After stumbling — half-asleep and worn out from a 10-hour trip, registration lines and hunting for our car in a locked-down garage — into our cushy room in the Westin Perimeter hotel on Thursday night, you’d think Maggie, Heather and I would have immediately sunk into blissful sleep. After all, we were on the cusp of FRIDAY! The first official day of Dragon*Con! Certainly we would need precious sleep and would want nothing more than to sink into oblivion, right?
Not so, my friends. Not so. It seems there is nothing that can maintain a geek high (and, thus, keep you awake for an extra hour or so past the time you should have retired) like going through the pocket schedule for a four-day convention. My first action, after moving the bags from the luggage cart and returning said luggage cart downstairs, was to unpack some of my gear. My giant costume bag was quite literally bursting at the seams (okay, at the zipper) and I wanted to hang up the felt Kowl suit. I laid out the clothing I was going to need for Kaylee (we had already decided that Friday was going to be “Space Day.” Heather as Barf from Spaceballs, and Maggie as Ripley from Aliens) and hopped in the shower to rinse off the travel grime I felt was coating me.
I sincerely expected to come out of the bathroom to find Maggie and Heather completely zonked out on their respective beds. Imagine my surprise, then, when I came out to find them huddled over their schedules, furiously circling panels they wanted to attend. Maggie was even trying to organize her choice panels into an easy to read and navigate list in her little notebook.
To my knowledge, that never really happened the way she wanted it to.
Now, to be fair, I had done something similar with my pocket schedule. The only difference was, I had used a chunk of my “I’m now waiting in the longest line ever for registration” time to go ahead and circle some of the things I wanted to see over the course of the weekend. When Maggie and I went over our choices, we found we’d circled many of the same events.
On Thursday night my list of possible panel choices for Friday read as follows:
- 10am: Mini Costume Exhibition OR Interview with TrueBlood Actors
- 11:30am: Whatever Happened to My Space Program? OR Star Wars Costuming OR Trends in Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Fiction
- 1pm: What is SP and Fantasy? OR New York Jedi Exhibition OR Edged and Man-Powered Weapons
- 2:30pm: Want Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes? OR Stars of Star Wars
- 4pm: Mars: Science From Above OR Quantum Leap stars
- 7pm: Space Trivia! OR Stump the Geeks
- 8:30pm: How Your Brain Works OR Costuming Contest (2.5 hours)
- 10pm: Ghost Stories
- 11:30pm: Talkin’ Walken (sound-alike contest)
Want to guess how many of those panels I actually ended up attending?
Go ahead, pick a number.
Was it six?
Sorry, that’s wrong.
DING DING DING! We have a winner!
That’s right, folks. Out of the eighteen choices I had written down, I ended up sitting in on two panels. By the by, the two that actually ended up being picked were “Star Wars Costuming” and “Stump the Geeks.”
Friday morning was kicked off by doing Heather’s makeup for the day. I had a small picture of Barf, but the quality wasn’t all that great and it was hard to see what exactly I needed to do for some of the makeup. Luckily, Maggie had internet capability on her phone (otherwise we would’ve had to pay $14 a day for internet in our room, just to pull up one picture). She found a good photo of a tattoo someone had gotten of John Candy as Barf, and I was able to figure out some basic makeup for Heather. We set it as much as we could with some baby powder – a little trick I picked up during my clowning days – and headed out.
We missed out attending any 10am panels simply
because we saw the need to eat breakfast before heading out to do anything else. We had managed to find a spot in the same parking lot Maggie and I had parked in last year and trekked over to the Marriot Marquis in search of sustenance. The line for the Starbucks in the Marquis wasn’t all that long – something we knew wouldn’t be the case as soon as our fellow geeks started waking up and crawling out of their rooms in search of caffeine – so we hopped over there and waited our turn. I don’t think any of us actually got any food. As far as I remember, the three of us simply grabbed various forms of coffee and headed out to the Star Wars costuming panel.
Well, I should say the three of us started out heading to the SW costuming panel. Somewhere along the way we lost Heather. She sent a text later, telling us to let her know when we got
out. She wasn’t really all that excited about the panel. Instead, she went in search of people in costume. I completely understand that agenda. People watching and costume admiring is one of my favorite past-times when I go to conventions, and Dragon*Con is a wonderful time to get some of that in.
The panel was pretty good, although it covered a number of things Maggie and I have already learned from chatting up people who make costumes from the SW universe. We saw a familiar face – Ann Davenport, who attends all the cons up in our area. I did get some new web resources for costuming. Specifically, partsofstarwars.com and armynavydeals.com were mentioned. Parts of Star Wars is an online reference of the everyday items that were used as props and to fill out empty space on various costumes. (For instance, a lot of items on Boba Fett’s costume come from record players)
One of the things that the panelists discussed was how to do successful cross-overs. That is, how to combine Star Wars costumes with other genres. As in, say, steampunk. The Steampunk Boba Fett costume, which has won awards, was given as an example. In order to do a successful crossover, you need to look at the biggest identifiers for a specific character. What are the things that you see that make you go “Oh, that’s supposed to be so-and-so.” For Boba Fett, it’s the dent in the helmet. You need to determine what is most identifiable and represent those things in new ways.
