woensdag 14 november 2012

HalloWhedon 4 - We did some Epic Shit

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the last weekend of October I was in London for HalloWhedon 4 - a convention for all things Joss Whedon (hence the name). And this year was amazing!!!!! I met even more people than I did last year and got to see my friends again. The actors were just wonderful and heart warming. It was definitely the best weekend of the year. A lot of people ask me 'What is it, exactly?' so I decided to give a full on recap of the weekend, to give my best explaination possible. Prepare to have a nice long read, because here's my story about the epicness of this weekend ;-).

(Here's our motto)

Friday - October 26th
On Friday my plane was supposed to arrive at ten past two... was supposed to, because due to weather circumstances I arrived 1,5 hours late. The plane ride was okay though, because I had my magazines and I talked to a cameraman who was sitting in front of me. And as long as I was in Holland I could check up on my friends en scoobies through Twitter and/or Facebook. So we chatted some as well. Once landed in Heathrow I took the Hoppa Bus to the beautiful Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel. It took me about half an hour to get registered and go to my room. Then I had to register for the event itself, so it was about five 'o clock when I could go to the meet up.
The meet up is a thing, where fellow con-goers go to a pub and have a nice dinner while meeting other goers. Last year I met Nicola, Sez and Carry there and we have remained friends since then. I was really looking forward to seeing them again at the meet up - as well as the Scoobies. Through social media (mostly Twitter) I had been in contact with other congoers - the Scoobies - and I was very excited to finally meet them face to face. Unfortunately I was just to tired (and not really hungry) that I had to cancel. At the registration desk I did meet two wonderful friends of mine since the first HalloWhedon, Danni and Tom. We talked some - exchanged gifts :D - and took a lot of pictures. After freshening up in my room I came back early for the opening ceremony. Early, because I was going to see the scoobies - FINALLY - at the dealers room!!!! I cannot describe the happiness that I felt when I saw them again and got to meet the others (Stephen, Joey, Rhys and Joanne). It was pure awesomeness :D :D :D. Sez even brought a gift for all the scoobies: our own T-shirt with twittername and 'scoobies' on it. And I love it! We talked some, took pictures and then we headed for the main room for the ceremony.

Opening ceremony, drinks and lawyers with sacrifices
The opening ceremony is basically two organisers coming on stage and telling us what the weekend is going to be like. Usually with a special reminder that the guests are there to have fun as well, so to please let them be and mingle instead of taking pictures or asking autographs: That's what the scheduled sessions are for, of course. The best thing about it is that the guests come on stage for a bit and say a quick 'hello'. J August Richards (Charles Gunn on Angel) definitely set the tone for the weekend by coming on stage unzipping his vest and saying 'this is the motto for the weekend' while pointing to his shirt (see picture above): "DO EPIC SHIT!" Other than that we heard some kind words from the always funny Nicky Brendon (Xander LaVelle Harris in Buffy) and the o so sweet Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers - Buffy's Mom). After about five to ten minutes they left the stage and got ready for the drinks reception, as did the Gold Card Holders (which was me and my friends!).
The wine reception is a reception for Gold Card Holders where we get free drinks and stand in groups of ten around a table. Each guest will come by and have a little chat with the group, so everyone will be able to ask questions or simply enjoy being this close to an idol for the first time :P. Kristine was very sweet and talked about her time in England studying, J was interested in what we were going to dress up as for Halloween and Nicky... He was the best. We got him to do the Snoopy Dance (talk about Epic!), not to mention the fact that he sang his line from 'I've Got a Theory' (after some assistence from us) (EPIC!!!!!!). We then got some behind-the-scenes info on filming that. I also got to embarres myself by answering a question about massages...which won't be mentioned here... (anymore). What I also loved about this reception was that our group consisted of some old friends from previous years who went Gold for the first time - as well as new faces that we had the best time with for the rest of the weekend!
After the reception had ended we decided to go to our rooms and meet later before going to the party. We all got dressed up - mostly as fancy lawyers, but some also as human sacrifices. The theme of the party was 'Wolfram & Hart' - the evil lawfirm that was working against Angel and with/for demons - so sacrifices are to be expected, haha. We had a bouncing castle, which we had an amazing time on. Not to mention a lot of dancing and talking. A great way to end the first day of HalloWhedon, which was already full of Epic Shit.

