Category Archives: Travel

Heroes and Villains NYNJ: The Epic Blizzard of 2016

As Chris and I set out from Cincinnati in our Prius, I had no idea what to expect of the coming weekend. Would the blizzard hit? Would anyone show up? Would Heroes and Villains be as awesome as other cons I’ve attended? Would volunteering be fun and exciting, or would I feel like I was missing out? As it turned out, the blizzard did hit and not everyone showed up. But despite the circumstances, HVFF, Nocking Point, Stephen Amell and John Barrowman FAR exceeded my expectations for a con, and volunteering at this con led to the most fun and rewarding con experience of my life!

Chris and I arrived in Secaucus, NJ late (LATE) Thursday night/Friday morning, as we wanted to get ahead of the storm and we wanted to volunteer Friday morning to help get the con set up. This ended up being an amazing life choice, as pre-con was loads of fun, and I was very happy not to have to deal with travel hysteria that gripped the region on Friday. I also got a response from Barrowman on Twitter Thursday night after saying we were ready to party, which was an awesome way to kick things off. 😉 When we arrived at pre-con, we were directed to set up those giant flags that you see all over con floors. You know, these:

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As we put together the flags, we spent some time meeting some new people, making jokes on how we could kill vampires with the flag pieces, and then having some faux sword fights with the long poles, and eventually got everything together and looking pretty. Next it waIMG_3782-001s time to set up the lines for the celebrity booths. Gee, guess whose booth I ended up at? 🙂 While setting up Stephen’s booth is an awesome story to be able to tell, getting it together was actually the stuff of nightmares… and I was quite sure they were going to kick us out for bollocksing up their most important booth because it took us forever to get that thing together as it was supposed to be. His booth had four different lines (Platinum/gold, Celebrity VIP, VIP, general admission) that all kind of wove around each other, and I’m convinced IMG_3785-001that those silver corral line… thingies (see picture) were made by Satan. While it took far, far longer than it should’ve, and required exceptional amounts of colorful profanity, we did eventually get it together, and it looked pretty darn nice, if I do say so myself! After surviving that mess, we were asked to go fix another booth’s line set up (a shock to me, as I was expecting to get the boot for taking forever at Stephen’s…), and so off we went to David Mazouz’s booth to figure out the issue and set it up.

In the course of David Mazouz’s booth shenanigans (btw, it wasn’t set up according to the plan because there wasn’t enough space… we had to get creative to make it look like the plans, but we did it!), we realized that there were a bunch more booths that also needed to be set up. We also realized that we did not even come close to having enough supplies to do so. It was at this point that we had to start stealing from other booths (while keeping IMG_3790-001them looking professional), and rigging things to look decent while keeping them to plan which was… interesting to say the least. I eventually helped with Robin Lord Taylor’s booth, and then went down and set up the “special mystery guest’s” big booth (which I think was probably Stardust’s, which is just tragic because I would’ve love to have seen that showdown…). By the time we got to the mystery guest’s booth we were truly baffled as to how we were supposed to put the queues together with no supplies, so we just hung out for a while hoping for a miracle – which ended up being a lot of fun because I got some time to chat and connect with some awesome new friends! Miraculously… Chris eventually found a whole bunch of new queue supplies, so off we went! With that many people, getting that last booth set up was super easy, and we were so proud of ourselves, Chris decided to give our group a name – the BOOTH BANDITS!

After that, the rest of the evening was fairly low key. Chris and I had dinner, and Esty made it to the hotel. Yay! We followed the Heroes and Villains account on Twitter and Facebook neurotically, as well as checking with Stephen constantly for updates as well. Before the snow had even started in Secaucus, Gov. Christie declared a State of Emergency, effectively cancelling the con for the next day. While ultimately it seemed to the be the right decision, when we hadn’t even seen a snow flake yet, it was hard not to be super irritated (as Stephen seemed to be) at the decision. Even knowing we didn’t have to be up at 5am to get to orientation by 7am, we still decided to go to bed early, with a lot of sad feels due to driving all that way, spending all that time on set up, and not having a con after all.

When I woke up on Saturday, I immediately checked my phone to see what happenings snOMG gifmay be going on that day (as I knew that both the nerds AND the guests wouldn’t just stay in their hotel room all day…), and I was not disappointed. Barrowman had already been on Facebook live, challenging Stephen to a snow angel making contest and requesting we tweet our snow-bound activities to him and Stephen, and Alyssa had made an event with the nerds to continue the party, which appeared to be starting at 11am at our hotel – nice! We (Chris, Esty, and I) took lots of selfies (we do what John Barrowman tells us to!), and then headed downstairs to have breakfast, meet fellow geeks, see Lord Mesa, ooo and aaah over the CRAZY snowfall hapNerd Party-001pening outside the windows (see gif), and find the party. When we got downstairs at 11, the place was WILD! Nerds everywhere! People did NOT let the lack of con stop them from getting in full cosplay and hanging out and partying with other con-goers. We ended up standing in line waiting to get a sketch from Lord Mesa for about an hour before we decided that we probably weren’t going to make it to the front of his line before he left for the Embassy Suites. BUT, that time was not wasted by any stretch, as we met lots of cool people, including Amy and Gloria, who went ended up hanging out with for much of the day!

Since it seemed like the party was moving to the Embassy (as was Lord Mesa), we (Chris, Esty, Amy, Gloria, and I) decided to get our gear on and head out into the snow. I can tell IMG_3822-001you that stories of the blizzard were NOT overstated – it was CRAZY out there! The temperature wasn’t all that bad, but the howling winds (especially in the wind tunnel between the Hyatt and the Embassy) were significant. But once we arrived at the Embassy, we realized that the party was definitely there. Vendors were set up with their wares, selling to would be con goers, a full group of Team Arrow cosplayers were there taking pictures, and groups of people were just all over the pace hanging out and enjoying themselves. Somehow we managed to get a table, and Chris luckily had a deck of Fluxx cards with him, so we set up and played cards which was loads of fun! It felt like summer camp – except with sci-fi nerds in the middle of a blizzard. 😉 Food was scarce, but luckily I had packed a bunch of trail mix and protein bars, so we snacked, chatted about life, superheroes, and academia, laughed, and played cards for hours! I had perhaps hoped that John and Stephen would come down to the hotel lobby (we still weren’t sure where they were at this point), but no such luck. But it didn’t matter, because we were still having a great time. 🙂

