Con Report Fantasticon 2018 in Copenhagen

My Dutch friend Jarsto and I had decided to go to the Fantasticon, so we both had week end tickets, and went to register Friday evening.
The theme for this years Fantasticon was Steam Punk, and it was quite fun to see people dressing up.
It was good to meet many old scifi friends, and get to meet a few new ones.

Saturday :
I went to the con, arriving about 1230.
More chatting with other fans, and then attending two program points :
Author interview with Lavie Tidhar, who was quite interesting and amusing to listen to. I just might find some of his books to read.
The second was Edmund Schluessel who talked a bit about cosmology, and told the story of two Danish astronomers :
Tycho Brahe who made as accurate measurements of the stars and planet’s positions and movements as is possible without telescopes. Yes, he did that before the invention of telescopes. He provided a massive amont of data, but did not d9o too much with it, but Johannes Kepler could use the data to form his theory and formulas for the movements of tha planets.
Then the talk went into measring the speed of light. Old measurements made with distances on Earth yielded no measurable delay, and light speed was deemed to be infinite, or in any case, not measurable. That was about to change.
Ole Römer who did use a telescope, among others to watch the moons of Jupiter. He noticed a discrepancy in the timing of eclipses of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, and by seeing the difference in timing when Jupiter was near conjunction with the sun, and in opposition to the sun, he measured the offset in timing and arrived at the conclusion that light does indeed have a finite speed. His result, made with the instrumentation and math of 1676.
He arrived at a speed of 200 000km/sec, which is excellent, considering the instuments used, and within a margin of about 30%.
I live a few km from the remains of Römer’s old observatory, and the Kroppedal museum nearby with some of the instruments used in the observatory, and asked if he knew about it. He did not, and I offered to bring him there for a visit, if he should visit Denmark again. He liked the idea, so we exchanged contact information.
After the talk we had an interesting conversation about science fiction and science in general, so I had an excellent Saturday at the con.

Sunday :
I was arriving a bit earlier than on Saturday, and, as usual having some talks with other fans.
In the afternoon there was a recording of a podcast by two groups. The Danish “Hva’ Fan” podcast and the Swedish “Fandompodden” , making a single podcast, spoken mostly in English. I took some pictures of the recording session.
Finally there war an interview with and a reading by the Danish writer Marie Ladefoged.
I came home with 3 books from the convention, two by Marie Ladefoged (in Danish), and one by Justina Robson.
I had a fun time, and I am looking forward to going to more conventions next year.

My #FreeBabylon5 experience at Loncon3

Some of you may not be familiar with #FreeBabylon5, so here is a short description :

There have been several attempts to revive the interest in the Babylon 5 TV series, including JMS’ attempt to buy back the rights for everything. He already has the rights for a theatrical movie, but can not do much with that.

Come September 2013 he had enough of this and made a not on his Facebook page, saying that he could do no more and encouraging the fans to “be organized and be loud”, in order to get Babylon 5 back on TV screens and streaming services. Babylon 5 has been away from TV screens for over a decade in the US. He (and we, the fans) want casual viewers to be able to stumble across the series.

So – the fans started a campaign – letter writing and attention creating measures. The campaign has already been partly successful. The full 5 year series has been shown on the UK Watch channel, with a trailer referencing #FreeBabylon5, and is currently running in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

I have been participating by giving away FreeBabylon5 stuff at a few conventions, and had some fun with that.

Now on to my draft text for an article for the FreeBabylon5 website :

“This is a personal account of my (Babylon Lurker’s) attendance of Loncon3 also known as Worldcon 2014.

Since I live in the Netherlands this was the first Worldcon I have had available near me since I started to go to conventions.

I met Jan M Schroeder at Phoenix Comicon 2013 and Space City Con 2014, and she provided me with some #FreeBabylon5 treats to give away at conventions.

The first two conventions were small local conventions in Copenhagen, Denmark with 30 – 150 attendees – and I got to give away a bit of this. One Swedish writer saw my “#FreeBabylon5” badge and immediately reacted by saying that B5 is a brilliant show.

The third was Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany, a media oriented convention with about 5000 attendees. I did get to give away a fair amount of the #FreeBabylon5 stuff, since I met a fair amount of B5 fans there.

Having gone to bigger conventions I decided to go to Worldcon in London this year with a fair supply.

