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e-mail: beth@ebcxm.com
Lower Hutt, New Zealand

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Sci-Fi Convention Review by Beth Manning (a.k.a. CarterMackenzie)

Armageddon Pulp Expo Convention

23rd & 24th November @ The Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wow! What a weekend! What a rush!!! It's at time like this I really miss having someone else around the house; there's no one to tell all about this cool weekend! I met some great people, made new friends, and met people I'd admired from afar. All in all, this past November's Armageddon was a blast!

 

It all started on Saturday 23rd November. I arrived in the city just before 10am, with the plan of going to grab some breakfast, before heading into the venue, but on seeing the queues lined up outside I decided breakfast would have to be forgotten! There were two queues building up outside, one to buy the tickets, and then another to actually get inside! It was while I was deciding what to do that I bumped into a friend [who happens to be a fellow SG-1 fan], so we queued up together, along with two of her friends. Fortunately the queue was reasonably fast moving, so it wasn't long before we had our tickets, and by that time the second queue had dissipated, allowing us to just walk on in.

 

Inside the four of us wandered around, getting the layout of the convention, seeing what was there, and deciding what to do first. We ended up getting back into another queue, the Autograph queue! This time we were lucky enough to be near the front of the line, so there wasn't much of a wait, except that the actors hadn't arrived yet.

 

When the actors did arrive, it was kind of odd seeing them at first; in some way or another they all looked different to what we're used to seeing on the TV. Don S. Davis looked taller, as did my favourite actress on the show, Amanda Tapping, and Teryl Rothery looked really different, and shorter but that's probably because she was standing next to Amanda, who is tall! They all waved and greeted the crowds as they arrived, then moved to settle down at the autograph table. As we waited for out turn we saw all the photos out on display, to have autographed, and watched the first few people getting their autographs.

 

By the time I got up to Amanda I was feeling really odd, and kind of nervous! But she was very sweet and chatted with me easily, which made me forget all my nerves. One of the first things I notices was her accent, it was interesting to me how she sounded more Canadian in person, yet on the show she's got a more American sound to her accent. She was very generous with her time, taking the time to chat a bit to everyone. We talked about Canada, and I said I'd lived there, she asked me where, and then on hearing I'd lived in Hamilton, Ontario, she told me that's not far from where she grew up, and how it's a great place! [Too bad I don't really remember it, since I was too young].

 

So, I came away from the autograph queue feeling pretty good with my autographed photo, a signed magazine article, and very glad that I've been able to talk easily with Amanda!

 

After this the makeshift NZ_SG1 group wandered around a bit more before heading into the main auditorium to wait for the question and answer panel sessions with the Stargate actors. It was no hardship waiting around, as it was so fun spending time with a bunch of people who share similar interests, and are just as crazy as me!!!

 

The first panel had Don S. Davis and Teryl Rothery coming out on stage to take questions from the audience. As this was my first convention of this type I'd never seen how this kind of thing worked, but was pleased to see it worked well here. A young boy in the audience was asked to pass a microphone around to anyone with their hand up, and Don and Teryl spent the next hour chatting away. It was a lot of fun, and with the sense of humour these two actors share there were a lot of laughs! As well as being fun, it was also interesting hearing about the show from a behind the scenes point of view.

 

It was just as this panel session began that Don and Teryl spotted the Canadian flag that I had in my shirt pocket [we were in the second row so it was easy for them to spot], they both commented on the flag, and went on to praise Canada a great deal. It was during this session that I found it interesting my normal nerves and reservations, about speaking in a setting like that, seemed to disappear, as surprisingly I got up the courage to ask a question.

 

I'd been wondering about Teryl's name, as it's so different, and so asked her where it came from. Teryl explained that it was from her grandmother, who had known someone called Teryl years before, and always liked that name. She went on to say that her grandmother hadn't used the name for her own kids, but waited for her to be born. Teryl also admitted she had never liked her name when she was younger, as she had been teased, and no one could spell it, or pronounce it right, but now she really did like it, and so she thanked me for asking the question.

