My Debrief of a Geeky Mission

This is what I love about LFN fans… zany fun and boundless creativity wrapped up in compassion and kindness. This is why there was a successful convention 20 years later, and this is yet another reason why LFN remains a special period in my life. Congratulations to all involved, and a very happy birthday to you, Heather. I hope you enjoy the book.” -Christopher Heyn

*Disclaimer: Code Names of my mission team are used due to protection , but mostly strictly for fun.

For those who know of me, know of two things; my passion for film and my fandom of La Femme Nikita. As I stated in previous blogs, I got to experience a once in a lifetime event in Toronto earlier this summer to meet half the cast and help volunteer for the event. What I didn’t realize, is what ridiculous friends I would make and bring home with me from the convention.

My 31st birthday was and wasn’t recently; it was earlier this summer on June 6th. A week after a lot of us came home from the Reunion Convention in Toronto (my personal birthday gift to myself this year). I met few and very amazing individuals, as I also reunited with Maxine and a few of the ladies of the Official Roy Dupuis Fan Club during this trip. The memories are solid, however, I would have never imagine the wits and ends my new friends would go to put together a little adventure for me in order to receive a very special birthday present and a long winded birthday.

 So, what had happened was, behind my back, a couple of my LFN friends decided to team up to buy me one of Chris’s books, “Inside Section One,” due to my passion for TV, film, and writing in general. However, they wanted to make me WORK for the damn book and send me on a scavenger hunt that would take me “around the world.” It wasn’t just a scavenger hunt, it was a mission directed from Nikita. The objective of the mission was this, SURPRISE! The directory was taking down from digital encryption and transferred to hard copy, in result of multiple attempts of Red Cell stealing the damn directory again. I had to “travel” around the world and warn my team of operatives to execute Omega Protocol and go dark until instructed otherwise. In reality, my travels were teleported through messenger, tipping off each operative.

Mind you, I don’t do a whole lot of role playing, since my life is already 3-Dimensional as is, however with a little nudge from The Accountant and my team leader, Kendra, I gave in, and the mission was underway. Another note for you all, this scavenger hunt/mission/role play started on June 15 and finished on June 25! Here are the hints that came up for my travel log:

  1.   First hint to start me off was going to Melbourne, and connect with codename: Katiebug and tell her to execute Omega Protocol.
  2. Katiebug then sent me the hint, “give a message to the Bulgarian, by La Brea Tar Pits.” That hint sent me to codename: Bulgarian Lass.
  3. Once identity was verified, Bulgarian Lass cussed at me in her native tongue after giving me the hint, “What about Sag Harbor?” My first reaction was, what the hell is that?? Eventually the hint led me to a New York operative, which we don’t have a cool codename for yet. LOL!
  4. The fourth hint from the NY operative was, “I hear the band likes Nascar Hall of Famers, but they’re scared of the judge.” LOL! I pinned it down to N.C., but I knew of two operatives from NC. I sent a message to the first one, but within two minutes, I told her, “disregard.” I then remembered who codename: Judge Judy was.  
  5. After succeeding with the Judge Judy factor, she then sent me a hilarious, but long ass hint. “New assignment from Ops has me working on a TV show called ‘Judge Judy’ to infiltrate the networks. Agenda currently unknown…”

    That’s when the banter was taken a step further, “POGUE! YOU NEED TO COME TO ORDER OR I’LL FIND YOU IN CONTEMPT!” LOL! After she calmed Pogue down, she sent me back to our “b” channel to wait further instructions from ‘Nikita’. I then made my way back to “b” channel, where Nikita displayed a new hint.

  6. This next hint sent me out to Venezuela with a code to decrypt and a photo of the largest waterfalls in their country. That’s when I knew I found codename: LatinChica.
  7. After LatinChica, I would head to Washington State to an operative who goes by the codename: The Accountant. No, I am not talking Ben Affleck movie lingo.
  8. From there, The Accountant, sent me the hint, “There’s an operative who bounces a signal off Virginia. Their substation shares my coast.” 
  9. That hint led me to the operative, Valencia. Once I verified my identity and sent her to execute the Omega Protocol, she sent me back to NC to deal with the feds. LOL!
  10. I guess I was too good of an operative, because the last operative (*cough*The Fed*cough*) had me hanging for like two to three days, purposely. My retaliation, you may ask? I sacrificed her and fed her to Red Cell and went ahead with my team leader to head to the cargo plane to intercept the directory.

