“But what does it do?” A bar guest at my job asks earnestly, staring at the sonic screwdriver in my hand. I fumble for the correct response, not too sure how to answer.
“Everything except wood,” I answer sheepishly, avoiding his confused look.
I had received my very own sonic screwdriver just two days before Tampa’s 2013 Time Lord Fest, so of course I carried it everywhere “sonicing” just about everything. What I mean by that is I keep pressing this little button in the center that causes the tip of the plastic device to turn blue and make a very notorious buzzing noise.
For those of you that are savvy to the BBC cult classic show “Doctor Who,” you can probably relate to my avid obsession with the screwdriver, and even know mine is the tenth Doctor’s replica just by the color of the light. And as stated in the unwritten guidebook for geeks, I had to immediately signed up for Ken Spivey’s Time Lord Fest as soon as I heard about it, ready to be among my fellow Whovians.
For those who have absolutely no idea what I am going on about, “Doctor Who” is a famous British sci-fi show going on 50 years of programming. The protagonist is a humanoid alien called the Doctor who is the last remaining Time Lord in the universe. He travels through space and time in a blue police box called the TARDIS and he occasionally gets lonely, so each season we’re introduced to a variety of companions, some of which last quite a while, and some who…don’t.
The show began in 1963 and was revamped in 2005 staring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, quite possibly his most famous companion and major love interest. What is extremely refreshing and unique about the show is how often a different actor plays the Doctor; while this first seemed detrimental to the plot and overwhelming for the fans, it is actually quite purposeful. Anytime the Doctor is hurt beyond repair and very near death, he avoids it by completely regenerating, thus being played by a different actor. After the first season of the revamp, Eccleston was replaced by David Tenant (arguably the most famous Doctor) who was later replaced after three seasons by Matt Smith.
It was early December that I heard about the Time Lord Festival, as advertised by a sidebar link on my Facebook. I immediately checked out the website and gleefully bought tickets for the January event. I then bought an alarming amount of Who related toys and clothing and caught up with the show via Netflix, patiently awaiting the festival.
Held at Zendah Grotto off Ohio Avenue, the convention began at noon and I was fashionably late. As soon as I stepped into the building I was greeted with an enormous replica of the TARDIS in the center of the room, clearly the focal point. I awkwardly stared at it, star struck by an inanimate object, and finally managed to move out of the doorway.
The building was divided into three main segments: the venue area on the north side, the center area with the TARDIS, and the stage on the south side. At least 95 percent of participants were in cosplay (costume play) for Who characters, the most common being Four (as made famous by Tom Baker, the fourth regeneration of the Doctor, for his colorful scarf and constant offer of Jelly Babies candy), Ten (Tennant, who always mixed converse sneakers with a brown trench coat) and Eleven (Smith donned a fez for one bloody episode, but it is officially his main identifier along with a bowtie).
The stage offered entertainment every hour, many of which were panels of those most knowledgeable at Who history and were asked certain questions pertaining to specific Doctors, storylines, and predictions for future episodes. Entertainment also included performances by the Time Lord Fest Dancers, Peter Pan’s traveling musical pixie-time show, and the Ken Spivey band. Those wanting to enter the costume contest had to complete a “vendor bingo” to qualify, and the results would be determined later in the evening.
The panels were not only entertaining, but also quite informative. Even though I consider myself rather knowledgeable in the world of Doctor Who, I am not very familiar with “Classic Who” (the original eight Doctors) or all the logistics behind time travel. The topics covered everything from spin-off shows (Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures) to “making love in the Tardis” and celestial trivia. Even though the panels were worth the cost of admission in itself, the vendor area not only held unique Who-related art and jewelry, but also some extremely friendly authors.
Lakisha Spletzer and her fiancé R.M. Garcia shared venue space with Kathryn Sullivan on the north side of Zendah Grotto. All three are published authors of young adult paranormal and science fiction, and all three were extremely personable and excited to be involved with the convention.
Sullivan, author of “Talking to Trees,” “The Crystal Throne,” and many more books, readily signed copies and explained her varying storylines, ranging from fantastical journeys into mythical lands, to a little boy meeting an elf in his backyard. To her right sat Spletzer and Garcia, also signing copies and happily conversing with any onlookers.
Garcia is an award-winning author known for his Foundlings book series, his focus on vampires and their bloodlines. On the opposite side of the paranormal spectrum, Spletzer is known for Werelove, a supernatural series about what happens when you combine love and werewolves. Together, Spletzer, Garcia and Sullivan cover every paranormal topic ranging from aliens to fairies.
Aside from the refreshing conversation with other writers, my favorite part of the convention had to be the vendors. It truly astonishes me how talented people are, and how many things can be twenty times cooler when made Who related.
Many, if not all, of the vendors have Etsy accounts, so when I eventually ran out of money from buying a multitude of unnecessary (but equally awesome) things, I was still able to find on the internet what I previously couldn’t commit to buying. If you’re interested in seeing some very awesome Doctor Who goodies, I highly recommend the following:
Amy Hilson’s Artistic Creations: not only is she a talented painter, but she is also incredibly clever with her designs. My favorite purchase? A necklace with the Face of Boe painted onto a tiny bottle. Brilliant!
- Looking for both traditional and digital art? Both Cheyenne Villoch-Perez and Kate Carleton are extremely talented and have a unique style in their illustrations. I couldn’t help but buy a poster by Kate of all eleven Doctors made entirely of varying shades of blue and pixilations.
- If you’re in the market for a unique Doctor Who shirt, CB Rift is what you’re looking for. Who doesn’t want a shirt explaining that their ain’t no party like a time lord party because a time lord party isn’t bound by typical temporal parameters and thus doesn’t stop? Exactly.
- Maygin Theresa committedly crocheted mini Doctor Who characters the entire time the convention went on. If you think her Etsy logo is adorable (which it is) then you should check out her Gromidez designs, all of which are knitted, crocheted, sewn or otherwise handmade. Once I bought my mini Ood, I carried it in my hand for hours, totally in awe at how adorable a tiny squid-faced alien can be when made out of yarn.
- On the domesticated side of Doctor Who, Laura Proctor created quite possibly the cutest kitchen goodies for any Who fan: Doctor inspired owl pot-holders (Ten and Eleven are surprisingly accurate) and sexy Who aprons.
The night ended with the highly anticipated costume contest and a debate on who is a better Doctor: Smith or Tennant? I met a lot of interesting people, some of which I am already planning to see again quite soon, and a promise to reunite at this years MegaCon in Orlando. Spending an entire day with other Whovians may be exactly what the doctor ordered, and as for MegaCon… allons-y!