 

Although my nerves had seemed to drop away, it was still somewhat disarming when these actors looked right at you, but it was very nice how they always went to the trouble to try and make eye contact with the person asking the question. Maybe it was the easy nature Don and Teryl adopted in responding to everyone; sitting forward on the two small coffee tables, instead of the more comfortable sofas set back on the stage a bit; but a couple of times when a question wasn't quite heard, or understood by Don and Teryl, I found myself repeating what they'd missed, or venturing forth an explanation.

 

One of these instances was when someone had asked whether Don and/or Teryl had seen a Haka, and if so, what were their first impressions. Both of them were at a loss as to what a Haka was, and couldn't quite understand the question, so I called out a bit of an explanation. [The Haka is a Maori Warrior dance that many of our top sporting teams especially the All Blacks Rugby Team perform, whenever they do up against another country's team. But many other Maori groups also perform the Haka.] Teryl then went onto answer the question by telling us about their previous trip down to New Zealand, when they'd spent some time in Rotorua [a big tourist town situated near the middle of the North Island]. She said they'd been taken to some park [which sounded like one of our major geo-thermal parks up there], and how she had been totally amazed at the performances they saw. She added that the music; singing and dancing, had her "bawling her eyes out!" [Her words!]

 

Towards the end of the first hour I spotted Amanda Tapping standing just off stage, peeking out at the stage, and the auditorium. Teryl also spotted her and demanded Amanda get herself out on stage. Don introduced her (I think), and then they left her to it, even though she looked a bit freaked out by prospect of being alone out there. It was kind of overwhelming I guess, as there were so many people in the auditorium by that time and she was expected to spend the next hour answering questions on her own. She got into the swing of it quickly though, and showed that she's also a very funny woman.

 

Amanda noticed my flag almost immediately, and I wasn't even waving it [well not much]. The fact that Amanda is Canadian was the main reason I had the flag with me in the first place. The hour went by really quickly, and again I had the courage to ask questions, which was great! Some of the questions I asked were silly, and some were well a little more normal. I'm trying to remember them all, but have had trouble as well I was totally on a high, and acting out of character [I'm usually shy and introverted though none of my NZ_SG1 friends believe me], but some of the details of the afternoon have kind of blurred in my mind! [Sorry!]

 

One of my questions was to do with all the jokes in the show, particularly those from Richard Dean Anderson, and her. And in my question I mentioned Rick's numerous movie references, like Luke Skywalker and Capt. Kirk, in ‘1969'. I wanted to know whether they were really ad-libbed, or whether they were scripted. Amanda explained how at first it was just Rick throwing them in, and then the writers decided to start writing them in. Rick would then read the script and agree they were funny lines - but then he'd so something totally different when it came to filming!

 

I asked three questions in all on Saturday, and still can't recall the second one, even though I've seen a rough transcript of that session. But the third question - well that's the one that got me a bit of notoriety... well people I met on the street, after the show, recognised me, from that question, and I bumped into some friends later, who hadn't been at the show, but heard about the third question through another friend, and my friends had a feeling it might have been me asking that! Now is that embarrassing, or what? I'm not sure what was worst, being recognised as the Canadian Flag waver, or for the third question I asked Amanda! Mind you, I think it was Amanda's response that made it so memorable!

 

The question was going round in my head for quite awhile before I got the courage to ask - I kept thinking, no it's just silly, but then Amanda's way of chatting just made me think ‘what the heck', and so, the question was: "What was is like kissing Rick?" :) Amanda's great response assured me it was worth asking!

