Warning-- this report is really long, partly because I wanted to write it all down before I forget it, and partly because long-winded is my middle name. But here goes:
SF Con was a fantastic experience from start to finish. I wrote this report, but gave Didi and Mallena the opportunity to add their own thoughts in parentheses wherever they wanted to elaborate or correct my errors (and lies). One of the biggest highlights was being able to experience it with two WFB friends, Didi and Mallena. We exchanged emails and had two lengthy phone conversations in the months leading up to the Con, but we had never met since we live pretty far apart. I was a bit nervous- what if we didn't click, or got on each other's nerves? But my fears were groundless (and hopefully they feel the same way!). Within 5 minutes of stumbling into the hotel room, bleary eyed from a cross-country flight and the time change, I felt completely comfortable with these two terrific ladies. Mallena had made each of us cool SPN-themed charm bracelets with some charms, like angels, and with our WFB user names spelled out. It is a fabulous memento of the Con. Just as importantly, Didi brought lots of snacks including my favorites, chocolate-covered almonds. I brought nothing but my sparkling wit. Oh wait, that's not true. Well it's true about my sparkling wit, but I also brought them each a copy of the drawing my daughter did for me of Sam and Dean sitting on the Impala. I used it for the 9 autographs that came as part of the Gold package. Anyway, that first night we watched the episode together on Didi's iPad and, as Mallena stated in a comment, I laughed loudly in their ears because I thought Rock Never Dies was pretty damn funny.
(Didi and Samandean are smart and amusing ladies. They were a joy to be around. –Mallena)
On Friday the Con began with Rob and Louden Swain. Rich couldn't get there until Sat because he was directing his SPN episode, so we were not treated to his apparently hilarious rendition of the rules. But Rob is cute and funny, and the band is just terrific. Shortly thereafter we had Kim and Briana's panel. It was my least favorite panel because I don't find their shtick together all that funny. It consists of endless F bombs and references to boobs and periods, and some grinding on each other, which would be fine if it were funny, but IMO it really wasn't. The F word is not hilarious in and of itself. I'm not a prude, and I have friends who work swear words into every sentence, but those things are not particularly entertaining. The ladies were both nice to the fans, and expressed a lot of love for the SPN family. However, maybe due to the types of questions asked, many of their answers (especially Kim's) seemed to consist of life advice, and it was a bit tedious. It was very heartfelt, but honestly, that panel seemed to drag a bit. That being said, parts of it were entertaining, and being there was infinitely preferable to being at work in Pennsylvania, so I enjoyed it well enough.
(I left halfway through for a stroll up to our room because I didn’t care for the language, either. –M)
Next up was Jason Manns and holy crap is he an awesome singer, with a gorgeous, mellow voice. His singing was fantastic, and he was very interesting and entertaining. In stark contrast to the ladies, his panel had little if any off-color humor, and he was sweet, funny, down to earth, and so humble. The thing I remember most from his panel (aside from the fabulous singing) is his story of how he and Jensen met, which was really sweet. I could have listened to him sing and talk for hours, and his panel just flew.
(Going into this, I was not thinking that I would like JM, but he was really great and it was obvious why J and J would hold on to him as a friend for all these years.-M)
After that panel was the SPN trivia contest, and since I had decided that I was milking the Con for every bit of fun possible, I raised my hand to participate and got picked for the 3rd round. Mallena decided to play as well and was also in the 3rd round. Basically, there are 3 rounds of 30 people each who go on stage and are given Yes and No cards. A question is asked and you must quickly raise one of the cards. Everyone who picks the wrong answer is out, and they whittle it down to the last person standing. In the two rounds before ours, the three of us knew almost all of the answers, so I was feeling pretty good about my chances. But the first question for mine and Mallena's group was: “Rufus's cabin was located in Whitefish...” At that point I quickly shot my yes card up, as did Mallena, only to hear him finish the question with “South Dakota.” Shit! We had answered too fast because we knew it wasn't SD, it was Montana, and we were ignominiously out of the contest. One small consolation is that 26 members of our 30 person group were out, leaving only 4 people in that round. Ah well, it was fun for the 1 minute that our participation lasted. Didi should have participated because she has a fantastic knowledge of all things SPN. She probably would have cruised to the finals.
