Dragon*Con 2010 Con Report #5 – Monday

And here we are, at long last, at the final con report for Dragon*Con 2010. Honestly, at this point my main goal was just to finish this up before the new year hit. I think I would’ve cried if I were still writing these in January. I’ve wanted to write about all sorts of other stuff before now, but felt like I owed it to everyone to finish the task I set out for myself first. Once this is over, though…there’s all kinds of other fun stuffs on the horizon!

So, let’s get this over with, shall we?


By this point in our excursion to Dragon*Con, the three of us were pretty tuckered out. If you’re wondering why, just go back and peruse a bit of the reports for the previous days. We had been running and running and doing a little bit of sitting, and then ran around some more.

Monday, therefore, was going to be a bit more low-key. There weren’t a whole lot of panels going on, most of the amazing, gasp-inducing costumes would’ve been packed up already, and the normally crowded halls and open spaces of the three four host hotels would be almost abandoned.

I do wish more people dressed in costume on the last day of the con. Granted, it’s basically a half-day and most people are barely holding onto consciousness at that point, but part of me kind of feels like saying “You’ve committed whole-heartedly thus far…why not go out with a bang?” For that reason – well, and also because Maggie and I jump at ANY opportunity to wear our costumes about in public – the three of us had picked out costumes for the final day of Dragon*Con.

Maggie trotted her Gabriel costume out again. I do believe it’s got the distinction of being the first costume she made entirely on her own. I’m always impressed by the chaps. She didn’t have a pattern. She just made it up on the spot, using a bit of spare fabric she had sitting around. If I remember correctly (which, at this point, is highly unlikely) she barely had enough.

I had managed to complete my much-desired Popple costume in time for Dragon*Con. I’d actually had the idea to make one at last year’s convention, and it took a full year of fussing about with fabric to finally pull the thing together. It went through a number of changes, and I’m still not 100% happy with the whole look. I think I’m going to scrap what I’ve got and start afresh later, but that’s not what this post is about. Suffice it to say, I had a Popple costume for Monday’s Dragon*Con.

And then there was Heather.

In the months leading up to Dragon*Con, Heather had been brainstorming a bunch of different costume ideas. I was impressed with the ones she decided to go with. Not only were they pretty easy to pull together, they were all going to be easily identifiable by fellow con-goers and would be comfortable to wear for an entire day. Her final costume idea, however, was my absolute favorite.

It was, quite honestly, one of the most brilliant and original ideas I’ve heard someone come up with.

Ladies and gentlemen, on the final day of Dragon*Con 2010, my sister chose to go as Wilson.

The Volleyball.

From “Cast Away.”

Yes, that movie with Tom Hanks stuck on an island.

Yes. She went as the volleyball.

I want you to sit there and imagine, for a moment, how someone might approach that sort of costume. Would she build a giant contraption that would sit around her, and paint it to look like a volleyball? Would she wear a shirt with Wilson’s “face” printed on it?

Now that you’ve thought about the possible approaches to said costume, I’ll show you what she went with.

Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

Originally, her plan was to carry around a bunch of the items Chuck Nolan has with him on the island – an ice skate, the pocket watch, maybe some loops of video tape. In the end, we were only able to get the FedEx box. We all felt it was imperative that Heather have it, just to make it more obvious what/who she was supposed to be.

Maggie had painted the wing insignia on the box before we had left Northern Virginia. We were worried about the paint flaking off, and I suggest covering it with clear packing tape. I figured it would blend in, since it was a package. The box made the trip to Atlanta nicely, stowed in our makeshift overhead compartment in the Green Man, along with Kowl’s ears, Ripley’s gun and Gabriel’s wings. When we piled out of the car on Monday morning, we went ahead and popped the box open into it’s “ready to be mailed” shape.

Heather’s costume was a nice little group project on Monday morning. Heather handled the clothing part and Maggie did the hair while I got my stuff together. Then, we switched and I did Heather’s makeup. I think we did pretty well, considering I was going off a tiny little picture of Wilson that Maggie had pulled up on her phone.

Obviously, we had gotten a few weird looks when we left the hotel that morning. That was to be expected. Not as many as we got when we disembarked at Dragon*Con. While Maggie went off to pay for the parking, I unloaded my Popple costume and got dressed for the day. Once again, I found myself standing in the warm Atlanta weather dressed in what basically amounts to footie pajamas.

Oh…at this point I’d like to take the time out to say “Thank goodness for crocs.” Now, I’m not the sort of person who bought into the whole Croc phenomenon when it first took hold. I didn’t run out and buy a pair and wear them to work, school, the doctor’s office, etc. I’m quite happy with my tennis shoes, quite honestly. However, I have since come to the conclusion that Crocs (and similar, non-brand-name versions) can be counted amongst a costumer’s convenient supplies. I built my Kowl feet around a pair of Croc-like shoes this year. I had used a similar pair of shoes for the basis of my Po feet a few years ago (I had to be creative when making giant panda feet). I knew I was going to need to wear footie covers over whatever pair of shoes I was going to wear while in my Popple costume, but I didn’t want to have to worry about laces and pulling the covers on and off the shoes. I wanted something cheap to slip inside the Popple foot covers, that I could then slip onto my own feet. Crocs were the answer.