The reality of my next step to work towards my gifts, the cargo plane ended up to be another escape room for me and Kendra to piece together and get out. As I went behind the cargo boxes, an envelope dropped into my hands. It turned out to be a couple of the pieces of the extra goodies that Chris sent to everyone who bought the book during this time around! Even though I was distracted momentarily, Kendra and I managed to get out of the cargo bay of the plane with twenty minutes to spare. We were trained well! LOL! However, my mission wasn’t done. Saturday, I had another piece of the puzzle awaiting in my mailbox to reveal another essential of the gift. When I put everything together, I didn’t hesitate to call Kendra to demand my answer… “YOU GOT ME CHRIS’S BOOK, DIDN’T YOU!?!?”

As usual, Kendra had a good laugh over the phone and she finally explained the whole ordeal of putting the mission together and her and Jennifer both assisted in buying me the book for my birthday. She knew I was catching on quick with the scavenger hunt, but she gave me each piece of the puzzle separately just to keep me second guessing myself. Let me just say, it fucking worked.
Today, as she came over to have lunch and watch one of Roy’s more ‘current’ films, “Cyanure”, she finally delivered my copy of “Inside Section One” which will be a good tool for me for further education with the film industry and how film and TV projects are put together.

Let me tell you a small secret, I have had NOBODY in my life that went through all of this planning to feed my geekiness, and to give me a gift that I would cherish for life. My life is nowhere easy for me. I found Kendra has certainly earned a place in my “chosen” family here in Madison, and I am super blessed that ReCon seriously brought us together to cherish so many memories together already!! I just hope someday I can provide such amazingness creativity to celebrate her life and our friendship!!

Also, I am blessed for the individuals who played their part in this game. It was soooooooooo perfect and fun with everyone involved!!!! All the clues and banter was priceless between me and those involved. I just hope the Bulgarian Lass can teach me a few words in her native tongue. Last, but surely not least, thank you Chris for giving us this opportunity for a crazy birthday ride that lasted ten damn days with these friends!

Debriefing My Mission in Toronto

I have had two weeks to sort out my memories and thoughts from my trip to Toronto. A part of me is still sorting out the thoughts and the emotions, since I am still in awe for parts of it still. I have a habit of getting the after effects after I decompress from an event that is so large in my heart and in my emotions. La Femme Nikita has done so much for me in a small dosage of my life, but nothing could compare to the event of sitting and personally interacting in the same room as half the cast and parts of the crew behind the production that created such magic in my young life.

Never in my life would I have thought I’d be able to personally witness similar magic sixteen years later after the final scene was shot for Season Five of the show that would go down as one of the most dominant female roles in television history. Yeah, the show only lasted five short seasons (96 total episodes), but at the same time, I believe in quality over quantity when it comes to creating television or film. La Femme Nikita was one of very few shows that proved that and still holds a torch in that influential aspect for creating stories in my book, figuratively and literally. It ended imperfectly perfect in my optical illusion.

Regardless of my feelings for the show, Toronto became so much more than the convention itself. Behold the reunion was beauty of its own with the cast and crew that attended. The priority was the convention, since I was handpicked by the organizers to be the lead for the photography team for the event, as well as, be a part of the security team.

With those positions, I got to observe a different view and have different stories than most fans at the event. The most important thing I must add before I share my individual stories, is this, the new, and some old, friendships I encountered during my week in Toronto will be the biggest memories I will hold dear in my heart forever. The memories and quotes I’ll share justifies my week in Toronto with the individuals’ who made an impression on me for the rest of my life.

I traveled to Toronto on Wednesday, just like the Co-Chairs did, and it didn’t take long for me to reunite with sweet Maxine and introduce myself to Jayne and Maria. We went to the bar to chat and prep for the weekend, as I shared my background with the two I recently met and asked the ladies what they expect of me over the weekend. Shortly after, I asked Maxine to invite our friend, Emma, down to get the party started, so to speak. Shortly, behold, Emma! We chatted a bit, shared some laughs, and shared some stories of our times together in Montreal two years ago to Jayne and Maria. The weekend was already off to a good start.

