert after another, and a drink allowance of two free drinks.  There were only 50 of us at Karaoke on Friday, and I have pictures of me partying in that intimate setting with Richard Speight Jr. and Chad Lindberg along with a few fans.  At the time guests weren't scheduled to attend.  Richard and Chad came because they wanted to.  To this day, that is one of my all time personal favorite cons (trust me, I've been to several).  

Flash forward to 2013.  The con was in a much larger hotel, there were three to four times the number of attendees, Karaoke was in a very packed large ballroom with all the guests from Friday and several scheduled for Saturday on stage singing and mingling with the crowd, with Richard and Matt Cohen as the official emcees of the event, the dessert party was now a cocktail party with cash bar only (no food at all), and the gold member's breakfast was now a box lunch and private half hour panel.  Oh, and my ticket price for Gold was $200 more.  Yeah, I did reminisce a lot that weekend about the good old days.  

But hey, that all makes it sound like I thought the con sucked.  No, it didn't.  Not by a longshot.  Considering the massive size, and the fact that this was the very first time that Jensen Ackles came to New Jersey con, to an outside observer it looked like things went very well.  But I don't go to cons to critique Creation Entertainment or mingle in private settings with some of the guests (although I did get to do that on Monday morning this time).  I go to meet other fans and for one weekend enjoy time with people of my kind, sharing the love for this amazing show that has impact my life in earth shattering ways.  It is my equivalent of a religious retreat, and I always come back feeling enlightened and rather good.  

I apologize for the delay of this report.  Usually I get these out pretty quickly, but this con inconveniently came the weekend before all the pilot decisions, renewals and cancellations by the networks (something I was closely covering for TV For The Rest of Us), and the final episodes of the season were airing for "Supernatural."  Not only was there no time to write this, but there was no good time to publish this report as well!  It's an insane time to hold and attend a con, even if I had a blast.   

Friday

Let me tell you about my Friday.  It sucked.  Oh no, the con was great.  Or at least I heard it was great.  I was supposed to be there, enjoying Chad Lindberg, DJ Qualls, and the first ever con for Osric Chau, who I got to meet and spend some time with at Comic Con in July.  However, I had to go to work, so I could be let go from my job.  That's the cruelty of IT contract work, especially for a mega corp that sees you as a nagging expense in their expense management system more than an asset to a project.  So, I went to work, got downsized, turned in all my stuff and luckily left before noon.  Now I just had to make the 8 hour drive to New Jersey.  I got there just in time for Karaoke.  

People who were at the con that day said that Osric did an amazing job in his first panel.  Here's a few clips from people who were there!  The third clip commands an explanation.  Back at Las Vegas con, for the first time a celebrity guest was the emcee.  That person was Richard Speight Jr.  There wasn't an emcee scheduled for New Jersey con, but at last minute (literally last minute), Richard was asked by Adam and Gary at Creation to host.  So he stepped in and hosted the entire weekend!  Needless to say, unlike Las Vegas he didn't get to do a lot of mapping out and planning, but if anyone is quick on the fly (not like that!) it's Richard.  He did a great job on Friday as you can tell with his talk with Osric, and all weekend.  

http://youtu.be/FdWqHpfHOZ4

http://youtu.be/QnEP4qRQwk4

http://youtu.be/BkG4hTJFX3A


I vow I won't miss Osric at the next con.  I've seen Chad Lindberg and DJ Qualls before,  however, in DJ's case, this is the first joint appearance with Mr. Fizzles, that I've seen anyway.  Aww, that little girl is adorable. 

http://youtu.be/vXajCQjppUc


As for karaoke, coming into that ballroom was quite a spectacle. It was crazy crowded, probably very close to 800 people (that's not a validated number).  Richard and Matt had really gone to town on the Karaoke theme this time.  It's Class of 2013 at Truman High, and Richard was wearing the actual gym teacher outfit that Jensen wore in "After School Special."  Jensen confirmed on Sunday during his panel that it is the actual one of a kind outfit.  They dug it out of the wardrobe department for him.  Matt, that was even more nuts.  He was the cheerleader.  The female cheerleader.  The skirt, bows in the hair, everything.    

