Only 355 Days Until Dragon*Con 2013!!!
I realize Dragon*Con has been over for almost a week and I have not posted anything about it. If you are familiar with this blog at all, you will not be surprised. This has never been one of those “first to break the story” kind of things.
That said, I apologize for taking so long to tell the tale. I have been in recovery since then.
I made it a point of pride at Dragon*Con to be the first one up, and the last in bed, every day. And I have been playing catch-up ever since. I seriously considered the prospect that I could have contracted mono from some random dirty bird that I shared my flask with. That’s how much I have been sleeping.
Either mono, or I am suddenly a narcoleptic, which would explain waking up and not knowing that I was even asleep.
The point is that I’ve been sleeping, and not posting.
When you return from Dragon*Con, there are two questions on everyone’s lips, which I will briefly answer before I get to the part you all really came here for: the pictures.
1. How was Dragon*Con? Dragon*Con is, of course, completely awesome. It’s hard to tell people who aren’t into this sort of thing about how much fun it is. Anytime you come home from a trip, the best answer to this question is just to tell people to go see for themselves, then they will know.
2. What was your favorite part? Like a lot of people say (including Brandon in his great tumblr “Blessed Are the Geek”), everyone has their own reasons to go to Dragon*Con. Me? I party hardy all night, then go to panels during the day. My favorite part of Dragon*Con was just hanging out with my friends, and seeing friends that I haven’t seen in a long time (in a couple cases, like 10 years). My favorite panel was Stan Lee, followed closely by the Venture Brothers panel.
I knew that staying in a host hotel would be very different from staying in an overflow hotel, but I don’t know if I was properly prepared for how different it would be. The main difference is that it is hard for me to go to bed when there are exciting things going on downstairs. So if you want to actually sleep at Dragon*Con, I would recommend the airport Hilton. If you want to party, I would recommend any of the host hotels.
I’m pretty sure that I got this photo from the Marriott’s website, but try as I might, I could never get a picture of the atrium that was even close to being as good as this one.
I guess to do this right, I should just go day by day and try to recount the events as they happened.
This is the cast that experienced all these experiences with me. We are fearsome. I took the picture.
We got to Atlanta after a brief layover in Auburn for lunch with an old friend (TWER, mentioned in the George Hardy post. The one who got his teef worked on). This was probably around 3:30 or so, local time.
We left the car with the valet, which always makes me super nervous even though no one is gonna hotdog it around town in an orange ’03 Honda Element. I think I’ve seen too many 80’s movies where that happens. Or at least one that left the impression of many.
Checking into the hotel was easy, and was even slightly organized. I could already tell that this Dragon*Con was gonna be different.
The elevator was, of course, completely mobbed. Our room was on the fifth floor, so we lugged our bags up the stairs. Not being fitfordragoncon bit me in the ass. Hard. Plus my bag was huge and heavy laden with bottles of booze and a radio.
Huffing and puffing, we arrived at our room. This is what we saw:
Last year we stayed at the airport Hilton, one of the overflow hotels. The rooms at the Marriott were much smaller, and generally not as nice, but we were right in the heart of the action.
I also would like to point out that you can make most all of these pictures really big, which is helpful in the crowd shots so you can do your own people watching and pick out the costumes that you recognize.
I think I actually took this picture Saturday or Sunday, but since it was taken from our room, I’m including it here. This picture shows two things:
1. How incredibly crowded it is on Saturday and Sunday
2. Voltron. Off to get a drink or five. You can’t tell from the picture, but that Voltron costume was amazing and appealed to my deep-rooted sense of nostalgia. I honestly could have stayed on this balcony and drank and people-watched all weekend. It was truly a great vantage point and we got to see some really good costumes and some interesting interactions between our fellow Dragon Conventioneers.
When we finally left the room, we went and got our pre-reg badges. We were nervous about this, as we have stood in line for badges for upwards of 6 hours before.
This year, we breezed through the line and received our badges in about 10 minutes!!!!! Thanks Dragon*Con, for changing things!!!
That night we met up with some local friends who were having cocktails at Trader Vic’s, a tiki bar in the basement of the Hilton (I think). It was great fun and then we went back to the Marriott to continue the party, where a friend of mine took a bite out of a bush! He just stuck his whole head in there like he was a-bobbin’ for apples! Except instead of an apple, he came up with a mouthful of shrubbery.
I don’t remember what we did after they all left. The local folk all had to work the next day.
