Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 - Day 4

I awakened Sunday morning to Rescue John and Mrs. Troublemaker vacating the room. We had no child/pet/house sitter for Sunday night, so the missus had to get back home to take care of business. After they left I went back to sleep. There wasn’t crap going on Sunday morning.
Well, that’s not really true at all. There were actually a few panels I wouldn’t have minded seeing, but again – comfy Hilton bed. Not only that, but comfy Hilton bed that you can actually lay in and watch Dragon*Con TV. Which shows panels.
            This might be a good time to mention DC*TV’s 2012 performance.
At some point I posted this on Twitter:
@Dragon*Con_TV – I love you so much. But your audio is terrible.
Which is true. Dragon*Con TV is a big part of what makes Con so great and quite frankly is another reason you want a room. As far as I’m concerned if you don’t get to see DC*TV you are not experiencing Dragon*Con to its fullest. From the sketches to the panels you can’t make to the weird, halfway depressing short films they show on Sunday night; it’s an integral part of Con.
But man was the audio absolute fucking shit this year. And they knew. I got this response (to the tweet I didn’t actually remember posting):
@PhantomTrblmkr I know. It’s our gremlin this year.
For the most part the shorts were fine, but the bumpers and panels had drastically differing audio, from utterly inaudible to ear-blisteringly loud. For the most part I could set the TV’s volume at 15 and be good. There were a few panels that had no audio and a few others that could be heard, but only if you cranked the volume over 50 and even then there was terrible static in the background. And naturally, if you fell asleep with one of those panels on you were absolutely going to shit the bed when normal volume returned with the next segment.
So the audio was bad. But there was still plenty to love about DC*TV this year. Most of the classic shorts and videos we all know and love returned, including pretty much everything on my Best of DC*TV list. But we also got some great new stuff.
I am not particularly a fan of Lady Gaga and I think there’s only so much fandom a 36 year old male should proclaim for Harry Potter. But I admire what Lady Gaga does and I do love Harry Potter (Sorcerer’s Stone is one of the most perfect books ever published). One of the new videos this year combined these things with jailbait dancing around in near-scandalous outfits and it was pretty awesome:


Something about the song itself is a bit soft to me. I’m not sure if it’s the vocals or what. It’s totally fine and not bad by any means, but it doesn’t quite jibe with the production on the video which is, quite frankly, fucking astonishing. I am amazed at how good this video looks – not only the choreography and actual visual textures but the effects and scale. This thing could hang with any music video you might see on television or whatever. Outstanding.
Then there’s this:


I first saw this at about 2 AM Friday morning, I think. I had no idea what I was looking at. I did not want to like it - it was just too cutesy - but I did. And then all of a sudden that deranged sock puppet starts eating all of the cookie people. At that point I felt comfortable fully embracing this weird video. Quite frankly anything with a sock playing an accordion and some sort of beaver or something with a toupee playing xylophone is alright by me.
Of course, it turns out that puppet is one Lolly Lardpop – the companion of Leslie Carrara-Rudolph. I didn’t actually find that out until Sunday night (we’ll get to that), but I wish I had sooner. I would have hit more puppetry panels.
Oh, and I think I’ve watched this video about two thousand times now. The song is definitely an earworm, but one I don’t mind.
Also new for this year was a short that I got a sneak peek at as a result of my 13 Questions with Patrick Freeman. I dug the rough cut he let me peek at back then and the full version is hilarious:


