RIP Emily Salzfass

"I'm learning to love myself despite my kitten problem." – Emily Salzfass
[caption id="attachment_1150" align="alignleft" width="300"]Em and me at the 2002 Farscape convention Em and me at the 2002 Farscape convention[/caption] A lot of people in a lot of places and a lot of fandoms are grieving today at the loss of Makiko aka Sab aka Makikosab aka, simply, Em. She was many things, but primarily she was an Illuminator of Rooms, the sort of human dynamo universally described with phrases like "contagious energy" and "delightfully skewed" and "fearless enthusiasm" and "one of a kind." Go to Em's Facebook page to read or contribute remembrances, photos, or kittens.    

We’ve Created a Monster!

[caption id="attachment_1127" align="alignright" width="300"]Illustration of alien Pron'xa asleep on the set Pron'xa on the Set, by Barry Spiers[/caption] One of the joys of writing for television is creating new characters and watching talented actors bring them to life. It's even more fun when those characters aren't human. Well, it's more fun for the writer. For the actor, however... The emails that follow are... entirely made up. Nevertheless, the story they tell is True.
From:    BettinaActress23
To:      Mom & Dad
Date:    Monday, December 3, 4:08pm
Subject: GREAT NEWS!!!

My agent got me an audition for a guest role on the sci-fi TV show Space Slayers! They're looking for someone “athletic, preferably with dance experience.” (Finally all those workouts and dancing lessons pay off—fingers crossed!)

Date:    Tuesday, December 4, 3:32pm
Subject: Back from the audition!

The role I'm up for is an alien creature named Pron'xa (all sci-fi names have apostrophes, I dunno why). She's still being designed, but she'll be a full-body “skin” with a prosthetic face and head. Pron'xa's supposed to have an “alien sexiness, grace, and fluidity of movement”—that's why they want an athlete/dancer. Pron'xa's gonna look fearsome, but she's intelligent—and has lots of great dialog to prove it! It's a terrific part.

Too bad I won't get it. Jane Doe-eyed is up for it as well. (She's the [deleted] who got chosen over me for that ballerina gig in the toilet-paper commercial.) Jane's got more dance experience than I do and a much longer résumé, so I'm sure they'll pick her. Yeah, I know, nobody ever said Hollywood was fair...

Date:    Thursday, December 6, 7:27pm
Subject: I GOT IT!

I got the part! Just spent all morning in the Space Slayers Critter Creator Lab! Gail, the artist/technician designing Pron'xa, took molds of my entire body. Then I had to breathe through a straw for an hour while my head was covered in some rubbery goo. I felt like I was suffocating, but I stayed centered and got through it fine.

Now the Critter Creators are using those molds to make a life-size cast of my face and body, and they'll use that to design the form-fitting alien prosthetics. Weird to think there's now a perfect mannequin of me. Maybe I can keep it afterward and make it my silent twin. Then when I get famous, I can loan it out to the Hollywood Wax Museum. Or I can put it in the passenger seat of my car so I can use the freeway carpool lanes.

I asked for a script so I could learn my role, but they told me I should wait for the next draft—it's now getting a “polish.” (They'd better hurry; shooting starts in four days.)

I snuck a peek at Gail's copy of the current draft anyway. I can't imagine what they'll change; it's wonderful as it is... and not just because Pron'xa has the best role! She runs around and kills people (though it's really self-defense), and then has a fantastic death scene with a big emotional speech before she expires. How lucky can an actor get?

Date:    Friday, December 7, 5:42pm
Subject: I'm SO EXCITED!

Space Slayers sent me to an optometrist today for a contact lens fitting. Pron'xa's gonna have bright yellow-red eyes. Cool!

We start shooting Monday. I still don't have a script. The production office said they're gonna messenger me the new draft on Sunday morning. Talk about cutting it close.

Date:    Tuesday, December 11, 11:42am
Subject: First day of filming

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. I know you're dying to hear how my first day of shooting went. Well...

I didn't get a script Sunday morning. All I got—at nine o'clock Sunday night—was six rewritten pages for Monday's shooting. Gail told me it's not uncommon for the writing staff to rewrite a script from top to bottom, even as they're shooting it.

I don't get it. I loved the script as it was, but Gail said the network hated it. Too much talk, not enough action, bla bla bla. Well, I can't believe a last-minute overhaul will “improve” anything. They screwed up my scene—and I'm not saying that just because they took out most of my dialog.

