Dragon*Con 2009 Report #3 – Day Two

After a brief lunch following the parade, Maggie and I split up to go our separate ways. One of her goals for the weekend was to get an autograph from Patrick Stewart. She also wanted to get one from Joe Flanigan and Malcolm MacDowell. I’m actually a little hazy on when she went to get those ones. I’m thinking she did that when we went to the Hilton after the parade and lunch, too. I seem to remember splitting from her at some point and heading to the bathroom. Actually, I’m sure of that part as I have in my notes that I talked with people about boots in the women’s bathroom.

Yes, you read that right. When you’re dressed like a Jedi and happen to be of the female persuasion people tend to notice. One woman commented on my outfit, I commented on her boots, another woman joined the conversation and I put in a plug for my favorite boot supplier – Mudd. Really, I should be getting free shoes and boots from them. Must look into that.
Anyway, I’m assuming that was when Maggie had gone to pick up the first two of her three autographs because when I finally met back up with her in the Hilton she was already two signatures richer. And waiting in a really impressive line. It was only about 12:30, I think, and already the line was winding out around a bunch of poles and through one of the Hilton’s many open spaces. I had actually gone up and down the line once already, looking for Maggie, before we spotted each other. She had opted to sit down by then and I don’t blame her. Patrick Stewart wasn’t going to start signing until around 2:30. Needless to say, she had a while to wait.
I stopped to chat with her and one of her line neighbors for a little bit. The woman sitting in front of her was really friendly – in keeping with our experiences with other con-goers up to that point. She and Maggie had already struck up one of those lovely line-waiting acquaintences and were happily chatting away. I loomed above them for a bit (when you’re as short as I am, you like taking advantage of the few opportunities when your tall friends appear shorter) before wandering off to the autograph room. Since my budget hadn’t changed for the better I had no intention of stopping in people’s lines. I just wanted to see who was around.
I spotted Rachel Luttrell (so tiny!) and Jason Momoa. He was wearing steampunkish goggles when I first saw him, but he pulled them off and handed them to the person standing in front of his table. I’m not sure whether they asked him to put them on, or if he asked to try them out. I’d be willing to put money on the latter…according to what I learned in the Stargate panel we attended later that weekend, he’s got rather sticky fingers and isn’t shy about borrowing things.
Maggie sent me a text saying that she had just seen Jason Hawes and Dave Tango from Ghost Hunters wandering about in the hallway. I happened to pass Tango on my way out of the Walk of Fame. He had mentioned in the previous night’s panel that anyone who saw him in the hallway shouldn’t be shy about asking him to do a magic trick. I considered asking him to do one but he kind of had his hands full and I thought it would be kind of rude of me. Sort of like pointing at someone and shouting “Dance, funny man, Dance!”
I swung back past Maggie and the ever-growing line. She wanted to know if I’d pick up some photo protectors over in the dealer’s room. I grumbled (not really, just in a funny two-year-old impressiony kind of way) and said that, if I happened to make it over to the Marquis I’d consider it. She gave me $3. At other cons we’ve attended that would only buy one sleeve. Or, at most, one and a half – and that right there is just silly talk because no vendor in their right mind is actually going to sell you half a sleeve. The guy we had found down in the dealer room had them for $1 a piece, though. Sweet!
I set off towards the Hilton but was quickly distracted by some of the folks waiting in the Stewart line. The first one was dressed as a Steampunk Leia. You might remember that Angelica mentioned, in her profile interview, that she wanted to do one. As soon as I saw the woman I knew I had to take a picture. This one’s for you, Angelica! Even though I know you’ve already seen it on Facebook.
I also happened to wander by a kid who had the coolest hat of the entire con. Even cooler than the Geico money hat. Quite obviously he was waiting in the Patrick Stewart line. I have no idea whether he made the hat himself or if he got it from someplace else at the convention or what. I probably should have asked. I blame the excitement for my lack of follow through.
Speaking of which…it was at that point in the day when I realized I was no closer to fulfilling my goal of talking to a Klingon or trying on a Stormtrooper helmet. Gah!
I wandered around the con a bit – admiring the vendor booths again, ogling costumes, jotting down a few notes – before deciding to check out the Star Wars costume contest. It was being held over at the Hyatt, which meant a bit of a walk up what I am convinced is the worst-designed staircase in Atlanta. I’ll have to dig through photos to see if we got a picture of it. Once inside the hotel, though, it was pretty easy to figure out where the line was. It wasn’t even that bad of a line, either. It was pooling around the little side lobby where the elevators were located, though, which was causing a little bit of a problem. For a while I thought they were going to relocate the line outside. That’s what they said they were going to be doing, at least. In the end, it didn’t happen.