Friday saw the arrival of our two companions for the weekend: old friends from college, neither of whom I had seen in person for about 10 years!
I think we attended a BSG panel this day, and maybe something else, but it’s hard to remember. The whole weekend has really blurred together in my mind.
I also think this was the day we went to the Stan Lee panel, which was my favorite panel of the whole weekend (which he claimed was not a panel, considering he was the only guest, but rather a “visitation”). Stan is, indeed, the Man.
I know I snapped this picture of a real, live Dalek. He was probably rather confused by all the time lords walking around, which would explain why he wasn’t exterminating everyone.
But to be serious, this is not a real dalek. It was controlled by the guy who built it, who was standing by with a remote control. It moved around, its turret spun, and it even talked! It said the “exterrrminate!” line perfectly and very loudly, and was rather frightening, truth be told. I wish the picture wasn’t so blurry.
In contrast with the evil dalek, I found good R2D2, who was also operated by a guy with a remote.
I told my friends that, no matter how old and jaded I am about Star Wars, or how completely disgusted I am with Lucas, it made my heart jump and a smile come to my face when R2D2 “talked” to me and spun around in a circle. Even though I knew it was just some dude with a remote controlling him, it was honestly quite magical.
Friday night our friends from out of town showed up.
We had a few drinks, they left, and we went to a “Rave party” downstairs in the Atrium Ballroom.
My companion and I walked into the party, bitched and complained about how lame techno and dj’s are, and ten minutes later were both dancing our butts off. Whatever they’re putting in them beats, they are infectious.
On Saturday our new arrivals had to pick up their badges. So we all stood in line for fracking forever.
See, we had pre-registered, so all we had to do was flash our bar coded postcards (received in the mail months before Dragon*Con) and we got our badges. Our new friends were not so lucky. They had not pre-registered, and thus had to stand in line to pay for their badges. It took about 3 1/2 hours.
We saw some great costumes this day. Saturday is always the busiest day, as the locals come out also.
I’m not the type of guy who just asks random people if I can take their picture. I just don’t have the balls to do it. Plus I assume that the people in costume would probably rather be hanging out with their friends or drinking, rather than posing for pictures.
This Beetlejuice was standing in line with us for a panel. I think it was probably Venture Brothers. Since we all weren’t doing anything anyway, I asked if I could take his picture.
Probably one of my favorite costumes. I have no idea what half the anime shit is, anyway.
A bunch of people were taking pictures of this group of Monty Python enthusiasts, which makes it easy for shy dudes like me to snap a pic. Great job!!!!
Saturday morning, while my Dragon*Con friend lay in bed getting his slumber, I attended the Dragon*Con parade.
Growing up around Mardi Gras, as a kid I was completely baffled by parades where no one throws anything. I still am. I mean, really… what’s the point?
Despite not getting any beads or moonpies, the Dragon*Con parade is pretty fun. Although I made it through about 30 minutes of it before I left. Once you’ve seen a hundred costumed folks walk by, you kinda have the gist of what it’s all about.
The Venture Brothers panel was one of my most-anticipated panels of the entire weekend. This is a photo I took when Jackson Publick stopped to answer a question from a guy at the end of my row.
My Dragon*Con companion and I were amazed at the line for the Venture Bros. panel, as two years ago all the [adult swim] stuff was in tiny rooms in the basement of one of the other hotels. This year, Venture Bros was in the Atrium Ballroom, one of the biggest rooms at the Con!
The panel was hilarious and creative, as the creators of the show made the panel to resemble a fictional 70’s Talk Show called “Let’s All Smoking!”
It inspired me enough to come home and purchase some Venture Bros dvds for viewing in the comfort of my own home. This is a lesson for any would-be Dragon*Con guests: it pays to come to the Con and put on a good panel, as I’m sure many of the people in the audience are like me and will want to continue the Dragon*Con experience at home.
That night we attended the “Dragon*Con Night at the Georgia Aquarium”:
This is, in Disney Park terms, a “hard ticket” event. Meaning admission to the party is not included in your general Dragon*Con membership fees. But it is only like $20, and you can drink in the aquarium. It’s always fun to drink in places where you normally can’t. They also have a dj, if you want to dance. We did not. We drank and looked at sea life.
I also want to scold some of you cosplayers out there:
There is a spot in the aquarium where there is a big round porthole in the roof, that is on the bottom of one of the big tanks. It is where this picture was taken:
So, of course, everyone wants to get a picture right here… including me.