Anyway, my call was for 4:30 Monday morning (yikes). I spent three and a half hours in the Critter Creator Lab. What a process. Plates of plastic glued all over my skin. A skullcap over my hair and layers of latex on my head and face. Then they hand-painted textures on my new alien “skin.” I had to sit still forever.

And I have to say I wasn't impressed with the results. Pron'xa's supposed to look both sexy and horrific, like a walking lobster with a great body (they, um, augmented my natural shape a bit) and six-inch razor claws. But I looked like a girl in a silly rubber suit. Gail reassured me it'll photograph better than it looked. I wasn't so sure...

So I went to the set, and waited. And waited. Delays and more delays. One actor was late, so they had to work around him. The spaceship set was supposed to be under attack, but the pyrotechnics wouldn't work right. One of the cameras broke down and they had to wait for a replacement. The director got into a nasty argument with the actress playing Angela, who was furious about getting massive script revisions on the night before shooting. (I don't blame her.)

The day dragged on. The creature suit was hot. Everything itched. I had to pee, but the Critter Creators would've spent half an hour undoing and redoing my suit, so everybody said it'd sure help if I could just hold it, because they were “just about” to get to my scene.

But they never got to my scene. They wrapped at 7:30 p.m. I was there for fifteen hours and didn't do one thing. And it took them another hour to get my makeup and prosthetics off... so I didn't get home until 10 p.m.

Then at 11 p.m., they messengered over more script revisions. Big ones. The story's getting totally dumbed-down. They're turning Pron'xa into a mindless monster and ruining the character.

Oh. The cameraman told me the producers did pick Jane Doe-eyed to play Pron'xa—but Jane freaked out when they were molding her head. Major claustrophobic panic attack. Only reason I got the job was because they had to replace her fast. I hate this business.

Date:    Saturday, December 22, 2:21pm
Subject: Filming's all done...

...and I'm depressed. Basically all I did was run around, snarl, attack people, and get shot. The rewrites left me a bit of dialog for my big death scene—but at the last minute, the idiot director decided Pron'xa should have fangs like Dracula, so the Critter Creators whipped some up. It's impossible to speak intelligibly with fangs. I sounded ridiculous.

The director must've thought I looked ridiculous too. He shot me in the background or in shadow or even not at all. For half the episode, we won't even see Pron'xa, we'll just see her Monster POV. How clichéd can you get?

I'm sure it'll be the worst Space Slayers episode ever. Thank goodness nobody will recognize me. I'm never going to play an alien again.

Date:    Wednesday, February 6, 11:28pm
Subject: My Space Slayers episode

I just got home from the cast-and-crew screening of the finished episode.

The good news: It's excellent! They totally saved it in the editing. The monster-POV stuff actually works great. Pron'xa's terrifying because we hardly ever see her. (The director was right: it's scarier to let the audience use their imagination.) And they edited it so the story's mostly told from Pron'xa's point of view—and they wrote a ton of voice-over narration so you hear Pron'xa's confused thoughts and emotions, which really gets you into Pron'xa's head and makes her death scene tragic.

The bad news: Because of those silly fangs I had to wear, they had to “loop” (re-record) all of Pron'xa's dialog... and because of all the new narration, the producers decided to pick someone else with more acting experience to do the looping. So guess who they chose for the New Voice of Pron'xa? That's right: Jane Doe-eyed. I hate this business.

Date:    July 20, 10:32am
Subject: Mom, Dad—Guess what?

Space Slayers wants me to come back and play a brand-new alien creature for their big season-ending two-parter!

They're in a huge time crunch (as usual), and Gail suggested that because she already had my body molds, they could start right in on the creature design instead of auditioning people and making all new molds and such.

Better yet, this new alien character is an interstellar diplomat who doesn't kill anybody or get killed—and the producers are already saying that she might just come back next season as a regular cast member.

The script's on its way. I can't wait. I love this business.

(A version of this post originally appeared in Dreamwatch magazine (now Total Sci-Fi Online), accompanied by a phenomenal illustration (shown above) by the amazing Barry Spiers; visit his website Barry Spiers Illustration for even more excellent artwork.)

