Capricon 2016 – The Saturday Interviews
Capricon 2016 – The Saturday Interviews is now available to download. Check it out here. Jen Usellis-Mackay, the Klingon Pop Warrior, attended Capricon on behalf of the G & T Show and secured interviews with Mark Oshiro of Mark Does Stuff, Stacey Gordon of Die Puppet Die, and the Fan Guest of Honor Wendy Zdrodowski. All three of these interviews have been consolidated for your listening pleasure. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun conversations Jen enjoyed with the special guests that attended Capricon 2016. Jen has posted a blog about her convention experiences on the G & T Show website. To read the full post, check out Capricon 2016 – A Chicagoland fan con for everyone!
Jen’s first interview of the day was with Stacey Gordon of Die Puppet Die. She’s an improviser and puppeteer from Phoenix, where she builds puppets, teaches, and performs for adult audiences. Her work has appeared on the Bob & Angus Show, in music videos, commercials, and ABC’s The View.
Stacey was inspired to get into puppetry through her grandfather who carved marionettes and was given her first puppet before she could even talk or walk. She created the first set of puppets with her mom for school at age 14. After seeing a puppetry show for adults by Preston Foerder that opened her eyes to this new world.
Stacey talks about the audition notice for The Bob and Angus Show and what she did to get the job. She mentioned the table top games she enjoys. She was the best puppeteer they had seen, but they were looking for a male puppeteer and instead asked her to teach the guys they would eventually hire. She accepted the job, but even after teaching them, the puppeteers didn’t do a great job on their first try. She compares puppetry to painting, saying that it takes time and practice to become proficient. The weekend job, ended up lasting for several months.
Stacey shares a conversation she had with Dave Goelz, Gonzo’s puppeteer for the Muppets. It took him eight years to become comfortable as a puppeteer. It has taken Stacey almost twelve years to feel comfortable with her work, because there are so many things that have to be considered when working a puppet.
They talk about Die Puppet Die next. Her partner is Mack Duncan. Stacey shares how the company came about. They do scripted and improv segments. They know each and their various characters really well which greatly helps with their writing and improv segments. She talks about their first writing project about the Big Bad Wolf trying to turn over a new leaf.
Stacey appeared on the red carpet with David Arquette at the Torch Theater. She shares how that came about. It was last minute and completely improvised. David does puppetry as well. David had a pop-up party and uses his marionettes to entertain people with them. Stacey’s fandom isn’t football, but puppets surely are.
They talk about her panels. She had done Puppetry For the Classroom and Puppetry 101: Puppetry manipulation the day before the interview. She also taught a puppet making workshop for kids, where kids made a goat puppet at the convention. Later that day, she taught a Puppet-making 101 panel and the Late Night Puppet Slam. They did some shows and some improv during the Puppet Slam.
Stacey’s website Puppet Pie is where people can find information about her and what she does. Bob And Angus Show is looking for work. She’s going to be at Phoenix Comic-Con. She’s also got her local Puppet workshops. They wind down the interview with Stacey.
Jen’s next interview is with Mark Oshiro. He uses his Mark Reads and Mark Watches to chronicle his unspoiled journey through a fictional world for the first time. He watches films and shows and reads books and shares his raw emotional journeys. He’s earned a Hugo nomination in the Fan Writer category in 2013 and 2014.
Mark’s project started when he was sent to Comic-Con for the media company he worked for to cover the Twilight panel. The press pass only gets him into the building, but doesn’t get him into the respective panels; he still had to stand in line with everyone else, which required him to get in line at 4am. He ended up making his story about the people in line rather than the actual panel itself. He shares some of the stories he had heard from the people in line. His editor ended up enjoying the article and challenged him to review Twilight. After some consideration, Marc started reading and writing reviews chapter by chapter for Twilight. When the internet found it, he couldn’t stop. He was then challenged to continue with another series and someone suggested Harry Potter. He agreed and has been doing it full-time ever since.
They talk about Fandom and the Internet and the support he has received from his endeavors. They talk about the Epic Rule list on his sites, which includes no spoilers among other rules. His sites are open to everyone of all backgrounds and because of his rules, tend to be places where people can come and actually participate within a safe space free of the negativity found elsewhere on the internet. He has a huge team of moderators. They talk about bullying and harassment policies. They talk about one of the panels he’s conducting on Fan Feuds. X-Files was his first fandom.
