The day begins early on Sunday mornings for any Salute to Supernatural convention, and this one is no different. My roommate for this convention was one of my closest friends, Katy; although we had an alarm set for 7:30, we were awake at 7:00, full of nervous energy and excitement, and did I mention nerves? I’m so thankful that she was there with me for the weekend – as she ate her bagel, she gently, quietly suggested that I eat a little bit of cereal before I left the room, reminding me just how full the day was going to be, reminding me that I really need to eat at least a little bit, that it would calm my stomach. I did manage to swallow a few bites of Cheerios.
It’s Sunday. It’s the Jared and Jensen Gold Panel at 10:00. Then it’s off to so many photo ops. And a panel with Mark Pellegrino. And the afternoon panel with Jared and Jensen. And then more photo ops. And another panel with Mark Sheppard. And then autographs with Jared and Jensen. Oh, and in all of that, yes, I had my first Meet & Greet with Jensen.
I simply must give a big big thank you to Katy. She kept me sane and focused and well fed for the weekend, especially today. She probably doesn’t realize how much it meant to me to have her with me.
I will get to the J2 panels and ops and details and all that glorious beauty a little later.
For non-gold ticket holders, Sunday began with Mark Pellegrino.
No, no, that’s not correct. Sunday began with a welcome from Richard Speight Jr., the boys from Louden Swain, and of course, #ActualRockGod Rob Benedict. They reminded us of the Rules & Regulations – Do Not take a camera into the photo op room. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Insert another photo of Rob here, because, omg, how adorable is he?!
As I started to say but lost myself in photos of Rob… Mark Pellegrino took to the stage. He was wearing a black beanie, which he rubbed against his head throughout most of his panel, perhaps in an attempt to alleviate his headache – yes, apparently the combination of the high altitude and a few drinks the night before had left him feeling a bit under the weather. And I’d like to add that it was just adorable, watching him work his way through the panel and the questions while feeling the headache.
Mark answered so many questions, I can’t remember them all. He was asked if he would be coming back to the show this season; in his answer, he neither confirmed nor denied the possibility; he did say that he would love to come back because it is such a great group of people and he enjoyed working with them. In response to another question, he said, if he did come back, “The first thing Lucifer would do would be to bi***slap Crowley.” Now that’s a confrontation that I need to see, like, now.
If you haven’t sat through one of his panels, then it is important to know that Mark likes to bring fans on stage with him while they ask their questions. I think he brought up two, perhaps three, fans, putting his arm around each of them as they nervously asked their questions. Mark is definitely charming! This is my 2nd time to sit in on one of his panels. I am struck by how incredibly soft-spoken he is, especially when interacting with a fan on stage. His quiet tone is soothing and calming, and yet somehow creepy and scary and frightening, and dare I say sexy, all at the same time – I mean, he is Lucifer. I can’t help but imagine that I’m witnessing a conversation with the Devil himself, and that is slightly unnerving. And Mark is aware of that. He asks us several times why the questioners, why the fans, seem afraid of him; he says, “You know I’m not actually Satan, right?”
Before I get into the details of the two Jared & Jensen panels, I’ll start with a few pictures.
To be completely honest, many of the details blend together. I don’t remember if this comment came from the morning panel, or maybe that comment from the afternoon panel? I’m a photographer. Taking pictures is my thing. I’m so focused on the details, like lighting and ISO’s and shutter speeds, and what if these pictures don’t turn out? What if these pictures are too grainy or too blurry or the color is bad? I have enough worry with these details, so keeping the details of who said what when is not at the top of my priority list, ya know? So instead of trying to keep the two panels separate, I’ll just mention some of the highlights.
Jared and Jensen talked about the “Baby” episode. It’s clear they loved shooting this one. They talked about how it was to actually film it; the scenes would be set up by the crew, then everyone except Jared & Jensen would leave, hiding far far away so as to not be captured by one of the many cameras mounted on the car. They explained that it was actually really cool, to be just the two of them in the car with literally no one else around. They would run through the scene, but there was no one to actually say, “Cut,” so they had to take it upon themselves to do it again, if they thought anything wasn’t quite right about the take. They also said there might be a few excerpts from their many takes on the gag reel, and given the ornery grins on their faces, I’d say we’re really going to love the gag reel!
