Page 1 of 5Saturday is always a bizarre day at a Supernatural con, but Pittsburgh made it even more so. We ended up staying a few miles out of town because there was no affordable downtown hotel availability. After all, I usually don't decide to attend a con until a month or two before. Judging by how many people were in Pittsburgh this weekend, no wonder! Right around the time that people should be arriving at the “Supernatural” con (those not staying downtown), the cops started closing all the streets around the convention center. There was to be a big bicentennial parade at 11 am running along Liberty Avenue, one of the main streets near the convention center. If you were on the road anywhere near there, you were stuck.
(Miss part one of my Pittsburgh con report, all of the Friday action? It can be found here .)
So basically me and percysowner were stuck in traffic and the first panel was due to start in 20 minutes. I let percysowner out and she walked to the convention center to see Gil McKinney and Alania Huffman. I had seen them at other cons and since this was her first one, so I knew she ought to see it. According to her, it was a good panel. There’s your WFB eyewitness report!
In the meantime, I sat in traffic. There was a silver lining though, literally. A cup of silver. In the lane next to me people had to clear way for a police escort coming through. Behind the police car, moving slowly next to me, was a convertible. In the back seat, the Stanley Cup! I had only seen the cup once before, after the Detroit Red Wings won it in 1997. It was all shiny and sparkling in the sunshine, a real treat, especially for a hockey fan like me. I was rooting for the Pens this year and saw them win it while I was in Hawaii (it was like 4 in the afternoon there). So yes, I got something out of missing Gil and Alaina’s panel. Too bad I didn’t have a camera ready. Here's a picture of the Stanley Cup held by Team Captain Sidney Crosby in the victory parade a few weeks earlier just for those of you that don't know hockey.
(We should find out if Sidney Crosby is a Supernatural fan)
I did make it to the con about an hour later, after driving through some very dodgy back streets and alleys to get to the waterfront across the way from Station Square. Oh, and great job Pittsburgh police officers, who only made a bad situation even more miserable by berating drivers who weren’t following what was happening, even though it wasn’t very clear what streets were open and closed. A lady and her dog in a convertible in front of me got an earful for some reason. The cops were pretty rude for the most part, especially when asked where to go by out of towners that had no clue what to do, and there were plenty of out of towners around. Anyway, I eventually got on the freeway, crossed the river near PNC Park, got off on Chestnut Street and followed roads along the North Shore until I was able to cross on the 7th Street Bridge (aka the Andy Warhol Bridge). On the other side of the bridge there was a surface lot with some spaces several blocks away from the convention center. Done! Needless to say, I racked up the steps on the fitbit that day.
For some reason, the west entrance to the convention center was closed, which was kind of annoying considering the con was in the west side of the convention center. All weekend we had to go to the east entrance and dodge thousands of Yu-Gi-Oh people who were hanging around outside and in the lobby waiting for their games. They were all guys though, which complimented the female heavy crowd for “Supernatural.” So once I fought through all that, I arrived just in time to see Gil and Alania waving goodbye. Not feeling the Pittsburgh love today!
Time to settle in for the Ruth Connell panel. Ruth is entertaining and a sweetheart, but she talks a lot. She rambles, gives long answers, doesn’t really answer many questions, but I’m saying that as though it’s a bad thing. I love listening to her talk with that Scottish accent. The problem was, the sound system was so poor, I couldn’t make out anything she was saying. She looked very pretty though and she was one of the nice ones to spend a chunk of her panel talking and walking near the cheap seats. I was able to get a few lovely photos of her!
Someone is going to have to explain to me the origin of “V Club Mega” but Ruth seems to do this with the audience at every panel. I’m not objecting, it’s quirky and fun, but I obviously don’t know the history as to why she does it. The crowd was getting into it for sure! We all were absolutely fabulous! Here's how it all looked from the cheap seats.