(A quick hello during the opening ceremony from the VIP-three)

Saturday - October 27th
Saturdaymorning started with a group breakfast. Just like last year I had breakfast with the same group every morning. There even was a icognito guest as well: Nicky Brendon was spotted every morning around the same time in the same room - in a red hoodie with sun glasses. I thought it was kinda funny, but mostly I just liked the fact that he felt comfortable enough to enjoy his breakfast surrounded by fans. He even joined some fans at the table as well. After a wonderful breakfast we all went upstairs to get our stuff and get ready for the rest of the day.
At ten in the morning we could get our pictures taken with each of the guests as well as get our items signed. This was an AMAZING morning. Because Sean Maher (from Firefly) cancelled last minute due to work commitments, Gold Card holders got an extro photo with each of the guests as well as one extra autograph from a guest of our choice. And I love my pictures!!!! Because we got two pictures, you had to come up with poses. And I got hugs from J and Nicky. It was so awesome. I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about it. They are the greatest people: Nice, and funny *swoon*. Kristine is so motherly, so I wanted pictures like that. And I got them as well. The extra autograph I got was from Nicky. I loved my picture with him so much and I asked him to sign it. This was possible because - unlike last year when we had to wait a pretty long time for our pictures to be developed - we could see the pictures at once. We got them right away, which really lessened the stress factor of making sure you would get all your prints on time. 
Also included was one group shot: a picture with all the guests in one picture and of course yourself. Sez and Nicola came up with the idea to do one extra with all of the Scoobies, so we bought an extra ticket for that. We were all wearing our Scooby-shirts that Sez made and it's one of my favorites of the weekend :D.

(Group shot with the lovely scooby gang!)

There was about 1,5 hours between the morning and afternoon programme, so we went for lunch at MacDonalds first. Around two o' clock the Talk started. I believe first up was J, then Kristine and Nicky last. What I love about the talk is that you can ask the questions you always wanted to ask. But you can also just ask them silly things or get them to do a comic book reading XD. This was EPIC! Someone from the audience asked J and he immediatly got some peeps from the audience to play some other parts as well. It's so amazing when this stuff happens, haha. We also got kinda deep, talking about Martin Luther King, politics (I think) as well as the show of course. He told a story about taking an axe with him from the set, and I believe a leather jacket as well. He really loved it and forgot it one time at a hotel. He even went back for it, but it was gone. He was so bummed about it, but then he remembered that there was another one at costumes. So he went to the set and took the other one, hahaha (I'm not telling it right, but it was a funny story). He also said that someone probably still has it right now, not knowing that it was his favorite jacket - not even knowing the story behind it.
Between the talks were 15 minute breaks during which we chatted with our friends and I handed out candy (lol). I brought some Dutch treats, like stroopwafels and chocolate letters, as well as 'chocolade pepernoten'. I'm glad they loved it as much as I do. During the talk with Kristine I asked her about how she prepared for the episode The Body (in which she dies) as well as playing the storyline about Joyce getting a brain tumor. This is a very personal question for me and there are a lot of fans who find it as heartbreaking as myself. She explained that it was very personal for her too, and that she had many talks about it with Joss. During her talk she was always very calm and serene. I just loved that vibe, because it really translated onto the audience. She also knew how to play the audience, especially when the questions about Giles and Joyce having sex came up: "They were good enough to make my husband jealous." :P
Like I said, the last talk was with Nicky. Before we started he asked if a certain person was in the room and asked her to come on stage. As it turned out, it was her birthday (as well as someone else's, who also got on stage) and he sang 'Happy Birthday' to them both seperately. Nicky is just awesome like that. I finally got to ask him a question about something I had been wondering ever since I read about it. Namely: Apparently Sarah and Aly pulled down his pants during one of the scenes and I wanted to know if it's true. "It's true," Nicky said, "they pantsed me... It was for the episode with dodgeball, I was hanging on something and we were wearing gym clothes. I wasn't wearing anything underneath. Full frontal of Nicky's little - It was cold, so yeah - and we were shooting a scene so it was filmed. But the cameraman promised me he would destroy it." There was a lot of laughing going on and this is what I remember about the answer, but I believe there was even more to the story. Another question I liked was when someone asked about his twin brother and if he ever asked him - Kelly - to do things for him when Nicky himself didn't feel like it. He got quiet for a while and then said..."Yeah, I'm Kelly. You got me." It was just a great moment, a 'you had to be there' kinda thing. The Talk ended with him doing the worldfamous Snoopy Dance ;-) (shown below from his second talk during the first HalloWhedon). 

