Hundreds of nerds trekked to Timonium, Md., this past weekend for Farpoint, a three-day science fiction extravaganza, and I’m happy to admit that I was among them.
Farpoint is considered small in the convention world, but with its nearly 700 attendees and countless events, it certainly overwhelmed me. The convention featured almost every facet of nerd culture. In the Crowne Plaza Hotel’s main lobby, I saw “Yu-Gi-Oh” cards, handmade fairy costumes, magic crystals, superhero movie posters, “The X-Files” action figures, “Twilight” T-shirts and professional Tarot Card readings.
A friend, whose dad has been attending conventions since his senior year in high school and frequently drags her along, first introduced me to Farpoint last year. When she asked me and another friend to accompany her, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try something new.
With all the cosplayers – fans dressed as fictional characters – the people-watching was entertainment enough, but the convention also provided enlightening events for participants. I attended various workshops and panel discussions, such as “Mask Making 101” and “The Walking Dead: Walker Texas Zombie.” There were also different trivia contests, and I actually won a set of purple silverware and a bag of purple toiletries in one game. Other nerds happily walked away with “Star Wars” memorabilia and a collection of William Shatner-themed books and games.
Farpoint always features celebrity guests, including actors from shows like “Chuck,” “Heroes” and “LOST.” The highlight of my weekend was meeting actress Kristin Bauer, best known as the vampire Pam on “True Blood.” Bauer signed autographs, posed for photos and spoke with fans about both her acting career and her animal rescue work.
During one of Bauer’s panel discussions, I asked about Pam’s relationship with Eric, her vampire creator, and if there was more to the relationship than what fans have seen thus far in the series. Though she didn’t want to reveal too much, Bauer said this upcoming season would delve into Pam’s backstory and her romantic tension with Eric.
Other guests this year included Kate Vernon and Michael Hogan from “Battlestar Galactica,” Marc Okrand, the inventor of the Klingon language from “Star Trek” and many comic book and sci-fi writers.
Okrand spoke about the Klingon language, its effect on nerd culture and its use in contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare. Most people have difficulty translating phrases into Klingon because it’s a warrior language with many harsh consonants, Okrand said. For example, a group in the Netherlands produced an entire opera written in Klingon and faced many unforeseen challenges along the way, Okrand said, like working with the Klingon music scale.
During the Masquerade, a costume contest, people robed in hand-made costumes worked the catwalk for a panel of judges. A group named “Dark Side Cookies” won first place, decked out in frilly aprons and oven mitts to accent the usual Darth Vader and stormtrooper garb. They held signs that read, “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.”
Late Saturday night, everyone celebrated their dorkiness together at a dance. Some people used the opportunity to show off their costumes, others impressed the ladies with their Napoleon Dynamite-esque dance moves and some were just looking for love in “Alderaan” places.
The weekend was extremely entertaining, and the cosplayers, the steampunks, and the dreadfully maladjusted certainly satisfied my nerd quotient for the time being. I might return to Farpoint to learn even more about the nerd universe – I just hope I don’t get sucked in for good.