“It’s a mutual admiration society.” – Gallifrey One 2017

Posted by Kim and Sage

Sage: This isn’t a normal time — not to go to a con or to eat a sandwich or anything else. But Gallifrey One 2017 still happened. Not rain, not sleet, and apparently not the speedy death of democracy can keep Doctor Who fans from gathering yearly at the LAX Marriott over President’s Day Weekend (THE IRONY) to hug, drink, and talk shop. L.I. Who happened the weekend after the election, and the general mood of the con was utter shock and numbness. But a few months passed, and the next geeky fan get together we attended was basically Resistance Central. Gally1 was political af this year without the despair and depression that can come with that. There was camaraderie and joy and and a lot of “hell no, we won’t go.” The whole weekend felt like a declaration of who we are, what we stand for, and what we absolutely will not abide. Is that a fair characterization?

Kim: I feel like I stumbled through a lot of LI Who in a state of bewilderment. That’s not to say that it wasn’t an AMAZING experience (remember when we interviewed Paul McGann on the mainstage?) because it was. I just had never experienced a con where the main feeling was almost…”Is this the right thing to do at this moment? Is this whole experience silly when you look at what’s going on in the world?”  Gally felt like a giant bottle of Gatorade to my parched soul. It was revitalizing. It was a time where we could immerse ourselves in both our fandom AND our friendships. I left Los Angeles on Monday afternoon physically exhausted but emotionally? I was raring to go.

TL;DR, yes, that’s absolutely a fair characterization. And it’s a big reason why this con is so freaking special to every person who comes and why it’s the CANNOT MISS convention on my calendar every year.

The Resistance starts here.

What blows my mind the MOST about Gally is that the attendance is right up around 3000 people, and yet it feels like a family, especially the more times you go back. I know there are a TON of people there I don’t know yet every face at the con looks familiar. You can barely walk more than a few yards on that con floor without running into someone you know and having a chat or hugging that person you flailed in line for a photo-op the previous year. How special is that?

Sage: I can only speak confidently for myself, but I’d wager that I’m not the only person at this con who went through a period of my life where I felt invisible and socially inept. (Everyone: “Yeah, dummy, it’s called high school.”) My point is that Gally brings together a lot of scrappy folks who haven’t had it easy, and this is a place where they can strut confidently down the halls in whatever it is they want to wear, live their fandom out loud, and be surrounded by people ready and willing to embrace them. It feels like I’m reaching back in time to tap the friendless 13-year-old in the Han Solo t-shirt and tell her that someday she’ll find her tribe.

And what a tribe it is.

But enough teenage sob stories. Let’s talk about the important stuff: ribbons.

The Gally ribbon game is always strong, but this year it was TOO LIT. “Black Lives Matter.” “Don’t You Think He Looks Tired? (with clip art of Tr*mp)” “Bustin’ fascists makes me feel good.” Those practical pronoun declarations!

The 2017 ribbon game is TOO LEGIT. #levelup #blacklivesmatter #RESIST #Gally1

A post shared by Head Over Feels (@headoverfeelsdotcom) on

Swapping ribbons has always been a big part of the fun for me, because it’s like I’m getting little pieces of everybody I meet to take home with me. And though there were the requisite Doctor Who quotes and podcast promo designs, I was so delighted to see that people were using those little scraps of fabric to make a real statement. And you can tell us in the comments if it happened to you, but I personally didn’t see anyone take any shit for a political ribbon. I really hope that’s representative of the whole weekend.

Kim: One of my favorite things in the build-up to Gally is the Ribbon Exchange group on Facebook, where everyone shares the designs they are planning to bring to the con. What’s super fun about that group is that it feels like people took inspiration from each other and one politically themed ribbon would spawn at least five more. I think it was a combination of the current state of the world and the fact that we only had “Doctor Mysterio” to provide inspiration for new ribbons that REALLY spurred people to up their creativity. There were so many Star Wars ribbons! My final ribbon count was 215 and there are STILL a few ribbons that I am SUPER upset that I didn’t get. Namely the “But when all is said and done, Saxon has beliefs, Tr*mp has none.” one. I will cry over not getting that one for a long time.

Stick it to the man.