After the talks had finished we immediatly went on with the auction. I would have loved to bid on something - I did try for one thing - but the prices go up like crazy, so I simply like to watch what they have and be amazed. This year I even got something out of it: Because I missed the second HalloWhedon, I didn't get the free mug or T-shirt. Collectables in my book, that I still want to have. I noticed the mugs on stage, but they never went up for auction. So, afterwards, I went to them, explained how much I wanted the mug (there was no T-shirt...) and I could buy it for practicly nothing :D ( I'm a happy camper!). It ended around sevenish I think, and I was starting to get a headache from being wired and tired. So I skipped dinner with my friends and lay down for a while before the EPIC Halloween Party! I didn't get to go as Buffy's Little Red Riding Hood as I wanted and I didn't really have time for a costume (nor the money) so I went as either Buffy, or a Sunnydale High Student in their gym outfit. Not very creative, but very comfortable. Everybody's costumes were in-cre-di-ble! So scary, bloody, creepy, or simply beautiful. I saw Edward Scissorhands, Poisen Ivy, werewolves, vampires, victims, zombies, Gentlemen, Glory, cheerleaders, a lot of Red Riding Hoods, James Dean... you name it. There was also a rodeo thing, only it was a pumpkin, and a tossing game (I won candy!). The decorations were amazing, though the cobwebbes were very sticky... and the music, well, that wasn't as great as last year, but we still had a great time. I especially love the moments when everybody rushed to the dancefloor because 'Time Warp' (Rocky Horror Picture Show), 'Star Trekkin'' and 'Dr. Who' came on. And of course we couldn't sit still during the Buffy Theme, the theme from Firefly, 'I've Got a Theory'  and 'My Eyes' (from Dr. Horrible). I even believe I'm missing a couple, but it was so great. We partied 'till late, and we still got an extra hour of sleep because winter time started that night. Best Halloween party of the year!

(In case you don't know the Time Warp or The Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Sunday - October 28th
On Sunday we met up a little later, because we already got our pictures and autographs on Saturday. Which meant we also had some time to kill. In my case I also had to check out, because I was going to spend the last night in a room with my Dutch friend, Yvonne. Other than that I got one extra autograph from Nicky though, and the rest of the morning was filled with chatting with friends, catching up, writing in each others journals, taking pictures and simply having a relaxing morning. We also went to the Dealers Room. Here you can buy certain things, such as pictures (to get signed), mugs, T-shirts, comic books, books, action figures, posters, autographs, bags... well, you name it. And it's not just Whedon stuff, it had shirts with "Bazinga!" on it (from The Big Bang Theory), as well as a bag from the Vampire Diaries or stuff from Game of Thrones and True Blood. I bought the first volume of Buffy season 9 (comic book), which I had wanted for a long time (Happy camper again :D). I did buy one other thing, which was a 'professional' picture from the Halloween party. Giles Golding is the photographer at the event and he also takes amazing pictures during the parties. I think all of us got some pictures of at least one of the parties :P. 

