Page 1 of 2(Photo courtesy of @FangasmSPN) Miss part 1 and 2 of my reports? Just follow the links! Friday Report Saturday Report
Pittsburgh con certainly opened my eyes about one thing. Everyday we send out tweets and deliver messages about some sort of charitable cause that’s happening in our fandom. With all the noise I admit to getting lost a lot of times as to what is what. It's hard to follow. Sometimes I have even wondered what sort of impact these causes are actually having. Sure, once in a while I’ll run into someone in a convenience store with a “Love Yourself First” t-shirt or something like that, but how far do theses campaigns go beyond an attempt to sell some motivational garments? I got my answer at Pitt Con. You don’t truly see how these efforts are impacting lives until you come to a convention. People that have benefitted from these causes are here in the flesh, living examples of how “Supernatural” has gone way beyond being a mere TV show. It’s stunning how much this show is changing lives. I know “Supernatural” changed my life all those years ago when channel flipping back in 2007, but now it’s mushroomed into a much broader reach and doing all sorts of things no one possibly imagined.
The vendors area has evolved so much in the last several years. Sure there are a few more jewelry makers and pop culture vendors, but there are far more outreach organizations too. One thing that was obvious about the crowd is this is the second generation of viewers. Most of them are people in their teens that were very young children when the show started. As a mother of two teenagers myself, I’m aware of a lot of the social issues kids have. I don’t think that the amount teen angst and depression has changed from generation to generation, but thanks to social media outreach has. Teens still have troubles but now it’s okay to say so and talk about it. They are learning they are not alone. This generation is more expressive, more willing to celebrate its individuality and they feel more empowered to make a difference. The “Supernatural” fandom has told these kids that they are welcome and important no matter who they are and that is making a huge difference. They feel like they're a part of something extraordinary and want to spread the love.
I don’t think any of us imagine just how big the need is for these kids to be part of something, but spending time in the vendors area helps with that. For example, I spoke with Karla of SPN Survivors, an organization that has expanded rapidly since I saw her at the Celebration of Supernatural at DePaul University back in May 2015. She started SPN Survivors in 2014 after the suicide of her nephew. She just wanted to share information on a website, and now it’s grown to programs like they are running with local hospitals in the Detroit area to help kids in the hospital due to depression. They are providing “comfort kits” for teens 12-18 who come to the ER seeking help for depression, self injury, and suicidal thoughts. These teens often have personal belongings taken away when admitted and these kits help them relieve stress and give them encouragement. These kits contain adult coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, notebooks and journals, and activity books. Teens are also given a stuffed animal with words of encouragement known as a “Battle Buddy.” The Battle Buddies have been hugely popular since introduced at the Chicago con last year. It is meant to offer something tangible, a visual cue to focus on when struggling.
SPN Survivors is now a full blown non-profit organization and they are fundraising to carry on raising awareness and helping those that are in trouble. One thing Karla told me is that it’s easier for people to accept a random kind act from a stranger as opposed to a loved one. That’s what these kits and the battle buddies do, give them a reminder to hold on and they are special. They have gotten some help from the SPN actors to deliver the message these kids to “Always Keep Fighting” and “You are not alone.” It’s truly inspirational how many lives they’ve been able to touch in a short amount of time. For info on all that SPN Survivors is doing to help, along with their fundraising and supplies collection drives, go to SPNSurvivors.com .
There were other booths there too offering support for mental health and teen advocacy like Share your Secrets and Attitudes in Reverse, and then there was also the very popular fandom charities like Random Acts. There were also plenty of attendees with their “Always Keep Fighting,” “You are Not Alone,” “Love Yourself First,” and “Wayward AF” t-shirts and more. If there is anyone struggling in this fandom, or just looking for a place in this life, the message is getting out loud and clear. To think that a show conceived by a guy in a pitch meeting one day would evolve to this sort of experience, it’s mind-blowing.
Every con I usually have a happy encounter with one new fan, and this time it happened while having breakfast in the restaurant at the Westin next door on Sunday morning. Myself and Percysowner were talking about “Supernatural” plots in general and a young fan next to us turned around. We were talking her language. She had just been through the Jared and Jensen photo op and she was on cloud 9! She was barely coherent as she excitedly talked about meeting them and how they ended up posing. I smiled, remembering my first time meeting Jared and Jensen back in 2008. The excitement over that moment is still fresh in my head, so I could imagine exactly what this girl was feeling. Her Dad was there at the table, the one who brought her to the convention. I got a sense he didn’t get why she was so excited, so for her to share this with a pair of fans that understood at her moment of euphoria meant so much to her. She even whispered to us, “I’m coming next year, don’t tell my Dad.” I have to wonder, would a teenager like this approach random strangers in a restaurant in any other circumstance? I think her talking to us was fantastic. Yep, this show keeps changing lives.
