Dragon*Con 2009 Report #8 – Sum up, Hotel and “How’d we miss THAT?!”

At last. We’ve finally come to the last Dragon*Con post. This one is a tad bit different from the past entries, though. I’ll be talking a bit about the costumes from Dragon*Con but these are costumes that we didn’t see. At all. At least, not in person. These are the costumes (and other things) that we somehow managed not to see in the four days that we were there.

For example…apparently there was a Mayor McCheese walking around. A friggin’ huge Mayor McCheese. I don’t know how this guy managed to walk through some of the doors in the convention hotel. Also, how heavy is that head? It’s got to be resting on his shoulders. I’ve had some experience with that type of thing and it’s uncomfortable and often pinches nerves and can sometimes cut off circulation to your arms. Not fun at all. That said, it was a pretty awesome costume.

I was really disappointed to learn that there had been a full size Tardis down some random hallway in one of the hotels. Most of the fan tracks (Star Wars, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Stargate, etc.) are assigned to a specific set of rooms in one of the hotels. It makes it easier for fans who just want to go to one or two of the tracks. You want to concentrate on Star Trek? You should be able to keep to one hall and not have to go trekking (haha…I made a funny) around the entire convention, desperately trying to find the rooms. I’m pretty sure the Tardis was down outside the British Invasion set of rooms. Hopefully the person who brought it this time around will bring it again. I want to stand in the Tardis! ::pout::

During the entire weekend I saw my fair share of Jedi, Sith, Leias, Hans, at least two different fur covered Chewies, stormtroopers galore, a couple Vaders and other assorted Star Wars characters. Of course I caught sight of one or two slave Leias. I did not, however, see the Slave Bikini Leia conference that took place in front a life-size replica of Jabba the Hut. Frankly, I just want to know how people get these things to the convention in the first place. Does it come apart? Do they have to put it back together in the hotel? And then, on a Leia-related tangent, do they have to keep that hallway a tad bit warmer than the rest of the hotel for the comfort of the ladies? I imagine those metal bra/undie combos get really cold. I wouldn’t know, of course. Let’s just say that is not a costume choice I would make. For a number of reasons.

And I’m actually thinking I need to ask some bikini Leias the same kind of questions I recently asked the stormtroopers I saw at Dragon*Con.
I also managed to miss the Jedi Barbie walking around in bubblegum pink. When I saw the pictures of her costume I just had to laugh and give her a thumbs up, nevermind that she couldn’t see it. I especially love that the lightsaber is pink as well.