In the afternoon we had Talks again. This time we began with Kristine. Once again it was a very nice talk. There were some questions about mothers and daughters, specifically her own experience and how she herself would have been with Buffy. We also talked about what it was like for her to come back for a couple of episodes and I loved it that she said that Joyce was a ghost protecting Dawn, giving her a message, instead of her being the First (in Conversations with Dead People). Between the first and the second talk we had an hour to kill and hung out a bit. Then it was Nicky's turn. Again he mentioned people from the audience, but this time it was about a couple who got engaged during his shoot. EPIC! As a follow up I asked him if he ever pranked anyone on a show. He said that on Buffy they had to work really hard and there was never really time to get bored and do a real prank. But they did have fun on the set. I loved that he started talking about Kitchen Confidential - a show I personally loved - in which he starred with Bradley Cooper (this was actually the first time I saw anything of his). Nicky explained that Cooper had bought a new car, but was still waiting for it to be delivered and Nicky and one collegue were so bored that they got toilet paper and wrapped up Cooper's car in it - the one he was still using. Then they even used sprayed it wet. When the talk ended, nobody had asked if he would do the Snoopy Dance so even when we didn't have any time anymore he asked "Well, shall I do it anyway?" and he did. It was so sweet and shows how much he loves and appreciates his fans (Yep, there the butterflies are again :P *swoon, swoon, swoon*).

 (Quiz Time!!!!)

Quiz time and a premiere showing!
Quizzes are awesome. We have two teams on stage and the room is devided in two, because you're with the team in front of you. There's a round of questions, pictionairy and scenes. It's just a lot of fun to see how much you know of the show and play along. The first team was called 'Sophie's Choice' because as it turned out, the two audience members were both Sophies. Our team was called 'Do Epic Shit', because, well hello! We had J! It was funny - especially to see the guests thinking that they had no idea what the answers were, except for one question. When this question came J got so excited and started writing and seconds after he wrote it he started laughing really hard "I just thought of something... What if it's the wrong answer?! Haha!" (another 'you had to be there' kinda thing, but it really was very funny). During the scenes, they were rehearsing and I heard Kristine say "Who's 'Gunn'???" which I though was really funny as well. Other than that some answers on the sheet were actually wrong, which also made for some laughing bits. Even though we laughed a bit and were doing it for fun, there had to be a winner. In the end the Epicness won! Wootwoot :-). 
We moved on to the talk with J, which turned into a viewing - the UK premiere! - of his new show The Hypnotist. A webseries, you can check it out here. Afterwards we talked about the show, about him and about everything we wanted to talk about. But mostly about his show, because all of us got really excited and wanted to know more. J also spoke his thanks and how much he loved being able to show it like this, because it's more personal. He gets to hear the direct response of the audience, which he really appreciates.
We had one more talk this weekend, and that was with all of the guests on stage. I - and I think many others with me - loved this the most, because they can bounce of each other and we get much more elaborate stories (and backstories). The answers take longer and they basically laugh a lot and talk about their experiences on set. For instance: Nicky was always late, but now he's always early. How most of J's bloopers were used on the dvds, like the one with Amy Acker where he's unaware that he doesn't know his line and he thinks Amy is the one messing up (you had to be there), or how Kristine may have felt a little bit like the Mom on set sometimes and bringing her children with her sometimes. Nicky and Kristine also talked a bit about her husband, John and they all talked about wanting to do their own stunts (Kristine's was the hardest: the holding of the axe "It was really heavy!"). At the end, they all said a few kind words to us about how wonderful we have all been and how much they enjoyed meeting us. So sweet!
Then we went on to the closing ceremony - but hang on, who's that peeking behind the banner? Well it's J! "I totally forgot to take pictures myself", followed by Nicky and Kristine taking pictures with their mobile phones - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this moment!!!!! When the ceremony continued we were told once again that there will be a HalloWhedon 5, but in Birmingham with some changes. They thanked us and we applauded the crew of volunteers that made the weekend possible. 