(Everyone waving as Ruth took a video of all of us on her phone)
After Ruth, it was time to break for lunch. I’ve got to give kudos to the Convention Center for one thing, there is a nice selection of bars and restaurants nearby. We didn’t have a bad dish of food all weekend and a real foodie could get lost in this town. I give the next door Westin though the prize for having the best hotel bar/restaurant ever out of all the cons I’ve been to. Their selection of 140 different craft beers won over a pair of craft beer enthusiasts from another big brewery town, Columbus. Their food was exceptional too, as well as the size of the place.
The fact was, we needed nearby bars to retreat to, because since neither percysowner or myself had autographs or photo ops, there were plenty of breaks in the action between panels. They were usually an annoying hour here or hour and a half there, so we couldn’t go back to our hotel. Nope, a bar was the only refuge, either that or the interesting water feature that divides the convention center. You could walk through the middle of it down to the riverfront of the quite scene Allegheny River. We spent some time admiring the waterfront too considering the weather was gorgeous and sunny all weekend.
(The most unusual water feature. The water walls were very tall at the bottom!)
(Sitting at the dock of the river...)
I did take interest in the costume contest this year, only because we had some time to kill. There was the giant moose and squirrel (more about them on Sunday) and the absolutely most brilliant Castiel costume yet. Deadpool as Castiel!
Ah yes, there were others panels after all that! It all started with the grand arrival of Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict back to the stage! Kim and Briana graciously handed over the reins, but we knew this wasn't goodbye. They would be part of the Louden Swain's Saturday Night Special Concert that evening and boy, did they rock!
Next one up was the irascible Mark Sheppard for his first panel of the weekend. There’s no doubt about it, Mark loves to harass the audience. Call it tough love. He also loves walking and talking among the crowd, giving me the best chance all weekend to get some amazing shots! Mark and Ruth were the only ones that weekend to spend a lot of time circulating the audience, and those of us farther back are most grateful that at least they acknowledged us!
(Mark asking a fan who came in late for her pass)
(A great shot of the back of the room behind Mark, proving just how ridiculously big this hall was)
(Standing just a few feet away from us!)
(A fan asked if he ever learned how to swim. No, because he didn't like how he was taught. How was he taught? Someone threw him in and he almost drowned. The fan said that's how you're supposed to learn. "Try to drown me? Score one for the American education system.")
Here are some of the other highlights from Mark's panel:
- Mark arrived late. Apparently he was stuck in traffic. He complained how it took him two hours to go four blocks and had a few choice words for Pittsburgh and it's traffic control. Later a local fan welcomed him to the area, mentioning that their construction is a level of Hell that Crowley wouldn't go to. What will Crowley do next? Put people in traffic in Pittsburgh.
- Mark loves harassing Misha fans, and someone asking a question just happened to be dressed as Crowley. The conversation went something like this:
Mark - Who are you dressed as?
Fan - Castiel.
Mark - Who is she?
Fan - Your lord and savior.
Mark - Not in my universe.
- While roaming the crowd, Mark found a sweet little baby in the back to hold and cuddle. I swear he wouldn't put the kid down as the entire room was melting and uttering "Awwww..." Recent fatherhood has really had an impact on him!
- Sometime the in the middle of the panel the sun went away and it got really dark in the room. Mark blamed that on Pittsburgh too.
- What are Crowley's commandments. He only has one. "Do what Crowley says."
- Mark did take time to talk at length about how remarkable this whole "Supernatural" experience has become. He mentioned how when he works on other shows, he does his appearance and then he's gone. With "Supernatural", it doesn't matter what season you were on the show, you instantly become a part of the "Supernatural" family. He's never seen anything like it. The bonds and friendships he's had with the other actors has been life changing.
- A young boy, probably about around 9 or 10, was asking a question about Crowley and Mark talked about his very first appearance, kissing a man under a bridge. The kid hadn't seen it! He's only seen a few episodes in the first five seasons. Mark gave him some advice on how to tackle the early episodes. "Watch all the ones with Crowley in it."
- Last question was a Dr. Who question, so Mark deferred it to Rob, who had taken the stage with Louden Swain. Rob in his very worst English accent, also professing to never seeing Dr. Who, gave an answer. "No."
(On the next page, our Overlord arrives)