At some point during the day, Stephen finally tweeted a picture of himself and Drew standing in the snow by BW3. Not being from the area, we had no idea where that was, but we did realize that we were starving to death. We looked at the restaurants around, and not wanting to walk far we decided to head towards Carrabba’s. As we approached (climbing through giant snowdrifts… fun!), we all kind of noticed that where we were was right where Stephen had taken that earlier picture. I had assumed that he would’ve taken that picture on his way out of the area, but as we approached the doors to Carrabba’s and found COMPLETE INSANITY, we realized that was not the case! Someone standing outside mentioned that Stephen was in there with his family, and said that people wereStephen Drew Snow mobbing him, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we walked in… but there Stephen was, along with Robbie, Drew, and a bunch of other folks at a table easily seen from the front of the restaurant. So they weren’t exactly hiding. Nor did they seem to be getting mobbed though… I’m sure some people had gone up to say hi, but by and large so far as I could see, everyone seemed respectful. We put our name in for a table (and made some sympathetic gestures towards the servers because WOW they were slammed!), and then hung out. I didn’t want to act like a creepy stalker by staring at Stephen and the rest of their crew, but since we stood waiting for over an hour easily, there really wasn’t much else to do. Not too long after we’d started waiting, though, John and Katrina (Law) showed up, and once he was there I didn’t feel too bad about watching things, as whenever John is in the room (especially when he’s with Stephen!), they’re always putting on a show. And it was quite the show they put on! I can’t remember what happened when, but here are the highlights (in no particular order):

  • John made a video recording of all of us at the restaurant and put it on Facebook.
  • John Face-timed Scott and had all of us say hi.
  • Stephen and John were both all over the restaurant saying hi and chatting with people, both at their table and with others who seemed to be just like us (snowed out con-goers). John at first said no selfies (because it was JAM PACKED), but he, Stephen, Robbie, and Katrina eventually did start taking selfies, and seemed totally open to talking to everyone.
  • Katrina took some selfies, inside, but she and John were both in and out a lot, doing Periscope and Facebook live from out in the blizzard! I know both of them also did selfies outside – I watched John doing some outside while it was still CRAZY snowing, and I got one with Katrina later myself!
  • This one I can’t speak the legitimacy of, as I didn’t hear it first-hand, but it seems that at some point people were told to wait for tables outside, and John spoke the manager to make sure they were brought in so they didn’t, ya know, freeze to death. I did see/hear John come over and check on everyone to make sure everyone was okay. Because he’s awesome.

Somewhere in this madness we did manage to get a table, and we actually managed to get some food as well! Our server (who I discovered from Stephen’s Facebook post after the con was named Shawn) was awesome and funny and kept his cool AND sense of humor despite the CRAZY circumstances. Thanks, Shawn! Stephen passed our table multiple times, as we were sitting next to the bathroom, but we didn’t really talk to him because… bathroom (we strived to not be creepy and I think/hope we succeeded). Chris, Esty, and I were also going to the Nocking Point party that evening, so we figured we’d get our chance then. After we finished eating, Esty and I decided to hang out for one more drink, while Chris went to take a nap, and Amy and Gloria headed back to their hotel. My vodka and cranberry juice was more like pink vodka (WOO), but the bar tenders were amazing and we met some more awesome con goers and had a great time chatting with them. We still didn’t approach John or Stephen because of the party later, but it was an amazing time hanging out, watching them interact with others, and meeting more cool nerds!

Eventually we decided it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Nocking Point party, and so we (and a fellow con volunteer and generally awesome person Jen) decided to head back to the hotel together. Just as we stepped outside, we saw several IMG_3851-001people holding hands, clearly getting ready to do some snow angels. And upon closer inspection, one of them was Katrina Law, who immediately invited us to come do snow angels with her! Uhhhh… okay! Someone had a phone and was taking video of that, but I’ve searched YouTube and can’t find it… if anyone can find it, please send it my way! After the snow angels came a snow ball fight, as Katrina just started throwing them (see video)! She was also awesome enough to take a selfie with me, even though I was a freezing mess and it took me forever to get the camera on camera and off video mode. She laughed with me and waited, rather than racing off… she is the sweetest thing. Thanks, Katrina!

After that, we did head back to the hotel and got prepared for the Nocking Point party. At this point I think it needs to be stated for the record that not only did I wear a dress (not something that happens often), but I wore a dress OUT INTO A BLIZZARD. Only for you, Amell. 😉 We made it to the Expo Center (without me falling in a snow drift with bare legs… win), and got in line. While we were still in the lobby, John came out and got up on IMG_3852-001a chair to let us know that they would not be taking selfies (darn it), and that we should be prepared for ANYTHING (cryptic). Upon walking into the party, we were met by Stephen at the door on a hover board. He said he’d never been on one before, but looked incredibly comfortable with it, and rode along with us as we walked to the party area (which was the panel area of the con floor). Once we made it to the party area, we were given our fancy NP wine glasses with drink tickets, and off we went. Before getting wine, I went and got a t-shirt because I wanted to make sure they didn’t sell out. There were a LOT of people there VIP… so much so that it seems almost everyone who had a VIP ticket madeIMG_3857-001 it (which makes sense because those damn things were expensive!). I got my shirt, then Chris and I stood in the line for wine. When we got to the front, Drew was pouring, and Stephen was standing off to the side. Stephen got Chris’ attention to compliment him on his kilt, and so Chris shook his hand and we stopped and chatted for a bit. Chris told Stephen we helped build his booth (which of course made me hope beyond hope that the damn thing didn’t fall down the next day… LOL), and Stephen thanked us. He shook Chris’ hand again, and then mine… I would’ve given him a hug, but I was holding TWO glasses of wine, and so had to be very, very careful to be able to shake Stephen’s hand without dumping red wine down my dress. 😉

After that we walked around and mingled, and chatted with several different people over the course of the party, including my girl Jennifer from Twitter who SOMEHOW I didn’t remember to get a selfie with! Ungh! Each group of people that I chatted with needed a wine refill, so I ended up standing with them and ultimately chugging my wine once we got to the front so that I could get my refill. This meant that I was rather drunk rather quickly. Oh, darn. 😉 Most of the time my wine was filled by Drew, which was awesome, though at one point John was filling glasses as well (though he didn’t fill mine).

Eventually, after I’d imbibed a fair amount of the Nocking Point white (which was delightful, btw, though I do wish they’d had a sweeter option.. maybe next time?), John and Stephen got up on stage. I cannot properly put into words the magic that happens when these two get together. After having seen them sing together in Louisville, in which they were drunk and everything seemed spontaneous and yet RIDICULOUSLY just… epic, I knew that seeing them together in a planned and controlled atmosphere was going to be amazing. And I was right. I will post the two videos I was able to take below, because a video is worth a million words. At some point my phone ran out of room (seriously the nightmare scenario… Stephen Amell and John Barrowman live on stage in front of me and my phone can’t record… GAH), but I was able to get the first 40 minutes (Do You Want to Build a Snowman, the Q&A, 1000 Years, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You), and then Esty and I shared the duties of recording the rest on her phone. I’ll put a link her videos up too, because I recommend you watch them ALL. 🙂

(To watch the rest, click here!)

After the boys were done on stage, we did more mingling, dancing and chatting. If you watched the videos, you may have heard several glasses break while they were performing, which is something that happened throughout the night. I felt awful every time I heard it, because our custom glasses were beautiful! At one point, Jen and I decided to jam out and started dancing like lunatics because… it’s a party, right? But then… her glass dropped and shattered. We were horrified! I felt soooooo awful…. But then just a moment later, a volunteer arrived like a fairy wineglass godmother and gave her a new one! How awesome is that?? I was so impressed by that… Stephen and Drew and all the Nocking Point people really went out of their way to put on an amazing party, even with the challenging circumstances, and they even anticipated the drunken loss of wine glasses!