Speaking of taking inspiration from each other, I have to bring up our Punk Companions Cosplay. What started as an idea inspired by some Punk!Bucky art we saw at San Diego Comic Con became so much more than that. We debuted the Punks at LI Who as just a fun chance for our girl group to get creative and have fun together because we aren’t screen accurate cosplayers, for the most part. And it’s a cosplay that works the best within a large group because individually we may not be recognizable but when we’re together, it’s like “Of course! There’s Clara, there’s Romana, etc.” The Punks got taken to the next level for Gally when Alyssa (@WhovianFeminism) suggested that we add protest signs themed to all our companions. It was perfect because we did our cosplay on the same day as the first General Strike, so it felt like we got to have the best of both worlds – Being massively creative Doctor Who nerds while making our own political statement. And the best thing about it? We didn’t get any sort of blow back from it. Other than a few trolls on the Nerdist Instagram post anyway.

Punk Modern Companions.

Group Selfie Time!

Another really important aspect of Gally is that it feels like a safe space for you to push yourself outside your comfort zone. While I didn’t do any formal panels this year, I definitely upped my participation level, which is always something I’ve been HORRIBLE about. I’ve sat on the front row of “In Defense Of” EVERY YEAR and judged the hell out of the BS coming out of the participant’s mouths (which is the fun of the whole thing) but I’ve never had the guts to put myself on the line. It’s silly, really, because if you can’t make a fool of yourself at Gally, where can you? After Michelle’s triumphant performance at LI Who, I promised myself that I would do it. That didn’t stop me from breaking out into a cold sweat the moment Deb Stanish called my name though. “In Defense Of” is like an out-of-body experience in the BEST way. You just have to give no fucks in regards to whatever comes out of your mouth (I actually tied Tegan getting the snacks to women throughout history being water-bearers?! I don’t even know where that came from.) or turn your OWN criticism on topics into sarcastic defenses (Shippers NEED to be told by old school fans how to think about Doctor Who, you guys). I was RELIEVED when I finally was dethroned but it was the MOST FUN and I’m so glad I did it.

Kim's team DOMINATED Paul Cornell's "Would I Lie To You?" because they are all compulsive liars who can't be trusted. #Gally1

A post shared by Head Over Feels (@headoverfeelsdotcom) on

When you combine that experience with doing a live Comedy Sketch for Reality Bomb and participating in Paul Cornell’s “Would I Lie To You?” game show, so much of my panel experience was performance oriented and fly by the seat of your pants improv, which was a totally new thing for me. And it felt GOOD remembering that part of me that went kicking and screaming into my college improv troupe before I ended up loving it.

Paneling

Continue Reading

“Stand still and welcome to Doctor Who.” – Gallifrey One 2015, Part 1

doctor who drunk ten

Posted by Sage

Disney may think they’ve got that “happiest place on Earth” business on lock, but allow me to disagree. I see your long lines and $8 ice cream bars and I raise you 3.5 FULL DAYS of programming; 3600 Whovian compatriots; and one healthy grope by John Scot Barrowman. This…is Gallifrey One.

gally 1 group

Gally support team! From left: me, Gillian, Kim, Kelly (bottom), Michelle (top), Shannon.

Last year was a milestone: this blog’s first trip to the con, which is America’s largest Who-fest. But this year was our first SECOND trip, significant because of what was the same. The LAX Marriott lobby was just as we left it (except for the Starbucks finally accepting gift cards – IMPORTANT); we already knew how to best tackle the schedule and the floor plan; and – this is the raddest part – we were reunited with so many fandom friends. Gally is going to feel more and more like home every year; and I pity anyone who would dare try to stand between us and our annual pilgrimage.

There’s almost too much to report, so we’ve again joined forces with Kelly of The TV Mouse to bring you OT3 coverage of the convention. (For more goodies, make sure to hit up our Instagram feed. It gets a serious workout at cons, because cosplay. Cosplay everywhere.) Ready for a run-down of Thursday and Friday? Then Al-to-the-friggin’-lons-y.

Thursday Night:

Ice Cream Social/Lobby Con:

We learned many things – about snow, about airports, about ourselves – in last year’s mid-blizzard dash to Gally 1. The most important lesson? LEAVE A BUFFER DAY. The east coasters of our party peaced out of sub-zero NYC early Wednesday morning, leaving us plenty of time to get to LA, buy all the boxed wine, house some Griddle pancakes, have a ladies night on the town, and settle in to our home base, all before the convention even started. By the time the first official Lobby Con rolled around, we were well-rested and even tan-lined. (Side effect of sunbathing next to Doctor Who producers – a thing that happens at Gally.)

gally valentine's

“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m not your boyfriend.”