Loncon3B5web

I did not have a table, but just walked around, talking to people. I was slightly surprised by the sheer number of Babylon 5 fans I met there. I must have talked to about 100 people during the 5 days, and my impression is that about 80% of those were B5 fans who happily received the FreeBabylon5 stuff. I am aware that B5 is more popular in the UK than in the US, but among the US people I met the number of fans was high. Essentially everyone knew B5, and many of the non-fans had the show on their to-do list.

I have to assume that this is because Worldcon attendees have a very wide range of Science Fiction interests, books, films, TV, comics etc. I guess I should not have been surprised at all .

On Saturday a Babylon 5 fan meeting was arranged, and in spite of it coinciding with the masquerade we had 40 – 50 people there. Not everyone I met had even heard of the fan meeting. I am sure it could have been bigger if it had been more widely announced.

Jan had indicated that the temporary tattoos were quite popular at SDCC, at Worldcon I found that the #FreeBabylon5 ribbons were more sought after. I ran out of the ribbon supply, but I still have some of the tattoos left, and a few buttons/badges, too.

Loncon 3 has been a very good convention experience in general, and a good B5 fan experience in particular. I will certainly continue being a roving Ambassador/Ranger at other conventions that I will attend.”

JMS announces a Babylon 5 movie at SDCC2014

This is the text from Jan M Schroeder regarding her Saturday activities at this year’s San Diego Comicon, brought here with permission. Thanks Jan.

I have my own comments on what could have lead up to this point, but that will have to wait. Please enjoy.

J. Michael Straczynski has bee a very busy bee, as you will see in Jan’s report below :

 

Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con (or the day JMS announced that he’ll do a B5 movie).
I got there at a good time, not long after the con opened at 10:00 AM. A little surprisingly, the mezzanine didn’t really seem too much busier than other days so far except for the food area being busier. I’ve got pre-written letters to WB and NBC/Universal out on the table and a fair number of folks took those to mail after adding a little demographic info. Five or six were left with me and I dropped them off to be mailed.
The big panel of the day was JMS’ of course. First I went to his signing and got a few things signed that will most likely be destined as fund-raisers. I verified with JMS that he wouldn’t mind if I handed out buttons and postcards before his panel. A new friend, Lukas, handed out at the door and I wandered the room where people were already staying from the panel before.

JMS started the panel by reviewing his current projects, both ‘out house’ (not Studio JMS) and in-house and continued with news. We got an introduction to the Sense8 actors. JMS described it as a “…complex, amazing tapestry of stories.”
– Ten Grand: JMS is currently negotiating with a major Studio/Network for a series based on this.
– Shadowman feature film: He’s two to three weeks from turning in the latest draft.
– He couldn’t name it, but he’s working on a project for Universal concerning Rod Serling and working with Carol Serling, Rod’s widow on it.
– Again he couldn’t say much but he showed a title card for a show called “Two Streets” that he’s just made a deal with Universal for that he’ll be working with “Walking Dead’s” Gail Anne Hurd.
– “Titans” is the name of the Feature film/graphic novel project that was just announced yesterday (see movie thread).
So it’s been a really big year for Studio JMS. And due to that, he can now look to doing a feature film for B5. JMS recapped that WB owns everything about B5 except the movie rights and even though he holds the film rights, to take a B5 movie to another studio without holding the TV rights wouldn’t work. There’s one studio in LA that doesn’t care about that – Studio JMS – and in 2015 JMS will write the script. He’ll give WB the opportunity to step up, but if they don’t, Studio JMS will make it in 2016 on their own with a $1-200,000,000.00 budget.

Fan questios:
A fan asked if JMS might crowdfund part of the film so that fans might be involved and JMS said that he resists doing that because it seems to him that SF fans are an exploited group and he doesn’t ever want to do that – he’d rather accept investor money.
Asked about the current situation with streaming Babylon 5, JMS said that it’s all up to Warner Bros. and gave the ‪#‎FreeBabylon5‬ campaign a nice plug, telling of the success in Europe to date and hoping for some movement domestically.

A fan asked if the success of a B5 feature might improve the chances of streaming and even future TV projects and JMS said that it would probably have a significant effect, that a good way to get someone’s (WB) attention is to rattle their cage.

