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Novacon 1997
April 1997
Tysons Corner, Virginia, US

Where to begin?  I'm still reeling from the excitement.  Novacon in Tysons Corner, Virginia, otherwise known as RobbieCon, was my first Star Trek convention, and I traveled across the country from the lovely state of Washington to go to it.  Surprisingly enough, none of my friends or family (all non-Trekkers) thought I was nuts.  They all wished my a good time.  Did I have a good time?  no.  I had a GREAT time!

Several of the RanDoM Flighter were staying at the Con hotel and many of us met up with each other at various times throughout the weekend.  After a lengthy stop at the dealer's room Saturday morning, I made my way to my fourth row seat right in front of the stage for Robbie's talk.  And guess what?  Everything everybody has been saying about him all along is true.  He seemed to develop an instant rapport with the audience, clearly has a sense of humor, and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Having heard stories about standing in the autograph lines at Novacon, I was pleasantly surprised when the lines both Saturday and Sunday seemed to move right along and the time I did spend standing in line was enjoyable.  Several of the RanDoM Flighters grouped together and we passed the time chatting and looking at scrapbooks.  While they were obviously trying to rush us through once we reached the autograph table, I saw Robbie stop and talk to his fans several times.  I particularly noticed this with the younger set.  As for me, I was one of the last in our group to obtain an autograph on Saturday.  Most of us had our RanDoM Flight shirts on and he commented that there seemed to be several of us there together.  I told him we were having a good time getting to know each other and hanging out together.  He thought that was great.  Then I was through the autograph line and had experienced my first in person contact with Robbie.  Was there a grin on my face?  You betcha!

Once the autograph line was finished, I happened to be standing at the RanDoM Flight table when Robbie walked by on his way out.  Several called out good-bye to him and he sent a quick smile and wave our way.

Skipping ahead to my favorite part of the Con, Sunday morning the RanDoM Flighters gathered in the Executive Suite for Robbie's private chat with his fan club.  Near the appointed time of his arrival, the phone rang and, much to our dismay, we were informed that Robbie had forgotten to set his watch an hour ahead the previous night in anticipation of Daylight Savings Time.  The whole room groaned and we all feared the private chat had just fallen through, but Robbie apparently got ready in record time that morning, as he still made it to the meeting in plenty of time to have a lengthy chat with us.

First thing on the agenda was Pam making sure Robbie was aware that it was Lillian Lee's birthday--a birthday I'm sure Lillian will never forget.  She got a hug from Robbie!

Of course, we all know what a baseball fan Robbie is, and it didn't take him long to bring that subject up, especially when he noticed someone wearing an Indians shirt.  I get the feeling he mentions baseball every other breath much like we do Tom Paris and Robert Duncan McNeill.

It also didn't take long for the 'Blood Fever' episode to be mentioned and by none other than one of the club's newer members, ten-year-old Alyssa Stanton.  Robbie's face, throughout the weekend, seemed to acquire a particular brand of amused grin whenever that episode was mentioned.  Robbie told us how the original concept for that show was nowhere near what the end product was.  Apparently, Tom Paris wasn't portrayed in the best light and came out rather wimpy in the first draft.  Thanks to some extra time put in by director Andy Robinson, Robbie, and Roxann, the version that finally aired was something that not only were they happy with but so were a majority of the fans.

One thing that came through loud and clear during the private chat is Robbie's love of directing.  I suspect this is where he will eventually end up.  I really don't think he finds acting enough of a challenge to do full time.  He strikes me as someone who is always striving to better himself and constantly looking for ways to challenge himself.  Robbie also commented that he hates it when he's in a scene and has to direct himself.  He said he finds it very distracting as his mind is really set in director mode at that point and he finds it difficult to concentrate on the scene at hand from an actor's point of view.

Robbie filled us in on the short film he just finished directing called The Battery and his desire to get it into some of the film festivals, with hopes that it will promote him as a director and lead to his getting work in that direction.  I wish you great success in this endeavor, Robbie.  He has definite talent in this area and his enthusiasm for directing is very refreshing to see.