The Popple costume wasn’t actually completely finished. Orginally, I’d wanted to make a little nose-and-fuzzy-cheek addition that would cover part of my face. I decided to put it on hold for this year, and focus on finishing the myriad of other small tasks on my list leading up to the con.

I still needed a weird nose, though. My human nose just wouldn’t work for the Popple. So I brought along my little foam clown nose. (Just to clarify…when I clown, I don’t actually wear a clown nose. I paint my red nose on)

Between the red clown nose, the multi-colored tail dangling from my butt and the feathery mop of “hair” on my head, I made quite a sight walking into the Marriot that morning. Though, to be fair, I’m not entirely sure whether people were staring at me or my sister. Regardless, we walked through Atlanta’s streets and entered the Marriot in search of that day’s breakfast.

For once, the line at Starbucks wasn’t ridiculously long. We quickly made it up to the counter, where a young man was taking the orders of the people in line. When I got up to the register, I encountered one of the major drawbacks of my popple costume…I have an opposable thumb, but no fingers. Let me tell you, folks, it’s damn hard trying to fumble your money out of your wallet when you have mitten hands. I ended up having to ask Maggie to help.

The woman who rang me up took one look at me and broke into a huge grin. She asked if I would mind stopping for a picture. I told her I was fine and waited while she pulled her camera out of her apron. I’m pretty sure she had prepared for her shift that day, knowing full well that she was going to see people in weird costumes at her register.

By the way, she had no idea whatsoever what I was. She just thought my costume was cute.

Drinks and pastries in hand – or, in my case, paw – Heather, Maggie and I

Even obscure toys from your childhood have to eat.

 confiscated one of the small tables set near the railing, over-looking the lower level. I had to take my nose off to eat, but did my best to keep my paws on and crumb-free. At one point, a man with a GIANT camera wandered over to us and asked Heather if he could take a picture of her. She said of course. We asked if he knew what she was. He said “No,” at first, but then took a closer look at her face and what she was carrying, and realized she was Wilson. I think he might’ve taken a picture of me, too, and of course didn’t know what I was, but I’m not 100% sure. Parts of Monday are hazy.

After breakfast, the three of us headed to our first panel of the day, “Disasters in Costuming.” The description in our pocket program guide was as follows:

Mistakes they never saw coming: guests and audience alike talk about stuff that had hilariously disastrous results. Don’t try this stuff at home.

How could you read a description like that and NOT want to go to that panel? By this point in time, Maggie and I have had our own share of disasters in costuming. There was the time she got stuck inside her PPP Ron head because her hair got caught in her fan. There was the time Maggie’s homemade stilt feet for her Pan costume broke while she was walking around in the dark, next to the firepit! (Don’t worry, she didn’t catch fire) There was the time she wound up with bright blue hands while painting Heather’s Orko gloves.

Wait a minute…I’m starting to notice a trend here. Maggie’s had the more notable costuming “incidents.” I’ve had some, too, but I guess they’re not as memorable. Or maybe I’m just not remembering them at the moment.

At any rate, we were both interested in going to the panel and learning from the mistakes of the experts. Heather wasn’t originally going to accompany us, but she ended up following along. I want to take a moment now to tell you that, immediately following the panel, she said “That was great! I’m glad I came.” See, Heather? We pick interesting panels.

Anyhoo…the three of us walked into the room and paused slightly. Normally, the doors of the rooms for panels let you in to the back of the room. Chairs are normally arranged facing away from the main doors, with the table that the panel members sit at being furthest from the entrance. This way, if you’re a little late for a panel, you won’t be as disruptive.

This was not the case with this particular panel. The door opened into the front of the room, so the three of us had to walk in and pass rows of people already in their chairs and waiting for the discussion to begin. Of course, this meant that people got a nice, long look at my costume. As I walked down the aisle towards some free seats in the back, a gentleman sitting at about the halfway point of the room leaned forward and asked “Are you a Popple?”

I grinned, said “I am, indeed, sir,” and gave him a high-five for knowing what

Petting my tail

 I was.

“Can I get a picture of you, please? My wife’s a big Popple fan. She’s going to be kicking herself that she missed you.”

I stopped mid-aisle and posed for his camera, and noticed a few more people stepping forward to take pictures. Apparently, once someone pointed it out, other people could recognize what I was. It helped, I’m sure, that most of the crowd assembled in the room was my age or a little older, so they knew what a Popple was in the first place.

There was one young woman, in particular, who was excited to see my costume. She asked “Do you have a pouch?” I responded by turning around and showing her, and then proceeded (with Maggie’s assistance) to unzip the sides and bring what I could of the pouch around to the front. It doesn’t really work the way I want it to, and that’s one of the things I want to change for the Popple 2.0 costume.

The panel started soon after we took our seats, and proved to be one of my favorite panels, ever. There were tips, tricks, and “PLEASE make sure you aren’t this stupid” stories galore. As the program guide promised, the panel members weren’t the only ones providing anecdotes and advise. I absolutely love hearing fellow costumers talk about their work – about what worked and what didn’t.

