Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dragon*Con Part 1: Where I've been and what happened there.

Samantha from The Gypsy Nomads
Thursday: Arrived at the con very early so that we can take advantage of the early registration. We headed over to the Sheraton for registration immediately after getting checked in to our hotel room. When we got there, the line was not so terrible - we were inside the registration room and halfway down the zig-zagged line right away. Yay!
Two hours later, I was registered. Two and a half hours later, Amanda was registered, because the first letter of her last name is too popular. Registration took longer this year than it did last, even though we started off registration far ahead of where we started last year. The way registration is laid out is partly to blame, but the slowness seemed to be largely the fault of the volunteers working registration being chatty and slow, and somewhat incompetent.
We had an adjoined room at the hotel with 7 people total in our party - of those, the 4 who arrived at the con latest spent about 4 hours in registration. It was the worst year for registration so far.
We meet up with Jason, one of my friends from the steampunk message boards, which we've been looking forward to. I'm pleased to learn that he is just as friendly in person as I thought he would be.
That evening, there were a few shows scheduled, and I realized that the Gypsy Nomads were playing. Of the bands that I checked out prior to the con, this was the only one I was interested in seeing. I was not disappointed.

My sketch from Ted Naifeh
Friday: Got up early because I was determined this year to costume on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Got my shower and put on the best of my steampunk outfits, and headed out to see the True Blood panel. It was fantastic. I especially loved Nelsan Ellis who plays Lafayette on the show, who has turned a character that is apparently the lamest of gay stereotypes in the books into a fascinating character on the show. Turns out that he's from Bessemer, Alabama and graduated from Jess Lanier high school. My school's football team used to play them! I wonder what year he graduated? Kristin Bauer who plays Pam is actually a really sweet lady; Sam Trammell dresses exactly the same as Sam Merlotte which is a little weird. Apparently he is playing himself on the show, although constantly being nude seems to be less a part of his real life.
After the panel we register for the masquerade, and I have to wait for the comic artist's alley to open. Amanda and I spend some time walking around and checking out costumes. It finally opens, and I go right away to buy one of the limited edition laser etched yo-yos that Doktor A is selling. Doktor A loves Amanda's steampunk outfit, and she is thrilled! I also request my sketch from Ted Naifeh, because it's always good to ask early in the con. My request: steampunk, female. No further directions. Ted Naifeh loves my steampunk outfit, and I am thrilled!
Amanda and I then go get in line for the Quantum Leap panel, with Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. It is packed out, which is kind of nice considering that the show was quite a long time ago. Scott Bakula has some seriously excited fans, who have a banner that says "Oh Boy!" and a number of other props that I don't fully understand, including a cut out of Bakula with Christmas tree lights in the eyes. At any rate, they are pretty entertaining on their own, which is good because the panel is sort of sleepy and low key. Bakula seems nice, Stockwell is not that talkative and is really showing his age, although he's quick with the jokes at Bakula's expense a few times, in a good-natured, buddy kind of way.
I go back to get my sketch from Ted Naifeh. It is amazing, easily the best sketch I've ever gotten at a convention. He says he wished he asked me more about what kind of character I'd like before he sketched it out; I tell him that I wanted him to come up with an interpretation all his own, and I'm glad I did. We chat a bit about steampunk and as usual, Ted and Kelly Crumrin (who is always there with him) are delightful to chat with.
Friday night we think about attending one of the events, but end up just hanging out, moving between the hotels and socializing.

Carey and Amanda with the Airbender group
Saturday: Up early again. Amanda and Carey get ready for the parade, and I get to sleep in just slightly longer than them. Pretty soon after they leave to be in the parade, I leave to watch the parade. The weather was amazing - cool, a bit breezy, but perfect for standing around in the streets of Atlanta. The parade turns out to be huge. In addition to the amazing costumes, there are a few floats including a pirate ship, and a Netherworld float with a giant creature that moves. There are also a few bands. Nice. It's becoming a lot more like a major parade every year. Maybe next year the steampunks will work out a float shaped like a dirigible or an air-kraken or something.
After the parade I go back up to the room and put on my steampunk gear, and spend a little time seeing the rest of the Comic Artist's Alley. When Amanda is done getting her picture taken with her parade group, we meet up for lunch, then she goes back to the room to shower while I continue to run around the Arist's Alley. Then I get in line for the Adam Savage autograph session and Amanda eventually joins me. Things get a bit tense when the line moves just minutes after she leaves the line to meet friends who are supposed to be just outside of the line area (they are not). She gets back inside, though, and we both make it up to see Adam Savage. He is really friendly and takes a few pictures of some of the more technical costumes. Sweet!
Afterwards we do some shopping, and buy Dragon*Con shirts. The design is awesome this year. Then we go catch the Gypsy Nomads at their Concourse show (this is a 30 minute show in the open area of the Hyatt). They are awesome again. We go back to the room to eat and hang with friends for a while, and both realize we are much more tired than usual at Dragon*Con this year. Too many early mornings, I guess. We eventually decide to go out and get some tea at the coffee shop in the Hyatt, and end up going to the food court between the hotels to watch people walk by while we drink tea. Considering the rest of our group is drinking alcohol and hanging out in the very crowded Marriott, we come off as the old ladies of the group. Oh well. We eventually do get over to the Marriott, but only stay about an hour and then go back to the room. Soon after returning we learn that Carey has lost her badge in the Marriott. Amanda makes calls in the hotel to see where a lost badge would be picked up. I start texting Chris to check the price of replacement badges on his iPhone, and also campaign him and Madie to contribute a bit of money to help Carey out if she can't afford to replace the badge. She doesn't, and her badge is never turned in to the lost and found. Sad.

