Monday, September 17, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 - Okay, for real - this is the last one.

Day 4 Late Night
It had been my intention that the Puppet Slam would be the grand finale of my Dragon*Con coverage, but I have just enough more to say to warrant another post. Not only are there a few hours on Monday to cover, but there are a few random thoughts and follow-up things I want to put out there.
So now, two weeks after Dragon*Con ended, I’m finally wrapping things up.
            Naturally I wanted to party a little longer after the Puppet Slam. They had kept it down to a reasonable hour and a half this year, so it wasn’t even 2 AM yet when it ended. We hung out downstairs at the Hyatt for a little bit and met a couple of picture-worthy people:

But much like irony, the Hyatt was a dead scene. We needed to get back to the Marriot:
That’s better.
But maybe not. I could tell the Hooligans were winding down. Heck, the whole con was winding down. Rather than the normal final night of wild abandon, Sunday felt more like an obligation. It just seemed to me like everybody was out because they felt like they had to be. K-Dawg and Soozi and the Monkeys had left, for goodness sake! I don’t think it’s that Con was bad or any less fun this year, I just think that Thursday night is too much. Three nights of partying is doable and continues to feel like a special thing. But four is just too many. So Sunday night suffered as a result.
Now, this may not be true for everybody, but it seemed to be the case in my experience this year. And honestly, people were still out and partying when we gave up and headed back to our rooms:
So I’m thinking we just got a little burned out.
I was hardly even inebriated when I got back, so I laid in bed and watched DC*TV for a while. At some point the audio fell out again and I fell asleep.
Day 5
Yeah, a fifth day might be a bit much.
But at the same time, I woke up early enough to pack, take a shower, and check out without running around in a panic. It was a nice change from my usual Monday morning at Dragon*Con. I was also excited that the missus was bringing Lil’ Troublemaker down with her. I wasn’t sure how much entertainment there would really be for him, but it would be neat to cruise around as a family. Without a mask on.
Holy shit, you guys. Those masks. I mean, they’re honestly very comfortable. They breathe well and don’t get too hot for the most part. The fit is good around my face and neck. But even the finest-crafted luchador masks (and mine are pretty fucking fine) are only meant to be worn a couple of hours at a time at most. Just because I personally am curious to see, here’s my best recollection of my mask schedule from Dragon*Con:
Thursday: Regular Mask – 8 PM – 2 AM
Friday: Split Mask – 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM, Demon Mask – 5 PM – 3 AM
Saturday: Sparkly Mask – 2 PM – 6 PM, Leopard Mask: 8 PM – 2:30 AM
Sunday: Split Mask – 1:30 PM – 4 PM, Regular Mask (with 4th Doctor costume) – 4:30 PM – 6 PM, Sparkly Mask – 8 PM – 2:30 AM
So that’s about 41 hours of mask time. I say this not to make you go, “Oh, wow! That’s rough!” but just so you understand how nice it was to not have to even think about wearing a mask on Monday. As a matter of fact, I was so over masks after Dragon*Con I didn’t even wear one to PCW the following Friday night. I went incognito, as it were. As comfortable as they are, they do all sit right on the bridge of my nose and after that much time I had a painful abrasion there. I needed a week off.
The family got there around 11:30 and we loaded everything into the car. I went back over to check out and was happy to see the line wasn’t too long. I was even happier when a manager came out of the back, checked me out right there in line, and then handed me a form with information for reserving my room for 2013 at 3 PM the very next day. That was pretty awesome. I truly appreciate that, because there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t manually checked out and he hadn’t told me. As it happened I was able to make my reservation and put up a link for the Hooligans on Facebook so we’re all in for next year. I even helped a couple of non-Hooligans get theirs in early. Truly, I am a hero.
After all that we went to the Marriot. We wanted to check out the Exhibitors’ Halls and the Dealers’ Room, but mainly I wanted Lil’ Troublemaker to see the puppetry table and meet Lolly Lardpop. As happens from time to time, though; Lil’ Troublemaker was just not into the thing I wanted him to be into. He wasn’t opposed to the puppet action going on, he just wasn’t all that interested. I think he wanted to go and look at toys in the Dealers’ Rooms. Also, he had just gotten there and was pretty overwhelmed.