That’s just good stuff. I can’t imagine Christian Bale’s absurd Batman voice ever not being funny. It’s a meme for the ages.
So all in all Dragon*Con TV was once again an invaluable resource, I just hope they can get the audio under control for 2013.
That whole segment started because I watched a panel from bed Sunday morning and now I can’t remember what it was. I saw a little bit of a BSG panel at some point and had to turn it off (spoilers – we’re not done yet). I saw a Eureka panel in its entirety and thoroughly enjoyed it. I caught a bit of one of Richard Dean Anderson’s panels and really want to see more. He was either a complete dick or absolutely hilarious or both. Somebody asked him something about one of MacGyver’s ridiculous contraptions – making a radio out of tweezers and a matchbook or something - and he rather scathingly responded, pointing out the absurdity of the question. I’m pretty sure he was being funny, but it was so dry it could have gone either way.
Which brings me to a point about panels – I do not like Q&A sessions. The general public is not intellectually equipped to provide questions or entertainment. That’s why they are not guests at conventions. I hate having to spend an hour cringing at the thought of the next mouth breather stepping up to the mic and asking some utterly moronic question. And the guests are typically so darn nice. Rather than saying, “What kind of dipshit fucking question is that?” when somebody asks what color socks their character wears, they have the grace and courtesy to go into detail about said socks and possibly even throw in some sort of sock-related anecdote from the set so that the rest of us in the audience don’t hang ourselves with our shoelaces out of sheer boredom.
Some audience member at the Eureka panel asked if the actors would want to go into space like the characters on the show did. Colin Ferguson – who I learned this year is a human Muppet; just watch his physicality during a panel if you can catch one – said he would love to. Felicia Day… well, she did something that probably haunted her for the next two days. She said she would totally go to outer space because she wanted to have sex with a Klingon. Really. Do you have any idea how many Klingons there are at Dragon*Con? I would imagine the rest of her weekend was filled with huge, leather-clad guys in facial prosthetics barking unintelligible things at her in a seductive manner. Brave – or foolish – lady.
To his credit, Aaron Ashmore said he’d like to dress up as a Klingon.
Speaking of panels, I received a text from Monkey asking if I was going to the Venture Bros. panel at 2:30. I figured after I had talked to Doc Hammer the previous day I kind of had to (because he’d totally be looking for me, right?). And then it occurred to me that this was an anniversary of sorts. You see, the first time I hung out with Monkey was four years ago at the Venture Bros. panel. In what I see as an absolutely inexplicable situation, we are the only ones of our friends that watch Venture Bros. I absolutely cannot grasp that. Well, Mrs. Troublemaker loves the show, but she’s never been down there for one of the panels.
So anyway, that year after I ran into Evil and Darth Pete and the rest, me and Monkey headed off for the panel and bonded after a discussion of toys and the fact that we had both recently become fathers. So I definitely wanted to celebrate our Monkeyversary.
I showered, got dressed, and headed to the Marriot.
The Marriot has a little convenience store on the Lobby level (though I think it’s called something else) that has sodas and sandwiches and various snacks. They also have Marriot hotel memorabilia, but seriously? Who buys that stuff? I ended up buying sandwiches there twice during Dragon*Con and I have to say – if you’re going to spend nine bucks on a turkey sandwich, this is the place to do it. You can get in and out quickly and the sandwiches are good. Maybe even better than the Sheraton’s.
I actually managed to find a bench to sit on and after a minute this guy with a fancy DSLR camera came and asked if he could sit with me. No problem.
What’s the deal with everybody having DSLR cameras? Those things are fucking expensive, man. I mean, to me. Four hundred bucks is a lot to spend on a camera. Granted, if I added up the cost of the cameras that Mrs. Troublemaker has dropped and broken we could have one, but then we would have one really nice, broken camera rather than two cheap, broken cameras. Another problem with the whole expensive camera thing is the only times I would need an expensive camera would be when it was the worst idea to be lugging around an expensive camera – cons and wrestling events. On top of that there’s the fact that I don’t even know how to use all the functions on our point-and-shoot cameras. I have no idea what an “ISO” is. Or how to set the camera for indoor, poorly-lit conditions (as you know if you have ever looked at my wrestling pictures).
