Last Con of 2018 – Jacksonville Part I Friday and Saturday!

 

It’s the end of 2018, so it seems fitting to share some pictures and memories from the last Supernatural con of 2018, which happened to be in Jacksonville. I wanted to end the year with everything that’s positive about fandom and a reminder to myself as much as anyone of how much I love and enjoy this incredible cast and all the fans I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with over the past decade plus. So here’s Part I of Jacksonville 2018, with some pretty pictures to brighten your last day of the year!

The hotel was under construction, which meant the beautiful view of the water was obstructed when you were at ground level, but luckily the vendor room was elevated with floor to ceiling windows, so the view from my table was breathtaking (if you just look past the various cranes and things). And from our hotel room and its teeny tiny balcony? Even better.

My good friend Alana was also at Jaxcon, so we took advantage of both being in town early to go have some lunch. We managed to find a restaurant that was 100% empty, and since we were the only ones there, of course that meant blogging and putting Africa By Toto on the jukebox. And then more blogging. And corn nuggets. Don’t knock ‘em if you haven’t tried ‘em!

Lots of my favorite SPNFamily friends were also at Jax, so it was a fun four days with lots of catching up and goofing off and not getting enough sleep – but hey, that’s what cons are all about!

(You can find the Day 1 blog including our corn nugget adventures on Alana’s channel if you’re curious. About corn nuggets.)

Jacksonville with Alana (and Lynn)!

I’m just going to include some highlights in this blog, since the panels were broadcast on Stage It and I’m assuming most of you have had the pleasure of watching them by now. This is Part I, with Misha Collins, Rachel Miner, Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Ruth Connell, Adam Fergus, David Haydn-Jones, Emily Swallow, Rob Benedict, Richard Speight Jr, Matt Cohen, Mark Pellegrino and a special appearance by Hayden Lee too. Phew, that was a jam packed Friday and Saturday!

Rachel Miner had a great answer when someone asked how she manages to keep her great attitude and beautiful soul?

Rachel: You.

I need to remember that, that this fandom has done so much good in the world and the vast majority of people are pretty damn awesome. I mean, that’s what Family Don’t End With Blood and the chapter Rachel wrote in it is all about – how we’ve helped each other, and how we’ve helped the cast that we love too.

Rachel: If you can make it through the dark times and share that, it can help others too.

Rachel also gave a shout out to Robbie Thompson, the Supernatural writer and just plain great person who I will forever miss on the show, and reiterated the importance of representation of all kinds in media.

Rachel: I’ve been asked if I could cheat walking if I came back, would I? No, because representation is important. And I think Meg would handle it well.

Damn right she would.

It was so nice to have Emily Swallow on stage at a con again. Jacksonville is her home town, so she gave us all some local insights. She also gave some insights into her enigmatic character on Supernatural.

Emily: So much of Amara’s frustration was not being heard. Dean was the first to hear her.

Huh. I didn’t expect to relate so much to The Darkness!

She also told one of my favorite stories, the time that she and Ruth Connell decided to try and prank the crew. They planned that Ruth would grab Emily’s boob in the middle of a scene, but instead of the laughing they expected, everyone just kept going and said nothing. Turns out they were being respectful, like “oh, we thought you were like making a choice…”

It’s a funny story but it also says something about the Best. Set. Ever.

One of the highlights of Friday was Jason Manns’ panel – or quoncert, as he likes to call it. Before his panel, some fans handed out slips of paper with instructions to surprise Jason and Rob when Station Breaks performed ‘Gone’. When the guys realized what was happening, the smiles on their faces were priceless. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture that in a photograph because I was too busy holding up my fingers and clapping along!

Hayden Lee and Richard Speight also joined in on Wagon Wheel with its beautiful harmonies.

Jason reminisced about going to the very first Supernatural convention way back in 2007. He and Jensen sang Crazy Love onstage together, after a little video of them singing it at a friend’s wedding went viral within the fandom. I got all nostalgic, remembering those early days when this was all brand new and everything was wonderful and we all squeed about every little thing together. Thanks for that, Jason.

We also had a British Men of Letters panel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. David Haydn-Jones and Adam Fergus have that sort of chemistry and camaraderie that makes for a very entertaining panel every single time, and this one was no exception.

