Monday, September 1, 2014

DragonCon 2014!

I did a post about my DragonCon experiences last year and decided to do it again this year, hopefully more coherently. Of course that's hard considering my blur of experiences over the last three days and my current lack of sleep. The TL;DR take is that I enjoyed myself hugely again as always. This will be long.

I got in around 4:30 and got my badge without a wait. I wasn't sure what to do with myself that early, so I went to the "State of the Goth Scene: Rock Edition" panel. From my journal: "One of the guys from Bella Morte (I think) mentioned Immortal Chorus [and this link, because "Mary Are You Sleeping" was my favorite IC song] and I quietly flipped out because I had their only cassette back in the 90s when I lived in Knoxville! I hadn't thought of them in years. I wish I still had it since I know it's not available online anywhere."

After that I went to a great panel, "Spirit Mediums of the 19th Century," then met up with my friends Kevin and Felicity for a celebrity improv comedy show, which was hilarious. It was good to catch up a little with my friends too, since DragonCon is the only time I get to see them.
By this time I'd mellowed into my happy-slightlymanic-adrenalinrushwon'tstop DragonCon mood, which lasted all weekend as par for the course. At about eleven I got in line for the Voltaire concert at midnight. Yes, he was here again this year! Last year he said he wouldn't be, but that changed, and I am so very very very glad. I was closer to the stage than last year but none of my pictures are any good. (I have lots of good pix from when he played Knoxville in May, but posting one of those instead would be cheating.)

The show was fantastic, of course. I actually really wanted to see the Marquis of Vaudeville afterwards, but I was wrung out and exhausted and my contacts were killing me so I didn't stay.

Even so, it was almost 3 a.m. by the time I made it back to my hotel. I slept about four hours, then sprang out of bed and went back to the con for SATURDAY.

From my Twitter feed:
Aug 29 I would commit actual murder for a slushee right now.

It was a hot weekend, and on Friday I'd worn a cute knee-length skirt with my Voltaire t-shirt and sandals. But all the running around outside between hotels while sweating had a side effect I never expected. From my twitter feed while standing in line to see Voltaire:

Aug 29 I'm right behind a very tall woman with no body fat, and I know this because she's wearing a net. Makes me feel very dumpy.

Aug 29 This is how hobbits must feel next to elves, only this hobbit has killer heat rash on her thighs. I had to apply chapstick in the bathroom.

Aug 29 Sorry, TMI.

So I didn't wear the skirt again on Saturday, I wore a pair of light gray shorts and a black T-shirt that spent most of the day damp with sweat.

That morning Kevin was on a panel about the movies and TV shows released in 1984. I thought I'd left myself tons of time to get downtown, park, and get to the panel before it started, but I got caught in the hellish DragonCon parade traffic and was a few minutes late after all. It was fun and funny although there were so many people on the panel some people didn't really get a chance to contribute.

It's like the Last Supper of Nerds. That's Kevin in the front row, fourth from the left.

I didn't get a chance to say hi to Kevin because immediately after the panel I had to rush to a different hotel for the airship races. They were so fun last year I didn't want to miss them this year. But the parade was still going on, which meant a lot of the main streets were blocked off to foot traffic--plus the hordes of people along the streets to watch the parade meant getting anywhere was nearly impossible.

I met a nice older guy, there with his daughter, who was also trying to make his way to the airship races, so since he was more familiar with the area I went with him. We made it, too, although it took us 45 minutes to go about three blocks. DragonCon schedules panels/events with half an hour in between so people can get to where they're going, but the parade jams everything up. Some of the people running the races or competing were late for the same reason, though, so we didn't miss much. And they were incredibly fun! I took some video.

 Please ignore that my voice sounds like a cartoon character's.

