In which the author goes to her third DragonCon, dresses up in various nerdy costumes, buys a bunch of nerdy things, visits puppet museums, fails as an artist, eats a decent amount of food, and proves that she has no upper arm strength whatsoever. (Not that this was actually in question.)
Disclaimer: All pictures were taken by me or one of my friends. Friends, I have shamefully stolen your pics. Well, not that shamefully, since I’m pretty sure we discussed stealing pictures from one another. Regardless, if you see a picture you took and would like me to either take it down or specifically credit you, just let me know and I’ll be happy to do so.
Every vacation or weekend getaway I have tried to go on this summer has inevitably met with failure, so it was to my great joy to actually GET to DragonCon instead of something falling through at the last minute. I was pretty worried about this, since I won’t be able to attend next year and really wanted to see my friends, you know, sometime before 2018. But it all worked out. We even had uncharacteristically mild weather! (Due to a hurricane. Er, thanks hurricane?)
The journey to Atlanta was not-too-exciting, which is frankly the kind of travel I prefer. I woke Thursday morning at 4:40 a.m. and dozed until about 5:05; considering that this is the time of day I usually take my lunch break at work, I wouldn’t say I was at my most witty and alert. Regardless, I was able to shuffle out the door with my sister for the airport, so it all worked out in the end. In general, I like the SFO airport. I still prefer flying out of my much-closer, much smaller airport in SR, but for an international airport, I find SFO fairly straightforward. Also, hilariously, they have a Yoga Room, which I unfortunately didn’t think to go to in order to get a picture. I did take a picture of some neat (if slightly weird) ceiling decorations, though.
The flight itself felt long, though not interminable. Mekaela and I didn’t have seats next to each other, which was annoying; instead, she got Lady with Crying Baby, while I got to sit next to a polite but slightly odd man who kept coughing. It felt like a bit of a bad omen, what with my penchant lately for getting sick while traveling, but thus far I haven’t managed to pick up anything even resembling con crud, so, happiness abounds.
We arrived in Atlanta on Thursday evening, the last of our ridiculously large group. I have four primary groups of friends: Known-For-Decades Buddies, Work Buddies, Clarion West Buddies, and Star Trek RPG Buddies, and sadly, I don’t get to see the latter two groups very often, as they’re spread out pretty much all over the globe. Other than just generally being a fun time and an excuse to wear silly costumes, DragonCon is where I get to meet the Star Trek RPG Buddies (plus one Clarion West Buddy, too, as we’ll get to later), so I always love getting the opportunity to go. Thursday evening, if I recall correctly, was relatively uneventful (only real notable moments: landing safely–always a plus–and going to a brand new pizza place with too-sweet pizza sauce), but it was really nice to see everyone again. Perhaps in two years we’ll swing an earlier flight and I’ll be able to hang out longer, or even possibly make the Labyrinth Ball. (Though what I would do there, I don’t know. Stand awkwardly on the wall, probably. Might get some good people-watching in, though.)
But enough of that. On to Friday, the 1st Official Day of the Con.
Mekaela and I dressed up as Gideon Graves and Todd Ingram respectively from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. We also went to two panels that day: Medieval Street Self-Defense and Dark Matter. We were incredibly lucky to get into Medieval Street Self-Defense, as we definitely underestimated how popular that panel was going to be–and so did DragonCon, because they scheduled it for a room that sat, IDK, 50, when like 250 people actually showed up. Instead of just shutting out the extra 200, they actually delayed the panel five or ten minutes and moved it upstairs to a much bigger room. That was cool. And the panel was fun: combat displays are always pretty enjoyable, and I actually got some Writing Inspiration out of it. (Probably a good thing, as I was a very bad author and didn’t go to any of the writing panels, not even any of the four YA ones I meant to. I went to exactly three panels in three days, and honestly, that’s a record best for me at DragonCon.)
Meanwhile, Dark Matter was really entertaining. Two, Three, Six, and the Android were all there, and they had a good energy to them, so the cast either genuinely likes one another or they’re considerably adept at faking it. (Admittedly, always a possibility. That is, after all, kind of their job.) Melissa O’Neil, who plays Two, was especially fun to watch, because she’s so immensely different than her character. Which sounds stupid, I know, because it’s not like I was expecting her to be some stoic badass, but she was just very giggly and cute and sort of ridiculously charming. Meanwhile, Roger Cross seemed funny and Anthony Lemke was pretty hilarious, and I really liked Zoie Palmer, which is, admittedly, unsurprising because the Android is my favorite, not to mention I have enough of a girl crush on her that my interest in trying Lost Girl has once again been renewed. (If only I wasn’t so behind on so many shows! Woe, these terrible first world problems of mine.)
Friday was also primarily Doctor Who day for my friends.
I don’t participate because I really only got into Doctor Who for a couple of seasons (when Matt Smith was the Doctor) and have since fallen out of it, but they looked awesome, anyway. After this picture (and dinner), there were drinks and late night cookies (SO MANY COOKIES) and multiple games of Telestrations. Let’s talk about Telestrations, and why I’m convinced that I have some kind of memory-based brain disorder that just hasn’t been properly diagnosed yet.