(Oh sure, include our most embarrassing moment. We knew that answer, we just got nervous.-M)
Julian Richings' (Death) panel was a little later and it was very enjoyable. Unlike his character, he is very perky and animated, practically skipping across the stage. He was funny and informative. He originally auditioned for Famine, but they thought he'd make a great Death instead, and the rest was history. He loved the Death intro scene, but he said it was hard coordinating driving that big car, then getting out and doing the walk down the sidewalk. He loved his scene in the restaurant with Dean, but because he is a pizza lover he ate that delicious deep dish pie with too much gusto. So by the last of a very long series of takes, he felt sick and never wanted to look at pizza again.
After the SPN auction (which we skipped) we saw Osric's panel. What a revelation he was. I adored him. My daughter has always been a huge Osric fan and now I know why. He was hilarious, but so sweet and self-deprecating. He gave these long, thoughtful, and funny answers to almost every question. He was mocking himself for frequently getting caught in the black hole of watching endless Youtube videos, and this turned into a running joke about how he had just watched one about big pimples that were being popped. It was gross, but every time he started laughing about it you had to join in. His panel was a blast.
The last Friday event for us prior to Karaoke were the autographs for Kim, Briana, Julian, and Osric. Kim and Briana were very nice (and Briana is especially gorgeous up close) but they kept their long line moving. The Osric and Julian line, OTOH, went at a snail's pace because they were both chattier, Osric seemed to give a fair amount of hugs, and they were the only two of the nine autos we got who personalized the autos. Since Julian was talking to the person ahead of me, I had the opportunity for a VERY brief conversation with Osric about the martial arts videos of him and his brother which my daughter had showed me a couple of years ago. They are really awesome, so if you like martial arts I highly recommend that you check them out. Since their line had moved so darn slowly, we had a very late dinner at a fabulous waterfront restaurant in SF, courtesy of Didi. All I can say is that she was right about the garlic mashed potatoes with crab- freaking amazing!! Thanks again Didi for an unbelievable dinner. The view of the bridge (the Oakland Bay bridge?) was incredible, the food terrific, and the company even better.
(Yep, yummy food, great ladies, great view, freezing room. Memo: bring blanket everywhere I go. Osric was very cute. I told him I like Dirk Gently and he was happy about that.-M)
Because we ended up eating so late we missed a good chunk of karaoke, but that was OK by me. We only stayed for a few songs because we were absolutely exhausted by that point, and some of the song choices were weird IMO. And so ended Friday.
(I could have made a better effort to enjoy karaoke, but it was hurting my ears; I think I’m turning into an old lady.-M)
On Saturday the energy ramped up a bit. For one thing, Rich had arrived and he is a ball of manic energy and joking. He really could be a stand up comic because he is so quick-witted. And watching him and Rob together is a joy. I don't remember any of Rich's jokes from his intro, but I laughed long and loud. I think that Rob was the butt of most of his jokes. The first panel was Kim, Briana, Osric, and Ruth, and it was excellent. I enjoyed Kim and Briana much more in this panel, and the 4 of them worked very well together. They clearly all adore each other, and Ruth seems to be a special pet of theirs. She is teensy tiny and very soft-spoken, but pretty damn funny. They all got asked some questions, and Kim got more Sweet Life of Zach and Cody questions and gave pretty funny answers about her time on the show. Briana's personality is very different from Donna's, which was interesting. She's much brassier and larger than life than Donna, and I had to get used to the lack of a MN accent. But we learned that she was a trained singer, which was very easy to believe after we heard her in the SNS later that night. Anyway, that panel was great.
We skipped the costume contest and ate lunch instead (hey, we were hungry because we hadn't had breakfast!) and then went to Mark S's panel. Holy crap is he a trip! He roved about the room and went right up to the people in the question lines. He wasn't quite as humorously rude as we'd heard. He actually answered some of the questions, and he even gave some hugs to emotional fans. But then this one obnoxious woman who had asked annoying questions in each panel that day (she had a very distinctive voice and manner of talking)tried to sass Mark the way she had the other actors and he put her in her place. It was clear to him and to us that she thought this was her opportunity to be part of the entertainment and he was pretty harsh to her, although IMO she deserved it. Otherwise, he was more of a teddy bear than I had anticipated, and was very funny.
