Tag Archives: @jasonandkaren

Walker Stalker Con San Francisco @WalkrStalkrCon @jasonandkaren #TWD #WSCSF

If you have been following this blog since the beginning, you all know that I am a fan of “The Walking Dead.” That fandom includes being both an avid podcast listener and occasional free agent podcaster. I have friends who have taken their super fan status and parlayed it into phenomenon known as “Walker Stalker Con” and it happens in seven different cities per year. They throw these incredible fan experiences that include celebrity panel discussions, cosplay contests, unique and specialized vendor, photo ops and special surprises. In their own words, “Walker Stalker Con is not just a convention. It is a fan meet-up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and became part of a greater community of zombie lovers! Walker Stalker Con is two or three days of events, panels, and experiences that zombie fans won’t find anywhere else!” These cons have expanded to include celebrities from television shows such as “Breaking Bad”, “Lost,” movies like “Gremlins”, Freddy Krueger flicks, and many “… of the Deads.” Aside from meeting my boyfriend at the inaugural Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2013, I have also made new connections and friendships to a ton of incredibly creative, funny and talented people.

WSC SF was the first one held on the West Coast and although I am an Island Girl, I am also a Bay Area baby. The con schedule also coincided with my daughter’s birthday, so it we made plans to go. She could hardly contain her excitement at meeting celebrities, actors and podcasters alike. We’ve been to SDCC twice so far but WSC is so intimate compared to the beast that is SDCC, I knew this would be an incredible experience for her. My friends who host ““The Walking Dead’Cast” are based out of SF so they had planned a live podcast recording and meet-up for Friday evening. And, to top it all off, Jason offered me the opportunity to host a couple of panels. Time to get my Black Milk con gear picked out. Chee-pono!

(I bought the Zombie Nation Skater dress specifically for WSC ATL 2013 and I love it. That purchase led me to a Sharkie addition to their leggings, shooters and dresses.)

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Fri night, the “Bob-B-Q”  and ive podcast with Jason and Karen of “The Walking Dead’Cast” (Follow @jasonandkaren on the tweets.)

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When we arrived, we were excited about the con and pretended to be afraid of walkers!

Jason and Karen hosted a live podcast, along with Mr. Blahg, and part of the set decor was a callback to our groups’ arrival at Terminus.

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(That photo was from May 2014, before they had come back to start shooting.)

The character Gareth had a “truth trough” that he used to sort out whether those who arrived would survive. If newcomers accepted the cannibal lifestyle, they would live. If not, smack went their heads and slit went their throats. Jason decided it would be fun (fun?) to have a trough on stage during his live podcast and ask contestants from the audience to answer trivia question. Failure was not an option. Here are the girls dressing the set piece.

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The live podcast was a lot of fun, with special guest Melissa Hutchinson and Gavin Hammond, two VO actors from Tell Tale Games “The Walking Dead.” That game is extremely story driven and it was my crack for a few weeks. I found myself swept up emotionally to the point where I cried at the end of Season One. No. I sobbed. Melissa and Gavin have such a close working relationship that their panel felt more like having drinks during Happy Hour with friends. They provided insight into the game and shared a little bit about being a VO actor. My favorite part of the panel was when they tried to switch roles and Melissa played Kenny (who swears a lot) and Gavin played Clementine, the pre-tween girl in the game. Honestly, I’m not sure who had more fun with the live podcast panel, the folks on stage or those of us in the audience.

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And it turned out that J&K had a surprise up their sleeves to celebrate the birthdays of Mr. Blahg and my daughter. Quite a special birthday for my daughter, right? And the con had not even begun.

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Day One of the con, we arrived during the VIP opening hours to see the vendor hall before the general admission masses descended. We ran into James (of James and Eric, the godfathers of the Walker Stalkers Podcast and convention.) Yup, James is one of the OG Walker Stalkers who founded WSC. I got my hug, we said our hellos and before he zipped off, James looked at his watch and said, “The next two hours will make or break the success of today, how things flow and how the crowds move, this is it…” WSC SF was a success and they announced that they will be back in 2016!