Earlier in the morning was the Jared and Jensen Gold Panel, which is a panel specifically only for Gold Members. I wasn’t there, but I was following all the gorgeous scruffiness on Twitter. We were very lucky that Sunday was the very last day for the hiatus beards! I’ve only ever been to one other con with the hiatus beards and they weren’t this far along. So, I might have been too absorbed with the pictures to really pay attention what was being said. Luckily, SPN Sil has the summary of the tweets here.
J2 Gold Panel
Eventually 2:00 rolled around and it was time for the action for the rest of us ticket holders! It started with the very energetic, very enthusiastic Rob and Richard kickoff. Both came rushing out and ran up and down through the crowd, taking in high fives and hand slaps along the way. Judging by how winded they were when they were done, it was obvious this venue was a bit bigger than ones they’ve played before. Ah, middle age (I feel their pain).
(Yeah, that blurry streak plays God on television)
During their panel Richard broke into something I think he’s done before, but it’s the first time I heard it. The Indignant Fan Girl. He took the role of irrational teenager who is fangirling a bit too much over meeting Jared and Jensen. It’s as if their encounter was meant to be. Dad’s answer was right on, “You paid $400 for that.” Yep, I was howling for some reason. It hit me in the right spot.
We moved onto Ruth Connell’s panel, and I should mention one other thing that’s unique about a Ruth panel. She brings a paper bag of small little goodies of items she takes from the hotel room, Starbucks, the break room, and hands one of these items out to people who ask questions. She even showed that she had a shower cap this time! Of course not a lot of people get to ask questions because she gives long answers, so if you end up with one of Ruth’s gifts, you’re lucky!
All in all it was very much a panel similar to the one she gave on Saturday, with a couple notable exceptions. Ruth again did the whole V-Club Mega thing, except this time there were far more people in the audience. Sunday was definitely a packed house with just about every seat filled. Also, one of the fans presented her with her very own “Always Keep Fighting” Pittsburgh Terrible Towel. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but back in the mid 70’s when the Steelers were winning Super Bowls, someone came up with an idea to create a yellow towel that would be used as a rally symbol for the team. It was labeled the “Terrible Towel.” It’s been a symbol of Pittsburgh for a long time, and I think the idea to create for this convention an AKF Terrible Towel was inspired! Man, I wish I bought one! I guess 1,000 were made. Many fans in the audience had them and started waving them around with Ruth. It was quite a visual!
(Squint and you can see Ruth waving her AKF Terrible Towel on screen)
Also, I love Ruth’s answer to the final question:
Pretty soon Louden Swain was breaking into “Any Way You Want It,” and those of us con veterans know what that means. That is the J2 entrance song. I’ve seen some people high energy entrances to the song, and I’ve seen no entrances because the J’s weren't ready. This time, we got the high energy one! Instead of taking the long walk in the skywalk above us (something they did earlier for the Gold panel), they came in through the back of the ballroom and ran through the crowd! I can honestly say I’ve never seen that before. That got the crowd going, as well as the AKF Terrible Towels. Here’s the video of J2 and Rob doing the jump at the final note of the song with towels waving every where and fans cheering rather loudly.
Eventually everyone settles down and J2 takes their seats. Jensen realizes how big the room is. “It’s almost as big as your trailer,” he says to Jared. Ba-da-dum. Jensen then starts recalling how he is back in Pittsburgh for the first time since he shot a movie there in the summer of 2008. Or was it 2009? He and Jared did a lot of back and forth speculating the date, aka carrying on like an old married couple. It’s once of those priceless “had to be there” moments. He just remembers that the last time he was here was the last time the Penguins won the Stanley Cup.
Actually, Jensen was confused. I know that he’s talking about when he shot My Bloody Valentine during the break between season three and season four, so it’s 2008. Jared filmed Friday the 13th during the same break in San Antonio. Jensen had his facts wrong because the Penguins won the cup in 2009. My beloved Detroit Red Wings won it in 2008. However, the Wings did beat the Penguins that year, so that’s probably what he was watching, a Pens loss in the finals. So there, record straight.
