Phoenix Con was the first con after a bit of a break, for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to go to any of the non-US cons, so it was great to see everyone again. The cast of course, but also my vendors room buddies and fellow fans and friends new and old. My old friend CB, from my very first job as an ‘adult’, now lives in Phoenix, so she came to the con to keep me company in the vendor’s room for part of the time. For another part of the time, she was sick with a nasty stomach flu, which left me on my own in the vendor’s room – which makes it very difficult to get any food or drink or even to run to the bathroom! But never underestimate the kindness of the SPNFamily. There were several contributors to Family Don’t End With Blood there, and they took turns checking on me and bringing me food and drink – so did several fellow fans and fellow vendors.
This was the first con where I got to sell the new book, and it was beyond wonderful to meet so many people who had already read it and found it so inspiring. Not my chapter, but so many of the other chapters – both those written by the Supernatural actors and those written by fans. I heard story after story of how the book arrived at just the right time, when that inspiration to always keep fighting was needed most. I kept passing those sentiments on to the actors who wrote chapters, because that’s exactly why they all put themselves out there so much – to make a difference. I also passed the messages along to the fan contributors, who took just as big a leap of faith to put their real stories out there in the book too. It was a wonderful experience, and exciting to be able to get the book out there to more people too! Big thanks to everyone who came by and bought a signed book, helping us help Random Acts and Attitudes in Reverse.
Of course I also tried to get to just about every panel too!
Julian Richings was up first. Julian and everyone else was blown away by the heat. He wore a snazzy hat.
Julian: it didn’t help.
He also called Kevin Tran (aka Osric Chau) “one of the cutest people alive”, a sentiment I totally agree with.
And like most of the actors who have ever been on Supernatural, he doesn’t believe Death is gone for good. Fingers crossed!
Jason Manns wore a long sleeved shirt for some reason no one could fathom, but his hair looked so good that nobody really cared either. He gave a lovely ‘quoncert’ and was joined by Rob and Billy for some Station Breaks songs too.
Jason is one of our Family Don’t End With Blood collaborators – when you buy a copy of the book, you get a free digital download of a Station Breaks song!
My favorite story was that while Jensen and Jason were recording ‘Simple Man’ on the Supernatural set for his cd, the Impala rumbled by outside – and Jason decided to leave it on the recording.
Jason: Supernatural put my music in [the episode] Baby, so I put Baby in my music!
Rachel Miner came onstage to a standing ovation, and her panel was both amusing and inspiring. She let everyone know she’s an unabashed fan of the Megstiel pairing, and loves that the idea of that pairing originated with the fandom.
Rachel also shared how she deals with pain or physical and emotional challenge, by letting reading draw her out of the pain, meditating, or being near the calming effect of water. I think everyone listening was inspired by her words, and learned from them as well.
We’re so proud and grateful that Rachel wrote a chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood – many readers have told me it’s one of the most inspiring stories in the book.
Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster were up next. I always love their panels for their raw energy, genuineness and enthusiasm, and this one was no exception. A fan asked how the fandom had impacted her, ad Kim surprised me by talking about the chapter she wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, and how it encompassed the very personal journey she has taken with this fandom. (She also insisted that I stand up, which she’s still in trouble for…) Kidding, Kim, love you to pieces!
Kim to the fandom: You make me braver. You make me better.
Briana also talked about the personal and powerful chapter she wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood and how much the SPNFamily has impacted her.
Briana: You’ve affected not just my life, but my whole family’s.
Their message to fans is exactly what fandom is all about – Find your tribe. Surround yourself with your people.
I also liked hearing about the prank J2 finally pulled on Kim, with Jensen distracting her so Jared could sneak up and give her a bear hug. Though if that’s their definition of a prank, pretty sure we’d all be lining up and asking to be pranked!
Rich and Rob kicked off Saturday with a long and thoughtful commentary on Creation’s stage décor, including wondering if Once Upon A Time conventions also are treated to fake Spanish moss draped theatrically over the stage.
Rob: Or is it just us?
Rich: Because nothing screams Supernatural like Spanish moss…
The sad thing is, after all this time I think I’ve gotten weirdly attached to all the weird stuff that Creation cons have onstage. Don’t mess with my fake trees, people!
Jim Beaver kicked off day 2, wearing a jean jacket and jokingly asking for them to “turn down the heat”. As if!