It's hard to express how huge DragonCon is. It's spread out across five enormous hotels and the AmericasMart and still everywhere is packed. Some 60,000 people attend a day, more on Saturday. It makes for some frustrating experiences but also some serendipitous ones. While we were still shuffling forward in the crowd funneling into the Westin Peachtree hotel, I was watching the people going by on the sidewalk nearby and suddenly recognized a guy who teaches at the same college where I work in Knoxville. I had no idea he would be there.

Of course I immediately shrieked, "Daniel! Daniel!" and waved dementedly. He turned around, saw me, waved back, and looked completely baffled. I don't think he recognized me. When we got into the airship races and I opened my phone to take pictures, I saw my reflection and realized I was drenched with sweat and looked insane, so presumably I don't look insane on workdays. That's a good thing to know.

A picture of a typical DragonCon crowd, taken (I think) on Saturday night in (I think) the Marriott.

Anyway, I went to a bunch more panels that afternoon. One of them was a Q&A with Grant Imahara. I was way way in the back so didn't get any pictures. He's an interesting, affable, funny guy, well worth standing in line for half an hour in the RELENTLESS MISERY OF THE AUGUST AFTERNOON SUN.

From my Twitter feed:

Aug 30 We are a lot of miserably hot people waiting in line outside with no shade.

Actually we had some shade. Just not enough. I'd forgotten to bring my fan, so I tore the cover off a spiral notebook and fanned myself with it. It rained for a while later that afternoon, which made the humidity worse until a small storm rolled through and cleared the air a little.

Aug 30 The science panel I wanted to attend at 4 filled up before I got there so I've been wandering the Hilton like an angry sweaty ghost.

Aug 30 In desperation I spent $3 for a tepid orange Fanta.

Aug 30 Currently lurking in the gaming room because it's nice and cold here and the upstairs is stuffy. It rained earlier and everyone's damp.

Around seven my cousin Molly and I met to eat. Molly lives in Atlanta and wanted to go to DragonCon this year, but couldn't because of her workload. She took us to a restaurant whose name I've forgotten but whose food I will remember always because it was so good and I was so hungry. We got frozen yogurt too. Then Molly dropped me off downtown again in time for a ten o'clock panel I wanted to attend. Those couple of hours to eat real food, relax, and talk to someone I've known my whole life helped me recharge a lot. I'm introverted, so spending time among lots of people--no matter how fun--is draining.

Also that morning while trying to make my way to the airship races [let's just pause here to savor that phrase. I mean, ten years ago would I ever have believed me about this?] I walked for a short time behind three people who were obviously a band bringing their gear to a hotel. I didn't recognize them but they were dressed in nice steampunk outfits, two white guys and a black girl, and I thought they might be The Cog Is Dead, playing that night at midnight. Their music started popping up on my Pandora station a month or so ago, and I liked it enough to buy a few songs. I decided to go to the show and see if it was them.

It was, and the show was a lot of fun! Also the girl is the drummer, which is awesome. In addition to a lot of their own songs, they covered "Minnie the Moocher," which just solidified my love of the band. I like that they don't restrict themselves to one musical style or era too. They're obviously just having a hell of a good time.

I only got one picture that wasn't blurry, and unfortunately the drummer doesn't show in this one. In fact it looks like she's just exploded.

It was two in the morning by the time I got back to the hotel. But I got five whole hours of sleep before charging back into Atlanta for Sunday, my last day at DragonCon.

I had intended to wear the gray shorts again, but when I looked at them in the harsh daylight I saw they were stained--and not just with salsa from supper, which I knew was there because I have the bad habit of loading up a nacho and then using it to gesture with while I speak, and the salsa goes everywhere--but with everything I'd touched all day. Also I'd sat in something. So rather than wear jeans (too hot, plus I have gorgeous leg tattoos now and like to show them off), I ran over to the Target next to my hotel and bought a pair of bike shorts. I wore them under my black skirt and they were amazingly comfortable. So hurrah for manmade fibers!

Aug 31 I'm rockin the Velma look today. All I need is a turtleneck but then I would die.

