As you could tell from some of the pictures in the last entry, some Stargate fans had gotten together and assembled a life-size version of the Atlantis gate. For some reason they built it up on a platform (that you had to access from a makeshift plywood ramp), so it didn’t look like it was set into the floor like it’s supposed to. I imagine they incorporated the platform so as to have something to bolt the base of the Stargate to, thus making it more OSHA-compliant and less likely to fall and smash someone into the ground. Lest you think I’m just being nit-picky for no reason, I’d like to point out that I’ve already seen a fan-created Atlantis Stargate that is totally free standing and not bolted to a platform. It’s all a matter of how you engineer your build.
We still ended up taking pictures in front of it.
I mean, how can you not? Huge freakin’ Stargate at the end of a hallway? How could you not? What made it even cooler was the fact that someone had brought along an LCD projector and pointed it at the blue fabric hanging in back of the gate, so it had the whole “ripply water” effect going on. You can’t really make the effect out in the pictures we took of it with Maggie’s camera. I think we were at the wrong angle to catch it. However, you can see it in the first picture on the last post. We didn’t take that one.
After lunch we split up for a bit. Well, Megaganie went one way and LeeAnn headed off to the pool. Megaganie putzed about the con for a while. Originally we had intended to wait in line for Jason Momoa’s autograph. When we headed over, though, we learned that they were trying something a little different for his and Rachel Luttrell’s lines. Instead of having folks stand in lines in the hallway, they were going to call people’s badge numbers. You know, “All folks with badges 1-100” and so on. When your badge range was called, THEN you could go stand in line. That’s right. You still had to stand in a freaky long line. We had badges somewhere past 1000. I think we might have been around 1045, but I’m not sure.
Now, in some ways this might be a good idea. It can cut down significantly on the number of people waiting in the line, if done right. Personally, though, I think there were more things wrong with this method than right. First of all, they sent people around with boards announcing the badge numbers. Okay…it’s going to take a while for these folks to get through all of the rooms where the convention is going on. What if people are sitting in a panel? Are you going to bust into the room and announce numbers, thereby disrupting everyone else’s day? What if someone needs to go up to their room – either to retrieve something, go to the bathroom, lay down because they have a headache, etc. They miss hearing their badge number called. What if someone only had a specific time period in which they were going to be able to wait in line. They’re number gets called but not when they can get away from their other duties, and they’re screwed. What if someone is Deaf and can’t hear when the volunteer wanders around, bellowing numbers? From prior experience, I can attest to the fact that there are a great number of individuals at cons who have a disability that might prevent them from hearing the number called or getting to the line in a timely fashion.
Before I go much further I want to point out that I’m not being bitter about this aspect of the con because I didn’t get my autograph. I did. He signed the insert of one of my Atlantis DVDs. It’s important to look at the success of a con through eyes other than your own, though. To that end, I want you to consider this: we didn’t hear badges in our number range being called until we were already very much in the middle of preparations for the Masquerade on Saturday evening. I had already put on my gray trouser socks and sandals and had started to get into costume bits when someone walked past the Green Room calling “All Badges!” LeeAnn, whose costume consisted of nice street clothes, offered to go stand in line but I didn’t want her to do that. It’s not a barrel of laughs waiting in a line with friends. Waiting by yourself for a signature from someone whose show you don’t watch? I’m not going to make anyone do that for me. Besides, I was having a fun time being incapacitated in the Green Room. 🙂
No, I’m not being snide or sarcastic. (Not there, either)
The Green Room was in a bit of a shambles throughout most of the set-up to the Masq, as well as during and afterwards. Gone were the den mothers that Maggie and I had loved so much during our first competition up in Canada. Groups were just settled here and there throughout the tiny room, belongings getting jostled and mixed up in the excitement. Our little quartet set up camp in one corner of the room. We needed an out of the way place to set the wings and hula hooped dresses until it came time to get dressed. There were none of the check-ins and overviews that were so present and time-consuming at Polaris and, quite honestly, I kind of missed that. Even though it was tedious, you came out of the whole planning part with a pretty good idea of how things were going to work. With the Shore Leave masquerade we didn’t even know that we were supposed to walk off the front of the stage until the first entry came out!