Asked if the film would be a reboot or a continuation:
“It would have to be a reboot because it’s been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t work with some of these characters so we’d need to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or another but we’d have to move some things around. I’d love to see Bruce as the PPresident of the Earth Alliance; it would be the perfect role for him.”

JMS went on to tell about a story he wanted to do that he wasn’t allowed to in the original show where when Londo was injured, he wanted to do a dream sequence where the actors played different characters but the studio thought the audience would get confused.
A fan asked what’s being made not that would equal B5 for being transformative and JMS replied that TV is having a golden age right now with lots of amazing things. being made.

He concluded with his regular homily for the fans to never surrender their dreams, that with persistance and talent and luck, can overcome your circumstances and follow your passionss and succeed.

Jan
(posting in various places- feel free to share)

 

Two conventions and some podcasts

In May and June I have been to two conventions , the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany and Fantasticon in Copenhagen, Denmark.

At Fedcon a few Babylon 5 fans went together to make a little happening. You can find a series of pictures of Babylon 5 fans in and out of costume here

At both conventions I was giving away buttons for #FreeBabylon5, a group that campaigns to get Babylon 5 back on TV channels and Internet streaming. You can find more information on the Free Babylon 5 website.

I have participated in a few more of the Downbelow podcasts as a guest, and it has been fun following Heidi and Elisabeth discovering Babylon 5, and their – sometimes – uncanny guesses of what is to come. Of course, they miss greatly form time to time, but they are very observant.

Likely there will be a bit more on those activities later …

 

Another highlight from Space City Con

It is time to recall some highlights and other good experiences from different conventions I have attended.

Continuing with Space City Con I brought a poster that I had made from the photos I took at Phoenix Comicon in May 2013. with pictures of the Babylon 5 cast, some fans and a few of the pictures I took while traveling the South-West of the US – California, Arizona and Nevada.

I wanted to have the poster signed by everyone of the B5 cast who were at both cons, and apart from one person who did not really like the personal picture, the reacti0on was very positive. I also gave a copy of the poster to Patricia Tallman, so she could bring it to the “Great Maker” himself.

The #FreeBabylon5 group campaigning for getting B5 back on TV and streaming services got one that could be auctioned at Ebay for support of the group, and Ranger Jenny immediately set things in motion to get that one signed.

The most knowledgable B5 fan I know, Jan Schroeder, received one as well, and just seeing the surprise in the face was worth every effort.

I managed to get the poster signed by every cast member present at Phoenix and Space City. Mission accomplished. A slight disappointment was missing Jerry Doyle who canceled last minute, probably to to work commitments.

As a bonus, Peter Jurasik agreed to have a picture taken with him and myself showing the poster. Looks like he enjoys the interaction with the fans very much.

JurasinPosterWeb

A very enjoyable moment of Space City con, indeed.

My Highlight of Space City Con Jan 2014: Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

As convention highlight goes the Phoenix Comicon was Excellent, with the “Promise panel” where Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) told the story of Michael O’Hare’s illness leading to his departure from Babylon 5 after the first season. That was the absolute highlight of any convention for me and probably for the few hundred other fans attending the panel.

The other highlight was, of course the Reunion Panel with 14 people involved in creating Babylon 5, including JMS.

Come Space City Con in the beginning of January in Galveston, Texas.

One of the guests, Marshall Teague, was probably the most approachable of the guests from the Babylon 5 cast – with Jason Carter as a close second. Mind you, essentially all the Babylon 5 cast is very appreciative of the fans

First of all, on Friday evening, just having met with Jan (Schroeder), we entered the lift. He was in the lift already, and immediately started greeting every one of the fans there – personally – handshake and all. It gave us all the sense of a very gentle man.

He had also brought the sword of Ta’Lon and displayed it in public for the first time. At the “Narn” Panel he told that JMS had asked for some input for the character. This sword was his input to JMS for creating the character of Ta’Lon (aptly named after a talon, this sounds very much like JMS) .

At the last hour of the con I took time to go to all the B5 cast still present at their tables, and thank them for coming to see us fans.

I walked up to his table and did just that, when he asked “Have you seen the sword ?” “No, not really”. It was hanging on the wall behind him, but I had not seen it close-up.
He then invited me behind the table and took it down from the wall and handed it to me. I took and held sheathed sword carefully, studying it, knowing that is is a personal treasure for him.
I was standing there holding the sword of Ta’Lon in my hands.

