I had to rush to get to where the panel was located in the Hyatt from my dealer’s table in the Marriott. I was surprised that, when I got there about 10 minutes before the panel was to begin, there was a HUGE line to get inside! I really didn’t expect that for an A-Team panel. Nevertheless, the room was fortunately a fairly large one (seating 200 maybe, and it did fill up) and I was able to score a single seat fairly close, in about the 5th or 6th row. Much to my amusement, as I was sitting down the woman next to me pulled out a blue baseball cap. I then noticed her tan pants and converse sneakers, matching my own, and discovered that I was sitting next to a die-hard Murdock fan, much like myself.
Dirk and Dwight came out a few minutes late to an enthusiastic response from the crowd. They were both lively and in good spirits, their off-screen camaraderie as evident as always. Indeed, they talked for some time about their off-screen friendship and how that was rather rare in Hollywood (a place Dwight described brilliantly as being full of “malignant narcissism”), and also how that had been strengthened during a time after the series’ end when Dirk was going through a bit of a personal crisis. They talked a lot about the beginnings of the A-Team: how Dwight was “fired” after the pilot episode and then re-hired after the screening results came in; how Dirk was supposed to get the part of Templeton Peck from the start and what it was like to join the show after the early filming had been done; what it was like first meeting George Peppard and what he and Mr. T were both like off-screen. Much of this wasn’t necessarily new information to anyone who’s seen Dirk and Dwight at cons before, but they are always fun stories to hear them tell: and both Dirk and Dwight do some hilarious Mr. T impersonations!
They also talked about practical jokes played on the set, and some of the difficulties in the later seasons with Peppard and T that lead them to take on larger parts to carry the action and dialog (Peppard and T would only work 10am – 4pm, so Dirk and Dwight would go on late into the evening to fill in extra screen time as necessary.) On a more personal level, Dirk talked for some time about leaving Hollywood and why he had decided it was more important to be a full-time father to his boys than continue pursuing an acting career. This got a loud round of applause from the audience, as did Dwight’s mention that he had been married to his wife, former actress (now a therapist) Wendy Fulton, for 27 years.
The two of them talked for so long that there was only time at the end for maybe a half-dozen questions or so. I don’t remember the specifics of what was asked too well, although one person did bring up the James Bond-spoof episode The Spy Who Mugged Me, which got Dwight to do his great Sean Connery impersonation for a little bit. There was some mention of the potential A-Team movie but both expressed doubts it would ever really get filmed as there has been talk about it for so long, with so many different scripts proposed, and both were skeptical about the tone it would take. A number of people (myself included!) spoke up with thanks for The A-Team being their “first fandom” and the entire reason they were still in fandom today, which was really nice to hear. I managed to get in a brief question at the end for Dwight as well, asking if his talk radio show would be making a return any time soon, which he answered no, except for some fill-in positions, and deferred from going into any further detail during the panel since he didn’t want to/have time to get into politics there. Oh well; I wanted to ask because I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to get away from my dealer’s space later in the weekend to catch him on the Walk of Fame.
They finished up soon afterwards and did mention they were heading right over to the Walk of Fame to do some autographs. So after checking in at my dealer’s space to make sure things were going ok there without me, I dashed over to the Hilton to get in line. Dwight recognized me right away and apologized for not answering my question further during the panel, so we talked then a little bit more about his talk radio work, what had become of “Dark Matters” and working with Don Ecker; how he was doing fill-in work at TRN on occasion and was still hoping to get a full-time/syndicated show in the future. I didn’t want to hold up the line too much longer (and later went back on Sunday to talk with him some more about other things) but I did get him to pose with me for a photo.
I also went to get Dirk’s autograph and a photo after that as they were seated right next to each other. Dirk’s line moved verrrrrrry slowly as he is quite chatty with people (and a lot of Battlestar Galactica fans were there asking him all sorts of questions.) He was nice as well, though I find Dwight a little more directly engaging and easy to talk to (as you come up to his table, Dwight gives you a big smile and reaches out to shake your hand. He really seems pleased to meet each person that comes to see him, instead of just doing this thing for the money.)