I met Kevin early for a panel called "MST3K: Reel Crime," with Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, and Joel Hodgson. Kevin had gotten there super early and was almost at the front of the line, right in front of three cosplayers dressed as the presenters' characters on MST3K. Their costumes were great and they were a lot of fun to talk to while we waited for the doors to open. I didn't get their names.

Also here's me and Kevin before the panel started, with Tom Servo (made by the lady sitting on Kevin's other side). I look like I'm photobombing Kevin's picture with Tom Servo.

The panel was hilarious, a good start to the day. After that it was on to the tea dueling tournament! This was something I'd wanted to see but missed last year, and then missed another tournament at AnachroCon earlier this year. But I made it this year and it was even more fun than I expected.

These are the rules: the contestants get a cookie and a cup of tea, have to dunk their cookies 3/4 of the way in the tea to the count of five, then take the cookies out. The last one to eat their cookie without it falling apart wins the round. They have to get the whole cookie in their mouth without any of it falling, which is easier said than done. I lucked out and got a really good seat, so here are some videos I took.

"Aug. 31, 2014 about 2:15 pm
How did it get to be so late? All I've eaten today is a granola bar and half a Coke."

Last year I went to a sub shop called Jimmy John's, so this year I decided I'd go back. I found it, too. I'd forgotten their little trick of hiding the only stack of napkins where no one can find them, then not giving you a napkin with your food, then when you ask where the napkins are they gesture vaguely in the general direction without looking up. The same thing happened last year and I was so mad this year about it that I'll never eat at Jimmy John's again. Also when I did finally find the napkins I took about 20.

I went to a bunch of panels that afternoon, mostly in the skeptics' track but one called "Starship Smackdown!", where basically the group comes up with a list of starships from various movies and books and decides which would win. It's very, very funny even though I wasn't familiar with most of the ships.

Aug 31 I'm at a panel where they'll discuss various starships and which would win in a fight. It's a TOTALNERD panel.

Aug 31 No one has ever cared about anything more than the people in this room care about star trek.

I should note that my talk about nerds is not meant to come across as harsh. I mean, hell, I was in the room rooting for the Protector from Galaxy Quest to win (it didn't).

Aug 31 Going to a midnight concert tonight with friends, 3rd night in a row. Sleep? I'm running on PURE ADRENALIN AND CAFFEINE & not much caffeine.

Kevin had told me that I needed to see the band Anaria play Sunday at midnight. He described their music as metal with a melodic female vocalist, which sounded great to me. Kevin also knows their singer so he and Felicity were going. By the time I met up with them just before midnight I was starving again, so Felicity and I got pizza and Cokes. Kevin had also brought some other friends I didn't know, a lovely group of people who were hilariously drunk.

The pizza turned out to be a bit of a chore for me. It was good and I was hungry, but my piece was also really big and by the time the band started their set I was still working on it. It's hard to dance when you're also trying to eat pizza really fast. But it turned out that Kevin had a flask of rum, so he topped my Coke off and that helped me get the crust down more easily.

I really liked Anaria. They sound a bit like Evanescence but heavier, with an oldschool metal feel that made me very, very happy. Their drummer is amazing too.

That was it for my DragonCon. I said goodbye to everyone and drove back to my hotel, where I slept four hours, then packed up my stuff and stole all the tiny soaps and headed home. Now I need to do laundry, although it might be more hygienic to just set my suitcase on fire.

I've already bought my membership for DragonCon 2015. See you there!

OH I ALMOST FORGOT--last year my DragonCon roundup post got a fair amount of traffic and I felt bad later when I realized I'd forgotten to add links to the musicians and artists I mentioned. I think I got all the links in this time. Also, I definitely need to mention that Kevin and Felicity do a hilarious podcast with another friend of theirs, The Flopcast, which you should totally listen to. And I write fantasy and SF as K.C. Shaw that you can buy and read! I don't have anything new out at the moment but I've got some interesting stuff going on that I can't talk about yet, so hopefully when I post next year's DragonCon roundup I'll have some awesome news to share.