Hey scifi fans!
First of all, apologies for the late report. It’s exam season in New Zealand right now, and everyone’s been pretty swamped in study.
Anyway. Onwards and upwards!
The Armageddon Expo was held in Auckland, New Zealand, from October 23rd to October 25th. A huge event, it annually covers all aspects of geekdom – anime, comics, gaming, and of course, sci-fi. Also wrestling. Heh.
The original scifi guest line-up included Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis stars Ben Browder, Torri Higginson, Lexa Doig and Corin Nemec. Unfortunately many of them had to pull out, with good reason.
Ben had actually managed to attend the Australian event just a week before, but he’d had to abruptly return back to the States due to a family emergency. Best wishes to him and his family!
He was sincerely very sorry for not coming, and promised to be back at next year’s event!
As disappointing as it was that we missed Ben, Corin and Lexa… we were fortunate enough to welcome Michael Shanks and Torri Higginson (Michael’s first time in New Zealand)! You can’t really complain when you’re in the company of those two!
I met up with the lovely Champa Maciel (JandyraCJM) early Saturday morning. I don’t quite know how she survives in New Zealand with that strong Australian accent! (CJ: “I can’t believe Zoe just said that!”) I joke!
We went our separate ways for a while, and met up for panels and autographs.
I heard she got pretty chummy with some of the Weta Workshop gang, which is great! Weta is a multi-award winning visual effects company, based in Wellington, New Zealand. They, along with Weta Digital, have been involved in special effects for huge movie hits, such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings, District 9, Eragon, King Kong and many more. Amazing stuff!
CJ: I’d popped by the Weta Workshop booth when we first arrived. I knew that the overwhelmingly cool Magnus Hjert (Marketing) would be there, and hey presto! We spent about twenty minutes getting to know each other face to face (we had been in cyber-touch, thanks internets!), and had a wonderful discussion about their work and humungous Hobbit battle. Magnus is a fantastic NZ/Swedish specimen; chilled, laid back, open and friendly.
I returned later in the day to rendez-vous with the talented Greg Broadmore, lead designer (for weapons, vehicles and technology in ‘District 9’), who was clocked in for book signings. We had previously met at ‘The Art of District 9’ event in Wellington, and as soon as I approached, he stood up and shook my hand with “OH HELLO! How are you? Nice to see you again!”. Memory of an elephant! The following discussion was absolutely flooring. He had read my WormholeRiders report (“HOW?!” I said, “It was only posted yesterday!”). Thank YOU, Google Alerts. “Wow, you didn’t write just a little bit!”.
We here in the world’s sheep-pen are fortunate enough to have such close access to the industry-shattering work these guys are accomplishing. The idea is to let others experience it from a distance, bring the continents closer together, to capture the essence of the atmosphere so that others can richly appreciate it as well. Greg was extremely enthusiastic and complimentary on the report, and made me promise to keep in touch with them. Wonderful guys!
On top of which, Greg himself never falters in his creative zeal. He is constantly producing books of his spellbinding art work, most recently steam punk designs, and watching him doodle the most incredible, sprawling cartoons across the signing page of a book in two minutes flat. Well, it was just jaw-dropping! If anyone is interested in his work, or any others on the team, please visit them at www.wetanz.com.
Also, the ‘One’ Ring from the famous trilogy was on display, amongst many other film memorabilia. DROOL!
Zoe: Torri’s panel was the first event of the day! We went in expecting a quiet, polite, gentle woman. Oh. My. Frelling. Gosh. That woman is irresistable.
You expect her to be reserved and in control like Weir, but noooo. She’s more ‘badass’ (and CUTE) than a ninja turtle on a motorbike! During her panel she said something (which I can’t really quote here…AHEM!) that landed her in the biggest national newspaper in the country. She’d clapped her hand over he mouth and said “there aren’t any children in here are there?! Don’t tell anyone I said that!” and two days later she was quoted in our national newspaper. Let’s just say, it was Hobbit-related, so the audience welcomed her comments with a joyful uproar! That poor woman! We have audio-recorded the panels, and are in the process of transcripting, so we’ll have those coming to you in a couple of weeks.