RIP Harry Harrison

[caption id="attachment_1005" align="alignleft" width="214"]Paperback book cover of Harry Harrison's Two Tales and Eight Tomorrows The first SF book I ever bought, and still one of my favorites.[/caption] Science fiction author and SFWA Grand Master Harry Harrison (the Deathworld series, the Stainless Steel Rat series, the novel Make Room! Make Room! which was the basis for the film Soylent Green, the satirical Bill, the Galactic Hero series, and many, many, many more) has just passed away at the age of 87. Harry's official news blog has started a comment thread for sharing condolences and fond memories. I only met him once, briefly, but I've known his work since I was a sapling. His short story collection Two Tales and Eight Tomorrows was the first SF book I ever purchased, and it was a gateway drug leading me to his other excellent work, as well as a strong influence in my SF TV writing. Waaaay back when I was a teenager, I often dreamed of adapting "The Streets of Ashkelon" for television, a mental exercise which usually ended by admitting to myself that no TV network would ever have the cojones to air it... and that's probably still true. Half a century later, I finally got to meet Harry Harrison at a UCLA book signing, and had to decide which of his books to bring... and I wound up choosing my ancient, faded, battered paperback of Two Tales and Eight Tomorrows, just so I could tell him what it had meant to that starry-eyed filmmaker-wannabe teenage geek. Thank you, Harry. Rest in peace.

RIP Jonathan Hardy

[caption id="attachment_894" align="alignleft" width="300"]Jonathan Hardy Jonathan Hardy at "Best of Both Worlds 16" convention, Sydney, July 27, 2002.
Photo by Peter Fallon.[/caption] Jonathan Hardy has passed away at the age of 71. His acting career spanned 37 years and included Moulin Rouge!, Mad Max, and a shirtload of Australian television including Farscape, where he not only performed the voice of Dominar Rygel XVI but also donned a toga to play Kahaynu, one of Moya's builders. Jonathan was also a screenwriter who shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1981 for Breaker Morant, one of Australia's all-time best films. He was a skilled raconteur who delighted in sharing anecdotes, meeting with fans, and lighting up every room he entered. Born in New Zealand (on September 20, 1940), he particularly enjoyed telling ribald jokes concerning Kiwis and their sheep. Because of his slight facial resemblance to Rygel (judge for yourself), there are some who claim that he served as the model for the puppet. However... [caption id="attachment_915" align="alignright" width="150"]Jonathan Hardy and Farscape's Rygel What resemblance?[/caption] ...if that's true, the Creature Shop must've been psychic, because Jonathan wasn't cast as the voice of Rygel until we were well into the shooting of Season One. In fact, Jonathan wasn't even in the first group of voice actors who auditioned. A scene from the first episode where Rygel bargains/argues with an alien Proprietor (it's the scene where Rygel says, "There was a time when you would have been disembowelled with a dull Lashlan spade for half such an insult to me!") was shown to half a dozen Australian voice actors, and each took a crack at it. [caption id="attachment_897" align="alignleft" width="300"] Froony and Hardy.
Photo by Cheryl Manning.[/caption] David Kemper sent a copy of that tape—the same Rygel scene voiced six different ways by six different people—up to Los Angeles, where Rockne O'Bannon and I were writing scripts and breaking stories. Watching it, we couldn't decide whether to die laughing or die by hurling ourselves out a window. Every one of the voice actors—talented gentlemen to be sure—had played Rygel as a comic character... and tried to make him funny by using some weird comedic accent. So we had Chico Marx Faux-Italian Rygel, we had Snidely Whiplash Rygel... and the most hilarious of all, Truly Outrageous Monty-Python-Holy-Grail-esque French Rygel. (What I don't remember is whether DK had warned us in advance what we were about to behold... or whether he'd just sent the tape up without comment to give Rock and me the same coronary surprise that he must've gotten upon first watching.) [caption id="attachment_895" align="alignright" width="300"] Jonathon and friends, BOBW16, Sydney, July 27, 2002.
Photo by Peter Fallon.[/caption] Anyway. Rock and DK were in complete agreement that the search had to continue, and that it must be made clear to the voice actors that Rygel was a serious character...  clever, devious, prideful, conniving, conceited, vengeful, etc. etc. etc., but serious. And then somebody found Jonathan Hardy, and that was that. Jonathan not only had the commanding yet versatile voice and the dramatic chops needed, but he also understood Rygel from word one... and he always played him as a real character, not a buffoon or a cartoon. Jonathan gave him dignity, without which a Dominar is nothing. Which was a tad ironic, because in person, Jonathan was a big, lovable goofball, a total party animal who never lost the twinkle in his eye. It seems appropriate to end with the (premature) eulogy Rygel gave Crichton in "That Old Black Magic"... [wpaudio url="" text="LISTEN TO: Rygel's Hynerian Ceremony of Passage" dl="0"]. Farewell, Jonathan. May you have safe passage to the hallowed realm of your choice.