And speaking of putting on an amazing party, Jen had wanted to meet Stephen because she had taken up archery lessons because of his inspiration, which I thought was amazing. She had a picture of a really bad ass target from archery lessons she’d hit recently that she was super proud of, and just wanted the opportunity to tell Stephen about it and show him the picture. But of course Stephen was all over the party, and had a flock of fangirls following him wherever he went so he was tough to access. But… as Jen and I were standing there chatting, Stephen just happened to walk by and seemed relatively free. I told Jen she should go take her chance and talk to him, but of course she was nervous. Well, it’s way easier to not be nervous when I’m not the one that’s going to talk to him, plus I’ve officially seen Stephen in action enough now to know that he’s a super cool and chill guy, so there’s no need to be incredibly star struck around him. So…. I pushed her, both verbally and eventually physically to go up to him. And she did! She got to tell him about her archery classes, show him her target, and he was super positive about it and impressed with her aim. If I had been thinking more clearly (read: less drunk) I would’ve thought to take a picture of her talking to him, but I was so happy she got her chance that I just stood there grinning like a loon. She was one happy fangirl after that, and so was I!

The rest of the party was more mingling, dancing, and chatting, and was an all-around good time. I had wanted to try to talk to John, but he tended to scurry off whenever I gotIMG_3948 (Edited)-001 close to him. Somewhere towards the end of the evening, Stephen ended up by the photo backdrop, and started taking selfies. Esty and I just happened to be standing right there when that started, so we were lucky enough to get our chances! I continue to be impressed by how people do want Stephen’s attention and are willing to follow him around all night, but DON’T mob him to the point that he can’t do these kinds of parties and mingle like a normal person. He does what he can, leaves when he needs to, the crowd follows security’s lead, and in my experiences so far everything seems to go well. Thanks, fandom!

One last event of note at the Nocking Point party is that, towards the end, my 3-year-old daughter who was with my parents and sister for the weekend, was getting ready to go to bed and wanted to Facetime. It was an interesting place for a video call, but I called her anyway and chatted with her as best I could. As we were talking, Stephen once again got on stage, and since my daughter is a HARD CORE superhero nerd, I let her watch him… and she was SO EXCITED to see the Green Arrow singing! She wanted to say hi to him, but after his number he said we all had to go. I tried to get close to him with the phone, but wasn’t able to get Stephen’s attention (because he was getting mobbed), but Zoey was super excited to be able to see him up close, even if he didn’t say hi. Thanks for making my kid’s night without even knowing it, Stephen! And thanks to Stephen, Drew, John, and all the Nocking Point folks for taking the time to interact with us, perform for us, and throw a damn fine party in the middle of a blizzard!

After the NP Party, we trudged back through the snow and immediately headed to bed, as volunteer orientation – for the con that was TOTALLY HAPPENING SUNDAY! WOO!! – was at 7am, which meant we needed to be up SUPER early to be ready. I can’t say I was at all happy to hear the alarm go off at 5:30am, but we got our breakfast, coffee, and Tylenol (because… wine) and headed over to the Expo center. BIG thanks, btw, to all the people who spent so much time clearing off the steps over there, because that had to be cold, grueling work, and everything looked fantastic!

I don’t remember all that much about the morning, because the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet, but I do remember orientation having a lot of thumpa-thumpa music, which seemed… an interesting choice for 7am with a lot of hungover people, but I’m sure was to try to get us energized. 😉 By this point I had seen my assignment, which was working John Barrowman’s booth (WOOOOOHOOOO). To say I was excited was a slight understatement. 😉 After getting our shirts and all our goodies, and listening to the orientation with Brad and Mike (of which the primary messages appeared to be HAVE FUN, #DontBeWeird & #BeWeirdDontBeCreepy), off I went to Barrowman’s booth.

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A lot of folks at Barrowman’s booth seemed to be con volunteer veterans, so as a newbie I took a back seat and went where I was directed. The very last thing on this earth I wanted to do was anything that might be subpar for John, so I asked a million questions and tried to learn from the veterans as quickly as I could. I was placed at the “front” of the line (which is really the back), meaning that we stood outside the booth and queues and answered questions and directed people, as well as giving out line tickets to save people’s places in line (without them having to stand there) when the lines got too long. We were the first face they saw at the booth, and I took that position very seriously. At first I was apprehensive because I was afraid that it would be so chaotic that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but as much as the chaos WAS real, it ended up being just the most fun thing I’ve ever done at a con. Working in line control gave me an excuse to talk to EVERYONE. I complimented everyone’s costumes, talked to kids, fangirled with all the fans (of both genders, I might add), and had a generally awesome time. John is SUCH an amazing person to meet at a con – he’s so genuine and fun – that even if people were frustrated at wait times, or the general chaos of a post-blizzard-cancellation-con schedule, once they got their time with John they all came out with THE BIGGEST grins on their faces. It was a true joy to watch. And the fact that whenever I got a break, both John and Stephen were within eyeshot and at times looking at them was actually doing my job? Weeeell, those moments weren’t so bad either. 😉

One of my favorite experiences from the con was with a Japanese girl who came to see John. My fellow line control guru Ben and I were working the line at that point, and I think each of us independently noticed this young girl standing there looking incredibly nervous. I checked in with her, and I think Ben did too, and as time passed, she continued to stand there looking completely terrified. When the line settled down a bit, Ben and I talked to her and started to hear her story. It turns out that she is from Japan, and learned IMG_3958English specifically because of John Barrowman in Torchwood, and today was her birthday and meeting him was her birthday present. But now that she was here, she was completely paralyzed. She was shaking, teary.. the whole bit. So Ben and I continued to talk to her and ease her into things in between helping other con-goers. Eventually we had her convinced, though she was still terrified… but I told her in no uncertain terms that John Barrowman is AMAZING, she had nothing to be nervous about, and that when she got up there if she was too nervous to talk, John would. So I gently led her to the line and made her stay there. When she came out, she was in tears but had THE BIGGEST grin on her face! She was so so so so happy… she hugged Ben and I, repeatedly thanked us, took selfies with us, thanked us some more, bowed to us… she was SO happy, and it was just the most awesome thing ever. When I told my husband about it later in the day but before the end of the con, he mentioned that he too had worked with a young Japanese girl that was super nervous to come into the con itself and wondered if it was the same girl. Apparently she later found him again (he was working at the information desk at the front) to show him her photo op with Barrowman (she showed us too – it was AWESOME – there was groping! LOL), and he asked her about me. When she realized that we were married – two of the people that had helped her so much that day – he said her head nearly exploded from excitement! She came back to the booth multiple times throughout the day to give us hugs/bows/thanks and to check in. She was the sweetest thing, and watching her dream come true that day was absolutely incredible!

