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It means "Sun God"

I trekked up to Seattle this weekend with the Best of Landlords for a nice crash with my parents and a foray into the Emerald City Comicon. While the dinner with my parents and snarking around with Terri Nelson and showing Jenn the aortic conference room level of the library and getting to breathe appreciatively all over Dave Kellett was all enjoyable, the con itself was of the "oh god more Stormtroopers" variety; excellent if you're drawing strong people in tights, not so good if you're selling hand-drawn jewelry and minicomics.

Strangely, the best part of the con was going to see Jamie Bamber (that's Lee "Apollo" Adama on Battlestar Galactica) give a Q&A talk. Normally I shy away from gawking at actors who have been dragged, poor souls, to soi-disant comics conventions - both because I don't want to be disillusioned if they turn out to be twits, and because the questions posed by audience members can sometimes be skin-strippingly awkward or cliched. ("How much of your own personality do you put into your portrayal of Evil Alien Overlord Gornax?")

That said, I figured I might as well give Mr. Bamber a gentle ogle across the comparative safety of 30 feet of convention attendees in uncomfortable chairs. After all, the man comes with a British accent and was endearingly pathetic as Horatio's epileptic boyfriend shipmate Archie in Horatio Hornblower and has one of the most frustrating roles on Battlestar Galactica, and I've drawn him as a Simpsons character wearing a leash, so out of sheer apologetic impulse I had to go. I took a leave from my table and went to stand in the immense snaking line to get a seat.

While standing there admiring the material of Viper pilot jumpsuit on the guy ten feet over from me, I was randomly recognized by the lady behind me in line, a ex-pat Portlander engineer named Eva who had just, in my absence, purchased a Battlestar Galactisimpsons print from me. We hit it off immediately and spent five minutes reassuring each other that, unlike all these other goofballs, we were very cynical and sophisticated and really were only going to gawk at a Battlestar Galactica cast member as a sort of social experiment.

We made it into the hall and grabbed some seats. Mr. Bamber, looking a little shaggy, was back by the podium chatting on his cellphone and wearing a leather jacket and a khaki driver's cap that made for a weirdly Justin Timberlake-ish presentation. There was no moderator, so Eva and I steeled ourselves for whatever tortures might visit themselves upon us in the following forty minutes.

But then he wandered out and sat down and it turned out he was utterly hilarious and articulate, smoothing over even the dorkiest questions (posed by a middle-aged woman in a Jedi suit...) with something suspiciously resembling both grace, insight, and humor.

He painted an amusing picture of the sheer unmitigated hell of being stuck in a tiny pretend spaceship inside of what amounts to a Saran wrap suit, all of which package large burly men are shaking around violently in front of a green screen, and how he sometimes suspects that the crew goes off to lunch while he's sitting in there with little blue lights blazing up under his eyeballs.

He also had a lot of lovely and poignant things to say about the show, including some of its flaws and challenges. There's no other way to describe those 40 minutes of Q&A, other than to call it strangely heartening. This was an intelligent young man who clearly cared deeply for the show and who was encouraged and empowered to engage with the writers and producers to make it better, and who had real gratitude and affection for its audience.

"I'll probably still be doing these cons in 20 years, and you'll all be bloody sick of me," he noted with an apologetic grin.

Somebody asked him what he thought we were supposed to "take away" from the show.

"Well, if you don't like soapboxes, you might want to plug your ears," he warned, before issuing a preamble that there was, of course, no ONE take-away point. Then, after a brief pause to think and scribble, he explained what he thought was one of its strongest themes.

"If you take a petri dish and drop in some bacteria, that bacteria will do everything it can to make its life wonderful," he said, scribbling shyly on the notepad in front of him. "It will grow and grow and grow and fill the petri dish until it's totally devoured the environment and doomed itself. Then it will collapse in on itself, and some new bacteria will emerge from the rubble and start the process all over again. And I think that's a pretty good metaphor for the show, for the humans and the Cylons.

"Ultimately it's sort a love story between the two - will we get together and merge and live happily ever after after all the pratfalls, like a screwball romantic comedy, or will we go our separate ways and ignore each other, like some art film, or will we completely destroy each other, like a tragedy?"

Then he paused, looked off into the distance for a second, and yanked the mike closer.

"And by the way, I thoroughly believe that we should kill them all."

Laughter and claps erupted. He continued to be equivalently funny and self-deprecating for the whole rest of the time.