Bunson and Beaker from the Muppets made an appearance at the convention as well. And not simply in the form of actual puppet-size puppets. They were people-sized versions.
Now, you might consider it strange to find a picture of folks dressed up as members of Devo in amongst all of the fairies, Jedi, X-men and anime characters that populate your usual sci-fi/fantasy/comic convention. Consider, though, that the same people who stock up on independent comics and purchase witty geek-related t-shirts and buttons like they’re going to disappear also consume massive amounts of popular culture. I’ll try to restrain myself from going all folklorist on you right in the middle of a simple con report, but suffice it to say that there are layers to culture (folk, popular, and elite being the main demarkations) and the boundaries between these three layers are often fluid and prone to lots of cross-over. Looking at it under that light might make more sense.
Plus, those hats are wicked cool and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone the joy of wearing one.
If you’re looking at this costume and wondering what it’s from…for shame! It’s from an art film called The Fall, starring Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies fame. Mmm…please excuse the drool. It has nothing to do with tall, clumsy actors from Oklahoma and everything to do with the costumes and cinematography of the film. I swear. Honestly, the film is quite possibly the most visually stunning movie I have ever seen. It was shot on location in about 26 places around the world and is the best advertisement for travel I have ever come across. And the costumes….
::happy sigh::
Let’s just say that this is but one example of what you’ll see in the film. I think, if I had come across this woman at the convention, I would have pulled her aside and forced her to tell me everything she could about her recreation process. And then I’m sure I would have been surrounded by hotel security, who would then demand that I leave fellow con attendees in peace.
I’m not saying I was creepy when I’d randomly approach people and start bombarding them with questions about their costumes. Well, I don’t think I was creepy. And judging by the way most people tended to go along with my request for an impromptu interview I give off enough of a “Really, I’m not going to kill you and wear your head as a hat” vibe to lull them into a sense of security. There were just a few times, here and there, where I’d have one of those lightbulb moments. I love to talk to random people – I’m not necessarily shy on that point – but I’m usually not the one actively seeking out said conversations. Dragon*Con, however, was a great deal different where that was concerned. I have theories about that which will no doubt serve for blog fodder at a later time.
Despite my joy at being surrounded what I usually refer to as “my brethren” for a weekend – learning new techniques, listening to funny stories from the set of my favorite shows, oogling beautiful doo-hickies and thingamajigs in the dealer’s room – by the end of the fourth day I was definitely feeling tired. I can sympathize with this Ghostbuster here. There were a number of times I felt like grabbing a patch of carpet or a quiet corner for a quick snooze. I probably wouldn’t have thought of adding the sign, but I like the way he was thinking.
It’s not really all that surprising that we didn’t come across these costumes in our time at the convention. All this spread out over four hotels with a number of ballrooms, dealer and exhibition halls, smaller conference rooms for panels, a number of restaurants and bars….should I stop there or keep going? I tried to look everywhere at once when Maggie and I walked through the Marquis lobbies. It mainly ended in bumping into people and tripping on the escalator.
One of the things that we got to see a lot of without even trying was the hotel. Or, rather, the hotels. As I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post we didn’t spend all that much time in the Sheraton – just the time it took to register and get out. We spent a bit more time in the Hilton, though not nearly as much as the Hyatt or the Marquis. The latter two, however, were exquisite. They could occasionally be a little difficult to navigate, true – everytime I thought I’d gotten the hang of the place I’d get turned around – but there were all kinds of staff on hand in case you needed help. I really don’t have any problems stopping to ask for directions so I took advantage of their knowledge a few times. They were always eager to help.
As Maggie and I navigated the Hilton, Hyatt and Marriot we started to come up with our own method of remembering which building was which from the inside. Sure, you could try to find the signs, but if you’re running around trying to get to a panel that starts in five minutes it helps if you can give people directions based on noticable landmarks. The Hilton was kind of known by its lack of flashy architecture, at least as compared to the other two. The lobby area on the bottom floor was kind of unique. We found that the last day we were there, though, so it didn’t really help.
The Marriot is probably the most architecturally distinct hotel I’ve ever been inside. There’s a quote by a sci-fi author (I can’t remember which one at the moment, but he’s famous) where they say the hotel is science fiction. Having been inside the lobby myself a number of times I’d have to agree. It kind of looks like the inside of a space ship. The bar in the middle of the top floor of the lobby was kind of unique, too. Most of the hotel bars I’ve come across over the years are tucked away in a corner or at the front of an enclosed restaurant. Not so with the bar in the Marriot. It’s kind of right smack in the middle of that top floor of the lobby, with seating around the perimeter of the actual bar and a little lounge area off to the side with random groupings of ottomans and chairs.
The arrangement of the floors made this awesome picture possible. I have no idea what these people were doing, or even if this was planned or completely coincidence. I would say it has to have been planned to some extent. Either way I think it may just be my favorite picture from the convention.
The Hyatt came to be referred to as “the eggbeater hotel” by Maggie and I. Why, you ask? Simple…the little concourse where some of the restaurants were (as well as where the escalators were to take you to the floor with the main ballrooms) had a sculptural piece in the middle that, simply put, reminded us of an eggbeater.
This area of the Hyatt wasn’t necessarily as immediately stunning as the one in the Marriot but it had its own beauty. I loved how the feel of the pictures taken of the same sculpture in the Hyatt could change just based on the angle from which they were shot. These two pictures are of the same place but were taken by two different people. Maggie’s picture is the one on the right. The one on the left is a photo I found on flickr. While the Marriot usually ended up having a very sci-fi feel, the Hyatt kind of brings to mind steampunk.
I’ve been googling all sorts of Dragon*Con related terms in the month and a half since I came back from Georgia. Sometimes I come up with blog posts, sometimes it’s an article. Occasionally I’ll get a link to a youtube video. More often than not I’ll get a slew of photos from someone’s digital album. I’m really quite impressed by all the articles and blogs and con reports I’ve been reading. Each of them does a pretty good job of presenting what the overall feeling of the weekend was. This one, I think, comes closest to what I felt:

Ultimately, that’s the fun of Dragon*Con: not just seeing Jedi taking pictures of Sith, but running into old friends dressed as Jedi taking pictures of old friends dressed as Sith. Because in the end it’s the friendships that make Dragon*Con more than just a fan playground or a party: it’s a family.

Even though I wasn’t running into old friends I’d made through online forums or internet gaming I came away from the convention feeling that sense of family that this writer mentioned. Pleasant experiences aren’t necessarily guaranteed when you go to a convention (my experiences at SFX – the first con I ever attended – are proof of that) but, if you’re lucky you get to experience cons like Polaris and Dragon*Con. There were a few familiar faces: we saw Marty Gear walking around a couple times, I recognized one or two people from when we went to Costume Con in May, etc. This convention was simply the first time where I had more interactions with random individuals, beyond “cool costume”…for better or for worse. There was the lady Maggie and I chatted with while they waited in line for Patrick Stewart. Well, Maggie chatted with her longer than I did, but I enjoyed meeting her and talking a bit. There were the three awesome stormtroopers and rather friendly Jango Fett who happily agreed to a random interview from a passing zombie. I had a brief signed conversation with a group in the bottom of the Marriot while Maggie was still up in the Patrick Stewart line (they wanted to know about my lightsaber). Of course I’ve got to mention the two Power Rangers and WoW character who stood in the parking lot with us for about 20 minutes at 1:30 in the morning, giving us directions to a place where we could get something to eat.
There were a few people here and there who probably should have gone upstairs and taken a nap in order to stop being cranky but the vast majority of people were pleasant in both manner and odor. I caught a whiff or two of someone who desperately needed to take a shower on the third (or was it the fourth?) day. Considering the size of the crowd that weekend that’s an amazing feat.
So…in the end Dragon*Con was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Will I be going back again? You can bet your sweet behind I will! And next time I’ll be much better prepared for what to expect.
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