My Other Convention Reports:
   San Francisco - August 1997
   Fairfield - October 1997
   Sacramento - January 1998
   Fairfield - March 1999
   Sacramento - January 2000
   Sacramento - January 2001

Stellar Con '99

March 7, 1999 - Fairfield, California

Guests:
(in order of appearance)

Julie Caitlin Brown
Jason Carter
Jennifer Hetrick
Jonathan Del Arco
Patti Yasutake
Scarlett Pomers
Jeri Ryan

Officially, convention number 4, and counting! For a while, it was almost a game of tag trying to track down Star Trek conventions here in Northern California. Originally, the annual Sacramento Creation Con was scheduled for January, but I guess it was canceled. Next I heard, it was postponed to March. Then that was canceled. Then, one week (just ONE!) before this March 7, I found that a postcard announcing this convention arrived to my home.

Who were the guests-to-be? Jeri Ryan, who we all know from as Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, Patti Yasutake, Jonathan Del Arco, and Jennifer Hetrick who we know as Nurse Ogawa, Hugh the Borg, and Vash (respectively) on Star Trek: The Next Generation, plus additional "surprise" guests.

Quite a showing of guests, right? So of course, when I went to call for tickets a mere five days before the convention, ALL of the reserved seats were sold out! Sold out ... nothing left. With no other choice, we had to get general admission, which were only $5, so it wasn't that bad ... but you'll see in a minute ...

A friend and I arrived to the Fairfield Community Center about an hour early. I'd been to this venue before -- a little more than a year ago for a convention with Jennifer Lien (Kes). That was a great one too, though I was totally unprepared to organize myself to write a con report (sorry!). This one was very different, and I expected as much. Many guests this time, especially with Jeri Ryan, combined with the fact that other cons in the area have been canceled and that reserved seats were sold out ... I knew there were going to be lots of people at this one.

But I was unprepared to see exactly HOW MANY ... Thinking back to last year, we figured that if we could get in early enough, we could snag the best general admission seats possible. Well, we got our hands stamped and all those nice formalities, and proceeded to the assembly hall. We walked down the middle of the auditorium to look for the seats designated for general admission ... and there were none. All the way to the back row, they were for "reserved seating." Confused, we wandered around, trying to figure out where the heck we were supposed to sit. Back at the door, we overheard a man asking the question we were wondering, and the security guy said, "At this time, there are no general admission seats." Which means, we were going to have to stand. Great.

With no seats to save for ourselves, and without a sign that activities were going to begin on time, we made our way back out to the vendors. First, we went to a table selling glossy photos. Among Seven of Nine photos, there were some I didn't have yet. And there was a deal that you would get a free Star Trek hat with a $25 purchase -- which was what I did. And after a brief tour of the rest of tables, we went back to the assembly hall. Not knowing what else to do, we picked a few empty seats in the middle of the room, planning to sit there until we were told to move.

Richard Arnold, known as the Star Trek Expert for his familiar connections to the inside, was finishing up on showing a series of TNG video clips, which I still haven't quite figured out. At first, I thought they were bloopers, but seeing that none of them were particularly funny, I guessed otherwise. I believe they were "alternate" shots of the scenes we're used to seeing -- meaning they were most likely footage from one of the many cameras used to film a scene.

While all this was going on, a line was accumulating over at the autograph table. From where we sat, I couldn't make out who the people were. But then, they called up one of them: Julie Caitlin Brown, who I didn't really recognize, either by name or face. But apparently, she was on Babylon 5, as well as several other shows, including Star Trek: TNG in the episode Gambit. She talked a little, answered questions, and finally concluded by singing a couple of songs from her album.

Next up was Jason Carter, another who I didn't know. I guess he played someone named Marcus on B5?? Anyway, he's quite a character. Among other things, he told quite an amusing anecdote. (Forgive me for being vague, but I don't know a thing about B5. But I'm going to relay as much of it as I can remember for any B5 fans out there.) Someone on the set came up to him one morning and said, "Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that [your character] is going to be killed off." He took it as a joke and laughed it off. Unfortunately, that same guy kept repeating it throughout the day, causing a little suspicion. He expected the guy to break into a smile after each time and tell him it was a joke. But nothing of the sort happened. So finally he went to the office where they kept the scripts and asked to see the script for the next episode they would be shooting. Midway through, his character gets into a violent fight, then another, and another. In a scene towards the end, his character is lying on a hospital bed, limp, eyes closed. The script then says that he turns his head to one side, opens one eye, and "Jason, you can relax now!"

Apparently, it was a long, drawn-out practical joke by one of the producer-people. The next day, he received a basket from that producer with a card, good-naturedly apologizing and saying they wouldn't kill off his character again. Jason then almost wistfully says, "I should have taken that as a contract." His character was killed off sometime later, I guess?

