Summer conventions!

Quick note that InConJunction is a month from today, June 30-July 2 at the Marriott Indianapolis East. This fan-run sci-fi/fantasy convention promises lots of fun, without all the crowds (attendance is under 1,000) or long lines (this is not just about waiting all day for an autograph) but chances to hang out with people like Guest of Honor Mercedes Lackey (noted for various fantasy books and the YA classic “Jinx High”).

Our thespian friends and fans can also see friend-of-the-con Lou Harry (and his improv “auction” show, “Going… Going… Gone!”) or attend a reading of “Shakespeare’s Star Wars.”

The event also allows John and Wendy to get involved in our other love (besides theatre) — games! There will be non-stop roleplaying, a computerized “bridge simulator” to pretend you’re on a starship, and a full library of card and board-based diversions. We will both be around, as well.

J&W will also be hosting a game event (the Fandom Feud) and an improv event (PowerPoint Improv).

This convention, and a horror convention across town, get “con season” into gear. The next week, Indy PopCon, a locally-hosted multimedia geek extravaganza, happens in downtown Indy.

Then, in August, the behemoth that is GenCon takes over downtown. Look for us to go big there — hint: We’ll do more than just write about it.

Wendy’s GenCon update

Trace Beaulieu, popular for playing Dr. Forrester and Crow T. Robot on "Mystery Science Theater 3000" as well as appearing on shows including "Freaks and Geeks", was Puppetry Guest of Honor at GenCon 2015. His next project has him again playing a mad scientist on the web series "Vermin." -- photo provided
Trace Beaulieu, popular for playing Dr. Forrester and Crow T. Robot on “Mystery Science Theater 3000” as well as appearing on shows including “Freaks and Geeks”, was Puppetry Guest of Honor at GenCon 2015. His next project has him again playing a mad scientist on the web series “Vermin.” — photo provided

By Wendy Carson

I am still alive (somehow). I had an amazing amount of fun at GenCon this last weekend in downtown Indy. We brought home a ton of awesome games to review (see John’s post below). Overall, it was wonderful.

This year’s convention was very different for us from the ones in the past. First of all, I didn’t make it to Trade Day on Wednesday because I had to work. I could have taken that day off, but felt that just having Thursday and Friday off was sufficient (plus, I didn’t want to push my luck at the new job).

The biggest difference, though, was that rather than just playing games, we attended several panels throughout the weekend — I don’t think we’ve done that in years (at least not since the convention moved to Indy). Our first panel — a writers’ workshop — was at 9 a.m. Thursday, so we skipped out on getting early entry to the exhibit hall, but we were glad we did.

The whole feeling of this year’s con was more laid-back overall but still very hectic. We took our time working through the vast exhibit hall. We didn’t finish seeing all of the game booths until most of the way through Saturday. Since almost all of the clothing and whatnot dealers together seemed to be grouped in the center of the hall, we just scanned those aisles and skipped portions of them. We also didn’t get to see much of the artists’ area. I was only there for a second to find one we knew and update her on my efforts to promote her work by getting her promotional bookmarks to all of the cons in the area. I never even got to check out the Autograph area or the entertainment booths (except for a quick second at Trace Beaulieu’s booth to get his autograph). I had secured a ticket to get Terry Brooks’ autograph, but the line was entirely too long for me to deal with (two-plus hour wait) so I gave my ticket to someone else. Besides, I don’t actually like his books, so it’s no big loss.

I did get to see Trace (Dr. Forrester and “Crow” of MST3K) several times throughout the con, and he was absolutely charming and funny. If any of you out there get a chance to see him, please do — you won’t be disappointed.

Since John was researching an article on “Gaymers,” [coming soon either in print or online with The Word — John] we attended a few of their gathering and panels. Some were sparsely attended, but on the upside, we did end up winning a “Cards Against Humanity” game (which we didn’t have yet).

The Miskatonic University Graduation Ceremony Thursday night went amazingly well. John and I volunteer to assist with the official Chaosium event each year which has a Lovecraftian theme, most notably the “Cthulhu for President” rally on election years (next year!). We had a solid turnout, with attendees unbelievably into the whole event even more than in the past few years. One even hit his head on a steel beam when he fell to “sacrifice” himself (he was OK, and another person used his “Necromancy Degree” to resurrect him). My Dean of Women (more of a “Mistress” of Students) went over amazingly well.