One fan asked Jensen if “it was a coincidence that he was born in Dallas in the late 70’s and his initials are JR?” For those of you who don’t know, J.R. Ewing was a character on the hit show “Dallas” in the 1970’s. Jensen laughed and then shared with us this little fun fact: His father actually played J.R.’s doctor in the show, and Jensen used to visit his dad on set when he was a kid. Of note: Jensen did not actually confirm or deny that his initials are in any way connected to JR Ewing.
The boys also talked a little bit about their families. The story that stuck with me is one that Jensen told about watching a movie with JJ, and how she kept moving closer and closer to him until she was eventually just nestled head to head with him; Danneel came in, but Jensen shushed her away because he so loved the moment.
Jared loves playing with his boys. He talked about looking forward to watching his boys grow up, and wanting to be there for those pivotal moments in their lives.
Seriously. As a mother of two (adult) children, I just can’t tell you how much I enjoy listening to them talk about their kids. I cherish those memories I have with my children, and I truly hope Jared & Jensen have a lifetime of warm & fuzzy memories with their children.
Other highlights included a discussion of pranks. Jensen pulled out his phone to read to us from the list that he and Jared made when Misha (Collins) directed an episode last season. Yes, Jensen still has that list. They also talked about holiday traditions – including watching the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day, decorating the Christmas Tree, enjoying the cookies and other recipes from Danneel and her family, to name a few.
And of course, the “Losechesters” line made its way into both panels.
Jared: We aren’t the Losechesters!
Jensen: Wiggling your eyebrows up and down doesn’t make it better.
Jared: Yes it does.
Wiggled eyebrows or not, that is and always will be one helluva line.
I am always touched by their passion for their work, this show, and our fandom. A fan asked where they would like to be in 10 years. Of course, both Jared and Jensen said they would like to spend more time with their families, but they also told us that they frequently talk about the show and its impact. They get it – they understand that the show is bigger than just the two of them. Jensen explained that “the show may not continue for the rest of their lives, but what this show has become, that will be with us forever.”
They also said they continue to find inspiration in doing the show, as well as from us, the fans. They really, truly love doing it. They know how fortunate they are to be a part of this show, and a part of this SPNFamily. To paraphrase Jared, he said, “This show has a message, about brothers who never give up and just keep fighting… And I think that message transitioned into this idea of not giving up and then into the charity work… and it has made our community closer… and that inspires us to work harder… to come here and talk to you and hug you… Honestly, we just thank you.”
A fan asked, “If you could only say one word for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
Somewhere in all of that, and I honestly don’t remember which part or which story or which comment, but Jensen said to Jared: “Did I just make you cry?” To which Jared replied: “It’s allergies.”
Right. I guess we all have “allergies” now. “Sorry, I can’t talk right now. I have J2itis. No, no, I’ll be okay. I just need to wrap up in my #AKF tshirt and watch some eps and some con videos and re-live all of these moments.”
And that’s a wrap on the J2 panels in DenverCon.
I’ll leave with two more tidbits.
I had my first Meet & Greet with Jensen. Jensen Ackles. Oh. My. God.
The rules are clear. To quote Castiel, “We aren’t supposed to talk about it.” With that in mind, I will only say four things:
1 – As this was my first M&G, I tried very, very hard not to stare. Or show my shaking nerves. Or drool. Because, well, Jensen. Jensen Ackles. (Hey, 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.)
2 – The entire 30 minute session focused upon the show, with questions and discussion about episodes, directing, and the like.
3 – In the car wash scene from the “Baby” episode, yes, Jensen really was wearing shorts. And there was music playing. And there might have been some dancing and shenanigans. And it might be on the gag reel.
4 – And this goes out to Creation… if there is ever a real, live, breathing guy in one of his M&G’s, please for the love of Chuck, please let your volunteers take pictures of Jensen’s face as he walks into the room. That is all.