Honestly, I just wish somebody would show me how to use a camera. The User’s Manuals are no good whatsoever.
Anyway, I was sitting with DSLR guy, who showed me a bunch of amazing pictures – which is no big deal when you have a camera that programs itself and takes 37,000 pictures a second – and told me he was a photographer. Pretty much everybody I spoke to with one of those fancy pants cameras told me they were a photographer. But he was nice and did have some neat pictures. He also held my seat for me while I ran off to get a picture of a guy dressed as Axe Cop:
After that I got to explain – or attempt to explain – the concept of Axe Cop to the photographer. That was an interesting task. But I think I did a good enough job that he might have gone and checked it out. I hope so, anyway.
Okay, I kind of have to mention something, but I kind of have to do it in a delicate way because I don’t want to upset anybody but this is really, really funny.
Another one of the photographers I met was somebody I already knew. I had the mask on so he didn’t recognize me, but I knew who he was in about a second. He was hanging out with some friends and as soon as he spoke I thought to myself, “Oh, no! Is it him?” and I discretely looked to see if The Worst Tattoo Ever was there. It was. This guy used to come into a store I worked in and I don’t like to talk badly about other people’s tattoos because everybody with a tattoo has one that is embarrassing. If you have a bunch, there is definitely one that was a mistake. If you only have one, then that one is the mistake. But this one is The Worst Tattoo Ever and I can’t even tell you what it is because this guy is really nice and our friends are really nice. But it was just funny to run into this guy out of nowhere and immediately remember The Worst Tattoo Ever as his defining characteristic after not even thinking about him for almost a decade and a half.
In the interest of fairness I have two tattoos that are varying degrees of embarrassing. One is on my chest and is just a piece of shit. It was designed by me and applied originally by a guy who had been tattooing humans for approximately three minutes. Mr. Richard Davis did his very best to fix it, but it remains one fairly unpolished turd. The other is a Mighty Mighty Bosstones tattoo. I actually still like the Bosstones, but this thing was the first tattoo I got back when I turned eighteen and probably not anything I would get now. Or even a couple of years later. And it takes up a lot of valuable real estate thanks to the plaid flames I had installed behind it.
Okay, so back to Sunday. By the time I finished my sandwich Monkey was already in line for the panel. I found him outside of the Marriot. And then a completely insane person walked up:
He said he was doing a documentary about Dragon*Con and how much it had changed over the years and how he was there the first year when it was a real comic convention and there were only sixteen people there and blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t help but notice he only seemed to be “interviewing” hot young ladies in costumes.
Another dude was also recording some video. He was making a sort of thank-you video to send directly to Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. It was going to feature all of the people waiting in line for the panel saying, “Thank you”. Of course, the jackass didn’t mention that until he passed me and Monkey, so if the Venture guys ever do see said video I will not be saying, “Thank you”, I will simply be glaring into the camera because I was not notified of what was going on. I just saw some random guy recording video without telling me what he was doing. So there will be five hundred or whatever people smiling into the camera and saying, “Thanks,” or whatever and right in the middle of them will be me just looking pissed. Like the girl that hated The Miz. Thanks, dickweed.
Eventually the panel opened up and we got in. Our seats weren’t bad, but I still managed to get some pretty shitty pictures. As you will see.
This year’s theme was Let’s All Smoking! And it was pretty darn funny. The panel featured James Urbaniak, Jackson Publick, and Doc Hammer all drinking Fresca and smoking those electronic vapor cigarettes that put out what was, quite frankly, an astonishing amount of smoke. The format was initially that of a seventies talk show with Publick and Hammer playing the parts of the hosts who were clueless about what their guest – Urbaniak – was there to promote. The confusion about what exactly Venture Bros. is was hilarious. All three of these guys were extremely entertaining.