Jim had nothing but good things to say about Supernatural and playing Bobby Singer.
Jim: Some shows are just plain work, but after 59 episodes I can’t think of a job that was more fun than working on Supernatural.
On his surprise come back in Season 12’s finale: I thought oh, it will be nice to put the old cap back on. But no…
He liked the beret though. And that he got to work with all three of the “youngsters” – Jared, Jensen and Misha. Despite how fun the set is, Jim also said it was a pleasure to be reminded of how seriously they take their profession.
Jim also wrote an amazing chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, all about how being on this show has allowed him to make positive change in the world, through the power of fandom. Also? Damn, is Jim Beaver a great writer!
It was so wonderful to have Ruth Connell back at a con, sashaying out to ‘Black Magic Woman’ and then charming the audience with her graciousness and genuineness. Ruth was in the vendor’s room too, raising money for the charity ‘My Hope Chest’, which helps women who want it get breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
We were all still reeling from Rowena’s apparent death, and Ruth admitted that it was “brutal” and hard to watch, but allowed that the brutality was a reflection of the character’s history. As for me, I’m still upset and hoping against hope that Rowena is not really dead. I guess we’ll see, because Ruth is being mum!
Ruth also had us film a little video message of love and support for Tim Omundson, who’s recovering from a stroke. Because that’s just the kind of person Ruth is. The chapter she wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood is not only a thoroughly enjoyable story to read, but a glimpse into Ruth’s own insecurities and the power of the SPNFamily that readers have found tremendously inspiring.
In their Saturday panel, Kim and Briana teased that they had already read a Season 13 script with Jody and Donna in it, and hopes for that long-awaited spinoff ran high – shortly after, we got the confirmation that it is indeed in the works as a backdoor pilot. Woohoo!
Their message from this panel is the one that I tackled in my own chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood – it may not be easy, but the most empowering thing you can do for yourself is to find your voice and express yourself authentically.
Kim also managed to give me a little more empathy for Mary Winchester. If you read my episode reviews all season, you know how much I’ve struggled with that.
Kim: I have so much empathy for Mary. That your children MUST do something that will kill them is hell, that’s my biggest fear.
Well, yeah. I guess I can empathize a bit with Mary after all.
Briana and Kim also personified the whole empowering message of WaywardDaughters with their (very very well deserved) praise of female Supernatural director Nina Lopez Corrado, who absolutely rocks. We all love you, Nina!
Kim also had a shout out for Gabe Tigerman and Matt Cohen, who had her back when she was pretty much the only woman on the con circuit.
Mark Sheppard also came out to a standing ovation. I have to admit, I was very emotional during his panel and when I had a chance to chat with him briefly later in the day. I love the character of Crowley, and I love Mark’s genuine empathy and respect for fandom. He truly identifies as a geek and a fan himself, and that means he really “gets it”. I think he’s helped the other cast really get it too. His departure, from the show and from the Creation cons, will be a gigantic loss. I want to cry just thinking about it.
Mark talked about suffering from anxiety, and how playing the drums was something he started doing that helped him cope. If you’ve ever watched him play, you can literally see the joy on his face when he’s drumming, like he’s truly in his element.
Mark was stoic about Crowley’s departure from the show, more stoic than I am.
Mark: Crowley’s arc ran its course, it was becoming obvious that there was nowhere to go.
Sheppard, however, remains a fan.
Mark: I watch the show for the Winchesters, and it evolves.
His one regret? That his line got cut: Even when I lose, I win.
Okay editor, why that decision? That line is AWESOME and Crowley deserved that parting shot! Boo.
I am beyond thrilled that Mark Sheppard wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood, especially now that I know we won’t be treated to his brilliant portrayal of Crowley in the future. He expressed his love of fandom and the SPNFamily eloquently and emotionally, and I’m so glad to have him as part of our FDEWB family – forever.
Next up, the R2M panel was as raucous and entertaining as ever. They all talked about the evolution of their characters on the show, all of which took surprising turns. Richard thinks the Trickster was created as a one off character, then they later decided to upgrade him and bring Richard back. Rob had no idea he was going to be playing not just Chuck/Kripke, but actual God. And Matt ended up being the Archangel Michael as well as young John Winchester. I think that probably says something about the acting job they all did on their first appearance, and also about the way the fandom adopted all three in the SPNFamily so thoroughly.