(One of my favorite moments: The VIP-three taking pictures themselves)

Because I had missed dinner at The Pheasant the previous nights, I wasn't going to miss out again. So we went to our room, got our stuff and headed to the Pheasant. Before we were even outside, we met J. He was waiting for the others, because they were also going to have dinner there. We had a little chat and went our way through the rain. Once at the Pheasant, it was packed! So we got our menus and decided to eat outside (of course this wasn't in the rain, but under a ...(can't think of the word, but it was dry and they had heaters)). Once decided Sez, Carry and I went inside to order and you'll never guess who showed up behind us: The VIP-three + one! J, Nicky and Kristine with her husband 'John' were standing behind us, lol. Sez and I were wrecking our brains, because we knew John from somewhere. Then it hit me: He played on Mad About You! So you could say we did get four guests for the weekend, haha. Anyway, we ordered, ate our meal and went back to go to the impromptu organised Sing-Along.
Because the music was kinda the same the previous nights, someone came with the idea to have a viewing of Once More With Feeling, the Buffy musical episode from season six, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon's web series beforehand. We started at half eight (that's half past eight by the way :P) and you could feel the excitement in the room. Everybody sat at tables and together we watched, sang, enjoyed and cheered for all those big moments and sobbed for the sad ones. This was EPIC in my book, because it's an amazing experience to watch it on the big screen, with so many other people that love what we're watching. I think it's kinda indescribable, and I really wish - from the bottom of my heart - that this would happen more often. The viewing ended around ten o' clock and the party started immediatly. It was the last night, so it wasn't very busy. The theme was 'The Bronze' - "the only cool place in Sunnydale" so people just dressed nicely, like they're clubbing or simply in their every day outfits. Except for one, that deserves special mention: Rhys. He had the best costume EVER! In his skinned Warren outfit he owned the night, was the life of the party, and killed the dancefloor. We danced quite a lot, but chatted more because it was all to obvi that this was the last night. The feeling had been there the entire day, but leaving the party meant that we were going to have to say goodbye :'-(. So we savoured every minute. Around midnight they finally played the Buffy theme and the party ended with 'New York, New York' ('cause we were leaving that day) and some of our Jazzy dance moves. We thanked the DJ's and went to the bar. Here we chatted for about an hour, because it was just to hard to say goodbye. But we had to, so we did. Except for the ones that had left early, I got to say goodbye to everyone. Then we were in for a short night, before having to leave...

(Promo for Buffy the Musical: Once More With Feeling)

Monday - October 29th
This day actually doesn't count. But I was just so happy to see my friends one last time during breakfast and getting to say goodbye to everyone afterwards that it's still part of the weekend for me. We had our final breakfast together and promised to keep in touch. Something that luckily isn't hard to do with Twitter and Facebook. Me and my Dutch friend left at the same time, but she got home sooner though... My flight was delayed again. For 1,5 hours again. I didn't really mind much, because I had enough to read and keep myself busy with. I think I got home arout five-ish and then I got to unpack my suitcase and enjoy all the pictures taken. I think I've already worn out the word 'awesome' in this blogpost, but you can easily interchange it with EPIC. I cannot describe how incredible the entire weekend was. I think back on it with a lot of love and enjoyment. I miss everyone I met, but I have the fondest memories of them all. And the best part is that I still get to stay in touch. Some of them will be friends forever. I really believe that. And to take that with me from this weekend, after all those years of Whedon, is truly EPIC SHIT. 

(Scoobies, me, Danni, Tom and new friends Katie, Karl and Claire at the Wolfram and Hart party)

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