|"As One" by Arden Ellen Nixon|
OSFest 8 - The Darkness Within - July 31-August 2, 2015
This past weekend was the eighth annual Omaha Science Fiction Education Society’s convention more commonly known as OSFest 8. Attending this convention is something I look forward to all year and this year, as in years past, I had a great time. This year was especially fun because I was able to be involved more than I have in past years thanks to my friends of the IKV Raptor's Heart crew. My weekend was balanced between serving on panels and just being a spectator. I was constantly busy and didn't have a minute to be bored.
Chrissy, Diane and I decided to head out a day early for a stop at the Strategic Air Command Museum in Ashland, Nebraska. We had not been there is quite a few years and it was great to see how it has grown since I was last there, I think about seven years ago. They have added many new items and exhibits and I would recommend, especially if you are a military history buff, that you consider stopping there. Make sure that you have at least a few hours to spend to take everything in.
We stayed the night in Bellevue and headed into Omaha. The Klingons has asked for assistance with setting up for their very ambitious weekend, and I wanted to be involved, so I wanted to arrive early. I was not disappointed as I was put to work right away setting up displays.
One of the first panels on the program was the Dune Discussion panel hosted by John Shoberg, Pat Kennedy and me. We talked about the history and culture of the Fremen from that universe and the audience participation was very good. As the discussion progressed, we talked about the Fremen in the books and films and the question came up about whether anyone would ever be able to make a really good film depicting Frank Herbert's creation. It was a great way to kick off the convention. If deemed worthy by my Dune Saga Podcast partners, the audio portion of this podcast will appear on our programming.
Even while the Dune panel was taking place, there was the first of the Klingon activities happening in another room. Trudy Myers was hosting a Klingon Pin Workshop, and thank goodness, it was a two hour event, so I was able to get in on it before it was over. The purpose was to take a blank pin and paint it to look authentic. I am no artist, so my effort fell a little short, but I did get to visit with Trudy for quite some time and that was even more fun than the painting. As the panel was ending, Trudy gave me a few more blanks to go along with the ones that John had already given me and encouraged me to try again when time is not a factor. I'm not giving up.
I also got to see a little bit of the Star Wars Match game taking place in the main gathering area. I have participated in this game before and it is quite fun. It was nice to hear all of the creative answers to finish phrases that the host, Gene Ray Burn was throwing out. I wish I could have been more than one place at a time.
As always, the best part of attending a convention is visiting with friends and making new ones. I had already had my dinner when Patrick Kennedy invited me to join his family, but I joined him anyway and had a cup of coffee while I visited with Pat and the Artist Guest Of Honor, Arden Ellen Nixon.
Following the opening ceremonies, I attended the Great Tribble Hunt, which turned out to be a game of Tribble dodge ball. I had intended to participate, but when I saw that it was mostly kids playing, I decided to stand aside; they move way too fast for me. A couple of the adults did get involved, and I managed to get my hands on a couple of tribbles that went astray, but my aim is not good anymore and I didn't hit anyone. It was fun to watch the kids run around and expend some pent up energy at the end of the day.
By the end of the Tribble Hunt, it was time to visit with friends at the room parties. I wish to say congratulations to John Shoberg and Trudy Myers on the publication of their books, and thanks for the cake and conversation.
The next morning, I was up early, so I secured a large cup of coffee and sat down to read for a while and waited for things to get started. It wasn't long before my good friend Troy Rutter arrived and along with my family, we had a nice breakfast and visit together. Soon after breakfast, I helped Troy set up his display of a costume from the movie Ender's Game. He managed to acquire the exercise suit from the training scenes that was actually worn by the character Bean, as portrayed by Aramis Knight.
The first panel I attended and participated on was the Babylon 5 Fan Gathering. This was hosted by resident B5 expert Mitch Obrecht and along with myself, included Troy. Mitch kicked off the panel by trying to lead a talk about the possible Babylon 5 film that has been talked about on social media. Somewhere along the line, the subject swerved off the topic and became a discussion about the economics of TV/movies and especially the recent Sharknado. I am not sure where the panel went off the rails, but there seems to be quite a lot of passion about the SyFy series depicting sharks being lifted into the air by tornadoes and subsequently dropped on our country's major cities.
At this point, I decided to take a walk through the vendor's room and visit with friends there.
Next up was lunch with the IKV Raptor's Heart crew. Their presentation, Dining On Qo'noS included some delicious culinary selections that while may have looked like normal Terran fare, were a very welcome change to the usual restaurant food. Everything was home made and prepared with great care to not only taste good, but looked good too. If you are reading this, thanks to you, Sharon and crew for a good meal and fellowship.
I really had to wolf down lunch quickly to attend Troy's Babylon 5 On The Web panel in the next room. Babylon 5 was one of the very first television series to have a presence on the internet thanks to the efforts of Troy Rutter. Much of what he did has become an industry standard for promoting and maintaining a fan base for almost every genre television production available today. Troy explained that while in college in Iowa, he worked with others to create websites that gained the attention of the creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski who invited Troy to visit the show's location in California. As he tells it, he didn't waste anytime getting a plane ticket the very next day. He was soon offered a position on creating and running the web activities of the show. Even though I had heard a few of the stories before, I still had a lot of fun listening to the ones I had heard before, and to hear new ones.