The Elements of Television

[caption id="attachment_815" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Element Froonium. Click for details."]Element Froonium[/caption] I was channel-surfing with my obnoxiously precocious six-year-old niece Gabby (her full name is Gabrielle Callisto Aphrodite Zimbelman; she was conceived at a Xena convention) when we stumbled upon a rerun of Blaster Patrol. “My favorite show! Did you write this one, Uncle Ricky?” “No, Gabby, I never worked on Blaster Patrol, more's the pity.” On the tube, Sam and Janet, the series leads, were being chased by evil alien Greebs and were simultaneously firing blasters and exchanging witty yet affectionate banter. “Sigh,” Gabby sighed, “they're soooooooo in love. Are they married?” “Sam and Janet? No, they never got married, even though, much to everyone's amazement, the show ran for six seasons...” “Not the characters, silly. The actors.” “Oh. Yeah, she's married. Third or fourth time; I can't keep track. Him, he'll never get married unless the father of the bride owns a shotgun.” Gabby couldn't fathom it. “But... they love each other... don't they?” “You kidding? When the camera's not rolling, they can't stand one another.” I omitted mentioning that she thought he was a lecherous drunk who couldn't remember his lines, and he thought she was a ruthless, upstaging diva who despised television in general and sci-fi in particular. Gabby's lower lip quivered. She indicated Sam and Janet, who were celebrating their escape from the Greebs with much kissing and fondling. “Look at them. You're wrong.” “Honey, it's all make-believe. They're actors. They're faking it.” Her Bambi eyes clouded with doubt—but as Sam and Janet exchanged perfect loving gazes, her conviction returned. “Nuh-uh. Nobody could fake that.” And there, I reflected, was the biggest reason why that otherwise unmemorable show had run for six years. Separately, the actors playing Sam and Janet had been no more than competent—but together, they had the most elusive and valuable commodity in show business: chemistry.

When the Cast Clicks...

It's never easy to cast a TV series. Acting talent alone is no guarantee of chemistry. (But it does increase the odds. Just as luck favors the prepared, chemistry favors the talented.) As we narrow our casting choices, we also begin auditioning them in pairs, mixing and matching to see who “clicks” with whom. On Farscape, for example, Ben Browder and Claudia Black “clicked” immediately. And even though Claudia didn't exactly match the image of the “Aeryn Sun” character that Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper had in their minds, it didn't matter. Rock and DK knew a good thing when they saw it, and Claudia promptly won the role of Aeryn. Once we find chemistry, we fight to preserve it. The applicable showbiz buzzword is “UST”—Unresolved Sexual Tension—as in, “We don't dare let Castle and Beckett sleep together; it'll ruin that wonderful UST.” It's an article of faith among many in television that one should never take the “U” out of UST; proponents of that doctrine point to both Moonlighting and Cheers as two classic examples of how series risk losing their spark once the main characters finally “do the deed.” But the greater the UST, the harder the writers have to work to keep the characters apart—and the longer it drags out, the more artificial it feels. It's a tough call: when do we let them get together? Episode 10? 50? 100? Never? How long before the audience gets bored with the seemingly endless tease and wanders off? Of course, resolving the sexual tension doesn't have to settle the characters into a calm, uninteresting relationship. Nonetheless, one of TV's guiding principles is “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”—and when UST's nicely cooking along, who wants to risk it by tampering with it?

Compound Interest

We've been speaking of chemistry in its commonest definition: a romantic and/or sexual attraction between two characters that's palpable, believable, and fun to watch. But that definition's far too narrow. Other forms of chemistry—between friends, enemies, colleagues, and family—are equally important. Once again, you know it when you see it. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy on the original Star Trek series had terrific chemistry of a completely non-romantic, non-sexual sort (and please do not send me any fanfic to the contrary). Even in Classic Trek's worst episodes, the interplay between those three characters—indeed, any two of them—was always worth watching. In fact, stop and think for a moment: how often have you sat through a bad-to-mediocre episode of a favorite series for no other reason than to watch the characters interact? How many times have you said (or heard) something like “Last week's episode was awful, but you have to catch it anyway—just for that one great scene between X and Y.” This is music to a TV producer's ears; we know we can't hit a home run with each and every episode, so we hope and pray that the audience's love for the characters will keep them from tuning out during our inevitable clunkers. And preservation of chemistry also applies to an ensemble cast. Once a series is comfortably underway and the characters are meshing well, making changes can be tricky. Adding a regular character always shakes things up—but will it be in a good way or a bad way?