So that was my big A-Team adventure for Dragon*Con! Later on I posed for an official “staged” photo with both guys, and caught part of Dirk’s solo panel, but Friday was definitely the fannish highlight of the con for me. As an A-Team fan who had only had the chance to see Dirk and Dwight separately before, and neither for at least ten years, I was really thrilled to see them both here and hope that they will come back and do Dragon*Con again in the future (and hey, next time give Dwight a solo panel! I’d love to hear him talk more about his other genre work…)
A self-titled “cognitive neuroscientist and game show contestant”, Dr. Ogas has managed to cause a considerable wankstorm throughout LiveJournal media fandom. The kerfluffle primarily surrounds a survey he posted and promoted on LiveJournal, claiming to be studying “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Fan Fiction”. A full timeline of the details can be found in FanHistory’s article on Ogi, but for here, let me summarize where he went so wrong in fannish eyes. These mistakes should be noted by other researchers outside of fandom who may wish to “study” fen communities, if they want to have any chance of obtaining willing participants and useful information in their research.
1. Don’t lie about your intents. In his publicly promoted FAQ about the survey, Dr. Ogas (and his associate, Dr. Sai Gaddam) did not note anywhere that the research was not being conducted for a “hard” scientific study, but instead for a sensationalistic-titled book already up for publication in 2010: “Rule 34: What Netporn Teaches Us About The Brain.”
2. Don’t talk down to your potential study participants. In several comment threads in the discussion following the survey, Dr. Ogas’ attitude was seen as highly condescending towards members of the fannish community. The apparent lack of sincerity in his responses to being challenged did little except further anger and upset many who were perhaps originally willing to give him a chance.
3. Have at least some basic knowledge about the community you wish to study. Making basic errors in understanding fandom norms, genres of fiction, and styles of interaction, as occurred repeatedly in this instance, do little to give a community any faith a researcher will represent them fairly. And with a community which is already very sensitive about misconceptions and misrepresentations of it in the mainstream media, this is a crucial factor. Dr. Ogas should have at least vetted his potential survey questions before a large group of fandom individuals before unleashing it in a public fashion.
And as a side note/emphasis to this:
4. Don’t just take the word of a few individuals when attempting to study a community. Apparently Ogas and Gaddam made somecontact with fandom individuals a month before this survey was launched, but it was a very limited sampling. They did not appear to take any real time to read much of the already-published literature on fandom and fandom culture, nor explore the vast amounts of meta and historical information available on fandom on the internet – in places such as FanHistory, Fanlore, or elsewhere.
Of course, in this situation it may not have mattered very much as the authors seem already preset in the hypothesis they want to prove instead of being interested in genuinely researching fandom. Another error in their judgment.
5. Be aware of fandom’s sensitivity to certain topics and the appearance of privilege. 2009 has been the year that fandom has exploded with discussions of race, gender, sexuality, and ability privilege. A researcher should take the time to read up on events such as Race Fail 2009 and also the 2009 Warnings debate. Doing so will help them understand the importance of dealing with potentially triggering content carefully, as well as how not to appear cluelessly privileged.
6. Don’t underestimate fandom’s ire if you piss it off. It took less than 48 hours from the posting of Dr. Ogas’ survey for the situation to explode into a full on metamob attack. Participants have been quick to screencap and record material before it could be deleted or changed by Dr. Ogas, as well as spreading the word to make sure others stay away from his “research project”. Some are discussing – or already have gone forward with – contacting Boston University, where Dr. Ogas is on staff, regarding the apparent problems in his research and potential violations of ethics.
And, of course, some have also responded with true fannish humor and proving Rule 34 correct after all: by writing Ogas/Gaddam RPS fic.
(OK, technically it was a midnight showing on May 19, the official release date, but you get the idea.)
I hadn’t been planning on going. At least not to a midnight show. While I was a Star Wars fan like any child of the 80s, I’m very allergic to hype, and the massive frenzy around the release of the new film had pretty much left me feeling “meh”. I’d see it when I could, but I wasn’t going to stand in line for hours or days to do so.
But it was my birthday, and I was kind of…depressed. 27 and with nothing planned, no one to spend the day with, grad school was sucking the life out of me and I seem to recall even the weather was shitty. I was running some errands and walked by the old, decrepit-but-beloved Sam Eric theater on Chestnut Street around 3-4pm that afternoon. The marquee proclaimed a midnight showing of the film that night.
“Gotta be sold out, but what the hell,” I thought, and being curious I checked if they had any tickets available. Surprisingly, they did – and no line waiting was necessary.
I went back home, nursed my morose mood for a few more hours, then went to check out the movie.
Thus began one crazy, crazy chapter in my life.
Now, I’d been involved in “fandom” for a long time by this point (music, tv, what-have-you), but not any kind of fandom in the mega-spotlight. Obscure and weird loves have always been my game, things like The A-Team. Even when I got into big fandoms like Xena, it was on the stange side of the spectrum (Joxer fandom, to be precise. Joxer slash fandom to be even more so. Oh the shame…) Small fandoms. Quiet fandoms. Manageable fandoms.
Then I saw that scene. The one near the end. Qui-Gon’s death scene. Up until that point I’d been happily reveling in just the pretty special effects and grimacing through the typical Star Wars stiff acting and cringe-worthy dialog.
But then Qui-Gon touched Obi-Wan’s face and died and ugh there was my tragic, epic love story for the ages. As Keelywolfe put it so eloquently,
“A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away, George Lucas created Star Wars. And he looked at it and saw that it was good. And all was right in the world. But then, we saw that Obi-Wan doth look upon Qui-Gon with lust, and that Mr. Lucas was not likely to include that in the next movie, so we said screw it and wrote it ourselves, even though we do not make any money off of this. And all was right with the world.”
I immediately rushed home and posted on, of all places joxerotica, virtually screaming “OMGWTFDIDYOUGUYSSEETHATISTHERESLASHYETOMGOMG!!!!” And a few others there went “OMGOMGOMG!!!!” too, and the very next day, I did a very silly thing.
I created Master and Apprentice over on dear old yahoogroups. And I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Foolish me, I thought it would be a lot like running Joxerotica, or my A-Team groups–some work but nothing too daunting. People started joining up quickly but I figured it was just an initial frenzy after the movie’s release. I set up a little archive on my simplenet web account, manually adding stories as they were posted. It was maybe a couple a day at first. Fun, short stuff–angst pieces and missing scenes, short AU’s to “fix” Qui-Gon’s death, that sort of thing. I had a co-mod from Joxerotica helping me out at first as we set up the archive/list’s basic rules. But then it started growing. And growing. And growing, until it became within a month or two The Fandom That Ate Cincinatti. Slashfen were flocking in from everywhere: Sentinel fandom, Highlander fandom, X-Files fandom. People were even bitching how Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan was “stealing” all the good writers from other fandoms!
It should be noted, too, that there was no small amount of concern about “The Wrath of Lucas” when I started the list and archive. While it may seem laughable today, at the time many fen still remembered his previous actions and stance against those who wrote and published adult–nevermind slash–fiction in the Star Wars universe. And also, there were other fen who would react strongly against those who would do so against George’s wishes, as I would learn firsthand from some of the people I would meet in this fandom such as Bev Lorenstein, who would become one of my dearest friends, and who told me what she went through in publishing Organia in 1982. That said, in my years of involvement in Star Wars fandom, I never received a cease and desist letter from Lucasfilms or had any other contact from them. So perhaps the worries were all for naught…
In any event, by the end of the summer of ’99 I was growing concerned that my little archive just wasn’t going to cut it as a few stories a day were turning into dozens. It was reaching a critical point and I was getting worried about the stability of my archive situation, and my friend Erik came up with a solution.
He could put me up on his own webserver. Register a domain for me–sockiipress.org–and then set up a database program which, although stories would still need to be manually submitted, would make creating story index pages automated, along with allowing for search functions and other cool stuff. sockiipress.org was registered on September 30, 1999 and the archive moved there, which would be its home for the next three years or so, before the archive moved to its own URL, masterapprentice.org, some time after I had left the fandom for good.
But before I get to that part of the story…
Being involved in this fandom from its point of creation through the height of the frenzy was, as I said earlier, a crazy experience. I’d never been involved in such an active fandom before. Never found myself in the Big Name Fan spotlight (though I was no real writer of note in the fandom, just archivist, occasional artist, and “ringleader”, in effect). Was it exciting? Sure! I loved waking up every morning to a emailbox full of new stories. And there was some wonderful fiction being written by some amazing authors. Was the attention thrilling as well? Admittedly, yeah, it was. I went from being the girl into very weird things at conventions like MediaWest and Eclecticon, largely lurking on the sidelines and being ignored, to getting a round of applause at ConneXions in 2000 for the work I’d done on the mailing list and archive. It was an ego boost for certain–but then it also gave me a taste of big fandoms’ ugly side as well, and how fandom can turn on you on the drop of a dime.
