Dragon*Con 2011 con report #1 – Final day of prep and Thursday

Doo dee doo dee doo…. ::wanders casually into the room:: Doo dee doooooo  ::looks around cautiously::

Alright. Now seems as good a time as any to start the con reports for Dragon*Con 2011. Oh sure, I hear you…”No, Meg. A good time would’ve been about two months ago.” Pshaw! Didn’t you know? Two months is fashionably late. And,as we all know, I am the epitome of fashion.

I’ll give you a moment or two to get your laughing under control. Take your time.

Okay.

As with any con worth it’s salt (why we’re still setting value in salt-based equations I’ll never know), the most important day of the convention is actually not a con day at all. It’s a prep day. To be specific, the most important day of the con, at least in my experience, is the final day of packing, sewing, last-minute-purchasing, and general hecticness (for the purposes of this piece, let’s just assume that’s a real world) before you embark for a weekend of fanboy/fangirl geek-outs.

Now, normally I try not to work on the day before a convention. I usually need the whole day to do laundry, pack my bags, re-check my list, re-pack my bags as I realize I forgot to put things on said list, finish costumes, pick up odds and ends from the store. So on and so forth. This year, however, I had to work on the Wednesday before we left. I managed to get someone come in for me for the last hour of my shift, which meant I could dash home…and finish a corset and jacket.

In my defense, the corset was almost finished before Wednesday came around. It was mainly missing boning and the final binding around the bottom edge and the armholes. Mom was kind enough to make a run out to Home Depot to pick up some wide cable ties for me. That’s right, folks. I use cable ties as the boning in my corsets. It’s often cheaper than the poly boning one buys in the store, I find it’s a lot sturdier, and you can get different widths and lengths. Plus, the Home Depot is closer to my house than JoAnn’s is. Convenience!

I had started cutting out the jacket earlier in the week. I think I had part of it done on Sunday, but I ended up working Monday at the coffee shop, which seriously cut into my Holy-Crap-I’m-not-even-CLOSE-to-being-done sewing marathon. I knew I had a bit of work ahead of me when I got home from my Wednesday shift. The boning and binding of the corset weren’t a major issue. I hadn’t figured they would be. What really set me back in regards to time was the stupid jacket for the God costume from Dogma.

Part of the problem was the fabric that I was working with. Polyester Shantung. It drapes beautifully…but it’s not as structured as I needed. With the jacket being unlined, I needed to finish the seams – meaning either French seams or flat-felled seams. Although French seams would’ve been faster, they also made the seam lines look bulky. I needed the fabric to lay flatter along the seam lines which, of course, meant flat-felled seams.

I won’t go into what these are right now. I think they deserve a post all their own. Well, maybe not their own. I’ll probably write about them in the same post as French seams, as they are similar, but that’s neither here nor there. Suffice it to say, I’ll write about them in depth later. I will say, however that they are not the fastest of seams. They require more work than French seams, and some folks (Maggie included) find them too time-consuming to really be of much value in most pieces. They were necessary to get the right look for the jacket, though, so I ended up giving over much of my precious prep time to working on them.

All told, it took me 8 hours of work, from start to finish, on just the jacket. Obviously, that wasn’t all done on Wednesday. But a large chunk of it was. This, of course, meant that I finally finished all my laundering, sewing, packing and re-packing and sleepy stumbling around fairly late on Wednesday night. Maggie and Heather had already been toiling away at Maggie’s house on their own last-minute prep list. Maggie helped Heather fit the harness for the wings on her dragon costume, they finished her dragon gloves, and packed most of the gear in the car. By the time I got all my crap shoved in my car and grabbed a quick bite to eat, it was late. I mean LATE. I think it might have been around 11pm by the time I finally got to Maggie’s. It might have been earlier, but I don’t know. I was incredibly sleep-deprived by that point, and all I wanted to do was get everything packed away and crawl onto the air mattress in Maggie’s room.