I did get a chance at Karaoke to share one semi-amusing anecdote with Chad Lindberg who was passing by.  I apologized for not making his panel, but I did get to have lunch in a town called Ashland (Ohio).  He laughed.  I also tried all evening to say a quick hello to Osric, but it wasn't meant to be.  Osric was turning out to be the life of the party.  He was doing all sorts of crazy moves on stage that got the crowd cheering and every time he tried to leave the stage he was swarmed by fans that wanted to say hello or get a picture.  It was his well deserved rock star moment.  

@winfambusiness - @OsricChau is doing his wild boxing moves on the Karaoke stage while we sing Eye of The Tiger...for the second time. #njcon

Here's some video of the crowd I took singing one of the many crowd pleasers that is a must at each Karaoke, Journey's anthem, "Don't Stop Believing."  

http://youtu.be/nTTdPYCOFPs


Anyway, somewhere around 11:00 pm I hit my wall, and that was it for my Friday.  I had to be up bright and early on Saturday for the full lineup for that day, so I left the madness that was still going on at Karaoke behind.  

Saturday

Before I get started with all the panel info, I wanted to mention thanks to Jackie, aka @Stimtastic Aspie, who offered up her Gold Ticket for me to buy when her husband couldn't go.  We had such a blast all weekend and it was an honor to get to know her.  Plus, I turned her onto Victory Golden Monkey, which was flowing on tap in the bar all weekend.  If I wasn't in the ballroom, I was in that bar!  Best hotel bar out of any of the cons I've been to.  

The Ghostfacers!

The very first panel of the day was a reunion of a pair of old friends.  AJ Buckley and Travis Wester, a ka The Ghostfacers, got together for their first time in a while (I believe it was Chicago back in season five).  AJ's appearance was particularly alarming, considering he was sporting a mohawk and some very creative patterns on the side on his head.  He had just been filming late the prior day a film in New Orleans, and that's what the hairdo was all about.  I pretty much took that to be a sign that "CSI: NY" was getting cancelled (CBS did make that announcement a few days later).  

This panel was so much fun!  I think it is obligatory in the contracts that these guests sign that they have to tell a story about Jared, and especially related to his size.  AJ certainly had somethings to say about his encounter with the ginormous one, and used his chair as an onstage prop to illustrate.  Despite the poking fun, both AJ and Travis had nothing but praise for Jared and Jensen and raved how much they were true professionals.  

Someone wondered what the ideal Ghostfacers weapon would be?  Also, would they keep it on a bungee cord.  Travis:  "The truth!  Take that bitch!  Put that on a bungee cord."  

What's the scariest moment they had on the set?  AJ remembered Jared picking him up and carrying him around.  What was a scary moment with Jensen?  AJ - "The look of fear in his eyes when Jared picked me up!  "˜He's not a kitten, put him down!'"

I got in line to ask a question, wearing proudly my Ghostfacers shirt that was a gift from the Ghostfacers webseries producer Patrick Doody, but the guys ended up answering it during one of their on stage talks before I could ask it!  They have an idea for a pitch for another Ghostfacers webseries, but they couldn't share.  They don't want to blow it, or ruin the surprise.  It seems that filming this project is actually very easy.  All they need to do is coordinate some schedules, and get a camcorder going.  I offered on Twitter to man camcorder, and all they needed to do was schedule the time and place.  Needless to say, my offer so far has gone unreplied.  :)  I took an informal poll while the panel was going on asking people who would watch a Ghostfacers webseries or like to see an appearance on Supernatural, and the replies I got were overwhelmingly positive.  So, I'm waiting patiently for the project to get kickstarted.  You guys can use my basement!  

@winfambusiness:  Ghostfacers for season nine!  Come on Jeremy Carver, make it happen!  #njcon

The last question was a crazy story when they were in England, and they ended walking in a dirty river.  AJ mentioned that "My pants were full of ooze."  Richard ended the panel there, mentioning that he's now officially disturbed for life after hearing that comment.  


