Saturday at the 2010 Phoenix Comicon – the Guild, the TNG reunion, a journey’s end, and geek prom

Since I didn't write about it while I was there, I'm recapping some highlights of the 2010 Phoenix Comicon in a few different posts. This is about Saturday.

Saturday:

During the first round of the NHL playoffs, I made (and lost) another hockey bet with my friend Aaron Douglas. Because the Canucks defeated the Kings, I had to wear a Vancouver jersey. Next year, you frakkin' toaster … next year.

I had two panels on Saturday. First, Felicia and I did a panel about The Guild that was a whole lot of fun. During the Q&A, just about every question was for Felicia, which I expected since it's her show and everything, but it was still fun to play the part of Mister I'll Just Sit Here And Pretend I'm Invisible.

The second panel was the TNG reunion panel with Frakes and LeVar, which filled the room almost to capacity. We started out with moderated questions, which I felt veered way too close to "hey, let's dish a bunch of gossip" territory. I thought we were all pretty funny, though, and I did my best to keep things moving without bogarting the entire panel. It was pretty awesome when Jonathan said "it's not often that I'm the third-funniest guy on the panel!" after I'd made him laugh about something. 

I think the audience had a good time, and I did my best to balance entertaining them with speaking frankly and honestly about the few very serious questions we were asked. When the hour was up, I wished that we'd been scheduled for 90 minutes, because there were at least a dozen people waiting, and I was enjoying the whole thing.

On the way back to the vendor's hall (which, to give you a sense of how the con has grown, could have held the entire convention last year) I was able to thank LeVar for giving me an incredible gift that he never even knew about.

We stood on this loading dock behind the convention center, protected from the direct heat of the sun by growing afternoon shadows. "I have to tell you something," I said to LeVar.

He looked at me with what I hoped wasn't apprehension.

"Years ago, you asked me if I was going to be in Nemesis, and I told you that I hadn't been asked. You told me that you'd talk to Rick, because I was part of the family and I should be in the movie."

"You are family, Wil," he said.

"Well, you ended up doing something really important for me that was much more than just being in a movie," I said. "When we all worked together on the series, I couldn't appreciate it, because I was a stupid teenager. It wasn't until years later that I realized how lucky I was, and how much I missed all of you guys. It made me so sad that I took that for granted.

"When I worked on Nemesis, I was able to fully appreciate it, and I really needed that, so I could get over the incredible regret that I fuh-" A lump started to grow in my throat, and I took a breath that hoped would let me talk around it. "The incredible regret that I felt because I didn't know how much you all meant to me until I was gone."

I felt a tear spill down my cheek. I didn't care. "So I just wanted to say thank you, for that. I wouldn't have ever been able to move past that and have the life I have today if you hadn't made a phone call that you didn't need to make. Thank you for caring about me, LeVar."

I glanced at Jonathan, and I think I saw his eyes shining just a little bit. Before I realized it, LeVar was hugging me tightly. I forget what he said, because I was trying so hard not to cry. I'm pretty sure that it was the final, unwritten (until now) coda to the Journey I took in Just A Geek.

Saturday night, Felicia and I hosted the Geek Prom, which was mostly awesome. I say mostly because I was incredibly annoyed with the people who shoved video cameras – with lights – in our faces while we were just trying to enjoy ourselves and dance to horrible 80s and 90s prom music (oh, the final Femmes to Gaga ratio was 2:1). I mean, time and place, guys. Not cool.

Fun fact: I hate dancing. It makes me feel self conscious, stupid, uncoordinated, and like a complete idiot. Because I don't particularly enjoy feeling that way, I probably dance once a year, to only one song, and only to make Anne happy when she wants to dance with her husband at whatever thing we've gone to where they have organized dancing. I don't know exactly why — maybe it was because it was dark until the cameras showed up, maybe it was because I knew I was surrounded by my fellow geeks and none of us were under the delusion that we were, in any way, cool. Maybe it was the Stone IPA I had with dinner, maybe it was a combination of all those things but …. I really had fun dancing at the Geek Prom. I felt so guilty when I woke up the next day, I had to call Anne and confess.