And I’ll leave you with this final story:
I had a photo op with Jensen and Misha, which was just, guh, heaven. In an attempt to give me a full sandwich hug, and because I’m so short and they’re both so tall, well, I kind of got lost in the actual picture. So, oh woe is me, I had to do it again. Bummer, right? Not really. I had to hug them a second time. Twice. Let me say that again – I had to hug them, they hugged me Twice. Swoon.
The Jensen-Misha op took place at the same time as Mark Sheppard’s second panel. I knew I would miss some of his panel, and looking at the time, I realized I had missed most of it. As I walked to the theater, it hit me… I would be walking in late. Laaaatttteee. I stood at the back of the theater, wrestling with my options. I had to get from the back of the theater, to the other side, then up the aisle to my seat, and without Mark seeing me. He was roaming the theater, as he often does. What if he sees me? Will he berate me for being late? Will I have to explain to him that I had been in the photo op room with Jensen and Misha? Would he berate me for that? I finally mustered the courage, and began the journey towards my seat. Suddenly a volunteer stepped in front of me and said, “You have to wait here for a minute.” Oh what hell is this, I wondered. Surely she is not going to actually bring my lateness to Mark’s attention?
Then Jared walked into the theater, right in front of where I was standing. I may or may not have stopped breathing for a few seconds.
Then Jared was running. And Mark was chasing him. And I just wanted to get to my seat. And as I was about to cross the aisle, there’s Jared running right in front of me with Mark in hot pursuit. What’s Happening? What’s Happening?!
I made it to my seat, unnoticed by Mark (yay!) but completely out of breath (damn altitude). Katy tried to explain to me something about Mark’s phone. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but it was hilarious just to watch the two guys chasing each other around the theater.
After Mark’s panel, we began the wait for autographs with Jared and Jensen. And with those last breathtaking one-on-one moments with Jared and Jensen, the weekend came to an end.
So, um, is it Jacksonville yet?
just a mom with a camera.
Like I said, Pascon was special because it was the last Creation con of 2015 – and because it’s where Louden Swain first played for a con (and sort of the start of Rob and Rich’s epic friendship). It was also just a helluva lot of fun.
Flying all the way across the country from east coast to west isn’t a picnic, and I was worried that I wouldn’t get there in time for Friday panels. I grabbed a cab, miraculously hit no traffic on the freeway, no line at registration, stored my bags at the hotel and ran into the ballroom – literally just in time to hear most of Richard’s rendition of Rules and Regulations! Phew! And Rob’s shaker dance. He looks like some sort of exotic dancer, doesn’t he?
It took me a few days to be able to actually LOOK at the caps from last week’s Supernatural episode, ‘Plush’, without cringing. Damn, I somehow forget just how scary and creepy this show can be! I am totally with Sam in his fear of clowns, and weirdly almost-realistic deer head costumes or entirely sinister court jesters are right up there too. Not to mention bloody giant bunny heads stuck on some hapless innocent! Those eyes!!
Jared played it perfectly when Sam is trapped in the elevator with that ohmygodsocreepy clown – I may have screamed while Sam closed his eyes to steel himself for what was to come. You could almost hear him internally saying, ‘Really? Clowns??’
By that time, I was as terrified as Sam. The image of the clown carrying that knife, drops of blood slowly dripping onto the hospital floor as he walks down the hallway? OMG. Poor Sammy!
The Salute to Supernatural conventions are always entertaining, but there is another word that describes these events: Family. Although the venue for the convention in Denver was small, it felt right. The smallness created an atmosphere of closeness and of camaraderie. While each of the celebrity guests spoke passionately about a variety of causes, they also spoke about the bond, the sense of community and family that is our fandom.