After his speaking, autographs resumed for him and Julie, as the stage took a break to prepare for the next part: Q&A's with Jennifer Hetrick, Jonathan Del Arco, and Patti Yasutake. They were running late, partly because of schedule problems. Richard Biggs (help me out here -- who is he?) was supposed to be here as well, but couldn't make it, and additional delays made the first hour or so confusing. But they promised that the next segment would be back on schedule.

Seeing only a portion of the people filtering in for the Q&A's, we stayed in the seats we were in, and we all cheered as the three came on stage. They talked for a little bit, then opened the floor to questions from the audience. It was difficult getting the microphone passed around the room efficiently enough, so Patti hopped off the stage, grabbed the microphone and walked it around the room, like a reporter. It was actually kind of amusing. I eventually got the guts to ask a question, something to the effect of: "Seeing how this version of the 24th century is more utopian than not, is there anything from the 24th century that you didn't like?" I guess I was too nervous and not speaking loud enough, even with the microphone, because Patti had to repeat the question for me.

They all seemed kind of stumped for a few seconds, then Jonathan offered that he didn't like how people in the 24th century still have so much body hair.

Um, okay, not sure if that's that great of an answer.

But, my friend did manage to get a photo of me and Patti just before she moved away to the next audience member with a question. After that, there was a little bit of a lull before the next events. So, while we waited for Jeri Ryan to arrive, I went back to the vendor area to look for something affordable to have autographed. I found a few of the playing cards with Vash and Hugh, but unfortunately, they were all out of anything with Nurse Ogawa. When I got back to the auditorium, the Star Trek expert Richard Arnold was doing the run-throughs of the current seasons of DS9 and Voyager. When that was finished (and there wasn't anything earth-shatteringly new), we stood in line to get autographs from Patti, Jonathan, Jennifer, and Scarlett. Amazingly, most of the line wound outside the building and almost into the parking lot. At first glance, it didn't seem that bad until we found ourselves still in the same spot fifteen minutes later. When we finally took a few steps forward, we realized it was going to be a LONG wait. And even though they were doing the Klingon Culture presentation, costume contest, and auction, there was bound to be something integral that we would miss.

Finally, about two hours later, we were back at the side entrance. I jumped out of line for a few minutes to see what was going on, and much to my dismay, Scarlett Pomers was up on the stage talking! We were missing that and quite possibly the chance to get her autograph! She sat in a chair set center-stage with a VERY large stuffed rabbit (I think), with one of the convention production guys asking her questions. From what I could gather, she enjoys playing Naomi Wildman. She often makes up her own stories about Naomi, which helps her "get into character," as it were.

At this point, we were up to the table where we could buy glossy photos to be autographed. At $10 a piece, I decided only to get one of Nurse Ogawa since hers was the only item I didn't have for her to sign. She even personalized it! =)

By this time, Scarlett was finishing her talk. She was asked if she was going to sign any more autographs, but she said that her arm was very tired and would have to wait and see.

We made our way to the back of the auditorium to our non-seats. It was filling gradually as Jeri's ETA drew nearer. During this time, they held the auction, which had some cool stuff. (I'd like to take a moment to make a small note here that you may or may not find funny. I went this day with having an average of 4 or 5 hours of sleep over the past two or so weeks. So naturally, I wasn't as responsive to stimuli as usual. But the ONLY time during the entire convention that I felt my heart skip a beat was when they auctioned an unsigned photo of David Duchovny! Wonder what that says about me...=)
Also during this time, Scarlett and her mother walked by us a total of three times. Scarlett is a very short, but she is one of the most adorable people I've seen. She actually seems older on TV.

Finally, there was an announcement that Jeri Ryan finally was arriving. She was going to pressed for time since she had to catch a flight back home, so we had to vote for whether we wanted her to talk short and have a longer autograph time, or vice versa. I voted for the latter, but ultimately, the other side won. And the place nearly went down from all the cheering when she finally came on stage.

Naturally, there was a mad rush of people with cameras trying to snap one or two photos. Actually, I was one of them, but I went up a few minutes after, hoping the crowd would dissipate a little. No luck. I eventually made up there, got a couple shots for myself and a couple for my friend, and tried to squeeze back out -- and couldn't. I was stuck. The people on the aisle seats were getting annoyed and they finally had to call security to clear us out.

I don't remember too much of what Jeri talked about, but I do remember her saying how she loves food and loves chocolate (and I remember someone standing next to me, commenting, "You sure don't look like it.")

After about 15 minutes, they said that Jeri had to leave soon and we could vote whether we wanted Jeri to answer more questions and sign fewer autographs, or to cut the Q&A session short so she could sign more autographs. The audience voted for the latter, though I didn't care either way. I was sure that we weren't going to be able to get autographs seeing how were weren't in the reserved seat tickets, who get priority.

Pictures:

Patti, Jonathan, and Jennifer at the beginning of the Q&A session.
Scarlett Pomers answering a question from the audience.
Scarlett laughing at a joke the other guy made.
Patti looking up for a picture while she signs for me.
Jeri helping to auction off a drawing of Seven of Nine.
A close-up of Jeri answering a question.