This was only the second masquerade that Maggie and I have participated in. It was the first for Mel and LeeAnn. I had originally hoped to put together the audio for the skit before the con. Actually, to be fair to myself, I did. In fact, I had three different versions of the skit, each with different variations of echo and volume. Unfortunately, to get my taped bits loud enough and sound like the sound clips I had of the Doctor’s speech from the “Blink” episode I had to put a fair bit of echo on my clips. When I joined said clips together the Doctor’s bits (teeheehee) came out rather tinny and hard to understand. David Tennant speaks really quickly anyway, so the echo effect doesn’t help. In the end we had to use Mel’s computer to cobble together the skit. It opened with about 20 seconds of the current Doctor Who theme music and went on to Maggie and I doing the voices for the Doctor and his companion. I’d still like to have a better version of it, but it did the job. Thank goodness for Garage Band’s podcast setting!
I had brought along an extra cd to burn the final audio copy onto, but when I popped it into the computer we found out it wasn’t blank at all. Oh joy. Thankfully, I had my thumb drive on me and I just saved it on that instead. Not having the sound on a disk that I could hand over meant an extra step in the whole process, though. While Mel and Maggie set things up in the corner of the Green Room LeeAnn and I walked down the hall to the ballroom with instructions to talk to the sound guy.
This is where we met some resistance.
We found the doors to the ballroom, but they were being guarded by two volunteers. We explained why we were there but were told that, unless we were part of the tech crew, we couldn’t go in. Even though the tech director for the masq had just told us to come here? Yep. Even though we had been given instructions to go in by someone in charge, we couldn’t go in. I was frazzled by that point – and standing in a crowded hallway wearing knee high gray trouser socks, shiny pewter-colored sandals, a pair of blue gym pants that ended just below my knees, a bright red tank top, and my olive green Jedi tunic like an open robe, I might point out. Thankfully LeeAnn was there to take over with her teacher voice. She asked if they could get someone from inside the ballroom, then, so we could resolve the situation and get back to getting ready. They hadn’t even thought of alternate solutions. The sound guy waved us past the check point a minute later and we made short work of transferring the audio for the skit onto his laptop. That done, we headed back to the Green Room.
My Blink Angel costume is probably the most restrictive thing I’ve ever worn. When everything is on, my hands and arms are completely covered, as is my face, neck and head. The mask isn’t necessarily uncomfortable – it’s got breathing holes for the nose and mouth, and my vision in the mask isn’t nearly as bad as it is when I’m wearing my Potter Puppet Pals head. In fact, the biggest problem in regards to vision is simply that I can’t wear my glasses when I’ve got the mask on, so things are blurry, rather than simply hard to see. I can see people, where I’m going, etc. I just can’t see fine detail.
One of the things about the the Blink Angel costumes that does irritates me a bit is that it kind of requires another person be there to help you get into the whole thing. I’ve not worn many costumes that require a handler, even at the dressing stage. Mel helped me untwist the tights as I put them on over my head; Mel, Mag and LeeAnn had to pin my head sleeve to the tunic, I couldn’t tuck the back flap over the wing harness and into my skirt by myself…at times it felt like I was a kindergartner who hadn’t yet mastered the art of getting dressed. By the end of the night, though, I was able to put the wig and mask back on all by myself. There were a couple of moments during the initial dressing stage where I was completely surrounded by Mel, Mag and LeeAnn. My tunic was being tugged and pinned, my head sleeve stretched, and my personal bubble very much invaded. It was that point at which I realized how much I’m really able to deal with. If I tended more towards the claustrophobic end of the spectrum I’m sure I would have run from the room screaming. As it was, I was rather relaxed. It was similar in some strange way to the state of zen I enter when I get my face wrapped in cold, dripping plaster.
The wings weren’t as big of a problem while I was walking around as I thought they’d be. They change your balance a bit, of course. They feel heavier when you’re carrying them around in your arms than when you’re actually wearing them, too. I ended up using part of an old backpack for the harness for my wings. And duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape. My wings also got a nice, new paint job from Maggie and Mel in the hotel room Friday night. They had looked fine in the light in my workspace down in the basement, but when compared to Maggie’s they were WAY too dark. Of course, a lot of my stuff, when compared to Maggie’s, tends to look like crap. Stoopid artist training….
In the end the biggest problem with my wings came from other people. For some reason they just could not seem to avoid running into them. There was one guy in particular – who had been wandering around selling ratty looking Tribbles earlier in the day – who just didn’t seem to care that he was nearly destroying them every time he shoved by in back of me. As I had my back to him (as I straddled a chair in a very undignified but rather comfortable manner), I couldn’t glare at him. Maggie, Mel and LeeAnn did that for me. A few other people in the Green Room weren’t paying much attention to where they were going or whose wings they trounced on. At one point I was nearly dragged off my chair when someone ran into them. I’m actually surprised that the wing didn’t pop off the harness. And that I managed to remain seated and vaguely upright. Folks apologized that time.