New Girl

On Farscape, when we introduced the character of Chiana (in the episode “Durka Returns”), we quite deliberately hedged our bet. At the end of the episode, Chiana took an enemy bullet that easily could've proved fatal. And the keen-eyed viewer will also note that Chiana only appears in a very few scenes of the following episode, “A Human Reaction”—again by design, so that it would have been easy to write her out of it entirely if she hadn't survived that pulse blast. We didn't give ourselves the out because we were afraid Gigi Edgley couldn't act; we knew darn well she could. What we didn't know is how well the character of Chiana would work with Crichton, Aeryn, D'Argo, Zhaan, Rygel, and Pilot. But after a few days' dailies, it was clear that Chiana was a “keeper”—even though we were fully aware that the fans were going to hate her. Why? Because fans always hate new arrivals at first. That's understandable; over time, they've bonded with a particular “family” of characters, and the new kid on the block is seen as a stranger, an intruder, even a threat. (“Those stupid producers better not even be thinking about making her a new love interest for Crichton...”) But after a few episodes, if the chemistry's right, the audience will grow to like and accept the new character as part of the family. (And when the next new character arrives, the cycle begins anew. “Who's this Jool person? They'd better not be bringing her in to take Chiana's place...”)

Equal and Opposite Reactions

Even villains need chemistry. The charismatic “villain you love to hate” is a television staple. Great heroes need equally great villains; it's the worthiness of the foe that brings out the best efforts of the hero. That was an early problem with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Klingons were now our allies and the Romulans were being given a rest so the fledgling series could differentiate itself from Classic Trek. A new alien race of bad guys was needed—and the Ferengi were created. Trouble was, the Ferengi didn't come off as formidable villains, but as annoying leprechauns-gone-bad; you wanted to swat them, not shoot them. It didn't take long for the Ferengi to be stripped of their warships and relegated to comic relief. (In contrast, the character of “Q” came back again and again to butt heads with Captain Picard because John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart had—you guessed it—chemistry.) The quest for chemistry extends behind the scenes as well. Every good writing staff has its own peculiar chemistry, usually manifested in wildly disparate personalities who can yell and scream at each other all day long about trivial story points—and then all go out for beer afterward. Finding the right mix of people is vital for every department, because when creative people “click,” the whole becomes much greater than the sum of the parts. One might even say that TV producers are essentially chemists... that our main function is to assemble different elements into new, valuable compounds. But in truth, chemistry isn't the right word. Chemistry's a science. Television isn't; it has no infallible formulas, no hard-and-fast rules, no way to know in advance who'll click on screen and who'll clunk. We aren't chemists, we're alchemists—blindly casting spells and trying to transmute base metals into gold. When it works—when the characters come to life and light up the screen—it's not science at all. It's magic.

Ricky’s Farscape CreationCon Report and Picspam

"Thanks for the Memories"...

[caption id="attachment_617" align="alignleft" width="223" caption="Fans keep me warm! Photo by Dizzy."]Ricky's Scaper Army blankie[/caption] Since 2000, Creation Entertainment has hosted annual Farscape fan conventions. What's a "fan convention," you might ask? Simply this: An opportunity for the cast and crew to meet the fans!  And the fans don't just pose for photos and sign autographs. They put on costume shows, panel discussions, and talent exhibitions, and they show off their amazing vids, fanfic, and other artistic creations. I recently attended what was billed as the "final" Farscape con (but I don't believe it; when it comes to Farscape fans, nothing is ever "final") and was going to write up a con report, but I thought I'd instead share a few happy snaps and memories from a dozen years of congoing. Here, for instance, is a gift I got at the most recent con: a fleece blanket, "handmade with Scaper love" by the talented SpriteLady, and made possible by donations from over 50 generous Scapers at! (And I wasn't the only cast/crewmember to get one of these beauties! Ben, Rockne, Wayne, Virginia, Lani, and Rebecca, to name just a few recipients, were just as gobsmacked and delighted as I was.)
[caption id="attachment_619" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Dancin' with the PKOL folk. Photo by MissyKat."]Me & PKOL members[/caption]


They aren't just conventions, they're costume parties! Here I am at the 2001 con with members of the "Peacekeeper Officers Lounge"... a group of online chatters, roleplayers, and Rockette impersonators. (How cool is it that Farscape fans are so willing to mix and mingle with cast/crew and even pose for pictures!)
[caption id="attachment_620" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="D'Argo, Sikozu, dork, Sikozu"][/caption]

