Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dragon Con 2014 - Phantom Troublemaker's Recap Part 3

SATURDAY

I woke up Saturday morning feeling just fine. I didn’t necessarily limit myself Friday night, but I tried to stay aware of the fact that my first panel was at 10 AM. For me this is very early, but I was super-excited about the panel and did not want to miss it. 
 
D20: Geek Year 1984

The concept was that several of the panelists from the American Sci-Fi Classics track would get together. There was a twenty-sided die with twenty different topics. We’d roll the die and do five minute panels based around what came up. Here’s the die:


Obviously this sounded like a whole lot of fun. So much so that I got to the room over half an hour early. The preceding panel was still going, so I went around the corner and messed around on my phone for a while to wait. I was wearing some pretty incredible luchador pajamas. My whole gimmick was going to be that this was crazy early for me and I had just rolled out of bed to be there. Which was kind of true. It would mean a costume change between panels since I had one at 10, one at 11:30, and one (all the way over at the Sheraton) at 1:00; but I thought it would be worth it for the humor. 
 
I went back to the room just before 9:45 and the panelist table was still full. It seemed like the other panel might still be going, but they weren’t really talking. I asked if they were there for the D20 panel and they said that they were. I asked where I should sit and nobody made any effort to move or make room. I was in hot pajamas and not interested in making a scene, so I left. That’s why one of the two panelists listed in the program as being on the D20 panel was not there. The other one wasn’t there, either, but that’s his story to tell. 
 
***
Once I got back to the room I changed into a fairly nice suit that I lucked into at a thrift shop. I can’t ever find stuff my size at thrift shops. Apparently only very small people donate their clothes. I guess that makes sense, because once I find something that actually fits me I wear it until it falls apart.

This suit just happens to resemble a Tenth Doctor suit. I was not looking for a Tenth Doctor suit and it isn’t something that I would go out of my way to own, but sometimes serendipitous things happen. It fits perfectly and looks really nice. It would do for the She-Ra panel and would be perfect for the Earth Station Who panel that I would be racing to afterwards.

While I was dressing I sent Beau a desperate message – to please come and do the She-Ra panel if he possibly could. I had originally pitched the She-Ra panel as me, Beau, and a female friend of ours. I felt like the three of us would put on a fantastic panel. But our friend backed out and Beau is the director of the Puppetry track. So as far as I knew it was going to be just me and that would be bad. I know enough about the Princess of Power to sit on a panel with knowledgeable people and have a great time. I do not know enough to do a panel on my own. The thought of trying to talk about She-Ra for an hour terrified me. Not much does terrify me, but I know when I am in over my head.

I felt bad for putting that kind of pressure on Beau, but once I got to the track room I got to feel even worse. 
 
She-Ra 30th Anniversary: The Panel of Honor

Beau was in the room when I got there and I thanked him profusely. Then I looked at the table and saw Gary, Shaun, and Jessa and knew that I hadn’t really needed to plead with Beau to be there. He was going to be fantastic and entertaining and a great addition to the panel, but Gary, Shaun, and Jessa are great. We would have been okay. So I felt bad.

The panel was so much fun. Shaun and Jessa knew the cartoon inside and out, Gary moderated, and me and Beau handled toy talk. Well, mostly Beau. I did my whole jokey blah-blah thing. I feel like I have a talent for filling the empty spaces (shut it, perverts). We had three fantastic She-Ra cosplayers, who each got rewarded with fabulous prizes from BelligerentMonkey.com.

I hate to think that there won’t be any Masters of the Universe next year, but we’ve covered the movie and She-Ra and there isn’t an anniversary to celebrate. Hopefully we can come up with something.

***

After the She-Ra panel – which really was a lot of fun, by the way; everyone that talked to me afterwards said so – I had to rush over to the Sheraton. Marriott to Sheraton isn’t the worst haul, but with only thirty minutes I needed to boogie on over there. Thankfully I arrived with enough time to grab some waters. My voice was a little rough after yelling into the DCW commentary mic all night the night before and I needed all the hydration and lubrication I could get.