Thursday morning, I unusually was up by 0800 to prepare my day with Emma to go to the CN Tower. I opened the windows to discover I have brought the rain straight from Wisconsin. I then made my way downstairs to check out the breakfast, because I can’t say no to food often. I walked into the restaurant, Hemispheres, and I quickly spot Emma sitting down for breakfast and took it upon myself to join her since we were already spending the day together. After breakfast, we took thirty minutes to prepare ourselves to walk in the rain to the CN Tower and back.

Maxine thought we were crazy, but we went ahead and did it. The rain was heavy; however, it was also warm and refreshing. By the time we reached back to the hotel, we were just downright soaked from the weather. Emma’s raincoat couldn’t even save her from the rain, since it was coming down at an angle. A rich memory in its own way.

Thursday night, I met Kris, as she flew in and I welcomed her to stay in my room. We shared stories of our lives and some of the best quotes came just from our conversations:

Kris: “Geez, you type fast.”
Me: “Well, that’s what happens when you’re a millennial.”
Kris: “That is a great quote! I need to post it…
Five seconds later…
Kris: “How do you spell millennial?”
Me: “You want to be a writer and you can’t spell millennial?”

I still smile when I think of our monologues from Thursday night.

Friday, finally, my partner-in-crime, from Madison, came to join me for the weekend event. Rae Ann
flew in early, bright eyed bushy tail and not a moment was wasted for her arrival, as we dropped her bags off in the room, and rushed out the door to start our day. Our first stop was as predictable as they come, if you know me. If you don’t, it was Starbucks. Now you know me and what my priorities are.

As we were strolling to our first adventures, Ripley’s Aquarium, I spied a new face that would request me on my Facebook messenger, who would become a breath of fresh air for Rae Ann and I. Our new friend and addition to our adoption habits would be none other than Mary Rosa from Venezuela. She would join us at the aquarium and be added to our great memories over the weekend. Four o’clock creeped quickly as it was the start of registration. The three of us would stroll back together to the hotel.

After registration, I would be patiently waiting for our Chair meeting with the leaders of the pack (Maxine, Maria, and Jayne). Around 1900, Rae Ann and I would take over the registration table for Karen and Carol, so the ladies of the RD Fan Club could reunite for dinner and catch up with one another. Yes, I am one of those ladies, technically, but work was priority for myself. I do apologize for the ladies for not being able to join, but for those who came by the table to say their hellos to me after dinner, I am much obliged. Thank you!

There was not a dull moment at the registration table though, as Rae Ann and I were waiting for Jen to arrive for the night, our other roommate for the weekend. Stacey and Beth would eventually feed me brownies, as an attempt, to boost my sleep deprived laughter with sugar. I am not sure if that was a good idea, because unexpectedly, Rae Ann and I, would be introduced to Gene during that time. It came to the point of Maxine being a bit concerned about me momentarily, but I assured her I was okay. The moment I got to shake Gene’s hand, he spotted my accent:

Gene: “I hear an accent from you. Where are you from?”
Gene: “I can tell. I love it.”

Right off the bat, Gene did not portray an ounce of Operation’s character. What an amazing start of the weekend, might I add. He was surely warm and full of wonderment during all the moments I shared with him throughout the weekend. He seriously loved every minute of ReCon. You could tell with every moment you shared with him. He was in heaven that weekend.

Saturday morning, I reported to ‘Oversight’ after my Starbucks run with my roommates. I then went into my operative mode for the day with both teams I was running with (photography and security). I was focused. Saturday afternoon was huge. I got to witness and snap photos of Jamie Paul Rock with Gene, Matt, and Roy, before the panel. Jamie got me to do it right away with just the sarcastic comment, “What else do you have to do?” The guys were down to earth and chilled from the moment they walked into the VIP area with smiles and jokes that could go on for days if you allowed them.

The cast’s stories they shared from set was just a beautiful recollection I got to hear and witness from their tales during the panel. Peta was skyped in during the panel. It would be better and more complete if she was there in person, but skyping and sharing the moment with the guys was better than not making an appearance at all. For that, I am grateful that the ladies in charge and Peta could compromise and make the panel work with her on board.

