2001 Guests

Eleanor Arnason

CONvergence is pleased to welcome award-winning author Eleanor Arnason as a 2001 Featured Guest. Her novel A Woman of the Iron People won both the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and her novel Ring of Swordswon her the Minnesota Book Award.Eleanor’s novels include:

Ring of Swords Cover

  • The Sword Smith (1978)
  • To the Resurrection Station (1986)
  • Daughter of the Bear King (1987)
  • A Woman of the Iron People: In the Light of Sigma Draconis (1991)
  • A Woman of the Iron People: Changing Women(1992)
  • Ring of Swords (1993)

The Warlord of Saturn’s Moons and The Dog’s Story, and the Hugo nominated Stellar Harvest. Eleanor has also written numerous poems and articles, and has been published in Orbit, New Women of Wonder, The Norton Book of SF, and Tales of the Unanticipated just to name a few.

Crist Ballas

Crist BallasReturning Guest of Honor Crist Ballas has been working professionally in the field of Special Make-up and Effects since 1982. In addition to his long association with the locally produced Mystery Science Theater 3000 series, Crist has worked on feature films such as End of Days, A Simple Plan, The 13th Warrior, Mallrats, Jingle All the Way, and yes, Batman and Robin. His studio “Metamorphosis” specializes in “designing and implementing natural, corrective and character make-ups. On the automated side, mechanical masks, creatures and puppets, with cable and/or radio controlled mechanisms.”

To learn more about Crist Ballas and his work, visit http://www.metamorphosismakeup.com/biopage.html.

Peter Mayhew

Peter MayhewStanding seven feet, three inches tall, Peter Mayhew is an English actor best known for playing the Wookiee Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies.

Peter was born in Born in Barnes, London, England, and before getting into acting, he worked as an orderly at London’s King’s College Hospital. Peter received his first acting job in 1977 when the producers of the Ray Harryhausen film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger discovered Mayhew from a photograph in a newspaper article about men with large feet, and they cast him in the role of the minotaur.

When casting roles for his first Star Wars film, producer George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role for the beastly Chewbacca. Lucas originally had in mind 6’7″ bodybuilder David Prowse, but Prowse was instead cast to play the role of Darth Vader. This led Lucas on a search which turned up Peter Mayhew, who says that all he had to do to be cast in the role of Chewbacca was stand up.

Peter has played the part of Chewbacca in four Star Wars films: the original Star Wars trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi) and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He also played the role in the 1978 television movie The Star Wars Holiday Special, as well as in an appearance on The Muppet Show and in commercials and for hospital appearances for sick children. When cast in the role he studied the movement of large animals at the zoo to come up with an authentic sense of movement for Chewbacca. When Peter grew ill in the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back a similarly tall stand in was used, but the actor could not match Peter’s studied movement style and the scenes had to be reshot upon his recovery.

Peter has many stories to share about his experiences during and after the filming of the Trilogy. Be sure to ask about filming on location for the Endor sequences in Return of the Jedi. The production was deep in “Bigfoot Country” and there was concern for Peter’s safety from hunters should he stray too far from the set.

Then there’s his scene in Empire Chewbacca tries to strangle Lando Calrissian. Billy Dee Williams came up to Peter and said, “Peter, please don’t hurt me!” Peter assured Williams that he wouldn’t even touch him. True to his word, when filming the scene Peter just put his hands around Williams’ neck without actually touching him, and the costume hair hid the rest!

Peter got “One of everything” of the original Star Wars toys, and gave many of the toys and collectibles away when making appearances at Children’s Homes and Hospitals. What does Peter think of the films now, especially in the midst of all the prequel hoopla? “It’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful that it’s still as strong a film as it ever was. With Star Wars fans there’s always so much enthusiasm.”

Peter was honored when Chewbacca was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards 1997.

Peter now lives in Granbury, Texas with his wife Angie and three daughters, and is the owner of his own business. He took the oath to become a naturalized citizen of the United States on October 17, 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star Telegram he jokingly noted that he didn’t get a medal at this ceremony either; a reference to the Star Wars scene in which Luke and Han get medals but the Wookiee gets none.

Peter Mayhew 2001 Badge

C.H. Morgan

C.H. Morgan has provided science fiction and fantasy artwork to publishers ranging from Lady Bug magazine to Wizards of the Coast. Her watercolor work has earned her a following among fans of fantasy artwork.

C.H. (Carol) Morgan has been an artist all her life, winning her first art award at age eight. She was awarded a full art scholarship at Daytona Beach Community College in Florida, and received her BA in Art from Stetson University. Living for several years in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific, Carol raised three children and began exhibiting her artwork in places such as the world renowned Center Art Galleries in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Eventually returning to the United States, Carol resumed her teaching at the Center for the Arts of Southern New Jersey and continued her education and training.

By visiting the web site http://www.magelight.com/. you can learn more about C.H. Morgan and see some of her wonderful fantasy artwork which has made her so popular.

Michael Sheard

He played Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back.

He played Arch-Villain Adolf Hitler in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

He’s appeared on Doctor Who several times, working with every actor to have played the Doctor.

He’s guest-starred on Space: 1999, Blake’s Seven, The Tomorrow People, and a host of other British series, too numerous to mention here.

Who is he? He’s British actor Michael Sheard, one of the CONvergence 2003 Guests of Honor.

Michael loves fans and conventions, and he’s sure to be a lot of fun with stories to tell about working with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and all the stars of Doctor Who.

To see all of the things Michael has done, take a look at his page at www.imdb.com (Internet Movie DataBase) by clicking here.

Harry Knowles

Harry Knowles

“The surest way to make this (convention) five days is to not take this mike away from me.”
– Harry Knowles (2001)
“I look forward to just kicking back and getting wildly intoxicated and geeky with a ton of intoxicatingly geeky geeks.”
– Harry Knowles (2005)


Harry Jay Knowles is an online film critic known for his movie news and review website, Ain’t It Cool News.

Harry was born in Austin, Texas, the son of Helen Jane and Jarrell Jay Knowles. His early years were spent traveling the Southwest and Mexico with his parents who did light shows for touring rock bands. His parents then settled in Austin and began trading comic books and movie memorabilia from the upstairs floor of their Victorian era house. Harry’s parents also produced the Austin Fantasy Film Fest in 1976, one of the first science fiction conventions in Austin. Harry spent many hours watching B-grade horror movies as well as other genres from mostly bootlegged 16 mm prints.

In 1994, Harry fell while pushing a cart up a ramp at a convention, and was subsequently run over by the cart with its 1200 pound load of memorabilia. The accident injured his back and left him virtually bedridden. With money from his mother’s life insurance, he purchased a top-of-the-line computer and a friend arranged for Internet service allegedly so they could play Doom online together. After teaching himself how to navigate the Internet, Harry began frequenting newsgroups to exchange gossip and rumors with other fans about upcoming films.

After being chastised by future film critic Mike D’Angelo for posting binary image files to the newsgroups, Knowles launched the website that would become Ain’t It Cool News in February 1996. A principal offering was Harry’s colorful movie reviews, but the secret weapon was the insider news from a network of “spies” inside the entertainment industry. These spies were initially a fabrication to give Ain’t It Cool News’ content some flair, but later the site would attract genuine sources who wanted to retain their anonymity and so took on spy pseudonyms.

Due to the popularity, or perhaps the notoriety, of the website, Harry was sought out by the mainstream media, including magazines, newspapers, and television news programs. In 2000, he was ranked #95 in the Forbes Power List. This is in recognition of the influential power of his website. Due to his unorthodox style of journalism, Quentin Tarantino referred to Harry as “the Wolf Blitzer of the Internet.” Harry has made guest appearances on the television shows Siskel & Ebert at the Movies and Politically Incorrect.

On March 15, 2003, Knowles’s was impersonated by Horatio Sanz in a sketch on Saturday Night Live, wherein he was referred to as “that chubby guy from Ain’t It Cool News.” Knowles feigned offense on his website at being called “chubby.” “I’m morbidly obese,” he quipped on his site, “and I’ve worked hard to get there!”.

Every year since 1999, on the weekend closest to his birthday (December 11th), Harry Knowles hosts an event called the Butt-numb-a-thon; a 24-hour film festival featuring un-official premieres, and vintage films. Additionally, Harry co-programs Austin’s Fantastic Fest, an eight-day film festival focusing on the genres of horror, science fiction and fantasy. Both events are held at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin.

Harry married Patricia Jones on July 15, 2007 at Green Pastures in Austin.

Visit Harry on line at http://www.aintitcool.com.

Harry Knowles 1999 BadgeHarry Knowles 2001 BadgeHarry Knowles 2005 Badge

Jay Knowles

Jay and Harry KnowlesFather of Harry Knowles and Contributer to AintItCoolNews.com

From Jay “Father Geek” Knowles myspace.com page:Who is Father Geek (aka J. Jay) who is to play your host on this page, this labyrinth of pixals, paper and plastic; brass, tin and heavy metal; ink, toner and paint that will overflow this electronic page over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years. Well, I was born into a middle class family of 4th generation Texans 8 months before we dropped the bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. My father was an officer in the Army Air Corp and I spent most of my first 2 years in the backseat of a cream colored 1940 Chevy traveling the great American west from one air base to another.

At age 3 we set down roots in San Antonio, home of the Alamo, The Majestic Theatre and the Buckhorn Saloon, the headquarters of the 4th & 5th Army and the “West Point of the Air”. I led that storybook, 1950’s TV family life, joined Boy Scouts and earned my Eagle with a bronze palm. I played every inning of every game thru 4 years of Little League baseball. My mother was president of the PTA and I made pretty good grades. I played in the band from 6th to 12th grade and drove a 4 door turquoise 58 Chevy my senior year.

I was the 1st of my friends to have a TV (B&W, 13″) in his bedroom (1951), and I went to alot of movies in SA’s giant single screen film palaces and at the many drive-ins around town in the days of 50 cent admissions, 5 cent bus rides, candy bars and cokes, & 10 cent hot-dogs and hamburgers. I earned my spending money by charging 50 cents an hour to do yardwork, plus 5 cents a turd to cleanup after the hundreds of dogs that freely roamed the streets. Later as a teen I opened a bicyle custom shop with a friend in his parents garage. Basically we’d take off the kickstand, chain-guard & fenders, raise the seat, turn the handlebars upside down and collect $15.00, plus keep all the parts. For another 10 bucks we’d add a paint job. No store bought bikes back then had the now common “off road look”, buuuut that’s what all the guys wanted, sooo we did a brisk business.

In 1965 I enrolled at the University of Texas in Austin and it’s been my home ever since. I had vague, but fleeting, thoughts of becoming a lawyer and I was a member of UT’s varsity debate and public speaking teams. Like most of my generation I was politically active. In Texas at that time the power had rested with the Democrats since reconstruction so the revolutionary thing to do was be a Republican. I joined their youth wing. I majored in Speech & Sociology, then Advertising. I became a professional political underling, working for candidates and in the PR dept. at Republican State Headquarters on the 7th floor of the Littlefield Building at 6th and Congress here in Austin. I was on Nixon’s staff at the 68 convention in Miami. My future wife (1860’s North Texas ranching family) was the social chairman of the political club that I was the PR man for. We started to hangout, and watch movies together. We enrolled at the UT Film school and our politics started to shift to the left.

In 1969 we formed a high-octane, mind-numbing lightshow performance company (complete with pyro effects & 20+ projectors)called “Mind’s I”, working with all the pop rockers of the day (did 40+ shows with a little ol’ band from Texas,ZZ TOP), and shooting some commercials & short musical films in 16mm for clubs around the state (way before MTV). We began collecting posters (movie & rock) & comicbooks as we traveled throughout the southern USA. Did alot of the big classic “POP FESTIVALS” from the west coast to the East.

Our Son arrived at the end of 1971 and we opened a pop culture collectibles store (N. E. Mercantile Co. Inc.) based out of Austin. We crisscrossed the country doing festivals and collector shows 25 or 30 times a year until he started public school in 2nd grade, we had begun to collect movies, cartoons, and trailers on 16mm. I bought a VCR in August of 1976. We started sculpting bronzes and setting up at “Rennie faires”, (“Leather Phantasies & Heavy Metal Realities”)and a sister came on the scene in 1981.

In 1984 we divorced after 18 years together. She got the kids. I got depressed. Life goes on and by the Spring of 1989 I had pulled myself together and my son moved in with me. We re-entered the collectibles marketplace as “Jay’s 20th Century Esoterica”. Then in 1992 my Ex died in a tragic firestorm out on the North Texas plains at Lake Kemp and I suddenly had both my kids back. What is it that Goldblum says in that big dino flick? Oh yeah, “Life finds a way.”After aintitcoolnews.com took off in the late Fall of 96 I decided to never SELL another part of our pop culture collections, no matter how high the offer, not because I’m rich (I’m far from it), but because I’d much rather have my HULK 1, or KISS ME DEADLY poster than a shoebox full of money which is much more common and far easier to come by.

Well, that’s a peek at the primal ooze that formed the bio-hard-drive that is to be your host on this page as we journey together thru the refuge of the 20th century popular culture mirror that it has been my pleasure to archive all these years.

Jay Knowles 2001 BadgeJay Knowles 2005 Badge

Connie reclining