At one point, Robbie told us about a teacher he had at Julliard and Robbie referenced a book on directing that compared the director/actor relationship to a parent/child relationship.  I found this very interesting and wondered if Robbie derives a certain parental pride in the actors he works with as a director when they get a scene right or something they do really shines through.

Among a variety of subjects covered in the private chat, Robbie also received a brief education on Gargoyles and the many Trek people who put voices to the cartoon characters, including Kate Mulgrew.  When asked if he would be interested in doing a cartoon voice, Robbie said he'd always wanted to do a Disney movie and seemed to like the idea of bringing a cartoon character to life with his voice.

One RanDoM Flighter made the observation that Paris loves pool, women, and cars and asked Robbie what his preferences were of the three.  Robbie replied that he was really bad at pool and that even Garrett Wang could beat him.  Grinning, he said, "Of course, women.  We shouldn't go there."  He went on to talk about his attempt to become a "car person" with the purchase of a Camaro Z28 but admitted he really isn't into cars.  His real passion lies with motorcycles, particularly Harleys.  He later joked that he likes to listen to showtunes but somehow riding a Harley didn't seem to go with that.

The private meet ended on a high note as we each got our two minutes with Robbie and posed for a picture with him.  It was a great personal touch to the meeting that each RanDoM Flighter will treasure.

Robbie practically leapt onstage Sunday and started off doing a brief set of muscle man poses to the delight/amusement of the audience.  He was definitely "on" during Sunday's chat and seemed to be having a good time with the audience.

One of the first questions posed was an inquiry as to whose birthday it was and quiet me, who frequently clams up in crowds and says very little, made sure Robbie knew where Lillian was--by my side third row in from the stage, practically at Robbie's feet.  He then led the hall in singing "Happy Birthday" to Lillian.  Great birthday, huh, Lillian?

At one point during Sunday's public chat, someone remarked on what they perceived to be a plot hole in 'Unity,' pointing out that the 'Unity' Borg said they were assimilated at Wolf 359; however, the Borg at Wolf 359 were destroyed, so how was that possible?  Having directed this episode, Robbie dryly offered his thanks and seemed to be contemplating his reply when RanDoM Flighter Loretta Painter piped up from her perch on the aisle floor from where she was snapping pictures of Robbie that "It was the other Borg ship.  The one we didn't see."  Robbie took her comment and ran with it, coming up with several plausible excuses and giving the audience a good laugh in the process.

Of course, the subject of B'Elanna Torres was mentioned--several times as a matter of fact.  One young man asked, "What do you see in B'Elanna Torres?"  That generated a lot of laughter as did Robbie's reaction: "How old are you?  When you grow up you'll understand.  You know about Klingons?  Very, very . . . energetic."  At one point someone also asked Robbie if Tom Paris was afraid of being "eaten up by B'Elanna Torres."  Robbie, in his Tom Paris tone of voice, replied, "I don't think so" amid gales of laughter from the audience.  He also teasingly commented that it was fun to "wrestle" with B'Elanna and he wouldn't mind doing more to that.

There seemed to be a running joke in both Robbie's public chats about how many children Tom Paris had fathered.  He commented that the reason Paris is having so many babies is that "it's his duty to Starfleet . . . he doesn't enjoy it at all."  When he mentioned Paris and Janeway's babies, he made the error of saying they had two children.  He was quickly corrected about the three children and everyone shared a good laugh over that and his inability to keep track of his growing number of children.

On the chicken pox issue, Robbie commented, "Maybe not everybody knows that, but I had chicken pox this year.  It was a good year.  I wanted to try some things that I had never tried . . . I have a scar from the chicken pox . . . ."  That comment brought to mind a line from the novel Flashback in which Paris proclaims that "girls like scars."

Last question of the day came from a young man: "How much do you like playing Tom Paris?"  Robbie: "How much do I like playing Tom Paris?"  Holding his arms out wide: "This much!"

And we couldn't be happier with Robbie's portrayal of Tom Paris.  It is a constant delight to watch and frequently the highlights of many of the episodes.

Thanks, Robbie, for making my first Con so memorable, and thanks to the other RanDoM Flighters who were so friendly, especially roomies Lillian and Carmen, and Ann, Maddie, and Terri who seemed to be there every time I turned around.  I had a great time with all of you, and look forward to the next Con.