The big test for my personal affairs came when the autographs and photo ops were next. Unfortunately, I got the word that Roy had to leave right at 1700 to catch his flight home, so when it came to the photos, I was set up to succeed, lining up my photographers, each with an actor. I got the opportunity to do Roy’s photos with the fans. One snap and it was on to the next, boom. Roy even complimented my work flow as professional, as I remained focused on the mission at hand. I won’t lie, having Roy in front of me, helped me stay calm during the whole experience.

I loved the afternoon with the cast, like everyone else, but what peaked me the most, as a student going through video production in college for my second degree, I was more intrigued by the stories from the editors, writers, Jon Cassar, Joel Surnow, Jamie Paul Rock, and the other crew members who got their start in the film industry on La Femme Nikita.

For me, the panels that these guys and gals held was very informative on the production side of creating good television. The panel that was the most insightful and most informative for me, was Brock Jolliffe (FX Effects) and Mic Jones (Stunt Coordinator) w/ one of his stunt doubles. I learned a lot about their jobs with the stories they shared and it gave me a new perspective of how much work and skills needs to be done to successfully film an action sequence.

Sunday night would be a post-con adventure of a lifetime with Jen, Rae Ann, Kate, and KC. We started to just stroll towards the Art Gallery, but we were hungry first, so we walked until we found a few choices. Across from a Catholic church, we had the choice of Village Idiot Pub or Sin & Redemption. Mind you, we chose Sin & Redemption. Most of us found redemption.

After lunch, we finally made it to the Art Gallery of Ontario, but we only had an hour and a half before it closed, yet… three and a half hours before we had to be at the Murdoch Mysteries Escape Room that Rae Ann booked for us. There was no way we would get through the whole Art Gallery in an hour and a half, so we chose wisely and kept to the culture of the country we were in, Canada.

I was profound by the aboriginal and the abstract art in the galleries. Two of my favorites. Some of the most incisive art in my book at the AGO was the art made by bone. It creeped some people out, but I was drawn to it most for some reason. The pieces shared some stories, I can tell you that much.

As AGO closed at 1730, we still had two hours to kill before the Escape Room, so the ladies and I strolled some more, going towards the house that we needed to be at for the Escape Room. We would find a local Mexican joint for Margaritas. Unfortunately, Mexican in Toronto, is not up to par in my book. Not anywhere close to the authenticity of the food South of our border, but the virgin margarita I had was delicious and refreshing.

Honestly, I never been to an escape room, nor have I ever watched the Murdoch Mysteries. I was going on this damn thing blind. When we got into the room after the constable gave us instructions on the room, the only thing I knew I was good as is finding things, so I started to just randomly find clues and deliver them to Rae Ann since she was the most experienced individual in our group for these escape room thingy’s.

The highlight of the adventure was when Rae Ann and I caught on to the fact that the constable we were working with was the ‘bad guy’ and the good guy was trapped in the jail cell. We didn’t know who or how we were going to distract the ‘bad guy’ and we were failing badly with just the two of us. I don’t know how she found out, but then out of nowhere, here comes Paula, bum rushing into the constable as Rae Ann was able to pick pocket the constable, so we can free the ‘good guy.’ Then as the ‘bad guy’ tried to stop Rae Ann from leaving her side, I somehow used my operative skills to grab the key from Rae Ann and unlock the jail cell for the ‘good guy.’

While all of this was going on, Kate was in her own world in the secret room trying to figure out what an out of tuned old piano was trying to hint at us for the next clue. She had no idea what was going on in the main room. She then came in, and by that time, we already swapped constables, and her expression was priceless. Rae Ann and I just said, “Don’t worry, we got this.”

Unfortunately, we didn’t complete the task when the one hour was up. With a group of seven, we were only one lock away from succeeding, but it was extremely fun for something that I have not done before. Trust me when I say, I will make Rae Ann take me to more rooms back home.

If you have not tried an escape room, I highly recommend you find a theme you like, grab some friends (preferably more than seven people, max is twelve), and go at it! This was surely one of my top favorite non-convention memories from Toronto.

