From Sidewalk To Ballroom (A Tale Of Trains, Tears, And Firefly)

The Night Was Moist

It would be easy to say that it started on the sidewalk, but it actually started much earlier than that.  I was not a fan of Firefly when it originally aired, and I didn’t see Serenity when it was on the big screen.  In fact, over the last two decades my Navy career and frequent moves have served as a great excuse to not be a regular fan of any show.  Then came Netflix.  And Chuck.  I have already recounted the tale of how I came to be a fan of Chuck, so I’ll leave it to you to click (or not).  I’m not an expert on Netflix’s recommendation algorithm, but a few years ago it decided that Chuck + (a few other things) = Firefly should be at the top of my list, and being the obedient servant of Netflix that I am, I watched.  That’s when I learned what Browncoats have known for a decade, and I was hooked.

Which brings me to the evening of Thursday, July 12, 2012.  After a screening of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog hosted by the California Browncoats, I headed home around 10 pm to drop off my son (who had school the next day), shower, change, and pack for a night under the stars clouds.  Heading out just after midnight, I walked the length of the San Diego Convention Center before finding the end of the line.  I settled down on the sidewalk, was promptly told to get up and relocate to the grass, settled down on the grass, felt the first drops of rain, then admonished myself for being a meteorologist outside in the rain without an umbrella.

Trucks And Trains And Carts, Oh My!

The trucks were loud, the trains were loud, the wheeled garbage carts were loud, the night was moist…  I could whine on and on, but I’m fairly certain the reason most people (at least in my general vicinity) weren’t sleeping was antici…pation.  And then Joss happened.


At around three o’clock in the morning, and for at least an hour, Mr. Whedon walked the entire length of the line signing autographs and taking photos with everyone who asked.  Including me (notice how photogenic he is and how I look like the walking dead?):

After he left, my Twitter friend American Elephant asked me to send a photo of my costume, so I obliged:

More trucks, more trains, more garbage carts, then they played this funny game with us called “compressing the line” a few times, which meant we had to stand up, move forward, sit down, and maybe repeat if they weren’t quite happy.  We played this game until a little after six, when they finally let us into the Convention Center, where there was a mad dash for two escalators and some but-wagging fast walking (No Running!) that would have made Olympians proud.  And then (as you may have guessed) we waited for a couple more hours.

Community And Korra

There were two panels before the Firefly panel.  The Community panel was at 10 and The Legend of Korra panel was at 11:15.  I did neither a poll nor a head count of how many of those in Ballroom 20 from the beginning of the day were primarily interested in Firefly, but I couldn’t help but think there might be a better way to manage the crowd than to have me sit through two panels in which I had no interest while devoted fans of Community and The Legend of Korra never made it inside.  I shall add this issue to my “When I Rule The World” list.

My summary of the panels:  Mostly harmless.

What You Really Want

Prior to the panel starting, the first several rows received notice that they might be on film:

Also, if anyone has posted a video of the entire panel, they were in violation of repeated requests to not film during video playbacks (which is one of the reasons I didn’t film the entire panel; the others being that it’s hard to listen while filming, it’s hard to hold a camera steady for an hour when there’s nowhere to put a tripod, and most importantly there’s going to be a professional production made of the event).

I did record a few excerpts, which I’m happy to share with you now.

Panel Introduction


The Jayne Hat Phenomenon (Three Parts)




Shoutout To The Browncoats


Life In The Verse


The Toughest Question Is The One You Don’t Ask

So yes, I did get in line to ask a question, and in my mind it started out as an amazing question, worthy of, perhaps, a doctoral dissertation.  It was predicated on an online analysis I had read in which the writer proposed that all of the other characters are in Mal’s head after he has had a breakdown after the Battle of Serenity Valley.  Thank goodness for the screeners.  I started to get out of line, but the others there encouraged me to think about my question and perhaps modify it.  I was dubious, but what I finally came up with was “Do you have a favorite fan art/tribute/fiction?” (or something like that).  Alan Tudyk shared a wonderful story about a painting (made after the end of Firefly but before Serenity) in which Joss Whedon is a jar protecting a firefly from network executives.  After that, Nathan Fillion mentioned Jason Palmer, who is not a fan artist but rather a professional artist.  I believe Mr. Fillion’s words were something like “he makes me look even more handsome than I already am.”  I later met Mr. Palmer and introduced myself as the person who asked the “pitched question”:

He even personalized my Limted Edition Portrait Set for me (if you want to see the pictures, you’ll have to check out the website linked at Mr. Palmer’s name above):

SERENITY Limited Edition Portrait Set by Jason Palmer

I probably should have gotten out of line; I can’t help but think of all the amazing questions that didn’t get asked by people waiting behind me (And I’m guessing Entertainment Weekly agrees, as my question, and the panel members’ answers, do not appear in their live blog, although they did cover Joss Whedon’s and Nathan Fillion’s tears.  DISCLAIMER:  Emotionality unrelated to my question).  Again, on my “When I Rule The World” list, maybe get people to submit questions in advance, have fans vote online for the best ones, then hold a drawing for who gets to ask them.

I Wish I Had A Better Camera (And Six More Arms)

I leave you with a few photos, taken with the still photo function on my video camera, as I could only operate so many devices at once.  Sorry in advance for the poor quality.

And finally, if my few brief video excerpts weren’t enough for you, the best full length video of the panel I could find: