Chicago TARDIS 2011 – con report

Okay, time to write up this con report before I completely forget what happened!

So, this year was the first year my fiance was able to come to Chicago TARDIS. Normally he goes out of town to spend Thanksgiving with family but this year he spent it with my family instead, which was really nice!

The next morning I set out first, getting to Yorktown in record time & quickly getting through registration. Carole, Stacey, and Ken all arrived around the time I had gotten my badge. We quickly all got badges & got checked in to the room. Ken & I wandered around, checking out the dealer’s room & talking to WGTRadio (as our friend Zach was on-air talent for the weekend), before he head to head off to work. He cosplayed as boy!Ace for the morning – basically just throwing his Navy jacket on & carrying a bat. But hey a few people got it! :) (I tossed on grey trousers & my old Monkees 8-button shirt for the morning) He left & gave me the bat & jacket, which I ran up to the room along with some of my stuff before my first panel at 1 pm, Masquerade vs Cosplay.

That first panel went okay I think. I was a little hoarse because I got sick right before Thanksgiving (and I’m *still* sick, this sucks!) but I managed to contribute a bit to what turned into an interesting discussion about cosplay and how there really isn’t a dividing line but rather a large amount of overlap between cosplay and masquerade.

Right after that panel I headed upstairs to bring more stuff to the room & change into Ace. This was a costume I pulled together fairly quickly, I already had a skirt that was perfect and I knew I could borrow Ken’s Navy jacket since it was the right style, and covered in patches. I picked up leggings and argyle socks (I found a great publicity shot where you can see that she’s wearing grey/blue argyle socks), and since I didn’t have time to make or find a shirt exactly like what she’s wearing in “Remembrance of the Daleks”, I wore my 80s-style Ghostbusters shirt. I mostly had the jacket kind of closed so it didn’t show as much but it made me giggle. And hey – I got recognized a LOT as Ace!

The next thing I was really planning for was Peter Davison’s 4 pm autograph session. While waiting in line for that, Stacey and I got some photos by the TARDIS.

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I had Peter sign my new copy of “The Five Doctors” that I got for my birthday. Stacey had him sign her awesome River Song TARDIS notebook that she got for TARDIS day, it’s really lovely!

From there it was time for opening ceremonies. Now, just before the con we had gotten the news that Sarah Sutton (Nyssa) wasn’t going to make it because of a death in the family. Plus Lars & Christa Dixon (from Mad Norwegian Press) also couldn’t make it. But we’d heard there was going to be a surprise guest. So during opening ceremonies Jennifer announced the surprise guest as Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), which was AWESOME! :) He’s very nice, and I was glad to get to meet him.

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Right after opening ceremonies it was time for $20,000 Pyramids of Mars. Carole and I had competed two years ago, the last time they had it, and ALMOST won. 2 points in the last round. SO CLOSE! We were determined to win. Of course a lot of people wanted to compete this time but we lucked out & were chosen in the second pair of teams. We won that round 15 to 5. Our first category? Doctor Who related people with Twitter accounts – EASY! We only missed one, for one of the guests who I’d never heard of before that day. Second round? Trounced the competition. Final round? Oh it was close. The final category (for the other team) they had to get 1 to tie, 2 to win. But we were up against a team who obviously knew almost nothing about classic Who, and they only got one. The tiebreaker round, we had to just come up with words starting with S. One of the words was “Stevens” so Carole said “The blank convention center in Rosemont!” Gee we’re not local are we? We got almost all of the words in that round, to their nothing for their lightning round, and WON THE WHOLE SHEBANG! We got Doctor Who DVDs – there was a First Doctor and a Fourth Doctor, and he handed her the First Doctor and me the Fourth Doctor, right on the first try ;) “Seeds of Doom”, can’t wait til I can watch it.

After this it was FOOD and relaxation time. But first – had to get some shots of Ace beating down more Daleks. Then I went back to LobbyCon to finish putting Ken’s Brig costume together.

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The funniest thing was, right after I finished the beret & sweater, Ken put them on & we wandered over to meet Nick Briggs with our friend Jim. Nick happened to be standing with Richard Dinnick, a Big Finish writer and apparently, ex-Army guy. He declared that Ken was wearing the beret ALL WRONG and fixed it. :) How often do you get your cosplay adjusted by a guest? Only at CT!

Saturday morning I put my Fourth Doctor costume on & Ken got his Brig on. I went downstairs while he was still getting ready to go shopping for a couple items – my friend Nick had told me there were Fourth Doctor sonics to be found, and Stacey had gotten a Fourth Doctor era TARDIS key. I had done the math & decided I had enough to afford these two items. Jim was checking badges at the door & we were chatting a bit when one of my contacts plopped out. Argh. Especially since I’d only brought three pair of contacts (I was running low). I went and with weird double vision grabbed my sonic & key, then ran upstairs to replace the errant contact.

On the way to getting some photos by the TARDIS with Ken & Stacey (in her Sarah Jane costume) we ran into my friend Julie, her hubby Greg & their daughter Caroline, aka the CUTEST little Eleventh Doctor cosplayer EVER!

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We got some shots with the TARDIS, including a couple with the Traveling Duckies (both Brig & Sarah Jane). We also got some sexy Brig/Doctor shipping shots :D Then it was time to wander a bit before the Crafty Whovian Showcase. We ran into the Mini-Me Dalek, and managed to coax Caroline into a photo with it (she was terrified at first but then learned to sonic it!) We also peeked in on part of Tony Lee’s one-on-one, always entertaining :) Alas, this year he didn’t lose track of time and go over, so we didn’t get to throw knit Daleks at him, darn!