Just for old times’ sake we went to the Marriot café thing and got some nine dollar sandwiches. I believe it cost me over $40 to feed the family. We sat down on the sidelines where a Harley Quinn with a bloody, severed Batman head decided to come and stand right beside us. Mrs. Troublemaker was dismayed by this and I can see where Ms. Quinn might have chosen a spot that wasn’t right next to a 4-year-old child. Particularly one that was wearing a Batman t-shirt. But at the same time, I’m not going to pretend that Lil’ Troublemaker hasn’t seen some gruesome stuff. The horror toy section of the Man Room is full of stuff much more disturbing than a fake Batman head. We don’t let him watch horror movies or anything and are very careful about what kind of shows or movies he watches, but my son understands fake monsters and such. He didn’t seem too bothered.
We wandered around for a while and bought a couple of minor things for Lil’ Troublemaker. He absolutely loved the prop vendor in the Dealers’ Room – the one with all the Batarangs and blasters from various sci-fi properties and whatnot. We spent a while standing there looking at everything. He tried to convince me to buy a Batphone and came close. I’ll tell you – if that thing worked I would have.
Finally, we headed over to Artists’ Alley.
I saw Avengers twice while it was in theaters. The first time I saw it with Evil and his son, who I think is seven. Maybe six. We all enjoyed the heck out of it and in my review I said that it was a non-stop, action-packed flick. Then I saw it with my family. And let me tell you – you do not realize how much standing around and talking there is in a movie until you see it with a four-year-old who is waiting for Captain America to put his costume on and punch people. Don’t get me wrong – I too was waiting for Cap to put his costume on and punch people, but I understand that moment needs to be earned in the story. But after that second viewing, I realized there was a ton of standing around and talking in Avengers.
Similarly, upon visiting Artists’ Alley with my son I realized there was a ton of smut in Artists’ Alley. Like, a lot of stuff I didn’t want my son seeing even more than I didn’t want him seeing a severed Batman head. And I’m not even one of those weirdos (okay, Spellcheck just told me that “weirdoes” is the proper way to spell that and I simply do not agree) that finds sex more offensive or inappropriate than violence. I don’t think wither one is particularly okay or children to see. But I certainly do not want to have to explain to my son why Batgirl is sitting on a bed in her panties fingering herself, you know?
But there was also a lot of really neat stuff for Lil’ Troublemaker to look at and I think it’s important for him to see and learn the process behind art; as well as meet the people that make it. Whether or not my son will have any talent or affinity for art remains to be seen, but I want him raised in an environment that celebrates and encourages artistic pursuits of any kind.
We visited Lori Muffinface and Sarah at Third Half Studios and they let Lil’ Troublemaker pick out some stuff. Lori tried to get a dance out of him, but he doesn’t dance for girls the first time he meets them. She still let him have a couple of buttons.
While we were walking around one of the artists called out to us and asked if Lil’ Troublemaker would like a really cool Superman print. He ran over and grabbed it, thanking the guy. I also got a Wonder Woman print out of the deal. I wish I had grabbed a business card, because I’m not entirely sure who he was. I really dig his work, though.
Next we did something I’m not sure I’ve ever even done before – we visited the art room. Or whatever it’s called. The place where there’s a bunch of really cool art that you want to take pictures of but aren’t allowed to. Expensive art. Art so pricey that people actually write down bids for it. I feel sure I’ve gone into that place before, but I sure can’t remember it. We had a great time looking around in there and ran into Gnoll and Sarah Conner shortly after entering. And then again halfway through. And again at the end. I’m pretty sure they were stalking us.