Heather separated from us for a while after that. She went to the final Ghost Hunters panel of the weekend and headed over to meet Amy and Steve at the Walk of Fame afterwards. She was positively giddy with excitement when she met back up with us later.

“I got to shake Steve’s hand!” she grinned. Apparently, the joy at meeting the Ghost Hunters drove her original question from her head and she had to quickly substitute another…which she couldn’t even remember when I asked her. She did remember, however, that Steve couldn’t look her in the face when he met her. He kept looking away, trying not to laugh at the fact that she looked like Wilson the volleyball.

The other major thing we did on Monday was attend “Dragon*Con’s Got Talent,” the convention’s brand-new talent competition.

I am at odds about what to think about “Dragon*Con’s Got Talent.” I think, in some ways, the judges were a bit mean. There was one judge, in particular, who should probably thank his lucky stars that he wasn’t set on fire by the audience for banging the trash can lid gong in the middle of a pretty good act. He was just a pompous act, and I honestly have no idea what qualified him to be a judge of talent, other than the fact that he said he would do it. The other two judges were much more pleasant and fair about their dealings with the people who had entered the contest.

Now, as with any kind of talent competition, there were some entrants who were, shall we say, less than blessed as far as their so-called talents went. Some folks sang who really shouldn’t have sung. Some folks came out and tried comedy and found that the phrase “Comedy is hard” is entirely too true. There were some folks who just plain confused me.

Nestled in amongst some of the atrocious crap acts were some absolute gems. There was the guy who came out and performed a classical guitar piece, and nearly brought the audience to tears. There was the guy (the final performer) who sang “Anthem,” from the musical Chess. His voice gave me goosebumps – and he played along with the emcee’s goofy antics in the middle of her performance. And there was the young woman who came out in a full Diva Plava LaGuna costume and sang “Il dolce suono,” the operatic half of the Diva’s song from the movie. Technically, the song is from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. When asked why she didn’t sing the second part, she quipped “Because you guys gave me a time limit.”

I’ve actually got video from my phone of the woman’s performance, but it didn’t transfer over when I got the new phone, so I need to find another way to post it for you all to listen to. In the meantime, here’s the song from the movie (full song, but with weird arrangement of clips).

She ended up winning the grand prize, by the way. She was well-deserving of the win, too. Everytime I think of Monday I just remember Maggie leaning over to me and excitedly whispering “I think someone’s going to sing the Diva’s song from Fifth Element. I just saw someone in a lot of blue.”

The inside of "The Eggbeater Hotel," as Maggie & I call it.As we left the talent competition, we decided to call it a day, grab some snacks and drinks from the Marriot’s convenience store and start heading home to good ol’ Northern Virginia. A quick trip to the bathroom was also in order.

Of course, when you’re wearing giant blue footie pajamas with a weighted tail that could possibly get caught in a toilet, and the zipper of your costume is behind a giant patch of fleece that is held up by velcro that sticks to your fuzzy Popple paws, a “quick trip to the bathroom” doesn’t really exist. While Maggie waited for me, about four different people came up to her just to say she looked awesome. One of those four people was a really shy, geeky guy who shuffled up, said “You look gorgeous,” and shuffled off again. I think that’s my favorite moment from Monday, and I wasn’t even there for it.

On our way out, we passed a table for one of the musical acts that had performed at Dragon*Con. One of the women stopped Maggie and asked if she could have her husband take a bunch of detail photos of her costume. She told us that she has been wanting to make a Gabriel costume for the longest time, but that she hasn’t been able to find any good shots of it on the internet. Maggie’d had the very same problem herself, back when she was making the costume, and she readily agreed to pose for some shots and give the woman some tips.

While Heather and I waited for Maggie, another young woman came up to me and asked “Are you a Popple?” She took some pictures of me, as well, and I left the convention feeling as though I’d accomplished something. People actually knew what I was! That doesn’t always happen when I’m in costume at a con.

As I’ve mentioned, there weren’t a whole lot of costumes being worn about the halls on Monday. For that reason, I don’t really have many NGB costume winners today.

Best: Diva Plava LaGuna

Most Dedicated: Stormtrooper – In case you’re wondering, it’s because it takes some manuevering to get into these costumes, and I’m impressed someone had the dedication to go to that trouble for a half-day at an almost empty convention.

Most In Character: Some sort of demon-thingy that snorted at Maggie when she walked past it.

Most Random: Golden Batman

In the aftermath of this year’s Dragon*Con, I’ve realized a number of things:

  1. There’s nothing that makes me squeal louder and revert back to being a child faster than a remote-control robot.
  2. I need to assign people in my group as “official note-taker” on days when I’m wearing a costume with mitten paws or gloves with only three fingers.
  3. I am entirely too easily amused by Star Wars-influenced pick-up lines.
  4. I need a smaller digital camera, capable of taking both still photos and video.
  5. I need to add pockets to the inside of the damn Popple belly patch.
  6. Velcro and fleece/terry cloth make life entirely too challenging.

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