And not just any ‘Gate, but THE ‘Gate…
Just try not to get hit by the vortex. It hurts.
(If you’ve watched the show, you know what it can really do.)
So, in case you haven’t noticed the absolute dearth of updates on this blog for the last week, I’ve been a little busy. Once again, I made my annual trip to Chicago’s village of Rosemont for three days of geeking out in a public place. I know you’ll argue that I can do that closer to home, but while it is fun to act like a geek in any public place, not everyone appreciates it like 500 other people who are also geeking out in a public place.
My travels took me (for the fifth time) inside the Stargate for Creation Entertainment’s final Stargate SG-1/Atlantis/Universe Convention, held from Friday, September 23, 2016, until Sunday, September 25, 2016. The location was The Cheyenne Mountain of Rosemont, the Westin O’Hare, located seven minutes from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. For many of us, this is a yearly tradition, and yes, you do see the alot of the same attendees year after year, with many new faces.
Last year was a big deal, as I had made the trip solo for the first time since 2012 (my relationship ended with ex-attendee ex-boyfriend six months before the 2015 Convention), and it was one in a line of experiences I had last year as a single girl that got my life back on track. I reconnected with friends, made new ones, and met a guy that would change my life in ways I never believed possible.
The ‘Gate really is a big deal, wouldn’t you say?
James and I (yes, the guy) started for Rosemont on Wednesday morning, driving through Southern New Jersey, into Pennsylvania and West Virginia, onward toward Ohio, where we stopped for the night. On Thursday, we gained a third passenger (though James will tell you the Chihuahua, Daisy, counts as a passenger too), in our friend Melanie, whom we picked up in Indiana, about 3 1/2 hours from our final destination. After lunch at Hardees, we continued onward toward our destination, the Westin O’Hare, which is deceptively plain on the outside, but with nice and well-tended grounds. The lobby gives away how nice this property really is. I’ve stayed here five years in a row, and it always feels like home to come here.
The smells are pleasant (despite how my sinuses feel about them!), the staff is friendly, and the atmosphere is quite geeky. I always wonder what the staff thinks when they see all of these graphic tee-clad, lanyard-wearing adults wandering around their property. The funny thing is, I’ve seen some of the same people working there every year I’ve attended, so obviously they are used to this group of attendees.
After checking in, we settled in, got the wi-fi connected, and went to dinner with another friend. I’ve done the large group dinner two years in a row (last year’s Sugar Factory trip, anyone?) and I love the idea of large groups and fun places to eat. This year’s pre-Con dinner involved a lovely Italian restaurant in River Grove, a short drive from our hotel. My friend Sue invited our trio to join her, and it was a nice invitation with good conversation. Back at the hotel, our trio (plus Daisy) and our friend Samantha hung out in our hotel room, catching up, eating cookies, and playing board games. We also registered for the convention, got our passes, and bought photo op and autograph tickets.
Did I ever mention that conventions are great diet-breakers? There is a reason I like getting back into a normal routine – for one thing, I can only live by so much fast food. I had some nice, non-fast food meals, but let’s face it, you eat out, sometimes it has to be quick, and sometimes french fries find their way onto the plate. Between Roy Rogers, Wendy’s, Hardee’s, and McDonald’s (my boyfriend calls this convention McDonald’s Con, because of the close proximity to the hotel) I saw enough french fries and cheeseburgers to last me quite some time. Chicken nuggets made their way in as well. Coincidentally, as I’m starting this post, Burger King is tonight’s dinner. I’m obviously not picky when it comes to food, or else I’d be a disgruntled blogger who’d freak out about the possibility of one more french fry.
I’ll be hitting the Lean Cuisines hard now that I’m back home.
So, Day 1…
Peter Kelamis kicked things off as the weekend’s co-host (his co-host, Dan Payne, arrived Saturday morning). Peter played Dr. Adam Brody on Stargate Universe, but had also played two guest roles on Stargate SG-1, and auditioned for the small but very important role of Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman on Stargate SG-1 at the beginning – that role would go to Friday panelist Gary Jones.