(Ah 2008. What memories!)
Now that we have our facts settled, it’s time for a lot of goofy fun. Jared kept moving his seat closer to Jensen bit by bit, causing Jensen to complain that we was getting crowed. So Jared moved closer! “11 years,” Jensen said in disgust. So Jared moved farther away! “11 years,” Jared repeated. Yep, it’s going to be that sort of panel.
Jared announced that Pittsburgh is their last stop before season 12. They start shooting on Tuesday, and the hiatus beards go away Monday. Jensen said that Sam actually gets a new look in season 12, a shaved head. I know he was joking but…BITE YOUR TONGUE HEATHEN! They joked that the beard comes off, the hair comes off, Jensen’s shirt comes off…NOW THEY’RE TALKING! (The photo at the top of the page shows Jared talking about the shirt coming off).
The lottery of questions was announced and the lucky fans lined up on both sides. Again, sound was a problem. Jared and Jensen both complained a couple of times they couldn’t hear anything. The sound was getting absorbed by the room from their perspective. From my perspective it was bouncing around all over the place and not crystal clear. I did hear the first question though, what songs are on their workout playlist? Jared got all excited talking about a Fitz and the Tantrums song about clapping your hands. He even gets it out and plays it, acting like a bouncy two year old in the process. Ah, children. (On SPN Sil’s Storify feed below there is video of this. You must check out. It’s priceless, especially when Jensen joins in.) Oh, Jensen’s answer? Barbara Streisand. Okay.
Then the fan tells Jared that Jensen is his favorite. Jared – “That’s alright, he’s my favorite too.” Awesome comeback! These guys have this Q&A thing nailed by now. Next question is another great example, the fan wants to know their bucket list. Jensen said that Rubbermaid makes a great bucket! Jared countered that a spit bucket is his favorite. Ask a silly question… Jared had another answer though. He wants to be the new favorite. Then more serious answers come. Jensen wants to travel that’s not for work, Jared wants to do skydiving, and then it all falls apart when Jensen says he wants to put on the squirrel costume. Jared joins in and wants to try the moose costume! This is obviously an inside shout out to having a photo op with the moose and squirrel from the costume contest. We’ll see them at the end of the panel. But honestly, when you’re in the crowd and hear a random “squirrel and moose” costume answer, I was on the floor rolling! Jensen and Jared are into plushies and furries. Yep, another “you had to be there” moment.
I’m not sure what the next question was, but it led into Jensen telling the story of how he was determined to break Briana Buckmaster, who is a real tough cookie to crack I guess. It was during the scene at the police station with the powdered sugar donuts. He was going to make her laugh by going to talk and nothing but powdered sugar flies through the air. The problem was, he couldn’t get it to work until the third try, and by that time he had to stuff a whole donut in his mouth to get it to work. The sugar started to solidify in his mouth and it started to swell! He eventually did it though and she cracked. Mission accomplished.
S12 Spoiler question! You have been warned! What would they like to see with Mary’s relationship with the boys? Jared explained that season eleven went really big and the goal of season twelve is to pull that back a bit. After meeting with Andrew Dabb they discussed how the stories have worked better when they dig at what makes Sam and Dean tick. Through this relationship with a parent they’re going to learn more about who they want to be and they’ll get into the minds of the boys more. Jensen just agreed and had nothing more to add.
What is their favorite episode to film? Jensen’s is “Baby.” He loved it was just the brothers driving down the street in Baby. In going through this answer and talking about sharing a beer, they drank their waters in unison, and then Jensen essentially “dropped the water” in the quintessential “dropping the mic” sort of way. Jared gave us his answer, “The French Mistake,” and fondly remembered working with that Ruby chick while acting like a little child again. Right around this time some side conversations broke out, they talk lowly to one another, and then eventually Jensen goes to the next question. “Sorry, we’re fighting. This is when the camera man usually says, ‘I hate it when they fight’” Bwah! I guess we are just seeing another day at the office. Jensen also added, “Its one long episode that’s lasted 11 years.”
Okay, highlight of the panel right here! I can’t believe this hasn’t come up before with Richard, but what are their stripper names? Really, that old question? Turns out they’ve never answered this one before. Jensen said, “Cher.” Jared – “Everything’s bigger in Texas” and drops his water bottle like he’s dropping the mic! Suddenly everyone in the room starts howling! The band starts playing stripper music, Jensen sits down on the floor encouraging Jared to show is stripper moves and Jared is dying from laughter on the stage. Hell, I'm dying from laughter in the audience! Then he flashes his shoulder!