Side Note: Phantom Troublemaker officially endorses Halls Defense Blueberry flavored Vitamin C drops. They taste great and help with throat soreness. They also make you feel like you’re doing a little extra to ward off Con Crud. That may be a placebo effect, but whatever. They’re great. Buy them. Also, it is now two weeks after Con and I do not have Con Crud.

Earthy Station Who Presents: Doctor Who – Past, Present, and Future

I had no idea what we were going to be talking about. This was the same exact title of last year’s ESW panel at Dragon Con, so I wasn’t sure if maybe we were going to do the same thing and convince everybody they’d traveled back in time.

Director Faber, Mike Gordon, and I were joined by Angela Pritchett for this one since co-host Jen couldn’t be there. Angela was a fun addition to the crew and knows her Doctor Who.

We had a fun discussion about the title subject and I had fun trying to provoke our mute audience by talking about how I thought “Deep Breath” was the worst Doctor Who story I have ever seen. I guess they agreed, because there was no outrage. We did have some kids in the audience who were great. There were some younger girls in the front who were quite astute and a couple of boys that really had some great thoughts and questions. If the whole audience had been kids like that it would have been a great panel.

Anyway, you should go listen to the whole thing here.

***

After the ESW panel I had a few hours before Whose EFF rehearsal. I met up with Bear and the Queen of Crunk and we wandered around for a while.

First we hit the Famous People room. I brought my Nightfighter™ RoboCop™ action figure because I wanted to get Peter Weller to sign it. While this glow-in-the-dark variant is not technically based on anything that Peter Weller did as RoboCop (it’s based on a Kenner toy of the same name), it’s the same mold as the movie figure and it’s the only RoboCop I had available. Well, I’ve also got the video game version, but that one is in a box and doesn’t really hang up very well.

While Bear and the Queen waited in line for one of the True Blood cast members I went in search of Mr. Weller’s table. It was located on the back side of the room underneath a poster of “Robo Cop”. Not RoboCop, but Robo Cop. I couldn’t take a picture because the DC staffers were being pretty strict about that near the big celebrities. I can only assume that the poster was misspelled due to some kind of licensing thing. I dunno. Anyway, the poster looked like this:


There was a line of just a few people, but no sign of Peter Weller. I decided this must mean he was expected back at the table soon, so I got in line and asked if he was expected back at the table soon. I was told that the DC staffers had said he was, so I settled in to wait.

After a few minutes Bear and the Queen came over and showed me their Kristen Bauer pics, obviously quite pleased with themselves. I considered just leaving with them, but the Queen pointed out that as soon as I left Peter Weller would probably get back. That was solid logic. I told them I’d stick around a little longer and catch up with them in a bit.

Sure enough, right after the Queen and Bear walked away, Peter Weller showed up with his handler. I honestly got a little light headed upon seeing him. This guy is huge to me. He’s one of the Big Ones. Buckaroo Banzai, RoboCop, Steven Beck, Bill Lee; heck – even Admiral Marcus. He’s powerful no matter what he’s doing. And he is powerful in person. He exuded an entirely different intensity from Michael Rooker, who is one of the most intense people I’ve ever met. Weller was just iron. He was pleasant enough about signing the figure and just sort of grunted when I told him I would’ve brought a Naked Lunch figure if they’d made them. Julian Sands had a similar reaction. I don’t think any of the actors in that movie actually like that movie.

Regardless, I got my RoboCop signed. With gold ink, no less!:


After getting our fill of Famous People we made our way to the Dealers Hall, which was just too much again this year. I think what really hurts it is the separation between rooms. The two small rooms downstairs and then the bottleneck between rooms upstairs where you realize, “Holy shit. There’s even more. Do I care?” Also, much like the musical acts, the Dealers Room seemed to be dominated by Alternate History oriented things. But it’s hard to say exactly what was in those rooms because I’m still not sure I even saw it all. I know it generally isn’t a good idea to put similar dealers together, but in this case it might be. If they laid out quadrants focused towards specific interests – toys, comics, goggles, and so forth – you’d know you hit all of your places and could avoid wasted minutes of plowing through things that did not interest you.

