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Vegascon is one of my favorite conventions – it’s four days of craziness, tons of my favorite fangirls and fanboys, a thousand miles of walking, and Jensen Ackles singing at the Saturday Night Special. What’s not to like? (Except maybe the thousand miles of walking part…)
This year was even crazier than before, since I was also working in the vendor room to sell Family Don’t End With Blood and our other books. But in between meeting tons of awesome fellow fans and signing lots of books, I managed to take in a bunch of panels. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments and photos below.
Day One: Thursday
I had to work late on Wednesday teaching, so I couldn’t fly in until Thursday afternoon. I was trying very hard to get there in time for Richard and Rob’s kick off, but the shuttle I booked to save money took its sweet old time winding its way through Vegas before finally stopping at the Rio – which was, predictably, the very last stop. That means I missed Gil and Osric onstage together, which made me very sad, and caught only part of Jeffrey Parise’s inaugural con panel. I have to say, I was taken aback by what a nice guy he is – and how attractive! Let’s just say Asmodeus is neither of those on the show, so that was a pleasant surprise. He’s also very amusing. And he spells his name the same way as my son, so of course that’s a point in his favor too. Also, he looks sort of familiar…
@Kreespa: Have you and Tim Omundson ever been seen in the same place?
I really enjoyed last week’s Supernatural episode, which feels really good to say. I don’t like not loving episodes – it makes me feel like my entire universe is somehow tilted in a wrong direction – so it’s almost a relief when Show comes back with an episode that I can thoroughly enjoy. From the very first scenes, I loved the look of it – the dark and dimly lit, atmospheric quality that it had. In some ways, it was very much an old school Supernatural episode, dark (literally) and full of twists and turns and Winchesters on a hunt for something personally important to them. Struggling with conflicting ideas of what’s right and wrong and whether the ends justify the means and struggling with their own faith in the face of overwhelming odds and too many losses. All the while teasing each other in the easy way that brothers who know they have each others’ backs no matter what can do – and knowing when the other doesn’t need teasing, but listening and empathy, and giving it freely. All that was in this episode, together with a double-triple (quadruple?) game of Clue with the Winchesters in the middle. Thank you, Bob Singer and Andrew Dabb, for writing such a satisfying episode.
I’ve come to like Amanda Tapping’s directing very much – she doesn’t rush, allows us to revel in the gorgeous lighting and cinematography that Serge Ladouceur and his team invariably bring, and to savor the beauty of the actors onscreen too. Chris Lennertz added a unique score that underscored the feeling that we were back in time throughout the episode, giving it a surreal noir feel that made it both fun and quirky. I like fun and quirky.
With Castiel tracking down clues in Syria (did he have to fly there?) Sam is in research mode, which is also old school, and Dean tired of pizza and wryly noting that the internet is not just for porn, Avenue Q classic aside. So off they go to try to find the blood of a saint, which leads them to a lady named Margaret (Leanne Lapp) who also looks like she’s right out of another era. All the set dec reinforced that feeling, with old hotels full of potted palms and flocked wallpaper and sconces for lighting – I felt like we were in the Tower of Terror ride lobby at Disney! (That is a very positive association for me…I love that ride…) Margaret definitely appreciates what a handsome man Sam Winchester is, for which I totally could not blame her – also Jared’s acting as Sam literally jumps when she unexpectedly (and pointedly) lays her hand over his on the table was A+. He quickly clues in and uses her attraction to his benefit. Also A+. Smart Sammy. Dean, on the other hand, definitely does not appreciate Margaret’s blatant appreciation of his little brother, which of course Jensen conveys with just his facial expressions. Eyeroll much, Dean?
One of the most amazing things about this year’s Vegas Supernatural convention was the Saturday Night Special, when Jensen Ackles shocked the crowd by bringing Slipknot and Stone Sour singer Corey Taylor onstage to sing Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive with him and Louden Swain.
All week long we’d been wracking our brains trying to figure out who the ‘special guest’ that Jensen was bringing to the SNS might be – but I’m fairly certain NOBODY figured this one out! Like many Supernatural fans – and many of the Supernatural cast – I’m a huge music fan too, so this was a performance that was almost overwhelming in how awesome it was. Last year at Comic Con we got Kansas, now we get Corey Taylor? We are a lucky fandom indeed.
When I heard that Corey was a Supernatural fan, I couldn’t wait to talk to him about how he ended up onstage with Jensen and the band – but I had no idea I would enjoy our conversation so much. It was forty minutes of two people who are passionate about the same thing sharing that love, and a lot of laughter – and just a whole lot of fun. Which means Corey and I are now on a campaign to get a few things to happen. More on that later.