 

"What was it like kissing Rick?" - as Amanda spoke she was scanning the auditorium carefully, looking side to side, and off stage... "Just seeing if my husband's in the room." The audience thought this was very funny. Amanda continued to talk as she looked for her husband. "He's all right - if you like that sort of thing." She made a big show of continuing to look for Alan, all the time the audience was laughing as she played it up. Once she was sure Alan wasn't in the room she continued again - "FANTASTIC!!!" This got a great deal of applause (probably from all the Rick fans, and the Sam/Jack shippers mostly), and a lot of laughs. She had more to say though: "Rick's an excellent kisser next to my husband the second best kisser I know," she glanced around again for Alan. - "And I mean that sincerely." And though she was playing up to the audience it came across clearly that she did mean that, and that she wasn't just being diplomatic! She went on: "When we did - I think it was at the end of ‘Point Of View', where we had to do that kiss and we did one take and they sort of, you know, panned the camera around - and you know, we had to do it again and Rick and I went, ‘Oh - got to do it again. Curses! NOT!!!'" The audience laughed again at this. "And then we'd like, crack up... it's like kissing your brother - like kissing your really handsome brother, [Amanda is laughing as she says this]. So it's kind of weird ‘cause we're such good friends... but then I go: ‘I'm kissing Richard Dean Anderson!' ‘HheeLlo!' I have a hard job, [she stretches], oh man - tough work." Then Amanda looked directly at me again: "He's a very good kisser, thank you for asking." She was cracking up the whole time. "Next question!"

 

So yeah, in the end I wasn't worried that I asked this question, and hey, I was curious! The way Amanda looked right at me when she thanked me for asking the question - well it was a nice feeling! :)

 

After this session with Amanda, my friends and I wandered around a bit more, and then spent the rest of the afternoon just talking. One of my new found friends and I ended up wandering around Wellington city for a few hours, aimlessly walking, and talking!

 

Fortunately we went our separate ways in time to get near a television set in time for the evening News broadcast. We were hoping there might be something about the convention on the news, and there was. There was a brief story on the convention, though talking mostly about the presence of the three Stargate actors. Amanda, Teryl and Don were shown being interviewed, and they showed some footage from the convention, showing the autograph queue, and talking to a few fans.

 

There was also a sweet clip of a father and baby getting a photograph taken with Amanda. Amanda was standing beside the father, and smiling at the child (about 6-9 months old), when the baby just put her arms out to Amanda, wanting to be held, Amanda looked a bit surprised, but just shrugged and took the baby into her arms, then holding the child's hand they waved to the camera. It was interesting to see the impression Amanda left on all the people she came into contact with that day, and clearly the baby wasn't immune! :)

 

But the weekend wasn't over yet! Sunday dawned, and yet another morning I had to get up early, but it was definitely worth it! The NZ_SG1 group met for breakfast, and then headed back over to the MFC. And this day I'd come prepared with my camera, which I'd not had the previous day because of a flat battery!

 

After looking around a bit more we went back into the auditorium to see some movie previews prior to the next Stargate panel session. We saw Nemesis, X2, and other Sci-Fi related trailers.

 

Then at 12noon the Stargate actors came out again, this time all three of them together. I didn't think I'd have any more questions to ask - but within a few minutes I found my hand going up, and more questions coming into my head! The Sunday's session was great as it gave the fans a really good idea of the friendship and camaraderie between the cast on this show.

 

So much was talked about at this session, and I know I can only remember bits and pieces, but I'll try and cover all the bits I do remember. Sorry if the comments are a bit vague at times.

 

9/11

 

During the Sunday panel someone asked about their reactions to the events of 9/11, and whether or not they shut down filming for the day. At first the audience groaned a bit at this question, as well I guess people don't like turning discussions towards politics, but then the responses from the actors were spoken well and obviously came from people who really had thought deeply about the whole thing. Amanda, I think, was the first one to answer, and she explained that they didn't stop filming, though admitted not a lot of work was done, as like the rest of us they were all keeping an eye on the news, and again with like all of us they were all deeply affected by it. Amanda also went on to say something about how she feels there is more to the whole issue - I can't quite remember all she said, and can't find a transcript of the day [will take a Dictaphone next time I think] - anyway, she talked about how we really need to look at why this horrific thing happened, and try and discover why it is these people hate the US so much, and the Western world as a whole really. But the whole time she was careful to not let anyone think she was condoning the actions; just that it was something we really needed to look into.