(Mark was great. I felt a little bad for that fan, but her fake banter was taking up too much time and she kept delaying asking her question.-M)
Next up was the auction (which we skipped) and then the Rob, Rich and Matt panel. Matt was very wired and seemed a little less enamored of the fans than Rich and Rob. Rob in particular seemed deeply grateful for all of the support and love from the SPN family. I forget the questions, but Matt even seemed a bit impatient with a couple of them and my thought was that these were questions he'd heard over and over. Fans asked him about his soap (sorry, I forget which show it is) and his baby, and he seemed nice but less open than the other panelists. Maybe he was just tired. They were very funny together, but I simply cannot recall much about what was said (Help me, Didi and Mallena!)
(All I remember was his running around a lot and answering questions about General Hospital.-M)
And then it was Misha's turn. I was quite curious about his panel. I haven't watched vids of his panels (other than his panel with Jared at JibCon) but I've heard how unusual they can be. Well, he was very entertaining for the most part, but when a fan asked him whether he'd ever considered running for office, he launched into a 10 minute answer about politics. It was serious, and detailed, and it was really not what I was there to hear, so I was disappointed that he spoke at such length on the topic. But when he finally wrapped it up, we had a series of hilarious incidents with crying/noisy babies. There seemed to be at least 3 babies in the room, all of whom took turns crying out at regular intervals and Misha turned it into a running (and very funny) joke. The other things I remember from his panel are the various references he made to how boring Cas is, his story about taking his newborn son to a rave (a very poor choice!), and his revelation that his young daughter's favorite songs all seem to contain horrible, vulgar language. The example he gave was pretty gross. It was certainly an interesting panel.
(I was a little disappointed in Misha; he acted a little bored while doing autographs, and I question some of his parenting decisions, though it is none of my business. I can’t really blame him for not acting like my best friend in autos; my worst nightmare would be a long line of people waiting for me to say something witty and personal to them.-M)
Our last event before the SNS was the autos for Misha, Ruth, and Mark. They were all pleasant but business-like and kept the long lines moving quickly. Ruth is so small, she must weigh about 80 lbs soaking wet, so it was fun seeing her up close. The concert was really amazing, so much better than I had anticipated. The band sounds better IRL than on video and I thought they were great. We were a little bit late and caught the tail end of Kim's song. But we got to hear lots of songs by the band, of course, as well as a song or two by all of the guests. Ruth did a cute version of These Boots Are Made For Walking, Osric did an awesome rendition of Lose Yourself by Eminem (loved it!), I forget Briana's solo but she has an unbelievable voice. She also sang a great duet with Rob. Jason Manns once again was incredible. Mark played the drums for some songs and Rich played base for some. It was really great and the time flew.
(My favorite part was when Mark was on the drums along with the other drummer. They were so in synch, it was cool. I thought Ruth talk/sang her song, but she is pretty adorable.-M)
And then it was Sunday. We were wildly excited because Didi had gotten all of us tickets to Jared's M&G, which meant we would see Jared 3 times and Jensen 2 times that day (thank you Daneel for letting him attend!) The panels are online so I will only say that they were fantastic- the boys were loose and in a great mood and I laughed throughout the panels- quite loudly apparently, since Didi says you can hear me on one of the Youtube vids. I loved the story of Jensen's passport and Jared's Bear Scare App. It was everything I hoped for, with only one crying fan, one prank question, and a few other less than stellar questions. Overall, the questions seemed more show-related than in many panels, and that's what I was hoping for. Love those Js.
(I swear that Gold panel felt like it was 5 minutes long, I could have sat there much longer listening to them talk to us and each other.-M)
Soon after the Gold panel was Jared's M&G and all I can say is that it was incredible. A lot of fantastic, show-related questions, and he was sweet and funny and charming and everything we'd hoped for. One of the other women in the M&G later told us that she's been to other M&Gs of both Js, and that this one had the most show-related questions she'd even seen in a Jared M&G. She said Jensen's are usually mostly show-related but that Jared's are often more personal, including some intense emotional moments. I was very thrilled with the tone of our M&G. I would never have had the nerve or inclination to pry into personal issues of his. I can't give details, but I had told Didi I'd ask her question for her, so my hand shot up as soon as Jared finished his intro remarks and I got to ask the first question. I introduced myself before my question, and in the course of his thoughtful, lengthy answer he used my name and I nearly swooned. I think Didi and Mallena wanted to smack me that afternoon because I kept referring to how Jared had used my name. Sorry gals! (not!)