"So does that mean we're going to go dancing?" She said.

"Sorry, KSSHHH, BUZZTT, KSSSH," I said, "I'm driving into a tunnel and the last thing you said was KSSHHH!"

"Nice try. I know you're sitting in your hote-"

"KSSHH WHRRSSHH FSSHHH!" I said, "I think I should call you back when we're out of the mountains."

Even though I couldn't see her, I know that I got The Look.

The con posted a ton of great pictures of all of us under the geek arch, which you can witness in all of their carefully-crafted awkward awesomeness at Flickr. We have ideas to make the Geek Prom even better, even more of an event next year, which I can't wait to put into action.

Up next: Sunday.

48 thoughts on “Saturday at the 2010 Phoenix Comicon – the Guild, the TNG reunion, a journey’s end, and geek prom”

  1. Thank you for sharing that very personal moment with LeVar and Frakes, that made all your stories and anecdotes about your time on TNG and your journey afterwards much more real.
    BTW, why first name for LeVar and last name for Frakes? Just because Jonathan is too common a name or is there something else behind it? ;o)

  2. Something that struck me at Geek Prom was that when the music started people hit the floor, a few in couples,
    But mostly just people dancing by themselves … But with the group, at the same time. Strikes me as something that would not happen at any other “prom.”

  3. Thank you, again, for sharing these moments with the rest of us. I think I might have gotten a little something in my eyes after reading your very personal moments with Levar and Frakes.

  4. I usually dance like no one is watching me, because I generally assume they’re not. Then again, I can’t ignore the love for dorky dancing that developed from the years of being a teenage loner with nothing but my tiny radio and a “Better Mix of the ’70s, ’80s, and TODAY!” radio station in my room to entertain me (in between Star Trek fan fiction writing, of course). Beer helps get over the initial “Oh, I’m a dork and I look funny when I dance.” blues. Then the music and endorphins take over.
    Geek Prom was fun. I’d say less programing would make it better. Just dancing to a DJ and the crowning of a Geek Court. Everything else kind of brought down the energy level due to the stop-start nature of switching from live band to dj to prom court to silence to another live band to door prizes to RockBand.
    P.S. Those photographers were jerks. I tried to add to the dance wall around y’all to keep them back but I’m short and they shot over me. :(
    P.P.S. LeVar is good people. Seriously good people. Thank you for sharing that moment.

  5. Yeah, I think that's the way geeks dance, because we rarely have dates and go to these things in groups.
    You know, safety in numbers and all…

  6. I think everyone dancing to Kiss Off was my favorite part of the Geek Prom. I even managed to get my husband out on the dance floor and we danced like dorks! A most excellent prom.
    The TNG Reunion was by far my favorite panel. Me and a group of friends kind of all agree that we would have rather just listened you the three of you interact instead of the Q & A which got a little awkward at points. However, the part where you told the guy, “Good day” was fantastic and that story has been retold many times over. Just brilliant.

  7. Lovely story about LeVar. Glad you had an opportunity to let him know how important he was to you. I had a job as a teen that was pretty formative. I sometimes wish I could go back and really enjoy that time. But they wouldn’t really be the teen years if you could, would they?

  8. I hope that my improperly phrased and incomprehensibly naive question about actors needing to be in LA prompted some part of your talk with LeVar. I really do enjoy the company of the actors I go on auditions with here in Phoenix. Actually, that’s probably the reason why we aren’t competitive enough to keep LA actors from snarfing our local gigs… hmm.