Something about that place makes me not want to bother shopping. And to be clear, I was a proponent of moving it all to Americas Mart. I still am. I just think the concept needs serious thought and alteration before next year. Though I hear that it will be in a different section of the building next year, so maybe that will be better. I do not think that a return to the Marriott basement is the answer.

After spending around an hour in the Halls of Dealing we decided that was enough. Bear and the Queen went off to get something to eat and I headed back to my room to get ready for Whose EFF rehearsal.

I’ve got to admit – I wasn’t in the best spirits at that point. I was bummed that I hadn’t really gotten to experience DCW and had basically had to go straight to bed after Puppet Improv for what had turned out to be no good reason. I was bummed that the D20 panel hadn’t worked out and I was definitely out of sorts over giving up the toy panel. I really shouldn’t have been down, but the ol’ brain was accentuating the negative.

And then I passed four Disney Princesses dancing to techno music in the Marriott. It was super cute and the sort of thing that Dragon Con is exactly about. I smiled and walked on, then thought about Beau. I stopped, turned around, and went back and told the Princesses that they had just made my day and were awesome and to have a great Con. Because that’s what Beau would do.

I literally felt my spirits rise up. I had a smile on my face and I just embraced Con. Saturday afternoon was the point where I finally let Con hit me this year, and it was late; but better late than never. I can honestly tell you that from that point until I left on Monday I was practically floating. And then I saw this:





And it was MAGICx100. Any possibility of returning funk completely tapped out (HA!).

These folks are called Noise Complaint. They are awesome. I watched them for a little while and then realized I should be getting video. So I got video. I would have loved to chat with them, but there were a bunch of people watching the show and I didn’t want to interrupt. I figured I could find them online later. Of course, I never imagined Dana Snyder would be the guy to point me in the right direction:


Thusly inspired, I made my way to Checker’s in the food court for my annual dose of awesome, greasy goodness. I knew I was taking a gastrological risk because I hadn’t eaten red meat since April and Whose EFF was in just a few hours, but Phantomaniacs – I was feeling invincible just about then.

Nothing bad happened, but I really should have been more careful. Remember Charlotte.

Whose EFF Is It Anyway?

In Empire, when Luke Skywalker lands on Dagobah and utters a line about it being, “like a dream…”, I think I’s some of the best acting Mark Hamill did because his delivery evokes a state of dreaminess. He’s so contemplative and thoughtful in that moment. 
 
That’s how I feel about Saturday night at Dragon Con. It was all like a dream; like these amazing things that must be happening to somebody else. I’m almost afraid to examine it too closely, like I’ll realize it was a fantasy that didn’t really happen. But it did. And here it is:

Last year I left Dragon Con on Saturday night to go and see some of my heroes – Le Sexoflex – perform their last show ever. This year I spent Saturday night performing with Miss Lady Flex in front of a packed room at Dragon Con.

Everybody that I worked with at Dragon Con is going to get sick of my praise and you guys are going to get sick of reading it, but I will never be able to properly express how truly blessed I was to work with the people I did all weekend. When I asked Miss Lady Flex if she would co-host a dirty game show with me I was asking because she is funny and sexy and has experience with the sort of subject matter we were going to be presenting. I did not know that in addition to a perfect co-host I would be getting a director, producer, and organizer. The show would have been a lot less good without her. She brought so much experience and knowledge to Whose EFF that I will never be able to properly thank her.

She also brought Sexy Wolverine.

Sexy Wolverine blew me away at our dry run. I hadn’t really thought about having an audience wrangler/assistant. But he had people practically in tears. After the show I asked if he’d be interested in doing Dragon Con, as well. I honestly didn’t expect an affirmative, but sure enough we had our Sexy Wolverine back on Saturday night.

Just going over the gameplan with those two was thrilling. I have never done performing like Whose EFF. The closest I have come is MCW, which is all seat-of-your-pants stuff with very little planning. And while a good portion of the show does rest on my shoulders, there are thirty or so other performers as well. This was going to be very different. And thankfully I had two partners who were ready for it.

