I’ve been to a lot of cons. Someday I’m going to dig through the archives and count out just how many, but I can truly its in the dozens. I can also say I’ve been there, done that, and bought umpteen t-shirts in the process (among other memorabilia). So, why venture out to of all places Pittsburgh, PA for a con this time? Simple, in the history of all the cons I’ve attended, NONE have been remotely close to my home. I’ve usually spent 7 plus hours on the road, or in some cases taken multiple connecting cross country flights to get there. So, when one was scheduled to happen within THREE HOURS of my home, how could I pass this up? I had to see this.
Turns out percysowner, who lives in the same Ohio suburb that I do, has never been to a con. They've been too far away for her. She agreed to be my traveling companion and take this journey with me across half of Ohio, through a small tip of West Virginia and just a small jaunt through Western Pennsylvania. We arrived as an interesting pair, the con veteran and the con virgin, ready to take on one of the largest cons in "Supernatural" history.
Because of the close proximity, we were able to make it to the con on Friday and actually see some panels! Usually I have to work on Friday mornings and by the time I’ve taken those drives to Chicago, Nashville, Toronto, New Jersey, etc. I barely make karaoke. Turns out I wasn’t the only one to miss the first panel. Gabriel Tigerman, the scheduled first guest, was in flight delay hell and hadn’t arrived yet.
Yes, this weekend was THE weekend of scheduling conflicts overall, so flight delays were par for the course. Osric Chau had to cancel his appearance a few weeks ago, so did Mark Pellegrino. Then it was revealed that the actual hosts of the event, Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict, weren’t available until Saturday afternoon because they were filming their new show, the very one based on what happens at the event we were attending, a "Supernatural" convention. "The Kings of Con" was picked up as an online series by Comic Con HQ and the much anticipated filming date finally arrived, right at the wrong time.
Turns out that Rob and Richard’s good fortune became Pittsburgh Con’s happy accident. The announced substitute hosts were two very popular Wayward Daughters, Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster. They brought a ton of girl power to a female centric room, and we were laughing at every single one of their female part jokes and their propensity to swear like sailors, all while looking fabulous doing it. Pretty soon we were saying, "Richard and Rob who?" Jason Manns was also doing a stand up job substituting for Rob as front man of house band Louden Swain, although he had that opportunity once before when Rob had his unfortunate stroke in Toronto a couple of years ago. Jason has been coming to these cons longer than Rob, so he know how to entertain this crowd!
I can honestly say that out of all the cons I’ve been to, the David L. Patterson Convention Center was the strangest. This is a wide open three story high very large exhibit hall. The room was too big. It looked like they were holding a con in an airplane hangar. I have no other way to describe it. It’s very industrial and hardly the more intimate setting of the hotel ballrooms I’ve had at other cons. The room on the left hand side has an enclosed glass walkway on the upper floor overlooking the hall. That was the walkway all the guests had to take to get to backstage, so often panels are interrupted by watching con guests take a long walk across the entire hall by in a very un-stealthy way. Most played it up though, making facings and other weird gestures at the crowd and stage performers. It ended up being kind of awesome, at least those that didn't mind getting flashed a variety of body parts from Matt Cohen.
Kim and Briana join in on the fun here (Photo from Ash McClintic)
One problem with sitting in such a big hall...the acoustics were terrible. There was canvas draping the ceilings and windows, as if they were meant to absorb the sound, but they didn't. If anything it made sound more bouncy. The echo was awful and often too loud, yet we still couldn’t make out what was being said half the time. The guests often complained they couldn't hear what fans were saying on stage either.
There was another big complication too, the con was going on the same weekend as Pittsburgh’s big bi-centennial celebration. Also, there was a huge Yu-Gi-Oh tournament going on the other half of the convention center and right across the river from us was a three game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. Guess what, there were a lot of Cub fans in town. All the downtown hotels were booked and traffic getting to the convention center and finding parking all weekend was impossible. That prevented some guests arriving on time as well. Given all the complications, it was amazing that such an entertaining con was pulled off so well. It should have been a train wreck.
There was definitely some schedule switching on Friday. Since Gabe was in transit, he missed his panel, so the ever reliable Jason Manns switched his panel (scheduled for 5:30) with Gabe's. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive in time for the Jason Manns panel, nor did we get to see the Gil McKinney panel either, but we knew we’d see him Saturday. We did get here in time for the Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster official panel, and Gabe Tigerman’s make up panel afterward.
What can I say about Kim and Briana? They are f***ing awesome together, and that’s EXACTLY the words they used to describe themselves. They were pretty raunchy and no one objected. It’s really funny, when Richard and Rob took the stage to kick off the festivities for the first time on Sunday, they said they heard that Kim and Briana were more filthy than them! That took them by surprise.
While Kim and Briana were on the stage, they took in a lowly intern to assist them, taking on such menial tasks as fetching them water. It was none other than Gabe Tigerman, fresh from his long travel adventure that included a late red eye and a missed connection flight. He was there on practically no sleep, which made him nice and submissive for this intern duties. This did not go unnoticed by Kim and Briana.
SPN Sil does an amazing job of taking con tweets and putting them into Storify, and she was again on hand to archive all the action for the Pittsburgh Con. In her collections this time, they include all of my tweets (as WinFamBusiness) and plenty of others as well, especially those that were closer and could take better photos. For the entire weekend, I provided the "cheap seat" POV. I’ll admit that I couldn’t live tweet all the details because the sound was so bad where I sat (row W) that I couldn’t hear the full answers most of the time. But yes, I managed to get in some commentary here and there, because that's what an opinionated red head does!
Here is SPN Sil's wrap up of the Kim and Briana panel:
Afterward was the adorable Gabe Tigerman, who I’ve seen at cons many times before. I thought I had heard it all from this guy, until he dropped this little tidbit:
Better details (and photos) of the panel can be found here in SPN Sil’s storify:
Here’s the details of Kim and Briana’s kickoff, Jason’s panel (which included a mini concert), and Gil’s panel.
Kim and Briana
Then there was Karaoke, this time hosted by Kim, Briana, and Matt Cohen as Jon Snow. Myself and percysowner went, but do I have details to share? Hmm, I’m not sure I should, because what happens at Karaoke stays at Karaoke. Still, SPN Sil did wrangle up the tweets from that event, so why not share?
Coming up in the next part, all the Saturday action. Beware, it’s not for the faint of heart!