Friends, if you are a cosplayer who has his or her own camera crew following you around, taking pictures of you in dramatic poses with stylized grimaces on your face, that does not mean you are not subject to the laws of etiquette.
We waited for a solid 20 minutes while a camera crew took pictures of some tart in a Tomb Raider costume in all manner of poses, then stood right under the porthole gazing at their wonderful art, only to eventually exclaim, “The first one is the best!”
I realize that you are self-absorbed and oblivious, Miss Hot Cosplayer who has her own platoon of slavering camera doods, but this is your wake-up call: there was a huge line of normal people who just wanted to take 2 seconds to get a picture of themselves or their friends, and they were getting restless and whispers of “hostile takeover” ran through the crowd.
But not this guy.
The word “hostile” is not in Aquarium Wizard’s vocabulary. Aquarium Wizard is just so fracking boss that I can’t stand it. I never had the nuts to speak to him, but he seemed to just be quietly enjoying the aquarium, possibly communing with the animals placidly swimming around him.
I wish I knew you in real life, Aquarium Wizard.
This is a pretty good shot of a whale shark with the Dragon*Con logo. If you’ve never been to the Georgia Aquarium before, my pictures do not do it justice, and you should go.
Post-aquarium, we went back to our room for more cocktails, then attended another party in the Atrium Ballroom, where we saw this:
We were all pretty drunk by this point, and I think fairly confused by what was going on. As a group of people raised on rock shows, the sight of a bunch of barbarian women gyrating onstage, seemingly doing nothing but yet producing some pounding dance music, was a bit overwhelming for all of us.
But just as we did Friday night, it didn’t take long for us to get into the swing of things (in fact, a drugged-out swinger couple approached one of our friends for a group fondle. He declined.). I know I got on a chair and did the Pencil Sharpener, one of my best moves.
I think Sunday is when we may have attended the Venture Bros panel. Not sure. One of our party attended a Buffy panel while we went to it, which she later said was awesome. In fact, I’m now almost certain that it was Sunday that we did the Venture Bros. panel.
Sunday we also did another BSG panel, and a LOTR panel. All three panels were in the Atrium Ballroom, so as soon as one was over, we had to go outside and get in line for the next one.
I don’t remember much else about Sunday.
Monday morning I got up and went downstairs to the vendor halls, where I knew things would be on sale. I got some issues of “Tales from the Crypt” for $1 each, a huge graphic novel that normally goes for about $30 for $10, and some early Dr. Seuss books for $5 each.
Larry Elmore was there, so I got a print of this, and got him to sign it:
You may recognize this painting from the old “red box” Dungeons and Dragons game.
We checked out of the Marriott, got the car from the valet (which bore no signs of moonlighting as a street rod), and drove home… sleepily.
I had a great time. Mostly because I got to hang out with old friends, but also because Dragon*Con offers a primo environment for hanging out and people watching. In fact, it may be the best people watching to be had on the planet.
I wish I could remember more, but I pretty much just drank a lot, the whole time. Sorry.
As evidence of this, I offer you exhibit A & B: photos which were on my phone but I do not remember taking.
I feel they may offer some insight into what my scotch-addled brain may have been up to while I was on vacation for five days.
This poor Hellraiser bastard. I have no idea how this picture came to be, but I’m guessing I was excited to finally see some horror represented at Dragon*Con. I have no doubt that I made a nuisance of myself to this fella. Thanks for being patient with me as I took a blurry photo of your head, and not tearing my soul apart.
I must say, though, that there is something endearing about that crooked Hellraiser grin. It’s like he’s so happy to be having his picture taken. Makes Pinhead even more tragic, if you ask me.
Flask in hand, poised and ready to go, I apparently decided to get in on the photo-taking action on this one. Poor Dr. Rockzo. No telling what I told this dude. I probably forced him to drink from my flask. Once again, thanks for not kicking my ass. I think it is telling that I have a huge grin on my face, but the Rock n Roll Clown doesn’t look nearly as happy as I am. I wouldn’t be either if it was 5am and some stumbling drunk fat guy wanted to get a picture with me… and then probably force me to drink from his flask and get mono.
If you blow the picture up, it looks like I have something else in my hand too. Possibly a water bottle? Whatever it is, this is probably the last surviving picture of it, as it didn’t come home with me.
Anyway, that is it! At least what I remember of it! Dragon*Con 2012, wooooo!!!!