More Costumes

Many fans work up not only costumes but also makeup and hair as well... and given how elaborate Farscape's prosthetic makeup and crazy hair could get, that was often quite a challenge. However, year after year, the fandom proved equal to the challenge, as this snap from the 2002 con illustrates.
[caption id="attachment_733" align="alignright" width="300" caption="These are simply AWESOME"][/caption]

Still More Costumes

Every con has a costume contest, and here are just a few of the astonishing entries in 2003.
[caption id="attachment_618" align="alignleft" width="300" caption=""PK Barbie" impresses Wayne. Photo by SunAeryn."]Wayne Pygram & Rain-N-Sun[/caption]

One More Costume

Rain-n-Sun poses as Scorpius's assistant Niem (a character nicknamed "Peacekeeper Barbie" by the fanbase) with Wayne ("Scorpius") Pygram. This is a rare photo of Rain-n-Sun smiling while in costume; she seemed so solemn throughout the con that Wayne finally asked her if everything was okay... and she replied that all was fine; she was being serious because she was staying in character.
[caption id="attachment_626" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Talented and SMART! Photo from Karlsweb."][/caption]

"Farscape on the Net" Panel

But it's not all dress-up. Scapers are smart. Over the years, they've staged many fascinating and informative panels. Here you see me in awe of Angie, Thinkum, AmyJ, KernilCrash, and un4scene as they explore the topic of "Farscape on the Net" at the 2003 con.
[caption id="attachment_628" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="And they DID save Farscape!"][/caption]

"Saving Farscape" Panel

Also in 2003, Red, BritAngie, DaniMoure, and Voy discuss the campaigns devoted to "Saving Farscape." The series had been cancelled over a year earlier, but that didn't deter the true-blue fans one bit; they mounted an incredibly persistent, thorough, and intelligent campaign to bring the show back. And, unlike most save-our-show fan efforts, it worked; the Jim Henson Company produced a four-hour miniseries to continue the Farscape saga—and it was the Save Farscape campaign that made it happen. But the fan efforts didn't end there; websites such as are still going strong, bringing the latest Farscape info to the new fans who are discovering the series.
[caption id="attachment_624" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Writers Speak"][/caption]

Fanfiction Panel

A series is nothing without its writers... and Farscape's fanfic scribes are second to none. Here, at the 2003 con, four of the finest—Cofax, UCSBdad, Shrift, and AerynCrichton—share tips, insights, and their favorite adverbs. Standing to the left of the panel is Adam Malin, co-founder (with Gary Berman) of Creation Entertainment (in 1971!). Adam's been the indefatigable host for a zillion fan conventions ranging from Farscape to Xena to Stargate to X-Files to Star Trek to... you name it. Together with a tireless crew of terrific people (special shoutout to Richard Arnold, with whom I toiled in the Paramount vineyards many eons ago on Star Trek: The Next Generation), Adam's put on some frelling fantastic Farscape bashes, year after year after year.
[caption id="attachment_625" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Talented, smart, and FAST!"][/caption]

Fanfic Panel Q & A

Most of the panels take questions from the audience; we line up at microphones on either side of the stage and ask something probing and intelligent. At least that's the theory. In practice, there's always some tongue-tied, star-struck newbie who gushes over the panelists or—God forbid—asks for a hug. For the 2003 fanfic panel, that star-struck newbie was me! Yes, I knew better, and I think I had a real question to ask—but when my turn came, I couldn't stop myself from blurting out "Can I have a hug?" Wonder of wonders, Cofax leapt up, rocketed across the stage—so fast that I barely had time to snap this picture—and gave me an excellent hug! BESTEST. CON. EVER.
[caption id="attachment_621" align="alignright" width="300" caption=""It's a Cookbook!""][/caption]


(that's Australian for "presents") As if faithfully showing up to cons weren't gift enough, fans also make things to share with cast and crew. In this 2002 pic, BOFQs BFFs BNFs (I've forgotten the applicable fanacronym) Maayan and Makikosab have just fed me a copy of Foodscape, a fan-compiled collection of favorite recipes with a Farscape twist. Better still, M & M, as well as numerous other fans, were kind enough to autograph my copy. (And the recipes proved to be even tastier than the book!)
[caption id="attachment_673" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="I don't think they got this from Hallmark."]Scaper Army card[/caption]

And finally...

To bring us full circle to the 2011 con, here you see the lovely custom-made card that accompanied the gift blankie I was given. I was especially moved by the very first name on the list: StevePalmer, a longtime and particularly devoted Farscape fan who passed away in 2006. Scapers presented a heartfelt memorial tribute to Steve at the 2007 con. (This is the kind of thing I point out when I tell folks that the Farscape fandom truly is a community.) Thank you for the memories, everyone. As DK once said, "Stay a community."

