The Fed Con 7 Robert Duncan McNeill Extravaganza
by Stela

Finally, a whole year later than I would have expected, I am able
to write about a con with Robbie McNeill being one of the
attending guests... and you'll have probably already guessed: he
was well worth the wait!

Wow, what an action-packed weekend it has been... 3000+ people
attending, 150+ stewards and myself among them, 9 guests (Robbie,
Bruce Boxleitner, Jeri Ryan, Leonard Nimoy, Gates McFadden, John
de Lancie, Robert O'Reilly, J.G. Hertzler and Robin Aitkin
Downes), all flooded the Maritim Hotel (and you wouldn't believe
the stares from 'regular' hotel guests...).

I was lucky enough to see the guests at the press conference
before the opening ceremony Friday night, and although Bruce
Boxleitner was and is my first hero (and cause I saw him in
Blackpool in '97), my eyes were glued on Robbie as soon as he
entered the room, wearing black trousers and a long-sleeved white
shirt. Unfortunately, he was only asked one question - if he had
come up with the Captain Proton scenario - most of the questions
were predictably directed to Leonard Nimoy who impressed me very
much that weekend with his calm, yet charismatic presence. But
still, I could freely and safely watch and take some pictures of
Robbie from the back of the room.

The opening ceremony practically whizzed by, and then it was time
for the first panel ... Robbie's panel!! (good move by the
organizers) He was greeted very warmly by the audience and
immediately burst into song. Well, almost <g> He started singing
the song Tim Russ sang at the Grand Slam Con, but couldn't
remember the words. 

He did sing it on Sunday at his second panel though, somebody had
made up new words and given him a copy:

<<[Robbie gets two sheets of paper] What is this? Aah, the
Voyager song... [audience whoops and applauds] Shall I sing this
now? [audience goes 'Yeah!'] We'll have a little musical break?
Ok. Where's my water, I've got a [clears throat] mmm-naaaaaaa
{you know kinda opera-like} [single whoops from the audience] A
little musical break, here we go. [looks at the pages] He he he
he he [quite high-pitched, audience also laughs] I never do this
at home, for some reason I feel like singing this weekend. Ok,
here we go: [to the music of Gilligan's Island]

Just sit right back and you're hear a tale
a tale of a fateful trip
that started out at DS9
on board a Starfleet ship.
The Voyager's Intrepid class
her crew newly assigned
her mission: locate Maquis
Gul Evek couldn't find 
[deep] Evek couldn't find.

Into a deadly nebula
our starship she did roam
but hit by the Caretaker's distortion wave
she carried far from home
[even deeper] carried far from home.

[audience whoops and laughs and applauds]

I'm not done. - I am done. Is that it? There's no more here. -
There's just a script for some scene that I [leafs through the
pages] Hey, I don't have any line in this scene, what's going on
here [audience laughs] Ooh, that's all I have, who else has the
rest of the words? You wanna hear my song? I wrote a song
[audience whoops and applauds] since we ran out of words for that
song. All right, mine's not quite as clever as that one, I don't
think, maybe it is, let's see. Now this song I just wrote while I
was waiting for Leonard to finish {L. Nimoy's panel was before
Robbie's} [audience giggles] he ah he was talking and I got
inspired. This is a song to the Brady Bunch theme. You know the
Brady Bunch? [single yeahs from the audience] Ok, everybody knows
this song 'It's a story...nana' you know that song? Ok, here we

It's a story of Captain Janeway
who was flying with her loyal Starfleet- hehehehe [audience joins
right in laughing, too] 
I'm sorry, I'll start over [residual laughter flowing through the
hall] I get so excited I wanna sing and now I'm like ooah [goes
all playful timid and shy] dankeschoen... whoo. Ok, here we go,
I'll start over:

It's a story of Captain Janeway
who was flying with her loyal Starfleet crew
they needed somebody to drive - this new starship
so an ex-con joined them, too.

It's a story of Commander Chakotay
who was fighting with the fierce and proud Maqui
with B'Elanna by his side - they went to battle
they used to work with me.

Till the one day when both ships met the Caretaker
and he sucked them right into the Delta Zone
now this crew has somehow formed a family
and an Ex-Borg has a new home.

The Voyager Bunch,
the Voyager Bunch
that's the way we became the Voyager Buuuunch.

