Posted by: angelnorman | February 22, 2009

Connooga and Me

You know those people who get super into things like, say for instance Star Trek, and every so often they’ll don Klingon costumes or something to that effect and head to a convention center chocked full of people dressed like and as obsessed with Star Trek as themselves? Typically, I’m not one of those people. I don’t even know any of those people. I mean, maybe one or two of my friends have been to Dragon*Con, but certainly not on a regular basis or anything, and rarely in costume.

This weekend I attended my first convention without even meaning to. And friends, let me just say that I loved it. I loved it all, from the people in costume to the awesome guests and panels, to the bellydancing performances to the gaming and roleplaying. It was really, dare I say, cool.

Seriously. I had such a good time watching light saber competitions and seeing people dressed in everything from hella detailed monster costumes to sexy vixenish costumes. And I had fun talking to people and learning details about Harry Potter that I would have otherwise never known (I’ve never read the books, and until this weekend, I never planned to. Now I’m rethinking it.) Mike and I learned of a new roleplaying card game (think Magic meets D&D but BETTER because you can play it solo!) and saw some awesome performances. We particularly loved the seductive styles of the bellydancers. (And every night, I’d go back to the hotel room and practice what I had learned. My hips ache, but Michael’s happy!) It brought out this whole stifled side of me though that never takes the risks anymore to explore things that I know little about, things that I am mildly fascinated by already.

We even tried to attend a poledancing demonstration until we learned it was a CLASS and we’d have to dance. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there was more than one pole in the room or like, less people there. Could you see me trying to wrap my big self around a pole in front of like 30 people? Psshaw.

The best part though was meeting Samantha Newark and Patricia Albrecht, two wonderfully kind ladies who voiced the characters of Jem/Jerrica and Pizazz of the Misfits, respectively, from the 80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms. For those unfamiliar with Jem, basically it was the Hannah Montana of the 80s. There’s this perfectly normal girl named Jerrica who inherits a computer her father created before he died that makes holograms of whatever she pleases, including turning her and her gal pals Kimber, Aja, and Shana into rockstars. No one knows that Jem is actually the same person as Jerrica except for the computer and Jerrica’s friends. Silly as it sounds, it was probably one of my very favorite cartoons from my childhood. I mean, it ranks near the top with Scooby Doo and The Smurfs. (I don’t remember much about my childhood but I do remember my 80s television.) It was the very first cartoon made directly for young girls, according to all I learned at the convention.

Anyhow, I was able to talk to these awesome women (Samantha lives in Nashville too!), get my picture made with them (Samantha made us take some with her camera too! She loves her fans, for sure!), and then I got to sit in on a panel where Patricia Albrecht confessed to us that she didn’t tell her family that she even played the role of Pizazz because she hated the fact that her character was so bitchy! Freaking awesome.

It was like a total dream come true. If you would have told me when I was a child that I’d grow up and meet some of the people who made the television show, let alone Jem’s “voice actress” herself, I wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, when I learned that they were both there (and that in real life, they are very close friends!), I grabbed Michael by the arm and I felt like I was going to squeal. Michael made lots of fun of me for wanting to cry, but I didn’t care. You know, sometimes, you just have to cater to that wild obsessed girl inside. I didn’t know it before this weekend, but my girl on the inside happens to be obsessed with Jem. It would be the equivalent of Michael meeting whoever voiced He-Man or Nicholas meeting whomever voices Optimus Prime.

Look at me trying to justify it, hehe. I’m sure it’s falling on deaf ears (blind eyes?).

Back to my favorite people, though. Samantha told us that she understood completely how people can still feel something for Jem, because a few years back she went and youtubed (funny how that’s become a verb, much like “googled” actually) a few of her favorite childhood cartoons (she was born in England, so I’d never heard of it). Anyways, she said she sat there for hours watching these youtube clips of her fave childhood show and it was so profoundly connective, like a bridge directly back to her childhood. So she knows what Jem fans feel when they go to a convention and then hello! There’s all this Jem stuff there and accessible to them.

They did really hate to learn that we all were about 6 when they first aired. It made them cringe to know that they had so many years on us! Dummy Michael asked them outright how old they were when they did the show and before I could punch him in the arm for being rude, Samantha answered him with, “Well if I told you, I’d have to kill you!”

(I talked to Samantha’s mom though for like 15 minutes and she told me that Samantha was living in LA on her own at the time, so I’m guessing at least 18 or so. Either way it goes, they are both youthful, peppy, and adorable to me. I just could not believe my husband asked a woman how old she was, essentially. Two things we never ask ladies- what’s their age and what’s their weight. He should know this by now! Goober.)

Samantha autographed a picture for me that says, “Angel– You are a true Jem girl!” I was really hoping she’d tell me I was truly outrageous, but no. And then Patricia autographed a picture of Pizazz that reads, “Rock on” in total badass fashion. It was very awesome.

The whole thing was just fun. I wish I would have looked ahead at the lineup and figured out what I wanted to do in advance because I missed some cool things, I know– for instance I missed Samantha perform. She’s a musician who often performs in local places around Nashville with her pop electronica music. I was sad that I missed that, because I heard it was a good time. Next time I’ll know how to work it though, because now I’m a seasoned geek who’s been to a convention– an anime, scifi, gaming, fantasy, and horror convention at that. Go me for stepping outside of my box for awhile and opening myself up to new and interesting things that are happening in this world all around me.

Oh, and my cousin David’s band, Hazmat, played an awesome show. I forgot how much they rocked it (I haven’t seen them play since before I had Nick!).

Pics online.



  1. sounds like ya’ll had an awesome time! glad you got to meet Jem! I remember that show! I loved it!!! Didn’t she use to rub her earrings or something and change to Jem? Anyway! We are headed to Chattanooga in a few weeks! I can’t wait! hope we have as much fun as you!

  2. She did used to at least touch her earrings to make holograms, yes. Anytime she requested something of Synergy (sp?) she’d grab her earrings and ask for it. I love that show. When I was there, I bought all of them on DVD so I’m now the proud owner of all the Jem & the Holograms shows. Also? I bought Rainbow Brite. I’m determined to introduce Nicholas to Rainbowland today, even though I’m pretty sure he’s going to be all, “This show is for girls!” But maybe not! It does have boys in it, and there are bad guys and sprites and pompous horses to love too.

    Where are you staying when you head to Chattanooga? Mike and I want to go again soon with Nicholas, and take him to the Creative Discovery Museum, the Aquarium again, the Nat’l guard base to see my cousin David and all the tanks :), and so on. We just wonder where to stay overnight that is good for kids.

  3. Meeting Jem is awesome! I never liked Barbies much like you and Stephanie did, but Jem and the Holograms I loved! Remember Rio? He was so much more of a babe than Ken. Way to go stepping out of your “box”!

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