Another favorite memory I got to take home was from my last night in Toronto with Maria, Jayne, Mary Rosa, Maxine, MJ, and Kristiana on Monday night. We first gathered in the bar to recollect the whole weekend, and ended the weekend memories hanging in Maxine’s room. Two generation of fans (the old and new) just enjoying each other’s company! Such sweet ladies I get the privilege to call my friends!

PS – I went 2,507 words without saying my favorite word… Fuck.

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane in May (A Tribute To LFN)

2017 (c) K.D. Mack

I am sitting, not so professionally, with my feet on my desk in my office. John Denver is singing in the background on my actual work computer, as I try to sort out the words I have to share about the one show that led me towards a role model, a hero. The show that would lead me to the life I led in my early adulthood, and the parts I would change forever.

…”La Femme Nikita, which is the one show that I consistently watched during my tour in Iraq. Makes sense, right? I am not sure if you heard of it, but it’s a show based off the original film by Luc Besson; operatives working for a counterterrorism secret organization. Watching this show on my downtime, all the while doing my part to fight against terrorism.”

That’s just an increment of how much this show means to me still today, which I wrote in a recent letter, but it goes deeper than that. If it wasn’t for the love of the show, I wouldn’t be one of the many young ladies looking up to ‘Nikita’ as a role model to be the bold and beautiful I am today. If it wasn’t for the love of the show, I also wouldn’t discover the gift of Roy Dupuis. If it wasn’t for the show, I wouldn’t have had a few good friends through the fan base. If it wasn’t for the love of the show, I wouldn’t have witness the heart of Alberta Watson. If it wasn’t for the love of the show, I wouldn’t have become the writer I am today with my fan fiction. If it wasn’t for the love of the show, I wouldn’t have made it through my tour in Iraq ten years ago.

Two years ago, I met Roy. At the time, I figured it was the closest thing for me to get a small experience of the La Femme Nikita vibe. I was still going through some demons at the time as life started to transition away from my military life. All I thought was, “What is the harm of starting my civilian life by going to Montreal and meeting my hero?” I mean, I already met my childhood hero in August ’14, so why not continue to mark off the goals off of my bucket list. Even though I only got a few words in to the meeting, it changed my life forever. It was the boost I needed to set foot towards my next chapter in my life. Let go of the Army, embrace the person I was and continue to evolve into.

Fast forward two years. I don’t miss the military, I am seven credits away from graduating my second college degree (Visual Communications/Video Production), I have three books published, and the biggest announcement of all… the 20th Anniversary of La Femme Nikita’s first episode airing back in 1997. If that doesn’t make you feel old, this little fun fact will… I was TEN years old at the time! LOL!

For the 20th anniversary, there are these amazing four women (Jayne, Maria, Maxine, & Suse), who are the mastermind operatives that are putting a special reunion convention together for the fans, cast, and crew. My ass is going, so I GET TO WITNESS IT!! That is right, folks, I am leaving on a jet plane, returning to Canada, and reuniting with my friend, Maxine, in May and guess what, so far, the ladies have managed to put together an amazing panel, with more work up their sleeves. So far the ladies have booked Eugene Glazer, Roy Dupuis, Matthew Ferguson, Lawrence Bayne, and Doug MacRae!

Can you feel the excitement in my words?! LOL!

On a serious note, I wouldn’t doubt that if Don Franks and Alberta Watson was here with us, that they too would be hopping on the reunion train as well for the VIP Guest Panels for the convention in Toronto in May. All I know and want everyone to be reminded is, more likely, Don and Alberta are enjoying their own reunion party up above and smiling down on the cast and crew members who are taking their times in their busy lives to show the gratitude towards one of the best fan bases I have ever witnessed in my geeky life. I am sure they are also looking out for those four lovely ladies who continue to work very hard to making this reunion as complete as possible for us fans. These ladies and gentlemen are very loyal and keen on keeping the fandomnium alive. RIP Don and Alberta.

Last, but not least before I close this post, a little fun fact… The cool art piece featured in this blog was created by Doug MacRae aka KD Mack. He was the resident storyboard artist and later worked with the show’s writers coordinating the story department. Doug has personally given me permission to use his badass art piece he created for the 20th anniversary. This is no ordinary blog post. I want to give Doug a shout out for the assist on the art and the willingness to share it with the fans. Boom!

*drops mic*