In my own mind, I was excited to be moderating my first WSC panel. In my day job, I host meetings, lead education courses, moderate panels and speak at conferences but I hadn’t ever led a panel at a con. My assignment for Day One was the Cosplay Contest. Whoop whoop! Talk about a fun way to jump into panels and to end the first day of the con. The lead person for all things WSC Cosplay is Hacksaw Jack and we had been corresponding via email. We met for the first time and Hacksaw was setting up for the Social Media Cosplay contest. What a great way to include fans who couldn’t make it to the con in person! Contestants just snapped a pic in front of the backdrop, con staff uploaded the pics with a specific hashtag and fans would be able to participate through on-line voting. Super fun!

This is a candid pic of me meeting Hacksaw Jack, taken by Eugene Shim, one of our live panel Cosplay judges, and Vanessa Shim is in the photo making her cosplay debut as “Rosita”. She looked awesome!

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My daughter and I had a great time in the vendor hall. She enjoys talking to artists, something I discovered about her during SDCC. This year, I’m going pack a lunch while she chats up the comic book artists. And of course, we took a few photos in the hall. One with Michonne’s pets, one with the Well Walker and one with Melissa Hutchinson.

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You’ll have to check the Walker Stalker Con website to see the full Cosplay contest, the official photographers grabbed some incredible images. We had a team entry who were dressed up as a mash-up between the Muppets and The Walking Dead. There was a duo of damsels dressed as walker Disney Princesses. A Dr. Who entrant, video game Cosplay, and of course dozens of walkers and stalkers crossed the stage. My friend in Cincinnati found this photo on social media someplace, not sure who took it.

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No con is complete without an official celebrity photo op and my daughter chose to take hers with none other than Chandler Riggs. She floated back to the hotel with me and her smile lit up the San Francisco night sky. She kept saying that she was having the very best birthday ever. I’m grateful to Jason & Karen, Mr. Blahg, James and all of the WSC core staff and volunteers for being so welcoming to my daughter. Just look at that smile:

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That was most of Day One of Walker Stalker Con San Francisco. More to come…

Zombies & Walkers & Zeds, Oh My! Why I Watch AMC’s “The Walking Dead” May 2014

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Let me start off by saying that I am not paid by the Atlanta Movie Tours and I am definitely not paid by AMC. This blog post is an example of the “nerd” in my “DiversityNerd” self. My name is Pi’ilani and I am a big fan of “The Walking Dead”. I don’t obsess (not really) and I don’t read the comics.  But I watch the series for a multitude of reasons. I enjoy the family drama elements. Note that the first reason I listed isn’t because of the horror or gore, which I do find to be delightfully disgusting, it is because the show portrays a story of survival and relationships. When the Zombie Apocalypse happens, the remaining survivors must start over. They find themselves forced to create a new society, with new mores and social norms. That becomes an exciting foundation for a TV drama, ripe with endless possibilities for conflict. Who will make leadership decisions? What will drive those decisions, good intentions or self-preservation at all costs? What parameters will you use to determine who to trust? How will they develop the skills to defend themselves? How do they determine their weapon of choice? Where will they find ammunition for weapons? Food? Clean water? Shelter? Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs will be tested and not everyone will have the capacity to cope. Do we revert back to prehistoric gender roles and what sort of tension will arise within survival groups because of that? Will surviving humans procreate? How will they innovate to create new technologies or imitate old ones? Will they be able to “reinvent” electricity? And all of these questions come before the survivors are dealing with the impending threat from the undead. The possibilities are endless. And so far, they feed some endless good fun!