James Patrick Stuart

                                                                                          (Photo by Fangasm)

James Patrick Stuart was next, and all I can remember is that I loved this guy in All My Children.  Then he put in the Dick Roman teeth, and suddenly I'm like, "Oh right, evil Leviathan dude."  His panel went well, but why don't I just share a few of the more interesting sound bites from him.  
  • James Patrick Stuart was on "Seinfeld."  He was one of Elaine's boyfriends, the guy who used to practically have seizures every time "Desperado" played.  I love that episode!  I didn't realize that was him.  That was hilarious, because Elaine was pushing for him to play "Witchy Woman" because she liked it better.  In typical Seinfeld fashion, James' character is gravely wounded in an accident, and his surgeon spaces out because "Witchy Woman" comes on the radio.  He dies.  
  • When he got the role of Will Cortlandt on "All My Children," a couple of James' acting friends were super envious.  He encouraged them, telling them their times would come.  Those friends, Mark Ruffalo and Benicio Del Toro.  Um, yeah, that ended up being some pretty sound encouragement, don't you think?  
  • In one of these nutty type questions that fans ask at cons because they're desperate, James pretty much had to choose between a Great White Shark or a Koala (sorry, the exact question was lost on me).  Behold, the awesome answer to a silly question; "Why not a great white Koala?  You wouldn't want that hanging out of your eucalyptus tree."
  • On what it was like to be inside of Misha Collins.  "I don't think even Misha can answer that question."
  • He loved the "Dick" jokes in season seven regarding his character, Dick Roman.  His favorite was "The Rise of Dick."  That one BTW is credited to Ben Edlund.  
  • On the final question, someone really go the room groaning.  They wanted to know what it was like for his character to be forever known as the guy that killed Bobby Singer.  He dealt with that question okay, but there's just no good answer for that.  It was in the script!  He's known other actors that have had to live down the stigma of killing a beloved character on TV or film.  

It should be noted, during the panel, a notice had come up about the Ghostfacers photo op.  I skipped it this time, because nothing can top the one I got in Chicago a few years ago:

Rick Worthy

Up next was Rick Worthy (I told you this was a busy day).  He was wearing his Star Wars shirt, which was required since it was May the 4th, a ka National Star Wars day.  Do you get it?  "May the 4th be with you."  Someone had quickly complimented his dance moves, which he was showing off with Osric Chau's wild antics on the Karaoke stage the night before.  Apparently, what happened at Karaoke wasn't staying there. 

Here's a few highlights from that panel:  
  • I loved Rick Worthy on The Vampire Diaries (great choice for Bonnie's Dad), and he had told me in the autograph line that he would be back next season.  He isn't sure what his role is, but he's hoping for it to be expanded a little.  He has ideas.  He was on stage during the panel promoting the "Keep the Bennett family alive," campaign.  Um, considering what we saw in the finale, he's down a core member.  
@winfambusiness:  @rickworthy's reaction to reading the part for the Alpha Vamp? "This is f***ing awesome." Crap, now I have "Thrift Shop" in my head.
  • Jared and Jensen set the tone on the set, no doubt about it.  It's much looser than other sets for sure.  He recalled showing up for "There Will Be Blood," and Jared's riding around on a mini bike while coming to greet him.  That just doesn't happen on other shows.  
  • On the Vampire Diaries set, the practical joker is actually Paul Wesley.  Who knew? 

In between the panels, and I was trying to type up some tweets and get some photos loaded, they were playing fan videos.  It was about then that I realized, the sound system at this con was extraordinarily better than any other con I'd been to.  It was pristine.  It was also too flipping loud.  By the time those fan videos were done, and when Richard, Matt, and Rob went on, my head was splitting.  My situation didn't improve the rest of the weekend.  So, there is such a thing as too good!  

