I actually managed to wake up bright and early on Saturday morning, despite the fact that I had stayed up quite late the night before watching “The Sea Devils” and finishing up my packing. I really hadn’t decided what I was going to wear and when until just before we left on Friday.
It’s pretty wrong. My mask guy lives a few states away and it’s kind of tough sometimes to communicate exactly what I want. Now don’t get me wrong – he got the Seal of Rassilon absolutely perfect. It looks amazing. But the fabric of the mask was supposed to be “the wildest, craziest purple you have”. And it’s pink. That would be okay, but my plan had been to convert my purple suit into a reasonable facsimile of Doctor Six’s blue suit from “Real Time”. A purple mask on top of that with the Seal on it would have been neat-o. But a pink mask just did not work. So I scrapped that idea. At least I could still wear it with my Phantom Troublemaker Speed Suit.
Anyway, that changed up my whole attire schedule for the weekend. I still wanted to wear my purple and green Doctor Four costume, but I decided to skip Doctor Three this year. I’m just not happy with the shirt. I’m going to take my time and find a good new one.
I arrived at the Holiday Inn Chambodia around 10 AM. Not too shabby for me. I set my merch back up at the table and went to the front desk to see if I could check in yet.
I had made a point of stopping by the front desk the night before to see if I needed to do anything special to get an early check-in. My first panel was at 1 PM and I wanted to be sure to have a place to change and get my display stuff set up with plenty of time to spare. The lady there had told me that it wouldn’t be a problem and that I should be able to check in at 10 or 11 AM. Cool.
I went to the front desk and asked about my room. She said it wasn’t ready yet. I told her that I really wanted to get in as soon as possible and would really appreciate anything she could do. She told me to come back at 11.
I went back to the table and – sporting my brand-new NeedlessThingsSite.com t-shirt – settled in to maybe make a buck or two. Director Faber and William were there, ready for action. I was pleased to have met some fans on Friday night. Not just ESO fans, but fans of mine as well. They were a very nice family and they showed up again Saturday morning as Jackie and Rose:
Which I thought was one of the coolest family costumes I had seen.
I actually got to meet a lot of awesome people over the weekend. There was one couple that attended several of my panels and were just awesome to talk to. They were very enthusiastic about their fandom and I gave them heck for missing the Star Trek panel because they hadn’t seen Into Darkness yet (I hope you guys have seen it now!).
We also got to see a little performance involving a Cyberman, Doctors Six and Two, Ace, and Frobisher. The fella playing Doctor Six was a source of entertainment all weekend. I got to chat with him a few times and it turned out he was an indie wrestler. We talked a bit about MCW and I invited him out to the next show.
At 11 I returned to the front desk to check on my room. Nothing yet. Not a big deal. As long as I could get in there by noon I would be able to do what I needed to do.
Right around that time, every available Doctor gathered around Idris and the TARDIS… er… Idris and Idris… the TARDIS and itself… herself… whatever. Here’s a picture of a cool thing that happened:
And I also saw the best Tom Baker cosplayer I have ever seen in my life:
Whoa. That’s uncanny. Also there was a black Dalek and that amazing Cyberman:
I went back to the desk at noon and if you’re surprised that my room was not yet ready then you obviously aren’t familiar with how things go around here. The lady at the desk said she’d call me when it was ready (this never happened). I was so despondent about the lack of ability I was going to have to prepare for my panel that I had that Cyberman choke me out:
But I soldiered on and realized that if worst came to worst (which it would) I could go and change in the Men’s Room. This is not something I particularly wanted to do, as I once changed in a bathroom at Dragon*Con back before I made a habit of booking a room. It was a singularly unpleasant experience, only outranked on my list of “Shitty Things at Dragon*Con” by the year I got a kidney stone. If you’ve never had the pleasure of being 6’4” and changing into a suit and a luchador mask in a tiny bathroom stall with a urine-soaked floor; well, you really shouldn’t.
Thankfully the Holiday Inn Chambodia’s Men’s Room had a handicapped stall large enough to store a Sherman tank. Now, I normally wouldn’t use a handicapped stall under any circumstances. It’s not that I’m all saintly or anything, but I work with a dude in a wheelchair so I’ve become very conscious of such things. But this was a different circumstance and there was another restroom available. I figured if I was as quick as I could be I could change in less time than it would normally take to perform the function the stall in question was built to facilitate. And I did.
It was very important to me that I wear my Phantom Troublemaker Speed Suit during the toy panel. This was the first panel at a con that I had ever been in charge of. Granted, nobody had actually put me in charge. I kind of just decided that I was gonna run the thing. If I was going to be on a panel about toys, particularly Doctor Who toys, then I was going to be in charge. And it was going to be great. That’s why I had loaded up a suitcase full of Doctor Who toys from across the ages and brought it with me.