First there were scuffles on allowable content. The first one came up over the topic of Chan fic. I lost my co-moderator to the mailing list over this debate and the compromise position on the subject I favored. Real person fic also was broached and lead to some heated arguments until it was banned from archiving. The fandom went through typical growing pains as different subjects and content was being explored, but then our archive was having growing pains, too. Erik’s server was not all that stable, leading to sporadic downtime and a lot of headaches on his end. He put up with a lot helping me out with the site, for someone who wasn’t even in the fandom. At one point, in 2000, he thought it would be a nice idea to burn CD copies of the archive to make available to users through the mailing list. It was welcomed as a good “backup” to the unstable site, and he charged a nominal fee to cover his materials and time — I think it was $7 or so. No one raised a single complaint the first time around with this, and I think he mailed off something like 100-200 copies of the disk.
In 2001, the server difficulties were getting worse. Erik was getting frustrated, and I, myself, was getting a little worn out from listmom and archiving duties. While at this point we had a group of 5-6 assistant archivists, it was still demanding a lot of my time, and my interest in the Qui/Obi was…drifting. By that point I had been distracted by some other Bright Shiny Fandoms — Brimstone in particular. Erik decided to do a second run of the archive disks, at $10, because he was about ready to give up trying to work out a solution for our hosting woes.
That’s when things got ugly. One morning I woke up to several outraged emails from authors who had long been absent from the fandom, demanding that their stories be removed from the archive, not included on the CD, “or else”. Later that day I found out Erik and I were being subjected to ugly accusations of profiting off people’s work, that outrageous things were being said about us all over fandom chat channels (one reason I still avoid “chat” to this day). We defended ourselves and actions while of course agreeing to remove any stories that people did not want included, but were then told, point blank, to “Fuck off” from the community and archive we’d spent all those hours, days, months, years into maintaining.
And we were both only too glad to oblige at that point.
Thankfully, two Loris were ready to help us out. “Lori” took over maintaining the archive and list. “Lorrie” offered us hosting on her own server (for both the archive and sockiipress overall). Eventually I moved to my own hosting service entirely, cutting off completely from my connections to Q/O fandom.
Except, happily enough, ties to some of the wonderful friends I made there, despite all the angst and wank and aggravation. Many of them I am still in touch with today in other fandom communities, fabulous people I will forever thank my involvement in Star Wars fandom for bringing into my life. I learned a lot from my time in the fandom, good and bad, and I definitely would not take those years back for anything. That said, I’m also quite content to be back to lurking around in small and obscure fandoms these days. The pickings might be slim, but the pleasure is rarely overwhelmed by the aggravation.
So happy anniversary, master-apprentice! Our love may have been brief and heated, but when it was good, it was oh, so good…
It was a good try, and I thank everyone who helped out with my quest to get to Bonnaroo, but it looks like it wasn’t meant to be.
Radio 104.5‘s voting system was pathetically simple to take advantage of as “email verification” checks are just as easy to abuse as just about any other on-line voting method, and my main competition, “Megan L.”, did a damned intense job of abusing it at the end of the day on May 10.
My hat’s off to her, though if I may snark for a moment, I hope she puts that media pass to better use than might be expected given the photography “skills” evident in her submitted competition photo.
Maybe next time.
In unrelated news, next week there’s a very important anniversary coming up for me to celebrate and contemplate over, and that’s the 10-year anniversary of my launching the Master and Apprentice mailing list and archive for Obi-Wan/Qui-Gonslash. I plan to write up an entry over the weekend looking back on the origins of the archive, the fiction, the “drama”, and everything else as I saw it happen before I left the fandom.
I’ve figured out that the way to keep me actually using this thing is to broaden the scope of what I’m blogging about. It’s not just going to be about Police fandom, or even just fandom in general. Instead, it’s gonna be whatever the hell I feel like rambling about that doesn’t fit anywhere else. So it could be anything from movie/music/concert reviews to photography to my never-ending quest for the perfect Jersey Diner. Because I’m random that way.
