Friday, January 29, 2016

Two New Fan Organizations for Omaha

There’s a BADWOLF in town!

BADWOLF is the acronym for the new “Bluebox and Doctor Who – Omaha League of Fans” that popped up on this month. BADWOLF is a social group for fans of Doctor Who and his blue box (and related spin-off series) in the Omaha metro area to get together and talk about all things Who. Whether your primary interest is as a series fan, cosplayer, prop builder, fan fiction writer or something else entirely, you’re invited to join the group to talk about the Doctor and his amazing adventures across all of time and space.
The group just had its first meet up event on Saturday, January 16th, at DJ’s Dugout at 114th & Dodge. According to Bill Newman, the group’s organizer, six members braved the frigid temperatures and snow flurries to come out for the event which lasted from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Discussion ranged from favorite Doctors and Companions to most favorite and least favorite episodes and even some speculation on the Doctor’s next companion. Of course, being SciFi fans at heart, the discussion wandered to other series as well such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, among others.
Josh, one of the attendees, came dressed as the 10th Doctor. Co-organizer, Linda Newman is working on a cosplay of “Cinder”; a companion of the War Doctor from the “Engines of War” novel, and brought an in-progress build of Cinder’s hybrid human/Dalek gun she’s working on. Bill shared pictures of his War Doctor cosplay which will be making its public debut the end of the month at the “Time Travelers Ball” in Kansas City.
Bill says that everyone seemed to have a great time with the only down side of the first meet up being the crowd and noise at the meeting venue making it difficult to hear conversation. However, all the attendees were excited for the next meet up schedule for Saturday, February 20th at Red Robin, 144th and Maple. For more information about the group and details on the next meet up please visit their site at

Great Plains Costumers Guild

"Welcome!  Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the Omaha Metro's only guild dedicated to the support, education, and encouragement of costumers of all skill levels and genres. Welcoming costumers from Omaha, Bellevue, Lincoln, and surrounding areas."

With those words our second fan organization introduces itself. 

Isis Prentice-Gertig is the founder of the Bedouin Star Dance Studio, a belly dancer and costume creator for many years.  She has acquired the skills and tools to make wonderful, long lasting costume creations.  She has now turned those tools into an organization that will help the Omaha community out immensely.   Her first meeting earlier this month brought several talented people together to found an organization that will teach costume creation skills from drafting your vision through its actual fabrication.    The workshop she is bringing to this effort should accommodate any project you could wish for, short of building a full-scale working Gundam.  She also has the community connections to allow you to find the materials you need to make your vision real.  Plans are in the works for outings to places where your creation can be exhibited and cosplayed in.  Including a night at the Opera, Phantom Of The Opera in the spring.

Other cities have had these types of guilds for a while now.  It is about time the costumers of Omaha had a place to come together.
For more information on this group, go to:  or join them at their next meeting on Feb. 13th from 1-5 PM at Bedouin Star Studios, 800A Fort Crook Road South Bellevue, NE 68005

Friday, January 22, 2016

My Fannish Travels in 2015

I spent some time sampling the fan-life experience from coast-to-coast last year.

March saw me trekking down to Kansas City for their PlanetComicon convention.  This is a massive Comic Convention, meaning most of their guests are wither Media stars or Artists.  The artists you will find behind their tables either drawing for commissions or selling their artwork.   Media guests have a table area also where (for a price) they meet their fans, sign autographs and have their pictures taken, but they also do Q&As to talk about what it is that they have done that we find so great.  Last year I got to hear Ming-Na Wen talk about her work in Marvel's Agents Of Shield and Erin Grey talk about her tie in Buck Rogers.  Friday is always the best day to get into these panels as Sunday the center is so full that there is not even standing room available.  Karen Gillan had a line outside her Q&A just for a place to stand.  But as far as showing off a great costume, Comic Cons are the place to be.  Whether you are with a group like the 501st, who always put on a great show, or by yourself, people are always wanting to pose with you or just capture the image of your wonderful workmanship.

In May I participated in the annual Klingon Jail and Bail at Demicon (held in Des Moines, IA), raising almost $500 for their charity.  

Later that month I participated in several panels at Kansas City's ConQuest before heading down to Orlando.  

