For the first time ever I am not depressed after Dragon*Con.
I had a touch of the post-Con blues on Monday, but since then I have felt absolutely revitalized, recharged, and optimistic. 2012 might have brought the best Dragon*Con so far, and 2013 is looking even better. But we’ll get to all that.
For right now, it’s time to take a look back at all of the crazy shit that happened at the very best gathering of dorks and dorkery available in the world. From early Thursday evening until Monday afternoon I immersed myself into a world of fantasy, science fiction, comic books, wrestling, and – most importantly - fans of those things. The only other kind of experience that I can compare a proper visit to Dragon*Con with is a trip to Walt Disney World. Both are utter escapes from the mundane world and both can be life-changing experiences.
Also, they are both expensive as shit.
For the first time ever I got a room for Thursday night, so this year Dragon*Con starts a day earlier…
I went down early Thursday morning, which is somewhat of a miracle for me. Just because I get up at 3:30 AM when I am working day shifts does not mean I can roll my ass out of bed before 11 any other day. I hate mornings and generally avoid them if I can. But due to the oddball situation I had with my hotel reservation I wanted to get down there as soon as I could to check in. You can read all about that here. Evil had told me they were in the same boat last year but that the hotel had cleared it up and let them check in at 10 AM.
Originally the plan had been for me and the missus to drop Lil’ Troublemaker off at his grandparents’ around 3 PM and then head down to pick up our badges and check in. But after talking to Evil Wednesday night I decided I should definitely get down there early and then go back home to get Mrs. Troublemaker.
I arrived downtown just before 10 and was greeted by the sight of a massive line of nerds wrapping around the exterior of the Sheraton – the hotel where you register and pick up your badge. Dammit. Every single year I get stuck in that abominable line for longer than anyone I know. I had really thought that this would be my year. Oh, well. I decided to go ahead over to the hotel and check in, hoping they would sort out this whole room-switching nonsense.
The lady at the desk was awesome. She took care of everything no problem, telling me to simply come back Friday morning and get my key updated. Also, the hotel keys looked like this:
Best hotel key ever.
I was still a little irritated about that line at the Sheraton, but knowing I wouldn’t have to switch rooms Friday morning definitely took a load off. And then Evil texted me and said that once registration had opened up the line was practically running. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that registration didn’t open until 10:00. That worked out perfectly, because now I could go get in line and hopefully be done pretty quickly. As long as there weren’t any of the technical issues that occurred last year.
Sure enough, there weren’t. And to make things even better, the Fairy Quest people were on-site:
Allow me to explain.
This blurb was in the front portion of the Dragon*Con 2012 Pocket Program:
Fairy Quest is the official sponsor of the 2012
“From the Page to the Stage: Comic Book Pageant”
comic book character costume contest.
Don’t miss the Fairy Quest Hotties all around the
show with free gifts!
Hook up with the Hotties in the Comics Artists
Alley and be one of the few to buy the unique
Dragon*Con Fairy Quest Backpack for just $5.00!
If that doesn’t make you chuckle at least a little bit, I feel there is something wrong with your funny bone. I had no idea what this “Fairy Quest” was, but I definitely wanted one of their unique Dragon*Con Fairy Quest Backpacks. I even put up a post on the DCW Hooligans page saying so. I told the Fairy Quest representatives that I would find them after I got my badge.
I made my way through the Hall of Stink in about half an hour. I passed the time by talking to an older lady in front of me who was either in a very subtle costume or just looked like some sort of gnome. I shouldn’t be so mean, but maybe calling someone at Dragon*Con a gnome isn’t so mean. I dunno. She was really nice and this was her first Dragon*Con, so I gave her some helpful hints such as, “Don’t forget to eat”, “Don’t forget to bathe”, and “It takes half an hour to get everywhere, even if it’s only downstairs from where you are”.
Speaking of being mean, there was this monumentally obese fellow standing in front of one of the many fans they keep running in the Hall of Stink in a futile effort to prevent it from being the Hall of Stink. These are big fans. Like, aircraft engine powerful. But it’ll take more than the output from an F-16 to combat the thick miasma generated by a hot ballroom full of the world’s nerdiest. So this guy that could have been cosplaying as Marvel’s The Blob™ on vacation was in front of the fan trying to air out his many flubby folds of flesh. Unfortunately this meant his sharp, acrid blubber stink was being blown all over those of us that were still trapped in line. It was a singularly unpleasant moment waiting for the line to move enough for me to get past this fellow that could have been a stand-in for one of the angry hippopotami on Walt Disney World’s Jungle Cruise.