I’m home sick with the cold from hell, which might explain why when Corey called I literally could not convince my phone to go to speaker mode. Anyone who has read ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ knows that technology and I are not friends, so this should surprise no one. Corey, for his part, was extraordinarily patient while I struggled with technology, until finally – success!
We chatted for a few minutes about kids and the challenges of parenthood, which as Corey said, often means you just run around all the time trying to spend as much time with them as possible and planning your schedule out way in advance to make sure you’ve got enough time to be Dad. He worries about doing a good enough job and not messing them up, but honestly? That’s what lets me know he’s probably doing a great job – if you’re worrying and planning, you care a lot, and that’s what kids need more than anything.
Corey: Thank god for that!
Anyway, eventually I took my psychologist hat off (or maybe my fellow parent hat) and we got around to talking about Vegas, music and of course Supernatural.
Lynn: I loved your performance of Dead or Alive with Jensen so much. The fandom absolutely went insane over it. Tell me about how you ended up singing with Jensen Ackles and Louden Swain at the Supernatural convention in Las Vegas?
Corey: It’s kind of a crazy story. I’ve been a massive massive massive Supernatural fan for years. I didn’t start watching right away but I started watching around the third season. And I went back and binge watched the first two seasons as much as I could and then started buying the DVDs from there.
[At this point in the conversation I was already going OMG ME TOO because I also started watching in a serious way in Season 2 and then went back and did the exact same thing – so the fangirl in me was already squeeing and thinking about how much I related to Corey as a fellow fan]
When we decided to write Family Don’t End With Blood, one of the main reasons was to break the silence around mental health challenges. If nobody talks about their challenges, we all tend to think we’re the only ones suffering, and thus we keep silent. That means we don’t reach out for help when we need it – and that is a dangerous thing. As a psychologist, I know the tremendous value of hearing other people’s stories, so that our own can be validated. So that WE can be validated, and thus feel worthy of the help we so deserve. Many of the chapters in the book are written by people who have dealt with a significant challenge – and have come out on the other side. Some of those are Supernatural fans, and some of those are Supernatural actors.
Jared Padalecki was the first Supernatural actor who told me that he had something to say and a reason to say it in Family Don’t End With Blood. He wanted to tell his own story of coming up against significant challenges of anxiety and depression, so that others would be emboldened to tell theirs to someone who could help – so that others who were struggling would truly know “you are not alone”. Jared had partnered with two important organizations to help get that message out there, To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and Attitudes in Reverse (AIR). Both organizations do amazing and important work in fighting stigma, educating people about mental health, and providing a route for people who are struggling to find the help they need.
Because everyone who wrote a chapter for Family Don’t End With Blood was passionate about making a difference, we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to two of the charitable organizations the cast supports – Misha Collins’ Random Acts and one of Jared’s partners, Attitudes in Reverse.
AIR was started by Tricia and Kurt Baker after they lost their son Kenny to suicide. AIR volunteers, along with Trish and Kurt and their therapy dog Miki, speak at schools and universities about suicide prevention and mental health, and have put together a powerful exhibition called “In Their Shoes.” Each pair of shoes in the exhibit is from someone with an important message, written in their own words on their shoes, and helping to increase understanding and empathy for those who are struggling. You can literally “put yourself in their shoes” and understand the need for help and breaking the silence.
I’ve donated a pair of shoes, and so have many of the Supernatural cast. Gil McKinney, Samantha Smith, Mark Pellegrino, Carrie Genzel, Rob Benedict and Louden Swain, Jason Manns, Lauren Tom, Chris Schmelke and many others have written their messages on a pair of their shoes.
Jensen Ackles donated a worn pair of sneakers, with the message “My brother, I’ve got your back….Always.” When Jared was struggling, Jensen was there for him, and his message reflects his unwavering empathy, understanding and support.
Jared Padalecki donated a pair of boots which have travelled all over the country to help raise awareness. His message: When life breaks you down, never give up. Always Keep Fighting.
In the chapter he wrote for Family Don’t End With Blood, Jared opens up about his own anxiety and depression, and how sometimes it has been difficult for him to keep going. He writes with extraordinary candor and vulnerability, taking the reader along with him on a lifetime journey of self discovery starting with his own childhood and continuing through Supernatural and the present. Jared shares his story so that others can feel like it’s okay to share theirs – and to accept help, just like he did.