I had been scheduled to march in 9 of the DisneyWorld Star Wars Weekend parades through Hollywood Studios but was only able to make 8 of them.  That first Friday my gout flared up again and I was unable to even bend my knee that first day.  After starting a regimen of steroids, I

was again able to walk and march in Saturday's parade.  And what an experience it was.  As you come out of the gate, to your right by the Curio shop in Hollywood studios always sits a group of people who cheer on each of the emerging groups of characters.  I got a rush every time they shouted out for the Sand Troopers that I was a part of.  But that rush was nothing like the one I got that first Saturday as I was marching up the main street and realized I was where I was, what I was doing. It's a feeling I hope never to forget, it was phenomenal!
(Parade photo by Justin Groetzinger)

In August my wife and I made a trip to the Worldcon in Spokane.  And since it was in Washington we took the opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise out of Seattle.  Well, the Science Fiction Museum(at EMP) is in Seattle.  So we made a stop there.  As our luck in SF travels would have it, we had managed to attend the Orlando Science Center the year they had a Star Wars film-used models exhibit while we were there and Kennedy Space Center had the travelling Star Trek exhibit a few years earlier, the SF museum was hosting the Star Wars costume exhibit.  We got to see a lot of the screen used costumes from all 6 of the movies.  The museum is a fascinating place even without the traveling exhibits and if you ever get to Seattle I urge you to make a trip to it.  They have a Dalek!

To round out the year we made a trip to Wichita KS for the startup of a Doctor Who convention called Time Eddy.  I just couldn't believe the number of guests they were able to pack into the weekend.  Not only did they have Colin Baker and Nicole Bryant, but companions stretching all the way back to Peter Purves , a companion of William Hartnell's doctor.  They had great panels with all the guests talking about the functioning of their craft but several fan panels (that I got to be a part of).  The Doctor Who conventions I have been lucky enough to attend have all been packed with guests but still small enough to have a great time with everyone.  (Time Eddy photo courtesy of Michelle Nash)

I am looking forward to what 2016 brings for if it builds on 2015 the way 2015 built on 2014, great things are ahead.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Star Wars Night at the Omaha Children's Museum and beyond

Saturday, January 9th, was the annual Star Wars Night at the Omaha Children's Museum with Vader's Fist, the 501st Legion patrolling the facility.  Okay, those Rebel Scum; Han Solo and Chewbacca along with an X-Wing pilot also showed up, but we stuck them off in a corner pocket of the room we were occupying.   The evening began at 1800 hours with the Legion marching Lord Vader into the newly remodeled Meet and Greet area the museum had this year.  This new area allowed for a much improved traffic flow for the huge crowd of families in attendance.   Being the only Sand Trooper present I was stationed in the middle of the exterior wall guarding our two pilots on my left with a pair of Mandalorian Mercs on my right. 

During the first parade that evening, my training from having done the Walt Disney World Star Wars Weekends parade kicked in.  As the bad boys of the universe and a member of a military unit you did not interact with the surrounding crowds.  No waving, no hand slapping, just straight forward marching.  Besides as Luke Skywalker said in A NEW HOPE; "I can't see a thing in this helmet."  And he was right.  Straight ahead and slightly up is okay but from your nose down forget it.  It's not so bad in a parade, you simply have to look straight ahead,  just watch the guy in front of you and don't run into him.  But once we got to the meet and greet area, the kids I was meeting and greeting were below my ability to see them.  I had to really guess where the kids posing for pictures were standing.  Mostly I was trying to take my queue from their photographer and where the camera/phone was pointed.  I really hope all those shots came out okay for them.

At about a quarter to the next hour the doors to the room were closed and the line of families was cutoff.  Once those last people had had their time with our characters, we returned to the original staging area.  There we hydrated, changed batteries (the battery for the fans in my helmet died during the first session) and generally prepared for the second march of the evening.
At 1900 hours we again stepped off our staging area, braved the throngs of cheering fans.  This time I managed to override my Disney training and high fived the children lining the parade route, like everyone else had been doing.  Fortunately most of them were raised high enough for me to see their hands or with mine outstretched, they could find it for me.  The crowd was thinner in the Meet and Greet area this the last hour before the museum closed.  It allowed us to wander around the room more to interact with those who were willing to brave the late hour.  During this session R2-D2 put in an appearance and pulled a lot of guests away from Lord Vader with his antics.

All in all, a good time was had by everyone that evening.  
(Photos courtesy of Jeff Schipman)

And Beyond

After that event we had another appearance of note later that week.  Alvin Garcia Flores, a student at Gateway Elementary School here in Omaha received a storm-trooper themed, 3-D printed bionic arm that to the University of Central Florida based Limbitless-solutions.  Darth Vader and his Imperial colleagues presented it to him at a student assembly on Thursday (Jan 14th) afternoon.  After giving him some practice with it, we helped him show it to the rest of the student body as we helped him parade passed all his classmates of the learning institute. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 Omaha Fan Review

While we saw a couple of new conventions in town, I was unable to attend Congregation because of commitments to Constellation in Lincoln.  Nor was I able to attend O!Comicon since I was in Orlando for the DisneyWorld Star Wars Weekends, I'll talk about that trip next week.