Now, photo ops. Michael Shanks. I have to say, in Stargate SG1, Daniel Jackson was an instant hit with me. I started watching in season 10, when I walked in on my daddy watching Family Ties. The dynamic between Daniel and Vala was the first thing that hooked me on the show. So meeting him was a pretty big deal! And he was amazing. He was more awesome then I’d thought he’d be. He was constantly joking, smiling… and hugging! Just saying-when that man hugs you… he doesn’t let go! Not that I’d want to let go or anything… but when I let go, he didn’t. Also, he tends to initiate the hug without you asking. It was petrifying.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details of my photo op. I love how photo opportunities at conventions in New Zealand are so long! Mine took a full five minutes, so I manage to get lots of quality time. Oh! I have to mention this, though: After the photo, I was walking back to my friends, when a random con-goer grinned at me, breathed in deeply and remarked “YOU SMELL LIKE SHANKS.” Weirdest/most awesome part of my day. I swear. I didn’t even know what to say. I think I just stood there twitching. “…thanks?” I’m never washing the tank top I wore on that day though.
Wow, that sounds unbelievably creepy.
CJ: Zoe, unbelievably creepy! Just kidding. The autograph sessions with Torri and Michael were a bundle of positive energy bursts! Michael is such a… well…a dude. He had his beloved cap on, ruggedly groomed…totally duded out! The guy is wonderful. It may be an actor trait, but he talks to everyone so openly, so warmly, and he’s so extremely down to earth. It was his first time in New Zealand and he was mightily excited about doing some sightseeing.
And Torri…well..Torri had mentioned her adoration for Shakespeare at her panel (She had just finished performing ’Much Ado About Nothing’) So I mentioned it to her, and how we had just finished performing ‘Macbeth’. WELL. From that point on it was all hounds on the loose! We squeed and geeked out over Shakespeare, theatre and literature for about seven full minutes. I glanced at Torri’s handler to see how she was taking it, but Ms. Handler just had this great big grin on her face, almost as splitting as the grins that were breaking our own.
We then mentioned that we live in a wine country region of NZ: Torri practically drooled, and made me swear I’d bring her a bottle or three next time she visits. The woman LOVES New Zealand, she was so excited about her visit, but more on that in her panel discussion. I asked her, please, not to judge as I’m from Australia (ZOE!!!), so the dear woman wrote on our photo “I love NZ! (and Aus ;))”. Squish!
Besides which, she was babbling in geek heaven at being so close to Hobbiton– enormous fan right there! It was a bubble of joy to meet her, the loveliest, giggliest, sweetest woman one could ever meet; Sincere, humble, generous and absolutely in love with her fans! You actually just want to clamber awkwardly over the table and bundle her up in the most gigantic huggle possible.
Zoe: Torri’s autograph line moved the slowest. She makes sure to have a proper conversation with every single person, and she’s just the loveliest person ever! I have to say, I did not expect such a bright personality. She’s just so great, and so funny! She’s actually got to be one of the loveliest actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. When I went to get her autograph, there was no line… (I have a system) … and she was just sitting there. I walked up to her, and BOOM. She was asking me questions about school, about life, about New Zealand… she’s just a gorgeous person to talk to! Torri actually attempts to make proper conversation, and she’s just so adorable. Her Canadian accent is super-strong. I love it!
Also, the presence of Michael Shanks totally compelled me to buy an autograph. I wasn’t going to…but I did. It was nice talking to him again for another long while, though! HE’S SO FUNNY. I seriously love how much personal time we have with the stars at this particular convention.
Now unfortunately on day two of the event, I’d woken up with a monster headache. I couldn’t even function. So I missed Shanks’ panel. Which was devastating… I HEARD IT WAS HILARIOUS. *sigh* Champa covered it though, so she’ll be able to fill in my blanks. Also, Shanks was (apparently) wearing a really nice long sleeved top and his hair was scruffy… even MORE devastating. He was wearing a hat in both of my photos. He seems to really like that hat so I didn’t have the heart to ask him to take it off. It would have seemed like I cared more about the photo than the actual experience otherwise.