Eventually they called our number for the masquerade. We marched down the hall – a much shorter walk than the one we’d had to contend with at Polaris – and headed into the backstage area. Stage ninjas were waiting to guide us up the three or four short steps leading to the stage. I want to pause here and say that, of the two stage set-ups I’ve been privy to for a masq, I MUCH preferred the one at Shore Leave. There were lights underneath the stairs, with little cut-outs in the front, so you could really see where they were going. The stage was marked with white tape, so it was easy to figure out where you needed to go and where the stairs going down were. There was a wonderful amount of wing space, too. Actually, the wings for the temporary stage were deeper than the wing space on the stage back at my old high school!
The skit itself went pretty well. There was a moment’s bumbling on my part, as I started to step into the hula hoop at the bottom of my dress when I moved forward. Mel and LeeAnn did fantastically well with their part (LeeAnn later told me it was weird to be on stage, syncing to Maggie’s voice) and I heard from a number of people that we were wonderfully creepy.
The judging for the masq took longer than it usually does, apparently. Eventually we wandered back in to the ballroom area and listened as the results were read. The workmanship awards were announced first. Mel and LeeAnn were both of the mind that we should have entered for workmanship – a notion that was further supported by other folks who had been in the masq that night themselves.
We ended up winning 2nd place in our division – and received an honest-to-goodness trophy this time! We couldn’t figure out what to classify ourselves as when we filled out the forms, so we put ourselves down for Recreation. One of the theories is that we would have placed even higher if we’d entered in the straight Sci-Fi division. I was happy with what we won, though. Especially considering it’s only the second time Maggie and I have made things for a competition outside of our Halloween party.Although winning the trophy and placing 2nd was a pretty cool achievement it was the comments made by all the folks in the Green Room in the time leading up to the show that I appreciated most. As Maggie and I balanced in our backwards chairs we could hear the other entrants oohing and aahing over the wings and our stone-like arms. I kept hearing “I hope they win for Best in Show” over and over again. Maggie and I just kept shooting each other looks and tried to hold back our grins.
Now, it might seem odd that people who are in the running themselves for Best in Show are cheering for other people to win. Most of the folks I’ve met in masquerades – though they admit winning would be nice – are not actually in it for the win. They’re in it because they, like me, love costumes. They love to have a place to wear them around and not be mocked for having a “weird” hobby.
Personally I think a big part of their well-wishing had to do with one of the other entrants. Apparently the girl who won Best in Show this time around always wins. In fact, she’s won so many times that other people have just given up going up against her. It’s just been a given that she’ll win. From the impression I got from one of the judges afterwards, though, we made it a really tough decision this year. That brings me joy – not the least because the judge waded through the crowded hall and sought us out to say that it was a difficult choice.
In the end, I’ll take the feedback from fellow costumers over the actual award.
So…do I consider the con a success? In part, yes. The masquerade was fun, though poorly planned and rather disorganized. It would be hard for me to not enjoy a chance to wear a costume. Plus, I got to share the evening with three awesome friends. There were opportunities to geek out and I got the signatures I planned to get. I met some interesting people and had a couple ideas for new blog posts. I laughed for a good part of the weekend.
In part, no. While the guests were all fantastic, the staff was kind of lacking. Not in amount. They were kind of lacking in quality. Mel lost her badge on Saturday night, while changing for the con. When she went to the info booth/lost and found to see if someone had dropped it off, they refused to help her. They just looked at her and said “We’ve already packed everything up.” Even though they knew she’d need it for the rest of the evening. The next day they were going to charge her $30. We ended up just heading out earlier than we originally planned.
While there were some familiar, friendly faces (Tom – who was the masquerade director and Marty Gear) we also encountered a fair number of staff members who were entirely unpleasant. I can understand being overwhelmed and tired and wanting people and problems to go away. I’ve been in that position. I’ve run big events. Granted nothing like a con, but a powwow with no funding and only two other staff members who are as clueless as you are is nothing to sneeze at. If you are on the staff for an event the one thing you can’t do is take your frustration out on the folks attending the con. If you do, they won’t come back.
Case in point: we don’t intend to return to Shore Leave in the foreseeable future. From now on, it’s Polaris or bust.