I have another blog elsewhere – one I’ve had for years and do keep using, but it’s for a much more specific audience, and one I’ve only narrowed and narrowed through the years instead of expanding. I guess I felt it was time to start keeping a more general blog as well for things that I thought could be of interest outside my small circle of close friends. I guess we’ll see how it goes in the long run…
I’ve been a fan of The Killers for a few years, and more than a little annoyed during all of that time that I never could manage to get to one of their concerts. Granted I’d heard mixed things about the quality of the show they put on, so perhaps it wasn’t the worst thing in the world that it took until the Day and Age tour for me to see them live.
Last night I made my way over to the Susquehanna Bank Center (still the E-Center in my head…just how many name changes has this place been through?) via the ferry from Philadelphia. I’m always wary of this place because the sound can absolutely suck if you’re not sitting in a good location, and the mix for opening band Chairlift didn’t leave me too hopeful. I don’t think I understood a single word Caroline Polachek sang the whole set (except during one 80s cover song which I knew the words to already, though damned if I can remember now what song it was). With her trying to sound like a cross between Bjork and Dolores O’Riordan and a very awkward stage presence to boot (if you could call it a presence at all), I found them boring and too ’80s-wannabe without much of anything new to say–which is what I liked about The Killers in the first place, that they took those 80s sounds and influences yet still made music that was fresh and modern.
But enough about the opening act. After a mind-bogglingly long set changeover (something like 50 minutes with my only entertainment the young lovers next to me having a huge spat over who did or didn’t text whom the night before), The Killers took the stage at 9:30. From my sixth row seat behind the pit, I had a decent enough view of the band and the stage, save for what was blocked by the tall dude in front of me. Good thing he kept leaving to get more to drink, or was often hunched down to hide the joint he was smoking. The band ran through a tight set, effectively mixing up songs from Day and Age, Sam’s Town, and Hot Fuss with one track from Sawdust as well: their great cover of “Shadowplay”, of which I managed to shoot some video. Ronnie seemed to be having some snare troubles at the time, but still managed to get it all together for the end of the track.
A friend had told me I’d get a kick out of watching Ronnie play, and she was right. He and of course Brandon are really the “stars” of the band on stage, while Dave and Mark mostly hung back at their respective sides, playing well but not doing much else. What is it with me and bands that have highly charismatic frontmen and drummers? I don’t know. Even the gossip press have tried to make it sound like Brandon and Ronnie are another Sting and Stewart, complete with nasty fights and feuds on and off stage, but who’s to know for sure? All I’ll say is basically they were the two that held my attention all night, though mostly independently. I noticed that there was basically no interaction between the band members on-stage the entire night, each of them very much doing their own thing. I think that might have been one element that kept me from being wholly engaged with their performance, as they didn’t seem especially engaged with each other on stage.
Brandon basically sticks to the songs to connect with the audience–there was very little between-song banter from him, but his theatrics, especially geared to the front of the audience in the pit, kept the crowd dancing and singing along throughout the show. At least the big hits, of course. There were plenty of folks around me who clearly only knew their popular tunes, and didn’t even seem to recognize “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” despite the rousing version of it played during the encore.
Brandon’s voice sounded good, if a little…high and thin compared to the way it sounds on record? Along with the great “Jenny”, highlights for me were “Change Your Mind”, “For Reasons Unknown”, “Mr. Brightside”, “All These Things I’ve Done”, and “Spaceman”. The only real disappointments were the somewhat changed-up/slowed-down version of “Smile Like You Mean It” (the only song that really varied from the recorded version, and not in an especially great way) and the finale of “When You Were Young”. WYWY is one of my absolute favorites of theirs, yet for whatever reason, it just didn’t pack a big punch at the end for me and seemed a bit anti-climactic.
The show was over a little before 11pm, at which point I made the mad dash to stand in the endless line for the ferry back across to Philly. Despite not loving the venue, I always find this ride home a nice end to a show – the cool breeze off the water and the night skyline of the city in the distance is a great way to chill out for a little while. The young kid on his cell phone next to me was from out of town and seemed to be having an interesting conversation with his girlfriend on the ride.