  9. this is why page 34 is so meaningful to me. that’s why i want you to sign my book on that particular page. (now to take care of the little issue of actually meeting you…)

  10. Aw Wil! That is awesome. LeVar and Jonathan are so wonderful for appreciating you. I am so happy that you have people like that in your life – you know, people who recognize the awesome in you, who treat you like family. This is an amazing final chapter for the journey you undertook first in Just a Geek – and to celebrate, I think it’s time I picked it up to read it.
    BTW, I had the first day of my dream job today. It was over 9000 times more excellent than I expected.

  11. Wil, thank you for being cool enough to thank the people who matter for the things that matter. Thank you for being open enough to share those personal and important moments with the all of us here. I’m looking forward to meeting you at #wOOtstock 2.3 in Minneapolis next week. Rock on!

  12. Not gonna lie, I squee’d for you when Jonathan made his comment about being the 3rd funniest person and I had to tweet something along the lines of, “I’m not going to speak for Wil but I would have had the loudest internal squee when Jonathan called me the funniest man in room. And just by reading what Wil has said about Jonathan over the years, well that was totally awesome.”
    And the tweets about the Geek prom, man I never went to my own prom because it is this elaborate thing I’m not into but I would totally go to a geek prom.

  13. O__O making the geek prom even better?? How do you exceed perfection, except maybe for an addition of “No cameras allowed”?
    I mean, it was so amazing! How awesome was it to be able to tell people “Oh yeah, on Saturday, I got to dance with Spock to a live band playing the Pokemon theme song while wearing a Batman cape and taped up glasses – and felt so great and normal doing it!” Seriously, this negated my entire horrible senior prom experience.

  14. This was my fav pic: http://bit.ly/bv4BYX
    mostly because it looks like you two are really a couple at a prom – you both look so nice and appreciative of each other and the event.
    ps. probably better not to let Anne see it, or you might well get another one of Those Looks ;)

  15. I was also in the same #SqueeForWilBoat – and Twittered a similar note, noting how great it must have been to hear Frakes say that.
    Truthfully, it was a great show to hear, they were dead funny, and then they were dead serious, but it was all wonderful and fun.
    ps. I loved hearing the LeVar led Reading Rainbow group sing-a-long.

  16. OMG How did I forget about Reading Rainbow sing-a-long! I shouted a loud YES! and did a fist pump and kid2 gave me the most peculiar look. It was awesome.
    I found the whole panels so very funny and heartwarming. And I adored that it got serious as well.

  17. Thanks so much for helping make the geek prom happen. It was a ton of fun and considering at the high school where I went we didn’t Have a prom it was even more special to me.
    The geek prom was really different from any other dance I have been to and I think that is because it was filled up with geeks. We didn’t care what anyone looked like while dancing, we just wanted to have fun.
    Also any time you feel like you can’t dance put on this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMdG9DjAeV8 song and dancing becomes that much more fun :)

  18. I have to admit I was kind of disappointed at the con. The panels I went to were fantastic, the guests really made up for the areas the con was lacking. Mainly, I mean, there was not enough space! There was a huge line just to WATCH Rock Band, and there were a ton of people (including me and the group I was with) who were turned away at the door at the prom. Since I had to leave Sunday morning, it kind of ended the con on a sour note for me – I knew all the geeks were having a great time and I felt like the outcast from the geeks!
    Thank you for making the good parts of the con great.

  19. I really appreciate that you not only told LeVar how you felt, you shared this with us. And while I’m at it, entries like this are the reason that I keep coming back to read you. Thank you for being you and sharing that with us.

  20. Oh, that is so lovely about you and LeVar. Thank you for sharing that story. Coda, indeed.
    And thank for the input on the Geek Prom. I’m just a lowly KNTR blogger, but I’m sure the higher ups will see this and together perhaps next year will be even better. (If we build it, they will come…and we can build it. We have the technology.)

  21. You got me with this one, Wil. I’ll admit, I projected my own experience a little bit onto yours, but you got me choked up all the same. Would that we could appreciate great gigs while we had them. Here’s to doing it from now on.