The reason I haven’t been in that particular area of Dragon*Con more is that it’s easy to miss. It’s kind of off to the side of Artists’ Alley and doesn’t really draw a whole lot of attention to itself. This is why I feel it is a huge mistake for the leather goods people to be in there. Because guess what? This is where I found the guy with cool wrist cuffs. As a matter of fact, he’s going to make some custom ones for me with my logo on them, to my specifications. And I never would have found (leather company) if we hadn’t decided at the last minute to go in there.
We bought a couple of prints in that room and just generally enjoyed checking it out.
We stopped by TheOneRing.net’s table on the way out to visit Rebecca, who we had met at TimeGate.
Rebecca told us about some shitheads (my word, not hers) that had vandalized the table and stolen some shirts the very first night of Con. There was this pipe over the table with some t-shirts hung on it for display. TheOneRing.net folks had (understandably) thought that they would be perfectly fine overnight. They were wrong. Upon returning the next morning they discovered all of the stuff from their table strewn across the Hyatt and the pipe knocked down. The t-shirts were gone as well. It’s a shame to think anything like this would happen at Dragon*Con, but I will say that incidents such as these are rare and hopefully the tighter restrictions on badges and hotel keys this year will continue on and improve things. More on that in a bit.
And that was pretty much it. We headed back to the Troublemobile, paid the absurd parking fee, and went home.
Wrap-Up
As I stated in the first post of this lengthy recap, I wasn’t bummed after Dragon*Con this year. I’m just stoked about next year. Hanging out with all of my fellow ESO Network crew members was awesome, as well as meeting Gary, Kevin, and Shaun from the American Sci-Fi Track; who I hope to work with again sooner than later. I need to check up on their podcast schedules.
As far as the hotel staff and D*C Security checking badges and hotel keys at all the major entrances all weekend – GREAT. Yeah, it might have jammed things up a few times, but to me it was more than worth it. I paid a lot of money for me and my family to go to Dragon*Con and I don’t think just anybody should be able to walk in and enjoy it. Not even just in the hotel lobbies. If you want to see some costumes, you can either go to the parades or hang out outside. You don’t get to come in and freeload.
I can’t think of a whole lot of negatives this year other than my own decision to go down Thursday night. The guy outside of wrestling that told me there was no line obviously sucked, but I think that was about it. I can’t fault DC*TVs audio problems too much, I’m sure they were a lot more upset about that than I was.
I said this on the podcast the other night, but I want to reiterate again here:
I am truly thankful to Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, and Bobby Nash (plus everybody else at the ESO Network) for bringing me into their family. A whole new world has opened up to me thanks to those guys and their acceptance of me. Not only that, I just have a whole heck of a lot of fun dorking out with them whenever I can. Having a crew of like-minded geeks to convene with every week or so is more rewarding than you can imagine. And having the support of creative and talented individuals like that has given what I do here and elsewhere on the internet a whole new depth of meaning and satisfaction.
All of that good stuff went down this year and next year promises even more. I’ve even got a couple of ideas for panels that I think would be really good for next year. I’m just going to need to talk to a couple of people to see if it’s something I could even manage with my schedule.
We talked about this one the ESO Dragon*Con podcasts, but I’d be really hard-pressed to pick a favorite moment or event from this year. The things I mentioned above were great and will certainly be milestones in my career as Phantom Troublemaker, but honestly the thing that meant the most to me was the Hooligans showing up for my panels. They’re my family. Whether I was in front of thirty people or thirty thousand people, those guys are the ones that matter.
Here’s all the Dragon*Con-related stuff from the past couple of weeks, in one spot for your convenience (not including the two weeks of pre-Con posts):
Dragon*Con 2012 – ESO Podcast Episode (?) – Post-Con Report (not up yet - will update)

Tomorrow it’s back to business as usual, and then in just two weeks(!) “31 Days of Halloween” will begin! Where else will you find a whole month of commentary on the SyFy Network’s viewing schedule?

-Phantom

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