Before I get into those details, I think it is important to recognize the non-cast people, the people directly connected to these conventions. The first group is all of the wonderful people from Creation Entertainment. Co-founders Gary Berman and Adam Malin spend countless hours planning and preparing these events, events that allow us the opportunity not only to meet the cast, but also to meet our fellow family members. Mr. Berman and Mr. Malin, along with their staff and their volunteers, continue to pour their heart and soul and passion into making these events something special, whether it is in Denver or Las Vegas or any other city on the circuit. They go to great lengths to make sure lines move quickly, to have water coolers filled and ready to go inside the theater, to answer our questions with enthusiasm and smiles – they really do want us to have a good time! They have also recently launched Creation Stands, allowing us the opportunity to buy merchandise through their website which supports the various charities near & dear to the hearts of our favorite cast members. Without the unwavering passion and commitment of Mr. Berman, Mr. Malin, and all of the Creation staff, these conventions simply would not exist.
Holiday dinners. Reunions. Weddings. These are (usually) joyous family occasions. And what do we do at these occasions? That’s right – we take pictures. And aren’t we so so blessed to have crazy-talented photographer Chris Schmelke in our family? He is tucked away in a room, down a long hallway, settled into a place of magical happenings. He stands there on his mark, for hours upon hours, snapping picture after picture. We might feel nervous and anxious and excited, perhaps even dizzy and near to fainting; meanwhile, Chris is there, doing his thing, while the music blasts in the background. With each click, he captures a moment for us, whether that moment is a well-executed photo op featuring Jensen shielding a victim by aiming his dart gun at her demonized husband while Jared stands in in fear of a small clown… or perhaps he captures just a simple hug between Misha and a fan. All of these photo ops become little pieces of magic, little memories that we will cherish forever. I, for one, cannot imagine a convention without Chris. He is, perhaps, that one member of our family that we can all agree that we love unconditionally.
The last group of people that need to be recognized are the families. Danneel and JJ. Gen and Thomas and Shep. Vicky and West and Maison. Jaci, Mandy, Mollie, Sarah. I’m going to stop there with the names, mostly out of fear that I will either spell someone’s name incorrectly or even worse, forget someone altogether. But you get the point. All of the wives and all of the children give up their precious family time, so that we can spend a weekend with The Guys. The kids might be to young to understand it all, but the wives get it – we are this big, crazy family, and we love these guys… and speaking only for myself, I am so very grateful for their selflessness in sharing the guys with us.
All of that said, let’s get back to the Family Business of DenverCon details and more pretty pictures, shall we?
I think every single celebrity guest spoke in some way about our fandom, our family. The show is in its eleventh season – they get it. They know the show is still airing, in large part, because of us. Richard, Rob, and Matt talked about exactly that. They talked about how “hard it is for people to truly understand what these conventions are like, what they’re really about, unless you’ve actually been to one.” Yes, there are autographs and photo ops. Yes, there’s lots of laughing and singing, and it’s hectic, and not many opportunities for food or sleep. Yet, it is so much more than that. We are there because we have a chance to meet them… but they are here, and they keep coming back, because they get a chance to meet us. They really, truly, sincerely want to meet us and do the photo ops and sign the autographs, and just have that chance – even if it’s only for a few seconds – to share a smile with us. And to all of the naysayers out there who doubt that, please, read on. The cast, the fans – We. Are. Family.
Several of the celebrity guests talked about the importance of tolerance and inclusion, but Osric Chau was the first to talk about it. He said it is important to “give people the benefit of the doubt, to not judge a person based upon your first meeting.” So true, Osric, so true.
He went on to talk about the Tough Mudder event. He has talked previously about the event itself, recalling details that we have heard a thousand times before, yet we can’t help but sit mesmerized and enthralled in hearing it again. Then he talked about “hanging out at Jensen’s house afterward.” He said they have all grown much closer by being at the conventions together, but they don’t have a lot of time to just hang out together. For him, the opportunity to go to Jensen’s house with the guys after the Tough Mudder event was wonderful because it gave them that chance to just simply hang out together. Again, it’s all about family.
Gil McKinney talked about Attitudes In Reverse (A.I.R.) and the wonderful work they are doing in mental health education. He also talked about the hectic schedule of the conventions. Tying the two ideas together, he explained that these cons are more than just autographs and photo ops for them. He said this fandom is truly a family, “and we love you and we want to help.”