First, though, we had to pack and I had a few last minute paint touch-ups to do on my RC belt bags. Upon my arrival, Heather and Maggie wandered outside to help move my gear to the SUV we would be borrowing from Maggie’s roommate for the duration of the trip.

As I neared the back of the SUV, Maggie looked at me with a serious expression and said “I would like to apologize…for any frustration I may have caused when you were teaching me to sew. Your sister was driving me insane. It was an hour into it, and I was pulling my hair out. I was thinking ‘Oh my God! Is this what Meg had to go through?'”

All I could do was laugh.

The gear was stowed fairly quickly, the red crosses were quickly painted on my pouches, and I finally got to head to the fabulous air mattress in the back. I’m pretty sure I passed out as soon as my knees hit the air mattress. My body didn’t even wait until my head hit the pillow. And I’ll tell you right now…I didn’t move AT ALL from that position all night. I woke up in the same position I had gone to sleep in…sprawled haphazardly across the pillows and blankets.

The three of us woke fairly early on Thursday morning. I think Maggie and I actually got to sleep a little later than we

Obligatory shot of the Peach Butt water tower in Georgia

usually do on Thursdays, which my body greatly appreciated. I slept more on the drive down than I intended to, though I managed to do a smattering of last-minute fixes. I put some velcro on my RC belt, sewed the buckles onto the pouches, and even managed to fix Maggie’s skirt. That she was wearing that day.

That’s right, folks. At one point in the trip down to Atlanta, Maggie was driving along in her underoos while I fixed the hook on the skirt she was wearing that day. I’m sure she appreciates me noting that. Don’t worry. She was wearing a slip, too. So she was basically wearing a second skirt. I just thought it was a little amusing…especially when we got pulled over by the po-po while she was still essentially skirtless. I handed it to her and she draped it over her, and no one was the wiser.

Never a dull day.

We opted to check into our hotel (the WESTIN!) before heading down and over two blocks to the Sherton to pick up our con badges. I laughed as we helped the bellboy load our gear from the car to the luggage cart. I really wish I had taken a picture of it. The whole mess looked absolutely ridiculous. There was Maggie’s Goblin Knight and Heather’s dragon wings and head, and my Wise Man head – which I seem to remember carrying myself – and all our bags of shoes and costumes and assorted gee-gaws hanging from various hooks. We headed upstairs and waited for our bags to arrive.

Our room was AWESOME! and HUGE! and had hugely awesome windows with what looked like a dancer’s barre running along their length. I’m not normally one for cities, but I admit that the lights of Atlanta, as viewed from our room, were pretty and sparkly.

The view from our room

Finally, our bags arrived. We took a moment to settle in, change our clothes, and then it was down to the Sheraton! The line for registration this year was not even CLOSE to what the wait was like last year. It was a gentle, fair breeze in comparison to last year. It was still a tad bit warm, this being Atlanta, and my peanut butter shirt was more than a little hot. And itchy. But I think we made a cute trio as we marched around the hotel dressed as peanut butter, jelly and Wonder Bread. Before I had left for Maggie’s on Wednesday, Mom had bemoaned the fact that she hadn’t yet seen ANY of our new costumes for the convention (have I mentioned before that my mom’s my biggest costume fan?), so Maggie got a nearby line neighbor to take a picture of us.

Which I have not-so-conveniently misplaced in my files.

Maggie sent the picture to Mom. The reply we got: “You girls make me so proud. All dressed up for a night on the town. Have fun!”

As we wound our way through the ropes leading to badge pickup, Maggie and I kept up our usual barrage of geek-centered banter. About halfway through the room, the guy standing in front of Maggie informed us that we were hilarious. Apparently, we were providing solid entertainment for our fellow line-goers.

There was a slight snafu at badge pickup – which they never really explained – but we had our badges in what I consider to be record time for Dragon*Con. We stopped by the parade table in the Sheraton to pick up our parade ribbons, only to learn that they hadn’t arrived yet. The folks at the table told us to stop by again the next day, and they should have them by then.

Exploring time!