Before coming to the con, the one photo op I was planning to do was a full Arrow cast picture, which I was splitting with a ton of other volunteers. However, because of the storm, most of the Arrow cast wasn’t able to come, nor were the people I was going to split the picture with. So I had resigned myself to not getting any photo ops… until Chris told me that he’d gotten a free photo op for “being him” (whatever that means… LOL!). So… after conferring with Esty, we decided to get the photo op that seemed to best suit our collective fangirl/fanboy statuses: and what happened is pictured below:

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Best. Photo Op. EVER! P.S. I also hugged John after the picture was taken. I hope I wasn’t weird, but I’ve been dying to hug the man since the dawn of time and with him finally that close I could no longer resist. Love you John!

The rest of the con was loads of fun. I got a few breaks to go buy some amazing things (pictures below), the most important/exciting of which was that I got a print from Lord Mesa! I am SUCH a huge fan of his… and had been attempting to stalk him all weekend to no avail. Being able to get a print from him – especially because it was his version of the cast photo from Louisville, which was one of the best weekends of my LIFE – was perfect! And of course he was awesome enough to sign it for me. 🙂 During the times when John was at photo op and panel, I also got to see a little bit more of the con, and buy some goodies (both for myself and for some friends), so here are some of the highlights:

At the end of the con, we were allowed to get two autographs from celebs that were still there and willing to sign. This is supposed to happen between 4-5, but since John’s booth was so insane and he was signing up until 5 on the nose, I didn’t get to attempt any autographs until after the con was closed. John didn’t have time to sign for too many volunteers, but he did sign for those of us who worked his booth (including personalizing – have I mentioned how much I love him?). I was also able to track down Robbie Amell (squee!), and Lord Mesa (more squee!) to sign, so I was a happy girl. 🙂

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After the con closed and celeb autographs were done, we set to work tearing down the con. I will admit that I had some feels tearing down all of our beautiful flags, and those damn queues that I had spent so much time working to put up, but it was still fun hanging out with con friends we’d made throughout the weekend, and being able to help out the staff. Once the con was packed up, we chatted for awhile, sharing our experiences that day with other volunteers, and then ultimately went back to the hotel.

We said goodbye that evening to Esty, as she had to pack up to travel home. Luckily she doesn’t live far, but it was still sad to see her leaving, and to have the weekend coming to a close. As Chris and I packed up to leave the next morning, we were both able to reflect on the weekend and see how much fun we’d had volunteering, and how much more a part of the con we’d felt doing so. After attending Wizard World Louisville, I had worried that nothing would ever be able to top it. While not necessarily surprising, it was awesome to truly now know that any and all cons where the Arrow cast are are basically amazing.

To Stephen, John, Brad, Mike, the Heroes and Villains staff, all of Nocking Point, as well as the Secaucus Hyatt and Embassy Suites, and Carrabba’s…. thank you. What could’ve been a complete nightmare with tears and disappointment ended up being yet another of the most epic times of my life. To this fangirl, you guys are truly super heroes. ❤

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Wizard World Louisville 2015: The Stuff of Legends

Author’s Note: I am horrified that it’s taken me almost two months to get this written up. However, since leaving Louisville in November, my life has consisted of hospitals, holidays, and one illness after another (combined with dissertation deadlines, which was super fun). So, I’m sorry this took so long to get up, but hopefully it will help us get through this last week of hiatus, as well as to infuse some happy into an otherwise tragic week.

To Alan Rickman and David Bowie, I hope you’re having an amazing time wherever you may be. We miss you both already, and will continue to do so. Always.


The trip to Wizard World Louisville started as so many do – a road trip, caffeine, drive through food that’s terrible for you, and some music (in this case, my husband’s newly found interest in Chipmunk’s music that’s been slowed down to sound like 80s sludge rock. No joke). Chris (the husband with interesting musical tastes) and I rolled into Louisville about 3pm that Friday, immediately hitting the convention floor while I proudly 20151106_210157364_iOSsported my Stephen Amell VIP badge that I was incredibly stoked to have. As this was my first con since finding (read: becoming completely obsessed with) Arrow, and was going to be my first time meeting Stephen, I was already having some nerves. But Friday was lovely because I was able to walk the con floor, shop, chat with people, and know that the majority of the Arrow cast hadn’t shown up yet so there was no pressure or concern over trying to get to a certain place at a certain time. On Friday I had just planned to look and see what kind of fun fandom things were on display and being sold. But instead, I ended up buying so very, very many things because the art at this con was outstanding. Jewelry, wall art, vinyl stickers, Christmas ornaments… this place had it all. I felt slightly guilty about buying so much the first day, but I didn’t want anyone to sell out of the things I thought were awesome, and so I bought some stuff. And I have no regrets. 😉

Friday after con Chris and I went out for dinner at this gorgeous Old Spaghetti Factory across from the convention center. As we have a 3-year-old and very busy lives, it was incredibly nice to be able to go out and have an honest to god date with good food and even *gasp* an alcoholic beverage. We also checked out the unofficial after party at Bourbon Raw, and while there didn’t seem to be much going on that we could see, it was still nice to hang out at a bar like a grown up for a change. After an all-around lovely day, we headed back to the hotel and I prepared for Saturday.

Because Chris didn’t have VIP, and my VIP was for Saturday, I knew I was going to spend most of Saturday on my own. I got up early and got meticulously ready in my previously planned outfit (even though I brought three alternative outfits just in case – I mean, I’m a nerd but I am a girl) and got to the con by 9:30am. I didn’t want to be first in line for Stephen’s first autograph session, but I did want to get there fairly early to make sure I 20151107_143448331_iOSwas able to get in the first group at least, so that I could do photo op right afterward, and then be able to focus on panels for the rest of the day. This ended up being an amazing life choice for a variety of reasons. After they let us onto the con floor, I ended up in line by two incredibly awesome people (HI STACEY AND CLAIR!!!), and in an incredibly awesome place to see eeeeeverything that was going on at the table before the line started moving in earnest. Stacey, Clair, and I got to know each other while standing there waiting for Stephen to get there, because none of us could hold the fangirling in at that point! Also, chatting with them helped me manage the insane nerves I get every damn time I meet an artist/actor/singer/writer etc whose work has been super meaningful to me, which I will forever be thankful to them for.