Remember when I said “singularly unpleasant”? That was a load of horseshit. Dragon*Con is a place where experiencing a foul stench is no more a unique experience than, say, having been born. As you move through the host hotels, you will catch whiffs of odor so foul you’ll swear Patient Zero must have just walked by. There will be times – particularly on the habitrails that connect the hotels – when you are actaully glad you haven’t remembered to eat in the last sixteen hours because if you had it would be all over the front of your shiny new Cylon costume. And don’t even get me started on the loading bays of the hotels where the sewage lines run. I’ve seen people simply drop dead on the spot, impolitely adding to the stink.
Anyway, the badge pickup might as well have been instantaneous. Although I was a little disappointed to see my badge name was “El Phantasms”. I’m sure that’s me fat-fingering the form when I filled it out, but damn. Oh, and I was greeted by none other than the Grand Hoff, Little Pond, and Mikall. Mikall gets kind of a shitty nickname because he’s a really sweet guy, but I don’t think he would appreciate being called “Sweet Mike”, you know? We made the whitest attempt at running high-fives you’ve ever seen in your life as I headed into the aforementioned Hall of Stink. It was nice to see some friendly faces, even though I had already been talking to Evil.
All checked in and badged up, I headed back to the car to get my gear. I can manage a rolling suitcase, a garment bag (that weighs about a hundred fucking pounds thanks to all the suits and costumes I decided to bring this year), and a Styrofoam cooler on my own. The 30-pack of Miller Lite was gonna have to be next trip. Oh, and don’t get the same impression that Lady Evil got – that cooler was empty. I ran into Monkey, Evil, and Lady Evil on the way back to the hotel and Evil – seemingly oblivious to all the shit I was carrying – wanted to have a lengthy discussion about the geopolitical ramifications of Latveria’s withdrawal from the European Union. Or something. I don’t know because I was carrying eight hundred pounds of shit and not quite paying attention. I do believe Evil was hitting the whiskey early that day. And Friday – we’ll get to that.
But anyway, Lady Evil asked at one point if I was okay carrying the cooler. I assured her it was empty and appreciated the concern.
By the time I got to the room it was a little after noon. I knew I had to get those beers on ice for that night, so I loaded up the fancy Publix Styrofoam cooler with ice and brews, pulled everything out of the garment bag so it could… I don’t know, air out or something, and set up my suitcase. I’m very specific about where I need my suitcase to be in a hotel room. Shut up.
I really wanted to get back home in time to pick Lil’ Troublemaker up from preschool, so I booked it out of there. Actually, I had wanted to have time to run to Toys R Us and buy him the new Imaginext Krusty Krab playset as a, “Sorry Daddy’s gone for the whole weekend but he still loves you” gift. But time was too tight and I figured we could just all go together after we picked him up. Since I had already checked into the room we really didn’t have any rush on getting back down to Con.
I will say, though, that it was an odd experience driving away from Con knowing I was staying down there that night.
We had our family time, bought a Krusty Krab, ate some lunch, and packed Lil’ Troublemaker’s stuff up for the weekend. Rescue John was riding down with us so that he could take Mrs. Troublemaker back home that night. We didn’t have a house/dog sitter for Thursday, so she was stuck with that duty since she still, technically, does not love Dragon*Con like I do. Not nearly as much. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure over fifteen years of working Dragon*Con created a black, little ball of loathing in her heart that is only just now starting to dissipate.
But anyway, we were going back down Thursday night to get fucked up and do fucked-up shit, as a gal once said.
Having Rescue John with us was awesome. Not only because he’s a great guy, but also because he can carry things. The trip to the room with Mrs. Troublemaker’s gear and the other sixty beers wasn’t nearly the burden my trip had been. Well, also because she wouldn’t be caught dead in a costume at Dragon*Con.
Once in the room we unpacked the rest of our stuff and I changed. Mrs. Troublemaker helped me stitch together this really awesome work shirt that actually ended up being my favorite piece of clothing all weekend.