I was really surprised how many people were walking around on Thursday in costume. Granted, most of our experience of the previous year’s Thursday was spent in the never-ending Purgatory that was Registration, but I didn’t remember seeing too many folks in costume in the Sheraton when we finished our badge-getting that year. This year, there was a veritable explosion of costumes and robots and random geeky fun.

One of the first costumes we say was what I initially took to be a human R2D2. I asked her to pause for a moment while I got my camera out. She chastized me for not already having it out and ready. We’d just come from registration, so I wasn’t all that concerned. Upon closer inspection of the costume later, I realized she was actually dressed as RJewD2. Every year we manage to find someone who has worked an aspect of Jewish culture into a costume. One year it was Jew Man Group. The next it was Jewbacca. This was the one I spotted for 2011. It makes me wonder whether I’ll manage to catch someone next year.

There was a wonderful remote-controlled shark balloon cruising the air space of the Marriott’s lobby area. It was there to encourage con-goers to donate blood in the blood drive. And to entertain us. I swear it was like a real shark, the way all of us were staring at it in wonder and amusement. I seem to remember a space ship balloon later on, but it was no where near as cool as the shark.

I think Maggie’s Moment of Win for the evening was when she spotted Duke Nukem wandering in the bottom of the Marriott. I think her squeal afterwards might have had the ability to shatter glass. It seems Maggie is quite the fan of Duke Nukem. I had completely forgotten that she played the original game when it came out. She’s quite unhappy with the new version.

Now, while the costumes the three of us were wearing weren’t all that obvious, they did get some pretty nice responses from people. Most folks chuckled at Heather’s Wonder Bread shirt, and everyone was enamored with Maggie’s grape hat. My costume, being brown and not as obvious, often got overlooked upon first viewing. I remember a group of people coming over to ask Maggie about her hat. The guy and one of the women took in the rest of us and kind of chuckled as they got the joke, but the second woman in the group took a little longer to catch on. She stared at me for a little while, reading my hat. Things finally clicked, and she let out an “OH! Peanut butter, jelly and Wonder Bread! That’s so cute!” When she just stood there, the guy asked her “Are you going to take a picture of the most clever costume idea we’ve seen?”

Haha! Costuming win!

My favorite moment of the evening came when I was informed that there were Yip Yips in the atrium lobby. I made a beeline for them and tried my best to wait patiently for a chance to take a picture with them. The entire time I was kneeling there, the Yip Yips kept up a yippy conversation. They’d turn towards someone taking a picture and go “Oooooo….camera….yip yip yip yip.”

There was a group dressed as characters from Blade: Trinity. About ten seconds after I took their picture, hotel security came over and told the woman dressed as Abigail that she couldn’t have a functioning bow inside the hotel. I would have thought that was obvious. I do believe it’s in the rules – no functional weapons at the convention. She was surprised to hear this. When security told her she couldn’t have it, she said “Even though I had it last year? No one told me then.”

We wandered around the Marriott a bit more before we finally decided to head out for dinner and then call it a night. Most of our meals during the con tend to be purchased from the little shop in the Marriott, but we decided to treat ourselves to the Hard Rock Cafe that evening. The place was packed, so we sat at one of the bars in back to eat, watching the wait staff and kitchen crew. Hard Rock was selling some commemorative Dragon*Con pins. They were extremely shiny but I was untempted.

Costume Awards for Thursday:

Funniest: Zombie Chick-Fil-A cows

Best Random: I think these guys are dressed as Angry Birds, but I’m not entirely sure.

Best Childhood Moment: Yip Yips

Most In Character: Doctor Who who stumbled upon a remote-controlled K9 and proceeded to cosplay

Best Puppet: Men in Black

Closest Look-Alike to a Friend Back Home: Iron Man (he kinda sorta reminded me of my friend Tristan)

Most Common: Doctor Who and companions

 

So….not too much happened Thursday, but there were a few moments here and there. We retired back to the hotel fairly early for us. Chalk it up to a long drive after not a lot of sleep and knowing we were in for a long day of fun on Friday.

 

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