Stephen arrived just a few minutes past when he was stated to appear, and security walked him right past us (!!!) to his table, with the long line of fans cheering the sight of him, myself included! I will say at this point that the only experiences I have to compare this to are that of meeting David Tennant at Wizard World Raleigh and Philly. David – and those of you who have met him can confirm this – puts off this aura or vibe or whatever of just – ENERGY. Pure, crackling, pump-you-up, better-than-coffee energy. He exudes it, and it is catching. And while I love – deeeearly love – being around it and just the overall feel of it, it doesn’t help my nerves much. I’m pretty sure I’ve sounded like a complete idiot every time I’ve met David because my brain is going a mile a minute and I just… literally can’t even. Stephen, however, was kind of the counterbalance to David’s high energy. He was every bit as present and engaged and clearly excited to be there, but Stephen exudes this sense of chill that I wasn’t expecting. It’s hard to describe accurately, but once he walked in, I felt like I could breathe a lot better, which was… unexpected, to say the least. But also absolutely awesome. What I had brought for Stephen to sign was a dummy title page of my dissertation, which I just recently got topic approval for. My dissertation is on how science fiction fandom involvement through social media can affect mental health, and as Arrow is one of my primary science fiction fandoms and has been very motivational for me in many ways, I wanted to have Stephen’s autograph on the title page to hang in my office. After sitting and just… watching him for several minutes (I didn’t take any pictures, because the Wizard World staff was VERY vocal about not doing so…), the line eventually began to move, and we weren’t able to see him until we were at the front of the line. When 20151107_155657226_iOSit was my turn to meet him.. well, I know for a fact I can’t tell you exactly what happened because as zen as his vibe was, I was still pretty concerned with trying not to sound like an idiot, which took most of my brain power. I can say that he gave me his full attention, and actually read the paper that I put in front of him. He seemed to really listen when I told him what I was writing my dissertation on, and seemed to think it was pretty cool. He signed it, with his customary arrow underneath, which I was excited about.. but then he paused, thought for a minute, and then added an A+ at the bottom of the paper. It’s such a silly little thing… such a small gesture. And yet it meant so much to me, touching two things that are so near and dear to me: fangirling and academic perfectionism. 😉 At that point, all of my energy went into not tearing up and looking ridiculous – and then Stephen reached out to shake my hand. I’m proud to say that I was able to put my paper back down, transfer my bag from one hand to the other, and shake his hand while looking him in the eye, without tripping, dropping anything, or saying anything I later regretted. Hot damn. 😉 Overall, the autograph session was simply amazing. New awesome friends, a positive experience with Stephen, and an amazing piece of paper to hang on my wall to motivate me through the rest of this dissertation process!

Directly after the autograph session we had to make the decision on where to go next. The original information we had said that the photo op was at 11:30, so we assumed we could line up right after autographs (we were done by probably 10:45), but once we got there we were told that the line didn’t form until 11:30, and photo ops weren’t until 12 or 12:15 (I can’t remember). As Stacey, Clair, and I were still hanging out and fangirling over our autograph sessions (and the fact that we actually all spoke English and didn’t do anything embarrassing, much to all of our amazement!), we decided to hang out by the photo op in the line-for-the-line that was forming. Since we had such a long wait, I decided to go track down a water fountain and a bathroom (I was still too nervous to eat – happens every damn con – but I figured I should at least hydrate if nothing else), and then come back to the line. By the time I got back, the official line had started far earlier than we were told, so I didn’t get to hang out in line with Stacey or Clair, but by this point we had found each other on social media to keep in touch, which was great! The line for the photo op was pretty uneventful, but did move quickly once Stephen came over (he was running pretty well on schedule, which was impressive). When it was time for my photo op, I was nervous again. The photo lasts forever, but the photo ops themselves happen SO FAST that when IMG_2360-0you have anxiety like I do, the fast paced high emotion environment can be a little overwhelming. I had all these plans for how I wanted to stand to look my best, head up, hair back, blah blah blah. But when I got up to Stephen, despite the fast paced nature of the operation, he put his arm around me and pulled me in TIGHT. It was so unexpected that all of my plans went out the window. All I could do was smile! So, the picture is not one that I feel is terribly flattering of me, but… when I get frustrated looking at myself in that picture, what I will remember is being VERY happy, and being held VERY tightly! As well as the fact that I finally, finally got to look Stephen in the eye and say “thank you” – and while I’m sure he thought I was just thanking him for the photo op, in actuality I was finally thanking him for all of the joy he and his show have brought to my life, as well as his positivity and his encouragement for us to live Sinceriously. The picture of me was less than awesome, but the experience itself was amazing.

After the photo op, I had a bunch of time to kill before the panels. Since my hotel was right around the corner I decided to head back and drop off my autographed paper so that it didn’t get bent in my bag, to also try to eat something, and then go back to the con and just hang out in line for the panel at 2:15. Finding where to line up for the panel was a slight adventure, but with the help of con volunteers and a flock of other fangirls (of all ages, I might add), I finally made it to the right place… and was ultimately able to get front row/center seats for the full cast Arrow panel itself, which was incredibly unexpected! I’m used to DragonCon and other cons where lines for panels go around city blocks. Being able to walk right into the front row was amazing! I also ended up sitting next to a fellow Arrow/Whovian/academic (HI LANA!) who I’m fairly convinced I was separated at birth from. You can read her blog about the weekend here!

Sidenote: Lana is a River Song cosplayer, to the point that it’s her Twitter handle and clearly a very important part of her life – which I think is awesome! However, there is one character in Doctor Who that I’m really not a big fan of, and do you know who it is? River Song. I mentioned this to Lana, and it didn’t matter at all. She and I still chatted and fangirled, and still loved and appreciated each other’s devotion to Doctor Who and bonded anyway. So, it is possible to have strongly differing opinions on characters, and yet still get along and bond over love of a show regardless. Take note, Arrow fandom!

The Arrow panel itself was outstanding. In attendance were: Stephen/Oliver, David/Diggle, Willa/Thea, Paul/Lance, Katie/Laurel, and Barrowman/Malcolm. A few things were very clear from the panel: 1. The cast truly is a family and are all completely comfortable with each other. 2. Stephen is their leader. And 3. They give him a lot of (good natured) shit for being their leader. 😀 Watching them all interact was absolutely fantastic. They seem to have an amazing time together, and you can tell that they really, really appreciate all of us and they seem to really feed off our energy. I’m sure that by now there is tons of video out there of the panel, so I won’t bore you with tons of details. However, notable moments would be: Barrowman giving a very naughty “ride” to Katie and Paul to bring them up on stage, the reenactment of Barrowman’s FABULOUS dance move to mess up Stephen on their first day of filming (so freaking much awesome…), and David Skyping with his son during the panel (sooooo cute).

The next panel after Arrow was John Barrowman’s solo panel. I should note that somewhere in here while waiting for a panel to start, I was able to see and hug my girl Court, who I was SO excited to see! My one major regret if this con was that we did not get any time to hang out and talk. I intend to fix that at a con in 2016! Since I had a Stephen VIP and not a John VIP, I had to leave my front row center seat *sniff*, but was still able to find a reasonably good seat off to the side. However, once John got on stage, he recognized that there were a fair amount of empty seats, and so encouraged us to all move up and squeeze in. So we did, and I was back in the front row. 🙂 If you’ve never been to a panel of John’s, it needs to go on your bucket list immediately. He is so open and so fun and so… HIM! His panel consisted of him walking around the stage, taking questions and talking about things that are important to him. He told (complete with acting out the scenes) about the huge number of takes it took for him to kiss James Marsters on Torchwood, which was so hysterical I could barely breathe. At one point he told the story of when he and Scott got married after gay marriage was legalized here in the States. What was beautiful about the story was not just his own ceremony, but the feeling of camaraderie and love that sprang up between them and the other gay couples there also getting married. John and Scott apparently were witnesses for several, and also took video of many ceremonies so that those couples could have those memories. He capped it off by singing a beautiful song (which I have video of and will upload when my phone stops being a jerkface). 🙂 He also took questions from the audience, and gave some advice to teens, which was to not take shit. If someone does or says something that’s not nice, say something back. You don’t have to take things just because you’re young. Stand up for yourself and fight back. I thought it was excellent advice and wish to hell someone had told ME that when I was a teenager.