When I first took my place in the line I was standing near a woman wearing a wonderful version of the costume Padme wears at the end of Episode I. You know, the one that kind of looks like rainbow sherbet melted all over a feathery coat? I like that costume but, you have to admit, that’s kind of what it looks like. It was a really good adaptation of it, too. I figured she was going to be in the competition or, at the very least, was heading off to watch it. Turns out she was just waiting for the elevator. By the way, the two guys standing behind me in the line were the only folks who noticed that I had a tiny stormtrooper in my utility belt.
Eventually the room opened up for us and I headed into the Regency Ballroom to find my seat. I was pretty close to the front of the stage. The seat was rather good. I could see a lot of the stage and, if there were things happening that I couldn’t see I was in a good position to see one of the big screens. A Silk Spectre II sat to my right and a woman with the most fantastic SW-inspired earrings sat on my left. They were little stormtrooper helmets!
I got a lovely surprise when Marty Gear stepped out on stage and announced that he was the emcee for the event. I, costume-obsessed geek that I am, cheered for him. After all, the guy won a lifetime achievement award from the International Costumer’s Guild!
When I first saw that there was going to be a Star Wars Costume Contest on Saturday I was uber excited. I was going to be dressed as a Jedi, after all. Surely that could get me into the running, at least. Sadly, I learned too late that the pre-judging had happened the day before. Way to go, event description people! I had seen that there was a pre-judging session on Friday but there was no information about which contest it was for. And forget about asking volunteers. They know as much as you, most of the time.
Not competing, though, meant I was free to sit back and relax, and enjoy the show. And enjoy it I did. The costumes were absolutely fantastic! The backstage crew (the folks running the contest) were all dressed in Star Wars costumes themselves. There were two different kinds of Leias and a Han Solo. I’m sure there were others, but those are the ones I saw. They happily played along with some of the entrants. For instance, when the guy who had made a Lando Calrissian costume got up on stage he interacted with the audience for a bit before “charming” one of the backstage Leias. Afterwards he turned towards the backstage Han and tried to be all buddy-buddy, but Han stomped over and ordered him off stage at blaster-point.
Since there had been a big group of Star Wars folks in the parade I had seen most of the entrants already. I didn’t mind, though. I mean…they’re costumes! From Star Wars! The Sith Witch was well-received, as she should be. The crowd also went wild for the AT-AT. I think it was one of the cutest couple costume ideas I’ve ever seen. The one that made everyone go nuts, though, was the Ewok.
When standing next to other people it was even the shortest. And whoever was in the costume was really in character. They jumped up on stage and worked that audience. I’m sure they would have fit in just fine in the movie. The Ewok won one of the big awards of the evening…I think it was a judge’s favorite. Of course, that made them ineligible for the other big award – the Best in Show. From the grumblings in the audience, it sounded like folks wanted to give that one to the Ewok as well. In the end, though, it came down to the AT-AT and the Sith Witch, with the Sith Witch ultimately winning out.
Throughout part of the event I had been sending messages back and forth with Maggie. She had finally gotten through the Patrick Stewart line (without fainting or drooling — at least, I’m pretty sure…since I wasn’t actually there to witness I can’t be certain) and decided to meet me over at the contest. She ended up getting there after the judges went off to do their tallies and sat six or so rows behind me.
The folks sponsoring the contest had arranged a short skit to keep the audience entertained while the judges did their stuff. It was basically a reenactment of the penultimate battle in SW Episode I. You know, the one with “Duel of Fates” (the best musical score for a fight EVER!) blasting while Darth Maul kicks Jedi butt. Though I support the Jedi I’ve got to admit that Maul is the better fighter by far. Sorry guys, it’s true. Apart from that one little slip where he’s chopped in half by a grief-stricken Obi Wan, of course. Anyhoos, the skit was fine…though I have to admit that stormtrooper-earring-girl and I were more than a little amused by the way the lightsabers kept turning off, and by the emoting going on up on the stage when the guy playing Obi Wan had to lip-synch to Ewan MacGregor’s tearful goodbye to Qui Gon. Ah, silliness.