I have this problem with shirts. I am 6’4” and at the time Dragon*Con occurs I am not overly plump. So an XL shirt is too short and hangs like a fucking bell off of my large chest region. Normally this isn’t a big issue, as I wear mostly cargo pants and baggy shorts, but I had made a couple of rather bold purchases prior to Dragon*Con – two pairs of what the kids call “skinny jeans”. I try to look fairly rock and roll at Con and the two pairs of jeans I bought fit that description. Actually, they were both too big by the time Dragon*Con came around. But anyway, the combination of form-fitting jeans with a shirt billowing out around my body made me resemble a street sign, not a look I was trying to cultivate. So Mrs. Troublemaker and I figures out how to bring the seams under the arms in. I also sewed a Troublemaker patch on the front and cut up my old Troublemaker shirt to sew on the back. After applying some pyramid studs left over from my jacket project, I had something that I was pretty happy with:
We ran into Jeffistopheles and P’aal down in the lobby on our way to register Mrs. Troublemaker. Luckily for Rescue John, one of the folks Jeffistopheles had bought a membership for wasn’t coming, so he got to save a nice chunk of change on his badge. Unfortunately for me, there was no extra badge for Mrs. Troublemaker.
We got to the Sheraton and the line for on-site registration was practically non-existent. I honestly think we got through that thing in about ten minutes. The only real hold-up was the fact that the missus had to fill out that card. Also, we saw naked Batman:
I told him he was the hero this city deserved. I hope he got it.
I don’t normally go out of my way to get pictures of R2 units. I’m not trying to take anything away from the absolutely amazing accomplishments of the people who craft these things. They look great, always catch my eye, and are far beyond anything I am capable of. But I’ve never seen a filthy Dagobah R2-D2 before, so here:
I’ve got to tell you though, these operators need to get it together, especially if they’re going to insist on posing with their creations. Wear a costume, fella. I don’t need some buffoon in modern Earth clothes bringing down the tone in my Star Wars picture.
Mortal Kombat people are fun:
But you know what’s more fun? Random hookers posing for pictures:
I think you should be able to figure out which one I’m talking about. She was just there in the Marriot posing randomly. And you know what? I don’t blame her. I blame the fucking stupid jackwagons that were standing there taking picture after picture of this goofy broad and encouraging her utterly absurd behavior. You guys have no idea. This chick was bending over, thrusting her ass out, groping her fake boobs. It was honestly kind of sad. But these guys just kept on snapping away. You’ll notice my only picture is the one where some of the Hooligans are openly mocking her. I tried to talk Lady Evil into jumping in on that, but she has a sensitive job like I do and no mask. Lady Monkey just hadn’t had enough to drink yet.
Speaking of the Hooligans, we met up with the Monkeys, Little Pond and the Grand Hoff, the Evils, Gnoll, and Sarah Conner. Sarah Conner is Gnoll’s new Special Friend and seems pretty cool. She had some funny jokes later on, anyway and fit in pretty well with our crew. It is entirely possible that there were a couple more of my friends there, but the pictures do not reveal that and I got so damn shitfaced Thursday night that I don’t even remember half of what the pictures do reveal.
We hung out in our regular spot at the Marriot for a while and did our face-to-face catching up. I don’t see these people nearly as much as I’d like to.
Eventually a Dalek showed up. And not a cardboard Dalek with some dude squatting down inside. This was a full-on remote control genocidal planet conqueror. Not only did it look amazing, it moved well, lit up, and talked. This thing was for-real a broadcast-quality instrument of destruction. I ran over to the elevator it came out of and shot some video, which I'll put up... some day.
Granted, it’s not very interesting video, but I was excited, man. That thing was rad. The only thing that sucked was that it’s operator seemed like kind of a douche. Like, to the point where I didn’t even want to deal with asking if I could get a picture with it. I told him how good it looked and displayed the proper amounts of astonishment at the electronic features, but he barely responded. I guess if you’re genius enough to build something like that you might not have anything left over for social skills. He did, however, have enough sense to go and attack an R2-D2. It was pretty great.
There were also these Spy vs. Spy girls running around all weekend, totally in character. They would act out little scenes and stuff. It was amazing and, oddly, kind of hot. DON”T JUDGE ME.
Of course, this Anck-Su-Namun was also super-hot:
There. Are we back on the same page now? Good.
These two totally creeped me out for some reason:
Not, like, E.T. creeped out; but just weirded out. I don’t know why. But I manned up and conquered my fears and felt my penis shrivel up inside of me as that terrifying gold automaton stroked my chest across her hot-panted companion.
Welcome to the gun show. And I just noticed that Rescue John is wearing a shirt that says, “Armed & Loaded”, which makes this picture 1,000 times as funny.
At some point a band started playing in one of the big ballrooms. We had to go and check it out, because when you’re at Dragon*Con that’s just what you do. I’ll have to look up who it was, because they deserve some credit. We didn’t actually stick around to listen to them or anything, but they were fine. Especially considering they all appeared to be about twelve years old. They reminded me a lot of Reel Big Fish, which is funny because in last year’s recap I made fun of a guy for wearing a Reel Big Fish shirt, which is funny because I still kind of like Reel Big Fish.
Side Note: The band was SS Vendetta and despite the name they were not, in fact, Nazis with revenge on their minds. They were okay. I wouldn’t buy the album or anything, but they got it done. The next band was Warchild. And that’s all I’ve got to say about them.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, it time for…
PROP QUEST 2012!!!!
That’s right – from the same people that brought you GOGGLE QUEST 2011!
Evil decided he was going to go up to cosplayers and ask them if he could hold their most expensive accessory. As you might imagine, this did not go nearly as well as Goggle Quest.
This guy was not having Evil’s shit. I don’t blame him. Giving my buddy your astromech remote would not be a good idea.
The Man With No Name here was a bit of a loony. He went on and on about how he was told not to draw his gun. He went off on some other tangent as well, but I honestly can’t remember what it was. I was pretty blitzed by this time. I also think Rescue John and Mrs. Troublemaker had left by now, but The Big Guy showed up for some fun.
Okay – this guy. Little Pond knows this guy, so I don’t want to be too brutal. I’ll just say that he was the absolute worst balloon animal guy I have ever seen in my fucking life. He is lucky that there is not a Balloon Animal Track at Dragon*Con because if there were those people would have hunted him down and torn his inept fingers off for disgracing their noble craft. I honestly think he must have watched a video – Tony Danza’s How To Make Balloon Animals And Amaze Your Friends, for example – and bought a bunch of balloons and a yak vest and some JNCO pants and shown up at Dragon*Con. I will give him credit for making exactly one competent balloon animal creation. He made this Ninja Turtle hat:
And I will admit here and now that I could not make that Ninja Turtle hat without at least twelve minutes of intense instruction in the art of balloon animaling. But he also made this crime against balloonery and forced Little Pond to wear it lest she feel bad:
Don’t worry. We all made sure she felt bad anyway. But what really soured me on Rando the Amazing Ballooner was the fact that for every balloon he successfully inflated, he popped at least five. I am not exaggerating.
This girl was just being mean. Look at her. She’s all like, “My hat looks like a Ninja Turtle and yours looks like clown bukkake.” That’s straight-up rude.
Then a Mandalorian stole my nose:
That is not actually the real picture. The dude – who may not be a Mandalorian – just walked up and stole my nose out of nowhere. I had to tell him to do it again so we could get a picture. That’s Dragon*Con.
Oh, shit – I forgot PROP QUEST 2012 was still going on.
After that we went down to the Gamer Basement, as I recommend everybody do at least once per Con. But not on Thursday night. Because it was dead as fuck down there. Well, except for the guy with the sketchy little bootleg pizzas. He’s down there every year, walking around with his Dominos bag but pulling out Mario’s Budget Pizzettes and selling them for six dollars. But trust me – if you meet Sketchy Bootleg Pizza Man at two in the morning after a night of drinking at Dragon*Con, you will also sample his sketchy wares. He didn’t actually have enough for all of us. I think I shared mine with somebody. Not sure. That’s how drunk I was. Not the fact that I can’t remember – the fact that I actually shared a tiny pizza.
We sat at a little table and listened to Sarah Conner tell some funny jokes that I won’t repeat here. Everybody was pretty shitfaced, so it was time to call it a night.
I can’t believe how rad Thursday night ended up being. There were a lot of people there, but not so many that it was crowded or hard to move around. Tons of costumes. There was so much to look at and unlike Saturday night you could actually see all of it. The rushed feeling that you sometimes have just wasn’t there and I think we were all enjoying just sort of chilling out and dipping our toes into the geekdom. It was just a great time.
I will never go down to Dragon*Con on Thursday night again.
Tune in tomorrow to find out why.