Farscape on Blu-Ray!

[caption id="attachment_588" align="alignright" width="244" caption="88 episodes! 427 commentaries! 13,034 special features!"]Farscape Blu-Ray boxed set[/caption] The Farscape Blu-Ray release is now on sale! And a thing of beauty it is indeed. However... it's not entirely complete. Alas, here are the top ten things that were (sadly) omitted from the box set:

10.) Original profanity-laden dialog tracks before Sci Fi made us replace everything with “frell” and “dren”

9.) Discarded early version of the pilot ep “Premiere” with Guy Pearce and Cate Blanchett as Crichton and Aeryn

8.) Shelved script for Farscape/Buffy/Xena/SG1 crossover episode; fanfic writer from whom we stole it threatened lawsuit

7.) Rejected costume design sketches: Aeryn's muumuu, Rygel's thong, Scorpius's tutu, Crichton's plaid T

6.) Never-aired Episode 89, a backdoor pilot for Scorpius/Natira/Furlow spinoff sitcom

5.) New commentary tracks that comment on the previous commentary tracks (“What? That's a LIE!”)

4.) Video of rehearsals for aborted live show featuring costumed ice skaters (aka “Farscapades”)

3.) Three words: Muppet Sex Tape (aka “Hynerial Disease,” a very special Rygel episode)

2.) Brian, Rock, DK, Monj, Ben, Claude, and Ricky doing dramatic readings of selected fanfic

And the number one thing omitted from the Farscape Blu-Ray boxed set:

1.) “Jeremiah Crichton” (No, scratch that, it's on there, but the vote was very close.)


BUY Viagra ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, [caption id="attachment_522" align="alignright" width="307" caption="Ricky mesmerizes a huge audience at the 2010 Farscape convention. Photo by Tina Gill."]FrooniumRicky at the 2010 Farscape convention[/caption]

A few random musings on attending and speaking at the 2010 Farscape Convention.., australia, uk, us, usa. Viagra from canadian pharmacy,

  • Farscape has the Best Fandom Ever. Lunatics all, buy Viagra online cod, Order Viagra no prescription, but charmingly so.

  • The Los Angeles Right Under the LAX Approach Path Marriott Hotel has perhaps the worst public address system I've ever heard; my ears are still bleeding.

  • Ben Browder is still pretty. And funny.

  • Ditto Fran, Viagra 50mg, Where can i find Viagra online, only moreso.

  • Public speaking is much more fun if you wing it entirely with little or no regard for the truth.

  • When e'er my profession seems drab or burdensome, I have only to remember two words: writer groupies.

  • Few people live up to the sobriquet raconteur as well as Jonathan Hardy.

  • Did I mention that our fans are utterly crazy?

  • Nobody holds a candle to Virginia Hey, Baltimore, Maryland. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Farmacia Viagra baratos, Viagra online kaufen, because she makes her own.

  • A Farscape con is the one place on Earth where I can't say "I'll be easy to spot because I'll be wearing a Mambo Loud Shirt."

  • ETA: Thanks for the happy snap, Tina!

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[caption id="attachment_381" align="alignright" width="332" caption="Actual whiteboard from FARSCAPE "Season of Death""]An actual whiteboard from an actual TV series.[/caption]

BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Picture, if you will, perky young Mary Sue, an aspiring TV writer who's celebrating her first sale. She pitched a dozen ideas to veteran genre-TV producer Sam Showrunner for his new series Space Slayers, in which a ragtag team of teenage misfits travels the galaxy and battles alien mutants. But Mary Sue's enthusiasm will soon be tested; she has no idea what terrors await in... The Writers' Room.

Mary Sue's successful pitch:“Griff and Angela [the series leads] must mind-link with K'Vax [their sentient, Fort Worth, Texas. Denver, Colorado, female, wisecracking spaceship] after a radioactive nebula erases K'Vax's memories.”

There was more to her pitch – such as the mind-link forcing the aloof Griff and Angela to confront their true feelings about one another – but Mary Sue never got that far; Sam had interrupted. “Good hook, Coreg pharmacy, but amnesia's soft. Needs more jeopardy, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Hey. What if the nebula turns K'Vax evil. And she tries to kill everybody on board. So it's dangerous for Griff and Angela to go into her mind; they might never come out, Coreg 625mg,650mg. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Terrific pitch. Sold!”