[audience goes ballistic, applauds and whoops and yeahs]

That's all the words. [audience just goes on...] Actually [and
on...] Thank you very much, thank you [and they're still
going...] Like a rockstar: the Voyager Bunch, the Voyager Bunch!!
{delivered in a rocky, raspy voice} [applause slowly dies down] I
always wanted to be a rockstar. Thank you. I actually, I think, I
think my song was a little funnier than Tim's {Tim Russ},
[audience laughs] actually, and I just made mine up in a minute,
so- [audience giggles] I think you should all email Tim, tell him
that my song is a little funnier than his.>>

He went on to answer questions about his family, jokes and
exciting events on the set (he told the Tuvok-sock joke, and told
us about the fire on the bridge set), briefly recounted his role
in Into the Woods, his guest role in TNG and Quantum Leap, was
badgered (without too much resistence) into singing a line from
'Giants in the Sky', and he talked about the on-screen
relationship between B'Elanna and Tom:

<<Robbie: you know I think the reason they put those characters
together was because the characters - ah had so much conflict
between them. They both were very opinionated, they both were
very stubborn, and I think the writers just thought that that
would be an interesting couple - ah- to see, especially over a
long run, because, you know you could use that sort of conflict
in a lot of different stories, in a lot of different situations,
and it wouldn't be just a real sweet, happy couple, but it would
be a couple that really - enjoyed - you know [audience giggles]
enjoyed really hard - - conversations [audience laughs]>>

He really knew how to mix the serious and the funny, so that the
audience did get both a serious Robbie, mixed with a healthy dose
of Robbie humour, mostly directed at himself. I got the feeling
that he feels quite secure and at home with the Voyager cast and
his role as Tom Paris, despite some disagreement he has with
where the writers/producers sometimes take the character. He also
said he wouldn't mind if UPN decided to run Voyager longer than
seven seasons {me neither J}.

There was so much more, more jokes, impressions of Chakotay and
Kim, how he wom a $50 bet against Kate and that she still hasn't
paid him, and how he got the role of Tom Paris.

After such a barrage of Robbie, I wasn't really able to
appreciate Bruce's panel, but suffice it to say that he was as
impressive as the last time, filling not only the stage, but the
whole auditorium with his charismatic presence. It was like -
wow! (end of the day: 0.30 a.m.)

In order to be able to attend the club meeting with Robbie I had
changed part of my shift with another steward, and had to be up
and about at 8 a.m. to check in the people with day tickets and
other stressful things (the cues, the endless cues...). 

But all that was forgotten when the meeting drew closer and
closer. We met at 2.30 p.m. (30 min before the meeting) at the
club table, most of us were trembling inside while keeping up a
nonchalant facade of pleasant anticipation. After some
last-minute changes and confusion and Robbie being 20 minutes
late due to traffic, we finally managed to all sit down around
two large tables, an apple-eating Robbie in our midst, this time
with a black polo-shirt and light trousers (surprise, surprise

For the first couple of minutes you could see 25 completely
tongue-tied people, and Robbie chatting to make us feel more at
ease. Those intrepid few who dared to ask questions were rewarded
with Robbie's focused attention, and believe me, it is quite
difficult to concentrate on the beginning of his answer when
those - and I know this has been said countless times already -
blue eyes focus on you... TV and pictures can't prepare you
really, cause they can't capture them adequately.
Robbie looked very relaxed and rested (he told us he'd only
gotten up 2 hours earlier), and he was just as kind and nice and
friendly as I had heard before. 

After a while (time was running, the autograph session was
looming) Roswitha gave him a small present from the club: an
illustrated book about Germany with a small teddybear (for
Carter) and chocolate bars attached as decoration. His first
reaction (in a high-pitched voice): "Chocolates!" ... Ok ... <g>
he did get a lot more, and I looked at him unbelieving when he
told me the next day that he had already eaten most of it ... he
was probably just kidding (and yeah, I know, I was so lucky that
I could talk to him again on Sunday, being a steward is not all
work, and missing almost all the panels, it's also lots of fun
from time to time). 

Fortunately, there was enough time to get pictures taken, plus it
was a beautiful, sunny day outside, so we stepped out on the
roof, and off we went: group pictures, also everyone got a single
picture with Robbie, yep, me too ... it was very - cool *big

The rest of the day passed - somehow. My feet didn't hurt
anymore, cause I was basically floating about an inch above the
ground which was also really cool for dancing all night in the
hotel bar/nightclub. Man, we had fun that night!  (end of day:
3.30 a.m.)

Switched again to be able to see Robbie's second panel (what, I'm
single minded? - naah). I hadn't thought he could top his
performance from Friday, but he completely swept us off our feet
with his charm and enthusiasm. We heard about Robbie's nose
pranks (Tuvok's eyebrows and the dried glue), and the accident
where the sparklers of his rocket-pack set his pants on fire. He
was very expressive in recounting the whole scene, complete with
pointing where the pants - and his behind - had been scorched,
which sent the audience into fits of laughter. 

There has been speculation on the mailing list whether Robbie
really plays ping-pong as well as it was shown in "Relativity"...
well, let's hear it from the man himself:

Q: Do you like to play pool?