Some other good advice that was thrown out to the audience during the panel was “When you are working in the extended univers, you’re freer. Feel free to play,” and “Bartering is your friend.”
On a side note, while we were in the SW costuming panel we saw the
Thinnest. Mandalorian. Ever. I’m serious. This guy was rail thin. I made sure Maggie took a picture of him. Apparently he found and tagged himself in her album on Facebook, with the comment “I can still get the job done.”
Most of the rest of the day was spent just rambling around, checking out all the dealers rooms (there were three of them. THREE!) and ogling men in spandex. Yes, I freely admit that I was ogling. That’s nothing new, people. Let’s move it along.
Seeing as how I was dressed as Kaylee, one of the things I was trying to find throughout the day were other Firefly characters, to take pictures with. I was stopped fairly early in the day by another woman who was dressed as Kaylee. She asked if I minded taking a picture with her, as they were trying to collect “Kaylee with Kaylee” pictures.
I managed to find a couple of people throughout the day who were dressed as Firefly characters, or Browncoats in general, but I didn’t get the chance to take pictures with many of them. The one I saw and seriously regret not getting a picture with was a guy who was dressed as Wash. Not only was his costume spot on (the print on the Hawaiian shirt was exactly the same as on the show)…he also really looked like Alan Tudyk. Which, of course, means he was really handsome. I mean REALLY. I saw him while he was in line for the escalator going downstairs and he turned and waved when I called out “Wash!” but he didn’t wander over for a picture. Maggie and I looked for him the entire rest of the evening, hoping to pin him down for a photo, but we didn’t see him again until later in the weekend. By that point, I was no longer dressed as Kaylee and it would’ve just been taking a picture with a random hot guy.
Which I’m not entirely against, but I try to keep my creepiness to a minimum at these things.
So, as I said, not too many people dressed as Firefly characters. You know what I did see, though? I saw a crap-ton of people wearing Jayne hats.
Yes, I said crap-ton. It’s a real measurement. Not really, but that’s besides the point. The point is, there were a lot of people wearing Jayne hats, while wearing regular everyday clothing. I kind of wish I had seen more people in Jayne hats who were actually dressed like Jayne, but it was nice to see so many Browncoats at the con.
By the by, I DID see a guy that day dressed as Jayne and wearing a Jayne hat. He was perfect. And his pants fit perfectly, too. Yes, I am again admitting to ogling.
At one point Heather, Maggie and I wandered over to the Hyatt and headed down to the bottom levels to check out some of the organization tables and the art show. While we were down there, Maggie spotted a guy standing over at the Ghostbusters table dressed like Louis Tully from the first movie. The guy had the mannerisms and personality down perfectly. After she finished taking his picture, he asked if she was going to be a part of the Spaceballs group photoshoot later that day. Since we hadn’t known about it, she hadn’t originally planned on it, but we knew it would be fun for her. “Louis” told her the time and a general place – “over in the Marquis,” which is kind of like saying you can find a very specific sheep in Scotland – and we went on our way.
The art show was, as usual, awesome. I love wandering through and seeing the enormous amount of talent these people have. Know what else I loved?
I got to see Donato Giancola! He was the artist guest of honor this year. He also happens to be one of my favorite artists. There aren’t too many SF/F artists I know by name. Giancola is one of those few. He is the new cover artist for Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series. I can usually tell a piece is his by the style. The same goes for Chris McGrath and Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. McGrath does the covers for the Dresden series, as well as Rob Thurman’s Leandros Brothers series and Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series, amongst others.
Stephanie Pui-Mun Law is actually the first artist whose style I was able to pick out from others. She’s actually the first artist whose work I fell in
absolute love with. I’ve got one small print of hers, and I would give anything for more. She also happened to be at Dragon*Con, much to my surprise. Quite literally. I was wandering through one of the dealer rooms and came to a booth where they had a bunch of her prints for sale. I remember saying “Oo! Stephanie Pui-Mun Law!”
Okay, so I didn’t so much say it as squeal it. Then I happened to look up and notice that she was standing behind the table at that particular booth. She smiled and I couldn’t say a thing.
That’s right, folks. I’m perfectly fine when I meet movie stars at the Walk of Fame but I go to pieces and get flustered when I come face-to-face with artists and, in some cases, authors whose work I admire. Don’t ask me why. I haven’t the faintest idea why that is.
I came across another artist whose work I greatly admired while wandering the art show but I haven’t yet committed their name to my memory. I know I have a card around here somewhere and I will make sure to put up their information when I finally remember where I put it.
After a while, we headed back over to the Marquis. It took some searching, but we finally came across some people dressed like “Assholes” from Spaceballs. They posed for a few pictures with Heather and told her they were heading to the upper levels of the Marquis, to look for other Spaceballs people. Everyone managed to come together up on the Atrium level, and the group settled in to take A LOT of pictures.