 

It was interesting to see that as Amanda was speaking Don was obviously deeply affected by the discussion. Without really looking at him, Amanda just automatically put her hand out to touch Don, a comforting gesture, which spoke volumes about the easy, close relationship between these people. And then Amanda asked Don if he wanted to say anything else. Again, I can't remember the exact words he said, but he was in tears, and that was something that had a big impact on me. Here was this big man who wasn't afraid to show his emotions about such a horrific day. While I don't recall all he said, the gist of it was all that mattered, and showed the caring nature of this man. When he finished Amanda pulled him into a big hug, so as sad as it was to see the effect of the discussion on Don, it was nice to know that the women with him were there to comfort him. Both the comments made by Amanda and Don got a lot of praise from the audience.

 

Amanda, ‘The Blinky-light girl'

 

At another point Amanda was asked about Sam's lab in the show, which got her talking about how she loves all the blinky lights on the props in the lab. She coined the label of ‘the blinky-light girl' for herself. She explained that whenever the displays showed blinking numbers, they were usually important numbers to her, like family birthdays, or anniversaries, etc. That's a little touch she always likes to try and get in, though only the really dedicated fans would notice them [i.e. after taking the time to tape the show, then pausing on frames where the lights are visible]. :) Her label of ‘the blinky-light girl' morphed into ‘the long-winded, blinky-light girl' at another stage in the session, as she gave quite a long answer to another question.

 

Amanda on being a klutz!

 

One of the other questions I asked Amanda, on the Sunday, was to do with the stunts she does on the show. I'd got curious after seeing the News the night before, where Amanda had mentioned the stunts, and called herself a klutz, explaining how she always hurts herself. So I started the question by mentioning she had been on the News the night before, and she acted all surprised at this, then I asked her if she could tell us about any of the stunts she's done, where she's been hurt. So she told us about a couple. One I remember was to do with a shot where she was blasted by a Goa'uld hand device, and thrown back; it's called a Ratchet-pull I think. And Amanda explained that she'd rehearsed it over and over, learning how to make sure she moved properly, so as not to hit her head on the wall as she flew backwards. She said she had it all down perfectly, and then of course once she was filming she messed up, and proceeded to knock herself out cold! And they used that footage in the actual episode ‘Enemy Within'. So she said when you look at that scene to imagine these cartoon birds twittering around her head as she lands on the floor. :)

 

Amanda also mentioned the recent scene in ‘Descent' where she and Rick had to film in the ship supposedly sinking. She explained how she was constantly hitting her head every time she came up for air during that scene.

 

Also at one stage when someone asked about the props for the show Amanda talked about the staff weapons, and how some are just rubber moulds, though others are made out of a heavier substance, she said one time Christopher Judge had to do something like tie his laces and so he held the staff weapon out to Amanda, and asked her to hold it - she said, sure, and took hold of it, then [acting this out] she practically fell over as it was so heavy.

 

Amanda also talked about her feminist views, calling herself more of an ‘equalitist'.

 

Don S. Davis

 

Don obviously has a lot of time for his two female co-stars, and is very effusive in his praise of them - not just their acting abilities, but also their looks. He complimented Amanda on her legs, making her look somewhat embarrassed. He was constantly praising his co-stars, not just the women, but also Rick and the rest of the cast. He explained how Rick is such loyal person, and that's partly the reason he got the part as Hammond, since Rick knew him from the days when Don played the stunt double for Dana Elcar in ‘MacGyver'.

 

Don also made several comments about hoping that the General would get some action in the show, and he wasn't talking about military action! :) He hopes to get a chance to get off world sometime and meet a beautiful woman and have a lot of fun with that.

 

At one stage when someone in the audience brought up the shipper idea of Janet and Daniel together - both Amanda and Teryl seemed shocked at that thought - and one of them said it would be like kissing your cousin. Don spoke up there to say that, as he comes from the Ozark Mountains, he has kissed his cousin. This got a huge laugh from the audience, and had the two women on stage burying their faces, in either laughter, or shame. :) And I think it was then that Amanda moved from sitting on the couch with Don, to a single armchair on the other side of Teryl!