Adam: Worst idea ever, doing the Bad Idea Tour marathon.

David: Will you ever do one again?

Adam: Absolutely.

They also pitched an idea for their own buddy comedy, in which Adam’s character is a ghost.

David: Has there ever been a buddy comedy with one guy a ghost?

Adam: I’d like to see our characters get on, because we get on.

David: We’ll write the fanfic!

They’re fandom savvy and appreciative of all varieties of fannish creativity and they could both do stand up comedy.

Fan: What other Supernatural character would you like to play?

Adam: I’d like to do all of them…

Audience: Ohhhh…

Adam: Actually? Yes. (wink wink)

It was a jam packed Friday, because we also had a Kim and Briana panel! I was distracted by Briana’s amazing hair and had to take about a million pictures, but I also always enjoy their panels. A little bit of irreverence ain’t a bad thing, imho.

Fan: What’s your favorite story about your friendship?

Both ponder, then Briana pipes up: Well, there was the set story…

Everyone, including Kim, who heard “sex” instead of “set”: Wha??

Kim: Oh, there was a T on the end of that!

They always inevitably say something that sticks with me, both in their panels and in their Wayward Podcast, which I’m loving. This time, it was Briana saying that until she turned around the way she was thinking about exercise and being physical, it didn’t work for her. Thinking of it as a reward, as something her body and her mind deserve, made her want to do it. I’ve been trying that turnaround myself, and it does seem to be helpful. Instead of body shaming, it’s body affirming. I’m not expecting miracles, but it kinda feels good anyway.

Someone asked which of them was more like Sam and which more like Dean. They decided that Briana was Sam and Kim was Dean. Who would save who?

Kim: We’d save each other. Because we’re not okay not together, just like Sam and Dean.

Awwww.

Friday night karaoke was something special – it was Richard Speight’s last karaoke. This was also the Christmas con, so the stage was decorated for the holidays and looked festive and beautiful with a banner saying ‘The Legend Has Retired’ slung above the drum set and a Christmas tree onstage decorated with ornaments that were the cast’s headshots. Priceless, DJ Liz!

I was unexpectedly emotional about it being Richard’s last karaoke, because one of the first things that Richard and I bonded over was karaoke and how to make it better. In the early days of the cons, we used to have drinks after everything ended on Sunday and talk about how things went. I’d share the fan perspective and we’d hash out the good and the not-so-good and laugh about whatever invariably went south but also feel really damn good about what was awesome about these things called conventions. Richard went on to shape the conventions in so many ways, including changing karaoke. When the cons began, karaoke was just the Creation staff and volunteers and sometimes a few fans taking the mic in the con hotel bar. Maybe one of the guests would show up to play pool and sing a tune, but it was far from a well attended event. Richard turned it into the amazing thing it is now, encouraging his fellow actors to join in. The next few years of karaoke were off the charts fun. I remember Sebastian Roche diving off the stage into the crowd, and Chad Lindberg and Matt Cohen dancing on chairs and Mark Pellegrino doing one of the best Rocky Horror Frank N Furter imitations I’ve ever seen. Eventually we needed “moose knuckle corridor” and a little more separation than that, but the unfettered spirit and fun of karaoke remains.

Richard also wrote a chapter for one of our books all about his experience at conventions and all those changes he helped make and why he made them. It’s one of my favorite chapters ever in any of our books, and knowing it was his last con made me take out Fan Phenomena Supernatural and re-read his writing again. Then I needed tissues.

So Friday was emotional. Richard actually sang himself, joining Emily Swallow for ‘Jackson’, which is a rare thing at karaoke indeed. And sashayed his way across the stage for Dancing Queen. And then he gave a heartfelt little speech about how much this has meant and how Matt Cohen has been his partner in crime from the beginning, handing the gavel to Matt as the karaoke king going forward. (Matt got there late, flying in and literally running onstage – but he made it!)

Matt to Rich: I’m forever grateful for everything you’ve done for me and taught me as a friend, father, mentor, actor, and everything I missed.

By the time we all joined in to sing Wayward Son, I don’t think I was the only one needing tissues.

