Onward and upward into part 2 of my 3-part review of this year’s Gallifrey One: Network 23. If you didn’t read the previous installment, I would first encourage you to go back and read part one of my review, and all the disclaimers therein. Once you’re done with that, come back over and we’ll get into the nitty-gritty, nougaty goodness of Day Two.
…what? Wow, done already? You read fast. I applaud you. Ready? Here we go…
I arrived on Saturday a little fatigued from lack of sleep, but in good spirits all the same. I had an entire day ahead of me filled with even more celebrity sightings, dealer room delights, and the shared camaraderie of my fellow Whovians. I started my day in the Con Suite for a quick drink and a handful of salty snack goodness before I headed to the first, most important, and unquestionably the most fun part of my day.
My second panel: Crafting Who Part 2.
The single day I spent at Gallifrey last year let me take in the first edition of Crafting Who, which was a world of fun and highly informative to me, a crafter just getting back into her stride. My highlights from that year included an introduction to Tara Wheeler, owner of a full sized TARDIS, and creator of a website I have grown to rely on as my Doctor Who Scarf resource: WittyLittleKnitter.com. With her patterns, as well as knitting advice that has vastly improved my ability to change colors and finish off projects, I set forth on my personal mission to knit one of every single version of the Tom Baker scarf that had an available pattern.
I arrived to meet fellow panelists, including previous night’s panelist Tara O’Shea. Our moderator, Nancy, also a member of The Happiness Patrol podcast, helped me get settled, showed off her Egg-Bot, and added to my badge ribbon count while Michelle, who was handing out some enviable TOILETS BEHIND THE PANDORICA ribbons, offered me my very own laser-cut TARDIS in mid-phase (translate to made from lucite, I think…transparent and FLAWLESSLY made). We situated ourselves, and when Tara made her arrival, stood in further envy of her handmade River Song doll complete with flawless wild curls.
I laid out my modestly crafted TARDIS e-reader case, straightened the handmade Fourth Doctor scarf around my neck, and set to continuing my work on the latest scarf as our audience began to file in and get settled. For the second time, my chosen panel was playing to a full house, this one complete with people actively knitting & crocheting in their seats, as I was doing on the dais.
I had found my people.
The panel was an hour-long education for me, and as I lived in fear of my big, rambly mouth getting the better of me, I made fewer comments than I would have liked to. I spoke briefly about my passing fascination with trying to put a TARDIS on everything, and my penchant for parsing yarnwork patterns into different things, offering my e-reader case as an example of something that started life as a far more basic washcloth pattern. Instead, I mostly settled for getting sucked in as Tara explained the finer aspects of redesigning dolls, or “kit bashing,” featuring a fascinating explanation of how to use acrylic paint to dye doll hair. Once again, to my delight Jem and the Holograms came into play as she discussed a Stormer doll she’d been working on at the time. Michelle showed off her very own licensed K-9 toy, which she’d personally reprogrammed to accept voice commands because she wanted to talk to her robot dog. Michelle discussed her Egg-Bot, a very basic robotic device that drew patterns on nearly any spherical surface. During the entire panel, it produced several Ping Pong Balls of Rassilon, and she offered up for examination (along with some more of Michelle’s laser-cut TARDISes) a set of Christmas ornaments featuring seals of Rassilon and TARDISes of her own. Members of our audience submitted their questions, which we answered happily, even focusing on a few fan-made creations brought in, such as handmade ornaments and an especially lovely Ten doll done in felt.
When the panel ended, I felt very fortunate to have taken part in it, but what touched me more than anything was the fact that, during the panel, I actually got a couple of questions and, afterwards, people came right up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed my input. One lovely girl showed off her crocheted TARDIS bag, while another admired my scarf and mentioned that she enjoyed the fact I knit through the entire panel. It was a nice little ego boost for one, and for another it was a wonderful affirmation of my place within this close-knit fan community. Once again, in strangers, I was finding the potential for lifelong friendships…or at least good buddies that would last me the length of the convention. There’s little question: with the support of such a wonderful audience and the kind words of such lovely people, I will definitely be gunning for another panel seat next year.
With the rest of the convention belonging to me, I began to wander and enjoy the sights. I now had a chance to better enjoy the dealer room, which played host to a plethora of imported treasures. Nanorecorders, sonic screwdrivers, DVDS, books…these were just a few of the things available to me. There were vendors of handmade jewelry boasting glass photo-pendants of Doctors and monsters, glass fez beads, buttons and bumper stickers from Doctor Who as well as other fandoms. One table sold Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files action figures, while another sold (what else) yarn for Doctor Who scarves. While shopping, I also paused to loiter around the autograph tables, catching glimpses of the likes of Caitlin Blackwood, Louise Jameson, and Simon Fisher-Becker to name a few.
In the halls, the adventure continued. The creative genius of Who fans didn’t end at Crafting Who: it seems that every year, wonderfully inventive fans bring the most remarkable creations to share, included among them the remote control operated Daleks that can often be seen wandering the halls. This year, we were treated to a traditional Dalek as well as an Ironsides…and a Tiki Dalek whose sole mission was to, of course, INTOXICATE.