After the insanity calms down a little, the fan shares hers, using the old formula of pet’s name and street name. Hers is Puss Puss Broadview. Jensen said his using that trick would be Pudgy Midway. Jared said Bootsy, obviously not following the whole trick entirely. Bootsy works though!
The boys each shared an audition story, both of which I recall hearing from other cons, so I won’t share them again. That’s just me moving onto a much better question, what did they think of Misha playing Lucifer in season eleven. “I didn’t know he could act!” blurted Jared right off the bat. “It was shocking to see him do something,” countered Jensen. Jared said that when they were filming “The Vessel”, which was the episode in which Sam finds out that Castiel is really Lucifer, in that confrontation scene he didn’t want to mess things up for Misha. So he played it straight and didn’t tease him at all like he normally does. When it was all over he told Misha he did a great job, and Misha confessed that he was really thrown off by Jared not giving him a hard time! He thought he was screwing up. Overall both Jared and Jensen thought he did great as Lucifer, especially when he had to follow Mark Pellegrino. Jared was even impressed and proud!
Okay, pay attention, the next question is near and dear to our hearts here at the Winchester Family Business. It’s about the writing. They were asked if there were times they saw something different than what was in the script and if they questioned it. Jared instantly recalled season eight. “Her name is Amelia and why isn’t he looking for his brother?” Jensen said that there have been many times when they’ve found lines that didn’t sound like their characters. Jensen will read a Dean line and think that sounds like Sam and vice versa with Jared. They’ve had to fix lines to make them sound more like their characters. Then Jensen confessed that there was one recent episode where they flipped every single line in a scene because the original way it was written was that far off. It’s almost like the writer mixed up Sam with Dean. They did this without permission and found it worked much better. Also, what would they change if they could change anything? Charlie. Both were in full agreement on that. Bobby too.
Okay, cute parenting story! Turns out, Jared and Jensen’s kids go to the same preschool. For one, Jared calls JJ “J-Bird” which is freaking adorable. There was one time when JJ wanted to play with Tom and was teased for it because she was younger, so Tom went over to her and played with her anyway. JJ loves it when she gets to play with Tom, Shep, and another kid named Wyatt. She told Jensen, “Yeah, they’re my boys.” AWWWWW!!!!
Since JJ was on his mind, Jensen talked about the scene he filmed with Chuck. Jensen said that he approached that scene by thinking of JJ not having a Dad. He was talking to Chuck as if a son was talking to a father who abandoned him. It was a very emotional scene for him.
Next person asked what kind of memes they have done since Katherine Newton showed them how to do ones. Aside from not being able to pronounced “meme” properly (something that was well recapped in the earlier Gold Members panel), Jensen said that she showed them one time how to do memes and other things with their phones. “None of it sank in.” They aren’t tech savvy but again, they don’t need to be.
Louden Swain came on to the stage and broke into the always rousing, “Last Question” song. Jensen joined in on vocal and he and Rob traded the “last question” line numerous times. It’s awesome! So is the last question. Will they ever have an episode take place in West Virginia? Jared – “Did we ever do one in East Virginia?” Jensen (whispering) – “That’s Virginia.” Then we watched Rob, Jared, and Jensen struggle to come up with what the capital of West Virginia is. I’m shouting “Charleston!” since that’s my Dad’s hometown, but they can’t hear me that far away. So they keep guessing things like “Wheeling” and several of us in the crowd were rolling our eyes. They got it right eventually though. So yes, you even get geography lessons at “Supernatural” cons.
The whole panel ended with the people in a Moose costume and a Squirrel costume storming the stage. They stood below Jared and Jensen and Jared swore he couldn't tell the difference between the two pairs. I’m just wondering if they make moose costumes for someone who is 6’ 4”.
The final panel of the day was Mark Sheppard’s, but we had to miss that. Myself and percysowner had to get home. Luckily, leaving Pittsburgh was without incident. Figures! All of the details of Mark’s panel is in the Storify summary below though. Once again a big thanks to SPN Sil for putting all those together and allowing us to share.
For me, the next big con will be Comic Con next week. I’ll be there to get all the news about season 12! So stay tuned for those reports and interviews with the cast and producers.
(On page 2, all the Storified tweets from SPN Sil)