(He said her name! Her real name! Now her life is complete. I sat there mute the whole time, just drinking in the sheer physical perfection.-M)
We ate a quickish lunch in which we could only babble on about the M&G and how we had just been a few feet from Jared for 30 whole minutes, and then it was time for the piece de resistance, our Jared photo ops. Up until my turn, I was still undecided whether a regular hug (which Didi and I both opted for) or a hug from behind (which Mallena chose) would make me look less hobbit-like next to Jared because I'm only 5'1”. But as I stepped forward, the word s “a hug” popped out, and that's what I got. A moose hug is as terrific as everyone says, even if it only lasted about 5 seconds. Damn, but those Creation people have this down to a science, unfortunately. But through person after person, Jared kept a sincere, warm smile on his face, though he must have been exhausted by then. No matter what the pose was, he threw himself into it and gave everyone their money's worth. And through some kind of miracle, Chris (the photographer) took the best pic of me that I've taken in quite awhile. He's a miracle worker!
(The photos went too fast, but I must have enjoyed it, because in my picture I smiled so wide that you can see every single one of my teeth. Good thing I whitened them before the trip.-M)
After we came down from cloud 9 we attended Ruth's panel, which was delightful. Rowena is not my favorite character, but Ruth puts on a great show. She strolled all around the room, singling out (in a sweet way) people who were on their phones, or who had come in late, and even one poor guy who was sleeping. She gave out hotel toiletries to those asking questions, as is her custom, and she also gave most of them a hug. She has a dry, understated humor that I thought was hilarious and I loved every minute of her panel. The only question I can recall as I'm typing this is what was her favorite spell to cast, and I think she said Manete. Or was it the rabid dog one? Well, you can watch the vid, if there is one. Suffice it to say, she was awesome. Mallena ran into her in the ladies room at one point and said she was very nice.
(Yep, she was finishing washing her hands as I approached the sink. I might not have anything bad to say about Rowena anymore, because Ruth is such a sweetheart. –M)
Next up was the full Js panel, an hour that went entirely too fast. I could have listened to those two banter and tease each other all day. The last panel was a Kings of Con panel with Rob and Rich. Sure, the purpose of it was to publicize their show, but it was ridiculously entertaining. And they showed us some clips from the show that were really funny. They seem like almost as close friends as the Js are, and their rapport is wonderful. Dinner with the two of them must be a blast. Once again, they expressed their immense gratitude to the SPN fandom. They were very funny explaining that it's only to us that they're famous celebrities, because almost nobody else knows who they are.
(The J’s main panel was very good; I loved the whole thing. J and J could do stand-up; they are so wonderful together.-M)
Our last event was the Js' autos, which started late. I was getting really stressed out because I had an evening flight and the lines were moving so slowly that I thought I would have to miss the autos. But then I thought I'd take a chance and ask the Creation woman who was orchestrating the autos and photo ops whether there was any way I could jump the lines because I had a flight to catch. God bless her, she had someone escort me to near the front of first Jared's line and then Jensen's. The Js were both very sweet. I quickly congratulated Jensen and he gave his gorgeous smile and thanked me. Jared was just Jared, goofing around with his handlers, but he too gave me an adorable smile. And that was the end of the Con.
(I never saw Jared without a smile on his face, he was the best and his hair is really wonderful. The crowd goes wild when he takes off his beanie. Sigh. Jensen seemed tired, as expected, but I can’t imagine the energy it must take to get through as many cons as they have done. It was fun that the birth of his twins was tweeted while we were there. There were a lot of people who thought that the names must be a joke, but oh well, they are his kids, so …-M)
The Con was everything I hoped for, and then some. It was so much fun to be surrounded by a couple of thousand people of all ages and walks of life who share my obsession with SPN. Sitting close to us was one of the women with a baby, a cute nine month-old boy. We saw her showing people her Jensen photo op, in which Jensen was holding the baby, and we learned that the baby's name was Jensen. Now that's a dedicated fan! Almost everyone we met was friendly and happy to share information and photo op pics. I can never thank Didi enough for giving me such a fantastic, memorable experience, and for giving me the opportunity to spend three days with her and Mallena. Whew, done!
(I loved talking about SPN practically non-stop with 3 incredible ladies, and meeting so many fans. It was a big happy family and I’m so grateful for the experience.-M)