Here’s how you play (our version of) Telestrations: every person gets a piece of paper, which is folded into eight sections. In section 1, each person writes something. It can be a phrase, a quote, a movie title, whatever. Let’s say you wrote, oh, IDK, “Man of Steel is the Worst DC Movie.” (Something of a debate at this particular con, even though I’m clearly right about this.) You then would pass the paper to the person on your right, who would then have to try and figure out how to draw “Man of Steel is the Worst DC Movie” in the second section. Then they would pass it to their right, and (only looking at section two), the third person would have to try and figure out what the first phrase was by interpreting the second person’s drawing. This goes around eight times until “Man of Steel is the Worst DC Movie” somehow becomes, say, “Dead Chickens Everywhere” or something equally ridiculous, especially when you have players involved that are more, shall we say, artistically challenged.
Now this needs to be said: I am not the world’s worst artist.
I’m not, goddamn it. Stop laughing, Star Trek Buddies. Given enough time and the ability to actually look at what I’m drawing, I am actually not entirely terrible at two-dimensional shit. In fact, I’ll even give you proof. Here are a couple of drawings I did years ago:
Okay, I’m not saying I’m likely to win any artist awards anytime soon or anything (like I don’t know why my avatar of Vishnu here has such skinny arms; in retrospect, perhaps I should have scanned my Gorgon instead) but hey, I don’t think they’re terrible pictures and anyway, you can at least basically tell what I’m drawing, right? But that all flies out the window if I can’t look at whatever I’m supposed to draw. Because if I can’t see it in real life, objects apparently shift and distort in my mind so I cannot for the life of me visualize how to draw them. Even simple illustrations for basic concepts like water or fire, or things I have seen my whole life, like Star Trek insignias or Batman logos. Do you people know how many Batman logos I have seen in my life? A lot, you guys. A LOT.
So, what I’m trying to say here is that, at the end of the day, I’m a fucking AMAZEBALLS Telestrations player because my brain problems liven that shit up. Without me, “Man of Steel is the Worst DC Movie Ever” probably just becomes “Superman Sucks,” and who wants that? No one, that’s who. You want me around for this game. I am the life of the goddamn bad art party.
But moving on to Saturday.
Saturday morning was the parade, which we watched on the TV from the hotel room. There are multiple benefits to watching it this way: you don’t have to get up early, you don’t have to get dressed, and you can see what’s going on without some 6’4″ guy standing in front of your short ass. The problem, on the other hand, is when you end up watching about half of an old parade because you didn’t realize that the TV would be airing both current and not-so-current versions for no apparent reason whatsoever. Stupid TV.
Later, Mek and I met up with my friend, James (AKA Detective James, AKA previously mentioned Clarion West Buddy), for some vegan food and puppet museum shenanigans. I will now post a picture of some green food that I had for lunch, knowing full well that some of you snarky bastards won’t believe that I actually ate it because you’re all terrible people who think the worst of me just because I have the foresight to know that salad is awful, and everything that you put on lettuce to pretend it’s something other than crunchy water would be infinitely better if you just put it on yummy bread instead.
Meanwhile, the Center for Puppetry Arts was pretty cool. They just opened a Labyrinth exhibit, which I obviously loved: there were all sorts of neat exhibits from the movie, including puppets, costumes, and weapons that were actually taller than me. The museum also showcases a whole bunch of classic Jim Henson stuff, which–admittedly–I’m not the best audience for, as I never actually really watched, like, Sesame Street or Fraggle Rock or anything. But I genuinely enjoyed looking at the puppets: you can really see the sheer amount of intricate detail that goes into them when you look up close. Plus, seeing puppets from around the world was pretty cool.
Some pics of Saturday’s adventures:
If you’re wondering, I’m dressed as Hipster Wampa this year, something that started out as a joke and then I decided to go through with when a) Girl Darth Maul hit a huge roadblock when I found out that my eyes are stupid-shaped as far as cool contacts are concerned and b) the joke kept making me laugh. The costume also comes with my “Save Wampas/Ban Lightsabers” tote bag, and a cell phone cover with “Free Hugs” and an adorable little Wampa on it.
We got back in time for some light shopping at the Dealers Room (more on that later) and dinner at a pretty yummy but holy Christ expensive restaurant that serves Southern comfort food. We had so many people in our group that we had two tables. Here is only one of those tables.
My ribeye steak was okay (not bad, but–in my totally inexpert opinion– not a $30 steak, either) but the biscuits were yummy, my peach margarita on the rocks was excellent, and my smoked gouda mac n’ cheese was fucking DELICIOUS. You people don’t understand; I do not like fancy or homemade mac n’ cheese. Honestly, even my beloved boxed Velveeta has been kind of disappointing me lately, but this was A-MAZ-ING. And the depressing thing was I couldn’t even eat much of it because I can’t trust my stomach to behave itself, as it acts up on an annoyingly frequent basis and eating while traveling has, over the years, become something of a stressful activity for me–but I’m going to learn how to make this dish myself, damn it, because I want MORE. New life goals, activate.