For some reason, they all decided to try to ‘dab’ (aka the quintessential dads dance move) which was made even more amusing by attributing it to showrunner Andrew Dabb. I often need tissues during the R2M panel, but it’s because I’m laughing so hard.
They all want to be in the Scooby Doo episode coming up in Season 13, which actually makes perfect sense.
Rob: Wait, so is Jared Shaggy??
Rob and Rich talked about their childhood imaginary friends. Rob’s lived in a dumpster behind JC Penney’s. Rich used to roll himself up in his bedsheets and pretend he was a ball point pen in a businessman’s pocket, and Matt had an imaginary enemy instead – the Burger King! (Who actually was really creepy…)
Sharing those sort of real life childhood experiences is what makes this cast so unusual – they really aren’t afraid to ‘go there’ with fandom. Matt wrote a very personal chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood, candidly sharing his own life history and struggle to figure out who he is – and how the SPNFamily eventually helped with that.
Rob wrote one of the most gripping chapters in the book, taking us step by step through that harrowing time when he had a stroke during a convention and the immediate aftermath, during which his SPNFamily quite literally saved his life. Don’t read that one without tissues handy!
Misha came out and then laughed for five minutes because he mixed up Rob and Rich in his greeting. We can blame the heat though – he took his meet and greet outside and just about expired!
When asked about the camaraderie between him and J2, Misha deadpanned: What? Like when they throw pies in my face?
More seriously though, he thinks that a big reason the show has continued for so long is that they really are good friends.
When faced with a few fans who haven’t seen the S12 season finale: What are you doing here? Go to another convention!
Misha makes me laugh so hard. He also helpfully summed up that finale.
Misha: Everybody dies.
Not really a great exaggeration, is it?
Misha related some of the pranks and general harassment that he’s endured on set.
Misha: Nothing can prepare you for when your fellow actor is trying to tickle your balls with a broomstick.
One of my favorite stories from Misha’s panel was the disgusting black goo that he had to have oozing from his mouth in Stuck In The Middle With You. It was alka seltzer (hence the fizziness and expansion…) and black dye and once the take was done, instead of helping him rinse his mouth out, his buddies Jared and Jensen just ran to get their phones to take some pictures!
Misha also talked about what a rare opportunity it is to be able to play the same character for so long and to be a part of something special.
Misha: Cas is a part of me. He’s weird like me.
Misha wrote about that in his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood too – how unique the SPNFamily is, and how much we really do have each other’s backs. I’m so glad he’s part of our FDEWB family, because frankly I love that he can say “I’m weird” and that’s okay. Aren’t we all?
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a huge Louden Swain fan and that I love the Saturday Night Special, and this concert was no exception. Swain kicked ass, joined by Matt Cohen, Chris Schmelke, Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Ruth Connell, Richard Speight Jr. and Jason Manns.
Rob, after an emotional rendition of ‘Fare Thee Well’ and then ‘She Waits’: I just appreciate you guys so much.
Matt came out to cheerlead ‘Mama’s Jam’ which is one of my favorite things ever.
They dedicated ‘Amazing’ to Tim Omundson, sending all our good wishes for his speedy recovery out to him, and then we all joined in on a respectable kazoo chorus for ‘Medicated’. It makes me smile so much seeing all the love between this cast. I mean, look at them!
Rob’s hair was seriously on point and Rob and Rich got serious playing Whipping Post.
I didn’t manage to get a single good shot of Ruth Connell at the SNS, since the microphone was smack in front of my eyeline, which makes me sad. Here’s one of Briana’s awesome outfit though.
The only thing that would have made the SNS better is Mark Sheppard – his presence, both as an emotional supporter for his colleagues and the fandom, and as an amazing drummer, was very much missed. I wish I’d relished his last SNS appearance a little more, not knowing it would be his last.
Jim Beaver made another appearance on Sunday, joking that his daughter Maddie was here to keep him from saying anything too stupid. I remember our very first interview with Jim, when he surprised us by inviting us to come to his house to chat – Maddie was so little then! Now she’s a beautiful, smart, poised young woman who I was thrilled to have at the FDEWB book release party. I guess Bobby being a great father figure for Sam and Dean comes naturally to Jim from his real life.
Funniest episode he’s filmed on SPN?
Jim: About 57 of the 59. It’s a very loosey goosey set.
Jim again referenced how much the SPNFamily has changed him, which is what he wrote about in FDEWB.