 

Teryl Rothery

 

Teryl talked about how she would love for Janet to get some action on screen too. She suggested that Janet have to go off world where she could met up with Patrick Stewart, and have her wicked way with him! [Words to that effect.] That woman has great taste as I told her the next day when I spoke to her, we both think Patrick Stewart is very sexy - though I'm not as lucky as Teryl, who has already worked with Patrick in Mastermind, along with Jonathan Brandis.

 

Teryl was also asked about her work with David Duchovny, in a shower scene, I think it was [I've not seen it, so can't remember]. She obviously enjoyed working with David a lot!

 

After the actors had been taking questions for about an hour it was decided that an episode of the show would be shown on the big screen, and they would watch it with us, telling us about the show from their point of view. This was highly enjoyable as the episode chosen was a good one for lots of Sam and Janet. ‘Rite of Passage'. Amanda, Teryl and Don got more comfortable on their respective chairs, turning round partly so they could see the screen behind them. Don was relaxed back in his armchair, watching the show over his shoulder, but Teryl was stretched out along the sofa mind you her feet didn't reach the end and Amanda was sitting facing backwards on her armchair, with her feet curled up under her.

 

As it turned out Amanda and Teryl hadn't even seen this episode completed so they seemed to enjoy watching it. At one point or another they were commenting on what they were each wearing and the make-up too. Teryl commented on how a particular lipstick looked really good on Amanda in one of the scenes. All this made it even more fun to be watching with them. Seeing the three of them watching the show as if they were sitting around someone's living room, admittedly someone's BIG living room, has now given a totally new dimension to watching the episode ever since!

 

Not long into the episode Amanda or Teryl noticed the amount of times the words ‘retro-virus' were being said, and that started everyone counting them, and lots of laughs whenever the words were said again. I think the final count was about 22! Towards the middle of the episode the session had drifted back into a question and answer panel, with the show still going in the background. It was obvious the audience could have stayed there a lot longer, and was sad it had to end.

 

But the Sunday panel did come to an end, and Amanda was returning to the autograph queue for a short time, before she would have to leave earlier than the others. She had to catch a flight back to Vancouver that afternoon, to get back in time for a job she had on.

 

Since I'd not had my camera the previous day when I went up to Amanda I wanted to try and get a photo with Amanda then. And I also had a little card to give each of the Stargate actors. So I lined up in the autograph queue again, and low and behold when I got to the front of the queue, and stepped in front of Amanda she remembered me, from the questions I'd asked. I guess since I was in the second row during the questions she was able to recognize me, and well I had asked quite a few questions! Again she was very generous and assured me it she was happy to have a photo taken with me. She also thanked me for asking all the questions as it seemed over all there were just a few people who did all the asking as so many other people were too shy [well all the people around me were]!

 

Then I moved down the table to give the card to the other actress, Teryl, who also straight off recognized me from the questions, and thanked me for asking great questions. [Really good for my ego!] Lastly I gave a card to the actor Don, and he was really kind too. He told me what he and Teryl were planning to do the rest of the time they were in New Zealand. He has such a cool *real* American accent, and he has a wicked sense of humour too.

 

The NZ_SG1 group had split up temporarily when I went to queue up again to see the actors, so afterwards two of us just wandered round looking for the others, and happened to be wandering by the stairs when Amanda was leaving. She saw us and made a special effort to acknowledge us, and to say goodbye. She didn't have to do that, but the fact that she did made us feel really good about the whole weekend, and it's made me admire her even more!

 

Overall, is the way the three of them were so down to earth and approachable that really made the whole weekend so very memorable. And it has made me like the show all the more, knowing that the people behind the characters all like each other, and seem to have such a wonderful time working together.

 

Well there was a lot more said on the day, and I just can't recall it all - but if I did this would turn into a mini-novel, not the review it's meant to be! Sorry, but I hope this gave you an idea of what transpired at the convention. And, to see more of the questions from the Saturday session with Amanda, check out The Official Amanda Tapping Website. There's a transcript there. And if anyone else has seen any other transcripts for this weekend I'd love to know about them!

 

Now I'm eagerly looking forward to April when Armageddon comes around again!

 

….

 

[Unfortunately I can't find the write-up I did on this – but still looking for it]…

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