And speaking of panelists…
Top Row L to R – Rainbow Sun Francks (Lt. Aidan Ford, Stargate Atlantis), Erick Avari (Kasuf from the original Stargate film AND Stargate SG-1), Jamil Walker Smith (Ronald Greer on Stargate Universe) / Bottom Row L to R – Carmen Argenziano (General Jacob Carter/Selmak, Stargate SG-1), Gary Jones (the Walter I mentioned earlier, Stargate SG-1), and Paul McGillion (Dr. Carson Beckett on Stargate Atlantis).
There are no small parts in this franchise – Erick, Carmen, and Gary are all actors who only had recurring roles, but were extremely important to the show. When they made an appearance, it was a big deal. Rainbow Sun Francks was in the original cast of SGA during the first season, but for reasons even he doesn’t know, he was written out of the show. Francks chose not to be killed off, but rather made an exit that left his whereabouts open (We saw him again in a guest role in season two). And of course, Paul McGillion’s character met a horrible death in season three…only to turn up one season later as a clone.
Strange things are always afoot in the galaxy!
Jamil was a regular cast member on his respective show, but from what I found out about him, he was a child actor. If he looks familiar to you, it’s because his father is Phil Morris (who played Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld), and his grandfather is Greg Morris from Mission: Impossible. I see the resemblance.
Oh, and Erick Avari’s dog, Tootsie, made a cameo on stage…
And photo ops for the day…
Carmen Argenziano is like standing next to your own father, except he likes to dance with the people waiting in his photo op line. I even ran into him in the hallway on the way to the ladies room and he said “Pardon me, dear.” If he’d called me “kid” (his nickname for Major Samantha Carter, his on-screen daughter), I’d have been speechless.
Paul McGillion is usually one of those people who makes you forget what you really wanted to do in your photo op, so when you hug him, you prepare yourself and tell him what you’d like to do. I wanted to high-five him, but he decided we should fight instead.
The first day concluded with the Friday Night constitutional known as the Stargate Celebrity Cabaret, which is open to everyone in Gold, Silver, and Copper as part of the ticket package, and to everyone else for $20 admission. No matter how much my ticket has cost each year, this has always been worth the price of admission!
Gary Jones performed stand-up, David Nykl did “character assassination,” and had audience members participate in reading a script, and Peter Kelamis (our host), performed stand-up. The night was capped off by karaoke and heckling.
Oh, and Melanie sang!
And then Saturday happened…
An amazing (and elaborate, don’t forget elaborate!) Stargate was assembled on the stage (the backdrop for a themed wedding that happened, which I don’t have pictures of), and that provided the entrance for all of the guests that we could only want from a Stargate Convention. All seven Chevrons lit, blue curtain to fill in for the event horizon, and guests coming through the ‘Gate to come on stage? Epic!
Jewel Staite (Dr. Jennifer Keller, Stargate Atlantis), David DeLuise (Pete Shanahan, Stargate SG-1, son of Dom, and brother of Peter and Michael, just in case you didn’t know who he was), Christopher Judge (Teal’c, Stargate SG-1), and Joe Flanigan (Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, Stargate Atlantis) served as this day’s guests/panelists, and Dan Payne, having arrived the night before, joined Peter Kelamis on stage for his hosting duties.
Oh, and in case you have no clue who David DeLuise is…as if you have any doubts…
And he was one in a line of stage crashers. If he wasn’t an actor himself, you’d swear he was one of the fans. He certainly acted all fanboy when he came on stage each time.
And yes, Christopher Judge wore Amazing Technicolor Golf Pants.
As I said, there was a wedding (a new thing, but engagements have happened twice, in 2014 and 2015), and there was also the costume contest (a yearly tradition).
That’s my friend Samantha, dressed as Ra. She made that costume herself, and it took three hours to put on. She wound up winning, and celebrated by going to change after the contest. I couldn’t begin to blame her.
And how about…photo ops?