Mark talks about how his efforts had changed and where it is going. Video is one of the biggest changes. He also talks about the charity bike rides he’s done where for every $1000 dollars raised, he will read what his fans want on camera. He talks about some of the horrible things he had to read on camera. It compares briefly to Mystery Science Theater. He talks about how much fun it is to watch Star Trek.
Mark is also writing a novel. He talks about the book. People are planning to do their own version of Marc Reads … with his book. The project feeds on itself. He has a long backlist and as he works his way through it, he is missing out on all of the new stuff that has come out in the mean time. He shares his mindset going into a new project.
They move onto the G & T Show’s Lipton Questions. His favorite Trek series is DS9. It’s the longer story lines that he has really enjoyed about that series. The species he would be from Trek is Trill. The open ended series based on a Trek character. He wrote fan fiction about Spot the Cat. But he would like to write about Jake. They talk about some of the kids in Star Trek. The author’s books he runs out to get are none of them because he’s got so much to do for Mark’s read. But he does like Nnedi Okorafor and China Mieville. The name of his starship is the USS Disaster. If he were given the green light to kill a major Star Trek character, he doesn’t hesitate to throw Riker under the proverbial bus.
They start winding down the interview. Mark can be found on social media as Mark Does Stuff. He’s been reading all of Tamora Pierce’s books in publication order and is nearing the end of this three year long project. He will be starting Dianne Duane’s Young Wizards series next. He will continue watching Death Watch and will be starting Neon Genesis Evangelion next. He talks about some of the other shows he’s watching which include Terriers, Doctor Who, and more. He is really enjoying The 100 and how it goes against the common tropes. They talk about the new Star Trek series. He’s looking forward to Bryan Fuller in charge.
The final interview for Saturday was with the Fan Special Guest at Capricon: Wendy Zdrodowski. She has spent 30 years in fandom. She has engaged in sketch comedy, music, costuming, and so much more. She’s been on the staff at Windycon, Chicon, and panelists at other conventions around the upper midwest. As Miss Capricon she wants to promote inclusiveness and share the wonder of storytelling.
For her the Fan of Honor is an important role and acts on behalf of the fans. It’s a weird time to be a fan with billion dollar movies on one hand and the controversies such as the Hugos, Geek Girls, and GamerGate. Fans are still struggling to figure out what it means to be a fan. She speaks about what it means to be a fan and how new fans are no different than older fans. She goes on to say that newer fans bring a fresh perspective that can help older fans look at their fandom in a different light.
Jen asks how far has fandom come over the last 30 years and how much farther does it need to go. She described some of the sexual harassment issues she experienced as a woman at fan conventions in the 80s and how she dealt with it. But as the fandom grew, the issues didn’t go away or change and those newcomers didn’t know what to watch out for or who to avoid. Fandom may be wonderful but its not perfect. She thinks that fandom could be doing better and its up to all of us to make it better. No one else is going to do it for us. She has made that her goal.
Jen talks about a panel about non-binary gender and how it got derailed by misinformed audience members. Wendy says the questions have to be asked before answers can be reached. She talks about transgender and how with the growth of fandom, people have gained the courage to speak up and speak out like never before and fandom is changing because of it.
Wendy had a panel after the interview Has Cosplay Changed Conventions? She states, “No. They haven’t. Now get off my lawn.” She talks about cosplay and how some people think the term belittles their artistic efforts. She provides some history about where the term came from. Originality isn’t coming from recreating media properties, but by doing mash ups and creating new things. And the term of Cosplay has become an umbrella that ineffectually conveys the full experience of costuming that occur at and get created for conventions. She talks about the research she did when she was asked to judge a masquerade at a convention. She mentions her Facebook group Dorks that Play Dress Up and the variety of things people do.
The books she runs out to buy include anything by Seanan McGuire and Ursula Vernon. She started an online science fiction book club that reads and discusses some of the most influential books within the genre. She talks about some of the books they have read. The classics are still influencing the science fiction books of today.
She talks about the Sea Chanty singing group that she is a part of and performs for the Chicago Maritime Festival. She’s a renfaire performer and musician. She shares stories of costuming workshops she has established. Wendy talks about Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. The Internet has hurt some of the general interest conventions because people are able to find other people that share their fandom. She wants to pull people back together rather than having the fandom break down into smaller niches.
Wendy and Jen talk about costuming and creating their own costumes, props, and so much more. The only time that costuming is a competition is if you’re entering into a contest. For the most part, it’s something that should be enjoyable and shared with others. They wind down the final interview of Capricon 2016.
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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