Richard Speight Jr, Rob Benedict, and Matt Cohen

@winfambusiness  It's impossible to tweet about a @dicksp8jr, @mattcohen4real and @RobBenedict panel. It's always a "you had to be there" experience. #njcon

Yeah, I can't even begin to explain what happened at the Rob, Richard, and Matt panel.  It's just sheer madness, joking around, saying a lot of random shit, it's never, ever boring.  Plus, no panel is complete without the obligatory, "Heywood Jablowme" mention.  There were two highlights that stuck out for me though:  

The first is a popular Internet meme I guess, but I had first heard it here.  The question, "Would you fight a horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?"  It must have been the first time Richard and Rob heard it too, because they were dying.  Rob decided 100 duck sized horses.  "Because that would be so damned cute."  


After a panel of goofing around, when time is low they jump into rapid question and answer to make sure everyone gets their questions asked.  My favorite out of this rapid round this time was, "What Disney movie would Sam and Dean be in and who would be the princess?"  The answer, Beauty and The Beast.  Guess who the Beast is?  I guess that makes Dean the princess.  

Coming up in page 2, The Wisdom of Misha Collins, New Jersey 2013 Edition

Comments  

Pamela Daniell
# Pamela Daniell 2013-05-22 17:26
Would love to know what kind of a camera was used here. These pics are amazing.
Alice
# Alice 2013-05-23 00:16
It's a Canon SX260HS. A regular point and shoot digital. My daughter actually got this camera new for Christmas. I took it because the zoom on mine sucks. This has amazing zoom. It's not a very expensive camera either, which is cool.
Valgal
# Valgal 2013-05-22 23:07
Dear Alice-
This is my second Jersey Con. I went a few years ago and the high light was signing a gigantic birthday card for Jared. I just love these cons. I came on Friday and knew no one around me. By the Sunday evening, I made so many new friends in my row that I think I have a spot at a table for next year's evening events. The pictures can't capture the positive energy and sheer fun for both the audience and the participants. I live an hour away and commuted. Friday night my check engine light came on and stayed on all weekend. Saturday afternoon I lost a filling. But when I walked into the ballroom, blasting with music we associate with the show, banners hanging from all sides of the room, and being surrounded by people who love the show, the actors and everything SPN, well I felt like I was in my own little part of heaven on Earth.

The fans are terrific. I was standing in line waiting for a signature from Rick Worthy and I mentioned how I thought he has the most melodious voice. A fan came out of the seats and gave me one of her spare photos, just like that.

It isn't only talking to other fans, but every guest is just so gracious. While they may only speak to each person for thirty seconds or so, for that time, they are completely engaged with the person whose item they are signing.

I would recommend to any SPN fan to try to get to a convention. It's been three weeks...I haven't taken off my bracelet...I made new friends and got to speak to some bloggers. Who would've thought?

SPN forever!!
Thanks for the beautiful pictures and your great analysis.
nightsky
# nightsky 2013-05-23 14:32
Alice, I really enjoyed your con report! I especially liked the embedded videos and Tweets. I followed the whole con through live tweets all weekend, so I felt like I was reliving the excitement of the con while I was reading your report. The tweets did kind-of a flashback thing for me! I appreciate your perspective on the cons, too, since you have been to so many and can draw comparisons between them!
I am weakening and considering going to another con beside Chicago. VanCon seems to be at the top of the list. Which one would you recommend? Vegas? (Actually, JIB is at the top of the list, but the Europe airfare is rather out of the question!).
StimtasticAspie
# StimtasticAspie 2013-05-24 19:01
Awww, thank you for the mention. You were one of my most favorite parts about NJCon. Well...you & Victory Golden Monkey Ale. The honor was all mine. *hugs*
judyann
# judyann 2013-05-25 17:43
Alice, this was my first con and boy what a experience!. I was alittle overwhelmed by the whole thing. I do agree that the bar/food was good. I found out about Blue Moon (not bad). I understand your complaint about the volume- had a bad headache all weekend and then it increase on Sunday with just the noise from the fans (and the girl next to me yelling at everything that was said!). I was alittle surprised that they intervened with Jensen/Jared's questions but not Misha's. But Misha handled the questions well. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures! You miss a good cotail party though.