After rehearsal we headed down to the track room. There were a bunch of people sitting in the corridor outside of the room. When we asked what they were doing, they said they were waiting to see Whose EFF Is It Anyway?. By name. My heart almost fucking exploded. The three of us went into a sort of nook at the back of the track room and just basked in the excitement of that moment while we waited for the panel preceding ours to finish up.
 
And now I want to take a moment to give a HUGE thank you to Jonathan Williams for stepping up and attempting the impossible by running A/V for the show. The prior panel ran a bit long, so we didn’t have nearly enough time to set up. I basically had to throw my laptop at Jonathan and tell him to run the timer and show some pictures and music and stuff. I wasn’t able to explain where everything was or what order it was in or anything. He did a great job of dealing with what he was given.

Thanks to Jonathan, all of the judges and performers were able to enter rather than just being up on stage. Sexy Wolverine announced me and Miss Lady Flex and it was on.

There were some minor issues and snafus, but guess what? If I don’t point them out nobody will ever know about them. The show was a hit. That’s what matters. The room was packed full with people standing up in the back and every single one of them had a blast. And so did we. I don’t think an outsider would be able to tell that it was only the second time we had done it. And when I say “we”, I mean me, Miss Lady Flex, and Sexy Wolverine. Nobody else in that room had even seen the show before. And we all worked together to create something that I think was absolutely phenomenal.

And then there were the Rock N' Role Models. Matt "Sex" Sells and Johnny Danger showed up and provided an icredible show. I just happened to have a piece about Hulk Hogan and John Cena that was a real hoot. Those guys killed it. The room was dying.

We were also fortunate to have judges that knew just how to play along and contestants that were amazing. We had writers, puppeteers, and everyday Con-goers and they nailed it.

I’ve heard nothing but positivity from the people that were there and before we even packed up we were told that we would be doing it again next year. Naturally, being the asshole that I am, I said, “Yeah, and in a bigger room.”

To be fair, the whole Classics Track needs a bigger room. Every panel I saw was packed.
Well, except for the one after Whose EFF. But that’s okay because that was something entirely different and by its nature more focused. It went over just as well as Whose EFF, is not as big. There were only about forty people there, but I changed their lives forever.

***

Before I get into that, I have to give more thanks – this time to Bear and the Queen of Crunk. They went back to my hotel room to get the power cable for my laptop and had to deal with the keycard not working and then security not bringing new keycards. It took almost half an hour and they were super sweet about it. And they also brought me Fireball. Next year I will be carrying Fireball with me in a flask and that is going to be trouble.

THINGS

So I had to kill about half an hour in front of a live audience while we were waiting for the power cable. We just talked about bad movies. It was a lot of fun and a way for everybody to get to know each other before embarking on the bizarre journey that is watching THINGS. I hadn’t planned it, but it turned out to be a good thing. 
 
Everybody had a wonderful time watching that terrible movie. And once it was over, the doubters had to concede defeat – I had truly shown them the worst movie of all time.

For my part, I sat behind the laptop making the occasional comment and getting absolutely shitfaced on Fireball and Miller Lite. I had promised myself I would drink myself stupid Saturday night if Whose EFF went well and since I didn’t have another panel until 7 PM on Sunday.

Naturally I have even more thanks to give – to Scott Stripling of Shoot the Moon Comics for creating the incredible art for the program. I gave him a couple of layouts and some words and he designed four beautiful pages:




***

An old friend of mine turned up for Whose EFF – someone I hadn’t seen in sixteen years, but who I remembered fondly and had recently reconnected with on the social medias. After THINGS was over we just sat around and caught up, talking about old times and new until 7 in the morning. And that is another thing that is amazing about Dragon Con. You can run around partying, you can put on a game show, you can see wrestling, you can meet famous people, and you can just sit around talking to friends. Anything is possible.

I wish I could bottle the feelings I felt Saturday night.

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