The other part of John’s panel that was memorable was his story about David Tennant on the set of Doctor Who that I hadn’t heard before. He said that they were filming a scene together and were hungry, so they got some chips (French fries) and decided to eat them in the scene which they thought was a fabulous idea! Well, they had to film the scene multiple times and from a ton of angles, so three hours later they were STILL eating chips, and hating their lives. LOL. John’s facial expressions while describing their feelings about still eating chips were freaking hysterical, and it wasn’t hard to image 10 and Captain Jack sitting around bitching about eating more chips, but putting on their typical cocky smiles for the cameras.;) 

The next panel that was again in the same room, making #conlife that day exceptionally convenient, was Bruce Campbell. My husband is a MASSIVE Burn Notice fan, and so he’s been wanting to see Bruce Campbell for a long time. I, too, love Sam Axe, so I was happy to stay and check the panel out. Bruce definitely ran his panel differently than I’ve seen before… he had a cosplay contest of Ash’s from the Evil Dead, and then had all cool cosplayers come up to show off their costumes. He would randomly give people $1 if they did something he liked, and totally trolled anyone that was actually able to ask him a question (which he took from people at the mics, but also just yelled out from the audience). Overall, it was entertaining, just definitely different. 😉

The next and final panel of the day was Stephen himself. Since I was VIP, I was again able to get a very nice seat without having to leave the auditorium (again near Stacey and Clair – yay!), which was amazing. Stephen’s panel was probably the most low key of them all – it was him and the moderator and they just sort of sat and chatted, with the bulk of the panel being questions from the fans, which I thought was awesome. Stephen talked about how he met his wife (he Googled her after seeing her on Mad Men), how he got into acting, his thoughts on Oliver, including his future and his past, and his feelings on Olicity which made a packed auditorium all swoon in unison *dreamy sigh*. My very favorite part of his panel, however, was his answer when asked what the weirdest fan interaction he’s ever had was. I’ve heard a lot of funny stories from a lot of celebrities over the years, because people get a little crazy when celebs are involved. But Stephen’s answer was simple and sweet: He doesn’t consider any of the fan interaction’s he’s ever had to be “weird” or “bad” because he knows that everything the fans do comes from a place of joy. It was just the most beautiful answer. I still get teary thinking about it. So for all of you out there concerned (as I was) that you may make an ass of yourself in front of him, apparently there’s no such thing for him, because he knows you’re there because of your love. What a perfect thing to say.

After Stephen then accepted his award from the mayor of Louisville (which he seemed mildly embarrassed about because he’d made some comments about things he’d change about Louisville if he were mayor, such as traffic issues around the Derby, as he had no idea the mayor’s office was there… LOL), then it was time to decide what to do with our night. I caught up with Stacey and Clair again, and we all agreed to go back to our rooms and freshen up, and then probably hit the official con after party at Bourbon Raw. I was starving to death since I hadn’t eaten throughout all the panels, so Chris and I headed back to the hotel and dropped off some of our gear, and then went out in search of food. We ended up at TGIFridays, and had some food along with a fair amount of alcohol. Obviously the hope was that we would run into Stephen and the crew out somewhere, but we caught no sightings. As we were eating, however, a friend of mine on Twitter tweeted a picture that she’d just taken with Stephen as he was out getting dinner with John (and the rest of the cast as I learned later from Paul Blackthorne’s pictures). Because I am a complete lunatic, we decided to walk around 4th street and see if we could see them, or find the restaurant it looked like they were in. I wasn’t going to approach them, since I’d already met him at the con, but catching a glimpse of them out and about would’ve made my fangirl heart pretty happy. We found the restaurant pretty quickly, but it seemed like they had left, so we headed back to Bourbon Raw to catch up with Stacey and Clair who were having dinner. And of course had more drinks, because why not?;)

Bourbon Raw was where the official after party was supposed to take place, but even the staff there didn’t know about it, so it was pretty uneventful. There was a back room (kind of) that we thought maybe was housing the party, so we slipped back there after they were done eating, but were immediately told it was for volunteers only. So, we decided to wander around a little bit to see if we could have any Arrow sightings, and eventually ended up at the bar at Stacey and Clair’s hotel, because we were about 90% sure it was the host hotel for the celebs and we’d be able to see them walk through the lobby if they came in, which again, would’ve warmed our little fangirl hearts. We had a great time hanging out and chatting… it turns out Stacey and I read a LOT of the same fanfiction, and follow a lot of the same people on Twitter. We chatted about Arrow gossip and fandom in general, and had just a completely lovely time. We were just saying that we should pack it in for the night when my Twitter alerted… Stephen had just tweeted about being at a dueling piano bar without Brother Sal. And I knew our night was about to get eventful, as we had passed a dueling piano bar just a few buildings down. Chris, being the amazing man that he is, offered to stay and pick up the tab (btw, he recounts the weekend’s events in his blog here) while Stacey, Clair, and I headed with great speed down to Howl at the Moon…. and we were NOT disappointed! Upon arriving at the bar, we paid the cover and went in, and went to the bar to get some drinks… and the entire Arrow cast was standing there, drinking, having fun, and being generally awesome with what looked like their organizers/handlers from the con. The smiles were large – both theirs and ours. An amazing day had somehow just catapulted up to legendary!

I will, at this point, stop to discuss my general thinking about meeting celebrities. I’ve discussed in another blog my level of social awkwardness when it comes to meeting celebrities. That issue tends to primarily come just from the fact that it’s such a high stress, quick meeting that I get anxiety and flustered (though I did pretty well with Stephen earlier that day and was feeling good about that). This was not the first time I’d seen a celebrity out in public, but the one and only time I’d ever approached a celeb in public was David Tennant, and I truly felt like I’d done the wrong thing when it happened so I was very wary of doing it again. In public, I feel like they’re just people on their own time living their own lives, and likely don’t want to be constantly interrupted by fans, especially when they’d been signing autographs and doing photo ops all day. So, I kept my distance because I didn’t want to bother them, but was truly very happy just being in the same place and getting to watch them interact. It should be noted at this point that I didn’t change clothes from what I wore to the con, so I was wearing Arrow jewelry and carrying a TARDIS purse, so my fangirl status wasn’t exactly secret even without me approaching anyone. But I ordered a drink rubbing elbows with Paul Blackthorne, and I smiled and said hi to Willa when she walked past me and made eye contact. And I drank my drink and sighed lovingly in the direction of David, John, and Stephen because…. well, they’re David, John, and Stephen.