At any rate, it was a surprisingly lovely little panel, winsome and wistful. I'll give an honest shot to anything he shows up in in the future out of respect for a really thoughtful and charming professional who's clearly put his heart and soul into an offbeat, morbid sci-fi soap opera that always swings for the fences. How very nice to see that the revolution in narrative television really does have some good folks working for it.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
We hit it off immediately and spent five minutes reassuring each other that, unlike all these other goofballs, we were very cynical and sophisticated and really were only going to gawk at a Battlestar Galactica cast member as a sort of social experiment.

lol I feel the same way at a con. Glad I'm not alone.

Lovely reveiw. I've been to only one con (dragoncon) and Jaime was at it. He truly is a professional and a credit to his field.
May. 12th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
yes I've always been pleased and impressed by all the trivia and factoids I've read regarding Mr. Bamber. Always seemed like one of those super-smart Glass-family style excel-at-anything-you-put-your-hand-to types. I like them.
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May. 12th, 2008 07:19 pm (UTC)
I was part of the big slew of people from Periscope Studio, back at B-4. The studio had an awesome show, I'm just too indie for my own dam' good! Heheh.
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May. 12th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Aw, I'm glad to hear that he's the same way when not in front of a giant room of fans.
May. 12th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
Everything I've read talks about how really wonderful Jamie is to his fans. I mean he signed a towel picture bachlorette cake for someone and thanked them for giving him a funny "What's the wackiest thing you've been asked to do by a fan?" story. Then again he can also come up with things like the petri dish answer. Plus he's exquisite too. A throughly well rounded person.
May. 12th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
was endearingly pathetic as Horatio's epileptic boyfriend shipmate Archie in Horatio Hornblower and has one of the most frustrating roles on Battlestar Galactica

It seems we are brain twins when it comes to Jamie's two most famous roles. :)

I run the LJ comm, jamiebambernews. Would you mind if I linked your post there? I loved that you shared so thoroughly his views as to what we can take away from the show (and, as usual, I totally agree with him ;) and I think many people would be interested to read what he had to say.
May. 12th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)
yeah, go ahead and post it! He was a total peach.

Although please do note that I'm paraphasing him here, I didn't have a recorder or a notepad. :)
May. 12th, 2008 07:30 pm (UTC)
Well, you remembered what he said in much better detail than I would have!

And thanks! :)
May. 12th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
How awesome! I had a vague impression of him as Good People, at least insofar as one can tell that kind of thing from panels and interviews and commentaries, and it's nice to hear that confirmed.
May. 12th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, english.
I had never had stirrings for dear mr bamber before but after reading this he can fly my spaceship anytime.

May. 12th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Every time I hear an actor on that show interviewed, they all seem to be thinking about and caring about the show as much as any of us. Mary McDonnell, Ed Olmos - they all seem to be really putting a huge amount of thought into their performances and the show itself. It's really nice.
May. 12th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I hope they give themselves a really crazy good wrap party when they finish up.
May. 12th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
I hope they all get matching tattoos, like the Fellowship of the Ring guys did.

Maybe a little octagon or something.
May. 12th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
Nah, I think they should all totally get that big winged pyramid ball tattoo like Starbuck and Anders.
May. 12th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
His "love story" analogy is wonderful.
May. 13th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the details!
As a fangirl who prides herself on attending almost every convention Jamie appears at, and who runs www.bamberbunnies.com, it was tough for me not to be able to attend Emerald City (was busy house hunting for an impending move). I very much appreciate all the details you were able to pass on about his panel. It's always nice when a non-hardcore Jamie fan is as impressed by him as we constantly are.

All the best!
May. 13th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the details!
my pleasure! I'm definitely a real fan now.
May. 13th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
Ahhhh Mr. Bamber. He can always be counted on to be ridiculously articulate, charming and clever. He is just as fannish about BSG as any of us. *squee*

Thanks for this marvelous con recap.
May. 13th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
This was brilliant! Loved that you called Archie Horatio's boyfriend!

Isn't he just wonderful!
May. 14th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
hey, this is eva! glad we ran into each other - it was fun having someone to cringe in anticipation with. and thanks for writing up bamber's talk so nicely - i was trying to describe it to a fellow BSG fan and couldn't do it justice at all.

(btw, i felt particularly sophisticated and cynical knowing that i had a signed batman/robin/batgirl print in the bag at my feet the entire time. oh, the shame.)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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