  22. I was at the Geek Prom and shooting pictures for the Con but I did not use flash. Flash pictures really don’t look all that good. I took images instead at a very high iso when the lights were on during the costume contest of you and Felicia and the contestants, many blurry shots lol because when there is not enough light the shutter wants to stay open longer to let more light in, which causes more movement in the image. Unless you got a real real expensive flash (which I don’t) there is no point in shooting with a flash. I took a few of the crowd with flash just to have SOMETHING to show when turning in my images but I’d never stick it in someones face unless they asked lol. I did notice a lot of people with heavy flashes but they were not Con photographers. Not that I saw anyways. So aside from the rude photographers I hope you had fun and I hope you don’t look at all photographers that way.

  23. Dear Wil,
    I’m hoping against all hope that a) you’ll read this, b) you’re kind and benevolent geek royalty, and c) you’ll help a buddy out. Remember that group of three geeks from the PHXCC, the Trifecta, with the one kid who asked if you were his dad? Yeah, that’s us. And we really need your help.
    We’re drafting up our submission to be featured in the Comic Con documentary, and we really want to use the video of us talking to you as part of our submission. Bad news: we need you to sign a release form.
    I know you’re very busy and important and I usually would never ask for a favor of this magnitude, but I figure we literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain from at least asking you to agree to our demands desperate pleas.
    If you’re willing and able to aid and abet our dreams to be in the Comic Con doc, I dunno, reply to this or e-mail me or tweet at me or something.
    xoxoxo,
    Nicole (and her freeloading friends Donnie and Jenna)

  24. you could make it more awesome by playing more geeky music. During the first two hours the only two geeky songs they played were do you wanna date my avatar and the pokemon Themesong. Where is the Jonathan Coulton, The MC Frontalot, The They Might Be giants The Weird Al Yankovic! More Geeky Music was needed!

  25. You are really blessed. For one thing, watching the three of you up on stage showed us all that there was, and still is a deep respect and love for each other.
    As far as I’m concerned Uncle Willy, you are the Crown Prince of the Geeks, in the best way possible!
    If you are coming back to Phoenix next year, I and my friends will be there, rocking out with you in every which way possible.
    May you always make your saving roll!
    -cqt

  26. In a lot of cases, it wasn’t a lack of space, but not necessarily the best use of the space available. Because it’s a new venue, hopefully the con staff should be able to work with that next year, as they’ll have a much better idea of things.
    We ended up getting turned away at the door to the prom, too (oddly fitting, as I didn’t get to go to my own Senior prom), but had a fun time in the bar hanging out, and ended up meeting some neat folks there in the process.

  27. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this moment with LaVar and Jonathan. Knowing the journey you’ve taken, it was very touching to know you got that coda and were able to appreciate it now with old friends. Tearing up at work now!
    Phoenix CC sounds like it’s becoming a real blast! We are starting to think we should skip SDCC and head to Phoenix next year!

  28. Your discussion on the TNG panel about Nemesis was touching enough! Knowing that you elaborated on the loading dock is a huge deal. It was admirable when you talked about what actually ends up on the film is not as important as working with the cast again. You were great to my kids at signing & photo ops, and even nice to my son when he invaded your space during your breakfast! A memorial event for my family, with you as the highlight. Yea, we’re gonna have to buy your books now. :D

  29. I’m about your age Wil, maybe a little older. I was a teenager at the same time you were, although you were having awesome adventures in space and I was doing history homework, but whatever. I was an awkward kid, lost in my comic books, my science fiction and my graphic novels. I lived in a room above our garage, because I didn’t live with my dad and my mom and I didn’t get along.
    It’s taken a long time and some therapy to figure out how alone I was back then. I thank FSM for Star Trek and comic books and science fiction novels because they kept me sane for years. The only connections I made outside of those things were friends from school.
    My 20th reunion is later this month, and surprisingly, I am really looking forward to it. Over the years since graduating, I’ve developed a sharp awareness of how sort of graceless and tactless I was in high school. And despite that, I had friends, good ones, through the whole run.
    What you said when you were talking to LeVar… I know how that feels. I know exactly how it feels. I’ve been feeling like my friends from high school were kind beyond reason to put up with me, and stay friends with me, even though looking back I see myself as kind of a jerk– or socially inept at least.
    I feel like I owe them. And now almost my whole class is getting together later this month (small class, 18 people I think) to hang out for a weekend, and it feels like an opportunity. Maybe I can thank them for helping me through high school like you were able to thank LeVar.
    I totally get it, and I was really happy to read about that. Thanks for sharing it.