Saturday night’s activities were playing a pulp space patrol RPG game with Mekaela, Robyn, Laurel, Kate, and Chad–with some late minute substitutions of Brandon and Patrick when Robyn and Laurel went to sleep–although only one of these ladies excused herself to bed, as one does, while the other just passed out mid-game, Robyn. The game was fun, although I’m not exactly a natural at it just yet: there continues to be math involved; also, I wouldn’t necessarily call acting my forte. I played an android named M.A.R.I.A. who was in love with the dreamy-but-dumb hero dude, and I must tell you: I found it very hard to be like “I must go with Rodd into danger so I can protect his hot bod” when my every instinct was like, Nope, I don’t want to go there; I don’t want to do that. Let’s just stay here in relative safety, babysitting the crazy doctor and NOT getting miniaturized, thanks.
Much of Sunday was spent in the Dealers Room, which is just a crazy affair. If you’ve never been to a con (or if you’ve only been to, like, literary cons and not a giant fan convention like DragonCon), I mean, dude. The Dealers Rooms are intense. They moved it this year, which was probably for the best: now there are three full floors of vendors selling everything from ridiculously amazing hats to giant bladed weapons to billions of nerdy toys to all kinds of books and comic books. (Not to mention an arcade and Artist Alley.) Regretfully, I decided not to buy a hat, as the ones I were interested in were all hideously expensive. Instead, I used the money that I would have spent on one hat and bought a bunch of other smaller things. Books and toys, for instance:
Also awesome clothes:
Also cool artwork:
A couple of notes on my loot:
A. I’ve had Not Your Sidekick on my To-Read list for months, but totally missed it in the Dealers Room. Robyn pointed it out to me, though, so I went and bought it, not expecting to buy it from the actual author herself. I don’t know that I made a wonderful impression: I was a bit scattered and having trouble with my phone (which was a problem because I was trying to load a picture on Instagram to get a free T-shirt), but regardless, I have a new book now. Three books, actually, which was less than the twelve I was considering buying, so I consider it a win in regards to self-restraint.
B. Avert your eyes, men, or anyone else who’s grossed out by talk of periods. The Jason underwear I got are actually these hysterical Period Panties that you can buy here: the front side has Camp Blood on them. They aren’t really underwear I’d use while actually on my period (so, not the weird kind that are supposed to be replacements for pads and tampons, or whatever), but the designs are hilarious. Other examples I saw: Just a Flesh Wound, Fire and Blood, and Timey Wimey. (Though perhaps the fact that I think these undies were thought up by a guy explains the sizing? Seriously, ladies: it’s not like I was planning to buy a small myself, but unless you are super, super skinny–and I’m seriously talking size zero–you’ll need to up your sizes. Smalls should only be bought for little girls and would therefore be best considered Training Period Panties.)
After spending many hours in the Dealers Room, Mekaela and I went to the Welcome to Night Vale panel, which was fun despite the fact that I am woefully behind on the podcast. Like, I’ve only listened to maybe a season–but I’m going to get back into it. It’s going to happen, dammit. After that, everyone ventured past the relative safety of the Con and into the area of downtown Atlanta where normal, non-cosplaying people live, all in the name of getting considerably better pizza than what we had on Thursday. (Okay, that’s not fair: I didn’t have pizza that night. I had chicken parmigiana, so what do I know? But it certainly looked better.)
And then we did a photo shoot on the way back, otherwise known as PARK TREK.
Afterwards, there was more RPG games (which I did not participate in this time) and people-watching at the Marriott (which was fun, but I got overheated due to the sheer number of people and booked it early). Also, because I thought it was funny: I did a Deconstruction of Mirror Spock Selfie Series, which led to this:
Monday was the last day of the con, and I didn’t have any panels I wanted to go to, so it was one last trip to the Dealers Room and some goodbyes (wah!) before the longish trip home. (Only longish because I heard Robyn’s saga of trying to get back to England. Good Lord. British Airlines sucks hardcore, apparently.)
The journey back to California was relatively uneventful, but a few notable things:
A) The escalator going down to the MARTA station wasn’t working, so we had to carry our luggage downstairs, and when I say downstairs, please picture, like, twelve sets of staircases put together. I am a klutz on the best of days, so I took my sweet ass time, one hand on the railing, the other hand holding my very packed suitcase. I have no real upper body muscles to speak of, so my right arm literally shook every time I tried to raise it for the rest of the night. 48 hours later, it is still sore.
B) The Atlanta airport is fine, I suppose, but I didn’t see a Yoga Room, so SFO is obviously superior.
C) I was supposed to sit next to my sister on the plane this time around, but ended up giving my seat to a lady so she could sit next to her child instead. I guess I really am a Hufflepuff after all. Oh well.
Our journey ended around 1:00 am when we got home in SR. I did not work on this post then because I was exhausted and went to bed, but now that I am (more or less) coherent (and then internet is, more or less, functioning), here are some more pictures that didn’t quite make it into the earlier saga.
And thus concludes the
thrilling harrowing victorious tale of how the St. George Sisters successfully embarked on Nerd Vacation and made it home with many a geek trophy and nary a scratch in sight. (Only a few muscles screaming WHY JESUS WHY.)