Currently on social media, the buzz is about one of the biggest fandom events in the world is taking place in San Diego. The SDCC is taking up terabytes of space on the net, and rightfully so. In the meantime, there are also smaller cons also happening. While it might be fun for some to go to the really huge cons, I prefer the smaller, more relaxed ones. This past Saturday, I took a drive up to Council Bluffs, Iowa to attend this years BritishFest, and I had a great time and a very relaxed day.
While I cannot say that I know a great deal about British popular culture, I can also say that I am not without exposure to it. I am an avid Monty Python fan, and always will be. I have also enjoyed The Avengers, Space 1999, some of the Bond films, The Hitchhiker’s Guide, and of course, the music from “across the pond.” I was made aware of BritishFest thanks to a friend, Andew Schmidt who operates a small business called Andrew’s Clay Creations. I planned to go to check it out and when it was announced that Adrian Paul of Highlander fame would be in attendance, there was absolutely no question that I would.
One of the best parts of attending conventions is seeing friends that I have made in the past, and hopefully making new ones. As I arrived to the venue early, almost an hour before any of the programming got started, I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat at a table. I was soon joined by a young woman whom I visited with for a little while. It is always nice to enjoy the company of a like-minded intelligent person, and I was not disappointed. I did give her one of my cards that point to this blog, but I unfortunately didn’t get her name (if you are reading this, please friend me on Facebook if you do that sort of thing).
When things got rolling, I immediately headed over to Adrian Paul’s table, but was told that he would not be in attendance for some time. Which was okay because the first panel I attended was a Monty Python discussion. Apparently the scheduled panelist was not able to attend, two guys stepped in (with 15 minutes notice) and did a great job filling in. One was a good friend, John Shoberg, whom I barely recognized because he was not in Klingon regalia as I usually see him, led the packed audience in a singalong as well as a discussion with a lot of audience participation. It was a great way to start the day!
Adrian Paul did arrive as I was told, so I got in line and awaited my turn to visit with the man who portrayed one of my idols, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I didn’t have to wait long and I was face with someone I have admired for many years. I didn’t take up too much of his time, but did get to explain what his portrayal as the Highlander meant to me. He thanked me for the sentiments and signed my pictures, one of him holding his katana and another shirtless beefcake shot for my wife, and then I was able to have a photo standing with him behind his table. He was a very pleasant guest, always smiling and visiting with the fans.
Next, I attended a reading by Melissa Ann Conroy, an author who has written two books in what she explains will be a seven book series centering on a character she created who commands an airship. Her approach to writing in the Steampunk genre appeals to me because she centers her stories around actual historical events. I listened to her read passages from her two books and enjoyed her Q&A after. I have plans to interview her for the Scifi Diner Podcast soon.
I then wandered into the dealer room as Andrew was leaving and he asked me if I wanted to accompany him to a puppet show that was about to begin. I was not sure what to expect, but since I hadn’t had a chance to hang out with him, I decided to go. When I entered the room, I was a little apprehensive because I am not a Dr. Who fan. I am not against it, I just never got into it despite trying on a couple of occasions. I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the show even though I am not very knowledgeable. I was also surprised at how much about the Who universe I actually know from exposure to those that do know.
I spent the next hour just visiting with friends that were around talking about the upcoming OSFest convention at the end of the month.
The final event of the day was a Q&A session with Adrian Paul who was both entertaining and funny. He talked about Highlander as well as some of his other work and then took questions from the audience. I asked him to discuss how he got the part in Highlander and he told a very amusing story that started with walking into the first audition and telling the producers and casting people that their search for a star was over because he was the one they were looking for.
I had a great day at BritishFest and am hoping that I am able to attend again next year for at least the day. There was certainly no times that were boring and they have a jam packed program with panels that that cover a wide variety of subjects that would appeal to anyone with even the slightest interest in British popular culture.
I would like to extend my appreciation to the organizers for having things well organized and easy to find, as well as how friendly everyone was.
Here are some other pictures that I snapped while wandering around…
|Jabba the Hut dominated the hallway.|
|"Tim" the Enchanter from Holy Grail. Fortunately I answered the question correctly!|
|Model of the Moonraker from the Bond film of the same name.|
|An eagle from Space 1999.|
|John Shoberg posing at the Tardis control panel.|
|Daleks of all sizes! I didn't get exterminated.|
|Detail of the Highlander katana.|
|Tom Ulrick and his daughter snapping excellent pictures.|
|Kevin Carroll's Highlanders|
|Kevin Carroll, modeler exrorodinaire.|
|Star Wars helmet collection.|
|Kevin in battle gear.|
|Adrian Paul Q&A panel.|
|Monty Python Panel|
|There's always a Jedi around of you need one!|
Well, there it is…