The back-to-back photo with Jewel Staite was actually my idea with Torri Higginson, but she cancelled right before the convention. Jewel took her place, and it became my photo op with her. I’m happy with how my Saturday photo ops turned out, especially this one…
I have never tried anything truly daring as the midair jump, but I did. My biggest worry was oversmiling, closed eyes, and flying hair. Since. I don’t have long hair (though it is bouncy), this wasn’t a concern. David DeLuise wanted to do a nice photo first, hence the “we look like we got engaged” photo, but the jump was my idea.
And because loved David so much, Melanie and I shared a photo op.
For the record, we wanted to do something, but we forgot what we wanted to do.
I also posed again with Carmen Argenziano…
…and Melanie and I got to stand in front of that incredible Stargate.
A group of us had dinner in the hotel restaurant that night, and nearby, Christopher Judge was watching the UCLA/Stanford game. True story, his hollering “That’s bullshit!” silenced our table, so I very innocently (yeah, right) said “Wow, did Teal’c just curse?” that got us all laughing again. And because we are apparently celebrity stalkers…we watched the rest of the game right near him as we were leaving. (UCLA lost.)
And because all great events have to come to an end, the third and final day of the convention rolled around on Sunday. Because that’s how it is. But this convention didn’t disappoint, and Sunday was a great day…
Dan Payne and Peter Kelamis not only took the stage to host again, they also had their panel. Mind you, these were two people who never worked together in the franchise (making it an odd coupling), but they made for great co-hosts. My boyfriend made awesome GIPHY magic from some of the photos he took during their panel (particularly Dan Payne’s reverse applebox walk, because he is so tall).
David Hewlett, David Nykl, David Blue (this franchise loves people named David, doesn’t it?), Alaina Huffman, and Michael Shanks rounded out the weekend’s convention panels.
David Hewlett’s hair was funky…
Michael Shanks made faces…
And people named David crashed the stage…
And impromptu Stargate Universe reunion!
And like all good things, this one came to an end. It’s like Peter Kelamis reminded us at the end: “Don’t cry because it’s over, be grateful it happened.” And I am…crying gratefully (or is it “gratefully crying?”). While I’m sad to see Stargate Conventions end (they were my introduction to #ConLife, after all), I’m looking forward to all of the other stuff I would like to do with the money I won’t be spending on Stargate Conventions.
I wonder who will be at Wizard World next year…
Planning ahead, folks. Planning ahead.
But you’re probably saying “Allison, what about your photo ops?” And I’m saying “well, fine, here’s the photo ops!”
Sunday was about more fun photo ops, and the obligatory “take a nice photo!” moment. Thankfully, I’m all for what kind of silliness I can have with my photos. This is especially true of David Hewlett, who took Thor’s hammer as an opportunity to make us look like the two least likely Avengers.
I particularly love Michael Shanks showing how worthy I am. “Not So Mighty Thor,” perhaps. Might Photo Op Girl? Indeed!
And again, with the jumping in the air…
It was truly the weekend of “Jumping with People Named David.”
And Jamil Walker Smith danced with me.
And David Blue is a ladies’ man.
So much Blue.
We decided on a cute photo op, with just the girls…
…with a twist.
(Oh hai, Carmen!)
And last, but not least…me with some of the Stargate Universe cast…
…doing “The Louie!”
After a final dinner with some of our group, we called it a weekend and, well, a convention.
The realization that Stargate Conventions are over hit on Monday afternoon after James and I dropped Melanie off. The other realization was that we had a really long drive home.
Like really long.
Like, we got home at 4:30 am long.
In all, another amazing convention weekend. If I had any worries going into this convention, it was the sheer amount of arguing among attendees that went on prior to the convention. But, in the spirit of friendship, the promise of good times, and well, finality, there weren’t any arguments. When fans come together, it truly is a great place to be, and while I’m sad that it is over, I have plenty of reason to be grateful it happened.
You know what else is grateful? My wallet!
Thank you, Creation Entertainment, for this amazing convention, and the reason I really allowed my geek flag to fly loud and proud. Five years ago, this was something I never knew about and only believed conventions were something Star Trek fans did, but it also opened my eyes to fan culture and the joys of Con Life, and for that, I am grateful it happened.
How could I not have a reason to jump for joy?
How about three additional reasons?