Jim: I acted for a living for 35 years before anybody cared. Then I found you guys.
Jared and Jensen took the stage for the gold panel matching with both of them in black. Which was a look I think every single person there appreciated. Like a lot. Like, a real lot. Dayum boys.
Jared joked that he’d been watching the S12 gag reel and ended up “sucked down a youtube rabbit hole”. As you do. I like that the same things that happen to me when I go on youtube happen to J2 also.
They were flying when the S12 season finale aired, so they couldn’t watch it live. Instead, they followed along with the live tweets.
Jensen: So many sad emojis!
Jared spoke passionately about fighting for Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign, and had nothing but respect and pride for Gen’s courage in speaking out about these important topics – in Texas! If you haven’t seen the Padaleckis get passionate and political, check it out. I was proud too.
They also told the hysterical story of when Tom Welling was storing his stuff at Jared’s house and one night forgot the code to get in and ended up getting arrested.
Jared: And there’s Superman in handcuffs…
They also took great joy in teasing each other about their antics on the way into the con this morning. Jared apparently sprayed his cologne in the car, which Jensen protested. Adorably.
On a more serious note, Jared talked about his struggle with anxiety and depression. The amazing chapter he wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood is a powerfully personal account of this struggle, and I’m in awe of Jared’s courage in being so vulnerable in order to share his story with fans, so his experience might inspire others to Always Keep Fighting. He said that work is also an escape for him, a place where he’s both challenged and supported by close friends, in addition to the support of family. Jared and Jensen’s pride in the show they make and the characters they play is therapeutic for both of them.
Jared: Like that scene that Jensen and I did, where we break through the wall. We made that special, and I’m proud of it.
One of the things that works for him is simple, but powerful.
Jared: Keep moving your feet. Don’t let it spiral.
I always respect J2’s refusal to buy into fan shaming. When asked the ‘craziest experience with fans’ question that I cringe to hear every time, Jared and Jensen shook their heads.
Jared: Crazy may be out there, but I’ve only had wonderful experiences with fans.
In the chapter Jensen wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood, he talks about his own struggles with anxiety, and how his experience as part of the SPNFamily has helped. He also has something to say about the fact that we’re all pretty much “weird together”, and he referenced that in the panel.
Jensen: I love most about the fandom how unapologetically inclusive it is.
I had to miss most of Ruth Connell’s second panel of the con, much to my dismay. Apparently she told a fabulous prank story about Jared pulling handcuffs, lube and dildos out of Rowena’s carpet bag while Sam and Dean were interrogating her. To be a fly on that wall!
The J2 afternoon panel began with lots of love for Louden Swain, and then Jared and Jensen once again joking about their coordinated outfits.
They did their traditional warm up, followed by an also well coordinated stage jump.
Jared managed to break another mic, Jensen fixed it for him, and Jared patted his thanks.
And this whole sequence was him pretending that Jensen had to hold him back from taking on a fan. Jensen’s 100% whatever-do-what-you-want face and pose is priceless.
Best question and answer: What’s the weirdest thing your wives have done?
J2: Married us!
Jensen: Our wives deal with being married to us by having each other. They have a support system in each other just like we have each other. Which is pretty weird.
Entire room: Awwww
Fans thanked them for saving lives, but Jared clarified.
Jared: We didn’t save you, you saved yourselves by knowing you had us and each other as a family. We love you, but you do it. You keep fighting.
They both agreed they’d do anything for their kids, and allowed that having kids has an influence on how much they want to work and how long.
Jared: I don’t want to be John Winchester.
Funniest deadpan moment –
Jensen to a young fan: That’s like asking your favorite part of the last 12 years and she’s like, ‘my birth.’ How old are you?
Jared: You killed Dean Winchester!
Near the end of the panel, they talked seriously about how it’s hard to think of the show ending. They like to take the time to smell the roses, talking about a few memorable times they shared on set. That time in Season 5 when J2 climbed on top of the trailer with lawn chairs and the green cooler, or the time Jared, Jensen and Misha took a break from filming to skip stones in a stream.
It’s something I need to remember too, to savor this time while the show is still on and every new season brings more adventures. This is a unique and special thing, and I don’t want to forget to appreciate every moment!
If you haven’t picked up a copy of Family Don’t End With Blood, with chapters written by most of the guests at Phoenix con, there are links at the top right to check it out on amazon. If you have picked it up, let me know what you think!