While we didn’t get to do everything we wanted, we did enjoy everything we could get to.

Fun, Fun, fun

If you thought there was trouble in River City before, just wait until this cast gets done with the classic musical when Buck Creek Players' Play-A-Part Fundraiser presents
If you thought there was trouble in River City before, just wait until this cast gets done with the classic musical when Buck Creek Players’ Play-A-Part Fundraiser presents “The Music Man” for one wacky weekend. — BCP photo

Cue music: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

No, it’s not Christmas season already (though watch for decorations at the stores in a month or so), for folks like us who enjoy plays and playing games, August provides a bursting cornucopia of fun.

Yes, theatre friends, IndyFringe is almost upon us, but first…

This week, starting Wednesday (today, if you’re reading this on July 29) is the GenCon Game Fair, the world’s largest convention devoted to games, those who play them and those who make them. More than 60,000 happy nerds will overrun downtown Indianapolis, centering on the Indiana Convention Center, though many activities will be in nearby hotels and Union Station. If you are unfamiliar or don’t have much money to throw at this extravaganza, there is discount admission on Sunday, for Family Day (though the whole event is family-friendly).

Another note: The hallways of the convention center and hotel lobbies are open to the public. So, if you want to see and (respectfully) admire the many costumes attendees will be wearing, that doesn’t have to cost you a thing. However, the eye candy – while it makes good TV footage – is only a small fraction of the scene. If you like board, card, strategy or party games at all, you really need to get into this convention.

As for plays opening this weekend, we highly recommend fun of a different sort: The Buck Creek Players Play-A-Part Fundraiser production of “The Music Man.” The roles were all cast by winning a silent auction, with no requirements of age, gender, experience or even talent. Fortunately, director Scott Robinson levels the playing field by making the show an anything-can-happen live comedy in the tradition of TV’s classic “The Carol Burnett Show.” The result is highly entertaining, and the funds raised help with building improvements at this all-volunteer community theater. There are just four performances, Friday through Sunday, which are likely to sell out. Hit up the website or call 317-862-2270.

Sunday sees the return of the monthly experience that is “Going, Going, Gone” at Theatre on the Square. Co-creator Lou Harry has announced that, in honor of GenCon, the items bid on (which audience members get to win and keep) will be nerd-themed, as will be the cast, led by ubernerd (and Angel Burlesque MC) Jeff Angel. Also, wear a GenCon badge to the show, and get extra play money to bid with. Go, Go, Go, and quick, before the seats are gone!

– See you downtown!

Pop goes the weekend

Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama on the 2004-09 version of
Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama on the 2004-09 version of “Battlestar Galactica.” Meme from some joker on the internet, photo from NBC/Universal

All the geeky aspects of pop culture go on display at Indy PopCon, Friday through Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. This critical mass of gaming, internet culture, comics, costumes, TV, movies, anime, fantasy and sci-fi features celebrity guests including Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), Sam Jones (“Flash Gordon”), John DeLancie (“Star Trek”), Malcolm Goodwin (“iZombie”), Sophie Henderson (“Doctor Who”), “Face Off” winner Rashaad Santiago and former WWE star Chris Masters.

This is neither the only big thing downtown nor the only convention in town. A few blocks away, at Military Park, just north of the Eiteljorg Museum, is the Eiteljorg’s annual Indian Market and Festival, celebrating Native American art and culture 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There is also a more expensive pre-party on Friday, see website for details.

As for the other con, out at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, horror extravaganza Days of the Dead returns with appearances by Tobin Bell of the “Saw” movie series, wrestling legend Rick Flair, “Phantasm” star Angus Scrimm, “Tales From the Crypt”s John Kassir, the now-grown-up twins from “The Shining,” and legendary hosts Joe Bob Briggs and Indy’s own Sammy Terry – as well as numerous other slasher and suspense stars, makeup effects artists and more.

As for fresh theatre, there is a lot of buzz around the premiere of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre‘s “La Caza Azul,” based on the life of artist Frida Kahlo. It will be on stage just this weekend, Friday through Sunday at the Tarkington theater in The Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Carmel.

Looking ahead, we must note that, in addition to next week featuring the Fourth of July (and the arrival of the Rolling Stones at IMS – are the Brits upstaging our holiday?) there will also be another home-grown sci-fi convention, the 35th InConJunction July 3-5 at the Indianapolis Marriott East – where John&Wendy are among the convention volunteers.

– Go have some fun!