Robbie: Uhm - I like to play, but I'm not very good at it, so -
ah - so I don't play it very much. You know what we did play, we
played ping-pong. Did you see this episode 'r'an'thing? [audience
goes "nah"] Not yet, see, you guys are a little - different
schedule {I think he was going for 'a little - behind' ...nice
save}  [audience laughs] This was an episode that just came out
in the States {not really J} and we had a a ping-pong
championship and Jeri Ryan was my partner [audience laughs], and
ah - now Seven of Nine can play ping-pong very, very well - but
Jeri Ryan ... [audience roars with laughter, then applauds]. But
anyway, I love ping-pong, when I was a kid I had a ping-pong
table in my house, and I love ping-pong, so - and Garrett plays
ping-pong very well, so we were working all day, we were shooting
in the messhall, and the ping-pong table was there, and usually
when we're working we go in, we rehearse the scene, and then we
go back to our trailer, we make a phone call, we study, we do
whatever, we don't wanna hang around while they're lighting, you
know doing all the-the- getting ready for the shot, it takes
hours sometimes. But this day with the ping-pong table, Garret
and I did not leave the stage. We would sit there playing
ping-pong, and they're putting the lights up all around us, and
we're like 'oh, yeah, oh yeah [Robbie makes untranscribable
pff-like sounds while doing a couple of pretend ping-pong
smashes]' [audience giggles], and we're like dripping with sweat,
we were playing so hard - anyway the make-up department kept
going 'please, boys, stop playing ping-pong your're sweating it's
horrible' [audience laughs] but we were we were like obsessed
with ping-pong. I think it was a draw, I think it was even,
Garrett and I are pretty- well matched But no I don't play pool
very well.

Oh, boy, I hope he knew what he was doing, now he probably won't
have to buy another ping-pong bat or ball in his life...

Robbie talked about many more topics and events, but I thought
I'd add his feelings about Tom Paris demotion to Ensign as this
has been a major and controversial issue on the net:

Q: ... how you felt when you first heard or read that Tom Paris
was going to be demoted?

Robbie: Yes! Did you, did you see that episode?

Q: Not yet, unfortunately.

Robbie: Not yet... Yeah, you know there's an episode called
'Thirty Days' - I hope you'll all see, cause I think it's ended
up being a very good episode, but in the episode I disobey the
Captain - uhm, and- and at the end of the episode she demotes me
from Lieutenant to Ensign {you can hear the indignation in his
voice J} [audience also doesn't like it] and ah and when I first
- yeah, that's what I said [agrees with audience] and when I
first read it I thought - I talked to the producers, I said 'you
know I don't think he should be demoted' and they went 'oh, no no
no, we ah we wanna have another epsiode where you're really
heroic and you get promoted again.' {on a sidenote: he could have
been heroic and then get promoted to full Lieutenant!? Would'a
made more sense to me} I said 'oh, ok' well [audience laughs] I'm
still waiting for that episode [more laughter] I - I'm still an
Ensign, and ah, I'm just gonna steal a pip one day and stick it
on, because- I don't like to be an Ensign, you know. Yeah, Tom
Paris he should be a Lieutenant!, you know, he's been around
[audience agrees, whooping and applauding] Yes, I'm gonna- I'll
work on that when we get back.

Too soon, the panel was over and I believed that the day's high
point had passed ... until I ran into Robbie on the way to my
shift! I was pretty dumb-struck, cause things like that usually
never happen to me, but I guess my yearly stock of luck decided
to focus on the FedCon weekend <g> We talked for a minute (or
two?) before he headed back to the hotel, and again I was amazed
at how friendly and kind he is, and how easy it is to talk to

A hug later, an inch taller (you know, the floating <g>), I made
my way toward my shift and the closing ceremony. Which, BTW, was
great, mostly due to the fact that they brought on Michael
Mittermeier, quite a famous German stand-up comedian who is a
huge Star Trek fan. He took us all on a journey through sight and
sound (he is very physical on stage and vocally talented),
completely bringing the house down, I laughed so hard it hurt. I
could also see Leonard Nimoy from where I was sitting and he
almost fell out of his seat a couple of times (Mittermeier tried
to translate most of the jokes), same with Bruce. A truly
satisfying finale...

After that it was all good-byes and going-homes. We left at about
8 p.m., the con behind, the road in front and a bagful of
memories with us. (end of day: 5.15 a.m.)

It was great meeting new Flighters, getting to know others better
(Hi Andrea, Kadda, Sylke), and meeting new people in general,
it's a wonderful feeling when you sense you connected with
someone, and you might have found a kindred spirit, regardless of
age or language differences.

Thank heaven for loving boy-friends with MD Players and the
fitting digital mic to go with.

I didn't get to see a lot of the other guests, I saw about 15
minutes of Jeri's panel (her father was there and sitting next to
my boyfrined and I, and you could see he was very proud of his
daughter), and what I saw I liked, she had a good connection to
the audience and what she said what witty and funny. I also saw 
the last 10 minutes of Leonard's second panel... wow. He was just
standing there at the mic, talking, and the hall was his. He had
to come back twice, cause the applause and standing ovations just
wouldn't stop. Amazing.