  30. I was playing Red Dead Redemption and just like you warned would happen, I accidentally shot my horse. And it even happened exactly as you described! A bunch of coyotes were attacking my horse, and I tried to kill them (see, good intentions!) while I was tracking them, I fired and the horse’s head got in the way, and well… you know the rest. It was like it all happened in slow motion, and there was nothing I could do to stop it! Just stand by helplessly and think “nooooo!”
    Also, I tried emailing you, but the internet has had a difficult time getting it to you. I’ve been informed that the email had not been delivered after 6.6, 9.8,13.8 and 26.3 hours. I haven’t gotten another notice today, but at this point I think the Internet has lost faith in your email and is just half assing the whole process at this point. Perhaps I will hear back after 52.4 hours?
    Thought you should know that, in case more important people than I try to contact you. And according to my mother, I am quite important, so that would really suck to lose out on even more important emails! :p

  31. First of all, thank you for sharing this very personal and very meaningful testimony. Well, Wil, when I was a teenager I was going through hurtful times. Years later, my relationship with my family members significantly improved. At the time, I found it so hard to forgive and understand some of them for things like chronically poking fun at me and not helping get out of school where adults were very cruel to me. I learned not to expect the idealized happy family and appreciate any portion of their time. I’m still a heartful person and thank God because I can avoid hurting others on many occasions. Hey, congrats! I heard Patrick was knighted on Wednesday. I know you weren’t raised by Patrick, Gates and the TNG gang nor did you see them every waking moment, but I can relate when it comes to my neighbors. They are loving, open and care about me and I them. Like my mom always says: “El vecino es el hermano mas cercano.” This saying says: One’s neighbor is one’s closest brother. We really are a family because we care about each other. By the way, I’m sure that regardless of what LeVar said, what he was feeling was his proadness of you for becoming an honorable man and his happiness to be alive to see you reach such a strong age; people who love us think about what will happen to us when we grow up and how well prepared will be for the brutal world. You know this since you are the world’s greatest father! Love ya and Ana and your sons! — Celita

  32. Thanks for the story about LeVar. I know you’ve talked about how you felt about your experiences on TNG before, but I hadn’t heard that Nemesis healed that for you.
    I’ve loved LeVar since Reading Rainbow days. He’s always seemed like such a caring person. (Yes, I can still remember all the words, starting with: “Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high…”)

  33. Hey Wil –
    The Geek Prom was great – wished I’d danced more with Felicia! (Instead of – arrgghhh – drawing pics for the charity) she started dancing in front of me when we were still by the risers then dragged you into the crowd. And picking the Prom Royalty with you guys was a lot of fun.
    But I have to say, for that con, LeVar was the man. His kindness and enthusiasm over my stuff was without a doubt the highlight of that weekend. And for he and Jonathan Frakes to think it was a special thing for me to draw for Jonathan’s daughter (for her birthday)… too cool. Too cool for words.
    James

  34. “…I was surrounded by my fellow geeks and none of us were under the delusion that we were, in any way, cool.”
    My daughter works for the charity that set up the Geek Prom. She’s too young to know TNG (despite my best efforts), but she knows you from your web work. She saw a big star be himself with a bunch of strangers to help underprivileged kids. She thinks you are the coolest guy in the world. You helped my daughter, so do I.

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