After the Star Wars contest Maggie and I headed down to a panel on costuming…and saw Brad Dourif from Lord of the Rings along the way. The panel was titled “Costuming and Culture” and the description led me to believe that it was going to be a general panel about representing non-Western civilizations and cultures in original costuming.

I should have paid more attention to what fan programming track the panel was listed in. Turns out it was costuming and culture as it related to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. As neither Maggie nor I have read the books (well, actually, I think Maggie might have said she’s read one) I didn’t expect to get a whole lot out of the discussion. However, it was the only panel we’d managed to attend on costuming – and, really, the only panel outside of the TAPS discussion the previous day – so we decided to stay. Afterall, we didn’t have anywhere else to go for about an hour.

The discussion actually ended up being pretty good. The panelists each had specializations in what they made. One of the women did lots of hand embroidery. Really nice work, too. She passed around a couple of pieces she was working on and I was a bit tempted to walk off with them. Just a bit, mind you. I’m reputable enough not to steal anyone’s stuff. No matter how much I wanted it.

One of the panelists had been Robert Jordan’s assistant for a number of years. As Jordan passed away about two years ago, this was the next best person for the panel. She was able to fill people in on what civilizations the cultures in the book were loosely akin to and what specific articles of clothing looked like. It was all rather intriguing and I think the discussion might even get me to finally read the books. The people running the panel had a couple of suggestions of places to get boots that would work for the type of costumes folks were looking to make (scaboots.com), as well as an excellent place for some raw materials (Dharma Trading)

Everyone in the room seemed devoted to recreating the clothing and cultures described in the book accurately, which I absolutely loved. You rarely hear much about book-based costuming at cons anymore – most of the stuff you see at conventions nowadays tends to be based on film, television, video games, comic books and manga. While manga and comic books technically count as printed materials costuming from those sources is made easier by the very fact that they are a visual medium to begin with. People working from just a short description in a book – which is usually just a few sentences at the most and doesn’t necessarily always match the image painted on the cover – have the additional challenge of trying to create an accurate recreation of a costume that they haven’t seen.

The whole discussion actually reignited my desire to do a costume from Kristen Britain’s Green Rider books. Maggie and I have both made Green Rider coats already, though I’m not exactly happy with mine. To begin with, I used fabric that I didn’t exactly love and the pattern ended up just looking way too big on me. Though, as I’ve thought about it, that kind of fits with the first Green Rider coat that Karrigan wears in the first book of the series. She gets it from the first Greenie she meets and it’s not meant to be her size. Plus, it’s supposed to be able to cover most of her legs while she rides. The coat would definitely do that, were I actually sitting in a sadle while wearing it. And the way it swings out in the back would mean it would be rather comfortable to ride in. I’d been thinking of getting rid of the coat but perhaps I’ll just play around with it and tweak it a bit more until I’m happier with the result.

Interesting side note: One of the people in the audience for this panel was made up like one of the apes in Planet of the Apes, with the notable addition of a beer hat. The makeup was flawless. The hair at the edge of the chimp face prosthetic blended into his own hair seamlessly, as did the coloring for the skin. I liked the touch of the empty cans of Tab and Mountain Dew that were sitting in the drink holder slots on his hat. I’m not sure whether the hat itself was actually functioning, as I never actually saw him drink from the straws. I did, however, see him drink water from a small flask that he could partially insert into his chimp mouth.

And that just sounds weird.

After the Robert Jordan costuming panel, Maggie and I made our way down the hall to start lining up for a trivia event called “Last Jedi Standing.” We got in line pretty close to the front and it quickly started to grow behind us. I believe it stretched all the way down the hall at one point. I was keeping myself pretty well entertained the entire time. We started making up alternate lyrics to Otis Redding’s Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay – obviously making it about waiting in line. At one point someone asked where a particular room was. Apparently they had been directed to a place down the hall but, when they arrived there, they were told it was back the way they had come. My sarcasm dial must have been switched a little higher because I said “Some people believe it’s both ways.” I don’t know if the guy who was looking for the room heard and, if he did, whether he thought it was funny, but the guy standing in line in front of us was sure amused.

When we were finally let into the room, Maggie and I got a bit of a shock. Apparently everyone in the room was going to be a contestant in the trivia challenge. We looked at each other in panic. I don’t remember which one of us first said “We’re screwed,” but the other one agreed so it doesn’t really matter. We felt a little better when we were told that the trivia would only come from the movies, and not any of the Star Wars books. Phew.