One of the other reasons why I started watching the show may not surprise you, if you’ve read my blog postings before. “The Walking Dead” has an Asian American character on the show and the production staff has wonderful ethnic and gender diversity, top to bottom. For example, Gale Ann Hurd serves as an executive producer on the show. Her producer and writer credits in film and TV are quite impressive, take a quick peek at her IMDB page. My interest in a show that has an Asian American lead character may not make any sense to some of you but seeing Asian faces on TV and in movies delights me. Especially when those characters do NOT embody Asian stereotypes. In 2014, the scarcity of ethnic diversity in media has abated. I consumed a lot of TV as a teenager in the 1980s and people of color (not just Asian Americans) did not play lead roles. More often than not, these characters exemplified overinflated stereotypes. Some of that stemmed from the lack of diversity behind the scenes in the writers’ room, director’s chairs or production offices. That is slowly changing and the shifting demographics of the U.S. drives that, as well. Not that long ago, Asian Americans could aspire to load supply trucks on “MASH,” be the dry cleaner speaking in broken English, or stand in the background as hooker wearing bright red lipstick. Those are the images I recall of Asians on TV in the 1980s. In “The Walking Dead”, Steven Yeun plays “Glenn” who is a handsome young Korean-American man who used to deliver pizzas in Atlanta. Not only does he become a badass warrior during the Zombie Apocalypse, he also wins the heart of a beautiful young woman named “Maggie,” a hot little boss with a gun. And by the way, Maggie is not Asian American. Their interrracial relationship doesn’t raise an eyebrow, which is just as it should be.

My interest in the show started during season two. When that season ended, I binged-watched S1 on Netflix and sought out a way to talk to other fans about the show. My iTunes introduction to a variety of different podcasts on the show has literally changed my life. Because of these podcasts, I have met other nerdy fans and podcasters who are now some of my dearest friends. I will name the four podcasts that I listen to, with special emphasis on two. “The Walking Dead’cast” became my refuge during the hiatus between S2 and S3 and you can find them at http://www.walkingdeadcast.com or @jasonandkaren on Twitter. That podcast is hosted by Jason and Karen, two bright and energetic fans who enjoy talking to us and each other about the show. In fact, they are big enough fans that they figured out how to play zombie extras and Jason has had major screen time getting killed as a walker on more than one occasion, much to delight of their listeners. Jason and Karen have become my friends. Honestly, we actually hang out in person, not just virtually. I appreciate how they take care in responding to fan emails and comments on Facebook. Another differentiator of “The Walking Dead’cast” is that they provide an opportunity for fans to chat with each other in real time while J&K record the podcast. Two fellow fans have also become good friends of mine, Gracie Lou and Mr. Blahg. Grace and Mr. Blahg have been a part of the “The Walking Dead’cast” community longer than me, they’ve both guest-hosted episodes and are extremely active in the chat room. Jason and Karen also interview people from both the cast and crew. In fact, if you check out Episode 117, you can hear me and Jason interview writer/producer Angela Kang. That was a treat for me!

iTunes also introduced me to “The Watching Dead” hosted by ARon Hubbard and Jim Jones of Bald Move, whom you can find at http://www.baldmove.com or @baldmove on Twitter. Much to my delight, the Bald Move network encompasses a wide diversity of podcasts. All of the hosts discuss their content with candor and wit, occasionally fueled with beer, wine or whiskey. ARon and Jim personally host a number of podcasts on a variety of television shows such as “Fargo,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” and “24 Live Another Day”. Their style in covering “The Walking Dead” feels direct and blunt, with no excessive fawning or fanboy-ing. “The Watching Dead” is definitely not a love fest for the show, just two hosts providing a brutally honest and quite humorous account of their opinions. In the spirit of full transparency, I must divulge that “Jim” is the man who I have written about in previous blogs. We met at a Walking Dead convention and much to both of our surprise, felt a connection that can only be described as #nerdlove. However, even if he and I were not in a relationship, I would still recommend baldmove.com. They are THAT good. Side note, Jason and Karen attended the convention to moderate panel discussions and I would not have gone if they, along with Grace and Mr. Blahg, weren’t there, so Mahalo Nui Loa to them all!

In addition, I listened to “The Talking Dead” with Chris and Jason and “Walker Stalkers” with James and Eric. Each podcast delivers content with a different personality so there is something for everyone. In addition, I’ve met all of those hosts and they’re just real people who are fans of the show. Thankfully, all those hours and hours content helped me train for a couple of half marathons and listen to opinions on “The Walking Dead,” a win-win situation for Pi’ilani.

All of this an extremely long preamble to introduce what I intended on writing about, my experience at the Atlanta Movie Tour “Big Zombie Tour, Part 2” in May 2014. Keep an eye out for another blog to cover that, complete with nerdy photos.

One photo from Terminus with “Jim” from BaldMove.com.

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