With nothing happening that I was involved in, I decided to take a stroll through the dealer's room and art display. I picked up a couple of CD's and a book that will come in handy for the Babylon Project Podcast that I am a co-host on. I also put in my bid on some art for Chrissy and me. She found two ink drawings from Star Wars and the price was right. I choose one of Patrick Kennedy's Dune prints. I also visited with Bruce Schindler, a local author that I met at the Buffalo County Fair who writes science fiction with an interesting twist; post apocalyptic western stories. I stopped and visited with Robert Collins, another author of scifi and fantasy, and arranged an interview to discuss a collection of short stories I finished last week from the Frigate Victory series.
The restaurant at the venue closes between services, so while my family, Troy, and I waited to get in for the taco buffet they were offering, I was approached by John who opened our conversation with a question, "Do you think we can get you into (Klingon) uniform next year?", to which I replied in the affirmative. John then proceeded to tell me that a couple would like to renew their wedding vows at next year's OSFest, and he told me that he would like me to participate as a member of the wedding party! I was floored, to say the least. I agreed, after recovering from mild shock. So, I guess I will be building a Klingon uniform. Thank goodness I have almost a year to worry about that and a wife that knows how to sew.
After dinner, I wandered around admiring the costumes and took a few pictures.
I attended another panel with Troy on collecting autographs, a hobby of his. Unfortunately, there were only two of us that attended, but we got a lot of interesting information and ideas for those that collect autographs. Troy's specialty is collecting autographs through the mail. He talked about how to tell if that type of autograph is authentic or not. He further explained that there are those celebrities that do indeed sign their own, some that have a secretary sign them, and even some who have a machine that will do it for them. I learned that I am an IP'er, or someone who prefers to collect autographs in person.
The next panel I served on was called Legends Lost where I joined John Shoberg, Matt McKeever, Dennis Lynch, and Author Guest Of Honor Matt Rotundo where we discussed our thoughts and memories of Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee. What I expected would be a tearful remembrance of two of our icons actually turned out to be a fun and light hearted discussion with some good audience participation, and for me, a learning experience. I was sorry to admit that I didn't know a great deal about Mr. Lee beyond my exposure to him as Dracula and Count Dooku. As John pointed out to me later, a panelist should not only contribute to a conversation, but should also take something away.
After the panel, Troy and I hung out and visited about films, television, and I took a closer look at the autograph collection. It is extensive and distinguished and he personally knows many of the people he has signatures from. Troy is a truly interesting man and has many fun stories to share. Along with that, he mixes up a very good Jovian Sunspot.
On the last day of the con, I was all set to attend a session on the Klingon art of Mok'bara, which is really Tai Chi. I have always been interested in learning more about it, and figured that this would be a great opportunity, when suddenly the facilities' fire alarm sounded! As if the convention weren't exciting enough. Apparently, while moving one of the retractable walls by the dealer's area, a fire sprinkler was bumped and a weakened pipe burst causing water to be sprayed from the ceiling! Immediately, a bunch of people rushed in and helped with the situation until the Omaha Fire Department arrived. Fortunately, the water sprayed on the floor and beyond that, there was no other property damage. Within a half an hour, the situation was resolved and I and a few others learned about Tai Chi and where to find further information.
From there, I was privileged to co-host a panel on Star Trek Philosophy. Along with Matt McKeever, a very intelligent and thoughtful man, we began discussing Gene Roddenberry's vision of a utopian future exploring the galaxy encountering other races and interacting with them. In a sort of "good cop/bad cop" way, I took a more pessimistic track than Matt did and I think I might have derailed the topic when I asked if we, as a species, would be able to transcend above our nature. From there, the discussion turned to more of an economic and the want/need for material goods as well as other topics. It was a spirited conversation and most of the audience got involved.
The last event of the day that I participated in was Klingon Jeopardy. I not only participated, I was permitted to be the MC. The motto was "come for the chocolate, stay for the pain." So, as is done on the show, the MC presents the answer and the contestant has to provide the question. So I might say, "a very young Clint Howard guest starred on this Original Series episode." The correct response would be, "what is The Corbomite Maneuver." If the contestant gets it right, then they get a piece of chocolate, but if they get it wrong, they get poked with a pain stick (which consists of a hand-shake buzzer on the end of a broom handle). This was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed presenting the questions and acting silly for an hour.
By the end of that, I was pretty well conned out and ready to hit the road for the three hour ride home.
There was so much to do and see this year at OSFest 8. With over 90 panels, workshops, author readings, and activities, not to mention the room parties there was definitely no lack of programming. The only problem with this was that I wished I could be in more than one place at a time.
One of the best things about being at most any convention is to meet up with people you only get to see once a year, and to meet and make new friends. I did manage to sit down and just visit with friends for a while a couple of times and share stories, information, and laughs. I again would like to compliment and show my appreciation to the officers of the IKV Raptor's Heart for making me feel very welcome and for the huge effort they made to make this event a success. They were everywhere doing whatever they could to provide everyone who chose to participate a great time. I would also like to thank James "Hawk" Hawkswell and the rest of the staff for their courtesy and professionalism. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating and did their part to make this a fun experience for everyone.
So now I begin looking forward to OSFest 9. I better get started making that Klingon uniform.
|Darth Vader Force Choking Hawk.|
|IKV Raptor's Heart Display|
|More Klingon Swag|
|Troy's Display Of The Exercise Suit Worn By Bean In Ender's Game|
|Batman & Starlord With Their Kids|
|Star Trek Philosophy Panel|
|John Stands By With The Pain, Sharon With The Chocolate, I Read The Questions|
|If You Answer Wrong, You Get The Pain Stick|
|Sharon Dealing With An Unruly Contestant|
Well, there it is...