Even with that working on our side we didn’t last too long. The first question was easy. The guy asked “Who shot first, Han or Greedo?” He clarified it by saying “This person will always have shot first.” Of course we both said Han, as did everyone else in the room. Except for two people. The guy who was standing on the other side of the room looked all smug…as though thinking we were all idiots and he would win the round no hands down. He seemed shocked to learn that he was wrong. I’m not sure if he had only seen the re-released movies or what. He sat down after protesting the point and being told repeatedly he was wrong by the judges.

Maggie and I were out at the next question, even though we both realized we had the wrong answer a split second before the right one was revealed. We took our seats and relaxed for the rest of the game. We actually did pretty well on the other questions so, had we stayed in we might have made it to the final round. The guy who was dressed as Lando was at the trivia game too and I kept myself entertained listening to his laugh. It’s nice to hear someone else who laughs with complete and utter abandon.

In the very end it was down to two kids – neither of which looked to be older than ten. They really knew their stuff. Of course, the guy who had gotten out on the first question was still stuck on his loss and was trying to challenge that point with one of the kids. I think he’d said something to the kid about not being a champion or something and the kid naturally shot back with a remark about him sitting down and not being a contestant in the current position. The guy just wouldn’t drop it and insisted he was right. He was kind of being a jerk about challenging the kids.

After that round was over Maggie and I decided to head out and over to the Marquis, to start lining up for “Mr. Star Wars.” Our thinking was that, since the Jedi trivia game was so popular, it would probably be best if we showed up early. There weren’t a whole lot of people waiting yet, and I don’t think I remember seeing any girls over there before we lined up. Of course, once Maggie and I walked over we got a lot of attention. I guess it’s rare enough for girls to be lined up that early for Star Wars-related fun, let alone all decked out in full Jedi gear. One of the guys running the event came up and tried to convince us to volunteer for the little side competition that was going to be going on during the judging break. One of the guys who had entered the contest to be Mr. Star Wars also came up to us. I could tell he made Maggie uncomfortable – heck, he made me uncomfortable. I spoke with him a little bit, simply because I talk to everyone at conventions, but I was ecstatic when he spotted more girls lining up further back.

The line was made up of a nice eclectic mix of people. Some folks were dressed in Star Wars gear but most were dressed as characters from other fandoms altogether. And, of course, there were a bunch just wearing standard geek wear (t-shirts with funny sayings on them, thundercat belt buckles, etc). I was briefly distracted by a Wolverine who looked remarkably like Hugh Jackman. At one point I ended up chatting with the guy standing in line behind me. He was from Nashville, Tennessee and happened to be dressed like a gangster. I asked if he was dressed as a specific one and he replied that he wasn’t. Originally he had intended coming as a member of a Japanese rock band but his hair didn’t do what he wanted it to do. Since he had all of the other clothes he figured he’d just go as a generic gangster. When he took his hat of, though, Maggie and I realized he should have gone dressed as Superman. Even though he’d been wearing a hat all day his hair was perfect. It even had the little Superman curl in the front, naturally.

As I chatted with Maggie I kept seeing little dark somethings pass through my peripheral vision. It looked like some object or other was being dropped. I remember commenting on it but I couldn’t spot anything on the floor from where I stood. A few minutes later, though, a huge clod of dirt and a part of one of the hotel plants came cascading down on the floor. One of the volunteer con security guys looked up and shouted at the people to stop what they were doing and he and a couple of other folks spent the next half hour or so staring up in the direction of where the plant had been thrown. I don’t think they ever figured out who was throwing stuff and they had that section of the walkway blocked off for a long while. I don’t think the people responsible were really going to go back to throwing things but the security people were adament that no one walk that way for some time.

Eventually the room opened up and we all filed in for our fun. The emcee for the contest was hilarious, as were most of the contestants. Lando ended up as one of the contestants, as did a guy who was going by the name of Zombie Ted, an older gent in a bright orange shirt, and two younger guys. Much of the contest depended on improv. Some folks were better at it than others but they all seemed to be having a wonderful time competing.