What IS a Lobby Con? I’m glad you asked. Lobby Con is an amorphous group hang. It’s anywhere and everywhere (not just limited to the lobby, as you might assume); anything that’s unstructured fan-ish chill time can safely be called Lobby Con. Lobby Con is where you and yours make yourselves available to reunite with old friends, meet new ones, and exchange Gally’s most valuable currency: badge ribbons. Thursday is a veritable feeding frenzy for badge ribbons, since most attendees have a bag or two of freshly printed ones burning holes in their pockets. (And maybe some Twelfth Doctor valentines.) Word to potential future Gallifreyans: ORDER THEM. Ribbons are not an inner-circle kind of deal; if you come without any to trade, I guarantee you will regret it. Decide on your content (most are graced with Doctor Who quotes, but it’s not unusual to receive a few with Torchwood, Sherlock, or even Firefly references) and use RibbonsGalore to lay out the badge ribbon of your dreams. With your own shinies to exchange, you’ll end up with a train as long as the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. (Another piece of advice: bring duct tape to reinforce those suckers!) By the way, shout out to the LAX Marriott for so many things, but especially for being so cool about hundreds of costumed weirdos taking over their common space, often until dawn. You the illest.

gally 1 ribbons

On night 1, Lobby Con spills over into a new-ish Gally tradition: the ice cream social. There are few better ways to meet your social media buddies IRL than over some free dessert.

gally 1 ice cream social

FRONDS.

Strengthened by our chocolate chip and sprinkles, we resolved ourselves to brave the karaoke room. Always a mistake. Despite signing up early in the night, we spent much of the evening lolling around on the conference room floor, waiting for our song and watching the same table of locals sing over and over again. For such an inclusive con, the karaoke room is a clique-y anomaly. And our frustration over the reliable shenanigans had a negative effect on Gillian and my duet of “Take Me or Leave Me.” (Yep, it was the “frustration.” I’m going with that.)

What makes this all bearable? CON CUPS. Gally is about as family-friendly a con as you can get; and by no means will anyone who’s not imbibing be laughed out of the hotel. But if you do choose to booze, bring your own. (I recommend the Trader Joe’s boxed red – affordable and tasty.) We were unable to snag a room in the actual Gally hotel, so each night before we left the Embassy Suites across the street, we filled up our plastic mason jar sippy cups from CommuniCon (THANK YOU BRITTLES) with that sweet nectar. Alternatives are the lobby sports bar for a decent list of draft beers; or the limited selection at the Marriott’s pop-up bars. Both can be pricey. An alternative alternative is to make nice with the major league Gallifreyans, who never travel without a full bar set-up. (They’re real and they’re spectacular.)

Friday:

team not dead

MILES TO GO BEFORE WE SLEEP.

ALL THE COFFEE, ’cause it’s the first full day of Gally 1!

Impossible Girl cosplay day!

That Impossible Girl swag.

Your OT3 bloggers were up and at ’em early on Friday to get a decent spot in the Kaffeeklatsch line. Kaffeeklatsches are otherwise known as “Are You Shitting Me?” sessions (by me alone), because they are included with your badge and give you intimate access to some of the coolest creative people at the convention. (Are you shitting me?) The programming track takes place in the Marriott board room; attendees can sign up to join an hour-long roundtable chat with the guest of their choice. (Plus, sign up as an alternative for another.) The attendance is limited to twelve people, so the experience is rich and unique. Our #1 choice was to be in the room with series 8 writers Jamie Mathieson (“Mummy on the Orient Express”, “Flatline”) and Peter Harness (“Kill the Moon.”) Unfortunately, Peter fell ill before Gally and had to cancel, so he was spared our grilling over an episode that put the “problem” in “problematic.” (You get off easy this time, Harness. Hope you got well soon though, kisses.) Our spots secured in Jamie’s sesh, I also opted to list as an alternate for the conversation with Arwel Wyn Jones, only the imagination behind the entire visual identity of Modern Who and Sherlock. More on that later.