CJ: First up on the menu, we attended the panel hosting the gorgeous Miracle Laurie (Yes that IS her real name) of Dollhouse fame. Miracle plays the character of November in the wonderful Joss Whedon series, and she was just a joy from beginning to end! Amidst a barrage of interesting anecdotes and questions, the actress was absolutely overcome by the presence of two cosplay fans (dressed as Elmo and Cookie Monster), and begged them up on stage for a photo.
The giggles were endless! Miracle commented on the irony of her character’s name, which coincides with her wedding in November, 2010. Congratulations Miracle! We hope her fiancé enjoyed the mass video of Miracle’s cheering Kiwi audience!
Miracle discussed her Pacific Island blood (on her mother’s side), and she had brought along her Poi for a fun demonstration on the stage. For those not in the know, Poi is a type of danced performed by Pacific Island women and girls, and is hugely performed in NZ by the Maori people. It utilises two balls, swung by a piece of string from each hand, and takes great skill and coordination. Miracle was roared for a demo, and conquered the feat with aplomb to the resounding cheers around the hall. That girl can DANCE!
Michael’s panel was just uproarious laughter from beginning to end. From the very first moment he lumbered painfully onstage (he was running typically late, and turned up bleary-eyed, scruffy, with a paper cup of coffee clutched in his hand), to the devastating close of his happy hour, everyone was in stitches! The panel was moderated by a Kiwi television celebrity, who warmed the crowd up deliciously in preparation for the tumultuous fun of Shanks. The panel swept by all to quickly, and everyone booed at the untimely conclusion. STAY TUNED FOR TRANSCRIPT.
Zoe: I was back on day three of the convention, which was a public holiday, if anyone’s wondering what I’m doing out of school on a Monday. But I’d skip school for a convention any day.
I got my photo op with Torri on that day. I must say, I liked it! She was said “let’s do something silly!” and we both have our tongues out. She was extremely chatty! And adorable. She recognised me from Saturday and the first thing she said was “HEY CUTIE!” *grin. pause. straight face.* “Go study.” …I seriously have so much love for her. She has so much personality, it’s painful. Every time I saw her during the weekend, she was always making jokes and acting like a total goofball. Shucks she’s amazing.
CJ: SHE REALLY IS!
Zoe: Later on in the day, I was talking to the same lady who had told me I smelled like Shanks. And she’d looked through all the photo ops and she said “no one really got a full blown grin from Shanks… they were all so tight lipped.” RIght. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
Anyone catch the Barney Stinson tone there? No? OK.
So I got another photo op. I did. And I managed to make him laugh. So he’s laughing in my photo op. Challenge beaten. I love Shanks. I really do. Both the guests were so amazing! Also, I adore the photographer at this convention. He messed up the camera like three times during this op. In the first picture, Shanks blinked. He brought the camera up to show both of us. THAT IMAGE WILL FOREVER BE BURNED INTO MY BRAIN. Shanks is laughing and his eyes are shut and… it was actually so funny. I’m laughing just thinking about it!
In the second picture he’s laughing a little less but at least his eyes are open. I wasn’t allowed to get a copy of the first picture… unfortunately. But that’s okay, I have a mental image that will make me laugh for the rest of my life. I don’t even know what was so funny about it. I’ve just never seen super-photogenic Shanks take such a flunky photo before.
Also, after this photo op, my friends were eating at the café, so I was on my way to meet them… and was tweeting about the op, when I accidentally bumped into someone. I exclaimed “OH MY GOSH I’M SORRY!” and the guy said “oh no sweetie, my fault.” in a really nice British accent. I adore British accents more than anything. I was a little taken aback. I started thinking “whoa, this guy is pretty old, but he’s weirdly attractive in some aspects…”
And then he smiled and looked like he was about to say something when a fangirl came bouncing along and yelled “PAAAAAUL CAN I HAVE A PHOTO!?” He half grinned at me and excused himself. I was kind of shocked, not knowing what happened. Apparently that was Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor from Doctor Who.
HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT!? I’d seen pictures, but normally he had long hair in photos. Now his hair was cut and it was all nice and…erm… normal. Aw man! I should’ve said more, but still, he was so lovely.
We’ll have full transcripts coming up in the next couple of weeks. Thank you guys for reading!