BritishFest moved venues.  They made use of the MidAmerica Center in Council Bluffs where they could have many more panels in 2015 and more guests.  In addition to Mark Ryan returning, they added Adrian Paul from The Highlander TV series, and Simon Fisher-Becker from Doctor Who to their lineup.  All the guests and fans had a wonderful time.  The prop room was expanded and room was made available to the Steampunk Society of Nebraska who made fantastic use of it.  While there were problems with the facility; the air-conditioning was turned off so they could lay new carpet, a really dump move by the management staff of the center.  The main problem I had was in the lack of places to just sit  around and talk with other fans but then the facility was not designed for that.  Overall I saw no major hiccups with the actual convention which is a testament to how well the staff did their jobs.

OSFest was again held at the Ramada Convention Center with a lineup of local guests.  The IKV Raptor's Heart ran a large amount of programming this year including: Klingon Jeopardy, The Great Tribble Hunt (or Tribble dodge ball, Mok'bara Morning Exercises, Klingon combat, crafting workshops, and more Klingon food.  We also ran a film festival in the fan area of the various Star Trek fan produced programs.  Jim Arrowwood ran another Dune panel, this year talking about the Fremen.  James Hodge presented a few Doctor Who oriented events.  And late Saturday night we honored the memories of Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Macnee, who passed away in 2015.  It will be a shame if this convention passing into obscurity as it had tried to be a platform for many different types of Science Fiction fandom.

AnimeNebrasKon was CROWDED!  The downside; it was hard to get from place to place.  The upside; tons of great people to interact with and every panel the IKV Raptor's Heart did was very well attended.  And Klingon Speed Dating had a very enthusiastic turnout, stuffed animals flew for the entire hour, as well as much poetry being read.  A lesson I have to take from our participation there is to schedule Klingon Jeopardy for at least 2 hours with time ahead of it and after it to setup and te4ardown.  It is my understanding that they will be moving facilities next year, I hope they find one they have room to grow in because they just keep growing.

Last year also saw the opening of a new cinema palace in the Omaha area.  The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (12750 Westport Pkwy, La Vista, NE 68138) opened with an attached brewpub available for its patrons but they also have a lobby that boasts some of the best photo opportunities in town for Star Wars fans.  They have a working model of the Death Star right above the ticket counter that is activated by the fully functional Emperors throne in the lobby.  Even a couple of side panels are available to give you that perfect Imperial backdrop.  The theater had its official opening on November 2nd with a large contingent Star Wars characters from the CentralGarrison of the 501st and members of the Rebel Legion to help provide patrons with those photo opportunities.

The classic 1956 movie that launched such TV and film franchises as Star Trek and Star Wars came to town.  Bruce Crawford's Omaha Film Event in October, 2015 was Forbidden Planet.  As part of that benefit for the Nebraska Kidney  Association, Bruce brought in one of the crew members of the United Planets Cruiser C57D: Robert Dix who portrayed Crewman Gray in the film.  As well as a display of ship models and costume recreations.  Playing to a packed house this was a grand way to see this restored classic that set the stage for a lot of the science fiction we have today.

And of course, there was finally a new Star Wars movie this year.  With the 501st and Rebel Legion helping to provide color for the opening weekend at both the Alamo and Aksarben Cinemas.

Friday, January 1, 2016

I'm Back

It's been almost four years since I abruptly stopped publishing this blog and it's about time I got started again.

The goal or purpose of this column has always been to inform you about genre related events in the area and to promote them.  To discuss the cool things people are doing, how they are doing them and what can be done to find more people for them to do them with.  We will talk about mistakes that get made but it is my intent to do so in a way that will help improve what people are doing.  Keeping in mind that I do not have all the answers and may not see the problems that people encounter, those should be the rare occurrence.  What is important is that everyone who is trying to bring joy to the community should get their chance to realize their dreams and share them with as many people as possible.  So if you have something fun you are planning, let's talk about it.  If you're passionate enough, I will even let you guest write.  Speak your own passion to the community.

As far as fan activities are concerned there is nothing bigger than a convention.  And in the last four years we have seen an explosion of conventions in town.  Congregation ( ); BritishFest ( ); O!Comicon ( ); and Pretzcon(    Standbys like Willycon ( ), Constellation ( ), Nuke-con ( ), and AnimeNebrasKon ( are still going strong with OSFest ( going into hiatus for 2016.  The continued growth of AnimeNebrasKon and the great startup numbers of for O!Comicon, Congregation and BritishFest tell us that the appetite for this kind of entertainment in the Omaha area is expanding.  People are realizing they have been Science Fiction fans and finding that others share their interests.  Fan groups are forming for people to get together on a more regular basis than the once a year at a convention and use those groups to plan extended activities when they get to the organized conventions.

Let's all share what we like about the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Anime, Horror, Gaming genre.  If we do we will find friends we didn't know were out there.