I made it to the appropriate room with the help of ESO Cadet William and started setting up. I covered the table with toys. It looked pretty impressive. I probably should have taken a picture, but I was so wound up and excited it didn’t occur to me. One thing I was not – nervous.
Director Faber showed up after I was all set up and it was go time. I announced the panel as “The ESO Network Presents: NeedlessThingsSite.com’s Celestial Toyroom with Phantom Troublemaker and my lovely co-host Director Faber”. You’re damn right I hijacked the title of the panel.
It went very well. The room was quite full and the audience was fun. We had some great input from some of them and Director Faber was able to step in and provide some dates and facts at the appropriate times. Everything rolled along quite well despite the fact that I had no script or anything and Faber and I hadn’t done any kind of preparation beforehand. I’ve got to say, that’s Faber’s talent – he can go on the fly and interact verbally amazingly well. He was on several panels with me over the weekend and they were all successes.
I gave away a couple of the Dapol figures I had bought from Billy’s Toys – basically as bribery – and told everybody to be sure and rate the panel in the TimeGate app on Guidebook. As of right now the panel has 5 out of 5 stars.
After the panel Cadet William helped me box everything up and I headed straight to the front desk for a status report.
The lady told me my room was ready at 2 PM, just like I had requested. I kind of wanted to cover her in honey and throw ants on her at that point. 2 PM?
I had spent the previous night and most of the morning envious of all of the other con-goers in their Doctor costumes, so I headed straight to the room to dump out my suitcase:
And change into my Phantom Troublemaker as Doctor Four costume, which had not been properly seen at any other con. My next panel was at 3 PM, so I had just enough time to get changed and pose for some pictures with Cyberebecca:
Doctor Six as played by that entertaining wrestler fellow:
And none other than Doctor 8.5, who beat John Hurt to the role by about a year!:
I also stopped by the Pixel Who booth to purchase some prints:
Lil’ Troublemaker had seen this artist’s work the night before and loved it. I knew I wasn’t going to spend very much money, but I always have to get something for him. As much as I wanted to buy one of the huge, season-encompassing posters that were available, I already have a stack of poster-sized prints awaiting frames. I thought it best to play it safe and buy smaller pieces that I could easily buy frames for. Plus, there was an 8X10 that covered all of the current Doctors:
As well as some great fun-sized pieces:
I have some postcard frames at home that look really neat on the wall, so those were perfect. Stay tuned, because I will be posting a Q&A with Nathan Skreslet, the creator of Pixel Who sooner than later.
Soon enough it was time for the Elementary panel. I had no idea who was on the panel with me, but I hoped one of them would be a details guy (or gal) with a good memory because I was going to be doing straight-up color commentary on that one. I arrived in the room right at 3 PM and rushed up to the table, where Matt Sweatman and an older gentleman were already seated. Mike Heffernan said that our fourth would not be joining us (and I missed an opportunity to riff on my Doctor Four costume) and to go ahead. The other two put me in charge due to a little banter I had done with the audience while everybody was getting situated.
I introduced myself and plugged Needless Things and then gestured towards my co-panelists to introduce themselves. Matt did and then it was revealed to me just exactly who I was sitting next to:
“Louis Robinson currently makes his living as a professional singer/songwriter and can be found regularly performing and working with other singer/songwriters in the area. Before coming to America, he worked for the BBC for many years, in a number of capacities in both television and radio. He wrote, produced, composed and directed many different productions. In the '70s, he worked in the film editing department, contributing to such shows as The Brothers (starring Colin Baker and Kate O'Mara), The Onedin Line, Doomwatch (created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, famous for also creating the Cybermen), and of course, Doctor Who. After leaving the BBC for two years, he returned in 1984 as Program Associate of the hit show Telly Addicts. He worked on the entire run of that show, from the development of its pilot in 1984 to the final episode in 1996. Robinson is also a Sherlock Holmes expert, and enjoys giving presentations on that subject.”
I was on a panel with an actual, for-real, accomplished dude. Not to disparage anybody else that I have ever been on a panel with, but Mr. Robinson worked on Doctor Who. In, like, England and stuff. After he introduced himself (in a much more succinct way than the above blurb) I have to admit I was a little nervous. But I was also glad because I remembered from the Guest List that he was the Sherlock Holmes guy.
The panel was fantastic. We had a tremendous rapport and Mr. Robinson had no trouble conversing with me and accepting my input, something I am always conscious of because you never know what people are going to make of the mask (more on that after the Into Darkness panel). Anyway, we discussed the history of Sherlock Holmes, the themes of the show, and the general awesomeness of the cast. Mr. Robinson had some great insights coming from the world of television production and as a long-time Sherlock fan. I said “awesome” a lot.