radio free skaro gally

Morning Sessions:

From there, we took spots in the Main Ballroom for the welcome session, “Good Morning Gallifrey One.” Organizer Shaun Lyons took the stage to say hey, pre-preemptively thank the guests, and tease some “changes” to next year’s ticket process. (GULP.) That led nicely into the Radio Free Skaro panel, where the popular podcasters chatted with Jamie, writer Phil Ford (“Into the Dalek”), special effects supervisor Danny Hargraeves, and more. Some highlights:

P1010048

Jaime and Phil

  • Phil and Jamie spoke about attacking their scripts without the benefit of Twelfth Doctor casting knowledge. After a few drafts, Moffatt hinted to Jamie that the new guy would be a bit of a grump and slightly older, so – as anyone would – he started to write for Gregory House.
  • Peter Capaldi hung out on set even on days that he wasn’t working. He’s so excited to be our Doctor, you guys.
  • Danny is well aware that he has the “coolest job in the world.” Though maybe Peter would fight him on that.
  • Danny made everyone feel the feelings when he told us that during the filming of “End of Time,” the set was cleared for an hour so that David Tennant could privately welcome Matt Smith to the TARDIS. Oh, to be a fly on the round things.
  • Matt Smith’s first job as the last of the Time Lords was to not die. Danny set up the console room explosions and then gave him the directive that had to be this post’s title: “Just stand still, and welcome to Doctor Who.”
  • To no one’s surprise, the drunken giraffe is a klutz. “Matt Smith broke everything. You would give him a cup of tea and he would break it.”
  • Capaldi was the one to suggest the jelly baby line in “Mummy.” He is truly the chosen one.

 

“The Impossible Girl” Panel

clara oswald panel

Let’s talk about Clara, man.

Kim and Kelly were panelists for this session, joining Nerdist’s Kyle Anderson, Karen Park, and star moderator/Verity Deb Stanish. The topic was Miss Oswald, who is about to become the longest serving modern companion. She’s a polarizing figure in the fandom because she (gasp) dares exercise her free will, without permission and with varying results. Most of the panel agreed that her complexity makes her a compelling character; the dreaded “U” word raised its ugly head. The theme of the conversation became: Is Clara Oswald “unlikable?” What does that word even mean? And if she is, by that definition, why should we care?

  • Let me say (with considerable bias that you should ignore) that Kim and Kelly were persuasive and articulate up on that dais, even when the conversation’s tone got a little dicey. Whether you believe that Clara takes advantage of the Doctor or nah (though how a human takes advantage of a 1200 god-like being you’ll have to explain to me), that relationship should absolutely not be compared to one of physical and emotional abuse.
  • After that comparison was made, a guy in the front row suggested that blood was visibly coming out of Kim’s ears, which is entirely possible.
  • Kyle put the main reason for my newly re-invigorated love of this show into words by comparing the “plot twist” who traveled in the TARDIS in series 7B to the living, breathing human we got to know in series 8.
  • Kim postulated that Clara is so hurt by the Doctor abandoning her in “Kill the Moon” because she chose to stand by him while he pressed the button in “Day of the Doctor.”
  • Karen did have a point that much of the room agreed with when she protested that Clara and Danny’s relationship was never quite believable. I lean towards Kelly’s interpretation of it, which is that Clara assigned more meaning to that relationship than it really deserved so that she could claim a grip on her “real life.”
  • Kim talked about what being a teacher tells us about who Clara Oswald actually is. This occupation ties in with her identity like being a nanny absolutely didn’t. (Remember how Amy Pond was a MODEL? Sigh.)
  • When asked by an audience member why the Doctor continues to forgive and help Clara after she “betrays” him, Kelly drops the mic with, “I never know why, I only know who.”
  • I’m impressed at how calm Kim was when answering the audience member who asked if anyone on the panel ships the Doctor and Clara. (“And see me after for fan video recommendations.”) I’m also impressed with me, Whouffaldi Patient Zero of our friends group, for trapping you all in my web.

 

Clara drama continued throughout the weekend. More on that from Kelly and Kim. A preview: we get heated defending a lady’s right to be the main character in her own life story.

Ladies Love Clara Oswald

Ladies Love Clara Oswald

Continue Reading