Mary Sue was ecstatic. “Great. I'll write up an outline –”

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Two are covered with multicolored scrawls, circles, arrows, renumbering, and crossouts – the story beats for Episodes 5 and 6, in impenetrable shorthand: “5, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. BRIDGE: G + A expo. K ng 10 min no Froonium. H/L payoff. Buy cheap Coreg no rx, AB: J zapped.” The third is frighteningly blank – a naked canvas awaiting a plot. It continues to await until:

9:40 am. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Two writer/producers saunter in: Madman Moe, a cheerful, inexhaustible fount of wild ideas, and Cyndi Cynic, a jaded naysayer who's great at untangling plot logic. They get coffee and make phone calls until:

10:15 am. Sam Showrunner dashes in. “Sorry. Problem on the set.” To Sam's surprise, Mary Sue proudly hands him a fifteen-page outline, Coreg 500mg. “Wow. Lot of work here, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Good for you.” He glances at the first page, tosses it aside forever, Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee. Portland, Oregon, and hands her a marker. “It's your story; you do the honors. Ready. Teaser's easy. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Fly through nebula, ship sparks, life support screws up. Act One –”

Sam stops, Coreg 5mg. Mary Sue's still neatly printing “TEASER” on the whiteboard. “Just put a 'T',” Cyndi suggests. San Diego, California. Dallas, Texas. San Antonio, Texas, “Then put 'Nebula, sparks, life support NG.”

“Act One, Beat One,” Sam continues, 400mg, 450mg. “Ramon runs diagnostics, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. Technobabble. Thinks he's found the problem. Fixes it. Coreg snort, alcohol iteraction, All seems okay. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Beat Two. Spooky stuff begins. Suspense. Scary noises. Like a horror movie, purchase Coreg online. So.., BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. hmm... Maybe Trixie's below decks. Alone. Rx free Coreg, What's she doing?”

“Taking a shower,” Moe offers. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, “With Angela. And suddenly the lights flicker and the water turns cold.”

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“Can't do that,” says Cyndi, Where can i order Coreg without prescription, to Mary Sue's relief. “I've got Trixie showering with Ramon in ep 5.”

Moe's unfazed. “So make it the sauna.”

“What sauna?”

Sam likes it, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “The Cargo Bay, redressed and smoked up. That sauna.”

Cyndi considers, buy no prescription Coreg online. “We could do different color smoke because K'Vax is pumping in poisonous coolant gas or something.”

Sam's enthused. “Great. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, We're rolling now. We'll be done by six, Kjøpe Coreg online, bestill Coreg online, easy.”

6:45 pm. Act One has seven beats on the board, Act Two has five, Three and Four are still blank, and nobody likes any of it. “It's flat, order Coreg online c.o.d,” says Sam. “Bland and boring.”

“Excuse me,” quavers Mary Sue. Order Coreg no prescription, “But I, um... have a thought...”

“Jump right in,” says Sam, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “It's your story.”

“Well... maybe Beat Two should be a character scene with Griff and Angela... because we need to set up their unexpressed feelings for each other...”

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Mary Sue's getting crabby, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “Well, what I pitched had lots of conflict. Internal conflict.”

“This is TV, San Diego, California. Dallas, Texas. San Antonio, Texas, not some romance novel. I want external conflict. Action. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Danger.”

Mary Sue snaps. “Well, if K'Vax turning evil isn't enough danger, japan, craiglist, ebay, hcl, why don't we just throw in some nasty aliens with guns?”


“She's nailed it,” says Cyndi. Buy no prescription Coreg online, “Problem is, we're missing a villain.”

Moe concurs. “Evil K'Vax is great, but our heroes have to cure her, not kill her, which means they don't get to defeat a bad guy.”

Sam nods. “But if a Gavork spy sneaks on board and brainwashes K'Vax, now we've got two problems – and somebody to fight in Act Four.” He slaps the table, BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION. “That's it. Solved. Okay, everybody go home and think about it and we'll finish this tomorrow. Nine o'clock sharp.”

It'll take four more days of this to break Mary Sue's story. BUY Coreg ONLINE NO PRESCRIPTION, Ultimately, Ramon, not Angela, will join Trixie in the sauna, to follow up on their shower scene in ep 5. Oh, and the mind-link with K'Vax will indeed force Griff and Angela to confront their feelings for each other – but once the mind-link's over, they'll forget it ever happened.

Mary Sue will grudgingly concede it's a cleaner, punchier story than the meandering fifteen pages she came up with on her own.

And then she'll have two short weeks to turn it into a script that makes it all work... but that's another tale.

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