Sunday: I finally sleep in a little bit. Amanda and I do some more shopping, and then head over to the Steampunk Makers' Exhibition where people are displaying various cool steampunk items they have created. I see a number of the Alabama steampunks there, which is awesome. My online friend Jason is one of them, and he has a nice assortment of items on exhibition. We take lots of photos. We also learn that someone broke out a window in the Hilton, and the glass falling out bashed him in the face. He's a bit bruised but otherwise ok. A guy standing near him was not so lucky, and got pretty well cut up. We discuss how the con is oddly rowdy this year. After an hour at the Exhibition we head back to get ready for the Masquerade.
Steampunk Makers' Exhibition
The Masquerade is somewhat well organized. We start off with too many people in a small space, but they do get us sorted out into groups eventually and get us into a larger room where we can sit and rest. Den mothers take us on runs to and from the restroom, and bring us water. We finally get our moment on stage in our Katamari Damacy costumes. I am the first one out, and people cheer. I'm so happy! Madie is the last out, pushing the Katamari ball, and people really go wild when they see we have The Prop. We take turns pushing it around the stage. My mask turns sideways and I can't do much about it until I'm done with the ball. Later on when we're watching the Masquerade on Dragon*Con TV in the room, Chris says "I wondered what was up with that. I thought maybe you were just trying to maintain eye-contact with the audience". It does sort of have that effect - I'm glad it played well. Also glad we didn't fall off the stage. It's over quick, and then we can go backstage and relax. I find myself glad that I loaded up my bag with Rice Crispy Treats before the Masquerade. The Masquerade seriously needs to start providing a deli tray or something - it was a really long time to spend sitting around in costume, waiting. The den mothers are awesome and continue to bring water, and come around with a few Oreos as well. We wait. We watch the bands that will be playing later set up on a stage behind the Masquerade stage. We watch the Masquerade on a screen. We watch Rogue from the Cruxshadows chew and watch the same screen. It's a bit dull.
We don't win anything at the Masquerade, which I sort of expected. Amanda, Carey, and I decide to stick around for the photo session after the Masquerade. They put us out first because our giant inflatable ball is in the way. As soon as we get on the little stage for pictures, someone yells "you guys are my very favorite!" and I really don't care that we didn't win. Someone else yells out "why weren't you in the parade this year?" It's fantastic. I don't want to do the Masquerade again, but I'm glad that the costumes made people happy.
We go back to the room and have sandwiches, and everyone but me and Amanda go to the Cruxshadows show. We load up all the stuff we can do without for one day and get a bellhop to take us down to the car. It seems so strange that it's already Sunday night. We are up so late loading that we get back from the car right after everyone else has come in from the Cruxshadows. They had a good time - Madie, Lauren and Amanda danced on stage. Carey and Chris stuck together and put a stop to any attempts at moshing.

We sleep as late as we possibly can on Monday, check out, load up the car, and do some last minute shopping. We pre-register for next year, and overhear a con employee telling someone that registration should be better next year as they are looking to revamp it. Fingers crossed. We eat lunch, check out the art show a little just before it closes, and then hit the road back home. Hard to believe it's already over.

Favorite costume I didn't get a photo of at the Con: Possessed Terry and Arlene from True Blood. Two people who just sort of look like Terry and Arlene put on black-out contacts and hit the floor. Simple, brilliant, effective. Gone too fast for me to photograph.

Nerdiest comment of the Con: The guy who told me that Braveheart was too historically inaccurate for him to tolerate. Not because William Wallace was not actually from the highlands. Not because that funny part where the Irish join the Scottish against the British was completely made-up. No, he can't tolerate it because back in that time period, no one would have had a mouth full of healthy white teeth. The few teeth any of these men would have had left in their head would be filthy and disgusting. All of us geeks have the details we like to quibble over, some little deviance from the source material that gnaws at us and prevents us from just relaxing and enjoying the show. This is the first time I've met someone who can't understand why the movie-going audience might be a bit distracted by ugly mouths during a heroic epic.
We did, however, both agree that Christian Bale would totally rot his teeth out if the role called for it. He's way more dedicated to his art than Mel Gibson.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You make me want to strive to be a bigger nerd! I wish i'd gone and met the Venture Bros. Crew...