I’ve had an ongoing struggle with anxiety and depression most of my adult life… it did win a few battles along the way (though I am proud to say, I am winning the WAR!). One of those battles was in season 3, during the filming of “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” It was a day like any other: I woke up, worked out, memorized my lines, and headed to the set. But something I couldn’t identify (or, maybe, that I was choosing to ignore) was eating at me. Beating me down. Convincing me that it was going to win, and that I didn’t have a chance to stop it. I made it through my daily hair and makeup and was taken to set for a rehearsal and blocking of our day’s first scene. I got in the car and rode to set, and then I was sent back to my trailer to finish changing into wardrobe and to wait while the crew set up the lighting. I walked into my trailer, sat down on the couch, and I couldn’t get up. I could no longer, on my own, muster the will to carry on. I heard the knocks on my door and I knew my crew was ready for me on set, but I couldn’t make it out of my trailer. After a bit of time, Jensen came into my trailer to see what was going on, and he knew I was not okay. He had the assistant director call for a doctor, and he sat with me to talk. The doctor showed up a bit later and sat with me in my trailer to ask me a few questions. After some time, the doctor told me that his professional opinion was that I was clinically depressed, and I should take some time off from filming.
That’s when it hit me.
I couldn’t stop filming.
I couldn’t put my crew out of work for a day, a week, a month.
I also couldn’t face, or admit, what was going on in my head.
I met the doctor in the middle. I went home, and we pushed that day’s scenes to another time. After a long sleep and a long jog and a long bath, I was ready to show back up for work the next day. Supernatural has continued for many years after that. And then, seven years later, we went back to film at the very same house we were using the day I sat in my trailer and couldn’t make it to set. That day was the day I also launched the first Always Keep Fighting campaign. In over 200 episodes, over 1,600 filming days, and hundreds of locations, what are the odds?
It’s Monday morning and I’m still sitting here pondering the last episode of Supernatural. Make no mistake, my enthusiasm for the Show is as healthy as ever – otherwise I wouldn’t have spent the last three days thinking about it! This season has been uneven for me, with some wonderful episodes and some wonderful moments even in episodes I didn’t love, but when I get two in a row that don’t show me as much of the Winchesters’ perspectives as I need to see, I get impatient for more of what drew me into this show in the first place. This week’s episode was written by one of my favorite writers. Meredith Glynn wrote the incredible ‘Regarding Dean’, one of my favorite episodes of the entire series – so I went into this episode with high hopes after being disappointed by the last one three weeks ago. There were definitely things I liked about this episode, and it was indeed well written, but it didn’t leave me jumping up and down and screaming about my love of my Show, which is where I really like to be at the end of a new episode.
Someone on Tumblr wrote a provocative little post after this week’s episode about how Supernatural was never meant to be an ensemble show. The premise that drew me in was the story of these two brothers – two characters who have fascinated me for going on thirteen years. I enjoy Sam and Dean’s relationships with the other important people in their lives, which enriches my understanding of them, but Sam and Dean are my route in, and if I don’t have that route in, I feel too much on the outside instead of immersed like I want to be. The episodes that relegate Sam and Dean to more of a supporting role don’t have the emotional resonance for me that I’ve come to count on with this show. They may be good episodes in the sense of a self contained 42 minutes of drama, but they don’t give me that unique thrill that watching Supernatural does. I’m the last person to suggest that anyone should keep up the sort of pace that Jared and Jensen have for the past twelve years because I care about them as human beings, but some have suggested that a shorter season would be a win/win alternative and I think I’d be down with that.
Let me be clear – I really liked a lot of this episode. Just not fangirl-thrilled-jump-up-and-down-OMG-I-love-this-Show kind of like, but like nevertheless. I think the scenes I enjoyed the most were the ones in the AU. I realize that seems to contradict what I said before about Sam and Dean being my route in since they weren’t even in the AU, but it’s not just having them onscreen, it’s having an emotional and psychological focus on them, and that didn’t happen in the ‘real world’ portion of the past few episodes either. The AU story was well done, it just didn’t leave me squeeful.
I liked the opening scene with Jack dreaming of being back “home” with Sam and Dean, even if I recognized it as a manipulated image from the start. The glimpse of what Jack longs for — his fantasy of Dean saying “You, me and the kid, home safe where he belongs” was heartbreaking. It’s so much the theme of Supernatural, that longing for family, the ability to create those bonds both with blood and without, and I was reminded how young Jack is with that glimpse, and how much he does long for that sort of family love and acceptance. For whatever it’s worth, Jack has bonded with Sam and Dean. They are his attachment figures, the first people who protected him and nurtured him. That early bond is powerful, resistant to a lot of outside attacks (as Michael (Christian Keyes) and Zachariah (Chad Rook) are finding out). Jack’s deepest desire is to do right by Sam and Dean, to save them as they have saved him – I wanted to cry when his cruelly manipulated dream took such a dark turn and he was unable to save them.