 

Saturday started off with David and Adam onstage again, this time with David clean shaven and dappered up in a Ketch-esque suit and Adam spiffied up in a lovely hat. On their ongoing ‘feud’ about Ketch killing Mick, David quipped.

David: Don’t forget, Andrew Dabb is really the one who killed you.

Adam shared a Jared prank that I can just imagine.

Adam: You know you’re part of the cast when they take the piss outta you. Jared stopped a take and pretended he couldn’t understand my accent, and I was like, are you serious?

(He wasn’t lol)

David: Supernatural is the best set to work on. Jared, Jensen and Misha set the tone and it’s inclusive and collaborative – and fun!

A Saturday highlight is always the Ladies of SPN panel, this time with Kim, Briana, Rachel, Ruth and Emily. The conversation went from chocolate to unibrows to kinks and a panel full of people who are definitely not kink shaming, and all of that just made me grin as I took picture after picture.

They always amuse me, but they get serious too. Ruth explained the Bechdel test and Rachel chimed in to say that it’s both amazingly rare and so important. (A scene passes the Bechdel test if two women are having a conversation about something other than a man – now think about how rare that is!)

Ruth: And it’s so exciting when you get to do it!

They all had moving stories to share about how the show, their characters and the fandom have enriched their lives. Ruth made me tear up when she told a story about feeling lonely while traveling alone at Christmas, and then a gentleman came up to her and told her how much he loved the show, and it just changed her energy completely. Kim’s fond expression as she listens just made me more emotional.

Briana had a similar experience when a group of young women wearing Wayward AF shirts came up to her and she realized that OMG, people are listening.

Who would do the most damage if they woke up as their characters?

Everyone pointed to Ruth.

I also always enjoy the R2M panel, which is invariably hilarious. Matt, Rob and Rich have been friends for so long and have worked together for so long that they have all sorts of in jokes and the ability to absolutely crack each other up, much like Jared, Jensen and Misha. It’s infectious and just plain fun.

There are familiar bits at this point that make ME laugh too. Whenever Richard doesn’t know the answer to a question, he immediately looks over at Rob.

Rich: Bobbo?

Poor Rob.

Richard said he’d enjoyed directing Lucifer recently, but it wasn’t the same as directing Supernatural.

Rich: What’s similar is there are awesome talented people at the top just like at Supernatural, who want yo to do your best, and that’s so rare. It was a great experience, but it’s not like home.

Who would their characters like to hang out with?

Matt: Young John would hang out with Jason Manns, because he’s a true gentleman. Michael, unfortunately, would enjoy Jared. Let your minds run wild.

Lol

Rob: If I’m speaking for God, I feel like he would hang out with Jensen, because he’s a perfect human being. God would sit back and say, “Yeah, good job, me.”

Me: Point. But speaking of perfect looking humans…

I caught a little bit of the Louden Swain vendor jam across from my table in the vendor room, which had a beautiful backdrop of the water.

It was then time for the Mark Pellegrino panel. Mark has taken up the con gang habit of wearing his glasses onstage too – it’s been a theme of the past year. Jensen, Jared and Misha, what are you waiting for?

While I haven’t been the biggest fan of his character(s) on the show this season, I do think that Pellegrino has done an amazing job portraying Nick, a character who is both heartbreaking and absolutely horrifying.

He said that Nick has required more imagination on his part than most characters and that he had to do a lot of background work (I can just imagine how dark that was!)  Pellegrino also said that one of the ways he does that background work is by writing journals about Nick’s life to flesh out a backstory.

Mark: It’s emotional…and taxing.

I can imagine!

Mark also had some praise for the character of Dean and Jensen Ackles’ portrayal.

Mark: There are moments when Jensen brings out that hint of that hurt abandoned little boy. I saw it with Dean and his interactions with Jack. Oh god, I’m gonna cry…

Me too, honestly. It always amazes me just how much of that hurt and abandoned little boy under the tough veneer that Ackles manages to bring to the surface so subtly.