My favorite part of the event came when the emcee announced that they were going to play a game called Pants. No, it’s nothing dirty. It’s really rather simple. You take a line from Star Wars and replace a word – any word – with the word “pants.” Here are some of the ones the guys came up with:

“I find your lack of pants disturbing.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about pants.”
“Prepare your pants for a ground assault.”
“They made you general? Well, I guess they heard about the battle in my pants.”
::Wookie growl:: Pants! ::Wookie growl::

While all this was going on up onstage, Maggie and I were coming up with our own. I think we would have won. Here’s some of ours:
“Slimy? Mudhole? My pants these are!”
“Anakin, you’re breaking my pants.”
“You were supposed to be the chosen pants.”
“Mine! Or I will pants you not.”
“I pantsed them all. The women. And the children.”
“Strike him down, and take his place in my pants.”
“He is the chosen one. He will bring pants to the Force.” (this was my favorite one of Maggie’s)

It’s kind of an addictive game. I’ve since come up with a bunch more, but I’ll spare you my long list and share only two: “A tremor in my pants. The last time I felt it was in the presence of my old master.” “May the pants be with you.”

After the contest was over Maggie and I walked back out into the main “circle” in the Marquis. There was going to be a party in the same room we’d just left later that evening but it wouldn’t be for about another hour so we had some time to kill. We ended up lounging around and taking pictures of all the people in costume. The crowd was bonkers! We hadn’t stayed too late the night before, so we hadn’t seen how massive the gathering was. In some places throughout the floor there were so many people that we just had to come to a stand still for a few minutes. It was next to impossible to move around some groups, as the crowds of people taking pictures grew several people deep. I was thrilled to see a guy in a Rocketeer costume. His rocket pack was amazing! I really wanted to try it on but I don’t think he would have liked that. I notice he had the piece of gum on the back, though. You can kind of/not really see it in the photo I took with my camera phone.

While walking around we stumbled across someone dressed in a Bumblebee costume from the Transformers film. I later learned that there was another Bumblebee that same night that actually turned into a car-shape. I was happy enough with the one we came across, though. Lots of people were taking their picture with him. I happened to be standing next to his handler and went ahead and asked her if it was okay if I took a picture. She said it was and, as soon as there was a break in the throng of folks wanting to pose with him I stepped forward and asked if I could give him a hug. He replied “Uh…maybe,” and tried to figure out where I could stand to give him a hug. In the end I just wound up hugging the gun. I’m really glad Maggie got a picture of it. It was the second “this is awesome!” photo moment of the day (the first one came when I posed with a Chewbacca that had to be about eight feet tall).

We happened to wander by Grant Wilson from Ghost Hunters at one point. He was just milling about with friends, near the bar. Maggie didn’t realize it I finally yanked on her bag to get her attention and motioned in his direction.

I hadn’t thought it possible after Friday but I’m pretty sure the ratio of costumed folks to non-costumed folks was even higher on Saturday. Everywhere I looked there were new costumes. It was hard to award the NGB costume awards for that day but here’s what I eventually came up with.

Ballsiest costume: (Male) I don’t actually know what he was dressed as, but all he was wearing was a pink strip of fabric held up, loincloth fashion, with a black belt. He wasn’t even wearing shoes. And it wasn’t a particularly wide or long piece of fabrice. (Female) Red Sith.
Best Concept: Disney Princesses as pirates.

Most common sight: Superheroes – especially Wolverines

Funniest: Jew Man Group – we had seen these guys from a bit of a distance but couldn’t figure out what they were. As I thought about it I realized the only thing they could be. I wove my way through the crowd until I came to them and asked if they were, indeed, “Jew Man Group.” They nodded excitedly and gave me the thumbs up. Maggie rolled her eyes and groaned at the pun.

Best Video Game Reference: Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly twins. Maggie was all kinds of excited to see these two, particularly because she had just recently finished playing the game with Andy. She ran up to them and asked to take their picture. I had to smile when they said “Sure. And because you knew who we are…” and then proceeded to get down into a specific pose from the game.

Biggest: Giant Chewbacca

Cutest: Yoshi and a King Boo. Yoshi gets extra points, though, because he could breakdance in his costume. There are a number of videos on youtube of him doing this. He was part of a MarioKart couple. The girl was Mario.

Scariest: Creepy, icky skeleton-faced zombies! (I didn’t count the things in the parade that morning but I think these things still would have won)

Best Craftsmanship: Sith Witch.

Alright…I’m going to leave the Alderaan party for the next post. Believe me, it warrants it’s own.
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