I then was startled that he asked me to “Draw it !” I looked at him in the “Really ?” questioning look, and he repeated. Carefully I drew the sword and held it, felt the weight and balance, carefully moved it a bit around, then re-sheathed it.

Sword of Ta'Lon

Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

I was stunned when he told me “Apart from me, you are the first person I allowed to draw the sword.”

I have no idea why this honour was bestowed on me, and I am pretty sure that my face looked absolutely ridiculous at that moment.

The morning after the con I talked to some of the people who accompanied him during the con, and they already knew the story, *he* had told *them*. They also told me that he was very particular about who could handle the sword.

When they heard that no pictures of the situation were taken, they kindly arranged for a picture to be taken, so on Monday evening I was holding the sword once again, this time for a picture with Marshall Teague.

A most extraordinary experience. I doubt that I will reach that level of excitement again at a convention, but then again, I thought that about the JMS “Promise Panel” at Phoenix CC. But The sword of Ta’Lon was a personal experience, and not shared with a few hundred people.

Update :
When thinking a bit about it, I realized that this is the first time that I have been recognized as a martial artist by another martial artist – without doing or saying anything consciously.
Interesting.

Another update :

A few months after this happened, Marshall Teague entered a fan conversation a few fans had on Twitter. Since he did not know my Twitter name I told him that I was the one with the sword story. He just came back with : “Ah ! the virgin draw”, and when I mentioned that I must have had quite a stunned facial expression, he just said “Priceless!!

Yet another update :
A year or two after the event I was told that someone went to Houston for another con, and talked to Marshall about this, and was told that this is never going to happen again.

Also, during the panel discussion it turne out that Marshall Teague tells this story at conventions.

I have not just had a convention experience of a life time, I have also *become* a convention story. Again, not something I ever expected.

New Header picture, and some travel news.

I have installed a new theme for the blog.
The old one seems to have developed some errors in the rendering, and I did not have the inclination to look into the CSS or PHP code.
On top of that, The theme had some stock images (not too bad), but I decided to make my own Header Image.
The image is a crop of a photo I took a few weeks ago in Arizona.
Yes, I travelled to the USA in order to visit the Phoenix Comicon, since they had a celebration of the 20th anniversary for Babylon 5. How could I resist that ? 14 of the cast – well it ended up being 13, Bruce Boxleitner got work and had to cancel – and the creator of the series (“Great Maker”) Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS), in among others a big reunion panel on Saturday.

When travelling from Europe to the South West of the US, do you only go there for 4 days at a convention, and nothing else ? Of course I had to combine the convention with some travel in California, Arizona and Nevada, so I spent 2 weeks total in that area, and took a fair amount of photos. I was driving about 1900 miles (close to 3000km) in 7 days of driving.

One of them has now landed as the Header image for this blog. It is taken near Sedona in Arizona.

Apart from the convention the trip took me to :
San Francisco,
Joshua Tree National Park,
The area near Sedona, yes, all the red rocks,
Grand Canyon,
The Hoover Dam,
Passing by “Area 51”,
Yosemite National Park

Quite a lot in 2 weeks, and I had to cancel a few destinations I wanted to see, such as the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

The trip is clearly too short for what I wanted to see, so I may have to go to the area again some time to complete the experience.

I have organized the pictures from the convention, and I am in the process of organizing the pictures from the rest of the trip.

Expect to read more about the trip later.

The convention pictures can be found at : http://jgander.home.xs4all.nl/photo/phoenix2013/index.html

Have fun if you take a look.

– and 2 weeks before the Phoenix CC I went to the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany. Probably not the last time I do that, especially since it is only a few hours drive from where I live right now. Pictures will be sorted out for that one, too.
I expect to look through pictures from more conventions after that, most likely in the autumn/fall this year.

Photo a Week #4 Jonathan Frakes at Fedcon 2012

This week’s photo was taken at the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany in May this year.

A very entertaining actor, he suddenly left the stage and walked among the audience.
When he passed right by me I was quick enough with the camera to catch this picture :

Frakes walking by

Jonathan Frakes walking among the audience.

The colours come from the stage lighting, I like the mood of the picture.

As an experiment it may be worth trying to convert this picture to black/white.