I ended up wandering off with Heather’s camera (I knew she wouldn’t get a chance to use it while she was busy with the photo shoot) and had a grand old time taking pictures. At one point I saw a Clint Eastwood lookalike. I pulled on Maggie’s sleeve excitedly and hurried off to stop him, telling her I needed to get a picture with him for my Dad.
And, at this moment, I’d like to stop and be completely honest with you, dear readers. The picture was not for my Dad. The picture was for me. You can clearly see my joy in the picture. There is no hiding the fact that this picture was taken for my benefit.
I also found a Dr. Horrible who looked absolutely fantastic. He had a freeze ray, as well as a case of wonderflonium. After I took a picture of him, I asked if he minded posing with me so we could get a “Whedon photo.” His friend took the picture and then asked who I was. Dr Horrible stared at him and said “She’s Kaylee.”
By the way, you see that guy dressed like a member of the G.I. Joe team behind me? That’s Danny, an old friend of Heather’s. I was good friends with his younger brother in middle and high school. Danny’s going to be the model for a reboot of a G.I. Joe comic, drawn by an artist who lives in Baltimore. I didn’t even notice he was behind me when the picture was taken. It wasn’t until later that we all realized he was in the background.
Right after we took this picture, I spotted a Captain Hammer wandering towards us. So did one of the other con-goers. He called the other guy over and convinced him to pose with Dr Horrible. It took a while to get a semi-serious picture of the two of them, as they both kept laughing.
After about two hours, Heather finally caught back up with us. She’d finally
tired of posing for Spaceball pictures and wanted to wander around a bit. We took a few more pictures and then decided to call it a night and head back towards the hotel, and search for some food. On our way out, though, we caught up with some Spartans and a completely awesome Blink Angel.
Again, in the spirit of honesty, I admit that I might have dashed across the atrium of the Marquis when I saw the Spartan spears. When Heather asked where we were going I might have shouted “Half-naked men! Half-naked men!” Just maybe. Apparently, a guy standing near me turned to look and, when he saw the Spartans, rolled his eyes and went “Oh man.”
That’s okay, random con-goer. You don’t have to admire them. I will do that for you.
Heather was having difficulty getting pictures of them, as people kept stepping in front of her. I don’t usually have problems with that, despite being short. I think it’s the bubbly personality and the near-permanent crazed grin. No one wants to see if maybe this is that one person who looks completely normal at first but will decapitate you at a moment’s notice if you get between her and Spartans.
And now we come to my favorite part of the Dragon*Con reports…the Nerf Gun Bobbins costume awards. I had originally intended to hand out actual ribbons or something this year but I forgot to pick some up when we were at Party City earlier that week. So people will just have to be happy with seeing the results here.
Most Popular: There was no one clear winner for this one. There were a lot of Classic Disney characters, a lot of 80s references (including more Marty McFly’s than I ever expected to see), tons of Dr. Horribles, a Tardis-full of Doctors, and a lot of people in Jayne hats.
Ballsiest: A Leeloo costume that was made entirely of duct tape. Surprisingly, I didn’t really see a definitive “ballsiest man.” I suppose the Spartans could fall into that category, though.
Best Doctor Who: This one was a pretty tough call, actually. There were a lot of great Tom Baker Doctors wandering around, but I had to give it to this group, simply because the hair on the guy on the right was PERFECT!
Beefcake Award: A tie between these two guys. When Heather and Maggie went to take pictures of Superman, there was a moment when he posed and looked off into the distance. I actually had to turn away and not look at him because he looked so much like Superman in that moment. I believe I was blushing but I’m not sure, as I didn’t ask. I can’t place what the other costume is. I’ll try to look it up later, unless someone here happens to know what he’s dressed as. (By the way, he was dressed in this costume later that weekend, and I couldn’t help but stare each time)
Best Random Find: Clint Eastwood
Most Creative Star Wars Adaptation: AT-AT skirt. She even had an Empire ensignia on her shirt. I saw this as we were heading downstairs to go out to the car at the end of the night, and was really happy I happened to catch it. She liked my Kaylee costume, too.
Best Childhood Moment: This was very nearly a tie with a wonderful Bumblebee I saw earlier in the day, on stilts, but the Doozers won out. Especially after I saw what they were doing behind me in the photo.
And, finally, the best moment of the day. We were wandering through the growing crowd on the atrium level of the Marquis, when I passed a beautiful young woman heading the other way. I remember my brain going “Huh. She really looks like Morena Baccarin.” It took a moment before I realized “That IS Morena Baccarin!” I’m sure that realization showed on my face, because she looked at me and smiled. She looked down and noticed I was dressed as Kaylee, smiled even bigger and went “HI!” Then she was gone. According to Maggie, who had seen her before me, Morena had been looking at some pictures of costumes she had recently taken on her own camera before she passed us. I love how the stars who come to Dragon*Con are just as excited to be there as fans!