Tables also lined the halls, offering autographs from such luminaries as Morgan Sheppard, his son, Mark Sheppard, Eric Roberts, John De Lancie, and Tony Curran. Though my budget was limited, as an avid fan of Doctor Who, Firefly, and Leverage, I found myself in line to meet Mark Sheppard. I got more than I bargained for when I got his autograph…I got to meet a man I admire, really meet him. Pleasant, generous, and friendly, he asked where I was from and surprised me when he recognized the name of my street. Turns out he was a local boy, and after I admitted to never having seen a single episode of Battlestar Galactica, another series he was in, he proceeded to make a solid case for giving it a try. The plot, the numerous accolades it’s won, its stellar cast…suffice to say, I’ll probably be Netflixing that in the near future.
My good fortune with celebrities continued as I ran into Amber Benson in the halls, who was beyond generous with a few minutes to take a picture and chat about her books. She was funny, friendly, and charming as you could want one of your favorite authors to be. Of course, I enjoyed her stint on that vampire show whose name I can’t remember, and told her so, but really: it’s all about the Death’s Daughter novels, baby. (Author’s note: I kid, I kid. But not about loving Death’s Daughter, go check it out. ) I also had my picture taken with a childhood anti-hero in the form of John De Lancie. Having grown up adoring Q on Star Trek: TNG, I was beside myself as I waited for my photo op, and was not disappointed. Special thanks go to my friend Samantha, who helped ensure I got the best possible bang for my buck.
Along with the autograph tables, and most important among all the fixtures of Gallifrey One was a sign up table for the annual blood drive. Naturally, I stopped to say hello to volunteer Kristen, from my panel the night before, and see how things were going before I stepped up to see if I could help the Red Cross out with another pint, and another tally mark towards my third gallon pin.
For me, this is the best part of the convention in that I grew up in the medical field, and I am type O Positive. What does this mean, exactly? It means that any positive blood type can receive a pint of my blood. Understanding the value of a blood donation medically and the value of my own blood type, I have always felt a fierce, lasting sense of satisfaction in the ability to give blood. Money can do wonderful things, but a pint of blood saves lives in an immediate, almost primal capacity. One pint can save up to three lives, and for the rare and gifted few who are Universal Donors, type O Negative, you can save lives no matter what the blood type. Run by Dennis & Kristine Cherry, the Gallifrey One Blood Drive is never empty, and in donating at last year’s convention, I was as fiercely pleased to sit with my fellow donors as I was to watch my pint get packed away, ready to be shipped off where it would help people like my father, who received nearly eighteen units of blood a few years before when a complication with a bleeding ulcer nearly killed him.
Sadly, I was unable to help this year, still a month away from eligibility. I did stay long enough to chat with some volunteers for a while before I ventured back into the halls for another of the convention’s more solitary activities: the scavenger hunt. With my friend and convention staffer, Samantha, I partook in this year’s quest to locate portraits of the Doctor’s eleven incarnations as well as those of other monsters, hidden throughout the convention floor. Together, we tracked down all thirty and earned not only a lovely badge ribbon, but for me? An entry into a raffle for a free membership to next year’s Gallifrey One.
Once our ribbons were triumphantly collected from Member Services, Samantha and I parted ways for a time while she attended to the business of running a convention and I attended to the business of consuming the same. Various other visits were made to the Con Suite, where I bonded for a spell with a very nice young woman who commented, as countless others had, on my I BELIEVE IN SHERLOCK HOLMES badge ribbon. Truly, the influence of Steven Moffat’s other hit show was felt in large amounts throughout the course of the convention. Posters were everywhere, proclaiming faith in the consulting detective and denouncing Moriarty as both real and imagined. When you pair the intellectualism associated with Doyle’s creation and Moffat’s favorite toy with the convention panels that accompanied mine, such as LIFE CYCLE OF A NASA MISSION or THE STATE OF SF TELEVISION & FILM, it’s easy to see why Doctor Who fans are so fun and so welcoming: they are an open-minded, intelligent, and well-read bunch of maniacs, and I am proud to count myself among them.
After attending a couple of other panels, specifically MAKING A LIVING AS A CREATIVE PERSON, featuring one of my favorite television writers, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, in a particularly brilliant Third Doctor costume, I retired to one of the video screening rooms to take in part of the broadcast version of The Five Doctors, resting my weary bones for a spell before I could manage to haul myself home. I was exhausted, my scarf was itchy, and my head was abuzz with a world of new facts and faces to digest. I had one more day ahead of me, and a lot left to look forward to before I bid Gallifrey One a fond farewell…and I was going to need all the beauty sleep I could get.
IN OUR NEXT INSTALLMENT: the social habits of the Javiminion, the nerd overlord Daleks London, and great moments with larger than life figures are crafted in the twilight of Gallifrey One’s Network 23…check back soon for the conclusion of First Landing!!!