I also reminded the audience – the biggest one I had all weekend – to go into their TimeGate apps and rate the panel. As of right now it has 5 out of 5 stars.
I’m not gonna lie – I was spent after that one. But I had merch to attempt to sell (ha ha!) and hadn’t spent hardly any time at the ESO table due to my busy schedule. I went and hung out there for a while and chatted with various folks. It was nice just sitting down and socializing for a while.
Two things of note that I can’t quite place in Saturday’s timeline:
I passed on watching the Q&A with Colin Baker. After what I had experienced Friday night I wanted my memory of Colin Baker to be that intimate conversation, not just another Q&A.
Also, the cast and crew of Doctor Who: The Forgotten Doctor premiered the full first episode of their web series as well as an unfinished cut of the second. I was manning the table and couldn’t step inside the Main Room to watch, but I did stand there and watch as much as I could.
It was amazing – far beyond anything I had expected to see. I knew from previous interviews that the people behind it were smart and talented, but the end result is fantastic. Here, check it out:
The look far surpasses what I thought would be possible and Jevocas Green is absolutely magical as the Doctor, not to mention the fellow they cast as Doctor Eight. And the story is wonderful – perfectly fitting into the current canon of the franchise.
I had managed to talk my way into the Star Trek: Into Darkness panel at 6 PM, and I had another costume change before that. Can’t go to a Star Trek panel in a Doctor Who costume. That would be ridiculous. So I put on my trusty yellow Command shirt and headed back to the Piedmont room to face down my own, personal Khan.
Manning the bridge of the Star Trek panel with me were Captain Faber and Commander Troutt. As First Officer of fun, I was in charge of witty asides and mediation. At least, that’s what I thought going in. Then Faber pulled the ol’ switcheroo on me and put yours truly in charge. It must have been my Command t-shirt. Or maybe it was the bearded fellow in the front who was grasping the chair in front of him and rocking back and forth, looking quite maniacal and waiting for the panel to start.
We opened up with some pleasantries and maybe brief histories of our own Trek love. All three of the panelists agreed that we loved the admittedly flawed movie. After a few minutes of discussion, Beardy Khan piped up and voiced his desire for discussion of the negative aspects of the film. Though he might not have phrased it so delicately.
Over the course of the panel, Beardy Khan continually tried to steer us into an argument about the quality of Into Darkness, which he clearly did not like. While we agreed that certain things didn’t work (Khan’s race) and other things were outright stupid (the reversal of the Spock/Kirk death scene and Spock’s resultant “KHAAAN!”), we wouldn’t cede that the movie was worthless garbage and a mistake, which is clearly what Beardy Khan thought. Just to be clear, he was never disrespectful of us – though he did tread on the panel a bit more than a typical audience member – he just really wanted to convince us the movie was bad and wanted us to argue back. But I maintained a certain amount of lead amongst the panelists and never went down that path.
If you want to get into a real nerd brawl, I am not your guy. I believe too firmly that everybody is entitled to their own tastes and opinions to try and argue or convince another person that they are wrong about something. If we all agreed then the world would be pretty dull.
Anyway, I was actually grateful for Beardy Khan’s interaction, as it spiced the panel up a bit and kept it from being an all-out love fest for Into Darkness. The three of us at the front table would likely have just gone on and on about how much fun it was and glossed over some of the failings, but Beardy Khan kept things more balanced and interesting. Rather than being bothered by him I actually wondered why he wasn’t on the panel.
After the panel was over, I realized I had received a text from Director Faber about halfway through. It said that Beardy Khan was Eric Watts, the head of Trek Track – a Star Trek convention – and that he was just looking for a nerd battle. I wanted to be sure to let him know that there were no hard feelings, so after the panel I walked outside, found Beardy Kahn, and shook his hand; thanking him for his input and presence. He told me that I was very intelligent and articulate but that it was hard to take me seriously in the mask. He said that he didn’t know if I was playing a character or acting like a goofball or what.
Before you get all defensive on my behalf – he brings up good points. These are things I actually think about quite a bit. Not only that, but my face is hard to read under the mask. I think it makes people uncomfortable sometimes. Lord knows it startled Colin Baker. But 1) It’s my gimmick. It gets me recognized and it’s a thing that’s (almost) unique to me. 2) I need to maintain a distinct separation and anonymity (or at least plausible deniability) from my workplace. The greater percentage of people I work with would not approve of or understand my activities as Phantom Troublemaker. Plus there are things I do that I simply don’t want my real name attached to.
I paraphrased this to Beardy Khan and I think he sort of got it. Either way, we parted as friendly acquaintances. After that it was time for
The ESO Dinner!
Come back tomorrow for the full story of Saturday night at TimeGate 2013!