Over this last weekend, I attended Farpoint 2016. The last time I had attended Farpoint (or any convention, for that matter) for the entire weekend was in 2010. I have not missed a Farpoint, but for the last 5 or so years I have only gone for a couple hours, or just for a day.
(For those who just want to hear about the convention, and pass on the self-analytical crap, you can just skip the next 2 paragraphs!)
As backstory, my dear friends Jamie and Steve dragged me into the whole convention thing at the tender age of 16. So, yeah, for those who are counting, that’s 31 FREAKING YEARS AGO! For a good chunk of that time, I was frequently attending Shore Leave and Balticon as well. Of course, if we go all the way back then we aren’t talking about Farpoint, but one of its predecessors: Clippercon. After some research, I can confidently say that I attended at least 2 Clippercons, although I don’t think I attended an OktoberTrek, which is also a Farpoint predecessor. I think somewhere around 2005 is when three conventions per year got to be too much, and I pretty much focused on Farpoint. I was also a staff member and committee member, so I was pretty active in the community of amazing individuals that make the convention happen every year. I want to emphasize this… AMAZING individuals that give so much of their time and energy to a weekend-long event. Often, without enough thanks (and WAY too much criticism) from those who choose to come to an event like this. Science Fiction fans are some of the most amazingly intelligent and creative people in the world. However, this population also has some more negative aspects that are typical to that demographic. They can also be a bit too analytical, too vocal in their criticism, and a bit too lacking in social graces.
I emphasize this, because I basically got burned out myself those 5 years or so ago. I suppose it is perfectly understandable for one to get burned out on something after having it as a part of one’s life for over 20 years. Conventions stopped being enjoyable and rewarding for me. That actually happened about 10 years ago, and it just took some extra time for me to acknowledge that and make the decision to walk away. I always knew that it would just be for a time. I have made too many important friends in my life because of a shared love of science fiction and fantasy. Staying for the entire weekend this year helped me to re-connect on those friendships, and the enjoyment of the convention experience.
The big guests for Farpoint 2016 were Sean Maher and David Gerrold. For those who may not know, Sean’s sci-fi-convetion-worthy credential is that he played Simon Tam on the Firefly TV series, and the Serenity motion picture. David Gerrold is an absolutely amazing author, and one of the bigger key items for him is that he wrote the screenplay for the Star Trek: Original Series episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Having said that, the actual guests, historically speaking, have always been among the smaller parts of the convention experience for me. Now that I was much more an attendee and not actively involved with the operation of the convention, they did become more of a highlight.
So, I now feel moved to throw out some bullet-point highlights of my Farpoint 2016 experience.
- Sitting RIGHT NEXT to Sean Maher at the Friday evening festivities. In fact… I TOUCHED SEAN MAHER. I didn’t really MEAN to, and I almost feel it was possibly inappropriate. I sat down, and he was there, and we were introduced, and I just kinda touched him on the shoulder and said, “Welcome to Baltimore.”
- Almost using Sean Maher’s fork. Okay, so, as I said, he was sitting next to me, and he had finished his salad. Then, he got up to be in the live performance by Prometheus Radio Theatre in a Batman parody audio play written by one of my other dear friends Lance Woods. Renee Wilson was also in the play, so she was on stage. But, she left her macaroni and cheese behind, and the very lovely Dottie (a violin-playing friend and Sean’s assistant for the weekend) and I decided that we would partake of the forgotten macaroni and cheese. I no longer had a fork, and the closest fork was Sean’s. I went for it, but then realized what I was doing. Ultimately, I didn’t use his fork because it just felt wrong, and I used my last remaining utensil which was a knife. Have you ever tried to eat macaroni and cheese with a KNIFE?! In hindsight, I should have just used the man’s freaking fork! So, now, this has to be the longest story you have ever heard about a fork. But, I hope it was amusing!
- Witnessing David Gerrold’s initial reactions to the news about the passing of Antonin Scalia. (I’m just going to leave it at that statement, and not choose to elaborate! Okay, I will say that I did hear him singing a particular song from Wizard of Oz…)
- Really re-connecting with some friends that I just have not seen enough of in recent years. I’m scared to try and throw out names, because I know I will forget some. There are MANY, and I feel blessed to have made the friends that I have in that community. Suffice it to say that if you are a friend reading this, and we exchanged words at all over the weekend, it was *very* important to me. Despite the fact that I’m normally not very good at expressing that!
- My dear female friend, whose name is also a month of the year, (and I’m trying to be discreet by not actually saying her name) deciding that her blood alcohol level had reached the point where she felt she was a gay man, and expressing the hope that *MY* blood alcohol level had not yet reached the point where I became a heterosexual man (as history has proved to be the case). This probably doesn’t make much sense if you think about it, but it’s amazingly flattering is it not?
- Seeing so many examples of younger fans experiencing the convention. This was really very important to me! As I mentioned in the self-analytical-crap-portion of this post, I started the convention thing myself at 16. I got burned out. Seeing so many young fans creating costumes, and enjoying their experience over the weekend, helped me to reconnect. Some of these younger fans are the children of many of the friends I made back when we were those young fans!! The idea that some of these young, intelligent, and creative individuals are making friendships that they can talk about in 30+ years is *very* rewarding!
Those are the big things about the weekend. Now that I look at them, I have to say that they certainly seem to be rather wordy for bullet points. Thank you for following this far! In conclusion, I will just say that if you have EVER considered the idea of attending an event that is devoted to the Science Fiction genre, then Farpoint is a damn fine choice. Peter Jurasik, who played Londo Mollari on Babylon 5, called Farpoint the “Rolls Royce” of conventions when he attended back in 1999. He said that the experiences of other actors he talked to were a key reason he chose to be a guest!
I’m glad I reconnected with my love of this community, and I’m proud to be the big old nerd that I am!