They followed the talk show segment with a Q&A featuring Publick and Hammer taking turns running through the audience to theme music, as they did two years ago. I wanted to ask my own inane question – “Batman: The Animated Series or Batman: Brave and the Bold?” but they never picked me. I think the mask put them off. It didn’t matter because the rest of the audience was more than capable of coming up with their own inane questions, most of which involved asking about future plot points of Venture Bros. this infuriated Doc Hammer to no end and was easily the most amusing part of the panel. That guy came up with ten different ways of saying, “We are not fucking spoiling anything, you dumb asshole!” It was hilarious. He explained at one point that the whole point of watching the show was to find those things out and if they just told everybody everything that was going to happen why would anybody watch the show? He asked one moron if they read books. When they said they did, he asked if they got a third of the way through and then flipped to the last page. By the time the fifth question was asked about future events on the show I was feeling Hammer’s frustration. Seriously – how could these people not pick up on what was going on? But it was still hilarious.
All in all a great panel. I’d give it a 5 out of 5 if the Q&A Qs hadn’t been so dumb for the most part. I hate Q&As.
I wanted to drop by Calabrese’s booth after that to buy some stuff and talk to them about possibly doing some sort of post for my 31 Days of Halloween. I had been too drunk to communicate the previous night and also they had been kind of busy with all of the people after the show. Jimmy and Bobby were both there and not only did I arrange for some Halloween stuff (I think), they also offered to recommend some other appropriately spooky bands for me to cover. Nice. I bought a couple of shirts and headed over to Artists’ Alley to see how Third Half Studios was doing. They were busy:
So I wandered around for a while.
Later on I met up with the Monkeys, K-Dawg and Soozi, and Lori Muffinface for dinner at Hsu’s Chinese Cuisine. I was prepared for another diabolical dining disaster, but that place was pretty great. When I got there the bartender told me to just walk in and look for my people. I did, but didn’t see anybody. I just stood there like a doorknob in the middle of the dining room for a second, then heard sort of a peep from behind me. Tiny little Lady Monkey was sitting at the far end of this huge table, concealed behind an equally huge piece of glass something-or-other. She had a silly fruity drink and I decided I wanted one, too. It was the last day, after all. I told the waiter to bring me the silliest fruity drink they had – one with umbrellas and slices of kiwi or whatever stuck in the top.
This is something I do from time to time. Nothing wrong with a girl drink drunk to kick off an evening. Or a day. But either the waiter or the bartender didn’t get what I was saying because they brought me this:
Now, it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t fun, either. Nothing with little pieces of green plant floating in it is fun. This thing looks like a damn vegetable drink and that is definitely not fun. But I did finish it.
Side Note: a bit of research has informed that this was a Mojito. I won’t order one again. Lots of Mai Tais in my future, though.
Lori Muffinface asked if I wanted to split some food and I really should have because the portions were absurd. Of course, my dumb ass asked the waiter about the portions and believed him when he told me they were good for one person. Three could have eaten off of my plate. I actually didn’t finish it. I did, however, finish the Mai Tai I ordered after the slight disappointment of the previous drink. I’m pretty sure everybody ended up with Mai Tais. It was a good dinner and I definitely give Hsu’s Chinese Cuisine a thumbs up. Just don’t expect the waiter to fulfill your silly drink expectations on his own.
Next we went to a panel – Puppetry in the Buffyverse.
My first thought upon seeing that was to wonder if they were just going to do a whole panel based off of “Smile Time” and the one with the ventriloquist dummy. But then I thought about it and realized there was actually a huge amount of puppetry on Buffy. Think about all of the practical creatures in the first several seasons of that show. Those are all some form of puppet. So I was pretty stoked about the panel.
It was hosted by Hannah Miller and Leslie Carara-Rudolph according to the Dragon*Con app, but there was another girl there as well (update: April Tennyson). The presentation was very professional, as the presenters had actually gone to the effort of putting together visual presentations to accompany things. Rather than just explaining the various monsters, scenes, and episodes or relying on the audiences knowledge of said things; we actually had video and images from the show to reference. It was very impressive.