My girl Stacey at this point decided that she had had enough alcohol to be absolutely fearless (god I’m jealous) and jumped right in with both feet. Within 20 minutes, she’d gotten a selfie with Willa and  John, had chatted with Paul, and all of them had been incredibly awesome and open, which of course made me reevaluate my stance on things, but I clearly had not had enough alcohol. 😛 (P.S. She managed to nab a selfie with everyone except Paul by the end of the night because she is a fangirling rock star). After standing at the bar near the cast and their friends for a while, I started hearing them talk about “9-5,” but I wasn’t sure what it meant. After a few minutes, suddenly everyone left, and I just assumed they were getting ready to leave the bar because they’d had long days and it was getting late. So I move up a bit to watch the dueling pianos from up in the bar area…. And suddenly I see John Barrowman on stage, talking to the pianist, and taking a microphone. My drink went down, and my phone came up. OMG. The details of my thinking get a little hazy here, because John got on stage and CLEARLY introduced them all as the cast of Arrow (so much for me thinking they didn’t want to be approached by fans!) and said they’d be singing 9-5. I swear to god I heard my fangirling brain break, and I’m quite sure I made some kind of embarrassing excitement noise, because I may be 37 years of age, a well-educated and highly responsible functioning adult, but HOLY SHIT THE CAST OF ARROW WAS GETTING READY TO SING ON STAGE LITERALLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I challenge ANYONE to play it cool at that point! 9-5 was amazing (video below)… they all were reading lyrics from their phones, hugging and singing, obviously having a fantastic time. If I hadn’t known it before, this cinched it – these people aren’t just co-workers, they are truly friends. They were obviously SO comfortable with each other, were having a great time together, and being able to witness it truly felt like a gift. Then at the end of the song, Stephen takes a mic and talks to the pianist, obviously getting ready to sing a song of his own (more embarrassing excitement noises.. thank god for the loud bar). It’s amazing and epic, so here’s the video of both of those songs – trust me when I tell you you’re going to want to watch the whole thing. 😉

After their karaoke, it again appeared that they were leaving the bar, or maybe that was just my assumption. But they ended up staying and sitting/standing/dancing near some tables in the front by the stage. The real timeline at this point is definitely hazy because the night had already taken on a kind of dream-like quality, and add in alcohol and the whole thing was just completely surreal. Here are some details I can remember, in no particular order:

  • John and Katie are some naughty people when they get together and did some seriously dirty dancing, both on stage and off – they are definitely friendly. LOL
  • Stephen also did a lot of dancing and socializing, as well as a lot of singing and has an amazing voice.
  • All of them were drinking – shots were being done, plus mixed drinks and beer, though John, Stephen, and Katie seemed to be the heaviest drinkers that night and were definitely having a good time. 😛
  • David seemed pretty chill, and sat at a table for quite a while. My husband made it arounChris and Davidd to him, and David was happy to chat with him about the show, and Chris’ love of Diggle’s military background, and Chris’ own military background. David mentioned that he very nearly went into the Marines himself, and has tons of respect for military folks.
  • Somehow a drink got broken at their table, and David and Willa’s jackets got covered. Ugh.
  • Willa went out to the patio section of the bar to sit with some people out there.
  • Stephen and the rest all took pictures with anyone who asked, and were all super cool about it. I eventually decided I would start asking for selfies, since they were all so open about it, but could not for the life of me get to anyone. Just as I’d finally be able to get through the bar to one of them, they’d get up and leave. Sigh. Lol.
  • There was much dancing by everyone, both on stage and off. The house performers also pulled some people up on stage, and even I was up there at one point. Stephen wander20151108_055535232_iOSed up and was standing right in front of me on the floor as I danced on stage, and I finally worked up my nerve and asked him if I could take a picture. He seemed to think about it really hard (he appeared to be rather intoxicated… LOL) and finally said yes. So I jumped down…. And John came and whisked him away. SMH! I did, eventually, get a picture with him before they left.. and even though he was the only one of the cast I was able to track down, I was still one happy fangirl. 🙂
  • At one point Katie and John were dancing on stage in front of me, and Katie wanted a picture of her, John, and Stephen. She handed me her phone, and I took the picture, though Stephen had wandered off so it ended up being just her and John. I hope she liked it. 🙂
  • For the life of me, I can’t remember if it was before or after Stephen and John did their finale number (see below), but at one point John came up in front of us on the stage and began shaking his ass in Chris’ face. Chris, being the good sport that he is, began “playing the bongos” on John’s ass. John, being who HE is an20151108_054723389_iOSd needing to be as outrageous as possible (god I love him..), then pulled his pants down… and Chris continued drumming on his tidy whities! And so then John (who was drunk as all holy hell by this point.. I mean… not that he wouldn’t do this sober, but just saying.. lol) then dropped his pants entirely, and not only did Chris continue playing the bongos on John’s BARE ass, but at this point I really felt that I needed to get in there myself, and so I gave John a few swats of my own. 😉 #lifegoals P.S. John Barrowman has the smoothest ass I have ever felt in my life. I have absolutely no doubt that he moisturizes. 😉

The climax *cough* of the evening, however, came when Stephen and John got back up on stage, obviously getting ready to sing again. I have absolutely no idea about the timeline at this point in terms of what happened when or how, but I do remember that once Stephen and John were on the stage (and my brain started functioning again), my phone again came out, and my god am I glad it did. There’s no need for me to describe the awesome of their karaoke number of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” as my video of it is here. I suggest you watch it. Multiple times. No, seriously. 😉

After they were done on stage with that song, I think that’s when they were ready to leave. I tried to track down John for a selfie, but he was running around crazy so he wasn’t able to stop. Everyone got together in a group and they all left together, wandering through the cold night. Stacey, Clair, Chris, and I all left the bar at that point as well, and headed back towards our hotels (we were staying in different hotels, but wanted to walk Stacey and Clair back before we went our separate ways). The Arrow crew seemed to be headed in the same general direction as we were, but we maintained a respectable distance (I think/hope) so we didn’t seem like crazy stalkers. 😛 Ultimately, I think we all floated on air back to our hotels after seriously having the best fangirling night ever. To Stephen, John, Paul, David, Willa, and Katie: From the bottom of my heart, thank you. That night was the stuff of fangirling legend, and the fact that you were so open and fun with us meant the world!