The Crafty Whovian showcase was nice, but they really didn’t need to give us two hours. We had a visit from the Mini-Me Dalek, whose owner opened him up to show us how he built it with paper mache and radio control electronics. Very nicely done! We talked about our crafts and stuff, but we wrapped way early cuz there was hardly anyone. And plus, we wanted to see at least some of the Inspector Spacetime panel. Which was EPIC. And we got a personalized message from the Inspector!! (seriously, NBC, don’t deny us our awesome geekiness!)

I then went back next door for the Spoilers panel. We got into some interesting discussion there, I enjoyed it. Then heading over to the virtual queue to get a ticket for the Fifth Doctor era autograph session I managed to catch a photo with K-9 (alas I didn’t find him again once I changed into Romana, hopefully next year!)

At that time I did a quick shower, dinner, and costume change into Romana. We tried to get autographs but alas there were TONS of people for that session and we had to get to green room. Ken had been talked into entering by one of the judges when he was wandering the halls.

There were some issues with the Masquerade this year, mostly with how time was managed but I did get a smaller award (category: Think Pink! It was great – the MC, dressed as the Master, read the category and said “Oh, Mary Jo, you know who you are!”) I enjoyed showing off my work to the judges and the audience, because that costume is very special in so many ways. My first frock coat, and I worked very hard on sewing the whole thing, and most importantly, I got engaged in that costume!

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After the Masquerade we were tired & wanted to get out of costumes so we all changed and got comfortable, then retrieved a tipsy Tammy for a group trip to Buffalo Wild Wings (me, Ken, Jim, Tammy, Julie & Stacey). It was nice to get some hot food & get out of the con for a bit, even in the rain. We came back and tried to start our Ghostbusters RPG game but by the time we’d built characters we were too tired to continue and called it a night.

Sunday dawned bright and far too early, with us moving Carole’s stuff into our room (since Stacey, Paxie, and Kay weren’t staying Sunday night) and heading down for the Madame Nostradamus Needle Arts Society panel. This was a super low-key affair, just us working on various stitching projects and chatting with the handful of people who came. Paxie taught a little girl how to make a crochet chain. Next year I think we need to advertise a bit more and offer up knitting/crocheting kits to purchase (for a Relay donation).

Ken, Carole & Paxie had the experience of the weekend, trying to head downstairs. I got in an elevator ahead of them, and while they were waiting a very full elevator came with Peter Davison right in front. The doors opened, Peter cackled at them, doors closed. Ding!

I sent Ken out of the panel to grab a queue ticket for the Fifth Doctor Photos, which we did right after the panel. While we were waiting, Mark Sheppard was in the queue room to say hi to our friends Lynne & Michael’s daughter Caitlin (he was so sweet with her!), and I was able to snag a shot of him with the Traveling Duckies by the TARDIS.

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Then we headed in to get our photo. I grabbed Gally out of my backpack (I was Ace again for the day), because it’s kind of become tradition that he’s in my photos at CT. We walk in and I notice that Janet is holding an itty bitty Fifth Doctor Dalek – one that my friend Michelle had given Peter! (it’s really cute!) Matthew saw Gally in my hands and went “Can I hold that one??” so I let him. This resulted in barbs being traded back and forth between him and Janet (mine’s bigger! yes, but yours has such a limp stalk!) :D Best photo experience!!

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Heading back thru the lobby we spotted Michelle and said “did you know Janet is holding the Dalek you made in ALL the photos this session?” and we all had a squee over that. :) We went and sat in Carole’s crossplaying panel for a bit, then left early to snag better queue tickets for the Fifth Doctor era autographs. This time we got in! Ken had picked up a Fifth Doctor poster that he had Peter sign, while I had Janet & Matthew sign my Companions and Allies book (I got it before CT last year & decided that’s where I’ll collect companion signatures – I already had Frazer Hines & Louise Jameson in there).

Then it was off to the closing ceremonies, always sad :( I did manage to snag a music CD this year, I can’t wait til I get iTunes working again so I can add the tracks to my iPod. After that we decided to order in some pizza because we really didn’t feel like going anywhere but we wanted something hot & fresh.

Sunday LobbyCon was one of the best parts of the con because we chatted with Tony Lee, who we discovered is a big Ghostbusters fan! He was stoked to hear about our Chicago Division team, and amazed at our Ecto Cooler video with 58,000+ hits (heck I’m amazed it’s gotten that big!) We also showed him the engagement video. It was a lot of fun to talk wedding stuff with Tony :) We also got him to sign our comics (I had gotten the The Ripper graphic novel, Ken had grabbed a single issue that he loved in the dealer’s room, as he’s been buying the series on iPad). That was also hilarious because our comics are now connected by what Tony wrote, they’re a matched set. We also got him with the duckies.

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I managed to get a good chunk of coding for my class website done during LobbyCon, which was a good thing. We had a blast hanging out & chatting with people that night. I finally got to meet Barnaby, who was lovely and offered to get Sarah Duck Smith to Gally if we didn’t have anyone else to do so.

Monday morning we slept in a little bit, then packed up our cars to head out. We paused in our packing to watch Maggie Daley’s funeral procession on TV. Then it was time to say goodbye to Tammy, Jim, Tony, and the last few stragglers. The con was over, alas, and back to reality. (reality = homework for me)

That website, btw, I got an A on, which makes me very happy! Now, time to get back to the last paper of my grad school career. I see the light!!

One comment on “Chicago TARDIS 2011 – con report

  1. gipsy_dreamer on said:

    There is nothing not to love about this post – I am *so* envious MJ! I remember Ken Tweeting about Peter laughing at him from the lift and I cracked up at the time; it’s just as funny to read about it again now :)

    I wish the cool DW conventions were somewhat cheaper and easier for me to get to, but that’s England for you!

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