(I don't have a single good picture of this panel)
Ms. Carara-Rudolph also had her trusty companion, Lolly Lardpop, to help with the proceedings. It was a very entertaining and fascinating panel and it made me wish I had gotten to more puppetry panels during the weekend. I will correct that error next year. The only issue was that when they opened things up for questions the audience – as usual – did their best to ruin things. Not one question (other than mine) was actually about Buffy-related things. The hosts did their best to keep things on track and answer the questions at the same time.
Oh – my question was about what exactly was it that led to “Smile Time”. I wanted to know if it was the puppeteers’ influence on the show. One of the hosts said that Joss Whedon is famously a huge fan of the Muppets (I did not know this) and just really wanted to do a puppet episode.
They wrapped things up with a little trivia and some prizes, which was another step above and beyond, in my opinion. This was a great panel and one that I could really see the amount of effort that had been put into it.
Afterwards I had to dash upstairs to the Marriot Atrium because it was time for yet another ESO Network gathering – a podcast LIVE at Dragon*Con!
I was stoked about this one because it was going to be an opportunity to sit live with almost all of the ESO Network and also because I was pretty drunk. But it was exciting to be recording in that situation. I would almost always prefer to be live – whether with an audience or with co-hosts (or both) – because I like to be able to gauge reactions to my performance. There’s just something about having flesh-and-blood humans around that makes performing so much more exciting for me.
The Atrium area turned out to be far too loud for recording, so we headed downstairs and hijacked a vacant room. It was dank and musty and absolutely perfect. I had met most of the folks there, but there were a couple of new faces, as well. In attendance were Dr. Scott Vigue and his wife Debbie, Director Faber with Judy and Son William, Mike Gordon, Bobby Nash, Darren Nowell, Mary Lou Who, Award-Winning Mark Maddox, Jason and Rita De La Torre, Peter Cutler, and two other folks whose names I don’t remember at the moment but who I fully intend on adding to the list before I post.
Side Note: I am working a lot this week and am very tired. It is entirely possible that I will not only forget to add those two names but will also forget to correct the inevitably misspelled or even entirely incorrect names above. I love you all, ESO Network, but I will not remember any of your names in such a fashion for… a while.
(Photo by Judy Faber)
It was a blast. Everybody in the room had a very good chemistry and we managed to produce an entertaining podcast that didn’t sound like a jumbled mess of dorks falling all over each other. Go listen here.
I had to cut out a little early because I had a date with a puppet.
But first I had to figure out my situation. See, the Puppet Slam is extremely popular. I recommended getting in line at 10 PM for the midnight show. Unfortunately, due to the podcast, I could not follow my own advice. I had asked the Hooligans to try and save me a seat, but if I didn’t make it to the line fast enough it wouldn’t matter anyway because they would stop letting people in.
But I got lucky. Super lucky. The Monkeys decided three days of Dragon*Con were enough for them and went home. Monkey had VIP passes for the Puppet Slam and told me I could have them, which was about the most awesome thing that happened all weekend. Mikall was bringing them to me, making him also very awesome. I met him in the Marriot at our normal spot and sped off to catch some puppets.But not before pausing for a picture with a couple of the boys from PCW - Chip Motherfucking Day and Sylar Cross!:
I wish I had caught the name of the D*C volunteer that was working the Puppet Slam line, because he was incredibly nice and helpful when I asked him where I needed to take my VIP passes. Most importantly, he was correct. I got to the door, showed my passes, and went in.
Come back tomorrow for my (possibly) final entry about Dragon*Con 2012:
2012 Late Night Puppet Slam
-Phantom

4 comments:

  1. Happy Monkeyversary! I guess next year's gift is wood?

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  2. What character is that redhead you're standing with? She looks familiar but I don't know her name or anything.
    Oh, and...damn.

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    Replies
    1. Dawn - a favorite costume of ladies with the right proportions and no aversion to near-nudity. And ladies with the wrong proportions sometimes. Unfortunately.
      But yeah - damn.

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