After taking what was essentially a nap, we got up and ready for the next day (which included some pain relievers and loooots of coffee for sure). I wanted to get there early because I had already planned to get selfies at the table with Paul and David, plus I also wanted to get an autograph from John so that I could A. Be sure he didn’t mind if I posted the karaoke videos (and I knew there was no way I would be able to get near Stephen again to ask *him*), and B. I wanted John to sign my dissertation as well, since his passion and love for fandom has been such an inspiration for me. So we got there when the con opened, and I started staking out the autograph tables. Most of the cast were supposed to be there around 10am I believe, and strangely enough, by 10:30… not a single one of them was there yet. I can’t lie that this made me awwwwfully giggly. 😉 At one point I asked a volunteer if they knew why the Arrow cast was late (just because I was curious to hear what he’d say), and I was told that they were staying in a hotel that wasn’t nearby and had some traffic issues. And then I had to turn around and immediately leave before I laughed in his face. Poor guy. LOL

Eventually the cast did roll in. To my eye they seemed to be moving a bit gingerly, but of course they all looked as sexy as usual (seriously, it’s not fair that they can all look that good hung over… not… fair…) and jumped into their fan interactions with their typical gusto. At this point I decided to get in line for John first, since I knew he’d be the hardest to catch. Chris stayed in line with me, and when we got up to chat with John he was amazing, as always. I told him about my dissertation, and he seemed genuinely excited about it. We talked about how we both feel that fandom is an amazing coping skill and 20151108_185538464_iOSoutlet, and he of course clarified that I was going to prove that fandom is GOOD, to which I said that that’s certainly my hypothesis, but the research data will have to speak for itself when all is said and done. The fact that he was excited to hear about my research was so meaningful that I don’t even have words. I hope that my research ultimately does everyone in the community proud! As we were getting ready to leave his table, I mentioned that I had been at the bar the night before, and he got a funny look on his face… and then told me that he’d lost three hours of his life last night from the alcohol. LOL I told him that I had video of their karaoke, and asked if it was okay if I posted it. He said that it was my video, and so what I did with it was my business, which I countered with yes, but it’s your FACE. Ultimately he seemed not only okay with me posting videos, but excited about it and just asked that I made sure to tag him in them if I posted them on Facebook/Twitter. He did also then stop me for a second and ask if the karaoke was *good*…. which I assured him it was. How could it not be? LOL Just as we were walking away, Chris also mentioned that he’d “played the bongos” on John’s ass the 20151108_190320023_iOSnight before… John kind of got this “Oh god what else did I do that I don’t remember” look on his face… we all laughed for a bit and then ultimately took off. From there I believe we headed to David’s booth. While waiting for David (whose booth was right next to John’s), I saw Paul come over and start chatting with John, who was laying on the floor behind his booth. I watched Paul take a picture (I couldn’t see of what), and then start laughing and showing the picture to everyone around. I was dying to know what was in th20151108_193509226_iOSe picture since Paul always takes the best ones… I was not disappointed when he posted it later. 😉 Once we got up to David (after chatting with some lovely volunteers and fellow con-goers), I told him that he and the group had put on quite a show the night before, and he said “Oh yeah? Wait… do you mean here, or at the bar?” When I said the bar, he just laughed… and then we snuggled in for a selfie (where I would’ve happily stayed for several hours, but wasn’t socially appropriate…dammit…). We then headed to Paul’s booth, and this is when he was still deciding on the logo for his next t-shirt campaign, and had the two logos on his table for us to vote on. I told him that I LOVED the “Keep Rhinos Horny” design, and he got out his phone and went through his texts before he found the graphic that he was planning to use to show us. I told him in a was a definite winner and that I would fully buy one (which I have and it’s AWESOME), and we took a selfie and off we went. 🙂

After all of this, I had officially accomplished everything to make this the best con in the history of ever, but there was one last thing that I wanted to do. I had met Dr. Travis Langley earlier in the day at his table and chatted with him both about his writing and my own research. He has three books out: Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Night, Star Wars Psychology: The Dark Side of the Mind, and The Walking Dead Psychology: Psych of the Living Dead. As these are basically the coolest books ever, I wanted to go to his panel where he talked about the psychology of Batman. I was not disappointed. His 20151108_172103964_iOSpsychoanalysis of Batman was incredibly thought provoking, and made me sit down and really think about diagnostic criteria as they relate to some of my favorite fictional characters, as well as talking about Post Traumatic Growth (PTG), which is the idea that we can not only not be traumatized by something horrible happening to us, but we can also be better and healthier as a result of healing from it (something that I believe I have experienced). Applying that to comic book heroes was a major “EUREKA!” moment for me, as I see a lot of fictional characters – especially the Green Arrow – in very different terms now, and it’s spurred me to think more critically about the psychology of all the fictional characters I love, which has been a lot of fun for my psychology nerdy self!

After coming out of Dr. Langley’s panel, I realized that John had been live on Facebook while we were in there (so not long after we’d left his table), so we watched the video. In it, he mentioned being hung over as all hell (LOL), the night before at the bar, and the fact that “some people” had said they had videos of their karaoke that they were going to post. After squealing and fangirling my behind off in the middle of a crowded hallway (god I love sci-fi cons… no one ever judges you), we set off to finish our shopping, get ourselves together, and head home. I was straight up emo about having to leave, as I had truly had the time of my life, but it was time to get back to reality. *pout*

As it happened, reality still got to wait for awhile, because on our way out the door, we ran into a couple that had interacted with John in his Facebook live video, so we stopped and chatted with them for a while about their adventure trying to get John the cool mug he wanted. 😛 We also got to see amazing pictures being posted by the cast as they were making their way back to Vancouver, as well as other people’s pictures and stories. I uploaded the karaoke videos to my YouTube on our way home, and had an amazing time sharing those with the Internet, as I knew that everyone in cyberspace would love them every bit as much as I did. The icing on the cake was when John Barrowman himself found my tweets of the YouTube videos and retweeted them… making my Twitter light up like a Christmas tree on steroids, and leaving a permanent smile on my face for a long time. 🙂

My experience at Wizard World Louisville was one of those weekends that I will remember absolutely forever, and that was a true game changer for me. The time I spent with friends, both old and new, was incredible and I could not be more thankful for the awesome people I got to surround myself with. The professional inspiration I got from Dr. Langley, and from talking to Stephen and John about my dissertation has already been inspiration enough to keep me going through some tough academic times, as well as inspiring me to reach higher and farther than I’d ever dreamt of before. And as for the Arrow cast… to be that close for that long to people whose work has brought me SO much joy… to see that they’re so open and thankful to be doing what they’re doing, and yet so damn much fun and so ridiculously talented in everything they do… it’s indescribable. Now that I have some perspective, I don’t think I’ll ever feel awkward or star struck or nervous around any of them again. I’m so thankful to them for not only doing what they do, but also being so engaged and positive with their fans. This fandom may have its oddities and its quirks, but this weekend solidified for me that the Arrow fandom is definitely where I’m meant to be. And while Stacey, Clair and I even still have a digital chat room where we take turns tantruming over wanting to be back in that glorious weekend of fangirling bliss, in being in such an awesome fandom, I’m pretty sure that even better is yet to come. And that makes me one happy fangirl. 🙂

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 Ending author’s note: I hope you enjoyed reading about my fangirling adventures! Please feel free to read and share. Also feel free to share the pictures, just use the typical fangirling code and give credit if possible/applicable. Thanks for reading! ❤

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