It is no surprise how Osric and Gil answered this fan’s question, “If you could mandate a daily activity, what would it be?” Instead of giving a funny answer, both Osric and Gil gave meaningful answers. Gil said we should have to say something nice to someone every day… and “Actually say it out loud, don’t text it!” Osric said that we should be required to give thanks for something everyday. Just my opinion, but both of those sentiments could be applied to family, right? It always comes back to family.
Sebastian Roche might burst onto stage with an explosion of energy, and he might carry that energy and electricity throughout his entire panel, but make no mistake – this man really cares. All of that energy and electricity channels into a serious moment when he passionately reminds us to…
Sorry… I was saying “Sebastian” and “passionately” in the same thought and I just…
Back to the point. Sebastian channels all of that energy and electricity into a serious moment when he passionately reminds us to… “be more about inclusion and a lot less about intolerance.”
He went on to say, “If we have the means, then we have a responsibility to help the less fortunate.”
Inclusion. Tolerance. Helping others. Isn’t that what family is about? Isn’t that what family should be about?
Tahmoh Penikett talked about our fandomily as well. He talked about how our creativity and our imagination allow us to bond together, to come together for a common goal. He said, “You are the most loyal, the most dedicated fan base. You have the power to create real change in the world.”
He also talked about the importance of meditation in his personal life. “Just 5 minutes of meditation every day, and you will benefit from it. You will be better because of it.”
Tahmoh mentioned starting a 30-Day Challenge… in my opinion, this is a brilliant idea. For some, meditation might be the thing that helps them find some peace. For others, it might be 5 minutes spent in prayer. For still others, maybe its a 10 minute walk, or just 5 minutes of quiet as you drink a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that allows you this moment, then I agree with Tahmoh – you will benefit from doing it, and you should make a point to do this thing that brings you peace on a daily basis. Big thanks to Tahmoh for reminding me that I need to make the time – even if its just 5 minutes a day – to take care of Me. Afterall, what good am I to my family, both my real life one and the one I have found in this fandom, if I haven’t taken care of myself?
In his panel, Richard Speight Jr. told us about his experiences while working on the set of ‘Band of Brothers.’ He explained that many of the other actors were portraying servicemen who were still alive, and they could talk with these men and hear their experiences firsthand. Unfortunately, the serviceman that Richard was portraying had already passed away. After a lot of research, Richard was finally able to locate the family of Skip Muck, the man he was portraying. He had the opportunity to talk to the family and read letters and learn more about the real life man. I was very moved as I listened to him share this story. I had goosebumps as he told us about the monument that was built for Skip Muck and the Niland brothers (Saving Private Ryan is based upon these brothers). The whole experience of working on the set of ‘Band of Brothers’ was something more than an eye-opener for Richard, he said that it actually changed the way he parents his children. Band of Brothers, oh yeah, that is absolutely about family.
Misha Collins also talked about the idea of brotherhood in answering a fan’s question about the lack of female characters on the show. He explained it this way: while this is a male dominated cast, in furtherance of the idea of and development of brotherhood, we do have strong female characters (such as Charlie and Jody, to name a few) that propel the idea of brotherhood. He went on to say that the underlying theme that flows through our show is this idea of brotherhood, of interpersonal male relationships… which, personally, I find as a refreshing break from the “cop procedural – reality tv – doctors having too much sex” stuff that dominates Every. Stupid. Channel.
I would also like to mention Misha’s charity, Random Acts, and the good works this organization is doing on a daily basis. RA is frequently a part of the Supernatural conventions, setting up a table and collecting donations for a local non profit agency. While in Denver, RA volunteers accepted donations (non perishable food items, toiletries, hats, gloves, etc) which were then given to The Gathering Place, a non profit agency in Denver serving women, children, and transgender individuals facing poverty and/or homelessness. Of course, we generously donate to and support Random Acts. We support this because we want to, of course, but also, we support this because Misha is part of our family and that’s what family does for one another – we support, we donate, we encourage, we lift up one another. And I can’t think of any better way to describe Random Acts and their #GetKind message.
Mr. Collins, thank you. Thank you for bringing Random Acts into my life. Thank you for reminding me that I can do more. Thank you for pushing me to be a better person.
Just, thank you.
Jared Padalecki also talked about the idea of family. A fan asked what he would be doing if he weren’t on Supernatural. Jared’s reply was quick and concise, as if the answer was the same as breathing, as easy to say these words as it is to say his own name… he said, “I’d be without the SPNFamily, and it would kill me.”
No worries, Jared, we got you.
These guys. Really. Talk about inspiring. They are each so passionate about their cause, from A.I.R. to Random Acts to #AKF and everything in between. And everything they have chosen to support, in some way, it supports us too. They have all said this fandom-family means so much to them, they are so grateful to be a part of this. But if all of these guys talking about their causes and their passions and their love for our family isn’t enough…
I am most touched by Mark. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he can be snarky and sarcastic. Maybe he doesn’t answer questions. Maybe he snips back at you for asking stupid questions. Maybe he refuses to write the fanfiction for us. Maybe he’s funny and charming and if you haven’t hugged this man, then you really must add that to the top of your bucket list. Like, right now. Go. Do it. Add “Hug Mark Sheppard” to your list.
When he talks about this fandom, the sincerity seems to literally drip from his lips. I wouldn’t dare try to quote Mr. Sheppard, but this paraphrased version pretty much sums it all up.
“This show, these people, this fandom are so much more than Supernatural. When family comes together to support one another, in the way that you do… what this family does collectively… It is a wonderful thing, and makes me very proud to be a part of this. These conventions are the most rewarding things I’ve experienced in my career, and I really and truly love you, the fans.”
That’s it. That’s the show. Supporting people. Changing things. The SPNFamily business.
just a mom with a camera.
I first met the authors of Fangasm, Lynn and Kathy, in Chicago. In the year since then, we have forged a friendship built on a mutual love for this show, but also one built upon respect for one another’s work, and I am quite sure they are sick of hearing me say thank you a gabjillion times. We had discussed the idea of me acting as their photographer at a few conventions (see their posts on Vegas) and when the Denver convention came up, and they would not be attending but I was attending, and oh my Chuck – here I am, writing this for them. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
I have attended two Salute to Supernatural conventions prior to Denver, first in Chicago in 2014 and then in Las Vegas in 2015. Upon entering the hotel in Denver, I was immediately struck by the smallness of the location; I wondered how this would go, given the number of fans about to descend upon the site.
I feel like I start lots of con reports by saying ‘this con was special,’ but oddly, it seems like many of them do have something that sets them apart. Pascon is the successor to Burcon, which is the successor to LACon, which first happened way back in early 2009 (I think). That was the second Creation con that Kathy and I went to, and our (mis)adventures there are chronicled for posterity in a chapter of “Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls”. We got to know Richard Speight a lot better at that con, after meeting him at Chicon and enjoying our interview so much that we just kept talking, leaving the green room and going to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I’m sure exactly no one is surprised that Richard was that much fun to talk to.
Afterwards, there was a band playing a concert at the con, which was something Creation has done from the start of SPN cons. That night, it was Louden Swain, fronted by Rob Benedict, who Kathy and I had met briefly on our second Supernatural set visit (That chapter is a lot more MIS than adventures…). We were still talking to Richard, so we brought him with us to the concert, the three of us sitting in the back of the auditorium. We were all blown away by Louden Swain.
Season 11 is off to a fantastic start. It strikes me as I write this what an unusual thing that is to say. Season 11 and the word “fantastic” aren’t often used in the same sentence. Many long-running shows, even ones who are beloved by fans, often take a downturn in quality as they go on. It has to be difficult to come up with fresh story arcs and keep characters interesting over such a long span of time. Even real people aren’t quite as fascinating after you’ve known them for a decade – how can there possibly be nuances still to discover about fictional characters? How can we possibly still care about fictional characters enough to sustain a weekly television show in its eleventh year?
I’d be the first to say that Supernatural has had its ups and downs. Not every season is stellar and not every episode is breathtakingly awesome. But I still find something to love about this show every time I watch a new episode, and I’m enjoying Season 11 almost as much as I did the early seasons that first drew me into this decade-long love affair. That’s pretty damn amazing!