“Yeah, I’m on a boat…we just passed some kind of warship in the middle of the river…it smells like fish…I wish you were here.”
Now it’s the day after and I’m glad I got the chance to knock another band off my “want to see someday” list, although I’m not sure if The Killers are a group I’ll have to make a point to see again in the future.
I hardly ever go to the movies these days – partly the cost, partly the (in)convenience (thanks, Philly, for losing basically all your mainstream theaters in Center City!), partly the lack of interest and largely the lack of time.
But I do really want to see the new Star Trek movie. I’m not the scifi geek I once was, especially during the heyday of my graduate school years where I escaped the drudgery of research work by losing myself in Babylon 5, Trek, Star Wars and Xena fandoms.
But seeing all the excitement about the movie all over the place and from a lot of my old fandom friends makes me a little nostalgic and wanting to check it out. I don’t know if it’ll draw be back into the media fandom fold at all, but I am curious.
I’ve also been spending too much time watching funny Trek-related videos on YouTube. This one, poking gentle fun at Trek and Kirk/Spock slash, especially left me howling with laughter.
First, a thank you to all my friends who have voted for me so far–it means a lot! I thought I’d take a moment to explain why I chose the picture I did for the contest instead of just pimping and promoting for more votes (although I’ll get to that in a bit.)
As I mentioned in the description, I took this picture at the final Police concert at Madison Square Garden on August 7, 2008. Was it the best concert I ever saw (or even best Police concert)? Musically, mmm, maybe not. I tend to think the band’s earlier performances, specifically Jones Beach Night 2 and Holmdel were absolutely the peak of intensity, musically. The band rocked it hard and tight at Holmdel, and then went completely batshit crazy at JB2.
But the magic of that final night–being there with all of my friends, my “family” of Nutters, Snarks, tpt’ers, xmissionites, and other crazy Police fans–was unforgettable. That I was there, at the front, against the barricade with so many of these friends (and able to see many of the rest of you in sections 119 and 111 waving your “Thank you” flags) was a musical (and more) moment that will never be matched in my mind.
And then there was the fact that so many of us were there thanks to Stewart, and his generosity in giving away all those tickets to the sc.netters. I didn’t get really emotional at any Police concert until that night, from knowing it was the end, from being there with everyone, for getting to experience something I never thought I’d have the chance to as a fan who had once believed a reunion tour was an impossible dream to hold on to, that I’d never get the chance to see my favorite band play live.
I could have chosen any number of photos from that night for the contest, but I chose this one because it encapsulates so much of what I love about Stewart — his passion for the music and the drums, the energy of his playing, and just that slight hint of lovable dorkiness (or “adorkability”, as some of my friends call it!)
Anyway, all that said, here’s that pimp once more. Want to help me get to Bonnaroo? Please just do the following:
OK, so this is sort of shameless self-promotion to get me a set of free passes with all travel/camping expenses paid, but if I make it to the Bonnaroo Music Festival this summer, I will happily take advantage of the opportunity to provide coverage of the event for FanHistory: the music, the fans, the scene, etc. It’s a great opportunity for us to help continue our coverage of bandom–not just who is popular now but who might be ready to make a breakthrough into wider popularity in the near future.
So, want to help me out? It will only take you a moment. Local Philadelphia radio station 104.5 is having a concert photo contest, and my entry made the final round for voting. Now it’s just a matter of getting the most votes from the viewing and listening public.
So if you have a minute to spare, go to the radio station website, then click on the link for the “Group 4” gallery. I’m image #41 in the set, but you have to browse through to the last image, #42, for the link to vote.
I am “Nicole P.”, the last choice on that ballot.
After you vote, make sure you respond to the email they send you to verify the vote is coming from a real email account.
Here is my pic for your enjoyment as well–Stewart Copeland in action at Madison Square Garden at the final Police concert.
Voting ends May 10. Thanks in advance for your support!
I see I started this blog back in June…and then have done nothing with it so far. Oh well. I’ll try to do better in the future.
Meanwhile, The PoliceWiki continues to grow and do well, which is encouraging. I also really need to spend some time adding to the Police pages at the FanHistory wiki. And oh yeah, get to work on finishing the edits on that tour fanzine. *sigh* As soon as real life stops kicking my ass. Yes. And then maybe I can start updating this blog more regularly as well…