Misha Collins’ panel is always the highlight of Saturday. From his very first panel, I’ve loved Misha’s quirky sense of humor and ability to let some genuine emotion (of all sorts) come through when he’s onstage. This panel started the way I love Misha panels to start, with a rousing chorus of “Where’s Misha?” by Rob and Rich and the band. Unfortunately that song always gets stuck in my head and stays there for way too long, but it’s worth it to hear Rich riff on where Misha might be – which is usually some version of ‘in the bathroom’.

Turns out Misha was filming until late last night and had to come directly from the airport to onstage – Misha and Matt get the award for most determined to get to Jax for this con!

He told some adorable stories about his kids, including one where the adults tried to keep the kids amused in the morning so they could sleep in – by buying a karaoke machine?? Maybe not the most well thought out plan,  Misha admitted.

He also told the great story about him and Darius as teenagers going to a fair without money and somehow convincing the fair operators to let them in if they would go through the park singing. They sang some country song the entire day. Oh, and he also pitched an episode where Sam and Dean take Castiel to a carnival, which I think I’d quite enjoy actually!

I love that Misha usually knows what’s going on out there in the social media wild west.

Misha: How many of you are still on Tumblr?

(Very few raise hands)

Misha: I think their ban on adult stuff was just trying to get the Supernatural stuff off there.

 

 

Actually that’s a pretty good hypothesis. Alas.

I also really love that Misha, like me, sometimes misses the original badass version of Castiel and is somewhat confused by his waxing and waning powers.

Fan: So Castiel hasn’t really won a fight in like four seasons. When will we see warrior Cas back?

Misha: You’re right, what happened to Cas? Come on, man, make an effort! I don’t know what’s up with Cas. He’s at full power, but… like come on!

He acknowledges, of course, as we all do, that the writers had to find some way to hobble him so he wouldn’t be the ever present deus ex machina ploy, even if that frustrates him sometimes.

Misha: Part of the reason Cas is always getting hobbled in some way, like losing his grace, is because if he could just snap his fingers and win, then what would they even need to fight?

I’m still trying to figure out what the vague spoiler he mentioned for Episode 300 is – that an angel they knew long ago will be resurrected. Hmmm. I know I’m in the minority, but dare I hope for Metatron? I love Curtis Armstrong, can’t help it! Would love to see Gadreel and Tahmoh Penikett back too. Hmmm. Or Julie McNiven’s Anna… Hmmm.

I love getting glimpses of recent filming. Misha shared a story about filming a low and wide shot with a wide angle lens the other day, which the actors hate because the perspective makes them look bad.

Misha: Actors are usually small. I was considered tall before this show. But on Supernatural, we’ve got this deformed giant, and Jensen is tall too, so I look like an imp! That entire take, I looked so tiny I looked like I could fit into Jared’s pocket.

He also confirmed that there was a lot of adlibbing during the drinking scene with Sam, Dean and Cas in the episode where they mourn Jack’s (brief) death, which was what most of us assumed.

Misha: We did a lot of takes where Cas just drains the whole bottle. I was finally like, I can’t do this anymore, I’m gonna throw up! Then they didn’t even use those in the episode.

Poor Misha! (And poor us, because I bet those were priceless. Gag reel maybe?)

He also said exactly what I said about that scene – that ironically, in that scene Castiel looked happier than Misha has ever seen him. (Which was why it was clear that we were watching Jared, Jensen and Misha and not Sam, Dean and Cas!)

He was occasionally serious too. Like Jared, Misha says that he wants to take a little break from acting when Supernatural is over.

Misha: Since I’ll be like sixty…

If he does take a break from acting, I hope it’s to keep doing the amazing things he’s doing to make the world a better place, through all sorts of initiatives. I’m grateful that he wrote chapters for both Family Don’t End With Blood and for Fan Phenomena Supernatural, and honored to contribute a portion of proceeds from every sale of FDEWB to Random Acts. Keep up the good work, Misha!

Saturday night was of course the Saturday Night Special, which I’ll save for Part 2 of this post since this is getting too long for WordPress to be happy about. Stay tuned!

— Lynn

If you didn’t get a copy of the book the actors wrote,

Family Don’t End With Blood, for the holidays, you

can pick up your own copy on sale now at amazon!

Links on the home page for all our books!

 

 

 

 

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